December 2016      
      Dear  Reader / Subscriber
      Welcome to this edition of
      Your geoscience e-newsletter courtesy of the Australian Geoscience Council

AGC logo

      President's Opening Remarks | Geoscience News | President's Report |  Geoscience Views | Geoscience Activities
     Subscribe/Unsubscribe details can be found at the foot of this newsletter.      Click here to read as a web page.

From the AGC President:

2017 promises to be a busy year for the AGC and it promises to get even busier in the years beyond that. To reflect this step change a new President's Report section of GeoEdLink will provide the President with an extended opportunity to detail AGC activities and initiatives. The Presidents Opening Remarks section, the section you are reading now, will not only allow for general comments but also provide an executive summary of the report.

In order to make best use of this opportunity to document AGC activities and initiatives for all AGC stakeholders GeoEdLink will be produced quarterly to coincide with the four major AGC meetings held each year.

Bill Shaw

Bill Shaw, AGC President

Recent achievements detailed in the President's Report

  •  A submission to the National Review of Research Infrastructure
  •  Support for the Geological Society of Australia initiative on Geotourism
  •  Contributions to the Decadal Plan for Earth Sciences in Australia
  •  A presence at the 35th International Geoscience Congress in South Africa
  •  An innovative media blitz for Earth Science Week utilising social media
  •  Support for Suzy Urbaniak and her Kent Street High School education initiatives

Major new initiative announced

AGCC banner

It is extremely exciting to announce that, with the support and commitment of our eight member Organisations, the AGC is developing the AGC Convention 2018 (AGCC 2018). This will be held in Adelaide during Earth Science Week (14-18 October, 2018). Planning is underway with the recent appointment of a Professional Conference Organiser, finalisation of the venue and formation of the Organising Committee. Read all about it here!

In concluding these opening remarks I would like to wish all members of the eight organisations represented by the AGC and all of the readers of GeoEdLink a safe, relaxing and happy Christmas recess and a very successful year in 2017.

Bill Shaw
President, Australian Geoscience Council


As 2016 draws to a close it is worth reflecting on what we thought the year might be like back in February. In my March GeoEdLink editorial I noted that while the year had got off to a good start for education the overall prospects for the year from an industry perspective did not look good. Now, looking forward to 2017, the New Year again promises to be a difficult one for Australian geoscience as industry struggles to emerge from economically difficult times and funding for education at all levels remains uncertain. However, having said that, 2016 was - in hindsight - not as bad as the prospects looked back in March and I sincerely hope the same will be true for 2017. 2016 has seen Suzy Urbaniak and the Centre of Resources Excellence (CoRE) she has established recognised at the highest level, Australian students achieving great things at the 10th IESO in Japan and the ongoing commitment of Australian teachers at all levels who are striving to achieve great things with and for their students. I am hopeful that 2017 is a year to look forward to. One thing we can do is ensure any future achievements get the recognition they deserve. The AGC is committed to fostering geoscience education and will play a role in assisting with this recognition but you, the reader, can also play a role. If you know of outstanding achievements in the realm of Earth Science education please let us know. The more we highlight the efforts and achievements of our teachers and their students the more likely the wider community will appreciate the effort that is put into ensuring Australia has a bright and prosperous future.

In wishing all our readers a relaxing sojourn and a prosperous New Year I'd also like to encourage you all to get behind the AGC Convention 2018 (AGCC 2018) and consider what you can contribute to the education sessions that will be an important element in this significant new development. Yes, it is more than 18 months away but now is the time to start planning because Earth Science Week 2018 will be here before you know it!

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


Geoscience Education News & Reviews

 Suzy awarded the Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools

IESO team 2016

The 2016 Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools has been awarded to geologist and Kent Street High School science teacher Suzy Urbaniak. Suzy, who was featured in the March 2016 issue of GeoEdLink, is an outstanding teacher who is dynamic, enthusiastic and determined when it comes to communicating science, improving outcomes for her students and ensuring teaching practices change and evolve to cater for student needs of the 21st Century. The AGC congratulates Suzy on this wonderful recognition of her outstanding commitment to teaching and to the success of her students.

 2016 International Earth Science Olympiad team brings home the medals!

IESO team 2016

        The 2016 International Earth Science Olympiad Australian team, left to right:
        Winnie Yuan Year 10 Abbotsleigh NSW - Bronze
        Daniel Ho Year 12 James Ruse Agricultural High School NSW - Bronze
        Jeffrey Brown Year 12 Redlands School NSW - Bronze
        Catriona Illingworth Year 12 Abbotsleigh NSW - Silver
        Photograph courtesy of Greg McNamara.

