October 2009

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements
Windows to the Universe Facebook Group

October is the Month for the Earth and Space Sciences

October is a big month for the Earth and space sciences, as this newsletter will demonstrate! There are a number of events happening this month, including Earth Science Week (October 11-17), Women in the Geosciences Day (October 15), the Great World Wide Star Count (October 9-23), and Project Budburst's Fall push for foliage observations. In addition to these geoscience-focused events, the first 15 days of October are the last half of National Hispanic Heritage month - an opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of Hispanics in the geosciences.

In addition to these events, this newsletter highlights a new content resource on Windows to the Universe - a new section on isotopes, radioactive decay, and half-life, supported by new pages on atomic mass and atomic number. I'd also like to remind everyone of our newly updated and expanded section on Earth's atmosphere, with added detail on the structure of the atmosphere and weather. We are continuing to expand this section, and will be adding material on atmospheric chemistry and composition soon.

As usual, we will have a strong presence at fall NSTA conferences - see below for the details on our sessions. I hope to see you there! Note also the events planned by the National Earth Science Teachers Association at all three conferences.

The last half of the newsletter includes many opportunities offered by partner organizations seeking to support Earth and space science teachers and students. Please be sure to check this section, as some of these exciting opportunities have deadlines.

Finally, I'd like to thank everyone that responded to the survey posted last month on the website. We received a total of 688 responses in just six days - very impressive! The results showed that 70% of respondents were teachers (probably due, in part, to the fact that we let you know about the survey with a special email, which many of you responded to), with 27% of teachers teaching at the middle school level and 35% teaching at the high school level. 28% of respondents said that they came directly to the site, because they knew about it already, 29% were referred by a search engine, and 27% were referred from a link on another site. 68% of respondents said they use the site to learn about the Earth and space sciences, and 63% said they use it to access materials for their classrooms. 6% of respondents indicated that they use the site daily, 31% weekly, and 30% monthly. There was a lot of interest in new services and resources from Windows to the Universe! For example, 43% of respondents were interested in learning about community resources, 38% said they would like to take advantage of professional development opportunities, and 30% said they would like to be able to purchase a Teacher's Guide to the site, as well as learn about exemplary products associated with our content. This feedback is exceptionally useful to us now, and I anticipate coming back to you for more, soon. Thanks SO much!

Isotopes, Radioactive Decay, and Half-life

We've added several pages to the Windows to the Universe web site about atomic and nuclear science. Check out our descriptions of radioactivity, radioactive decay, and half-life. These topics are supported by explanations of isotopes (different "flavors" of a particular element), atomic mass, and atomic number.

In the coming months, we'll add or update pages on several related topics, including carbon-14 and radiocarbon dating, the atom and its nucleus, the chemical elements, and the particles that make up atoms (protons, neutrons, and electrons). Stay tuned!

Florence Bascom Paved the Way for Women in the Geosciences!

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.

Florence Bascom’s career was full of firsts. 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.  To celebrate this, the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) and the American Geological Institute (AGI) have created Women in the Geosciences Day as a part of Earth Science Week. Celebrate on October 15, 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!

Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends on November 1st 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 adjusted 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 DST in 1905 when he noticed during the 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 at different dates. In the Southern hemisphere beginning and ending dates are reversed. Some nations shift time year-round, and many do not observe DST at all. Often different areas of one country have different time shifts.

Hubble Space Telescope - An Update

Just a few days ago, NASA announced that the Hubble Space Telescope is back in operation after several months of upgrades, repairs, and testing. Two new instruments, the Wide Field Camera 3 and the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, were installed during the STS-125 servicing mission in May. Another four instruments were repaired and brought back into operation. These changes will give the HST better sensitivity, and will also allow it to complete observations much more quickly than has been possible in the past, and all together they make the space observatory significantly more powerful than it ever has been.

