April-May 2012      
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A message from the AGC President

Neil Williams

Neil Williams PSM
Professor, University of Wollongong
President, Australian Geoscience Council

I often hear the comment that a big challenge in the teaching of geoscience is the limited availability of suitable teaching aids. I was therefore thrilled to view the recently-aired ABC series: Australia: The Time Traveller's Guide. The series, comprising 4 episodes and featuring the ABC's Dr Richard Smith, was a fascinating documentary that did a terrific job of explaining the immensity of geological time and the dramatic changes that have occurred during the evolution of our planet. Along the way, the program documented the origins and significance of many of Australia's great geological wonders and earth resources. Unfortunately the series is no longer available for viewing on IVIEW, but given the quality and interest of the series I am sure it will be repeated for those who missed it the first time around. The Australian Geoscience Council is investigating ways of facilitating teacher access to the series - and the outcome will be reported back to you via GeoEdLink.

On other matters, I would like to report that the upcoming 34th International Geological Congress, to be held in Brisbane between the 5th and 10th of August, is shaping up to be one of the most significant geological gatherings to have ever taken place in Australia. IGCs are the Olympic Games of geology and only one other, the 25th IGC, has been held here in Australia - in Sydney, back in 1976. We are anticipating more than 4000 geoscientists for 100 countries will be coming to the 34th Congress, and over 5000 papers covering all aspects of the geosciences have been offered for presentation. I applaud the efforts of the Teacher Earth Science Education Programme (TESEP) team to get science teachers involved in the Congress.

Prof Neil Williams PSM
President, Australian Geoscience Council


The national curriculum: science, for F-10, is being rolled out around the country and the Earth Science component is making many teachers evaluate their knowledge on the subject and seek professional development, teaching resources and excursion destinations. If you are in a position to assist teachers and schools in your local area I encourage you to make contact and discuss how you can help.

On a related note, the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has released the draft senior secondary Australian Curriculum in 14 subjects for English, Mathematics, Science and History for public consultation until 20 July 2012. Amongst these you will find the brand new Earth and Environmental Science curriculum. This is a very important development in the teaching of senior science in this country and I urge you to download the document and provide ACARA with feedback. To do so you will have to register with ACARA but it is essential they receive as much feedback as possible before they formulate the final version. See: http://consultation.australiancurriculum.edu.au/, follow the links.

Finally, as the AGC President has mentioned above, the 34th International Geological Congress is to be held in Brisbane this August. Theme 1 of nearly 40 is Geoscience for Society. This theme encompasses the roles of the geosciences in decisions and approaches that are of wide public interest, including geological heritage and geotourism; geoscience underpinning conservation; geoscience education; communicating geoscience to the public; museum collections; forensic geoscience; and gemstones. Many of the worlds leading geoscience educators will be presenting at these sessions and attending meetings to discuss how we can further improve our outreach and education efforts. TESEP will be present in the Trade Displays and also participate in the IGC Outreach program. Teachers are invited to attend an afternoon tea Tuesday, 7 August 2012 between 3.45pm and 4.15pm and the Education Sessions that follow. At 6.30pm, there will be a public presentation by Professor Iain Stewart - well known geoscience television documentary presenter - and I have been told that he is keen to engage with teachers. If you can attend these sessions or know teachers who can I urge you to ensure you and they make the most of this once in a life time opportunity. See: http://www.34igc.org/ for full conference details.

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


Geoscience Education News & Reviews

 It's time to plan for Earth Science Week 2012

Earth Science Week 2012 will be held 14-20 October this year and has the theme: Discovering careers in the Earth Sciences.

ESW image

Earth Science Week is an international celebration initiated and hosted by the American Geological Institute, promoting the importance of the geosciences to the community. This year's theme aims to encourage young people and the public to explore the natural world and learn how geoscientists gather and interpret data about the Earth.

For more information or if you would like an Australian Earth Science Week 2012 poster or would like to register an Australian Earth Science Week 2012 event contact education@ga.gov.au.

Earth Science Week aims to:

• Provide students with new opportunities to discover the Earth sciences
• Highlight the contributions of Earth science to our lives
• Pass on the message that Earth science is all around us
• Encourage stewardship of the Earth through an understanding of earth science
• Provide opportunities for geoscientists to share their knowledge and enthusiasm about Earth
• Have fun!

What can you do?

Organise a special activity at your school or celebrate Earth Science Week with:

• A geoscience activity day
• Scientific demonstrations
• Photographic displays
• Library displays
• Earth science artwork displays
• Science project displays
• Teacher workshops
• Public lectures

Visit the Earth Science Week website for more ideas for activities to celebrate Earth Science Week 2012.

