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

December 2014 News and Notes

With this month's image, we thought we would have a little fun! How are your rock identification skills? Can you classify this rock type? You can view this image with the answer 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 - Short Science Content Vidoes

We have another monthly audio greeting from PAESTA President Laura Guertin! Please click here to listen to a short message, where Laura shares just a small sampling of the online science content videos appropriate for our students in the classroom!

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

Video links for: NOAA Ocean Today, NASA eClips, Science Friday, PBS Online NOVA Labs, and KQED Science Quest.

December PAESTAR - Pennsylvania Earth Science Teacher Achievement Recognition

This month, we recognize Rebecca Newschaffer, 7th grade math teacher at AMY Northwest Middle School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Nominated by one of her peers, “Rebecca has been teaching for over 20 years and she has been teaching in Philadelphia for the last 8 years. She is always interested in teaching integrated math and science units that require the use of real time data. She is especially excited about co-teaching the Weather and Climate unit because there is such a wealth of data that students can organize and make claims about. She is looking forward to contributing new resources to the PAESTA Classroom that other teachers can use to engage students. Rebecca has been incorporating the Claims-Evidence-Reasoning (CER) strategy when teaching math, requiring students to make claims and provide evidence and reasoning for problem sets. Rebecca is also a respected member of the AMY Northwest family, always making herself available to help her students and colleagues when needed. She made her first presentation at the 3rd Annual PAESTA Conference this year and she truly deserves to be recognized as a PAESTAR!” We at PAESTA certainly agree!

Congratulations, Rebecca - you clearly are a

In the PAESTA Classroom - De-extinction

With the November 29th Smithsonian television special How to Clone a Woolly Mammoth, we think it is appropriate to remind you that we have a collection of articles, videos and critical thinking questions, written across Bloom's Taxonomic Scale, on bringing extinct organisms back to life through a process called de-extinction.
As you think about increasing your students awareness of current news and discoveries in science, consider having your students read one of the linked articles and/or view one of the videos. View this material in the PAESTA Classroom.

NASA Video Short:  The Arctic and the Antarctic Respond in Opposite Ways

*Science content appropriate for you and your students! 

The Arctic and the Antarctic are regions that have a lot of ice and act as air conditioners for the Earth system. This year, Antarctic sea ice reached a record maximum extent while the Arctic reached a minimum extent among the top ten lowest since satellite records began. One reason we are seeing differences between the Arctic and the Antarctic is due to their different geographies. As for what's causing the sea increase in the Antarctic, scientists are also studying ocean temperatures, possible changes in wind direction and, overall, how the region is responding to changes in the climate.

This ~2 minute video can be viewed on
YouTube or viewed and downloaded on the NASA Goddard website.

NBC Learn Video: The Chemistry of Ice 

*Science content appropriate for you and your students!

Here's a bonus video for December - the chemistry of ice!  Northern areas in winter are showcases for crystals, and “The Chemistry of Ice” explains what happens when liquid H2O freezes into a solid crystal.

This ~5 minute video can be viewed on the
NBC Learn website.  The video has two corresponding lessons that connect to the video content.

Now We're Cookin'

With the Thanksgiving dishes finally put away, many of us begin to think ahead - to more cooking!  The aromas of cookies, latkes, and fresh-baked breads fill the house and warm the heart in the cold winter months.  As we read through the recipes, though, we often encounter that pesky line: "cooking times may vary."  Certainly your oven and bakeware choices can affect the time needed to reach perfection, and from a geoscience perspective so does your elevation.

Perhaps this is obvious if you're baking with Grandma in Golden, Colorado, but elevation should be accounted for in many East Coast locations too.  The USDA recommends compensating for elevation beginning at 2000 feet above sea level, and one glance at a relief map of Pennsylvania reveals many communities fit this criteria.  At these higher elevations, water boils at lower temperatures.  This means cooking times for boiled foods will increase, but it also results in more evaporation from your baked goods. (For a refresher on vapor pressure, Khan Academy offers .  Lower pressures also make for bigger bubbles, which can lead to collapsing cakes.

To explore how elevation affects cooking, students may want to examine their favorite recipe and discuss necessary adjustments if they were to move to a high-elevation town of their choosing.  Exploratorium and Betty Crocker may be of some assistance.

From ESRI - Share Your View!

ESRI has launched a “Share Your View!” crowd-sourcing initiative, and you’re invited to participate! The theme, “Share Your View!”, focuses on a seemingly local experience – the view from your window (or door). However, by placing these locations on the map, the application puts things in a broader perspective -- presenting a tapestry of views from all over the world. Please visit to submit your view and see entries that others have submitted. Then, students can compare vegetation, building types, land use, language, weather, climate, presence/absence of water, population density, and other aspects of physical and cultural geography that you notice in these maps and photographs. Engage students in geospatial thinking today!

Reading Primary Sources: Darwin and Wallace

How do we know about the evidence that led to revolutionary ideas about the natural origin of species? This knowledge comes from reading Charles Darwin’s and Alfred Russel Wallace’s scientific writings, journals, and letters. In this activity, a supplement to the HHMI short film The Origin of Species: The Making of a Theory, students have the opportunity to read firsthand several passages of Darwin’s and Wallace’s writings and extract information from the texts, developing their nonfiction reading comprehension. This activity is appropriate for all levels of high school. It also provides a curriculum resource that addresses Common Core language arts requirements for the science content area.

View the teacher and student materials, along with supplemental resources and video links, at:

Science News for Students - a free eNewsletter

Science News for Students (SNS) is an award-winning free online publication dedicated to students, parents, and teachers that connects the latest in scientific research to in and out-of-classroom learning. It was launched in 2003 as Science News for Kids as a youth edition and companion to Science News magazine, with content tailored to be accessible and interesting to student scientists. SNS offers timely, interesting news stories and features, accompanied by suggestions for hands-on activities, books, articles, and web resources. To subscribe to the eNewsletter, visit:

CBS Philly wants YOU to be a Weather Watcher

CBS 3 in Philadelphia is looking for teachers and classrooms to become part of their Weather Watcher Network. If your school is in the viewing area of CBS 3, please visit their website to learn how meteorological data collected by students can be contributed to Eyewitness News! Learn more at:

Additional information on the PAESTA website

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:
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  --  Greg Collins
          *Note that the hyperlinks are now in a darker color in our newsletter? Thanks to feedback from one of our members, we have made that adjustment for this issue and all future issues. Keep the feedback coming - we appreciate the comments!

Copyright © 2014 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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