February 2014

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements
Windows to the Universe Facebook Group

Happy Birthday Windows to the Universe!
by Roberta

February marks the 19th anniversary of the beginning of Windows to the Universe!  This project started with funding from NASA in February 1995, and we've been working to maintain and grow this resource with the support of many sponsors since that time!  Our sponsors have included multiple NASA offices and centers, multiple NSF projects, collaborations with NOAA, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the Center for Multiscale Modeling of Atmopsheric Processes at Colorado State University, the Center for Space Weather Modeling at Boston University, the American Geosciences Institute, the American Geophysical Union, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the High Tide project at Old Dominion University -- to name just a few of our sponsors!  Over this period, we have reached nearly a billion people around the world, at a cost of only about $10 million over 19 years.  We've been able to provide resources to countless teachers and students around the world thanks to a very small staff and volunteers.  Thank you to all the educators and scientists who have contributed to this resource - we look forward to continuing to serve Earth, space, and environmental science educators and learners in the coming year!

Thanks also to the 39 generous individuals who made year-end donations totaling $785 in support of this newsletter.  Each issue of this newsletter costs about $1,500 to produce, including editing, translation, website posting, and distribution.  We welcome your support for the newsletter, so we can continue to offer this as a free resource for educators around the world.  If this is a valuable resource to you, please help support it through a donation and provide the level of support that works for you!  You choose!

2013 AGU-GIFT Workshop Resources - We've just finished posting the resources made available by scientist-educator teams at the American Geophysical Union's Geophysical Information for Teachers Workshop in December 2013 in San Francisco.  Topics for these presentations included the Next Generation Science Standards and Earth Sciences, Polar Science and Engineering, Climate Change, Sea Level Rise and Ocean Acidification, Sea Floor Sediments, Cratering and Mass Extinctions, and Water Cycle Research.  Don't miss the high-quality resources posted for previous GIFT workshops - links are available on the AGU GIFT Workshop page.

We have a full program coming up at the Boston NSTA, so please be sure to scroll down to see our workshops at the conference.  We also have numerous resources and programs highlighted below - be sure to check them out!

Windows to the Universe Educator Membership Options!
by Roberta

Windows to the Universe is offering new membership options for Windows to the Universe educators that include course webpage support, as well as options for homework and online quizzes.  We will continue to offer Basic Educator Membership (which provides advertising-free access to the website plus additional member benefits), but we are expanding now to offer Silver Educator Membership (Basic Educator Membership supplemented by course webpage support and course login for students) or Gold Educator Membership (with course support including online quizzes and homework upload/download and individual student subscriptions).  We also offer support for classrooms, with or without course support.  For more details, see our Educator Membership Benefits and Services page.

We hope you'll visit the Windows to the Universe web site many times this year, and we hope to see you at one of our sessions at the NSTA National Conference in Boston (see table below).

2014 is a Big Year for Earth Science Missions!

For the first time in more than a decade, five NASA Earth science missions will be launched into space in the same year, opening new and improved remote eyes to monitor our changing planet.  NASA satellites, aircraft, and research help scientists and policymakers find answers to critical challenges facing our planet, including climate change, sea level rise, decreasing availability of fresh water, and extreme weather events.

Here's a sneak peak at the 2014 Earth science missions!

Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) Core Observatory - a joint international project with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).  The mission inaugurates an unprecedented international satellite constellation that will produce the first nearly global observations of rainfall and snowfall.  This new information will help answer questions about our planet's life-sustaining water cycle, and improve water resource management and weather forecasting.  Launch is scheduled for February 27 from Japan.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2 - will make precise, global measurements of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is the largest human-generated contributor to global warming.  Launch is scheduled in July from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA.  

NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) mission - will track Earth's water into one of its last hiding places: the soil.  SMAP will map Earth's soil moisture, and provide precise indications of the soil's freeze-thaw state, to improve understanding of the cycling of water, energy, and carbon.  High-resolution global maps of soil moisture produced from SMAP data will inform water resource management decisions on water availability around our planet.  SMAP data also will aid in predictions of plant growth and agricultural productivity, weather and climate forecasts, and monitoring floods and droughts.  SMAP is scheduled to launch in November from Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA, onboard a Delta II rocket. 

Two Earth science missions will be sent to the International Space Station this year, marking NASA's first use of the orbiting laboratory as a 24/7 Earth-observing platform.

ISS-RapidScat - will extend the data record of ocean winds around the globe, a key factor in climate research and weather forecasting.  ISS-Rapidscat is set to launch on June 6 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.  

The Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) - a technology demonstration mission using three-wavelength lasers to extend satellite observations of small particles in the atmosphere from volcanoes, air pollution, dust, and smoke.  These aerosol particles pose human health risks at ground level and influence global climate through their impact on cloud cover and solar radiation in Earth's atmosphere.  CATS is scheduled to launch on September 12 on a SpaceX ISS commercial resupply flight from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL.

Extreme Winter Weather Continues!

