February 2007

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements

The Beauty of our World

As we prepare this newsletter, many places in the world are experiencing extreme weather. Here in Colorado, we've had ~52 inches of snow by mid-January when the norm is 61 inches for the entire winter. And our heavy snow period comes in spring! Heavy ice storms have plagued the south-central and south-eastern portions of the US. Europe has suffered a lack of snow and strong winds. From our immediate perspective, certainly, the weather seems "strange" or "extreme". The true measure of the extremity of this winter, though, is statistical, and not personal.

Nonetheless, I'm struck by the beauty of winter. As I drive our children to and from their schools, lessons, and games, I enjoy, not only myself, but pointing out to them, how the snow glistens in the light, how the fog hangs over low lying areas in the early morning, and how they can see Venus in the evening sky, near the setting Sun. Although freezing rain is almost unbelievably dangerous, it is also one of the most beautiful sights in life to be able to see light glistening from ice, covering every surface from the safety of a snug home, with a cup of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate!

In those places on our planet where you have been released from the icy grip of winter, and are enjoying a warm, beautiful summer - oh, I (for one) envy you! May we all take the time to see the beauty in our world, despite the inconveniences that present themselves, and furthermore, to share these beauties with our students!

Are Polar Bears on Thin Ice as the Earth Warms?

Polar bears peer through cracks in the Arctic sea ice to look for ringed seals, their favorite food, in the waters below. Almost all of a polar bear’s food comes from the sea and the floating sea ice is a perfect vantage point for the bears as they look for food. However, the amount of sea ice floating in the Arctic region is shrinking each year. The ice is melting as the Earth is warming. Within the next few decades, there may be no more sea ice in the Arctic Ocean during the summer. What will this mean for the polar bears? Click here to learn more about how one of the Arctic's most well-known species is responding to climate change.

Matthew Henson - Polar Explorer

Matthew Henson was a polar explorer during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was one of five men (the other four were Inuit) who accompanied the famous American polar explorer Robert E. Peary in 1909 on the final stage of an expedition in which Peary (controversially) claimed to be the first to reach the North Pole. Henson, an African-American, spent 20 years making journeys in the Far North, and was highly respected by the Inuit for his command of their language and his sled-dog driving skills. Peary once remarked that Henson "was more of an Eskimo than some of them". Read more about Matthew Henson here.

Postcards from the Deep Sea

On January 10, a ship called the R/V Atlantis left Manzanillo, Mexico, sailing south for 2 days to reach a site in the East Pacific Ocean. From there, two scientists and a pilot have been traveling more than a mile down to the seafloor in the submersible Alvin to study the volcanic eruptions and life in the deep sea.

During this research cruise, researchers will observe and document changes at the study site on the ocean floor. Eric Simms, coordinator of the SEAS (Student Experiments at Sea) education program, is aboard the ship. He is sending Virtual Postcards from the Deep Sea to Windows to the Universe, describing the experience of deep sea research. Check back often for new postcards!

You also have a chance now to listen to the first conversation from the deep ocean to the edge of space! On January 26th, marine biologist Tim Shank in the Alvin and NASA astronaut Suni Williams on the International Space Station compared notes on life, science, and exploration and answered questions from students, educators, and science lovers.

One World, Many Beliefs!

Lots of things to celebrate this month!

This year, the Chinese New Year starts on the 18th of February, right after the Winter Solstice and during the first phase of the new moon. To the Chinese culture, this moon and day are auspicious days for new beginnings and a fresh start!

On February 19th & 20th Carnival is celebrated in many countries around the world. It became popular around the middle of the second century as a way to feast and act wild before the somber days of Lent. People wore costumes and masks as they celebrated Venus and all things glutinous and pleasurable. Also in many countries around the world the Bacchus parade is still held during Mardi Gras. In ancient Greek Mythology, Bacchus was the son of Zeus and was the god of wine and vegetation who showed mortals how to cultivate grapevines and make wine. It was also said and believed that nine muses or goddesses (Amphitrite, Andromeda, Artemis, Diana, Europa, Gaea, Leda, Persephone, Aphrodite) inspired artists, musicians, writers and poets . It was a time when people wore costumes and masks as they combined a number of old fertility rites and customs like the driving out of winter. It is also a time where the legend suggests The King of Carnival (King Momo) was expelled from Olympus to settle down in Rio, Brazil, the City of Carnival, where up till this day people still dance non-stop during the celebration!

