March 2012

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements
Windows to the Universe Facebook Group

Bald Eagles
by Roberta

Yesterday, I had a thrill.  I saw a Bald Eagle flying over my neighborhood near Boulder, and then later in the day, I saw a Bald Eagle about 40 miles away by the Denver airport.  What a joy to see!  They are such beautiful and striking birds, with their stunning white head and tail.  I've always felt happy when I see them - not only because they are our national bird in the United States - but also because it reminds me that when we use science to understand what is happening in our environment, and make wise decisions based on this understanding, good things can happen.

I remember, when I was in my teens, the unanticipated impact the widespread use of the pesticide DDT had on the calcium metabolism of birds.  Birds went sterile or they were laying unhealthy eggs.  Eggshells couldn't hold the weight of a brooding parent bird, disallowing incubation.  These factors, plus widespread habitat loss and hunting, resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of Bald Eagles.  Bald eagle population counts in the early 18th century were estimated between 300,000 and 500,000 birds, while only about 400 mating pairs remained in the lower 48 states by the 1950s.

In 1962, biologist Rachel Carson documented the impact of DDT and other pesticides on bird populations (and on other species as well).  As a result of research on this issue, and the work of federal science agencies and environmental groups, Bald Eagles were put on the Endangered Species List in the US in 1967, and in 1972 the use of DDT was banned in the US.  With these regulations in place, the population of Bald Eagles rebounded quickly, with an estimated total population of 100,000 birds in 1980.  Bald Eagles were removed from the Endangered Species List in 1995, and were removed from the US List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife in 2007.  Bald Eagle sightings are now relatively common in the lower 48 states and Alaska.

To me, this is one of the classic examples of how we can use our scientific knowledge, and our understanding of how the Earth system works, to solve problems in society.  Another example is the observed decline in atmospheric chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) levels which are down ~10% since the peak in 1994.  This decline is clearly a result of intense research and scientific consensus on the critical role of these compounds in the formation of the Ozone Hole, which led to an international agreement of the Montreal Protocol in 1989.  Unfortunately, due to the long residence time of CFCs in the atmosphere and their strong catalytic action (each chlorine atom from CFCs can lead to the break up of tens of thousands of ozone molecules before it is removed from the atmosphere), it will still be decades before the ozone levels in the Antarctic and elsewhere are restored.  But we are clearly on the right track, and we are on this track because we agreed on societal action, through policy, based on scientific research and an understanding of the Earth system.

As we approach Earth Day next month, you might want to look at these and other examples of how we can come together and successfully address problems in our environment based on science.

Perspectives on Earth and Space Science Education Blog
by Roberta

Many times, I have found myself thinking about issues in Earth and space science education, and occasionally have thought that it might be good to share these thoughts more widely. Recent experiences involving This American Life have given me the incentive I needed to get started with a blog on Windows to the Universe entitled "Perspectives on Earth and Space Science Education". I thought I'd let you know, in case you are interested in joining the discussion!

February Ends with Tornadoes Tearing through Midwest
by Jennifer

The last week of February has been one of severe weather for many in the Midwest United States.  At least six people were killed by a line of tornadoes that struck places like Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Illinois and Indiana.  The National Weather Service said it was forecasting more tornadoes for this week, including "one or two possibly strong" tornadoes, as well as "damaging wind over parts of the Tennessee Valley to southern Appalachians".  The Red Cross is responding to these Midwest tornadoes and many shelters have been opened in heavily damaged areas.  Our thoughts go out to those in affected areas!

Tornadoes are fairly common during late winter into spring across the southern and central United States.  Our weather section of Windows to the Universe provides information about these conditions, including information about thunderstorms and tornadoes, how tornadoes form, and how meteorologists forecast where and when tornadoes will occur. In addition, our Tornado in a Bottle classroom activity provides a great way to illustrate tornadoes for your students.

