November 2008     
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This edition of GeoEdLink is sponsored by

The AGC identifies the need for a national effort

Over the past year The Australian Geoscience Council (AGC) has been examining the health of geoscience education in Australia and the demise of earth science educational opportunities, university earth science teaching departments and staffing levels. During its engagement with university geoscience educators, the AGC has identified the need for a national effort to build human capital in the geosciences from which all stakeholders in Australian geoscience will benefit.

Please take the time to read the article Mike Smith and I have written for the AGC and take on board the recommendations we make. Unless we, as a community of interest, start to make a concerted effort to bring about change the consequences for our industry are immense and perhaps irreparable.

Dr Trevor Powell
President, Australian Geoscience Council


As this edition is being prepared there is a National K-12 Curriculum Review underway by the National Curriculum Board. This is one outcome of the government meeting its electoral commitments.

The new National Curriculum Board's aim is to develop a single, world-class Australian curriculum for all students K-12, starting with English, mathematics, the sciences and history. Forums on the future for science and mathematics were held in Melbourne this October.

Discussion papers and other relevant documents are posted on the board's website. The cut off date for feedback on The Shape of the National Curriculum - A Proposal for Discussion document closes at the end of Term 4 2008 with the Board determining final recommendations in early 2009.

Everyone concerned with the teaching of geoscience should examine these documents and make submissions. Modern pedagogy will ensure that teaching methodology takes precendence over content. It is up to us to ensure that the structure that emerges facilitates broad deep content, including geosciences, to be explored through context.

Greg McNamara - Editor, GeoEdLink
All feedback and submissions should be sent to the GeoEdLink Editor, Greg McNamara


Geoscience Education News & Reviews

Earth Science goes outdoors in WA
Students at a road cutting

In 2009 Earth Science Western Australia (ESWA) will focus on a new initiative, started in 2008, that aims to make sure as many WA students as possible spend at least a day out of the classroom and in the field experiencing science in the outdoors during a fun and informative excursion. The field excursion can take one of many forms, for example it might be a day trip to the Hillside Geology Discovery Centre in Gosnells to walk the Goldmine Walking Trail and see local flora and fauna on the way. The excursion might be a 'sea to scarp' trip where students study the Tamala Limestone, the wetlands and the ancient beach deposits in traverse of several localities the south of the metropolitan area around Rockingham and Safety Bay. A trip to the Earth Science Museum at UWA followed by an afternoon at Cottesloe beach looking at the effects of changing sea levels with time might be ideal for schools situated north of the river.

For regional students the excursion might be a trip to the Super Pit or the Miners Hall of Fame in the Goldfields or a drive to one of the many wonderful rock formations close to Port Hedland, Newman or Tom Price in the Pilbara. In WA there is literally something to see and enjoy for students at any age. In the longer term, ESWA would like to promote these trips, not just as one off excursion in 2009, but as permanent fixtures on the school calendars.
Teachers in WA should contact ESWA for more information.

Earth Science Week left no one inside

Earth Science Week was celebrated all around the nation but nowhere more so than in Canberra. Over 1200 visitors enjoyed the range of activities, displays and talks on offer at the Geoscience Australia Open Day on Sunday 12 October. Visitors saw the Earth in 3D, toured the Geoscience Australia Operations Hub of the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning System, panned for gold and discovered some of the region's local wonders at the ACT geology display.

To conclude celebrations, the winners of the 2008 short film competition, the Geologi, were announced at the official screening and awards ceremony held on the 17th October at Geoscience Australia. Over 200 students participated in the national competition with entries from Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria being received. Congratulations to the three winning teams.
View the movies here by following the links.

Teachers Ride the Climate Roller Coaster to a hole in the ground

Nola Shoring, TESEP coordinator for the ACT, reports on Bioreactors, Mines and Climate Change:
To read Nola's report, download it here(pdf, 104KB).

Kanawinka talks

Last issue we mentioned the announcement of Kanawinka Global Geopark, the 57th Member of the Global Network of National Geoparks assisted by UNESCO. Programs are now being developed in education, art and culture as well as standardisation of signage across the 7 funding Councils and a new dedicated website has been launched. The Director of the Kanawinka Global Geopark, Joane McKnight is available for Talks and Information Sessions for any interested groups who happen to be visiting this volcanic wonderland in Western Victoria.
Kanawinka Global Geopark

Minerals Tertiary Education Council Minerals Geoscience Honours Program looks to 2009

Students enrolling in honours in 2009 at one of eight Australian Universities (Adelaide, ANU, Curtin, James Cook, Melbourne, Monash, UTas, UWA) have the opportunity to participate in the Minerals Tertiary Education Council (MTEC) Minerals Geoscience Honours Program (MGH). This program offers a choice of eight (8) short courses, located across the country, that are specifically designed to provide students with skills and knowledge relevant to future employment in the mining and exploration industry.
Read more at MTEC Honours Program

