Update your bookmarks! Our new website url is http://windows2universe.org!
If you haven't already, please respond to the email about forwarding UCAR subscription information to NESTA (sent from email@example.com and subject: For Windows to the Universe Educators). If you missed this email, it will be sent out again next month. It's easy - only two clicks of the mouse!
What a fall! Following up on our busy October, the Windows to the Universe team continued with a booth and exhibit at the Geological Society of America meeting in Denver. At the NSTA meeting in Baltimore, we hosted six workshops and participated in the NESTA Share-a-Thon and Rock and Mineral Raffle. We welcomed an additional 400+ participants at these events, many of whom are receiving this newsletter for the first time!
This month, we will be holding workshops, as well as our NESTA signature events, at the NSTA Area Conference in Nashville from December 2-4 (see schedule below). In addition, NESTA is working closely with the American Geophysical Union and other partners to organize the AGU-NESTA Geophysical Information Workshop for Teachers at the Fall AGU Meeting from December 16-17 in San Francisco. This two-day workshop for current and pre-service middle and secondary school teachers will include talks by leading research scientists coupled with related classroom activities! Timely topics range from earthquakes to oil spills, climate change and sustainability on Earth to the next generation of lunar exploration. Donít miss this opportunity to interact with experts from NASA, NOAA, the IRIS Consortium, the U.S. Ice Drilling Program and more. The December 3 deadline to register is coming up very soon, so register right away! There is no cost to participate in the workshop!
On November 16, I had the pleasure of attending the National Medals for Science and Technology Gala in Washington D.C. I say pleasure because, not only was it a wonderful evening with an amazing meal and impressive guest list, but the stories of the medal winners were really inspiring. Compelling videos were shown at the Gala that showed what motivated these scientists and engineers, as well as how their scientific and technological contributions impact humanity. I found myself saying, numerous times, that it is a tragedy that these videos are only being seen by those in attendance and not by a wider audience. I think the videos would be effective in helping to motivate everyone, including young people, to careers in STEM disciplines. There was an announcement that the videos will be put online for public viewing and I will pass along that link when I find it. In the meantime, you can see more information about the medals at http://www.nationalmedals.org/news/index.php and view the White House award ceremony at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teeITvnYqMk. If you look closely at the video, you may see that the gentleman with the trademark bow tie to the left of President Obama is Dr. Warren Washington, a Senior Scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. In addition to his ground-breaking contributions as a climate scientist and his national leadership in science, Dr. Washington has long been a good friend to Earth and space science educators. In the decade that I served as the Director of Education and Outreach at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Dr. Washington consistently and gladly agreed to come talk with teachers during our professional development workshops. Congratulations Warren on being named a National Medal of Science winner!
Wishing you all a very happy holiday season and best wishes for the New Year!
Please consider joining Windows to the Universe as an Educator Member and/or making a donation to the Windows to the Universe project. Over the past six months, we have undertaken a brave new adventure, working to develop a sustainability model for this website and our professional development program (with support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation), so that these activities are not so dependent on a continuing supply of Federal funding.
Even though Windows to the Universe is one of the most successful and least expensive science education websites ever developed on Federal funding, eventually granting agencies find it difficult to continue funding projects, irrespective of how successful they are, as they are required to support new programs. Based on our large audience of over 15 million users annually, we are working to develop an array of funding strategies to help support the project and reduce our dependence on Federal funding. These strategies include providing opportunities for membership (providing access to members-only special benefits and services), a partnership program with scientists and institutions, an online store (which helps support our programs through commissions from vendors), additional professional development offerings, advertising, and donations. We hope to use these resources to not only support Windows to the Universe content and professional development activities, but also to support NESTA. If this website is a valuable resource for you, please consider supporting it in one or more of the ways described above - your support is much appreciated!
Our online store has loads of great gifts for those that love Earth and space science! Choose from a selection of books including Science, Evolution, and Creationism and Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5, and The Earth Scientist, which are loaded with classroom activities to put to use in your classroom and background on science topics.
We also have a large assortment of mineral and fossil specimens, jewelry, and household items, made available through Nature's Own. Specimens 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" and "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 5" noodle bowls), vases (5" or 6"), or a mortar and pestle.
Note that Nature's Own has its last day for UPS shipping on December 8th for guaranteed pre-Christmas delivery. Nature's Own staff will TRY to make limited shipments on December 20th, after the American Geophysical Union meeting, but cannot guarantee pre-Christmas delivery.
