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

March 2017 News and Notes

This month's image is from PAESTA member Tim Gleason, showing naturally acidic tannic acid-stained waters downstream of Black Moshannon Lake. 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! Visit this link to learn how:
From the PAESTA President - Greetings!

Greetings PAESTA members! Happy Spring! Meteorologically, at least: March 1st marks the beginning of meteorological Spring in the Northern Hemisphere; an occurrence that given the unseasonably warm temperatures probably does not surprise you! From one science teacher to another, I caution you not to use individual meteorological warm/cool events to perpetuate climate misconceptions to students. Emphasize the differences between weather and climate often with students. An unusually warm day or week during the winter season does not by itself equate to climate change. Remember that climate is complex, and includes the long-term averages of weather conditions for a region or area over at least month or more. There is of course some weather/climate overlap when we talk about locally hitting record high temperatures or breaking long-standing local weather records.

But if we as science teachers start citing a few warm weather days in Pennsylvania in February to irrationally argue a warming Earth, then we can hardly complain when dissenting voices use record low temperatures to counter-argue against global climate change. We need to be both smart and accurate with weather and climate data. This is where facts come in! The truth: We are breaking regional and global high temperature records at an ever-increasing rate. How about a few real, indisputable climate facts you can use with your students: The global surface temperature in 2016 was the warmest since official records began in 1880. It was the third year in a row to set a new heat record, and the fifth time the record has been broken since the start of the 21st century. (source: NASA/NOAA) Of the 17 hottest years ever recorded, 16 have occurred since 2001.

I am at the current time enrolled in my third AMS DataStreme Course: DataStreme Ocean. If you get a chance, please check out and bookmark the public DataStreme Ocean website, which has excellent links that will serve to broaden your access to current oceanographic data. Those of you familiar with my past PAESTA articles know that I highly recommend the AMS DataStreme courses for teachers. They are rigorous, free graduate level online courses that provide a wealth of current research and data that can be immediately used in your classrooms. Over the next few months I will be using my column to share some Ocean science from my course that you might find useful with your students. Also, be sure to visit the excellent resources you’ll find on the PAESTA Classroom. Expect to see many more oceanography postings on the PAESTA website in the months to come!

Oceanography fact for March: Did you know that March typically marks the Arctic sea ice maximum and the Antarctic minimum sea ice coverage? Last year the maximum Arctic ice coverage occurred on March 24, and was notable because it was the lowest (max) ice coverage on record, replacing the low (max) sea ice record set the previous year. Researchers expect the trend of decreasing maximum sea ice coverage to continue in the Arctic this coming month, so keep your eyes out for news articles later this month noting ever-shrinking maximum arctic ice coverage. Looking for great web-quest data sources for students that show polar sea ice? You’ll find an excellent interactive graphic of historical sea ice coverage for any month/year going back 1978 for both the Arctic and Antarctic regions here. It even calculates the coverage for you in square kilometers. And finally, for an excellent illustration of long-term ice thinning in the arctic, the animation on this NOAA resource is a must see. These satellite-sourced ice data diagrams serve as excellent visual illustrations of real, physical changes occurring to the planet as a direct, undeniable result of a warming Earth.

Lastly, for those of you attending the GSA Joint Section Region Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA from March 19-21, see you there! Look for our well-stocked PAESTA booth for loads of Earth Science resources!

Dave Curry, PAESTA President

March 18/19  --  K-12 Teacher Weekend at NE/NC GSA 

PAESTA worked with the K-12 programming committee to have a K-12 Teacher Weekend at the regional Geological Society of America Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, March 18-19. Visit the PAESTA conference page to learn more about the weekend focus on teaching about climate and energy! Note that teachers are required to register for the meeting but only have to register/pay for one day-registration to attend both Saturday and Sunday events. (Teachers may register and stay for the full meeting of scientific sessions, but all K-12 activities are on the weekend.)

Teacher Weekend Activities
  • Saturday, March 18  --  Field Discovery Workshop, "Streams as Classrooms: Impacts of Mine Discharge (*free, but must pre-register ASAP by contacting Dr. Karen Rose Cercone,, Stormwater Runoff and Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids"; Lecture by Dr. Richard Alley (Penn State), "Climate Research for the Classroom"; Teachers reception and networking event for pre-service, in-service, and higher education.
  • Sunday, March 19  --  Morning session of talks for K-12 teachers, "New Strategies and Best Practices for Teaching Climate and Energy"; Ask-A-Geologist career panel. All K-12 sessions will conclude by 12 Noon.

