October 2012

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements
Windows to the Universe Facebook Group

A Busy Fall!
by Roberta

Are trees starting to turn colors in your neck of the woods?  They are here, in upstate New York, which I now call home after our move this summer from Colorado.  While Colorado is exceptionally beautiful, I must say that I've fallen in love with the forests here - I think I forgot how much I love trees while living along the Front Range in Colorado.  I'm really looking forward to the beauty of the next few weeks, as the trees change into a riot of colors.  

The American Geosciences Institute will host Earth Science Week, which is coming up very soon (October 14 - 20, 2012). This year's Earth Science Week focuses on Discovering Careers in the Earth Sciences. Check out AGI's website for details on Earth Science Week, including resources and activities near you. You can purchase a copy of their Earth Science Week kit, filled with wonderful resources for you and your students. AGI is also offering downloadable versions of its monthly Earth magazine for purchase individually, in addition to its regular print subscriptions. You can also access Earth content online at http://www.earthmagazine.org/.

We're ramping up for a very busy season of professional development this fall. Please be sure to check out our list of NSTA workshops below, which will be held in Louisville, Atlanta, and Phoenix over the coming months. We hope to see you there!

Arctic Sea Ice Has Hit All Time Low!

You don’t have to live in the Arctic to know that sea ice is very important. Polar bears roam on top of it.  Arctic marine life lives under it. And its light color reflects solar energy out to space, helping to keep the Earth’s climate from warming too fast. 

Each year, Arctic sea ice freezes during the cold winter months and then melts during the warm summer months.  September is the time of year when there is the minimum amount of sea ice in the Arctic.  On September 16, 2012, sea ice extent fell to 3.41 million square kilometers (1.32 million square miles), now the lowest summer minimum extent in the satellite record.

The previous record low happened in September 2007.  "The persistent loss of perennial ice cover -- ice that survives the melt season -- led to this year's record summertime retreat," said Joey Comiso, senior research scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "Unlike 2007, temperatures were not unusually warm in the Arctic this summer."  NSIDC research scientist, Walt Meier, commented on this record low saying, "By itself it's just a number, and occasionally records are going to get set.  But in the context of what's happened in the last several years and throughout the satellite record, it's an indication that the Arctic sea ice cover is fundamentally changing."

As global warming impacts the Arctic region and more ice melts, the albedo of the Arctic is decreased, meaning that less solar energy is reflected and more energy is absorbed by the Earth.  More energy means more warmth in the Arctic that causes more ice to melt. This compounding process is called ice-albedo feedback.  

For up-to-date information on this year's Arctic sea ice minimum, take a look at this web page from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.  Or find out how to tackle the global warming challenge!

NASA Dawn Mission: Hasta La Vesta, Baby

NASA’s Dawn mission and its international payload of instruments have spent a phenomenal year at asteroid Vesta gathering data close up and far away.  A mission extension allowed new views of Vesta's north polar region.  Hasta la vista, Vesta -- onto the dwarf planet Ceres!

Connect with Dawn team members and fellow Dawn mission fans and pose the questions you've always wanted to ask!  Dawn Mission's Google+ Hangout offers glimpses into discoveries-to-date, and insights into the next phase of the Dawn mission as its trusty ion engine guides the spacecraft to the icy dwarf planet, Ceres. 

It's not too late to host a Hasta La Vesta Event! Use the Dawn’s Google Hangout as a springboard for planning an event with your local observatory, club or school!  Register your event, big or small, and post it on the interactive map!

Sputnik's Anniversary

Fifty five years ago, on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite, called Sputnik 1, into space, starting the space age. It stayed in orbit for 6 months before falling back to Earth. The name "Sputnik" means "satellite" or "traveling companion" in Russian. This event signified the beginning of the space race between the USA and the Soviet Union, and led to the creation of NASA and to major increases in U.S. government spending on scientific research and education.

