We have a few major changes to announce at NESTA. As some of you know, my husband Dr. Timothy Killeen will soon be finishing up his appointment as an Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation for the Geosciences at the end of this month. He has recently accepted a position at the State University of New York as the President of the SUNY Research Foundation and Vice Chancellor for Research. I have also accepted a position on the faculty of the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Science at the University of Albany starting on August 20.
In this new position, I will teach courses in atmospheric and environmental science, and I will be continue as NESTA Executive Director as a component of my service role at the university. My husband and I are both excited that this will allow us to actually spend substantial time together in the same town (for the first time in four years)! From the perspective of NESTA and Windows to the Universe, this change should have no negative impact, and may indeed have a significant positive impact, in view of the close connection I will have with the faculty at UA, who have expressed considerable interest in expanding their education and outreach activities. Our projects and activities, including professional development workshops and publications, will continue without any significant changes.
Because of this change, we have also decided to close the NESTA office in Boulder, since I will be in New York most of the time. We will continue to receive mail at our PO Box in Boulder, Colorado, and will continue our financial operations in Boulder - we will just have a chance to save on office costs, since we don't really need an office at this point. We can also receive larger package shipments at an address that will soon be available on the NESTA website. Finally, please note that my email address will remain the same - no need to change that in your email list! Have a great summer! ~Roberta
Tropical Storm Debby continues to cause trouble for a large portion of Florida, closing highways, causing flooding and creating large sinkholes. As we move into summer, we’re beginning the 2012 hurricane season for the Atlantic Basin. The hurricane season traditionally begins on June 1st of every year, lasting until the end of November, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting a near-normal hurricane season.
Did you ever wonder how hurricanes get their names? All tropical storms with winds reaching 39 mph or higher are given names to make it easier to refer to them and track them. For many years, storms were named based on the saint’s holiday they occurred on, but in the mid-1950’s the U.S. Weather Service began using female first names for storms. In 1979, male first names were added, and as storms occurred, they were given a name based on an alphabetical list that has one name for every letter in the alphabet except for Q, X, and Z. The first storm of the season has a name that starts with A, the second storm has a name that starts with B, and so on. In the Atlantic, all names are English, Spanish, or French, since those are the dominant languages spoken by the countries affected by the storms.
The World Meteorological Organization has 6 lists of names that rotate, each one being used once every six years. The names alternate from male to female, and a name is replaced on a list only if it represents a storm that was particularly costly or deadly. The names for 2012 start with Alberto, Beryl, Chris, and Debby. Let's hope Ernesto is long in coming!
Be sure to prepare for a hurricane before it strikes. Plan ahead by reviewing EPA's suggestions for what to do before, during and after a hurricane.
We're happy to release the presentations, classroom activities, and videos taken during the AGU-NESTA GIFT workshop for K-12 classroom teachers held during the Fall 2011 AGU Meeting in San Francisco, California, on December 5-6. Please click on this Windows to the Universe page to view the workshop listings complete with presentation descriptions, and links to PowerPoint presentations, activities, supplementary materials, and videos. The workshop included presentations and activities on tsunamis, clouds, climate science field campaigns, the Pine Island glacier in Antarctic, and the dangers of airborne volcanic ash. Enjoy these valuable resources, and the accompanying videos!
The Voyager 1 space probe has reached the edge of the solar system, extending its record for being the most distant man-made object in space. According to a statement from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, the spacecraft is sending back data to Earth showing a sharp increase in charged particles that originate from beyond the solar system. The charged particles hitting Voyager 1 originate from stars that have exploded elsewhere in the galaxy.
Voyager 1, along with its sister spacecraft Voyager 2, was launched in 1977, and is now about 18 billion kilometers from the Sun. It is moving at a speed of about 17 km per second and it currently takes 16 hours and 38 minutes for data to reach NASA's network on Earth. Voyager 2 is about 15 billion kilometers from the Sun.
