Edition 8 - October 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.

Earth Science Week - Mapping Our World - Issue 4/2013

The 2013 theme for Earth Science week is 'Mapping our world'. Maps and mapping technology are used in the geosciences for many exciting things. From 13-19 October you are invited to celebrate Earth Science Week. Posters are available from Geoscience Australia. We invite you to tell us about any activities you are running for Earth Science Week and they will be posted on our website.

Geoscientists, geographers and other mapping professionals use maps to represent land formations, natural resource deposits, bodies of water, volcanic activity, weather patterns, population distributions and more. Maps help to show how the Earth's systems (geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere) interact. The resources for educators listed in this newsletter are focussed on mapping.

Earth Science Week is recognised internationally. Visit the US site for material aimed at students, teachers and the general public.

Latest news

ASTA (Australian Science Teachers Association) have recently launched their online professional learning portal. The site is brimming with material on pedagogy and teaching, webinars, ICT in education and has a section specifically for lab technicians.

Educational support packages for Year 7 and 8 Earth Science units are now available from WASP (Woodside Australian Science Project). The Year 8 resources about rocks and minerals are the most recent addition.

Imagine if architectural drawings of a new city building could be animated onto a 3D model of the existing city skyline. ESRI have done just that with their new City Engine product.

A state-of-the-art facility has been installed at Geoscience Australia which will be used to calibrate GPS receivers around the country. Ultimately, resolution for both scientific and domestic GPS units will shrink to fractions of a centimetre.

Earth at Night is a global view and animation of Earth's city lights. It has been assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite.

Science Daily is a news website with many up-to-date science stories. This recent story looks at a new portable mapping system that can be used in difficult-to-access areas.

The City of Port Phillip in Melbourne, encompassing suburbs such as St Kilda, is creating what they're calling an Urban Solar Atlas. Developed for the Department of Sustainability and Environment, its purpose is to map rooftop solar resource potential for electricity and hot water generation.

Read more news on the Geoscience Australia website.

For a list of Earth Science Week events around the nation, visit Geoscience Australia and check out what your local museums are doing to recognise ESW!

Feature story

Earth Science Week is an international event to raise awareness of the earth sciences. This year's theme is "Mapping our World" and will promote awareness of the many uses of maps and mapping technologies and ways that Earth scientists use maps to understand our planet.

Here is an article about an activity called geocaching, much like a treasure hunt using GPS, that you can do with your students.

Resources for educators

Year 7 Science

Geofabric online is an interactive mapping tool from Geoscience Australia representing Australia's hydrology. As you zoom in to areas on the map the layers tab can be used to add or remove detail. The 'find' tab can be used to find specific areas (e.g. Lake Eyre, Murray-Darling) or even a map coordinate (i.e. latitude and longitude). (Page may take a little while to load.)

Year 2/3 Geography

An interactive whiteboard lesson resource to make maps, including a treasure map pack.

Middle primary to high school Geography

Geoscience Australia has a downloadable guide to map reading that will walk you through the use of topographic maps.

Use National Geographic's 1 page maps editor to make a custom map for use in class. You can select the region and which map elements to include, or you can create a blank outline for students to fill in. Maps can be saved, emailed or printed from the site.

Geoscience Australia has thematic maps available including maps of vegetation type, Aboriginal areas and maritime zones.

Geocube is an interactive resource about geography, based on a Rubik cube with six faces and 54 topics. Filled with high quality imagery, you can explore what geography is and what geographers do.

This National Geographic teacher activity develops student understanding of the hydrosphere. Students will investigate the interconnectedness of Earth's water and human effects on water reservoirs.

Year 6 Geography

To understand map projections, teachers will find this PDF document summarises the main types (Mercator, Peters and Robinson projections).

Mapping Our World from Oxfam education is an interactive website designed for the smart board that allows students to flatten a globe, turn it into a map and merge different map projections. Designed for 8 - 14 year olds.

Year 7 Geography

An interactive map for looking at weather conditions, hazards and weather forecasts for your area.

Senior Geography

Map projections and their effect on social perceptions can be explored in this amusing segment of the "West Wing" American TV drama series.

Monash University has an interactive map that demonstrates the changing shape of our continent as a consequence of sea level changes in the last 100 000 years. Further back in time the movement of the continents is shown. Adjust the zoom on the map or on the timescale to see more information.

Data from remote sensing equipment is widely used throughout Geoscience Australia. This video highlights the importance of remote sensing to the geosciences and to society.

Story-telling can be done using maps, as shown by ESRI, one of the world's largest software developers of mapping products. See the world's ten worst hurricanes, 2012 Olympic medal-winning countries and America's attitudes towards marriage equality trends mapped out in an interactive format.

Earth Observatory has a range of global maps from NASA satellite data that show change over time. These include vegetation, fire, and carbon monoxide levels.

National Geographic has an interactive map maker that allows students to select the features of interest including water, vegetation, climate, populations, political and environmental features. Maps can be emailed or printed and pins and lines can be marked.

This map on Geoscience Australia's website is the first nationally consistent land cover reference map of Australia. It shows farmland use, tree cover and vegetation groups.


The Geoscience Australia website has a range of free maps for download. These include maps of Australia, satellite imagery, topographic maps and groundwater maps.

The BBC has lesson plans that have been developed around historical maps and modern digital maps.

EarthKam is an outreach program from NASA which allows schools to request images of earth from a camera on board the International Space Station. Also includes links to mapping activities.

The United Nations cartographic section has links to a range of world maps including general maps of all around the world.

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