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

August 2013 News and Notes

This month's photo of a green roof was taken at the Tiadaghton Forest Resource Management Center in Pine Creek Valley, PA.  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 - A New, Monthly PAESTA Member Forum

As PAESTA progresses in the future, we on the Executive Committee would really like the organization to become more interactive.  Currently, most of our membership does not take full advantage of our discussion forums, and we want to change that!  Each month we will debut a new discussion forum on Current Topics in Earth & Space Science.  This month we will focus on Neptune’s newly discovered moon and how we can use this new moon in our classrooms.

Through Hubble Telescope pictures from the past, the fourteenth moon orbiting Neptune has been discovered.  Science is always leading to new findings and, as teachers, we should be sharing these findings with our students when we can.  How can you use this discovery of Neptune’s new moon in your classroom?  We want to know!  We are setting up a discussion forum asking how you can incorporate this discovery into your lessons.  We are looking forward to your input on this forum and all forums in the future.

Also, our annual conference is set for October 4-5, 2013.  On Friday, October 4, we will begin with the film “Extreme Ice”, followed by a discussion session on the film.  On Saturday, October 5, we will have a full day of sessions complete with two keynote sessions.  PDE Science Education Advisor, Dr. David Bauman, will deliver the morning keynote and Dr. Scott McDonald and Theresa Lewis-King will lead the afternoon keynote.   Registration is free to PAESTA members and now open online.  For those of you interested in presenting at the conference, please submit an abstract.  There are plenty of openings still for both 30 and 60-minute sessions, but submissions are due by August 31, 2013.   I can’t wait to see everyone in the discussion forums and at the conference!  --  Kelly Hunter, PAESTA President

DEADLINES! - PAESTA Conference Sessions and Registration

Register for the conference by September 27, 2013. *Registration is free!

Submit a proposal to present by August 31, 2013.

Nominations for the PAESTA Award for Teaching Excellence by September 17, 2013.

To view and submit these forms, you will need to be logged into your PAESTA website account.

August PAESTAR - Pennsylvania Earth Science Teacher Achievement Recognition

This month, we recognize Walter Wilkinson from Northwest Middle School in the Reading School District in Leesport, PA. Wally has led the efforts at his school to create a school garden as an outdoor learning laboratory. With support from parents and community members, the garden serves as a site for education and environmental awareness. The food is harvested, prepared, and served in their school cafeteria, and extra food is donated to a local food pantry. Students are not only engaged in growing food, they collect water in rain barrels and compost food from their school cafeteria to sustain the garden. Members of the school’s Science Club even volunteer on Saturdays to maintain the garden.

Congratulations, Wally - for your dedication to getting students involved with your school garden, you are clearly a PAESTAR!

Acid Rain: An Architectural Nemesis

Thanks to its significance in the history of our nation, Pennsylvania is home to many architectural landmarks that our communities have chosen to preserve.  Owing in part to its industrial success, however, our Commonwealth also has a long familiarity with a prime structural foe: acid rain.

Stories of deteriorating buildings abound across the state.  The steeple at Independence Hall in Philadelphia has required frequent repairs.  Fallingwater, the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece, needed an early reroofing.  In Pittsburgh earlier this summer, Dollar Bank replaced their iconic brownstone lions with replicas.

The National Park Service, tasked with preserving sites of natural and man-made importance, monitors acid precipitation closely.  They explain some of the tools they use and offer lesson ideas on measuring the acidity of rain at

For a more open-ended lesson inviting students to explore the weathering rates of rocks and the effects of acid on building materials, try this lesson from the Glastonbury, CT schools that places students in a fictional "town council" scenario as they design a new monument: Acid Rain Lab Student.doc.

Last year's PAESTA conference featured an exciting excursion to a nearby cemetery.  If you missed this session and want some ideas on how to use cemeteries as laboratories, view the link from PAESTA 2012 at

Go Underwater with Skype in October

In October, Fabien Cousteau will be leading a record-breaking marine expedition to live underwater and explore the ocean for 31 days. Skype in the classroom is joining this adventure by offering schools the chance to take part in a month-long series of Skype lessons from the world’s leading marine experts. Learn more at:

Writing Original Literary Texts - The World of Volcanoes

From PBS LearningMedia, check out this cross-disciplinary lesson plan to reinforce lessons on metaphors and similes while introducing students to Hawaii's volatile terrain. Students watch a video from the PBS series, NATURE, that shows scientists collecting lava samples from an active volcano. The students then write an original poem about the segment. View the lesson plan at this link.