The first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, was launched just 4 months afterwards, on January 31, 1958. Its major accomplishment was the discovery of the Van Allen radiation belts.

The second Sputnik satellite was launched on November 3, 1957, and carried a dog named Laika into space. Biological data was returned for a week before the animal had to be put to sleep.

Read more about satellites and other robotic spacecraft on Windows to the Universe!

Orionid Meteor Shower

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 is the constellation Orion.

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, but the best viewing will be between midnight and dawn on October 21st when the waxing crescent moon will have set and the meteor shower is at its peak.  Stay warm and enjoy!

To find out more, check out these links:

Shorter Days Bring Autumn Colors

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.

NESTA Workshops at the Fall 2012 NSTA Area Conferences

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
8:00 – 9:00 am - Activities from Across the Earth System
9:30 - 10:30 am - Let's Get Well Grounded!
11:00 am - noon - Climate Change Classroom Toolkit
12:30 – 1:30 pm – Our Changing Planet
2:00 - 3:00 pm - Share-a-Thon
3:30 - 4:30 pm - Rock and Mineral Raffle

Saturday, October 20
Short Course: Exploring Planetary Science and Astronomy: What Would Galileo Do?  Louisville Marriott, Kentucky C/D, 9:00 am – noon. Ticketed Event: $57 advance; $62 on-site. Purchase tickets when you register online for NSTA or on the Louisville Advance Registration Form.

NESTA Sessions in Atlanta

Friday, November 2 - All events on Friday are in the Georgia World Congress Center, B401/B402
8:00 – 9:00 am - Climate Change Classroom Toolkit
9:30 - 10:30 am - Let's Get Well Grounded!
11:00 am - noon – Activities from Across the Earth System
12:30 – 1:30 pm – Our Changing Planet
2:00 - 3:00 pm - Share-a-Thon
3:30 – 4:30 pm - Rock and Mineral Raffle

Saturday, November 3
Short Course: Exploring Planetary Science and Astronomy: What Would Galileo Do?  Georgia World Congress Center, B404, 9:00 am – noon. Ticketed Event: $55 advance; $60 on-site. Purchase tickets when you register online for NSTA or on the Atlanta Advance Registration Form.

NESTA Sessions in Phoenix

Friday, December 7 - All events on Friday are in the Phoenix Convention Center, 132 A-C
8:00 – 9:00 am - Climate Change Classroom Toolkit
9:30 - 10:30 am – Activities from Across the Earth System
11:00 am - noon – Let's Get Well Grounded!
12:30 – 1:30 pm – Our Changing Planet
2:00 - 3:00 pm - Share-a-Thon
3:30 – 4:30 pm - Rock and Mineral Raffle 

Be a Scientist for Halloween!

Are your students planning to be princesses, vampires, or super heroes 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!

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? 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".

Fall Sale on Print Copies of The Earth Scientist!

Just in time for the school year, the National Earth Science Teachers Association has made printed copies of back issues of TES available at a reduced rate of $5/copy (plus shipping and handling) through the Windows to the Universe online store -- when 4 or more copies of TES are ordered.  Many issues include impressive posters for you to display in your classroom! The online store shows the content of each issue, which include multiple classroom activities you can use to cover a variety of Earth and space science topics. 

NESTA members can access PDFs of back issues of TES online through the NESTA website at http://www.nestanet.org/cms/content/publications/tes/archive. If you're not a member, join NESTA today and get access to our back issues in PDF format (alas, the posters are only available in with the print copies). 

Classroom Activities and Kits

Classroom activities are a great way to engage students in their science learning.  The Teacher Resources section on Windows to the Universe includes over 100 K-12 science activities for you to use with your students.  Topics range from geology, water, atmospheric science, climate change, life, ecology, environmental science, space weather and magnetism, to science literacy and art. Html versions of the activities, worksheets, and supplementary materials are all freely available, as are PPT shows that you can use with your students. 

