January 2013

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Happy New Year!
by Roberta

Happy New Year to all subscribers of the Windows to the Universe Educator Newsletter!  We hope you have all enjoyed a relaxing holiday 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 Louisville, Atlanta, and Phoenix, as well as new subscribers from the Science Teachers Association of New York conference in Rochester and the AGU-NESTA GIFT workshop in San Francisco!  We look forward to seeing those of you who can make it to our workshops in April in San Antonio - please see a list of our NSTA events below.  Note also that our mobile version is now live - please enjoy!

Finally, just a reminder to those of you who are Windows to the Universe Educator Members - be sure to login to the website to get free access to all the formatted activities, worksheets, and PowerPoints available to you as members.  Non-members can access html versions of these resources on the website at no charge, or download individual formatted resources for a small fee in the Teacher Resources/Activities section.

Earth at Perihelion

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 which 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 2013, Earth will pass through perihelion on January 1 at 11pm CST (January 2, 05 UT).  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 bodies have orbits which 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:

Quadrantid Meteor Shower January 3rd

The first meteor shower of the New Year peaks on January 3rd, in the wee hours of the night just before dawn.  A waning gibbous moon does not provide a completely dark sky for this year's show, which can otherwise challenge the Perseids and Geminids in numbers (the Quadrantids can produce over 60 meteors per hour in a dark sky).

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.  Look for the Quadrantids on the morning of January 3rd; to learn more about them, click here.

The Mobile Version of Windows to the Universe is Live!

The mobile version of Windows to the Universe is live!  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.  Do not forget to tell us your phone model and the page where you noticed the problem.  Thanks!  We appreciate your feedback!

New Views of the Earth at Night

Scientists have unveiled an unprecedented look at our planet at night.  A global composite image, constructed using cloud-free night images from a new NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite, shows the glow of natural and human-built phenomena across the planet in greater detail than ever before.

Many satellites are equipped to look at Earth during the day, when they can observe our planet fully illuminated by the sun.  With a new sensor onboard the NASA-NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (NPP) satellite launched last year, scientists can now observe Earth's atmosphere and surface during nighttime hours.  The sensor, the day-night band of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), is sensitive enough to detect the nocturnal glow produced by Earth's atmosphere and the light from a single ship in the sea.

"For all the reasons that we need to see Earth during the day, we also need to see Earth at night," said Steve Miller, a researcher at NOAA's Colorado State University Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere.  "Unlike humans, the Earth never sleeps."

The day-night band observed Hurricane Sandy, illuminated by moonlight, making landfall over New Jersey on the evening of Oct. 29.  Night images showed the widespread power outages that left millions in darkness in the wake of the storm.  With its night view, VIIRS is able to detect a more complete view of storms and other weather conditions, such as fog, that are difficult to discern with infrared, or thermal, sensors.  Night is also when many types of clouds begin to form.

For images and additional information, visit:  http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/NPP/news/earth-at-night.html

NASA Spacecraft Finds New Evidence for Water Ice on Mercury

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft studying Mercury has provided compelling support for the long-held hypothesis that the planet harbors abundant water ice and other frozen volatile materials within its permanently shadowed polar craters.

MESSENGER's onboard instruments have been studying Mercury since March 2011.  Scientists are seeing clearly for the first time a chapter in the story of how the inner planets, including Earth, acquired their water and some of the chemical building blocks for life.

Mercury, the closest planet to the sun, seems to be an unlikely place to find ice.  However, the tilt of Mercury's rotational axis is less than 1 degree, and as a result, there are pockets at the planet's poles that never see sunlight.  The new observations from MESSENGER support the idea that ice is the major constituent of Mercury's north polar deposits.  These measurements also reveal ice is exposed at the surface in the coldest areas, but buried beneath unusually dark material across most of the deposits.  This dark material is believed to be a mix of complex organic compounds delivered to Mercury by the impacts of comets and asteroids.

For more information about the Mercury mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/messenger

Climate Models Project Increase in U.S. Wildfire Risk

Scientists using NASA satellite data and climate models have projected that drier conditions will likely cause increased fire activity across the United States in coming decades.  They used climate projections to examine how the length and strength of fire seasons are expected to change under future climate conditions, and their results suggest more fire seasons that are longer and stronger across all regions of the U.S. in the next 30-50 years. 