Purchases from the Windows to the Universe store help support the website as well as the National Earth Science Teachers Association, so doing your shopping here will not only provide you with great resources, but also help support programs that you value.
U.S. Teacher Members of Windows to the Universe should log in at http://windows2universe.org to get the details of an opportunity to join a Climate Education program that includes 15 hours of professional development (at no fee to participants). Take advantage of an opportunity to join a community of Climate Change Educators. Hurry - this opportunity is limited to 50 teachers, and applications must be submitted by December 31, 2010! Slots will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Not a Teacher Member of Windows to the Universe? Join today!
We've added another movie from the Little Shop of Physics. This short video illustrates the importance of Earth's spin on winds - by making cotton candy! You may want to look back at two other videos we featured in earlier newsletters. The Global Atmospheric Circulation Model movie and the Global Winds movie also touch upon the topic of the Coriolis effect and the role it plays on wind directions on a spinning planet.
December in the northern hemisphere often brings with it chilly temperatures and snow and ice to go with those dropping temperatures. Did you know that we have a suite of activities that have to do with the poles of the Earth? Get in the mood for some chilly classroom activities!
We have some powerful visual interactives that can only be used online. Middle school to high school students can access this page to look at animations of annual variation of sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic, to compare images of Arctic and Antarctic sea ice side-by-side, and to utilize an interactive about the Earth's north magnetic pole.
We have several activities that cover the topic of glaciers. Model a Moving Glacier has students make a model of glacier motion and then experiment with it. There's also Glaciers: Then and Now where students compare photographs of glaciers to observe how Alaskan glaciers have changed over the last century.
The solstice occurs in the month of December. This year the solstice falls on December 21st, which is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere. The solstices (winter and summer) and equinoxes (spring and fall) are astronomical events that mark our seasons. Because of the tilt of Earth's axis, the Sun appears to climb higher (in the summer) and sink lower (in the winter) in the sky as viewed from our planet. The solstice is when the Sun shifts the direction of this apparent migration. The word "solstice" comes from two Latin roots: "sol", which means "Sun", and "sistere", which translates as "stand still".
The winter solstice is the shortest day (and longest night) of the year, and the summer solstice is the longest day (and shortest night) of the year. Many cultures around the world celebrate the winter solstice. These celebrations include festivals of light or celebrations of rebirth. Historically, in many places in the northern hemisphere the winter solstice included a large feast because it occurred just before the coldest part of the winter set in, and this was a good time to slaughter livestock so they wouldn't have to be fed during the winter. This can provide some "food for thought" for your students as we head into our own season of holiday celebrations!
Ten years ago, on November 2, 2000, the first crew (Bill Shepherd, Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev) arrived at the International Space Station. Since then, 196 people from eight countries have visited the station and it has traveled more than 1.5 billion miles around the Earth.
The International Space Station represents a union of several national space station projects that started in the early 1980's. In June 1992, American president George H. W. Bush and Russian president Boris Yeltsin agreed to cooperate on space exploration. In 1993, United States and Russia announced plans for a new space station. The assembly of the ISS began in November 1998 and is scheduled for completion by late 2011. The ISS has been the most politically complex space exploration program ever undertaken. It's operated by the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada. The station serves as a research laboratory where more than 600 experiments have been conducted, many of them providing advances in science, medicine and technology. Advances in living in microgravity made by astronauts living on the ISS also help us progress toward sending humans to the Moon and Mars.
To find out when the ISS will pass overhead where you live, check out the Skywatch site.
While our minds wander towards warm comfort foods this time of year, let us not forget the diversity of living things that makes those foods possible. When you look at your holiday table you may instantly recognize the presence of representatives from the Kingdoms Animalia and Plantae, but did you realize that the two other kingdoms of the Eukaryota domain of life may be contributing to your holiday meal as well? Here are a couple of examples of how some unsung, single-celled heroes of the Kingdoms Fungi and Protista wind up at the table.
To get dough to rise, bakers rely on single-celled helpers called yeast. Yeasts are living things, classified as part of the Kingdom Fungi. They are eukaryotic microorganisms. Not only found in your bread dough, wild yeasts are also found worldwide in ocean and terrestrial ecosystems. In the kitchen, yeast eats sugars in the dough and respires making carbon dioxide bubbles, causing the dough to rise. When the dough is baked, the yeast die.
