Stay up-to-date on Earth and space science education advances and opportunities with the free Windows to the Universe Earth and Space Science Education Newsletter, brought to you by the National Earth Science Teachers Association. July's issue includes a bevy of opportunities for you to take advantage of, as well as news about new resources and capabilities that will be helpful for the new academic year. It's easy to sign up for the newsletter - sign up today!

July 2013

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements
Windows to the Universe Facebook Group

Enjoy Summer!
by Roberta

Summertime is upon us (for those of us in the northern hemisphere!).  I hope we are all enjoying a pleasant break, with a chance to get out and see some beautiful sites and remind ourselves of why we do what we do!  Up here in the northeast, we've had quite a bit of rain, and everything is growing fast.  The western part of the US is moving into the triple digits, after prolonged temperatures in the 90s, and the start of the summer fire season.  Hopefully, we won't see a repeat of last year's extremely high temperatures and drought over most of the US - 2012 was identified as the warmest year on record in the continental US by NOAA. 

Summer brings a chance to prepare for the coming year at Windows to the Universe, and we are busily preparing for our fall conferences at NSTAs in Portland, Charlotte, and Denver.  We will soon send out a notice of all our sessions at the upcoming conferences, and hope we get to see many of you there.  This month we will also be releasing a set of presentations that we hope will be useful to you in your classrooms while teaching on a variety of topics in the Earth and space sciences.  This fall we will be offering a set of free web seminars on planetary science and astronomy associated with the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's Galileo Educators Network project (funded by NASA), building on to the short courses we offered last fall in Louisville and Atlanta. 

Prior to the start of the fall semester, we will be rolling out a new capability for Windows to the Universe Educator Members to access course management tools and quiz capabilities in support of their classrooms.  We'll keep you posted on all of these opportunities in the coming two months. 

Now that you might have a chance to read something in peace, perhaps this is a good time to direct your attention to the free issues of the National Earth Science Teacher's Association's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist.  These openly available issues have been sponsored by organizations that share our mission to provide access to exemplary K-12 Earth and space science educational resources and professional development for educators.  The issues are available on the NESTA website under the Past Issue Archive, and are indicated by a little "Free PDF" cloud graphic at the upper left of the title.  Themes include the most recent issue on Earth system science (sponsored by Penn State), the Fall 2012 issue on climate change education (sponsored by the National Science Foundation), the Spring 2012 issue on space science (sponsored by the Chandra Xray Observatory), and more (just scroll down the page, looking for the "Free PDF" graphic). 

Of course, members of NESTA have access to all of the issues, and receive them either in print (frequently including beautiful posters), or can access them online as PDFs.  If you're not a member, please join today!  Not only do you have access to this great publication, but you also receive NESTA's monthly newsletter, and provide support for NESTA's efforts to advance Earth and space science education at the K-12 level. 

In the meantime, enjoy your summer!

Dr. Sandra Henderson - White House Champion of Change!
by Roberta

Congratulations, Sandra!

Sandra Henderson, a former Windows to the Universe staff member, was recently honored as a White House Champion of Change for her work in Citizen Science and advancing STEM education.  She is the co-founder of Project BudBurst, a national citizen science program focused on plant phenology (timing of leafing, flowering and fruiting) and climate change.  As a start up in 2007, Project BudBurst was housed on the Windows to the Universe web site for several years before moving permanently to the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON).  Read more about her accomplishments in the links below. 

NEON press release -

White House Blog entry - 

YouTube -

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News from the Edge of the Solar System - Voyager 1

Data from Voyager 1, now more than 11 billion miles (18 billion kilometers) from the sun, suggest the spacecraft is closer to becoming the first human-made object to reach interstellar space (Voyager 2 is about 9 billion miles from the sun).

Voyager 1 data is now providing new detail on the last region the spacecraft will cross before it leaves the heliosphere, or the bubble around our sun, and enters interstellar space.  Scientists have seen two of the three signs of interstellar arrival they expected to see:  charged particles disappearing as they zoom out along the solar magnetic field, and cosmic rays from far outside zooming in.  Scientists have not yet seen the third sign, an abrupt change in the direction of the magnetic field, which would indicate the presence of the interstellar magnetic field.

