Come on Spring!
Given one of the coldest winters in recent history, I'm sure many are eagerly looking forward to spring! Come on spring! This winter is too much!
If you will be able to join us at NSTA this spring in Chicago, don't miss our events, including our four Share-a-Thons, our five workshops, our Friends of Earth Science Reception on Friday evening at the Hyatt McCormick Place (6:30 - 8 pm, Regency C/D), the AGU Lecture, and our Annual Meeting. Our full schedule of events is available here. Looking forward to seeing you there!
Site and Science News
Windows to the Universe offers membership options for Windows to the Universe educators that include course webpage support, as well as options for homework and online quizzes. We will continue to offer Basic Educator Membership (which provides advertising-free access to the website plus additional member benefits), but we are expanding now to offer Silver Educator Membership (Basic Educator Membership supplemented by course webpage support and course login for students) or Gold Educator Membership (with course support including online quizzes and homework upload/download and individual student subscriptions). We also offer support for classrooms, with or without course support. For more details, see our Educator Membership Benefits and Services page.
We hope you'll visit the Windows to the Universe web site many times this year, and we hope to see you at one of our sessions at the NSTA National Conference in Chicago.
NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft returned its first new images of Pluto, Charon, Nix and Hydra just in time for the 109th birthday of Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered the distant icy world in 1930.
“My dad would be thrilled with New Horizons,” said Clyde Tombaugh’s daughter Annette Tombaugh, of Las Cruces, New Mexico. “To actually see the planet that he had discovered, and find out more about it -- to get to see the moons of Pluto -- he would have been astounded. I'm sure it would have meant so much to him if he were still alive today.”
New Horizons was more than 126 million miles (nearly 203 million kilometers) away from Pluto when it began taking images. Although there are five known moons of Pluto, New Horizons has provided the first good views of small moons Nix and Hydra, another major milestone.
Closing in on Pluto at about 31,000 mph, New Horizons already has covered more than 3 billion miles since it launched on Jan. 19, 2006. Its journey has taken it past each planet’s orbit, from Mars to Neptune, in record time, and it is now in the first stage of an encounter with Pluto (in July 2015) that includes long-distance imaging as well as dust, energetic particle and solar wind measurements to characterize the space environment near Pluto.
To view the Pluto images online and see the mission timeline for upcoming images, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/newhorizons
March is Women's History Month. Read about notable women scientists on Windows to the Universe:
It has been a very long and eventful winter for many in the Northern Hemisphere. As spring approaches, it's a great time to discuss the reason for the seasons. The official first day of spring this year in the Northern Hemisphere will be March 20, 2015. Celebrate the end of a long winter by going outside and enjoying the great outdoors!
The tilt of Earth's rotational axis and the Earth's orbit work together to create the seasons. As the Earth travels around the Sun, it remains tipped in the same direction, towards the star Polaris.
At the equinoxes, the Earth is neither tilted directly towards nor directly away from the Sun. In other words, both hemispheres receive roughly equal amounts of sunlight. Equinoxes mark the seasons of spring and autumn and are a transition between the two more extreme seasons, summer and winter.
While the vernal equinox corresponds to the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, it marks the beginning of fall in the Southern Hemisphere. This is a great thing to note with your students. As you know, seasons are an area where many misconceptions lie (especially concerning the reason for the seasons!).
A note from the EPA:
Always run generators outdoors. Generator exhaust is toxic. Always put generators outside well away from doors, windows, and vents. Carbon monoxide (CO) is deadly, can build up quickly, and can linger for hours. Find out more about winter safety and environmentally friendly practices that can be implemented during severe winter weather at http://www.epa.gov/naturaldisasters/snow-ice.html.
Have you ever looked up in the sky and noticed something colorful or unique and you didn't know what it was? We have a page on atmospheric optics that introduces you to some of these phenomena. Atmospheric optics shows us how light behaves as it passes through the atmosphere. To learn more, you can check out the photo album of atmospheric optics. There you'll find information and beautiful images of rainbows, aurora borealis, crepuscular rays and more.
