November 2008

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements

Lots To Be Thankful For!

Wow, this newsletter is full of resources for educators at this time of thanksgiving here in the US! Please enjoy, and be sure to look through all the way to the end - there are numerous opportunities for teachers - workshops, online courses, Citizen Science events, competitions, community efforts to participate in and more.

Motions of the Ocean: A New Section on Windows to the Universe

Ocean water is always moving. It moves around surface ocean currents in the upper 400 meters of the ocean, creating swift-flowing currents like the Gulf Stream and eddies that spin off the flow of water. Water from deep in the ocean moves towards the surface by upwelling. Currents along coastlines move water as well as sand. Each day ocean water moves with the tides. And, over a long time, water circulates from the deep ocean to shallow ocean and back again because of thermohaline circulation.

Visit the new Motions of the Ocean section on Windows to the Universe to learn more, and then test your knowledge with the Motions of the Ocean Word Search.

Extreme Creatures and Environments

We've added some new pages, as part of our support for the VOCALS campaign, about extreme environments and the creatures that live in them. Check out our page on environments with extreme temperatures (hot or cold) or dryness... or read about places where acidity, radiation, pressure, or lack of light force inhabitants to adapt or perish. Because VOCALS is located in Chile, we've also added pages about Chile's Atacama Desert - the driest hot desert on Earth! There's also a page on life (human and otherwise) in the Atacama. Get extreme and check them out!

Windows to the Universe Image Galleries

Check out our new image galleries! We put together a lot of the images scattered throughout the site on an easy-to-use page. The VOCALS campaign has its own image gallery. Other cool ones include Clouds, Weather, Cryosphere and Polar Regions, Solar System, Stars, Nebulae, Galaxies, Mythology by topic or by region,and Clouds in Art. Do you have any suggestions how we can further improve the galleries? Share them here.

Careers in the Geoscience

I think many people may be relatively unaware of the range of careers available to people who decide to go into the geosciences. Other than the person that gives the weather forecast on the local news, most people have little connection with geoscience professionals. What kind of jobs can you get it you go into the geosciences? How much does it pay? What is your life like, if you have this type of career? As a geoscientist with a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Geophysics and Space Physics, as well as a wife and the mother of three beautiful children, one of my favorite activities is to share my enthusiasm for this field, as well as it's potential to enable a good life with meaningful contributions, with young people.

I firmly believe that the importance of this career path is growing even more, and rapidly, as we face the joint challenges of global warming and sustainable energy. Students well prepared in the geosciences will be equipped to understand scientific issues and make sound decisions regarding societal choices. Those that chose a strong background in science, technology, engineering, and math will also have the option to pursue careers in which they will help solve problems for society through innovative applications of science and technology. I can't think of a better path for the youth of today!

Sometimes we hear that students don't think that a science career is right for them - perhaps because they don't see themselves as fitting into their conception of a scientist. Perhaps they think it's not "cool" enough, or that you can't lead a "real" life. Over the past several years, I've been working on a presentation that I've given in a few locations on careers in the geosciences. This powerpoint presentation has focused on encouraging those historically underrepresented in science careers to think again about the geosciences - it includes information on specific scientist role models (all with PhDs in science), as well as information about careers in the geosciences. Please feel free to use this with your students if you'd like to, as long as it's for educational and non-profit purposes. The presentation is large, so you might want to just select a few slides from it to use, rather than the whole thing!

Also, through our work on Postcards from the Field, we have been assembling informal biographic information from today's scientists working on field campaigns. Many of these scientists are young and have interesting and appealing life stories. I'm sure many of your students will find someone in these biographies with whom they might relate. You can find these biographies by going to our Postcards from the Field section and clicking on the names of the scientists you see there. Our new VOCALS portal has a nice People page that includes links to the bios of over 15 scientists who are submitting postcards during the campaign. The American Geological Institute also has some good information about geoscience careers at

Science Calendar: Birthdays in November

November 7th is Marie Curie's birthday (1867-1934). She was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity, the first scientist to receive two Nobel prizes and the first female professor at the University of Paris. She was born in Poland and lived in France since she was 24. Together with her husband Pierre Curie, another Nobel prize laureat, she discovered two new elements, Radium and Polonium, and studied the x-rays they emitted. Their daughter Irène Joliot-Curie won a Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935. What an exceptional family!

