July-August 2013      
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A message from the AGC President

Neil Williams

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

In the March 2013 Edition of GeoEdLink, I said I would write more about Australia's Law of the Sea claims for the next issue and the promised article appears later in this issue.

Colorado River canyon

The Colorado River and Canyonlands National Park
from Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

Since writing my last President's column I spent part of April and May on a trip exploring the south western USA, where amongst other activities, I had the opportunity of visiting several conservation areas renowned for their spectacular geology, including Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado, Rio Grande Gorge in northern New Mexico, Monument Valley on the Utah-Arizona border, Mesa Verde in south western Colorado, Canyonlands and Arches National Parks in eastern Utah and the adjacent Dead Horse Point State Park, and Dinosaur National Monument in north eastern Utah.

The State and Federal Governments in the USA have done a fantastic job of explaining the awesome geology of these and similar areas across the country by way of very informative signage at lookouts, and displays and brochures in visitor centres. Australia has a long way to go to match the geoscience educational effort of the USA in their network of conservation areas, and upon returning home I could hardly say no when approached by a committee of the Geological Society of Australia to become involved in their work to promote geotourism in Australia. I look forward to the day when our spectacular geology is explained to a standard equal to or better than that seen in the USA. In the meantime, if you are ever in the south western USA above is an example of one of the geotourism treats you can expect to see.

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


In March I wrote that I was hopeful the senior Earth and Environmental Science (EES) course published by the Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA) would be adopted by all states and territories. The federal government cannot force states to adopt the new course but I remained optimistic given how easily all states adopted the ACARA F-10 Science recommendations. Unfortunately I can now report my optimism was not rewarded with a universal uptake of the ACARA EES course.

Tasmania announced in June 2013 that it had no plans to introduce EES and that its senior Environmental Science course would remain in place and unchanged. Needless to say this is a disappointing outcome for a state with significant geological, environmental and mining resources. At about the same time Victoria announced it is reviewing all senior science courses including senior Environmental Science which has a state-wide enrolment of around 500 students. In making this announcement the Victorians have pre-emptively decided to rename Environmental Science to Environmental Sciences. Aside from this semantic silliness, a detailed rewrite of the Victorian Environmental Science course is likely but the new content will embrace additional Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Geology but in no way does it seem likely that the new content will resemble the ACARA EES course. We will have to wait and see what transpires but by the time you read this the review will be underway and yet another course that pleases no one will most likely be under development.

The one thing we can be sure of, thanks to the Tasmania decision, is that the dream of a nationally available senior Earth and Environmental Science course is unlikely to become a reality this decade - if ever.

Note: This text is, in part, extracted from a column to be published in the September issue of The Australian Geologist.

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


Geoscience Education News & Reviews

 Science Week is almost here:

National Science Week is an annual celebration of science in Australia. Join in to enjoy and explore the wonders and benefits of science from 10-18 August 2013. Here are some of the Earth Science related events happening around the nation:

National & ACT:
   •   RACI crystal growing competition
   •   Volcano Land
   •   Dinosaurs DownunderGA open day logo
   •   Future Energy Science Show
   •   Professor Tim Senden: High resolution scanning; from fish, to medicine, to oil exploration.
   •   Make your own dinosaur footprint
   •   Tsunami: How wet will you get?
   •   What local spectacular fossil fish and scanning technology can tell us about the brain
   •   Growing crystals competition
   •   How to draw Australian Dinosaurs
   •   Open Day @ Geoscience Australia

   •   Dinosaurs Down Under: Cootamundra
   •   Dinosaurs Down Under: West Wyalong
   •   Dinosaurs Down Under: Griffith
   •   Dinosaurs Down Under: Hay
   •   Dinosaurs Down Under: Deniliquin
   •   Australian Museum Science Festival
   •   Hunter Earth Sciences Discussion Group
   •   Rockets, Satellites, Space Probes and Asteroid Mining
   •   Dinosaurs Down Under: Eden
   •   Australian Museum Science Festival 2013: Primary School Week