 Australians aiming for the International Earth Science Olympiad (IESO) - Buenos Aires, Argentina October 8 - 18, 2012

The 6th International Earth Science Olympiad is to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina from the 8 - 18 October 2012. The IESO is an annual competition for secondary school students (under 18) with teams from 26 countries registered teams for 2011. This is the second year that a team from Australia will be participating. This year, interest was sought from South Australian schools offering a senior secondary program in Geology. The team will consist of 2 students from the Australian Science and Mathematics School and 2 students from Yankalilla Area School to represent Australia. In future years we would hope that the team will could be selected from interested students across Australia. Each team is comprised of 4 students and 2 mentors. The latter must be specialists in Earth Science and Earth Science education and capable of serving as members of the International Jury. The official language of IESO is English.

The knowledge, skills and understanding required for the Olympiad represents an extension of the concepts covered in Year 10 General Science courses. The selected students will be developing these skills and understandings in preparation for the Olympiad. Students interested in pursuing a career in the Geosciences, or have a general interest in Earth systems have been encouraged to nominate for this event. The selection for the Olympiad team of 4 occurred in early May, based on students' demonstrated aptitude and interest in a Geoscience and interest in pursuing a career in this field.

The estimated contribution for each team member is approximately AU$2,800. This includes airfares, accommodation and meals. The team registration fee is US$2,000. The team will depart on the October 7 and return on the October 19. Contact Dr Bronte Nicholls, Assistant Principal, Australian Science and Mathematics School if you are able to help in any way.

 Jill Stevens accepts the AAPG award and thanks a special teacher

The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) recognised Jill Stevens and TESEP with the prestigious 2012 Harrison Schmitt award in recognition of outstanding accomplishment in Teacher Education outreach work.

The award was presented in Los Angeles in April at the AAPG Awards Ceremony during the AAPG Conference. Jill was able to attend and accept the award and later spoke of her inspirational teachers in this interview. Jill said in part, "Receiving the Harrison Schmitt Award for 2012 is a humbling experience. It's been a long journey, and I'm pleased to formally recognise and thank the important people in my life who have helped make this possible."

TESEP needs more partners to continue their excellent work with the next phase of the programme. Follow this link to find out how you can help Jill help the teachers.

 How to study the transit of Venus safely

It happens twice each century, and soon it will happen for the second time this century so it is probably our last chance to see it!
The transit of Venus won't happen again for 105 years. Where will you be on December 2117?

See why it is such a rare event here.

The ABC has a great information page with everything you need to know about the transit, including how to watch it safely.

On-line resources - links and reviews:

 Australia: You are amazing!

The ABC's stunning TV program; the Time Traveller's Guide to out ancient land; also has an amazing web presence. Visit the ABC site here to discover an interactive companion to the DVD. You can watch episode previews, explore an interactive time line and meet a menagerie of creatures from evolution's great experiments. You can also take an unusual quiz and follow links to some of Australia's most impressive museums and geoscience facilities.

 Speaking of which ... WIN: Australia - The Time Traveller's Guide DVD

Become a new subscriber to the weekly RiAus e-newsletter and you will go into a draw to win the awe-inspiring DVD about the geological history of our ancient continent. Subscribe here. Entries close June 3.

 Geoscience Australia's education team starts broadcasting!
ESEC brochure picture

The Education Centre at Geoscience Australia is an ideal school excursion destination. It provides hands-on activities for school-aged audiences and highlights geoscience as an interesting and relevant part of our lives. As well as general school programs, they will tailor programs to develop an excursion that suits your curriculum needs. The Education Centre is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm and is FREE of charge.

NOW you can sign up for Geoscience Australia's newsletter for teachers in Australian schools. It is designed to keep you informed of their latest science results, upcoming events, and school competitions.

 Geoscience animations are go!

If you are teaching Earth Science in the classroom you need to check out these animation clips. They are available for viewing and/or download free of charge for your personal and/or educational uses. Some of the examples have a north American orientation but the materials are brilliant and will really help you and your students understand what is going on. The explanatory texts that go with the animations are also very helpful.

 One to watch out for ...

According to all reports the Switch Energy Project will be an important educational tool as we talk to students and the public about the mix of energy we currently use and the mix we will have to use in the future. Switch is a film, due for release later this year, that addresses the energy issues. The Switch Energy Project includes the film, but also utilises web-based materials and other educational efforts to lead a balanced energy conversation.

 Simple but dramatic

Here is a simple activity based on very traditional materials that dramatically demonstrates glacial retreat over time and allows students to calculate the rate.

