Committed to the advancement, extension, improvement and coordination of Earth Science education across all levels

January 2017 News and Notes

This month's image is from PAESTA member Christine Fernandes, where she captured this image at the Grier School in Tyrone, PA on September 3, 2016. The image captures composite pictures (about 100) taken over the course of an hour. You can view this image and all past images geospatially located on a map at: 

Don't forget, YOU can have one of your Pennsylvania Earth science photos featured in our eNewsletter and on our website and social media sites! Visit this link to learn how:
Immediate Deadline! - Abstracts for the NE/NC GSA Meeting

PAESTA is working with the K-12 programming committee to have a K-12 Teacher Weekend at the regional Geological Society of America Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, March 18-19. Visit the PAESTA conference page to learn more about the conference and the opportunity to present your pedagogical innovations on climate and energy! Note that the abstract deadline is January 3, 2017, and there will be a registration fee to attend this conference. Early registration deadline is February 13th.

Make a New Year's Resolution... Volunteer with PAESTA! 

PAESTA is facing some exciting growth and is increasing its programs in 2017 - but to continue to serve our membership and to even improve upon our programming, we need your help! Please consider volunteer to serve on one of the following committees or in one of these leadership roles. If interested, please Contact Us.

Meetings Committee -
The PAESTA Meetings Committee is responsible for planning the PAESTA annual meeting and any additional PAESTA-organized sessions focusing on professional development of teachers. This includes determining and securing the meeting location, inviting speakers, organizing the meeting registration, securing giveaways and sponsors, performing a conference evaluation, and coordinating with the PAESTA Treasurer to define the budget available.

Assistant Editor of News and Notes - The Assistant Editor works closely with the PAESTA Newsletter Editor in preparing and reviewing the monthly issues of the organization newsletter News and Notes. The Assistant Editor reviews each issue for spelling/typos tests all included hyperlinks. The Assistant Editor has the option to contribute articles to each issue but is not required. Communication is expected to be frequent with the Newsletter Editor, and deadlines for final issue review is to be negotiated between the Editor and Assistant Editor. The time spent working on each issue is one hour to 1.5 hours per monthly issue. PAESTA utilizes the free services MailChimp. No prior experience with MailChimp is necessary for the position. Past issues of the newsletters can be found online at the PAESTA website.

NESTA Liaison - To supply the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) an up-to-date and current list of the officers of the affiliate; to provide NESTA a one page annual financial statement; to submit to NESTA an annual one-page report on the association’s accomplishments (This should include such information as meetings, field conferences, publications, liaisons with other teacher associations, and so on); to notify NESTA of any changes in the association’s articles of operation when they occur.

From HHMI BioInteractive - BiomeViewer (free iPad app)  

Can you find frogs on Mount Everest? What is the climate like in the Congo Basin in February? Do you have endangered species in your own neighborhood?

BiomeViewer lets you explore and discover Earth’s ecosystems with a tap of your finger! Drop a pin to see historic climate data, wildlife, stunning pictures, and more for any terrestrial location on the planet. Discover how patterns of human settlement and agriculture have changed the planet since 1700.

Features include:

  • Descriptions for every major biome on each continent;
  • Biodiversity data for more than 16,000 species of reptiles, amphibians, and mammals;
  • Gridded historical climate data for the entire planet;
  • Global precipitation and temperature maps;
  • Maps of human alteration of ecosystems over the last 300 years;
  • Side-by-side biome comparisons;
  • Fully interactive globe and flat map versions of all the datasets;
  • Gridlines and political boundaries;
  • Animated data sets; and
  • An educator guide with tips for use in the classroom.
Learn more at this iTunes Preview (and remember - the app is free!). If you like this app, be sure to check out EarthViewer, too!

Arctic Sea Ice Is Losing Its Bulwark

Every year, NASA reports on the melting and growth of Arctic sea ice, the vast sheath of frozen seawater floating on the Arctic Ocean and its neighboring seas. Much attention is focused on the area and extent of sea ice because it has been shrinking steadily. But there is another problem: As the ice extent has shrunk, the oldest and thickest ice has either thinned or melted away, leaving the sea ice cap more vulnerable to the warming ocean and atmosphere.

View the following resources for more information on Arctic sea ice and images/video to share with students:

NSF Offers Online Climate Change Resources

For Earth science teachers and students searching for the latest, most up-to-date information on climate change, the National Science Foundation (NSF) now offers a useful website. "Our planet's climate affects - and is affected by - the sky, land, ice, sea, life, and people found on it. To understand the entire story of climate change," according to the site, "we must study all of the natural and human systems that contribute to and interact with Earth's climate system." Go online to find an NSF report summarizing the current state of knowledge about climate change, as well as resources dealing with related news, discoveries, statistics, and publications. Visit:

ACTIVITY: Illustrated Graphs: Using Art to Enliven Scientific Data  

We love this activity, especially since it connects to our 2016 PAESTA Science Conference on climate science! Science Friday has shared with us a STEAM exercise where you/your students select a scientific graph that addresses an important real-world issue, create an illustrated graph from that original, and craft an effective artist’s statement that connects the two. Examples with the exercise connect to the artwork of geologist/artist Jill Pelto. Learn more at Illustrated Graphs: Using Art to Enliven Scientific Data.

Best STEM Books, grades K-12

Reading science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) trade books is the perfect way for students to build literacy skills while learning STEM content. Building upon a strong legacy of recommending science trade books, a newly created book review panel was appointed by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) to select the Best STEM Books of the year. The first list was selected by volunteer educators, assembled in cooperation with the Children's Book Council (CBC), and published in December 2016. View the main page at: and the list of books for 2017 at:

You may also be interested in checking out The Best Science Books of 2016, published by Science Friday.

Apply Now to Become a 2017 PBS Digital Innovator  

Who are PBS Digital Innovators? They are a community of PreK-12 educators, who set the bar for thoughtful tech integration in the classroom. They are not defined by the gadgets they use, but by the unique way they approach education. Their bold and enthusiastic perspective sets them apart as changemakers, and unlocks new worlds for their students. The PBS Digital Innovator program brings together these thought-leaders and classroom changemakers for ongoing professional development and opportunities to share strategies, empower peers, and inspire students. This year, all selected applicants will travel to San Antonio, TX from June 24-26 for a three-day, all-expenses-paid trip to the PBS Digital Innovators Summit and the ISTE 2017 Conference and Expo.

Learn more:

Applications are due February 12, 2017

Teacher award applications now being accepted  

Apply now for the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (, which recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning.

Award winners receive up to $2,500 to continue their professional development in environmental education. Additionally, the teacher's local education agency will receive up to $2,500 to fund environmental educational activities and programs. Learn about the creative work of previous award winners (

Applications are due March 1, 2017

The 2017 Extreme Weather E-Forum for PA High School Teachers and Classrooms  

Our climate is changing. Greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating. Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent. What does a changing climate mean for a person, a community, or a region? How can we prepare for, adapt to, or improve our resilience to these new climate normals?

The Extreme Weather E-Forum addresses these questions and more through guided research and peer-to-peer blogging. Created especially for high school environmental science and biology students, the E-forum provides an opportunity to investigate the relationship between climate and extreme weather and think more critically about what it means to become more resilient. Students can blog with other Pennsylvania classrooms to raise awareness about preparing for extreme weather events, share lessons learned, and inspire a community approach to improving resilience.

Eligibility: The E-Forum is open to high school classes with an environmental focus, including biology, chemistry, earth and space science and others. While priority will be given to schools located in the coastal portion of the Delaware River watershed, we invite other Pennsylvania schools as space permits.

Timeframe: The E-Forum will run from March 15 to April 28, 2017. Blogging activities will only be available during this time, but online materials are available year-round: 

To enroll your class in Pennsylvania Sea Grant’s 2017 Extreme Weather E-Forum, please e-mail Ann Faulds ( Your school’s name and location, and; What class(es) and how many students you would like to register.

The registration deadline is February 3, 2017. Space is limited. Reservations will be made on a first come, first-served basis.

New National Geographic Giant PA Map 

The PA Alliance for Geographic Education is excited to announce that National Geographic has designed and generously donated a State Giant Map of Pennsylvania to the PA Alliance. This giant map (approximately 22 x 14 feet) is FREE to use by teachers, museums, libraries, and other non-profit groups. It is accompanied by a trunk with several lessons and materials. It complements our current Giant PA Traveling Map program and expands our outreach across the state. You can learn more about this map and how to borrow it at the Giant Map of PA at this link.

Teachers in Grades K-5  --  Plan to attend a two-day professional development workshop in June 2017 at Shippensburg University specifically geared toward teachers grades K-5. The workshop. titled "Thinking Spatially about Pennsylvania," will introduce various was to integrate spatial thinking into your current curriculum. Additionally, teachers will get to experience both giant maps of Pennsylvania and explore various resources designed to get elementary students to think about spatial relationships. Contact Jan Smith for more information at

The Pennsylvania State Seismic Network  

In 2006, The Pennsylvania State University, in collaboration with the Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey within the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), began constructing a network of seismic stations to record seismicity in the state. Between 2006 and 2013, the network grew to a total of 10 seismic stations spread across the state providing near real time, open access seismic data for use by government agencies, academic institutions, industry, and the public. In late 2015, an expansion of the network to 30 seismic stations began with funding from the DCNR and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Construction of the 30 station network was completed in August 2016. This website provides information about the stations, how to access the data, and seismic event information obtained from the network. To learn more, visit:

National conversations about Earth science and Earth Science education

It is important for teachers across all levels, K-16 and beyond, to be aware of the national conversations and discussions as they relate to our discipline and profession. Here are some interesting reads on Earth science and Earth science education taking place at the national level:

Additional information on the PAESTA website

We have lots of news and notices this month - too many to put in our newsletter! We encourage you to check out these announcements (and more!) on the PAESTA website:

Human Population Through Time (from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH))

It took 200,000 years for our human population to reach 1 billion—and only 200 years to reach 7 billion. But growth has begun slowing, as women have fewer babies on average. When will our global population peak? And how can we minimize our impact on Earth’s resources, even as we approach 11 billion?  Here is the direct video link: The video can also be downloaded.
UN World Population Prospects
Do you have any items or announcements to share in News and Notes? Contact us!
News and Notes Editor  --  Laura Guertin
News and Notes Assistant Editor  --  (vacant)
Copyright © 2017 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.

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