January 2012

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements
Windows to the Universe Facebook Group

Happy New Year!
by Roberta

Happy New Year to all subscribers of the Windows to the Universe Educator Newsletter! We hope you are all enjoying a relaxing break, and are storing up energy for when school starts up again soon.

Greetings to everyone we had a chance to meet this past fall at NSTA Area conferences in Hartford, New Orleans, and Seattle, as well as new subscribers from the Science Teachers Association of New York, the AGU-NESTA GIFT workshop in San Francisco, and the SAGE conference events in Winnipeg! We look forward to seeing those of you who can make it in March to Indianapolis - please see a list of our NSTA events below.

Finally, don't forget the opportunity to become a Windows to the Universe Educator Member. Educator Membership brings lots of valuable special benefits and services, including free access to over 100 formatted classroom activities, student worksheets, and associated materials (a $230 value, including Powerpoint slides for download).

Quadrantid Meteor Shower Peaks January 3, 2012
by Jennifer

The first meteor shower of the new year peaks on the night of January 3rd.  The moon will set around 3am, leaving unobstructed viewing before dawn.  Expect up to 80-100 meteors per hour!  As always, take precautions during these winter months to stay warm!

The Quadrantids are a shower with an interesting history; they are named after a now defunct constellation, and, like the Geminids, the source of these meteors is a mysterious object that may be an asteroid or an extinct comet.

Earth at Perihelion
by Jennifer

Students often mistakenly believe that the seasons are caused by variations in Earth's distance from the Sun. Earth's axial tilt is, of course, the real reason for our seasons. The Earth does, however, travel around the Sun in an elliptical orbit that brings it closer to and further away from our neighborhood celestial furnace during the course of each year. Astronomers call the point of closest approach "perihelion", and the most distant point "aphelion". These words come from Greek roots: "helios" is Sun, "peri" means near, and "apo" means away from.

Earth passes through perihelion in early January each year, so it is closest to the Sun in the depths of the Northern Hemisphere's winter. In 2012, Earth will pass through perihelion on January 5. Earth is about 3% further from the Sun at aphelion (in early July) than at perihelion. Earth's orbit is very nearly circular, so its aphelion and perihelion distances are not much different from one another. Some planets have orbits that are much more elongated; astronomers say such orbits have a large "eccentricity". Pluto, for instance, is about 66% further from the Sun at aphelion than it is at perihelion.

Check out these pages on Windows to the Universe to learn more about elliptical orbits, perihelion & aphelion, and eccentricity:

Stephen Hawking's Birthday
by Julia

Stephen Hawking turns 70 on January 8th. Hawking is an English astrophysicist who was born in 1942. He is a leader in the fields of theoretical physics and cosmology. Hawking is most famous for his work on black holes, bodies of matter so dense that their gravitational fields trap even light inside.

In his early twenties, Hawking was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease, and today is confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak. Nevertheless, he communicates his brilliant ideas with the aid of computers and holds a professorship at the University of Oxford.

Hawking is also an author of popular science books, including A Brief History of Time and The Universe in a Nutshell. He has written three children's books along with his daughter Lucy Hawking about a young boy named George.  George's Secret Key to the Universe and the two other books about George are full of cosmology facts as well as humor and adventures.

January is National Radon Action Month
by Jennifer

I added NaCl and NaHCO3 to my Christmas cookies.  I plan to clean my floors with a little CH3COOH.  I'll take C9H8O4 if I end up with a headache tonight.  I wear a ring with a chunk of C on it.  I have a bit of Fe2O3.nH2O on my car.  And, of course, I wouldn't be able to wake up in the morning without showering in H2O.

How easy was it for you to read the paragraph above?  That probably depends on your familiarity with elements and chemical compounds (or your ability to do a really quick Google search!).

January is National Radon Action Month.  Radon is a gaseous radioactive element having the symbol Rn and the atomic number 86.  Exposure to radon in the home is responsible for an estimated 20,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Radon is a health hazard with a simple solution. Read "A Citizen's Guide to Radon".  Of course, radon also has some beneficial medical and scientific uses.  Find out more about radon and other elements by exploring the Periodic Table.