According to Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.  "If you looked at the cosmic ray and energetic particle data in isolation, you might think Voyager had reached interstellar space, but the team feels Voyager 1 has not yet gotten there because we are still within the domain of the sun's magnetic field."

Scientists do not know exactly how far Voyager 1 has to go to reach interstellar space.  They estimate it could take several more months, or even years, to get there.  The heliosphere extends at least 8 billion miles (13 billion kilometers) beyond all the planets in our solar system.  It is dominated by the sun's magnetic field and an ionized wind expanding outward from the sun.  Outside the heliosphere, interstellar space is filled with matter from other stars and the magnetic field present in the nearby region of the Milky Way.

Voyager 1 and its twin spacecraft, Voyager 2, were launched in 1977.  They toured Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune before embarking on their interstellar mission in 1990.  They now aim to leave the heliosphere.  Measuring the size of the heliosphere is part of the Voyagers' mission.

For more information about the Voyager spacecraft mission, visit: and

Black Hole Bonanza in the Galaxy Next Door

Using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have discovered an unprecedented bonanza of black holes in the Andromeda Galaxy, one of the nearest galaxies to the Milky Way.

Using more than 150 Chandra observations, spread over 13 years, researchers identified 26 black hole candidates, the largest number to date, in a galaxy outside our own.  Many consider Andromeda to be a sister galaxy to the Milky Way.  The two will ultimately collide, several billion years from now.

"While we are excited to find so many black holes in Andromeda, we think it's just the tip of the iceberg," said Robin Barnard of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Mass., and lead author of a new paper (June 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal) describing these results.  "Most black holes won't have close companions and will be invisible to us."

The black hole candidates belong to the stellar mass category, meaning they formed in the death throes of very massive stars and typically have masses five to 10 times that of our sun.  Astronomers can detect these otherwise invisible objects as material is pulled from a companion star and is heated up to produce radiation before it disappears into the black hole.

Seven of these black hole candidates are within 1,000 light-years of the Andromeda Galaxy's center.  That is more than the number of black hole candidates with similar properties located near the center of our own galaxy.  This is not a surprise to astronomers because the bulge of stars in the middle of Andromeda is bigger, allowing more black holes to form.

For Chandra images, multimedia and related materials, visit: or

What's in a Name? Hurricanes!

It has been a fairly calm start to the 2013 hurricane season for the Atlantic basin (with Tropical Storms Andrea and Barry kicking things off).  The hurricane season traditionally begins on June 1st of every year, and lasts until the end of November.  Forecasters are predicting a very busy hurricane season.  On the whole, as climate change warms ocean waters long-term, hurricanes will become more frequent.

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 2013 names start with Andrea, Barry, Chantal, and Dorian.  Let's hope Chantal and Dorian are long in coming!

Be sure to prepare for a hurricane before it strikes.  Individuals, communities, and businesses can plan ahead by reviewing EPA's suggestions for what to do before, during, and after a hurricane.

Oklahoma Tornado Debris to Become Fish Habitats

Last month’s newsletter highlighted the devastating tornado that went through Moore, Oklahoma, in May.  Hundreds of people were injured, more than twenty were killed, and thousands of homes and businesses were wrecked by the storm.  Although help has poured in from around the country, the road to cleanup and recovery will be a long one.

One of the big questions in a reconstruction project of this size is what to do with all the debris left from the storm.  The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has come up with an interesting idea — they are collecting concrete rubble to use in building artificial fish habitats.  The idea is to build habitats in Oklahoma freshwater lakes where brush is scarce; the habitats are used by many species of fish as natural cover and as spawning points, and often become very popular fishing spots for local anglers.

Artificial fish habitats have been constructed in many different places around the world, and often serve as a very nice way to reuse ships, oil rigs, and other large manmade structures in hopes of strengthening the local environment.  Hopefully the same will be true in Oklahoma!

Read more about the Department of Wildlife Conservation’s efforts.

Wildfires 2013

As I write this piece, there are currently 19 separate wildfires occurring in the U.S. alone.  Over 3,658,639 acres have burned in the U.S. so far this year!  Although wildfires can be a naturally occurring and even a beneficial environmental event, this has been a severe month for wildfires.  California has seen an early start to its wildfire season, and has experienced stronger fires than usual.  Californian officials attribute these factors to two years of sparse rains.  And, of course, Colorado wildfires have been the most destructive in all of the state's history.  Our thoughts go out to those that have lost loved ones this season, all evacuees and those fighting the fires.