Other notable birthdays in November include:

  • November 8, 1656 - Edmond Halley, an English astronomer, mathematician and physicist. He is most famous for predicting the return of the comet that now bears his name. Not everyone knows, though, that Halley also studied weather, winds and tides, magnetism, built a diving bell and even contributed to the development of actuarial science!
  • November 15, 1738 - William Hershel, a German-born British astronomer who became famous for discovering Uranus. He also discovered several moons of Saturn and Uranus, studied nebulae and other astronomical objects, and discovered infrared radiation. He was also a prolific composer.
  • November 29, 1803 - Christian Doppler, an Austrian mathematician and physicist who discovered the Doppler effect
  • November 20, 1889 - Edwin Hubble, an American astronomer who studied galaxies and contributed to the idea of an expanding universe. The Hubble Space Telescope was named after him.
  • November 9, 1934 - Carl Sagan, an American astronomer who researched the origins of life and astrobiology. He is also famous for writing many popular science books and articles.

Postcards from the Southeast Pacific

Did you know that the largest human geoglyph is located in Northern Chile? Did you know that Nephelococcygia is just the fancy name for watching clouds? Did you know that the Operations Center for a scientific field campaign can be located in a hotel conference room and that hotel rooms can be turned into laboratories?

We have wonderfully written postcards being submitted daily for the VOCALS campaign. Read through them to see a real and exciting science story unfold. I promise you and your students won't be disappointed!


'Sustainability' is a word we see a lot these days. But what does this mean and what does it imply? To sustain means to support; to keep in existence, to maintain, to provide for; to assist; to encourage. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, rising sea level, global warming, species extinctions, hurricanes, tornadoes, coastal dead-zones -- you name it -- we all hear regularly about natural (and sometimes man-made) disasters on our planet. People around the globe are increasingly becoming aware of our need to understand our planet and are working to develop sustainable approaches for life on Earth! In our roles as educators, teachers and parents need to be able to share their understanding of science and world events with youth, as well as a sense of responsibility towards the environment.

Windows to the Universe provides educators with a wealth of teacher resources to help you in this important role with youth. Our distance learning courses and workshops and presentations are other outlets we have for sharing these resources with teachers. Our team takes special pride in maintaining our web site's content and making sure our resources are translated into Spanish! We have a vast menu of options on our web site, where you can choose, explore, learn, and play! We'd like to take this opportunity to invite you to keep learning more about how our planet, the solar system, and the universe.

If Windows to the Universe is a valuable resource for you as an educator, and it is within your means, please help sustain the project with your contributions.

NSTA Conferences This Fall

Will you be at the NSTA Regional Conferences in either Portland, OR (November 20-22, 2008) or Cincinnati, OH (December 4-6, 2008)? If so, we invite you to participate in one or more of the Windows to the Universe sessions listed below.

Portland NSTA Regional Conference

Date Title Time Location
Thursday, November 20 Magnetism Activities, Space Weather, and Geomagnetism 8:00-9:00 am Oregon Convention Center, Room E147/148
Climate Change: Classroom Tools to Explore the Past, Present, and Future 8:00-9:00 am Doubletree Lloyd Center, Oregon Room
Project BudBurst and The Great World Wide Star Count 12:30-1:30 pm Doubletree Lloyd Center, Oregon Room
Cool Science from Cold Places! Activities and Online Resources About Science of the Polar Regions 3:30-4:30 pm Doubletree Lloyd Center, Ross Island/Morrison Room
Friday, November 21 NESTA Share-a-Thon 9:30-10:30 am Oregon Convention Center, Oregon Ballroom 201
Water, Air, Land, Life, and Space! (WALLS!) 12:30-1:30 pm Oregon Convention Center, Room E147/148
Make a Big Splash: Ocean Literacy Resources for the Elementary Classroom 3:30-4:30 pm Hilton Portland & Executive Tower, Pavilion West
Saturday, November 22 Microworlds! Online Tools Exploring Earth's Atmosphere, Water Cycle, and Greenhouse Gases 11:00 am -12:00 pm Doubletree Lloyd Center, Oregon Room

Cincinnati NSTA Regional Conference

Date Title Time Location
Thursday, December 4 Microworlds! Online Tools Exploring Earth's Atmosphere, Water Cycle, and Greenhouse Gases 8:00-9:00 am Duke Energy Center, Room 207
NESTA Share-a-Thon 2:00-3:00 pm Duke Energy Center, Room 206
NESTA Rock Raffle 3:30-4:30 pm Duke Energy Center, Room 206
Friday, December 5 Cool Science from Cold Places! Activities and Online Resources About Science of the Polar Regions 9:30-10:30 am Duke Energy Center, Room 204
Magnetism Activities, Space Weather, and Geomagnetism 2:00-3:00 pm Duke Energy Center, Room 207
Climate Change: Classroom Tools to Explore the Past, Present, and Future 5:00-6:00 pm Duke Energy Center, Room 204
Saturday, December 6 Water, Air, Land, Life, and Space! (WALLS!) 11:00 am -12:00 pm Duke Energy Center, Room 206

