Our very best holiday wishes to all of you as we enter the month of December. Over the past year, I hope that Windows to the Universe has been able to provide you resources and information that you have found valuable, in support of your classroom instruction and learning. I've enjoyed working with those of you who have been able to participate in our professional development workshops offered through NESTA at NSTA and other conferences - to date reaching over 2,500 teachers this year alone! As the year comes to a close, we are (of course) ignoring predictions of the end of the world on December 21, and instead we are planning for our workshops and events at upcoming NSTA regional conferences and the NSTA national conference in San Antonio April 10 - 13.
Some interesting statistics - Windows to the Universe received over 16 million visits from 226 countries over the past 12 months. By major subcontinent regions, the cities responsible for the most traffic to the website over the past 12 months were Mexico City (474,004 visits), Bogata (446,961 visits), Manila (203,850 visits), Madrid (126,029 visits), Sydney (125,155 visits), New York City (119,767 visits), London (102,743 visits), and New Dehli (57,732 vists). In a single visit from Lippoldsberg, Germany, 46 pages were accessed, while Red Wing, Minnesota, accounted for an average of 36 pages/visit in 575 visits. Content in our Teacher Resources section received ~449,000 page views, averaging over 1,200 page views per day. The ten most popular pages on the website (other than the front page, which received 522,993 pages views) are the planets (520,129 page views), the solar system (487,746 page views), atmospheric layers (443,683 page views), Earth (430,385 page views), the Carbon cycle (305,249 page views), games (264,046 page views), the atmosphere (257,032 page views), Mercury (251,634 page views), myths about the Moon (232,373 page views), and Venus (226,877 page views).
Finally, if it's within your abilities, and Windows to the Universe is a resource that is valuable to you, please consider providing financial support through a charitable contribution to the Windows to the Universe project at the National Earth Science Teachers Association. If everyone using this website donated just $1, we would have more than enough support for the entire project! In fact, if only one in 100 people using the website contributed $1, we would have plenty of funds to cover our costs! Additional ways to support Windows to the Universe include becoming an Educator Member, and by doing some of your holiday gift shopping in the Windows to the Universe online store! See the information provided below for more details about how to support the project.
My very best wishes for an enjoyable and relaxing holiday season!
For centuries, people have tried to predict the weather, and we’ve come to expect that meteorologists can usually give us a pretty good sense of what conditions will be like in a given location over the next few days. But what about long-range forecasts that extend out much further, and predict general trends in weather over a whole season?
Various almanacs, such as Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack, or the Farmer’s Almanac (which is still being published in 2012), have attempted to provide long-range weather forecasts through the years, often with the idea of helping farmers plan their planting and harvesting activities throughout the year. These publications often rely on secret methods for predicting weather trends, and have generally not proven to be more accurate than random chance.
More recently, computer modeling of global weather patterns has led to scientists being able to make general predictions about months of weather. In the United States, these predictions take into account things like the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, the position of the jet stream, temperatures of the oceans surrounding the US, and other factors, and they can accurately forecast overall levels of rain and snow, the frequency of major storms, and gross trends in temperature by anticipating how different weather systems (high and low pressure systems, storms, or air currents) will move and interact throughout the upcoming season.
Better data from scientific studies and better computer models will help make this process more and more accurate as time goes on, but weather forecasting beyond a few days from now remains a very difficult and complex thing to do. You can read more about how weather and climate are modeled by scientists on the Windows to the Universe site and see predictions for US 2012-13 winter weather from both the Farmer’s almanac and a modern, computational model.
NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, launched in March 2009, is concluding its 3 1/2-year prime mission and is beginning an extended mission that could last as long as four years.
NASA's Kepler Space Telescope searches for exoplanets, planet candidates orbiting distant stars, by continuously measuring the brightness of more than 150,000 stars. When a planet passes, or transits, in front of the star, light from the star is blocked. The amount of starlight blocked by a planet reveals its size relative to its star.
So far, hundreds of Earth-size planet candidates have been found as well as candidates that orbit in the habitable zone, the region in a planetary system where liquid water might exist on the surface of a planet. With the completion of the prime mission, Kepler has now collected enough data to begin finding true sun-Earth analogs - Earth-size planets with a one-year orbit around stars similar to the sun.
Other highlights from the prime mission include the discovery of the first planetary system with more than one planet, the first rocky planet outside the solar system, compact multi-planet systems, and planets orbiting double stars. For more information about NASA's Kepler mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kepler
Our thoughts continue to go out to those affected by and still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. Remember, that you can help the victims of Hurricane Sandy by donating to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Feeding America or AmeriCares.