2012 is the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All
by Jennifer

The United Nations General Assembly has declared 2012 the International Year of Sustainable Energy for All.  This initiative has three major objectives to be met by 2030:


  • ensuring universal access to modern energy services
  • doubling the rate of improvement in energy efficiency
  • doubling the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix

Explore FAQ's about this International Year and learn more using the UN's collected Resources.

In Memory of Dave Sentman - A Lifelong Fascination with Atmospheric Electricity
by Roberta

I got word a few days ago that an old friend of mine, Professor Davis Sentman, died on December 15 in Alaska.  I had the pleasure of meeting Dave when I was a graduate student at UCLA in Earth and Space Science, and Dave was on faculty as a researcher there.  Dave always struck me as one of the nicest scientists I've known - soft spoken, polite, extremely hard working, with a great sense of humor (he once came to a Halloween party dressed in a fabulous Invisible Man costume), and he had a gift for combining observational skills with mathematical analysis.

Dave spent most of his professional career studying atmospheric electricity - a fascinating field in which lots of interesting phenomena remain to be explained.  Dave coined the name "sprite" in 1994 to describe extremely fast, upward electrical discharge observed above large thunderstorms.  Thereafter, as scientists continued to discover other transient luminous events above thunderstorms, they were given similar names like elves, trolls, gnomes, pixies and blue jets.  Dave presented the Franklin Lecture at the 2010 American Geophysical Union meeting titled "25-Years of New Discoveries in Atmospheric and Space Electricity", which you can watch on You-Tube here.  Dave's contributions are an example of the reality that nice people that work hard can lead exciting lives and can make important contributions to science and society.  Thank you, Dave!

Here's a little more in the way of science background, in case you're interested.  Bright, rapid flashes above thunderclouds have been reported for centuries, but only recently did scientists record them or determine what in fact they are.  We now know that sprites are not lightning, though they are triggered by lightning strikes within a thunderstorm.  When lightning discharges electrical charge to the Earth, it transiently increases the electrical field in the middle atmosphere and causes what is essentially a giant spark miles above the ground.  The sudden change in electrical field in the atmosphere causes free electrons to hit molecules of Nitrogen and other gases, which glow and cause the visual effects we know as sprites.   Because they are difficult to predict, and involve huge amounts of energy, there is much about sprites that is still not well understood (including whether they may be a hazard to high altitude flights), and many scientists will carry on Professor Sentman's investigations.

You can read more about sprites on this NASA web page.  It also has many useful links for further exploration: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/1999/essd10jun99_1/

Kepler Mission Confirms Its First Planet in Habitable Zone
by Julia

NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the "habitable zone," the region where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface. Overall, Kepler has discovered 33 confirmed exoplanets and over 2,326 new planet candidates outside of our solar system. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets.

The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is the smallest exoplanet found so far that orbits in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists don't yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets.

Kepler discovers planets and planet candidates by measuring dips in the brightness of more than 150,000 stars – the dips in brightness of the stars indicate planets that cross in front, or "transit," the stars.  Kepler requires at least three transits to verify a signal as a planet. Of the 54 habitable zone planet candidates reported in February 2011, Kepler-22b is the first to be confirmed.

NASA launched the Kepler satellite in March 2009. For more information about the Kepler mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/kepler

Biggest Jump in Carbon Emissions Yet! Make a Resolution to Be Carbon Neutral This New Year
by Jennifer

Global carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels rose by the largest margin ever recorded last year, disappointing many scientists who hoped that the smaller increases in recent years would prove to a long-term trend.  Total emissions rose nearly 6% in 2010; this increase represents an additional 500 million tons of carbon over 2009 levels.  The large increase is principally a result of newly industrialized countries like China and India growing quickly in their fossil fuel consumption rates.  Many developed countries' consumption has stabilized.

No matter where you live, you can work to reverse this rising carbon emissions trend by trying to be more "carbon neutral" at or near home.  Being "carbon neutral" means removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as we put in. How can we remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere? One way is to buy "carbon offsets". This supports projects like wind farms, solar parks, planting trees, and the development of green technologies. It helps make clean energy more affordable. It reduces future greenhouse gas emissions to make up for our travel and electricity use today.

