Many Exciting Opportunities This Month!
We hope you enjoy this month's newsletter as much as we enjoyed compiling and writing it! There sure are a lot of relevant current events out there in the geosciences - from reptile adaptation to earthquakes, from bark beetle outbreaks to meteor showers and stargazing.
Please join us at the NSTA Fall conferences if you will be there and join us in participating in the many, many Partner opportunities outlined below. And remember, the second week of October means the chance to celebrate Earth Science Week!
There's two more special opportunities we'd like to call your attention to - first, Educator Members now have free access to all downloadable PDF materials in our Teacher Resources Activities section - a $230 value! Look for more information below or join today!
We're also offering the opportunity for teachers using Windows to the Universe in the classroom to receive the benefits of membership not only for themselves, but for their students as well! Teachers can now join, and include their classroom students on their subscription. In addition, subscriptions are now available at the school and district levels. Benefits of subscription for students include:
Teacher subscribers (whether as Educator Members or through a Classroom, School, or District subscription) experience the above benefits, as well as the following:
Learn about Reptiles!
It turns out that snakes are the most feared of any animal on Earth. Reptiles have had a consistently bad rap for a long time - from the serpent in the Garden of Eden to the basilisk of Lord Voldemort. Reptiles are seen as sinister, scaly, deceitful and more than a bit threatening.
But did you know that rattlesnakes, some of the most feared snakes of North America, bear live young and some actually stay with their young after birth to teach them life habits? That sounds more maternal than threatening! Rattlesnakes (and many other reptiles) are responsible for controlling the population of rodents and insects whose populations would otherwise grow uncontrollably. Snakes serve as a food source for birds, other reptiles, and mammals, thus supporting the natural ecosystem that is home to many plants and animals. Rattlesnakes are actually docile snakes that will try to escape rather than fight. They will, of course, famously shake their rattle as a warning sign to let humans and other creatures know to stay clear. Like any wild animal, snakes should be treated with respect - and it's always best to leave handling to the experts.
When out hiking in mid-Maryland this past June, a friend and I (and my two young children) came across a copperhead in the wild. He was basking in the dark earth of the path we were hiking. We walked around the snake and not over it. My friend dared to take this close-up shot of its head. The photo makes the copperhead, a native venomous snake to Maryland, look menacing, but the snake couldn't have been more docile! An hour later, on our return hike, the snake sat in the same spot it had been, soaking up warm summer rays. We walked around it and marveled at its camouflage and its beauty.
There is a lot to learn about reptiles and probably some misconceptions to clear up! You can use our newest PowerPoint presentation to review reptile basics in your classroom and our newest Changing Planet episode and classroom lesson to learn about how lizards populations are struggling with warming global temperatures.
Enjoy these additional resources and remember, that it's not fair to judge a reptile by its "wrap" - scaly though it may be!
Classroom Activities now in PDF
In the Windows to the Universe Teacher Resources section, we have many K-12 science activities on subjects from space weather to geology to writing in the science classroom. Now, most of these activities are available in PDF format. You can purchase the PDF formatted student worksheets, classroom activity descriptions, and supplementary materials in our online store. Classroom activity kits with laminated color images are also available for Traveling Nitrogen and Changing Planet: Melting Glaciers classroom activities.
Educator Members have free access to all downloadable PDF materials in our Teacher Resources Activities section - a $230 value, in addition to other benefits and services for Earth and space science teachers.
Natural Disasters around the World
Earthquakes in many places including the U.S., Canada, Guatemala, India, Fiji and the Himalayans, hurricanes, tropical storms and flooding affecting both the Atlantic and Pacific basins, the worst drought in recent memory for Texas and other southwest U.S. states, wildfires raging across six U.S. states, and powerful typhoons in Japan and the Philippines causing landslides and flooding, remind us of the power of these moments to capture the interest of students with the dramatic nature of our planet. Earth Science teachers will want to use these "Teachable Moments" by incorporating educational resources from high-quality sources:
The Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) site hosts a real-time seismic monitor, a link to earthquake headlines and many educational materials for teachers to use in the classroom.