FEMA can help you prepare for the threat of a wildfire, CDC has good resources on health impacts of wildfires, and of course, Smokey the Bear can help children (and people of all ages) prevent wildfires.

New Solar Satellite - IRIS

NASA's next scientific satellite, launched June 27, will provide the most detailed look ever at the sun's lower atmosphere or interface region.

The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) mission, a NASA Small Explorer Mission, will observe how solar material moves, gathers energy, and heats up as it travels through this largely unexplored region of the solar atmosphere.  The interface region, located between the sun's visible surface and upper atmosphere, is where most of the sun's ultraviolet emission is generated.  These emissions impact the near-Earth space environment and Earth's climate.

"IRIS data will fill a crucial gap in our understanding of the solar interface region upon joining our fleet of heliophysics spacecraft," said Jeffrey Newmark, NASA's IRIS program scientist in Washington.  "For the first time we will have the necessary observations for understanding how energy is delivered to the million-degree outer solar corona and how the base of the solar wind is driven."

IRIS carries an ultraviolet telescope that feeds a multi-channel imaging spectrograph.  The satellite is the first mission designed to use an ultraviolet telescope to obtain high-resolution images and spectra every few seconds and will provide observations of areas as small as 150 miles across on the sun.  The IRIS mission allows for almost continuous observations of the sun for two years.

NASA Selects Next Generation of Space Explorers

After an extensive year-and-a-half search, NASA has a new group of potential astronauts who will help the agency push the boundaries of exploration and travel to new destinations in the solar system, including an asteroid and Mars.  Eight candidates have been selected to be NASA's newest astronaut trainees, hoping to be among the first to launch from U.S. soil on commercial American spacecraft (no people have launched into space from the U.S. since the retirement of the space shuttle).

The 2013 astronaut candidate class comes from the second largest number of applications NASA has received - more than 6,000.  Half of the selectees are women, making this the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected for a class.  The group will receive a wide array of technical training at space centers and remote locations around the globe to prepare for missions to low-Earth orbit, an asteroid and Mars.

"These new space explorers asked to join NASA because they know we're doing big, bold things here - developing missions to go farther into space than ever before," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.  "They're excited about the science we're doing on the International Space Station and our plan to launch from U.S. soil to there on spacecraft built by American companies.  And they're ready to help lead the first human mission to an asteroid and then on to Mars."

For more information about the astronaut candidates, their photos and details on the astronaut selection process, visit:

Asteroid Family Tree

Data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have led to a new and improved family tree for asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter.  The main asteroid belt is a major source of near-Earth objects (NEOs), which are those asteroids and comets that come within 28 million miles (45 million kilometers) of Earth's path around the sun.

The WISE team looked at about 120,000 main belt asteroids and found that about 38,000 of these objects could be assigned to 76 families, 28 of which are new.  Asteroid families are formed when a large object breaks up into asteroid fragments, and knowing how the asteroids in the main belt are related is a big step toward understanding how they were formed and how some of them end up traveling toward Earth.

To read more about the WISE project and their work on asteroids, visit this page:

Lunar Mascons

NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission has uncovered the origin of massive invisible regions that make the moon's gravity uneven, a phenomenon that affects the operations of lunar-orbiting spacecraft.  GRAIL's twin spacecraft (named Ebb and Flow) studied the internal structure and composition of the moon in unprecedented detail for nine months.  They pinpointed large, dense regions called mass concentrations, or mascons, which lurk beneath the lunar surface and are characterized by strong gravitational pull.  Mascons cannot be seen by normal optical cameras.

The origin of lunar mascons had been a mystery in planetary science since their discovery in 1968.  Researchers now agree that mascons are a result of ancient asteroid or comet impacts that occurred billions of years ago, and GRAIL’s data are expected to further teach scientists about the geology of large impacts on the moon as well as on Earth.  These discoveries will also help spacecraft navigate the gravitational pull of planetary bodies more precisely in the future.

For more information about GRAIL, visit:

King Tide!

Around the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere (June 21), areas of the east coast of the U.S. experienced a "king tide," the highest tide cycle of the year.  A king tide is a natural phenomenon caused by the alignment of the sun and moon, but can cause localized flooding in low-lying areas.

If you took photos of king tides and high sea levels, upload your image in Flickr with "King Tide" in the description or as a tag.  Then share it with the State of the Environment photo project.  Read more about this at:

Look up high tide times near you:

Apollo 11's 44th Anniversary

Do you remember where you were when Neil Armstrong took his "one small step?"  For those of us over 44 years old, this question reminds us of a defining moment in our lives.  Did you know that about 2/3 of the >7 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).

Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower

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 tropical latitudes (both in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Northern Hemisphere) 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).

Apply to Present at AGU/NESTA GIFT Workshop in San Francisco

Applications to present at the GIFT workshop at the 2013 Fall Meeting of AGU in San Francisco will be taken though August 6, 2013.  Participating in the AGU/NESTA GIFT workshop is an excellent way to share your science and associated educational resources with teachers, and to help them bring these resources directly into their classrooms.  Final decisions on selected presentation teams will be made by August 23.

The workshop will be held December 9-10, 2013, from 7:30 am-3 pm (allowing teachers to explore the exhibit hall and attend poster and presentation sessions in the afternoon).  A Share-a-Thon will be hosted each day during the workshop.

Workshop presentations by scientists and education specialists presented at the 2012 GIFT workshop are available at  Enjoy!

Interactive Version of the Next Generation Science Standards

Earlier this spring, the final Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a new set of voluntary, rigorous, and internationally benchmarked standards for K-12 science education, were released. 

Achieve has launched an online, interactive version of the NGSS that allows users to search the standards and organize content to meet their needs by simply clicking Within the Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI) or Arranged by Topics (then further organize by grade band/level).  The NGSS can also be viewed as the individual performance expectations that make up the standards.  In this arrangement, content can be organized by the three dimensions:  from the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and DCIs.

Ultraviolet "Light"

Summer is here (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere at least!), and with it comes trips to the beach or pool.  When you go outside this summer (or on sunny days in the winter!), make sure to wear your sunglasses and to slather on sunscreen.  Ultraviolet "light" can cause sunburn or even skin cancer (melanoma can affect even teens and young adults).  UV radiation can also damage your eyes.  Fortunately, our atmosphere's ozone layer absorbs most ultraviolet radiation before it reaches us on 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!

Check out the EPA's recommendations for sun safety at

Travel the Ecosystems of the World!

Are you on summer vacation?  If so, what a great time to visit a new ecosystem!

Can't take a trip right now?  Then take yourself on a virtual trip by visiting the ecosystems section of Windows to the Universe.  There you can travel from the tropical rainforest to the Arctic tundra with just the click of your mouse.  Explore the desert, temperate forests, or grasslands.  Or perhaps you'd rather head to the ocean?  Whether you are taking a virtual trip or an actual trip this summer, have fun!

A Picture is Worth – A Lot!

A good photo or illustration can make teaching a difficult topic so much easier – especially for younger learners and for visual learners of all ages.  Check out our Image Galleries and use the images freely in your classroom!  We update these image galleries frequently, so check back often.

NESTA also hosts a great geoscience image collection and you are encouraged to submit photos of your own for relevant topics.

Finally, NASA has combined its entire past image archives into one impressive site that you can easily search.  You won’t be disappointed looking through the NASA Images web site.  Enjoy!

Table of Contents

Address Book
Voyager 1 News
Black Hole Bonanza
Hurricanes 2013!
OK Fish Habitats
Wildfires 2013
Solar IRIS
Next Space Explorers
Asteroid Fam Tree
Lunar Mascons
King Tide!
Apollo 11 Anniv
Delta Aquarid MS
AGU GIFT in SanFran
Sci Standards Online
UV Light
Ecosystems Section
A Picture is Worth

SoI Project
Budburst - Solstice
LEGO Build Contest
Energypath 2013
Congressional Visit
GreenWorks! Grant
ES Wk Mapping World
Junior Paleo
ES Week Contests
Night Rovers
Disney's Friends
Flat Stanley-Stella
NOAA Activity Book
SEED Program
GeoWord of the Day
S&T Natl Quiz
EarthViewer App
Geography Resources
EPA Blogs














  Teacher Submissions

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  Announcements from Partners

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Information about Opportunities with Stipends, Honorariums, or Awards for Teachers/students
Educator members of Windows to the Universe should log into the website and go to the Member Special Offers page for details about these opportunities. If you're not a member, join today and find out how to apply to these opportunities! Additional information for non-members is available at

2013 Summer of Innovation Project

NASA has unveiled plans for its 2013 Summer of Innovation project, which challenges students across the United States to share in the excitement of scientific discovery and space exploration through unique, NASA-related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) opportunities.

