Come on Spring!
As many of us are suffering through one of the coldest winters in recent history, I'm sure many are eagerly looking forward to spring! Come on spring! This winter is too much!
As always, though, it's all about location, location, location. While this winter has been particularly severe in the Northeast of the United States, NOAA has recently released data that shows that overall, January was the 4th warmest on record globally. According to that report, "Most areas of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, with the most notable warmth across Alaska, western Canada, southern Greenland, south-central Russia, Mongolia, and northern China. Parts of southeastern Brazil and central and southern Africa experienced record warmth, contributing to the warmest January. Southern Hemisphere land temperature departure was on record at 2.03°F (1.13°C) above the 20th century average. Temperature departures were below the long-term average across the eastern half of the contiguous U.S, Mexico, and much of Russia".
On the other hand, the population of the United States is skewed to the parts of the country where it has been cold, so our individual perceptions of reality may differ from what global data tells us. I'm sure that those of us teaching about climate change in coming months will be struggling with this apparent dichotomy. We offer a suite of classroom activities to help you teach about the atmosphere, weather, and climate as well as extensive content sections on the website on the atmosphere, weather, and climate.
If you will be able to join us at NSTA this spring in Boston, don't miss our events addressing these topics, including the NESTA Climate, Atmosphere and Ocean Share-a-Thon, the NESTA Earth System Science Share-a-Thon, our workshop "Effective Strategies for Sharing Climate Change Science and Energy Consumption Implications in the Classroom", and the NESTA Lunchtime Lecture offered by Dr. Tamara Ledley entitled "The CLEAN Collection – Reviewed Climate And Energy Teaching Resources To Enhance Teaching". Our full schedule of events is available here.
Please note that there has been an important change in our plans - we will be holding the NESTA Friends of Earth Science Reception on Friday, April 4th from 6:30-7:00pm at the Boston Museum of Science - providing a great opportunity for teachers to enjoy free entry to the museum, and the wonderful displays they have there, while also taking a moment to enjoy community with fellow Earth and space science educators. See this link for more details, and scroll down on that page for info about the NESTA reception. Looking forward to seeing you there!
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NASA's Kepler mission announced February 26th the discovery of 715 new planets. These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system. Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune. This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets (planets outside our solar system).
Four of these new planets are less than 2.5 times the size of Earth and orbit in their sun's habitable zone, defined as the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet may be suitable for life-giving liquid water. One of these new habitable zone planets, called Kepler-296f, orbits a star half the size and 5 percent as bright as our sun. Kepler-296f is twice the size of Earth, but scientists do not know whether the planet is a gaseous world, with a thick hydrogen-helium envelope, or it is a water world surrounded by a deep ocean.
This latest discovery brings the confirmed count of planets outside our solar system to nearly 1,700. As we continue to reach toward the stars, each discovery brings us one step closer to a more accurate understanding of our place in the galaxy.
NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has tweaked its orbit to help scientists make the first systematic observations of how morning fogs, clouds, and surface frost develop in different seasons on the Red Planet. The change will enable observation of changing ground temperatures after sunrise and after sunset on Mars. Those observations could yield insight about the composition of the ground and about temperature-driven processes, such as warm-season flows observed on some slopes, and geysers fed by spring thawing of carbon-dioxide ice near Mars' poles.
Neither Odyssey nor any other NASA Mars orbiter since the 1970's has flown a consistent orbital pattern with a view of the ground in morning daylight. Earlier NASA orbiters and the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter have provided some tantalizing views of morning mists on Mars, but these were just glimpses as the orbiters were really concentrating on afternoon observation times when views of the surface are less hazy.
Odyssey was launched in 2001 and began its science mission 12 years ago this month. It is the longest-working spacecraft ever sent to Mars. In addition to conducting its own observations, Odyssey serves as an important communications relay for spacecraft on Mars' surface.
For more about the Mars Odyssey mission, visit: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/odyssey
It has been a very long and eventful winter for many in the Northern Hemisphere. As spring approaches, it's a great time to discuss the reason for the seasons. The official first day of spring this year in the Northern Hemisphere will be March 20, 2014. Celebrate the end of a long winter by going outside and enjoying the great outdoors!
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!).
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.
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!
