November 2012

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements
Windows to the Universe Facebook Group

Dynamic Earth
by Roberta

Once again, daily events remind us of the importance of Earth and space science.  At the time of this writing, Hurricane Sandy is expected to cause billions of dollars of damage, and will undoubtedly cost many lives as well.  This massive storm that formed in late October and headed up the East coast of the U.S., impacted large population centers, and it reminds us of the power of the forces at play in the Earth system.  At the same time, we have experienced recent earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, and recent upticks in solar activity.  K-12 Earth and space science teachers are the leaders at the front, tasked with helping students develop the understandings needed to be able to live safely on this planet and make wise decisions as citizens.  Thank you for what you do!

Welcome to recent subscribers of this newsletter!  We have just returned from presenting seven workshops at the NSTA Area Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.  They were well attended and based on the feedback we received, well appreciated.  Assuming the weather cooperates, at the time you receive this, we will be doing another seven workshops at the NSTA in Atlanta, and we hope to see you there!

Please note that there are several particularly attractive professional development opportunities available for NESTA members and Windows to the Universe Educator members.  One  opportunity includes partial support, including travel, to a meeting in Vienna next April.  If you are a member, please login and apply!  If you aren't a member, join today to take advantage of these opportunities, several of which have application deadlines in early November!

You can join as an Educator Member of Windows to the Universe at

Hurricane Sandy

One of the biggest events in the news lately has been the development and progress of Hurricane Sandy, which started in mid-October as an extended low-pressure system in the Caribbean.  By October 22, it had become a tropical depression and was named ‘Sandy.’  It began to move northward, and was upgraded to hurricane status on October 24th as it neared Jamaica.  It made landfall, crossed Jamaica, and was upgraded to a category 2 hurricane as it neared Cuba.  By October 26th, it had increased significantly in size, and was on a course up the eastern coast of the United States. 

On the evening of October 29th, Sandy made landfall in the United States just south of Atlantic City, New Jersey.  It had weakened somewhat over the course of the day, and so was no longer officially a hurricane but a "post-tropical" storm, but Sandy still carried 80+ mph winds and a huge storm surge that set flood records in many places including New York City.  It moved off toward the Midwest, and even as it weakened it caused major snowfalls in higher elevations and flooding in lower areas of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan.

The storm's impact continues to be felt in the areas it passed over.  More than 15,000 flights were cancelled because of the storm, and other mass transit systems struggle to start up again because of damage to tunnels, train tracks, and bridges.  More than 65 deaths across Haiti, Jamaica, other areas in the Caribbean, and the U.S. have been attributed directly to the storm, and early estimates placed the overall economic impact at more than $25 billion.

You can help the victims of Hurricane Sandy by donating to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Feeding America or AmeriCares.

Thoughts about Freshwater

The photo to the left shows the water aisle at a local grocery store where I live in mid-Maryland just before Hurricane Sandy hit.  It's clear that many people in my neighborhood were concerned with having enough water to last through this emergency.  Preparing for water service to be cut off or for possible water contamination brings to mind how important clean, usable water is!

Did you know that only about 2.75% of the water on Earth is freshwater? And that most of that (~2% of Earth's water) is frozen in glaciers? That leaves only 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 global population increases.

It's important to take a few minutes to think about the ways we use this critical resource every day, as well as ways we might be able 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 an automatic 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 (5.28 gallons) 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 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!

Canadian Earthquake Makes Waves

A major 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit just off the coast of western Canada on October 28, causing evacuations of many communities in northwest British Columbia.  This earthquake was the strongest quake to occur in Canada in more than 50 years, and was followed by many smaller aftershocks that reached magnitudes of up to 6.4.  Many scientists considered it a lucky near miss, since an earthquake of that magnitude would have caused major damage and loss of life if it had occurred near a large population center.

The earthquake did prompt tsunami warnings to be issued for coastal areas of Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii.  The tsunami warnings caused traffic jams and chaos in Hawaii as residents sought higher ground, but the waves proved to be smaller than predicted as the day went on, and the tsunami alert was cancelled.

