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From the AGC President
Abridged President's Report to the AGM
May 2019

Bill Shaw

Bill Shaw,
AGC President

There is a significant difference between looking forward and looking back. The way forward is unknown, the path sometimes hidden, the challenges can seem insurmountable, the work both arduous and at the same time mundane, and it seems to take forever to achieve every task. Once the climb is over and the summit is attained, there is a moment to reflect on what has been achieved. This will be my last report to you as President of the Australian Geoscience Council (AGC), a role I undertook to carry out when I was nominated as the President-Elect on 7 June 2013. At the same time Jon Hronsky took over as the Chairman. So please indulge me if this report focuses on looking back, but as it all seems now to have happened in the blink of an eye, it is hopefully of value to consider what we have achieved.

Firstly let me note that many of those at our AGM in 2013 are still heavily involved in supporting the AGC. Familiar names from that meeting are Dr Ron Hackney, Professor David Cohen, Kim Frankcombe, Sue Fletcher, Miriam Way and Dr Jon Hronsky all of whom are still on the Council. Many of the initiatives that we work on were also already formulated such as the National Rock Garden, GeoEdLink and the Tertiary Geoscience Education Survey. So it is evident that the first success we should reflect on is maintaining the continuity of great work established by the many previous Presidents, Chairs, Executives and Council representatives of the AGC.

We started with the advantage that the 34th International Geological Congress in Brisbane, chaired by then out-going President Neil Williams, was a huge success. That put us in an excellent financial position with net assets at 31 December 2013 of $773,928. That conference also generated a substantial balance for the AGC and Australian Academy of Science (AAS) to establish a travel grant fund for geoscientists. Of course having all these funds meant that we had a responsibility to use and husband them wisely and appropriately, given the many diverse opportunities to provide support.

Our first step was to establish our Strategic Plan which I have constantly referred to over the last five years in these reports to you. This Plan is one of the reasons for our success, and helping develop it is on the list of my top lifetime achievements. The essence of our Strategic Plan is its simplicity. It notes our Mission, established in our constitution, but it also articulates our Vision: "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." Agreement on this Vision led to the establishment and definition of our three Strategic Pillars, which we then populated with Tasks for which we defined line items in our Budget. The Strategic Plan fits on one page and we have been asked by a number of other organisations if they can use it as a template. Below you will see a snapshot of the many things we have managed to achieve through the focus this tool has provided.

I believe that our biggest achievements are intangible. We have engaged with the many organisations that impact on Geoscience in Australia. We have influenced them and other stakeholders and led by example to provide a focus on Geoscience (with a capital G). In addition, we can list the following achievements over the last five years within each of our three Strategic Pillars:

Geoscience Education

We have financially supported GeoEdLink, ESWA, AUGEN, TESEP, Palms, CoRE, the Australian Science Olympiad and have actively sought out star performers and brought them together on our Education Subcommittee. The many threads of Geoscience Education that we wove together at the AGCC 2018 in Adelaide provides us all with remarkable clarity about the coherence for the future of Geoscience Education.

We have also promoted public awareness, supported the NSW Geotourism Map, developed the Early Career Geoscientists Travel Fund and supported Earth Science Week.


We have continued to support UNCOVER Australia through a role on the Executive and influenced, supported and promoted the Decadal Plan for Geoscience released by the AAS.

We have developed recommendations for the Undergraduate Syllabus, supported the National Rock Garden, established a Working Group that is developing a National Geotourism Strategy and more besides.


We have welcomed the Australian and New Zealand Geomorphology Group (ANZGG) as a new Member Organisation. We have also reached out to other Geoscience organisations to invite them to attend future Council meetings as observers, including Geoscience Australia.

We have reduced the frequency of Council meetings to quarterly, employed a part-time Administration Officer are establishing an Early Career Geoscientists network to provide ideas about member retention for all our Member Organisations.

