December 2012      
      Dear  Reader / Subscriber
      Welcome to this edition of
      Your geoscience e-newsletter courtesy of the Australian Geoscience Council

AGC logo

     Feature article | Geoscience News | Geoscience Views | Geoscience Activities
     Subscribe/Unsubscribe details can be found at the foot of this newsletter

A message from the AGC President

Neil Williams

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

2012 has been a great year for the geosciences in Australia. Firstly we hosted the very successful 34th International Geological Congress in Brisbane in early August which I discussed in the previous edition of GeoEdLink. While the final financial outcome of the Congress is still being determined, all the indications are that Congress will provide significant new resources to the Australian geoscience community to further a number of on-going activities and initiate a number of new ones.

Secondly, The Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP, Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism, has announced a huge funding boost to Australia's national geoscience agency, Geoscience Australia (GA). In his media release announcing the boost Minister Ferguson noted that the Australian Government had committed to total funding of $114m to Geoscience over the forward estimates. GA will receive will $34m of the new funding in 2013-14 and $40m per annum thereafter to fund a range of on-going activities.

The new funds will benefit all Australians as the activities it will be used for include the collection of new geoscience and spatial data to better support the growth of our mineral and energy industries, the management of the Australian environment and the protection of Australian communities from geohazards such as tsunamis, earthquakes and landslides. The funding will also strengthen satellite and ground-based earth observation networks for Australia which will support people and products reliant on GPS technologies, including our mining, agriculture, aviation, shipping, construction and insurance industries. The new funding will ensure the future health of public sector geoscience in Australia, including on-going opportunities for young Australian to pursue interesting careers in the geoscience.

In closing, I should also note that Geoscience Australia runs a very comprehensive geoscience education facility which has much to offer to science teachers throughout Australia, and further information on the facility can be obtained at:

I wish you all the very best for the coming festive season and look forward to bringing you further geoscience updates and news in the New Year.

Prof Neil Williams PSM
President, Australian Geoscience Council


As the end of the year rapidly approaches it is time to reflect on how the National Curriculum: Science is coming along. The Foundation to Year 10 document was finalised some time ago now and the states are slowly coming to terms with its implementation. Unfortunately, this is where the idea of a truly national curriculum runs into trouble. Nothing has been done to change the state-based approach to education or to dismantle the state-based bureaucracies that exist to support the administration of each state's education agenda. While not necessarily a bad thing, multiple bureaucratic institutions a more likely to diverge from the concept of a national plan as they are subject to multiple political, educational and regional influences. This divergence is already starting to emerge as states roll out their response to the national curriculum and tweak their versions of it to suit local needs. It remains to be seen just how divergent they become but the signs are not good for a truly national curriculum to be in place or remain in place over the next five years, let alone for the next decade or two.

At the time of writing, the final version of the senior Earth and Environmental Science curriculum has not been released. It will be interesting to see how similar it is to the last draft given the pressures from various states to change the balance of its content. Even if finalised the next challenge will be to see states roll it out and resources schools to teach it.

2013 promises to be an interesting year for education in Australia. My Christmas wish is that all states fund their education authorities above and beyond expectations so that the new National Curriculum: Science and the new Earth and Environmental Science course can both truly live up to the hopes and expectations so many have worked so hard to ensure they could.

I wish you all a very restful holiday and hope the New Year brings you everything you wish for too.

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


Geoscience Education News & Reviews

 Geologi and Top Geoshot winners

Geoscience Australia's Earth Science Week competitions were a big hit and the standard of entries very high. The short films explored the students' view of the world around them and included films on earthquakes and tsunami, landforms, fossils, volcanoes, geysers and Douglas Mawson.

  •  Winners of the Geologi Primary Division were: Asmita Deonath from Kaleen Primary School, ACT with Free hot shower: Geyser
  •  Primary Division runners up were: The Science Club at Maribyrnong Primary School with Earthquake Explorers
  •  Winners of the Geologi Secondary Division were: Wauchope High School, New South Wales with Thirty-one Twelve AD
  •  and Secondary Division runners up were: Rhys Sykes, Cortland McNair and Matthew Perram of Amaroo School, ACT with Tectonic plates and continental drift
  •  and: Austen Perich, Tate Lindsay and James Tegel of Macarthur Anglican School, New South Wales with Finding Fossils with Dr T-Rex

You can view all five excellent short films here.

