National Association of Geoscience Teachers
Southeastern Section Newsletter
Email Edition - Winter / Spring 2003
     
Regional News: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee

Alabama (submitted by David C. Kopaska-Merkel and Douglas W. Haywick)
Alabama’s public schools are facing at least 9 percent proration for the remainder of the current fiscal year. This dire prediction, if it comes true, we be a disaster for a state that is already 50 out of 50 in spending for education. Science education in general will suffer less than some kinds of education, because science classes are core classes. However, earth-science classes (the few that we have) are not required components of the curriculum, and so they are likely to be extinguished.

Our chief Supreme Court justice Roy Moore continues to defy law, reason, and good taste with his multiton 10-commandments monument in the Supreme Court Building in Montgomery. This is part of a multifaceted creationist attack on science in Alabama. Fortunately, it is also the most tangible effect so far of creationist efforts to roll back Alabama’s science education to the 16th century.

Legacy, Alabama’s environmental education organization, lists teacher workshops and other activities of interest on the web: http://www.legacyenved.org.

The Geological Survey of Alabama and the University of West Alabama will sponsor a 1-day paleontological field workshop for teachers in the fall of 2003 (as we have done before). If you are interested, please contact David at davidkm@gsa.state.al.us.

We came closer last year to getting some nominations for OEST, but in the end all we received were promises. This year we are trying even harder to get some teachers nominated, and we’ll keep you posted about any success we might have.

The Alabama Paleontological Society continues efforts to legally preserve the Union Chapel mine trace fossil site. This site is now considered to be the best Carboniferous trackway site in the world, and is also a stellar example of amateur/professional cooperation in paleontology. Now, the APS is attempting to get Congress to designate the site for protection. This would permit the development of an on-site educational facility as well as preservation of the site for future research. The land owner has agreed to donate the land, and current efforts focus on convincing the state geological survey to agree to become responsible for the site.

Florida (no information submitted)

Georgia (submitted by Nancy Huebner)
In the vast majority of our state's schools, Earth Science is only being taught in Elementary and Middle School. There are very, very few schools that offer a course in Earth Science at the High School level. Some earth science concepts are covered in the HS level Environmental Science course. Traditionally that course has been taken by non-collage bound students to fulfill their science requirement for graduation, but an A.P. level course has just been added and is becoming more popular with collage bound students.

My gut feeling is that a stand alone Geology or Earth Science class at the high school level will be very uncommon for quite a while in Georgia. We are moving to end-of-course testing in high school, and there are currently no plans to write one for the Earth Science course.In our middle schools, Earth Science is currently being taught in the 8th grade, but the state is considering moving it to 6th grade. The science sequence would then be 6th: Earth Science, 7th: Life Science, 8th: Physical Science. This change might happen by next fall. The main reason for the change is the feeling that the students need better math skills for physical science, and moving it to the 8th grade would mean that students would have had more algebra by then.

We have many tremendously gifted and dedicated earth science teachers, and there will be many earth science related presentations at the GSTA conference this February. Our new Governor and new State School Superintendent have said they will support education and teachers, but not too many details have been spelled out yet.

The Weinman Mineral Museum in Cartersville, GA, has recently undergone a major renovation. They expanded their rock, mineral and fossil halls, and have expanded their educational programming. I personally feel this museum is one of the best of its kind in the Southeast.The Fernbank Museum of Natural History will open the exhibit Pearls: A Natural History in mid March. It is from the folks at the American Museum and has gotten wonderful reviews everywhere it has been.

Here is the web site for the GA Geologic Society: http://www.westga.edu/~ggsweb/ggs.html.

Our Annual Meeting is in October, and always includes interesting fieldtrips.

For more Georgia geoscience information online: http://www.gpc.peachnet.edu/~pgore/gore.htm.

Louisiana (no information submitted)

Mississippi (no information submitted)

North Carolina (submitted by Cindy Copolo)
The September 2002 issue of Geotimes detailed how Earth Science escaped near death in the 1980s in North Carolina.Geotimes details how the victory was won and describes how K-12 educators, business and industry leaders, and university officials successfully kept earth science from being eliminated for North Carolinaís curriculum.

Project Earth Science is designed to provide relevant and accurate earth science information for the state's high school students and earth/environmental science teachers. Project Earth Science consists of curriculum and professional development programs that meet the Department of Public Instruction's competency-based curriculum objectives. ††Students and teachers need to know that: natural systems are interconnected; a large part of our state's economy is linked to earth materials; and that sustainable development in a healthy environment depends on a basic knowledge of the earth's processes and resources, and Project Earth Science is forging the way in North Carolina.

North Carolina also recently organized its first annual earth science teachersí conference for the south eastern region (November 2003).

South Carolina (no information submitted)

Tennessee (submitted by Stan Dunagan and Michael A. Gibson)
UT Martin is putting together a team of teachers to develop teacher programs for the Greater Reelfoot Lake Ecosystem. Keep an eye out for information on this. If you already have experience with this region and would like to be a part of our development team, please send word to mgibson@utm.edu, wsmith@utm.edu, or pgale@utm.edu.

March 14-15 (Saturday & Sunday) overnight Field Trip to Coon Creek Science Center. The National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT), Southeastern Section of the Paleontological Society, and Coon Creek Science Center will be hosting a teacher workshop/development opportunity in conjunction with the joint meeting of the Southeast and South Central sections of the Geological Society of America (GSA) meeting, being held in Memphis this year. For information about the meeting visit: http://www.geosociety.org/sectdiv/southc/03sc-semtg.htm. Teachers will be given instruction and have the opportunity to work side-by-side with leading paleontologists at the Coon Creek fossil site. You will be encouraged to collect for your classrooms (now is your opportunity to get your own State Fossil specimens) and receive curricular materials using the fossils. TEST teachers, who have been instrumental in developing fossil activities using this region.
At the same meeting (probably on Thursday or Friday, 12 or 13), NAGT and the CERI (earthquake center at U. Memphis) will host a teacher session on the earthquakes and the New Madrid region. Other NAGT teacher programs will also be offered at the meeting.

UT Martin will be running a trip to Belize, Central America, June 9-20, 2003. This date was chosen at the request of many of you to accommodate your school calenders (we normally run out university version in March). You can earn 6 hours of graduate credit (3 geology, 3 geography) or you may choose to go on the field trip without receiving credit, depending upon your needs. The expected cost is $1750 which pays for all expenses except meals and SCUBA (for certified divers). We will fly into Belize City and then travel to western Belize (San Ignacio) where we will study Mayan sites (Carocol, Xunantunich, etc.), visit Chechem Ha cave, tour a rain forest and rain forest medicine research facility, study geology of mountain building processes, and visit some other local sites. We then move to northern Belize to study the impact ejecta from the asteroid impact that resulted in the K/T demise of the dinosaurs, study living stromatolites in southern Mexico, additional Mayan archaeological sites, and a Rum factory. Finally we will spend 3-4 days on a tropical island studying modern carbonate environments, mangroves, manatees, sharks, reef ecology, hurricane effects, etc. Snorkeling will be available for all; SCUBA for those certified by the trip date. For those interested, send Michael an e-mail (mgibson@utm.edu) and he will mail you a more informative brochure with additional details or call him at 731-587-7435 and he can explain more. Seats are limited, so contact us soon! This course does qualify for local Title II money.

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Summer-Fall 2003 Newletter Deadline: July 31, 2003. Please send news, items, questions, & answers to sdunagan@utm.edu