November 2013

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements
Windows to the Universe Facebook Group

What a Beautiful Fall!
by Roberta

This fall has been absolutely beautiful for this new inhabitant of the North East.  Last year, I guess I was so distracted setting up a new household that I didn't notice - but wow, this fall has been just beautiful!  The thumbnail is a view of the fall foliage from the overlook at John Boyd Thacher State Park, near Albany, NY.  The Park sits atop the Helderberg Escarpment - one of the best exposures of fossil-rich sedimentary geology in the US. 

Windows to the Universe and NESTA had a very successful day of Earth and space science professional development at the NSTA Area Conference in Portland, OR, with well over 60 participants per session!  We welcome our new newsletter subscribers and Windows to the Universe Educator members!  There was a lot of enthusiasm about the activities we offered and participants seemed to appreciate the chance to try out the activities in our hands-on workshops.  Several teachers picked up classroom activity kits for some of our most popular activities at the sessions, so they can do the activities conveniently and without delay in their classroom!  In fact, we ran out of stock, so are busily preparing new sets for our next meeting, coming up in Charlotte, NC, this month.  For those that weren't able to attend, a link to the workshop information and materials is available on our workshops page in the Teacher Resources area.  Thanks to everyone who helped out at the events and to all those that donated resources and specimens for the Rock and Mineral Raffle!  We hope to see those that can make it at our sessions in Charlotte and Denver (see below).

Don't forget that we offer classroom activity kits in our online store.  These include classroom activity kits for the following popular activities:  Glaciers: Then and Now, Traveling Nitrogen Game, CO2: How Much Do You Spew?, and Feeling the Heat - Part 2.  Most activity kits are available in a variety of sizes to fit your classroom needs.  We are also happy to be offering the Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0 DVD from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.  The DVD is loaded with 130 different resources for you, spanning the Earth and space sciences - it is really fabulous.

Finally, at this time of Thanksgiving, I'd like to thank everyone who has helped with the Windows to the Universe website since its inception back in 1995.  Over this period, the website has been used by well over 200 million learners and educators around the world, and is approaching a billion page views.  Over the 17 years that this project has been in operation, we've collaborated with over 100 smart, creative people that have helped us develop this resource - educators, education specialists, scientists, graphic artists, translators, legal specialists, and many more.  Thank you for all your help and for your commitment as well. 

If Windows to the Universe has been useful to you, please make a small donation to help support the project.  Your support helps fund our professional development at conferences across the country, as well as preparation of this newsletter (and its translation - did you know that each issue costs ~$1500 to produce?), and website updates.  Remember - we have very little federal funding, so we really need your support to help keep the website freely available.  Thanks so much and Happy Thanksgiving!

New Windows to the Universe Educator Membership Options with Course Support!
by Roberta

We're excited to offer new membership options for Windows to the Universe educators that include course webpage support, as well as options for homework and online quizzes.  We will continue to offer Basic Educator Membership (which provides advertising-free access to the website plus additional member benefits), but we are expanding now to offer Silver Educator Membership (Basic Educator Membership supplemented by course webpage support and course login for students) or Gold Educator Membership (with course support including online quizzes and homework upload/download and individual student subscriptions).  We also offer support for classrooms, with or without course support.  For more details, see our Educator Membership Benefits and Services page

Climate Change Education Resources Continuing to Grow!
by Roberta

With the release of the new IPCC Report, the prominence of climate change in the news continues to grow.  Windows to the Universe is continuing to expand our resources in support of climate change education.  Visit our climate education in the classroom page for links to resources you can use in your classroom, and our climate change course page for resources you can easily use in support of your courses. 

Meteorite Pulled from Russian Lake

Early in 2013, a large meteor exploded over Russia in what was the largest meteor strike on Earth since the Tungunska event in 1908.  In the eight months since that explosion, scientists have been searching for fragments of the meteorite, which is thought to have been roughly 50 feet across and to have weighed about 10,000 tons.  Cold weather has hampered much of the search; particularly the efforts to look at the bottom of Chebarkul lake in the Chelyabinsk region, where some of the meteorite fragments were thought to have landed.  The lake was frozen on February 15, when the strike occurred, and while scientists believed that some of the fragments had landed on the surface and melted through the ice, search efforts had to wait for warmer weather. 

 On October 17, Russian scientists announced that they had recovered a suspected meteorite fragment weighing more than 1,200 pounds from the bottom of Chebarkul lake.  Tests are still ongoing, but if it is in fact a fragment of the Chebarkul meteor, it would be one of the largest meteorites ever found!

Flash Floods in Central Texas

Storms dropped more than 13 inches of rain in one night in some areas of Central Texas.  More than 600 homes were flooded by Thursday's storms, thousands are without power, and many roads and railroads in the area remain closed.  The heaviest storms have moved east, but with light rain falling throughout the 31st, it was definitely a soggy Halloween for those in central Texas.  Our thoughts go out to those evacuated and the emergency crews that continue to work around the clock.  

Stay tuned for weather alerts in your area with NOAA's National Weather Service.

Superstorm Sandy - A Year Later

A year has past since Hurricane Sandy brought its destruction and devastation to at least 7 countries.  Over 286 deaths were attributed to this super storm and the effects of the storm reached at least 24 states in the U.S.  It was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic basin season and was the 2nd most costly in U.S. history (over $68 billion, 2nd only to Katrina).

Relief efforts poured in following the devastation of the storm.  And recovery from Sandy has been remarkable.  Still, much needed restoration continues.

Hurricane Sandy certainly shows why Earth system science is essential for our and our students' understanding of the world.  And it provides many teachable moments even a year later.  What resources are available for you to use in your classroom?

The Science Behind the Storm

Dunes, Development, Storms, and Sea Level Rise - Questions and answers from NOAA's  

Superstorm Sandy and Sea Level Rise - An article from NOAA's

Tracing the Storm's Path from Beginning to End - A Wikipedia entry

A Tropical Cyclone Technical Report - From NOAA's National Hurricane Center

A Year Later, Superstorm Sandy Hasn't Changed Climate Narrative - A article

Hurricane Sandy Images

Aerial Photos: Post-Sandy and After Restoration - From NOAA's National Geodetic Survey

NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory - NOAA's Hurricane Sandy gallery

Hurricane Sandy Videos

After Sandy: Changes and Choices Video - Running time is 5 minutes, 20 seconds

After Sandy: Facing the Future Video - Running time is 5 minutes, 25 seconds

One Year Later Flyover Video - On  

Educational Resources

Classroom Resources to Help Teach About Hurricane Sandy - From Edutopia

Guidelines and Resources for Schools - Teaching after a disaster from

Hurricanes and Climate - A Windows to the Universe classroom activity

Hurricanes:  Unit Overview - Earth Labs

NOAA Education Resources - Hurricanes - Background information, real world data, lessons and activities, multimedia from NOAA

Teaching about Hurricane Sandy - A Collection of resources put together from On the Cutting Edge (professional development program for geoscience faculty)

Teaching Hurricane Sandy: Ideas and Resources - Teaching and learning with the New York Times

NASA Prepares to Launch Mission to Explore Martian Atmosphere

A NASA spacecraft that will examine the upper atmosphere of Mars in unprecedented detail is undergoing final preparations for a scheduled 1:28 p.m. EST launch on November 18 from Cape Canaveral in Florida.  The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (MAVEN) will examine specific processes on Mars that led to the loss of much of its atmosphere.  Data and analysis could tell planetary scientists the history of climate change on the Red Planet and provide further information on the history of possible conditions for life on Mars.

MAVEN is scheduled to arrive at Mars in September 2014.  After this, it will settle into its elliptical science orbit.  Over the course of its one-Earth-year primary mission, MAVEN will observe all of Mars' latitudes.  It will dip five times into Mars' atmosphere, descending to an altitude of 78 miles.  This marks the lower boundary of the planet's upper atmosphere.

The MAVEN spacecraft will carry instruments to characterize the solar wind at Mars, survey the Martian ionosphere, and determine global characteristics of Mars’ upper atmosphere.

For more information about the MAVEN mission, visit:

Climate Change 2013 - The Physical Science Basis

In September, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report entitled "Climate Change 2013 - The Physical Science Basis."  This report contains contributions from more than 800 authors from around the world, and includes chapters on sea level change, the carbon cycle, El Niño, the science of clouds, an evaluation of climate models, radiative forcing, and extensive coverage of both near- and long-term climate change projections.   If you’re interested, the IPCC has set up a website at which you can read the IPCC’s report, or you can read more about how this group of scientists worked together to assemble it.

Status of the Antarctic Ozone Hole - October 2013

The ozone hole that forms each year in the stratosphere over Antarctica was slightly smaller in 2013 than the average in recent decades, according to data supplied by the Ozone Monitoring Instrument on NASA's Aura satellite and the Ozone Monitoring and Profiler Suite instrument on the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite.  Ozone levels at the South Pole plummet every Antarctic spring, when a coincidence of environmental factors and manmade chemicals still in the atmosphere promote reactions that eat away at the protective ozone layer, so this is the maximum depth and size the hole will reach for 2013.

For more information and images from this recent news release on October 25th, see NASA's Ozone Hole Watch or read through NOAA's Ozone FAQ's.  With your students, explore the difference between stratospheric ozone and tropospheric ozone using our Introduction to Ozone Reading Classroom Activity.

