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

January 2014 News and Notes

This month's photo shows the Penn State Obelisk on the University Park campus. You can view additional information about 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-Elect - A New Year for PAESTA Membership and ESS Teaching!

2013 was quite a year for PAESTA! In addition to continuing to provide resources on our website and in our newsletter, we started Elementary News and Notes, had information tables at the Franklin Institute and Pennsylvania Science Teachers Association (PSTA) conference, and hosted our very successful second annual conference. Our PAESTA membership is now at 408 members from 17 states and Canada! We look forward to continuing our growth as an organization, not just in the numbers but also in the opportunities for member involvement.

With a new year brings new resolutions. Have you made any resolutions relating to your Earth and space science teaching or professional development? Is there a new ESS topic you wish to teach/learn about, or to refresh your content knowledge? Join the Current Topics discussion forum (sign-in requred) and share your resolutions for ESS teaching in 2014, and let's work together to make sure PAESTA helps make that resolution happen for you!

Laura Guertin - PAESTA President-Elect

January PAESTAR - Pennsylvania Earth Science Teacher Achievement Recognition

This month, we recognize Dale Kraynak of Steelton-Highspire High School for his service in the roll of Secretary/Treasurer of the Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association (PAESTA) and for serving as the first K-12 teacher in this leadership position. As a 9th grade Earth and space science teacher with over ten years of teaching experience, Dale has contributed "behind the scenes" as a member of the Executive Committee of PAESTA in promoting and advancing the the profession of Earth and space science teaching in Pennsylvania. PAESTA has grown to the successful organization it is today with Dale's notable contributions.

Congratulations, Dale - you clearly are a

Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators

The application period for the 2014 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators is now open. The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students. Up to two teachers from each of EPA's 10 regions, from different states, will be selected to receive this award. The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administers this award to nationally honor, support and encourage educators who incorporate environmental education in their classrooms & teaching methods.

About the Award
Teacher awardees will receive a commemorative plaque and an award of $2,000 to be used to further the recipient's professional development in environmental education. The teacher's local education agency will also receive an award of $2,000 to fund environmental educational activities and programs of the teacher (and not for construction costs, general expenses, salaries, bonuses, or other administrative expenses).

To learn more, visit the EPA's Award page.

Blending Art into Earth Science

Several presenters at last month's AGU Fall Meeting highlighted the benefits of drawing in science class.  For starters, pictures are an essential means of communicating new theories and key discoveries.  The drawings of some scientists can leave a lasting impression.  Paleontologist Manfred Reichel, for instance, drew many foraminifera and also created exceptional depictions of flying dinosaurs and early birds.  His 70-year-old drawings of Archaeopteryx are still considered by many to be the best representations of the ancient avian creature.

In addition to improving communication, asking students to draw can enhance their learning.  Creating three-dimensional drawings requires that students understand the concepts and visualize them spatially, which can promote more complete comprehension.

As you write that next exam or plan your next unit, consider whether you can replace one of those written response questions with a 3-D drawing of a lunar crater, a subduction zone, or the conveyor belts of a nor'easter.  They might even be just a bit easier to grade . . .

NASA wants your school to host a GPM Rain EnGAUGE event

Celebrate the launch of the NASA Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Mission by hosting a GPM Rain EnGAUGE Event – a family science night at your school, outdoor education center, library or museum. See NASA's Rain EnGAUGE page for a full electronic toolkit, including activities menu, planning schedules, a sample advertising flier, and more. The satellite launches in February 2014, so the celebrations can start as early as March, but get your GPM Rain EnGAUGE Event on the calendar for your organization today. Please make sure you contact NASA if you plan to host an event so that they can send you a supply kit with GPM stickers, water droplet handouts, lithographs, and other materials to help you run your activities!