See the IRIS site for a Teachable Moment Presentation, animations and other educational resources regarding this earthquake and many other recent seismic events.

Please Help Us Test the Mobile Version of Windows to the Universe!

We are working on a mobile version of Windows to the Universe, and we appreciate your feedback! If you have a smartphone, you can test the mobile version using the following link:

After you visit the test mobile site, please complete our short survey to let us know what you think! We hope the new site will make it more convenient for you to plan your lessons or explore Earth and space science while on the road.

Please note that, depending on your phone, some Java and Flash games might not work. If you notice any problems other than that, please let us know using the survey link above. Do not forget to tell us your phone model and page where you noticed the problem.  Thanks!

Motivational Quotes

Everyone needs some inspiration sometime!  We've added a page on the Windows to the Universe website that brings together motivational quotes with relevance to science teachers that you may enjoy, or find useful in your work, play, or everyday life. The starting point for this was an energetic conversation on the ESPRIT listserve for Earth Science teachers. Enjoy!

It will soon be possible for you to submit your favorite quotes to the list. Note that all quotes will be reviewed for appropriateness before they are posted. We will also be adding a link for corrections, in case there are any mistakes in the quotes or attributions.

NASA Video Captures ‘Seven Minutes of Terror’

In a thrilling new video, NASA scientists depict the hair-raising challenges of the Mars rover Curiosity’s final minutes before landing on the surface of the “red planet.” The five-minute video - entitled “Seven Minutes of Terror” - shows how the one-ton rover, hanging by ropes from a rocket backpack, touched down onto Mars on August 5, 2012, to end a 36-week flight and to begin a two-year investigation.

In a victory for science, the spacecraft that carried Curiosity succeeded in every step of the most complex landing ever attempted on Mars, including the final severing of the bridle cords and the flyaway maneuver of the rocket backpack.

“The Seven Minutes of Terror has turned into the Seven Minutes of Triumph,” said John Grunsfeld (NASA Associate Administrator for Science) after the landing.  “My immense joy in the success of this mission is matched only by the overwhelming pride I feel for the women and men of the mission’s team.”  Enjoy the video online at

2012 Antarctic Ozone Hole Second Smallest in 20 Years

In 2012, the Antarctic ozone hole was at its second smallest level in 20 years, according to data from NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellites. Scientists attribute the change to warmer temperatures in the Antarctic lower stratosphere.

The size of the ozone hole fluctuates somewhat, and was an average size of 6.9 million square miles (17.9 million square kilometers) in 2012. In contrast, the Sept. 6, 2000, ozone hole was the largest on record at 11.5 million square miles (29.9 million square kilometers).

The ozone layer acts as Earth's natural shield against ultraviolet radiation, which can cause skin cancer. The Antarctic hole in this layer began to appear in the 1980's as a result of atmospheric pollution, and although overall atmospheric ozone is no longer declining, scientists expect that the ozone layer will take until roughly 2065 before it returns to its pre-pollution state.

NASA and NOAA have a mandate under the Clean Air Act to monitor ozone-depleting gases and stratospheric depletion of ozone, and they have been monitoring the ozone layer on the ground and with a variety of instruments on satellites and balloons since the 1970's. 

To monitor the state of the ozone layer above Antarctica, visit this NOAA page.  Utilize the Introduction to Ozone Reading Activity on Windows to the Universe for a warm-up activity or homework in your class.

The Study of Saturn Over Centuries

The history of the study of Saturn is a good example of how scientists have persevered through time to learn more, building on the work of others. Although Saturn can be seen with the naked eye, Galileo was the first to observe Saturn with a telescope in 1610. Because of the rudimentary nature of his telescope, he couldn't determine what Saturn's rings were. In 1655, the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens solved the mystery of Saturn's "arms". Due to improved telescope optics, he correctly deduced that the "arms" were actually a ring system. Huygens also discovered Saturn's moon Titan. In 1675, the Italian-French astronomer Giovanni Cassini discovered 4 other major moons of Saturn: Iapetus, Rhea, Tethys, and Dione. Cassini also discovered a narrow gap that splits Saturn's ring system into two parts, and the gap has since been known as the Cassini Division. The German-born British astronomer William Herschel discovered two more moons, Mimas and Enceladus, in 1789. The irregularly-shaped satellite Hyperion, which has an orbital resonance with Titan, was discovered simultaneously in 1848 by British astronomer William Lassell and by the American father-and-son team of William and George Bond. In 1859, Scottish physicist and mathematician James Maxwell deduced that Saturn's rings could not be solid and must be made of "an indefinite number of unconnected particles". In 1899, the American astronomer William Henry Pickering discovered Phoebe, an irregular moon that does not rotate synchronously with Saturn as the larger moons do.