Need a little more background?  Here is the text about ozone that was written for last month's newsletter:

Ozone (O3) is a special kind of oxygen molecule that has three oxygen atoms.  Ozone in the stratosphere protects us from ultraviolet radiation in sunlight.  The ozone layer is sort of like sunscreen for planet Earth.  It absorbs most of the incoming UV "light" before it reaches the ground.  The ozone layer stops almost all of the incoming UV-C, about 90% of the UV-B, and roughly half of the UV-A radiation.  This is critical to life on our planet, because in large amounts, ultraviolet radiation is very harmful to living organisms (e.g., it can cause skin cancer and damage plants).  In fact, the protective role of the ozone layer is so vital that scientists believe life on land probably would not have evolved - and could not exist today - without it.

Unfortunately, manmade pollutants like chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s) degrade the ozone found in the stratospheric layer of Earth's atmosphere, and in the 20thcentury, atmospheric ozone concentrations began to drop.  By 1983, a hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica was observed, and has been observable every year since.  By the mid-1980’s the international community had recognized the problem and established a worldwide agreement to reduce harmful emissions that cause the breakdown of the protective ozone layer.  197 countries have ratified this agreement, called the Montreal Protocol.

It is not yet clear how long it might take for the atmospheric ozone layer to recover, but many scientists believe it might be 10 years (NOAA study) to several decades.  There was reason for optimism recently when NOAA and NASA measurements showed in 2012 that the ozone hole was at one of its smallest sizes in the past 20 years.  

We aren't sure if the recovery of the ozone layer will happen over one or several decades, which makes continuous and consistent measurements of the ozone layer very important.  Under the mandate of the Clean Air Act, NOAA and NASA scientists keep a close eye on the ozone layer’s health with satellite data (historically the NASA TOMS instruments, NOAA SBUV/2 instruments, and most recently, the Suomi-NPP weather satellite launched in 2011), ground-based measurements (e.g., NOAA's Dobson Spectrophotometers) and balloon-borne instruments (e.g., NOAA's Ozonesondes).  By tracking stratospheric ozone as well as the chemical compounds and atmospheric conditions that affect its concentration, scientists will be able to track the ozone layer’s recovery.  Hopefully, in a decade or two, I will be able to write the following article - "Environmental Success Story - Scientists Report the Complete Recovery of the Ozone Layer!"

The Study of Saturn Over Centuries

The history of the study of Saturn is a good example of how scientists have persevered through time to learn more, building on the work of others.  Although Saturn can be seen with the naked eye, Galileo was the first to observe Saturn with a telescope in 1610.  Because of the rudimentary nature of his telescope, he couldn't determine what Saturn's rings were.  In 1655, the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens solved the mystery of Saturn's "arms".  Due to improved telescope optics, he correctly deduced that the "arms" were actually a ring system.  Huygens also discovered Saturn's moon Titan.  In 1675, the Italian-French astronomer Giovanni Cassini discovered 4 other major moons of Saturn:  Iapetus, Rhea, Tethys, and Dione.  Cassini also discovered a narrow gap that splits Saturn's ring system into two parts, and the gap has since been known as the Cassini Division.  The German-born British astronomer William Herschel discovered two more moons, Mimas and Enceladus, in 1789.  The irregularly-shaped satellite Hyperion, which has an orbital resonance with Titan, was discovered simultaneously in 1848 by British astronomer William Lassell and by the American father-and-son team of William and George Bond.  In 1859, Scottish physicist and mathematician James Maxwell deduced that Saturn's rings could not be solid and must be made of "an indefinite number of unconnected particles".  In 1899, the American astronomer William Henry Pickering discovered Phoebe, an irregular moon that does not rotate synchronously with Saturn as the larger moons do.

Saturn was first visited by Pioneer 11 in September 1979.  In November 1980, the Voyager 1 probe visited the Saturn system.  Almost a year later, in August 1981, Voyager 2 continued the study of the Saturn system.

The study of Saturn continues even now with the Cassini-Huygens mission.  This mission was designed and planned as a cooperative effort between the European Space Agency and NASA, and included a Saturn orbiter (Cassini) and a Titan probe (Huygens).  It was launched in 1997, with the goal of studying Saturn’s rings, as well as the surface and atmosphere of both Saturn and Titan.  Cassini’s main mission was completed in 2008, and has been extended by NASA to allow for continuous observation of Saturn until 2017, when its orbit is expected to deteriorate, sending the orbiter into the planet’s atmosphere.

Recently, Cassini was in position to observe a massive storm on Saturn, and recorded data are proving invaluable to scientists who study the dynamic atmospheres of other planets in our solar system.  Cassini also recently detected propylene, a chemical used to make food-storage containers, car bumpers, and other consumer products, on Saturn's moon Titan.  To read more about information about Cassini and to see some stunning images, visit:

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.