Glossaries Available Online

Not all students own a dictionary focused on Earth science, but there are freely-available online glossaries that students can access at school or at home to support their studies.

Online Earth science and geography illustrated glossaries are available from The Physical Environment (an online physical geography textbook) and

The U.S. Geologic Survey has an Earthquake Glossary available at the Earthquake Hazards Program website:

The American Meteorological Society Glossary of Meteorology is now fully electronic and freely available for anyone to use, with over 12,000 terms defined. The direct link is:

For astronomy, Cal Tech has a comprehensive Astronomical Glossary at  NASA's Imagine the Universe! Dictionary ( may be a good choice for middle-level and younger learners.

GeoMapApp Learning Activities

Here's an announcement from our friends at NESTA E-News that we are excited to share! GeoMapApp Learning Activities are web-based, high-impact, ready-to-use learning modules. They are aimed at the K-12, community college, and introductory university levels. Each learning activity provides hands-on participation that allows students to enhance their learning experience through the exploration of geoscience data in a map-based setting. They range from short in-class activities to multi-class modules covering broader content.

GeoMapApp Learning Activities allow educators and students to use technology to access, explore, critically evaluate, and visualize relevant scientific data from a standards-based educational context. GeoMapApp is a free web-based data discovery and exploration tool that incorporates hundreds of built-in geoscience data sets. Read more about GeoMapApp.

Topics include: Introduction: Latitude and Longitude, Introduction: Exploring Earth's Topography, Seafloor Spreading, Hawaiian Islands: Erosion and Giant Landslides, Hawaiian Islands: Volcano Ages, Hotspots, and Plate Motion, and six others.

Start exploring at:

NEW WEBSITE FEATURE! Citations of PAESTA Member Presentations and Publications

In higher education, the culmination of faculty research enterprise and the currency of professional advancement is the dissemination of original work through conference presentations and publications. This culture is not prevalent in the K-12 teaching community, but we at PAESTA are working hard to bridge that divide. Many PAESTA members have developed excellent curricular innovations, but their insightful and creative work often goes unrecognized and unshared. It has become our mission not only to encourage these innovative teachers to disseminate their work through presentations and publications, but to recognize these achievements on the PAESTA website.
We invite our PAESTA members to submit citations for their local-to-international conference presentations and journal articles relating to Earth and Space science education at the K-16 levels and for informal science programs. Topics of the presentations and publications may include and are not limited to a new Earth science exercise, implementation of new pedagogical practices for a cross-disciplinary unit, the development of an after school STEM program, student-led outreach in the space sciences, etc.

Learn how to contribute your citation at:

NEW on the PAESTA Member Forums

As you read in the message from PAESTA President Kelly Hunter at the beginning of this issue of News and Notes, we are starting a new monthly discussion forum to share ideas and strategies for teaching and learning current Earth and space science topics. We have also added new discussion boards specifically asking for stories on successful field trips with students, and a PAESTA Conference attendee introduction. Contribute to these existing forums or start a new one today at!

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS!  The 2013 PAESTA Award for Teaching Excellence

PAESTA annually recognizes a dedicated Pennsylvania K-12 teacher who has made exemplary contributions to the field of Earth and Space Science education.  The award will be presented at the PAESTA Annual Conference, where the recipient will be awarded a plaque.  Please take time to nominate someone (or perhaps yourself) that has made a difference in any or all the following criteria.
  • Demonstrated sustained excellence and exemplary Earth and Space Science teaching
  • Effective use of Earth and Space Science printed and technological materials
  • Presented and/or published in the field of Earth and Space Science
  • Served as an advocate for Earth and Space Science teaching and learning beyond the classroom
Log in to the PAESTA website and submit your nomination no later than September 17, 2013.
Copyright © 2013 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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