You can also reduce your carbon footprint by choosing to use less energy every day. Traveling by walking, bicycling, or taking public transportation instead of driving a car will reduce your carbon footprint. In the market for a new car? Consider one that is more fuel efficient (added benefit -- spend less money at the gas pump!). Turning off lights, televisions, computers and radios when they are not in use is a great way to save energy.

As teachers you can also challenge your students to reduce their carbon footprint. Who knows? They may challenge their parents and grandparents to do the same! A few minutes of teaching about these topics can make a big difference!

Finally, plant trees and plants (they act as carbon sinks). And get your students and school involved too! Every Earth Day in April, the students in my classroom would spend their hour with me planting seeds and seedlings donated by local nurseries. They felt good about the project and the school looked better too. You'd be surprised how many seeds and seedlings 130 high school students can plant in one day!

Use this Carbon Calculator to figure out your carbon footprint. Here's to a Carbon-Reduced New Year!

Tropical Storm Washi - Philippines
by Jennifer

In mid-December, Tropical Storm Washi hit the Philippines with sustained winds of 75 km/h and more than 10 hrs of extremely heavy rainfall.  Coming late in the Pacific storm season, Tropical Storm Washi dumped more than 7 inches of rain on rivers and streams that were already at above normal levels, causing major flash flooding and mudslides.  More than 100,000 people had to be evacuated from the affected area, and over 2,000 are dead or missing.  This storm has been named the deadliest storm of 2011.

Our thoughts go out to those affected by Washi.  Anyone wishing to help can make a donation to relief efforts through UNICEF or the Red Cross.

Comet Lovejoy
by Jennifer

Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy discovered Comet Lovejoy (officially known as C/2011 W3) on November 27, 2011.  It has been in the limelight since its discovery, with many professional and amateur astronomers, as well as many observatories, following its path.  Comet Lovejoy surprised many people by surviving a close passage  (its perihelion) with the Sun on December 16.  Many had theorized the comet would be vaporized by the Sun's heat.

International Space Station Commander Dan Burbank captured spectacular imagery of Comet Lovejoy, viewed from about 240 miles above the Earth's horizon on December 21.  Burbank described seeing the comet as "the most amazing thing I have ever seen in space".

For additional images and information on Comet Lovejoy, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/sunearth.  Learn more about how comets work and about their orbits using our Interactive Comet Animation. You can customize your own comet!

Merging Tsunami Doubled Japan Destruction
by Jennifer

Researchers have discovered the major tsunami generated by the March 2011 Tohoku-Oki quake centered off northeastern Japan was a long-hypothesized "merging tsunami". The tsunami doubled in intensity over rugged ocean ridges, amplifying its destructive power at landfall.

Data from NASA and European radar satellites captured at least two wave fronts that day. The fronts were pushed together by ocean ridges and undersea mountain chains so that the wave fronts merged to form a single, double-high wave far out at sea. This wave was capable of traveling long distances without losing power.

The discovery helps explain how tsunamis can cross ocean basins to cause massive destruction at some locations while leaving others unscathed. The data raise hope that scientists may be able to improve tsunami forecasts.

Principal investigator of the study, Y. Tony Song, explains that "it was a one in 10 million chance that we were able to observe this double wave with satellites."  A merging tsunami had not been observed until now.  "It was like looking for a ghost. A NASA-French Space Agency satellite altimeter happened to be in the right place at the right time to capture the double wave and verify its existence," Song said. 

For more information, visit this page.

NESTA and Windows to the Universe Sessions at NSTA in Indianapolis
by Jennifer

We are happy to announce our events for the NSTA in Indianapolis this coming March. If you plan to be at the NSTA conference, please join us at the following sessions:


Date Title Time Location

Wednesday, March 28

NESTA Field Trip
TBA Indianapolis, IN

Thursday, March 29

NESTA Board of Directors Meeting
8:00am-noon Westin Indianapolis, Senate 3
Friday, March 30 NESTA Geology Share-a-Thon
9:30-10:30am Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
NESTA Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate Change Share-a-Thon
11:00am-noon Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
NESTA Earth System Science Share-a-Thon
12:30-1:30pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
Drama in "Near Earth" Space: The Sun, Space Weather, and Earth's Magnetic Field as We Approach Solar Maximum!
2:00-3:00pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 3
Earth and Space Science Education Today in K–12: Status and Trends at the State and National Levels
3:30-4:30pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
Friends of Earth and Space Science Reception
6:30-8:00pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 1
Saturday, March 31 Activities Across the Earth System
8:00-9:00am Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
Strategies for Teaching About Charged Topics in the Earth Science Classroom
9:30-10:30am Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
NESTA Earth and Space Science Educator Luncheon
11:30am-1:00pm Westin Indianapolis, State
NESTA Astronomy, Space Science, and Planetology Share-a-Thon
2:00-3:00pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
Our Changing Planet
2:00-3:00pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 3
NESTA Rock and Mineral Raffle
3:30-5:00pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
NESTA Annual Membership Meeting
5:30-7:00pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5