Windows to the Universe Educator Members have free access to all downloadable PDF activities, worksheets, supplementary materials and PowerPoints (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.

If you'd like to save time collecting and prepping classroom materials, we offer several classroom activity kits for purchase: 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.

Paleoclimates and Pollen

Get your students analyzing data and drawing conclusions about how climate has changed since the last Ice Age with our Paleoclimates and Pollen classroom activity. This classroom activity is ideal for the middle-school level.

As an extension to the Paleoclimates and Pollen activity, have students visit the Climate and Global Change section of Windows to the Universe for more information about Earth’s climate system.  For over a dozen more climate related lesson plans, view our Changing Planet menu page.

Windows to Adventure - A New Book Series

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. 

The first two books in the series have 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.

Lots of New Earth and Space Science DVDs on the Windows to the Universe Online Store

We've just added a bunch of new educational DVDs from TASA Graphics to the Windows to the Universe online store. New additions include:

These are in addition to our previous offerings from TASA graphics:

We also offer quality DVDs on climate change and astronomy:

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!

2011 AGU-NESTA GIFT Workshop Presentations, Resources, and Videos Available Online!

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!

Layers of Rock Classroom Activity

Many teachers start the year with a study of rocks and minerals. Use our Layers of Rock activity that has students build a model of sedimentary rock layers. Like the rest of our activities, we've tried to use very inexpensive materials to get at essential science principles. This activity is also aligned with the National Science Standards. Check it out!

Beautiful Mineral and Fossil Specimens

Are you looking for a nice mineral or fossil to complete your collection?  Our online store has a wealth of mineral and fossil specimens, as well as mineral or fossil jewelry and household items.

Mineral and fossil specimens (made available through Nature's Own) include amber with insects, ammonites (pairs of phylloceras inflatum, black and white ammonites), banded iron, bismuth, celestite, charoite, compressed labradorite, coprolites (50 million year old fossilized turtle poop), fluorite, fossilized shark teeth (megalodon and odotus obliuus), almandine garnets, hematite with rutile, meteorites, native copper, nautiloids, olivine xenoliths in basalt, phlogopite mica, pyrite "dollars""penetration twins", black tourmaline, and trilobites, in addition to a wonderful mineral and fossil collection including 18 minerals and 12 fossil specimens.

For those inclined to show their love of minerals and fossils by wearing them, we also offer a fabulous assortment of jewelry including: pendants of ammonite, amethyst, jade, ruby, and ruby zoisite; earrings of amethyst and peridot; pendant and earring sets of charoite, eudialyte, and paua shell; and beautiful necklaces of kyanite and ruby. Alternatively, you may want to show your love of rocks and minerals through your household goods - for instance, with banded onyx wine goblets, bowls (8", 12", or a pair of 5" noodle bowls), vases (5" or 6"), or a mortar and pestle.

Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends on November 4th 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!

Table of Contents

Sea Ice Record
Dawn Mission
Autumn Colors
Full Moon
Fall TES Sale!
Classroom Activities
Windows to Adventure
DVDs-Online Store
GIFT Workshops
Layers of Rock
Minerals and Fossils
Daylight Saving Time

Lowe's Toolbox
ES Week Webcast
ES Week
Natl Wildlife Refuge
EarthCache Day
National Fossil Day
Women in Geosciences
ShakeOut! Earthquake
Map Day Oct 19
ES Week Contests
Spirit of Innovation
Pre-College Climate
Asteroid Contest
Brennan Award
PEYA 2012
Aero Scholarships
CubeSat Missions
Painting Competition
Geoscience Ed
Food and Tiles
Antarctic Trees
EPA Climate Resource
EarthScope Speakers














  Teacher Submissions

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  Announcements from Partners

Click here to submit information about your program to the newsletter

Information about Opportunities with Stipends, Honorariums, or Awards for Teachers/students
Educator members of Windows to the Universe should log into the website and go to the Member Special Offers page for details about these opportunities. If you're not a member, join today and find out how to apply to these opportunities! Additional information for non-members is available at http://www.windows2universe.org/offers.html.

