I hope the New Year finds you all well, rested, and ready for a new year of opportunities and challenges (and hope it offers more of the former than the latter!). As we work on finalizing the newsletter today here in Boulder, Colorado, snow is once again falling! We expect 2 - 3 feet of snow, with winds - meaning a blizzard! Your students may enjoy our Weather Crossword, where they can learn about weather while they play.
The beauty of our communications technologies today, though, allows us to continue to work effectively, even in the worst conditions. Geoscientists work at exciting and challenging places all over the world, from research stations at the poles, to mountain tops and submarines. Windows to the Universe staff and colleagues are now working on developing a new section on the Poles, in support of the coming International Polar Year, and this section will include information about how scientists do research at the poles.
The Windows to the Universe team will appear in force at the upcoming NSTA meeting in St. Louis, Missouri this March. Our next newsletter will include complete details on our sessions and events at the meeting. We look forward to seeing you there!
An update on our Educator Community is in order. We've just recently reached a milestone of 6000 educators around the world who subscribe to this newsletter. Our community includes members from 133 countries, at all educational levels. As of today (December 20), our top 10 countries in the community includes 3908 teachers in the US, 304 from Mexico, 254 from India, 102 from Canada, 95 from Peru, 77 from Puerto Rico, 81 from the United Kingdom, 63 from Argentina, 56 from Spain, and 55 from Chile. We're delighted to have 89 teachers who have subscribed from countries across Africa!
Subscriptions to the newsletter increase by about 100 teachers per week, so our newsletter is a great way to share information about your programs and ideas with other teachers around the world. Don't forget that teachers can share ideas with their colleagues through our Teacher Submissions link. Also, colleagues with programs and resources that are useful to teachers are invited to submit Partner Announcements.
Did you (or your students) know that every time you turn on the television or travel in a car, you add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere? This is because most of the energy we use comes from fuels like oil, coal, and gas.
There are many ways to become more carbon neutral in the New Year. Being "carbon neutral" means removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as we put in. How can we remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere? One way is to buy "carbon offsets". This supports projects like wind farms, solar parks, planting trees, and the development of green technologies. It helps make clean energy more affordable. It reduces future greenhouse gas emissions to make up for our travel and electricity use today.
You can also reduce your carbon footprint by choosing to use less energy every day. Travel by walking, bicycling, or taking public transporation instead of driving a car will reduce your carbon footprint. In the market for a new car? Consider one that is more fuel efficient and spend less money at the gas pump! Oh, and turn off lights in rooms if you do not need them.
As teachers you can also challenge your students to reduce their carbon footprint. Who knows? They may challenge their parents and grandparents to do the same! A few minutes of teaching about these topics can make a big difference!
Finally, plant trees and plants (they act as carbon sinks). And get your students and school involved too! Every Earth Day in April, the students in my classroom would spend their hour with me planting seeds and seedlings donated by local nurseries. They felt good about the project and the school looked better too. You'd be surprised how many seeds and seedlings can get planted by 130 high school students in one day!
Use this Carbon Calculator to figure out your carbon footprint. Here's to a Carbon-Reduced New Year!
Chances are, you're getting a new calendar for 2007. Don't forget to check the Windows to the Universe Calendar to find out about notable dates in science history.
Some January highlights:
As Earth's climate changes over geologic time, the characteristics of the environments and ecosystems in particular locations change as well. For example, in some locations, water in the form of lakes or rivers may no longer be present due to a change in climate, however traces of the lakes or rivers are preserved in the sedimentary rocks that were deposited by the water that shaped the landscape. Different types of sedimentary rocks form in different environments. Sediments and fossils deposited thousands to millions of years ago provide a record of ancient environments and allow us to figure out what these environments were like during the 4.6 billion years of Earth's history. This huge amount of time is called geologic time. Earth's climate has been changing for billions of years. It warmed and cooled many times. Help your students to shape an understanding of how layers of sedimentary rocks relate to changing environments by doing the Layers of Rock activity.
During International Polar Year (IPY), a two-year event starting in March 2007, you will likely hear about all types of scientific research that will be happening in the Arctic and Antarctic polar regions.
Polar regions are interesting places and there is evidence that they are being changed significantly because of changing climate. Polar regions are also challenging places to study because of the often harsh environmental conditions that exist at high latitudes. IPY is a collaboration of many countries around the world to study polar regions. The objectives of IPY are to explore new scientific frontiers, deepen our understanding of polar regions, and to capture the interest of students, the public, and decision-makers.
Explore polar science with Windows to the Universe by perusing Postcards from the Field: Antarctica and watching the Arctic Sea Ice Animation. Stay tuned for a new section on Windows to the Universe coming soon that features fascinating science about Earth’s polar regions.
January brings yet another meteor shower, the Quadrantids. If you're a regular reader of our newsletter, you'll know that I've written about meteor showers in two of the last three months (the Orionids in October and the Geminids in December). Though the Quadrantids are a major meteor shower, they have been studied less than some of the other major meteor swarms. Winter storms in the Northern Hemisphere often obscure the view of this event, and even the most die-hard meteor observers sometimes find lying on a lawn chair for hours on a crisp January evening to observe this shower a bit chilling (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least). Unfortunately, the view of this shower from the warmer Southern Hemisphere is not very good because of the Quadrantids' location in the sky. The Quadrantids are a shower with an interesting history; they are named after a now defunct constellation, and, like the Geminids, the source of these meteors is a mysterious object that may be an asteroid or an extinct comet (and which was discovered only recently, in 2003!). Look for the Quadrantids around January 3rd and 4th; to learn more about them, click here.