Motivational Quotes

Everyone needs a little inspiration at times!  We've added a page on the Windows to the Universe website that brings together motivational quotes with relevance to science teachers that you may enjoy, or find useful in your work, play, or everyday life.  The starting point for this was an energetic conversation on the ESPRIT listserve for Earth Science teachers.  Enjoy!

You can submit your favorite quotes to the list.  Note that all quotes will be reviewed for appropriateness before they are posted.

Thanksgiving - How Big a Bird Did You Cook?

At the end of November, millions of turkeys are served on U.S. dinner tables as part of Thanksgiving.  Consequently, this is the month in the U.S. when many people ask questions like, "how big a bird did you cook?"

Ask questions about life adaptation skills and evolutionary processes with our Bird Beaks Activity - complete with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation and group and class handouts for data collection.

This activity uses very simple materials, is aligned to the National Standards (see activity for more details) and can be used for upper elementary through high school levels.

Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends on November 3rd this year in most of the U.S.  Don't forget to turn your clocks one hour back.  Daylight Saving Time (or Summer Time as it is called in many countries) is a way of getting more light out of the day by advancing clocks by one hour during the summer.

Ancient civilizations had to adjust daily schedules to the sun more flexibly than we do.  Romans divided daylight into 12 equal hours, so the length of each hour was longer during summer.  In 1784, Benjamin Franklin, then an American envoy to France, anonymously published a satirical letter suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight.  The New Zealand entomologist, George Vernon Hudson, first proposed modern DST in 1895.  English builder, William Willett, independently conceived of DST in 1905 when he noticed during an early summer morning ride that many people were still sleeping.  He became an advocate of DST but didn't live to see it adopted.  Many European countries started to switch their clocks in 1916, in an effort to conserve fuel during World War I.  The United States adopted DST in 1918, but it was inconsistent till 1966, when President Johnson signed The Uniform Time Act.

Different nations start and end DST on different dates.  In the Southern hemisphere, beginning and ending dates are reversed.  Some nations shift time year-round, and some do not observe DST at all.  And just to keep you on your toes, sometimes different areas of one country have different time shifts!

Science Birthdays in November

November 7th is the 146th anniversary of the birth of Marie Curie (1867-1934).  She was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity, the first scientist to receive two Nobel prizes and the first female professor at the University of Paris.  She was born in Poland and lived in France as of age 24.  Together with her husband Pierre Curie, another Nobel prize laureate, she discovered two new elements, Radium and Polonium, and studied the x-rays they emitted.  Their daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935.  What an exceptional family!

Other notable birthdays in November include:

  • November 8, 1656 - Edmond Halley, an English astronomer, mathematician and physicist.  He is most famous for predicting the return of the comet that now bears his name.  Not everyone knows though that Halley also studied weather, winds and tides, magnetism, built a diving bell and even contributed to the development of actuarial science!
  • November 15, 1738 - William Herschel, a German-born British astronomer who became famous for discovering Uranus.  He also discovered several moons of Saturn and Uranus, studied nebulae and other astronomical objects and discovered infrared radiation.  He was also a prolific composer.
  • November 29, 1803 - Christian Doppler, an Austrian mathematician and physicist who discovered the Doppler effect.
  • November 20, 1889 - Edwin Hubble, an American astronomer who studied galaxies and contributed to the idea of an expanding universe.  The Hubble Space Telescope was named after him.
  • November 9, 1934 - Carl Sagan, an American astronomer who researched the origins of life and astrobiology.  He is also famous for writing many popular science books and articles.

Workshops at the NSTA Regional Conferences This Fall!

Will you be at the NSTA Regional Conferences in Charlotte or Denver?  If so, we invite you to participate in one or more of the sessions listed below.


Charlotte NSTA Regional Conference

Date Title Time Location
Friday, November 8

Effective Strategies for Sharing Climate Change Science and Energy Consumption Implications in the Classroom


Charlotte Conv Ctr, Ballroom A

Effective Approaches for Addressing the Next Generation Science Standards in the Earth and Space Science Classroom


Charlotte Conv Ctr, Ballroom A

NESTA Earth Science Rock Raffle


Charlotte Conv Ctr, Ballroom A

Using Natural Hazards as a Hook in the Earth and Space Science Classroom


Charlotte Conv Ctr, Ballroom A

High-Impact Classroom Earth Science in a STEM World


Charlotte Conv Ctr, Ballroom A

Denver NSTA Regional Conference

Date Title Time Location
Friday, December 13

Using Natural Hazards as a Hook in the Earth and Space Science Classroom


Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial Ballroom A/B/C

Effective Approaches for Addressing the Next Generation Science Standards in the Earth and Space Science Classroom


Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial Ballroom A/B/C

Effective Strategies for Sharing Climate Change Science and Energy Consumption Implications in the Classroom


Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial Ballroom A/B/C

High-Impact Classroom Earth Science in a STEM World


Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial Ballroom A/B/C

NESTA Earth Science Share A Thon


Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial Ballroom A/B/C

NESTA Earth Science Rock Raffle


Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial Ballroom A/B/C

Leonid Meteor Shower - November 16th

The Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak this year on the evening of November 16th.  The Leonids are an unpredictable shower; most years it is quite tame, displaying only 10-15 meteors per hour at its peak.  However, the Leonids occasionally produce meteor "deluges", with hourly meteor counts soaring into the hundreds.  During a spectacular storm in 1883, observers estimated that they could see more than 1,000 Leonids per hour!  The Leonid showers of 1998-2002 were also quite eventful. 

Unfortunately in 2013, the light of the full Moon will prevent people from seeing many meteors, but if you're patient, you might still catch a few bright ones!  This shower is definitely for night owls, as the peak of the shower is expected to be after midnight and before dawn.  Bundle up and enjoy!

AGU Fall Meeting GIFT Workshop for K-12 Educators

Register now for the Geophysical Information For Teachers (GIFT) Workshop run by NESTA and AGU, to be held at the AGU Fall Meeting on December 9-10.   K-12 educators may register free-of-charge for both the Fall AGU Meeting (so you can view exhibits and attend technical presentations) and the GIFT workshop.

An excellent set of presenters has been chosen for this year's workshop and they will cover topics such as polar science and engineering, sea level rise and ocean acidification, mass extinctions, seafloor sediments, water cycle research and The Next General Science Standards.  View materials from past workshops and register for GIFT 2013.

In the Mood for a Little Holiday Shopping?

Tshirts, bumper stickers and games, oh my!  Are you looking for something different to buy the people on your holiday list this year?  Shop at the Windows to the Universe Store!

We have books, CD's, DVD's and even classroom materials for the geoscience enthusiasts on your list!

Remember, Windows to the Universe members get an additional 10% off the price of all products in the Windows to the Universe store.  If you are a member of Windows to the Universe, log in to "Your Account" at the right with your Windows to the Universe username and password.  If you are not already a member of Windows to the Universe, join today!  Finally, you can feel good about your purchases, as funding generated through the Store helps us fund development of the web site and outreach activities for teachers.

Table of Contents

Russian Meteorite
Flash Floods TX
Superstorm Sandy
MAVEN Mission
IPCC Climate - 2013
Ozone Hole Status
Discover Saturn
Autumn Colors
Motivational Quotes
Daylight Saving Time
NOV Sci Birthdays
NSTA Workshops-Fall
Leonid Meteors
Register for GIFT
Holiday Shopping

UNL Program

Minerals E-book
NASA Fellowships
America Recycles
Student Experiments
Geography Week 2013
GIS Day 2013
Next CubeSat Mission
Einstein Application
Fulbright Awards
PEYA 2013
World Water Chall
Robot Prize Compete
2014 Roy Award
New NSSME Reports
New ES Ed Report
Owlie -FB & Twitter
NASA on Instagram
NPS Teacher Tool
Boys & Girls Club
EPA Students Environ
Subduction Zone













  Teacher Submissions

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Master of Applied Science, Specialization in Science for Educators, by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln

The Master of Applied Science is a 36-credit-hour, non-thesis graduate degree program.  Eighteen (18) credit hours apply to the Science for Educators specialization.  Courses in this program are offered 100% online, and every course has a uniform approach that shows how, why, and where science fits into the real world and shows applications for curriculum.  Courses integrate science content from previous courses demonstrating how science is connected to everything.  Courses and content are designed around the National Science Education Standards.

This graduate program emphasizes several key areas, including science content inquiry, integration, and application.  Science content inquiry involves acquiring new (or enhanced) science content knowledge and examining science in the context of the world around us.  Science integration involves incorporating science content in an age-appropriate manner and establishing connections between the natural and designed world.  Science application includes linking content to the real world and inspiring students with science in action.

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Information about Opportunities with Stipends, Honorariums, or Awards for Teachers/students
Educator members of Windows to the Universe should log into the website and go to the Member Special Offers page for details about these opportunities. If you're not a member, join today and find out how to apply to these opportunities! Additional information for non-members is available at

AGI Publishes "The Consumer's Guide to Minerals" E-book

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) has released its latest digital-only publication, "The Consumer's Guide to Minerals."

