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

October 2014 News and Notes

While you are in State College for the PAESTA Conference this month, why not visit the College of Earth & Mineral Science Museum and Art Gallery?  Learn more about the museum at this link. You can view this image and all past 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:


We are just days away from our 3rd Annual PAESTA Conference! Can't make it to the conference, but interested in some of the sessions listed on the schedule? Feel free to contact the presenters - your fellow PAESTA members will be more than happy to share with you the details of their presentations!


Be sure to connect with PAESTA Past President Kelly Hunter and other PAESTA members at the Franklin Institute's Educators Night in Philadelphia on Wednesday, October 8Click here to learn more about this event!
From the PAESTA President - PAESTA Conference + Earth Science Week = Busy Month for Earth Sciences!

We have another monthly audio greeting from PAESTA President Laura Guertin! Please click here to listen to a short message, where Laura shares exciting news about the PAESTA conference and Earth Science Week!

(And if you missed Laura's previous podcasts, you can access her monthly audio welcomes at SoundCloud)

October PAESTAR - Pennsylvania Earth Science Teacher Achievement Recognition

This month we recognize David Andrews, who teaches general science, environmental science and chemistry at Butler Junior High School in Butler, Pennsylvania. In August, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, announced David as a winner of the annual Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. In a ceremony at the White House, David was one of 17 teachers from across the nation honored for contributions to environmental education and stewardship. David's full citation can be viewed at:

Congratulations, David - you clearly are a

2014 National Climate Assessment (NCA) Teaching Resources

The National Climate Assessment offers a wealth of actionable science about the causes, effects, risks and possible responses to human-caused climate change. NOAA, the NCAnet Education Affinity Group, and members of the CLEAN Network have developed a series of guides for middle school, high school, and college-level educators that focus on the regional chapters of the Assessment Report, helping to unpack the key messages of each region and pointing to related, high-quality online resources.  Start exploring today at:

Is More Sometimes Less? 

Though some teachers are unfortunately left out of district curricular discussions, many are invited to offer at least informal input or perhaps to serve on a review committee.  As we endeavor to keep you informed of all aspects of Earth science education, we will occasionally provide updates on research that you might find valuable in helping your schools reach prudent policy decisions.  This month we look at science graduation requirements.  

Some evidence exists that shows increasing the number of math and science courses required in high school will lift student performance on state tests, and presumably this translates into a more science-literate community.  The side-effects of increasing STEM course requirements, however, had gone largely unstudied until recent work at Washington University found some interesting and important tradeoffs.  They discovered that raising the high school math and science course requirement from four to six credits was enough to increase the dropout rate by a full one percentage point.  At the same time, they found that increasing the STEM requirements made it more likely that college-bound students, especially from racial minorities, would complete their degrees.  (Hear the researchers discuss their work here.)

In our roles as Earth science educators, juggling these tradeoffs will remain a challenge.  Perhaps as we look to strengthen science in our schools, we need to creatively find ways both to rigorously prepare our students who are headed on to higher learning and to reach the at-risk students where they are.  In schools where designing a new course may be an option, Earth science teachers could be at an advantage.  The breadth of content available to us and the many hands-on experiments in our repertoires make breaking the "survey class" mold a possibility, both for the best and the struggling students, which may be essential to establishing a foothold before the state test-driven subjects drive Earth science out of the high school.

Don't forget - Earth Science Week takes place this month!  

The American Geosciences Institute's Earth Science Week (ESW) is just around the corner! Earth Science Week, an international event being held October 12-18, involves local geoscience and education groups planning and hosting grass roots educational programs in their own communities. AGI distributes all the necessary instructional materials, publicizes the event, and provides guidance to event hosts. If you are interested in attending an event near you, or finding resources to share with your students, visit the ESW website,  Conduct activities described on the Earth Science Week website at For more ideas, see recommendations at  All PAESTA Conference attendees will receive a FREE AGI Earth Science Week kit to take back to their classrooms!

Project Polar Bear Contest - Bright Young Minds Outsmart CO2

This contest challenges young leaders to develop community projects that reduce the carbon dioxide load in the atmosphere—especially those that engage and sustain community action. It is open to students of ages 11-18 in the U.S. and Canada working in small teams or big groups - a perfect activity for a classroom or after-school club. Registration for this year's contest is September 1 - October 31, 2014. Teams will work on their projects through March 15, 2015. Winners will be announced on Earth Day, April 22, 2015. Learn more through this video and at:

Join NEEF and ENERGY STAR in the Take a Second Energy Challenge

Are you or your students taking a few seconds today to help the environment? Share an Instagram video showing how you take a few seconds to help the environment by saving energy. Use #takeasec to submit your video and follow @NEEFusa and @EnergyStar. Submit your entry by October 9, 2014 and vote for your favorite finalist. Learn more about the challenge today. How could you incorporate this challenge into your teaching? The U.S. Department of Energy offers lesson plans that could help.

Teachers: Download EPA Resources for Your Classroom

1. Help students learn about environmental health and empower them to take steps in their everyday lives to protect the environment. Download EPA's curriculum Recipes for Healthy Kids and a Healthy Environment here.

2. Looking for more resources on the environment to use in your classroom this school year? Visit EPA's teacher resource center to find lesson plans and activities here. Use this handy guide to find the top resources.

3. EPA recently announced the winners of the 2013-2014 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (including this month's PAESTAR!). The award 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. The application period for the 2014-2015 award will be announced in Fall 2014. Read about the current winners and learn more about the award here.

World Water Monitoring Challenge

This year’s deadline for entering WWMC data is October 31, 2014

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 in the monitoring of their local waterbodies. Teachers are encouraged to get hands-on with their students in measuring the four "snapshot" parameters of watershed health: temperature, pH, turbidity and dissolved oxygen. Any equipment may be used, and/or a testing kit can be ordered from WWMC. You still have time to collect measurements and contribute your data to a global database!

PECO Energizing Education Program

Application deadline:  October 10

This cutting-edge, hands-on program is offered to middle schools (grades 6-8) in five Pennsylvania counties - Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester and Delaware. The program provides teacher professional development and curriculum for classroom projects around energy literacy.  The program combines a five-week classroom module with hands-on kits and curriculum with a school student energy audit, and a cash grant to support the school's implementation of an energy and environment-focused community project.  Only 15 schools will be selected to participate.  Learn more at:

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

The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) provides a PowerPoint, visualizations, and animations for Recent Earthquake Teachable Moments.  We then share these with you on our PAESTA website under the search tag IRIS - check out the latest postings on the most recent and significant earthquakes at:
Copyright © 2014 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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