Every community is affected by stormwater (high quantities of surface water that result from precipitation or snow melt). The EPA has released an updated Stormwater Calculator that takes into account climate models when you calculate stormwater runoff amounts where you live. Property managers, communities, and home owners can enter any U.S. location and select different scenarios to learn how specific green infrastructure changes, including inexpensive changes such as rain barrels or rain gardens, can reduce runoff.
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 notable women scientists on Windows to the Universe:
March 25 marks the 100th birthday of Norman Borlaug, 1970's Nobel peace prize winner and father of the Green revolution, who died in 2009 at the age of 95. His studies of agricultural plants and genetics led him to develop high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties. During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these crops in Mexico, India, Pakistan and other developing countries, where as a result the food production increased spectacularly and mass famines were averted. According to some estimates, Borlaug's discoveries have saved over a billion lives worldwide.
Those of you that use the Windows to the Universe website regularly, and are not members, notice that advertising appears on the website. You might wonder why we need to include advertising on this website.
The unfortunate reality is that the effort required to maintain this website needs to be supported somehow. One of the ways we do this is through advertising - which we try to ensure is filtered so that inappropriate advertising does not appear. Advertising does help support our efforts, but in no way is sufficient to cover the costs of maintaining the website and offering the professional development programs we offer.
In addition to advertising, we raise support for the website and our programs through donations, memberships, and sales. We also partner with organizations that share our commitment to improving K-12 Earth and space science and environmental science education and literacy.
If you are a regular user of Windows to the Universe, and would rather not have to deal with the advertising on the website, please consider becoming an Educator Member. This provides critical support we need for our ongoing programs, and also provides you access to an advertising-free version of the website.
Windows to the Universe is offering new membership options for Windows to the Universe educators that include course webpage support, as well as options for homework and online quizzes. We will continue to offer Basic Educator Membership (which provides advertising-free access to the website plus additional member benefits), but we are expanding now to offer Silver Educator Membership (Basic Educator Membership supplemented by course webpage support and course login for students) or Gold Educator Membership (with course support including online quizzes and homework upload/download and individual student subscriptions). We also offer support for classrooms, with or without course support. For more details, see our Educator Membership Benefits and Services page.
We hope you'll visit the Windows to the Universe web site many times this year, and we hope to see you at one of our sessions at the NSTA National Conference in Boston (see table below).
NESTA is recruiting presenters for our famous share-a-thons taking place at the NSTA Conference on Science Education in Boston, MA. If you have an activity, demonstration, or lesson to share with science educators, then this is a great way to share it with fellow teachers.
Our schedule of share-a-thons is:
Geology on Friday, April 4th at 9:30 – 10:30 am
At a share-a-thon, you’ll have a table to demonstrate your activity or materials. We usually have about 150 – 250 teachers passing through these sessions. This is an easy and effective way to participate in an NSTA Conference, so we hope you will help us out by agreeing to be a presenter.
To sign up for one or more of these sessions, please go to https://www.nestanet.org/cms/content/conferences/nsta/shareathons/apply
Table of Contents
Reason for Seasons
Ads or No Ads
New Member Options
NSTA in Boston
AMS Summer Workshops
Natl Center Sci Ed
GEN Workshop - TN
GEN Workshop - GA
GEN Workshop - ND
TR Naturalist Award
NOAA Climate Steward
Natl Groundwater Wk
Climate Video Cont
Endangered Sp Cont
Fix a Leak
Natl Wildlife Week
Green Schools Conf
Sci in Fiction Video
World Water Day
Tufts Essay Contest
Earth Hour! 3/29
Global Youth Service
EE Week 2014
Green Week 2014
ES Week 2014 Connect
Space Tech Grants
NOAA Citizen Science
Tsunamis from Sky
The Master of Applied Science is a 36-credit-hour, non-thesis, graduate degree program. Eighteen (18) credit hours apply to the Science for Educators specialization. Courses in this program are offered 100% online, and every course has a uniform approach that shows how, why, and where science fits into the real world and shows applications for curriculum. Courses integrate science content from previous courses demonstrating how science is connected to everything. Courses and content are designed around the National Science Education Standards.
This graduate program emphasizes several key areas, including science content inquiry, integration, and application. Science content inquiry involves acquiring new (or enhanced) science content knowledge and examining science in the context of the world around us. Science integration involves incorporating science content in an age-appropriate manner and establishing connections between the natural and designed world. Science application includes linking content to the real world and inspiring students with science in action.
Announcements from Partners
Information about Opportunities with Stipends, Honorariums, or Awards for Teachers/students
The Maury Project
July 6 – 18, 2014 (Application deadline March 14)
The Maury Project is a free professional development workshop for K-12 teachers offered by the American Meteorological Society’s Education Program. Focused on the physical foundations of oceanography, the two-week workshop is held at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Precollege educators who teach classes with oceanographic content are encouraged to apply and will receive three free graduate credits upon completion of the program. The workshop is intended to introduce teachers to the physical foundations of selected oceanographic topics, explore ways these concepts can be employed in schools, and prepare workshop attendees to conduct training sessions on learned topics during the next school year.
July 13 – 25, 2014 (Application deadline March 28)
Project ATMOSPHERE is a free teacher professional development program offered by the American Meteorological Society’s Education Program. Directed toward improving Earth science literacy and teacher effectiveness by generating interest in science, technology, and mathematics among students at precollege levels, the two-week workshop is held at NOAA’s National Weather Service Training Center in Kansas City, MO. K-12 teachers who teach weather in the classroom are encouraged to apply and will receive three free graduate credits. The workshop will introduce teachers to the latest technologies and techniques for sensing, analyzing, and forecasting weather, as well as explore ways these concepts can be implemented in classrooms. Attendees will help promote weather education in their home regions by conducting training sessions in atmospheric science during the following school year.
For more information, please visit: http://www.ametsoc.org/amsedu/Proj_ATM/projatm.html
The National Center for Science Education is a non-profit organization that defends the integrity of science education. NCSE provides information and resources for schools, parents, and concerned citizens working to keep evolution and climate change in formal and informal education, educates the press and the public about the scientific and educational aspects of controversies surrounding the teaching of evolution and climate change, and supplies needed information and advice to defend good science education at local, state, and national levels.
NCSE is affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Teachers Association. NCSE itself is politically non-partisan and religiously neutral; its 5,000 members are scientists, teachers, clergy, and citizens with diverse religious and political views. Visit NCSE on the web (with its bimonthly journal Reports of the NCSE at http://reports.ncse.com), or on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
Climate change is the highest priority issue facing society, according to geoscientists, decision makers, and public citizens who responded to an online survey conducted by the Center for Geoscience Education and Public Understanding at the American Geosciences Institute. Water, human population growth and health issues, and energy were also listed as issues needing
The number of responses from the public and the decision-making community was substantially smaller than from geoscientists. Climate change was again the highest-priority critical issue.
Dates & Times: Friday, March 7th from 8am – 4:30pm and Saturday, March 8th from 8am – 3:30pm (it’s a 2-day program, 15 CEU hours total)
The Aviation Museum at Robbins Air Force Base, Warner Robbins, GA (near Macon, GA)
Saturday, March 12 & Saturday, April 12 9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
The NASA Galileo Educator Network (GEN) is a NASA-funded teacher professional development program managed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. GEN professional development engages teachers of astronomy and general science, especially in grades 3-9, in effective instructional strategies and educational resources to teach space and Earth science in the context of the Next Generation Science Standards.
GEN makes effective use of NASA-developed and NASA-supported resources, integrating astronomy/space science content with Galileo-inspired science inquiry and exploration.
Teachers who participate in this 15-hour GEN teacher workshop (12 hours of contact time supplemented with 3 hours of online work) become Galileo Educators. Participants will receive NASA education materials, including The Universe at Your Fingertips, which includes 133 classroom-tested hands-on activities, and additional resources on a DVD-ROM.
For additional information and to register, contact GEN Fellow Frank Lock at email@example.com or 941-475-1578.
