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Thank heavens Spring is here is Colorado... or almost here! They say it may snow this weekend! Even so, there are new glimpses of Spring every few days, and I can't wait. My heart goes out though to our friends in the southern and central parts of the country, who are in the midst of one of the worst tornado seasons in decades. This wet and wild weather has also brought record flooding in the central and northern states, while Texas has been experiencing unprecedented dry conditions and strong winds, fanning thousands of fires across the state, for weeks. And only a month ago, Japan suffered a 9.0 Magnitude earthquake and resultant tsunami, which led to an ongoing nuclear crises, and the death of tens of thousands.
As we see these events unfold, it's hard to understand why Earth science education is in such a difficult situation across the United States. Given the scale of these events, and their immediate impact on people, let alone the other species that share the planet with us, you would think that everyone - parents, administrators, and elected officials in particular - would understand the critical importance of ensuring that every citizen is well educated about how the Earth system works. And, of course, the place we do that is in primary and secondary school. The status quo is unacceptable, and NESTA is working to change it.
The Earth and space science educator survey we are running now, to collect information on your needs and concerns about Earth and space science education, as well as trends you observe in your district, is an important way that you can keep us informed, as we continue to work to promote Earth and space science education nationally and with partners at the state level. Please do fill it out, if you haven't already!
In order to better serve Earth and space science teachers, we have prepared an anonymous survey to gather information about your Earth and space science education needs and concerns, your satisfaction with Windows to the Universe and this newsletter, and your ideas about how we can serve you better. Please take a moment to complete this survey at your earliest convenience. You may receive notice about this survey from a variety of sources, but please be sure to only complete the survey once! Thanks so much for your time and effort!
NESTA and Windows to the Universe are working with NBC Learn to develop a set of classroom activities that accompany videos on twelve topics related to our Changing Planet, with support from the National Science Foundation. For each video, we provide an introductory page linking to the video on the Windows to the Universe website, links to related pages on the website and elsewhere, and a link to a classroom activity that teachers can use to explore the related science with their students. Go to the Our Changing Planet section on Windows to the Universe to access all of these videos and lesson plans. Please enjoy! We hope to offer a workshop on these materials at the Spring NSTA in Indianapolis next year.
The topics are as follows:
This spring, the U.S. has seen a number of very destructive tornadoes, and in April, there were more than 500 tornadoes reported, which will be a new record for that month. Some of the most prominent examples are the cluster of tornadoes that hit North Carolina on April 16 and caused widespread damage and over 40 deaths, and the F4 tornado that went through St. Louis International Airport on April 22, closing the airport for more than a full day. And, of course, across the entire Southern U.S., tornadoes have caused death and destruction in so many communities. People across the world are stepping up to help these storm-torn towns. Visit redcross.org now to see how you can help those affected by these devastating tornadoes.
After 33 years in space, the twin Voyager spacecraft are still operating and returning data from about 10 billion miles away from our Sun. The two Voyager spacecraft are traveling through a turbulent area known as the heliosheath. The heliosheath is the outer shell of a bubble around our solar system created by the solar wind, a stream of ions blowing radially outward from the sun at a million miles per hour.
The Voyagers also carry a collection of images and sounds from Earth as a message to possible life elsewhere in the galaxy. Follow their journey at http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/voyager/index.html
NASA and co-researchers from the United States, South Korea and Japan, have found a new mineral named "Wassonite" in a meteorite that was found in Antarctica in 1969.
"Wassonite is a mineral formed from only two elements, sulfur and titanium, yet it possesses a unique crystal structure that has not been previously observed in nature," said Nakamura-Messenger.
The final scheduled launch of space shuttle Endeavour was postponed because of a heater issue associated with the shuttle's hydraulic power system. The next launch attempt will be no earlier than May 2. Once the shuttle launches, Endeavour and its crew will begin its 14-day mission to the International Space Station.
