November 2011

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements
Windows to the Universe Facebook Group

How Fast Things Can Change!
by Roberta

On Tuesday, October 25, we had a beautiful day here in Boulder, Colorado.  I took advantage of the weather to photograph some of our beautiful trees in fall foliage.  On Wednesday, a winter storm came through, causing temperatures to fall about 40 degrees and dropping about a foot of snow in our neighborhood, leaving our flower pots looking like cupcakes with excessively thick icing on top.  What a difference a day makes! Happily, with our topsy-turvy regional climate here in Boulder, temperatures have warmed up again, and most of the snow is gone already!

Windows to the Universe and NESTA had a very successful day of Earth and space science professional development at the NSTA Area Conference in Hartford, Connecticut.  We welcome new newsletter subscribers and Windows to the Universe Educator members!  There was a lot of enthusiasm about the activities we offered, and participants seemed to appreciate the chance to try out the activities in our hands-on workshops.  Several teachers picked up classroom activity kits for some of our most popular activities at the sessions, so they can do the activities conveniently and without delay in their classroom!  For those that weren't able to attend, a link to the workshop information and materials is available on our workshops page in the Teacher Resources area.

Our sessions were very well attended, with a total of ~400 teachers at our five sessions, including about 120 in our Climate Change Classroom Toolkit session.  Thanks to everyone who helped out at the events, and to all those that donated resources and specimens for the Rock and Mineral Raffle!  We hope to see those that can make it at our sessions in New Orleans and Seattle (see below).

I'd like to alert you to a number of new resources we are offering in our online store.  These include classroom activity kits for the following popular activities: 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.  We are also happy to be offering the Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0 DVD from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.  The DVD is loaded with 130 different resources for you, spanning the Earth and space sciences.

Finally, we'd like to remind you that we are moving our Facebook presence to our new page (from our old User Group).  Please join us on Facebook!

Classroom Activities now in PDF
by Julia

In the Windows to the Universe Teacher Resources section, we have many K-12 science activities on subjects from space weather to geology to writing in the science classroom. Now, most of these activities are available in PDF format. You can purchase the PDF formatted student worksheets, classroom activity descriptions, and supplementary materials in our online store.

Educator Members have free access to all downloadable PDF materials in our Teacher Resources Activities section - a $230 value, in addition to other benefits and services for Earth and space science teachers.

Changing Mosquito Genes
by Jennifer

DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, which is a substance found in every living cell on Earth, including the roughly 10 trillion cells that make up your body. DNA is made up of four subunits: adenosine, cytosine, guanosine, and thymidine, which are often referred to by their initials—A, C, G, and T. These subunits are arranged in strings of specific sequences called genes, and genes contain instructions for building all the parts of the cells, tissues, and organs in which DNA is found.

You can think of the DNA in a cell as the master blueprint for your body, and although all the members of a species have DNA that is very similar, each individual has DNA sequences that are slightly different from all of the other individuals. These differences are very small, but they're what determine your height, the color of your hair, and all the other unique characteristics that make you who you are. Humans, animals, and plants have two copies of their DNA, one from each parent. Because the two parents' DNA, each containing differences that are unique to the mother or father, are mixed in a child, a child usually has some of his mother's characteristics and some of his father's.

The small differences in individuals' DNA sequences are really important in nature, because those differences are what leads to diversity. Different people have slightly different versions of the genes that determine how tall a person becomes, and humans around the world can be anywhere from about 4 feet tall to over 7 feet tall! In animals, diversity is found in body size too, as well as in things like fur or feather color, beak size, intelligence, and lifespan. Scientists sum this up by saying that genotypic differences (small differences in DNA) between members of a species lead to phenotypic variation (differences in those members' physical characteristics).

Diversity happens naturally because of the way DNA is copied in the cell (sometimes the cell makes a mistake as it makes a copy of the DNA, and a "difference" is made). It's important to remember that some differences are helpful and some are harmful. For instance, a bird's DNA sequence could gain a small change that makes it more brightly colored and helps that individual attract mates, or it could acquire a small change that makes its feathers shorter and hurts the bird's ability to fly. Individuals that have helpful differences in their DNA will have an easier time surviving and reproducing than those that have harmful differences, and over time this will mean that the helpful changes are passed down from generation to generation and become widespread in the population.