Happy Birthday Windows to the Universe!

February 2007 marks the 12th anniversary of the Windows to the Universe project! Our project started with funding from NASA in February 1995, as a component of the NASA Public Uses of Remote Sensing Data Bases Program. Windows to the Universe has continued since that time, with support of NASA, the National Science Foundation, collaborations with funded projects at Universities and NASA Centers, and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Many thanks, not only to our sponsors (and particularly the NASA Applied Information Systems Research Program, which provided continuing sponsorship from 1995 - 2005), but also to the many people who have worked on or contributed to this project over the past 12 years. Although Windows to the Universe is developed and maintained by a core small group of people in Boulder, Colorado (and in Ann Arbor, Michigan), the website represents the work of more than 30 people over the past 12 years. You can find information about the team of people who work on this project now, or have in the past, at the Windows People link.

Windows to the Universe Events at NSTA in St. Louis

Will you be at the NSTA National Conference in St. Louis, Missouri (29-31 March)? If so, we invite you to participate in one or more of the Windows to the Universe sessions listed below. (To find out more about these workshops, visit our Workshops page.)

Date/Time Location
Playing with Ecosystem Science: Informal Modeling Games to Expore the Delicate Balance in Watery Places
29 March,
America's Center
Room 261
National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) Share-a-Thon I
30 March,
Adam's Mark Hotel, St. Louis E
National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) Share-a-Thon II
30 March,
Adam's Mark Hotel, St. Louis E
Interactive Simulations and Hands-On Activities Across the Earth and Space Sciences
30 March,
Adam's Mark Hotel, Promenade F
National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA)/National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) Share-a-Thon III
31 March,
Adam's Mark Hotel, St. Louis E
Climate Change: Classroom Tools to Explore the Past, Present, and Future
31 March,
12:30 - 13:30
Adam's Mark Hotel, Directors Row 27
WALLS! Water, Air, Land, Life and Space!
31 March,
Adam's Mark Hotel, St. Louis B

If you can't make it to our sessions, don't forget to come by our booth in the exhibit area (Booth number: 1074) , where we will have lots of Windows to the Universe resources available for you!

Would you like to share Windows to the Universe resources at your professional development event?

Occasionally, we're contacted by educators who would like to share one of our classroom activities or demonstrations at a professional development event at their school, or at a district or state-wide science teachers conference. We're happy to have you share our activities with your colleagues - just be sure you give credit to our project in your presentation and on printed materials you distribute. The full credit line (which should be used on printed materials) is "The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at http://www.windows.ucar.edu/ at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). ©1995-1999, 2000 The Regents of the University of Michigan; ©2000-01 University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. All Rights Reserved."

Please do be in touch with us through our comments form to let us know about your plans, as we'd like to keep track of where our activities are being highlighted. We're also happy to send you materials to distribute at the event, such as brochures, cards, and possibly even other goodies, given sufficient advance notice and assuming we have enough materials on hand. When you contact us, be sure you let us know if you'd like materials, how many, by what date, and be sure to include your address.

New Videos from NSF for Use in Your Classroom

We have added some exciting new videos created by the National Science Foundation. The videos are only a minute or two long and are entertaining and educational! They cover new developments in science and engineering, focusing on the topic of Science in Motion.

Please feel free to show your classes these videos. Just some of the videos are Nature's Superglue, Making Earthquakes Indoors, Teaching Robots to Swim, Dark Days Ahead for the Sun, and Lizards in Love. Check them out.

Table of Contents

Polar Bears
Matthew Henson
Deep Sea
One World
Happy Birthday!
New NSF Videos
NCAR Online Course
Safari for Teachers
IPY Ice Fest!









Teacher Submissions

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Announcements from Partners

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GLOBE at Night March 8-21, 2007

Mark your calendars for the Second Annual Star-Hunting Party – GLOBE at Night! Join thousands of other students, families and citizen-scientists around the globe hunting for stars during March 8 - 21, 2007. Take part in this international event to observe the nighttime sky and learn more about light pollution around the world. Participation is open to anyone – anywhere in the world – who can get outside and look skyward during March 8-21, 2007!

The quality of the night sky for stellar observations is impacted by several factors including human activities. By locating a specific constellation in the sky, students will explore the different light sources in their community learning the relationship between science, technology and society, and they will report their observations online through a central database allowing for authentic worldwide research and analysis. The observations made during GLOBE at Night will help students and scientists together assess how the quality of the night sky varies around the world.

