December 2013      
      Dear  Reader / Subscriber
      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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A message from the AGC President

Neil Williams

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

Many Australians associate geoscientists with the minerals and petroleum industry, but new opportunities for geoscientists are opening up in the field of geohazards - a topic that is frequently in the news each summer. Summer is the dry bushfire season in southern Australia, and the contrasting cyclone season in the north. When I was the CEO of Geoscience Australia, each summer was a time of heightened activity for many of the agency's staff. Some were on 24/7 stand-by to respond to calls from the nation's emergency service providers for topographic maps, satellite images and other spatial information needed to help save lives and property from fires, floods and landslides, while others were needed to brief the Australian Government and other agencies and departments on the nature and extent of damage caused by fires and floods.

The Australian Government places great importance on mitigating the risk to our population posed by geohazards and earlier this week, on 10th December, the Minister for Justice, the Hon. Michael Keenan launched a new Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) - the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC. The CRC has received funding (cash and in-kind) of $130 million over eight years. A $47 million grant from the Australian Government's Cooperative Research Centres Program has been more than matched by support from the emergency service and land management agencies from all states and territories and New Zealand as well as non-government organisations. Research partners include leading universities, the Bureau of Meteorology, and Geoscience Australia. Industry partners include the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC) and the Red Cross. More information on the work of this new CRC can be obtained from The Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC is a welcome addition to the Australian research scene and illustrates the diversity of opportunities for geoscientists with an interest in making the world a safer place to live.

In closing this column, I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the Australian Geoscience Council to wish all of you a safe, relaxing and enjoyable festive season, and all the best for 2014.

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


In such challenging economic times the news that Australian Science Innovations (ASI) has secured funding to organise an International Earth Science Olympiad team for 2015 is good news indeed. I urge all Earth and Environmental Science teachers and science teachers generally to get behind the 2014 national Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad and encourage their keen year 10 and 11 students to engage in the process. The result for your students could a fabulous local experience and the trip of a life time to Russia in 2015. Once ASI appoint a program director, the effort to bring the Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad together will begin in earnest. It is also hoped that a successful one-off event will lead to ongoing funding and secure the Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad a regular place in the ASI Olympiad program and a presence at all future International Earth Science Olympiads. The more our community supports this event the more likely future funding will follow. In that sense it is up to us!

The Geoscience Education session planned for the AESC in the Infrastructure, Service & Community theme is now calling for abstracts and registration for the convention is open. Professor Iain Stewart, Geoscience Communication at Plymouth University (UK), will be a Plenary speaker. I hope to be there and I look forward to sitting through a range of presentations addressing topics and issues from all sectors of the Geoscience Education community at the convention. Visit the AESC website, register and submit your abstract now!

The New Year will bring opportunities and challenges to us all but in order to rise to meet them we need to get there first. I sincerely hope you have a safe and relaxing time away from the office, class room or lab bench during the upcoming festive season and return safe and well in the New Year to make it a year to be remembered!

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


Geoscience Education News & Reviews

 ASI set for IESO: Program Director needed urgently!

Australian Science Innovations (ASI), the group that runs the Australian Science Olympiad Competition for secondary school students and ultimately takes the best students to the International Science Olympiads, has succeeded in obtaining funding to operate the 2014/2015 national Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad. Students selected from the national event will attend the International Earth Science Olympiad in Russia in 2015.

The first step towards turning this tremendous opportunity into a reality is for ASI to appoint an Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad Program Director. The Program Director will establish the program and manage and co-ordinate its operation in its inaugural year. The successful applicant will be appointed on a part-time basis (equivalent to 0.25% of a full time equivalent) for twelve months. Reporting to the Executive Director, they will be responsible for recruiting and managing a team of volunteer staff, selecting students from secondary schools across Australia to participate in an intensive summer school program, organising a teaching curriculum to meet the International Earth Science Olympiad Curriculum, and preparing the Olympiad team for international competition.

Applications are now open and close Sunday December 15! Visit the ASI website for the selection criteria and other details.

 3rd Australasian Universities Geoscience Educators Network (AUGEN) Workshop

The Australasian Universities Geoscience Educators Network (AUGEN) aims to provide a network for communication between geosciences academics across Australia and New Zealand, to share ideas about teaching tertiary level geosciences, particularly in a very fluid higher education environment and cognisant of the situation of industry.