Summer of Innovation leverages the expertise and reach of NASA's 10 field centers, national academic and industry partners, and smaller, non-traditional collaborators to keep students engaged in STEM activities during the summer school break.  NASA's facilities and partner organizations will host family activity days, opportunities for students to talk with NASA experts, and summer day camps.  Students attending the day camps will design and construct their own rockets, build water filtration systems, learn to become as fit as an astronaut, and participate in NASA hands-on activities.

One main focus of the Summer of Innovation that all K-12 students can participate in is the Exploration Design Challenge which gives students the opportunity to play a unique role in the future of human spaceflight.  The challenge asks students in the U.S. and abroad to think and act like scientists to overcome one of the major hurdles for deep space long-duration exploration -- protecting astronauts and hardware from the dangers of space radiation.  To learn more about the Exploration Design Challenge and to sign up to become a virtual crew member, visit:

Information about NASA opportunities during the 2013 Summer of Innovation is available at:

Project BudBurst - Summer Solstice Snapshot Event

Summer is a great time of year!  Summer brings with it sunshine, vacations, and beautiful plants that are flowering and fruiting.  

June 21st was the summer solstice.  But it's not too late to join Project Budburst in making observations of a plant near you (while at home or on vacation!), during the Summer Solstice Snapshot event during the month of July.

Why is the Summer Solstice Snapshot event important to science?  One of the most frequent requests Project Budburst gets from scientists is for enhanced geographic coverage of ecological observations.  The more citizen scientists participating across the country, the better the geographic coverage and the more useful the data is to professional scientists.  Scientists are using Project Budburst data to look for general environmental trends, and to provide ground-truthing to better understand remotely sensed data such as that taken by satellites.

Join this growing community this summer, or any time year round!

NASA Partners With the LEGO Group for Design and Build Contest

NASA and the LEGO Group are partnering to inspire the next generation of aerospace engineers by offering a new design competition.  The competition will spur students to use the toy bricks in building models of future airplanes and spacecraft.

"NASA's Missions: Imagine and Build" competition has an entry deadline of July 31.  Winners in each category will be selected by a panel of NASA and LEGO officials and will be announced September 1.

There are several categories such as "Inventing our Future of Flight" (two age brackets) and "Imagine our Future Beyond Earth" (age 16 and older).  Winners will receive LEGO prizes and a collection of NASA memorabilia.

To read the complete rules and guidelines, visit:

Energypath 2013 Scholarships and Science Fair

The Sustainable Energy Fund is proud to provide full scholarships to students and educators on a first come, first serve basis to attend Energypath 2013 at Villanova University on July 29 to August 2, 2013.  The Sustainable Energy Fund, an organization that assists energy users in overcoming educational and financial barriers to a sustainable energy future, provides hundreds of scholarships to professional educators and college students each year to attend the Energypath Conference and a pre-conference Energy Camp.

These scholarships include admission to an energy camp, the conference, exhibits, the science fair, a movie and the keynote dinner.  In addition, those attending an energy camp are provided with on-campus housing and dining (breakfast, lunch and dinner) during their stay.  To register, apply for a scholarship, or learn more about Energypath 2013, please call Elizabeth at 610-264-4440 or email

The 6th Annual Geosciences Congressional Visits Day

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI), in collaboration with many other geoscience societies, invites geoscientists to come to Washington DC for the annual Geosciences Congressional Visits Day (GEO-CVD) on September 17-18, 2013.  Decision makers need to hear from geoscientists.  Become a citizen geoscientist and join many of your colleagues for this two-day event uniting geoscience researchers, professionals, students, educators, engineers, and executives in Washington DC to raise visibility and support for the geosciences.