Tracking Hurricanes is a click away at the National Hurricane Center where educators can find near real-time data about tropical weather in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific.
Students will find information about severe drought on the U.S. Drought Center web site where current conditions and forecasts are available.
As I write this piece, over 7,602,000 acres have burned in this U.S. this year! Although wildfires can be a naturally occurring and even a beneficial environmental event, this has been a severe year for wildfires because they've threatened populated areas and have required evacuations in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Many blame dry conditions and high winds for such severe happenings. Our thoughts go out to all evacuees and those fighting the fires. FEMA can help you prepare for the threat of a wildfire, CDC has good resources on health impacts of wildfires, and of course, Smokey the Bear can help children (and people of all ages) prevent wildfires.
Typhoons in Japan forced over 1 million to flee their homes. Find out more using the Japan Meteorological Agency web site. More details about the 2011 Pacific typhoon season are outlined on Wikipedia.
Stay informed out there and stay safe!
Hot Off the Press! New Changing Planet Videos and Classroom Activities with Biology Connections
NESTA and Windows to the Universe are continuing our work with NBC Learn to add additional classroom activities to our existing set with a focus on biology connections for climate change. As usual, each activity will accompany videos related to our Changing Planet, with support from the National Science Foundation. For each video, we provide an introductory page linking to the video on the Windows to the Universe website, links to related pages on the website and elsewhere, and a link to a classroom activity that teachers can use to explore the related science with their students. Go to the Our Changing Planet section on Windows to the Universe to access all of the existing videos and lesson plans. We hope to offer a workshop on these materials at the Spring NSTA in Indianapolis next year.
The topics are hot off the press!
Orionid Meteor Shower
Each year, October brings us an entertaining celestial light show in the form of the Orionid meteor shower. The Orionids are named, as is customary with meteor showers, after the point in the sky called the shower's "radiant" from which the meteors appear to fan out (in this case, the radiant lies within the constellation Orion). Several well-known meteor showers occur around the same dates each year, for these showers mark the points in Earth's orbit where our planet passes through the dusty debris from some comet. The Orionids are one of two showers that mark our planet's passage through the dust trail left behind by Halley's Comet! The Orionid "shooting stars" will be visible for several days around October 21st. To find out more, check out these links:
A Picture is Worth – A Lot!
A good photo or illustration can make teaching a difficult topic so much easier – especially for younger learners and for visual learners of all ages. Check out our newly formatted image galleries to access many great images. Use them freely in your classroom! We update these image galleries frequently, so check back often. Recent updates include Earth-Living Things and Earth-Atmosphere.
NESTA also hosts a great geoscience image collection and you are encouraged to submit photos of your own for relevant topics.
Finally, NASA has combined all of its past image archives into one impressive site which you can easily search. You won’t be disappointed looking through the NASA Images web site. Enjoy!
Be a Scientist for Halloween!
Were your students planning to be princesses, vampires, or characters from Harry Potter this Halloween? They can try something different this year and dress up as famous scientists! Here are some ideas:
Albert Einstein - That's easy! You can get an Einstein wig and moustache in any costume store. Wear a white lab coat and dark pants, and put a few pens and a ruler in your lab coat pocket.
Sir Isaac Newton - You will need long blonde hair or a wig for this one. A velvet jacket and a long white scarf (borrow from Mom!) will make you look just like the famous portrait of Newton. Don't forget the apple!
Galileo Galilei - Wear a long, dark, belted jacket and dark stockings with a large, white collar. Glue on a beard and carry a telescope.
Socrates (Euclid, Archimedes, Aristotle or any other ancient Greek philosopher!) - Drape a white sheet around your body and over your shoulder. Wear a white t-shirt underneath. Glue on a beard and hold a sheet of paper with some geometrical drawings rolled to look like a scroll.
You can also try other fun science-related costumes - an astronaut, a robot, an explorer or an animal. Have a great Halloween!