Our major focus on Geoscience Sustainability over the last two years was our inaugural Convention in Adelaide from Sunday 14 to Thursday 18 October 2018. This had an excellent technical program, strong Plenary and Keynote speakers, world-class promotional material in both print and on the web, and wonderful support from our Patron Sponsor (Geoscience Australia), our Major Sponsor (Santos Limited) and from the SA Government. The reporting is still being finalised to ensure future organising committees have the benefit of the valuable lessons we learnt

David Cohen

David Cohen,
Incoming AGC President

I would like to thank my colleagues Dr Jon Hronsky (Chairman), Dr Ron Hackney (Secretary) and Leanne Gunther (Administrative Officer), on the AGC Executive for their on-going hard work and support. The AusIMM has again provided professional support through Miriam Way and Ian Lewis as Treasurer which has been greatly appreciated.

I welcome the incoming President of the AGC Professor David Cohen and believe that he will provide sound leadership. The new Secretary is Kim Frankcombe and he is already shouldering the load of this important role.

Having attained the summit, and reflected on how much we achieved in such a short time (the blink of an eye) I am again looking forward into the unknown, but with significant experience and great memories to sustain me.

Read the full, unabridged, report here.

Bill Shaw
Past-President, Australian Geoscience Council



The opinions expressed here are those of the Editor and may not reflect the views or policies of the AGC.

Firstly, by way of apology, this edition of GeoEdLink has been somewhat delayed because the editor (yours truly) has been laid low for several weeks recently by one of the worst colds (or flu-like things) I can remember suffering through. I was dutifully vaccinated against this year's strains of influenza but there isn't a vaccine for everything and my body succumbed to something else. However, as a cautionary tale, I can only speculate on how much worse a bout of the influenza strains we vaccinate against must be and urge one and all to heed the science and vaccinate!

Secondly, the 2019 Federal Election has come and gone and the government returned. What isn't so clear is what this means for education. However, we do know that both major parties unambiguously supported Geoscience research well into the future as part of their policy platform so the future for graduates is bright, global economics permitting.

Finally, as we approach mid-year, the challenges for teachers in the classrooms of Australia continue. I can only hope that the combined efforts of the Geoscience Education community of interest are still up to the task of helping teachers with this most important work. To some extent we make our own future but what we make of it depends on how we train our future leaders, scientists and community members too. If nothing else we must not only continue to assist teachers but also advocate for them and their profession where ever it will make a difference.

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


Geoscience Education News & Reviews

 Vic Retires

Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) CEO and qualified geologist, Vic Dobos, is retiring from ASTA on 2 July 2019.

Vic has skillfully guided the ASTA Secretariat over his tenure of six and half years and has developed and grown important strategic partnerships with both the government and industry sectors. He has successfully overseen major projects that will continue to benefit ASTA members and leaves ASTA in a strong position for future growth.

The AGC takes this opportunity to thank Vic for his service to Geoscience Education and wishes him well in his retirement.

 CONASTA 68 - Darwin, July 2019
CONASTA 2019 logo
CONASTA 2019 in Darwin
Winter in the Tropics!

CONASTA 2019 is coming to Darwin, 7-10 July. The CONASTA 68 theme of Uncharted Territory: innovation in science education has been chosen to inspire all educators to focus on the influence of science on our lives. CONASTA 68 will celebrate the successes of science, particularly Australian science, and will explore the vital role of science in our future. Watch the promotional video here.
Find out more here.

 The Olympiad entrance exams are not far off!

It is not too late to enroll students who are interested in sitting the Australian Science Olympiad Exams, which are held in August every year. Up to 24 students in each discipline (Biology, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Science and Physics) will be selected to attend the Australian Science Olympiads Summer School in January 2020. Based on their performance at Summer School and in final selection exams, up to 17 students will travel overseas to represent Australia at the International Science Olympiad in their respective disciplines.

The upcoming 2019 International Earth Science Olympiad (IESO) will be held in Daegu, South Korea and the 2020 IESO will be held in Saint Petersburg, Russia. In Australia, most students don't get an opportunity to study Earth and Environmental Science at school but you don't have to study it at school to get invited to Summer School or represent Australia at the IESO!

In fact, Australia has been very successful at the IESO since Australian Science Innovations started organising Summer Schools and selecting teams in 2015 even though most of the team members have not studied Earth and Environmental Science at school. Four teams have returned with a total of 3 gold, 7 silver and 5 bronze medals in the individual competitions plus other awards for international team events they were in.