If you're interested in seeing more images from the Earth and space sciences, please visit the Windows to the Universe Image Galleries.
Have you ever sprinkled iron filings over a magnet to demonstrate magnetic fields to your students? If you would like to supplement that hands-on demonstration with some computer-based activities, or can't manage to do the "real world" version, we have some resources you might be interested in. We have a virtual version of the "bar magnet and iron filings" demonstration on Windows to the Universe. We also have some related Flash-based magnetism interactives, including: Bar Magnet & Compass, Earth's Magnetic Field, and Earth's North Magnetic Pole.
Finally, we have a simple, inexpensive, hands-on activity that guides students through building a basic magnetometer that they can use to further explore the mysteries of magnetism. We hope you find these resources attractive!
Teaching through games that model the living components and nutrient cycles of ecosystems allows students to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the delicate balance that is needed for ecosystems to thrive. Plus, bringing games into the classroom is just plain fun!
Windows to the Universe includes a number of games among our classroom activities that encourage students to explore what it takes for ecosystems to remain in balance. Explore these games and get your students playing!
March 25 marks the 101st birthday of Norman Borlaug, 1970's Nobel peace prize winner and father of the Green revolution, who died in 2009 at the age of 95. His studies of agricultural plants and genetics led him to develop high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties. During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these crops in Mexico, India, Pakistan and other developing countries, where, as a result, the food production increased spectacularly and mass famines were averted. According to some estimates, Borlaug's discoveries have saved over a billion lives worldwide.
How's the weather in your neck of the woods? 26 years ago, in March 1989, the SPACE weather was quite stormy over eastern Canada. Ground-induced currents generated by geomagnetic storms in the upper atmosphere forced their way onto electrical transmission lines with disastrous results. The DC electricity induced by the space weather storm didn't mix well with the voltage transformers used throughout the electrical grid, which are built for AC electricity. Many transformers overheated and failed (some even caught on fire and melted down!), and 6 million people lost power for 9 hours or longer. And you thought your weather was bad!
Check out our section on the effects of space weather on electrical power systems!
Join us for the inaugural Earth Educators' Rendezvous July 13-17 at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Design your own professional development opportunity at the first annual Earth Educators' Rendezvous. Capitalize on the experience of your colleagues in a wide range of fields at a variety of workshops, present and discuss your own findings, and network with others engaged in improving undergraduate Earth education. Events will include workshops, oral and poster sessions, plenary talks, and working groups. The meeting will bring together activities that support faculty in improving their courses, departments or programs; in increasing their overall impact of Earth education; and in building a collective capacity to use and conduct education research. For more information and to register, visit http://serc.carleton.edu/earth_rendezvous/2015/index.html
Calendar of Events
Green Week is turning 6! Celebrate by selecting any week now to May 2, 2015, to be your Green Week! Participate for the whole week, a day, or just one lesson, reading, or activity. Schools and groups are encouraged to take this opportunity to spend time with students discussing sustainability topics and exploring ways they can make a difference.
The Green Schools National Conference examines environmental literacy, energy efficiency, healthier food, eco-friendly purchasing and more. The 5th annual Green Schools National Conference, set for March 4-7, 2015, in Virginia Beach, is sponsored by the Green Schools National Network (GSNN) and is focused on "developing healthy and sustainable schools across America."
The Green Schools National Network advances the national green and healthy schools movement by connecting like-minded and passionate education, non-profit, corporate and public sector individuals and organizations.
Groundwater Awareness Week (March 8-14, 2015) will shed light on one of the world’s most important resources - groundwater. Groundwater is essential to the health and well being of humanity and the environment.
The theme of National Wildlife Week 2015 is Living with Wildlife. Living with the wildlife around you can mean something different if you live in a big city or a small town, in the mountains or the plains, but regardless of where you call home, there are hundreds of plants and animals that share it with you.
National Wildlife Week is National Wildlife Federation's longest-running education program designed around teaching and connecting kids to the awesome wonders of wildlife. Each year, a theme is picked to provide fun and informative educational materials, curriculum and activities for educators and caregivers to use with kids.
