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

February 2015 Elementary News and Notes

This issue's photo we're calling "protecting the biosphere from the anthrosphere." Learn more about the newly-constructed fence around this historic Cedar of Lebanon on our site. You can view this image and past images geospatially located on a map at:

WELCOME to our seventh 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!

HELLO from the PAESTA President!

For our PAESTA members that only receive our quarterly Elementary issues of News and Notes, be sure to check out the December, January and February audio welcome messages from our PAESTA President Laura Guertin! Laura will be recording a new message with organization news and updates each month that can be accessed from the PAESTA President's Podcast tag on our website.  The latest podcast shares exciting information about improving the "current event literacy" of our students.

NSTA Web Seminar Series - NGSS for K-5

Dr. Carla Zembal-Saul, head of the Penn State College of Education’s Curriculum and Instruction Department, led the development of a free NSTA webinar series that aims to help educate elementary teachers help their students learn the content and practices of science through firsthand investigation. The webinar series is based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and helps teachers engage students in negotiating claims from evidence and participating in scientific argumentation — practices that involve substantial and productive classroom discourse. Each 90-minute webinar is freely available and archived online at:

Minute Earth Video: The Biggest Organism on Earth

*Science content appropriate for you and your students!

Do you know what the biggest organism is on Earth? Do your students? You all might be surprised at the answer!
MinuteEarth provides an energetic and entertaining view of trends in earth's environment -- in just a few minutes.

View this ~3 minute video to learn about some organisms on our planet you may not know exist!

Get ready for National Environmental Education Week - April 19-25, 2015

National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) is the nation's largest celebration of environmental education. It is held each spring around the time of Earth Day and inspires environmental learning and stewardship among K-12 students. This year, EE Week looks at how science can help us better understand the natural world with the theme Surrounded by Science, part of their continuing series on Greening STEM.

For more information about National Environmental Education Week, including details about contests and resources, visit:

Build Your Own Weather Station - from the American Museum of Natural History's website for kids

Scientists who study climate are called climatologists. They want to understand how climate works, what it was like in the past, and what will happen in the years to come. Learn how to make some of the tools climatologists use to measure wind, rain, and air pressure at:

2015 Building STEAM with Día book lists

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)’s Quicklists Consulting Committee has created four Building STEAM with Día book lists for children from birth to 8th grade. Intended to accompany El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día) programming, the book lists are comprised of multicultural titles that showcase STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) topics. The four Building STEAM with Día book lists are available for children from birth to Pre-K, kindergarten to 2nd grade, 3rd to 5th grade and 6th to 8th grade. PDFs of the reading lists are available online in full color and are free to download, copy and distribute. Each list also feature simple and age appropriate STEAM activities to accompany one of the titles.

Encouraging Young Scientists eNewsletter

Encouraging Young Scientists is a monthly NSTA newsletter that aims to make science accessible to and achievable by young children in grades PreK–2, to encourage teachers, and to provide resources and ideas for making science fun and relevant in the classroom.  You can sign up for the eNewsletter and view the archives at:

From NOAA Games - the planet arcade

NOAA has an online portal to games and interactive activities focused on ocean and air themes. It highlights the science and the activities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other agencies and organizations promoting environmental stewardship. For example, the portal has WaterLife, a series of educational games about our nation's ocean and coastal resources. The games provide challenges for students at the fourth through seventh grade levels to learn important science content about human impacts on ecosystems and marine species. View the game portal at:

NSTA Blogs - an online forum to talk about science and science teaching

Did you know that NSTA has a blog with twelve different sub-blogs on a variety of topics you can explore?  You do not need to be a NSTA member to review the thoughts, concerns, and questions by your fellow teachers!  For example, here is one question a teacher posted:

Help! At my school, science is a special that my first graders go to once a week. I’m looking for integrated and engaging ideas for science that I could use during regular instruction. As most teachers know, time is precious, but I think it’s vital to pique students’ interests now while they are still curious and excited about science.   

—A., Texas

Click here to find out how the Ms. Mentor sub-blog responded to this posting! For those teaching the early elementary grades, there is a specific sub-blog titled The Early Years for teaching science in grades PreK-2.  You may also be interested in the sub-blog The Leading Edge, which allows leaders in science education to discuss trends, consider policy issues, read their colleagues’ opinions, and get support.

Borrow a Burke Box, Teach Earth Science

Would you like to use instructional resources emphasizing the scientific method, geology, and paleontology? Through the Discoveries in Geosciences (DIG) program - a collaboration of Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture and the University of Washington - teachers are invited to borrow a Burke Box including scientific specimens, materials, and lesson plans. Each of the sixty-two Burke Boxes was developed by a team of educators and contains background information, object descriptions, and activity suggestions and lesson plans for multiple grade levels and learning styles. Many boxes also contain supplemental books, DVDs or audio, maps, posters, and other useful classroom tools. To learn more about obtaining a DIG Box on loan, visit:

Additional information on the PAESTA website

Do you have any items or announcements to share in Elementary News and Notes? Contact us!
News and Notes Editor  --  Laura Guertin
News and Notes Assistant Editor  --  Greg Collins
Copyright © 2015 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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