March 2007

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements

Lots Going on This Month!

A common saying here is the March comes "in like a lion" and "out like a lamb." Certainly, here in Boulder Colorado the weather seems to be improving a bit, which is very welcome to me! From the perspective of Windows to the Universe, though, I think the month will remain a "lion" throughout!

March 2007 is an exciting month for the Earth and space sciences. March 1 marks the beginning of the International Polar Year, and Windows to the Universe has developed a new section, Earth’s Polar Regions, to provide information and resources for you to use in your classrooms (with support from the US National Science Foundation and the National Center for Atmospheric Research). We will be adding additional resources to this new section over coming months. At the end of the month, the Windows to the Universe team will be out in force at the National Science Teachers Association meeting in St. Louis, Missouri (see our list of sessions below). Partners are also announcing events this month (see our Partner Listings).

Looking ahead, we will be offering presentations at two meetings outside the US in coming months. I will make a presentation at the Geophysical Information for Teachers (GIFT) Workshop at the European Geophysical Union meeting April 15-20 in Vienna, Austria (EGU meeting website, list of educational symposia). Also, Windows to the Universe staff will be present at the American Geophysical Union meeting in Acapulco, Mexico May 22-25, where they will present at the Geophysical Information for Teachers (GIFT) Workshop and Family Day event associated with the meeting, in addition to presentations in sessions at the meeting (AGU meeting website).

New Horizons Spacecraft at Jupiter

NASA's New Horizons space mission to Pluto zipped past Jupiter on February 28th. The massive gas giant planet gave the spacecraft a gravity assist "slingshot" boost, adding 4 km/sec (9,000 mph) to its speed and cutting years off its long journey to Pluto. Even with this boost, New Horizons won't reach distant Pluto until 2015! The Jupiter flyby also provided the New Horizons team with a warm-up test run for the Pluto flyby... the scientists and engineers practiced the complex choreography involved in a flyby... turning instruments on and off at the right times, properly pivoting the spacecraft, and relaying the precious data back to Earth via radio signals. New Horizons' suite of modern, sophisticated instruments should also provide us with new insights about Jupiter. We'll update the New Horizons Jupiter flyby page in early March, shortly after the event, with results from this gas giant close encounter. Stay tuned!

Women in Science History

March is Women's History Month. Read about some notable women scientists on Windows to the Universe:

  • En Hedu' Anna - the first female name to be recorded in technical history. She was a priestess in Babylon and along with other priests contributed to early astronomy and mathematics.
  • Hypatia (370-415) - an Egyptian mathematician and philosopher. She was killed due to her teachings, which were considered pagan.
  • Maria Winkelmann Kirch (1670-1720) - a German astronomer.
  • Nicole-Reine Lepaute (1723-1788) - a French astronomer.
  • Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) - a German astronomer who worked alongside her brother, astronomer William Herschel. Her birthday is coming March 16.
  • Ada Byron (1815-1852) - a British mathematician and one of the pioneers in computer programming.
  • Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) - an American astronomer and the first female professor of astronomy in the United States.
  • Williamina Fleming (1857-1911) - an American astronomer.
  • Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868-1921) - an American astronomer who discovered cepheid variables.
  • Florence Bascom (1862-1945) - an American geologist.
  • Marie Curie (1867-1934) - a Polish physicist and chemist who received two Nobel prizes for her studies in radioactivity.
  • Jocelyn Bell Burnell (born in 1943) - a British astronomer who discovered pulsars.
  • Evelyn Granville (born in 1924) - an American mathematician who contributed to NASA's Space Shuttle program.

New on Windows to the Universe: Earth’s Polar Regions!

To celebrate the start of International Polar Year (IPY) we are launching a new section of Windows to the Universe that is all about Earth’s Polar Regions! During IPY scientists from all over the world will collaboratively study the Earth’s polar regions and it is a wonderful time for all of us to learn more about the Polar regions as well. We invite you and your students to explore the geography, atmosphere, living things, climate change, oceans, ice, magnetism, exploration, and cultures of Earth’s Polar Regions. We will be adding to this wealth of science content and related humanities connections throughout the next year so check back often for new content!

Celebrate IPY and International Earth Day This Month

The Opening Ceremonies for International Polar Year (IPY) will take place on March 1, 2007. You can take place in the celebrations which will be happening around the world. There are even special events for Educators that will be celebrated at schools, museums and science centers around the world. You can participate without leaving your classroom by presenting an icy activity or by launching a virtual balloon.

This isn't the first IPY to be celebrated. Interested in the history behind this event?

Also, don't miss out on celebrating International Earth Day with your students. It is celebrated on the spring equinox which is on March 20 this year.

Two eclipses in one month!

It appears that the Moon and the Sun are fighting for the spotlight this month and we are all invited to enjoy the performance!

Solar and lunar eclipses can be enjoyed purely as a spectacle, a means of appreciating nature in a fun way. They can also be an opportunity for careful scientific observations. These two events are not to be missed! They also sound like a great opportunity to plan an eclipse party!

Total Lunar Eclipse - March 3

A lunar eclipse can be observed from one’s own backyard. The passage of the Moon through the Earth’s shadow is equally visible from all places within the hemisphere where the Moon is above the local horizon. Moreover, coming as it does early on a Saturday evening when the Moon rises, this eclipse will be easily seen by millions of people in the Eastern parts of the United States and Canada who will be able to see it during normal waking hours.

