Well, That Was Exciting!
Well, that was exciting! As I went into class on the morning of February 15, I was expecting to tell the class about the rapidly approaching near miss by asteroid DA14... But boy, did I get their attention with the news about the Chebarkul meteorite that exploded in the atmosphere early that morning! It suddenly became very clear that these esoteric events we discuss can be very real, exciting, and a little scary, too. I'm sure many of you had similar experiences, and I'm sure there will be much more interest in looking for these bodies headed our way - even in times when funds are tight. We have a news item immediately below with more details about the impact.
Speaking of exciting planetary developments, I'd also like to congratulate the Selene program, which recently won recognition as one of the top educational games or apps in the world! This game provides a wonderful tool for you to use to bring planetary science alive for your students - see below for more details.
We also have a comet headed our way! Comet PANSTARRS is already visible with binoculars in the Southern Hemisphere. This month, it will become visible for Northern Hemisphere skywatchers and may be bright enough to see with the unaided eye!
We are looking forward to seeing you at our events at the NSTA conference in San Antonio in April. Please be sure to check the list of our events listed below, and come by and say "Hi"! If you're not a member of NESTA or an Educator subscriber to Windows to the Universe already, this is a great time to join!
They say March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb. Given the excitement in February, it will be interesting to see if March can top it! Let's hope not...
On February 15, a large meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere over central Asia and exploded with the energy of nearly half a million tons of TNT, causing damage to thousands of buildings and injuring more than one thousand people. The event is thought to be the largest meteor strike since the Tungunska event in 1908, in which a large meteoroid or comet fragment exploded over a remote area of Siberia.
NASA estimates that the meteor (now named the Chebarkul meteorite) was approximately 15 meters in diameter and weighed roughly 10,000 tons. It was traveling at about 40,000 mph when it exploded over Chelyabinsk, an area in central Russia. It was not detected before it entered the atmosphere, but the bright fireball and explosion it caused were captured on video by many in Russia and can be viewed on many websites (view it on the NASA site here - http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap130218.html).
Coincidentally, the meteor fell on the same day that a larger asteroid was passing very close to the Earth. That asteroid, named 2012 DA14, which is roughly 3-4 times as large as the Chebarkul meteorite, approached from a different direction and passed by the Earth at a distance of about 27,000 km, which is closer than some satellites orbit.
Although NASA’s Near-Earth Object program is currently monitoring more than 10,000 objects in space and attempting to provide a warning system any time an object appears likely to impact the Earth, scientists say that tracking objects smaller than 100 meters across remains very difficult.
A new study using data from a pair of gravity-measuring NASA satellites finds that large parts of the arid Middle East region lost freshwater reserves rapidly during the past decade.
To read more about the GRACE satellites and their mission, visit:
Have you ever sprinkled iron filings over a magnet to demonstrate magnetic fields to your students? If you would like to supplement that hands-on demonstration with some computer-based activities, or can't manage to do the "real world" version, we have some resources you might be interested in. We have a virtual version of the "bar magnet and iron filings" demonstration on Windows to the Universe. We also have some related Flash-based magnetism interactives, including: Bar Magnet & Compass, Earth's Magnetic Field, and Earth's North Magnetic Pole.
Finally, we have a simple, inexpensive, hands-on activity that guides students through building a basic magnetometer that they can use to further explore the mysteries of magnetism. We hope you find these resources attractive!
NASA's Curiosity rover has, for the first time, used a drill carried at the end of its robotic arm to bore into a rock on Mars and collect a sample from the rock's interior. This is the first time any robot has drilled into a rock to collect a sample on Mars. To build a tool that can drill rocks on Mars, JPL's engineers made eight drills and bored more than 1,200 holes in 20 types of rocks on Earth.
The rock, called "John Klein" in memory of a Mars Science Laboratory deputy project manager who died in 2011, is believed to hold evidence about long-gone water on Mars. Before analyzing the sample, the rover will scour away any traces of Earth material that may have been left on the drill. Then the rock powder will be sieved to screen out larger particles and will be passed to the laboratory instruments inside the rover for detailed analysis.
Drilling for a rock sample is the latest activity for NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Project, which is using the car-sized Curiosity rover to investigate whether an area within Mars' Gale Crater has ever offered an environment favorable for life. For more about the mission, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/msl
Have you ever looked up in the sky and noticed something colorful or unique and you didn't know what it was? We have a page on atmospheric optics that introduces you to some of these phenomena. Atmospheric optics shows us how light behaves as it passes through the atmosphere. To learn more, you can check out the photo album of atmospheric optics. There you'll find information and beautiful images of rainbows, aurora borealis, crepuscular rays, and more.
If you're interested in seeing more images from the Earth and space sciences, please visit the Windows to the Universe Image Galleries.
How's the weather in your neck of the woods? 24 years ago, in March 1989, the SPACE weather was quite stormy over eastern Canada. Ground-induced currents generated by geomagnetic storms in the upper atmosphere forced their way onto electrical transmission lines with disastrous results. The DC electricity induced by the space weather storm didn't mix well with the voltage transformers used throughout the electrical grid, which are built for AC electricity. Many transformers overheated and failed (some even caught on fire and melted down!), and 6 million people lost power for 9 hours or longer. And you thought your weather was bad!
Check out our section on the effects of space weather on electrical power systems!
A note from the EPA:
Always run generators outdoors. Generator exhaust is toxic. Always put generators outside well away from doors, windows, and vents. Carbon monoxide (CO) is deadly, can build up quickly, and linger for hours. Find out more about winter safety and environmentally friendly practices that can be implemented during severe winter weather at http://www.epa.gov/naturaldisasters/snow-ice.html.
March is Women's History Month. Read about some notable women scientists on Windows to the Universe:
As spring approaches in the northern hemisphere, it's a great time to discuss the reason for the seasons. This year, the Vernal Equinox will occur on March 20th at 11:02 universal time.
The tilt of Earth's rotational axis and the Earth's orbit work together to create the seasons. As the Earth travels around the Sun, it remains tipped in the same direction, towards the star Polaris.
At the equinoxes, the Earth is neither tilted directly towards nor directly away from the Sun. In other words, both hemispheres receive roughly equal amounts of sunlight. Equinoxes mark the seasons of spring and autumn and are a transition between the two more extreme seasons, summer and winter.
While the vernal equinox corresponds to the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, it marks the beginning of Fall in the Southern Hemisphere. This is a great thing to note with your students. As you know, seasons are an area where many misconceptions lie (especially concerning the reason for the seasons!).
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
Saturday, April 13, 2013
8:00am Activities in Earth System Science, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A
Teaching through games that model the living components and nutrient cycles of ecosystems allows students to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the delicate balance that is needed for ecosystems to thrive. Plus, bringing games into the classroom is just plain fun!
Windows to the Universe includes a number of games among our classroom activities that encourage students to explore what it takes for ecosystems to remain in balance. Explore these games and get your students playing!
Global climate change does not just change Earth's temperature, it also changes the sea level. Do your students know why? Several of our classroom activities help build student understanding of sea level change - past and present. Combine Mapping Ancient Coastlines with Thermal Expansion and Sea Level Rise to teach that sea level change is no day at the beach (or perhaps it is!?).
These lessons address topics such as properties of Earth materials, the structure of the Earth system, and Earth history. They also help develop map reading skills. As an extension, have students devise models to test whether melting glaciers or melting sea ice affect sea level (glaciers do and sea ice does not!).
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.
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!
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!
Windows to the Universe also provides these other membership and partnership opportunities:
Table of Contents
Water in Middle East
NESTA in San Antonio
Mobile Site is Live!
Join NESTA and W2U!
Soil Sci Education
AGI on YouTube
Space Apps Challenge
Climate Sci Alive!
Ground Water Wk
Columbia Summer Prog
World Map Contest
Natl Poison Prevent
Natl Wildlife Wk
Sun-Earth Days 2013
World Water 2013
Earth Hour! 3/23
Mission to Mars!
EE Week Coming!
Summer Rocket Work
Mapping Our World
Announcements from Partners
Information about Opportunities with Stipends, Honorariums, or Awards for Teachers/students
Play Selene, the free, award-winning online videogame that Science magazine and the National Science Foundation honored in 2013 as one of the top educational games or apps in the world (International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge). Learn the solar system's basic geological processes by firing away at what will quickly become a full-fledged, pockmarked moon like our own. Replicate the Moon's 4.5 billion-year history. Incorporate Selene into your classroom curriculum (ages 9 and up). Follow with our MoonGazers hands-on activities that take Selene players outside to explore the Moon and its phases from their own backyard. Empirical research shows Selene causes and measures learning. Discover and apply concepts that are standards-based, then investigate the Moon. BILINGUAL EDUCATORS: Selene is now available in a Spanish language version! Contact us: email@example.com.
Scientists are revisiting the age-old question of how Earth's moon formed with the development of two new models that work out the complicated physics of planetary collisions. The idea of a moon-forming collision is not new: The Giant Impact Theory put forth in the 1970s suggested that the moon resulted from a collision with a protoplanet approximately half the size of ancient Earth. But the physics underlying such a collision implied that the moon should be made up of debris mostly from the protoplanet. Since then we've discovered the moon is instead very chemically similar to Earth. Now, scientists have come up with two new models that explain how an impact could have resulted in a moon formed from Earth material.
Are your school and community “StormReady”? The United States is, by far, the country with the greatest number of hazardous weather situations in the world. We get about 10,000 thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, 1,000 tornadoes, plus hurricanes, wildfires, winter storms, and other severe weather conditions, resulting in about 500 fatalities and billions of dollars of damage each year. But thanks to efforts to prepare for these emergencies under the coordination of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) StormReady program, the impact of these emergencies has been greatly diminished in many communities.
Nothing can prevent weather disasters, but StormReady communities have been able to cope with and recover from events much more efficiently. Warning Coordination Meteorologists from NOAA’s National Weather Service offices across the country work with local, regional, state, and national emergency management planners to develop education and awareness strategies, as well as detailed contingency plans that have made significant differences when events occur. The StormReady web site provides links to success stories, and information on how to apply to the program, listings of local contacts, and more.
Working closely with NOAA is FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA’s Citizen Corps program also assists communities in preparing for emergencies. A webinar in August helped many schools and others to get ready for whatever may come their way, and you can benefit from viewing the recorded version.
Six thousand members strong, the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a scientific organization that aims to support geoscience teaching and learning about soils. This AGI member society provides an educational resources web page (https://www.soils.org/about-soils/lessons/resources) that includes lessons, activities, fun facts, sites of interest organized by soil topic and grade level, and soil definitions for the novice soil scientist.
The American Geosciences Institute is pleased to announce that it has released its award-winning Faces of Earth series on YouTube in full High Definition (http://www.youtube.com/user/AmericanGeosciences). Delve into the Faces of Earth and rediscover the wonders behind our dynamic planet. From the resounding cacophony that bore Earth 4.6 billion years ago, to the steady and resolute changes that affect our surroundings even today, the Faces of Earth series explores the vibrant, forceful, and ever-changing facets of planet Earth.
Conveniently packaged into four informative and energetic videos, the Faces of Earth series seamlessly flows from an exciting introduction to the geosciences, to a deeper understanding of what fuels our planet. Experience spectacular imagery, exclusive interviews, and captivating commentary from distinguished geoscientists as you explore this compelling collection of videos. Use these dynamic videos as an engaging learning tool for students of all ages!
Weathering is not only one of the key concepts of Earth Science, it is a common Standard and sadly, most classroom activities don't do it justice. You might like to try this virtual weathering activity and challenge developed by NIST (ideal for use by middle and high schools students).