As you recover from Sandy or prepare for the next storm, keep these reminders in mind from the EPA:
-Generator exhaust is deadly! Always put generators outside well away from doors, windows, and vents.
Ocean water is always moving. It moves around surface ocean currents in the upper 400 meters of the ocean, creating swift-flowing currents like the Gulf Stream and eddies that spin off the flow of water. Water from deep in the ocean moves towards the surface by upwelling. Currents along coastlines move water as well as sand. Each day ocean water moves with the tides. And, over a long time, water circulates from the deep ocean to shallow ocean and back again because of thermohaline circulation.
We are working on a mobile version of Windows to the Universe, and we appreciate your feedback! If you have a smartphone, you can test the mobile version using the following link:
After you visit the test mobile site, please complete our short survey to let us know what you think! We hope the new site will make it more convenient for you to plan your lessons or explore Earth and space science while on the road.
Please note that, depending on your phone, some Java and Flash games might not work. If you notice any problems other than that, please let us know using the survey link above. Do not forget to tell us your phone model and the page where you noticed the problem. Thanks!
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is committed to fostering the next generation of Earth and space scientists. We work on this commitment in many ways, one of which is partnering with the National Earth Science Teacher’s Association (NESTA) to hold the annual Geophysical Information for Teachers (GIFT) workshop at our Fall Meeting. GIFT allows K–12 science educators (both classroom and informal) to hear from scientists about the latest Earth and space science research, explore new classroom resources for engaging students, and visit exhibits and technical sessions during the Fall AGU Meeting.
Six teams of leading scientists and education/public outreach professionals will give talks and lead teachers through interactive classroom activities over the course of 2 days at GIFT 2012. View this year's agenda.
AGU encourages you to register to attend GIFT if you are a K–12 educator, and to spread the word about GIFT to other K-12 educators through your networks. This year’s workshop will be held on 3–4 December from 7:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. in the Golden Gate A room of the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. To attend, simply register for the Fall Meeting at http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2012/. Indicate that you are a K–12 educator and you will be invited to register for the GIFT workshop. The registration fee is $90. More information about GIFT can be found at http://education.agu.org/education-activities-at-agu-meetings/gift/.
Last year's GIFT workshop materials are online on this Windows to the Universe page - complete with presentation descriptions, and links to PowerPoint presentations, activities, supplementary materials, and videos. Enjoy these valuable resources, and the accompanying videos!
NESTA is pleased to announce our sessions at the NSTA Area Conference in Phoenix.
Want to present at our Share-a-Thon? – Sign up to present at a NESTA Share-a-Thon at http://www.nestanet.org/cms/content/conferences/nsta/shareathons/apply.
NESTA Sessions in Phoenix
Friday, December 7 - All events on Friday are in the Phoenix Convention Center, 132 A-C
Are you looking for a unique gift for the holidays? Order by December 15 to guarantee arrival before the Christmas holiday.
Mineral and fossil specimens (made available through Nature's Own) include amber with insects, ammonites (pairs of phylloceras inflatum, black and white ammonites), banded iron, bismuth, celestite, charoite, compressed labradorite, coprolites (50 million year old fossilized turtle poop), fluorite, fossilized shark teeth (megalodon and odotus obliuus), almandine garnets, hematite with rutile, meteorites, native copper, nautiloids, olivine xenoliths in basalt, phlogopite mica, pyrite "dollars", "penetration twins", black tourmaline, and trilobites, in addition to a wonderful mineral and fossil collection including 18 minerals and 12 fossil specimens.
For those inclined to show their love of minerals and fossils by wearing them, we also offer a fabulous assortment of jewelry including: pendants of ammonite, amethyst, jade, ruby, and ruby zoisite; earrings of amethyst and peridot; pendant and earring sets of charoite, eudialyte, and paua shell; and beautiful necklaces of kyanite and ruby.
Don't forget our beautiful household goods - banded onyx wine goblets, bowls (8", 12", or a pair of 5" noodle bowls), vases (5" or 6"), and a mortar and pestle. They make exceptional gifts for anyone on your holiday list!
We've just added a bunch of new educational DVDs from TASA Graphics to the Windows to the Universe online store. New additions include:
These are in addition to our previous offerings from TASA graphics:
We also offer quality DVDs on climate change and astronomy:
As always, Windows to the Universe Educator Members get a 10% discount on all purchases from the online store - and this is on top of publisher discounts!