Between them, the probes have explored all the giant planets of the solar system; Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, as well as 48 of their moons.
They both carry a greeting for any extraterrestrial life they may bump into, a phonograph record and a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk that contains sounds and images of life and culture on Earth. A group chaired by the famous space scientist Carl Sagan selected the specific sounds and images.
The plutonium power sources on the Voyager probes are designed to last until 2025. When the power sources die, the probes will keep hurtling through space towards other stars in the Milky Way, but they will no longer transmit data back to Earth.
(Excerpts from Reuters, written by Chris Wickham, edited by Rosalind Russell)
We have recently added several new educational DVDs to the Windows to the Universe online store. Available DVDs include:
and the following resources from TASA graphics:
In the Windows to the Universe Teacher Resources section, we have many K-12 science activities on a variety of subjects including geology, water, atmospheric science, climate change, life, space weather and magnetism, and science literacy. Most of these activities are now available in PDF format.
Windows to the Universe Educator Members have free access to all downloadable PDF and PowerPoint materials in our Teacher Resources Activities section (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.
Want to save time collecting and prepping classroom materials? We have several classroom activity kits available in our online store for the following popular activities: 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.
Finally, we recently added several new titles to our collection of Earth and space science related books. New titles include:
As always, Windows to the Universe Educator Members get a 10% discount on all purchases from the online store - and this is on top of publisher discounts.
To honor the Albuquerque Seismic Laboratory‘s (ASL) 50th Anniversary, IRIS produced a helicorder plot that displays a continuous record of the digital seismic data recorded by seismometers at ASL. These instruments have produced digital seismic data for over 40 years.
The instruments at ASL reside in well-insulated quiet boreholes and vaults, producing extremely high-quality data while recording local, regional, and teleseismic earthquakes. The 40-year helicorder plot has been decimated, equalized in gain, bandpass filtered from 50-250 seconds, and cleaned of instrument calibration pulses. The seismograms are printed at monthly intervals, and the approximate timing of prominent earthquakes is highlighted along the margin. In addition to showing the spectacular quality and continuity of the data recorded at ASL, this unique presentation is a powerful teaching tool to stimulate discussion of the history of great earthquakes over almost a half century. The relative amplitude of large, globally significant earthquakes is striking in relation to more numerous, but significantly smaller regional events.
Every day about 100 tons of meteoroids -- fragments of dust and gravel and sometimes even big rocks – enter the Earth's atmosphere. Stand out under the stars for more than a half an hour on a clear night and you'll likely see a few of the meteors produced by the onslaught. But where does all this stuff come from? Surprisingly, the answer is not well known.
The Delta Aquarids meteor shower, which occurs steadily throughout late July and early August, is thought to be caused by Earth crossing through the orbit of an unknown comet. The meteors radiate from the constellation Aquarius, for which the shower is named. The shower produces approximately 15 meteors per hour and the optimal viewing time is an hour or two before dawn. Meteor watchers in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Northern Hemisphere's tropical latitudes enjoy the best views.
If you turn your gaze skyward during the summer and see something you don't recognize, check out the NASA All-sky Fireball Network web site to figure out what you saw. This site hosts data from a network of cameras that observe and track meteors brighter than the planet Venus (also called fireballs).
July marks the 325th anniversary of the book often regarded as the most important work in the history of science - Isaac Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, Latin for "Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy". It was first published on July 5, 1687, in three volumes and stated Newton's laws of motion that form the foundation of classical mechanics. In these volumes, Newton also stated the law of gravitation and used it to derive Kepler's laws of planetary motion.
For his theories, Newton developed mathematical methods that are now included in calculus (he shares the credit with Gottfried Leibniz who developed the foundations of calculus independently). Revolutionizing the philosophy of natural sciences, Newton showed that objects on Earth and celestial bodies are governed by the same set of natural laws. He also laid down several principles of scientific methodology.