The network allows for sharing of curriculum, classroom, field and digital teaching strategies, assessment methodologies and materials. The next AUGEN workshop will run in Brisbane at QUT, 23-24th January, 2014. The deadline for abstracts has been extended to December 20th, get yours in now!

To find out more about AUGEN and the January workshop visit the AUGEN website.

 Seismometers rocking!
Tasmanian launch

All around the nation school students are jumping up and down. They may be happy but they are also keen to see their schools latest piece of kit do its thing. Many schools have received a high quality seismometer courtesy of the Australian Seismometers in Schools (AUSIS) program and students in those schools are not only making their school ground shake but are eagerly examining the results of the global seismic monitoring network of which they are now a part.

To find out more about this excellent initiative and to find out if your school can get connected visit the Australian Seismometers in Schools web site.

Image Courtesy of Philip Sansom, Taroona High School, Hobart.

Left. The Tasmanian Minister of Education, Nick McKim, launches the AUSIS seismometer at Taroona High School on Thursday, 31 October by pulling off an earthquake poster from the screen displaying an "earthquake" produced by students jumping at the appropriate time.

 TESEP Plate Tectonics PD now available

After a successful trial run in Adelaide recently TESEP is pleased to announce their Plate Tectonics PD is now available for delivery as a one day face-to-face PD workshop. Timed to assist teachers rolling out the Year 9 Earth and Space component of the Australian Curriculum: Science this PD aims to provide science and geography teachers with a broad overview of Plate Tectonics, the science behind it, the history of science that lead to it and tools to enable the effective teaching of this topic. The workshop not only addresses the theoretical aspects of the topic but also provides and demonstrates useful teaching resources and discusses the use of the science as a human endeavour strand in delivering this important topic in a crowded curriculum.

If you are interested in having this and other great TESEP PD delivered in your area contact the TESEP coordinator in your state to discuss suitable dates and venues. TESEP PD only costs $55 per person and multiple PD discounts are available for trainee, unemployed and casual relief teachers.

 National Rock Garden - Federation rocks in place
Victorian Metasediments

The Federation Rocks are now on display at the National Rock Garden on the western foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin. The display, at the entrance to the six-hectare site, consists of a set of large rocks selected for their significance to their home state or territory.

Bendigo Metasandstone.
Image courtesy of Michelle Cooper.

In addition to the Federation Rocks, the National Rock Garden will have up to 100 large specimens of the country's most iconic rocks. Each specimen will weigh approximately 10-15 tonnes and sit within a landscaped area on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

To find out more about this excellent initiative visit the National Rock Garden web site. Include it on your list of "must do" location on your next excursion to Canberra!

Stay up to date with the latest NRG news by liking the Facebook page:

Rock Garden newsletter No. 7 is available now. Click here to download the pdf.

 GeoEdLink is looking for news!

Have you won a grant, had amazing success with a new resource or been on a great field trip? Whatever your reason for patting yourself on the back make sure your peers know about it too. If you have something you would like to share with GeoEdLink subscribers please email the editor with some text (100 to 500 words max) and some images. A link to a web page news article, press release or blog is also helpful.

On-line resources - links and reviews:

 EarthCache 10th birthday celebrations

On the 10th of January 2004 on a headland 3 hrs south of Sydney the very first EarthCache was 'placed' by EarthCache owner Geoaware and his two daughters. EarthCache I - a simple geology tour of Wasp Head sat for two weeks before it was found by Tankengine. The first log reads:
Chooo ooo *FTF* The family wanted to go to the beach today, and I thought that was a great idea! They had fun in the sand, and I went off to do the cache. It was great! Just a like exploring around the rock pools, but with a geology lesson thrown in! I’ve seen similar formations in the past, and often wondered how the heck they got to be like that, but here all was explained! Fantastic! The only minor difficulty was the initial access from the beach to the rocks, but after that it was easy going. (I think it was high tide).