Recycle-Bowl Competition

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.

Lowe's Toolbox for Education Grants

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 closes October 12, 2012.  Find out more about this awesome opportunity!

See New Webcast for Intro To Earth Science Week 2012

Go online today to view the first-ever webcast promoting participation in Earth Science Week, the annual worldwide celebration of the geosciences! The webcast, entitled “Introduction to Earth Science Week,” is now available online for viewing.

This free webcast, narrated by AGI Outreach Manager Geoff Camphire, provides an overview of learning activities, instructional materials, career resources, upcoming events, networking opportunities, contests, videos, and other programs available through Earth Science Week. The tutorial includes a wealth of online links, which viewers can click during the presentation to review available resources.

The roughly 10-minute webcast focuses on Earth Science Week 2012 (October 14-20), which celebrates the theme “Discovering Careers in the Earth Sciences.” To view the webcast, please visit http://www.earthsciweek.org/webcasts/index.html. In the coming months, look for additional webcasts on topics such as promoting activities through media, the status of Earth science education nationwide, and AGI’s geoscience teacher award competition.

Earth Science Week 2012 - October 14-20th

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.”

For the answers to questions like these, look no further than “Geoscience Career, Scholarship, and Internship Resources.” This new page on the Earth Science Week web site can help you learn how to build a geoscience career - in fields such as oceanography, paleontology, seismology, mineralogy, meteorology, geophysics, petroleum geology, environmental science, and space science.

The site includes dozens of links to online resources offered by AGI member societies, program partners, and other governmental, corporate, and nonprofit organizations in the geoscience community. To learn more, visit http://www.earthsciweek.org/themebasedresources/career.html.  Have a great Earth Science Week 2012!

National Wildlife Refuge Week - October 14-20th

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.

Whether you prefer to study Earth science firsthand, admire the fall colors, gaze at a flock of migratory birds, explore a mountain trail, or learn about the cultural resources that are part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s conservation mission, you can find what you like at a National Wildlife Refuge.

Sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this week focuses on lands and waters where wildlife and habitats are under federal protection. For information and educational resources, see http://www.fws.gov/refuges online. Go to the National Wildlife Refuge Locator’s map at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/refugeLocatorMaps/index.html to find refuges near you.

Earth Science Week Begins With EarthCache Day

Earth Science Week 2012 will begin with the sixth annual International EarthCache Day on Sunday, October 14. The public is invited to join the Geological Society of America (GSA), which runs the global EarthCache program, and the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), which organizes Earth Science Week, in exploring this exciting and educational Earth science experience.

International EarthCache Day is a time when EarthCachers around the globe organize small gatherings where people learn about the Earth. An EarthCache is a place that people can discover with a GPS device while participating in a “treasure hunt” called geocaching. “The treasure you find at an EarthCache is a lesson about the Earth itself,” says EarthCaching Director Gary Lewis of GSA.

EarthCache events are being held around the world on October 14. To view the locations for EarthCaching events, go to http://www.earthcache.org. For more information, contact Lewis, Senior Director of GSA Education and Outreach, at 720-201-8132.

National Fossil Day 2012

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.

Ever look at a fossil and see into the past? Understand why paleontologists protect the locations where fossils are found? Know what fossils can tell you about climate change? National Fossil Day resources and activities help you answer these questions, celebrating the scientific and educational value of fossils, paleontology, and the importance of preserving fossils for future generations.

Resources and events are posted on the National Fossil Day web site at http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/nationalfossilday/.

Prepare for Fourth Annual Women in Geosciences Day

Please join the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) in celebrating the fourth annual Women in the Geosciences Day - Thursday, October 18 - during Earth Science Week 2012! Women in the Geosciences Day offers you a chance to share the excitement and advantages of geoscience careers with women of all ages, especially those early in their education.