It seems that extreme winter temperatures, winds, and precipitation just won't let up in much of North America!  This has led to travel woes, school and business closings, power outages, cancellation of sports (and other outdoor hobbies), and the very real realization that weather does affect our everyday lives (when have you heard the term polar vortex used so much by news stations and on social media? Teachable moments for sure!).  

It's important to realize that not everywhere in the world is experiencing such extreme winter weather - I've even read of reports of unusually warm conditions in Europe this winter.  And, of course, the southern hemisphere is in the middle of summer!

If you do live in a location experiencing winter right now, we want to remind you about blizzard safety rules.  Winter storms can create dangerous driving conditions and cold temperatures can cause frostbite or hypothermia.  If you live in an area with cold and snowy winters, be on alert for severe weather advisories.  Improperly working furnaces, water heaters, or stoves may cause carbon monoxide poisoning, so make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home.  Remember, it is always best to prepare your car and home for winter storms and extreme cold before they are a concern.

Stay safe and warm, and remember that spring will begin just next month!

2013 Sustains Long-Term Climate Warming Trend

NASA scientists say 2013 was the seventh warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures.  With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the warmest years on record.

NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which analyzes global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated report on January 21, 2014, on temperatures around the globe in 2013.  The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience temperatures warmer than those measured several decades ago.

Scientists emphasize that weather patterns will cause fluctuations in average temperatures from year to year, but the continued increases in greenhouse gas levels in Earth's atmosphere are driving a long-term rise in global temperatures.  Each successive year will not necessarily be warmer than the year before, but with the current level of greenhouse gas emissions, scientists expect each successive decade to be warmer than the previous.

For images related to this study, visit:  http://go.nasa.gov/1ekwJaf

For more information about Earth science at NASA, visit:  http://www.nasa.gov/earth

Herschel Telescope Detects Water on Dwarf Planet Ceres

Scientists using the Herschel space observatory have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt, Ceres.  The results come at the right time for NASA's Dawn mission, which is on its way to Ceres now after spending more than a year orbiting the large asteroid Vesta.  Dawn is scheduled to arrive at Ceres in the spring of 2015, where it will take the closest look ever at its surface.

For the last century, Ceres was known as the largest asteroid in our solar system.  But in 2006, the International Astronomical Union, the governing organization responsible for naming planetary objects, reclassified Ceres as a dwarf planet because of its large size.  When it was first spotted in 1801, astronomers thought it was a planet orbiting between Mars and Jupiter.  Later, other cosmic bodies with similar orbits were found, marking the discovery of our solar system's main belt of asteroids.

Ceres is 590 miles (950 kilometers) in diameter, and scientists believe it contains rock in its interior with a thick mantle of ice that, if melted, would amount to more fresh water than is present on all of Earth.  Until now, ice had been theorized to exist on Ceres but had not been detected conclusively.  It took Herschel's far-infrared vision to see a clear spectral signature of the water vapor.

Ocean Gyres

A gyre is another name for a swirling vortex.  Ocean gyres are large swirling bodies of water that are often on the scale of a whole ocean basin or 1000's of kilometers across (hundreds to thousands of miles across).  They are larger than the whirlpools of water in the ocean called eddies.  Eddies are on the scale of 100 km (60 miles) across and dissipate over a few months.  Ocean gyres dominate the central regions of open ocean and represent the long-term average pattern of ocean surface currents.  Ocean gyres in the Northern hemisphere rotate clockwise and gyres in the Southern hemisphere rotate counter-clockwise due to the Coriolis effect.

The major gyres of the ocean include:  North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific and Indian Ocean gyres.  Many smaller gyres exist too.  One such gyre, the Beaufort gyre in the Arctic Ocean, is featured in the small illustration found to the left.

One of the largest ocean gyres, the North Pacific gyre, is home to an area called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.  This area contains a relatively high concentration of marine litter.  It is estimated to cover an area roughly twice the size of Texas and contain approximately 3 million tons of plastic litter, though much of this plastic is broken up into pieces too small to see with the naked eye.  Although the precise origin of the litter is not known, scientists believe that the Garbage Patch was created gradually as the Northern Pacific Gyre captured foreign material and that material was transported to the center of the gyre by centripetal forces and wind-driven surface currents, creating an area with concentrated litter.

Surface ocean currents, ocean gyres, deep ocean circulation and the atmosphere are all parts of the complex Earth system.  Understanding ocean-atmosphere interactions is a key part of understanding global climate change as well as how different things like water, energy, nutrients or pollutants move through (or get trapped within!) different parts of the Earth system.

Learn More about Cosmic Rays!

Cosmic rays are a type of radiation that comes from space.  They aren't really "rays" at all, but a type of particle radiation.  There are several different types (and corresponding sources) of cosmic rays:  solar cosmic rays, galactic and extragalactic cosmic rays, and anomalous cosmic rays.  Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere shield us from most of this high-energy radiation, though astronauts in space and satellites aren't so lucky.  Future missions to the Moon and Mars will need to take special precautions to protect crews and equipment from cosmic rays.  