If you are not in a position to celebrate this milestone you might still be able to plan your holiday travel around the great EarthCaches located near you! Explore the wonders of the landscape around you and learn something along way. It might even give you ideas for your next school field trip!
Queensland EC sites
New South Wales EC sites
Australian Capital Territory EC sites
Victorian EC sites
Tasmanian EC sites
Northern Territory EC sites
South Australian EC sites
Western Australian EC sites

 CONASTA 63 - Adelaide July 2014
CONASTA 63 logo

CONASTA 63 will be held at Adelaide University, SA, from 6-9 July 2014. The conference will make use of the University's stunning grounds and state-of-the-art facilities. Some outstanding keynote speakers have already been confirmed, including Distinguished Professor and 2011 Nobel Laureate in Physics Brian Schmidt AC FRS, 2011 PM's Award winner for University Teacher of the Year Professor Roy Tasker and Professor Tanya Monro, former Prime Minister’s Prize winner in Physical Sciences and South Australian Scientist of the Year.

Thinking about a booth in the trade display? Think quick and download the prospectus. Spaces are going fast.

For more information and updates visit the CONASTA 63 website.

 ASTA weaves a science web

If you have not visited ASTA's ScienceWeb website yet delay no longer. This great resource is expanding all the time with on-line resources and webinar recordings.

 Food for thought

Panspermia, the idea that Earth and other planets have been seeded by life forms hitching a ride on debris blown off-planet by asteroid impacts, has been around for some time. Now computer modelling shows that life on Earth might have been responsible for 'seeding' other planets in the solar system in just this way. Perhaps you can use this new insight to stimulate discussion in class about evolution, life on other planets and the ethics of terraforming.

 GeoEdLink is looking for resource reviews

If you have a favourite Earth Science resource, have just found a great new resource or have written one you would like to share contact the GeoEdLink editor with your recommendations (100 to 500 words max). A link to a web page or blog is also helpful.


Geoscience Education Views

 Call for Case Studies on track
TESEP logo

In the last edition we reported that the Teacher Earth Science Education Programme (TESEP) is collaborating with Earth Science Western Australia (ESWA) to produce case studies that complement their fantastic Earth and Environmental Science (EES) text book.

The Case Studies are being written by professionals thoroughly familiar with their subject matter and the products of their labour are peer reviewed by practising teachers and others in the education domain. This process ensures the resultant publications are not only scientifically accurate but that they also meet the requirements of the Australian Senior Earth and Environmental Science curriculum.

TESEP is now in a position to publish the first Case Studies over the holiday period and encourages all EES teachers to download the PDF documents and provide TESEP with as much feedback as possible. Since delivery will be fully electronic in the fist instance amendments and updates to the documents are easily done and end-user feedback is vitally important to ensuring the products delivered meet the expectations of teachers and the needs of the students. A complete overview with some possible case studies is listed on the TESEP website. Follow this link to see what a case study will look like. Further information for authors can be found here.

Please contact Greg McNamara, TESEP Executive Officer, to discuss useful material you may have or your interest in working up a case study you are familiar with.

 GeoEdLink is looking for in depth reviews

GeoEdLink would like to hear from you if you have something to say to the Earth and Environmental Science education community. Send your proposed article to the GeoEdLink editor (1000 to 3000 words max) with a covering note. Links to web pages or blog sites are encouraged and 3-5 images supporting the text will be considered.


Geoscience Education Deadlines, Events & Activities


 3rd AUGEN workshops, Call for Abstracts, Brisbane, 23-24 January 2014.
Closing date for submissions extended until 20 December 2013.

 AESC, Call for Abstracts, Newcastle, 7-10 July 2014.
Closing date for submissions 14 March 2014.
Click here for details.


 3rd AUGEN workshops, Brisbane, 23-24 January 2014
Registration is free and includes the conference dinner on the Thursday evening.
Find details here.

 CONASTA 63, Adelaide, 6-9 July 2014
The human faces of science.
Find details here.

 AESC, Newcastle, 7-10 July 2014
Sustainable Australia.
Find details here.

 GeoEdLink will list your event here!

If you have an upcoming Earth and Environmental Science education related event GeoEdLink will list its details here. Send your event details to the GeoEdLink editor. An event name, date, location and web site link are essential. The next GeoEdLink will be published in February 2014.


GeoEdLink is a newsletter published by the Australian Geoscience Council.

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