With the school year in full swing, the National Earth Science Teachers Association has made printed copies of back issues of TES available at a reduced rate of $5/copy (plus shipping and handling) through the Windows to the Universe online store -- when 4 or more copies of TES are ordered. Many issues include impressive posters for you to display in your classroom! The online store shows the content of each issue, which includes multiple classroom activities you can use to cover a variety of Earth and space science topics.
NESTA members can access PDFs of back issues of TES online through the NESTA website at http://www.nestanet.org/cms/content/publications/tes/archive. If you're not a member, join NESTA today and get access to our back issues in PDF format (alas, the posters are only available with the print copies).
Classroom activities are a great way to engage students in their science learning. The Teacher Resources section on Windows to the Universe includes over 100 K-12 science activities for you to use with your students. Topics range from geology, water, atmospheric science, climate change, life, ecology, environmental science, space weather and magnetism, to science literacy and art. HTML versions of the activities, worksheets, and supplementary materials are all freely available, as are PPT shows that you can use with your students.
Windows to the Universe Educator Members have free access to all downloadable PDF activities, worksheets, supplementary materials and PowerPoints (a $230 value!), in addition to other benefits and services for Earth and space science teachers. If you are not a Windows to the Universe Educator Member, you can purchase individual PDF-formatted student worksheets, classroom activity descriptions, and supplementary materials (including downloadable PowerPoints) in our online store.
If you'd like to save time collecting and prepping classroom materials, we offer several classroom activity kits for purchase: 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.
As we all consider our year-end charitable giving, I hope you will consider a charitable contribution to the Windows to the Universe project at the National Earth Science Teachers Association. If everyone using this website donated just $1, we would have more than enough support for the entire project! In fact, if only one in 100 people using the website contributed $1, we would have plenty of funds to cover our costs! Additional ways to support Windows to the Universe include becoming an Educator Member, and by doing some of your holiday gift shopping in the Windows to the Universe online store!
Since April 2010, we have made substantial changes to the Windows to the Universe project with the goal of helping to sustain the project through a wider variety of income sources, rather than solely relying on grants from the federal government. The need to undertake these changes is driven by the fact that federal funding is simply not available for projects that have completed their initial development and implementation efforts. Almost without exception, projects that have been around for years (and Windows to the Universe has been around since 1995!) must develop alternative modes of supporting their efforts, as federal funding is not available to support them irrespective of how successful they are. Similarly, most foundations do not provide operational support for ongoing programs, seeking instead to support new projects that meet their specific objectives.
We are happy that the programs we have implemented on Windows to the Universe are meeting with some success, and we have been able to develop additional income streams that help support the project. That said, that income is still not sufficient to cover our operational costs, and we must continue to work on all fronts to provide the support needed for the costs associated with the project, including staff, consultants, materials, shipping, travel, and office costs. If you value this project, and the resources it makes available to you, I hope you will consider a donation to help support our efforts. Please pick the level of support that meets your ability - all support is greatly appreciated, and will be recognized with an official letter of appreciation from NESTA. Since NESTA is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) charitable organization, donations to NESTA are tax deductible.
Here are some interesting facts about Windows to the Universe:
Table of Contents
Minerals & Fossils
High Alt Balloons
Edward C. Roy Award
Toshiba Am Grants
Students Fly Rockets
Spot Space Station
Climate Fact Sheets
CC and Resilience
AMS DataStreme Proj
Big Ideas Videos
Food and Tiles
Announcements from Partners
Information about Opportunities with Stipends, Honorariums, or Awards for Teachers/students
Have you ever wondered how the objects orbiting around our solar system get their names? If so, your opportunity to engage your students in just such an adventure has arrived!
The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program is now accepting applications for the 2013-2014 Fellowship Year. The Einstein Fellowship Program is available to current K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educators with a demonstrated excellence in teaching and leadership. The goal of the Einstein Fellowship Program is to provide an opportunity for teachers to inform U.S. national policy and improve communication between the K-12 STEM education community and national leaders.
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.
The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) has a mission to increase the understanding and appreciation of astronomy and to advance science literacy. The group is comprised of both professional and amateur astronomers, informal and formal educators. One of its awards is particularly reserved for high school teachers: the Thomas J. Brennan Award. The ASP is now accepting nominations. In order to be considered, nominees must be involved in activities relating to the teaching of astronomy at the high school level—in the classroom or planetarium, in teacher training, and/or by other appropriate means. Letters of nomination should highlight how the nominee has distinguished himself or herself in this endeavor and/or cite exceptional achievement. Recipients receive a cash award and engraved plaque, as well as travel and lodging in order to accept the award at the Society’s 125th annual meeting in San Jose in July 2013.