Registration is open for the following Galileo Educator Network Teacher Workshop:
University of North Dakota Campus Skalicky Hall, Room 211
March 28, 2014: 11am – 8pm (UND Observatory 9:30pm – 11pm)
March 29, 2014: 8:30am – 3:30pm
The purpose of this workshop is to help classroom teachers with new and innovative ways to advance science learning with students, through the use of various hands-on activities, NASA content, and astronomy teaching reflecting the Next Generation Science Standards. Teachers will incorporate these new standards into existing lesson plans, learn new activities presented at the workshop, and investigate the Nature of Science. The workshop will also include interactive tours of the Spacecraft Simulators and UND Observatory. Participants should plan to bring a laptop or iPad for online investigations. Teachers will leave the workshop with a better understanding of space sciences in general, a Hands-on-Universe DVD of astronomy lessons, and ready-made activities for the classroom.
Meals will be provided. Travel reimbursement is available to North Dakota teachers. Participants will receive one Professional Development Credit. After registering, participants will receive more details by email closer to the dates of the workshop. This workshop is open to both in-service and pre-service teachers for grades K-12.
The Young Naturalist Awards is pleased to announce a new award for the 2014 competition that honors the legacy of visionary conservationist Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt's lifelong passion for nature led him to become America's greatest conservation president. To commemorate his legacy, the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Award will be presented to an urban student whose investigation demonstrates close observation, thoughtful analysis, and deep appreciation of the biodiversity, ecology, and habitats found in an urban environment. The winning essay will be selected from the pool of Young Natural Award entrants and will be evaluated according to the same criteria. There is no separate submission process. FAQ's? Submit your entry by March 1st.
Join us on Monday, March 3, 2014, at 7:30pm Eastern Time for a NOAA Climate Stewards National Webinar. Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the webinar.
Groundwater Awareness Week (March 9-15, 2014) will shed light on one of the world’s most important resources - groundwater. Groundwater is essential to the health and well being of humanity and the environment.
To learn more about Groundwater Awareness Week, visit the Virtual Museum of Groundwater History or watch a "water well show". For additional educational activities and resources, visit the National Groundwater Association web site.
Students (ages 11-14) are invited to create and submit a brief video about why they care about climate change and what they are doing about it. Be cool! Be creative! Use storytelling or images or shadow puppets in your video. There are prizes for the winning entries and prizes for the first 100 entries submitted. Entries are due March 10. Find out how to create and enter your video.
President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law on December 28, 1973. Our legislators understood that, without protection from human actions, many of our nation's living resources would become extinct.
What are some ways that you can help protect endangered species? Celebrate Endangered Species Day on May 16, 2014, gain the public's attention by tweeting what the ESA has meant to you (#myESA), or celebrate endangered species by entering the Endangered Species Youth Art Contest (deadline of March 15, 2014). Of course, preserving wildlife habitats and cleaning up the outdoors where you live goes a long way too!
March 16-22, 2014, 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.
Nationwide, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from U.S. homes each year. That's why WaterSense reminds Americans to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems each year during Fix a Leak Week.
Pledge to be "for water" during this special week and save up to 10,000 gallons in 10 minutes! For more information, educational resources, a kids' zone and a Fix a Leak video podcast (available in English and Spanish), click here.
What do bald eagles, black bears, otters and sea turtles all have in common? They all need water! The theme of National Wildlife Week 2014 is "Wildlife and Water" — from the mountains to the rivers to the oceans.
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, a theme is picked to provide fun and informative educational materials, curriculum and activities for educators and caregivers to use with kids.
Celebrate National Wildlife Week March 17-23, 2014!
As the next step in advancing NASA’s asteroid initiative, the agency will host an Opportunities Forum March 26 at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
The forum, which is open to industry, academia and interested individuals, will provide status updates from ongoing asteroid redirect mission studies and summarize how responses to a 2013 Request for Information (RFI) are helping improve mission planning activities. The event will also highlight opportunities for public engagement in the mission and activities associated with the Asteroid Grand Challenge.
NASA’s Asteroid Initiative includes two separate, but related activities: the Asteroid Redirect Mission and the Asteroid Grand Challenge. NASA is currently developing concepts for the Redirect Mission, which will employ a robotic spacecraft to capture a small near-Earth asteroid, or remove a boulder from the surface of a larger asteroid, and redirect it into a stable orbit around the moon. Astronauts will travel aboard NASA's Orion spacecraft, launched on the Space Launch System rocket, to rendezvous in lunar orbit with the captured asteroid material. Once there, they will collect samples to return to Earth for study.
