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

May 2014 Elementary News and Notes

This month's photo captures a range of information available for interdisciplinary study, just on one tombstone! You can view this image and past images geospatially located on a map at:

WELCOME to Our Fourth Issue of Elementary News and Notes!

We are thrilled to continue addressing the needs of our members that teach in the elementary grades, while at the same time sharing these resources appropriate for scaling up to more advanced students. We are always looking for recommendations of resources! If you have a map or activity you use with your students, please share your suggestion with us so that we can share it across the PAESTA membership!

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.

National Geographic Education Collections, Grades K-5

National Geographic Education has designated featured collections for grades K-5 on science, social studies, and geography topics. We recommend taking a look at their collections on water, migration, and maps.  The resources in these collections include activities, articles, audio, documents, interactives, lessons, maps, photos, videos, and even geographic history articles.

National Geographic MapMaker Kits

MapMaker Kits offer K-12 students the opportunity to work with key mapping concepts at a variety of scales and to see the world in new ways. Unique large-scale maps allow students to immerse themselves in the exploration of dynamic environmental and cultural aspects of the world. MapMaker Kit activities engage students in the manipulation and analysis of a variety of geographic information sets, helping them build skills in critical thinking, the representation of data, and mental mapping.
       Each kit enables the user to download, print, and assemble maps of the world, individual continents, and the United States in a variety of sizes. Mega maps occupy a large wall, or can be used on the floor; projector maps give you some flexibility about sizing; the tabletop map is good for small group work, and the one-page outline maps are perfect for individual work.
       If you are interested in just Pennsylvania, visit the page to download the Pennsylvania Tabletop Map.

Community Mapping for Good(all)

Happy birthday Dr. Jane Goodall, who recently turned 80 years old! Google Earth Outreach and Google's Geo Education team is working with The Jane Goodall Institute's Roots and Shoots youth program to launch a community mapping initiative. In Africa, the Jane Goodall Institute’s experts in conservation and science use Participatory Mapping to incorporate local, indigenous knowledge in the creation of conservation and development projects around chimpanzee habitats. Students can use the same strategy as the Jane Goodall Institute field professionals to explore their community and identify areas to make a difference with a tool called Community Mapping.
     Why introduce young students to mapping? How do students know where to make a difference if they don’t have a strong awareness of where they live? When students map their community they REALLY get to know about the people, animals and environment around them. Mapping is the key to discovering a real community need that leads to the most effective service campaigns.

      Learn more at the Roots & Shoots Community Mapping page, and see examples in this PDF file for examples of how first grade students have participated in creating their own community maps.

AGI's K-5 GeoSource

The American Geosciences Institute has developed K-5 GeoSource, a professional development website for elementary Earth science education.  The website focuses on:
  • Content answers your "how" and "why" questions about earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, and other topics in the Earth sciences.
  • Activities provide ideas for Earth science lessons and stimulating classroom activities that supplement those lessons.
  • Assessment gives you the tools to evaluate student learning and tailor instruction to meet your students' identified needs.
  • Careers provide information and vignettes describing the many exciting career opportunities available to your students in the geosciences.
  • Resources include links to additional educational resources in the geosciences.
  • Training provides information on professional development opportunities for Earth science educators.
  • Research helps you to understand more about how children learn science.
  • Online Courses improve your teaching and increase your geoscience content knowledge.
To start your exploration, visit:

To The Moon! - From Listen Edition

Listen Edition provides free Daily Current Events to keep your classroom connected to the real world. The curated public radio stories are carefully chosen for relevance to your curriculum and relevance to your students. They come with provocative discussion questions and pre-made Socrative quizzes. One of the recent featured Daily Current Events available for free includes - To the Moon! Should humans return to the Moon? What is the value of studying the Moon? Use this lesson plan to help students understand the significance of past missions to the Moon. Access the audio file and lesson plan at: Another free audio file and lesson plan is Using Grass for Electricity:

Fun with Dirt

With garden planting reaching its peak in Pennsylvania, May is the perfect month to talk about soil.  Supporting our homes, nourishing our crops, and filtering our water, soil is essential to life as we know it.  Thankfully, it is also a fun and accessible topic to teach.
To help teachers build their pedological pedagogy, the Soil Science Society of America has developed several resources.  At, you will find powerful yet simple activities to complete with your students.  Their teacher-focused page,, provides links to many other soil lesson ideas and supporting material for you to learn more about the subject.
If you are in the market for a cross-discipline project linking art and science, try making soil crayons of various colors; then let your artists get creative! 

HHMI-BioInteractive Image of the Week

An image is a powerful tool for Earth and space science instruction. An image can capture a feature, a process, and/or an event and allow us to bring that snapshot to our students. Although images may be used throughout a class period, an image can be used at the very beginning of a class to engage students and direct classroom discussion for the day.
       If you look in the PAESTA Classroom, you will find suggestions for how to use an Image of the Day with your students. In addition to the image databases suggested in the Classroom, HHMI-BioInteractive features a new Image of the Week capturing life science or Earth science. Be sure to check out their collection and think about how you can use these impressive images with your students!

NASA's Space Place eNewsletter

The Space Place is a NASA website for elementary school-aged kids, their teachers, and their parents. The site is filled with STEM content in over 150 separate modules that include hands-on projects, interactive games, animated cartoons, and STEM facts.  The Space Place has a free bi-monthly newsletter that you can access online for a snapshot of their resources and a listing of special days in space science history.

...And Don't Forget About the Monthly NASA Space Place Articles!

In February of this year, PAESTA began partnering with NASA's Space Place to provide space science articles.  These monthly articles are designed for the upper elementary grades (as well as teachers and parents) and are available only through NASA Space Place partners.  View the collection of NASA Space Place articles on our PAESTA website.

...And Introducing - NASA's Space Place in a Snap!

NASA's Space Place in a Snap! is a series of quick, narrated tours of animated infographics that illustrate key science concepts for a younger audience. Not only are they fun and entertaining on their own, they also come with a downloadable poster and a transcript of the video, making for a cross-disciplinary learning experience. The latest topic—black holes! Find out what they are today at  
Copyright © 2014 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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