A constructive visit from citizen geoscientists about the importance and value of geoscience (and geoscience-related engineering) research and education is the most effective way to inform and impact federal science policy.  Find out more information and sign up for this important event at

Apply for a PLT GreenWorks! Grant

Project Learning Tree has GreenWorks! grants of up to $3,000 available to schools and youth organizations for environmental service-learning projects.  The application form is now online and the deadline to apply is September 30, 2013.

PLT's GreenWorks! program is open to any PLT-trained educator in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  The grants help students actively improve their local environments, which include both their schools and their communities.  Possible project ideas might include implementing recycling programs, conserving water and energy, improving air quality, or establishing school gardens and outdoor classrooms and integrating these projects into the curriculum.  PLT also provides grants for youth to plant trees, conserve forests, restore habitats, improve streams, construct nature trails, and more.

PLT GreenWorks! projects combine academics with service projects using the service-learning model.  In this way, students “learn by doing” through an action project they both design and implement.  The projects encourage students to partner with school decision-makers, local businesses, and community organizations to provide opportunities for student leadership.

Teachers and students can visit to download an application and apply today.  Successful applicants can expect grant funds to be awarded in December 2013.  All projects must be completed by December 2014.

Earth Science Week 2013 - Mapping Our World

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is pleased to announce that the theme of Earth Science Week 2013 will be "Mapping Our World."

This year's event will promote awareness of the many exciting uses of maps and mapping technologies in the geosciences.  Earth Science Week 2013 materials and activities will engage young people and others in learning how geoscientists, geographers, and other mapping professionals use maps to represent land formations, natural resource deposits, bodies of water, fault lines, volcanic activity, weather patterns, travel routes, parks, businesses, population distribution, our shared geologic heritage, and more.  Maps help show how the Earth systems (geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere) interact.

Earth Science Week 2013 will be celebrated October 13-19.  For more about this week and ways to get involved, including newsletters, local events, and classroom activities, please see the Earth Science Week web site.

Encourage Your Students To Be Junior Paleontologists

The National Park Service’s Junior Paleontologist program seeks to engage young people in activities that allow them to discover the significance of fossils and the science of paleontology, and introduces them to the national park system and to the mission of the National Park Service.

Besides learning about Earth’s history, ancient life, and past changes to climate and environments, Junior Paleontologists explore the ways paleontologists work to protect fossils found in more than 230 national park areas that preserve these scientific resources.  This is a great way to prepare for the third annual National Fossil Day, taking place on Wednesday, October 16, during Earth Science Week 2013 (October 13-19).
The Junior Paleontologist Program is a part of the National Park Service's Junior Ranger Program, which aims to connect young people to their national parks.  Download the Junior Paleontologist Activity Booklet for children ages 5 to 12 at

Contests Add Fun, Learning To Earth Science Week 2013

AGI is sponsoring three national contests for Earth Science Week 2013.  The photography, visual arts, and essay contests - all focused on the event theme of “Mapping Our World” - allow both students and the general public to participate in the celebration, learn about Earth science, and compete for prizes.

The photography contest, open to all ages, focuses on “Mapping My Community.”  Open to students in grades K-5, the visual arts contest is titled “Making Maps Through the Ages.”  Finally, students in grades 6-9 are eligible to enter the essay contest:  “How Geoscientists Use Maps.”  Essays of up to 300 words should describe how geoscientists use maps to monitor interactions of Earth systems.

The deadline for entries is October 18, 2013.  The first-place prize for each contest is $300 and a copy of AGI’s “Faces of Earth” 2-DVD package.  To learn more about these contests, including how to enter, visit

NASA Night Rover Energy Challenge

Registration is open for teams seeking to compete in the $1.5 million energy storage competition known as the Night Rover Challenge, sponsored by NASA and the Cleantech Open of Palo Alto, CA.  To win, a team must demonstrate a stored energy system that can power a simulated solar-powered exploration vehicle that can operate through multiple cycles of daylight and extended periods of darkness.

"The goal of the Night Rover Challenge is to stimulate innovations in energy storage technologies of value in extreme space environments, such as the surface of the moon, or for electric vehicles and renewable energy systems here on Earth," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for Space Technology at NASA Headquarters in Washington.  "NASA wants this challenge to generate new ideas that will allow planetary rovers the ability to take on a night shift, and possibly create new energy storage technologies for applications of benefit here on our home planet."