Top Geoshot entries came from all across the land and fully embraced the Earth Science theme.

  •  Overall Winner was Hayley Anderson with her entry: Flooded rivers in Central Queensland.
  •  The People's Choice winner was Andy Marshall with his image: Kalbarri National Park, Western Australia.
  •  The Student Winner was Naomi Lee with: Groundwater, Toogoom Beach, Queensland

Several other winners were also announced and all 13 awarded images can be seen on the Geoscience Australia Top Geoshot 2012 page.

 Australians did well in Argentina
IESO team

On the beach San Martin Island Iguazu Falls: From left, Darcy Cathro, Luke Bartlett, Clara Tate and Maddi Mellow.

The second Australian team to participate in an International Earth Science Olympiad (IESO) has returned to Australia with awards and great memories of an amazing experience. Two students from the Australian Science and Mathematics School and two from Yankalilla Area School in South Australia were selected to travel to Argentina in order to compete in the 6th IESO. Accompanying the students were mentors Dr Bronte Nicholls (Australian Science and Mathematics School) and Mr Wally Pillen (Yankalilla Area School).

Preparing for the IESO was a joint effort by team members. A new event was added to the IESO this year - the poster competition where students describe a site of geological significance in their country. The team chose Hallett Cove given the excellent evidence of Permian glaciation and following a site visit they developed a poster in the weeks leading up to the IESO while they also prepared for the other events. Congratulations are in order for winning 3rd prize in the poster competition!

In addition to the poster prize the team also came home with:

  •  Individual competition: Bronze medal - Luke Bartlett
  •  International Team Field Investigation: Most Cooperative Investigation - Winning team member: Luke Bartlett
  •  Honourable mention - Best solutions - team member: Clara Tate

The team is very grateful for the support they received and would like to thank their sponsors:

  •  Geological Society of Australia - Federal Division
  •  Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists
  •  Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia
  •  Beach Energy
  •  Australian Institute of Geoscientists - SA Branch
  •  Resource and Engineering Skills Alliance, and
  •  Flinders University Centre for Science Education in the 21st Century.

 TESEP marks a milestone
TESEP logo

The award winning Teacher Earth Science Education Programme (TESEP) passed a milestone this semester with the delivery of its 100th Professional Development workshop. Since its inception TESEP has trained over 1300 teachers and through them has had an impact on over 250,000 students. TESEP continues to deliver workshops in its Challenging Earth series across Eastern Australia and is now running webinars through the ASTA portal to compliment the workshops. The TESEP model of teach-the-teacher has also been identified as a good one to emulate in other countries around the world and plans are underway to pilot versions of it in Asia and Africa!

If you would like a TESEP workshop in your region, perhaps hosted at your school or in your community, contact Jill Reade, TESEP Facilitation Manager, and discuss the possibilities.

On-line resources - links and reviews:

 ASTA is on-line

If you haven't checked out ASTA's on-line professional learning portal it is time you did. More resources are being added all the time, including Earth Science ones such TESEP webinars.

 New oresomeness!

A number of science and geography focused videos have been added to the Queensland Resources Council led national minerals and energy education website, By viewing this series of animated videos, students can expand their knowledge and understanding of the many facets of mineral exploration. The videos cater for a number of learning styles through the inclusion of both text and audio. The overview of the exploration processes includes seismic imaging, magnetic surveying, hyper spectral imaging and gravity surveying. To view these videos, head to Oresome Resources YouTube channel:

 Rocky planets just keep on giving

The robotic missions currently roaming the solar system are providing teachers with plenty of resources to increase engagement with the Earth and Space curriculum:

 ◊ Mercury - organics and water hiding at the pole!
 ◊ Venus - signs of volcanism
 ◊ The Moon - a bombardment history via geophysics
 ◊ Mars - volcanic and sedimentary rocks, soil analysis and weather
 ◊ Io - sulphur volcanoes
 ◊ Jupiter's other moons - rock-like ice, faults and even a magnetic field
 ◊ Titan - methane lakes, ice rocks, equatorial dunes and weather
 ◊ Saturn's other moons - rocky, icy and amazing
 ◊ Comets - just what is that dust made of?
 ◊ Asteroids - bits of planets?
 ◊ Pluto - on the must visit short list

Panorama - Mars

Martian panorama courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems.