Four students chosen to represent Australia at the 10th International Earth Science Olympiad in Japan were all smiles at the end of the event in late August with three bronze medals and one silver medal to show for their efforts. Up against teams from 26 other countries the students completed two theory exams and five practical exams across a range of geoscience and astronomy topics to achieve their individual medals.

In addition to their individual achievements Winnie was a member of the international team awarded a Silver certificate for their International Field Team Investigation oral presentation and Jeff was a member of the international team awarded a Bronze certificate for their Earth Science Poster. Jeff was also voted the Most Popular Participant by his student peers! The AGC, a supporter of the Australian Olympaid program, congratulates all four students on their outstanding achievements. Read more about the team here:

 QCoal Foundation Scholarships at James Cook University open for applications

The QCoal Foundation supports initiatives that are focused on health, liveability and education in rural and remote Queensland communities. In particular, the Foundation is helping provide a pathway for rural and remote students to attend university, and has partnered with JCU to provide the scholarship. Recipients will receive $10,000 each year to help them through three years of study. The scholarship is open to undergraduate students who completed Year 12 within two years prior to studying at JCU and preference will be given to geology or science (excluding marine biology) students. Applications close on 31 January, 2017.
Find out more here.

 CONASTA 66 - 2017 is coming. Get ready!

IESO team 2016

Believe it or not, July 2017 is not far way! CONASTA 66, scheduled for July 2017 in Hobart will be where science meets art. The theme of the conference is The art of science. Delegates will explore the links between science and art as well as the art of doing science.

Hurry, abstract submissions close December 15, 2016!.
To find all about the event here:

 New Textbook Released for Senior School Earth and Environmental Science

Earth Science Western Australia's popular Exploring Earth and Environmental Science textbook has undergone a major revision for the Australian Curriculum. The textbook is now split into two 250 page full colour volumes covering the Australian Curriculum in depth. Exploring Earth and Environmental Science, Year 11 and Exploring Earth and Environmental Science, Year 12, can be purchased from ESWA for $60 per volume (this includes GST and postage) for delivery prior to the new school year. Many schools across Australian have already placed pre-orders.
Place your orders here.

 STEM X full STE(A)M ahead for 2017

The STEM X Academy is a five-day residential teacher professional learning program open to Australian teachers across all sectors and levels of experience. Held in Canberra from 8-13 January 2017, STEM X Academy is run in partnership with the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA), Questacon and CSIRO. Out of a record number of applicants 70 have been awarded a place for the 2017 program. Congratulations from the AGC to them all!
Read more about the STEM X Academy and the 2017 program here:

 Discover Volcanism - Hawaii field trip: February and July 2018.
Teachers in the field at Kalgoorlie
Great company, great rocks, fantastic trip!

See amazing volcanism first-hand and explore the active volcanoes of Hawaii for a week with a group of like-minded geoscience enthusiasts. The eight day Discover Volcanism trip is based in Hilo, Hawaii and takes the group through the basics of Plate Tectonics, hot-spot volcanism, volcano life cycles, volcanic products and more. Collect data, samples and learn how to develop scientific field notes and map in the field and in a lava cave. Participants also visit an active volcano observatory, a tea farm and winery, historical parks and learn about local traditions and culture that has developed through living with the hazards of volcanic activity. Also examine examples of engineering solutions to some unusual hazard problems in Hawaii. There is even time to walk on a black and green sand beach, swim in volcanically heated hot pools and snorkel on a coral reef with turtles and dolphins (if they appear).

The trip caters for a small number of people so that personalised learning experiences can happen for all the participants. The trip is also not overly expensive, with all the land transport, accommodation, breakfasts, some dinners, park entry fees covered. All you need to do is get to and from Hilo, Hawaii and make your field lunches and you're almost set.

For more information you can visit or email Gary Lewis on for more details.

 Geology of Australia - 3rd Edition now available

This is not a textbook for advanced students or geoscience professionals, rather it is a general introduction to Geology within the Australian setting and assumes no prior knowledge of the subject. Having said that, it does not over-simplify the story of the geological evolution of the Australian Plate and demands of the reader a willingness to come to terms with the language of this science without drowning the reader in unnecessary jargon.