Surprisingly, the greatest threat from cosmic rays is not at the time when the Sun is at the most active phase of its 11-year solar cycle.  Radiocarbon dating using carbon-14, with its many applications to archeology and other fields that delve into our past, would not be possible if there were no cosmic rays.  Want to know more about these and other questions?  Click here to delve deeper into the mysteries of cosmic rays!

Celebrate Black History Month!

February is Black History Month.  Celebrate these important people and their culture in your science classroom by taking time to do the Earth Scientist Project with your students.  This is a research, writing and presentation activity where students learn about scientists.  It's also a great activity to use in encouraging teamwork.  Here are some scientists you might want to focus on to celebrate Black History Month:

Evan B. Forde is an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Florida.  He has been an oceanographer since 1973, and was the first black oceanographer to participate in research dives aboard the submersibles ALVIN, JOHNSON SEA LINK, and NEKTON GAMMA.  His current research is aimed at understanding how hurricanes form and intensify, and he also works extensively in science education.

Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan environmental activist, and the founder of the Green Belt Movement, an organization that promotes environmental conservation and community development.  In Kenya, the Green Belt Movement works to organize jobs for poor rural women and promote the planting of new trees to fight deforestation and stop soil erosion.  Dr. Maathai was the first East African woman to earn a PhD in 1971, and for her efforts to protect the environment and the poor of Africa she was awarded the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.  She died of complications arising from ovarian cancer while receiving treatment at a Nairobi hospital on September 25, 2011.

Warren Washington is a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, where he is currently the head of the Climate Change Research Section.  He has been a climate scientist for over 50 years, and has served as a key advisor to many different government agencies.  From 2002-2006, Dr. Washington served as the Chairman of the National Science Board, which helps to oversee the National Science Foundation and advises the President and Congress on scientific matters.  He has won many awards and honors over the course of his career, and is a nationally recognized expert on climate change.

Birthdays in February

Windows to the Universe is celebrating its 19th birthday this month!  We share this birthday month with many prominent scientists.

  • February 8 - Dmitri Mendeleev (1834-1907) - a Russian chemist who created the first version of the periodic table of elements.
  • February 11 - Thomas Edison (1847-1931) - a famous American inventor who patented over a thousand inventions, including the light bulb, phonograph and a motion picture machine.
  • February 12 - Charles Darwin (1809-1882) - English naturalist whose book On the Origin of Species laid the basis for modern evolutionary theory.
  • February 15 - Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) - an Italian physicist, astronomer and philosopher who was called "the father of modern science" by Albert Einstein.  Read more below.
  • February 19 - Nicholas Copernicus (1473-1543) - a Polish astronomer and mathematician who introduced the heliocentric model of the universe.
  • February 25 - Maria Kirch (1670-1720) - a German astronomer who discovered the comet of 1702.
  • February 28 - Linus Pauling (1901-1994) - an American chemist who was awarded a Nobel prize in chemistry for his work in biochemistry and a Nobel peace prize for his efforts to stop nuclear weapons testing.

Galileo's Birthday

February 15th marks the 450th birthday of Galileo Galilei, a famous Italian scientist and philosopher (1564-1642).  Galileo was a true Renaissance man, excelling in many different areas, including lute playing and painting.  He was among the first to apply the scientific method to study natural laws.  Galileo perfected a telescope and used it to make several important astronomical discoveries, including sunspots, craters and peaks on the moon, four satellites of Jupiter (now called Galilean satellites) and phases of Venus.  Galileo also studied laws of motion, falling bodies and projectile motion.

Galileo's support of heliocentrism led to a clash with Catholic church.  In 1633, he was accused of heresy, was forced to recant and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.  Only in 1992 did Pope John Paul II formally acknowledge that the persecution of Galileo was an error.

Join Us at the NSTA National Conference in Boston

Will you be at the NSTA National Conference in Boston this spring (April 3-6, 2014)?  If so, we invite you to participate in one or more of the sessions listed below.  We'd love to see you there!

