Site and Science News
Please visit our Web Seminars page to view archived webinars on topics in space science, planetary science, and astronomy. The webinars were offered by NESTA and Windows to the Universe and featured Ardis Herrold (NESTA Past-President, 35-year science teacher, planetarium director, and JPL Solar System Ambassador Master Teacher) and Roberta Johnson (PhD, Geophysics and Space Physics; NESTA Executive Director; Clinical Professor, University at Albany; Director, Windows to the Universe). Enjoy learning about tides, dwarf planets, distances in space, galaxies, and more on the Windows to the Universe Web Seminar page.
NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered Mars’ orbit on September 21, where it now will prepare to study the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere as never done before. MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars.
“As the first orbiter dedicated to studying Mars’ upper atmosphere, MAVEN will greatly improve our understanding of the history of the Martian atmosphere, how the climate has changed over time, and how that has influenced the evolution of the surface and the potential habitability of the planet,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “It also will better inform a future mission to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s.”
After maneuvering into its final science orbit and testing its instruments and science-mapping commands, MAVEN will begin its one Earth-year primary mission, taking measurements of the composition, structure and escape of gases in Mars’ upper atmosphere and its interaction with the sun and solar wind. The primary mission includes five “deep-dip” campaigns, in which MAVEN’s periapsis, or lowest orbit altitude, will be lowered from 93 miles (150 kilometers) to about 77 miles (125 kilometers). These measurements will provide information down to where the upper and lower atmospheres meet, giving scientists a full profile of the upper tier.
MAVEN launched November 18, 2013, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, carrying three instrument packages.
Each year, October brings us an entertaining celestial light show in the form of the Orionid meteor shower. The Orionids are named, as is customary with meteor showers, after the point in the sky called the shower's "radiant" from which the meteors appear to fan out (in this case, the radiant lies within the constellation Orion). Several well-known meteor showers occur around the same dates each year, for these showers mark the points in Earth's orbit where our planet passes through the dusty debris from some comet. The Orionids are one of two showers that mark our planet's passage through the dust trail left behind by Halley's comet!
This year, October 21 is estimated to be the peak of the Orionids. The shower will be most active between midnight and the wee hours before dawn, averaging around 20 meteors per hour to a maximum of 60 meteors per hour. Luckily, this year, the moon phase will be close to new, so the sky should be wonderfully dark!
To find out more, check out these links:
Were your students planning to be princesses, vampires, or characters from Minecraft this Halloween? They can try something different this year and dress up as famous scientists! Here are some ideas:
Albert Einstein - That's easy! You can get an Einstein wig and moustache in any costume store. Wear a white lab coat and dark pants, and put a few pens and a ruler in your lab coat pocket.
Sir Isaac Newton - You will need long blonde hair or a wig for this one. A velvet jacket and a long white scarf (borrow from Mom!) will make you look just like the famous portrait of Newton. Don't forget the apple!
Galileo Galilei - Wear a long, dark, belted jacket and dark stockings with a large, white collar. Glue on a beard and carry a telescope.
Socrates (Euclid, Archimedes, Aristotle, or any other ancient Greek philosopher!) - Drape a white sheet around your body and over your shoulder. Wear a white t-shirt underneath. Glue on a beard and hold a sheet of paper with some geometrical drawings rolled to look like a scroll.
You can also try other fun science-related costumes - an astronaut, a robot, an explorer, or an animal. Have a great Halloween!
Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends on November 2nd this year in most of the U.S. Don't forget to turn your clocks one hour back. Daylight Saving Time (or Summer Time as it is called in many countries) is a way of getting more light out of the day by advancing clocks by one hour during the summer.
Ancient civilizations had to adjust daily schedules to the sun more flexibly than we do. Romans divided daylight into 12 equal hours, so the length of each hour was longer during summer. In 1784, Benjamin Franklin, then an American envoy to France, anonymously published a satirical letter suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight. The New Zealand entomologist, George Vernon Hudson, first proposed modern DST in 1895. English builder, William Willett, independently conceived of DST in 1905 when he noticed during an early summer morning ride that many people were still sleeping. He became an advocate of DST but didn't live to see it adopted. Many European countries started to switch their clocks in 1916, in an effort to conserve fuel during World War I. The United States adopted DST in 1918, but it was inconsistent till 1966, when President Johnson signed The Uniform Time Act.
Different nations start and end DST on different dates. In the Southern hemisphere, beginning and ending dates are reversed. Some nations shift time year-round, and some do not observe DST at all. And just to keep you on your toes, sometimes different areas of one country have different time shifts!