The onsite registration fee for K-12 teachers is $60. Teachers must register for the conference and field discovery workshop to attend.

NAGT Eastern Section Spring 2017 Meeting  

Skip to (Don’t Trip Over) The Fall Line in Maryland in 2017

From June 8-11, geologists and K-16 instructors will gather in Cantonsville, MD (right outside of Baltimore) for this annual meeting, featuring round table discussions of best practices in teaching and multiple fieldtrip opportunities from the Blue Ridge to Calvert Cliffs. Registration deadline is May 15. To view full conference information, please visit the NAGT-ES website.

EO Kids #2: Urban Heat Islands

EO Kids brings engaging science stories from Earth Observatory to a younger audience. The latest issue of EO Kids explores how NASA observes and measures urban heat islands from space.

What makes an urban heat island? Why is New York City a "hot" town? Where are the hottest places on Earth? How can NASA scientists help city planners turn down the heat? Read this and more in the newest issue of EO for Kids.

EO Kids offers hands-on activities, experiments and more. The Maker Corner provides instructions for making your own green roof bird-feeder. Figure out how much of a city is paved and developed in this issue's Data Viz. Research the urban heat island in your own backyard with some DIY Science. What do city lights and urban heat islands have in common? Find out when you are the Data Detective.

Explore this "hot" topic as only NASA can with NASA Earth Observatory's EO Kids:

From NOAA - Ten Signs of a Warming World

*This poster was included in the 2016 PAESTA Science Conference goodie bag - here is some supporting information for this resource!

The 2009 State of the Climate report served as a basis for the poster (image on the left) and this website ( The report draws on data for 10 key climate indicators that all point to the same finding: the scientific evidence that our world is warming is unmistakable. The report confirms that the past decade was the warmest on record and that the Earth has been growing warmer over the last 50 years.  Click here for a 10 page summary or full supplemental package.

Video Series: ClimateBits


NASA has teamed with NOAA and other groups to create this video series that depicts essential climate science concepts using imagery and narration to make them easily accessible to the general public. Existing video topics include albedo, monsoons, carbon dioxide, ozone hole, UV index, and more. The videos are available in YouTube and on the ClimateBits website.

APPLY: Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST)   

Nominations deadline: April 1, 2017
Application deadline: May 1, 2017

The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the nation's highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science). Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education. This year's awards will honor teachers working in grades 7-12. Learn more at:

ExxonMobil, AGI Offer Training Opportunities for K-5/Middle School Teachers  

ExxonMobil Exploration and AGI will be holding a K-5 Earth Science/STEM Teacher Leadership Academy in Houston, Texas, June 25-30, 2017. In addition, a Middle School Earth Science/STEM Teacher Leadership Academy will be held in Houston on July 16-21, 2017.

Each academy will provide teachers with Earth science content, hands-on activities, resources and field experiences that they can use with their students in the classroom and with their colleagues in professional development settings. Also, each academy has space for 25 participants and encourages participation in teams of two or more educators.

Learn more online. Scroll down to “Earth Science Teacher Leadership Academy” and click on the appropriate option (K-5 or Middle School).

For each academy, science supervisors and principals are encouraged to nominate teachers soon. Please send names and e-mail contact information for nominees to AGI’s Juliet Crowell at Nominees will be sent an online application form and given instructions on how to complete the application process.
The priority review of completed applications will begin on March 10.

K-12 Student Art Contest: Connecting Ships, Ports and People  

Students in grades K-12 are invited to participate in the annual calendar art contest sponsored by the North American Marine Environment Protection Association (NAMEPA), the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Mystic Aquarium and the Inter-American Committee on Ports of the Organization of American States (CIP-OAS). The theme of this year's contest mirrors that of IMO's World Maritime Day, "Connecting Ships, Ports and People". Submissions will be accepted from youth across the Americas (North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean). The submission deadline is March 31, 2017. For complete contest guidelines, prize details, and more information about ports, ships, and their positive impacts on people worldwide, visit

Environmental Summer Camp Programs for Teens

Tyler Arboretum (Media, PA) is offering summer programming in environmental science and leadership for teens. Please forward these opportunities along to your students.