The nomination deadline is December 31, 2012. Submission guidelines and lists of past recipients can be found at http://www.astrosociety.org/membership/awards/awards.html. For additional information, please contact Albert Silva at 415-715-1400 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Registration is now open for the 20th annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race, which challenges high school, college and university students around the world to build and race fast, lightweight "moonbuggies" of their own design.
The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is accepting nominations for the Edward C. Roy Award for Excellence in Earth Science Teaching. Given annually, this award is presented to one full-time K-8 teacher in the U.S. or U.K. whose excellence and innovation in the classroom elevates students’ understanding of the Earth and its many processes.
NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate is accepting scholarship applications from graduate and undergraduate students for the 2013-2014 academic year. The application deadline is Jan. 14, 2013.
NASA expects to award 20 undergraduate and five graduate scholarships to students in an aeronautical engineering program or related field. Undergraduate students who have at least two years of study remaining will receive up to $15,000 per year for two years and the opportunity to receive a $10,000 stipend by interning at a NASA research center during the summer.
Nominate A Teacher! The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education. Two teachers from each EPA region will be selected to receive the award. 2012-13 nominations are due January 31.
Teacher awardees will receive a commemorative plaque and an award of $2,000 to be used to further the recipient's professional development in environmental education. The teacher's local education agency will also receive an award of $2,000 to fund environmental education activities and programs of the teacher (but not for construction costs, general expenses, salaries, bonuses, or other administrative expenses).
Meet the 2011-12 winners: http://www.epa.gov/education/teacheraward/winners.html
Wanted: Classroom Innovators! Toshiba America Foundation is currently accepting applications from teachers who are passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging for their students.
Do you teach 6-12 science or math? Do you have a wish list of instructional equipment that will make learning more exciting for your students? If the answer is yes to these questions, Toshiba America Foundation would like to hear from you.
Grade 6-12 applications for $5,000 or less are accepted on a rolling basis, throughout the calendar year. Grant requests of more than $5,000 are reviewed twice a year. Applications for grants of more than $5,00 are due August 1st and February 1st each year.
The International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment is organized every year by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Japan-based Foundation for Global Peace and Environment (FGPE), Bayer and the Nikon Corporation.
It has been held since 1991 and has received more than 3 million entries from children in over 150 countries.
The theme of the 22nd painting competition will be “Water: The Source of Life” and children will have until February 29, 2013, to submit their entries.
The American Meteorological Society has partnered with Second Nature, administrator of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, to implement the AMS Climate Studies course at 100 minority-serving institutions over a 5-year period. As part of this NSF-supported Diversity Project, AMS is recruiting 25 MSI faculty for the Course Implementation Workshop (May 19-24, 2013). Faculty will be trained to offer the climate course and will receive presentations from top-level NASA, NOAA, and university scientists. The AMS Climate Studies course was developed and pilot tested with NASA support.
Applications for the May 2013 workshop must be received by March 15, 2013. The workshop is expenses-paid and the AMS Climate Studies license fee is waived for the first two years the course is offered. For more information, please visit www.ametsoc.org/amsedu/online/climateinfo/diversity.html.
NASA and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass., have opened registration and are seeking teams to compete in next year's robot technology demonstration competition, which offers as much as $1.5 million in prize money.
The competition is planned for June 2013 in Worcester, Mass., and will attract competitors from industry and academia nationwide. For more information about the Sample Return Robot Challenge and WPI, visit http://challenge.wpi.edu
Are you an Outstanding Earth Science Teacher? Do you know one?
The National Association of Geoscience Teachers annually presents OEST awards for "exceptional contributions to the stimulation of interest in the Earth Sciences at the pre-college level." Any teacher or other K-12 educator who covers a significant amount of earth science content with their students is eligible. Ten national finalists are selected, one from each NAGT regional section. Some sections also recognize state winners.
Individuals may apply themselves or nominate a colleague for the award. To nominate a teacher for this award, please complete the online nomination form and upload any supporting documentation. You can find information on which section you live in by checking out the Sections Page.
Organizers of the NASA Student Launch Projects have announced the 57 student teams whose inventive creations will soar skyward in April during the space agency's 2012-13 rocketry challenge.
"Every year, the NASA Student Launch Projects build on our students' classroom studies in an energizing, exciting way," said Tammy Rowan, manager of the Academic Affairs Office at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., which organizes the event. "It's great fun, but it also reflects the real-world complexity of planning missions, building flight hardware and completing tough pre-flight checks and reviews. It tests their problem-solving skills and gives them practical, hands-on experience. We hope the experience is so unforgettable it leads many of them to become the nation's next generation of scientists, engineers and space explorers."
