December 2015      
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A message from the AGC President

Recognition of Roy Woodall AO as our inaugural National Geoscience Champion

Roy Woodall and Bill Shaw

Roy Woodall AO and plaque with Bill Shaw, AGC President on right.
Click here to see an enlargement of the plaque.

      Previous Honours for Roy Woodall AO:
      William Smith Medal, Geological Society of London 1983;
      Mawson Medal, Australian Academy of Science 1984;
      Mueller Medal, Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science 1985;
      lnstitute Medal, Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy 1985;
      Silver Medal, Society of Economic Geologists 1986;
      Fellow, Australian Academy of Science 1988;
      William Lawrence Saunders Gold Medal, American lnstitute of Mining Engineers 1988;
      Haddon Forrester King Medal, Australian Academy of Science 1993;
      Clunies Ross National Science and Technology Award 1993;
      Wark Lecturer, Australian Academy of Science 1996.

The Australian Geoscience Council is pursuing our vision to raise the profile of Geoscience to be pre-eminent in Australia and to be recognised as one of the great fields of general science with Physics, Chemistry and Biology. In doing this our eight member organisations have considered and recognised one of our most continuously successful geoscience explorers as our inaugural National Geoscience Champion. Roy Woodall AO has already received many honours in recognition of his contributions but we felt that it was a timely opportunity to show the recognition of his peers. Roy provided leadership, training and mentoring to many geoscientists and provided opportunities for many colleagues and laymen to benefit from his sound scientific approach.

The AusIMM recently created the forum for us to make this presentation to Mr Woodall at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC 2015) in Melbourne during the 'AusIMM Explorers' Forum - Challenges and Opportunities' which is also known as 'The Woodall Symposium'. Roy provided the keynote address on 'Science, Trust, Persistence and Discoveries'. The session was chaired by Dale Sims, Director of the AusIMM and past-chair of the AusIMM Geoscience Society. Also presenting at the Woodall Symposium was Dr Jon Hronsky, AGC Chairman and one of the signatories on the plaque presented to Roy.

In 1990 when I published one of my first papers on mining grade control and management of the grade control process, I quoted work by Roy Woodall from 19791 and 19832 about exploration success. Incorporating his ideas about effectively using available resources (people, money, time, information, skill and luck) to reduce the risk associated with mining ore changed my career; some of the ideas that I developed based on my brief interactions with Roy have had a lasting influence on me. No doubt there are many other geoscientists that he touched in this way.

The plaque that we presented to Roy Woodall reads as follows:

In recognition of his contribution to Geoscience in Australia, Roy Woodall AO has been unanimously elected as the inaugural National Geoscience Champion by the Australian Geoscience Council (AGC).

Roy Woodall's scientific approach to exploration contributed to many significant ore discoveries in Australia. Discoveries include the Kambalda nickel field (1966), uranium at Yeelirrie (1971), the Olympic Dam copper-gold-uranium deposit (1975), the St Ives gold field (1980), the East Spar oil-condensate field (1993), plus contributions to many others.

Roy set high scientific standards for the recording of scientific data, using the best equipment and analytical facilities available at the time, leaving a significant legacy of scientific methodologies and successes. Roy's standard of training and mentorship of other geoscientists has advanced the capabilities of Australia's mining and exploration industries and the development of our nation.

Recognition of Roy Woodall AO as a National Geoscience Champion is made by the AGC on behalf of our eight member organisations, representing over 8,000 geoscientists in Australia. This prestigious honour will be accorded to few living geoscientists for contributions to our science, craft and art by way of their technical, leadership, mentoring and collegial endeavours.

1Exploration philosophy - an unpublished talk at Macquarie University, NSW.
2Success in mineral exploration: a matter of confidence published in Geoscience Canada.

The end of the year is upon us. Enjoy Christmas and the New year, and have a great summer break. I am sure you will find plenty to mull over in this issue of GeoEdLink.

