October 2006

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements

Fall is here!

Here in Colorado, which several of us working on the Windows to the Universe project call home, fall is already in full swing. There is a wide range of beautiful colors in the trees and grasses. The briskness of the air reminds us that winter is on its way - the Rockies have already had their first snow of the season!

In this newsletter, we highlight some timely content on the website, including our Earth science content, in support of Earth Science Week, new content on the Orionid meteor shower, and a cool new video of a visit to a research telescope created by one of our scientist partners - Dr. Travis Metcalfe of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. We also highlight our numerous upcoming events at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, for those of you considering attending. We're excited that we've had a number of submissions from science education partners, as well as some thoughts contributed by a newsletter subscriber in India.

Earth Science Week Is Coming Soon!
by Lisa

Earth Science Week is the week of October 8th.  What a great time to explore the Earth section of Windows to the Universe with your class!  The content within the Earth section of the site is organized by component of the Earth system such as the hydrosphere (water), atmosphere, biosphere (living things), and geosphere (geology). The Climate and Global Change section crosses all of these subjects. The Earth section also contains the same information as the other planets that are profiled on the site with sections like Magnetosphere, Moon, and Planetary Facts

Join us at the Baltimore, Maryland National Science Teachers Association Regional Conference, November 2-4, 2006
by Roberta

Once again, Windows to the Universe will be out in force at the fall NSTA convention in Baltimore, Maryland November 2-4. We'd love to see you there - please drop by one of our sessions if you can!

November 2
  • Short-Course: Climate and Global Change: A Toolkit for Teaching About Our Ever-changing World, Harbor II, 8 am - 12 noon, Holiday Inn Inner Harbor, 35 participant limit (register right away at the NSTA conference website) - see first listed short course for more information
November 3
  • Magnetism, Electricity and Space Weather, 8 - 9 am, Wyndham Baltimore - Inner Harbor, International D
  • Climate Change: Classroom Tools to Explore the Past, Present, and Future, 9:30 - 10:30 am, Wyndham Baltimore - Inner Harbor, Liberty B
  • Magnetism and Space Weather, 12:30-1:30pm, Wyndham Baltimore - Inner Harbor, Liberty B
  • Bring Writing and Reading into Your Earth Science Classroom: Innovative Assessment Ideas, 2:00-3:00pm, Baltimore Convention Center, Room 311
  • National Earth Science Teachers Association Share-a-Thon, 3:30-4:30pm, Baltimore Convention Center, Room 308
November 4
  • Aha! Is Just a Stone's Throw Away, 9:30-10:30am, Wyndham Baltimore - Inner Harbor, International D
  • Water, Air, Land, Life, and Space (WALLS)!, 11:00-12:00pm, Wyndham Baltimore - Inner Harbor, International D

Orionid Meteor Shower
by Randy

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, which in this case 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! The Orionid "shooting stars" will be visible for several days around October 21st. To find out more, check out these links:

Brand New Climate Crossword Puzzle!
by Jennifer

We have added a new game to our site - the Climate Crossword Puzzle.

It deals with past climate changes, the effects of climate change today, how we study climate change and the difference between climate and weather. The puzzle is available at three levels. Please use the button bar at the top of the page to change from Beginner to Intermediate to Advanced play. We wish you and your students good luck!

Would you like to share one of our activities at a Professional Development event?
by Roberta

Occasionally, we're contacted by educators who would like to share one of our classroom activities or demonstrations at a professional development event at their school, or at a district or state-wide science teachers conference. We're happy to have you share our activities with your colleagues - just be sure you give credit to our project in your presentation and on printed materials you distribute. The full credit line (which should be used on printed materials) is "The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at http://www.windows.ucar.edu/ at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). ©1995-1999, 2000 The Regents of the University of Michigan; ©2000-01 University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. All Rights Reserved."

Please do be in touch with us through our comments form to let us know about your plans, as we'd like to keep track of where our activities are being highlighted. We're also happy to send you materials to distribute at the event, such as brochures, cards, and possibly even other goodies, given sufficient advance notice and assuming we have enough materials on hand. When you contact us, be sure you let us know if you'd like materials, how many, by what date, and be sure to include your address.