Science Teacher's Conference in Mexico

Members of the Windows to the Universe team will be in Zacatecas, Mexico this November 13-16 to present at the 8th National and 1st International Convention of Natural Science Professors. The theme this year is "Natural Sciences Education in the Context of Sustainable Development." This conference provides a wonderful opportunity for science teachers in Mexico to find new resources to use in the classroom and to network with all of the scientists and teachers in attendance. We are very excited to be able to attend this conference and share some of the resources we have in Spanish. We look forward to seeing some of you there!

Winter Climate Discovery Online Courses Coming Soon!

Registration for winter session NCAR Climate Discovery Online Courses will be open soon. Mark your calendars!

Are you seeking a K-12 professional development opportunity that will enhance your qualifications, competency, and self-confidence in integrating Earth system science, climate, and global change into your science classroom? This winter, NCAR will be offering a series of seven-week online courses for middle and high school teachers that combine geoscience content, information about current climate research, easy to implement hands-on activities, and group discussion. The courses run concurrently beginning January 23 and run through March 15.

  • CD 501 Introduction to Earth's Climate is designed to guide participants through the basics of climate science, integrating content, classroom activities, and community-building discussions to help middle and high school educators understand the answers to common questions about climate.
  • CD 502 Earth System Science: A Climate Change Perspective explores Earth as a system from the perspective of climate and global change, describing the interactions between the various parts of the Earth system, including human activities, and how they all affect our climate.
  • CD 503 Understanding Climate Change Today presents some of the current and predicted impacts of global warming on our planet and human societies. This course explores how climate models are developed and used to understand likely scenarios of future climate and how current scientific research is improving the quality of climate predictions.

There is a $225 fee per course. For complete course schedule and registration information, visit

Just 3 days left to Count the Stars!

There are three days left to participate in second annual Windows to the Universe Great World Wide Star Count. This international event encourages everyone to go outside, look skyward after dark, count the stars they see in certain constellations, and report what they see online. During the 2007 inaugural event, over 16,000 individuals from 64 countries and all 7 continents participated in this campaign that measures light pollution globally. Star Count is designed to raise awareness about 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 data entry form. 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 fall. The Great World Wide Star Count will be held from October 20 through November 3, 2008. For more information visit or email

Table of Contents

Ocean Motion
Extreme Environments
Image Galleries
Geoscience Careers
New Postcards
Winter Courses
Star Count

Astronomy Contest
NESTA Fall Events
Einstein Fellows
Earth Science Lit
Thacher Scholars











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NESTA/Astronomy Magazine Young Astronomers Video Contest

The National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) has teamed up with Astronomy magazine to make available an exciting contest for small teams of science students. Similar to the way scientists work to solve a problem, students will work together as a team in this contest to create a DVD demonstrating knowledge of an astronomical topic.

The topic for middle school students (grades 6-8) : "Is Pluto a planet or not?" The topic for high school students (grades 9-12) is "What is a black hole?" Send a video (DVD format) that is three minutes or less in length. It can be in the form of a documentary, talk show, news broadcast, commercial, anything! Students can win really cool prizes for themselves and for their school. Submissions go to Astronomy Magazine, but the judging will be done by NESTA.

For complete details follow the link to the NESTA/Astronomy Magazine Young Astronomers Video Contest. From here you can download the application form and a copy of the official rules. Check out the prizes that will be won too! The deadline for entries is November 7, 2008 – so get moving!

NESTA Fall Events

The National Earth Science Teachers Association announces its upcoming events at the Fall Area Conferences of the National Science Teachers Association:

NESTA Share-a-Thon and Rock and Mineral Raffle
Friday, November 21, 2008, Portland, Oregon, Oregon Convention Center, Ballroom 201

NESTA Share-a-Thon: 9:30 - 10: 30 am
NESTA Rock & Mineral Raffle: 11:00 am - Noon

NESTA Share-a-Thon and Rock and Mineral Raffle
Thursday, December 4, Cincinnati, Ohio, Duke Energy Center, Room 206

NESTA Share-a-Thon: 2:00 – 3:00 pm
NESTA Rock & Mineral Raffle: 3:30 - 4:30 pm

Polarpalooza is Coming to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science!