In addition to announcing that the HST is back in action, NASA released a number of new images from the space telescope. They include views of far-flung galaxies, a densely packed star cluster, and a "butterfly" nebula, and they can be viewed at NASA's Hubble Space Telescope site.

Also, don't forget about the Top Stars competition, NASA's contest to identify the most innovative uses of Hubble Space Telescope images in education. It's not too late to enter the competition, and if you think you have an interesting use of HST images in your classroom, check out the Top Stars site for information on how to enter.

The Many Names of the Full Moon

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? 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".

Join Us at a NSTA Fall Regional!

Will you be attending one of the NSTA regional conferences in Fall 2009? We will! We would love to see you at one of the following events. Our presentations and workshops cover timely science topics like climate change, space weather and Earth system science. We try to show as many hands-on activities as we can and we always provide handouts. Please join us!

Minneapolis, MN

Time Location
Thursday, October 29 Climate Change: Classroom Tools to Explore the Past, Present, and Future 12:30–1:30 PM Minneapolis Convention Center, 200E
Thursday, October 29 Igniting Curiosity 12:30–1:30 PM Minneapolis Convention Center, L100G
Thursday, October 29 Activities from Across the Earth System 2:00–3:00 PM Minneapolis Convention Center, L100D
Thursday, October 29 Tackling the Global Warming Challenge in a Rapidly Changing World 3:30–4:30 PM Minneapolis Convention Center, 200I
Friday, October 30 Magnetism Activities, Earth's Magnetism, and Space Weather from Windows to the Universe 8:00–9:00 AM Minneapolis Convention Center, 200D

Fort Lauderdale, FL

Time Location
Thursday, November 12 Igniting Curiosity 12:30-1:30 PM Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, Grande Ballroom Salon D
Thursday, November 12 Tackling the Global Warming Challenge in a Rapidly Changing World 2:00–3:00 PM Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina, Grande Ballroom Salon B
Friday, November 13 "Aha!" Is Just a Stone's Throw Away 9:30–10:30 AM Fort Lauderdale Conv. Center, Grand Floridian Ballroom B
Friday, November 13 Climate Change: Classroom Tools to Explore the Past, Present, and Future 9:30–10:30 AM Fort Lauderdale Conv. Center, Floridian Ballroom A
Saturday, November 14 Activities from Across the Earth System 9:30–10:30 AM Fort Lauderdale Conv. Center, Teleconference Room
Saturday, November 14 Magnetism Activities, Earth's Magnetism, and Space Weather from Windows to the Universe 11:00 AM–12:00 PM Fort Lauderdale Conv. Center, Teleconference Room

Phoenix, AZ

Time Location
Thursday, December 3 Activities from Across the Earth System 8:00–9:00 AM Phoenix Convention Center, 229A
Friday, December 4 Magnetism Activities, Earth's Magnetism, and Space Weather from Windows to the Universe 11:00 AM–12:00 PM Phoenix Convention Center, 224B
Friday, December 4 Math Activities in the Earth Sciences Using Interactive Multimedia from Windows to the Universe 2:00–3:00 PM Phoenix Convention Center, 221A
Saturday, December 5 Tackling the Global Warming Challenge in a Rapidly Changing World 8:00–9:00 AM Phoenix Convention Center, 222C
Saturday, December 5 Climate Change: Classroom Tools to Explore the Past, Present, and Future 11:00 AM–12:00 PM Phoenix Convention Center, 229A

Participate in Earth Science Week this October 11-17!

The theme for this year's Earth Science Week is "Understanding Climate." It's being held from October 11-17, 2009, and encourages people everywhere to explore the natural world and learn about the geosciences. Earth Science Week includes contests, events, and classroom activities. Order the Earth Science Week Toolkit to receive some great classroom resources.

This is a great time to explore the Earth section of Windows to the Universe! This section includes content on the different components of the Earth system, including: the atmosphere, the hydrosphere (water), the biosphere (living things), and the geosphere (geology). This is also a great opportunity to delve into the content available on the climate section of web site, and to try out some of the classroom activities related to these topics.

