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

February 2016 Elementary News and Notes

Look - we found "E" (for Earth) and "S" (for Science) on rocks! And we already knew that Earth Science rocks! Actually, these compass directions are part of the markers in the Meadow Maze at Tyler Arboretum in Media, PA. You can view this image and additional Earth & space science images at:

WELCOME to our latest 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 September, November and February messages in our monthly issues of News and Notes from PAESTA President Kathy Tait!  And if you have not yet heard, congratulations to our winners of the 2015 PAESTA Earth Science Week Essay Contest! Read the winning essays on the PAESTA website.

Have you heard... PAESTA has a new website feature, "Favorite Videos" 

In case you missed our recent announcement about PAESTA's Favorite Videos section of our website, you can read through our special issue of News and Notes explaining the feature. Next, we encourage you to check out the collection, and please contribute (see the special issue for details)!

From the Smithsonian - Good Thinking! The Science of Teaching Science

Have you ever wished you could see into the minds of your students? The Smithsonian Science Education Center has partnered with FableVision Studios to create a new animated series that helps teachers do just that, with Good Thinking! The Science of Teaching Science. This original web series is designed to support K-12 science educators through targeted short-format videos that explore common student ideas and misconceptions about a range of science topics such as energy, chemical reactions, and natural selection, as well as pedagogical subjects like student motivation.

The following short videos may be of particular interest to our PAESTA audience - Time: It's Like, So Deep, Natural Selection: Common Misconceptions, Fired Up About Energy, Make It Rain, and Science: A Work in Progress.

An Educational Comic About NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement Mission

"Raindrop Tales: GPM Meets Mizu-Chan"

To get young students reading about science, NASA is trying something different. Instead of a press release or a scientific paper, the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission has launched a Japanese manga-style comic book. Additional educational materials in the comic include an overview of the GPM mission, a description of the satellite and its instruments, examples of the data it collects, descriptions of some of the constellation partners and a glossary of science terms used in the comic.

Teachers for younger students are adapting the comic book. Beth Williams and her fourth graders read the comic book together projected on their classroom smart board. Williams said, “I was able to show them how to follow the conversations between characters and boxes. It was a big hit! We read it once for content and then again to examine the drawings. We talked about the connection with Japan and they loved the artistry.”

You can read this article about the comic, view a video about the comic, and view/download the actual comic online at:

From NASA Climate Kids:  Teach 10 tidbits about....

The Earth Science Communications Team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory / California Institute of Technology has pulled together a collection of fun facts on our planet appropriate to share with an elementary-aged audience. Enjoy their online slideshows as you explore:

Recommended books from The National Academies Press

The following books from The National Academies Press are available for purchase and as a free PDF download. You may want to add these reference materials to your personal library!
  • Ready, Set, SCIENCE! Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms -- What types of instructional experiences help K-8 students learn science with understanding? What do science educators, teachers, teacher leaders, science specialists, professional development staff, curriculum designers, and school administrators need to know to create and support such experiences? Ready, Set, Science! is filled with classroom case studies that bring to life the research findings and help readers to replicate success. Most of these stories are based on real classroom experiences that illustrate the complexities that teachers grapple with every day. They show how teachers work to select and design rigorous and engaging instructional tasks, manage classrooms, orchestrate productive discussions with culturally and linguistically diverse groups of students, and help students make their thinking visible using a variety of representational tools.
  • Adding It Up: Helping Children Learn Mathematics -- Adding It Up explores how students in pre-K through 8th grade learn mathematics and recommends how teaching, curricula, and teacher education should change to improve mathematics learning during these critical years. The committee identifies five interdependent components of mathematical proficiency and describes how students develop this proficiency.

Are you ready for LEAP YEAR?

You probably already have on your radar that we are in school this year on February 29th! The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) states that leap years are regularly-occurring events based on set rules. During leap years, an extra day is added as February 29th to keep the calendar synchronized with the precession of the Earth around the Sun. Leap years are necessary because the actual length of the year is 365.2422 days and not 365. The extra day is added every four years to compensate for most of the partial day. However, this is a slight over-compensation, so some century years are not leap years. Only every fourth century year (those equally divisible by 400) is a leap year. For instance, 2000 was a leap year, but 1900, 1800 and 1700 were not. For additional information, you may want to check out the US Naval Observatory's website (they have the federal responsibility for overseeing the master clocks for the United States).

Are you doing anything with your students to celebrate Leap Year? Share with us how you teach and celebrate this day in your classroom!

Announcements on the PAESTA website

This is a quick snapshot of some of the announcements posted on the PAESTA website. Be sure to visit to explore all of our recent and previous opportunities for professional development, news in the Earth and space sciences, and more!
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 © 2016 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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