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

April 2014 News and Notes

This month's photo was taken at The American Chestnut Foundation Nursery in State College. You can view this image and all previous 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:
From the PAESTA President - Our premiere at NSTA!

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) National Conference is being held this month in Boston, and PAESTA will be making its mark at the conference for the first time this year! Laura Guertin, our current President-Elect, will be presenting at NSTA this year on “Levels of Leadership for Teachers in Educator-based Organizations: An Example from the Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association”. We are so excited for Laura’s presentation to get the word out about PAESTA to the rest of the country. Not only is this level of national exposure great for PAESTA, but it can also help the other state ESTA's that are in existence. Many other states are in the process of forming their own state ESTA or are struggling to keep existing ones afloat. Laura’s presentation will be a great tool for all of these affiliates as they move forward. In addition to Laura’s presentation, PAESTA will be participating in all four NESTA Share-a-Thons! The Share-a-Thons will feature more than 20 NESTA members and other specialists as they share their favorite classroom activities. The Share-a-Thons will focus on Geology, Earth Systems Science, Climate/Oceans/Atmospheres, and Space Science. For those of you attending the NSTA conference, be sure to visit Laura at one of these events and bring back great activities for use in your classroom (and pick up a "I'm a PAESTA member" sticker to wear with pride!).
          For anyone that missed their chance this year but is interested in presenting at next year’s NSTA National Conference in Chicago, the deadline for session proposals is coming up fast! All session proposals are due by April 15, 2014, for the 2015 NSTA National Conference. Don’t miss the opportunity to share your ideas with the rest of the country! This month’s discussion forum will focus on the NSTA conference for those of you in attendance. What was your favorite workshop at the conference? Did you take a field trip or class while at the conference and want to share your thoughts? What is the one thing that you took home from the conference that everyone should know about? Share your thoughts on the conference and share with our members that were unable to attend!

-- From Kelly Hunter, PAESTA President

April PAESTAR - Pennsylvania Earth Science Teacher Achievement Recognition

This month, we recognize Blake Colaianne of Dallastown Area High School in Dallastown, PA, for his commitment to professional development and for sharing his classroom pedagogical innovations in Earth and space science. Blake is the 2012 William B. McIlwaine Science Teaching Award winner from the Pennsylvania Science Teachers Association and an author on two peer-reviewed journal articles, including one manuscript in the Journal of Geoscience Education. Recently, Blake attended the Geological Society of America Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, and he presented in a geoscience education session at the Northeastern Section Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Blake’s presentation was titled, “Constructing a Climate Change Unit for High School Science Based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Framework.” His innovative approach to teaching students about climate change and sources of climate data was a topic of conversation among attendees of his talk throughout the remainder of the conference.

Congratulations, Blake - you clearly are a

New NSTA Position Statement: The Next Generation Science Standards

In November 2013, the NSTA Board of Directors approved a position statement on the NGSS. "It is essential that all students have access to a high-quality science education that provides them with the skills and knowledge they need to be well-informed citizens, to be prepared for college and careers, and to understand and appreciate the scientific enterprise. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) recommends the adoption and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS; NGSS Lead States 2013) as an effective, research-based approach to accomplish these goals and transform science education." To read the statement, visit

Announcing NASA's 2014 Edition of the Cassini Scientist for a Day Essay Contest

From NASA:

The Cassini spacecraft launched in October 1997 and has been orbiting Saturn since 2004. We are celebrating Cassini’s 10-year anniversary orbiting Saturn with a special edition of the essay contest. The 2014 Cassini Scientist for a Day Essay Contest is open to students in grades 5-12. Essays must be under 500 words.

There are three essay topics to choose from: (1) Saturn’s F ring; (2) Saturn's moon, Titan; (3) Saturn (specifically the north polar region of Saturn).

Students choose one of these topics and write an essay about why they think this image should be taken by the Cassini spacecraft. What questions do they hope will be answered by taking this picture? The essay contest meets U.S. National Science and Language Arts Standards. For contest rules, videos about each essay topic, a downloadable contest flyer, frequently asked questions, and more information, visit: The contest
deadline is Thursday, April 17, 2014. All essays must be submitted by the student's teacher (or parent, if homeschooled). If the essay contest is used as a class assignment, please send the top 3 essays from each class, along with a list of other students who wrote essays for the contest. All students who write essays will receive a certificate of participation. U.S. winners and their classes will be invited to participate in a teleconference with Cassini scientists. U.S. and international winning essays will be posted on the Cassini website. For questions about the contest, e-mail

"And 'Tis My Faith That Every Flower Enjoys the Air It Breathes"

As William Wordsworth noted in "Lines Written in Early Spring," there is poetic joy in nature.  And while Walt Whitman may have missed it, there is great beauty in the scientific process too.

The National Science Foundation has supported poetry in science through several programs, notably the Antarctic Artists and Writers Program.  Jynne Dilling Martin, the program's most recent participant, spent three months in Antarctica, observing scientists and nature at work and at play.  Two of her poems from the expedition, "Am Going South, Amundsen" and "What Endures and What Does Not?" are available to read online.

Celebrate National Poetry Month by inviting your students to pen a poem of their own.  Whether you're studying the seasons, the sky, seismology, or stars, poetry provides an alternate medium through which your students can express what they have learned.  Choose the best of the best, and recognize the student by submitting their work for inclusion in PAESTA's Student Showcase.

With Earth Day coming up on April 22, talk to your colleagues in the English department.  Perhaps they will want to have their classes write a verse about our planet too!

30 Outstanding Geologic Features in Pennsylvania 

Pennsylvania's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has created an interactive map with their recommended geologic features that "you don't want to miss."  Maybe there is an outstanding geologic feature right near you!  How many have you visited?  Check out the map at: 

EcoExpress Offers Environmental Videos, Lesson Plans, and More

EcoExpress ( brings environmental subjects to life through the power of visual storytelling. It takes local, relevant, story-based video segments, aligns them with standards, and backs them up with classroom guides, community-based service learning projects, extension activities, and a network of other resources and teachers' ideas to provide educators with the tools they need to engage today's ''wired'' students in ways to which they relate. EcoExpress has a monthly e-newsletter, The EcoExpression, with each issue featuring new lesson plan materials, a new video, a local educator's story, highlights of upcoming community events, and more.

National Environmental Education Week (EE Week)

National Environmental Education Week (EE Week), the nation’s largest environmental education event, inspires environmental learning and stewardship. Highlighting the theme “Greening STEM: Engineering a Sustainable World,” EE Week (April 13-19, 2014) connects educators with environmental resources to promote K-12 students’ understanding of the environment. The environment is a compelling context for teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as it provides teachers with a diverse range of real-world challenges that engage students in meaningful hands-on opportunities to apply and reinforce STEM concepts across multiple subject areas, according to the event organizer, the National Environmental Education Foundation. EE Week provides a range of resources at Register for EE Week at to receive educational materials and unique opportunities.

NASA Climate Reel

Climate Reel is a collection of NASA's best videos and visualizations of climate change. At the top of the page is a selection of the most popular videos, followed by lists of videos organized by the themes of water, atmosphere, frozen places, and life.

Summer Earth Science Teacher Leadership Academies

ExxonMobil Exploration and the American Geosciences Institute are pleased to announce that they will be holding two Leadership Academies in Earth Science in Houston, Texas, this summer - one for elementary school (K-5) teachers, and one for middle school teachers. The Academies 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. The program will be residential in Houston, and all travel, lodging and subsistence costs will be covered by a grant from ExxonMobil. There is space for 28 participants, and they encourage teams of four to attend from each state or school district (although this is not a requirement). The application deadline for both programs is April 30.

On the PAESTA website - did you know you can find...

We want to make sure our membership is aware of all of the resources and opportunities we provide on our website. Each month, we will highlight a website feature you may be interested in checking out, such as our listing of Common Read Books that lists books appropriate for high school classes, college courses, and teacher professional development, along with supplemental teaching resources. We just added a new book this week, Your Inner Fish, which is the foundation of the PBS mini-series that begins April 9. Even if you are not able to have all of your students purchase copies of the book, we have heard of innovative uses of these texts by teachers! For example, one teacher has told us he reads passages to the students that then leads to discussion. Explore our page that lists books for teachers and students at:
Copyright © 2014 PAESTA (Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association), All rights reserved.
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