It's Time to Count Stars!

Please join us next week for the third annual Windows to the Universe Great World Wide Star Count. This IYA Cornerstone Project encourages everyone to go outside, look skyward after dark, count the stars they see in certain constellations, and report what they see online.

Star Count is designed to raise awareness about light pollution in the night sky and encourage learning in astronomy. All the information needed to participate is available on the Star Count Web site. Participation involves use of a simple protocol and an easy-to-use data entry form. Activity guides are available for download in 8 languages. At the conclusion of the event a map will be generated highlighting the results of this exciting citizen science campaign.

Mark your calendars and plan on joining thousands of other students, families, and citizen scientists counting stars this month. The Great World Wide Star Count will be held from October 9 - 23, 2009.

For more information visit www.windows.ucar.edu/starcount or email starcount_info@ucar.edu

Wanted: 5,000 Observations of Fall Foliage

Celebrate Fall with Project BudBurst! Don’t let our name fool you – we are interested in all plant observations throughout the year. Now is a great time to get outside and make observations of seeds ripening or leaf color change or leaf drop. You can ‘jump’ in to Project BudBurst at any time during the year. So, you don’t have to wait for spring to participate in this national climate change field campaign. Help us reach our goal of 5,000 observations of fall phenophase observations in 2009. Climate change scientists are very interested in the observations you and your students are making – we need your help!. All information necessary to participate can be found at www.budburst.org. At this time, participation in Project BudBurst is limited to the United States.

September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month

During this 30 day period, the focal point of many classroom activities and discussions across the United States center on the Hispanic culture. Do consider teaching about the contributions of Hispanic Americans during this month and at any point during the year. Why teach about any heritage? What does Science education have to do with cultures? Through myths, stories and art, we can clearly teach about the contributions that other cultures have made to science and help to build the self-esteem and the pride of those who identify themselves with a specific heritage or culture.

It is essential that all students learn to understand and appreciate the ethnic diversity that is found in our country. With regards to Hispanic Americans, this community traces its roots to the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the Americas; including the Arawaks (Puerto Rico), the Aztecs (Mexico), the Incas (South America), the Mayans (Central America), and the Tainos (Cuba, Puerto Rico). Still others trace their roots to the Spanish explorers, who in the 1400's set out to find an easier and less costly way to trade with the Indies. Visit the U.S. Census Bureau's page on Hispanic Heritage Month to learn the history of this important celebration as well as many interesting facts about the U.S. Hispanic population.

I often use the Par 5 activity to visually demonstrate greatness of diversity, as demonstrated by the diversity of types of water found in estuaries!

There are no boundaries in the real Planet Earth. Rivers flow unimpeded across the swaths of continents. The persistent tides the pulse of the sea do not discriminate; they push against all the varied shores on Earth. - Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau

Table of Contents

Radioactive Isotopes
Women in Geoscience
Daylight Saving Time
Hubble Telescope
Full Moon Names
NSTA Fall Regionals
Earth Science Week
Time to Count Stars!
Project BudBurst
Hispanic Heritage


NOAA Online Teacher
Habitat Contest
AAAS Project
Hispanic Scholarship
PEYA Applications
EPA Partner Network
Snow Leopards
Einstein Fellowship











Teacher Submissions

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Announcements from Partners

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A Perfect Time to Join NESTA!

Are you back in the classroom, looking for resources and support to help you bring the best to your students? Are you concerned about the state of Earth and space science education today? Now is the time to join the National Earth Science Teachers Association! Membership benefits are many and include receiving The Earth Scientist (a quarterly journal), full voting privileges, access to members-only areas of the NESTA web site and the monthly e-mail newsletter that shares new resources, opportunities, alerts, and upcoming events. There are also many special NESTA events at professional meetings. Plug into this supportive network. Cost is low! Join today!