Do you remember where you were when Neil Armstrong took his "one small step"? For those of us over 43 years old, this question reminds us of a defining moment in our lives. Did you know that about 2/3 of the 6.8 billion people alive today were born after the moon landing-- including most teachers and all of your students?
The first manned moon landing took place on July 20, 1969. At 8:17 pm (GMT/UTC), Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin landed the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, nicknamed “Eagle,” on the Sea of Tranquility.
When the Eagle was safely on the surface of the moon, Neil radioed mission control in Houston, Texas, saying, “Tranquility base here—the Eagle has landed.” It’s been estimated that over half a billion people around the world watched when Neil stepped onto the lunar surface over 6 hours later. After Neil said his famous line—"That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind” - he was joined by Buzz Aldrin, and they spent the next 2 1/2 hours taking photographs, collecting samples, and setting up experimental instruments.
Of all the people who have flown in outer space, only 12 people have walked on the moon (and all walked on the moon in just 3 1/2 years - between July 1969 and December 1972).
July is UV Safety Month. During this summer season, avoid overexposure to the sun's harmful "UV" rays. Remember that ultraviolet "light" can cause sunburn or even skin cancer, and can also damage your eyes. Melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, is on the rise in America and it is the most common cancer among young adults aged 25-29.
Fortunately, our atmosphere's ozone layer absorbs most ultraviolet radiation before it reaches the ground. Thanks to our protective atmosphere, a few simple precautions can help keep us safe from the remainder of this potentially dangerous type of radiation! Put on sunscreen; wear a hat, sunglasses, and a t-shirt. Read and practice more Action Steps for Sun Safety.
Finally, check today's UV Index where you live (developed by the National Weather Service and EPA).
Doing little things can go a long way in staying cool this summer. EPA has some great tips to help you and your family find ways this summer to help save energy, reduce pollution and fight climate change. Visit, http://www.epa.gov/epahome/hi-summer.htm.
Did you know that in addition to being ugly, air pollution can cause illnesses, damage crops, and even dissolve buildings? On Windows to the Universe, we have posted a series of pages that introduce students to air pollution.
In addition to an overview, there are pages describing different types of pollutants, such as particulate matter, tropospheric ozone, and volatile organic compounds. You can also read about transport mechanisms in the atmosphere.
We have collected a number of educational activities that deal with air pollution, smog, ozone and studying the atmosphere. Our newest atmospheric classroom activity has to do with black carbon and is called Changing Planet: Black Carbon - a Dusty Situation.
We also have a collection of interesting activities for Kids. Have your students take a look!
Remember each of these pages has 3 levels - use the button bar at the top to change levels!
People have been wondering about what they see in the sky for a long time. Because of our curiosity about the sky, we tell stories and myths about what we see there. The desire to explain what we see around us using science has motivated astronomers for centuries.
By carefully watching the sky, astronomers learn about how the universe works. By studying eclipses and the motions of the planets, astronomers eventually realized that gravity controls the way things move, and that gravity was responsible for the motion of the Sun, the Moon, and the stars in our sky as well. We now know that the Earth's motion is responsible for seasons.
Ever more powerful telescopes allow us to "see" further away and thus farther into the history of our Universe. With them, we can study stars and galaxies, as well as many of the more mysterious objects in our Universe. Someday, we may even be able to predict the ultimate fate of the Universe.
This is a good time of year to explore the atmospheric conditions that cause thunderstorms to form. These storms can include lightning, thunder, rain, hail, and tornadoes. Knowing and sharing information about thunderstorm safety is very important.
Ordinary thunderstorms last about one hour. Severe thunderstorms can last several hours and are much more dramatic. One type of supercell thunderstorm produces large amounts of precipitation and potentially creates downbursts, flash floods, and large hail. The other type doesn't produce much precipitation, but develops tornadoes and large hail.
A squall line consists of several thunderstorms banded together in a line. One type of squall line is a line of cumulonimbus clouds that grow and decay. The other type is a line of steady supercells. A squall line can produce heavy precipitation and strong winds, and can extend over 600 miles (1000 km).
