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

February 2017 News and Notes

This month's image is from PAESTA member Tim Gleason. Tim photographed quarter-sized hail (with a quarter for scale!) after a particularly intense thunderstorm in State College, PA. You can view this image and all past images geospatially located on a map at:
From the PAESTA President - Greetings from your President

Greetings PAESTA members! As I write this blurb, I am just past the halfway point in the school year, but not even close to halfway through my Earth Science curriculum material yet! Anyone else feel this way too? It is always a challenge to determine how much and how deeply to cover the core Earth/Space science topics and so I remind you that the PAESTA website is chock-full of resources and lessons to help you with your difficult and important task of curriculum design and decision-making. Take a look at our Earth Science big ideas and literacy topics here and here! And don’t forget our lesson libraries in PAESTA Classroom here.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending Climate Action panel seminar hosted by PennEnvironment and the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University in Philadelphia. Present on the panel were Drexel University’s Associate Clinical Professor and Chair, Environmental and Occupational Health, Jerry Fagliano, US Senator Bob Casey, Pennsylvania DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell, and PennEnvironment Executive Director Adam Garber. It was a sold-out crowd of 400 concerned scientists, teachers, parents, students, and citizens in a supremely appropriate location: a museum dedicated to the promotion of science to the general public. I must admit that over the past few months I have had very serious concerns about the future of federal science research at organizations such as NASA and NOAA and the EPA. I use and rely on these sites nearly every day in my classroom. I still have many of these concerns, but after attending this climate Q&A presentation, I am cautiously optimistic about the future. 
I am optimistic because of the people in that auditorium and members of PAESTA like you. There are many of us who see the value of science research and science education and the need for it to be continuously supported. The data-driven science that underpins the material in our textbooks and in peer-reviewed journals across the spectrum of scientific disciplines will not suddenly vanish. We will not let it. There are many science teachers that will make our voices heard about the importance of science research, be in in climate science or in any science field. We will continue to teach science. Not opinion, but science. I would further like to make a plea to our members: If climate science is part of your curriculum but something that you avoid because you think it is controversial, please revisit the topic. It is more important now than ever. Climate science is not controversial at all among scientists who study it. We owe it to our students to present authentic, factual science to them. Consult our resources on the PAESTA Navigation page and from our 2016 Science Conference.
Lastly, I encourage you to take a visit to the website of our friends over at The Pennsylvania Association of Environmental Educators.  Their annual conference is coming up on March 13-14 and is a great professional development opportunity. It is also not too late to join PAESTA for a K-12 focused weekend at the NE-NC GSA Conference. There is a great thread of Earth Science sessions planned. Register soon, because the $65 earlybird teacher rate ends February 13. Look for me there from March 17-21st!
-- Dave Curry, PAESTA President

***Early Registration Deadline*** 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 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.

Early registration deadline is February 13th. The early registration fee for K-12 teachers is $50. Register here. Teachers must register for the conference and field discovery workshop to attend.

NOAA State Climate Summaries

NOAA has produced a set of climate summaries for all 50 U.S. states ( These summaries, available via an interactive website and as downloadable PDFs, provide up-to-date information on observed and projected climate changes for each state.

Each state summary includes three “Key Messages” highlighting important trends and projections, 7 to 10 figures presenting data on key climate variables (temperature, precipitation, etc.), and narrative text providing details and context on observed trends, projected changes, and selected climate impacts relevant to that state.

Check out the summary for Pennsylvania or for any of the other US states and Puerto Rico.

Don't forget that in the PAESTA Navigation page for Climate Science, we also have linked the EPA's Climate Change fact sheets for Pennsylvania and the 50 states.

Visit the NSF Let It Snow website to see articles and videos on the science of winter.


Upcoming NASA education opportunities

For a full list of upcoming events and opportunities led by NASA scientists and educators, visit the Educators Current Opportunity pages on NASA's website. Opportunities are organized by teachers for Grades K-4, for Grades 5-8, for Grades 9-12, for Higher education, for Informal education, and for Pre-service educators. These pages are updated frequently, so check back often for new programs. 

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:

APPLY: The Maury Project and Project Atmosphere  

Teachers are encouraged to consider applying to these two programs from the American Meteorological Society.