NOAA Ocean Exploration & Research Program Announces Online Teacher Professional Development Op

Online Professional Development Workshop for Educators of All Grade Levels

Why Do We Explore?
October 5 - 16, 2009
in partnership with the College of Exploration

Join NOAA's Office of Ocean Exploration and Research for the second workshop in a series of educator professional development opportunities focused around NOAA's new ship and America's Ship for Ocean Exploration, the Okeanos Explorer. This workshop will introduce the new Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection built around the themes: Why Do We Explore?, How Do We Explore? and What Do We Expect to Find? Scientific presenters and education facilitators will work with participants to delve into the benefits of ocean exploration targeting climate change, energy, human health and ocean health. Interact with ocean explorers, converse and share classroom applications with other educators, and find a wealth of multimedia resources. We will introduce the first in a series of Leader's Guides for Classroom Explorers entitled Why Do We Explore?, with its companion Initial Inquiry Lesson, To Boldly Go., as well as additional lesson plans and other resources.

Speakers include: Dr. Charles Fisher: Professor of Biology, Eberly College of Science at The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Shirley A. Pomponi: Executive Director, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution at Florida Atlantic University. Dr. Edith Widder: Senior Scientist, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution at Florida Atlantic University; Cofounder, Ocean Research and Conservation Association (ORCA)

The workshop is free for all participants and will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Educators will have the option to receive graduate credit (fee for the credit) or obtain a certificate of completion.

To register go to:

Science-Art Contest for Children in Grades 2-4 - Habitat: Imagine That!

From a tiny insect to a huge blue whale, all animals have a place they call home. Their home -- called a habitat -- provides them with the food, water and shelter they need to survive.

An art contest for grades 2-4 challenges young scientists and artists to become wildlife investigators by exploring habitats, small and large, in their backyard or around the world, and then draw a picture showing what they learned. Artwork might focus on one animal or many, from an area as small as a single habitat or large as a biome.

"Habitat: Imagine That!" is the 14th annual art contest held by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) in Arlington, Va. The contest supports national education standards for grades K-4.

The first-, second- and third-place artists will receive $100, $75 and $50 Visa gift cards, respectively, framed color certificates, and their artwork will be showcased on IGES's Web site. For all entrants, certificates of participation will be available online as PDF files for teachers or parents to download and print.

Entries are due Oct. 26, 2009.

For more information, including detailed contest instructions, information for teachers and parents, a list of educational resources, and to view artwork of past winners, please visit: www.strategies.org/artcontest

Latest News from AAAS Project 2061

It’s not too late to sign up for Project 2061’s remaining 2009 “Using Atlas of Science Literacy” October workshop at AAAS Project 2061 headquarters in Washington, DC. See http://www.project2061.org/events/workshops/default.htm for more information.

If you’d like to attend an Atlas workshop but can’t make it in October, check the link above for Project 2061’s most up-to-date information about its 2010 workshop lineup.

Project 2061's electronic newsletter, Project 2061 Connections, shares its work with the science, mathematics, and technology education community. Each issue offers an in-depth look at the project’s current research, what we are learning, and how its findings, tools, and resources can be applied to your own efforts to advance science literacy. Here's the latest issue. Or sign up to receive your own free copy!

Hispanic College Fund - 30 Scholarships!

As an educator, you know that college is a dream for many minority students. But sometimes a little help is needed to make higher education a reality. To help make these dreams come true, and in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, PepsiCo is partnering with the Hispanic College Fund (HCF) to promote higher education among Hispanic students.

The 2009 Pepsi Hispanic Heritage Month will offer information and resources to help parents and students through the college application process on a bilingual website (
http://www.buildurdestiny.com or http://www.construyetudestino.com).

Students can also use the website to apply for a special, merit-based scholarship. PepsiCo is offering 30 scholarships to assist with undergraduate and graduate studies, including five scholarships worth $4,000 each, and 25 scholarships worth $500 each. Recipients will be selected by the HCF.