It's Not Too Late to Sign Up for Share-a-Thons in Indianapolis!
by Jennifer

As you can see from looking through our session listings above, the National Earth Science Teachers Association will be very involved at the National NSTA conference in Indianapolis.  Join this supportive teachers' network and you can meet other NESTA members at these NSTA conferences. These NESTA members have great ideas for teaching Earth science, and their enthusiasm for the geosciences is contagious! Other membership benefits include receiving The Earth Scientist (a quarterly journal), full voting privileges, access to members-only areas of the NESTA web site, a discount on Windows to the Universe Educator Membership, and the monthly e-mail newsletter, NESTA ENews, that shares new resources, opportunities, alerts, and upcoming events.

NESTA will host four Share-a-Thon sessions at the NSTA Indianapolis. Whether you are a NESTA member or not, you can present at those Share-a-Thon sessions.  It’s not too late to sign up to be a presenter or a volunteer!

This is a fun opportunity to share your activities at a national conference and simultaneously have a chance to meet an extended group of colleagues. For people who are first-time presenters, this is an easy way to get some experience.

Not ready to share an activity? We also need volunteers to help behind-the-scenes. We need volunteers to check in presenters, greet attendees, make packets, and just generally help out. Each volunteer gets a complete set of Share-a-Thon materials.

If you are interested in being a part of a NESTA share-a-thon this March, please email our share-a-thon coordinator, Michelle Harris (michelle.harris@apsva.us). Share-a-thon presenters will need to register for the NSTA meeting, provide complete name and address, and return a confirmation form in order to participate in the event (confirmation forms will be sent out after you have signed up with Michelle). If you have any other questions, please email Michelle for more details.

2012 - What's the Hype?
by Jennifer

The following are thoughts from Patricia Reiff, Director of the Rice Space Institute. She is a great teacher of teachers!

A number of people have gotten nervous questions from students and the public about 2012. (Some cults have already gotten their followers to sell their homes and move underground!!) While having a stash of food and fresh water (or at least iodine tablets) on hand is not a bad idea (we Houstonians remember Hurricane Ike!), you should know that Dec 21, 2012, is NOT going to be an especially dangerous time. It is not even a time of special planetary alignment. It will be the end of a major Mayan calendar cycle, but then the calendar cycle will predictably start again.

For a good Q&A page, see the NASA page at: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html (It also links to an informative Sky and Telescope article).

Another good web page is from David Morrison via the ASP, talking about 2012 and Nibaru. Another web page worth reading is from Cornell.

Now, can we be sure that a huge asteroid or comet won't hit us unexpectedly? Of course not. But NASA has been cataloging "Near Earth Objects" to watch for objects that might cause us harm.

Finally, if you'd like to watch our latest planetarium show on asteroids, meteors and comets, you may do so free on our website. You may order full-length HD DVD versions of our planetarium show compendia, suitable to show in your classroom, for $10.

Thus, at the moment, it doesn't seem we have anything to worry about and 2012 is just a fictional movie. Although the description from the Book of Revelations (Chapter 8) of the end of the world sounds like a pretty decent description of a major multifragment impact (a la Shoemaker Levy 9), there is no known reason why any such impact would occur on Dec 21, 2012, and no object in the NEO list appears that has any significant likelihood of impact near that date.

In fact, major disasters can occur at any time - floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, even the recurrent supervolcano of Yellowstone is "overdue"! So, as the Scouts say, "Be Prepared!", but don't fall for the hype of this particular day. You're a lot more likely to die from texting while driving than from being hit by an asteroid!

Winter Weather
by Julia

Mild temperatures and fairly calm winter weather have brought this year to a close.  But, weather obviously changes - and sometimes very quickly!

