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

August 2016 News and Notes

August 25, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Did you know that the smallest of all the national parks is right here in Pennsylvania? That honor belongs to the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Philadelphia. Kosciuszko was a military engineer from Poland who made significant contributions to the American Revolution. The park is only 0.02 acres in size. 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:
From the PAESTA President - Greetings from your president!

From PAESTA President Dave Curry

It is hard to believe that August is upon us already, bringing us into the twilight of our summer vacation. I hope that whatever time you have left serves to refresh and energize you for the forthcoming school year! As brief as your remaining time may be, consider that our college and university teachers typically precede us, and are likely already developing their lesson plans and syllabi if they are not teaching already. As you begin looking at your upcoming year, I remind you that our PAESTA website has a host of lesson idea resources that can help to make your job easier. We have lesson plans for all grade levels and a new favorite videos section that might just have that perfect short video to enhance your instruction or aid you with some background information on pertinent Earth science topics. We are looking to expand this section of our website and I invite you to submit a YouTube, TED, or other video link that you may have used in the past that you found particularly effective with your students. Currently, there are a number of excellent, scientifically accurate and well-produced videos that will help you and your students brush up on climate change, an important topic that all Earth science teachers need to cover.

Lastly, I urge you to begin the year getting students excited about the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse, which I believe will be one of the great eclipses of the century in the US. This total solar eclipse will stretch across a wide swath of the continental United States. Did you know that in general, eclipses are not as rare as many people think? What is rare, however, is for a total solar eclipse to occur on land, in an area close enough for the average US resident to drive to. Start making your travel plans now, as hotels are already filling up along the long, but narrow path of totality. Keep an eye out on the PAESTA website for safe-viewing tips and science articles that help to explain the celestial mechanics of solar and lunar eclipses. Here is a NASA link that will get you started: 2017 Total Solar Eclipse of August 21 and a NSTA guide on the PAESTA website. Have a safe and relaxing August!  

***NEW*** PAESTA Favorite Video & Podcasts 

We are building up our collection of videos and podcasts, and we hope you will recommend/contribute excellent materials you have used with your students, too!

NEW Favorite Videos -
Dwindling of Arctic's oldest ice since 1990, by NOAA, and OMG - Oceans Melting Greenland, by NASA.
NEW "You Asked, We Answered" PAESTA Podcasts - fourteen new episodes have been uploaded! (WOW!) Check out these water-themed podcasts for your own learning and/or to share with your students this fall.
Do you have an Earth/space science content question you would like a podcast for? Don't forget that you can request a podcast! Just fill out the "Ask a Question" link in the "You Asked, We Answered" box on our PAESTA Podcasts page.

NPS VIDEOS: Climate change in our National Parks  

*Science content appropriate for you and your students!

The National Park System has a series of short videos that highlight the results of climate change as it impacts our parks. Scientists and park rangers describe how different climate change impacts are currently influencing our national parks. Examples include how rising sea levels are endangering the Everglades National Park, ocean acidification is hurting marine species in Point Reyes National Seashore, warming temperatures are melting glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park, and how temperature changes and wildfire frequency is impacting Sequoia National Park. These videos are ten minutes or less in length so they are great opening or closing class activities. The videos can be accessed both on the National Park Service website ( or on YouTube (see playlist).

Become a Watershed Sleuth

EPA and the National Environmental Education Foundation announced a new resource for students to learn how to help solve water quality problems— by becoming a Watershed Sleuth! Students and citizen scientists can try to build their own aquifers and take an online interactive quiz to find local water wasters. Children, families, K-12 school groups, and others can earn a different digital badge for each lesson they complete and show off their watershed knowledge. Start the challenge today. (

SDSS "Voyages" Portal

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is committed to working towards making the science and engineering results of their surveys accessible to the public. They aim to do this through informal and formal education, citizen science, news and social media. The Voyages portal is a new resource from SkyServer for explorers of the SDSS database. Especially designed to meet the needs of educators, Voyages provides the pathways and supporting resources needed to enable student-led discovery of a variety of astronomical objects using the same data that professional astronomers use. Start exploring at:

Ocean basins with no water

What would happen if you drain the oceans? NOAA has produced a model that demonstrates what Earth would look like without ocean water. With ocean water missing, the seven large plates on Earth's surface would be visible. The movement of these plates determines the ocean basin size, shape, and features. Some of these ocean features include the highest peaks, deepest valleys, and flattest plains found on Earth. The model is interactive and has additional information about how NOAA maps the ocean floor and other data sets that can be manipulated. Visit the NOAA Global Science Investigator ( for more information on hazards, ocean, and climate.

