August 2007     
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      Your geoscience e-newsletter courtesy of the Australian Geoscience Council

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     Feature article | Geoscience News | Geoscience Views | Geoscience Activities
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This edition of GeoEdLink is sponsored by the
Australian Institute of Geoscientists

Summit on the Plight of University Geoscience Education

The Australian Geoscience Council (AGC) has called a national summit on the plight of university geoscience education and supply of geoscience graduates to be held 27th September at Geoscience Australia in Canberra.

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AGC member societies have become increasingly concerned as to the capability of the higher education system to provide the appropriately trained geoscientists required by the economy and Australian society in the face of the demise of earth science educational opportunities, university earth science teaching departments and staffing levels. (see article by Ray Cas, GeoEdLink April 2007). In order to obtain a national perspective, AGC is taking the first step by convening the Summit. The purposes of the Summit include:

  • Obtain an overview of the issues, including the supply of geoscience graduates.
  • Ascertain which departments offer viable and comprehensive undergraduate majors and have the capability to support a full range of postgraduate programs.
  • Determine what geoscience is being offered as part of broader environmental or other science programs.
  • Identify possible strategies to ensure the survival and health of the stronger, comprehensive geoscience programs.
  • Identify means of linking the less focused undergraduate programs into the comprehensive ones to ensure continuity of educational opportunities across the sector to students wishing to embark on a geoscience career.
  • Identify the role that industry and other employers can play to ensure a healthy and vibrant geoscience tertiary sector.
  • Identify where universities and academic staff can contribute to improving the future for geoscience education.
  • Identify the steps needed to effect a change.

In order to provide a coherent set of data to inform the deliberations of the Summit, AGC is undertaking a survey and analysis of Tertiary Geoscience Educational opportunities and teaching capability across the sector to establish an Australian Tertiary Geoscience Education Profile. The AGC plans to publish this profile and update it regularly.

For inquiries regarding the Summit or to register your interest please contact AGC President Dr Trevor Powell [P 02 62514128; M 0422 089 532] or AGC Past-President Mike Smith [P 02 92522599; M 0411 103 761].


The first edition of the newsletter was very well received and subscriptions to GeoEdLink continue to grow. However, the success of the newsletter depends upon its subscribers also submitting articles and links. The message is simple: enjoy the newsletter and learn from its content but if something comes across your desk that the rest of us should know about make sure you send it in so the newsletter always has a good supply of topical material of interest to all subscribers, including those with interests similar to yours.

This issue features a number of education initiatives; the AGC summit, the Teacher Earth Science Education Program, Earth Science Week activities, the Mining Hall of Fame outreach program, the Australian Earth Science Convention education sessions and several others. All are well intended and designed but all will fail to achieve their goals unless supported through serious involvement and, where necessary, ongoing funding. I urge you to support all of these initiatives as best you can to ensure they survive and thrive.

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


Geoscience Education News & Reviews

Scientists in Schools Program
Minister Julie Bishop has initiated a 'Scientists in Schools' program which aims to place scientists in schools to provide valuable ideas and inspiration for teachers and students. The program will be piloted in the latter part of this year and the aim is to place 500 scientists in 500 schools. The program is being administered through CSIRO education.

Hopefully, a good number of geoscientists will step up to make sure the geosciences are well represented.
Go to to register and find out more.

Geoscience Graduates do OK
Graduate Careers Australia (GCA) recently released three new reports examining the experience of recent graduates both during and after their study. From the 2006 responses of 115,603 graduates GCA noted that salaries in regional areas were considerably higher in the field of earth sciences. See the GCA web pages for more ...