 Walking maps - a spatial thinking opportunity for education

Walking maps is a great opportunity to create or discover a range of walking maps. You and your students could easily create maps that enable their peers or the wider community to explore aspects of the local area, take a stroll around a scenic destination or schedule exercise walking routes around your community. Educational opportunities abound as students learn spatial thinking skills, learn more about their community and even get some exercise!

 Welcome to the Anthropocene

Owen Gaffney takes us on a short journey through the last 250 years of our history, from the start of the Industrial Revolution to today. It charts the growth of humanity into a global force on an equivalent scale to major geological processes. This amazing visual experience, recently presented in Melbourne, is available as an on-line recording of the lecture at:

 The Journal of Geoscience Education: read it!

Many teachers are simply too busy to read peer-reviewed journals but here is one that is essential reading for any teacher needing more on Tertiary and pre-Tertiary geoscience teaching. This journal is a publication from the US National Association of Geoscience Teachers and it is the only international forum for the publication of research concerning the pedagogy, assessment, and philosophy of teaching and learning about the geosciences.
Find out more and download papers here.

 Museum Victoria making a permanent impact

Amongst the permanent exhibitions at Museum Victoria are two that are rock solid: One is called Dynamic Earth and uses cutting-edge technology and thousands of minerals to tell the story of this dynamic planet. The fully immersive and interactive 3D cinema exhibit will blow you away with scientifically accurate computer animations of a variety of volcanic events. The other must-see exhibition is the 600 Million Years: Victoria evolves display that takes you on a journey through 600 Million Years of evolution to life via animation, animatronics, models and multimedia interactives. It is a great school excursion destination, click here to find out what is on offer for schools.

 Start planning for the Big Science Competition

The Big Science Competition is a one hour paper of 30 multiple-choice questions held at your school. It is suitable for all abilities. It is aligned with the Australian Curriculum – Science, and the questions are designed to challenge students to think critically and solve scientific problems using everyday examples.

In 2013, the Big Science Competition can take place in your school at any time between 22 and 29 May inclusive. Start planning now! Students sitting a paper level must all do so on the same day. However, different paper levels may be sat on different days during the competition period.

The levels are:
- Junior (years 7&8)
- Intermediate (years 9&10)
- Senior (years 11&12).

Visit Australian Science Innovation to find out more.

 Wanted: The WOW factor!

The Australian Academy of Science wants your WOW science or maths activity to share with Australia. Not only do you go into the running to win a ticket to Academy's annual three-day celebration, Science at the Shine Dome, but your entry will be considered for the Science by Doing digital resources site available for all to see.

To enter, send the Australian Academy of Science a one page description of your WOW activity and a few high-resolution pictures or short video (less than 3 minutes) to illustrate. The WOW factor does not need to be big or entertaining – but rather it should be engaging and effective in teaching the wonders of science or mathematics. Lets see some Earth Science entries!
WOW yourself here.


Geoscience Education Views

 The Year That Was: 2012 With ESWA
ESWA logo

Earth Science Western Australia (ESWA) has had a busy year supporting Earth Science education across the state! Here are some of the highlights:

 ◊ We travelled Western Australia strengthening Earth Science education in both Primary and Secondary schools. Our statistics tell the tale and we are still counting:

  •  Classroom presentations to over 4,000 students
  •  Field excursions/camps with over 400 students
  •  Over 900 educators assisted with Earth Science teaching

 ◊ The number of Year 11 & 12 students taking Earth and Environmental Science (EES) was also up this year with 817 students (up almost 30% from 2011) over 28 schools.

 ◊ Our first published geological field guide, 'A Field Guide To Perth and Surrounds', was launched in May of 2012, with a large number of schools undertaking field work at these locations across the course of the year. Work is already underway for the next one, to the south-west of Western Australia.

 ◊ Thanks to assistance from our supporters we were able to place kits full of specimens, with teacher's guides and student workbooks on fossils and crystals & minerals in regional loan pools across the State.

 ◊ We were proud to assist with the design of and call for volunteers for, the first ever resources pavilion at the Perth Royal Show. The 2012 pavilion showcased our gold, iron ore and oil & gas resources as well as the industry in general.