Algae, usually included within the Kingdom Protista, are a staple in Asian cuisine. Even if you do not eat them, algae can contribute to your dinner because they are used as fertilizer in organic farming. Most industrial fertilizers are made chemically and are problematic for ecosystems when they get into waterways, forming dead zones where rivers empty into the ocean. Organic farms do not use these fertilizers, but instead use natural soil amendments such as species of algae called kelp. Kelp is brown algae that grow in cold-water areas of the shallow ocean, forming large forests that are home to a diversity of marine life.
NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has unveiled a previously unseen structure centered in the Milky Way galaxy. The feature spans 50,000 light-years and may be the remnant of an eruption from a super sized black hole at the center of our galaxy. The structure spans more than half of the visible sky, from the constellation Virgo to the constellation Grus, and it may be millions of years old. Researchers discovered the bubbles by processing publicly available data from Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT), which is the most sensitive and highest-resolution gamma ray detector ever launched. Gamma rays are the highest-energy form of light.
Other astronomers studying gamma rays hadn't detected the bubbles partly because of a "fog" of gamma rays that appears throughout the sky. The "fog" happens when particles moving near the speed of light interact with light and interstellar gas in the Milky Way. The LAT team constantly refines models to uncover new gamma ray sources obscured by this so called diffuse emission.
Scientists are now conducting more analyses to better understand how this never-before-seen structure was formed. The structure's shape and emissions suggest it was formed as a result of a large and relatively rapid energy release, the true source of which remains a mystery.
Winter storms have already hit various places in the U.S. this fall, and more are surely on the way! Since many students get excited about winter weather, share some information with them on snow, blizzards, and other types of dramatic weather. Snowflakes are intricate and fascinating. Some are perfectly symmetrical and others are lopsided, depending on the conditions occurring in the atmosphere when the snowflake falls to the ground. Blizzards are very powerful storms, with winds greater than 35 mph (56 kph), large amounts of snow, and visibility of less than ľ mile (0.4 km).
If you live in an area with cold and snowy winters, be on the alert for severe weather advisories. Check out our information on blizzard safety - cold temperatures can cause frostbite or hypothermia and winter storms can create dangerous driving conditions. Be safe out there!
Also, we encourage you to check out our Postcards from the Field - Antarctica. That will put cold weather into perspective!
Many holidays are celebrated in the month of December. We wish that your holidays might be happy and peaceful. Here are some ideas for keeping those holidays "Green". Please share them with your students and hopefully, they will share them with family and friends!
Our "Green" Holiday Ideas:
2. Put small electric candles in your windows as a house decoration versus the long strings of lights and light bulbs. Use compact fluorescent bulbs in the candles. Turn them off when you turn in for the night or use timers so that you don't forget!
3. When shopping for holiday meals, don't worry about the question of paper versus plastic - bring your own reusable bags to the store! Many stores give monetary credit for your effort and you keep paper or plastic out of landfills.
4. Instead of sending paper holiday cards in the mail, send an e-card to family and friends. This saves materials and the energy of production and delivery of paper cards. With the money saved, consider making a charitable donation in the name of your family and friends.
5. Of course, you can give new life to the holiday cards you do receive in the mail - by cutting out your favorite images and reusing them as gift tags. Kids love this holiday "chore"!
6. When you're on the road for a quick meal, remember to take a minimum of napkins. Many people take a large handful, only to throw away many unused napkins. If everyone does this, we can save thousands of pounds of waste from needlessly filling landfills. At home, use cloth napkins.
7. Use gift bags instead of wrap, they can be reused for several years. Or make your own gift wrap out of old newspapers! Also, you can always visit the remnants bin at the local fabric store for present wrapping "paper". There are many, many pieces large enough to wrap just about anything. Plus the cloth is re-usable year after year!
8. Choose your gifts wisely. For example, gifts of food add less to our collective "accumulating domestic mass", and significantly reduce our CO2 emissions. Vegan, locally-produced, organic food, with its own natural packaging (e.g. a pie one bakes from locally grown pumpkins, or bushel of avocados, etc.) are perfect!
Happy and "Green" Holidays!
Will you be at the NSTA Regional Conference in Nashville, TN (December 2-4, 2010)? If so, we invite you to participate in one or more of the sessions listed below.Nashville NSTA Regional Conference
Table of Contents
Join or Donate!
Join Climate Program
Milky Way Discovery
Pulse of ES Ed
Cit Science Network
Earth Sci Teachers
AGI ES Award Open
NASA and LEGO
Natl Env Ed Web
2010 PEYA Award
Env Research Contest
Teacher SubmissionsClick here to submit your ideas to the newsletter
Announcements from PartnersClick here to submit information about your program to the newsletter
Many schools have dropped Earth science from the required curriculum in recent years. Some colleges have closed geoscience departments. And yet employers have said they need more qualified candidates for geoscience jobs. Does your public education system ensure that all students learn important Earth science content?