This summer, take some time to learn more about these weather conditions! The weather section of Windows to the Universe provides information about many types of severe weather, including thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes.
Many geoscience educators have distributed AGI’s “Why Earth Science?” brochure to promote awareness of the importance of Earth science in K-12 education over the years. To ensure that this vital message reaches the widest possible audience, AGI has translated the publication into Spanish.
The National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) has recently released a new statement in support of high school level Earth Science instruction. It addresses such issues as the vital nature of the geosciences in areas such as climate, energy and natural hazards, the fact that job growth in the geosciences outpaces supply, and the need for an educated society to understand and communicate fundamental concepts and make informed and responsible decisions.
To that end, the NAGT identifies six action points in the areas of instruction, advanced placement, state departments of education and college recognition of high school Earth Science as a lab course, teacher certification and high school guidance counseling. To read the statement in its entirety, go to http://www.nagt.org/nagt/policy/high-school.html
Table of Contents
Voyager --> SS
DVDs, Kits, Books
Delta Aquarid MS
Why Earth Science?
Galileo Ed Network
AGI's Big Ideas
GeoWord of the Day
Toshiba Am Grants
Water is Worth It
ES Week Contests
National Fossil Day
Natl Wildlife Refuge
Thacher Env Winners
Earth Gauge Courses
App for That!
Announcements from Partners
Information about Opportunities with Stipends, Honorariums, or Awards for Teachers/students
A NASA Galileo Educator Network (GEN) Professional Development Institute (PDI) presented by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) and partners
Dates: Saturday–Sunday, September 29–30, 2012, 8:30 am–4:30 pm
Become a NASA Galileo Educator Fellow through this 15-hour Professional Development Institute (PDI) for teacher leaders, teacher educators, and PD providers. The Galileo Educator Network (GEN) PDI emphasizes the integration of science content, science practices, and the nature of science as outlined in the national Framework for K–12 Science Education. Our goals include preparing participants to deliver their own GEN professional development to assist K–12 teachers with the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards, in the context of astronomy and space science.
PDI participants will explore:
Participants in this GEN PDI will receive:
To Apply, go to the GEN PDI online application. For more information, please email: email@example.com
Big Ideas in Geoscience, a DVD created by AGI to bring the Nine Big Ideas from the Earth Science Literacy Principles to life, has just won three prestigious awards: Digital Video (DV) Winner in Education, DV Winner in Nature/Wildlife and Videographer Award of Excellence. These video awards are the latest in a series AGI has garnered over the last few years for its video productions. These include six Telly Awards, six Videographer Awards, two Marcom Awards, and now four DV Awards.
GeoWord of the Day is a fun and convenient way to learn a new geoscience term every day. Each morning (US ET) the service will highlight a new word or term featured in the Glossary of Geology, ensuring daily authoritative terms and definitions for years to come. Users may choose to receive the GeoWord of Day directly through email by subscribing online.
Wanted: Classroom Innovators! Toshiba America Foundation is currently accepting applications from teachers who are passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging for their students.
Do you teach 6-12 science or math? Do you have a wish list of instructional equipment that will make learning more exciting for your students? If the answer is yes to these questions, Toshiba America Foundation would like to hear from you.
Grade 6-12 applications for $5,000 or less are accepted on a rolling basis, throughout the calendar year. Grant requests of more than $5,000 are reviewed twice a year. Applications for grants of more than $5,00 are due August 1st and February 1st each year.
Are you a Citizen Geoscientist?
The AGI invites all geoscientists for workshops and visits with congressional members September 11-12, 2012.
Decision-makers need to hear from geoscientists. Join many of your colleagues for this two-day event uniting geoscience researchers, professionals, students, educators, engineers and executives in Washington D.C. to raise visibility and support for the geosciences.
