July-August 2015      
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A message from the AGC President and AGC Chairman

In a departure from previous issues the AGC President, Bill Shaw, and AGC Chairman, Jon Hronsky, present here edited highlights from the President's and Chairman's Report to the Annual General Meeting of the AGC on 4 June 2015.

What is the Australian Geoscience Council?
The Australian Geoscience Council has eight major Australian geoscientific societies as its Members. These organisations are considered to collectively represent most of Australia's geoscientists, a number we believe to be around 7,000 individuals, after considering that many are members of more than one organisation. As the peak body for these individuals we have interests in representing industry, government and academic professionals in the fields of geology, geophysics, geochemistry, minerals, petroleum, hydrogeology, environmental and all other aspects of geoscience.

The role of the AGC is to foster close relationships between Geoscience learned societies and professional associations in Australia and to take concerted action for promoting Earth Sciences and their applications in the best interests of both our constituent organisations and the nation as a whole.

Bill Shaw

Bill Shaw, AGC President

Jon Hronsky

Jon Hronsky, AGC Chairman

The vision and strategic plan
Given our mission is defined in our constitution we started with our Vision. This maps our path forward and gives us guidance at each step in making decisions. The Vision we agreed on is appropriately challenging: We will 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. To maintain our focus on this Vision we have developed three Strategic Pillars: Geoscience Education, Geoscience Advocacy and Geoscience Sustainability. We consider these almost self-explanatory, the third pillar focusing on actions that enable us to ensure the first two continue to be developed long into the future. For each of the Strategic Pillars we have defined Strategies and within each of the Strategies we have defined Targets. Full details of the Strategic Plan are on the AGC website here.

The most important challenge now is to effectively implement our Strategic Plan. We need to translate the aspirations in the plan into concrete actions and outcomes. This is being done through the development of a Business Plan and Budget that guides us for the current year

An interesting outcome of our Strategic Plan is that the AGC has been invited to participate in the Australian Academy of Science subcommittee that is developing a 10 year plan for geoscience in Australia. The last such decadal plan was extremely successful in helping provide coordinated funding for government, academia and organisations such as Geoscience Australia, the CSIRO, university departments and Centres of Excellence. We have already been asked to specifically help with the Education aspects of the new plan, which fits well with our first Strategic Pillar of Geoscience Education.

Download the Strategic Plan summary flyer here.

Read the full text of the President's and Chairman's Report here.

Bill Shaw
President, Australian Geoscience Council

Jon Hronsky
Chairman, Australian Geoscience Council


In March I alluded to the possibility that there may be an attempt to reduce the Earth and Space content of the science curriculum in order to save other content as the the curriculum review progressed to implementation. I am pleased to say this concern has been allayed, with the majority of changes suggested by the review having little bearing on Earth Science content or teaching. However, as always, our community of interest must strive to ensure the balance of content in the curriculum does not get eroded. In recognising Geoscience Education and Geoscience Advocacy as strategic pillars in its Strategic Plan the AGC has accepted this challenge but it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure the AGC and others who can advocate on these matters are kept informed of developments as they arise.

The conference of the Australian Science Teachers Association 2015 (CONASTA) was held in Perth recently and one of the highlights of that event was the launch of the Primary Australian Literacy Mathematics & Science (PALMS) Program. The material showcased at the launch, and the material that is under development to go with it, is an excellent example of what can be done for teachers and students when appropriate funding, willing organisations and dedicated people come together to address a problem. Not only should all concerned by congratulated but the geoscience community at large should look to this material as a best-practice model of how to develop appropriately targeted materials and provide them to the community of end users both locally and nationally. May there be more of it.

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


Geoscience Education News & Reviews

 ESWA a finalist in the Premier's Science Awards

Earth Science Western Australia (ESWA) has been announced as a finalist in the Western Australian Premier's Science Awards. It is a great honour to be named a finalist in the Chevron Science Engagement Initiative of the Year category and speaks highly of the great work done by ESWA in raising the profile of Earth Sciences in Western Australian schools. The AGC wishes ESWA the best and hopefully we will see ESWA announced as the winner of the category during science week in August.

