I hope you're all enjoying a relaxing last few weeks of summer, and are resting up for the coming school year. Hopefully, you've also had a chance to visit some interesting places, and can bring those experiences back to your classroom. I'd like to alert you to a few upcoming items, with the hope that you may be able to take advantage of them.
The next issue of the National Earth Science Teachers Association's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist (TES), has a focus on climate change education. We’re very excited about it, for several reasons. First of all, we’d like to thank the National Science Foundation for their financial support of this issue. This support has made it possible for NESTA to implement a peer-review process for articles submitted to TES! For NESTA, peer-review involves feedback from leading teachers across the country as well as domain experts – in this case, specialists in climate change education. We’re delighted that 15 of these individuals agreed to serve as peer-reviewers for articles submitted to the issue. Moving forward, we will continue to provide peer-review for all articles submitted to TES, providing a valuable service for both authors and subscribers.
As many of you have undoubtedly noticed, this year has been exceptionally warm. According to NOAA, this spring was the warmest on record in the US since record keeping began in 1895. The last 12 months (July 2011-June 2012) have also been noted as the warmest on record. Every state across the contiguous U.S. had warmer than average temperatures for the period, except Washington, which was near normal. According to NASA, the global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, continuing a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000.
On a daily basis, we hear about extreme events and changes in our environment. In mid July, NASA discovered a surprising sudden melting of the Greenland ice sheet, with melting underway across 97% of the surface. The Alaska Highway, which was built on permafrost (and relies upon it for stability), is starting to buckle as permafrost below it melts. This year we had a record number of tornadoes very early in the year, causing massive damage in the mid-west and southern states. We are in the middle of the worst drought in 50 years, which brings with it significant ripple effects in society – lowering water levels in reservoirs endangering recreation and energy production, withering crops impacting food production and the cost of food, and lowering water levels on major rivers impacting shipping (to name only a few!). Clearly, we live in a deeply interconnected system bringing together the environment, the economy, and our social system – the three pillars of society. As the climate warms – which observational evidence clearly shows is happening – there will be impacts throughout society because of these interconnections.
From the perspective of an Earth and space science teacher, climate change offers a particularly compelling case study that demonstrates the interconnectedness of systems and brings about the opportunity for your students to understand and apply unifying concepts and processes of science. The fall issue of TES provides five articles describing resources for you to use in the classroom for climate change education, as well as an article that looks into the problems caused by the “teach the controversy” approach. We hope these articles are helpful to you in the coming year as you delve into this difficult and compelling topic. We also provide a list of particularly useful online climate change education resources for you in the issue. If you're already a member of NESTA, you'll receive your copy either online or in the mail, depending on your form of membership. If you're not a member, you can easily join online.
A list of our sessions at the fall NSTA Area conferences is provided below (please note that we will be offering short courses on planetary science and astronomy in Louisville and Atlanta). We hope to see you there!
As I write this piece, there are currently over 30 separate wildfires occurring in the U.S. alone. Over 3,781,922 acres have burned in this U.S. so far this year! Although wildfires can be a naturally occurring and even a beneficial environmental event, this has been a severe summer for wildfires because they've threatened populated areas and have required evacuations in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming. Many blame drought conditions and high temperatures for such severe happenings. Our thoughts go out to 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.
Possibly the best known meteor shower, the Perseids, will be peaking August 12-13 (just after midnight until just before dawn). Luckily, a waning crescent moon (which will rise around midnight), won't ruin viewing that peak night. The Perseids provide chances to see many bright meteors, with persistent trains, the week before the peak as well. So look skyward toward the constellation Perseus and enjoy nature's show!
Need tips for viewing this year's meteor shower? Watch a NASA ScienceCast video on summer's Perseid meteor shower.
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.
Have you had a chance to visit our Teacher Resources Section? If not, August may be a great time to do so as you begin planning for a new school year.
In our Teacher Resources section, there is a page about various workshops we've presented. So if you are looking for information that was presented during one of those sessions - look here!
But the highlight of our Teacher Resources section is definitely our Activities Page. Here you'll find many K-12 science activities on subjects from space weather to geology to writing in the science classroom. Most are hands-on and use inexpensive materials.
We have tried our best to make our activities teacher-friendly. You will see on the top of the activities a brief summary of each activity, the grade level addressed, time the activity takes and the National Standards addressed. See our Magnetometer Activity as an example.
We hope our activities will be a refreshing addition to your classroom. To those of you in the Northern Hemisphere - all the best for a new school year!
It’s almost back-to-school time again, and that’s a big part of why the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has designated August “National Immunization Awareness Month.”Immunizations (or vaccinations) are a huge part of modern medicine, and in many ways they are the most important means of controlling infectious diseases like measles, polio, and diphtheria.
Vaccinations work by showing your body’s immune system what a potentially harmful virus or bacterium looks like, without actually exposing your body to a real infection. Once your body learns to recognize the virus or bacterium, it can deal with a real infection much more efficiently. This means that your immune system can often clear an infecting virus or bacterium without you even knowing you were exposed.
There’s a lot of discussion about vaccines’ safety these days, but it’s important to remember this—the one thing that has been proven again and again for more than 200 years is that vaccines save lives.
NESTA is pleased to announce our sessions at the NSTA Area Conference for fall 2012.
Want to present at one or more of our Share-a-Thons? – Sign up to present at a NESTA Share-a-Thon at http://www.nestanet.org/cms/content/conferences/nsta/shareathons/apply.
NESTA Sessions in Louisville
Friday, October 19 - All events on Friday are in the Kentucky International Convention Center, L15
Saturday, October 20
NESTA Sessions in Atlanta
Friday, November 2 - All events on Friday are in the Georgia World Congress Center, B401/B402
Saturday, November 3
NESTA Sessions in Phoenix
Friday, December 7 - All events on Friday are in the Phoenix Convention Center, 132 A-C
NASA's History Program Office iTunes U site currently contains about 300 items related to important moments, activities and figures in NASA history. The site's content is free to download.
The site includes Apollo program material with a collection of items for each of the Apollo missions, as well as a special Politics of Apollo collection featuring key documents related to the U.S. lunar program. The site also features eBooks from the NASA History Series.
Other agency programs using iTunes U include NASA's Academy of Program, Project and Engineering Leadership (APPEL), NASA Spinoffs from the Office of the Chief Technologist, and collections from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. To view all of NASA's iTunes U sites and to download material, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/connect/itunesu.html. To view Apollo materials not found on iTunes U, visit NASA's history website at: http://history.nasa.gov/apollo.html
There are several notable science history dates in August. Here are some of them:
129 years ago, a perfectly cone-shaped volcano projecting out of the sea between the islands of Java and Sumatra, Indonesia, exploded with activity. That cone-shaped volcano was Krakatoa. This month marks the anniversary of Krakatoa’s most spectacular eruption in recorded history.
On August 26-27, 1883, after months of earthquakes, venting steam and small eruptions, the volcano exploded violently, ejecting 25 cubic kilometers of rock and ash. The eruption was so loud that people as far away as Perth, Australia, heard the racket. After the eruption was over, the once cone-shaped volcano had been reduced to a small island, which eventually subsided into the ocean.
The eruption caused a tsunami with 140-foot waves that resulted in the destruction of many coastal villages. It also caused a temporary change in global climate by spewing aerosols into the atmosphere along with the ash and rock. Aerosols can linger in the stratosphere and spread out around the world, blocking incoming solar radiation, and cooling the climate.
Other volcanic eruptions have caused a temporary cooling of climate. When Mount Tambora erupted in 1815, so many aerosols made their way into the atmosphere that the following year was terribly chilly and became known as the Year Without a Summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Aerosols eventually fall out of the atmosphere as acid rain and the climate warms again.
Eratosthenes, an ancient Greek scientist, made the first reasonably accurate measurement of the size of the Earth in 240 B.C. He knew that the Sun made no shadow in a well in the Egyptian town of Syene on the summer solstice; and, therefore, that the Sun must be directly overhead in Syene on that day. He measured the length of the shadow of a tall tower in his hometown of Alexandria on the solstice. He combined this information with the distance between Alexandria and Syene (about 800 km), and with a little geometry, was able to determine the circumference of the Earth.
Windows to the Universe coordinated a modern recreation of Eratosthenes' Earth-size measurement in 2007. Read more about the "Measure Your World" project to see how modern day citizen scientists did!
Windows to Adventure, a book series devoted to geology, astronomy, the planets, atmospheric science, oceans, and climate, uses fantasy characters, magical realms, and legends from regions around the world, to make science accessible to readers of 3rd or 4th grade. Angie and Rashad find a strange object in the woods that can take them on adventures, and into a magical realm of talking mountains and planets.
“Windows to the Morning Star” has been released and future titles will come out approximately once a quarter through 2014. The books, translated into English, Spanish and French, will be available in e-Book or print-on-demand format via Kindle, Nook, and Kobo books. They can also be ordered through the science-learning website Windows to the Universe at the Science Store. Learn more about this exciting series at http://www.redphoenixbooks.com or follow Red Phoenix Books on Twitter (redphoenixbooks) or Facebook.
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.
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!
Table of Contents
NESTA at NSTA
Windows to Adventure
DVDs, Kits, Books
Galileo Ed Network
Outstanding ES ?'s
End of World?
Toshiba Am Grants
Water is Worth It
Green Thumb Chall
My Air, My Health
ES Week Contests
Shark Week 2012!
National Fossil Day
Natl Wildlife Refuge
Space Travel App
Earth Gauge Courses
How about a little help planning your Earth Science classes at the start of the academic year?
The Teaching Planner is a new online tool developed by a team of science education experts that can help you to plan instruction for the whole year. It includes high-quality and carefully selected science and math web resources, plus you can enter your favorite materials. The resources are organized according to core ideas and type. The Teaching Planner includes lesson-planning capabilities, an integrated grade book, the ability to save and share resources, translation, and many other helpful features.
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 (including NESTA!)
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
What are today's biggest unanswered questions in earth science? In the July issue of EARTH Magazine, experts from a variety of disciplines weigh in on what they consider to be the biggest unsolved mysteries across the geosciences and how they think we may solve them.
The purported last day of a 5,125-year cycle in the Mesoamerican calendar has been added to an endless list of days when the world has been expected to end. But what are our real chances of being wiped out by a catastrophic event – the kind that has happened in the past and will inevitably occur again someday? In the August issue of EARTH, we explore four of the most probable global events that could change life on Earth forever.
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.
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.
The Green Education Foundation is calling on schools and groups to join the largest youth gardening initiative! All participants have an opportunity to be awarded a $5,000 grant in recognition of their garden project. Over $10,000 worth of prizes has already been awarded to Green Thumb Challenge participants, courtesy of program sponsors. The deadline is September 30th.
The Green Thumb Challenge aims to connect children with nature and the healthy benefits of gardening as part of a nationwide movement to get kids growing. Whether sowing seeds during one class period, planting bulbs in one afternoon, or planning an outdoor garden that comes back year after year, you and your students can be part of the movement! GEF's gardening resources provide participants with helpful materials and strategies for gardeners of all experience levels. It doesn't need to cost much money, or require many resources - it's really up to you! Every garden, no matter its size, will add beauty and life to what had been there before.
Take advantage of free activities and standards-based lessons linking the classroom to the garden. Kids will be excited to get their hands in the soil, learn while using all their senses, and make real connections to their classroom curriculum.
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
Do you have an idea about how to measure how pollution affects our bodies? EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) started "My Air, My Health," a nationwide challenge with cash awards for inventing personal, portable sensors that measure air pollution and physiological response. The challenge runs through October 5.