What this really means is that in nature, changes are constantly occurring in all species' DNA sequences, and the changes that have a positive effect on an organism tend to be passed on to the next generation. This is called natural selection, and it's the process that shapes life on Earth. It's important to remember that natural selection is still happening, and as a species encounters changes in its environment (like new climate patterns, new predators, or new prey), its DNA changes to adapt to its new situation (for instance, an insect that is being preyed upon by a new predator may adapt by changing its color so it is less easily seen by the new predator). This is easy to see in the example of the mosquitoes in the Changing Planet:  Changing Mosquito Genes classroom lesson, where a population of pitcher plant mosquitoes is adapting to climate changes by lengthening their growing season.

Hot Off the Press! New Changing Planet Videos and Classroom Activities with Biology Connections
by Roberta

NESTA and Windows to the Universe completed work with NBC Learn to add additional classroom activities to our existing set with a focus on biology connections for climate change.  As usual, each activity accompanies videos related to our Changing Planet, with support from the National Science Foundation. For each video, we provide an introductory page linking to the video on the Windows to the Universe website, links to related pages on the website and elsewhere, and a link to a classroom activity that teachers can use to explore the related science with their students. Go to the Our Changing Planet section on Windows to the Universe to access all of the 17 existing videos and lesson plans. We hope to offer a workshop on these materials at the Spring NSTA in Indianapolis next year.

The topics are hot off the press!

Test Your Knowledge on Windows to the Universe!
by Julia

We're in the process of developing a new capability on Windows to the Universe for subscribers. This capability - Test Your Knowledge - will allow subscribers to complete quizzes on the material they have visited on the Windows to the Universe website. For now, only the Earth weather section of the site and closely associated pages are set to generate questions for users. Please try it out!

Go to the Earth weather page and click "Test Your Knowledge" in the Member login box to the right. Then visit a few other pages in that section. When you are done, click "Test Your Knowledge" again. You will get a 10-question test in a pop-up window (a shorter test will be generated if you visited just one or two pages) . When you are done, you'll get your score and can see your answers. For those of you that are Windows to the Universe Members, your quiz results will be recorded in your MyW2U user area. Try it as many times as you like! When you are done, please provide us feedback on a short survey at

Recent Earthquake Teachable Moments
by Jennifer

Are you interesting in learning more about the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that occurred in Turkey on October 23?  Remember that IRIS posts Earthquake Teachable Moments resources soon after an earthquake occurs.  The resources include PowerPoint presentations that are classroom-ready and animations and visualizations that are sure to capture the interest of your students.

Nobel Prize Winners in Physics
by Jennifer

For decades now, scientists have known that the universe is expanding because of the Big Bang, which occurred about 14 billion years ago.  For almost as long, scientists have assumed that this expansion was slowing down gradually because gravity should be pulling all the matter in the universe together, stopping it from flying apart.  It was a big surprise in the late 1990's when two research groups independently used measurements of supernovae to show that the universe is expanding and the rate of expansion is accelerating.  Their explanation (and the one that Einstein's theory of General Relativity predicts as well) is that the universe's expansion is caused by something called 'dark energy', which is a component of the universe that has repulsive gravity (that is, it forces things apart).  Dark energy is not yet fully understood, but is believed by many physicists to make up almost three fourths of the mass-energy in the universe.

The discovery that the universe is expanding at an increasing rate was a major breakthrough in physics, and the three main contributors to this discovery, Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess, were awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Next Generation Science Standards
by Jennifer

While the first draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) will not appear for many months, it is a valuable time for science educators to fully examine the Framework and explore in depth the concepts and ideas on which new standards will be built.

NSTA has a number of activities, resources and materials currently in development to help science educators explore the Framework in great depth and address the possible implications of Next Generation Science Standards on science teaching. These resources include the following:

· NSTA Journal Series -- A special series of articles focusing on the Framework will appear in upcoming NSTA journals. The first article by Rodger Bybee will address science and engineering practices and will appear in December.

· Reader’s Guide -- An NSTA Reader’s Guide to the Science Framework written by Harold Pratt is now in development. The Guide will be published online as an eBook and will appear as an insert in the January issues of NSTA journals.

· Conferences -- Sessions on the Framework and NGSS will be presented at all area conferences. Be sure to check times and locations in the conference programs.

All of these resources, and more, can/will be found on the NSTA webpage

Oceans of Water in Planet-Forming Disk of Nearby Star
by Julia

Using data from the Herschel Space Observatory, astronomers have made a novel detection of cold water vapor enveloping a dusty disk around a young star. The findings suggest that this disk, which is poised to develop into a solar system, contains great quantities of water and that water-covered planets like Earth may be common in the universe.

"Our observations of this cold vapor indicate enough water exists in the disk to fill thousands of Earth oceans," said astronomer Michiel Hogerheijde of Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands.

The star with this waterlogged disk, called TW Hydrae, is an orange dwarf star that is 10-million-years old and is located about 175 light years away from Earth, in the constellation Hydra. The giant disk of material that encircles the star has a size nearly 200 times the distance between Earth and the Sun. Over the next few million years, astronomers believe matter within the disk will collide and grow into planets, asteroids and other cosmic bodies. Dust and ice particles will assemble as comets. As the new solar system evolves, icy comets are likely to deposit much of the water they contain on freshly created worlds through impacts, giving rise to oceans. Astronomers believe TW Hydrae and its icy disk may be representative of many other young star systems, providing insight on how planets with abundant water could form throughout the universe.

Thoughts about Freshwater
by Jennifer

Did you know that only about 2.75% of the water on Earth is freshwater? And that most of that (~2%) is frozen in glaciers? That leaves a very small fraction of Earth's water to support the needs of people around the world, and it is clear that this resource is only going to become more limited as the global population increases.

Have your students take a few minutes to think about the ways they use this critical resource every day, as well as ways to conserve water.

For instance, did you know that even a very quick shower in a typical American house uses at least 4 gallons of water, and that using a dishwasher on its shortest cycle uses about twice that much? Even brushing our teeth uses a half gallon, and that’s only if we don’t let the water run while we brush—otherwise it could be much more!

There are some really easy ways to conserve water. Installing low-flow showerheads and faucets in your home can save 45 gallons of water per day in a typical American household. Installing a low-flow toilet can add another 50-75 gallons in savings per month, and together those two steps can cut a typical household's water use (and water bills!) in half. We can also be careful in the ways we use water, like only watering the grass at night when less of it will evaporate, and only running the dishwasher or washing machine when it’s full.

The World Health Organization estimates that people around the world need at least 20 liters of clean water per day, and that much of the world's population will have difficulties accessing safe water supplies by 2025. With that in mind, please think about how you and your students can help conserve water and make our limited supplies stretch even further.

Do you want to learn more? Read about the World Health Organization's latest studies of water resources. Access some really good tips on water conservation. Use a water consumption calculator to determine your water footprint. Then challenge your household to bring that number down!

Daylight Saving Time
by Julia

Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends on Sunday, November 6 this year in most of the U.S. Don't forget to turn your clocks back one hour. 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 adjusted daily schedules to fit with the sun more 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 the summer of 1905 when he noticed that many people were still sleeping when he was taking an early morning ride. 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 until 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. Often different areas of one country have different time shifts.

Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks November 17th
by Jennifer

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. Turn your gaze toward the heavens to see what this year's shower produces!

Science Calendar: Birthdays in November
by Julia

November 7th is the 144th anniversary of the birth of Marie Curie (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 as of age 24. Together with her husband Pierre Curie, another Nobel prize laureate, 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 that Halley also studied weather, winds, tides, and magnetism, built a diving bell and even contributed to the development of actuarial science!
  • November 15, 1738 - William Herschel, 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.

NESTA and Windows to the Universe at NSTA Area Conferences
by Jennifer

NESTA is pleased to announce our sessions at the NSTA Area Conferences for fall 2011. This year, in addition to our traditional and ever-popular Share-a-Thon and exciting Rock and Mineral Raffle, we will also be offering Windows to the Universe workshops on Earth System science, climate change, and geology.

All of our events will be in the same room, scheduled for Friday at each conference – providing you with a full day of Earth science professional development from the National Earth Science Teachers Association. Our events are free with registration at the NSTA conference.

NESTA sessions in New Orleans

All events on Friday, November 11 in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, R09

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

NESTA sessions in Seattle

All events on Friday, December 9 in the Washington State Convention Center, Ballroom 6E

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

Join NESTA at

Present at a NESTA Share-a-Thon!
by Roberta

Are you planning on attending one of the NSTA regional conventions this fall? If so, please consider sharing your favorite, tested classroom activity with your colleagues at the National Earth Science Teachers Association Share-a-Thons at the fall Area conferences. This is a great opportunity to help your colleagues, and also be listed in the official program as a presenter (if you let us know far enough in advance), which may help you get support from your school administrators for attending the meeting. If you're interested in presenting, please see the complete list of NESTA Share-a-Thon and Rock Raffles at Fall NSTA Area Conferences.

What does being presenter at a NESTA Share-a-Thon entail? (1) Contact NESTA's Share-a-Thon coordinator, Michelle Harris, and let her know that you'd like to present (at (2) Select your favorite activity, make about 100 copies to distribute to your colleagues. (3) If appropriate - bring along a demo or samples to illustrate the activity. (4) Appear 30 min before the Share-a-Thon is scheduled to start and select a table to sit at. Set out your materials and then get ready! The fun is about to start! (5) When the Share-a-Thon starts, teachers stream in and browse for resources they think might be useful to them. This is your chance to share, meet new colleagues, and visit with old friends! (6) When the Share-a-Thon is over, pack up your materials and you're all done!

Be sure to take along the set of copies that NESTA provides to presenters of all the other activities that have been shared at the Share-a-Thon (it will be delivered to you during the session). NESTA is happy to provide letters of recognition to presenters, which you can use toward your professional advancement.

Table of Contents

Classroom Activities
Mosquito Genes
Changing Planet Bio
Test Your Knowledge
Recent Earthquake
Nobel in Physics
Next Gen Standards
Water in Space
Daylight Saving Time
Leonid Meteors
NOV Birthdays

Geoscience Program
AGI ES Videos
Roy ES Award
Sustain Ed
Wonder of Weather
Student Name Contest
Cubesat Missions
America Recycles
Free Green Webinars
Can Roundup!
Teacher at Sea
SeaWorld Awards
Home Energy Chall
ISS Student Op
Green Video Contest
Disney's Planet Chal
EPA EE Award Program
PEYA 2011
Einstein Fellowship
NASA Scholarships
Astronaut Class
Moon Project
EPA Middle School
New NASA SS Tool
Space Food to School














Teacher Submissions

Click here to submit your ideas to the newsletter

Announcements from Partners

Click here to submit information about your program to the newsletter

Teachers in Geosciences Program from Mississippi State University

You can earn your Master of Science degree via distance learning through the Teachers in Geosciences program from Mississippi State University. All of the core Earth science courses are taught online, and the curriculum is designed around the Earth science content that is most relevant to K–12 educators. The program concludes with an 8- to 10-day capstone field course that is taught during the summer at a variety of locations including Yellowstone/Grand Tetons, Western Washington State, the Sierra, Central Arizona, Upstate NY, Lake Superior, the Bahamas, and the Great Plains Storm Chase.

This 12-course, 36-credit-hour graduate program is designed to take as little as two years to complete and includes courses in meteorology, geology, planetary science, oceanography, hydrology, and environmental geoscience. The program has alumni in all 50 states, and all students qualify for in-state tuition rates.

Please visit our website at or contact Joy Bailey,, for additional information.

Explore the ‘Big Ideas’ Of Earth Science Online

We hope you had a great, successful Earth Science Week!  AGI now offers free videos and other electronic resources to help students, educators and others explore the “big ideas” of earth science throughout the year.

Big Ideas videos are brief video clips that bring to life the big ideas of Earth science - the nine core concepts that everyone should know.

The Big Ideas DVD is featured in the Earth Science Week 2011 Toolkit ( View the Big Ideas videos on YouTube ( or search TeacherTube later this year. The Earth Science Week web site provides related resources, where educators can find dozens of classroom activities to help students build understanding of the “big ideas”.

Act Now to Win Award For Earth Science Teaching

AGI has announced the details for the Edward C. Roy, Jr. Award for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching. Each year, this award recognizes one full-time, U.S., K-8 teacher for leadership and innovation in Earth science education.

The winner will receive a $2,500 prize and a travel grant of $1,000 to attend the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Annual Conference in Indianapolis in March 2011 to accept the award. To be eligible for the 2012 competition, applications must be postmarked by January 10, 2012.

This award is named in honor of Dr. Edward C. Roy, Jr., a past president of AGI, who was a strong and dedicated supporter of Earth science education.  To learn more, visit

Sustainability Education Week is November 7-11

The U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development (USPESD) K-12 & Teacher Education Sector invites students, educators, schools, colleges of education, and community members to join in the recognition of Sustainability Education Week November 7-11, 2011.  National Sustainability Education Week is a time to celebrate what communities are already doing to educate for sustainability and to mobilize others to join in this work.

The USPESD also encourages participation in sustainability education learning opportunities throughout the school year.  Teaching resources and sustainability standards for the K-12 education community are available at

Wonders of Weather Art Contest for Grades 2-4

When you go outside, what makes you wonder? Is it the colors and shapes of clouds? The burst of thunder during a rainy afternoon? Or the powerful winds of a storm? Is it the stillness of a crisp, foggy morning? The heat of a summer day? Or a thick white blanket made from slowly falling snowflakes?

These are examples of weather. Weather, the state of the atmosphere at a particular time and place, is constantly changing. Depending on where you live, slight changes of wind speed, humidity or air pressure might take place, and you may wake up with rain, fog, snow or bright sunlight for the day! Whether you take an umbrella to school, put on sun block to play basketball or wear a turtleneck before going to the movies; it all depends on the weather that day.  So look around and ask yourself, what makes you wonder about weather?

This year's contest invites young scientists and artists to explore weather.  See what it feels like outside, watch the weather report and gaze out the window. Read stories and books. Search websites. Watch movies. Then draw a picture showing what you learned. And don't forget to enter your artwork in the 2011 IGES art contest!

The contest is sponsored annually by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) and is limited to U.S. students in grades 2-4.  Entries must be received by November 7, 2011.

NASA Invites Students To Name Moon-Bound Spacecraft

NASA has a class assignment for U.S. students: help the agency give the twin spacecraft headed to orbit around the moon new names.

The naming contest is open to students in kindergarten through 12th grade at schools in the United States. Entries must be submitted by teachers using an online entry form. Length of submissions can range from a short paragraph to a 500-word essay. The entry deadline is Nov. 11.

NASA's solar-powered Gravity Recovery And Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)-A and GRAIL-B spacecraft lifted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on September 10 to begin a three-and-a-half-month journey to the moon. GRAIL will create a gravity map of the moon using two spacecraft that orbit at very precise distances. The mission will enable scientists to learn about the moon's internal structure and composition, and give scientists a better understanding of its origin. Accurate knowledge of the moon's gravity also could be used to help choose future landing sites.

For contest rules and more information, visit

NASA Announces Next Opportunity For Cubesat Space Missions

NASA is seeking proposals for small satellite payloads to fly on rockets planned to launch between 2012 and 2014. These miniature spacecraft, known as CubeSats, could be auxiliary payload on previously planned missions.

CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The 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 Nov. 14. NASA will select the payloads by Jan. 30, 2012.  For additional information about NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative program, visit:

America Recycles Day

Since 1997, communities across the country have come together on November 15 to celebrate America Recycles Day, a nationally-recognized initiative by Keep America beautiful dedicated to encouraging people to recycle more at home, at work, and on the go. Recycling reduces waste, energy usage and helps mitigate future climate change. Thousands of groups have hosted thousands of events for America Recycles Day. This year, you can organize recycling events or find events in your community online at

Free Green Schools Webinar Series: Classroom Earth

Free webinars are being offered in the Green Schools Educator Series.   Coming November 2011 is Greening the School Yard: Gardens and Habitats and coming in January 2012 is Going Green through the Curriculum.

The National Environmental Education Foundation ( in partnership with the National Education Association Foundation ( and the Green Schools National Conference ( are offering the webinars.

October's webinar on School Buildings as Green Teaching Tools is posted on the site as well.   Check out these resources and register now for a future webinar at:

Great American Can Roundup School Recycling Challenge

The Can Manufacturers Institute is continuing the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the aluminum beverage can with the second annual Great America Can RoundUp School Recycling Challenge. Schools can compete to recycle the most aluminum beverage cans per capita between America Recycles Day and Earth Day! Register by December 15 to participate.

Beyond the money your school earns by recycling, CMI wants to reward your school. The school recycling the most aluminum beverage cans per capita between November 15, 2011, and April 22, 2012, is the “National Champion” winning $5,000. Additionally, there will be a “State Champion” for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia who will receive a prize of $1,000. That means, a total of $56,000 will be given away across the country!

NOAA's Teacher at Sea Program Now Accepting Applications for 2012 Field Season

Are you an educator interested in doing research on a ship? If so, we encourage you to explore the opportunities offered by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Teacher at Sea program, now accepting applications until NOVEMBER 30, 2011.

The mission of NOAA’s Teacher at Sea program is to give teachers a clearer insight into our ocean planet, a greater understanding of maritime work and studies, and to increase their level of environmental literacy by fostering an interdisciplinary research experience.

Participants are assigned a cruise aboard one of NOAA's 18 ships (or a chartered partner ship). NOAA conducts three main types of cruises. Fisheries research ships perform biological and physical science studies in support of fisheries research. Oceanographic and atmospheric research ships perform physical science studies to increase our understanding of the world's oceans and climate. Hydrographic survey ships scan the coastal sea floor to locate submerged obstructions and navigational hazards for the creation or update of the nation's nautical charts.

Participants can expect to be at sea anywhere from one week to one month, with the average cruise lasting 12-14 days.  All necessary travel costs associated with teacher participation are covered by the program, including transportation to and from the ship, lodging, and a per diem allowance.  Don't miss this chance of a lifetime!

SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Environmental Excellence Awards

The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Environmental Excellence Awards recognize the outstanding efforts of students and teachers across the country that are working to protect and preserve the environment.  In fact, eight winning groups will be chosen and each will win $10,000 to benefit their environmental efforts and an all-expenses-paid trip for 3 students and 1 adult chaperone to a SeaWorld or Busch Gardens park for a special awards event.

The application deadline is December 1.

America's Home Energy Challenge

America's Home Energy Challenge is designed to teach students in grades 3-8 about energy, its use and the link between saving money and energy. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and administered by the National Science Teachers Association, the two parts of the Challenge aim to have students gain knowledge of energy and awareness of energy use and then learn about energy saving methods.  Participating schools compete for more than $200,000 in prizes that will be distributed at regional and national levels.  The submission period is between December 1-31, 2011.

Astronauts Perform Student Experiments For Whole World To See

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station 250 miles above Earth will conduct winning student experiments. The experiments will be performed on the U.S. portion of the space station that has been designated as a national laboratory.  A global competition to choose student experiments is being run by Space Adventures.

The contest is designed to encourage students from 14-18 years old to work in teams to solve problems and to develop STEM skills through practical experience. 

NASA representatives will join a panel of internationally renowned scientists, astronauts and teachers to judge the entries utilizing input from the YouTube community. Public voting will begin on Jan. 3, 2012.  Two global winners will be announced in January 2012. Both of those experiments will fly aboard the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's HTV-3 mission next summer. Six regional finalists will be selected in March 2012. Regional finalists will receive a flight on a ZERO-G aircraft.

The deadline for submission is December 7.

Get Green Video Contest

No matter where you live, there are ways your city or town can “go greener” through the innovative use of your Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills.

Planet Connect and Staples want HS students to demonstrate in a 30 second–120 second video how one or more of the elements of STEM can help green your city or town. What have you learned in the classroom about how science, technology, engineering, or math could be used to help make your town or city greener, more sustainable and a model for 21st century living?

Planet Connect has partnered with Staples to host the third Get Green Video Contest, a national contest designed for high school students, aged 14 to 19, to display their creativity and environmental/STEM knowledge while helping to inspire the public and their peers. Prizes include cash, a Samsung Galaxy Tab, a Netbook and a HD camcorder!  This year’s Get Green Video Contest winners will also have the opportunity for their videos to be broadcast on national television, through the Eco Company TV show! The deadline to enter is December 8, 2011.

Disney's Planet Challenge

Disney's Planet Challenge (DPC) is a project-based environmental competition for classrooms across the United States. DPC teaches kids about science and conservation while empowering them to make a positive impact on their communities and planet.  Students will develop solutions to address a local environmental issue. Grand prize winning classes from the elementary and middle school categories will receive a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, in April 2012!

This year, DPC is offering funding for project materials through Donors Choose. Teachers who register for DPC are eligible to receive up to $500 in project materials. Learn more.

In addition, through DPC's partnership with Underwriters Laboratories, classroom mentors are available to offer guidance to participating classes.

Registration is now open for the 2011-2012 program, and runs through December 23.

EPA Announces the 2011 Presidential Innovation Award Program for Environmental Educators

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced the 2011 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators Program. The program, which will be implemented through a partnership between the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and EPA, recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students.

Two teachers from each EPA region will be selected to receive the award. Recipients will receive a commemorative plaque and an award of $2,000, to be used to further their professional development in environmental education. Additionally, the local education agency employing each teacher will receive an award of $2000 to further the recipient's environmental educational activities and programs. EPA and CEQ will announce the inaugural award winners in the spring of 2012.

For more information on eligibility requirements and selection criteria or to submit an online application, please visit The application deadline is December 30, 2011.

2011 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.

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, D.C., serving in a federal agency or on Capitol Hill. To be considered for an Einstein Fellowship for the 2012-2013 school year, apply and submit three letters of recommendation by January 5, 2012.

For more information or to apply to the program visit

NASA Accepting Applications For Aeronautics Scholarships

NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate is accepting scholarship applications from graduate and undergraduate students for the 2012 academic year. The application deadline is Jan. 15, 2012.

Graduate students must apply under a specific research topic to align with NASA's aeronautics research programs. The list of available topics is posted online.

NASA expects to award 20 undergraduate and five graduate scholarships to students in aeronautics or related fields. Undergraduate students entering their second year of study 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 up to $35,000 per year 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.

NASA To Seek Applicants For Next Astronaut Candidate Class

In early November, NASA will seek applicants for its next class of astronaut candidates who will support long-duration missions to the International Space Station and future deep space exploration activities.

"For scientists, engineers and other professionals who have always dreamed of experiencing spaceflight, this is an exciting time to join the astronaut corps," said Janet Kavandi, director of flight crew operations at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. "This next class will support missions to the station and will arrive via transportation systems now in development. They also will have the opportunity to participate in NASA's continuing exploration programs that will include missions beyond low Earth orbit."

For more information, visit or call the Astronaut Selection Office at 281-483-5907.

MOON Project

Interested teachers are invited to join the MOON Project (, which engages students internationally in collaborative science inquiry.

If any teacher would like to start this fall, email  If a teacher wants to start in the spring, they can email Melanie now for early enrollment.

The MOON Project is free.  Some teachers engage all their students.  Some involve a science club or a gifted group or simply those who are interested.

Students learn about the Moon; but much more importantly they are (1) engaged in a long term inquiry (2) to increase their global awareness.

The MOON Project comes in several forms, so teachers may pick the version that fits their needs.  The biggest MOON Project has students in grades 4-8 investigate the Moon’s behavior in their hometown and then share data with other students around the world to look for global lunar patterns in the Moon’s shape, orientation and location.

EPA Showcases Educational Website on Climate Change for Middle School Students

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched an all new website titled "A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change" devoted to educating 6-8th graders about Earth’s climate and how it is changing as a result of burning fossil fuels and other human activities.

The site provides students and educators with content on the science of climate change, how it affects society and ecosystems, and information about solutions to the climate change problem.  The information is presented in a variety of compelling formats including video, animations, interactive graphics, and “expeditions” where students can explore and learn how climate change will affect places around the world. This new web resource can be used by teachers and informal educators to develop classroom activities and homework.

New Internet Tool To Explore The Solar System

NASA is giving the public the power to journey through the solar system using a new interactive Web-based tool.

The "Eyes on the Solar System" interface combines video game technology and NASA data to create an environment for users to ride along with agency spacecraft and explore the cosmos. Screen graphics and information such as planet locations and spacecraft maneuvers use actual space mission data dating back to 1950 and projected to 2050.

When NASA's Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011, users could look ahead to see the mission's five-year journey to Jupiter in a matter of seconds.  Designers will continue to update this tool to include new NASA science missions like the GRAIL lunar mission and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover.

Become an ecoAmbassador!

Are you a college student (or do you know one)? Students can become an EPA OnCampus ecoAmbassador and implement projects from EPA programs that will green their campuses, promote environmental awareness and carry out the EPA's mission to protect human health and the environment.  Join today!

NASA Offers Shuttle Tiles And Space Food To Schools And Universities

NASA is offering space shuttle heat shield tiles and dehydrated astronaut food to eligible schools and universities. The initiative is part of the agency's efforts to preserve the Space Shuttle Program's history and technology and inspire the next generation of space explorers, scientists and engineers.

The lightweight tiles protected the shuttles from extreme temperatures when the orbiters re-entered the Earth's atmosphere. The food, which was precooked or processed so that refrigeration is unnecessary, is ready to eat or could be prepared simply by adding water or by heating. Schools can register for a login ID and request a tile or food at:

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements

Newsletter archive
Log in to visit our members' area, change your registration information or newsletter options.

The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at 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.