The Many Names of the Full Moon
You've probably heard a Full Moon in the autumn called a "Harvest Moon" or a "Hunter's Moon". You may even realize that farmers can work late, after sunset, by the light of the Full Harvest Moon; hence the name. But did you know the Moon has ten other aliases, one for each month of the year? And that the names of the Full Moon come from Native Americans, the Algonquian tribes of eastern and northern North America? Learn more at "Full Moon Names".
Shorter Days Bring Autumn Colors
Did you know that trees in temperate forest ecosystems sense the onset of shorter days and longer nights in the fall? This change of seasons triggers the development of a weak zone of tissue at the base of each leaf in deciduous trees. Stems will eventually snap in the breeze, releasing leaves to the ground.
The bright side of this story is that some leaves may become brilliantly colored before they fall, thanks to their pigments—green chlorophyll, orange carotenoid, and yellow xanthophyll. Leaf pigments sustain plants by means of photosynthesis throughout spring and summer by capturing visible light energy in the blue, violet, and red wavelengths of the Sun’s electromagnetic spectrum. This chemical reaction enables plants to grow, flower, and produce seeds by harnessing light energy to transform carbon dioxide and water into sugar, releasing the byproduct, molecular oxygen.
As transport of water and nutrients to the leaves decreases in autumn, chlorophyll production ceases. The green color fades, and the more stable carotenoid and xanthophyll pigments become visible, delighting our eyes with shows of gold and orange foliage. In plant species such as maple and sumac, sugars trapped in autumn leaves are turned into anthocyanin pigments. They appear to set forests ablaze with breathtaking hues of red and purple. The best autumn colors can be expected when a moist growing season is followed by dry, cool, and sunny fall days with no nighttime frost.
Get Ready for the Fifth Annual Great World Wide Star Count
The Great World Wide Star Count encourages everyone to go outside, look skyward after dark, note the stars in certain constellations, and report what they could see online. Star Count is designed to raise awareness about the night sky and encourage learning in astronomy. All the information needed to participate is available on the Star Count Web site. Be sure to download the 2011 Activity Guide (available in 14 languages!) to prepare your class for this project.
Utilizing the international networking capabilities of Windows to the Universe, Star Count has engaged over 35,000 individuals from 92 countries and all 7 continents in its first four years. Participation involves use of a simple protocol and an easy-to-use data entry form.
The fifth Great World Wide Star Count will be held from October 14 - 28, 2011. For more information visit http://windows2universe.org/citizen_science/starcount/index.html or email email@example.com
NESTA and Windows to the Universe at NSTA Area Conferences
NESTA is pleased to announce our sessions at the NSTA Area Conference for fall 2011. NESTA will be offering workshops at all three Area Conferences, and we look forward to seeing you there! This year, in addition to our traditional and ever-popular Share-a-Thon and exciting Rock and Mineral Raffle, we will also be offering Windows to the Universe workshops on Earth System science, climate change, and geology.
All of our events will be in the same room, scheduled for Friday at each conference – providing you with a full day of Earth science professional development from the National Earth Science Teachers Association. Our events are free with registration at the NSTA conference.
NESTA sessions in Hartford
All events on Friday, October 28 in the Connecticut Convention Center, Ballroom C
9:30 - 10:30 am - Activities Across the Earth System
NESTA sessions in New Orleans
All events on Friday, November 11 in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, R09
8:00 - 9:00 am - Let's Get Well Grounded
NESTA sessions in Seattle
All events on Friday, December 9 in the Washington State Convention Center, Ballroom 6E
8:00 - 9:00 am - Let's Get Well Grounded
Join NESTA at http://www.nestanet.org/cms/content/join
Present at a NESTA Share-a-Thon!
Are you planning on attending one of the NSTA regional conventions this fall? If so, please consider sharing your favorite, tested classroom activity with your colleagues at the National Earth Science Teachers Association Share-a-Thons at the fall Area conferences. This is a great opportunity to help your colleagues, and also be listed in the official program as a presenter (if you let us know far enough in advance), which may help you get support from your school administrators for attending the meeting. If you're interested in presenting, please see the complete list of NESTA Share-a-Thon and Rock Raffles at Fall NSTA Area Conferences.