In the storybook, three kids work collaboratively to explore and investigate surface currents found in the ocean and the Great Lakes while learning about the journey of a seafaring plastic duck. Three hands-on activities for the classroom further explore the science content and provide instruction in basic science process skills.
It turns out that snakes are the most feared of any animal on Earth. Reptiles have had a consistently bad rap for a long time - from the serpent in the Garden of Eden to the basilisk of Lord Voldemort. Reptiles are seen as sinister, scaly, deceitful and more than a bit threatening.
But did you know that rattlesnakes, some of the most feared snakes of North America, bear live young and some actually stay with their young after birth to teach them life habits? That sounds more maternal than threatening! Rattlesnakes (and many other reptiles) are responsible for controlling the population of rodents and insects whose populations would otherwise grow uncontrollably. Snakes serve as a food source for birds, other reptiles, and mammals, thus supporting the natural ecosystem that is home to many plants and animals. Rattlesnakes are actually docile snakes that will try to escape rather than fight. They will, of course, famously shake their rattle as a warning sign to let humans and other creatures know to stay clear. Like any wild animal, snakes should be treated with respect - and it's always best to leave handling to the experts.
When out hiking in mid-Maryland this past June, a friend and I (and my two young children) came across a copperhead in the wild. He was basking in the dark earth of the path we were hiking. We walked around the snake and not over it. My friend dared to take this close-up shot of its head. The photo makes the copperhead, a native venomous snake to Maryland, look menacing, but the snake couldn't have been more docile! An hour later, on our return hike, the snake sat in the same spot it had been, soaking up warm summer rays. We walked around it and marveled at its camouflage and its beauty.
There is a lot to learn about reptiles and probably some misconceptions to clear up! You can use our Changing Planet: Disappearing Lizards page and classroom lesson to review reptile basics in your classroom and to learn about how lizards populations are struggling with warming global temperatures.
Enjoy these additional resources and remember, that it's not fair to judge a reptile by its "wrap" - scaly though it may be!
Did you know that trees in temperate forest ecosystems sense the onset of shorter days and longer nights in the fall? This change of seasons triggers the development of a weak zone of tissue at the base of each leaf in deciduous trees. Stems will eventually snap in the breeze, releasing leaves to the ground.
The bright side of this story is that some leaves may become brilliantly colored before they fall, thanks to their pigments—green chlorophyll, orange carotenoid, and yellow xanthophyll. Leaf pigments sustain plants by means of photosynthesis throughout spring and summer by capturing visible light energy in the blue, violet, and red wavelengths of the Sun’s electromagnetic spectrum. This chemical reaction enables plants to grow, flower, and produce seeds by harnessing light energy to transform carbon dioxide and water into sugar, releasing the byproduct, molecular oxygen.
As transport of water and nutrients to the leaves decreases in autumn, chlorophyll production ceases. The green color fades, and the more stable carotenoid and xanthophyll pigments become visible, delighting our eyes with shows of gold and orange foliage. In plant species such as maple and sumac, sugars trapped in autumn leaves are turned into anthocyanin pigments. They appear to set forests ablaze with breathtaking hues of red and purple. The best autumn colors can be expected when a moist growing season is followed by dry, cool, and sunny fall days with no nighttime frost.
You've probably heard a Full Moon in the autumn called a "Harvest Moon" or a "Hunter's Moon". You may even realize that farmers can work late, after sunset, by the light of the Full Harvest Moon; hence the name. But did you know the Moon has ten other aliases, one for each month of the year? And that the names of the Full Moon come from Native Americans, the Algonquian tribes of eastern and northern North America? Learn more at "Full Moon Names".
The small image shown here was taken on September 19, 2013, by NASA and shows the Harvest Moon rising over Washington D.C.
Imagine searching for rock and mineral samples in remote areas dressed in a long skirt and broad, fancy hat. Towards the end of the Victorian era when Florence Bascom began her career as a geologist, that was what she wore in the field. She was hired by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1896, the first woman on the staff, after completing her Ph.D. in geology at Johns Hopkins University, the first woman to do so.
At the time, very few women were allowed to earn advanced degrees in any field. But today women can be found in every corner of the geosciences – from atmospheric science to volcanology. This Earth week, spread awareness about women who do geoscience research, and energize girls to consider geoscience as a career. Who knows, a modern-day Florence Bascom may be sitting in your class!