   •   Rod Quantock presents: Pardon My Carbon
   •   FREE Deckchair Cinema movie: Chasing Ice

   •   Score for a Mineral Landscape
   •   Science and Engineering Careers Fair
   •   Earth Smarties Biochar Investigation
   •   Talking with Dinosaurs
   •   The Australian Dinosaur Trail
   •   Rock Rangers Space Lab
   •   Townsville Careers Expo

   •   Science Alive! Careers Day
   •   Fossil Find
   •   Riding the Climate Rollercoaster - teacher PD
   •   Powerful stuff - teacher PD
   •   Flinders University Open Days
   •   Hot Rocks - teacher PD
   •   Adelaide University Open Day
   •   Using Stick-Nest Rat Middens to Study Climate Change in the Flinders Ranges
   •   Bees, Massive Extinction Events and Climate Change
   •   Gold Fever in the Barossa Goldfields

   •   Tasmania Zoo's Jurassic Swamp
   •   Eyes on Earth Exhibit
   •   Climate Change – the reality: Science investigations in the Southern Ocean
   •   CSIRO Science Investigators
   •   UTAS Open Day – Hobart Campuses

   •   Round and Round with Rocks - teacher PD
   •   From Earth to Sky Paint Making Workshop
   •   Dinosaurs Down Under: Echuca
   •   Dinosaurs Down Under: Shepparton
   •   Dinosaurs Down Under: Wangaratta
   •   Geology of the Grampians National Park
   •   Dinosaurs Down Under: Lakes Entrance

   •   Curtin University Open Day 2013 – Catalyst
   •   Footprint Free 10-star Home Tour
   •   Meet the Scientists at the Western Australian Museum: Perth
   •   Earth and Space Sciences
   •   Morning Tea on the Moon
   •   Dinosaur Dig

... but check the National Science Week website out for lots more!

 National Science Week grants

Stawell West Primary School was one of 192 schools to receive grants to enable them to run National Science Week event. Their event is:
Geology in the Grampians. A great topic for a school in such an amazing location. Students in grades 5 and 6 will design, test and run geological experiments to showcase for younger classes.

 Earth Science Week is not far away either: 13 - 19 October
ESW poster

Earth Science Week 2013 aims to engage young people and others in learning how geoscientists, geographers, and other mapping professionals use maps to represent land formations, natural resource deposits, bodies of water, fault lines, volcanic activity, weather patterns, travel routes, parks, businesses, population distribution, our shared geologic heritage and more. Maps help show how the Earth systems, such as geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere, interact.

Earth Science Week is an international celebration initiated and hosted by the American Geosciences Institute, promoting the importance of the geosciences to the community. To register your Australian Earth Science Week event or to request an Australian Earth Science Week 2013 poster please contact Geoscience Australia.

ESW poster

To find out about ESW events visit the Geoscience Australia website for regular updates:

   •   October TESEP webinar series: Riding the Climate Roller Coaster
   •   Geoscience Australia announces the TopGeoShot-2013 winner in ESW

 Visiting Canberra with students?

Canberra has a lot to offer visiting school groups but don't leave Earth and Space topics off the list because there are many venues with great connections with this subject area:
   •   Geoscience Australia - a visit to the Geoscience Education Centre is a must!
        It's free and provides interactive activities to a range of school-aged audiences and is staffed by geologist-teachers who really know their stuff.
   •   Questacon - a visit to the Awesome Earth gallery and its amazing earthquake simulator
        Amongst other things Awesome Earth allows you to experience lightning and earthquakes in safety!
   •   Want space? Visit the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
        They have an Open Day coming up too: Sunday, 18th August 2013
   •   How about Dinosaurs? Visit the National Dinosaur Museum
        They even have night and day tours for school groups!

Do you need more information before taking an excursion to Canberra? Visit the National Capital Educational Tourism Project, they know exactly how to help teachers and are a one-stop shop for answering all your questions.

Would you like to participate this October in a weekend-long program visiting some of these wonderful National Capital Attractions? Find out more by downloading the PDF here.

