National Association of Geoscience Teachers

Southeastern Section Newsletter

Winter/Spring 2003




The President’s Thoughts

Membership / Treasurer’s Report

Editor’s letter

A teacher-friendly guide to SE geology?

Meeting News

Regional News


2003 Calendar

March 13-14, 2003 – S-C SE GSA regional meeting, Memphis

November 2-5, 2003 – GSA annual meeting, Seattle, WA


WWW . . .






Geological Society of America


US Geological Survey


Earth Science Week



Summer/Fall 2003 Newsletter Deadline:  July 31, 2003.  Please send news, items, questions, & answers to Stan at

Southeastern Section Officers


President:  Michael A. Gibson

Department of Geology, Geography, and Physics

215 Joseph E. Johnson EPS Building

The University of Tennessee at Martin

Martin, TN  38238



Past-President:  Pamela Gore

Department of Geology

Georgia Perimeter College

555 North Indian Creek Drive

Clarkston, GA 30021



Vice-President:  David C. Kopaska-Merkel

Geological Survey of Alabama

P.O. Box 869999

Tuscaloosa, AL 35486-6999



Secretary/Treasurer:  Pamela Gore

Department of Geology

Georgia Perimeter College

555 North Indian Creek Drive

Clarkston, GA 30021



Liaison to NAGT Executive Council: Steve Good

Department of Geology and Astronomy

West Chester University

West Chester, PA 19383



Newsletter Editor:  Stan P. Dunagan

Department of Geology, Geography, and Physics

215 Joseph E. Johnson EPS Building

The University of Tennessee at Martin

Martin, TN  38238


The President’s thoughts…


This is my last column as sectional President for SE NAGT.  At the Memphis GSA meeting in March, David Kopaska-Merkel will assume the roll of President.  I would like to take the opportunity to thank those that helped me in my tenure over the past two years.  Pam Gore, who has served in several capacities for NAGT, including President, has been a consummate Secretary/Treasurer and has been instrumental in the health of the section.  Stan Dunagan assumed the role of Newsletter Editor and has brought us into the Internet age.  David Kopaska-Merkel has participated in all events and faithfully completes his duties.  I thank all of you for making my job as President easier and enjoyable.  You are all outstanding educators!


I had an interesting conversation last weekend (last week in January) at the annual officer’s retreat for the Tennessee Earth Science Teachers (TEST).  I listened to Linda Jordan, the Tennessee State Science Consultant as she explained the mindset of K-12 education, grants, teacher development, and higher education’s role in this arena, at least for Tennessee.  My impression was that the same was true of other states, especially southeastern states.  It is important to us in higher education; because it is the K-12 pipeline that sustains us…they are our clienteles.  Jordan pointed out that the days of teachers going to workshops and training (that includes Earth Science and Geology) without generous support of grants and school systems are gone.  The altruistic, “knowledge for my classes sake” is not the primary driving force now.  Teachers will not use their own money to go to conferences, etc. as they used to.  When they do, they are there to get the information that will allow them to perform (and their students) on the assessments: “Gateway” tests, TCAP’s (and your own state version of this), Terra Nova, etc….these are the determining factors.  Keep in mind, and I do mean to emphasize this, that these tests are primarily seen as “biology” and allied tests, not Earth science tests. 


We have a great mission ahead of us…Earth Science parity!  Not just in word, but in deed.  Our colleges and universities must provide the stimulus for this by developing standards and acknowledging that advance (note my word here) Earth Science (perhaps better Earth Systems) and Geology should be developed and encouraged as a college entrance lab science.  We need assessment tests to validate them, AP programs, and most importantly we need to, at every turn, demonstrate the utility, pervasiveness, and usefulness of our discipline.


It is true that the National Standards emphasize the parity of Earth sciences, and that many state standards have Earth Sciences as major components….but ask yourself, or better yet, pick up the phone and ask the education department…how many of your education majors are going into Earth Science?  Then ask yourself two questions: why? And what can I do about that?


I wish you all best educational wishes and successful classrooms.  Thanks for the two years.


Michael Gibson



Membership / Treasurer Report:

SE NAGT has 166 members, and the section has on deposit $3579.26 as of December 31, 2002.

Submitted by Pamela Gore, Secretary/Treasurer SE NAGT.






