October 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

The first episode of the new TV series Supersized Earth that was aired on ABC TV 1 on Sunday September 15 provided some amazing insights into the workings of modern cities and some of the challenges societies face as they struggle to house the world's growing population and accommodate increasing economic development. The first episode highlighted the massive amounts of resources consumed by modern cities and the environmental problems associated with the disposal of waste produced by these cities. The episode also showed what could be achieved through research, innovation, and good planning and engineering. Future episodes promise to examine other aspects of the challenges of supporting modern societies and growing economic wealth while at the same time preserving the natural environment, as well as sustaining food production and adequate supplies of good quality water.

I recently became involved in a new international geoscience initiative of the International Union of Geological Science (IUGS) that is very much focused on the challenges being examined in the Supersized Earth series. The initiative, Resourcing Future Generations, will have its first public airing at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America to be held in Denver, Colorado, at the end of October, 2013. As the body representing the world's geoscientists through its ~120 member countries, the IUGS sees the initiative as an important contributor to the long-term goal of ensuring an adequate supply of mineral, energy and water resources to support global societies for the next century.

Resourcing Future Generations aims to catalyse and facilitate international cooperative research to improve society's ability to successfully explore for increasingly deeply buried mineral, energy and water resources to replace and supplement the easy-to-find near surface resources on which we currently depend, and also to ensure society's ability to extract and use these resources in an environmentally responsible fashion. Amongst other things, these aims will require new insights into the Earth's geological, biological and hydrological systems at all scales, from local to global. To be successful the initiative will of necessity require close cooperation and collaboration between nations at all points on the development scale, and to achieve this, it is anticipated that the geoscientists involved will have to collaborate closely with social scientists to help overcome the exploitative aspects of past resource extraction and past neglect of the different societal values of the world's diverse cultures. The challenges Resourcing Future Generations is taking on are not trivial but the IUGS sees them as being so important that they must be addressed.

As illustrated by the first episode of Supersized Earth the challenges of Resourcing Future Generations will be in part met by motivated and well-trained scientists, engineers, social scientists and other professionals. I see a bright and productive future for anyone interested in helping to meet the challenges associated with the ongoing development of the modern world.

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


2014 is not far away and many of us are turning our attention to plans for next year while also trying to ensure the rest of 2013 is put to good use by our students and our colleagues. Earth Science Week is the most immediate event for the remainder of this year but there are a number of events on the calendar for next year not least of which is the Australian Earth Science Convention (AESC) to be held 7-10 July 2014 in Newcastle New South Wales.

The Geoscience Education session planned for the AESC in the Infrastructure, Service & Community theme will soon be seeking good quality presentations to ensure the session not only runs but also provides worthwhile professional development and networking opportunities. This does not and will not happen by chance. It is incumbent upon all of us to consider what we have to share with our immediate community of interest as well as the wider Earth Science community and then go the extra distance by attending the convention and sharing our findings, our concerns and our passion for the subject. Geoscience Education is not just confined to schools and teachers; it is also a subject of great importance at Tertiary level and a significant topic at the forefront of those of us working in the domain of public education, geotourism and educational outreach. I look forward to sitting through a range of presentations addressing topics and issues from all sectors of the Geoscience Education community at the convention. Visit the AESC website, register your interest in attending and start planning to attend and present now!

Earth Science Week is upon us and is an ideal time for all members of the geoscience and education communities to work collectively towards not only celebrating the Earth Sciences but in also promoting the Earth Sciences to students, career counsellors and parents as a worthwhile direction for aspiring science students to take. What are you doing for Earth Science Week?

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


Geoscience Education News & Reviews

 Earth Science Week is here! 13 - 19 October is our time to shine
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. This years theme is Mapping our World, a concept nicely reflected in the Earth Science Week poster featured here.

ESW poster

To find out about Earth Science Week events visit the Geoscience Australia website where you will find a list of many of the events scheduled around the country.

... and the winner is .... Geoscience Australia announces the TopGeoShot-2013 winner during Earth Science Week. There are two categories for this year's competition:

   •   Open Category
   •   Student Category (up to Year 12)

A panel of Geoscience Australia staff will select the winning images. Winners will receive a professionally framed enlargement of their image and their image will be displayed in Geoscience Australia's foyer in Canberra for the year. Visit the Geoscience Australia TopgeoShot web page during Earth Science Week to discover who one this years coveted awards.

 GEOCACHING for Earth Science Week

In addition to hosting numerous Earth Science Week events Geoscience Australia is also promoting Geocaching for schools; a great way to engage students through ICT, outdoor activities and spatial thinking.

The Geoscience Australia Geocache web page has an excellent overview of what Geocaching is, how to engage students with it and how to set up and run in-house Educaches as well as links to other useful sites. There is also a PDF you can download on the topic.

Geocaching is great fun and many enjoy the thrill of the treasure hunt but what if the landscape or the location you plan to visit on excursion is the treasure? If so there is a type of Geocache just for you: the EarthCache! Follow this link to find out more about EarthCaches, how to set them up and how to use them in education.

To enhance your student's experience with spatial thinking visit this Geoscience Australia web page for more links to useful information and resources.

 National Rock Garden - Inauguration of a heavy project
Syenite delivery

The National Rock Garden is progressing nicely with the recent delivery of some heavy items from the Northern Territory. The delivery of a block of Mount Goyder Syenite is one of many deliveries expected in coming months that will go towards building a truly impressive rock garden in the heart of Canberra. It is destined to become another must-see destination for general visitors and school excursions alike.

Image courtesy of Doug Finlayson

At 10.30 am on Sunday 20 October, 2013, the ACT Chief Minister will be the principal guest at the inauguration of the Federation Rock Display at the National Rock Garden off Lady Denman Drive at the western end of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra (Cnr of Barrenjoey and Lady Denman Drives). The inauguration will include the unveiling of the Federation Rocks from the eight States and Territories of the Commonwealth, some of them quite spectacular. It is also expected that the proposed landscape design for the National Rock Garden will be made public on the day.

The National Rock Garden will have up to 100 large specimens of the country's most iconic rocks. Each specimen will weigh approximately 10-15 tonnes and sit within a landscaped area on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

To find out more about this excellent initiative visit the National Rock Garden web site.

On-line resources - links and reviews:

 ASTA portal features Plate Tectonics

ASTA continues to present a series of webinars through until November 2013 introducing the ScienceWeb units. These units of work were produced by teachers in Australia using online resources for the Australian Curriculum. This month sees Plate Tectonics on the menu, a timely topic given many will be teaching the subject to Year 9 science students next year. Links to the ScienceWeb webinars can be found here.

 A new view of earthquakes

A new on-line earthquake resource that uses existing databases to generate some interesting maps is now available. While the maps are, for the moment, only very basic they will allow students to appreciate at a glance the frequency of earthquakes in their own country or countries they are studying at school.

 Climate resources still available

The recent disbanding of the Climate Commission also saw the closure of the Climate Commission web site and a subsequent loss of access to the very useful teaching resources on that site. Fortunately a number of agencies around the world archive websites including Australia's National Library. All the Climate Commission web pages, PDFs and other resources can be found on the National Library of Australia's Pandora Archive site.

 Remembering Valjont October 1963

The Vajont reservoir disaster is a classic example of what can go wrong and a tragic example of why not all natural hazard disasters are natural in origin. During the filling of the Valjont reservoir a block hillside of approximately 270 million cubic metres slid into the lake producing a wave that over topped the dam by 250 m and swept onto the valley below causing massive damage and loss of life. This blog details this event and the reasons why it happened. Essential reading for budding scientists and engineers!

 Geological climate proxies explained

This website does a great job of explaining what climate proxies are and detailing some of the most common ones used by geologists to gather information on past climatic conditions around the globe.

 International Earth Science Olympiad 2014

By all accounts the 2013 International Earth Science Olympiad IESO) held in India last month was a great success although this year no Australia team was able to attend. Read all about the Indian 2013 IESO here.
The 2014 IESO is scheduled to be held in the United States of America with the destination for the 2015 IESO yet to be announced.


Geoscience Education Views

 Call for Case Studies on track for first publication this year
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! However, the first batch of Case Studies, developed and written by a diverse group of earth and environmental scientists and teachers from across Australia is well and truly into the final draft stage and there is every expectation that a suite of Case Studies will be available by the end of this year with more to be finalised early in 2014.

The Case Studies have not only been written by professionals thoroughly familiar with their subject matter but the products of their labour have been peer reviewed by practising teachers and others in the education domain. This process ensures the resultant publications are not only scientifically accurate but that they also meet the requirements of the Australian Senior Earth and Environmental Science curriculum and the needs of teachers and students in the classroom.

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.


Geoscience Education Deadlines, Events & Activities


 CONASTA-63, Call for Abstracts, Adelaide, 6-9 July 2014.
Closing date for submissions 18 November 2013.
See http://asta.edu.au/conasta.


 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.

 Victoria's Energy Future: Prospects and Challenges , Melbourne 23 October
Attendance at the public forum is free, but advance booking is required.
Booking details here.

 Victoria's Energy Future: Prospects and Challenges , Melbourne 25-26 October
The Royal Society of Victoria's annual symposium..
Booking details here.

 ESWA WASP Free PD for Yr8 teachers, Kalgoorlie 29 October
Rocks and Minerals for the Australian Curriculum.
Booking details here.

 Installation ceremony of the Taroona High School Seismometer , Hobart 31 October
A Seismometer in Schools event. Contact Taroona HS for details.
SIS details here.

 ESWA WASP Free PD for Yr7-9 teachers, Kalgoorlie 19 November
Oil & Water, Rocks and Minerals, Plate Tectonics for the Australian Curriculum.
Booking details here.

 Science Teachers Association of Western Australia conference, Perth (UWA) 29 November
Future Science.
Details available on the website.

 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 PD2 - Riding the Climate Roller Coaster, 3 December 2013
Marden Education Centre, Adelaide.
See interactive calendar for details and registration form.

 TESEP PD9 - Plate Tectonics, 4 December 2013
Marden Education Centre, Adelaide.
See interactive calendar for details and registration form.

 TESEP Field Trip - Wind Farm, 5 December 2013
on site visit, Adelaide region.
See interactive calendar for details and registration form.

 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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