Date Title Time Location
Friday, April 4 NESTA Session: National Earth Science Teachers Association Geology Share-a-Thon 9:30-10:30am Boston Convention Center and Exhibit Center - Room 052A/B
NESTA Session: National Earth Science Teachers Association Oceans and Atmosphere Share-a-Thon 11:00-12:00pm Boston Convention Center and Exhibit Center - Room 052A/B
NESTA Session: National Earth Science Teachers Association Earth System Science Share-a-Thon 12:30-1:30pm Boston Convention Center and Exhibit Center - Room 052A/B
NESTA Session: It's Elementary! Effective Approaches for Addressing the Earth Science Next Generation Science Standards in the Elementary Classroom 2:00-3:00pm Boston Convention Center and Exhibit Center - Room 052A/B
AGU Lecture / Title TBD 2:00-3:00pm Boston Convention Center and Exhibit Center - Room 210 A/B
NESTA Session: Effective Approaches for Addressing the Next Generation Science Standards in the Earth and Space Science Classroom 3:30-4:30pm Boston Convention Center and Exhibit Center - Room 052A/B
NESTA Friends of Earth Science Reception 6:30-8:00pm Seaport Hotel - Room Seaport C
Saturday, April 5 NESTA Session: National Earth Science Teachers Association Space Science Share-a-Thon 8:00-9:00am Boston Convention Center and Exhibit Center - Room 052A/B
NESTA Session: Effective Strategies for Sharing Climate Change Science and Energy Consumption Implications in the Classroom 9:30-10:30am Boston Convention Center and Exhibit Center - Room 052A/B
NESTA Session: High-Impact Classroom Earth Science in a STEM World 11:00-12:00pm Boston Convention Center and Exhibit Center - Room 052A/B
NESTA Advances in Earth and Space Science Lunchtime Lecture 12:30-1:30pm Boston Convention Center and Exhibit Center - Room 052A/B
NESTA Session: Using Natural Hazards as a Hook in the Earth and Space Science Classroom 2:00-3:00pm Boston Convention Center and Exhibit Center - Room 052A/B
NESTA Session: National Earth Science Teachers Association Rock and Mineral Raffle 3:30-4:30pm Boston Convention Center and Exhibit Center - Room 052A/B
NESTA Annual Member Meeting 5:00-6:00pm Boston Convention Center and Exhibit Center - Room 052A/B

Table of Contents

ES Missions 2014
Extreme Winter
Warming Trend
Water on Ceres
Ocean Gyres
Cosmic Rays
Black History Month
FEB Birthdays
Galileo's Birthday
NSTA in Boston

UNL Program

AMS Summer Workshops
Natl Center Sci Ed
World Wetlands Day
STEM Program-HS Girl
Green Week 2014
Env Ed Grants
2014 Roy Award
Space Tech Grants
NOAA Open House 2014
Env Quality Awards
REEL Sci Contest
Presidential Innovat
Student Des Challeng
Endangered Sp Cont
Green Schools Conf
EE Week 2014
Send Name-Asteroid
ES Week 2014 Connect
GSA Geocorps
For the Birds!
NSF Climate Change
Train Like Astronaut
Free Posters!
ScienceNews Students
Stop the Beetle!
Young Meteorologist
Antarctic Travelers













  Teacher Submissions

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  Sponsored Announcements

Master of Applied Science, Specialization in Science for Educators, by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln

The Master of Applied Science is a 36-credit-hour, non-thesis, graduate degree program.  Eighteen (18) credit hours apply to the Science for Educators specialization.  Courses in this program are offered 100% online, and every course has a uniform approach that shows how, why, and where science fits into the real world and shows applications for curriculum.  Courses integrate science content from previous courses demonstrating how science is connected to everything.  Courses and content are designed around the National Science Education Standards.

This graduate program emphasizes several key areas, including science content inquiry, integration, and application.  Science content inquiry involves acquiring new (or enhanced) science content knowledge and examining science in the context of the world around us.  Science integration involves incorporating science content in an age-appropriate manner and establishing connections between the natural and designed world.  Science application includes linking content to the real world and inspiring students with science in action.

  Announcements from Partners

Click here to submit information about your program to the newsletter

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 http://www.windows2universe.org/offers.html.

AMS Summer Workshops for K-12 Educators - Application Deadlines in March!

The Maury Project

July 6 – 18, 2014 (Application deadline March 14)

The Maury Project is a free professional development workshop for K-12 teachers offered by the American Meteorological Society’s Education Program.  Focused on the physical foundations of oceanography, the two-week workshop is held at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD.  Precollege educators who teach classes with oceanographic content are encouraged to apply and will receive three free graduate credits upon completion of the program.  The workshop is intended to introduce teachers to the physical foundations of selected oceanographic topics, explore ways these concepts can be employed in schools, and prepare workshop attendees to conduct training sessions on learned topics during the next school year.

For more information, please visit:  http://www.ametsoc.org/amsedu/MAURY/summer.html


July 13 – 25, 2014 (Application deadline March 28)

Project ATMOSPHERE is a free teacher professional development program offered by the American Meteorological Society’s Education Program.  Directed toward improving Earth science literacy and teacher effectiveness by generating interest in science, technology, and mathematics among students at precollege levels, the two-week workshop is held at NOAA’s National Weather Service Training Center in Kansas City, MO.  K-12 teachers who teach weather in the classroom are encouraged to apply and will receive three free graduate credits.  The workshop will introduce teachers to the latest technologies and techniques for sensing, analyzing, and forecasting weather, as well as explore ways these concepts can be implemented in classrooms.  Attendees will help promote weather education in their home regions by conducting training sessions in atmospheric science during the following school year.

For more information, please visit:  http://www.ametsoc.org/amsedu/Proj_ATM/projatm.html

The National Center for Science Education

The National Center for Science Education is a non-profit organization that defends the integrity of science education.  NCSE provides information and resources for schools, parents, and concerned citizens working to keep evolution and climate change in formal and informal education, educates the press and the public about the scientific and educational aspects of controversies surrounding the teaching of evolution and climate change, and supplies needed information and advice to defend good science education at local, state, and national levels.