By examining the NIST Stone Wall virtually via the Internet, students will determine the weathering rate of various rocks from the U.S. and other countries. The Stone Test Wall was constructed to study the performance of stone subjected to weathering. It contains 2,352 individual samples of stone, of which 2,032 are domestic stone from 47 states, and 320 are stones from 16 foreign countries. Over 30 distinct types of stones are represented. There are many varieties of the common types of stones used in building, such as marble, limestone, sandstone, and granite. This site presents the existing data and pictures for each particular stone.
Using this data, students will then pick a rock to use in building their “dream house” and justify their choice. Students should have a background in types of rocks before doing this lesson.
NASA and government agencies worldwide will host the second International Space Apps Challenge April 20-21, with events across all seven continents and in space. Participants are encouraged to develop mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualization and platform solutions that could contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth.
Make climate science come alive with Student Media Production (made easy!) workshops coming up this summer. The Climate Education in an Age of Media (CAM) project at the University of Massachusetts Lowell (http://cleanet.org/cced_media/index.html) is hosting two 3-day summer workshops for secondary and post-secondary science educators to combine student-created media production and climate science. Join us at one of the two workshops: June 26-28 at the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (CRLS) Media Arts Studio or July 9-11 at the Media Center, University of Massachusetts, Lowell campus.
Gain the tools needed to quickly ramp up to the Next Generation Science Standards at a workshop that combines climate science, systems thinking, and science communications skills through media production. Tackle your media anxieties and tap into the excitement around media production, using easy-to-use lesson plans that bring student media production into any instructional environment.
Workshop leaders are Juliette Rooney-Varga, Associate Professor at University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Angelica Allende Brisk, Creative Design and Media Journalism Instructor, CRLS Media Arts Studio.
Teachers will receive a stipend for these workshops, and PDPs upon request. Space is limited and an application is required (by March 8).
For details about the June workshop go to http://cleanet.org/cced_media/workshops/june2013/index.html;
For details about the July workshop go to http://cleanet.org/cced_media/workshops/july2013/index.html.
Questions? Contact Marian Grogan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ground Water Awareness Week (March 10-16, 2013) will shed light on one of the world’s most important resources - ground water. Ground water is essential to the health and well being of humanity and the environment, according to the National Ground Water Association.
Targeting young people with an interest in conducting research in the Earth or ocean sciences, Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Summer Intern Program offers students the opportunity to experience scientific research as an undergraduate. The program is open to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have completed their junior or sophomore year in college with majors in Earth science, environmental science, chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, or engineering.
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.
In 2013, youth from around the globe will be participating in the 20th Annual Barbara Petchenik International Map Competition, organized by the International Cartographic Association. The competition is open to children and youth age 16 and under and is organized into 4 different age groupings: under 6, ages 6-8, ages 9-12, and ages 12-16. The aim of the competition is to promote children’s creative representation of the world, to enhance their cartographic awareness and to make them conscious of their environment.
The theme of the 2013 competition is “My Place in Today’s World”. Youth cartographers can bring their own creativity into their project, as maps may be illustrated in any way, using pictures, drawings, words, objects, or other graphical elements. So have your students get out their paint brushes, pencils, crayons, chisels, or recycled materials, and start working on their maps today!
For teachers, students, and families wishing to submit maps in the United States, download this flyer with the full rules for submission. Entries must be received by March 15.
March 17-23, 2013, is National Poison Prevention Week. Protect children from accidental poisoning by household substances. Lock up household pesticides and chemicals in a high cabinet out of the reach of children. Learn more about how to protect your family at http://www.poisonprevention.org/poison.htm.
What do black bears, flying squirrels and cicadas all have in common? They all need trees! The theme of National Wildlife Week 2013 is "Branching Out for Wildlife" — celebrating trees and their importance to wildlife and people.
National Wildlife Week is National Wildlife Federation's longest-running education program designed around teaching and connecting kids to the awesome wonders of wildlife. Each year, we pick a theme and provide fun and informative educational materials, curriculum and activities for educators and caregivers to use with kids.
Celebrate National Wildlife Week March 18-24, 2013!