 International Earth Science Olympiad team announced for Brazil
2015 IESO team

        The 2015 IESO team, left to right:
        Timothy Hume, Zoe Thompson, Sacha Mann, Jade Pham
        Image courtesy of Australian Science Innovations

The Minister for Education and Training, the Hon. Christopher Pyne MP, presented students selected to represent Australia at the international Biology, Chemistry, Infomatics, Mathematics, Physics and Earth Science Olympiads with their team blazers at a June Parliament House ceremony in Canberra. The first Earth Science team, chosen through a highly competitive national selection process and summer school training program, are keen to get to Brazil and compare their knowledge and skills with the rest of the world. The AGC supported the inaugural national competition and summer school and wishes the students every success.

2015 exams for 2016 Summer School happening soon: August 7 for Earth and Environmental Science
The Australian Geoscience Council supports ASI and the Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad Summer School and encourages teachers to enrol all their high ability Year 10 and Year 11 students to sit the Australian Science Olympiad exams - and especially the Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad exam. The exam is designed to identify high ability students with excellent critical thinking skills. Content knowledge other than that required by the national science curriculum K-10 is not an expectation and while studying Earth and Environmental Science in Year 11 may be seen as an advantage it is worth noting that none of the inaugural 2015 Summer School students were studying Earth and Environmental Science when they sat the exam. Read more about the exam and how to enrol students here: https://www.asi.edu.au/site/asoc_exams.php

Support for students studying for the 2015 exams
ASI has identified that students and their teachers will benefit from study guides based around the previous national exams and related content. This has resulted in the development of an online facility that meets these needs through interactive tutorials and links to other resources. This will prove especially useful for those students enrolled in the EESO exam who are not currently studying Earth and Environmental Science at school. Read more about the new online facility here: http://asoeonline.edu.au/ and start using it for free by logging on here: https://www.asi.edu.au/site/olympiads_online.php

 Join the JOIDES Resolution on the Indonesian Throughflow leg: July 31- September 30

This leg is investigating the interaction of currents and monsoons in and around Western Australia by drilling sediment samples from six different sites in the northwest Australian shelf. The data will be used to work out how the Indonesian Throughflow and Leeuwin Currents have changed over the last 5 million years, and the patterns of the northwest Australian monsoon over the same period. The data will also allow further study of the movement of the Australian tectonic plate.

This Australian leg features Stephen Gallagher as Co-chief Scientist from the University of Melbourne and Australian Science Communicator Simon Lang.

The JR education program invites students to join live ship-to-shore conferences and you can still apply for Aug 7 - Sept 30 events. Sign up here.
Find out more here.

 TESEP and Monash team up and show off
Jim Driscoll, Monash

Jim Driscoll, Monash University, proudly shows off some columnar basalt in the Monash Earth Science Garden

Teachers who recently attended a joint Monash-Teacher Earth Science Education Programme (TESEP) professional development workshop at the School of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment, Monash University, were in for an unexpected treat. Just as the workshop started the barriers preventing public access to the new Monash Earth Sciences Garden came down! The opportunity was too good to miss and the TESEP class was the first ever to inspect the garden and use it as a teaching tool! Based on the geology and geomorphology of Victoria the garden comprises a stunning arrangement of nearly 500 rock specimens, laid out to form outcrops in a geological map and set amongst beautiful native trees and plants. Officially opening on 15 September 2015, visitors can stroll around the garden now. Monumental slabs and boulders of gneiss, granite, limestone, sandstone, basalt and much more 'outcrop' in the garden, enabling students to construct a geological map, take structural measurements and develop a geological history of the area the garden represents. The workshop attendees were very impressed and will undoubtedly bring student groups to visit Monash and the garden in due course.

 Top GeoShot 2015 still open to your view on the world

The theme for Geoscience Australia's 2015 Top GeoShot photographic competition is "Rock Stars" but get snapping, it closes 1 September 2015. To participate, simply take a photograph that represents rock features in the Australian landscape.

There are three categories for this year's competition:
   •   Open 18 years +
   •   Intermediate 13-17 years old
   •   Junior 12 years and under.

A panel of Geoscience Australia staff will select the winning images. Winners will receive a professionally framed enlargement of their image and a copy of Shaping a Nation: a geology of Australia.
Find out more here.
Download the flyer here.

 Curious Minds: a hands-on extension and mentoring program to ignite girls' passion in science, technology, engineering and maths

Curious Minds is a new six-month program for high-achieving girls in years 8, 9 and 10 that 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 will be invited to apply 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). Students who receive an invitation to the program via their school teacher will be emailed details of how to register online.

To find out more visit the Australian Science Innovations web site or contact Lillian Lesueur.