During the 2006 event more than 18,000 people from 96 countries on all continents (except Antarctica) reported more than 4,500 nighttime observations! Help us exceed these numbers in 2007! For more information, visit www.globe.gov/globeatnight or contact globeatnight@globe.gov.

NESTA Events at St. Louis NSTA

NESTA will offer numerous events and sessions at the upcoming NSTA Conference this Spring in St. Louis, Missouri, including:

Wednesday, March 28, 2007,

NESTA Field Trip - A Field Study of the Geologic Wonders of Southeastern Missouri: Elephant Rocks, Johnson Shutins, and the Taum Sauk and Hughes Mountains
For more information about the Field Trip,
click here! Register for the Field Trip with this pdf form (you must send in your registration to participate by March 15, 2007).

Friday, March 30, 2007,
all events in Adam's Mark Hotel, St. Louis Room E

* 9:30-10:30 - NESTA Share-a-thon I

* 11:00-12:00 - NESTA Share-a-thon II

Saturday, March 31, 2007
all events in Adam's Mark Hotel

NESTA Earth and Space Science Education Resource Day!

* 7:00-8:30 - NESTA Earth and Space Science Resource Day Breakfast
Adam's Mark Hotel, St. Louis Room H
Speaker Dr. Claudia Alexander, JPL, "Comparing Jupiter and Saturn: Decades of Exploration with NASA's Galileo and Cassini Spacecraft"
Tickets for the breakfast must be purchased through NESTA by March 15, 2007 - see this registration form for more information.

All subsequent events in St. Louis Room E

* 09:30-10:30 - NESTA/NAGT Share-a-Thon III

* 11:00-12:00 - Climate Archives: Reconstructing the Past to Predict the Future by Dr. Jennifer R. Smith, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

* 12:30-13:30 - Civilization Exists Through Geologic Consent by Dr. Michael Wysession, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

* 14:00-15:00 - Using National Parks to Teach Earth and Evnironmental Science by Dr. Robert F. Dymek, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

* 15:00-16:30 - NESTA Rock and Mineral Raffle and Social Hour

* 16:30-18:00 - NESTA Annual Membership Meeting

Please join us!

NCAR Climate Change Online Course Offering: Earth System Science - a Climate Change Perspective

Submitted by National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Are you seeking a K-12 professional development opportunity that will enhance your qualifications, competency, and self-confidence in integrating Earth system science, climate, and global change into your science classroom? The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is offering a series of online courses designed for middle and high school science educators called Climate Discovery. Apply now to participate in the first part the series, Introduction to Earth's Climate. Register soon!

Summer Opportunity - A Safari and Natural History Tour of South Africa

This natural history tour will provide educators with firsthand exposure to the geological history, flora, fauna, Savanna ecosystems, settlement patterns, Zulu culture, rain forests, game management, mining, and natural history of South Africa. Participants will be involved in field studies, tours, game viewing, archaeology, spotlighting and general observations of this beautiful country.

Round-trip airfare via South African Airways, luxury accommodations with private bathrooms, all breakfasts and many dinners are included. A guide/naturalist will be with our group the entire time. Make game drives, both day and night, in open safari vehicles which allow excellent opportunities for photography!

For the past twenty-three summers, Richard Duncan has taken educators to the South Pacific, South America, and Southeast Asia. Richard has taught science and biology for the past 30 years and is the recipient of state and national awards.

The cost is $5,290 - (based on double-occupancy) and includes all round-trip transportation from JFK (add-ons available), luxury accommodations with private bathrooms. Extension to Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls available.

For more information and a complete itinerary, please contact Richard Duncan at: 503.744.0794 or: r2duncan@comcast.net.

International Polar Year Ice Fest is March 1, 2007!

One of the main themes of the International Polar Year is the study of Earth’s changing ice and snow, and its impact on our planet and our lives. On March 1, 2007, students and teachers, educators and learners around the world are invited to help launch the IPY in their classrooms, science centers and museums. Become part of this exciting international scientific effort by:

1. Doing some ice investigations in your classrooms.
2. Launching a virtual balloon representing your school or center on the map.
3. Checking back frequently to see balloons go up around the world.
4. Continuing to take part in IPY by learning about polar science in your classroom or center. More resources will be added to the educators’ page throughout IPY.
For more, see:

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements