September 2008     
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      Welcome to this edition of
      Your geoscience e-newsletter courtesy of the Australian Geoscience Council

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     Feature article | Geoscience News | Geoscience Views | Geoscience Activities
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This edition of GeoEdLink is sponsored by
OZ Minerals

TESEP begins
Professional Development for Teachers

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The Teacher Earth Science Education Programme (TESEP), a programme initiated by the Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia and supported by the AGC and featured previously in GeoEdLink, commenced delivery of its first professional development workshop this July. The TESEP workshops are designed to provide teachers with up to date information on topical subjects of relevance to the science and SOSE curricula. The first PD, Round and Round with Rocks, examines the rock cycle and its relationship to Plate Tectonics and minerals exploration and exploitation. This is particularly topical, given the resources boom that is presently supporting the relatively buoyant economy Australia finds itself enjoying.

Feedback from participants in the sessions to date indicates the materials are well received by teachers and provide them with the kinds of practical activities and insights into modern geoscience that they need to engage their students. It is this engagement that has been missing from many geoscience lessons in the past, something that is vital if we are to generate a real interest in the geosciences as an area of future study or career path amongst the leaders of tomorrow.

TESEP has just begun but already participants say they are looking forward to attending the next PD, Riding the Climate Roller Coaster, and are signing up even before the delivery dates are announced. It is disappointing to note therefore, that the financial support from the booming Australian corporate and non-government sectors has not been as extensive as had been hoped and is yet to match the enthusiasm shown by the teaching community.

No doubt the early success of TESEP and the positive reviews it is receiving will provide encouragement to those yet to commit. If you are one of those or in a position to influence the decision makers I urge you to dig deep and provide the additional financial support TESEP needs to grow from a good start into something truly unique in Australian science education.

Dr Trevor Powell
President, Australian Geoscience Council


I recently had the privilege of attending the Conference of the Australian Science Teachers Association (CONASTA) in Queensland. It was a great gathering of truly dedicated science teachers, lab assistants and others with the sole aim of exchanging ideas and information to improve the teaching of science in schools. I am confident it achieved its aim and was also pleased to see many presentations with a geoscience focus.

Unfortunately, it also became clear in conversation that many teachers still have difficulty obtaining access to Professional Development programs that are actually relevant to the delivery of science in the classroom. The curriculum is ever changing and the demands on the crowded curriculum many. Teachers often complain that much of the PD offered may be useful in complying with ever more demanding accountability requirements but rarely is it useful in improving content delivery. No doubt this varies from state to state and maybe even region to region but science, and geoscience is no exception, is always changing too. Texts books and students activities of 30 years ago are often out of date and sometimes plain wrong. Where else do teachers have a chance to catch up on these changes and discover modern practices than in PD sessions?

The problems for teachers attending PD are many. A lot of schools simply do not have enough funding to cover absences created by PD and so many teachers miss out. This is amplified for rural and remote teachers because the transport and accommodation costs of attending PD, even when held in a regional centre, are often prohibitive. In addition, the only way many teachers can meet their PD is through attendance at sessions held after hours or on weekends. For teachers working long hours preparing classes, delivering classes and engaging in rigorous and prolonged assessment, marking and reporting regimes this is hardly an attractive or welcome option. It is time government and non-government schools alike recognised the need for access to content related PD in science and also structured their employment and support programs to properly fund teacher release and attendance costs so that there is a realistic opportunity for all teachers to engage in continuous skills and knowledge upgrades.

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


Geoscience Education News & Reviews

Earth Science Week is Oct 12-18. Get involved!

The theme for the 11th Earth Science Week is 'No Child Left Inside'!
This theme encourages young people to get away from the television, off the computer and explore outside. Not a bad ambition but how do you achieve it? Here are some suggestions.