Through August of this year, the U.S. burned area topped 2.5 million hectares (6.17 million acres).  As the U.S. land area burned by fire each year has increased significantly in the past 25 years, so too have carbon dioxide emissions, which is something many scientists are concerned about. 

For images and additional information on this research, visit:

What Causes Wind?

The first day of winter has come and with it -- wind!  A howling wind has ushered winter in to the mid-Atlantic.  When you think of windy places, Chicago comes to mind or Manhattan with the skyscrapers creating 'wind tunnels', but not the generally the mid-Atlantic!

So what causes wind? It's a question students at any grade level might ask you. The simple answer is that wind is caused by differences in atmospheric pressure. Air flows from an area of high pressure to an area of lower pressure, and this movement is what we feel as wind. Usually, the differences in pressure are caused by differences in how the sun's energy is absorbed. Here's an example: in a coastal region, land usually heats up more quickly than the ocean when the sun is shining on them. As the air above the land warms, it begins to rise, and as it does that, the air pressure at the surface drops. There is now a pressure difference between the air over the ocean and the air over the coast -- the pressure over the sea is higher, and air will flow from over the sea to over the land. This creates what we know as a sea breeze -- a cool wind coming from off the ocean.

Antarctica is consistently the windiest place on Earth. It is not unusual to have average wind speeds of 25 mph (40.2 kph).  Other places in Antarctica are even windier and that makes for obviously harsh living conditions.  At the Princess Elisabeth research station in Antarctica, average wind speeds are 53 mph (85.3 kph) and can gust up to 200 mph (321.9 kph). But residents are putting that wind to good use!  This research station has recently installed eight wind turbines and is now the first zero emission facility in Antarctica.  What a great alternative to diesel generators used more prominently in Antarctica.

Interested in Geology?

Geology is the study of the Earth, and many features and processes that we see on Earth occur on other planets as well. Our geology section provides extensive information about minerals, rocks and the rock cycle, Earth's layers and moving plates, fossils and Earth history, as well as information about careers in geoscience. Our Teacher Resources section includes numerous classroom activities on topics in Geology and Geography for you to try in your classroom.  Enjoy your geologic explorations on Windows to the Universe!

Dante's Peak Movie Review - Classroom Activity

We have many classroom activities on our web site. Once on the Classroom Activity page, use the top button bar to choose Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced classroom activities.

One of my students' favorite activities when I was teaching Earth science was the Dante's Peak Movie Review. In the activity, students pretend to be expert volcanologists writing a movie review of Dante's Peak for a local newspaper. Students get to review and demonstrate their knowledge of volcanoes and you get to bring writing into your science classroom. A win-win situation!

NESTA at the 2013 National Conference in San Antonio

Thursday, April 11, 2013

8:00am-2:30pm NESTA Board of Directors Meeting, Independence Room, Grand Hyatt Hotel

Friday, April 12, 2013

9:30am Geology Share-a-Thon, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A

11:00am NESTA Ocean and Atmosphere Share-a-Thon, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A

12:30pm NESTA Earth System Science Share-a-Thon, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A

2:00pm Climate Change Classroom Toolkit, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A

3:30pm Let's Get Well Grounded!, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A

6:30-8:00pm NESTA Friends of Earth and Space Science Reception, Lone Star D, Grand Hyatt Hotel

Saturday, April 13, 2013

8:00am Activities in Earth System Science, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A

9:30am Exploring Planetary Science and Astronomy - What Would Galileo Do?, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A

11:00am NESTA Space Science Share-a-Thon, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A

12:30pm NESTA Advances in Earth and Space Science Lunchtime Lecture by Dr. Mark Nielsen, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A

2:00pm Our Changing Planet, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A

3:30pm NESTA Rock and Mineral Raffle, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A

5:00pm NESTA Annual Membership Meeting, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A

Join NESTA and Windows to the Universe Today!

Are you looking for resources and support to help you bring the best to your students?  Are you concerned about the state of Earth and space science education today?  Now is the time to join the National Earth Science Teachers Association! Membership benefits are many and include receiving The Earth Scientist (a quarterly journal), full voting privileges, access to members-only areas of the NESTA web site and the monthly e-mail newsletter that shares new resources, opportunities, alerts, and upcoming events.  There are also many special NESTA events at professional meetings. Plug into this supportive network. Cost is low!  Join today!