The Maury Project

When: July 9-21, 2017
Where: United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland

The Maury Project is a two-week teacher professional development workshop designed for precollege teachers and supervisors of science who teach, or supervise the teaching of, units with significant oceanography content. If you are selected to participate, you will receive: a stipend of $600, housing for twelve nights on the St. John's College campus, meals, round-trip air or land travel from US home to Annapolis, MD, instructional and laboratory supplies, tuition, and a set of instructional materials. Find out more and apply here.

All completed applications should be postmarked by March 20, 2017.

Project Atmosphere

When: July 16-28 2017
Where: National Weather Service Training Center, Kansas City, Missouri

Project Atmosphere is a two-week teacher professional development workshop offered by the American Meteorological Society's Education Program. This project is specifically designed for K-12 teachers who teach science courses with atmospheric content. If you are selected to participate, you will receive: a stipend of $600, single hotel room for twelve nights, arranged by AMS, food and incidentals allowance of $350, round-trip air or land travel from US home to Kansas City, MO, instructional and laboratory supplies, tuition, and a set of instructional materials. Find out more and apply here.

All completed applications should be postmarked by March 27, 2017.

APPLY: Summer Elementary Focused Spatial Thinking/Mapping Skills Workshop  

The PA Alliance plans to offer a one day workshop for elementary teachers (and pre-service teachers) in Harrisburg in June (date being finalized as of the time this PAESTA issue is being circulated). Workshop sessions will focus on integration of spatial thinking and mapping skills in the elementary curriculum. Teachers will get to interact with the two different Giant Maps of Pennsylvania and develop ideas for how to incorporate this unique hands-on (feet-on!) experience in their planning for the school-year. (Borrowing a Giant PA Map from the PA Alliance is free!) Additionally, participating teachers will receive Act 48 credit and have an opportunity to earn a stipend for developing curriculum-based lesson plans following the workshop. Cost: $25 deposit, returned to you when you attend the workshop. To register, visit this website.

Sigma Xi 2017 Student Research Showcase  

Student registration deadline: February 22

Sigma Xi will host the 2017 Student Research Showcase, an online competition, in April. All high school, undergraduate, and graduate students are invited to submit a STEM project description and register to compete by Feb. 22. The contest is an opportunity for students to develop science communication skills through a virtual presentation. Division winners receive up to $500. Learn more at the Sigma Xi website.

5th Annual Pennsylvania KidWind Challenge 

Do your students have what it takes to build the most efficient, functional, and innovative wind turbine? They can try their luck at the KidWind Challenge! All levels of ability encouraged for grades 4-12 students. Be creative, have fun, and apply your knowledge of wind energy to be the best team in Pennsylvania. Open to school teams, scout teams, and individual teams interested in competing (all teams must be accompanied by an adult). Winning teams will qualify for the National KidWind Challenge.

Wednesday, March 15, 2016 Penn State University, University Park, PA. For more information, please visit:

Valentines from The Franklin Institute

"Celebrate Love How Only Nerds Can"

The Franklin Institute has love down to a SCIENCE. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with their official valentines that will inspire a passion (for learning about science and technology in the spirit of Benjamin Franklin). Share your nerdy love with your valentine on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or print the complete set from their website:

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 on the PAESTA website and from around the internet:

Following Carbon Dioxide Through the Atmosphere (NASA Goddard))

Carbon dioxide plays a significant role in trapping heat in Earth's atmosphere. The gas is released from human activities like burning fossil fuels, and the concentration of carbon dioxide moves and changes through the seasons. Using observations from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) satellite, scientists developed a model of the behavior of carbon in the atmosphere from Sept. 1, 2014, to Aug. 31, 2015. Scientists can use models like this one to better understand and predict where concentrations of carbon dioxide could be especially high or low, based on activity on the ground.  Here is the direct video link:
Read More:

Full article: Eye-Popping View of CO2, Critical Step for Carbon-Cycle Science
Video can be downloaded from NASA Goodard Scientific Visualization Studio

Look for more videos on the NASA Goddard YouTube Channel and PAESTA Favorite Videos page.
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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