Wait! There will be more:
It's not there yet but there is a National Rock Garden under development.
It will be a permanent display, showcasing the diversity of the rocks and minerals that contribute so significantly to the nation's landscapes, heritage and prosperity. Educational and tourist interests will be met through an attractive parkland setting, with a mix of open spaces and shelters for relaxation, with themed focal points for the rock specimens and information areas explaining the role of the rocks on display.

 Call for Case Studies ongoing
TESEP logo

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. Last issue announced the call for case studies and the response has been very positive but more are still needed!

The book has 19 chapters and TESEP are looking for excellent Australian examples to support many areas of text. Each case study will consist of 2 to 6 pages, including an overview of relevant research, clear easy to read diagrams, uncluttered maps and relevant activities written for easy comprehension by senior high school students. The chapters address minerals, fossils, geological time, plate tectonics, geohazards, energy, resources and the 3 rock types but also embrace soils, water, weather, climate change, human activity, ecosystems and biodiversity. 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.

On-line resources - links and reviews:

 ASTA portal a STAR

The Australian Science Teachers Association on-line offerings just get better and better. The new ScienceWeb has excellent teaching resources linked to the Australian Curriculum: Science, including some very useful materials on Year 9 Plate Tectonics.

From August to November 2013 ASTA will be presenting a series of webinars introducing the ScienceWeb units. These Units of Work were produced by teachers in Australia using online resources for the Australian Curriculum. Links to the ScienceWeb webinars can be found here.

 ESWA resources free online
ESWA logo

Earth Science Western Australia has developed resources designed to place the Australian Earth and Space Science syllabus in context. A variety of activities are provided to engage students with a wide range of learning styles across many aspects of the curriculum. All resources are in easy to download PDF format from here. There are some great Earth Science related resources to support Biology, Chemistry and Physics too.

The Woodside Australian Science Project (WASP), also supported by ESWA, aims to produce support packages for the Earth Science component of the Australian Curriculum. Year 7 and 8 resources, demonstrated at CONASTA 62, are online here and are a great addition to the teaching tools needed to help students engage with and enjoy these topics.

 Twelve months on Mars: Curiosity and NASA celebrate

Martian robotic exploration has caught the imagination of everyone and over the last twelve months we have been amazed at what has been achieved and by what has been seen. Enthral you students with this fantastic twelve months in two minutes montage!

Five great discoveries so far on Mars; five excellent stimulus topics to get your students talking geology, physics and chemistry!

Watch this video to see how it all came together but if science does not connect with your students may be food (well, pizza) and 3D printing will!

 ICT and Geoscience: a perfect match

Geoscience Pathways is far more than just resources. It can facilitate so much more. Visit the site today, it might be just what you are looking for.

 Water for life is making waves

Water for life - Investigating water as a global issue is an excellent new resource published by the Geography Teachers Association of Victoria Inc (Global Education Project Victoria) and is now available online as a PDF. This excellent resource is a must have for anybody teaching anything to do with water. A full list of resources available from the GTAV can be found here.

 Rocks glorious rocks

Looking for pictures of rocks and minerals?

Try these sites:
Geology.com - rocks - wide range of rocks and associated images
About.com - geology - useful material
University College London - rocks of London
RockandMinerals4U - some good images to choose from
Oxford Earth Science images - rocks - this site has some of the best hand specimen photographs to be seen anywhere
Oxford Earth Science images - metamorphic rocks
Rocks you might expect to see on other planets - 15Mb PDF - great pictures from here on Earth as well as some from other planets - technical but worth it!

 It's a spatial world

Check out Spatialworlds blog! It's a repository of teaching resources, images, commentary and website links for those interested in spatial education, spatial technology and geography in schools. It is well worth a visit and will provide you with many avenues to explore if you have the time!

 A new dimension to rock climbing

This interactive 3D map of the famous El Capitan rock face brings a whole new meaning to rock climbing not to mention field mapping!

