November 2009

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements
Windows to the Universe Facebook Group


At this time of year in the US, thoughts run to giving thanks for our blessings, even in these difficult times. I have so many blessings to be thankful for - my wonderful family and friends, the great people I have the honor to work with, and the incredible opportunity I've had to work on this project since February 1995, sharing the Earth and Space Sciences with people around the world. I'm also so pleased to know that what we do has made a difference for teachers and students, and thank all the people and organizations that have been responsible for working on, contributing to, and sponsoring Windows to the Universe!

We are entering a very busy time now, as we prepare this newsletter. As you see below, we have many workshops at the upcoming NSTA Area Conferences. Please note the new module on energy and sustainability that Lisa Gardiner announces below - we would appreciate your feedback on it! As usual, we have lots of partner announcements in the lower part of the newsletter, so be sure to scroll down, as many of these will benefit you and your students, and may have time limits on them.

Finally, as we all consider what we are thankful for this year, I'd like to encourage you to consider a donation to the Windows to the Universe project. We need your help to keep our website up to date and to support our professional development workshops. Donations to the site are tax-exempt. Just click on the donations page and go to the "UCAR Payment Website". Scroll down on that page, and you'll find "Windows to the Universe Donation" as the last item of the list of options. Thanks so much for your consideration and support!

New! Energy Choices and Climate Change

The choices we make about the sources of the energy we use and the amount of energy we use affect the amount of greenhouse gases we send into the atmosphere each year. And those extra greenhouse gases are causing our planet to warm.

Energy Choices and Climate Change is a new online module designed for the public that takes a look at issues related to energy and climate change. In the scenarios within the module, you will be able to make choices about the types and amount of energy used and see what effect your decisions have on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere. Your goal is to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere from fossil fuel emissions while keeping costs within reason.

We invite you to explore this module and we hope that you will take a minute to fill out the online survey about your experience. Your feedback will help make Energy Choices and Climate Change a success!

Leonid Meteor Shower - Nov. 17th

The Leonid meteor shower is expected to peak this year on the evening of November 17th. The Leonids are an unpredictable shower; most years it is quite tame, displaying only 10 or so meteors per hour at its peak. However, the Leonids occasionally produce meteor "deluges", with hourly meteor counts soaring into the hundreds. During a spectacular storm in 1883, observers estimated that they could see more than 1,000 Leonids per hour! The Leonid showers of 1998-2002 were also quite eventful. Some scientists are predicting that 2009 will also be an especially good year for Leonids.

The Moon will be new around the time of the Leonids this year, so we should have dark skies in which to spot meteors. The peak of the shower may only last a few hours, though such predictions are not always accurate. Observers in the Americas should make a special effort to look for meteors around sunset on the 17th, since the shower's peak is expected around then. People in Asia should have the best viewing opportunities, since it will be dark over that part of the globe when the peak of the Leonid shower is forecast to occur.

Thanksgiving and Remembering Norman Borlaug

The Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday in November. It traces its origins from a 1621 harvest feast by Plymouth settlers and Native Americans who helped the colonists survive their first year. Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving day in 1863, but it did not become a federal holiday until 1941. Thanksgiving is related to the harvest festivals, celebrated in many cultures around the world. These festivals usually feature feasts with seasonal crops.

Talking about harvests and feasts, it's hard not to mention Norman Borlaug, Nobel peace prize winner and father of the Green revolution, who died in September at the age of 95. His studies of agricultural plants and genetics led him to develop high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties. During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these crops in Mexico, India, Pakistan and other developing countries, where as a result the food production increased spectacularly and mass famines were averted. According to some estimates, Borlaug's discoveries have saved over a billion lives worldwide.

Classroom Activities from Windows to the Universe

We hope to see some of you at the NSTA Regional Conferences on science education in Minneapolis, Ft. Lauderdale, and Phoenix this fall. For those of you who can't make it to one of the conferences, here are some highlights of a few of our classroom activities. These activities are aligned with the national standards and are supported by science content from our web site. Have fun exploring with your students!

The LCROSS Mission - Water on the Moon?

For years, scientists have wondered whether there might be water on the moon in the form of ice left by comet impacts. If there is, it could be a key resource for future moon colonists, and this year NASA set out to answer this important question. To do this, they launched the Lunar CRater Observing and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission. This mission concluded this month when a lunar probe (actually an empty rocket hull) smashed into a crater near the moon's south pole, and the LCROSS module followed close behind, collecting data on the impact before crashing into the same crater. NASA astronomers were able to observe the impacts with ground-based instruments, and take measurements that will help them determine whether there was water around the impact sites.