What does being presenter at a NESTA Share-a-Thon entail? (1) Contact NESTA's Share-a-Thon coordinator, Michelle Harris, and let her know that you'd like to present (at firstname.lastname@example.org. (2) Select your favorite activity, make about 100 copies to distribute to your colleagues. (3) If appropriate - bring along a demo or samples to illustrate the activity. (4) Appear 30 min before the Share-a-Thon is scheduled to start and select a table to sit at. Set out your materials and then get ready! The fun is about to start! (5) When the Share-a-Thon starts, teachers stream in and browse for resources they think might be useful to them. This is your chance to share, meet new colleagues, and visit with old friends! (6) When the Share-a-Thon is over, pack up your materials and you're all done!
Be sure to take along the set of copies that NESTA provides to presenters of all the other activities that have been shared at the Share-a-Thon (it will be delivered to you during the session). NESTA is happy to provide letters of recognition to presenters, which you can use toward your professional advancement.
Table of Contents
Changing Planet Bio
A Picture is Worth
Star Count 2011
NESTA at NSTA
NCLI Oct 11
ES Week Contests
4-H Wired for Wind!
Free Green Webinars
Wonder of Weather
Game Day Challenge
Home Energy Chall
Space Food to School
New NASA SS Tool
Life Preservers Game
The Eco Student
Teacher SubmissionsClick here to submit your ideas to the newsletter
Announcements from PartnersClick here to submit information about your program to the newsletter
You can earn your Master of Science degree via distance learning through the Teachers in Geosciences program from Mississippi State University. All of the core Earth science courses are taught online, and the curriculum is designed around the Earth science content that is most relevant to K–12 educators. The program concludes with an 8- to 10-day capstone field course that is taught during the summer at a variety of locations including Yellowstone/Grand Tetons, Western Washington State, the Sierra, Central Arizona, Upstate NY, Lake Superior, the Bahamas, and the Great Plains Storm Chase.
This 12-course, 36-credit-hour graduate program is designed to take as little as two years to complete and includes courses in meteorology, geology, planetary science, oceanography, hydrology, and environmental geoscience. The program has alumni in all 50 states, and all students qualify for in-state tuition rates.
Please visit our website at www.distance.msstate.edu/geosciences/TIG/index.html or contact Joy Bailey, email@example.com, for additional information.
Earth Science Week 2011 will kick-off with the fifth annual International EarthCache Day on Sunday, October 9th. The public is invited to join the Geological Society of America (GSA), organizer of the global EarthCache program, and the American Geological Institute (AGI), Earth Science Week coordinators, in exploring this exciting and educational earth science experience.
International EarthCache Day is a time when EarthCachers around the globe organize small gatherings where people can learn something about the Earth. An EarthCache is a place that people locate with a GPS device while participating in a "treasure hunt" called geocaching.
More than 11,200 EarthCaches have been established by geocachers around the globe, and some 1,250,000 people have visited the sites. More EarthCaches are added daily. To view EarthCaching events and sites, go to http://www.earthcache.org/.
“No Child Left Inside” Day — NCLI Day, for short — originated in 2008 to urge young people to go outdoors, where they could explore Earth science firsthand.
This annual celebration will be on the Tuesday of each Earth Science Week. This year that's October 11, 2011.
But any day can be NCLI Day! Young people everywhere enjoy experiences that make learning fresh and exciting. Your students will too. This guide contains all the information you need to begin planning your own NCLI Day. With the help of your colleagues, you can create an event that gets young people excited about the outdoors, shows the community what great things are happening at your school, and genuinely promotes high-quality, hands-on Earth science learning!
AGI is sponsoring three national contests for Earth Science Week 2011. The photography, visual arts, and essay contests - all focused on the event theme of “Our Ever-Changing Earth” - allow both students and the general public to participate in the celebration, learn about Earth science, and compete for prizes.
