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

March 2013 News and Notes

This month's image is the stream bed of Rocky Run, with approximately one foot of the channel anchored with exposed plant roots, at Tyler Arboretum in Media, PA. You can view this image and all future 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:

March PAESTAR - Pennsylvania Earth Science Teacher Achievement Recognition

This month, we recognize Theresa Lewis-King, middle school science teacher at AMY Northwest in Philadelphia. Theresa's accomplishments are significant and wide-ranging, especially with regards to PAESTA. Theresa is the founder and chair of the PAESTA Teacher Advisory Committee, and she continues to work to improve PAESTA online resources and to mentor teachers as leaders in the organization. We recognize Theresa this month for being featured in an article in the Philadelphia Tribune, along with math teacher and fellow PAESTA member Rebecca Haldeman-Newschaffer, titled "Teaching Team More Than Sum of its Parts." The article highlights how Theresa and Rebecca work together in their school as "The Package Deal" for science and math instruction. Read more about their collaboration at:

Congratulations, Theresa - you are clearly a PAESTAR!

Teaching Activities with Meteors and Craters

If your students have not yet gotten their fill of stories about the 2013 Chelyabinsk Meteor, keep their excitement and interest going with this set of classroom exercises, recommended by our friends at the Science Education Resource Center (SERC). Don't forget that all of these exercises can be scaled up or down to match the level of your students.

Impact Processes at Meteor Crater - In this activity, students are introduced to impact processes in a study of Meteor Crater in northern Arizona. They are guided in the use of a set of relatively simple formulas from physics to estimate the energy of impact and the size of the impactor that formed the crater. Learn more:

What Does Meteor Size Have to Do with Crater Size?  This inquiry-based field experiment will allow students to discover what causes meteors to make craters that are much larger than the meteor themselves. They will also find how meteors of different shapes and sizes will create varying craters. Students will use different objects and different mediums to create a variety of meteors and craters. Students will work together to discover answers to questions that they come up with. Learn more:

Do you have an original classroom exercise addressing meteors and craters? Please consider sharing your curricula on our website!

GLOBE at Night Observations Have Begun!

Turn your students into data-collecting scientists! Students and teachers are encouraged to participate in a global campaign to observe and record the magnitude of visible stars as a means of measuring light pollution in a given location. GLOBE at Night is an easy observation and reporting activity that takes approximately 15-30 minutes to complete. To learn more, please visit:

Look Out for Comet PANSTARRS in Early March

Comet PANSTARRS is expected to be visible to the naked eye from March 7 until March 13.  Tell your students to take a look to the western horizon just after sunset. has more information at, and EarthSky describes Everything You Need to Know: Comet PANSTARRS Getting Brighter:

Celebrate the Equinox Stone Age-style

The first day of spring is fast-approaching!  As you teach your students what causes the seasons, consider taking a look at their role in ancient cultures.  The Mayans and Incas were known to incorporate seasonal changes in the designs of their buildings and temples, and many archaeologists believe Stonehenge could have been used for astronomical purposes too.

This vernal equinox, maybe you would like to build your own Stonehenge with your class.  Several lesson plans are available online, offering variations ranging from building block monuments up to full-scale cardboard constructions.  One example can be found at  If you want to plan ahead and place markers for the solstices and equinoxes, returns maps showing sunrise and sunset directions for any date at any Earthly location.

Looking to tie in the cultural significance?  National Geographic has a collection of video segments, including one on the "Celestial Computer Theory," that shares some insights on how ancient inhabitants of Britain might have used the site.  The segments are available at:

For an interesting take on how Stonehenge might have been built, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers has a short article and video link at

Ground Water Awareness Week (March 10-16)

The National Ground Water Association ( is celebrating Ground Water Awareness Week (March 10-16, 2013) to shed light on one of the world’s most important resources - ground water. Ground water is essential to the health and wellbeing of humanity and the environment.

To learn more about Ground Water Awareness Week, visit the Virtual Museum of Ground Water History ( or watch a “water well show” ( For additional educational activities and resources, see

It's (not quite) March Madness... It's Earth Madness!

NASA's Earth Observatory wants you to get those brackets ready! Thirty-two will vie for the title, but only one can be the winner. They are the best Earth images of the year, the top 32 from 2012. But which ones will be good enough to survive head-to-head competition? From March 4 through April 5, anyone can vote for their favorite images of the year, whittling the total from 32 to 16 to 8 to 4 to 2 in a tournament of remote sensing science. The competition will be stiff in the four brackets — Earth at Night, Events, Data, and True-Color — so it is up to you to separate the winners from the losers. Come back each week to vote in the next round and help us choose a winner.

It's Earth Madness! Voting starts Monday, March 4, so print a copy of the bracket, fill it out, and get that pool going in your classroom. Come back every Monday to vote and watch the results.

Featured Member - Valerie Adams

Meet our latest Featured Member, from the John H. Taggart School in Philadelphia - Valerie Adams!  Learn about her favorite Earth Science topic to teach, her best teaching strategy, and recommended advice for all classroom instructors. View Valerie's profile at:

Would you like to be profiled as a Featured Member? Do you know a PAESTA member that deserves recognition? Please complete our nomination form!

Welcome Our Assistant eNewsletter Editor!

PAESTA is thrilled to have Greg Collins join us as our Assistant eNewsletter Editor! Greg is an Earth science and physics teacher at Southern Lehigh High School in Center Valley, PA.  With past experience in engineering and business, Greg enjoys exploring the natural world with his students through a mix of "hard core" science and relevant cross-discipline activities.
Copyright © 2013 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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