Geosciences are alive and thriving in Mackay
Students attending Pioneer State High School in Central Queensland feel they are incredibly lucky to have a passionate teacher of Earth Science, Janet Schwabe, who is the inaugural winner of the 2006 Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy state award, valued at $6000, for her involvement and development of educational resources in the context of minerals and energy. Well done Janet!
Students in Lab
Pioneer State High School students investigate a working laboratory
So far this year, thanks to Janet Schawbe's efforts, senior students from Pioneer SHS have

  • toured the Charters Towers Citigold Processing Plant and collect specimens of very high grade gold ore
  • experienced a four day field trip that included fossil collecting in Hughenden and a study of Porcupine Gorge
  • spent a day at the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department of James Cook University
  • had a highly informative tour of Sunmetal Zinc Refinery, Townsville and
  • experienced an on-site visit of Isaac Plains Coal Mine, 7 km east of Moranbah, and collected coal and fossil shale specimens

Read the full article here [60kb pdf]...

Earth Science Week 07: Taking the pulse of earth science
ESW poster

Earth Science Week is an international event which promotes awareness of and provides opportunity to celebrate the world of geoscience. Earth Science Week 2007 runs from 14 to 20 October and is celebrating its tenth year with the theme 'The Pulse of Earth Science'.

This year's theme provides an opportunity for us to consider the state of the earth sciences, identify future challenges and develop programs and activities that will increase the profile of earth science in society. It is also an opportunity to incorporate themes from other international earth science celebrations such as the International Year of Planet Earth.
Read more here [29kb pdf]... or here ...

Mining Hall of Fame reaches out
The Mining Hall of Fame and WesTrac announce an exciting new Outreach Program based in Perth. The objective of the program is to provide schools and the public with information about the industry and links to personnel within the industry.

The Education Officers based in Perth are happy to visit schools and conduct incursions based on minerals and mining. These incursions can be for any age group from Kindergarten to Year 10.

The program also provides excursions to WesTrac where students will have the opportunity to view large scale machinery being built and maintained. They will also have the chance to walk through Caterpillar and see where apprentices are engaging and learning with hands on experiences in their workshops.

For more information contact Morgan Foster: 0418191741

AESC calls for education papers
The Australian Earth Sciences Convention [AESC], Perth July 20-24 2008, is a joint conference between the Geological Society of Australia and the Australian Institute of Geoscientists. Abstracts are now invited for 20 minute oral presentations and-or poster presentations. The submission deadline is December 11th 2007.

    The five themes for the conference are
  • Geoscience in the Service of Society
  • Resources - Foundation for our future
  • The Evolution of Life and the Solar System
  • Earth's Environments: Past, Present and Future and
  • The Dynamic Earth - From Crust to Core

The Geoscience in the Service of Society theme has a sub theme of Geoscience Education. To ensure this sub theme has a strong offering all educators are encouraged to submit abstracts on any aspect of geoscience education in any educational sector.

Visit the AESC web page and follow the links to submission and registration pages.

Geoscience features at the World Conference on Science and Technology Education [WorldSTE2007].
The 2007 Conference of the Australian Science Teachers Association [CONASTA 56] was held in Perth this year as part of WorldSTE2007. The conference program was packed with quality science education offerings that included five highlight speakers on geoscience topics, several workshops with geoscience themes, a variety of geoscience organisation booths and geoscience post conference tours. A fantastic effort, complemented by significant sponsorship from major geoscience organisations. Visit the WorldSTE2007 web page to find links to

  • The Perth Declaration
  • The UNESCO International Science Policy Forum Discussion Paper
  • The on-line discussion forum
  • Abstracts and audio-visual presentations

Pathway to a geoscience career not on the rocks?
The Geoscience Pathways Project highlighted in the previous newsletter, initially funded under the Australian Schools Innovations in Science, Technology and Mathematics (ASISTM) project, has received a temporary reprieve. AGC members, the Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia [PESA] and the Geological Society of Australia [GSA], each put in $2500 to ensure the web site could be maintained through until the end of January 08. ASISTM funding expired at the end of May 07.

