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

December 2013 News and Notes

This month's photo was taken at the Barree Road outcrop in Alexandria, PA. It is an open inclined fold, and the shale layers act as a slip plane for the sandstone layers. You can view this image and all future 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:
From the PAESTA President - Weathering the Weather

As PAESTA is heading into its third year, we are continuing to grow. Our membership is thriving, our online resources are expanding, and we are hoping to increase our face-to-face time in the upcoming year. As you check out our PAESTA website, be sure to explore all that is available: examine activities from the PAESTA Classroom, submit ideas on our discussion forums, or even start a forum of your own. At PAESTA, we want to be a community for all of our Earth and Space Science teachers. Is there a new topic you are teaching this year and in search of ideas? Create a discussion forum asking our membership or use our searchable database in the PAESTA Classroom for ideas. If you have a great lesson or idea to share, submit these ideas to the PAESTA Classroom or a discussion forum. Help us to be a great resource for all of our membership, since we are a group of teachers trying to help other teachers.
As the holidays approach, so does the cold weather this year. With this in mind, this month’s topic for our monthly forum focuses on the changing weather and weather patterns. Why does the weather change so quickly? What causes the changes? How do you teach about weather patterns in your classroom? What activities do you do with your students? I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season, and hopefully I will see some of you at the PSTA conference on December 5-7 in State College (I'll be at the PAESTA booth in the Exhibit Hall - come on by and say hello)!

-- Kelly Hunter, PAESTA President

December PAESTAR - Pennsylvania Earth Science Teacher Achievement Recognition

This month, we recognize PAESTA President Kelly Hunter for going above-and-beyond in her duties as the leader of our organization.  In the past month alone, Kelly has participated in a conference call with the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) to report on PAESTA's activities and upcoming events, co-presented to the Penn State Earth and Space Science Partnership Advisory Board about PAESTA and its strategic plan, and coordinated and worked at a PAESTA information table at the Franklin Institute's Educators' Night Out.

Congratulations, Kelly - you clearly are a

Dive and Discover Deep-Sea Hydrothermal Vents

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI)'s Dive and Discover program immerses classrooms in the excitement of ocean exploration. Through daily stories, photos, and videos, their website brings students on board research expeditions that use deep-sea tools and vehicles, allowing students to become part of teams of researchers making new discoveries.

The next expedition is taking place January 2-21, 2014, as scientists examine tiny life in some of the most hostile environments on Earth—deep-sea hydrothermal vents. On this cruise, scientists and engineers will use the remotely operated vehicle Jason to study microbes living on and below the seafloor.

To learn more, visit the Teachers Page for ideas and suggestions for classroom use.  And you may consider having your students write something for the PAESTA Student Showcase based upon what they learn from their deep-sea virtual expedition!

From our friends at NESTA - Award to Attend the 2014 EGU GIFT Workshop in Vienna, Austria 

The 2014 GIFT (Geosciences Information for Teachers) workshop will take place on April 28 - 30, 2014 during the General Assembly of EGU in Vienna, Austria. The general theme of the workshop is "Our Changing Planet," and it will explore some of the recent complex changes of our environment, particularly in the framework of the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The generous William Goree Award will support the participation of a teacher from the United States in the 2014 GIFT Symposium at the 2014 European Geosciences Union General Assembly. The selected teacher will receive a travel/hotel stipend and free registration to the meeting. The participating teacher will be selected based on their teaching experience and the supporting statement from their school administration. The selected teacher will be expected to attend the entire workshop and submit a report within 1 year after the workshop on their impression of the workshop and how they plan to use this experience in their future teaching activities.

Application Deadline: December 6th. The selected teacher will be notified by December 15th. Click here for the application. Direct any questions to Missy Holzer, NESTA President, at

Seeing Stars

Pennsylvania boasts perhaps the best stargazing site in the Eastern U.S. at Cherry Springs State Park in Potter County.  What is it that makes Cherry Springs and similar locations better suited for viewing the night sky than other spots?  Clearly the absence of light pollution from our population centers plays a significant role, but so too do topography and climate. 

Challenge your students by asking them to identify other areas that would be ideal for stargazing using their knowledge of geography, landforms, and weather patterns.  For students to get a glimpse of population effects, NASA's Earth Observatory has a nighttime satellite image of the U.S., showing lit and dark areas.

An article from Sky & Telescope may be helpful in establishing some background on the effects of landscape and weather on stargazing.  Once students understand the basics, set them loose on their quest to find sites that could work well for observation.  As needed, students can access topographic maps from the USGS.

If you plan to join your students in stargazing or assign some observations, real-time night sky maps are available from several sources, including Fourmilab, and forecasted observing conditions are updated hourly at Clear Dark Sky.

Climate Change Resources for Teachers, Policymakers, and Citizens

The University of Colorado - Boulder has a website to help all of us Learn More About Climate ( The website has videos and resources in the following categories: Climate and Weather; Water; Ecology; Energy; Population and Consumption; Conservation Education; and Climate News.  The database can also be searched for activities, lesson plans, workshops, and K-12 resources.

Aerial Photographs - the Penn Pilot

The Pennsylvania Geological Survey had thousands of historical (1937–72) aerial photographs from the Agricultural and Stabilization Conservation Series scanned and put online. These photographs came from the PGS collection and from the State Archives. The images can be located, viewed, and downloaded from Penn Pilot, which is hosted by The Pennsylvania State University, at

National Park Service Video - Dinosaurs in the Desert

The National Park Service has published a new webisode of their series America's Wilderness entitled Dinosaurs in the Desert.  As the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act approaches, the NPS is trying to spread the word about the benefits of wilderness to a variety of people, including young scientists and researchers, and hopes to inspire others to follow in the footsteps of this young paleontologist and explore the various scientific values of our country's natural resources. The video has been released into the public domain and can be viewed on YouTube.

Description: Join student paleontologist, Adam Marsh, on a journey through time as he explores the ancient landscape of Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area. Through his expedition field notes, Adam takes us on an adventure to the long lost Late Triassic, exposing an invisible world of dinosaurs and other creatures hiding in the fossil record of what is now a desert landscape. Through Adam, we come to appreciate this unique wilderness as more than a natural resource: it is a resource for knowledge and a playground for the imagination.

Geoscience Career Videos from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

Young people often don’t realize where Earth science careers might take them. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) employs more than 120 staff members who hold Earth science degrees or work in geoscience-related jobs - and the agency wants students to know about these exciting career paths. The NRC is developing a series of brief videos on geoscience careers for the NRC YouTube channel, “NRC Q&A Series: Three Minutes With NRC." Videos in the series cover related careers in meteorology and hydrology, with upcoming videos covering structural and field geologists, seismologists and geophysicists, geotechnical engineers, geochemists, hydrogeologists, and other geoscientists.

Collections of Videos Focusing on Energy

NOVA Labs has a collection of videos, not more than 3 minutes in length each, that can be viewed separately from their online Energy Lab.  Visit:

The Discovery Channel has a collection of energy videos, ranging from 8-30 minutes in length each, relating to their mini-series Earth 2050: The Future of Energy. Visit:

Finally, the Switch Energy Project has created nearly 300 short videos relating to energy resources, issues, fracking, carbon capture, coal, etc. Visit:

QUEST - The Science of Sustainability

A collaboration of six public broadcasters around the country, QUEST is a multimedia series that strives to deepen our understanding of some of today’s most pressing sustainability topics through articles, videos, radio reports, television broadcasts, and educational materials. Topic areas include water, food, energy, climate, biodiversity, geology, astronomy, and other areas. Be sure to review their resources at:
Copyright © 2013 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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