The website launches on September 14, 2009, and applicants must submit paperwork by March 1, 2010, for consideration. Evaluation, selection, notification and student acknowledgement of award will take place from March 2 to April 30. All scholarships will be awarded in September 2010.

The website also features a daily trivia question about Hispanic heritage from September 14 to October 18, 2009. Participants will be entered in daily and weekly sweepstakes for fantastic prizes, including notebook laptops.

Please visit http://www.buildurdestiny.com or http://www.construyetudestino.com

2009 President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) Applications

Applications due Dec 31, 2009

Since 1971, EPA has sponsored the President's Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA). The program recognizes young people across America for projects that demonstrate their commitment to the environment. Young people in all 50 states and the U.S. territories are invited to participate in the program.

Projects submitted in the past have covered a wide range of subject areas including recycling programs in schools and communities; construction of nature preserves; major tree planting programs; videos, skits, and newsletters created by students that focused on environmental issues; and environmental science projects. To be eligible to compete, a student or students, sponsored by an adult, must submit to their local EPA regional office evidence of a completed project as defined in the PEYA application, as well as a completed application.

The deadline for submitting applications for the regional award program is December 31 of each year.

EPA Launches New State Climate and Energy Partner Network

EPA is excited to announce the launch of the new State Climate and Energy Partner Network. The network will help state energy, environmental, and utility staff understand and explore climate change and clean energy policy and program options. It provides up-to-date information about state activities and fosters communication among state decision makers on climate and energy issues and opportunities.

In the partner network, you can:
Receive EPA's weekly summary of state climate and energy policy news.
Participate in the network listserv by posing questions to colleagues and sharing information about initiatives and activities your state has undertaken.
Provide recommendations for topics and speakers for EPA's monthly State Climate and Energy Technical Forum Webcasts.

The partner network is open to staff from any state interested in:
Advancing clean energy opportunities.
Developing climate change mitigation policies and programs.
Looking to understand and describe the benefits of climate actions.
Seeking up-to-date information on what other states are doing.

If you or a colleague would like to participate, visit the registration page.

For questions, please contact: Danielle Byrnett at byrnett.danielle@epa.gov

Available Now: Service Learning Unit on Conservation and Snow Leopards

Facing the Future, in collaboration with the Snow Leopard Trust, has just released Engaging Students in Conservation: Protecting the Endangered Snow Leopard, an interdisciplinary 1-2 week unit that includes five dynamic lessons and culminates with a service learning project. The unit is designed for 5-8th grade students in science and social studies. Though the lessons are designed as a comprehensive unit, each lesson can stand alone.

This unit, valued at $14.95, is available for FREE download.

Engaging Students in Conservation: Protecting the Endangered Snow Leopard includes:
Five hands-on lessons
An introduction to snow leopards and their ecosystem
An exploration of the human-wildlife conflicts that exist where people and snow leopards overlap
Opportunities to develop 21st century skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and global perspective
An examination of community-based conservation
A service learning project related to the protection of snow leopards in Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan

These lessons were developed and piloted by teachers and conservation experts including the Snow Leopard Trust, the world’s leading authority on the study and protection of the endangered snow leopard.

“The students were actively engaged in all of the lessons presented and really took on the roles and emotions of the activities.” –Science Teacher

“I used different parts of each lesson with each class’ ability. The many choices of activities allows for differentiation over a large expanse of abilities.” –Science Teacher

To download this unit today, visit www.facingthefuture.org

Einstein Fellowship - Application Now Open!

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship is a paid fellowship for K-12 math, science, and technology teachers. Einstein Fellows spend a school year in Washington, DC serving in a federal agency or on Capitol Hill. To be considered for an Einstein Fellowship for the 2010-2011 school year, apply and submit three letters of recommendation online by January 13, 2010.

Apply online at http://www.einsteinfellows.org/application.html

For more information about the Einstein Fellows program visit www.einsteinfellows.org or contact Program Manager Kathryn Culbertson at culbertsonk@triangle-coalition.org.

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