Bill Shaw
President, Australian Geoscience Council


At the start of this year I was concerned yet another government curriculum review could see yet more changes imposed on change-weary science teachers but the changes that were made were minor. Hopefully we will now see a period of "curriculum stability" for teachers and administrators struggling to implement the wide range of changes that have taken place over the last few years. There were no changes recommended for the senior Earth and Environmental Science course but for the K-10 curriculum the changes adopted can be viewed here.

2015 has proved a good year for Earth Science education if only because nothing truly negative was foisted upon the sector. The same cannot be said for the Earth Science employment situation in the wider economy but with any luck the cycle will turn full circle sooner than later and the demand for Earth Science graduates will be back. Unfortunately, as the demand for geoscience graduates declines, there is often a reluctance on the part of government and corporates to fund education projects that will inspire a new generation to consider Earth Sciences as a career option. However, this is exactly the right time to get behind these projects so that as demand returns there will be people ready and able to step up and take on the new challenges and opportunities a return to higher demand for commodities will provide. I sincerely hope those in a position to make these funding decisions take this longer term view.

2016 does promise to be an even better year for educators with a generally more positive attitude towards science funding and education emanating from governments, both Federal and State but it would be wonderful to see all stakeholders outside of government take similar initiatives despite the poor short term economic outlook. Enjoy your holiday break wherever you are and have an excellent 2016.

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


Geoscience Education News & Reviews

 Curious Minds are meeting in Canberra

The new Curious Minds program kicks off in Canberra this month. Designed to engage girls in years 8, 9 and 10 it combines two residential camps with a mentoring program.

The program begins and ends with a residential camp at the Australian National University. The camps will enable the girls to explore all aspects of science, technology, engineering and maths through guest lectures, interactive sessions, practicals and field trips. The program will be particularly targeted towards girls from under represented groups such as disadvantaged, rural/remote and Indigenous.

This year students have been selected based on their performance in the 2014 Australian Mathematics Competition (AMC), the 2015 Computational and Algorithmic Thinking (CAT) competition and the 2015 Big Science Competition (BSC). Read more about the upcoming event in our Views section below.

To find out more visit the Australian Science Innovations Curious Minds web site or contact Vanessa Kates.

 International Earth Science Olympiad students bring home Gold and Silver and more
2015 IESO team

        The 2015 Australian IESO team in Brazil, left to right:
        Jade Pham, Zoe Thompson, Sacha Mann, Timothy Hume
        Image courtesy of Greg McNamara

The Australian Geoscience Council strongly supported Australian Science Innovations in the development of the Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad Summer School and is pleased to report the Australian 2015 International Earth Science Olympiad team, selected at the inaugural Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad Summer School in January, did exceptionally well at the 9th IESO in Brazil in September:

Sacha Mann, from Girton Grammar School, Bendigo Victoria, and Timothy Hume, from Mansfield Secondary College, Mansfield Victoria, both won silver medals for their individual results in the combined theory and practical exams.

Zoe Thompson, from SCEGGS Redlands, Sydney NSW, won a gold medal in the individual results. One of only nine gold medal winners, Zoe was also the only female amongst the gold this year and was 5th in the overall rankings.

In the international team events, where students from eight different countries were teamed up to compete against other similar teams, both Jade Pham, from James Ruse Agricultural High School, Sydney NSW and Sacha Mann received awards - Sacha's team came third in the Field Investigation with oral presentation and Jade's team was awarded second place for the poster they developed for the Earth Science poster competition. The team efforts were all judged by an independent group of international geoscientists and educators.

The AGC congratulates all four students on their outstanding individual and team achievements and wishes them well in their future careers. You can read more about the results here and more about the Olympiad programs on the Australian Science Innovations website.

2016 Summer School students selected and keen to start
The Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad Summer School students have been selected, based on their Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad exam results, and are all keen to get stuck into what will prove to be the equivalent of a first year university course held in the first 3 weeks of January. The selection exam the students sat in August was designed to identify high ability students with excellent critical thinking skills. Content knowledge other than that required by the national science curriculum K-10 was not an expectation and while studying Earth and Environmental Science in Year 11 may be seen as an advantage it is worth noting that the majority of students selected for the 2016 Summer School are not studying Earth and Environmental Science at school. The 2016 exams for a place in the 2017 summer schools will be held in August. Read more about the exams and the programs here.