Mining Hall of Fame makes more Famous

The 2008 Mining Hall of Fame Inductees were announced in October. In recognition of the role Prospectors and Miners, Scientists and Directors, Educators and Investors have all played in Australia's mining development the Mining Hall of Fame has this year chosen to acknowledge:

  • Mr Albert Arthur Charles Mason (1914 - 2000) - in the category of Directors and Management
  • Mr Edward Norman Milligan (1932 - 1999) - in the category of Prospectors & Discoverers
  • Emeritus Professor John Robert de Laeter AC (1933-) - in the category of Technologists and Scientists
  • Professor Geoffrey Norman Blainey AC (1930-) - in the category of Government and Educators and
  • Alfred Alexander Smith (1903 - 1984) - in the category of Hero

    It is a great honour for these individuals to be recognized by their peers in the mining industry. Inductees are honoured with a plaque in the Australian Prospectors and Miners Hall of Fame and information and images of each inductee can be found on touch screen terminals in the gallery and on the website.
    Mining Hall of Fame

  • On-line resources - links and reviews:

    Ediacarans evolve onto the web

    Research into the origins of the Ediacaran metazoans has lead to some useful images, posters and information being posted on Australian websites, including the IGCP493 Monash University research site:
    IGCP493 Education materials and outreach

    Creationists they are not!

    Cape York AmberThe Coalition for Research into the Evolution of Australian Terrestrial Ecosystems (CREATE) fund has been established to provide a focus for studies into the evolution of Australia's Ecosystems, concentrating on the last 100 million years. The CREATE website is an excellent source of up-to-date information on some of Australia's most amazing fossils and fossil sites:

    ANDRILL exhibits cold

    The Antarctic Geological Drilling Program, ANDRILL, aims to recover stratigraphic intervals for interpreting Antarctica's climate and glacial history over the past 50 million years. The education and resource materials to be found on their website are excellent and an ideal way for you to introduce the science of climate change and other antarctic research to your students.

    TESEP workshops off to a flying start
    TESEP logo

    The first of the Teacher Earth Science Education Programme (TESEP) Challenging Earth Professional Development workshops have been run at locations in Queensland, South Australia and the ACT.
    Download the PD Report (pdf, 1Mb) and here to read more (pdf, 4Mb).
    TESEP will also launch a new, informative webpage in December.


    Geoscience Education Views


    Trevor Powell and Mike Smith
    Australian Geoscience Council

    The Australian Geoscience Council reports on the geoscience employment and training crisis facing Australia.

    In response to the widespread concern within the geoscience community and employer groups, the Australian Geoscience Council (AGC) has over the past year been examining the health of geoscience education in Australia and the demise of earth science educational opportunities, university earth science teaching departments and staffing levels. The ability of the higher educational system to provide the appropriately trained geoscientists required by the economy and Australian society is in doubt. In 2007, only 134 Honours graduates were produced across the nation - this compares with the approximately 200 needed per annum to needed to replace and maintain current numbers of geoscientists and does not take into account any increase in demand or demographic issues concerning the current population of geoscientists.

    In 2007 the AGC undertook a comprehensive survey of Australian universities to compile an Australian Geoscience Tertiary Education Profile 2007 and convened a National Summit on the Plight of University Geoscience Education and the Supply of Graduates, 27th September 2007 Canberra which was attended by some 50 university, professional society, industry and employer representatives. There was a consensus that unless a national approach is taken it is unlikely that the current situation will improve and there was a significant chance of further deterioration. Based on these findings the AGC, released a discussion paper 'Towards a National Geoscience Education System - invigorating university geoscience' and has made a submission to the Higher Education Review. In the last few months, the AGC has been actively engaged along with the national committees of our member societies, university staff and employer groups in determining ways in which the profession can mitigate this situation.

    To read the rest of the article, download the it here(pdf, 88KB).


    Geoscience Education Events & Activities

    Hatching The Past: Dinosaur Eggs & Babies - Opening 13 December 2008
    South Australia Museum serves up Dinosaur Eggs for Christmas with a remarkable hands-on exhibition offering an astounding array of dinosaur eggs and nests collected from all over the globe. Exhibition finishes March 15 2009.

    Evolution - the Experience, Melbourne 8-13 February 2009
    Darwin comes to Melbourne with a conference, Evolution - the Experience, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of his landmark publication On the Origin of Species. This conference will be an amazing experience and an ideal way to excite your Year 12 or undergraduate biology students about the year ahead!

    GSA Tasmanian Division 4 day combined field symposium, 13-16 March 2009
    See King Island at its geological best!Tungsten, Fire and Ice in the realm of the ancient King.

    2009 promises to be wet
    Groundwater accounts for more than 90% of all known freshwater reserves. The Australian Centre for Groundwater Studies (CGS) is again running its Groundwater Short Course Program to improve understanding of this vital natural resource.
    Download this brochure to find out more (pdf, 222KB).

    CAVEPS 2009 and Darwinian Evolution symposium 22-25 June
    12th Conference on Australasian Vertebrate Evolution Palaeontology and Systematics
    University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia (pdf, 42KB).


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