Endeavour's crewmembers are Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Greg H. Johnson and NASA Mission Specialists Mike Fincke, Drew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff and European Space Agency Mission Specialist Roberto Vittori. Crewmembers will execute four spacewalks to do ISS maintenance work, install new components, and perform a complex series of tasks to top off the ammonia in one of the station's photovoltaic thermal control system cooling loops. Endeavour will also make important deliveries to the ISS.
During the mission, visitors to NASA's shuttle website can read about the crew's progress and watch the mission's four spacewalks live. As Endeavour's flight concludes, the NASA blog will detail the spacecraft's return to Earth. For NASA's launch blog and continuous mission updates, visit:
STS-134 is the 134th shuttle mission, Endeavour's 25th flight and the 36th shuttle mission to the station.
There's been a lot of discussion and confusion recently about efforts to develop frameworks and standards for science education, and interest in how Earth and space science are treated in these documents. In order to try to clarify some of the confusion that has developed over these efforts, NESTA has been doing some digging on several fronts to try to get information that may help you in discussions in your districts. First, a little background...
The National Research Council (NRC) has been leading an effort to develop a Conceptual Framework for Science Education that will be used as the basis for development of a new set of science standards that are being called "Next Generation Science Education Standards". This Conceptual Framework draft was the document that many of you may have provided comments on, through various organizations or independently, last year. As some of you may have noticed, the relevance of Earth and space science seemed (to some) to be significantly enhanced, in the draft conceptual framework, relative to how Earth and space science was treated in the current National Science Education Standards. After receiving comments, the revised Framework report then went out for external review by a group of independent experts selected by the NRC. The report will be released once it has cleared their rigorous external review process. At this point, we anticipate that the Framework will be released to the public in late spring 2011. Once the Conceptual Framework is completed, Achieve, Inc., an independent, bipartisan, non-profit, education reform organization that works closely with states, will use the framework to develop a full set of internationally-benchmarked standards based on the Conceptual Framework. The Conceptual Framework will also be available for immediate use by states, curriculum and assessment developers, and leaders of professional development for teachers. Both efforts, creating a framework and developing standards based on this framework, have been funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Another effort underway is the "Common Core" State Standards Initiative, lead by the National Governors Association. The purpose of this effort is to "...provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers." As of April 4, 44 states plus the District of Columbia have agreed to adopt the Common Core State Standards in either mathematics or English Language Arts. The scope of the Common Core standards is English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects and Mathematics. The Common Core standards provide "Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects 6-12" as well as "Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects 6-12", but do not provide standards for science education. The national science standards to be developed out of the Conceptual Framework process underway now (and described above) will not be included in the Common Core since a different group is developing them through a different process.
Based on the above, it is important to note that the new standards coming out of the NRC and Achieve process will be the new National Science Education Standards, and that the Common Core Standards do not include standards for science education at present. We have heard reports from NESTA members of their district or state education administrators saying (e.g., in curriculum planning meetings) something like "...we don't care about the new National Science Education Standards, because our state has committed to the Common Core Standards, and so we will follow the science education standards included in those Common Core Standards..." It is important that administrators understand that the Common Core Standards do not include science education standards at present, and that the Science Education Standards under development through the NRC/Achieve process is the new set of standards that are being developed nationally.
What does a frog in a swamp have in common with a limestone rock? It's the same thing that they have in common with a blade of grass, and the air in a balloon. They all contain atoms of carbon!
Certain elements, such as carbon and nitrogen, move through the living and nonliving parts of the Earth system. The movement of these elements is known as the biogeochemical cycles. They are a great way to emphasize to students that the Earth is an interconnected system because these elements travel through the biosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and the geosphere.
Windows to the Universe includes many resources for teaching about biogeochemical cycles - from classroom activities to online content and interactives. These resources are highlighted for educators on the page: Resources for Teaching about Biogeochemical Cycles.
As the school year wraps up and students look longingly towards summer, what better time to teach about the perils of hazardous summer weather than now! The largest and most long lived of these weather events are hurricanes.
Hurricanes are tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane season begins June 1 in the Atlantic. Have your students explore the Windows to the Universe section about hurricanes to foster understanding of how hurricanes form and the damage that they can cause in coastal areas, including damage from storm surge. Peruse the hurricane section of the Windows to the Universe image gallery for pictures of hurricane damage, satellite images of hurricanes, and illustrations to use in your teaching.
May 15th is the 152nd anniversary of the birth of Pierre Curie (1859 – 1906), a French physicist. Together with his wife Marie Curie, he discovered two new elements, Radium and Polonium, and studied the x-rays they emitted. For their work on radiation Pierre and Marie Curie received the Nobel Prize in 1903. Less well known is that Pierre also did pioneering work in crystallography and magnetism, and together with his brother Jacques, discovered piezoelectricity - a form of electricity created when certain crystals are deformed. Piezoelectricity is widely used today, for example, in quartz watches.
Another 152nd anniversary comes May 22nd for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday (1859 – 1930). He wasn't a scientist, but in his Sherlock Holmes stories he did much to popularize the scientific method and he promoted using forensic science in criminal investigations.
Other notable birthdays in May include:
Tornadoes and earthquakes may be making us a little jumpy this year, but do you know that 101 years ago many people were scared that all life on Earth was about to be destroyed by a comet?
Famous Halley's comet was passing closer to Earth than ever before in 1910, and on May 18, Earth actually passed through the tail of the comet. A few years earlier, astronomers had found the poisonous gas cyanogen in its tail, and this led a French astronomer and writer Camille Flammarion to claim that this gas would possibly snuff out all life on our planet. Such talk caused widespread panic and brisk trade in gas masks and even quack "anti-comet pills" and "anti-comet umbrellas". In fact, the gas was so diffuse that it couldn't possibly do any harm. Science is important because it helps us tell real natural dangers, like earthquakes and volcanoes, apart from imaginary ones, like comet tails and the end of the Mayan calendar cycle!
Halley’s comet is scheduled to make its next appearance in July 2061. Read more about comets on Windows to the Universe.
Use our Snapshot Exercise to have your students write about a select moment of the trip. We have a simple page for elementary school students where they can write down as many words as they can think of that have to do with what they see, hear, smell and touch. For middle-high school students, we have a large list of sensory adjectives that would be helpful in writing their snapshot!
This activity makes your field trip or outing more meaningful and addresses this National Standard for all levels (Assessment Standard B: The ability to communicate effectively about science).
It is indeed difficult for the human mind to grasp the vast distances involved in astronomy and space science. If you want help with this mind-bending challenge, and want to help your students as well, we've added a new page on Windows to the Universe just for you. "How far? How big? Distance and Size in Astronomy" provides links to various resources on our site that illustrate and describe the distances between and the sizes of astronomical objects. Most of these resources are highly visual images and interactive animations.
A few highlights:
We now offer the Cool It! card game on the Windows to the Universe Science Store for $7.95 plus shipping and handling. Cool It! is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. The game requires at least three players (one deck of cards will cover four players and more players can be added with additional decks) and is appropriate for ages eight and up.
Remember, Windows to the Universe Members receive a 10% discount on store purchases. If you are already a member, simply login to the store using your member login and password, and the discount will be automatically applied. If you are a Windows to the Universe Educator Newsletter subscriber, and would like to take advantage of this discount, join today, and then proceed to the store to select your purchases.
Please note that if you are outside of the USA and wish to order products from our store, call us at 720-328-5351 or send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org for the items you would like to buy (Nature's Own products cannot be shipped outside of the United States). We are sorry, but due to variations in international shipping costs, we are unable to process international orders directly via this web-based store at this time. Some products may not be available for international orders.
Table of Contents
Voyager --> SS
Size in Astronomy
Cool It! Game-Store
Natl Sci Edu Conf
Summer China Tours
Toyota Costa RIca
World Oceans Day
EE Week Photo/Blog
Env Photo Project
Build It Big Contest
Save the Frogs!
NASA Ed Partners
Photo Contest (5-8)
R. Carson Contest
INSPIRE - HS
Teacher SubmissionsClick here to submit your ideas to the newsletter
Announcements from PartnersClick here to submit information about your program to the newsletter
Presented by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) in Partnership with the American Geophysical Union and the Space Telescope Science Institute
July 30-August 3, 2011
• Late abstract proposals accepted
• Early-bird registration thru May 15th
Explore both basic science (tied directly to standards) and the most recent developments in our understanding of the universe and the Earth's climate!
Visit www.astrosociety.org or call 415-337-1100 for more information.
Play the award-winning, online, instructional videogame Selene to learn the Solar System’s basic geological processes. Blast away at what will quickly become a full-fledged, pockmarked moon like our own. Replicate the Moon’s 4.5 billion year history. Follow with our MoonGazers hands-on activities. Prepared with new knowledge that makes Moon viewing and phases of the Moon meaningful, Selene players (ages 9 and up) go outside to explore the Moon from their own backyard. Empirical research shows Selene causes and measures learning. Discover and apply concepts, then investigate the Moon.
Contact us: email@example.com
1. What is Selene? http://selene.cet.edu/?page=news&id=88
2. What’s it like to play Selene? Read and watch testimonials.
3. How do I recruit Selene players? http://selene.cet.edu/?page=recruiter
It’s easy! Fifteen-minute orientation, obtain parents’ informed consent, give each player an access code.
4. What is MoonGazers? http://selene.cet.edu/?page=news&id=91
The Chinese American Cultural Bridge Center (CACBC), a non-profit organization promoting cultural exchange since 1992, regularly leads tours to China for educators, retired educators, and student groups. CACBC specializes in taking educators and plans two tours for this summer, which both family and friends can join. The deadline to apply for both is May 15, 2011.
1. Educators Tour to China: July 7 - 21, 2011 – a 15-day tour to Beijing, Xian, Kaifeng, Luoyang, Zhengzhou, Shaolin Temple, and Shanghai, all at an *inclusive price of $4,350.
2. Retired educators Leisure Tour to China: August 16 - 30, 2011 – a 15-day tour to Beijing, Xian, Chongqing, Yantze River Cruise, Suzhou, & Shanghai, all at an *inclusive price of $4,295. We offer an additional optional tour to Tibet that can be connected to this tour.
**Teachers can earn 50 cpdu’s!**
Teacher Appreciation Day is coming soon - May 3, 2011. Use the whole week of May 2-6th to appreciate the teachers in your life. We are so grateful for all of the teachers we serve, work with and interact with each year!
Educators truly make a difference in our lives and the lives of our children! Visit the Teacher Appreciation web site for creative ideas that honor educators.
What's blooming where you live? Join thousands of others in gathering valuable environmental and climate change information from across the country with Project BudBurst (www.budburst.org). Project BudBurst is a national field campaign for all interested ‘citizen scientists’ including students, families, and other volunteers. The field campaign is designed to engage the public in making careful observations of plant stages such as flowering, leafing, and fruiting of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses in their local area. Participants contribute to a better understanding of how changing climates impact plant species at a local level. Data collected through Project BudBurst is made available to scientists studying climate change. All information necessary to participate can be found on the Project BudBurst Web site (www.budburst.org).
We are pleased to announce that the Toyota International Teacher Program is now accepting applications for the 2011 study tour to Costa Rica, which will take place from November 19 - December 3, 2011. The deadline is fast approaching -- May 4! Please visit www.iie.org/toyota to access the online application. The Toyota International Teacher Program values diversity and encourages educators of all backgrounds, subjects, and school types to apply for this unique professional development opportunity. Read about participants' experiences on recent Toyota International Teacher Programs to Costa Rica and the Galapagos Islands here.