Students keen on Biology, Chemistry and Physics are all encouraged to sit the Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad exam too. Why? Because, in recognising most students don't study the subject, the entrance exam is written to find good analytical thinkers with a capacity to learn, not students who know a lot of content. The ASI program teaches all the content (and more) that is needed at Summer School. The program is proof that good Biology, Chemistry and Physics students can make great Earth and Environmental Science students. It is also another opportunity for 24 students to have a great Summer School experience they might not have had otherwise!
Register students online here.

2019 Exam dates are:
  •  Chemistry – 7 August
  •  EES – 9 August
  •  Biology – 12 August
  •  Physics – 14 August
Registrations close 19 July 2019.

Note: EESO Program Director, Greg McNamara, recommends only inviting high achieving students to sit the entrance exam because, like all Olympiad entrance exams, it is designed to identify the top 24 students in the cohort. Consequently, it is exceptionally challenging for top students and less able students will not benefit from the experience.

 Team Australia announced for IESO 2019

The upcoming 2019 International Earth Science Olympiad (IESO) will be held in Daegu, South Korea and the Australian team has just been announced!

After sitting the entrance exam in 2018, 24 students were invited to attend the 2019 Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad Summer School at ANU. After a gruelling two and half weeks of intense coursework and fieldwork (in record breaking summer heat) 4 students were chosen to make up Team Australia.

Australian Science Innovations is pleased to announce the Australian Team for the 2019 IESO in Daegu, South Korea is:
  •  Imogen Viner, Woodbridge District High School, Tasmania
  •  Jordan Rogers, Girton Grammar School, Victoria
  •  Anthony Manns, Chatswood High School, NSW and
  •  Maxwell Etherington, Brindabella Christian College, ACT

Team Australia 2019
Greg McNamara, Program Director, (far left) with Team members (L-R) Jordan Rogers, Anthony Manns, Imogen Viner and Maxwell Etherington and Leslie Almberg, Deputy Program Director, (far right).

The AGC supports Australian Science Innovations and wishes the team every success in South Korea this August.

 National Science Week, 10-18 August 2019

National Science Week 2019 is almost here, so get your activities organised now! National Science Week aims to raise the profile and increase the public understanding and public appreciation of science, innovation, engineering and technology, and their role in maintaining and improving our society, economy and environment.

The 2019 school theme is: Destination Moon: more missions, more science

Download the ASTA poster here.
Download the ASTA poster with additional information here.
Download the ASTA activity resource book here.
Download the ASTA ideas resource book here.
Download the ASTA timeline of Australia's history in space resource book here.
Download the ASTA student journal resource book here.

 Earth Science Week 2019
ESW18 logo

Earth Science Week 2019, October 13-19, celebrates Geoscience is for everyone. The theme encourages individuals of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities to engage with the Geosciences, whether that is as a Geoscience professional, a hobbyist, or through public engagement.
AGI website:

 Global Natural History Day®

Global Natural History Day is an initiative of entrepreneur and philanthropist Kenneth E. Gehhring. It was initially based solely in China but is now a totally international program designed to inspire school students' interest in the science of natural history. It engages students in real-world learning experiences that challenge and inspire them to get outdoors and explore their environment.

The finals of the 2019 competition will be held Shanghai, July 18-26, so now is the time to start thinking about getting involved in 2020. Find out more here and here or contact Crystal World for additional information for Australian participants.

 Science meets Parliament 2019 Scholarships

Science & Technology Australia (STA) is offering six scholarships to the 20th anniversary Science meets Parliament this year, to be held in Canberra on 26-27 November 2019.

Two (2) Scholarships are open to STEM practitioners in each of the following categories:
  •  Indigenous STEM Scholarships for people with Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander heritage
  •  STEM Pride scholarships for people who identify as LGBTQI+
  •  Regional STEM scholarships for STEM practitioners who work in remote or regional Australia
     (>150km from a major capital city)

To be eligible for these scholarships you must be a member of or employed by an STA member organisation. The Australian Geoscience Council is a member of STA and all 9 AGC member organisations inherit the eligibility. If you are a member of one of the AGC member organisations you are eligible to apply. Join an AGC member organisation now to enjoy this benefit if you are not eligible! If your organisation isn't a STA member and you would like to become a member please contact to discuss. Find out more here.

 Hawaii, Italy and more ...
Teachers on Hawaii
Great company, great rocks, fantastic trip!