Polar-Palooza Students Program for Grades 6–12 – Free with Museum admission
Friday, November 14, 2008 - 10:00 a.m. or 11:30 a.m.
Students will hear a high-energy presentations of adventure and science told by a charismatic “cast of characters” (real scientists). The scientists will use high-definition video and authentic props—such a 2,000- year-old piece of ice core or a caribou parka—to bring polar research to life. Students will have the opportunity to interact with the ice researchers, geologists, oceanographers, climate scientists, biologists, and Arctic residents and ask questions during this live program.
Supports the following Colorado Model Content Standards- Science 1,4,5; Geography 1,2,3

Polar-Palooza Teacher Workshop for Teachers-Grades 6-12-Only $10!
Saturday, November 15th, 2008, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Continuing Education Credits Available
This is an exciting opportunity to meet and hear from scientists who conduct research in the Arctic and in Antarctica. Their dynamic presentations will incorporate high-definition video and will follow the themes of ice dynamics and the water cycle, adaptation to life in the cold and dark, and how and why Earth warms. Participants will receive valuable International Polar Year classroom resource materials from various sources, including NASA and NOAA.
Supports the following Colorado Model Content Standards- Science 1,4,5; Geography 1,2,3

You do not need to attend both events to participate (although you certainly may if you would like!). Reservations are required. Please visit the Denver Museum of Nature & Science web site for more information or call 303.322.7009 to make your reservation today!

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 2009-2010 school year, apply and submit three letters of recommendation online by January 13, 2009.

Apply online at

For more information about the Einstein Fellows program visit or contact Liz Burck at

Earth Science Literacy Draft Document is Open for Community Comment

The NSF-supported Earth Science Literacy Initiative has prepared a draft document outlining what every citizen should know about Earth Science, and we are seeking community input on the draft. We hope that you will take the time to provide your input, because this document will provide a clear and concise summary of the fundamental ideas in Earth Science for policy makers, educators, students, and the general public.

In order to read and comment on the draft, please go to before October 31st, 2008. We will then incorporate community comments, add graphics, and release a revised draft by early December. The final document will be printed toward the end of January.

This document complements the efforts of the Ocean, Climate and Atmospheric science communities in defining the big ideas and supporting concepts essential for an earth system literate public. The Earth Sciences draft was developed through an NSF-supported, 350-participant online workshop held in May, 2008 and a 35-participant, in-person writing workshop held in July, 2008. These workshops brought together scientists from a broad representation of the geosciences, including mineralogists, petrologists, resource explorationists, sedimentologists and stratigraphers, paleontologists, tectonicists, geophysicists, geomorphologists, low-temperature geochemists and biogeochemists, continental dynamicists, volcanologists, geohazard specialists, and members of the freshwater hydrologic science community.

This is a critical time for our science – the geosciences can play a critical role in helping society meet the challenges of natural hazards and human impacts on the environment. Please help us make this document the best it can be!

Teacher Under The Sea Aquarius Mission: November 11-20, 2008

The Aquarius Reef Base consists of the Aquarius Undersea Laboratory, it’s autonomous life support buoy (LSB) and the land station which serves as its base of operations and support facility. Owned by NOAA and operated by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW), the station serves as a platform for research on coral reefs, developing undersea technology, and as a training facility for students, scientists, astronauts, and Navy divers. Typically, about eight missions are carried out annually, each with a crew of six people submerging for periods from one to two weeks. This November, an ongoing study on fish behavior is being used for a special mission which combines scientific research with education and outreach. This project is being called the Teacher Under The Sea Mission.

Mark Tohulka, a high school science teacher from Miami, will be embedded as a crew member, performing scientific research and outreach to classrooms via the Aquarius website. During the mission, teachers, students, and other members of the public will be able to access the Aquarius website to view broadcast events, download lesson plans, contribute to blogs, and read supporting information about the station in general and about this mission in particular. Crew members will be responding to questions on an “Ask an Aquanaut” forum, and some classroom links will be conducted.

Look up the website, to find…

1. A virtual tour of the undersea laboratory
2. Mission logs, schedules, and photo galleries
3. Archived lesson plans and background information
4. Live webcams in and around the station during missions
5. Event broadcasts and blogs directed toward students
6. “Ask an Aquanaut” forum for student-submitted questions

Thacher Scholars Award Competition

The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) announces the 2009 Thacher Scholars Award. Awards will be given to secondary school students (grades 9-12) demonstrating the best use of geospatial technologies or data to study Earth. Eligible geospatial tools and data include satellite remote sensing, aerial photography, geographic information systems (GIS), and Global Positioning System (GPS). The main focus of the project must be on the application of the geospatial tool(s) or data to study a problem related to Earth's environment. For more information about this opportunity (entries due April 6, 2009), please visit

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