Edition 7 - June 2013


Education Centre Updates is Geoscience Australia's newsletter for teachers in Australian schools. It is designed to keep you informed of recent developments in geoscience, teacher resources, upcoming events, and competitions for school pupils.

Geoscience Australia is a world leader in providing first class geoscientific information and knowledge which enables government and the community to make informed decisions about the management of resources; the management of the environment; the safety of critical infrastructure; and the resultant wellbeing of all Australians.

Interesting stories

  • Coming soon, our latest booklet, "Weathering, erosion, landforms and regolith - Teacher notes and student activities". This booklet focuses on the processes of weathering and erosion, and includes case studies on Australian landforms such as Uluru, the Warrumbungles and the Twelve Apostles.
  • Breathtaking landscapes from the Gansu province of China need to be seen to be believed. Bold stripes of red, yellow and grey stretch over vast, undulating mounds.
  • "Predicting when and where rivers will move gigatons of rock and sediment has proved a murky problem; a new generation of electronic smart rocks could clarify matters."
  • Looking for tell-tale signs of environmental conditions recorded in the rocks is the current mission for Curiosity in its search for water on the surface of Mars.
  • Karst systems by their very nature are complex and difficult to map from the surface. Scientists from Heidelberg University have used lasers to map a landscape in Crete and the sediments that fill them. The information is useful both for geoscientists, and for archaeologists who can study the human impact through land use.
  • "A previously unknown mass extinction of plants occurred around a million years ago in the southeast corner of Australia, an analysis of fossilised leaves shows."
  • Read more news on the Geoscience Australia site.

Competition - Top GeoShot

Geoscience Australia's Top GeoShot photographic competition for 2013 is now open. The theme for this year's competition is "Exposed to the Elements" with the closing date 23 September 2013. There are two categories for this year's competition:

  • Open Category
  • Student Category (up to Year 12)

A panel of Geoscience Australia staff will select the winning images. Winners receive a professionally framed enlargement of their image and their image will be displayed in Geoscience Australia's foyer in Canberra for the year. Visit our website for more details and the entry form.

Feature story

Matilda Thomas works for Geoscience Australia in the Continental Geology and Geophysics group.

Resources for educators

Year 4 Science

Earthlearningidea [ PDF 2.4MB] is not designed for students this young but the pictures in this activity will help to explain the wearing away of rocks (weathering).

AirPano has 3D aerial panorama videos of landscape features from around the world. Look up waterfalls of Iceland or other landscapes around the world (allow time for the page to load).

A wonderful set of resources, activities, worksheets and suggested classroom activities here from Laura Candler, a teacher of primary school students for over 30 years.

Year 8 Geography and EarthScience

ABC's new Splash website has resources tailored to the new Australian Curriculum. This video focuses on erosion moving rocks and soil for the creation of soil, and the time periods required for this process to take place. The site also includes suggested activities during and after the video. Some Year 4 teachers may also want to use some of this clip.

Weathering and erosion are key process in the formation of landforms. Here are some lab activities to observe the stages in these processes. Click on the link towards the bottom of the page.

An activity for mid-high school on using evidence, such as explorers' journals and old photographs, to inform their studies. The activity focuses on glaciers, and runs for 2 - 3 lessons.

Read about James Cameron's expedition to visit the lowest landform in the world, the Mariana Trench, and watch a video simulating the trip down (note: distance measurements are in feet).

The USGS has put together a Teacher's Guide on karst (limestone) topography which includes plans for a paper model.

Landscapes of the ocean floor [ PDF 376KB] are explored in Math's Study Corner, part of National Geographic. The worksheet gives some interesting facts about the ocean landscape, and extension activities using National Geographic resources.

Extend the students to start thinking about landforms on other bodies, such as the moon. Use images from Apollo to explore thirteen different landforms on the moon.


Geoscience Australia has a short definition of a range of landforms, and interesting statistics on each, such as the highest mountain by State and Territory or the sizes of Australian deserts.

A resource aimed at educators rather than students: Nature has a new education section, known as the Knowledge Project. Within this is a collection of resources at basic, intermediate and advanced level on terrestrial geosystems. Topics include beaches, rivers and streams.

Glacier calving event. A piece of ice sheet with a footprint the size of a small city, and three times taller than the tallest buildings in Manhattan, calves off in this breath-taking video.

National Geographic's new Education site has a range of map-making tools and lesson plans for all levels of school.

Resources for educators - general

A large, photo-rich resource on the topic of "Surface of the Earth". Subjects include canyons, caves, coastlines, mountains, plateaus, plains and valleys.

Panoramas.dk has hundreds of panoramic photos of places around the world. The archive page has a nature section including a variety of landscapes such as the Grand Canyon.

Street view of the Mt Everest Base Camp is an eye-opener to the conditions faced by the thousands of trekkers each year and shows the raw landscape with no vegetation.

Explore the top end of Australia - its climate, landscape and a little geology - with this site from the Tropical Savannas Cooperative Research Centre and the Natural Heritage Trust.

For more information on anything in this newsletter, contact education@ga.gov.au.