NCSE is affiliated with the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Teachers Association.  NCSE itself is politically non-partisan and religiously neutral; its 5,000 members are scientists, teachers, clergy, and citizens with diverse religious and political views.  Visit NCSE on the web (with its bimonthly journal Reports of the NCSE at http://reports.ncse.com), or on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

World Wetlands Day is February 2

February 2 marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands, an international treaty aimed at preserving wetlands around the world.  Every year on this date, the Ramsar Convention (an organization that coordinates international cooperation in wetland management, named after the city in which the treaty was drafted) promotes a wide variety of activities and materials to help educate people around the world about wetland ecology and management.  This year’s theme is ‘Wetlands and Agriculture,’ highlighting the fact that wetlands are often intimately linked with farming.

For more information about World Wetlands Day and to see posters, handouts, and games that help promote this day, click here.

Application Deadline Approaches for STEM Program for High School Girls

NASA is accepting applications until noon CST Monday, February 3, for its 2014 Women in STEM High School (WISH) Aerospace Scholars program, in which high school junior girls can jump-start their future careers by exploring possibilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Applicants must be female high school juniors who are U.S. citizens, have a cumulative grade point average of 3.25 or higher and show a proficiency in STEM subjects.  They must have access to the Internet and email, be able to commit to the entire 6-month duration of the project and participate in a summer experience at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston.

The participants' online activities will be evaluated by a team of NASA education professionals, who will select approximately 30 students to participate in the on-site summer experience.  Finalists will be notified by June 2014.

WISH participants will chart a course for human exploration of space and engage with NASA female role models.  They also will interact with scientists and engineers who will share their own education and career paths and help mentor the participants.  The WISH project consists of online modules beginning in February, in which students will complete activities in order to qualify for the activities August 3-8 at Johnson, where they will design a mock human mission to Mars.

NASA's Office of Education sponsors WISH Aerospace Scholars and offers it free of charge to the participants.  Questions about WISH may be directed to JSC-NHAS@mail.nasa.gov.

What Week Will You Pick to be Your Green Week?

Green Week is turning 5!  Celebrate by selecting any week from February 3 to April 25, 2014, to be your 'Green Week!'  Choose from the six sustainability themes for preselected lessons and activities that will help you celebrate Green Week (activities are sortable by grade).  

The Green Education Foundation will be hosting multiple contests with an assortment of prizes.  Become a GEF member (it's FREE) to be entered to win!

EPA Seeks Environmental Education Grant Applications

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently accepting applications for environmental education projects under the agency’s Environmental Education Grant Program.  The program works to engage communities across the country through a wide variety of educational projects that have a lasting impact on people’s health by facilitating environmental stewardship.  Projects in the past have engaged students in stream monitoring, created sustainable mentoring communities, and provided professional development to teachers on STEM subjects.

Eligible organizations include local education agencies, colleges or universities, state education or environmental agencies, tribal education agencies, 501(C)(3) nonprofit organizations, and noncommercial educational broadcasting entities working in education. 

This competitive grants program will total $2.77 million.  Each of the ten EPA regional offices will award two or three grants and one or two grants will be awarded from EPA’s headquarters in Washington, DC.  Each award will be an estimated $75,000 to $200,000.  EPA expects to award between 22 and 32 grants nationwide.

For more information about the program and how to apply, click here.  The deadline to apply is February 4, 2014.

Deadline Extended! 2014 Edward C. Roy, Jr. Award for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is extending the deadline for nominations for the Edward C. Roy, Jr. Award for Excellence in Earth Science Teaching.  To be eligible, applications must be postmarked by February 7, 2014.

Each year, this award recognizes one full-time, U.S., K-8 teacher for leadership and innovation in Earth science education.

The winner will receive a $2,500 prize and a travel grant of $1,000 to attend the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) Annual Conference in April 2014 to accept the award.  The National Earth Science Teachers Association will host the 2014 award ceremony at the NSTA Boston Conference.  To be eligible for the 2014 competition, applications must be postmarked by January 10, 2014.

This award is named in honor of Dr. Edward C. Roy, Jr., a past president of AGI, who was a strong and dedicated supporter of Earth science education.  To learn more, visit http://www.agiweb.org/education/awards/ed-roy or view a free, two-minute webcast that provides an overview of the competition.

NASA Offers Space Tech Grants to Early Career University Faculty

NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate is seeking proposals from accredited U.S. universities on behalf of outstanding faculty members who are beginning their independent careers.  The grants will sponsor research in high priority areas of interest to America's space program.

NASA expects to award about five grants this fall, funded up to $200,000 each per year for as many as three years, based on the merit of proposals and availability of funds.  Funded research will investigate unique, disruptive or transformational space technologies in areas such as soft machines for robotic mobility and manipulation, science-based digital materials and manufacturing, and low size, weight, and power lasers.

For information on the solicitation, including specific technology areas of interest and how to submit notices of intent and proposals, click here.