AGI (American Geological Institute) now allows you to track the status of Earth science education nationwide. The ďPulse of Earth ScienceĒ web site, launched in connection with Earth Science Week, offers detailed, up-to-date information on geoscience education in every state, as well as guidance for advocates.
The Network for Citizen Science Projects web site is a wonderful resource if you're looking for science you and your students can do!
There are blogs to read that cover many different areas of science from ornithology to paleontology to robotics. Videos are also featured and you might find these short clips useful in the classroom. Whatever your interest, this is certainly a site with something for everyone!
NASA's "Kids in Micro-g" challenge is accepting proposals from students in fifth through eighth grades to design a classroom experiment that also can be performed by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Proposals are due by Dec. 8.
The experiments should examine the effect of weightlessness on various subjects: liquids, solids, the laws of physics and humans. The experiments are expected to have observably different results in microgravity than in the classroom. The apparatus for the experiments must be constructed using materials from a special tool kit aboard the station. The kit contains items commonly found in classrooms for science experiments. The experiments must take 30 minutes or less to set up, run and take down.
Winning experiments will be performed on the orbiting laboratory next spring. To learn more about how to submit proposals for the 2011 challenge, contact the ISS Payloads Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 281-244-6187.
Did you know that the National Earth Science Teachers Association will be very involved at the NSTA meeting in Nashville and at the National NSTA conference in San Francisco? Join this supportive teachers' network and you can meet other NESTA members at these NSTA conferences. These NESTA members have great ideas for teaching Earth science, and their enthusiasm for the geosciences is contagious! Other membership benefits include receiving The Earth Scientist (a quarterly journal), full voting privileges, access to members-only areas of the NESTA web site, a discount on Windows to the Universe Educator Membership, and the monthly e-mail newsletter, NESTA ENews, that shares new resources, opportunities, alerts, and upcoming events.
NESTA also hosts Share-a-Thon sessions at the NSTA meetings. Whether you are a NESTA member or not, you can present at those Share-a-Thon sessions. Please consider sharing your favorite, tested classroom activity with your colleagues at the National Earth Science Teachers Association Share-a-Thons. 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 NSTA Conferences and contact NESTA's Share-a-Thon coordinator, Michelle Harris, and let her know that you'd like to present (at email@example.com).
Does someone you know teach earth science to students between kindergarten and eighth grade? Do they excel in their teaching through leadership and innovation, bringing new ideas and approaches to teaching about our planet? If so, they may be eligible for the Edward C. Roy Award for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching. Given annually, this award recognizes one classroom teacher nationwide for their leadership and innovation in earth science education.
The winner will receive a prize of $2,500 and an additional grant of $1,000 to enable the recipient to attend the 2011 National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Annual Conference in San Francisco, California, from March 10-13. To be eligible, applications must be postmarked by January 5, 2011. To learn more about competition requirements, application procedures, and deadlines, visit http://www.agiweb.org/education/awards/ed-roy/.
The National Park Service hosts an on-line Junior Ranger program for kids of all ages. Kids can play more than 50 games and learn about the National Parks, animals, people, history, nature, science and more!
Kids can personalize their ranger station and play games that have to do with recycling, animal tracks, outdoor safety, past presidents, railroads, coding, even dendrochronology. Activities are separated into difficulty levels.
Invent a WebRanger name, create a personalized ranger badge, and start learning today! The site is available in Spanish as well.
NASA and the LEGO Group have signed a 3-year Space Act Agreement to work together to spark children's interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The theme of the partnership is "Building and Exploring Our Future." To commemorate the beginning of this partnership, a small LEGO shuttle will launch with the crew of the space shuttle Discovery on its STS-133 mission, targeted to launch around December 3rd.
The LEGO Group will release four NASA-inspired products in their LEGO CITY line next year. The space-themed products will vary in terms of complexity, engaging audiences from young children to adult LEGO fans. Each product release will contain NASA-inspired education materials.
NASA will send special LEGO sets to the International Space Station aboard shuttle Endeavour's STS-134 mission in February 2011. The sets will be assembled by astronauts on-orbit and by children and student groups across the country. The construction process and activities with the sets will demonstrate the challenges faced when building things in the microgravity environment of space.