 Geogspace: Its virtual but really good

GeogSpace is an initiative of the Australian Geography Teachers Association (AGTA) supported by the resources of Education Services Australia (ESA). GeogSpace has been designed to provide materials to support primary and secondary teachers in implementing the Australian Curriculum: Geography. The resources available are excellent and no doubt there are many more to come,


Geoscience Education Views


As a school student I was taught that Australia was the driest inhabited continent, a fact reinforced by the hundreds of images of our vast "Red Centre" that I remember from my school days. Today we still read and hear about Australia being the driest inhabited continent and it comes as a great shock to people when they are told that Australia today is 60.24% water and 39.76% land!

The difference is that the watery Australia is the nation of Australia, and not our continent which is indeed very dry. As a nation Australia has jurisdictional rights to a vast area of the sea that surrounds the continent. However, off the beaches and cliffs that make up the shore of the continent there are many different categories of sea that are recognised under international law.

If you go surfing or swimming off our beaches, you are in what is known as Coastal Waters which extend out from the coast (the baseline for which is defined by surveyors and geodesists as the level of Lowest Astronomical Tide or LAT) for a distance of 3 nautical miles (1 nautical mile = 1.852km). The Coastal Waters come under the jurisdiction of the adjacent State or the Northern Territory.

Further out to sea we have a number of different zones that under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) come under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. These are the Territorial Sea (12 nautical mile limit), the Contiguous Zone (24 nautical mile limit), the Exclusive Economic Zone (200 nautical mile limit), and those Continental Shelf areas that extend beyond the 200 nautical mile limit to the outer edge of the continental margin as defined in Article 76 of UNCLOS. More information about how these zones are defined can be found at:

LOS map
Fig1: Australian territory.

When I was CEO of Geoscience Australia I had the privilege of overseeing one of the great exploration feats in our nation's history. This feat didn't involve intrepid explorers exploring the dry centre on camels, or our coastline and rivers in small boats, but rather it involved a very skilled and professional team of dedicated marine geologists, geophysicists, surveyors, and geodesists who over a period of 15 years undertook the necessary marine surveying work of Australia's continental shelf and beyond under Geoscience Australia's Law of the Sea and Maritime Boundaries Advice project. The aim of this work was to identify those areas where Australia could claim jurisdiction because our continental shelf extended beyond the 200 nautical mile limit. The team analysed an enormous amount of new data gathered on 17 marine surveys conducted over eight years in some of the most remote and inhospitable parts of the world's oceans. Along the way they worked closely with hydrographers from the Navy's Hydrographic Office, lawyers from the Commonwealth's Attorney General's department, and diplomats from the Commonwealth's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. They also collaborated with their counterparts in New Zealand and France and assisted our officials to negotiate international boundaries with those two nations in areas where jurisdictional zones overlapped. The results of this massive modern exploration effort where submitted to the United Nations in New York in November 2004, and represented under UNCLOS a claim for an additional 2.5 million square kilometres of sea beyond our 200 nautical mile limit. The UNCLOS ratified most of our claim (the purple areas in Figure 1), and the Governor General of Australia, Her Excellency the Honourable Quentin Bryce, proclaimed the new areas as part of Australia on 24 May 2012.

With the Proclamation, added to the land area of Australia and its islands of 7.69 million square kilometres, there is a marine area of 11.65 million square kilometres, giving a total area of Australia of 19.34 million square kilometres. These figures exclude all of the green and pink areas along the Australian Antarctic Territory in Figure 1, but do include the green and purple zones surrounding Heard-McDonald Island and covering the Kerguelen submarine plateau where Geoscience Australia scientists endured some of the most challenging seas encountered while exploring Australia's oceans.

How important was this exploration effort? We cannot answer this question yet, but what we can say is that within the marine area of the nation we have a sovereign right over a vast area of ocean, along with the fishery, mineral, and petroleum resources that might occur in the area. Already those resources that we know about in our marine jurisdiction contribute significantly to the national economy, but only time will tell how many more resources remain to be found. Our seas also contain a range of diverse marine ecosystems which, under our jurisdictional control, Australia has a responsibility to manage, and in 2012, the Australian Government established 40 new Commonwealth marine reserves around Australia building on existing marine reserves that have been gradually established since the first Commonwealth marine reserve was declared in 1982. (see: http://www.environment.gov.au/marinereserves/).