AGU’s Live Education Activity Resource Network (LEARN) is a great resource for K-12 teachers. LEARN contains videos and teaching guides from AGU’s GIFT (Geophysical Information for Teachers) workshop, designed to provide geoscience educators with hands-on activities they can use to engage their students in such topics as climate change, earthquakes, planetary science, and more. All of the resources tie back to the Next Generation Science Standards. And, if you have a great activity that you’d like to share, you can also submit your own video to the LEARN collection.
Join us on Monday, October 6, 2014, at 7:30 PM Eastern Time. Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/687917538
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar. Our Featured speaker is Dr. Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences and Associate of the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute at Pennsylvania State University. He will be giving our main presentation Bungy Jumping off the Ice-Core Roller Coaster: Ice-Core Records of Global Warming and Abrupt Climate Change.
NOAA's new webinar series provides ocean acidification communication tools to formal & informal educators, and stakeholders across the country. One of its primary goals is to promote ocean acidification education and communication activities virtually. With awareness of and access to these resources, the ocean acidification education and communication community will be able to utilize and continue to create cutting edge communication tools that incorporate current scientific and communication research.
The next webinar with the topic of Ocean Acidification: A Washington State High School Curricular Framework takes place October 14th at 6pm ET. Information on how to register and archived webinars can be found here.
Science teachers and students can go online to use a new educational resource of the Earth Science Week website, the "Be a Citizen Scientist" page, which features information and links for recommended "citizen science" programs focusing on Earth science.
The land, water, and air around us are changing. Often, the changes are subtle and we cannot see them without the help of modern technology.
Repeat photographs reveal measurable changes in vegetation including phenology, growth patterns and plant health, snow and water levels, and sky conditions. A Picture Post is an easy-to-build platform for collecting panoramic photographic data from the same vantage point. Participants upload their pictures and share findings on the Picture Post website. As a whole, the Network contributes to national climate change monitoring programs.
Collecting pictures is just the beginning! Picture Post and Digital Earth Watch (DEW) are online resources for educators, students, communities, and citizens to design and carry out investigations, challenges, and environmental stewardship projects with low-cost, do-it-yourself tools and a free software program, Analyzing Digital Images (ADI), that measures spatial features in a picture and analyzes plant health based on color.
For more information, contact Dr. Annette Schloss, University of New Hampshire, 446 Morse Hall, Durham, NH 03824. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (603)862-0348
The Picture Post Network is part of the Digital Earth Watch (DEW) environmental-monitoring program. Picture Post is based at the University of New Hampshire and was developed with funding from NASA.
Calendar of Events
October 6 is Child Health Day, a day that is celebrated annually on the first Monday of October. This day is established by Presidential Proclamation to raise people’s awareness of how they can protect and develop children’s health. Health professionals and organizations across the United States take part in this day through various activities and events. For example, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is providing educational resources for parents, children, and schools about issues such as fitness, pregnancy, and childhood obesity prevention. You can read more about Child Health Day here.
4-H National Youth Science Day (NYSD) is an exciting, interactive learning experience that engages thousands of youth across the country in conducting the National Science Experiment. The national 4-H NYSD event will take place on October 8, 2014.
The University of Arizona developed the 2014 National Science Experiment: Rockets to the Rescue! Students will build and launch their own rockets and learn about rocket science and aerospace engineering. Find a local 4-H NYSD event near you or learn more about the experiment.
Science kits for the 2014 National Science Experiment are available for purchase - buy now from the 4-H Mall.
The theme of Earth Science Week 2014 (October 12-18) will be “Earth’s Connected Systems.” This year’s event will promote awareness of the dynamic interactions of the planet’s natural systems.
On the Tuesday of Earth Science Week, you can make sure there’s “No Child Left Inside” (NCLI). Dedicate a day to outdoor activities enabling young people to experience Earth science firsthand.
To help, the NCLI Day Guide is now available in PDF format for easy printing and outdoor use. This free guide provides everything you need to start planning your own NCLI Day event, including 17 outdoor learning activities recommended for elementary, middle, and high school students. Imagine your students as they wade into ponds, climb hills, or search the skies to learn Earth science. Find the NCLI Day Guide, including the new PDF version, at http://www.earthsciweek.org/ncli/index.html. Have a great NCLI Day!
The 2014 SAVE THE FROGS! Art Contest will run through October 15th, 2014. People of all ages, nationalities, and skill levels are encouraged to enter the contest. Prizes will be awarded!