Available for only $10/year for NESTA members (50% off the non-NESTA rate), you can also join Windows to the Universe as an Educator member.  Experience benefits tailored just for educators!

Windows to the Universe also provides these other membership and partnership opportunities:

Classroom Activities and Kits

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.

New Earth and Space Science DVDs on the Windows to the Universe Online Store

We've 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!

Table of Contents

Earth at Perihelion
Meteor Shower
Mobile Site is Live!
Earth at Night
Ice on Mercury
Increased Wildfires
What Causes Wind?
Browse Geology Sect
Dante's Peak Review
NESTA in San Antonio
Join NESTA and W2U!
Classroom Activities
DVDs-Online Store

Girls in STEM
Moonbuggy Race
Robot Challenge
Edward C. Roy Award
Aero Scholarships
AMS DataStreme Proj
Talk to Astronauts!
EE Award
Volvo Competition
Toshiba Am Grants
Green Schools Conf
Bob the Bunny
Painting Competition
Climate Diversity
Outdoor Apps
OEST Awards
Solar Max Coming!
Meteorite Hunters
Mastodon Matrix
Young Meteorologist
Spot Space Station
Climate Fact Sheets
Big Ideas Videos














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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 http://www.windows2universe.org/offers.html.

NASA Offers High School Girls A Chance To Jump-Start Their Future

NASA is offering high school junior girls from across the United States an opportunity to jump-start their future by participating in the Women In STEM High School (WISH) Aerospace Scholars program for 2013.

WISH participants will participate in online forums focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) topics, and complete online activities to qualify for a six-day summer experience at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.  During the summer experience, they will work with mentors to design a mission to Mars, interact with NASA female role models, and mingle with scientists and engineers as they learn about careers in STEM.

Applications are due Jan. 3.  Applicants must be U.S. citizens, female high school juniors with a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or higher and interested in STEM.  They must have access to the Internet and e-mail, be able to commit to the project for one year and participate in the Johnson summer program in 2013.

WISH Aerospace Scholars is sponsored by NASA's Education Flights Project Office and is offered at no cost to the participants.  Questions about WISH may be directed to JSC-NHAS@mail.nasa.gov.

To learn more about NASA's Women In STEM High School Aerospace Scholars, visit:  http://wish.aerospacescholars.org/

Keeping The Wheels Turning: Registration Open For 20th Annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race

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 students' work will culminate in two days of competitive racing April 26-27, 2013, at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. NASA created the event two decades ago to complement classroom learning, provide young thinkers and builders with real-world engineering experience and inspire them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- the STEM fields.

International registration for the 2013 race closes Jan. 7.  Registration for U.S. teams closes Feb. 4.  Participating high schools, colleges and universities may each register up to two teams and two vehicles. For complete rules and to register, visit http://moonbuggy.msfc.nasa.gov

For archived footage, images or information about past competitions, visit http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nasa-msfc or http://www.nasa.gov/moonbuggy

NASA-WPI 2013 Robot Prize Competition - Registration Deadline Approaching!

NASA and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, MA, are seeking teams to compete in this year's robot technology demonstration competition, which offers as much as $1.5 million in prize money.  The registration deadline is approaching - January 7.

During the 2013 NASA-WPI Sample Return Robot Challenge, teams will compete to demonstrate that a robot can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies.  Innovations stemming from this challenge may improve NASA's capability to explore a variety of destinations in space, and may enhance the nation's robotic technology for use in industries and applications on Earth.

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

Act Now to Win the Edward C. Roy Jr., Award for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching

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.

Applicants will be judged based on their dedication to and enthusiasm for teaching, as well as their expertise in crafting and delivering Earth science instruction to their students. The winner of the Edward C. Roy Award will receive a cash prize and an additional travel grant to attend the 2013 National Science Teachers Association Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, April 11-14, 2013. To be eligible, applications must be postmarked by January 10, 2013.

The Edward C. Roy Award is given in honor of Dr. Edward C. Roy Jr., a strong and dedicated supporter of Earth science education. A past president of AGI and former chair of the AGI Education Advisory Committee, Roy was a lifelong supporter of teachers and students of all ages.

For more information on award requirements, application procedures, and deadlines, please visit http://www.agiweb.org/education/awards/ed-roy/.