Every 11 years, the Sun reaches a peak period of activity known as the Solar Maximum — did you know that point is due to occur in 2013? To help educate people about this phenomenon, NASA’s Sun-Earth Days team is joining forces with NASA EDGE, an unscripted, non-traditional video podcast team, to bring you a live webcast from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, which is NASA’s principal facility for management of suborbital research programs.
The program will introduce viewers to the concept of a Solar Maximum and the effects of Solar Max on our planet, discuss auroras and why scientists study them, and showcase the Wallops Flight Facility and what NASA scientists and engineers do there. It will also include an interactive Q&A session in which viewers get to ask questions.
To access the webcast, visit this site:
Date: March 22, 2013
To read more about the Solar Maximum, and to explore the other activities that are part of NASA’s Sun Earth Days, visit: http://sunearthday.nasa.gov/2013/
Access to clean water is one of the most basic human needs, but in many areas of the world, ensuring that everyone has access to clean freshwater is a complex problem. With this in mind, the United Nations declared 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation, and throughout the year UNESCO and other UN organizations will be sponsoring events to raise awareness across the world about water access, cooperation, and management. One of the first events is World Water Day, which has been celebrated on March 22 every year since 1993. This year’s World Water Day celebrations will focus on water cooperation, and will include events in The Hague, New York, and around the world.
To read more about the International Year of Water Cooperation, World Water Day, and the programs the United Nations is sponsoring to help guarantee that freshwater resources are available to all, visit: http://www.unwater.org/watercooperation2013/index.html
Did you know Earth Hour is coming up soon? Earth Hour is an event in which people around the world are urged to turn off non-essential lights for one hour to show their concern about climate change. This year’s Earth Hour will be on Saturday, March 23 at 8:30 PM local time, and is expected to include people in more than 135 countries worldwide.
The Craig Tufts' Educational Scholarship Award is given to a young person between the ages of 8 and 18 to attend a week-long, summer outdoor educational adventure camp with a parent or guardian. This year's camp is in Bar Harbor, ME! The Fund provides travel, room and board and program fees for the award winner and an accompanying parent or guardian. The application deadline is March 29, 2013.
The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN Mission (MAVEN), set to launch in November 2013, will explore the planet's upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and interactions with the solar wind. The mission will provide invaluable insight into the history of Mars' atmosphere and climate, liquid water, and planetary habitability.
You have the opportunity to be part of this exciting program through the MAVEN Education Ambassadors (MEA) program for Middle and High School Teachers. If selected for this NASA-funded program, you will receive training to become a MAVEN Ambassador. Ambassadors will participate in a week-long PD workshop, and will receive training on a variety of standards-based classroom activities, plus follow-up support for several years. Participants are expected to implement some of the lesson plans and education resources in their own classrooms, as well as conduct teacher trainings in their local area on the mission and related education activities.
Participants will receive a $700 travel stipend for attending the UC-Berkeley workshop July 8-12, 2013, with free housing and meals. An additional $700 honorarium will be provided after conducting a local workshop.
To Apply, visit MAVEN Ambassador Program and click "Workshop Application." The registration deadline is March 31.
NASA is inviting potential partners to help the agency achieve its strategic goals for education.
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.
University faculty and students interested in learning how to build scientific experiments for spaceflight are invited to join RockOn 2013 from June 15-20 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. RockOn 2013 is an annual workshop held in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia. Registration is open through May.
The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is pleased to announce that the theme of Earth Science Week 2013 will be "Mapping Our World."
This year's event will promote awareness of the many exciting uses of maps and mapping technologies in the geosciences. Earth Science Week 2013 materials and activities will engage young people and others in learning how geoscientists, geographers, and other mapping professionals use maps to represent land formations, natural resource deposits, bodies of water, fault lines, volcanic activity, weather patterns, travel routes, parks, businesses, population distribution, our shared geologic heritage, and more. Maps help show how the Earth systems -- geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere -- interact.
Earth Science Week 2013 will be celebrated October 13-19. For more about this week and ways to get involved -- including newsletters, local events, and classroom activities -- please see the Earth Science Week web site.
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.