The first day will be comprised of workshops at AGU headquarters followed by a second day of constructive visits from geoscientists with members of Congress or congressional staff on Capitol Hill to speak about the importance and value of geoscience (and geoscience-related engineering) research and education. This is a truly effective way to inform congress people and impact federal science policy.
Make a 15-second video about how water is important to you. The EPA will feature selected video clips as part of its anniversary celebration.
Submit now through September 14.
GreenWorks! is a service-learning, community action grant program for educators, students, and communities. The program focuses on environmental neighborhood improvement projects. Eligible schools must have established Green Teams and must have completed one or more of the Project Learning Tree GreenSchools! Investigations.
Deadline: September 30, 2012 - proposals available summer 2012
If you became an Earth scientist, what would you actually do? What funds are available to help pay for your studies? How could you get real-world work experience while still a student? You’re invited to explore such questions during Earth Science Week (October 14-20, 2012) by celebrating the theme “Discovering Careers in the Earth Sciences.”
In celebration of Earth Science Week 2012, the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is sponsoring three national contests honoring this year's theme "Discovering Careers in the Earth Sciences." This year's competitions will feature a photography contest, a visual arts contest, and an essay contest.
Students, geologists, and the general public are invited to participate in this year's photography contest, "Earth Science is a Big Job." Entries must be composed of original, unpublished material, and must capture how Earth scientists work in your community.
This year's visual arts contest, "Imagine Me, an Earth Scientist!" is open to students grades K-5. Use artwork to imagine yourself as an Earth scientist! What would you study? How would you gather information? And what tools would you use?
Finally, students grades 6 through 9 may participate in the essay contest. This year’s essays must address the idea of "Geoscientists Working Together."
Submissions will be judged by a panel of geoscientists on creativity, relevance, and incorporation of the topic at hand. Selected winners will be awarded for their submissions. For details, please visit http://www.earthsciweek.org/contests/index.html
Time travel is in your future! The National Park Service and AGI are collaborating to kick off the third annual National Fossil Day during Earth Science Week 2012. On Wednesday, October 17, you and your students can participate in events and activities taking place across the country at parks, in classrooms, and online.
Overlapping Earth Science Week this year, National Wildlife Refuge Week is also being held October 14-20, 2012. The event celebrates the richness of the 550 units that make up America’s National Wildlife Refuge System.
College student teams can develop innovative approaches to stormwater management, raise awareness of green design, and train the next generation of landscape architects, planners, and engineers. Students and advisors can start planning now; the competition opens fall 2012.
Heavy rains and severe flooding inundated Northern Virginia last September, damaging homes, sweeping cars away, and leading authorities to evacuate residents in certain areas. Such severe weather events are somber reminders of the need for accurate floodplain models. These models are important to help communities in flood-prone areas anticipate and prepare for changes in water levels.
Inspired by local events like the recent Eastern U.S. floods as well global events like the Attabad Lake landslide in Pakistan, Ahnaf Choudhury created and analyzed floodplain models in his winning entry for the 2012 Thacher Environmental Research Contest.
The Thacher Environmental Research Contest is an annual competition held by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES). It challenges students in grades 9-12 to use geospatial tools and data to create innovative research projects. "We are so impressed with these students and are confident that this new generation of leaders will truly exploit the benefits of Earth observations," IGES President Nancy Colleton commented.
Other winning entries covered topics like unsteady-flow models, land cover and stream health, and invasive plants.
For more information on the Thacher Environmental Research Contest, please visit: http://www.strategies.org/ThacherContest.
Earth Gauge provides a series of free, online courses and training materials that address the connections between weather and environment. Appropriate for adult learners, the courses cover topics including Climate Change, Weather and Health, Weather and the Built Environment and Watersheds.
Join the conversation(s)! EPA's blogs have been reorganized under the "Greenversations" group to make it easier to find topics you're interested in. EPA recently launched four new blogs and one new discussion forum:
The Eco Student: http://blog.epa.gov/students
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.