 Earth Science Week 2015

National Science Week is almost upon us but Earth Science Week is not far away either!
Geoscience Australia will again be hosting Australia's Earth Science Week celebrations and aligning activities with the international theme, Visualising Earth Systems.
Earth Science Week will be celebrated in Australia from 11-17 October 2015.

This year's event will promote awareness of the many ways scientists monitor and represent information about Earth systems including land, water, air, and living things. Earth Science Week 2015 activities will engage young people and others in exploring ways of visualizing Earth systems, using technologies ranging from on-site data collection to satellite-based remote sensing, as scientists investigate conditions of Earth systems. Today's geoscientists display their findings in charts, graphs, diagrams, illustrations, photos, videos, computer-generated animations, and 3D-printed creations.

What are you going to do for Earth Science Week? Follow this link for some suggestions and ideas. Visit the American Geosciences Institute, the home of Earth Science Week, to read more and get even more ideas about what you can do to engage the public, students and other professionals in Earth Sciences during this time and in an ongoing fashion.

On-line resources - links and reviews:

 Clap hands for PALMS

The Primary Australian Literacy Mathematics & Science (PALMS) Program - recently launched at CONASTA - aims to enrich and support the teaching of earth science from Kindergarten to Year 5 across Australia. This will be achieved by providing, within the mandated Earth and Space Science curriculum, hands-on activities integrating aspects of Chemical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences as well as relevant components of English, Mathematics and other subjects into teaching packages that can be easily accessed by teachers of Kindergarten to Year 5. Packages of materials are to be supported with teacher training and hands-on incursions, in Western Australia.

The initial Year one program can be accessed at http://www.palms.edu.au/mod/page/view.php?id=451. Other years levels are staged to come on line over the next year or so. You can explore the planned programs by following the links on http://www.palms.edu.au/.

 Olympiads on-line: A big boost to studying for Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad exam

As discussed above, ASI has launched an on-line facility that helps students study for the Australian Science Olympiad exams through interactive tutorials and links to other resources. This will prove especially useful for those students enrolled in the EESO exam, even more so for those who are not currently studying Earth and Environmental Science at school. Read more about the new online facility here: http://asoeonline.edu.au/ and start using it for free by logging on here: https://www.asi.edu.au/site/olympiads_online.php

 National Science Week

National Science Week is coming in August.
Here is one geoscience event on the National Science Week calendar that everyone in Sydney should go to; a Public Forum - Powering Sydney into the Future: the Science of Alternative Energy

 The Ultimate Science Guide for students and teachers

Thinking outside the box is the key for future employment, according to the RiAus Ultimate Science Guide. So what careers can we expect to see in the future? For the latest insights into the careers of the future as well as a comprehensive list of Australian university courses this guide is the ultimate and should be a go to document for all science students thinking about their future today.

 The ideas (and easy to do activities) just keep coming at Earth Learning Idea

If you have not bookmarked Earth Learning Idea or signed up for their email alert to new activities it is time you did! The ideas and activities just keep coming and some great easy to implement activities have been posted in the last month alone. Check them out!

 EngQuest engages for free

EngQuest, an initiative of Engineers Australia, provides an exciting, non-competitive way for students to participate in free, fun and educational engineering activities involving science, technology and mathematics. There are curriculum-appropriate classroom engineering projects that all include instructions, background information, lesson and activity ideas and student activity sheets. There are projects for lower primary, primary and middle years students. This site is well worth a look.

 Science on-line product looks like good value

Cambridge Dynamic Science is an online resource that visually demonstrates science processes and concepts that harness the power of the interactive medium. A range of interactive media caters for different learning styles and encourages students to question and engage in science in action. This product is not free but looks like good value and may well be better suited to some learning environments than other freely available resources.

 Awesome new poster as Curiosity celebrates 3 years on Mars

This fantastic poster should be on view in every classroom!
You can also get students to send Curiosity a postcard to say thanks!


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.

AUGEN in 2016

The Australasian Universities Geoscience Educators Network (AUGEN) is gearing up for the 5th annual network meeting to be hosted in Canberra 28-29 January 2016. A one-day pre-meeting workshop for early career educators is planned to augment the regular program of interactive talks and invited speakers. The Annual General Meeting will also take place at this event and all members are strongly encouraged to participate.

AUGEN 2015 attendees enjoying the new fast-paced geo-card game Mineral Supertrumps.

AUGEN 2015 attendees enjoying the new fast-paced geo-card game Mineral Supertrumps.