We want to remind you about blizzard safety rules. Winter storms can create dangerous driving conditions and cold temperatures can cause frostbite or hypothermia. If you live in an area with cold and snowy winters, be on alert for severe weather advisories. Improperly working furnaces, water heaters or stoves may cause carbon monoxide poisoning, so make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home.  Stay warm and stay safe!

Science History Events in January
by Julia

January is a month rich in astronomical discoveries. On January 7, 1601, Galileo wrote a letter containing the first mention of the moons of Jupiter. He saw three of them first, and then discovered the fourth a few months later. The four major moons of Jupiter, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, are now called the Galilean satellites. Their discovery was a key piece of evidence that the Earth was not the center of the solar system (or universe).

On January 1, 1801, Italian astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi discovered the first asteroid, which he named Ceres after the Greek goddess of grain. In 2006, Ceres was classified as a "dwarf planet", along with Pluto and Eris.

January 31 marks the 54th anniversary of the first U.S. Satellite, Explorer 1. Its successful flight made the United States the second nation in space, following the Soviets who had launched Sputnik 1 just four months earlier. Explorer's major accomplishment was the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts.

On January 14, 2005, the Huygens space probe landed on Titan. It made measurements of Titan's thick atmosphere and took pictures of the moon's surface. A year later, on January 16, 2006, NASA's Stardust mission returned to Earth, bringing with it the first comet samples.

Other notable dates in January include the birthdays of Issac Newton, Ben Franklin (1706-1790), astronomer Simon Marius (1573 - 1624) and astrophysicist Stephen Hawking (born in 1942).

Table of Contents

Q Meteor Shower
Earth at Perihelion
Stephen Hawking
Radon Month
Sustainable Energy
Kepler Mission
Carbon Emissions Up
Comet Lovejoy
Japan Tsunami
Indy Share-Thons
2012 Hype
Winter Weather
Science History

Geoscience Program
Roy ES Award
Einstein Fellowship
Documerica Contest
Moonbuggy Race
Wash Youth Summit
Grad Fellowships
NASA Scholarships
Eco-Hero Awards
Capt Planet
Volvo Adventure
Wildlife Youth Grant
Water Planet Grants
Sustainable Award
Green Natl Conf
Bob the Bunny
Student Robotics
Free Posters!
Train Like Astronaut
Fish and Wildlife
Sci News for Kids
Stop the Beetle!














Teacher Submissions

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Announcements from Partners

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Teachers in Geosciences Program from Mississippi State University

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, jbailey@aoce.msstate.edu, for additional information.

Act Now to Win Award For Earth Science Teaching

More teachers than ever are now eligible to win the Edward C. Roy, Jr., Award for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching. In addition to U.S. teachers, instructors throughout the United Kingdom may now compete for the prize.  This award recognizes one full-time teacher from kindergarten to eighth grade, or the U.K. equivalent, for leadership and innovation in Earth science education.  The deadline for entries is rapidly approaching!  To be eligible for the 2012 competition, applications must be postmarked by January 10, 2012.

The winner will receive a $2,500 prize and a travel grant of $1,000 to attend the NSTA Annual Conference in Indianapolis in March 2011.  The winner will accept the award at the conference. 

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 http://www.agiweb.org/education/awards/ed-roy.  U.K. teachers should visit http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/page10928.html.

Einstein Fellowship - Application Now Open!

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, D.C., 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.

Document Your Environment Student Contest

The National Archives in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is hosting a student multimedia contest, “Document Your Environment”. Drawing inspiration from a collection of environmental photos from the 1970's, this contest invites students ages 13+ to create any type of graphic art, a short video, or a poem using a Documerica photo as a prompt.

The grand prize for this contest will be $500, courtesy of the Foundation for the National Archives.  Entries will be accepted until January 6, 2012. View contest details online at: http://documerica.challenge.gov/.

Annual Great Moonbuggy Race - Register Soon!

NASA is challenging student inventors to gear up for the agency's 19th annual Great Moonbuggy Race. Registration is open for the engineering design and racing contest set to culminate in a two-day event in Huntsville, AL, on April 13-14, 2012.