Environmental Youth Leadership Development Program

Tyler Arboretum is accepting applications for its youth leadership development program, for ages 16-17. The Leaders in Training program is an opportunity to develop real world skills and leadership abilities. Teens will participate in activities and projects that are designed to develop skills in teamwork, problem solving, conflict resolution, work ethic, communication, independence, teaching and so much more. Teens will embark on overnight adventures to explore interesting new environments, learn vital wilderness skills and gain an understanding of the interconnectedness of the natural world and our place within it! LITs will use their own experience and knowledge and work together to conceptualize, plan and implement both small and large-scale activities, to be delivered to the rest of the camp community. Working with their peers and leading other youth will give them the real world experience of project management, team dynamics, and program delivery, all while having a blast in nature! For more information and to apply visit:

Middle School & Teen Environmental Science Camp at Tyler Arboretum
  • Naturalist Camps (ages 11-13) are designed for campers who are ready for a more in-depth science and nature experience. Youth will spend their days investigating the natural world, its inhabitants and the interconnectedness of nature. Each week the group will embark on an off-site adventure, such as rock climbing or kayaking, and also camp out under the stars with an on-site overnight.
  • Adventurer Camps (ages 13-15) are designed to challenge campers with awesome outdoor experiences where they investigate different habitats and their complex, ecological interactions. As they explore the streams and trek through the woods they will discover how these interactions are critical for their survival. Then campers will learn important survival skills necessary for them to make it in the wilds. Each week the team will embark on an overnight adventure to explore interesting new environments and to put their camping skills to the test! For more information and to apply visit:

American Meteorological Society Education Program -- free professional development workshops for teachers

Enhance your knowledge of Earth system science and earn free graduate credits through Project ATMOSPHERE or the Maury Project. Both are two-week professional development workshops and hands-on learning experiences provided by the American Meteorological Society Education Program.

Project ATMOSPHERE: Join fellow science teachers from across the country in Kansas City, MO at NOAA’s National Weather Service Training center, July 16-28, 2017 and learn from experts in meteorology and the atmospheric sciences, while gaining valuable field experience. Travel, lodging, meals, and all materials are provided in addition to a $600 stipend. More information and the application are available online at The application deadline is March 27, 2017.

The Maury Project: Explore the physical foundations of oceanography at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, July 9-21, 2017 and gain hands-on experience in oceanographic research through a daylong excursion on the Chesapeake Bay. Travel, lodging, meals, and all materials are provided in addition to a $600 stipend. More information and the application are available online at The application deadline is March 20, 2017.

Summer Teacher Workshops in Pennsylvania

CSATS partners with science and engineering researchers at Penn State and industries to improve STEM education through innovative outreach programs. Check out these Summer 2017 programs.

Renewable Energy Teacher Summer Workshop (NEWBio)
Spend a week in July at Penn State University Park learning about current bioenergy research from nationally recognized faculty. Renewable Energy alternatives are vital for the health of our planet, and the NEWBio Project, funded by the USDA, is helping us learn more about how to best realize this vision. Learn more.

Authentic Plant Pollinator Landscape Research for Educators (APPL-RED) Workshop
In July, teachers will have the opportunity to participate and collaborate with leading researchers in the area of pollinator and plant-pollinator landscape research, CSATS science educators, and educators from across Pennsylvania. Learn more.

Additional information on the PAESTA website and around the internet

We have lots of news and notices this month - too many to put in our newsletter! We encourage you to check out these announcements (and more!) on the PAESTA website:
  • From our friends at DCNR - Upcoming Act 48 Teacher Workshops offered by DCNR-Pennsylvania State Parks (ongoing)
  • Winter 2016 issue of Pennsylvania Geology
  • Article - Improving undergraduate STEM education: The efficacy of discipline-based professional development (Science)
  • Blog post - Legislative Update: DeVos Confirmed as ED Secretary/House Kills ESSA Accountability Regulations (NSTA)
  • Article - Integrating topographic imaging into geoscience field courses (EOS)
  • Article - Three reasons why Earth scientists should edit Wikipedia (EOS)
  • Article/Video - Hands-on learning research that benefits the economy, environment (NSF)
  • Article - Increasing Undergraduate Interest to Learn Geoscience with GPS-based Augmented Reality Field Trips on Students’ Own Smartphones (GSA Today)

If Enough People Stomp At Once, Can It Cause An Earthquake? (from DNews)

Sporting events gather a lot of people into one place, and they can get pretty rowdy. Does all this commotion have an effect on the planet?   Here is the direct video link:
Read More:

One year ago, Seattle Seahawks 12th Man Earthquake
Tide fans turn up heat, humidity on game days
Do you have any items or announcements to share in News and Notes? Contact us!
News and Notes Editor  --  Laura Guertin
News and Notes Assistant Editor  --  (vacant)
Copyright © 2017 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.

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