What can you do? If you’re an educator, invite a female geoscientist to speak in your classroom or institution. If you’re a female geoscientist, visit a local school or volunteer at a science center. Organize a scout event, lead a 4H field trip, or hold a special “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” focusing on the geoscience workplace. No matter who you are, you can help show young women what it means to be a geoscientist.

For AWG worksheets on geoscience careers, see the Earth Science Week 2012 Toolkit (http://www.earthsciweek.org/materials/index.html). Watch for additional information and resources online at Earth Science Week (http://www.earthsciweek.org) and AWG (http://www.awg.org). Have a great Women in the Geosciences Day!

ShakeOut! The Biggest Earthquake Drill in the World!

While we cannot stop a huge earthquake from occurring, we can be prepared.  You are invited to join thousands of people who will Drop, Cover, and Hold On on October 18th in the 2012 Great ShakeOut!

More than 15.4 million people are registered to participate in ShakeOut drills in 2012.  Participating is a great way for your family or organization to become better prepared to survive and recover quickly from big earthquakes.

Start here to participate in the 2012 ShakeOut!

Geologic Map Day: Celebrate on October 19!

On Friday, October 19, 2012, you are invited to join in the celebration of the first-ever Geologic Map Day! This special event will promote awareness of the study, uses, and importance of geologic mapping for education, science, business, and a variety of public policy concerns.

The final event for the school week of Earth Science Week 2012, Geologic Map Day is being hosted by the United States Geological Survey and the Association of American State Geologists in partnership with AGI, the organizer of Earth Science Week.

Check out the Geologic Map Day poster included in the Earth Science Week 2012 Toolkit (http://www.agiweb.org/pubs/pubdetail.html?item=609610). The poster provides a geologic map of the United States, plus step-by-step instructions for a related classroom activity. Students, teachers, and the wider public can learn more about geologic maps by using resources highlighted on the new Geologic Map Day web page (http://www.earthsciweek.org/geologicmap/).

Earth Science Week Contests

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

Spirit of Innovation Challenge

Imagine getting the chance to develop a commercial product to help solve a real challenge facing our world today. If you’re ready to take your innovative science and technology idea to all-new heights, then the Spirit of Innovation Challenge is for you. Get your genius on!

This annual competition challenges high school student teams to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills to develop the products of tomorrow. Along the way, coaches, world-renowned scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are there to mentor you and help turn your idea into a reality.

The Conrad Foundation believes high school students have the potential to create the next world-changing, commercially-viable product or service. The Spirit of Innovation Challenge invites students ages 13 – 18 from around the globe to Get Their Genius On and conceptualize a solution in the areas of:  Aerospace and Aviation, Energy and Environment, Cybertechnology and Security, and Health and Nutrition.  The entry deadline is October 24.

Call for Papers on Climate By Pre-College Students

Know a science student in middle or high school who’s fascinated by climate? Harvard University’s Journal of Emerging Investigators (JEI) is collaborating with the Institute for Earth Science Research and Education to publish a series of peer-reviewed climate-related papers authored by middle- and secondary-school students.

JEI is an open-access peer-reviewed online journal whose mission is to encourage and publish authentic student research. In addition to stand-alone research papers, JEI also encourages students who are developing science fair projects to submit journal articles based on those projects.

Notice of intent to submit is due November 30, 2012. For submission instructions and guidelines for articles, including suggestions for converting a science fair project into a journal article submission, go to http://bit.ly/LYXdDx. For more information, see http://www.smdeponews.org/programs-events/opportunity-for-middle-and-high-school-students-to-publish-climate-research-noi-due-nov-30/.

Name That Asteroid Contest

Have you ever wondered how the objects orbiting around our solar system get their names? If so, your opportunity to engage your students in just such an adventure has arrived!

In the fall of 2016 the spacecraft OSIRIS-Rex will launch on a mission to fly to an asteroid, grab a sample in its robotic arm and fly back to Earth.  It won't reach the asteroid called 1999 RQ36 until some time in 2019.