Observatories and telescopes!
by Marina

History says that Phoenicians cooking on sand discovered glass around 3500 BCE, but it took about 5,000 years more for glass to be shaped into a lens for the first telescope. Man has always looked at the sky and has been drawn to understand it. At the beginning, astronomical observations were made by noting the position of the Sun and the moon, like at Stonehenge. Astronomy is primarily observational rather than experimental. Our greatest knowledge of the Universe has been obtained by analyzing the information we obtain from space. Galileo Galilei did not invent the telescope, but he was the first to use it systematically to observe celestial objects and record his discoveries. Kepler built high magnification telescopes in order to be able to observe the heavens with greater detail. Huygens built his own telescope and used methods for grinding and polishing lenses to make telescopes more powerful.

Until the 1940s, astronomy was almost exclusively optical, relying on the analysis of visible light. The discovery of radio waves from space and the development of radar technology has provided astronomers with an expanded view of our universe. Scientists now use radio telescopes to view the heavens in different regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Observatories are the home of one or more telescopes that are used for a wide variety of astronomical research programs. Have you ever visited an Observatory? Let's take a trip to The Observatory with Dr. Travis Metcalfe.








Teacher Submissions

Click here to submit your ideas to the newsletter

Atoms and Planetary Systems

Submitted by Dixit in Gujarat, India

Every substance is made of molecules and every molecule is made of atoms. Can atoms be compared with planetary systems?

An atom consists of a nucleus, which contains protons and neutrons and electrons which revolve in orbit about the nucleus. The mass of the nucleus is more than 95% of the total mass of the atom.

In a planetary system, the star - like our sun, which consists mainly of helium and hydrogen, is orbited by planets. The mass of the star is 95% or more of the total mass of the planetary system.

So if the nucleus of an atom can be compared with a star, the electrons of the atom can be compared with planets revolving in their orbits, and the mass of nucleus of the atom with the massive central star of the planetary system.

Furthermore, as groups of atoms forms molecules, groups of stars form galaxies. So, from my perspective, an atom can be compared with a planetary system.

Announcements from Partners

Click here to submit information about your program to the newsletter

Climate Discovery Courses for Educators from NCAR Online Education

Submitted by National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Are you seeking a K-12 professional development opportunity that will enhance your qualifications, competency, and self-confidence in integrating Earth system science, climate, and global change into your science classroom? The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is offering a series of online courses designed for middle and high school science educators called Climate Discovery. Apply now to participate in the first part the series, Introduction to Earth's Climate.

Earth Science Week 2006

Submitted by American Geological Institute, Washington DC, USA

Earth Science Week, organized by the American Geological Institute, will be celebrated nationally October 8-14, 2006. This year’s theme, "Be a Citizen Scientist," will focus on engaging the public in real "citizen science" research and spreading science literacy.

Earth Science Week Toolkits are available to help science teachers, students, and others get involved. Each kit contains an Earth Science Activity Calendar, a “Be a Citizen Scientist” poster with an activity on the back, and numerous other resources from organizations such as the USGS and NASA. To order a kit, visit http://www.earthsciweek.org/index.html or email info@earthsciweek.org. Have a super Earth Science Week!

ORBITaL: Ocean Remote sensing Base for Interactive Teaching and Learning

Submitted by Remy Luerssen, University of South Florida

The Institute for Marine Remote Sensing (IMaRS) at the University of South Florida has created a new educational website for students to learn about remote sensing and how scientists use this technology to study the ocean (funded by the Florida Space Grant Consortium). There is a remote sensing tour and a WebCourse on coral reefs. The site is interactive with talking tour guides and InterActivities (learning games) as well as questions for review. The site also has a place for teachers to download all the needed materials and resources to teach the WebCourse in the classroom. There will be more WebCourses created in the future, so please feel free to contact us at luerssen@marine.usf.edu and let us know what topics you would like to see us cover and what we can do to improve the website.

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements