Edition 9 - November 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.

Edition news

2014 is fast approaching. This is a short issue to close 2013 and provide ideas for planning your units and lessons in the year ahead.

The United Nations has endorsed three international year themes for next year: the International Year of Crystallography, the International Year of Small Island Developing States and the International Year of Family Farming. Consider linking your material to these themes, for example the science of crystallography was developed by two Australian Nobel Prize winners called Bragg and this allows us to analyse everything from mineral formation to protein folding; rocks wear down and become soil and so relates to family farming. You might want to encourage your students to enter crystal growing competitions in Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.

For those of you teaching natural hazards and disasters, next year is the 10th anniversary of the great Sumatran earthquake and Boxing Day tsunami, an event which brought home to us the awesome power of our planet.

We look forward to sending you more teaching tips and tricks in the New Year. If you have any requests or suggestions then please contact us at education@ga.gov.au.

All the best for the coming season.

Latest news

Science by Doing, the Australian Academy of Science's teacher and student resource program for high school science, is offering their Stage 2 inquiry-based curriculum units FOR FREE online.

When teaching about natural hazards consider using this video about volcano research and how it can be used to make long-term planning decisions.

"If you're ready to take a timeout from your life and spend a year living in the Arctic on a simulated Mars mission, the Mars Society wants to hear from you."

The biggest platypus ever identified was found in limestone from the Riversleigh World Heritage Area in Queensland. The fossil suggests it was a metre long. Read more.

Those of you with an interest in the geological time scale and its demarcation will be interested to know that there is a new 'golden spike' in the world. The Turonian Age (part of the Cretaceous) is now officially marked with a Global Stratotype Sections and Points, or GSSP, in a cutting made for a railroad in Colorado. The article nicely describes some issues to do with the geological time scale.

The National Rock Garden in Canberra, celebrating the geological heritage of Australia, was officially opened last month. Rocks from each of the States and Territories of the Commonwealth were unveiled to represent Australia's landscapes, heritage and prosperity.

The resource booklet from National Science Week 2013, "A Century of Australian Science", is now available for free download.

Read more news on the Geoscience Australia website.

Top Geoshot 2013 results

Top Geoshot is an annual photography competition with the winners announced during Earth Science Week. The theme for the 2013 competition was "Exposed to the Elements".

Geoscience Australia received a record 350 entries for this competition from all over Australia. A promising natural photography career beckons for 17 year old Matt Tomkins from the Australian Capital Territory, who was the winner in the Student category with his photo "Wee Jasper Morning". A total of 67 entries were received for the Student category.

The winning entries are available for viewing on Geoscience Australia's website, and all entries are on display in Geoscience Australia's foyer until Earth Science Week 2014.

Planning for 2014

It's time to start planning for 2014. Here are some suggestions for the Earth and Space Science, and Geography curricula.

  • Look at the new WASP units for Year 7 (renewable and non-renewable resources) and Year 8 (rocks and minerals).
  • Encourage your students to take photos that capture the essence of earth science for our TopGeoshot photography competition 2014. Full details will be released in March next year.
  • Start planning events to coincide with National Science Week in August. The theme is Food for our future: Science feeding the world. Look out for the ASTA online resource booklet that will be released during the year.
  • Earth Science Week will again take place in October; the theme has yet to be made public.
  • The Geography Teachers Association is looking for expressions of interest for their 2015 conference, to be held in Rotorua in NZ.
  • Subscribe to GeoEdLink, the quarterly newsletter of the Australian Geoscience Council.
  • For resources written by Australian teachers look at the Geoscience Pathways website including information on fieldtrips in South Australia.
  • TESEP - the Teaching Earth Science Education Programme continues to offer professional development around the country. Refer to their homepage for the calendar of events.
  • More professional development is available from the Australian Science Teachers Association. Join the online portal for access to live and archived webinars such as the one on Year 9 plate tectonics.
  • The new GeogSpace website is now up and running. It has been designed to provide materials to support primary and secondary teachers in implementing the Australian Curriculum: Geography. Open the portfolios of student work for each age group.
  • For teaching students about mapping, the relationship between maps and globes and how the choice of projection can influence our perception of the world, look at the Oxfam "Mapping Our World" lesson series, designed to be used on either PC or interactive whiteboard.

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