See amazing volcanism first-hand and explore active volcanoes and more on great teacher-orientated trips through GEOETC. Collect data, samples and learn how to develop scientific field notes and map in the field.

These trips cater 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. Hawaii 2020 is waiting for you!

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

 Minerals galore

The 42nd Joint Mineralogical Societies of Australasia Seminar might sound a bit technical but the event in Perth, 31 August to 1 September, promises to showcase amazing specimens, feature some great talks and there will be a market to indulge your urge to acquire something amazing for your display case!
Find out more here.
Download the flyer here.

 Prepare for the Fair!

The SEA*ACT Science and Engineering Fair will return in 2019 with submissions due 13-14 September 2019. That sounds like a long way off but a whole heap of preparation has to happen before then! Follow the link to find out more.

 STEM Professionals in Schools

STEM Professionals in Schools is a national volunteer program, coordinated by CSIRO, that facilitates partnerships between schools and industry to bring real STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) into the classroom.
Find out more here:
Learn more about CSIRO Education here.

   On-line resources - links and reviews   

 To the Moon and back!

Earth and Space can be a challenging part of the Yrs 2-10 curriculum to address but NASA has a wealth of teaching resources they are happy to share. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing and the resources online are incredible. National Science Week's theme was the perfect choice!

Try these links to see what we mean:
Observing the Moon
Moon Phases
Whip up a Moon crater
Modelling the Earth-Moon system
... and check out the amazing NASA Moon website!
... and the even more amazing Apollo 11 in REAL TIME!
Plus Australia's contribution to Apollo 11:

 Everything has a footprint

There can be no doubt that the world is moving towards greater sustainability and reducing its dependence on non-renewable and non-recyclable resources. Unfortunately, there is no simple fix and nothing illustrates that better than a close look at the carbon footprint renewable technologies require. Everybody acknowledges that electric vehicles are good idea but even the greenest vehicles come at a cost, especially when weight is a major consideration. This infographic superbly illustrates just how much oil is used to make materials used to build electric vehicles. It is a great device for getting a conversation going in the classroom!

 In class with Dr Karl

TV presenter, radio reporter and (Ig) Nobel Prize winning science communicator, Dr Karl, can visit your classroom (virtually) Wednesday 14 August. He will answer students' burning questions about anything even slightly science related!.
Register now.

 STEM - what is it and why is it important

Earth Science Western Australia (ESWA) have produced a short animation that explores Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the essential skills behind it all and why it is so important to Australia' future.
View the video here.

 The science behind LNG

The role and origin of energy is a important part of the science curriculum. ESWA have produced a range of activities designed to assist students in understanding the science behind liquefied natural gas (LNG). They may be especially useful to those students in junior science or Year 12 Earth and Environmental Science.
Explore the activities here.

 Sign up for the Dorothy Hill Symposium newsletter

The Dorothy Hill Symposium for 2019 is scheduled for November 14-15 and registrations are already open. However, to get the most out of the event you should sign up here for the symposium newsletter. This will ensure you get to see all the program updates and reminders.

 ANSTO e-learning

Discover the amazing world of nuclear science from your classroom. Meet an Expert, find out about Nuclear Science inquiry skills and Remote labs. Connect with ANSTO through one of our their free video conferencing sessions.
Find out more here.

 Lyell's notebooks

Education and history go hand in hand and that is never more true than for the history of the Geosciences.

Sir Charles Lyell (1797 - 1875) was a key figure in the history of geology and science. He is best known for writing the Principles of Geology, which presented the idea of uniformitarianism - the theory that changes in the earth's crust during geological history resulted from the action of continuous and uniform processes.

There are 294 notebooks and manuscripts, valued at £1,444,000, that contain Lyell's conversations with fellow scientists including his transcribed correspondence with the father of evolution, Charles Darwin. They are an invaluable archive that is currently for sale. The University of Edinburgh is trying to acquire the collection and make public Lyell's amazing legacy. Find out more here.

 IUGSCOGE back on line

The International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) Commission on Geoscience Education (COGE) was established in 2004 by the IUGS to examine and develop programs to assist developed and developing countries to maintain, expand or introduce better earth science education, outreach and technology transfer within their country.
After a brief time off line the IUGSCOGE website is now live again. Visit the site to see what the international community are thinking and doing in the Geoscience Education space along with the International Geoscience Education Organisation (IGEO).