For a complete list of middle and high school teams, and more information about the challenge, visit: http://education.msfc.nasa.gov/sli
If you teach about fossils, consider participating in the Mastodon Matrix Project. The Project uses citizen volunteers to analyze actual samples of the matrix (dirt) from a site where a 14,000-year-old mastodon was excavated in New York. Your students will learn the process of science and will work like a paleontologist on real research material.
To join the project, you must sign up and pay an $18 participation fee. You will be sent a one-kilogram bag of matrix, enough for about 20-25 students to explore with simple tools. It is possible to find shells, bones, hair, pieces of plants, and rocks from the time when the mastodons lived and roamed the Earth. The matrix and discoveries are then sent back to the Paleontological Research Institution, where they will be cataloged and further analyzed by paleontologists to help scientists form a true picture of the ecology and environment of the late Pleistocene.
To learn more about the project, go to http://www.museumoftheearth.org/research.php?page=Mastodon_Research/Mast_Matrix
The Young Meteorologist Program (YMP) is an innovative, fun, and informational online game designed to help students learn to prepare for weather-related disasters. YMP was created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the non-profit organizations American Meteorological Society (AMS) and PLAN!T NOW as a free resource that can be utilized in classrooms to help students comprehend complex natural phenomena, and learn actions they can take to keep themselves and their families safe.
With the recent landfall of Hurricane Sandy and the Nor'easter the following week, weather is a feature that inspires curiosity, and fear, and impacts every American. The AMS is distributing this online game to its vast network of U.S. K-12 science teachers, ensuring this resource reaches thousands of AMS-trained science teachers and their students. Educators can use this activity to supplement general Earth science lessons at their schools. There is an expanded section for educators available on the Young Meteorologist website that includes lesson plans, related math activities, videos and discussion pieces ideal for helping teach about weather.
YMP is set up as a five-module game covering natural disasters including hurricanes, lightning, flooding, tornadoes and winter storms. Using new media, students follow Owlie, a young owl led by two meteorologists, and Girdie, a wise bird who challenges common misconceptions people have about weather events. The game is filled with clever rhymes, familiar games, and some math to reinforce safety messages, and is best suited for middle school-aged students. The entire game takes 1-2 hours to complete, ending with a certificate of completion to share with family and friends.
In celebration of the 12th anniversary (November 2) of crews continuously living and working aboard the International Space Station, NASA announced a new service to help people see the orbiting laboratory when it passes overhead. "Spot the Station" will send an email or text message to those who sign up for the service a few hours before they will be able to see the space station.
Did you know that Earth Gauge produces in-depth fact sheets every few months that cover a variety of climate topics? The fact sheets, including images and links, cover topics like heliophysics (written in November 2012), wildfires in the West (written in September 2012), Earth's cloud feedback, polar climate trends, drought in North American, paleoclimate and the ocean ecosystem.
Check out these fact sheets and others at Earth Gauge Climate Fact Sheets. You won't be disappointed!
Considered individually, 2012's record high temperatures, droughts, wildfires, storms and diminished snowpack are not necessarily alarming. If combined, the fact that the first seven months of 2012 were hotter than the hottest on record, more than half of U.S. counties were declared disaster areas due to drought, and the fact that snowpacks were at all-time lows, then these indicators are much more significant from a climate standpoint. Two questions come to the forefront: Will we see the same thing in 2013? And how do we increase our ability to weather the storms and other disasters coming our way in the future?
NASA has a new online science resource for teachers and students to help bring Earth, the solar system, and the universe into their schools and homes.
The American Meteorological Society’s DataStreme Project is an expenses-paid, professional development program for in-service K-12 teachers. Graduate-level courses in meteorology, oceanography, and climate science are offered each fall and spring semester by Local Implementation Teams (LITs) across the country. Teachers construct a Plan of Action for educational peer-training following course completion.
Please contact your nearest LIT leader by late fall to register. The spring 2013 course offering begins in mid-January. For more information on DataStreme, go to www.ametsoc.org/amsedu and follow the links to course pages for the list of LIT leaders. DataStreme receives support from NOAA, NASA, and NSF.
AGI now offers award-winning videos and other electronic resources to help students, educators, and others explore the “big ideas” of Earth science all year long. AGI’s Big Ideas videos recently won three prestigious awards: Digital Video (DV) Winner in Education, DV Winner in Nature/Wildlife, and Videographer Award of Excellence.
Now museums across the United States are eligible to receive these pieces of space history, in addition to the schools and universities that have received them since the end of the Space
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.