 ◊ Year 12 EES students were invited to attend one of four free revision seminars before their final exams. These were well attended with great feedback.

 ◊ We also updated our website, assisted schools to organise and top up their rock and mineral collections, helped out with a teacher professional development trip to New Zealand, arranged for volunteer guest speakers to visit schools, assisted with two large careers events, arranged for a reprint of our textbook 'Exploring Earth and Environmental Science' to include minor corrections, helped to fund EES trips for students and ran our first ever Facebook competition.

 ◊ All of this would not have been possible without generous assistance from our large list of supporters, which can be found at
ESWA is looking forward to another great year of Earth Science education in 2013!

Jo Watkins, ESWA Executive Officer


Geoscience Education Deadlines, Events & Activities


 Call for Papers: Teaching Geoscience in the Context of Culture and Place
The Journal of Geoscience Education seeks to compile a focused collection of articles that highlight current thinking, models, teaching methods, and authentic assessment of approaches for integrating place-based learning, Western and traditional knowledge systems, or multicultural issues in geoscience education. Submission deadline December 15, 2012.
Click here for details.

 Eight Teacher Awards to attend Science at the Shine Dome will be available.
The award (one winner in each Australian State and Territory) includes travel, accommodation, and full registration. Applications open on 4 February 2013.
See the web site for details.

 My WOW activity/experiment to win a seat at Science at the Shine Dome.
All WOW entries will also be considered for inclusion (with acknowledgement) in the Science by Doing digital curriculum units currently under development. Submissions are due March 14 2013.
See the web site for more information.

 STAQ 60th Queensland Science Contest
The contest is open to all Queensland students from Prep to grade 12, and is judged across 6 grade divisions. Entries must be registered by Friday 6 September 2013..
See the web site for more information.


 End of Year TESEP Teacher Professional Development Workshops
Sydney NSW 7 December, 2012.
Sydney NSW 8 December, 2012.
Sydney NSW 9 December, 2012.
Brisbane Qld 10 December, 2012.
Ipswich Qld 11 December, 2012.
Hoppers Crossing Vic 13 December, 2012.
Melbourne Vic 14 December, 2012.
Details here.

 Australian Geography Teachers Association Conference, 7-10 January 2013. Perth.
Geography's New Frontier.

 VCE conferences, February 15, February 25, 1 March 2013. Melbourne.
Something for everybody.

 Water Education, Water Efficiency & Water Skills National Conference, 5-7 March, 2013. Sydney.
Use your wetware here.

 STAQ conference, 23 March 2013. Brisbane.
Science is Primary Conference.

 STAWA Primary Science Conference, 23-24 March 2013. The Novotel Vines Resort.
This weekend is a residential STAWA Primary Science Conference.

 SASTA conference and exhibition, 15-16 April 2013. Adelaide.
Theme: Science from the Classroom to the Workplace.

 CONSTAT conference, 17-18 May 2013. Hobart.
CONSTAT is getting ready for 2013!

 Science at the Shine Dome, 29-31 May, 2013. Canberra.
Power to the people: the science behind the debate.

 Labtech Conference, 14 June 2013. Melbourne.
Quantum Victoria will host Labtech.

 CONASTA 62, 7-10 July 2013. Melbourne.
Start planning your conference event now! The official web site will go live by the end of December.

 WorldSTE2013 Conference, 29 September – 3 October 2013. Kuching, Borneo Island, Malaysia.
Share your accomplishments and network with science education leaders and teachers here.


GeoEdLink is a newsletter published by the Australian Geoscience Council.

AGC logo

The AGC is the peak body representing:

AIG logo AUSIMM logo GSA logo

ASEG logo AAG logo PESA logo

IAH logo AGIA logo


GeoEdLink can only continue if its subscriber base grows, enabling the AGC to assist more teachers and allied professionals learn and understand more about the geosciences and teach them more effectively. The more subscribers, the more effective the newsletter can be.

Please do not reply to this email. If you wish to contact the Australian Geoscience Council please do so via links at Australian Geoscience Council

GeoEdLink is managed for the AGC by Geoscience Education and Outreach Services .

Contact | Privacy | Archive
Copyright © 2007-2012 Australian Geoscience Council