While this is not a textbook for senior high school students or undergraduates it should be a valuable addition to the teaching resources used at both secondary and tertiary levels and there should be at least one copy of this edition on the library shelves of all high school, public and university libraries. Teachers and students will find the many Australia-wide examples referenced in the text and figures (over 300 in all) a refreshing change from the usual examples found in texts produced for a North American or European market. This is an excellent book for those looking for the ideal gift for that hard to please person on their list, for those wanting to know more about the Australia around them but who don't have the technical knowledge required by textbooks and for those teachers and students looking for excellent explanations and diagrams with an Australian context.

Find out more about this book from Cambridge University Press.

 The National Rock Garden keeps growing

On your next excursion to Canberra there are two places of Geoscience interest that should be on your itinerary. Firstly, Geoscience Australia's education centre is a must do! Even if you don't book in for one of their fabulous classroom sessions a visit to their amazing public foyer displays always goes down well and is a major eye opener.

Secondly, the National Rock Garden is a relatively new feature in the Canberra landscape aimed at celebrating Australia's rich geological heritage in a parkland setting with a permanent display, showcasing the diversity of the rocks, and minerals that contribute significantly to the nation's landscapes, heritage and prosperity. While still very much a work in progress there has been progress in the last 18 months with the emplacement of the Federation Rocks and, most recently, the delivery of a large piece of the Moruya Granite. This rock was quarried during the 1920's on the New South Wales south coast and used for the construction of the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Find out more about the National Rock Garden and the specimens already on display here and the plans for its future development here.

 Mid West WA Geotrail Proposal - have your say!

The Batavia Coast Maritime Heritage Association has initiated plans to establish a Mid West WA Geotrail and is seeking community input. This area possesses a remarkable array of geological landscapes and rock and mineral formations. These include some of the oldest rocks at Jack Hills (dating back 4.4 billion years) to some of the youngest, with fossilised reef formations perched along our coast from just ~10 thousand years ago when sea levels were higher than at present. Banded iron-formations inland, ancient marine ammonite beds, glacial deposits, dinosaur bones, copper, lead and other ores, garnet dunes and stunning landscapes add even more to the geodiversity of the region and the reasons to establish a Geotrail.

How can you help? The Batavia Coast Maritime Heritage Association will convene a meeting of interested individuals and organisations in early 2017 to discuss this proposal and all interested parties are invited to attend. To find out more download this flyer.

On-line resources - links and reviews:

 The planet we live on - the beginnings of the Earth Sciences

Not many good modern textbooks are available on-line for free but this is one of them. Written by respected British Earth Science communicator, Chris King, this 196 page book brings Earth Science to life with easy to understand text and excellent images and diagrams. Download it now and give it to all your friends!
The planet we live on: download link

 New PALMS Package for Year 4 is not far off

The latest instalment for the Primary Australian Literacy Mathematics and Science (PALMS) Program will be released shortly for Year 4. The Earth's Surface package covers the Earth Science content of the Australian Curriculum for this year group with links to other sciences, English and Maths. This, and the packages for Years 1-3 can be accessed freely at:

 Get ready for the Big Science Competition 2017!

The Big Science Competition is an easy way to challenge students from years 7 to 10 and track their performance against state or national averages. It's a 50 minute, 30 multiple choice competition testing critical thinking and problem solving skills, not just factual recall, so you can find out what's really going on inside their heads. Questions are set in real-life, contemporary contexts, making them relatable (and interesting).Download sample questions, take a look at how you can use the results in your classroom and download the technology requirements for the online competition:

 WASP Posters a Big Hit!

The Woodside Australian Science Project (WASP) was pleased to recently release three new posters to accompany their teaching packages. The posters for Years 7, 9 and 10 add to the already available Year 8 poster. Updates to the Years 7-10 packages as well as online quizzes are set to be released in the new year. All of these resources, as well as the already available Year 4-12 teaching packages, animations and our app can be accessed at:

 Olympiads on-line: Making studying for Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad exam even easier in 2017

For students enrolled in the Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad exam and especially for those not studying Earth and Environmental Science at school this online facility has proved a big hit: New material is being added to all science programs; Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Science and Physics. This will expand the questions available early in 2017 and make it the ideal study tool for anybody planning to sit any of the Australian Olympiad exams in 2017 or 2018 and its free for students and teachers to use.

 ScienceiQ competition dates for 2017

ScienceiQ is a series of separate on-line science competitions conducted by the Science Teachers' Association of Western Australia (STAWA). The scienceiQ quizzes test student knowledge, skills and understandings in most areas of science.
Competition dates:

 New Geography work samples from ACARA

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has published additional work samples, including samples for Years 7–10 Technologies and one sample per portfolio for Years 7–10 Geography.