Recycle-Bowl aims to establish new recycling programs within schools, increase recycling rates in schools that currently recycle and provide teacher/student educational opportunities about recycling and waste reduction. A winner from each U.S. state and the District of Columbia will receive $1,000 based on the most recycled material per person per school. An additional grand prize valued at $2,500 will go to the top performer among the State Champions! Register by October 8 to compete.
Are you searching for funding for your outdoor classroom, schoolyard garden, or school greening project? Lowe's will donate $5 million to public schools and public school parent teacher groups at more than 1,000 different public schools per school year. The Fall 2012 grant cycle will open mid-July and close October 12, 2012. Find out more about this awesome opportunity!
In celebration of Earth Science Week 2012 (October 14-20th), 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
The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with the EPA to recognize young people across the U.S. who are protecting our nation’s air, water, land, and ecology. It is one of the most important ways the EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation’s young people. One outstanding project from each region is selected for national recognition. Projects are developed by young individuals, school classes (K-12), summer camps, and youth organizations to promote environmental stewardship. Thousands of young people from all 50 states and the U.S. territories have submitted projects to the EPA for consideration. Winning projects in the past have covered a wide range of subject areas, including:
Evaluation results consistently demonstrate that the experience is a life-changing event for many of the young people and sponsors who participate.
Find out how to apply. The annual deadline for the regional award program is December 31.
The Future City Competition is a national, project-based learning experience where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade imagine, design, and build cities of the future. Students work as a team with an educator and engineer mentor to plan cities using SimCity™ 4 Deluxe software; research and write solutions to an engineering problem; build tabletop scale models with recycled materials; and present their ideas before judges at Regional Competitions in January. Regional winners represent their region at the National Finals in Washington, D.C., in February.
While Future City is first and foremost an engineering experience, there are also awesome prizes to win! Teams that win their Regional Competition advance to the National Finals. National Finals takes place from February 17 to 22, 2012, in Washington, D.C. Future City provides round trip transportation and hotel accommodations at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City for the team’s three student presenters, educator coach, and mentor, as well as two meals.
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.
How are you celebrating Shark Week this year? Join Discovery Channel for a "Happy Shark Week" starting Sunday, August 9.
Find out why Great White sharks are swimming just off the beaches from South Africa to Australia, and up and down the coast of California. Find out how sharks hunt and if certain sharks might "go rogue" like in the hit movie Jaws. Get your shark fix with the many available TV shows, online videos and games, photos, news and even shark apps!
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 congresspeople and impact federal science policy.
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.”
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.
A NASA-created application that brings some of the agency's robotic spacecraft to life in 3-D is now available for free on the iPhone and iPad. Called Spacecraft 3D, the app uses animation to show how spacecraft can maneuver and manipulate their outside components. Presently, the
"In the near future, we will incorporate the Cassini spacecraft, which is orbiting Saturn, the Dawn spacecraft, which is deep in the heart of the asteroid belt, and the Voyagers, which are right now at the very edge of our solar system," said Kevin Hussey, manager of visualization technology at JPL. "Looking down the road, we've got a veritable solar system full of spacecraft to work with."
Currently, Spacecraft 3D is only available for Apple formats, but should be available on other formats in the near future.
Need a little inspiration for the upcoming school year? Look no further! IDVSolution's photo stream on flickr has remarkable images that will get you (and your students) inspired! Use them as visual teaching aids, for classroom discussion or have your students examine them in small groups. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words! Here are some stunning examples:
Bipolar Earthquakes - global earthquakes since 1898, separated into North and South pole views
61 Years of US Tornado Tracks - 1950-2011 data shown visually by F-Scale
Major US Fires Since 2001 - a visual representation that is colored by units of nuclear power plant output
With NASA's Rocket Science 101, a new game designed for computer and iPad users, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to launch a spacecraft.
Rocket Science 101 is turning over the virtual selection, construction and launch of a mission to players. NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP), based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, does the same thing for real rockets and missions every day.
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.
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.