As our nation is now a very watery one, more and more scientific research will be needed to meet the obligations that come with our huge marine zone and this will provide fascinating new opportunities for students interested in following careers in marine biology, oceanography, climatology, meteorology, geoscience, remote sensing, and marine engineering to name but a few.

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


Geoscience Education Deadlines, Events & Activities


 TopGeoShot photographic competition.
The theme for this year’s competition is Exposed to the Elements with the closing date 23 September 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.


 TESEP PD1 - Round and Round with Rocks, 9 August 2013
Museum Victoria, Melbourne.
See interactive calendar for information and registration forms.

 National Science Week, 10-18 August 2013
Celebrate Australian Science.
See the web site for more information.

 TESEP PD2 - Riding the Climate Rollercoaster, 13 August 2013
Marden College, Adelaide.
See interactive calendar for details and registration form.

 TESEP PD8 - Powerful stuff, 14 August 2013
Marden College, Adelaide.
See interactive calendar for details and registration form.

 TESEP PD6 - Hot rocks, 16 August 2013
Marden College, Adelaide.
See interactive calendar for details and registration form.

 Australian Curriculum Geography Workshop, Rosebery, 17 August 2013
Rosebery Middle School-NT.
See website for details.

 Geoscience Australia Open Day, 18 August 2013
Showcasing Geoscience Australia's wide range of work.
See the web site for more information.

 Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex Open Day, 18 August 2013
A rare opportunity to get a little closer to the 'action' with a behind-the-scenes look at the technology of space exploration and the discoveries being made in deep space every day.
See the web site for more information.

 TESEP PD2 - Riding the Climate Rollercoaster, 21 August 2013
Quantum, Melbourne.
See interactive calendar for details and registration form.

 TESEP PD6 - Hot rocks, 22 August 2013
Quantum, Melbourne.
See interactive calendar for details and registration form.

 2013 Brisbane Secondary and Tertiary Student Geoscience Expo, 22 August 2013
See the AIG web site for more or contact Mike Erceg on 0458 051 400 or Michael.erceg1@bigpond.com.

  Professional Development Sessions For Middle & Secondary Years, Adelaide 23 August
Working with the Achievement Standards: Assessment that drives learning in science.
See the SASTA web site for more information.

 Geography Teachers Association of Victoria conference, Melbourne 25-27 August
Make a splash with Geography.
Download the PDF flyer here.

 2013 Careers in Geoscience, Perth 26 August
This careers event caters for both high school and university students.
See the ESWA web site for more information.

 ICT/STEM Conference 2013, Melbourne 30 August
Supporting the Australian Curriculum in Science Classroom.
See the web site for more information.

 Geography Teachers Association of NSW conference, Sydney 30 August
Making a difference for Australia.
Download the PDF flyer here.

 Science Teachers Association of NSW conference, Sydney 20-21 September
Bedding down the NSW K-12 syllabus.
Details available on the website.

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

 TESEP 4-part Webinar: PD2 - Riding the Climate Rollercoaster, 10,17, 22, 28 October 2013
Online, 1 hour each session.
See interactive calendar for details and registration form.

 Earth Science Week, 13 - 19 October 2013.
Mapping your world.
See the web site for more information.

 Science Teachers Association of Victoria conference, Sydney 28-29 November
Celebrating 70 Years of Science Education.
Details available on the website.

 Science Teachers Association of Queensland senior science conference, Sydney 30 November
For junior and senior secondary science teachers as well as Science Support Officers.
Details available on the website.

 TESEP PD7 - Our Place in Space, 5 December 2013
VSSEC, Melbourne.
See interactive calendar for details and registration form.

 Climate & Education Conference, Earth Ed Centre, Mt Clear, Ballarat 6 December
Education is critical to a global response to climate change.
Details available on the website.

 TESEP PD1 - Round and Round with Rocks, 6 December 2013
Monash University, Melbourne.
See interactive calendar for details and registration form.


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