The Grand Challenge is seeking the best ideas to find all asteroid threats to human populations, and to accelerate the work that NASA is already doing for planetary defense.
Seating is limited for this event. Individuals who plan to attend must register online. The forum will be carried on NASA Television and streamed online for virtual participants.
The Green Schools National Conference examines environmental literacy, energy efficiency, healthier food, eco-friendly purchasing and more. The 4th annual Green Schools National Conference, set for March 27-29, 2014, in Sacramento, CA, is sponsored by the Green Schools National Network (GSNN) and is focused on "developing healthy and sustainable schools across America." Regular registration runs through March 20.
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.
The USA Science & Engineering Festival, in association with the Kavli Foundation, has launched the “Science in Fiction” video contest.
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 has declared March 22 as World Water Day. The day has been celebrated on March 22 every year since 1993.
This year’s World Water Day celebrations will focus on water and energy, with main celebrations happening in Toyko, Japan. Of course, people around the world can make a difference in providing a sustainable future for all inhabitants of the Earth, and especially the poorest of the poor, who suffer greatly from lack of access to water, sanitation and modern forms of energy. Find out more about how you can make a difference.
In memory of long-standing employee and naturalist, Craig Tufts, the family of Craig Tufts, Family Summits Inc., and the National Wildlife Federation invite youth to enter the 5th Annual Craig Tufts Educational Essay Scholarship competition. This competition is open to any young person between the ages of 8 and 18 to submit an essay according to these guidelines and requirements. One winner will receive a once-in-a-lifetime experience to attend a week-long summer outdoor adventure camp with a parent or guardian in Pacific Grove, CA (transportation, registration, food, and housing costs paid in full). Entries are due by March 28th.
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 29 at 8:30 PM local time, and is expected to include people in more than 150 countries worldwide. If that's not enough to pique your interest, let's just say that Earth hour participants will be joining Spider-Man in saving the planet!
Your students don't need to wait to grow up to change the world! Have them plug into the Global Youth Service Day, where children and teens are creating change every day through service to others. They can create their own project or join an already-existing project. This year, Global Youth Service Day is April 11-13, 2014.
EE Week, sponsored by Samsung, is April 13-19, 2014. EE Week 2014 will focus on Engineering a Sustainable World.
The new EE Week blog provides educators with a forum to interact and engage with experts and their peers on a variety of topics surrounding environmental education and Greening STEM.
Green Week is turning 5! Celebrate by selecting any week from February 3 to April 25, 2014, to be your 'Green Week!' Choose from the six sustainability themes for preselected lessons and activities that will help you celebrate Green Week (activities are sortable by grade).
Registration is open for NASA's seventh annual RockOn! workshop to be held June 14-19 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, VA. This workshop, offered in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia, engages university and community college students and faculty interested in learning how to develop science payloads for spaceflight.
During the workshop, participants work in teams to build experimental payloads to fly on a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket expected to fly to an altitude of 73 miles. The flight will take place the final day of the workshop, weather permitting. Since 2008, 240 people have participated in RockOn! workshops and have successfully built and launched 79 payloads into space.
Registration closes May 2. Workshop participants must be U.S. citizens or have a valid, government-issued green card. For more information and to register online, visit: http://spacegrant.colorado.edu/rockon
AGI is pleased to announce that the theme of Earth Science Week 2014 (October 12-18) will be “Earth’s Connected Systems.” This year’s event will promote awareness of the dynamic interactions of the planet’s natural systems.
NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate is seeking proposals from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of outstanding faculty members who are beginning their independent careers. The grants will sponsor research in high priority areas of interest to America's space program.
NASA expects to award about five grants this fall, funded up to $200,000 each per year for as many as three years, based on the merit of proposals and availability of funds. Funded research will investigate unique space technologies in areas such as soft machines for robotic mobility and manipulation, science-based digital materials and manufacturing, and low size, weight, and power lasers.
For information on the solicitation, including specific technology areas of interest and how to submit notices of intent and proposals, click here. Deadline to submit proposals is Thursday, December 18, 2014.
Are you a boater? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration invites you to help scientists track the movements of endangered humpback whales between NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and its sister sanctuaries across the Caribbean as part of Carib Tails, a new international citizen science effort.
