October 2005

October brings those of us in less temperate parts of the Northern Hemisphere the beautiful colors of fall, and a certain briskness in the air that lets you know that winter is on its way. We hope this October brings beauty and excitement to you, too, wherever you are! Below, we highlight some timely content on the website, both for the month of October, as well as for the upcoming National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) meeting in Chicago, Illinois.

Roberta's Corner

Windows to the Universe will offer numerous workshops at the upcoming NSTA meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Workshops include:

November 10 , 2005
  • Climate Change: Classroom Tools to Explore the Past Present and Future , 8:00-9:00 am, Sheraton Hotel, Superior A;
  • Magnetism and Space Weather, 1 - 2 pm, Navy Pier, Rm 301/303;
  • Earth and Space Science Share-a-thon, 2:30 - 3:30 pm, Navy Pier, Grand Ballroom.

November 11, 2005

  • What's Below the Surface?, 9:30 - 10:30 am, Navy Pier, Rm 207;
  • Geomagnetism, Electricity, and Space Weather, 1 - 2 pm, Navy Pier, Rm 310/312;
  • Climate and Global Change: A Toolkit for Teaching, 2:30 - 3:30, Rm 310/312;
  • WALLS (Water, Air, Land, Life, Space) Workshop, 4 - 5 pm, Navy Pier, Rm 202.
Find out more about our workshops, and what we'll be sharing there, at our Fall 2005 Chicago NSTA Schedule.

Roberta Johnson
Windows to the Universe Principal Investigator

Jennifer's Corner

Many teachers start the year with a study of rocks and minerals. Use our Layers of Rock activity which has students build a model of sedimentary rock layers. Like the rest of our activities, we've tried to use very inexpensive materials to get at essential science principles. This activity is also aligned with the National Science Standards (particularly Structure of the Earth System, Earth's History, and Developing Scientific Inquiry Skills). Check it out!

Lisa's Corner

Get your students analyzing data and drawing conclusions about how climate has changed since the last Ice Age with our Paleoclimates and Pollen classroom activity. This classroom actvity is ideal for the middle-school level and is relavant to the Earth History component of Content Standard D and the Ecosystems component of Content Standard C.

As an extension to the Paleoclimates and Pollen activity, have students visit the Climate and Global Change section of Windows to the Universe for more information about Earth’s climate system.

Julia's Corner

We can now send you our newsletter in Spanish! To change your newsletter options or other registration information , please go to our Members Area. Don't forget to leave comments and tell us what you'd like us to add to our members-only area in the future.

Randy's Corner

Earth will have a close encounter with the planet Mars just before Halloween this year. Once every 26 months Earth and Mars draw near to each other, and Mars takes on the appearance of a brilliant red star blazing in the night sky. Astronomers call such a close approach a "planetary opposition" because the planet is directly opposite the Sun in the sky as viewed from Earth. Since Mars will be relatively close to Earth at opposition, and since the side of Mars facing Earth will be entirely lit (like a full moon), the red planet will be especially bright for the weeks leading up to and following the opposition on October 30th. To learn more about this astronomical Halloween treat, check out the following pages on Windows to the Universe:

Planetary oppositions supply "teachable moments" related to Earth & Space Science concepts. Some of the specific National Science Education Content Standards you might want to touch upon include:

Grades K-4: Earth and Space Science (Content Standard D)

  • Objects in the sky - The sun, moon, stars, clouds, birds, and airplanes all have properties, locations, and movements that can be observed and described.
  • Changes in earth and sky - Objects in the sky have patterns of movement. The sun, for example, appears to move across the sky in the same way every day, but its path changes slowly over the seasons. The moon moves across the sky on a daily basis much like the sun. The observable shape of the moon changes from day to day in a cycle that lasts about a month.

Grades 5-8: Earth and Space Science (Content Standard D)

  • Earth in the solar system:
    • The earth is the third planet from the sun in a system that includes the moon, the sun, eight other planets and their moons, and smaller objects, such as asteroids and comets.
    • Most objects in the solar system are in regular and predictable motion. Those motions explain such phenomena as the day, the year, phases of the moon, and eclipses.
    • Gravity is the force that keeps planets in orbit around the sun and governs the rest of the motion in the solar system.

Marina's Corner

What does our moon have to do with tides? According to Maori and Maya mythology, a lot! Check them out! Maori, Maya. Coming up this month! On October 17th, there will be a partial lunar eclipse, are you ready? Take a closer look at The moon, Lunar eclipse, and Our Moon image gallery.

Not only will these links lead you to great information about Earth's satellite, the Moon (addressing the National Science Standard about Objects in the Sky), they will show you cultural connections that will be of great interest to your students (while addressing National Standards of Science in Personal and Social Perspectives).

The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at http://www.windows.ucar.edu/ at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). ©1995-1999, 2000 The Regents of the University of Michigan; ©2000-05 University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. All Rights Reserved. Site policies and disclaimer