Participating high schools, colleges and universities may register up to two teams and two vehicles. Registration for U.S. teams closes Feb. 10. International registration closes Jan. 9. For complete rules and to register, visit:

The race is organized annually by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and held at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, both in Huntsville. Since 1994, NASA has challenged student teams to build and race human-powered rovers of their own design. These fast, lightweight moonbuggies address many of the same engineering challenges overcome by Apollo-era lunar rover developers at Marshall in the late 1960's.

Prizes are awarded to the three teams in each division with the fastest final times. NASA and industry sponsors present additional awards for engineering ingenuity, team spirit and overcoming unique challenges -- such as the weekend's most memorable crash!

For images and additional information about past races, visit:

The Washington Youth Summit on the Environment

George Mason University along with National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian National Zoo will host a select number of high school sophomores and juniors in Washington, D.C., June 24-29 to participate in hands-on activities and discussions with leading environmental scientists, engineers, researchers and policy experts. Educators can nominate a student to participate in the Washington Youth Summit on the Environment (WYSE).  The nomination deadline is January 10.

NASA Seeks Space Technology Graduate Fellowship Applicants

Applications for NASA's second class of Space Technology Research Fellowships are being accepted from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of graduate students interested in performing space technology research.  Grants will initiate in fall 2012.

The fellowships will sponsor U.S. graduate student researchers who show significant potential to contribute to NASA's strategic space technology objectives through their studies.  Sponsored by NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist and the Space Technology Program, the fellowships' continuing goal is to provide the nation with a pipeline of highly skilled engineers and technologists to improve America's technological competitiveness. Fellows will perform innovative space technology research today while building the skills necessary to become future technological leaders.

The deadline for submitting applications is Jan. 11, 2012. Information on the fellowships is available at:  http://go.usa.gov/9SL

NOAA's Climate Stewards Education Project (CSEP)

Since 2009, NOAA has been managing an exciting national education initiative for formal and informal educators - the Climate Stewards Education Project (CSEP). The goals of this project are to provide educators with sustained professional development, collaborative tools, and support to build a climate-literate public that is actively engaged in climate stewardship activities. We have had much success during the first few years of the program and are now seeking 40 new educators to join the CSEP community in 2012.

To apply, simply read the Project Invitation Letter and fill out the Application Agreement. Application Agreements should be completed and emailed to: Bruce.Moravchik@noaa.gov by January 13, 2012. Applicants will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis. No applications will be accepted beyond the January 13, 2012, deadline. Applicants accepted into the program will be notified in early February. An introductory Webinar for new participants will be held toward the middle/end of February 2012.

NASA Accepting Applications For Aeronautics Scholarships

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.

Graduate students must apply under a specific research topic to align with NASA's aeronautics research programs. The list of available topics is posted online.

NASA expects to award 20 undergraduate and five graduate scholarships to students in aeronautics or related fields. Undergraduate students entering their second year of study 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.

Graduate students will receive up to $35,000 per year for up to three years, with an opportunity to receive a $10,000 stipend interning at a NASA research center for up to two consecutive summers.

Eco-Hero Awards

A notice for students--

Have you been working to preserve the world around you? Have you been teaching others how to protect the environment? Have you been doing an environmental research project? If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you are a Young Eco-Hero. All Eco-Heroes serve as role models, showing others that each individual is important and can make a difference.

Action For Nature is proud to honor the work of young people between the ages of 8 and 16 who have done creative environmental projects. The winners of AFN’s International Young Eco-Hero Awards program receive a cash prize and a special certificate, as well as public recognition on our web site and elsewhere.

This is a great chance for you to share your environmental activism and creative work. We look forward to again supporting young people from all around the world working to save our planet. Please read the guidelines to see if you are eligible to apply to become a Young Eco-Hero. If eligible, fill out the 2012 Eco-Hero Awards Application. The application deadline is January 15, 2012.

Captain Planet Foundation Grants

The Captain Planet Foundation offers grants ranging from $250 to $2,500 for programs that involve students ages 6 to 18 in hands-on environmental projects.  The projects should promote interaction and cooperation within a group and help young people develop planning and problem-solving skills.  Apply by January 15, 2012.