NASA Accepting Applications for Aeronautics Scholarships

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.

Graduate students will receive a $35,000 stipend per year and $11,000 for educational expenses 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. Graduate students must apply under a specific research topic to align with NASA's aeronautics research programs.

For details about this scholarship program, research topics for graduate students, and the application process, visit:  http://nasa.asee.org/

AMS DataStreme Atmosphere, Ocean, and Earth’s Climate System

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 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.


College students - get your school to participate in a friendly competition to see who can recycle the most on campus.  EPA's Wastewise is a co-sponsor.  The registration deadline is January 17.  Check out the RecyleMania tournament today!

NASA Offers Opportunities for Students to Talk to Astronauts in Space in 2013

NASA is offering opportunities for schools and educational groups to speak with astronauts aboard the International Space Station to learn about living and working in space.  Crewmembers will be available for question and answer sessions in 2013.

NASA offers two options for students to interact with astronauts -- in-flight education downlinks and Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) opportunities.  Downlinks are 20-minute multimedia events where participants see and hear crewmembers live from space, but the crew has only audio connectivity.  The downlinks are broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency's website.  ARISS events are 10-minute sessions during which participants speak with the crew through amateur radio.

U.S. educational organizations such as museums, science centers, local school districts, national and regional education organizations, and local, state and federal government agencies are eligible to participate.  NASA provides these opportunities through the Teaching from Space and ARISS projects at no cost to the host organization and will work with the host institution to plan the events.  Proposals for in-flight education downlinks are due Jan. 18.  Proposals for ARISS are due Jan. 28.

For more information about downlinks, send an email to JSC-Teaching-From-Space@mail.nasa.gov.  For more information about ARISS, send an email to JSC-TFS-ARISS@mail.nasa.gov.

For more information about Teaching from Space and in-flight education downlinks:  http://www.nasa.gov/education/tfs/downlinks

For more information about ARISS:  http://www.nasa.gov/education/tfs/ariss

The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators

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.

Meet the 2011-12 winners: http://www.epa.gov/education/teacheraward/winners.html

ExploraVision Science Competition

The Toshiba/NSTA ExploraVision is a science competition that encourages students of all grade levels to imagine what technology might be like in the future.  Teacher sponsors lead groups of students in researching and developing a project idea.  Regional winners will receive a Toshiba product, national finalists will win a trip to Washington, D.C., and overall winners will receive U.S. EE Savings Bonds worth $10,000 at maturity for first place and $5,000 at maturity for second place.  The entry deadline is January 31, 2013.

Volvo Adventure Competition

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, 2013.

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.

Toshiba America Foundation Grants

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 (the next semiannual deadline is February 1st!). 

3rd Annual Green Schools National Conference

The Green Schools National Conference examines environmental literacy, energy efficiency, healthier food, eco-friendly purchasing and more.  The 3rd annual Green Schools National Conference, set for Feb. 22-24, 2013, in West Palm Beach, FL, is sponsored by the Green Schools National Network (GSNN) and is focused on "developing healthy and sustainable schools across America."  Regular registration is now through February 1st.

The Green Schools National Network advances the national green and healthy schools movement by connecting like-minded and passionate education, non-profit, corporate and public sector individuals and organizations.

Bob the Bunny 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 28, 2013.

The winning team will be sent to the 2013 Volvo Adventure Final in Sweden (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.

Tunza International Children's Painting Competition

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.

AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project

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.

Top 10 Apps for Taking Technology Outdoors

Environmental Education Week 2013 will be held April 14-20, and will explore how technology can enhance environmental learning both inside and outside the classroom.  This year's official theme is Greening STEM:  Taking Technology Outdoors.

As part of Taking Technology Outdoors, EE Week will highlight the growing opportunity to engage today's students in learning about the environment with new technologies that enable scientific research and develop 21st century skills, including creativity, innovation, communication and collaboration.  

Get a jump-start by accessing the top 10 Apps for taking technology outdoors.

Apply for an Outstanding Earth Science Teacher Award

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.

Here Comes the Solar Maximum!

In 1859, the largest recorded coronal mass ejection (CME) from the sun, known as the Carrington Event, disrupted what little electrical technology was used at the time.  Back then, that meant the temporary disruption of the telegraph system.  Today, without an effective warning mechanism in place, a solar storm of that magnitude could wreak havoc on our technology-dependent world. And with the solar maximum predicted to occur later this year, scientists and policymakers are scrambling to prepare us for when the next big solar storm hits.