STOP PRESS! Funding for Olympiad programs, including the Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad , has been guaranteed for several more years in the Prime Minister's recent launch of the Innovation agenda.

 A big year for Earth Science Western Australia

The Year 1 Earth Science package for the Primary Australian Literacy Mathematics and Science (PALMS) Program has been exceptionally popular! With the Year 2 package set for release later this month Earth Science WA is looking forward to supporting increased engagement with Earth Science content across the lower Primary sector (

Meanwhile the Woodside Australian Science Project (WASP) has been busy supporting the Earth Science packages already available for Years 5-10 with the hotly anticipated Year 4 package available in February of 2016. Everyone is also looking forward to the release of the latest animation. Watch this space -

 Teachers will get eXcited at the STEM X academy

The Australian Science Teachers Association has enrolled its first cohort of teachers in the STEM X academy for 2016. STEM X is a teacher professional learning opportunity run by Australian Science Teachers Association and Questacon. It offers forty-five like-minded teachers of science (both primary and secondary) the opportunity to travel to Canberra, January 10-15, to work with scientists, media and Questacon educators to strengthen their science teaching, improve their pedagogy, develop resources for their classrooms and be exposed to the latest cutting edge science that Australia has to offer. There is geoscience in the mix of course! Read more about the concept and its goals here and review the STEM X 2016 program here.

 AUGEN 2016 is almost here!

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.

Intended for first-time and experienced educators, students, post-doctoral fellows, professional society representatives, high school science teachers, plus academic, industry and government geoscientists, the AUGEN conference is a great opportunity for all in the sector to meet and exchange ideas. AUGEN 2016 will be held in Canberra January 28-29.

This year’s workshop has six main themes:
1. Strategies for supporting success in earth science education
2. Creating opportunities for work-integrated learning (WIL) in earth sciences
3. Earth science education and literacy inside and outside university walls
4. Research in the classroom and laboratory
5. Improving quantitative approaches in earth science teaching and learning
6. Tomorrow’s global geoscience workforce

Abstracts are due December 20, 2015.
Register here for free.

 Plan now for CONASTA 2016!

Don't leave it until it's too late. Start planning your attendance at CONASTA 2016 in Brisbane now!

Abstracts are due December 30, 2015.
Early bird registration opens February 28
CONASTA in Brisbane July 3-6

 Cape Liptrap teacher excursion really rocked
Exploring the fold stack

      Teachers on the outcrop near Cape Liptrap
      Photograph courtesy of Leonie McGlashan

In September, the Teacher Earth Science Education Programme (TESEP), supported by many geological societies and some government, university and corporate partner funds was able to give 30 Science Teachers of Excellence, from across the country, the chance to learn from experienced industry geologists at some world-class field exposures in Gippsland, Victoria.

Sites visited included the Walkerville Cambro-Ordovician shallow marine sedimentary sequences and the Waratah Fault Zone, the Cape Liptrap Devonian turbidite sequences and Tabberaberran fold structures, the historic Wonthaggi State Coal Mine and miners village concluding with a visit to the Museum and exploration of the Cretaceous dinosaur-bearing sedimentary sequences at Inverloch.

Three days in the field were followed by a Teachers' Day at the International Conference and Exhibition of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists in Melbourne. At the Teachers' Day, 8 industry professionals spent several hours sharing their stories of work and career choices, which had begun with a secondary school Science and Mathematics background. A seismic activity for the classroom was demonstrated using government and industry-donated geophones. Teachers took geophones, career booklets (AusIMM) and TESEP Plate Tectonics posters back to their schools.

Teachers enjoyed the entire experience and the feedback was impressive with comments from participating teachers such as:
.... Best geology weekend ever. I will have more enthusiasm in teaching Geology (after doing this PD) and I could influence about 600 students (yr 7-12) and I could pass this experience and knowledge on to 10s of teachers and 100s of students. Read more about the experience in the December 2015 issue of TAG.

On-line resources - links and reviews:

 Top GeoShot 2015 winners announced

Each year Geoscience Australia invites photographers of all ages to celebrate our amazing Earth, by entering Geoscience Australia's Top GeoShot photography competition. The best images are selected by a panel of geoscientific and photographic experts before being displayed at Geoscience Australia. The 2015 winners in four major categories were announced on 14 October 2015, during Earth Science Week (October 11-17).

There were three categories for this year's competition:
   •   Open 18 years +
         Won by Craig Burns from the Australian Capital Territory with his photograph of Hamersley Gorge
   •   Intermediate 13-17 years old
         Won by Sienna Cook from Tasmania with her Cradle Mountain photo entitled Dark side of the Mountain
   •   Junior 12 years and under.
         Won by Sanden Cook from Tasmania with his Cradle Mountain entry entitled Sculptured by Ice

The Peoples Choice award went to Junnel Alegado for the photograph taken in Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria, entitled Whale rock and friends

Read about the winning entries here and see all the entries here. The success of these entries should inspire everyone to enter next years competition!

 TESEP has a new-look web site.
Case Study thumbnai

The Teacher Earth Science Education Programme has continued delivering their highly acclaimed teacher professional development workshops during 2015 and has recently launched a new-look website featuring an improved Events Calendar and easier navigation.

To celebrate the new site, the latest TESEP Case Study, designed to compliment text books used in senior Earth and Environmental Science teaching, has also been published. The new Case Study, a review of the formation of Australian Opal, explains what Opal is, why it is so colourful and the theories that try to explain its formation in the Australian Opal Fields. A must read for any Australian studying Earth Science. It is our national gemstone after all!

Explore the science of Australian Opals by downloading the Case Study here or take a look at all the other Case Studies from this web page.

 Big Science Competition

The Big Science Competition is a 50 minute competition of 30 multiple-choice questions held at school. Both online and pen and paper formats are available. The competition challenges students to think critically and solve scientific problems using everyday examples. The questions are aligned to the Australian Curriculum – Science.

In 2016, the Big Science Competition can take place in school on any day between 18 and 25 May inclusive. It is an international competition for secondary students and there are three competition levels based on the Australian school years:
   •  Junior - years 7 and 8
   •  Intermediate - years 9 and 10
   •  Senior - years 11 and 12

Pen and paper registrations close April 20. Online registrations close May 13. Follow this link to find out more.

 ScienceIQ 2016, get ready now!

ScienceIQ is an online science quiz conducted by the Science Teachers' Association of Western Australia for school teams of four students. Teams have one hour to complete 12 science problems. To win, students will need to finish in the shortest time with the most questions correct.

Students who are placed First, Second and Third receive certificates and members of the winning teams will also be awarded a prize. A school certificate will also be awarded to the winner's school.

It sounds like lots of fun and there are competitions for year levels 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 with Term 1 competitions for years 6 and 8 kicking things off. Find out more here.

 Olympiads on-line: Making studying for Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad exam easier

Early in 2015 ASI launched an on-line facility that helps students study for the Australian Science Olympiad exams through interactive tutorials and links to other resources. This proved especially useful for those students enrolled in the EESO exam and even more so for those who were not studying Earth and Environmental Science at school. Read more about the online facility here: New material will be added to the site in the coming months to expand the questions available to try and provide greater feedback on the most challenging questions in the mix. This site is a must-do for anybody planning to sit any of the Australian Olympiad exams in 2016 and its free.

 Applause for PALMS

The Year 1 Earth Science package for the Primary Australian Literacy Mathematics and Science (PALMS) Program has set the bar very high but the Year 2 package should be just as good! Follow this link - the new package on Earth's Resources isn't far off.

 Weathering and erosion expected on-line in February

The Woodside Australian Science Project (WASP) aims to produce support packages for the Earth Science component of the Australian Curriculum. The Years 5-10 packages are filled with hands-on activities for students, come with teacher support materials and have been very well received. The new Year 4 package on Weathering and erosion is eagerly anticipated. Check back here in February.

 A day in the GeoLife series a great read for students

It is always good to have young scientists visit the classroom to explain to students what they really do in their daily jobs and how much they enjoy it. Unfortunately, those visits are few and far between for most schools. However, now there is blogosphere and this great web site that has regular guest blogs from geoscientists around the world in which they explain what they do, why they do it and how much they enjoy it. A terrific career resource for students wondering where the Earth Science could take them.

 A mountain of resources listed here

The team have compiled an impressive list of on-line resources for teachers looking for materials to use in the classroom. This is one list you should browse before you settle on using a less than appropriate resource. You are bound to find what you need here.


Geoscience Education Views

 Geoscience Education Views is prepared using opinion pieces provided by invited authors. Any views expressed in Geoscience Education Views are the opinions of the author and may not reflect the views or policies of the AGC or AGC Members.

Curious minds discovering Earth Science

Curious minds logo

Earth Science will be showcased at the Curious Minds, Girls in STEM camp at ANU in December. A group of high achieving girls from a range of backgrounds from across Australia will come together to explore all that STEM has to offer with a clean water theme. With content covering the water cycle, purification of water, flow rate and microbial activity, students will be engaged in a range of Earth Science related topics. They will also be treated to laboratory sessions around porosity, permeability and flow rate with the final task of producing their very own efficient and effective water filtration device. Add to this visits to Mt Stomlo for astronomy and Cotter Dam, to learn Canberra's water story, to speak to engineers and to see a large scale water filtration plant in action. Their immersion in Earth Science will be capped off, for those choosing to attend, with a supercharged session full of hands-on activities and inspirational careers information for plate tectonics, volcanism, earthquakes, geological principles, exploration techniques and more.

Girls will have the opportunity to hear from inspirational speakers; Professor Angela Moles, Dr Lilia Ferrario, Dr Jill Fagan, Dr Penelope King, Esther Mosad and Dr Kate Patterson. They will also engage with Questacon and Engineers Without Borders. To top off this inspirational residential camp each girl will be assigned a mentor, a motivated woman working in a STEM field committed to working with their mentee for the following six months to complete a project, to assist with their education and/or to inspire their subject selections at school.

This entire program will be finalised, and celebrated, with another residential camp in July of 2016.

This initiative of Australian Science Innovations and the Australian Mathematics Trust is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training though the Restoring the Focus on STEM programme and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Read more about the program here.

Jo Watkins
Earth and Environmental Science Subject Leader


Geoscience Education Deadlines, Events & Activities


 AUGEN 2016 January 28-29 - Abstract submission closes December 20, 2015
Don't miss out. Submit your abstract now!
Register here. It's free! Download the abstract submission form here.

 CONASTA 2016 - Abstract submission closes December 30, 2015
Don't miss out. Submit your abstract now!

 Australian Earth Science Convention June 26-20 - Abstract submission closes February 15, 2016
There is an education orientated theme: Geoscience and Society: Education, Integration and Translation of Earth Sciences for Societal Benefit.

 Australian Science Olympiad 2016 Exams.
Student registration for all exams closes July 20, 2016.


 AUGEN 2016, Canberra, 28-29 January

 2016 STANSW Annual Conference, Sydney, 19-20 February

 SASTA 2016, Adelaide, 18-19 April

 LabTech Conference 2016 , Melbourne, 10 June

 Australian Earth Science Convention, Adelaide, June 26-20
There is an education orientated theme: Geoscience and Society: Education, Integration and Translation of Earth Sciences for Societal Benefit.

 CONASTA 2016, Brisbane, 3-6 July

 Australian Science Olympiad Exams, August 2016
   •   Chemistry exam August 3
   •   Earth and Environmental Science exam August 5
   •   Biology exam August 8
   •   Physics exam August 10
See website for more details:

 International Earth Science Olympiad 2016, Japan, 20-27 August
Explore the details here and encourage students to sit the 2016 exam to attend the 2017 summer school and maybe represent Australia at IESO 2017.

 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 March 2015.


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