Since names like 1999 RQ36 are not very memorable or cool, the Planetary Society, MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, and the University of Arizona are asking students around the world to suggest better names for the asteroid.

Enter by December 2, 2012 to have a chance to name a piece of the solar system!  The contest is open to kids under the age of 18.  To enter, parents or teachers must fill out an online entry form with the proposed name and a short explanation of why that name is a good choice. 

Asteroids can't be named just anything, of course.  The International Astronomical Union governs the naming of big and small objects in the solar system, and they have guidelines on how to name near-Earth objects like 1999 RQ36.

Go to the following web sites to begin the contest.
Name That Asteroid Contest Information - http://planetary.org/get-involved/contests/osirisrex/
Online Background, Rules, Guidelines and Entry Form - http://www.planetary.org/get-involved/contests/osirisrex/enter.html

Apply for the Thomas J. Brennan Award

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) has a mission to increase the understanding and appreciation of astronomy and to advance science literacy. The group is comprised of both professional and amateur astronomers, informal and formal educators. One of its awards is particularly reserved for high school teachers: the Thomas J. Brennan Award. The ASP is now accepting nominations. In order to be considered, nominees must be involved in activities relating to the teaching of astronomy at the high school level—in the classroom or planetarium, in teacher training, and/or by other appropriate means. Letters of nomination should highlight how the nominee has distinguished himself or herself in this endeavor and/or cite exceptional achievement. Recipients receive a cash award and engraved plaque, as well as travel and lodging to accept the award at the Society’s 125th annual meeting in San Jose in July 2013.

The nominations deadline is December 31, 2012. Submission guidelines and lists of past recipients can be found at http://www.astrosociety.org/membership/awards/awards.html. For additional information, please contact Albert Silva at 415-715-1400 or via email asilva@astrosociety.org

2012 President's Environmental Youth Awards

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:
-environmental science projects
-recycling programs in schools and communities
-construction of nature preserves
-major tree planting programs
-videos, skits, and newsletters that focus on environmental issues

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.

NASA Accepting Applications for Aeronautics Scholarships

NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate is accepting scholarship applications from graduate and undergraduate students for the 2013-2014 academic year. The application deadline is Jan. 14, 2013.

NASA expects to award 20 undergraduate and five graduate scholarships to students in an aeronautical engineering program or related field. Undergraduate students who have at least two years of study remaining will receive up to $15,000 per year for two years and the opportunity to receive a $10,000 stipend by interning at a NASA research center during the summer.

Graduate students will receive a $35,000 stipend per year and $11,000 for educational expenses for up to three years, with an opportunity to receive a $10,000 stipend interning at a NASA research center for up to two consecutive summers. Graduate students also must apply under a specific research topic to align with NASA's aeronautics research programs.

For details about this scholarship program, a list of available research topics for graduate students, and the application process, visit:  http://nasa.asee.org/

NASA Announces Next Opportunity for CubeSat Space Missions

NASA is seeking proposals for small satellite payloads to fly on rockets planned to launch between 2013 and 2016. These miniature spacecraft, known as CubeSats, could be auxiliary payloads on previously planned missions.

CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nano satellites. These cube-shaped satellites are approximately four inches long, have a volume of about one quart and weigh less than three pounds.

Applicants must submit proposals electronically by 4:30 p.m. EST, Nov. 12. NASA will select the payloads by Jan. 31, 2013. Selection does not guarantee a launch opportunity. When a launch opportunity arises, the selected spacecraft will be eligible for flight after final negotiations.  NASA will not provide funding for the development of the small satellites.

For additional information about NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative program, visit:

Tunza International Children's Painting Competition

The International Children’s Painting Competition on the Environment is organized every year by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Japan-based Foundation for Global Peace and Environment (FGPE), Bayer and the Nikon Corporation.

It has been held since 1991 and has received more than 3 million entries from children in over 150 countries.