The Science & Entertainment Exchange, a program of the National Academy of Sciences, is seeking proposals to establish collaborative partnerships among scientists, entertainment industry professionals, and educators to develop educational products or services that effectively leverage the resources of the entertainment community (including film, television, and video games) to improve educational outcomes in science classrooms. A total of $225,000 will support the development of one or more innovative ideas.
On February 4, 2011, the National Academy of Sciences convened leaders in the fields of science, education, and entertainment to explore the ways in which bringing together film, television programming, video games, and other entertainment media with quality science content and exceptional classroom teaching can empower student learning in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
Focused primarily on the middle and high school grades, this daylong summit provided a forum where participants could exchange ideas and share new perspectives on this topic. The meeting encouraged cross-disciplinary dialogue and challenged participants to think more broadly about how they can contribute to improving America’s STEM literacy and competitiveness.
More information about the Summit on Science, Entertainment, and Education and grant information can be found at seenas.ning.com. Applications are due May 16, 2011.
June 8th of every year marks the official, United Nations-recognized celebration of World Oceans Day, and hundreds of aquariums, zoos, museums, conservation organizations and thousands of individuals around the world will participate in educational events. This year, celebrations will draw attention to the importance of getting young people inspired to protect the ocean as part of the 2011 theme: Youth - the Next Wave for Change.
Do you have a positive story of how you and your organization are bringing environmental education to students? National Environmental Education Week would like to hear about it! Simply upload your own photos and stories on the new EE Week Photo Blog. Your story can be about activities either inside or outside the classroom, before, during, or after EE Week.
From 1971 to 1977, the Environmental Protection Agency hired freelance photographers to capture images relating to environmental problems, EPA activities, and everyday life in the 1970's. The U.S. National Archives digitized more than 15,000 photographs from the series. 4,000 of those images can be viewed here:
After 40 years of greater environmental awareness and protection since the EPA opened its doors, how far have we come? Your submitted photos will be considered for a 2011 environmental time capsule. Selected photos will be displayed alongside the 1970's collection showing the same ideas.
The State of the Environment Photo Project will run from April 2011 to Earth Day 2012. The EPA is inviting photographers to submit photos on the state of the environment as they experience it, to add to the Documerica project. Read more about the history of Documerica and how to enter your photos at http://www.flickr.com/groups/1667216@N23/ Selected photos will be featured on the EPA's website and at an Earth Day 2012 exhibit venue!
Kids across the country are being challenged to show their creativity by building a giant version of a Design Squad Nation activity. Form a team (that includes at least one adult), choose an activity, build it big, and upload a video of your design to YouTube. One prize (a flip camera) will be awarded to the winning team along with an opportunity to Skype with hosts Judy and Adam. Submissions may also be posted on the Design Squad Nation website. Entries must be received on or before August 1, 2011. For more details and complete official rules, click here. To view a video of hosts Judy and Adam challenging kids to participate and showing off their giant catapult, inspired by the Pop Fly activity, click here.
Already underway, the International Year of Chemistry 2011 (IYC 2011) is a worldwide celebration of the achievements of chemistry and its contributions to the well being of humankind. IYC 2011 offers a range of interactive, entertaining, and educational activities for all ages.
Students can participate in the largest chemistry experiment ever during the International Year of Chemistry! To help students from all over the globe understand that water is a precious resource that can’t be taken for granted, the Dow Chemical Company is supporting The Global Water Experiment. The Global Water Experiment encourages teachers and students to participate in a global experiment allowing students to test the water where they live and interact with other students around the globe to share results. This will teach students about sustainable water management and the role that chemistry plays in purifying water for human consumption. The results will be showcased on an interactive global data map throughout the experiment, which runs throughout 2011.
Students from across the nation will gather at NASA's
This program provides high school participants with a technical flight experience to reinforce science, technology, engineering and mathematics concepts. Teachers and students will participate in person or virtually in authentic, hands-on experiences based on NASA's sounding rocket engineering and science data collection. WRATS will include interactive Web-based data to give students and educators lessons in physics and engineering. Teachers also receive resources to integrate the data into classroom lessons.
Selected participants in other NASA education projects will have the opportunity to attend a rocketry flight week June 19 - 24, at Wallops. Participants will learn about the dynamics of launch, safe flight operations and view a NASA Terrier-Orion sounding rocket liftoff on Thursday, June 23.
WBEE provides opportunities for high school teachers to fly experiments on scientific flights. The program will involve teams of selected educators who have participated in other NASA education projects. They will visit the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas, for a weeklong workshop in July. Participants will be involved in classroom and hands-on balloon science activities. The teams will have the opportunity to build and test their own science payload for a flight to the edge of space under the direction of NASA and Louisiana Space Consortium personnel.
The WBEE experience culminates with the launch of these payloads aboard a NASA scientific balloon. WBEE will be an intensive course involving a broad-based learning experience educators may implement at their home schools.
Flying WILD's focus on migratory birds is designed to inspire young people to discover more about the natural world. It encourages students to get involved in activities that promote environmental learning and stewardship. The Flying WILD program places special emphasis on reaching urban schools with student populations that traditionally receive few opportunities to participate in environmental education initiatives.
The Curriculum Guide's many activities can be used to teach classroom lessons or to initiate service-learning projects that help birds and their habitats.
The 2011 SAVE THE FROGS! Art Contest will run through October 15th, 2011. All ages and nationalities are welcome to enter the contest.
NASA is seeking partners to help achieve its strategic goals for education, including informal education done at museums, science centers, and planetariums. The agency is committed to sharing the excitement of NASA's space-based missions and inspiring students of all ages to pursue studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Springtime is here. Changes are taking place in the air, land, water, plants and animals all around us. Celebrate the season with students across the country by taking part in IGES's 2011 Earth Day Photo & Essay Contest.
Enter the contest with a photograph showing change in your local environment. The photo must have been taken during the time Monday April 18 through Friday April 29, 2011 (Earth Day itself was April 22). It can be a photo of something showing change in your backyard or neighborhood, near your school or in a local park, on the ground or high in the sky, or off in the distance toward the horizon.
Research and write an essay (400 words or less) and enter by email or mail. Deadline is May 13, 2011.
Enter the Rachel Carson "Sense of Wonder" contest. Show how the beauty of nature inspires you through poetry, essays, photos or dance. Entries must be from a team of two or more persons, and must include a young person and an older person. The deadline for team entries is June 10, 2011.
High school students in the United States are invited to participate in NASA's Interdisciplinary National Science Program Incorporating Research Experience, or INSPIRE, through the program's online learning community. Applications are being accepted through June 30, and NASA will make selections for the program in September. Selectees and their parents will participate in an online learning community with opportunities to interact with peers, NASA engineers and scientists. Students selected for the program will also have the option to compete for unique experiences during the summer of 2012 at NASA facilities and participating universities.
INSPIRE is designed to encourage students in ninth through 12th grades to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. The summer experience provides students with a hands-on opportunity to investigate education and careers in those disciplines.
Green Teacher Magazine is offering 30 webinars on Planet Earth Education topics. Examples of topics include "School Grounds for Healthy Play and Learning," "Plugged In; But Tuned Out: The Need to Reconnect with Nature," "Innovative Curriculum Design for Sustainability", "Using the Environment as a Context for Learning in Standards-Based Education Systems", "FROG SONGS: Poetry and Essays, Field Ecology and Entomology", and "Green Craft-Making". To sign up for the webinars and to find out specific dates, check The Green Teacher Webinar page frequently. The webinars begin at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.
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.