The data are still being analyzed, but NASA scientists have called the mission a success, and they say they have the data they need to eventually answer the question of whether there is water on the moon. You can read more about the LCROSS mission and the search for lunar water at the NASA LCROSS mission website.

Join Us at a NSTA Fall Regional!

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

Fort Lauderdale, FL

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

Phoenix, AZ

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

Wanted: 5,000 Observations of Fall Foliage

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

ACCENT Climate Change Curriculum

I'd like to highlight some new classroom activities we've linked up in our Teacher Resources area. We've included three new classroom activities - on solar radiation, ocean circulation, and albedo. These resources have been developed by the ACCENT Project - standing for Atmospheric Composition Change the European Network of Excellence. ACCENT is a European network of more than 30 research institutes working in the field of atmospheric and atmosphere-related research. In addition to these classroom activities, ACCENT provides supporting content on these materials, which can be accessed through the activities themselves. Please check them out! In addition to English and Spanish, these resources are also available in German and Italian!

Table of Contents

Energy and Climate
Leonid Meteors
Norman Borlaug
Classroom Activities
Water on the Moon?
NSTA Fall Regionals
Project BudBurst


Winter PD Courses
Current NASA Ops
Bareket Observatory
PEYA Applications
Einstein Fellowship
Hispanic Scholarship











Teacher Submissions

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Announcements from Partners

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Save $25 on early enrollment in Climate Discovery!

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 summer, NCAR offers 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 January 23 through March 14.

  • 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, but you will save $25 if you register before January 1st! For complete course schedule and registration information, visit

NASA Connects with Students

NASA Sponsors Student Water Recycling Competition
NASA is inviting fifth through eighth grade students to participate in a competition to design water recycling systems that could be used for future exploration of the moon. Teams of up to six students and one teacher or mentor should submit their proposals to NASA by Feb. 1st, 2010, and the winning team will receive a free trip to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Visit the
Kennedy Space Center Education website for details.

NASA Invites Students to Drop Everything
NASA is running two parallel competitions--the Dropping In a Microgravity Environment (DIME) competition for high school students, and the What If No Gravity (WING) competition for students in grades 6-9--to give student teams an opportunity to design experiments for microgravity science. Teams must submit concept proposals to NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland by Monday, Nov. 2, and the top four teams will be invited to Cleveland in April 2010 to conduct their experiments with NASA personnel. For more information, visit the NASA education website.

Take a Virtual Spacewalk with NASA's New Video Game
NASA has developed a new video game called Station Spacewalk to give people a virtual opportunity to experience the thrill of working on a mission at the International Space Station. The game is based on actual work astronauts performed during the course of several NASA missions. To play the game, visit the project's website.

Design a NASA Mission Patch
Buzz Lightyear (or at least a 12-inch tall action figure of him) returned to Earth after spending 15 months aboard the International Space Station, and NASA is inviting students ages 6-12 to compete in designing a patch to commemorate his mission. The student with the winning design will win a tour of Kennedy Space Center in Florida and a trip to Walt Disney World Resort. For more information, check out the Buzz Lightyear ISS website.

Astronomy Education: Remote Web-Based Telescopes & Supporting Materials

The purpose of this web-based program is to provide a student's guide to the universe. More importantly, we would like to generate interest in astronomy, the night sky and the universe beyond us, and to encourage a sense of wonder and exploration. We also hope that it may be useful as a reference for amateur astronomers, students and teachers alike.

Project's Main Goals:
To attract more students into science and astronomy.
To keep the materials open to all interested, and accessible from virtually any place in the world.
To provide materials for FREE!
The web site will be dynamic, so it welcomes teachers to submit their articles and ideas, while creating new bonding and communication channels among them.
The information will be available in several languages - Hebrew, Russian & Arabic - in order to reach out to as many students around the globe as possible.

In the astronomical database there are articles & lesson plans covering the solar system to cosmology & photometry. The web site also has classroom posters available for download and organized by subject, a CCD library, tutorials, an interactive solar system tour, remote control activities with our on-line Mars rover robot, live feeds from the observatory, and much more. The web site will be updated on a regular basis by the Bareket observatory's staff.

2009 President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) Applications

Applications due Dec 31, 2009

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

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

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

Einstein Fellowship - Application Now Open!

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

Apply online at

For more information about the Einstein Fellows program visit or contact Program Manager Kathryn Culbertson at

Hispanic College Fund - 30 Scholarships!

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

The 2009 Pepsi Hispanic Heritage Month will offer information and resources to help parents and students through the college application process on a bilingual website ( or

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

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

Please visit or

A Perfect Time to Join NESTA!

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

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