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

September 2013 News and Notes

This month's photo shows sand bars viewed from Rattlesnake Rock on the Pine Creek Rail Trail. 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 - Welcome back to school!

Well, the time has come for most of us to go back to school to start another exciting year.  Hopefully everyone has had a chance to get rejuvenated this summer and is as excited as I am to get the year started!  As the year progresses, I hope that everyone will take advantage of what PAESTA has to offer.  Our PAESTA Classroom is in its early stages, but has many great lessons and activities for use in your classroom.  Also, if you have any ideas to submit to the PAESTA Classroom, please do!  Submissions are easy and we are always looking for new ideas.  Remember, too, that these submissions can be as simple as a helpful illustration to a full lesson plan. 
        As the year begins, I hope more of our members continue to check out and participate in our monthly discussion forums.  Last month’s topic on Neptune’s new moon generated some great classroom ideas and discussions, and hopefully our monthly forums will continue to grow bigger and bigger with time.  This month we are going to explore carbon capture and storage (CCS).  Scientists are exploring various ways to capture and then store carbon dioxide gas while burning fossil fuels in an attempt to eliminate greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  How can you use the topic of CCS in your classroom?  What are some ways that scientists are performing CCS effectively?  What problems have arisen surrounding CCS?  We want to hear what you have to say!  Please submit your ideas on this month’s discussion forum and I look forward to seeing what everyone has to offer!  

Kelly Hunter, PAESTA President

DEADLINES! - PAESTA Conference Sessions and Registration

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

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

Submit a proposal to present (deadline passed). Be sure to keep checking the conference schedule as we finalize the presentations.

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

September PAESTAR - Pennsylvania Earth Science Teacher Achievement Recognition

This month, we recognize Al Dorsch, newly-appointed Assistant Principal of Shenango High School. Al is known for creative and engaging projects for students in his science classroom, such as his five activities for differentiated classroom instruction on human-induced climate change. He published this innovative set of curricular materials in The Earth Scientist (2009) and was a lead author on a poster presentation at the Northeastern Section and Southeastern Section Joint Meeting of the Geological Society of America (Baltimore, 2010). In addition to teaching students in the classroom, Al has taken students on canoeing and ski trips, and he can be found in his school's courtyard with students planting the summer vegetable garden and making pizza in the outdoor earthen oven (where, one of Al's colleagues shares that Al tells the students, "everything in a pizza comes from the Earth!").

Congratulations, Al - for your consistent, innovative instruction and growing leadership in the profession, you are clearly a PAESTAR!

Weather on the Great Lakes

September 10th marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie, a pivotal engagement in the War of 1812.  Commanding from what is now Pennsylvania's state ship, the Flagship Niagara, Oliver Hazard Perry led America to a rout of the British squadron and then famously reported: "We have met the enemy and they are ours."

Weather played a significant role throughout the war, especially on the Great Lakes.  In an era of wind-powered ships, both seasonal and hourly changes in conditions could determine the outcome, as Theodore Roosevelt documented in his book, The Naval War of 1812 (freely available online from Project Gutenberg).

To give your students a better understanding of weather on and around the Great Lakes, visit this interactive unit from the University of Wisconsin.  Best suited for high school or introductory college classes, the unit makes extensive use of satellite images to help students discover many of the key characteristics of Great Lakes weather.

EPA's Global Climate Change Lesson Plans

The EPA has a website titled A Student's Guide to Global Climate Change. The website is divided into sections that help students Learn the Basics, See the Impacts, Think Like a Scientist, and Be a Part of the Solution. Students can also Take a Climate Change Expedition and calculate their planetary impact.
EPA has compiled seven hands-on, interactive lesson plans to complement and make use of the material on this website. The plans, aimed primarily at middle school students, work systematically and individually to reinforce students’ knowledge of climate change, as well as enhance skills across multiple disciplines. To view the lesson plans, visit:

Get involved in the World Water Monitoring Challenge

The World Water Monitoring Challenge is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies. In 2012, approximately 250,000 visits were made by participants to monitoring sites in 66 countries.

The program runs annually from March 22 (the United Nations
World Water Day) until December 31. With their students, teachers can choose any lake, stream, bay, or other water body to monitor. The Resources section of the website includes lesson plans, worksheets, and the ability to download and examine collected data from across the globe. Teachers can order kits (basic or classroom) for testing or use their own equipment.

NASA - Spot The Station

Know when to look up and see the International Space Station! NASA’s Spot The Station service gives you a list of upcoming sighting opportunities for thousands of locations worldwide, and will let you sign up to receive notices of opportunities in your email inbox or cell phone. The space station looks like a fast-moving plane in the sky, but it is dozens of times higher than any airplane and traveling thousands of miles an hour faster. It is bright enough that it can even be seen from the middle of a city! Sign up today at:

Find New Resources at National Fossil Day Online

To help you prepare for the fourth annual National Fossil Day (October 16) during Earth Science Week 2013, the National Park Service offers a web site full of educational resources and information designed specifically for students and teachers (

On the site’s NPS Fossil Park Highlights page, for example, you will find lesson plans developed to reflect select state standards, fossil trading cards, videos about pygmy mammoths, special brochures, a virtual museum exhibit on dinosaurs, and more (

Also see the site’s Useful Resources and Links page, which features a trove of educator resources (

From our friends at NESTA! NESTA-NOVA Webinar: Clouds, Precipitation, and our Earth System

Join presenters from NOVA and NESTA for the first of a series of free webinars about Earth system science resources for middle school and high school educators!

Title: Clouds, Precipitation, and our Earth System
Date: September 11th, 2013
Time: 6:00pm to 7:00pm EDT

Click here for the registration link

Join WGBH's NOVA and the National Earth Science Teachers Association for a presentation about Earth system science resources related to the atmosphere:

First, hear from Dr. Stephen Nesbitt, Associate Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois. He'll give an overview of global patterns of clouds and precipitation and what causes them, and describe how scientists measure rain and snow on the ground, in the clouds, and from satellites. He'll then discuss his role in NASA's upcoming Global Precipitation Mission, which will be the most advanced radar system designed to measure precipitation from the Tropics to the Arctic. Learn about resources available for students, teachers, and the general public to learn more about the atmospheric water cycle, and how you can get involved.

Next, NOVA Education Coordinator Rachel Gesserman will discuss how you can bring weather data into your classroom using NOVA's new Cloud Lab. This digital platform gives students direct access to the types of data, imagery, and tools scientists use to investigate and predict tropical storms. Learn about the different Lab components and some strategies to help get you started.

Still looking for additional classroom resources? Hear from NESTA's President, Missy Holzer, about available content on NESTA's "Windows to the Universe" website related to this topic. Windows is a portal where you can explore a wealth of information to learn about the Earth and Space sciences and find a myriad of classroom resources for all grade levels.

NEW on the PAESTA Website

Under the PAESTA Member Forum - General Discussion, we have a new post asking for help with teaching "Hollywood and Earth Science."

The PAESTA Classroom has new activities listed for "Scaffolding Claims, Evidence and Reasoning," "Cemetery Investigation - Tombstone Weathering," and "What do Craters on Solid Planets Tell Us About the History of the Solar System?"

We have almost doubled our list of Digital Libraries with recommended curricular material from organizations such as EPA, NOAA, NASA, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Copyright © 2013 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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