The importance of minerals in our everyday lives cannot be underestimated.  "The Consumer's Guide to Minerals" shows a different perspective on minerals than you might be used to.  Rather than focusing on visual and physical properties, this book explores the use of minerals in scientific research, manufacturing, medicine and many other commercial applications, some of which may shock you!  This digital exclusive is an important reference for mineral enthusiasts, teachers, and students of applied science, geology and economics; practicing engineers and professional geoscientists in government service, environment and sustainability; and those professionals working in the minerals industry or those serving the minerals industry.

The Guide is available for $4.99 in digital format from:
AGI ePub: for Kindle:
Apple iBookstore:
Google Play Store:

For more information on "The Consumer's Guide to Minerals" and other AGI publications, go to

NASA Seeks America's Best and Brightest for Space Technology Research Fellowships

NASA is seeking applications from U.S. graduate students for the agency's Space Technology Research Fellowships.  The research grants, worth as much as $68,000 per year, will coincide with the start of the 2014 fall term.

Applications will be accepted from students pursuing or planning to pursue master's or doctorate degrees in relevant space technology disciplines at accredited U.S. universities.  The grants will sponsor U.S. graduate student researchers who show significant potential to contribute to NASA's strategic space technology objectives through their studies.  To date, NASA has awarded grants to 193 student researchers from 68 universities located in 33 states and one U.S. territory.

Sponsored by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, the fellowships are improving America’s technological competitiveness by providing the nation with a pipeline of innovative space technologies.

The deadline for submitting applications is November 13.  For more information and instructions on how to submit applications, visit:

America Recycles Day - November 15

Since 1997, communities across the country have come together on November 15 to celebrate America Recycles Day, a nationally-recognized initiative by Keep America Beautiful dedicated to encouraging people to recycle more at home, at work, and on the go.  Recycling reduces waste, energy usage, and helps mitigate future climate change.  Thousands of groups have hosted thousands of events for America Recycles Day.  This year, you can organize recycling events for your workplace or school or find events happening in your community online at

NASA Seeking Student Science Experiments for Balloon Flight

NASA is accepting applications from graduate and undergraduate university students to fly experiments to the edge of space on a scientific balloon next year. The balloon competition is a joint project between NASA and the Louisiana Space Consortium (LaSPACE) in Baton Rouge.

NASA is targeting fall 2014 for the next flight opportunity for the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP).  HASP is a balloon-borne instrument stack that provides an annual near-space flight opportunity for 12 instruments built by students.

A panel of experts from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and LaSPACE will review the applications and select the finalists for the next flight opportunity.  Flights are launched from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility's remote site in Fort Sumner, N.M., and typically achieve 15 to 20 hours' duration at an altitude of about 23 miles.

HASP houses and provides power, mechanical support, interactivity and communications for the instruments.  It can be used to flight-test compact satellites, prototypes and other small payloads designed and built by students.
 The application deadline for the flight is Dec. 20.  A question-and-answer teleconference for interested parties will be held at 11 a.m. EST Nov. 15.  For application materials and details about HASP, visit:

Get Ready for Geography Awareness Week! November 17-23

In 2013, Geography Awareness Week will focus on the theme of The New Age of Exploration.  Celebrated from November 17-23, in conjunction with the National Geographic Society’s 125th Birthday, the week's theme focuses on how geography enables us all to be intrepid explorers in our own way.  Check out the newly created archive of past Geography Awareness Week materials, a new suite of resources all about Geography as a field and discipline, and even more tips and tools to plan your own GeoWeek celebrations!

Check out the Geography Awareness Week site for many more ways to get involved!

GIS Day - November 20, 2013

This year, GIS Day will be celebrated on Wednesday, November 20, and you can be part of the celebration!  Host a GIS Day event for your co-workers, at a local school, or for your community.  This is your opportunity to demonstrate how you use GIS in your daily work, and how this powerful technology plays a role in making our world a better place!  If you don't use GIS technologies currently, but would like to learn more, attend an event in your area.

GIS Day focuses on raising geographic awareness throughout our world.  The event provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that make a difference in society.

Bring Your Class on a ClimateChangeLIVE Distance Education Adventure!

Bring climate learning to your classrooms through a series of webcasts, webinars, and online climate education resources in the 2013-2014 school year.  This free series will provide educators with climate tools including a large collection of science-based, climate education resources and programs gathered from 17 federal agencies and non-profit organizations.  Upcoming webinars will introduce you to the ClimateChangeLIVE Adventure.  All webinars are from 7:30-9pm and are FREE!  The next webinar will take place on November 20th.  Register for the educator webinars at

ClimateChangeLIVE is brought to you through a collaboration of federal agencies and NGOs, including Prince William Network, U.S. Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Will Steger Foundation, Smithsonian, National Wildlife Federation, CLEAN: Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network, Project BudBurst, Environmental Protection Agency, National Institutes of Health, Project Learning Tree, Alliance for Climate Education, U.S. Ice Drilling Program, Project WET, Green Schools Alliance, Prince William County Public Schools, National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, Partners in Resource Education, Virginia Department of Education, and TurffMutt.