Organise an event!
This could be as simple as
- in class hands on activities with Earth Science content
- in school - outdoors activities with Earth Science content [remembering the theme]
Or it could involve excursions such as
- visits to local museums
- visits to local sites of geological significance
- visits to EarthCache sites [see for more information]
Or it could even be an event for a wider group such as
- a school science night with the focus on Earth Science
- a club, group or organisation science event highlighting the Earth Sciences
Your involvement with Earth Science Week is only limited by your imagination!

In recognition of Earth Science Week 2008, Geoscience Australia is hosting the Geologi 08 short film competition. All Australian secondary school students were invited to take part and we look forward to the winners being announced during the week.

If you would like to participate in Earth Science Week 2008, or are an organisation, school or community group hosting an event, please contact to add your activity/event to the website.

Click here to find out more about Earth Science Week.

One World - OneGeology

OneGeology is a flagship project of the International Year of Planet Earth. It aims to provide dynamic geological map data of the world via the web.

Examine this great initiative here. You will be amazed at the results you and your students can come up with once the full system is on line via the OneGeology Portal. OneGeology also expect to provide simpler student access through OneGeology 4Youngsters soon.

Earth Science Olympics too!

The 2nd International Earth Science Olympiad kicked off in the Philippines this year just as the world was pumped by the Beijing Olympics. This competition, unlike the traditional Olympics is a competition of the minds. However, just as in the sporting Olympiads students rise to the challenge through cooperation and teamwork to find solutions. The theme for this years competition was Cooptition in Addressing Climate Change. The word Cooptition is a special hybrid of two key elements in the IESO - competition and cooperation. The next International Earth Science Olympiad is set to take place in Taiwan, 2009. Why don't you think about entering your school? You might be surprised by the results.

Kanawinka Geopark is an Australian first

The Western District of Victoria and South East South Australia have become recognised as Australia's First National Geopark and recognised as the first Australian UNESCO Global Geopark. A Geopark is a territory encompassing one or more sites of scientific importance, not only for geological reasons but also by virtue of its archaeological, ecological or cultural value. To qualify it must also have a sustainable management plan designed to foster socio-economic development, it must demonstrate methods for conserving and enhancing geological heritage and provide means for teaching geoscientific disciplines and broader environmental issues; it must be proposed by public authorities, local communities and private interests acting together and become part of a global network, which will demonstrate and share best practices with respect to Earth heritage conservation and its integration into sustainable development strategies. Kanawinka has all of that in abundance!

Find out all about Kanawinka GeoPark at the Kanawinka website

Geothermal Education a major winner

GeoDynamics, a major leader in Geothermal Energy exploration and development has launched an excellent education facility on-line that provides teachers and students with excellent resources and class room activities.

Check it out at GeoDynamics Education Room

Google goes Geothermal too!

Google has launched a push to support Enhanced Geothermal Systems producing heat and electricity by harnessing the energy from hot rock deep below the earth's surface. Google says EGS is a big challenge, but with the potential to power the world many times over, it demands our immediate attention.

Find out more about Geothermal power and Google's Enhanced Geothermal Systems support at their EGS webpage.

On-line resources - links and reviews:

Explosive idea rocks on

EarthLearningIdea is an amazing website that we have mentioned before. They started out with a plan to put a new Earth Science activity up on their website every week during 2008. So far they have met that objective and website is bristling with ideas. The latest one takes you to a volcano and gets you to 'see' what happens when it goes off in your back yard!

CAPCOM rockets

The latest issues of the Victorian Space Science Education Centre's CAPCOM newsletter are available as a pdf download from the VSSEC website. These news letters offer a wealth of information on space and planetary science and are a great resource when looking for materials for your Earth and Beyond classes.

Scientists in Schools can rock too

The excellent CSIRO program, Scientists in Schools, promotes science education in primary and secondary schools, helps to engage and motivate students in their learning of science, and broadens awareness of the types and variety of exciting careers available in the sciences. Geologists and allied scientists are part of the mix. If you would like to know more visit their website.

GPSnet and the Positioning Regional Victoria project

A major upgrade to Victoria's global positioning satellite network (GPSnet) over the next three years will provide high-accuracy satellite positioning and navigation-based services throughout the state. The expanded network will enable users to fix or navigate to a known position (latitude, longitude and height above mean sea level) anywhere in Victoria to a nominal horizontal accuracy of +/-2 cms and about two and a half times that in the vertical dimension. Now that is accurate! Anyone teaching ICT in schools or undergraduates will want to know more about this amazing technology. Read more here.

Time has not stood still
Geoscience Australia, together with the Geological Society of Australia, has re-issued their popular Geological Time Scale poster. The poster not only details the geological time scale, with latest boundary dates and epoch names but also displays a wealth of other information on climate through time, major Australian mineral deposits throughout time and the methods used to accurately date rocks. It is available as a pdf in A3 and A1 formats for free download at the Geoscience Australia education website. Another good GA time scale poster can be found here.

Geoscience Pathways lets your students interact
The power of the Geoscience Pathways web site should not be under estimated. This amazing site not only supplies a wealth of resource materials but actually allows you and your students to showcase your work through a totally teacher moderated upload facility. Join now and become a part of this great project. It's FREE!


Geoscience Education Views

Student Opportunities: Geologic Reconnaissance for Metals in Alaska's Interior
Christopher J. Pellowski, Student
Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

Originally published in The Professional Geologist, the American Institute of Professional Geologists, Volume 45 Jan/Feb 2008.

Here is an inspiring story to motivate your students into taking up studies in Earth Science and making a career out of it:

My Opportunity
One hundred days working in the Alaskan bush exploring for gold and base metal deposits almost sounds like a job too good to be true. Well, this past summer the opportunity was presented to me, and I worked for Northern Associates, Inc. as a field geologist with a helicopter-supported reconnaissance exploration crew doing just that!

Northern Associates, Inc. ( is a geologic consulting firm based in Fairbanks, Alaska who serves the needs of clients in the mining and mineral exploration business and regularly employs students on a contract basis. The duration of my time was spent assisting Talon Gold Alaska, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of International Tower Hill Mines Limited with their Alaska based exploration program.

Fairbanks North Star Borough was my home base with travel throughout Interior Alaska where I worked a nominal 10-hour day, seven days a week for the duration of my contract. Once I arrived and began working at a competitive day rate, my housing, meals and transportation were provided as well. Boot Leather and Rock Hammers Grassroots exploration and prospecting is the first step to finding the next major discovery. This is how areas of interest are identified and work programs developed for geochemical sampling ranging from regional to prospect to anomaly specific. As a field geologist, you are the one spending quality time on the outcrop describing rocks and collecting samples of what could very well be the next major deposit.

In the rest of the article Chris expands on the adventures he had and the discoveries he made. Download the full story, with pictures here(pdf, 187KB).


Geoscience Education Events & Activities

Unearthed and Exposed by the camera lens
The Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum's photography competition Unearthed and Exposed celebrates the natural history of our planet. Enter a photograph which displays evidence of the Earth's geological history or captures the beauty of a fossil or mineral specimen.

Entries close October 10, 2008 - see the competition web site for entry and prize details.

2008 is International Year of Planet Earth
Follow this link to find out more about IYPE and this link to browse Australian IYPE events listed so far.

More camera action for IYPE
The American Geological Institute (AGI) is sponsoring a new global photography contest: Exploring Earth Science Around the World. This competition is open to anyone worldwide with images eligible from anywhere around the world - all in celebration of IYPE. Entrants are encouraged to submit images that highlight the beauty and power of the earth processes. Pictures of landforms, bodies of water, weather, and more that depict the geosciences exploration and research that is occurring across the planet as part of IYPE are ideal.

To learn more about this contest, including rules for submissions, deadlines, and prizes, visit the competition website.

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!


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This issue is sponsored by OZ Minerals.
OZ Minerals was formed in 2008 through a merger of Oxiana Limited and Zinifex Limited
The AGC and the newsletter community appreciate their support.

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