NOAA Open House During Heritage Week 2014

NOAA's Heritage Week will culminate in a NOAA Open House on Saturday, February 15, 2014, from 9am-4pm in Silver Spring, Maryland.  Explore your world and learn how NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) takes the pulse of the planet every day and protects and manages ocean and coastal resources.  

The open house will include a series of free activities, including engaging guest presentations, interactive exhibits, and hands-on activities for ages 5 and up.  Meet and talk with scientists, weather forecasters, hurricane hunter pilots, and others, who work to understand our environment, protect life and property, and conserve and protect natural resources.  Early birds can also take a tour of the NOAA National Weather Service’s Operations Center and the NOAA Exploration Command Center.  

Please join NOAA earlier in the week for a series of free lunchtime presentations at the Gateway to NOAA exhibit on a variety of timely topics.  You'll be amazed by what you learn!

Environmental Quality Awards

Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency honors individuals, businesses and organizations that have contributed significantly to improving the environment and protecting public health in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally recognized Indian Nations.  EPA is now seeking nominations for this annual award (for work done in 2013).  Each winner will be recognized for his or her environmental achievement at an awards ceremony during Earth Week in April 2014.  The Agency is accepting nominations for its Environmental Quality Awards until February 18, 2014.

For award criteria, prior winners and nomination instructions, visit EPA's Environmental Quality Award webpage

For additional information, please contact Chris Sebastian at (212) 637-3597 or sebastian.chris@epa.gov.

NASA’s REEL Science Communication Contest

NASA’s REEL Science Communication Contest invites high school students to try their hand at producing video to help their counterparts in middle school better understand Earth science.

Open to all U.S. residents ages 13 to 18, the new contest asks for a two-minute video on one of the following science concepts:  how ice impacts climate and climate impacts ice; forest fire effects on air quality; or water on the water planet.

Entries are due February 21, 2014.  Winners will have their videos posted on the NASA web site, and will have the opportunity to be a NASA producer, working on a communication project with NASA scientists and communications experts during the month of July 2014.  Enter this contest online.

Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is currently accepting applications for the third annual Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators.  The award recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers and their local education agencies nationwide for excellence in integrating environmental education into their lessons and demonstrating the connection between health and the environment for their students.

Successful applicants demonstrate creativity, innovation, community engagement and leadership as students learn more about civic responsibility and environmental stewardship.  Past winners have increased student participation in local watershed cleanup efforts, created school-wide recycling programs and implemented green land stewardship practices.  Winners went on to use their awards to bring high-tech science equipment into the classroom and expand the number of students on field trips and in labs.

Applicants have until February 28, 2014, to apply for the award under updated criteria released in November.  Up to twenty teachers nationwide will receive award plaques and a financial award of $2,000 to support their professional development in environmental education.  Each teacher’s school will also receive a $2,000 award to help fund environmental education activities and programs that support the teacher.  Winners will also be considered for the National Environmental Education Foundation’s Richard C. Bartlett award, which recognizes outstanding teachers who engage students in interdisciplinary solutions to environmental challenges.

Find out more information about the program and how to apply. 

Student Exploration Design Challenge -- Deadlines Extended!

NASA is extending deadlines for its Exploration Design Challenge, an educational program connected to Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) -- the first mission for NASA's new Orion spacecraft, scheduled to launch in September 2014 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The challenge invites students from kindergarten through 12th grade to research and design proposed solutions to help protect astronauts from space radiation during Orion's future long-duration deep space missions to an asteroid and Mars.  Participating students will analyze different materials that simulate space radiation shielding for human space travelers aboard the Orion spacecraft.  After participating in activities guided by their teachers, students will recommend materials that best block harmful radiation.  Older students can take the challenge a step further by designing a shield to protect a sensor inside Orion from space radiation.

The new deadline for older students to submit designs has been extended to February 28.  The deadline for all students to complete a radiation learning module and fly their names on EFT-1 is now June 30.

Endangered Species Youth Art Contest (March 15) + Endangered Species Day (May 16)

President Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act into law on December 28, 1973.  Our legislators understood that, without protection from human actions, many of our nation's living resources would become extinct.

What are some ways that you can help protect endangered species?  Celebrate Endangered Species Day on May 16, 2014, gain the public's attention by tweeting what the ESA has meant to you (#myESA), or celebrate endangered species by entering the Endangered Species Youth Art Contest (deadline of March 15, 2014).  Of course, preserving wildlife habitats and cleaning up the outdoors where you live goes a long way too!

4th Annual Green Schools National Conference

The Green Schools National Conference examines environmental literacy, energy efficiency, healthier food, eco-friendly purchasing and more.  The 4th annual Green Schools National Conference, set for March 27-29, 2014, in Sacramento, CA, is sponsored by the Green Schools National Network (GSNN) and is focused on "developing healthy and sustainable schools across America."  Regular registration runs through March 20.

The Green Schools National Network advances the national green and healthy schools movement by connecting like-minded and passionate education, non-profit, corporate and public sector individuals and organizations.

NASA in the Classroom - GEN Teacher Workshop in North Dakota

Registration is open for the following Galileo Educator Network Teacher Workshop:

University of North Dakota Campus Skalicky Hall, Room 211

March 28, 2014:  11am – 8pm (UND Observatory 9:30pm – 11pm)

March 29, 2014:  8:30am – 3:30pm

The purpose of this workshop is to help classroom teachers with new and innovative ways to advance science learning with students, through the use of various hands-on activities, NASA content, and astronomy teaching reflecting the Next Generation Science Standards.  Teachers will incorporate these new standards into existing lesson plans, learn new activities presented at the workshop, and investigate the Nature of Science.  The workshop will also include interactive tours of the Spacecraft Simulators and UND Observatory.  Participants should plan to bring a laptop or iPad for online investigations.  Teachers will leave the workshop with a better understanding of space sciences in general, a Hands-on-Universe DVD of astronomy lessons, and ready-made activities for the classroom.  

Meals will be provided.  Travel reimbursement is available to North Dakota teachers.  Participants will receive one Professional Development Credit.  After registering, participants will receive more details by email closer to the dates of the workshop.  This workshop is open to both in-service and pre-service teachers for grades K-12.

For more information, please contact Caitlin Nolby at cnolby@space.edu or 707-777-4856 or visit http://ndspacegrant.und.edu/.

Coming Up - Environmental Education Week 2014

EE Week, sponsored by Samsung, is April 13-19, 2014.  EE Week 2014 will focus on Engineering a Sustainable World

It's not too early to prepare for the celebration of EE Week at your school, workplace or in your community.  

The new EE Week blog provides educators with a forum to interact and engage with experts and their peers on a variety of topics surrounding environmental education and Greening STEM.

NASA Invites Public to Send Names on an Asteroid Mission

NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names to be etched on a microchip aboard a spacecraft headed to the asteroid Bennu in 2016.

The "Messages to Bennu!" microchip will travel to the asteroid aboard the agency's Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft.  The robotic mission will spend more than two years at the 1,760-foot (500-meter)-wide asteroid.  The spacecraft will collect a sample of Bennu's surface and return it to Earth in a sample return capsule.

"We're thrilled to be able to share the OSIRIS-REx adventure with people across the Earth, to Bennu and back," said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator of the OSIRIS-REx mission from the University of Arizona in Tucson.  "It's a great opportunity for people to get engaged with the mission early and join us as we prepare for launch."

Those wishing to participate in "Messages to Bennu!" should submit their name online no later than Sept. 30 at:  http://planetary.org/bennu

After a person submits their name, they will be able to download and print a certificate documenting their participation in the OSIRIS-REx mission.  "You'll be part of humankind's exploration of the solar system - How cool is that?" said Bill Nye, chief executive officer of The Planetary Society, the organization collecting and processing the entries.

Earth Science Week 2014: ‘Earth’s Connected Systems’

AGI is pleased to announce that the theme of Earth Science Week 2014 (October 12-18) will be “Earth’s Connected Systems.”  This year’s event will promote awareness of the dynamic interactions of the planet’s natural systems.

Earth Science Week 2014 learning resources and activities will engage young people and others in exploring the ways that geoscience illuminates natural change processes.  By deepening our understanding of interactions of Earth systems - geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere - Earth science helps us manage our greatest challenges and make the most of vital opportunities.

“With this theme, Earth Science Week cuts to the core of Earth science and what it means to society,” says Geoff Camphire, AGI’s Manager of Outreach.  “The interactions of Earth systems are at the heart of our most critical issues, from energy and the environment to climate change and emerging economic realities.  No matter where we come from or where we’re going, we all need to understand Earth’s connected systems.”

Reaching over 50 million people a year, Earth Science Week offers opportunities to discover the Earth sciences and engage in responsible stewardship of the Earth.  The program is supported by the U.S. Geological Survey; the AAPG Foundation; the National Park Service; NASA; Esri; National Geographic; the Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration; the Geological Society of America; and the American Geophysical Union.  To learn more, go to http://www.earthsciweek.org.

NASA Observatory Selects Educator Teams for 2014 Science Flights

NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, will become a flying classroom for teachers during research flights in the next few months.

Twelve two-person teams have been selected for SOFIA's Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program, representing educators from 10 states.  Each will be paired with a professional astronomer to observe first-hand how airborne infrared astronomy is conducted.  After their flight opportunities, Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors will take what they learn back to their classrooms and into their communities to promote science literacy.

SOFIA is a highly modified Boeing 747SP jetliner fitted with a 100-inch (2.5-meter) effective diameter telescope.  The aircraft flies at altitudes between 39,000 and 45,000 feet (12-14 kilometers), above the water vapor in the Earth's atmosphere, and collects data in the infrared spectrum.

GSA Geocorps

Students are encouraged to apply for the Geological Society of America's GeoCorps America program, which works with the National Park Service, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management to place young geoscientists in paid geoscience-related positions at national parks.  Find out more at http://rock.geosociety.org/g_corps/index.htm.

It's for the Birds!

Citizen scientists - get ready, get set, count!  The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where birds are across the continent.  Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts.  It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event.  It's free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.  The 2014 GBBC will take place February 14-17.  Kids can participate too!

February is also National Bird Feeding Month.  The month recognizes that winter (in the Northern hemisphere) can be a rough time for birds and that February is an ideal time for promoting and enjoying the bird feeding hobby, which is home-based and nature-oriented.  Get started today!

NSF Offers Online Climate Change Resources

For Earth science teachers and students searching for the most up-to-date information on climate change, the National Science Foundation (NSF) now offers a useful web site.

“Our planet’s climate affects - and is affected by - the sky, land, ice, sea, life, and people found on it.  To understand the entire story of climate change,” according to the site, “we must study all of the natural and human systems that contribute to and interact with Earth’s climate system.”

Use the NSF Climate Change site to read an NSF report summarizing the current state of knowledge about climate change, and to access resources dealing with related news, discoveries, statistics, and publications.

NASA Challenges Students to Train Like an Astronaut

An engaging NASA program brings the excitement of space exploration to children learning to live a healthy lifestyle.  Inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiativeNASA's Train Like an Astronaut program aims to increase opportunities both in and out of school for kids to become more physically and mentally active.

The program uses the excitement of space exploration and astronaut training to challenge, inspire and educate kids to set physical fitness goals and practice fitness and proper nutrition.  Kids will explore mission challenges, learn the science behind nutrition and learn to train like an astronaut.

The activities align with National Education Standards that are part of physical education and health curriculum in schools throughout the country.  Teachers can easily modify the activities to create an environment that supports all learners.  No special equipment is required and the activities involve no heavy lifting.  Although designed for 8-12 year olds, the program is for anyone who is curious about space exploration and what it takes to be an astronaut.  Participants simply visit the website, find a favorite exercise and get started.

Free Life of the Forest Posters

Learn about tree rings, seeds, leaves, bark, and needles, and learn how trees eat, drink, and breathe using these colorful posters from the International Paper Learning Center.  Each 16 x 20 inch poster features photos and facts about the topic (e.g., did you know that “happy” trees produce evenly spaced tree rings?) and includes an accompanying handout.  K-6 teachers can order a free poster set or download them directly from the web.

ScienceNews for Students

Why are bees vanishing?  Can you observe a species evolving?  Can lizards learn?  Will the Sun’s cycle stay the same?  What is the oldest galaxy ever found?  Find answers to these questions and delve into more of life's curiosities at ScienceNews for Students.  The site presents timely science stories categorized by subject, along with suggestions for hands-on activities, books, articles, and web resources.

ScienceNews for Students is run by the Society for Science and the Public.

USDA Stop the Beetle Web Site

We have a comprehensive and engaging classroom activity called Changing Planet:  Bark Beetle Outbreaks.  The USDA Stop the Beetle web site has a lot of information available about the Emerald Ash Borer beetle as well.  

USDA even has a kid's corner where students can play a role in helping to protect ash trees.  These creative tools and activities will enable students to learn more about the Emerald Ash Borer beetle (EAB) and protect our precious ash trees — all while having lots of fun.

The Young Meteorologist Program (YMP)

The Young Meteorologist Program (YMP) is an innovative, fun, and informational online game designed to help students learn to prepare for weather-related disasters.  YMP was created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the non-profit organizations American Meteorological Society (AMS) and PLAN!T NOW, as a free resource that can be utilized in classrooms to help students comprehend complex natural phenomena and learn actions they can take to keep themselves and their families safe.

Weather inspires curiosity and awe and impacts every American.  The AMS is distributing this online game to its vast network of U.S. K-12 science teachers, ensuring this resource reaches thousands of AMS-trained science teachers and their students.  Educators can use this activity to supplement general Earth science lessons at their schools.  There is an expanded section for educators available on the Young Meteorologist website that includes lesson plans, related math activities, videos, and discussion pieces ideal for helping teach about weather.

YMP is set up as a five-module game covering natural disasters including hurricanes, lightning, flooding, tornadoes, and winter storms.  Using new media, students follow Owlie, a young owl led by two meteorologists, and Girdie, a wise bird who challenges common misconceptions people have about weather events.  The game is filled with clever rhymes, familiar games, and some math, and is best suited for middle school-aged students.  The entire game takes 1-2 hours to complete, ending with a certificate of completion to share with family and friends.

Geological Travels in Antarctica: Following in the Footsteps of Giants

On January 2, 52 scientists, journalists and tourists were rescued from frozen Antarctic waters, where their ship, the MV Akademik Shokalskiy, had been stuck in ice since December 24th, 2013.  Everyone was safe, but what would make people travel in such perilous conditions to the southernmost part of the planet?  Adventure, history and tremendous scientific research opportunities are what continually draw people to explore the frigid continent.

There, people can see species that exist nowhere else on Earth, can see the remains of ancient supercontinents and can walk in the footsteps of scientific giants like Darwin and Shackleton - experiencing an environment incomprehensible, and far too inhospitable for most.  In the January issue, EARTH Magazine takes you on an expedition to the Antarctic through a geoscientist's eyes.

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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.