President's Report

Australian Geoscience Council - President's Report by Bill Shaw

Since our August report by Dr Jon Hronsky, the AGC has continued to be very active in advocating geoscience in Australia. A brief summary of our recent achievements follows before some exciting news about our AGC Convention to engage with all geoscientists in Australia and our Region. But first our activities:

We provided a submission to the National Review Of Research Infrastructure and also promoted the views of AuScope, UNCOVER and the Australian Academy of Science National Committee of Earth Sciences, which also made submissions.

We are supporting the Geological Society of Australia (GSA) initiative on Geotourism with a matching contribution of funds for an economic feasibility study on the Warrumbungle UNESCO Global Geopark proposal. This will be a benchmark study and will provide a template for proposals for other Geotourism projects in Australia. We see Geotourism as an important way for the community to engage with their local rocks, and potentially a way of creating opportunities for geoscientists. The GSA's information is at Incidentally there was a successful 'geo-cultural' tour recently of Sydney's iconic (and aptly named) Rocks District.

The AGC has been attending meetings to help develop the Decadal Plan for Earth Sciences in Australia. We see this primarily as a value proposition document to promote future benefits from investment in geoscience. By focusing on the Education and Advocacy sections of this document we consider it will promote the importance of Geoscience and the knowledge we derive from rocks as part of an integrated Earth Sciences strategy.

The AGC Strategic Plan was presented at the 35th International Geoscience Congress in Cape Town, South Africa in August. This provided an opportunity to engage with other like-minded organisations around the world and start to understand how we can all interact, support various initiatives, and learn from our shared successes. The presentation that I gave is on the AGC website

We developed a Media Blitz for this year's Earth Science Week in October with three main themes. The first was #OzRockStocktake, the photographic outreach event which many of you participated in. Results were very pleasing and can be found by using the hashtag to search Google, Facebook and/or Twitter. We also unveiled a new addition to the National Rock Garden in Canberra, being a piece of Moruya granite from the quarry that provided the dimension stone for the Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons. And finally, we urged our Federal and State Governments to support the UNCOVER initiative to find the 'next generation' of hidden mineral deposits in Australia, as these will sustain Australia's high level of economic prosperity and resource security. These three media releases achieved considerable penetration into Government at all levels. They can be found at

We have provided some support to the programs developed by Ms Suzy Urbaniak of Kent Street Senior High School and we are pleased to note here that she was awarded the 2016 Prime Minister's Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools. I congratulated Suzy formally by letter (and informally of course). We know she is a great resource for others who want to emulate her successful engagement of students and the community.

And now for our BIG news

With the support and commitment of our eight Member Organisations the AGC is developing the AGC Convention 2018 (AGCC 2018). This will be held in Adelaide during Earth Science Week (14-18 October, 2018). Planning is underway with the recent appointment of a Professional Conference Organiser, finalisation of the venue and formation of the Organising Committee. Dr Chris Yeats will Chair the Technical & Scientific Program Subcommittee and various other Subcommittee Chairs are currently being appointed.

AGCC banner

The purpose is to promote Geoscience as a major and essential field of Science in Australia. Geoscience plays a fundamental part in every Australian's life; it constitutes our immediate environment, and provides many of the materials we use in everyday life.

The convention will provide an opportunity for geoscientists from Australasia to come together to discuss and promote all aspects of Geoscience and to gain valuable professional development from an engaging program of high-quality technical content. The Australian Geoscience Council (AGC) will host this forum and our Member Societies will be encouraging leading geoscientists from Australia, New Zealand and further afield to share their knowledge and experiences in the many diverse aspects of Geoscience. A number of Keynote Speakers of international repute have already expressed interest in championing some themes. A strong media presence will be there to focus attention on the issues and potential solutions facing Australian Geoscience.

The convention is expected to cover all aspects of Geoscience. The proposed topics are wide-ranging, potentially covering science and technology, mineral and energy resources, sustaining our environment and supporting our people, the impact of Geoscience on society and ways of educating everyone about Geoscience.

The Australian Geoscience Council Convention in 2018 is the inaugural forum for bringing together Geoscience professionals from all Member Societies of the AGC to showcase their part in Geoscience for the 21st Century. The compelling reason for doing this is to develop broad cooperation, synergies and strong linkages between industry and academia, researchers and practitioners, educators and community stakeholders wishing to further their understanding. By developing the big picture for Geoscience in our Region we will ensure that our important science has a strong future and we can maximise the benefit of our common field of endeavour for all Australians.