Musings from the new newsletter editor – Stan P. Dunagan


I am pleased to say that four states are consistently submitting “news” for the newsletter.  While I doubt the newsletter will garner a Pulitzer Prize for writing or journalism, I hope geoscience educators and enthusiasts are able to utilize some of the information in the newsletter, especially in the Meetings and Regional News sections.   My goal for the next newsletter is to have Regional News for ~70 % of the states in our Southeastern Section.


In the recent Harry Potter book I just finished (no laughing please!), Hermione had to use time-travel to keep up with her hectic schedule of classes, which allowed her to be in two places at once.  Of course, the time travel bit helped Harry, Hermione, and Ron outwit the bad guys in the end.  We are all so busy whether we are in business, government, or the halls of a university or a K-12 school.  I could see where the ability to be in two places at once would be useful.  I could be working of the newsletter while I prepared for my night class or as I traveled to a speaking engagement.  Unfortunately, I am not a wizard.    


I guess it comes down to planning, organization, and setting priorities.  Hopefully, you view SE NAGT, its members, and this newsletter as vehicles for greater communication, outreach, and development in geoscience education.  If you do not, then speak up and tell us how we can improve.  As Michael Gibson steps down from the presidency and assumes the role of Past-President, we should say a big THANK YOU for his tireless efforts on behalf of SE NAGT, and we should consider what we can do to help the incoming president. 




ps – If anyone knows how to multitask using time-travel, please drop me a line. 



Joint Meeting of South-Central and Southeastern GSA Meeting


When and where:     

March 13-14, 2003, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN

Preregistration deadline:

February 14, 2003

More information:



1.      A 21st Century Look at the Cretaceous Coon Creek Formation
Stan Dunagan, (731) 587-7430; Michael Gibson, (731) 587-7435.

Theme Sessions

1.      Earth Science and Earthquake Education Resources for K-12 Science Teachers in the Central and Eastern United States
Sponsored by the Southeastern Section of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and SE-GSA Education Committee.
Gary Patterson, (901) 678-2007, and Michelle Dry, both at
University of Memphis.

2.      Innovative Initiatives in Geoscience Education
Sponsored by the Southeastern Section of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and SE-GSA Education Committee.
Shelley Miller, Saint Mary's School,
Raleigh, N.C., (919) 424-4050.

3.      Geoscience Innovation: Fostering the Achievement of Students with Disabilities
Wendi J.W. Williams,
University of Arkansas at Little Rock, (501) 569-3542.


1.      Sedimentology, Stratigraphy, Paleontology, and History of Cretaceous Coon Creek Formation of Western Tennessee [404].

Sat. and Sun, March 15-16. Michael A. Gibson, and Stan Dunagan, both at University of Tennessee at Martin. Max.: 40; min.: 26. Cost: $140.

2.      Hands-on Earth Science at the Coon Creek Science Center [405].
Sat. and Sun, March 15-16. Ron Brister, University of Tennessee at Martin. Max.: 40; min.: 26. Cost: $140.

K-12 Professionals may register for $25 on-site!

See you in Memphis!



The Central Arkansas Gem, Mineral, and Geology Society, member of the Midwest Federation of Mineralogical Societies, and the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies want to make its annual Show better than ever. In 2003, the Show will be the first weekend in October with dealers and the public coming from across the nation. Our goal is to make this a major event in the Mid-South and help provide education.  A word about those wishing to show their items: 1. the cost per day is only $ 10.00 for the two-day event; 2. members and the public are encouraged to display and interact with everyone (the kids love it); 3. free parking; 4. free public admittance; 5. free door prizes; 6. kids “dig” area; 7. this is a family-type Show with a casual atmosphere; 8. we want newcomers as well as seasoned dealers to help make the Show a success!


Ron Wilhelm, Rock Show Coordination Committee


More Meeting News                                                           Planning ahead for the future . . .


SE Geological Society of America (GSA) meetings

2004 - Washington, DC (joint meeting with NE NAGT)

2005 - Biloxi, MS

GSA annual meetings

2003 - Nov. 2-5, Seattle

2004 - Nov. 7-10, Denver

2005 - Oct. 16-19, Salt Lake City

NSTA meeting

2005 - Dec. 1-3, NSTA meeting in Nashville



The Newsletter is available online @  See old newsletters and look up your State Representative’s contact information online.