"The LEGO Group's purpose is to inspire children to think creatively, reason systematically and release their potential to shape their own future," said Stephan Turnipseed, president of LEGO Education North America. "The partnership with NASA provides us a unique opportunity to fulfill our purpose while expanding the imaginations of children around the world. A child who plays with LEGO bricks today can become the NASA astronaut or engineer of tomorrow. "
The National Environmental Education Foundation hosts several web sites that might be useful to you in teaching Earth science. The first called Classroom Earth is an online resource designed to help high school teachers include environmental content in their daily lesson plans.
The second web program is called Earth Gauge which shows the links between weather and the environment. It has articles and videos that help explain these interesting weather, climate and environmental issues. They would certainly help start many deep discussions in your classroom!
There is also an Earth Gauge Kids site that has weather and environmental quizzes, articles, and activities just for kids.
The PEYA program promotes
awareness of our nationís natural resources and encourages positive
community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the U.S.
has joined with the EPA to recognize young people across the U.S. for
protecting our nationís air, water and land. It is one of the
most important ways the EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to
environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nationís
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 EPA for
consideration. Winning projects in the past have covered a wide range of areas including:
Find out how to apply. The annual deadline for the regional award program is December 31.
NASA has developed a video contest to raise students' awareness of technology transfer efforts and how NASA technologies contribute to our everyday lives.
NASA is collaborating with Hasbro using the correlation between the popular TRANSFORMERS brand, featuring its leader Optimus Prime, and spinoffs from NASA technologies created for aeronautics and space missions that are used here on Earth. The goal is to help students understand that NASA technology 'transforms' into things that are used daily. These 'transformed' technologies include water purifiers, medical imaging software, or fabric that protects against UV rays.
The contest is for students from third to eighth grade. Each student, or group of students, will submit a three- to five-minute video on a selected NASA spinoff technology listed in the 2009 Spinoff publication. Videos must demonstrate an understanding of the NASA spinoff technology and the associated NASA mission, as well as the commercial application and public benefit associated with the "transformed" technology. Video entries are due by December 31. For more information, visit the Optimus Prime Spinoff Award web site: http://ipp.gsfc.nasa.gov/optimus
Four decades after the first lunar rover rolled across the surface of the moon, innovative high school and college students are preparing to design, build and race lightweight, human-powered "moonbuggies". Registration is open for the 18th annual NASA Great Moonbuggy Race, set for April 1-2, 2011, in Huntsville, AL.
Registration closes February 1, 2011. For complete rules, vehicle design parameters and registration details for the race, visit: http://moonbuggy.msfc.nasa.gov
From the massive Gulf oil spill to the continued decline of Arctic sea ice, satellites and other observing instruments have proved crucial this year in monitoring the many environmental changes -- both natural and human-induced -- occurring on global, regional and local scales.
The 2011 Thacher Environmental Research Contest, sponsored by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, challenges high school students (grades 9-12) to conduct innovative research on our changing planet using the latest geospatial tools and data, which in recent years have become increasingly accessible to the public. Eligible geospatial tools and data include satellite remote sensing, aerial photography, geographic information systems (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS).
The best projects will receive cash awards in the amount of $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place. Entries can be submitted by individuals or teams. In the case of team entries, the cash award will be split equally among the winning team members. Winners will also be featured in an Encyclopedia of Earth article.
Entries must be received by April 11, 2011, and will be judged by IGES staff. For more information on the 2011 Thacher Environmental Research Contest, including a list of resources for geospatial data, please visit www.strategies.org/ThacherContest.
The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship is a paid fellowship for K-12 science, math, engineering and technology (STEM) teachers. Einstein Fellows spend a school year in Washington, DC serving in a federal agency or on Capitol Hill. To be considered for an Einstein Fellowship for the 2011-2012 school year, apply online NOW, and submit your application and three letters of recommendation no later than January 4, 2011.
To learn more about the program and apply, visit http://www.trianglecoalition.org/fellows/einapp.htm. † If you have questions about the program or application, contact Program Manager Kathryn Culbertson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
College students can benefit people, promote prosperity and protect the planet by designing solutions that move us towards a sustainable future. Applications are due December 22. For more details, see http://www.epa.gov/ncer/p3/apply/
The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at http://windows2universe.org/ from the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA). The Website was developed in part with the support of UCAR and NCAR, where it resided from 2000 - 2010. © 2010 National Earth Science Teachers Association. Windows to the Universe® is a registered trademark of NESTA. All Rights Reserved. Site policies and disclaimer.