By photographing the tails of humpbacks they encounter at sea, boaters can support on-going research to collect migration data on the shared population of approximately 1,000 humpbacks. Photographs will be matched to entries in the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog and images of previously unknown and unphotographed whales will be added to the collection. A dedicated website provides tips on how to photograph flukes for research purposes, photo submission forms and other information about humpback whales.
Researchers identify individual humpback whales by the black and white patterns on the underside of their flukes (tails). Scars and natural pigmentation, ranging from all white to all black, along with the scalloped shaped edge of the tail, give each whale a distinct identification. Photographs of humpback flukes have allowed researchers to monitor the movements, health and behavior of individual animals since this research began in the 1970's.
Read more about the program at the Carib Tails website.
NASA is inviting the public to help astronomers discover embryonic planetary systems hidden among data from the agency's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission through a new website, DiskDetective.org. Disk Detective is NASA's largest crowdsourcing project whose primary goal is to produce publishable scientific results.
The WISE mission was designed to survey the entire sky at infrared wavelengths. It took detailed measurements on more than 745 million objects, representing the most comprehensive survey of the sky at mid-infrared wavelengths currently available. Astronomers have used computers to search this haystack of data for planet-forming environments and narrowed the field to about a half-million sources that shine brightly in the infrared, indicating they may be "needles": dust-rich disks that are absorbing their star's light and reradiating it as heat. But galaxies, interstellar dust clouds, and asteroids also glow in the infrared, which stymies automated efforts to identify planetary habitats. There may be thousands of nascent solar systems in the WISE data, but the only way to know for sure is to inspect each source by eye, which poses a monumental challenge.
Disk Detective incorporates images from WISE and other sky surveys in brief animations the website calls flip books. Volunteers view a flip book and classify the object based on simple criteria, such as whether the image is round or includes multiple objects. By collecting this information, astronomers will be able to assess which sources should be explored in greater detail, for example, to search for planets outside our solar system.
NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names to be etched on a microchip that will be on a spacecraft headed to the asteroid Bennu in 2016.
The "Messages to Bennu!" microchip will travel to the asteroid aboard the agency's Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft. The robotic mission will spend more than two years at the 1,760-foot (500-meter)-wide asteroid. The spacecraft will collect a sample of Bennu's surface and return it to Earth in a sample return capsule.
"We're thrilled to be able to share the OSIRIS-REx adventure with people across the Earth, to Bennu and back," said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator of the OSIRIS-REx mission from the University of Arizona in Tucson. "It's a great opportunity for people to get engaged with the mission early and join us as we prepare for launch."
Those wishing to participate in "Messages to Bennu!" should submit their name online no later than Sept. 30 at: http://planetary.org/bennu
After a person submits their name, they will be able to download and print a certificate documenting their participation in the OSIRIS-REx mission. "You'll be part of humankind's exploration of the solar system - How cool is that?" said Bill Nye, chief executive officer of The Planetary Society, the organization collecting and processing the entries.
Students are encouraged to apply for the Geological Society of America's GeoCorps America program, which works with the National Park Service, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management to place young geoscientists in paid geoscience-related positions at national parks. Find out more at http://rock.geosociety.org/g_corps/index.htm.
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, 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.
On a beautiful, clear June morning in 1954, a massive wave suddenly swept out of Lake Michigan killing at least seven people along the Chicago waterfront. At the time, the wave was attributed to a storm that had earlier passed over northern Lake Michigan, but how it came to swamp faraway Chicago, with no warning, was not understood.
With the help of increased computing power, scientists have found that changing Gulf Stream patterns and shifting climate are responsible for higher-than-normal sea-level rise averages on the U.S. East Coast.
With implications for public safety in the wake of events like Hurricane Sandy, scientists are paying even closer attention to the role ocean dynamics play in sea-level rise. Using historical tidal gauge and satellite data, geoscientists have observed that already fast sea-level changes on the U.S. East Coast sped up during the last 20 years. Addressing this change, scientists at the University of Arizona and elsewhere plugged the data into sophisticated models to examine how ocean dynamics affect sea-level rise. The results pinpoint a northward shift in the Gulf Stream that is affecting ocean water density in a complex way. Explore these complexities in the February issue of EARTH Magazine.
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