NASA Announces Next Opportunity for CubeSat Space Missions

NASA is now accepting proposals for the CubeSat Launch Initiative.  Proposals must be submitted electronically by November 26.  From the submissions, NASA will select the best proposals by February 7.  Developers whose proposals are selected may have the opportunity to see their creations launched as an auxiliary payload on a mission between 2014 and 2017.  NASA will not provide funding for the development of the small satellites and selection does not guarantee a launch opportunity.

CubeSats are a class of cube-shaped research spacecraft called nanosatellites.  They are approximately 4 inches long, have a volume of about 1 quart and weigh less than 3 pounds.

From the first four rounds of the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative, 89 payloads from 25 U.S. states made the short list for launch opportunities in 2011 through 2016.  Of the selected CubeSats, 12 satellites have already launched.  Twenty-one Cubesats are scheduled for launch later this year.

Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program Accepting Applications

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program is now accepting applications for the 2014-15 fellowship year.  The Einstein Fellowship seeks experienced and distinguished K-12 educators in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to serve an 11-month fellowship appointment in a Federal agency or U.S. Congressional office.  Applications are due December 4, 2013, and must be submitted through the online application system.

Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program

Are you a U.S. primary and/or secondary classroom teacher, guidance counselor, curriculum specialist, talented and gifted coordinator, special education coordinator, or media specialist/librarian?  You may be eligible to participate in a unique international professional development opportunity for 3-4 months through the Fulbright Program!

By conducting educational research abroad, U.S. teachers gain new skills, learn new instructional methods and assessment methodologies, and share best practices with international colleagues and students.  Teachers also have the opportunity to expand their understanding of other cultures and international education systems that will enrich their U.S. schools and local communities with global perspectives.  Teachers may travel to:  Chile, Finland, India, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.

Start your application today at  The deadline is December 15, 2013.

This program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and is administered by the Institute of International Education.

2013 President's Environmental Youth Awards

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:
-environmental science projects
-recycling programs in schools and communities
-construction of nature preserves
-major tree planting programs
-videos, skits, and newsletters that focus on environmental issues

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.

World Water Monitoring Challenge: Test. Share. Protect.

The World Water Monitoring Challenge is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by encouraging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies.  In 2012, approximately 250,000 visits were made by participants to monitoring sites in 66 countries.

We challenge you to test the quality of your waterways any time through December, share your findings (results may be entered anytime prior to December 31 for inclusion in that year's annual World Water Monitoring Challenge Year in Review report), and protect our most precious resource!

The Challenge is On: NASA-WPI 2014 Robot Prize Competition

In pursuit of new technological solutions for America's space program and our nation's future, NASA and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have opened registration for the $1.5 million 2014 Sample Return Robot prize competition.

Planned for June 2014 at WPI, industry and academic teams from across the nation will compete to demonstrate a robot can locate and retrieve geologic samples from wide and varied terrains without human controls.  Teams that meet all competition requirements will be eligible to compete for the NASA-funded $1.5 million prize.

"The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies that NASA could incorporate into future missions," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for space technology in Washington.  "Innovations stemming from this challenge may improve NASA's capability to explore an asteroid or Mars, and advance robotic technology for use in industries and applications here on Earth."

Register a team for the 2014 Sample Return Robot Challenge.  Regular registration is open until January 7, 2014.

2014 Edward C. Roy, Jr. Award for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching

AGI has announced details for the 2014 Edward C. Roy, Jr. Award for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching.  Each year, this award recognizes one full-time, U.S., K-8 teacher for leadership and innovation in Earth science education.

The winner will receive a $2,500 prize and a travel grant of $1,000 to attend the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Annual Conference in April 2014 to accept the award.  The National Earth Science Teachers Association will host the 2014 award ceremony at the NSTA Boston Conference.  To be eligible for the 2014 competition, applications must be postmarked by January 10, 2014.

This award is named in honor of Dr. Edward C. Roy, Jr., a past president of AGI, who was a strong and dedicated supporter of Earth science education.  To learn more, visit

National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education

The National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education has released several new reports from the 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education, including a series of reports describing the status of science/mathematics teaching at the different grade levels (e.g., elementary science, middle school mathematics, high school chemistry).  You can find the reports here:

New Report and Web Resource Shed Light on Earth Science

The Center for Geoscience Education and Public Understanding’s new report ( and new web site on Earth science education ( provide powerful resources for the advancement of the discipline.  The landmark report describes significant gaps between identified priorities and lagging practice in Earth science education.

The report, “Earth and Space Sciences Education in U.S. Secondary Schools:  Key Indicators and Trends,” offers baseline data on indicators of the subject’s status since the release of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in April 2013.  Establishing clear aims for the subject, the NGSS state that the Earth and Space Sciences should have equal status with the Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Technology, and Engineering.  However, the report shows that school districts and other organizations fail to assign the Earth Sciences this status.

Only one of the nation’s 50 states requires a year-long Earth/Environmental Science course for high school graduation, whereas 32 states require a Life Science course, and 27 require a Physical Science course, according to the report.  Only six states require that students are taught Earth Science concepts as part of their graduation requirements.

Recommendations for better treatment of Earth Science subject matter include changes in the subject’s relevance to graduation requirements, the discipline’s presence on assessments, designation of Earth Science courses as laboratory courses, and establishment of an Advanced Placement Earth Science program.

This new report is available on the Center for Geoscience Education and Public Understanding’s searchable web site (  The site is a comprehensive and up-to-date online clearinghouse for Earth and space science information and educational resources, ranging from high school curricula and classroom activities to video collections, career resources, and national research reports.  Both this report and new web site are services of AGI.

Owlie on Facebook and Twitter

Over the past year, National Weather Service’s Owlie Skywarn has been getting increased attention through public appearances at events across the U.S. and also through the Young Meteorologist Program safety game at

As part of National Preparedness Month in September, the NWS Outreach team launched Owlie Skywarn Facebook and Twitter pages.   The main purpose of these pages will be weather safety messaging, but there will also be educational posts featuring weather facts and fun activities.  If you have a particular safety post that you would like put forward to possibly be shared, you can contact the team at

Please consider sharing/retweeting these posts from your accounts.  NWS would really appreciate your help spreading the word about Owlie’s social media presence.  You can also tag Owlie in a post using @OwlieSkywarnNWS



NASA to Share the Universe with Instagram Users through Its Images

NASA has launched an official Instagram profile that will take its fans on an out-of-this-world journey through images of Earth and beyond.  Aeronautics, astrophysics, Earth science, human spaceflight and more, the NASA account will provide a comprehensive view of the agency by sharing new and historic images and videos.

"We're constantly looking to expand our social media portfolio to include tools that will best tell NASA's story of exploration and discovery," said NASA Press Secretary Lauren Worley.  "Instagram has a passionate following of users who are hungry for new and exciting photos.  We believe we have some of the most engaging images on and off the planet -- and we can’t wait to engage with Instagrammers."

Instagram complements NASA's strong social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Flickr, Foursquare, Reddit and other sites.  All are aimed at engaging and inspiring the public with NASA's unique content.

National Park Service Develops a New Tool for Teachers

The National Park Service has launched a new online service for teachers that brings America's national parks into neighborhood classrooms.  The new "Teachers" section of the National Park Service website at provides a one-stop shop for curriculum-based lesson plans, traveling trunks, maps, activities, distance learning, and other resources.  All of the materials draw from the spectacular natural landscapes and authentic places preserved in America's national parks.

NASA Collaborates with Boys and Girls Clubs of America to Inspire the Next Generation of Explorers

NASA signed a Space Act Agreement with the Boys and Girls Club of America (BGCA) to infuse the agency's science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) content into BGCA activities and inspire students nationwide. 

BGCA reaches a youth audience of almost 4 million nationwide, many coming from underserved sectors of the community.  By making relevant STEM education content available to them, NASA is helping to cultivate a future technical workforce that is representative of the nation's diverse population.

EPA Students for the Environment

Have you visited the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Students for the Environment web page?  It has great homework resources for your students and ideas for school environmental projects.  You'll find relevant awards and contests posted on the site.  There are also opportunities for fun and games!  Check it out!

Subduction Zone May Close Atlantic Ocean

Throughout the history of Earth, supercontinents have formed and ocean basins have opened and closed over timescales of 300 million to 500 million years.  But scientists haven't found direct evidence of the in-between phase - a previously opening ocean basin beginning to close - until now.  Thanks to new high-resolution surveys of the seafloor, scientists think they have evidence of that process starting in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Portugal.  If they are right, this nascent subduction zone could close the Atlantic Ocean - in roughly 200 million years.

Geoscientists have hypothesized about the existence of an earthquake-causing, volcano-forming subduction zone along the Portuguese coast.  Now, based on new analyses of a series of faults and regional tensions, João Duarte, the principal investigator, suggests that his study supports that hypothesis and identifies the main tectonic mechanisms.  However, this conclusion has garnered some controversy from fellow scientists, mainly because it may still be too soon to tell if the southwest Iberian margin is a nascent subduction zone.

Read more about how passive margins may become active margins in this month's issue of EARTH Magazine:

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