Celebrate National Wildlife Week March March 9-15, 2015!
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), are accepting applications to nominate K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education. This award honors, supports and encourages educators who incorporate environmental education in their classrooms and teaching methods. Nominations are due March 13.
March 13, 2015, 08:00 AM - 09:00 AM
During this session, we will share engaging activities that address fundamental concepts in geology central to Earth Science disciplinary core ideas brought out in the NRC Framework (ESS-2A and 2B). Our activities will address Earth materials, plate tectonics and associated phenomena, the rock cycle, and the coupled Earth system. We will explore different types of Earth materials - igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic, and how we use them in society. We will look at simple physical models to understand how plates have moved in the past and how they move today, generating dynamic phenomena we know as eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis. We will examine the rock cycle, and through simple physical models discover how sedimentary rocks are formed. We will discuss how landforms and the rock cycle are influenced by other spheres of the Earth system.
Participants will try out all activities during this hands-on workshop, ensuring that they will leave the session knowing how to use them in their classroom. Participants will receive a handout with links to lesson plans and other complimentary resources available on the Windows to the Universe educational website (www.windows2universe.org), which is a project of the non-profit National Earth Science Teachers Association.
March 13, 2015, 02:00 PM - 03:00 PM
The study of Earth system science provides abundant opportunities to develop student’s science practice skills and their understanding of crosscutting concepts in the context of learning about disciplinary core ideas that are timely and relevant to student experience. The NRC Framework identifies multiple core ideas – ESS2.C – 2.E; ESS3.A – 3.D – that span Earth’s systems and are linked to NGSS performance expectations. Increasingly, students will be expected to collect and analyze data, build models, and employ scientific practices to answer questions about the Earth system. This session will provide exemplary teaching resources to assist teachers in their transition to the NGSS ESS Standards. Participants will engage with hands-on lessons focused on timely topics such as black carbon, eutrophication, and climate change that utilize the cross-cutting concepts to unite core ideas and incorporate a variety of science and engineering practices. This workshop focuses on freely available materials available through the National Earth Science Teachers Association and its flagship ESS education website, Windows to the Universe, as well as resources provided through other programs sponsored by federal agencies and non-profit partners.
March 14, 2015, 08:00 AM - 09:00 AM
March 14, 2015, 09:30 AM - 10:30 AM
The past 20 years have been exciting times for the fields of Earth and Space Science (ESS) as technology has changed the way scientists view Earth and space. Measurement platforms provide a myriad of data to answer questions about Earth processes and how humans are affecting them. The Next Generation Science Standards have applied this new view in developing grade-appropriate performance expectations that mirror the work of scientists. Students will be expected to collect and analyze data, build models, and employ scientific practices to answer questions about the natural world. A central aspect of this process is data – acquisition, analysis, and interpretation. This session will provide exemplary teaching resources to assist teachers with the use of data in the classroom in meaningful applications that engage students in the study of Earth and space science. Participants will engage with hands-on lessons that utilize the cross-cutting concepts to unite core ideas and incorporate a variety of science and engineering practices. This workshop, which is offered through collaboration between the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) and the Earth System Information Partnership (ESIP), focuses on freely available materials offered by ESIP-associated programs, NESTA, and its flagship ESS education website, Windows to the Universe.
March 14, 2015, 02:00 PM - 03:00 PM
Join us in this activity-based workshop as we explore key topics in weather and climate that address NRC Framework ESS2.D - Weather and Climate. Using effective hands-on activities, we will explore activities that demonstrate fundamental concepts of atmospheric and climate science – radiation balance, atmospheric circulation, climate, climate change, and greenhouse gases. These activities provide opportunities for students to develop their science practice skills as well as their understanding of crosscutting concepts in the context of learning about disciplinary core ideas that are timely and relevant to student experience. Activities used in the workshop are aligned to the National Science Education Standards, and relevance to the NRC Framework and the NGSS will be highlighted. Participants will receive a handout with links to lesson plans and other free resources available on the Windows to the Universe educational website (www.windows2universe.org). This website has been developed with sponsorship from NSF, NASA, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and university sponsors since 1995. Many additional free activity lesson plans are available on the web site, a project of the non-profit National Earth Science Teachers Association.