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.

 Documentaries from the deep past

PalaeoPictures banner

Please excuse the hubris but it's not often that the combination of skillsets that I have comes along. My first career was in palaeontological research looking into the fossil record of crocodiles in Australia. Then I spent 14 years at the ABC as a science reporter and a further 6 years as the Director of the Royal Institution of Australia which was all about communicating the stories from research to the world.

Given these two skillsets, it is perhaps unsurprising that I have combined them to set up a video production company specialising in documentaries about palaeontology.

While Palaeo Pictures was only set up in April this year, production on our first documentary is well underway. The Mystery In The Dinosaur's Belly follows on-going research that I'm conducting destined to be published later this year - hence the secrecy required around what it is that we have found. But watch this space! This significant find should garner global attention and we will have a finished documentary ready to go on the day of publication.

Title Screen from Palaeo Pictures first production The Mystery in the Dinosaur’s Belly.
Title Screen from Palaeo Pictures first production
The Mystery in the Dinosaur’s Belly.

We are already planning a series based on palaeontology in Australia designed for airing through a major video streaming service and a second one-off documentary is also in the pipeline.

So what's so different about Palaeo Pictures as a video production company? We are structuring our productions so that, as well as covering palaeontological research, we can contribute support for that research. We can pay researchers for their time and contributions to the production of the documentary. We have also presented shares in Palaeo Pictures to The Australian Palaeontological Research Institute (APRI), a new not-for-profit organisation that aims to secure at-risk fossils for research, support palaeontological research and communicate palaeontological issues to the Australian public.

Another significant difference between Palaeo Pictures and other documentary producers is that I (and other presenters) can operate as a one-person crew covering on-screen presentation as well as camera and sound operation. It is considerably cheaper to send a one-person crew into the field than a multi-person crew. So we can spend more time out exploring for fossils, excavating in the field and preparing in the lab meaning we can really follow the research in great detail.

There are few opportunities in the current media environment to tell the stories from the fossils. Apart from news items about new finds, there are few opportunities to cover palaeontological research at all. Palaeo Picture aims to change that paradigm, and we need your help. If you have research that deserves documentary treatment, talk to us. Bookmark our website ( and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to follow our progress. And, most of all, watch our productions when they appear on telly of via a video streaming service.

Lastly, if you think that Palaeo Pictures is a venture worthy of your financial support, please get in contact!

Adjunct Associate Professor Paul Willis (Flinders University),
CEO of Palaeo Pictures,


Geoscience Education Deadlines, Events & Activities


 Australia Science Olympiad exams, registration closes, 19 July 2019

 SASTA STEM Conference (Years 6–11), Workshop proposal closes, 27 September 2019

   Events and Activities   

✱✱✱  2019  ✱✱✱

 2019 STEM in the Hills, Adelaide, 19 July, 2019

 ANSTO Teacher Professional Learning Opportunity, Perth, 24 July 2019

 TESEP Plate Tectonics workshop - Canberra, 9 August, 2019

 Earth and Environmental Science Olympiad exam, in schools, 9 August, 2019

 National Science Week, nationally, 10-18 August, 2019

 NT Festival of Teaching, Darwin, 24 August, 2019

 International Earth Science Olympiad, South Korea, 26 August - 3 September, 2019

 Digital classroom conference, Melbourne, 30 - 31 August, 2019

 ANSTO Teacher Professional Learning Opportunity, Adelaide, 4 September 2019

 Science and Engineering Fair, 13-14 September 2019

 ANSTO Teacher Professional Learning Opportunity, Brisbane, 18 September 2019

 ANSTO Teacher Professional Learning Opportunity, Melbourne, 2 October 2019

 SASTA Early Careers Teachers Conference, 11 October 2019

 Earth Science Week, Australia-wide, 13-19 October 2019
ESW18 logo
Theme: Geoscience Is for Everyone

 ANSTO Teacher Professional Learning Opportunity, Hobart, 5 November 2019

 Dorothy Hill Symposium, 14-15 November 2019

 SASTA STEM conference, 29 November 2019

 STAVCON, 29 November 2019

 STAQ Senior Science Conference, 29 November 2019


 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 August 2019.


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