CMEs occur when the sun’s magnetic field becomes so entangled that it "snaps," releasing an enormous amount of energy.  In order to detect these events, a variety of satellites and ground-based observatories stare at the sun 24 hours a day, monitoring for solar activity.  While science's tools to observe and study this behavior are improving, we still don’t know when CMEs will occur until they already have.

The Advanced Composition Explorer, or ACE satellite, is the current early-warning system for a CME.  Floating approximately 1.5 million kilometers above the planet at the Earth-sun gravitational equilibrium, the ACE satellite can provide up to 60 minutes of warning before a CME impact. Solar flares, on the other hand, are currently impossible to forewarn – when you see a solar flare, it is already here.  But a team of scientists out of Purdue University is working on a way to predict solar activity half a day before it happens, not by monitoring the sun, but by observing something here on Earth: the rate at which radioactive elements decay. Could this controversial method protect us from future solar activity?  Read the story online in the Earth magazine and find out at http://bit.ly/UvrPf3.

Antarctic Meteorite Hunters

For more than 35 years, scientists from the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) program have been scouring glacial landscapes in search of meteorites.  Since 1976, teams of physicists, meteorite specialists, and mountaineers have recovered thousands of untouched specimens from meteoroids, the moon and even Mars.  Despite subzero temperatures and razor-sharp winds, scientists are lining up for the chance to experience the ultimate hunt for alien objects.

ANSMET teams either conduct systematic searches of a region or work as scout teams making preliminary investigations of new sites that might be worth further exploration.  Once discovered, the meteorites are carefully cataloged in the field and sent to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., where they are distributed to scientists for further research.  What secrets will new specimens; those locked away in the ice and yet to be discovered, hold about our solar system and the universe?  Read the EARTH magazine story online and find out at http://bit.ly/UtXc9R.

Spinoff Technology Highlighted by Celebrities

June Lockhart, William Shatner and Wil Wheaton are the latest entertainment icons featured in new public service announcements that highlight how some of NASA's outstanding accomplishments in space have improved our life on Earth.

Spanning generations of silver screen and television portrayals of humanity's exploration of space, the accomplished actors talk about how science fiction has become science fact, resulting in new commercial products and services that are tangible returns on investments in space technology.  Much of the technology we rely on daily was developed by NASA for space exploration and then adapted or enhanced for use here on Earth.  This includes many technologies used in schools, homes, cars, computers and American industry.

In addition, hundreds of examples of NASA spinoff technologies and innovations adapted for use in our everyday lives are available on NASA's Spinoff website at:  http://spinoff.nasa.gov

Mastodon Matrix Project

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)

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.

Weather inspires curiosity and awe, 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.

Spot The Space Station Over Your Backyard With New NASA Service

NASA announced a new service to help people see the International Space Station 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.

"It's really remarkable to see the space station fly overhead and to realize humans built an orbital complex that can be spotted from Earth by almost anyone looking up at just the right moment," said William Gerstenmaier, NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations. "We're accomplishing science on the space station that is helping to improve life on Earth and paving the way for future exploration of deep space."

When the space station is visible -- typically at dawn and dusk -- it is the brightest object in the night sky, other than the moon. On a clear night, the station is visible as a fast moving point of light, similar in size and brightness to the planet Venus.

The ISS's trajectory passes over more than 90% of Earth's population.  To sign up for "Spot the Station," visit:  http://spotthestation.nasa.gov

In-Depth Climate Fact Sheets from Earth Gauge

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 Arctic amplification feedbacks and links to midlatitude weather (written in December 2012), 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!

Explore ‘Big Ideas’ in Award-Winning Videos

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.

Big Ideas videos are brief video clips that bring to life the big ideas of Earth science - the nine core concepts that everyone should know.  The Earth Science Literacy Initiative, funded by the National Science Foundation, has codified these underlying understandings of Earth science which form the basis of the Big Ideas videos.

View the Big Ideas videos on YouTube or TeacherTube.  The Earth Science Week web site provides related resources. Educators can find dozens of classroom activities to help students build understanding of the “big ideas” online at http://www.earthsciweek.org/forteachers/bigideas/main.html.

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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.