Unfortunately, the project did not gain extra ASISTM funding for operation beyond January 08 in the recent round of applications. To see this fabulous resource continue and expand a salary for a part-time webmaster [1 day per fortnight] will be needed for February 08 and beyond.
To find out more about this fantastic resource, how to join in and how to contact the organisers if you can help with funding, visit the Geoscience Pathways Project ...

Geology collection needs a home
The family of a deceased GSA member has asked the GSA to find a suitable home for his collection. It consists of about 500 boxed and labelled specimens (mostly Victorian samples and a few from overseas) plus notes on the terrain, sample descriptions, drawings and is very orderly and meticulously recorded. An educational institution is preferred.
To express an interest in acquiring this collection follow this link ...

On-line resources - links and reviews:

Materials monthly newsletter a good geoscience read
The Australian National University established the Centre for Science and Engineering of Materials (CSEM) in 1995 to create a forum for interdisciplinary research and education in materials science and engineering. For a constantly updated guide to work being done at ANU in these fields have a look at the Materials Monthly newsletter (winner of the 2004 Eureka Prize for Engineering Journalism). Many articles feature geoscience related topics such as seismology, dust analysis, computed tomography of fossil skulls, diamonds exploration using indicator minerals, zircon dating and C-14 dating and will be of great value to teachers, lecturers and students at secondary and tertiary levels.

New interactive map to help explorers in South Australian uranium search
A new interactive map to help explorers search for uranium and mineral sands in South Australia is now available on DVD. The DVD contains a 1:2 million-scale interactive map of South Australia that features eleven GIS data layers including Tertiary palaeodrainage channels and coastal barriers locations, which can be incorporated into other datasets or existing exploration models. Copies of the DVD can be purchased from the PIRSA Web site for $20 including packaging and postage. A hard copy map is also available for purchase for $27.50. GIS datasets from the DVD can be downloaded here.

4 schools: Queensland Resources Council online
Queensland Resources Council [QRC] aims to give teachers and students a balanced and informed understanding of our state's mineral and energy resources industries. It is committed to developing and providing educational resources about the resources sector. The QRC 4-schools web page has links to a great variety of materials for teachers and students.
Click here to explore ...


Geoscience Education Views

Teacher Earth Science Education Programme (TESEP):
Vision & Call-to-Teachers & Call-to-Partners

Jill Stevens, TESEP Founder and Chairperson

The broad vision of TESEP is

  1. to provide support to teachers to upgrade the resources and materials for Earth and Environmental Science (EES) subjects in secondary schools, and
  2. to train teachers to use the newly upgraded teaching resources.
This initiative is to be initially focussed in the eastern states.

Two phases of action are anticipated for the TESEP program. Initially support for teachers will focus on Years 7-10 in the short-term (junior and middle high-school). The long term phase would involve support for Years 11-12 earth science teaching. TESEP will be funded by industry corporations, institutions and societies and partnership are currently being sought. The Petroleum Exploration Society of Australia (PESA) has provided seed funding and the programme was initiated in June 2007.

TESEP Phase 1 involves identifying and engaging enthusiastic secondary teachers along with the five already-appointed state coordinators to get involved in this earth science education initiative. These are paid part-time positions. Teachers are welcome in the following categories: Resource Development Teacher (2-3 days/week anticipated for 2007-2009) and PD Teachers (4 workshops per year) and PD Participant (8 workshops in 2008-09).

The TESEP team will use a questionnaire to formulate a prioritised list of shared & state-specific EES topics currently in the curricula. These topics may be hard for earth science/science/geography teachers to teach and may need improved teaching resources. The TESEP team will then coordinate the rewrite or upgrade of the teaching resources and materials for the identified topics. A questionnaire regarding EES teaching resources will be circulated to interested teachers. Please contact your state co-ordinator (see list below) for a questionnaire or with expressions of interest in the above positions, before 17 August 2007 (preferred).

Existing worksheets/activity sheets & field trips from around the country will be used as much as possible to avoid duplication of effort. A series of Professional Development workshops, with funded Casual Relief Teachers (CRT) as backfills, will be held in various centres around the states through 2008 and 2009 to introduce the new material to the teachers who will be using it.