Table of Contents
Be Carbon Neutral!
Teacher SubmissionsClick here to submit your ideas to the newsletter
The Federation of Galaxy Explorers (FoGE) is in the process of developing a new and original educational video game called "Moon Base One". We are therefore interested in recruiting a few volunteer game testers for the evaluation process to ensure the educational value of the Moon Base One educational video game. The FoGE is planning to begin a three month evaluation process in February 2007 with the goal of releasing the first version of the Moon Base One educational video game in May 2007. FoGE is a relatively new non-profit space science education youth program founded in 2002 in Silver Spring, Maryland, by Nicholas Eftimiades, and now has local FoGE chapters established in nine states. FoGE can be contacted at 1-877-761-1266 during regular business hours. Visit the Moon Base One Blog!
Submitted by Steven Heffel.
Announcements from PartnersClick here to submit information about your program to the newsletter
In light of a recent New York Times article on science vs. religion, it seems more important than ever to introduce children to the “greatest story ever told” (November 21, 2006). Jennifer Morgan got the idea to do this very thing when she explained evolutionary science to her young son. At that time she saw its amazing storytelling possibilities. Her idea has now evolved into an inviting picture book trilogy that tells the story of the Universe—from the Big Bang to mammalian evolution—all narrated by the Universe, itself. The picture book series has garnered endorsements from leading scientists. To find out more about these resources, visit "Born with a Bang", "From Lava to Life", and "Mammals who Morph", or Jennifer Morgan's website.
The National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) is a nonprofit educational organization, founded in 1983, whose purpose is the advancement, stimulation, extension, improvement, and coordination of Earth Science education at all educational levels. NESTA membership (for only $20 per year, and less for a multi-year membership) brings access to a high quality quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, an electronic newsletter, NESTA ENews, connections with the only nationwide professional association dedicated to the improvement of Earth and space science education at the K-12 levels, and many other benefits, including our events across the country. To join, simply fill out the membership form and send it, with your check, to the address shown on the membership form.
The National Earth Science Teachers Association will hold numerous events at the upcoming NSTA in St. Louis, Missouri this coming March, including a Field Trip, 3 Share-a-thons, 3 lectures from prominent geoscientists, a Rock and Mineral Raffle, as well as the NESTA Breakfast with a speaker. Keep your eyes on this newsletter for details in the next issue, or visit the NESTA website for more information.
The American Geophysical Union (AGU) is the world's largest association of Earth and space scientists, with over 45,000 members worldwide. AGU offers numerous meetings annually, and leading publications in the geosciences. For teachers, AGU offers GIFT (Geophysical Information for Teachers) workshops at AGU Fall and Spring meetings with information and activities designed to be directly useful in the classroom, and a discounted rate for meeting registration. Becoming a member of AGU helps you to stay well informed and up to date in geoscience research. The next AGU meeting will be held May 22-27 in Acapulco, Mexico, and the meeting will include numerous education sessions which are likely to be of interest to educators in Latin America. To join go to: https://www.aip.org/ecomm/agu/login.jsp. For $20/year you receive the weekly news magazine, EOS, and the monthly journal, Physics Today, from the American Institute of Physics.
The American Meteorological Society will convene its 87th Annual Meeting, January 14 – 18, at the H.B. Gonzalez Convention Center, in San Antonio, Texas. The conference kick-off event is the Sunday afternoon, January 13, public WeatherFest for students, families, and teachers in the surrounding community. Flyers and posters for distribution in your school are available in PDF format on the conference web site. The WeatherFest includes exhibitors from public weather/climate research agencies, corporations, and educational institutions. They will provide hands-on science education lesson plans, activities, and demonstrations for all ages; a weather show; and displays of science books, weather instruments, and gifts. On Monday and Tuesday, the Annual Meeting will include the 16th Symposium on Education. Oral and poster sessions will offer a wealth of information about K-12, popular, and university education initiatives, outreach and broadcast media programs, distance learning, and cyberinfrastructure for education in the atmospheric and related sciences. Come by to see us in the UCAR booth at the Weatherfest and in the conference exhibit hall!
Open to US teachers of all disciplines in grades 9-12 nationwide, the Toyota International Teacher Program offers a fully-funded, 11-day professional development experience in Japan. Sponsored by Toyota Motor Sales, USA, the program will take place June 22 - July 7, 2007 and provide 40 educators with an opportunity to bring ancient and modern Japan back to their classrooms. Participants will travel through Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and surrounding rural areas examining the history, education system, environment and industry of Japan. Since 1999, groups of American educators have journeyed annually to Japan to explore the country’s history, educational system, environment and technology. They have returned with renewed commitment as teachers and with fresh ideas for sharing first hand experiences and international perspectives with their students, colleagues and communities. In sponsoring the program, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. supports the involvement of today’s educators in the critical arena of international study.
To apply online, visit www.iie.org/toyota The application deadline is January 8, 2007.
If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact Joshua Beatty at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (toll-free) 877-832-2457.