Email Stan Dunagan ( and get on the mailing list.  It’s easy, painless, and it saves paper! 




Alabama (reported 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 multi-ton 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:  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


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 (formerly the Birmingham 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.


Georgia  (reported 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:

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


For more Georgia geoscience information online:


North Carolina  (reported by Mary Watson and Bill Tucci)


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 Carolina’s 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 teachers’ conference for the south eastern region (November 2003). 


Tennessee (reported by Stan Dunagan and Michael Gibson)


TEST held numerous events at the Tennessee Science Teachers Association meeting in Nashville in November.  Most successful was the Smoky Mountain Rock Box (nearly 200) workshops held.  TEST ran a 3-hour workshop and several 1-hour short versions for target groups.  Other TEST members ran many different Earth Science Programs with topics varying from Earth Science in Antarctica to sand applications.  A record number of new TEST members were signed up.


Nancy Stetten, State Department of Education, was given TEST’s Ptero Award (named after the State Fossil of Tennessee) for recognition of her contributions to Earth science education in Tennessee.   Nancy has organized numerous teacher programs in the Davidson/Nashville region, presented at GSA meetings, and maintains a fossil site called Nashville Fossils.


TEST has identified that the next “box” in their successful series will be a Tennessee Fossil Box.  Funding is being sought from local societies.


Congratulations to Tennessee teacher Jane Luhn for winning the Southeastern Regional NAGT Outstanding Teacher Award (see her bio in the last issue).



HELP (STILL) WANTED:  Teacher’s Guide to Southeastern Geology


The Paleontological Research Institution is looking for help in developing a Teacher-Friendly Guide to the Geology of the Southeastern U.S.  The Guide will provide teachers with the tools to incorporate regional and local geology into the classroom.  Teaching students about the Earth and geologic processes can often be difficult without concrete examples from the real world, and standard textbooks make few references to regional geology because of their nationwide audience.  Examples of regional and local geology in the classroom not only energize students, but also facilitate observation-driven, inquiry-based teaching.  The Southeast Guide will be based on the successful Teacher-Friendly Guide to the Geology of the Northeastern U.S. (available in print and via the Internet at ).  The Guide will use non-technical language, a loose-page, three-ring binder format for easy use in the classroom, provide corresponding student activities for each topic, and contain a compilation of Earth science resource information listed by state and topic.


Interested in providing feedback, formative reviews, or content resources? We welcome the knowledge and experience of other educators!


Please contact:

Jane Picconi, Educational Publications Manager

Paleontological Research Institution

1259 Trumansburg Road

Ithaca, NY  14850

(607) 273-6623 x25


Your SE NAGT State Representatives


Douglas W. Haywick

University of South Alabama

LSCB 136

Mobile, AL 36688-0002



David Kopaska-Merkel

Geological Survey of Alabama

P.O. Box 869999

Tuscaloosa, AL 35486-6999




Gail S. Russell

Department of Geology, Box 5045

University of Southern Mississippi

Hattisburg, MS 39406



North Carolina

Mary Watson

NC Geological Survey

Division of Land Resources, 1612MSC

Raleigh, NC 27699-1612




Jonathan R. Bryan

Earth Sciences

Okaloosa-Walton Jr. College

100 College Blvd.

Niceville, FL 32578



South Carolina

John Wagner

Department of Geological Sciences

P.O. Box 340976

Clemson University

Clemson, SC 29634-0976



Pamela Gore

Department of Geology

Georgia Perimeter College

555 North Indian Creek Drive

Clarkston, GA 30021



Nancy Huebner

Fernbank Science Center

156 Heaton Park Drive

Atlanta, GA  30307 404.370.8080


Stan P. Dunagan

Dept. of Geology, Geography, and Physics

215 Joseph E. Johnson EPS Bldg.

The University of Tennessee at Martin

Martin, TN  38238 



Michael A. Gibson

Dept. of Geology, Geography, and Physics

215 Joseph E. Johnson EPS Bldg.

The University of Tennessee at Martin

Martin, TN  38238 




Andrea Walker

801 Pontalba Street

New Orleans, LA 70124








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