March 15-21, 2015, is National Poison Prevention Week. Protect children from accidental poisoning by household substances. Lock up household pesticides and chemicals in a high cabinet out of the reach of children. Learn more about how to protect your family at http://www.poisonprevention.org/poison.htm.
Nationwide, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from U.S. homes each year. That's why WaterSense reminds Americans to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems each year during Fix a Leak Week.
Pledge to be "for water" during this special week and save up to 10,000 gallons in 10 minutes! For more information, educational resources, a kids' zone and a Fix a Leak video podcast (available in English and Spanish), click here.
Access to clean water is one of the most basic human needs, but in many areas of the world, ensuring that everyone has access to clean freshwater is a complex problem. With this in mind, the United Nations has declared March 22 as World Water Day. The day has been celebrated on March 22 every year since 1993.
There are many different events being celebrated around the world for World Water Day. See if there is one in your area.
Did you know Earth Hour is coming up soon? Earth Hour is an event in which people around the world are urged to turn off non-essential lights for one hour to show their concern about climate change. This year’s Earth Hour will be on Saturday, March 28 at 8:30 PM local time, and is expected to include people in more than 150 countries worldwide.
The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) is the nation’s highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science). PAEMST nominations and applications for the 2014-2015 cycle are open for 7-12 grade teachers.
Established by Congress in 1983, the PAEMST program authorizes the President to bestow up to 108 awards each year. NSF administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Presidential awardees receive a certificate signed by the President, a trip for two to Washington, D.C., to attend a series of recognition events and professional development opportunities, and a $10,000 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Last year, the most recent cohort of PAEMST awardees even had the opportunity to meet with President Barack Obama.
Please consider nominating a talented science or math teacher using the PAEMST website today. NSF is offering free webinars from now until the end of April to help applicants complete the application process. Nominations close April 1, 2015. Applications close May 1, 2015. For more information, contact email@example.com or call 855-723-6780.
Your students don't need to wait to grow up to change the world! Have them plug into the Global Youth Service Day, where children and teens are creating change every day through service to others. They can create their own project or join an already-existing project. This year, Global Youth Service Day is April 17-19, 2015.
EE Week, sponsored by Samsung, is April 19-25, 2015. EE Week 2015 will focus on Greening STEM.
The EE Week blog provides educators with a forum to interact and engage with experts and their peers on a variety of topics surrounding environmental education and Greening STEM.
The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is pleased to announce that the theme of Earth Science Week 2015 will be "Visualizing Earth Systems."
Can you find the famed treasure chest of Forrest Fenn? Join EARTH roving correspondent Mary Caperton Morton on her quest to find the treasure chest, valued at between $1 million and $2 million dollars, which Fenn, a New Mexico antiquities dealer, has hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe.
Fenn's poem, which provides the nine clues to the chest’s location, is dissected by Morton using knowledge of Fenn’s life and geoscience to identify potential hiding spots. Morton joins the estimated 30,000 people who are hunting for the chest. Read about her quest in the March/April 2015 issue of EARTH Magazine.
The U.S. Department of Defense has identified a new foe in the national security battle: climate change. Last fall, the Pentagon released a new report detailing its strategy to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, both at home and internationally.
The report broadly calls for increased training of military forces, increased equipment testing, improvements to infrastructure, and stabilization of supply chains for emergency provisions to fight everything from rising sea levels to increased dust to extreme weather.
Read more about the threats identified in the report and how the Pentagon aims to deal with them in the February issue of EARTH magazine.
Hydraulic fracturing, the natural gas extraction method known popularly as fracking, has been controversial in large part due to the concern about groundwater contamination by the fluids used in the process, especially the so-called flowback fluids that re-emerge at the surface from fracking wells and are usually disposed of by waste water fluid injection into other formations. Now, researchers have developed a geochemical method of identifying fracking fluids in the environment. The tool could be used to identify hazardous spills in the future and may even lead to better use and disposal of fracking wastewater.
Read more about how scientists came up with the new tracers and what that might mean for wastewater disposal in the February issue of EARTH magazine.
Are you a boater? The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration invites you to help scientists track the movements of endangered humpback whales between NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and its sister sanctuaries across the Caribbean as part of Carib Tails, an international citizen science effort.
By photographing the tails of humpbacks they encounter at sea, boaters can support on-going research to collect migration data on the shared population of approximately 1,000 humpbacks. Photographs will be matched to entries in the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog and images of previously unknown and unphotographed whales will be added to the collection. A dedicated website provides tips on how to photograph flukes for research purposes, photo submission forms and other information about humpback whales.
Researchers identify individual humpback whales by the black and white patterns on the underside of their flukes (tails). Scars and natural pigmentation, ranging from all white to all black, along with the scalloped shaped edge of the tail, give each whale a distinct identification. Photographs of humpback flukes have allowed researchers to monitor the movements, health and behavior of individual animals since this research began in the 1970's.
Read more about the program at the Carib Tails website.
Did you know that the American Geophysical Union hosts a collection of Earth and space science blogs? Explore topics like extreme weather, landslides, volcanoes, astronomy, earthquakes and climate change. And, of course, you and your students can join in discussions about these topics!
The National Park Service invites you to view videos on a variety of climate change topics, including citizen science, sea-level rise, glaciers, and more!
The Nature Conservancy offers informational resources ideal for educators aiming to teach about a wide range of geoscience topics, including the ecology of various habitats and ways that communities interact with them.
Ever wish you could go online to search for a classroom activity tailor-made to match the Earth science topic you’re teaching? Visit the Earth Science Week Classroom Activities page - continually updated and recently redesigned - for more than 120 free learning activities.
For Earth science teachers and students searching for the most up-to-date information on climate change, the National Science Foundation (NSF) offers a useful web site.
The U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) promotes educational resources and opportunities for students and teachers about oceanic, atmospheric, and climate change science.
On NOAA’s Education Resources Website, you’ll find lesson plans, interactive activities, educational games, videos, images, scholarships, career opportunities, and detailed information on weather, climate change, oceans, and satellites. Also, look for information on NOAA’s Teacher at Sea Program, which allows a K-16 teacher to serve aboard a NOAA ship as a researcher.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a climate education web site for students, teachers, and school administrators, including information and activities related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Sea Turtles and the Quest to Nest, a game developed by NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Ocean Service, is designed to help students understand how they can help protect turtles and their habitats. The game takes place in the southeastern U.S. Students are introduced to all of the people and animals that play a role in the life of loggerhead turtles.
For more educational games created by NOAA, see http://games.noaa.gov/.
Can you observe a species evolving? Can lizards learn? Will the Sun’s cycle stay the same? Has ADHD been linked to air pollution? Find answers to these questions and delve into more of life's curiosities at ScienceNews for Students. The site presents timely science stories categorized by subject, along with suggestions for hands-on activities, books, articles, and web resources.
ScienceNews for Students is run by the Society for Science and the Public.
Table of Contents
SITE AND NEWS
New Member Options
Reason for Seasons
Earth Ed Rendezvous
Green Week 2015
Green Schools Conf
Natl Groundwater Wk
Natl Wildlife Week
EE Teacher Award
Earth Science Rocks!
Earth System Science
Chicago - Multimedia Tools
Chicago NSTA - Using Data
How Weird Can It Get
Poison Prevention Wk
Fix a Leak Week
World Water Day
Earth Hour! 3/28
Global Youth Service
EE Week 2015
ES Wk Visualize OCT
Rocky Mtn Treasure
NOAA Citizen Science
Natl Park Climate Ch
Nature Conservancy Hab
ES Classroom Lessons
NSF Climate Change
EPA Climate Resource
Sci News Students
Information about Opportunities with Stipends, Honorariums, or Awards for Teachers/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.