Volvo Adventure - Young People Bringing the Environment to Life

The Volvo Adventure, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program, is an educational program that rewards environmental activities and the decision-makers of the future. To enter, you form a team of 2 to 5 members (ages 13 to 16), perform an environmental project in your local community, and submit the project online.  The competition deadline is January 31, 2012.

Projects are judged and the best projects are selected for an all-expense-paid trip to Göteborg, Sweden, where teams can win the following prizes:  1st place = $10,000, 2nd place = $6,000 and 3rd place = $4,000.

See the registration details and guidelines for more information.

2012 Wildlife Conservation Youth Engagement Grants

Environmental solutions for the future can begin with your students!  Please pass on the following information:

Whether you’re in a city, rural area or a suburb, wildlife is all around you. In many places, that wildlife faces challenges. If you’re a high school student with a creative idea for conserving and protecting wildlife, Planet Connect is offering grants of $1,000 to implement a project in your local school or community. In addition, all grantees will receive funding to participate in a local summer internship focused on wildlife conservation or natural resources.

Here’s your chance to make a difference!  Apply for a national Planet Connect Youth Engagement Grant today! Visit planetconnect.org/2012wcgrants to learn more and to watch the grant promo video.

Need some help brainstorming project ideas? Check out the grant projects and internship summaries from the 2011 student grantees: planetconnect.org/2011grantwinners

Apply by February 1, 2012.

EarthEcho Water Planet Challenge Grants

The NEA Foundation–EarthEcho Water Planet Challenge Grants are available in the form of Student Achievement Grants to middle and high school public educators. These grants support service-learning programs that improve the health of our water planet. Grants are in the amount of $2,000.

Interested applicants must cite specifically how they are utilizing EarthEcho’s Water Planet Challenge Action Guides in the classroom with their students. Educators can affect change in classrooms, communities, and around the world by encouraging students to take action that helps protect, restore and preserve our water planet. From conserving energy and improving the quality of drinking water to understanding the impact of the Gulf Oil Spill, the Water Planet Challenge’s extensive collection of Action Guides, videos, lesson plans, and service-learning materials will help educators connect with students and jumpstart student awareness and involvement in affecting change.

Apply by February 1, 2012, for a Water Planet Challenge Student Achievement Grant.

Samsung Sustainable Energy Award

The National Environmental Education Foundation and Samsung are partnering to offer the $10,000 Sustainable Energy Award.  $10,000 awards will be presented to the top three high schools that can demonstrate how they have engaged students and teachers in school-wide energy savings through the creative and innovative use of technology. Applications are due February 10, 2012.  Apply now!

Schools across the nation are looking for creative ways to cut spending without compromising the quality of the education they deliver. Increasing energy efficiency offers many opportunities for meeting that challenge. It is estimated that America’s primary and secondary schools spend more than $6 billion annually to power their facilities.  But schools can reduce their costs by as much as 30 percent by implementing energy-saving measures.

Energy efficiency also provides an invaluable opportunity for hands-on learning for students inside their own school building. Through the application of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), students are empowered to identify solutions that cut spending and reduce energy use, giving them—and their entire community—a healthier environment and a sense of school pride. Technology, in particular, can improve school-wide energy efficiency through the use of energy-efficient fixtures such as solar panels and meters that monitor energy use. The use of tools such as smart meters allows schools to track energy and cost savings and integrate these activities into their lessons.

Second Annual Green Schools National Conference

Be a part of the only national gathering of K-12 leaders and educators coming together to make their schools and districts green & healthy centers of academic excellence.  This national conference will be held February 27-29, 2012, in Denver, Colorado.

The conference will include over 100 breakout sessions, exhibits, and chances to network with other like-minded peers from across the country.  Find out more at http://www.greenschoolsnationalconference.org/index.php

Bob the Bunny's Environmental Cartoon Competition

Bob the Bunny's environmental competition is aimed at young adventurers aged 10-12 years old.

To enter, you form a team of 1 to 3 members, identify a local environmental issue and create a cartoon strip illustrating the issue and actions that you might take to solve the problem. Submissions should be sent in by February 29, 2012.

Next year's winning team will be sent to the 2012 Volvo Adventure Final (an event you don't want to miss!). See the Volvo Adventure website for more details on how to register for the Bob the Bunny contest.