Why save frogs? Learn more by exploring cool frog facts and find out why amphibians are the most endangered group of animals on the planet.
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.
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 here.
On Friday, October 17, 2014, you are invited to join in the celebration of the third annual Geologic Map Day! The final major event for the school week of Earth Science Week 2014 (October 12-18), Geologic Map Day will promote awareness of the study, uses, and importance of geologic mapping for education, science, business, and a variety of public policy concerns.
Go online today to view a webcast detailing three contests that are being conducted as part of Earth Science Week, the annual worldwide celebration of the geosciences! This free webcast provides an overview of guidelines for photography, visual arts, and essay contests. The tutorial includes online links, which viewers can click during the presentation to review detailed guidelines.
Each year, many science teachers encourage students to participate in the visual arts contest, open to students in grades K-5, or the essay contest, which is open to those in grades 6-9. The photography contest is open to all ages. The roughly four-minute tutorial includes information on prizes and recognition.
To view this webcast, please visit: Earth Science Week Webcasts.
Lead poisoning is one of the oldest known environmental hazards, but only in the late 1900's did we begin to understand that even small amounts of exposure still impact our body’s functions. To date, there is no known safe amount we can be exposed to that won't cause the body harm. It is estimated that 0.6% of disease, globally, is due to lead exposure. It is particularly a concern in developing children and is estimated to contribute to 600,000 new cases of intellectual disabilities every year.
Although awareness has risen, the vast majority of exposure is still due to lead-based paint. Most homes built in the U.S. before 1978 have lead-based paint. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) suggests 24 million homes in the U.S. alone have peeling and chipping lead-based paint. Here are some steps from the HUD for decreasing risk in your own home and ways you can get involved in Lead Poisoning Prevention Week.
World Water Monitoring Challenge is an international education and outreach program that builds public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources around the world by engaging citizens to conduct basic monitoring of their local water bodies. In 2013, approximately 184,965 visits were made by participants to monitoring sites in 51 countries.
We challenge you to test the quality of your waterways, share your findings (results may be entered anytime prior to October 31 for inclusion in that year's annual World Water Monitoring Challenge Year in Review report), and protect our most precious resource!
The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program is now accepting applications for the 2015-2016 Fellowship Year. Program applications are due November 20, 2014, and must be submitted through an online application system.
The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship (AEF) Program provides a unique opportunity for accomplished K-12 educators in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to serve in the national education arena. Fellows spend 11 months working in a Federal agency or U.S. Congressional office, bringing their extensive classroom knowledge and experience to STEM education program and/or education policy efforts.
The Mars Balance Mass Challenge seeks design ideas for small science and technology payloads that could potentially provide dual purpose as ejectable balance masses on spacecraft entering the Martian atmosphere. Submissions are due by November 21. A winner will be announced in mid-January 2015 and will receive an award of $20,000.
NASA Solve, which will host content for all agency challenges and prizes, features information on this new challenge at: http://www.nasa.gov/solve/marsbalancechallenge
Earth's largest active volcano, Mauna Loa on Hawaii's Big Island, is taking a nap. And after 30 years, no one is sure when the sleeping giant will awaken. Scientists say it's likely to erupt again within the next couple of decades and, when it does, it will be spectacular — and potentially dangerous.
"Virtual water" was coined in 1993 to help explain why long-predicted water wars driven by water and food security had not occurred among the arid nations of the Middle East and North Africa. The virtual water notion refers basically to the total amount of freshwater, either from rainfall or irrigation, used in the production of food commodities, including crops and fodder-fed livestock, or other goods and services - agricultural, industrial or otherwise. Taking root in the late 1990's across a range of disciplines, the concept has since expanded and evolved.
AGI, the American Geosciences Institute, recently released its latest “Status of the Geoscience Workforce Report,” showing that jobs requiring training in the geosciences continue to be lucrative and in-demand. Despite increased enrollment and graduation from geoscience programs, data project a shortage of around 135,000 geoscientists by the end of the decade.
Table of Contents
SITE AND NEWS
W2U Seminar Archive
Daylight Saving Time
Ocean Currents Elem
Full Moon Names
Women in Geoscience
NOAA Climate Webinar
Cit Sci ES Wk Site
DEW & Picture Post
4-H National Sci Day
ES Week 2014 Connect
No Child Left Inside
Frogs Art Contest
Natl Fossil Day
Geologic Map Day
ES Wk Contests
World Water Chall
NASA Mars Challenge
Mauna Loa Volcano
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.