Every year the meeting proves to be an excellent forum for geoscience educators from across Australia and New Zealand to gather and share research, success stories, innovations, and best practices of geoscience teaching in an informal collegial setting. Many educators use the meeting as an opportunity to receive feedback and solicit input on their teaching and learning activities from an experienced and enthusiastic community of practice. It is also an opportunity for like-minded academics to conceive and design collaborative teaching and learning research projects in a workshop setting.

The annual AUGEN meeting also provides a unique occasion for industry and government geoscience body representatives to connect with the university sector. An open and continued dialogue about the state of geoscience higher education, the quality of graduates from our institutions, and the demand for those graduates is an important aspect of this gathering.

Meeting details and a call for abstracts will be sent out to members later in the year. Academics interested in becoming involved with AUGEN or attending the meeting should contact the committee via augenmail@gmail.com. Membership and meeting attendance are free.

In addition to convening the annual gatherings, AUGEN facilitates the development of collaborative geoscience education initiatives. One such project, led by Michael Roach of University of Tasmania and supported by a generous grant from the National Office of Learning and Teaching, is bringing together collaborators and support from across the universities, state geological surveys, and Geoscience Australia. The two-part project will create an interactive virtual library of key geological outcrops across Australia and associated educational resources and teaching tools. This will be an open resource for educators across Australia.

Upcoming and ongoing initiatives of AUGEN include a speaker series, developing draft Threshold Learning Outcomes for the Australian Council of Deans of Science, and providing peer mentoring for practitioners interested in developing their teaching and learning research into publications.

Visit the AUGEN website at augen.edu.au or email augenmail@gmail.com to become a member.

Dr. Leslie D. Almberg
for the AUGEN organising committee


Geoscience Education Deadlines, Events & Activities


 ASTA need a Communications and Events Manager.
Applications close 12 August 2015. Contact the ASTA office on (02) 6282 9377 or be email on asta@asta.edu.au to request additional information and selection criteria.

 STANSW 2016 Annual Conference on Science Education (K-12). Submissions close 21 August 2015
Conference to be held Friday and Saturday 19 & 20 February 2016 at UNSW. http://tinyurl.com/otp7oh3.

 Top GeoShot photographic competition. Entries close 1 September 2015


 Australian Science Olympiad Exams, August 2015
   •   Chemistry exam August 5
   •   Earth and Environmental Science exam August 7
   •   Biology exam August 10
   •   Physics exam August 12
See website for more details:

 In class with Chris Hadfield, August 12 2015
Best known for his funny, quirky and fascinating videos made during his five month stay on the International Space Station, Chris will draw on his 21 year career to inspire and engage your students. This unique event will live-stream Colonel Chris Hadfield into classrooms around Australia as he answers students' burning space and exploration questions.
   •   10.15am-11.15am (ACST)
   •   10.45am-11.45am (AEST)
   •   8.45am-9.45am (AWST)
This event requires registration as the livestream will be password protected on the day. Register at http://riaus.org.au/chris-hadfield

 National Science Week, Nation-wide, 15-23 August 2015
See website for more details

 Public Forum as part of the Sydney Science Festival, Sydney, 17 August 2015
Powering Sydney into the Future-the Science of Alternative Energy
Tickets available here: http://tinyurl.com/p8zvzrv.

 Investigating Earth and Space Science: Years 8-10, Adelaide, 21 August 2015
See website for more details

 Mt Stromlo Astronomy night, Canberra, 21 August 2015
See website for more details

GA Open Day logo
Geoscience Australia Open Day, Canberra, 23 August 2015
See website for more details

 The 2015 SEA*ACT Science Fair!, Maribyrnong Primary School ACT, 28-29 August
Read more here.

 Environment Week, 30 August - 5 September

 International Earth Science Olympiad 2015, Brazil, 13-20 September
Explore details here and consider sitting the exams to attend summer school and maybe represent Australia at IESO 2017.

 Mt Stromlo Astronomy night, Canberra, 25 September 2015
See website for more details

 SASTA Early Career Science Teachers Conference 2015, Adelaide, 9 October 2015
See website for more details

 STAVCON, Melbourne, 27 November 2015
See website for more details

 STAQ Senior Science Conference, Brisbane, 27 November 2015
See website for more details

 STEM Middle School (6-10) Conference 2015, Adelaide, 27 November 2015
See website for more details

 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 December 2014.


GeoEdLink is a newsletter published by the Australian Geoscience Council.

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