Saturn was first visited by Pioneer 11 in September 1979. In November 1980, the Voyager 1 probe visited the Saturn system. Almost a year later, in August 1981, Voyager 2 continued the study of the Saturn system.

The study of Saturn continues even now with the Cassini-Huygens mission.  This mission was designed and planned as a cooperative effort between the European Space Agency and NASA, and included a Saturn orbiter (Cassini) and a Titan probe (Huygens).  It was launched in 1997, with the goal of studying Saturn’s rings, as well as the surface and atmosphere of both Saturn and Titan.  Cassini’s main mission was completed in 2008, and has been extended by NASA to allow for continuous observation of Saturn until 2017, when its orbit is expected to deteriorate, sending the orbiter into the planet’s atmosphere.

Recently, Cassini was in position to observe a massive storm on Saturn, and recorded data are proving invaluable to scientists who study the dynamic atmospheres of other planets in our solar system.  To read more about information about Cassini and this observation, visit:

Thanksgiving - How Big a Bird Did You Cook?

At the end of November, millions of turkeys are served on U.S. dinner tables as part of Thanksgiving. Consequently, this is the month in the U.S. when many people ask questions like, "how big a bird did you cook?"

Ask questions about life adaptation skills and evolutionary processes with our Bird Beaks Activity - complete with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation and group and class handouts for data collection.

This activity uses very simple materials, is aligned to the National Standards (see activity for more details) and can be used for upper elementary through high school levels.

Go On a Class Adventure or Invite a Scientist!

School is in full swing. The time for beginning-of-the-year class meetings and assemblies is dying down. Maybe it's time to plan a field trip! When I was teaching, we went on quite a few (very) local field trips -- we went on a walk along the river behind our school and visited the wetlands across the street. Of course, field trips to the closest state quarry and the IMAX theater downtown were highlights too. Whatever the trip, using our Snapshot Activity could make your field trip more significant. It also brings writing into your science classroom.

If you can't fit in a field trip due to scheduling or funding, why not invite a scientist to visit your classroom?  There are scientists in every town! Maybe there's a wetland engineer who works in your local Army Corps of Engineers or a meteorologist who works at the nearest airport. Show them the Scientists in Schools section on how to make a classroom visit more meaningful. It even includes a checklist for a classroom visit and steps so the scientist can make their own lesson plan. What a great way to get your kids interested in science as a career!

Sign Up for the AGU GIFT Workshop by November 2 to Avoid Registration Fee for Teachers!

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is committed to fostering the next generation of Earth and space scientists.  We work on this commitment in many ways, one of which is partnering with the National Earth Science Teacher’s Associa­tion (NESTA) to hold the annual Geophysi­cal Information for Teachers (GIFT) work­shop at our Fall Meeting. GIFT allows K–12 science educators (both classroom and informal) to hear from scientists about their latest Earth and space science research, explore new classroom resources for engaging students, and visit exhibits and technical sessions during the Fall AGU Meeting.

Six teams of leading scientists and edu­cation/public outreach professionals will give talks and lead teachers through inter­active classroom activities over the course of 2 days at GIFT 2012.  View this year's agenda.

AGU encourages you to register to attend GIFT if you are a K–12 educator, and to spread the word about GIFT to other K-12 educators through your networks.  This year’s workshop will be held on 3–4 December from 7:30 A.M. to 3:30 P.M. in the Golden Gate A room of the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. To attend, simply register for the Fall Meeting at Indicate that you are a K–12 educator, and you will be directed to provide docu­mentation to that effect and you will be invited to reg­ister for the GIFT workshop. As always, the workshop is free for K–12 educators who are registered by 2 November (after this date, the registration fee for teachers will be $90). More information about GIFT can be found at

Last year's GIFT workshop materials are online on this Windows to the Universe page - complete with presentation descriptions, and links to PowerPoint presentations, activities, supplementary materials, and videos.  Enjoy these valuable resources, and the accompanying videos!

NESTA Workshops at the Fall 2012 NSTA Area Conferences

NESTA is pleased to announce our sessions at the NSTA Area Conferences in Atlanta and Phoenix.

Want to present at one or more of our Share-a-Thons? – Sign up to present at a NESTA Share-a-Thon at

NESTA Sessions in Atlanta

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

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

NESTA Sessions in Phoenix

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

Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends on November 4th this year in most of the U.S. Don't forget to turn your clocks one hour back. Daylight Saving Time (or Summer Time as it is called in many countries) is a way of getting more light out of the day by advancing clocks by one hour during the summer.

Ancient civilizations had to adjust daily schedules to the sun more flexibly than we do. Romans divided daylight into 12 equal hours, so the length of each hour was longer during summer. In 1784, Benjamin Franklin, then an American envoy to France, anonymously published a satirical letter suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight. The New Zealand entomologist, George Vernon Hudson, first proposed modern DST in 1895. English builder, William Willett, independently conceived of DST in 1905 when he noticed during an early summer morning ride that many people were still sleeping. He became an advocate of DST but didn't live to see it adopted. Many European countries started to switch their clocks in 1916, in an effort to conserve fuel during World War I. The United States adopted DST in 1918, but it was inconsistent till 1966, when President Johnson signed The Uniform Time Act.

Different nations start and end DST on different dates. In the Southern hemisphere, beginning and ending dates are reversed. Some nations shift time year-round, and some do not observe DST at all.  And just to keep you on your toes, sometimes different areas of one country have different time shifts!

Solar Eclipse on November 13

The second solar eclipse of 2012 occurs on November 13. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow will cross the South Pacific Ocean. The only populated region where it will be visible lies in northern Australia. The partial eclipse, produced by the Moon's penumbral shadow, will be visible from a much larger region covering the South Pacific (including Australia and New Zealand), southern South America, and part of Antarctica.

The words "umbral" and "penumbral" are astronomical terms for the different parts of the shadow of any celestial body (Moon for solar eclipses, Earth for lunar eclipses). The umbra (Latin for "shadow") is the innermost and darkest part of a shadow, where the light source (Sun) is completely blocked by the occluding body. The penumbra (from the Latin paene meaning "almost, nearly" and umbra meaning "shadow") is the region in which only a portion of the Sun is obscured. An observer in the penumbra experiences a partial eclipse. Sometimes there is also an antumbra (from the Latin ante meaning "before") - this is the region from which the occluding body appears within the disc of the light source. An observer in this region experiences an annular eclipse, in which the bright ring of the Sun is visible around the Moon.

For more details about solar and lunar eclipses, check out NASA's eclipse website.

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 10-15 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. Scientists are predicting that 2012 will be a good year to spot Leonids.

The crescent Moon will set soon after sunset, so there should be dark skies in which to spot meteors. This shower is definitely for night owls, as the peak of the shower is expected to be after midnight and before dawn.  Bundle up and enjoy!

Tasa Graphic Arts

Tasa Graphic Arts, Inc. produces award-winning, interactive, educational software programs on CD-ROM covering planetary geology, plate tectonics, topographic maps, rocks and minerals, weather and climate, the processes that shape Earth’s surface, and more. These are available for purchase through the Windows to the Universe Science Store by NESTA. Each program presents a comprehensive, organized, interactive study of a specific area of earth science. These programs are intended to enhance the topics presented in earth science texts, through video clips, animated sequences, and activities. First the subject is introduced, then the user answers review questions, performs exercises, analyzes data, labels diagrams, plots graphs, learns geology terms, and more. Instructors may use these programs for self-directed study by students and for classroom demonstrations. In addition to producing CD-ROMs, we also create educational apps for the iPad and iPhone.

The Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0 DVD-ROM

A Collection of Activities and Resources for Teaching Astronomy

ASP’s “greatest hits” of astronomy education, designed to help teachers, curriculum specialists, museum educators, and astronomers find the most effective way of teaching basic space science concepts!

 This 2.0 DVD ROM includes:

• 133 field-tested hands-on activities

• 17 topic specific guides to information in print and on the web

• 52 background articles on astronomy and education

• 12 short videos with instructions

Price: $29.95

Discounts are available for bulk orders and to catalogs, museum stores, and other resellers.  For more information and how to order, please visit or call the ASP at 415-715-1414.

Beautiful Mineral and Fossil Specimens

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

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

For those inclined to show their love of minerals and fossils by wearing them, we also offer a fabulous assortment of jewelry including: pendants of ammonite, amethyst, jade, ruby, and ruby zoisite; earrings of amethyst and peridot; pendant and earring sets of charoite, eudialyte, and paua shell; and beautiful necklaces of kyanite and ruby.

Alternatively, you may want to show your love of rocks and minerals through your household goods - for instance, with banded onyx wine goblets, bowls (8", 12", or a pair of 5" noodle bowls), vases (5" or 6"), or a mortar and pestle.

Fall Sale on Print Copies of The Earth Scientist!

With the school year in full swing, 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 If you're not a member, join NESTA today and get access to our back issues in PDF format (alas, the posters are only available in with the print copies). 

Classroom Activities and Kits

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

Windows to the Universe Educator Members have free access to all downloadable PDF activities, worksheets, supplementary materials and PowerPoints (a $230 value!), in addition to other benefits and services for Earth and space science teachers. If you are not a Windows to the Universe Educator Member, you can purchase individual PDF-formatted student worksheets, classroom activity descriptions, and supplementary materials (including downloadable PowerPoints) in our online store.

If you'd like to save time collecting and prepping classroom materials, we offer several classroom activity kits for purchase: Glaciers: Then and Now, Traveling Nitrogen Game, CO2: How Much Do You Spew?, and Feeling the Heat - Part 2. Most activity kits are available in a variety of sizes to fit your classroom needs.

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

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

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

We also offer quality DVDs on climate change and astronomy:

As always, Windows to the Universe Educator Members get a 10% discount on all purchases from the online store - and this is on top of publisher discounts!

Windows to Adventure - A New Book Series

Windows to Adventure, a book series devoted to geology, astronomy, the planets, atmospheric science, oceans, and climate, uses fantasy characters, magical realms, and legends from regions around the world, to make science accessible to readers of 3rd or 4th grade.  Angie and Rashad find a strange object in the woods that can take them on adventures, and into a magical realm of talking mountains and planets. 

The first two books in the series have been released and future titles will come out approximately once a quarter through 2014.  The books, translated into English, Spanish and French, will be available in e-Book or print-on-demand format via Kindle, Nook, and Kobo books. They can also be ordered through the science-learning website Windows to the Universe at the Science Store.  Learn more about this exciting series at or follow Red Phoenix Books on Twitter (redphoenixbooks) or Facebook.

Table of Contents

Hurricane Sandy
Canadian Earthquake
Mobile Site
Motivational Quotes
7 Mins of Terror
Ozone Hole Status
Discover Saturn
Science Trips/Visits
GIFT Workshop
Daylight Saving Time
Solar Eclipse
Leonid Meteors
Tasa Graphic Arts
Universe Fingertips
Minerals and Fossils
Fall TES Sale!
Classroom Activities
DVDs-Online Store
Windows to Adventure

AMS DataStreme Proj
Geography - NOV
CubeSat Missions
Holiday Lecture
Pre-College Climate
Asteroid Contest
Einstein Educators
High Alt Balloons
Brennan Award
PEYA 2012
Edward C. Roy Award
Aero Scholarships
Painting Competition
Climate Diversity
Robot Challenge
Arctic Humidity
NASA Wavelength
Earthquake? Rain!
Big Ideas Videos
L’Aquila Judgment
Geoscience Ed
EPA Climate Resource
Food and Tiles














  Teacher Submissions

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  Announcements from Partners

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

AMS DataStreme Atmosphere, Ocean, and Earth’s Climate System

The American Meteorological Society’s DataStreme Project is an expenses-paid, professional development program for in-service K-12 teachers. Graduate-level courses in meteorology, oceanography, and climate science are offered each fall and spring semester by Local Implementation Teams (LITs) across the country. Teachers construct a Plan of Action for educational peer-training following course completion.

Please contact your nearest LIT leader by late fall to register. The spring 2013 course offering begins in mid-January.  For more information on DataStreme, go to and follow the links to course pages for the list of LIT leaders. DataStreme receives support from NOAA, NASA, and NSF.

Geography Awareness Week is November 11-17!

Did you know Geography Awareness week is coming?  GAWeek is sponsored by National Geographic during the third week in November.  It focuses on the importance of geo-literacy and geo-education.  This year's GAWeek has the theme of interdependence, and will explore the idea that we are all connected to the world we live in by the decisions we make every day.  Learn more about the activities and online resources associated with Geography Awareness week at the National Geographic GAWeek page.

NASA Announces Next Opportunity for CubeSat Space Missions

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

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

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

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

Live HHMI Holiday Lecture - Changing Planet: Past, Present, Future

Watch “Changing Planet: Past, Present, Future” Live!

The 2012 Holiday Lectures presented by Howard Hughes Medical Institute will be webcast live on November 15 and 16. Dr. Andrew H. Knoll of Harvard University; Dr. Naomi Oreskes of the University of California, San Diego; and Dr. Daniel P. Schrag of Harvard University will guide us on an exciting exploration of the history of life on Earth and will discuss present‐day concerns about climate change.

Click here to register for the webcast and to receive a free classroom poster. If you are interested in information about hosting a live webcast event at your school, museum, or other organization, send an e‐mail to:

Call for Papers on Climate By Pre-College Students

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

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

Notice of intent to submit is due November 30, 2012. For submission instructions and guidelines for articles, including suggestions for converting a science fair project into a journal article submission, go to For more information, see

Name That Asteroid Contest

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

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

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

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

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

Go to the following web sites to begin the contest.
Name That Asteroid Contest Information -
Online Background, Rules, Guidelines and Entry Form -

Apply Now for the 2013-14 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program is now accepting applications for the 2013-2014 Fellowship Year. The Einstein Fellowship Program is available to current K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educators with a demonstrated excellence in teaching and leadership.  The goal of the Einstein Fellowship Program is to provide an opportunity for teachers to inform U.S. national policy and improve communication between the K-12 STEM education community and national leaders.
Selected teachers spend 11 months in Washington, D.C., sharing their expertise with STEM program directors or policy makers. Einstein Fellows may serve in a Congressional office or in one of several government agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  Fellows receive a monthly stipend and an allowance for professional travel and relocation. The fellowship year begins in late August 2013.
For more information about the program and to learn how to apply, visit Applications for the 2013-14 Fellowship program are due by 11:00 pm (EST) December 5, 2012.

NASA Seeks Student Experiments For 2013 High-Altitude Scientific Balloon Flight

NASA is accepting applications from graduate and undergraduate university students to fly experiments to the edge of space on a scientific balloon next year. The balloon competition is a joint project between NASA and the Louisiana Space Consortium (LaSPACE) in Baton Rouge.

NASA is targeting fall 2013 for the next flight opportunity for the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP). HASP is a balloon-borne instrument stack that provides an annual near-space flight opportunity for 12 instruments built by students.  Since 2006, the HASP program has flown 60 payloads involving more than 500 students from 14 states, Puerto Rico and Canada.

A panel of experts from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and LaSPACE will review the applications and select the finalists for the next flight opportunity. Flights are launched from the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility's remote site in Fort Sumner, N.M., and typically achieve 15 to 20 hours' duration at an altitude of about 23 miles.

HASP houses and provides power, mechanical support, interactivity and communications for the instruments. It can be used to flight-test compact satellites, prototypes and other small payloads designed and built by students.

The deadline for applications for the 2013 flight is Dec. 14. A question-and-answer teleconference for interested parties will be held Nov. 16.  For application materials and details about HASP, visit:

Apply for the Thomas J. Brennan Award

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

The nomination deadline is December 31, 2012. Submission guidelines and lists of past recipients can be found at For additional information, please contact Albert Silva at 415-715-1400 or via email

2012 President's Environmental Youth Awards

The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with the EPA to recognize young people across the U.S. who are protecting our nation’s air, water, land, and ecology. It is one of the most important ways the EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation’s young people. One outstanding project from each region is selected for national recognition. Projects are developed by young individuals, school classes (K-12), summer camps, and youth organizations to promote environmental stewardship. Thousands of young people from all 50 states and the U.S. territories have submitted projects to the EPA for consideration. Winning projects in the past have covered a wide range of subject areas, including:
-environmental science projects
-recycling programs in schools and communities
-construction of nature preserves
-major tree planting programs
-videos, skits, and newsletters that focus on environmental issues

Evaluation results consistently demonstrate that the experience is a life-changing event for many of the young people and sponsors who participate.

Find out how to apply. The annual deadline for the regional award program is December 31.

Act Now to Win the Edward C. Roy, Jr., Award for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is accepting nominations for the Edward C. Roy Award for Excellence in Earth Science Teaching. Given annually, this award is presented to one full-time K-8 teacher in the U.S. or U.K. whose excellence and innovation in the classroom elevates students’ understanding of the Earth and its many processes.

Applicants will be judged based on their dedication to and enthusiasm for teaching, as well as their expertise in crafting and delivering Earth science instruction to their students. The winner of the Edward C. Roy Award will receive a cash prize and an additional travel grant to attend the 2013 National Science Teachers Association Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas, April 11-14, 2013. To be eligible, applications must be postmarked by January 10, 2013.

The Edward C. Roy Award is given in honor of Dr. Edward C. Roy Jr., a strong and dedicated supporter of Earth science education. A past president of AGI and former chair of the AGI Education Advisory Committee, Roy was a lifelong supporter of teachers and students of all ages.

For more information on award requirements, application procedures and deadlines, please visit

NASA Accepting Applications for Aeronautics Scholarships

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

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

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

For details about this scholarship program, a list of available research topics for graduate students, and the application process, visit:

Tunza International Children's Painting Competition

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

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

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

AMS Climate Studies Diversity Project

The American Meteorological Society has partnered with Second Nature, administrator of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, to implement the AMS Climate Studies course at 100 minority-serving institutions over a 5-year period. As part of this NSF-supported Diversity Project, AMS is recruiting 25 MSI faculty for the Course Implementation Workshop (May 19-24, 2013).  Faculty will be trained to offer the climate course and will receive presentations from top-level NASA, NOAA, and university scientists.  The AMS Climate Studies course was developed and pilot tested with NASA support.

Applications for the May 2013 workshop must be received by March 15, 2013. The workshop is expenses-paid and the AMS Climate Studies license fee is waived for the first two years the course is offered. For more information, please visit

NASA-WPI 2013 Robot Prize Competition - Registration Open

NASA and the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass., have opened registration and are seeking teams to compete in next year's robot technology demonstration competition, which offers as much as $1.5 million in prize money.

During the 2013 NASA-WPI Sample Return Robot Challenge, teams will compete to demonstrate that a robot can locate and retrieve geologic samples from a wide and varied terrain without human control. The objective of the competition is to encourage innovations in automatic navigation and robotic manipulator technologies. Innovations stemming from this challenge may improve NASA's capability to explore a variety of destinations in space, as well as enhance the nation's robotic technology for use in industries and applications on Earth.

The competition is planned for June 2013 in Worcester, Mass., attracting competitors from industry and academia nationwide.  For more information about the Sample Return Robot Challenge and WPI, visit

Arctic Humidity on the Rise

Not very good news in this month's issue of Earth!

The Arctic is getting warmer and wetter. As temperatures rise and sea ice melts, scientists suspect that system feedback cycles may further speed up the warming process. Now, a new study looking specifically at the Arctic water vapor cycle from the University of Colorado at Boulder is showing how shifting patterns of humidity may bring about changes in the Arctic atmosphere.

The new study compiled data from the 1950's through the present to examine the subtle changes in the Arctic atmosphere over time. The team then incorporated the data into six new weather models. How will these models affect our perceptions of the changing Arctic? Read the whole story online.

New NASA Online Science Resource Available for Educators and Students

NASA has a new online science resource for teachers and students to help bring Earth, the solar system, and the universe into their schools and homes.

Called NASA Wavelength, the site features hundreds of resources organized by topic and audience level that span the extent of NASA science. Educators at all levels can locate resources by searching for educational standards, subjects, keywords, learning time required to carry out a lesson or activity, cost of materials, and more.

"NASA Wavelength not only lets users find nearly everything they want to know about NASA science, but it also allows them to provide direct feedback to NASA to enhance our products," said Stephanie Stockman, education lead for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) in Washington. "This truly is a living, digital library of resources that will allow educators to find and share the best of NASA science education resources to advance their teaching."

The site also offers an innovative way to keep up with the latest developments in Earth and space science education. Users will be able to received email updates on new content, and share the latest information through social media and email.  For access to NASA Wavelength, visit:

Earthquake? Blame it on the Rain!

The U.S. Geological Survey's website states it in no uncertain terms: "There is no such thing as 'earthquake weather.'" Yet, from at least the time of Aristotle, some people have professed links between atmospheric conditions and seismic shaking. For the most part, these hypotheses have not held up under scientific scrutiny and earthquake researchers have set them aside as intriguing but unfounded ideas. However, in the last decade, new efforts to identify effects of weather-related or climate-related processes on seismicity have drawn new interest.

Researchers are beginning to take a closer look at the Main Himalayan Thrust in northern India and Nepal, inland regions of Taiwan, and seismically active semi-tropical regions like Haiti for evidence of weather-induced seismicity. These groups postulate that tremendous excesses of rainwater falling over short amounts of time may alter the stresses acting on faults, potentially triggering earthquakes to occur sooner than they otherwise would. How will this research affect earthquake preparedness in the future? Read the full story online at

Explore ‘Big Ideas’ in Award-Winning Videos

AGI now offers award-winning videos and other electronic resources to help students, educators, and others explore the “big ideas” of Earth science all year long. AGI’s Big Ideas videos recently won three prestigious awards: Digital Video (DV) Winner in Education, DV Winner in Nature/Wildlife, and Videographer Award of Excellence.

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 Earth Science Literacy Initiative, funded by the National Science Foundation, has codified these underlying understandings of Earth science which form the basis of the Big Ideas videos.

View the Big Ideas videos on YouTube or TeacherTube. The Earth Science Week web site provides related resources. Educators can find dozens of classroom activities to help students build understanding of the “big ideas” online at (

L’Aquila Judgment - Disturbing Details

Much has been written about the court decision passed down earlier this week by an Italian judge, convicting seven members of the Italian Serious Risks Commission to six years in prison. The "L'Aquila Seven" were convicted for inadequate warnings to residents of L'Aquila, Italy, before a magnitude-6.3 earthquake struck the region on April 6, 2009, killing more than 300 people.

Though the story has received international attention and has ignited tensions throughout the scientific community, little attention has been paid to the exact roles each of the seven played in delivering the final advice to the public. Now, Max Wyss, a seismologist and director of the World Agency of Planetary Monitoring and Earthquake Risk Reduction (WAPMERR) in Geneva, Switzerland, explains in a comment on EARTH Magazine's website that five of the infamous seven may have been convicted for saying nothing — when they were deprived of the chance of saying anything at all. Read the story online now

AGI Plans New Center for Geoscience Education

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

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

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

EPA Has Climate Resources For Teachers and Students

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a climate education web site for students, teachers, and school administrators, including information and activities related to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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

NASA Is Expanding Offer For Space Shuttle Tiles And Food

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

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

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

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

For NASA Tiles for Teachers lesson plans, visit:

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