This lunar eclipse can be seen with the unaided eye, but binoculars will certainly improve the view. For visual observations, a small telescope is recommended. If you want to know more about this lunar eclipse, please click here!

Partial Solar Eclipse - March 19

Partial solar eclipses occur when the penumbra of the Moon's shadow passes over a region on the Earth's surface and the surface of the Sun is only partially blocked. As the Moon passes between the Sun and the Earth, the Moon gradually 'covers' more and more of the Sun as seen from Earth.

Remember to never stare at the Sun with the naked eye. Even if only 1% of the Sun's disc is visible, it is still strong enough to cause damage. Children, especially, should be well supervised. If you want to know more about this solar eclipse please click here!

According to Mamaiuran mythology, Kuat whom represented the Sun, and Iae who represented the moon were known to play with daylight and moon shadows!

Windows to the Universe Events at NSTA in St. Louis

Will you be at the NSTA National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri (29-31 March)? If so, we invite you to participate in one or more of the Windows to the Universe sessions listed below. (To find out more about these workshops, visit our Workshops page.)

Date/Time Location
Playing with Ecosystem Science: Informal Modeling Games to Expore the Delicate Balance in Watery Places
29 March,
America's Center
Room 261
National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) Share-a-Thon I
30 March,
Adam's Mark Hotel, St. Louis E
National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) Share-a-Thon II
30 March,
Adam's Mark Hotel, St. Louis E
Interactive Simulations and Hands-On Activities Across the Earth and Space Sciences
30 March,
Adam's Mark Hotel, Promenade F
National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA)/National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) Share-a-Thon III
31 March,
Adam's Mark Hotel, St. Louis E
Climate Change: Classroom Tools to Explore the Past, Present, and Future
31 March,
12:30 - 13:30
Adam's Mark Hotel, Directors Row 27
WALLS! Water, Air, Land, Life and Space!
31 March,
Adam's Mark Hotel, St. Louis B

If you can't make it to our sessions, don't forget to come by our booth in the exhibit area (Booth number: 1074) , where we will have lots of Windows to the Universe resources available for you!

New Climate Change Presentation available for Teachers

I recently had the opportunity to give a presentation to teachers in southern Michigan on climate change, including the recent results released in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - Summary for Policy Makers on 2 February, 2007. If you'd like to see the presentation, and use it for your educational purposes, please check it out at our Teacher Resources page for this workshop - click on the link for "Main Presentation".

Table of Contents

New Horizons Jupiter
Women scientists
Polar Regions
Sun-Moon dance
Climate Change PPT
NCAR Online Course
Year of Science!









Teacher Submissions

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Announcements from Partners

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National Earth Science Teachers Association Events at NSTA in St. Louis

NESTA will offer numerous events and sessions at the upcoming NSTA Conference this Spring in St. Louis, Missouri, including:

Wednesday, March 28, 2007,

NESTA Field Trip - A Field Study of the Geologic Wonders of Southeastern Missouri: Elephant Rocks, Johnson Shutins, and the Taum Sauk and Hughes Mountains
For more information about the Field Trip,
click here! Register for the Field Trip with this pdf form (you must send in your registration to participate by March 15, 2007).

Friday, March 30, 2007,
all events in Adam's Mark Hotel, St. Louis Room E

* 9:30-10:30 - NESTA Share-a-thon I

* 11:00-12:00 - NESTA Share-a-thon II

Saturday, March 31, 2007
all events in Adam's Mark Hotel

NESTA Earth and Space Science Education Resource Day!

* 7:00-8:30 - NESTA Earth and Space Science Resource Day Breakfast
Adam's Mark Hotel, St. Louis Room H
Speaker Dr. Claudia Alexander, JPL, "Comparing Jupiter and Saturn: Decades of Exploration with NASA's Galileo and Cassini Spacecraft"
Tickets for the breakfast must be purchased through NESTA by March 15, 2007 - see this registration form for more information.

All subsequent events in St. Louis Room E

* 09:30-10:30 - NESTA/NAGT Share-a-Thon III

* 11:00-12:00 - Climate Archives: Reconstructing the Past to Predict the Future by Dr. Jennifer R. Smith, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

* 12:30-13:30 - Civilization Exists Through Geologic Consent by Dr. Michael Wysession, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

* 14:00-15:00 - Using National Parks to Teach Earth and Evnironmental Science by Dr. Robert F. Dymek, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

* 15:00-16:30 - NESTA Rock and Mineral Raffle and Social Hour

* 16:30-18:00 - NESTA Annual Membership Meeting

Please join us!

NCAR Climate Change Online Course Offering: Earth System Science - a Climate Change Perspective

Are you seeking a K-12 professional development opportunity that will enhance your qualifications, competency, and self-confidence in integrating Earth system science, climate, and global change into your science classroom? The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is offering a series of online courses designed for middle and high school science educators called Climate Discovery. Apply now to participate in the first part the series, Introduction to Earth's Climate. Register soon!

Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science

The Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science (COPUS) is a collaborative project of the scientific research and education community. Organizations in COPUS form a national network, sharing resources and leveraging efforts to achieve a greater public understanding of the nature of science and its value. To learn more about participating in COPUS, visit

One of the first projects of COPUS is the Year of Science 2009 - a national year-long celebration of science to engage the public in science and improve public understanding about the nature and processes of science. Visit

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements