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

May 2014 News and Notes

Did you catch the PBS mini-series Your Inner Fish? This month's photo was taken at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, temporary home to the real Tiktaalik roseae fossil! 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:

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS - President-Elect and Secretary/Treasurer of PAESTA

Announcement from Laura Guertin, Past President of PAESTA: 
It is PAESTA election time! PAESTA members annually elect our President-Elect (who would then move into the organization's presidency for 2015-2016) and our Secretary-Treasurer.

All PAESTA members in good standing are eligible to run for these positions. You may self-nominate. Whenever possible, we seek at least two candidates for each position. You may email your nomination to Laura Guertin ( Nominations are due by May 31. Each nominee will be asked to provide a short statement as to how he/she would like to contribute to PAESTA in the chosen position.

Elections are conducted electronically. Once the nominations have been received, the nominating committee will make available electronic ballots. All members in good standing are eligible to vote. For more information about our election process, please look at the section of the PAESTA Constitution entitled "Bylaw III - Elections" which may be accessed here: of the PAESTA Nominations Committee include Laura Guertin, Eric Aitala, and Dale Kraynak.

From the PAESTA President - A Call to Serve

April showers will bring us May flowers…or so we hope! After a very cold, snowy winter many of us are welcoming the spring season this year. At PAESTA, we are also hoping that the spring will bring out new volunteers and nominees for the upcoming officer elections. Our annual elections for PAESTA officers will be coming up next month, and we are looking for great candidates. Are you organized, hard-working, goal-oriented and looking to take Earth and Space Science teaching to the next level? If so, submit your name for PAESTA’s annual ballot. We will be looking for a new Secretary/Treasurer and President-Elect for our next year. PAESTA is looking to take the next big step to help our membership and is looking for new officers to help ensure that we get there. What better way to ensure that PAESTA will be meeting your needs in the future than to be a part of its development? Even if you are anxious or intimidated, take the leap and submit your name for officer elections! I can attest that I was petrified to submit my name on the ballot, but I am now thankful because it has been a truly rewarding experience that I do not regret. That being said, I would like to dedicate this month’s discussion forum to our upcoming elections. What qualities are you looking for in a PAESTA officer? Do you know a member who would excel at this position? What questions, concerns, or reservations do you have about serving as a PAESTA officer? We want to hear from you, and hope to see your name on the ballot!!

-- From Kelly Hunter, PAESTA President

May PAESTAR - Pennsylvania Earth Science Teacher Achievement Recognition

This month, we recognize John Trey Smith III, a high school science teacher from Boys' Latin of Philadelphia Charter School in Philadelphia, PA, for being selected for the 2014-2015 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program. Beginning in September, Trey and thirteen additional selected educators will serve an 11-month fellowship in Washington, D.C., at sponsoring agencies. As Einstein Fellows, the educators will provide their host agency with practical classroom insight to inform the development and implementation of education programs and policies, especially those related to STEM education. Trey will serve as a Congressional Fellow on Capitol Hill, sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Office of Science under the guidance of Brian O'Donnell.

Congratulations, Trey - you clearly are a

Subscribe to IRIS Earthquake Teachable Moment Notifications

April has certainly been a busy month for earthquakes, and we hope you have found the resources on the PAESTA website we compiled for all April 2014 major earthquakes helpful in your classroom. Note that IRIS provides a service that allows anyone to subscribe (for free) to receive notification when a new Teachable Moment presentation (MS PowerPoint/animation/PDF formats) is ready to download. Presentations are designed to capture that unplanned opportunity to bring knowledge, insight, and critical thinking to the classroom following a newsworthy earthquake and are released within 24 hours of major events. Just follow the link and click on the mail icon at:

Disaster! The Johnstown Flood 

May marks the 125th Anniversary of the Johnstown Flood of 1889.  When record-breaking rains fell on southwestern Pennsylvania, the South Fork Dam failed, and the resulting flood led to the deaths of over 2200 people and the utter destruction of the towns below.

The flood is often viewed as a man-made disaster, caused by a lack of engineering design.  Weather played a significant role too, however, as heavy precipitation fell in the region in the days leading up to the catastrophe.  Meteorologist Jesse Ferrell provides a discussion of the weather conditions in Johnstown, complete with surface maps and the original forecasts, on his blog.

To explore the ways topography influenced the disaster, a Google Earth layer is available for the event.  This shows the location and size of Lake Conemaugh and would allow students to explore the elevation changes as the water proceeded to Johnstown.

For a more cross-discipline look at the event, try the National Park Service's lesson
"Run For Your Lives."

GeoSTART: Teaching Earth Science 

From the Association of American Geographers (AAG), GeoSTART helps middle- and high-school students develop geography, Earth science, and spatial thinking skills using NASA Earth Observing Missions remote sensing imagery and related data. Go online ( for free activities and materials.

USGS Climate Projection Portal

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) has created a web portal that allows visualization and downloading of future climate projections from a group of statistically downscaled global climate models. This interactive viewer shows maps based on future projections of temperature and precipitation from a group of global climate models. Users can generate maps for various periods and scenarios to show the number of days that exceed certain thresholds in the model results (for instance, the number of days over 90°F). The portal can also produce annual time series graphs for regions such as watersheds or counties. Use this tool to help you and your students learn about climate and climate modeling! Visit:

The Global Carbon Atlas

The Global Carbon Atlas provides tools to explore and visualize up-to-date data on carbon in our world. Sections of the atlas illustrate the past, present, and future of humans and carbon, allow users to explore global and country level carbon emissions from human activities, and compare visualizations of carbon flux data representing results of various models. View and explore the interactive interface of The Global Carbon Atlas at:

Pennsylvania Geology Online

Pennsylvania Geology is a free online magazine published by the Pennsylvania Bureau of Topographic and Geologic Survey. It includes articles on the geology of Pennsylvania, earth science education, and topographic mapping, and announcements of new publications, conferences, and other geologic and topographic items of interest. In August 1969, the magazine began as a two-color, printed, bimonthly publication. In 1992, it became a quarterly publication, and with the Spring 2009 issue, it became a full-color, online publication. All of the issues can be accessed online at: To read the current issue, click here. One article you may be interested in exploring is on Pennsylvania's state fossil, Phacops rana.

On the PAESTA website - did you know you can find...

We want to make sure our membership is aware of all of the resources and opportunities we provide on our website. Each month, we will highlight a website feature you may be interested in checking out, such as our listing of Newsletters that compiles recent issues of newsletters from other state-to-national organizations. For example, you may want to check out the latest news from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources - Wild Resource Conservation Program, the American Geosciences Institute - Earth Science Week, or read updates from NASA. Explore our page that lists other organization newsletters:

Noteworthy from NESTA

PAESTA is a state affiliate of the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA).  For the PAESTA members that are also NESTA members, did you know that NESTA is now providing their members with Student Achievement Certificates to award your students? After contacting your Regional Director with a short description about your award-winning student, your Regional Director will send you a certificate that can be printed and presented to your student. The final details for this award are being worked out now, and will be ready for you before the end of the academic year. Contact your Regional Director for the details on how you can celebrate the achievements of your Earth Science student.
Copyright © 2014 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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