Listen Current is now Listenwise

We have featured their resources on our website for a few  years - we love their audio collection and supporting resources (free for teachers!), and we want to make sure you are aware of their name change. From their website: "For some time now we’ve had a mission to bring current events teaching into the classroom with compelling real world public radio stories and podcasts. We will continue to bring the authentic listening experiences to your students, but with our name shift to Listenwise, we are now growing our focus on building valuable and lasting listening skills for 21st century learning.  We are about listening, literally." Check out

2016-2017 NASA Space Place calendar available  

NASA Space Place has their 2016-2017 calendar now available for free download at: The calendar is filled with space facts, questions, and URLs for further exploration. Teachers can download the full calendar or each month individually.

Feedback needed from high schools and univ. department chairs - proposal for a new Advanced Placement course in Geographic Information Science and Technology (AP GIS&T)  

The American Association of Geographers (AAG) has developed a proposal for a new Advanced Placement course in Geographic Information Science and Technology (AP GIS&T). All U.S. high schools and universities are invited to review the proposal by visiting AP GIS&T is designed to introduce high school students to the fundamentals of geographic information science and applications of powerful geospatial technologies for spatial analysis and problem solving. Together with AP Human Geography, AP GIS&T offers an opportunity to engage students in outstanding geographic learning experiences and promote awareness of the many college and career opportunities available in the discipline.

To learn more and to provide feedback, visit:

Atmospheric Sciences Learning Modules Available for Middle School Student  

An announcement from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: A suite of atmospheric science learning modules for middle school students. The curriculum, which implements a flipped-classroom model, is cross-referenced with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. It introduces students to topics such as temperature, pressure, and water in the atmosphere, as well as severe weather and safety through short instructional videos and critical thinking activities. A goal of this project is to provide educators with resources to teach atmospheric science while fostering early development of math and science literacy. Browse a complete list of learning modules and learn more about the curriculum.

How Are Your Students Visualizing Geoheritage?

When you hear the term "geoheritage," what image does it conjure in your mind? Visualizations can be an effective way of exploring "Our Shared Geoheritage," the theme of Earth Science Week 2016 (October 9-15).

Visualizations are graphic depictions of data. Using technologies ranging from on-site data collection to satellite-based remote sensing, geoscientists investigate Earth systems. And geoscientists display their findings in visual media such as charts, diagrams, illustrations, videos, computer-generated animations, and 3D-printed creations.

Now you can explore our planet's geoheritage through "Visualizing Earth Systems," a recent addition to the Earth Science Week website. The page links you to dozens of recommended visualizations dealing with energy, climate, minerals, water, hazards, and other topics linked to Earth's natural history and its relationship to society.

Visit the Visualizing Earth Systems page at In addition, the page links you to overviews of these topics provided by AGI's Critical Issues Program (, featuring additional information on timely topics.

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:

And to end on a fun note.... How Long Is One Second, Really? (from DNews)

Do we really know how long a second is? The science behind how time is actually measured may prove you wrong.  Here is the direct video link:
Read More:

Scientists want to change the way a second is defined
"A new optical clock ticks so consistently that if it had started at the dawn of the universe, it would have lost less than two minutes"
How does one arrive at the exact number of cycles of radiation a cesium-133 atom makes in order to define one second?
"When the cesium second was defined in 1967, it was based on a measurement of the number of cycles of the radiation from a particular cesium-133 transition with reference to the second commonly used in civilian timekeeping, which at that time was based on astronomical observations."
"In the United States, the standard of time is regulated by the US Naval Observatory's Master Clock (USNO), the official source of time for the Department of Defense. The effects of these mechanisms are felt by all of us in the f­orm of alarm clocks, computers, answering machines and meeting schedules."
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
Copyright © 2016 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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