For information about the Night Rover Challenge or to register a team, visit:  Early registration closes on July 26, 2013, and regular registration closes October 25, 2013.  Trials will begin in January 2014.

Disney's Friends for Change - Project Green

If you're looking for a way as a parent or as a teacher to get your teens and tweens involved in a fun, safe, environmental movement, you should take a look at Disney's Friends for Change - Project Green.  It encourages kids to get involved to help the planet in a variety of ways.  And as you can imagine coming from Disney - they make things just plain fun!

They also offer grants to help kids achieve their goals with local environmental projects.  Take a look!

Flat Stanley and Flat Stella Explore the Environment!

"Stanley and Stella Explore the Environment" is a new blog that will help kids learn about protecting the environment while they also build reading and science skills.  Kids will have loads of fun when they join Stanley and Stella on their adventures this summer at:

Looking for Something to Fill Those Summer Hours? Check Out This NOAA Activity Book!

NOAA has a new activity book about the principles of climate science - Discover Your Changing World With NOAA has ten activities to keep your kids and students engaged this summer.

Chapters include:

  • How does the Sun drive Earth's climate system?
  • How have plants, animals, and humans affected Earth's climate?
  • How do the ocean, ice, clouds, and atmospheric gases affect the impact of the Sun's energy on the Earth?
  • How may Earth's changing climate affect plants, animals, and humans?

Are your students ready to discover their changing world?  This free activity book will introduce students to The Essential Principles of Climate Science, and they will learn what they can do to explore, understand, and protect our Earth.  Download the full activity book or complete individual activities and have fun!

SEED Program and Web Site

SEED (Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development) is a volunteer-based, nonprofit education program that empowers Schlumberger employee volunteers and educators to share their passion for learning and science with students aged 10 to 18.  The SEED “learning while doing” methodology draws on the technology and science expertise of volunteers to engage students in global issues such as water, energy, and climate change.

SEED’s School Network Program invites qualified underserved schools to apply for grants that provide various resources, typically including funding for computer hardware and software, and Internet connectivity.  Educational programs offer students and educators in SEED network schools hands-on workshops and online activities using a project-based approach.

The Online Science Center provides educational resources and opportunities to learners and educators in seven languages:  Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.  Learning materials include ready-to-go SEED experiments, activities, and articles from the Online Science Center.  Find out more at

GeoWord of the Day From the AGI

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) has a free GeoWord of the Day service.  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.

Science and Technology Knowledge Quiz

Pew Research Center in conjunction with Smithsonian Magazine would like you and your students to take their 13-question quiz to test your knowledge of scientific concepts.

As soon as you complete the quiz, you see how you did in comparison with the 1,006 randomly sampled adults asked the same questions in this national poll.  The findings from the poll can be found in this full report.  But no peeking!  If you are going to take the quiz, do it first before reading the analysis.

EarthViewer App

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) offers the free EarthViewer App for iPads which allows users to explore the science of Earth's history.

This new interactive tool is designed for exploring the science of Earth's deep history.  From molten mass to snowball earth, EarthViewer lets you see continents grow and shift as you scroll through billions of years.  Additional layers let you and your students explore changes in atmospheric composition, temperature, biodiversity, day length, and solar luminosity over deep time.

Geography Resources

The Association of American Geographers (AAG) offers an array of web resources for K-12 and college-level Earth science education:  

* The Geographic Advantage (, an educational companion for the National Research Council’s “Understanding the Changing Planet,” outlines teaching strategies and geographic investigations that show students how geographers explore environmental change and sustainability.

* AAG’s Center for Global Geography Education ( offers online modules for undergraduate courses in geography and related social and environmental sciences.  All modules feature a conceptual framework, regional case studies and collaborative projects.

* GeoSTART materials will help middle/high school students learn state-of-the-art approaches to geography, earth science and spatial thinking skills using remote sensing imagery and related data from NASA's Earth Observing Missions.  Go online ( for free activities and materials.

Visit EPA's Blogs

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:
It All Starts With Science:
Environmental Justice in Action:
Conversando Acerca de Nuestro Medio Ambiente:
New Forum - Looking Beneath The Surface:

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