A Busy Fall!
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!
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.
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!
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 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!
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:
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 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
Saturday, October 20
NESTA Sessions in Atlanta
Friday, November 2 - All events on Friday are in the Georgia World Congress Center, B401/B402
Saturday, November 3
NESTA Sessions in Phoenix
Friday, December 7 - All events on Friday are in the Phoenix Convention Center, 132 A-C
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!
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".
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 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.
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 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.
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!
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!
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!
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 (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
NESTA at NSTA
Fall TES Sale!
Windows to Adventure
Layers of Rock
Minerals and Fossils
Daylight Saving Time
ES Week Webcast
Natl Wildlife Refuge
National Fossil Day
Women in Geosciences
Map Day Oct 19
ES Week Contests
Spirit of Innovation
Food and Tiles
EPA Climate Resource
Announcements from Partners
Information about Opportunities with Stipends, Honorariums, or Awards for Teachers/students
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.
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!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
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'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.
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.
For additional information about NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative program, visit:
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.
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.
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
"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.
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.
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.
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.