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Committed to the advancement, extension, improvement and coordination of Earth Science education across all levels  http://www.paesta.org/

November 2014 News and Notes

This month's image is a view across the Monongahela River of exposed rock and soil on the slope of Pittsburgh's Mt. Washington.  Also visible are tracks for the incline, a mass-transit mode for the mountains. You can view this image and all past images geospatially located on a map at: http://www.paesta.psu.edu/earth-sciences-image 

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:  http://www.paesta.psu.edu/contribute-image-our-enewsletter.
From the PAESTA President - Recognizing the excellence of our members

We have another monthly audio greeting from PAESTA President Laura Guertin! Please click here to listen to a short message, where Laura shares exciting news about the PAESTA Award for Teaching Excellence winner Gerard Tyson, and our 30th PAESTAR!

(And if you missed Laura's previous podcasts, you can access her monthly audio welcomes at SoundCloud)

Read the citation for 2014 Award for Teaching Excellence winner Gerard Tyson.
Read the citations for our current and previous PAESTARs.
Explore uploaded files from presentations at the 2014 PAESTA Annual Conference.

November PAESTAR - Pennsylvania Earth Science Teacher Achievement Recognition


This month we recognize Judy Treichler of 12th and Marion Elementary School in Reading, Pennsylvania. For the past two years, Judy has shared her professional experiences and knowledge by serving as a presenter at the PAESTA Annual Conference. In 2013, Judy led a session on grant proposal writing for teachers. In 2014, Judy presented on notebooking with claims, evidence and reasoning. Both of her sessions were very well attended, and Judy has quickly earned the respect and reputation as a leader in teaching Earth science at the elementary grade levels.

Congratulations, Judy - you clearly are a
PAESTAR!

In the PAESTA Classroom - Tectonic Geomorphology: Weathering and Erosion


A new monthly feature in News and Notes will be a highlight of a resource you can find in the PAESTA Classroom. This activity, presented by Dr. Tanya Furman at the PAESTA Annual Conference, was designed for students in central Pennsylvania, but can certainly be adapted. This activity helps students integrate observations of geology and topography, and then to contextualize modern topography in terms of erosion processes and hence rock strength.
 
Overall Learning Goals for Students - At the close of this unit, students should be able to:
  1. Predict the relative importance of physical and chemical weathering on local rock types (sandstone, limestone, shale). 
  2. Predict the regional topographic morphology on the basis of rock type  
  3. Predict regional stream and/or groundwater pH on the basis of rock type 
  4. Identify potential effects of natural and anthropogenic influences on stream and/or groundwater pH
  5. Predict the geological and tectonic future of central Pennsylvania based on relationship between rock types and tectonic processes 
View this material in the PAESTA Classroom.

NOAA Video Short - Part 1: What is Sea Ice and Why Is It Shrinking?


*Science content appropriate for you and your students!

Arctic sea ice plays a major role in the Earth's global systems. It keeps the polar regions cool, influences climate, and provides a habitat for many animals. But the amount of sea ice in the Arctic has been on a steady decline over the past two decades. In fact, the annual minimum area of sea ice is nearly 50% smaller now than it was in 1979. So why is the sea ice shrinking? Arctic sea ice is melting at an alarming rate because ocean and air temperatures are getting warmer. Tune in to learn more...

This ~2 minute video, along with links to the video clips for Part 2 and Part 3, can be viewed and downloaded on the NOAA Ocean Today website.

Pressure, Polar Air, and the Pigskin  


With both the Eagles and Steelers in contention and the high school playoffs getting underway, football is on the minds of many of our students (okay - and a few of us, too).  As cold temperatures arrive and snow begins to fall, we're reminded of the effects that weather can have on sports.

MIT researchers investigated the impact of various meteorological conditions on field goal success rates and found that precipitation, low altitudes, cold weather, and wind all make it harder to kick accurately.  While these results are somewhat intuitive, the science behind them may not be as obvious.  In this short video, Professor Tim Gay explains the physics affecting the flight of the ball.

Physiological effects of weather on the athletes are also meaningful.  As discussed in this New York Times article, cold air can cause breathing difficulties and lead to the redirection of blood to key organs, limiting movement in the hands and feet.  ESPN's Sport Science video on cold weather adds some nice visual evidence related to low temperatures.

If getting out on the field is your idea of a good lesson, maybe recording the weather conditions at your school's next game would be enjoyable and educational.  Having students build their own wind vane and anemometer can add to their understanding of meteorology and how weather is measured.

From HHMI - Biodiversity in the Age of Humans


Are we witnessing a sixth mass extinction? What factors threaten ecosystems on land and in the sea? What are researchers doing to try to conserve biodiversity and ecosystems such as tigers in Asia and coral reefs around the world? What tools do we have to avoid a global catastrophe? In six half-hour lectures produced by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), three leading scientists describe the state of biodiversity on our planet and how to face the great challenges that lie ahead.  These videos are available for on-demand viewing at: http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/biodiversity-age-humans.

Take the HHMI survey by November 9th and receive a FREE classroom poster on The Anthropocene—Human Impact on the Environment!

From the EPA... RE-Powering Mapper


EPA’s RE-Powering Mapper, a series of Google Earth KMZ files, makes it possible to view EPA's information about renewable energy potential on contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites, alongside other information contained in Google Earth. Explore these Google Earth files, along with their corresponding information sheets, to design lessons on local renewable energy! Visit: http://www.epa.gov/renewableenergyland/rd_mapping_tool.htm.

Top teaching resources from Understanding Evolution

 
Understanding Evolution is an education website by the University of California Museum of Paleontology and the National Center for Science Education, focused on teaching the science and history of evolutionary biology. The site is geared to help teachers understand what evolution is, how it works, how it factors into your life, how research in evolutionary biology is performed, and how ideas in this area have changed over time.

Check out the three most popular lessons on Understanding Evolution:
  • Survival of the sneakiest (grades 6-12): This comic follows the efforts of a male cricket as he tries to attract a mate, and in the process, debunks common myths about what it means to be evolutionarily "fit."
  • What did T. rex taste like? (grades 6-12): In this web-based module, students are introduced to cladistics, which organizes living things by common ancestry and evolutionary relationships.
  • Solving the mystery of the Neandertals (grades 9-12): This interactive web activity from the Dolan DNA Learning Center lets students compare the number of mutations in the mitochondrial genomes of Neandertals, humans, and chimps to determine ancestry and relatedness.

Middle school classrooms needed to judge Ocean 180 Video Challenge

 
The Ocean 180 Video Challenge is inviting middle school classrooms to join the 2015 student judging team! Ocean 180 challenges marine scientists to submit 3-minute video abstracts summarizing the findings and significance of recently published research. The top 10 video abstracts will be viewed and evaluated by 6th-8th grade students in registered middle school classrooms around the world, ultimately selecting the winners and providing feedback for the finalists. Judging by classrooms will take place from January 2 - February 27, 2015. Learn more at the PAESTA website, and find out how you can register your classroom to participate! Registration deadline is December 1st.

Additional information on the PAESTA website

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  --  Greg Collins
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