The proposed Technical Sessions are:
  1. Understanding the Earth
  2. Life on Earth - origins and diversity
  3. Resources - discovery, development, use and sustainability
  4. Applied Geoscience in the 21st Century - innovation, technology and the future
  5. Beyond the Rocks - Geoscience in our society: current application and future trends

We expect that Technical Session 5 will include sessions engaging with the broader community interested in Geoscience including:
  a. Geoscience and education
  b. Geoscience in economics and finance
  c. Geoscience advocacy, professionalism and ethics
  d. Geoscience solutions - understanding, prediction and adaptation

Running across these Technical Sessions we plan to have a number of half-day Thematic Sessions. The overall plan is to engage with as many presenters, speakers and attendees as possible. To do this we have planned an innovative approach with extensive use of electronic resources and poster presentations.

If you are interested in providing a paper, helping develop a Technical Session or championing a Thematic Session please contact any of the following:

Dr Chris Yeats - Scientific and Technical Program Convenor

Dr Bill Shaw - President of the AGC

Ms Leanne Gunther - Administration Officer of the AGC

Now is the time to start your planning to help us make a difference in Australian Geoscience.


Geoscience Education Views

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

New developments in virtual geoscience with AusGeol and TESEP


Field work is a cornerstone of geological education programs. Nothing can fully replace the tactile experience of holding and manipulating an object or the insight gained by exploring, touching and documenting a field site. However, it is not possible to expose students to a fully comprehensive range of field experiences.

Significant localities are widely dispersed and important sites are often situated in inaccessible or dangerous locations where student visits are not practical. In addition, financial, safety, legislative and logistic issues also impact on geological field programs. The AusGeol virtual geological resources have been developed to address these issues and to augment, but not replace, conventional field based Earth Science programs.

The Virtual Library of Australia's Geology delivers free, downloadable visualisations of geological features as 3D photo-realistic models, full spherical panoramas, 'gigapixel' images and virtual tours. The virtual library provides a diverse selection of well-documented examples of important geological features to assist in the development of student geological field skills.

Recent technology and software developments facilitate rapid and cost effective generation of a range of photorealistic virtual geological objects that are distributed through the AusGeol website . These objects provide more intuitive and immersive depictions of geological outcrops than can be provided by conventional photography.

The intention of the AusGeol program is to document a representative selection of Australia's geological heritage and develop educational resources to accompany these visualisations.

The Teacher Earth Science Education Programme (TESEP) has been working collaboratively with the AusGeol project ( to provide digital geological teaching and learning resources and in particular to develop a database of paleontological specimens. Some examples of 3D visualisations of a range of fossils can be found at:

A collection of trilobites that can be viewed in 3D from both Australian and international localities can be found at:

Commencing in 2017, TESEP will be presenting workshops to enable teachers to confidently use and incorporate the resources available from the AusGeol project into their geological teaching programmes.

Michael Roach

Philip Sansom
TESEP Tasmanian Coordinator


Geoscience Education Deadlines, Events & Activities


 CONASTA 66, 2017
Abstract submissions close on 15 December, 2016.

 QCoal scholarships to JCU
Applications close on 31 January, 2017.

 Australian Science Olympiad Exams
Registrations close of all exams 19 July 2017
See website for more details:


 AMOS/MSNZ conference and ANZ Climate forum, Canberra, 7-10 February 2017
Note: Special events for teachers and students

 ACSTA NSW 2017, Sydney, 17-18 February 2017

 BEESST conference 2017, Sydney, 24 March 2017

 CONSEA*ACT 2017, Canberra, 25 March 2017

 SASTA Annual Conference & Expo, Adelaide, 28 April

 CONASTA 2017, Hobart, 7-12 July
AGCC banner

 Australian Science Olympiad Exams
Registrations close of all exams 19 July 2017
See website for more details:

 Australian Science Olympiad Exams, August 2017
   •   Chemistry exam August 2
   •   Earth and Environmental Science exam August 4
   •   Biology exam August 7
   •   Physics exam August 9
See website for more details:

 International Earth Science Olympiad 2017, France, 22-29 August
Explore details here and consider sitting the 2017 Australian exams to attend the 2018 summer school and maybe represent Australia at IESO 2018.

 AGC Convention 2018 (AGCC 2018), Adelaide, 14-18 October 2018
AGCC banner
 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-March 2017.


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 © 2007-2016 Australian Geoscience Council