    TESEP advisor:
  • Greg McNamara

    A meeting of state coordinators will be held in Canberra August 18th and 19th to discuss and further develop the TESEP plan of action.
Partnerships with industry corporations, institutions & societies are vital for TESEP to continue and to develop. If you are in a position to assist in any way please contact Jill Steven, Greg McNamara or any of the state coordinators to discuss your participation. A TESEP poster is available here [537kb pdf]...

Jill Stevens
TESEP Founder and Chairperson

Earthlearningidea needs your help:
A new idea every week!

Chris King, Professor of Earth Science Education
Keele University - UK

Earthlearningidea will publish a new teaching idea every week of 2008, the International Year of Planet Earth. The ideas are aimed at teacher trainers in science and geography who will be training teachers in the teaching of Earth science - but we hope they will be widely used by classroom teachers who have access to the internet too. The ideas will be accompanied by a blog to encourage discussion around each of them as a means of building up a worldwide discussion network of Earth science educators.

A new idea to help teach geoscience

The activities are designed to be used in almost any classroom. Each of the ideas involves simple practical activities or thought experiments that require minimal resources so that they can educate pupils about the Earth, in ways that will engage and interest them, whilst teaching important scientific or geographical principles and developing thinking skills - and they should be fun as well! The ideas are being developed by voluntary effort, since no funding is immediately available, and are based on the development of a free web site, By clicking on the web site you will get access to a sample activity (see inset image). We would welcome feedback through the blog on this initiative and on the sample activity (see

We need your help to contact teacher educators in your country or region to alert them to the ideas as they appear and to encourage them to discuss the ideas through the blog. If you want to add the email addresses of ordinary classroom teachers who might be interested at the same time - that will be fine.

For each contact, please email us the:
Country, Name, Email address and Institution name of the individual at

Also, we plan to set up a support group of scientists/geographers/educationalists who will respond to technical queries raised through the blog and so enhance the discussions that will develop. If you would be willing to help Earth science educators across the world with any queries they may have, which might range from the trivial to the profound - please let us have your email address and area of expertise through an email to

Chris King
for the Earthlearningidea team


Geoscience Education Events & Activities

CAMELS, CARS, AND COMPASSES: 150 years of geological mapping in WA
An exhibition celebrating 150 years of mapping by the Geological Survey of Western Australia is opening on the 5th of August at the Australian Miners and Prospectors Hall of Fame in Kalgoorlie. The exhibition runs until September 16th.
Read more here [50kb pdf]...
For further information on the exhibition contact Angela Riganti [P 08-9222 3063]

Geography Teachers Association of Victoria Conference
This excellent conference is being held 9-4pm Sunday 12th to Monday 13th August at Camberwell High School.
Read more here ...

Exploration and beyond! Perth, Nov '07.
The 19th International Geophysical Conference, joint minerals [ASEG] and petroleum [PESA] conference has something for everyone.
See what is on offer here ...

Water and groundwater are topics you can no longer avoid.
The Centre for Groundwater Studies have the answers you need.
Visit the Centre for Groundwater Studies web site for details of up coming courses ...

2008 is International Year of Planet Earth
Watch this space! There will be many events set to rock come 2008 and beyond to celebrate IYPE.
Follow this link to find out more about IYPE ...

Australian Earth Science Convention, Perth 2008
What better year to hold a geoscience convention in Perth? Attend AESC 2008 in Perth 2008 and discover there is something for everyone, even in geo-education ...

Geotourism conference, Perth 2008
Tourism promotional literature is often filled with spectacular pictures of rocks! Attend the Inaugural Global Geotourism Conference, Perth 2008 and find out why ...


GeoEdLink is a newsletter published by the Australian Geoscience Council.

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This issue is sponsored by the Australian Institute of Geoscientists.
The AGC and the newsletter community appreciate their support.

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