Geology Field Camps for K-12 Teachers 

This summer, the Geological Society of America's Teacher Advocate Program (TAP) will present three special field camps designed just for K-12 educators. These camps are a great way for educators to gain real geoscience field experience and to collect great rock and mineral samples to share with their students. For more information, contact Davida Buehler,

June 15-19: Illinois Basin Field Camp for K-12 Educators
June 21-26: Rocky Mountain Field Camp for K-12 Educators
July 14-19: Mammoth Cave Field Camp for K-12 Educators

To follow announcements about the field camp program and other programs available to K-12 teachers, "like" the TAP program on Facebook at:

EarthLabs for Educators and Policy Makers 

Earth science is emerging as a demanding high-school science course that prepares learners for college admissions and informed citizenship. Long perceived as a low-level science subject without a lab component, it now challenges and inspires students by leveraging visualization technologies and orbital and aerial perspectives to present Earth's components, including human activities, as a single interacting system. Earth science classes integrate physics, chemistry, and biology to introduce students to a rich body of concepts and knowledge with which to understand the world around them, including pressing environmental, social, and economic issues. EarthLabs supports this transformation by providing a model for rigorous and engaging Earth and environmental science labs. EarthLabs offer the laboratory experiences needed to elevate Earth science to a capstone high-school science course that coheres prior science studies and benchmarks students for college placement. EarthLabs units offer sequences for learning science concepts through hands-on experiments and data analysis. Using satellite imagery, numerical data, computer visualizations, and video, students explore Earth system processes and build quantitative skills that enable them to objectively evaluate scientific findings for themselves.

View the EarthLabs Teachers' Guide:
View the Student Labs:

NASA Science Presentations

Looking for an exciting new way to communicate NASA Science? The NASA Science Presentations website provides presentation material that was developed to help explain unique phenomena, science research results, ideas, and/or examples of world change. PowerPoint and Keynote presentations as well as Story Text files are available for download for each topic—a great resource for those interested in using powerful visualizations and images to communicate science. New content and accompanying files will continue to be developed to promote scientific literacy across a diverse group of audience members. Content is available for public use; however, the user must give credit to NASA. Explore the available resources at:

EPA Drinking Water Map

From the EPA - "The health of our nation’s rivers, lakes, bays and coastal waters depends on the vast network of streams and wetlands where they begin. These streams feed downstream waters, trap floodwaters, recharge groundwater supplies, remove pollution, and provide fish and wildlife habitat. Streams and wetlands are also economic drivers because of their key role in providing water and habitat to support fishing, hunting, agriculture and recreation. Approximately 117 million people – one-third of the U.S. population – get some or all of their drinking water from public drinking water systems that rely in part on headwater, seasonal, or rain-dependent streams." View the EPA's new map that shows the percent of people getting drinking water from seasonal or rain-dependent streams, an interesting resource to share and discuss with students:

Teaching Materials for Understanding Evolution

The Understanding Evolution project aims to help K-16 instructors develop student understanding of: basic evolutionary patterns and processes; evolutionary theory's ability to explain phenomena across the many subdisciplines of biology; the many applications of evolutionary theory, both in solving real world problems and in scientific research; and, the evidence supporting evolutionary theory. As is true of any subject, to teach evolution successfully, teachers need to be prepared with a conceptual understanding of the topic and with effective curricular strategies. Teachers that develop a depth of knowledge beyond what is actually expected of students will be able to confidently adjust instruction in response to students' needs and inquiries. This is particularly true in the teaching of evolution, where students' questions can be numerous and challenging. The University of California Museum of Paleontology has assembled a variety of resources to help you increase student understanding of evolution. To improve your own content knowledge, explore Evolution 101 and their resource library. To prepare yourself with lesson plans, teaching tips, and pedagogical strategies, visit a Teacher's Lounge (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, undergraduate) on the Teaching Materials site:

On the PAESTA website - did you know you can find...

We want to make sure our membership is aware of all of the resources and opportunities we provide on our website.  Each month, we will highlight a website feature you may be interested in checking out, such as our listing of Awards that teachers can apply for!  We always list these announcements on the front page of our website, under the News from PAESTA section.  But you can go directly to this link to see all of our postings of just award opportunities:
Copyright © 2014 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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