 Looking for something to get your Earth Science class rocking?

There is nothing like a great video full of awe inspiring visuals and wonderful music to get some motivation ramping up. This 4.45 minute video does it all and sets the stage for classes you know will rock!

 Teachers' Domain has something for everyone

Teachers' Domain is a free digital media service for educational use from public broadcasting and its partners in the USA. You'll find thousands of media resources, support materials, and tools for classroom lessons, individualised learning programs, and teacher professional learning communities. By way of example, this Global Water Distribution section has some great information and some excellent links.

 ChronoZoom takes it all in!

ChronoZoom is a timeline for all of history: From the Big Bang, to the time of the dinosaurs, to the present. Wow, the graphics in this are awesome, the information well presented and supported with additional links. Your students will love it!

 Ten to the what?

The Scale of the Universe is yet another awesome package, free online, that scales the universe from objects as small as ten to the power of minus thirty five to objects as large as ten to the power of twenty seven. It has a great soundtrack, amazing graphics and is a joy to explore. It puts everything in perspective!

 Global databases are awesome

The international science community has really thrived in the virtual world, especially when it comes to sharing information. Here are just some of the global databases worth watching:
What's erupting where? List and map of currently active volcanoes.
Seismic monitor: Real-time record of earthquakes around the world.
World-wide earthquake locator: Another real-time earthquake monitor.

 Be alert, and informed!

Science news services are an on-line phenomenon. ScienceAlert is a news website where they post stories about the quality research being done in Australia and New Zealand.

The Geological Society of Australia also has an eNewsletter - GEOZ - that non-members can subscribe to.

Geology.Com is also a great source of up-to-date geology news, albeit with a US-centric flavour. This site also has lots of useful links to educational materials.


Geoscience Education Views

 The Earth and Environmental Science curriculum: A South Australian perspective

ACARA recently released the latest draft of the Australian Science Curriculum for the senior years, including the proposed four Earth and Environmental Science (EES) units, for 'public consultation'. Feedback is called for, with a closing date of July 20, 2012.

I am personally quite disappointed in this latest draft, from a SA perspective and for a range of reasons.

In particular, there seems no doubt that the EES course will replace our existing SACE Geology courses and that it will therefore become the principal means of attracting otherwise undecided students to study/training pathways and careers in the resources industry. In that respect, I believe that in its present form the course will not be able to match the existing course, by a large margin. To the contrary, it almost seems to have an 'anti-mining' flavour (for example referring to the 'extraction' of resources as 'exploitation' of resources), and I fear that it might even turn away some prospective geology or mining/petroleum engineers in favour of studies and careers in Environmental Science. There is also far too much duplication of content in the Biology courses.

I have shared my concerns with a variety of geoscience colleagues who all concurred. There is no doubt that a national curriculum for EES is long overdue but we may find its implementation is at the expense of successful existing geology courses such as the one that South Australia boasts. I suggest you visit the ACARA website and air your concerns via the feedback system you will find there but do it NOW, before the July 20 deadline!

Len Altman
Email: LAltman@msc.sa.edu.au

Len Altman is currently a teacher in South Australia, with many years experience teaching geology at senior levels. Len is also TESEP's South Australian Coordinator, a member of the Geological Society of Australia's South Australian Division committee and in 2009 Len was awarded the Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Teaching in Secondary Schools.


Geoscience Education Deadlines, Events & Activities


 WIN: Australia - The Time Traveller's Guide DVD
Details here. Closing date: 3 June 2012.

 Geologi Short Film Competition 2012
Details here. Closing date: 24 August 2012.

 Top GeoShots Photography Competition 2012
Details here. Closing date: 22 September 2012.


 TESEP PD in QLD, Brisbane & Gladstone, 31 May & 1-2 June 2012
Follow this link.

 Mawson's Scientific Legacy, Adelaide, 5 June, 2012
Follow this link.

 CONASTA 61, Canberra, 8-11 July, 2012
Registration is now open. .

 TESEP PD in VIC, Melbourne, 27 July & 1-2 June 2012
Follow this link.

 34th Session of the International Geological Congress (IGC) 5-12 August, 2012
Join the special teachers forum for free.
Register here for the full program.

 STANSW K-6 Science Conference, Sydney, 6 August, 2012
Details here..

 STANSW 7-12 Science Conference, Sydney, 7-12 September, 2012
Details here..

 Earth Science Week, Australia-wide, 14-20 October, 2012
Details here..

 STAVCON 2012, 26 & 27 November, 2012
Look here for more information.

 STAWA Future Science Conference 2012 , 30 November, 2012
Look here for more information.


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