The theme of the 22nd painting competition will be “Water: The Source of Life” and children will have until February 29, 2013, to submit their entries.

AGI Plans New Center for Geoscience Education

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI), which organizes Earth Science Week each year, recently announced plans for an initiative to address the critical need of increasing geoscience literacy. AGI’s Center for Geoscience Education and Public Understanding will serve as a hub for geoscience educational tools and materials, current information on geoscience topics, and Geoscience Critical Issue Forums defining the state of science knowledge on key topics.

The center will serve not only as an advocate for increased Earth science teaching and assessment standards, but also as a clearinghouse for cutting-edge educational tools. In addition, the center will help to ensure a flow of knowledgeable future geoscientists through targeted career counseling, mentoring, and professional retention programs.

AGI will launch a web site with information about the center and opportunities for partnerships very soon!  With its diverse member societies and over 250,000 geoscientists, AGI is uniquely positioned to further this initiative. To learn more about AGI, see http://www.agiweb.org.

NASA Is Expanding Offer For Space Shuttle Tiles And Food

Now museums across the United States are eligible to receive these pieces of space history, in addition to the schools and universities that have received them since the end of the Space
Shuttle Program.

Providing space shuttle thermal protection tiles and dehydrated astronaut food to museums is a way for NASA to share technology and history with the public. This initiative helps NASA inspire the next generation of space explorers, scientists and engineers.

The lightweight tiles protected the shuttles from extreme temperatures when they re-entered Earth's atmosphere. The astronaut food was precooked or processed so it required no refrigeration and was ready to eat. It could be prepared simply by adding water or by heating.

Requests for these artifacts are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.  Schools and museums can obtain additional information, register for a login ID, and request a tile or food at: http://gsaxcess.gov/NASAWel.htm

For NASA Tiles for Teachers lesson plans, visit:  http://artifacts.nasa.gov/shuttle_tiles_teachers.htm

EARTH: Antarctic Trees Surprise Scientists

 "Warm" and "Antarctica" are not commonly used in the same sentence; however, for scientists, "warm" is a relative term. A team of researchers has discovered that, contrary to previous thinking, the Antarctic continent has experienced periods of warmth since the onset of its most recent glaciation.

Lodged in ocean sediment nearly 20 million years old, ancient pollen and leaf wax samples taken from the Ross Ice Shelf suggest that two brief warming spells, each of which lasted less than 30,000 years, punctuated the omnipresent cold of Antarctica. Warm, again, is a relative term, as the suggested maximum temperature reached a balmy 7 degrees Celsius in the summer — about 11 degrees warmer than conditions today. These data, researchers say, may hold the key to answering how Earth's climate and hydrological systems are inextricably linked.
Find out how by reading the story online at http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/antarctic-trees-surprise-scientists.

Make sure to check out all the other great stories in the September issue of EARTH Magazine online at http://www.earthmagazine.org. Find out how physicists fingerprint plutonium; learn how dams and groundwater pumping may influence sea level; and discover how ordinary people are becoming citizen scientists.

EPA Has Climate Resources For Teachers and Students

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.

In one activity, for example, middle school and high school students estimate and conceptualize their schools’ emissions and explore ways to mitigate them. Also, teachers can learn from climate experts and search a database of lesson plans, videos, books, and tools. See the EPA web site at http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/school.html.

EarthScope Speaker Series Explores Quakes, Eruptions

The 2012-2013 EarthScope Speaker Series is presenting scientific results of EarthScope research to faculty and students at colleges and universities.  EarthScope explores the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the processes that cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Speakers, who present science-based lectures on their own EarthScope-related projects, are selected based on their outstanding research accomplishments and their abilities to engage various audiences.

Travel and lodging expenses for speakers are provided by funds from the National Science Foundation. To apply for an EarthScope Speaker, go to http://www.earthscope.org/speakers. For more information, contact EarthScope at earthscope@asu.edu.

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