On October 5, 2011, millions of young people across the nation will become scientists for the day during the fourth annual 4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD). NYSD is the premiere national rallying event for year-round 4-H Science programming, bringing together youth, volunteers and educators from the nation’s 109 land-grant colleges and universities to simultaneously complete the National Science Experiment. The 2011 National Science Experiment, Wired for Wind, will explore how to engineer renewable energy technologies, and how these new technologies can have a positive impact on communities across the country and the world.
Do you want to increase parent involvement, build stronger community spirit or create a new school tradition? The ideas are endless! Whatever goals and dreams you have for your school, we can help you fulfill them!
Lowe’s will donate $5 million to public schools and public school parent teacher groups - at more than 1,000 different public schools per school year. Click here to see if you are eligible!
The Fall 2011 cycle is now open. The deadline for submitting applications for this grant cycle is October 14, 2011.
This October, the National Environmental Education Foundation (www.neefusa.org) in partnership with the National Education Association Foundation (www.neafoundation.org) and the Green Schools National Conference (www.greenschoolsnationalconference.org) is launching the first of a series of three webinars to help educators around the country learn from experts and peers how to green their schools and curriculum. Webinar participants will interact live with national experts and teachers who are transforming their schools for the 21st Century. Registration is free!
All educators are invited to join us for the webinar: School Buildings as Green Teaching Tools – Wednesday, October 19, at 7:00 p.m. EST. Jenny Wiedower, K-12 Manager from the Center for Green Schools, U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC) (www.usgbc.org) will share strategies for first steps in greening existing facilities and highlight the educational advantages of working toward LEED certification. Sean Miller, Director of Education, Earth Day Network (www.earthday.org) will cover how teachers are engaging students and community partners to assess and green their schools and their successful approaches for maximizing academic learning. Presenters will also highlight related teaching resources, materials and funding sources. Register now at: www.classroomearth.org/gswebinars.
Stay tuned for additional webinars in the Green Schools Educator Series coming November 2011 (Greening the School Yard: Gardens and Habitats) and January 2012 (Going Green through the Curriculum).
Samsung and its partners are asking teachers to participate in its contest which will address a key academic challenge in our country: to increase the pursuit of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. With Samsung and schools joining together, we’re looking to foster interest in these subjects among students and illustrate the practical impact applying these subjects can have. Click here to apply. Your school can win a part of the $1,000,000 in technology that Samsung is awarding this Fall! The initial deadline is October 31.
When you go outside, what makes you wonder? Is it the colors and shapes of clouds? The burst of thunder during a rainy afternoon? Or the powerful winds of a storm? Is it the stillness of a crisp, foggy morning? The heat of a summer day? Or a thick white blanket made from slowly falling snowflakes?
These are examples of weather. Weather, the state of the atmosphere at a particular time and place, is constantly changing. Depending on where you live, slight changes of wind speed, humidity or air pressure might take place, and you may wake up with rain, fog, snow or bright sunlight for the day! Whether you take an umbrella to school, put on sun block to play basketball or wear a turtleneck before going to the movies; it all depends on the weather that day. So look around and ask yourself, what makes you wonder about weather?
This year's contest invites young scientists and artists to explore weather. See what it feels like outside, watch the weather report and gaze out the window. Read stories and books. Search websites. Watch movies. Then draw a picture showing what you learned. And don't forget to enter your artwork in the 2011 IGES art contest!
The contest is sponsored annually by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and is limited to U.S. students in grades 2-4. Entries must be received by November 7, 2011.
NASA is seeking proposals for small satellite payloads to fly on rockets planned to launch between 2012 and 2014. These miniature spacecraft, known as CubeSats, could be auxiliary payload on previously planned missions.
IRIS Teachable Moments presentations capture that unplanned opportunity to bring knowledge, insight, and critical thinking to the classroom following a newsworthy earthquake. Each IRIS Teachable Moment;
- Contains interpreted USGS regional tectonic maps and summaries, computer animations, seismograms, AP photos, and other event-specific information
These classroom-ready products can be easily customized for your classroom needs.
Ensure that the children in your life are breathing clean air, drinking safe water, and living in a healthy community by pledging to make our environment a safer, healthier place to live, work, and play. Take part in "Pick Five for the Environment", a program sponsored by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of State.
Hang this Children's Health Month calendar in your classroom or encourage students and their families to make their own environmental action calendars at home!
The Game Day Challenge is a friendly competition for colleges and universities to promote waste reduction at their football games during the month of October. This Challenge is an initiative of EPA’s WasteWise program.
During the challenge, 12 colleges and universities will implement waste reduction programs during home football games. Schools will track and report waste reductions and disposal data will be used to rank the schools. View results soon!
The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with the EPA to recognize young people across the U.S. who are protecting our nation’s air, water, land, and ecology. It is one of the most important ways the EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation’s young people. One outstanding project from each region is selected for national recognition. Projects are developed by young individuals, school classes (K-12), summer camps, and youth organizations to promote environmental stewardship. Thousands of young people from all 50 states and the U.S. territories have submitted projects to the EPA for consideration. Winning projects in the past have covered a wide range of subject areas, including:
Evaluation results consistently demonstrate that the experience is a life-changing event for many of the young people and sponsors who participate.
Find out how to apply. The annual deadline for the regional award program is December 31.
America's Home Energy Challenge is designed to teach students in grades 3-8 about energy, its use and the link between saving money and energy. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and administered by the National Science Teachers Association, the two parts of the Challenge aim to have students gain knowledge of energy and awareness of energy use and then learn about energy saving methods. Participating schools compete for more than $200,000 in prizes that will be distributed at regional and national levels. The submission period is between December 1-31, 2011.
The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship is a paid fellowship for K-12 math, science, and technology teachers. Einstein Fellows spend a school year in Washington, DC, serving in a federal agency or on Capitol Hill. To be considered for an Einstein Fellowship for the 2012-2013 school year, apply and submit three letters of recommendation by January 5, 2012.
For more information or to apply to the program visit www.einsteinfellows.org.
NASA is offering space shuttle heat shield tiles and dehydrated astronaut food to eligible schools and universities. The initiative is part of the agency's efforts to preserve the Space Shuttle Program's history and technology and inspire the next generation of space explorers, scientists and engineers.
NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate is accepting scholarship applications from graduate and undergraduate students for the 2012 academic year. The application deadline is Jan. 15, 2012.
Interested teachers are invited to join the MOON Project (www.worldmoonproject.org), which engages students internationally in collaborative science inquiry.
NASA is giving the public the power to journey through the solar system using a new interactive Web-based tool.
When NASA's Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, users could look ahead to see the mission's five-year journey to Jupiter in a matter of seconds. Designers will continue to update this tool to include new NASA science missions like GRAIL to the moon and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover.
Life Preservers is an online computer game that teaches about evolution, adaptation, and the history of life on earth. The Life Preservers game, which touches upon several of the National Science Education content standards, was developed by the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab at Michigan State University with support from the National Science Foundation. Two versions of the game are available: a short version (approximately 30 minutes playing time) that covers the Age of the Dinosaurs only, and the full-length version (~45 minutes) that also includes the Age of Mammals. The game is available online. A companion teacher information site can be found at www.gel.msu.edu/lifepreservers. Check it out!
EPA Region 8 has created a blog intended for students middle school age and higher. The Eco Student is an environmental blog for students in the Rocky Mountains and Plains where the EPA will be posting as frequently as they have news, events, and happenings. Their expectation is for there to be a new post every other day. That is where teachers come in! Please spread the word to your teaching peers and your students about this new resource.
Wendy Dew, EPA Region 8 (CO, ND, SD, MT, UT, WY) Environmental Education and Outreach Coordinator, has the goal of using this blog to feature all the great work you and your students are doing. Please send her a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org about local events, students, contests, etc., and she can create a blog post about your news.
The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at http://windows2universe.org/ from the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA). The Website was developed in part with the support of UCAR and NCAR, where it resided from 2000 - 2010. © 2010 National Earth Science Teachers Association. Windows to the Universe® is a registered trademark of NESTA. All Rights Reserved. Site policies and disclaimer.