Student FIRST Robotics Competition

NASA is continuing its strong support for the annual FIRST Robotics Competition, which inspires student interest in science, technology, and mathematics. The agency is awarding grants totaling $1,386,500 for student teams in 37 states to participate in FIRST, or For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

Each FIRST team receives an identical kit of parts and has six weeks to design and build a robot. Other than dimension and weight limitations and other technical restrictions, the look and function of the robot is up to each team. NASA volunteers support many teams throughout the process.

The competition is structured like a professional athletic event and teams compete in an arena the size of a small basketball court.  Robots must have offensive and defensive capabilities. Teams collaborate to complete tasks, while simultaneously preventing opposing teams from completing the same activity.

This year, 45 regional competitions will take place in the U.S., along with four additional international competitions in March and April. The FIRST Championship competition will be held in St. Louis in April.

For more information, visit:  http://robotics.nasa.gov

BatsLIVE - A Distance Learning Adventure!

Bats are vital to healthy ecosystems and human economies worldwide. As primary predators of night-flying insects, bats consume enormous quantities of agricultural pests and reduce the need for chemical pesticides.

BatsLIVE is a free education program for educators and children in grades 4-8 grades that will bring bat conservation to life in the classroom or community.

Check out resources from BatsLIVE and mark your calendar for a live webcast on May 17, 2012!  Find out more about bats by visiting the Year of the Bat (2011-2012) web site.

Life of the Forest Posters

Learn about tree rings, seeds, leaves, bark, and needles, and learn how trees eat, drink, and breathe using these colorful posters from the International Paper Learning Center.  Each 16 x 20 inch poster features photos and facts about the topic (e.g., did you know that “happy” trees produce evenly spaced tree rings?) and includes an accompanying handout. K-6 teachers can order a free poster set or download them directly from the web.

NASA Challenges Students To Train Like An Astronaut

An engaging new NASA program brings the excitement of space exploration to children learning to live a healthy lifestyle. Inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiativeNASA's Train Like an Astronaut program aims to increase opportunities both in and out of school for kids to become more physically and mentally active.

The program uses the excitement of space exploration and astronaut training to challenge, inspire and educate kids to set physical fitness goals and practice fitness and proper nutrition. Kids will explore mission challenges, learn the science behind nutrition and learn to train like an astronaut.

The activities align with national education standards that are part of physical education and health curriculum in schools throughout the country. Teachers can easily modify the activities to create an environment that supports all learners.  No special equipment is required and the activities involve no heavy lifting. Although designed for 8-12 year olds, the program is for anyone who is curious about space exploration and what it takes to be an astronaut.  Participants simply visit the website, find a favorite exercise, and get started.

New Resources from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies

The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) has released three new products for educators to connect more people, especially youth, to the outdoors and to increase our nation's understanding of how fish and wildlife and their habitats are conserved. The three products are Benchmarks for Conservation LiteracyOutdoor Skills Education Handbook, and Sustainable Tomorrow - A Teachers Guidebook for Applying Systems Thinking to Environmental Education Curricula.  Designed for teachers of grades 9-12, Sustainable Tomorrow uses lessons from Project WILD, Project WET and Project Learning Tree.

Science News for Kids

Can lizards learn?  Will the Sun’s cycle stay the same?  What are aftershocks?  Find answers to these questions and delve into more of life's curiosities at Science News for Kids.  The site presents timely science stories categorized by subject, along with suggestions for hands-on activities, books, articles, and web resources.

Science News for Kids is run by the Society for Science and the Public.

Women@NASA Website Encourages Girls to Pursue STEM Careers

NASA has expanded its Women@NASA website to include Aspire 2 Inspire, a new feature aimed at helping middle school girls explore education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The site features four short films and one overview film that explore the careers and backgrounds of early-career women who work for NASA in each of the STEM areas. A list of community organizations and NASA-affiliated outreach programs with a STEM emphasis is also available.

The site features four Twitter feeds where visiting girls can submit questions to the young women featured in the films.

USDA Stop the Beetle Web Site

We recently created a classroom Activity called Changing Planet:  Bark Beetle Outbreaks.

There is a lot of information available about the Emerald Ash Borer beetle as well.  USDA even has a kid's corner where students can play a role in helping to protect ash trees.  These creative tools and activities will enable you to learn more about the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle (EAB) and protect our precious ash trees — all while having lots of fun.

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