2011 AGU-NESTA GIFT Workshop Presentations, Resources, and Videos Available Online!
by Roberta

We're happy to release the presentations, classroom activities, and videos taken during the AGU-NESTA GIFT workshop for K-12 classroom teachers held during the Fall 2011 AGU Meeting in San Francisco, California, on December 5-6. Please click on this Windows to the Universe page to view the workshop listings complete with presentation descriptions, and links to PowerPoint presentations, activities, supplementary materials, and videos. The workshop included presentations and activities on tsunamis, clouds, climate science field campaigns, the Pine Island glacier in Antarctic, and the dangers of airborne volcanic ash. Enjoy these valuable resources, and the accompanying videos!

Earth and Space Science DVDs, Classroom Activities, Kits, and Books on Windows to the Universe Online Store
by Roberta

We have recently added several new educational DVDs on the Windows to the Universe online store. Available DVDs include:

and the following resources from TASA graphics:

In the Windows to the Universe Teacher Resources section, we have many K-12 science activities on a variety of subjects including geology, water, atmospheric science, climate change, life, space weather and magnetism, and science literacy. Most of these activities are now available in PDF format.

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

Want to save time collecting and prepping classroom materials?  We have several classroom activity kits available in our online store for the following popular activities: Glaciers: Then and Now, Traveling Nitrogen Game, CO2: How Much Do You Spew?, and Feeling the Heat - Part 2. Most activity kits are available in a variety of sizes to fit your classroom needs.

Finally, we recently added several new titles to our collection of Earth and space science related books.  New titles include:

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

Sea Level Change Activities
by Jennifer

Global climate change does not just alter Earth's temperature, it also changes the sea level. Do your students know why? Several of our classroom activities help build student understanding of sea level change - past and present. Combine Mapping Ancient Coastlines with Thermal Expansion and Sea Level Rise to teach that sea level change is no day at the beach (or perhaps it is!?). These lessons address middle school standards such as properties of Earth materials, structure of the Earth system, and Earth history (Content Standard D), and they develop map reading skills (National Geography Standard 1). As an extension, have students devise models to test whether melting glaciers or melting sea ice affect sea level (glaciers do and sea ice does not!).  To learn even more about indicators of climate change, explore the Changing Planet topics below.

Changing Planet Classroom Activities: Indicators of Climate Change
by Jennifer

When we look around us, we can see that our planet's climate is changing rapidly. The National Earth Science Teachers Association and Windows to the Universe together with NBC Learn and the National Science Foundation have developed 17 classroom activities that explore the impact that climate change is having on our planet. The resources developed are complete with science background and offer many hands-on activities for the secondary level.  Access the Changing Planet Menu to see all 17 Activities.  Some highlights include:  Fading Corals, Rising Ocean Temperatures - Rising Sea Levels, Withering Plants - Stressing Over Lost Water, The Warming of Our Large Lakes - Reasons for Concern, and Fresh Water in the Arctic - The Case of the Leaky Gyre, Infectious Diseases and Disappearing Lizards!

Solar Cycle Update
by Jennifer

Solar Minimum occurred in December 2008.  The current solar cycle, cycle 24, will peak around May 2013 with an estimated sunspot number of 90.  This sunspot number is definitely below average, and in fact, represents the smallest sunspot number for Solar Maximum in about 100 years.  Of course, a lower than average sunspot number during Solar Maximum doesn't mean that solar events or space weather can't occur.  In fact, as recently as January 2012, Delta Airlines redirected six flights flying over the North Pole, because of concern of solar storms on the Sun.

That's why predicting sunspot numbers is so important.  According to the Marshall Space Flight Center, "Predicting the behavior of a sunspot cycle is fairly reliable once the cycle is well underway (about 3 years after the minimum in sunspot number occurs [see Hathaway, Wilson, and Reichmann Solar Physics151, 177 (1994)]). Prior to that time the predictions are less reliable but nonetheless equally as important. Planning for satellite orbits and space missions often require knowledge of solar activity levels years in advance."

Explore these topics more using our comprehensive Space Weather section on Windows to the Universe and our classroom Activities about the Sun and Space Weather.

Space Weather Causes Electrical Blackout
by Jennifer

How's the weather in your neck of the woods? Twenty three years ago, in March 1989, the SPACE weather was quite stormy over eastern Canada. Ground-induced currents generated by geomagnetic storms in the upper atmosphere forced their way onto electrical transmission lines with disastrous results. The DC electricity induced by the space weather storm didn't mix well with the voltage transformers used throughout the electrical grid, which are built for AC electricity. Many transformers overheated and failed (some even caught on fire and melted down!), and 6 million people lost power for 9 hours or longer. And you thought your weather was bad!

Check out our complete section on the effects of space weather on electrical power systems!

Virtual Magnetic Fields
by Jennifer

Have you ever sprinkled iron filings over a magnet to demonstrate magnetic fields to your students? If you would like to supplement that hands-on demonstration with some computer-based activities, or can't manage to do the "real world" version, we have some resources you might be interested in. Check out the virtual version of the "bar magnet and iron filings" demonstration on Windows to the Universe. We also have some related Flash-based magnetism interactives, including: Bar Magnet & Compass, Earth's Magnetic Field, and Earth's North Magnetic Pole. Finally, we have a simple, inexpensive, hands-on activity that guides students through building a basic magnetometer that they can use to further explore the mysteries of magnetism. We hope you find these resources helpful!

Climate Change Education Controversy
by Roberta

A firestorm of controversy has recently erupted online about a reported attempt to develop climate change educational materials for the K-12 classroom which intentionally emphasize uncertainty about whether climate is changing, sowing doubt in order to change the way educators teach about this important topic.  The organization in question has issued a press release stating that some of their internal documents were stolen.  They also suggested that one document attributed to them was fake, and that other documents may have been altered.  Since then, the person making the original post has apologized for a serious lapse in judgment, in that he apparently misrepresented himself to the organization in order to get copies of their internal documents, which the organization provided to him.  Several articles have pointed out the parallel with the experience a few years ago in "Climate-Gate", in which thousands of scientists' emails were stolen.  After much examination and many inquiries by numerous scientific bodies, the climate scientists in question were eventually exonerated.

What a mess!

How about we just focus on the science?  We can see in the environment around us the widespread retreat of land glaciers globally.  We can measure the fact that temperatures are rising - and that the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since 2000.  We can observe the shrinking and thinning of the Arctic Ice Cap.  We can measure the fact that atmospheric CO2 levels have increased by 23% since 1958, from about 318 ppm to 393 ppm today.  We can see that the isotopic signature of atmospheric CO2 is changing gradually toward one reflecting a larger component of a fossil fuel source for carbon.  And finally, we know from simple physics that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which will have predictable impact on the world around us.

The problem is not, and really should not be the science - the evidence is overwhelming.  The problem is - what do we do about it?  As I mentioned above, regarding Bald Eagles, it is possible for us to come together - understand the science, and agree on scientifically-based policy solutions that take into account economic, societal, and environmental concerns - the three pillars of human well-being.  Getting there will surely be easier if we all remember to treat each other the way we would like to be treated, with civility and respect.

Atmospheric Optics
by Jennifer

Have you ever looked up in the sky and noticed something colorful or unique and you didn't know what it was? Our atmospheric optics page introduces you to some of these phenomena. Atmospheric optics show us how light behaves as it passes through the atmosphere. To learn more, you can check out the photo album of atmospheric optics. There you'll find information and beautiful images of rainbows, aurora borealis, crepuscular rays and more.

If you're interested in seeing more images from the Earth and space sciences, please visit the Windows to the Universe Image Galleries.

Emmy Noether's Birthday
by Julia

March marks the 140th birthday of Emmy Noether, a German mathematician well known for her contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics, including important contributions to the general relativity theory. She was described by Einstein and others as the most important woman in the history of mathematics.

She was born to a Jewish family in Erlangen, Germany, on March 23, 1882. Her father was also a mathematician. She became one of only two women students at the University of Erlangen. Being a woman, she was only allowed to audit courses and was required to get her professors' permission for even that. When the University finally allowed women to formally enroll, she defended her PhD thesis, and afterwards worked at the Mathematical Institute of Erlangen (without pay!) for seven years.

In 1915, she was invited to the University of Gottingen by great mathematicians David Hilbert and Felix Klein. However, some faculty objected, and she taught under Hilbert's name as his "assistant" for several more years before she finally started receiving pay for her work.

In 1933, the Nazi government dismissed all Jews from university positions, and Noether moved to the United States, where she taught at the Bryn Mawr College till her death in 1935.

Women Astronauts
by Julia

March is Women's History Month.  Women astronauts have played such an important role in space travel.  Here are some highlights:

  • Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space when she flew aboard Soviet spaceship Vostok 6 in 1963.
  • Sally Ride was the first American woman in space. She flew aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1983.
  • Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to walk in space in 1984.
  • Judith Resnik was the second American woman to go into space. She was killed in the explosion of Shuttle Challenger in 1986.
  • Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman in space (1992).
  • Eileen Collins became the first woman pilot of the Space Shuttle in 1995.

Other U.S. and international women astronauts include: Ellen Baker, Roberta Bondar, Tracy Caldwell, Kalpana Chawla, Mary Cleave, Catherine Coleman, Nancy Currie, Jan Davis, Bonnie Dunbar, Anna Fisher, Linda Godwin, Susan Helms, Kathryn Hire, Marsha Ivins, Tamara Jernigan, Janet Kavandi, Susan Kilrain, Elena Kondakova, Wendy Lawrence, Shannon Lucid, Sandra Magnus, Christa McAuliffe, Pamela Melroy, Barbara Morgan, Lisa Nowak, Ellen Ochoa, Julie Payette, Rhea Seddon, Helen Sharman, Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, Kathryn Sullivan, Kathryn Thornton, Janice Voss, Mary Weber, Peggy Whitson, Suni Williams, Stephanie Wilson

The Lorax Returns!
by Jennifer

The Lorax movie released on March 2nd.  Have you seen it?  Chances are, many of your students will!  The Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax, has sold more than 1.6 million copies and is ranked by educators as one of the top 20 books for children.  The cleverly rhymed book shows how important it is to protect our natural resources, and is of course, illustrated in the classic Seuss style. has created a special area for Lorax resources at The Lorax project.  There's even a page on how to host a Lorax project Earth Day Event.  Project Learning Tree also has some great Lorax classroom activities posted.  Finally, to get in a truly green (or orange!) mood, you can send a Lorax e-card to your friends.

Of course, the Lorax isn't the first children's movie with an environmental theme.  Have you seen Ferngully, Happy Feet One and Two, Dolphin Tale or Big Miracle?  These movies might just be the inspiration your students need to be more engaged and active in caring for the environment.

Playing with Ecosystem Science
by Jennifer

Teaching through games that model the living components and nutrient cycles of ecosystems allows students to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the delicate balance that is needed for ecosystems to thrive. Plus, bringing games into the classroom is just plain fun!

Windows to the Universe includes a number of games in our classroom activities that encourage students to explore what it takes for ecosystems to remain in balance. Explore these games and get your students playing!

Vernal Equinox is Coming March 20th
by Roberta

As Spring approaches in the northern hemisphere, it's a great time to discuss the reason for the seasons. This year, the Vernal Equinox will occur on March 20th at 5:14 Greenwich Mean Time.  While the vernal equinox corresponds to the beginning of Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, it marks the beginning of Fall in the Southern Hemisphere.

The tilt of Earth's rotational axis and the Earth's orbit work together to create the seasons. As the Earth travels around the Sun, it remains tipped in the same direction, towards the star Polaris.

At the equinoxes, the Earth is neither tilted directly towards nor directly away from the Sun. In other words, both hemispheres receive roughly equal amounts of sunlight. Equinoxes mark the seasons of spring and autumn and are a transition between the two more extreme seasons, summer and winter.

NESTA and Windows to the Universe Sessions at NSTA in Indianapolis
by Jennifer

We are happy to announce our events for the NSTA in Indianapolis this coming March. If you plan to be at the NSTA conference, please join us at the following sessions:


Date Title Time Location

Wednesday, March 28

NESTA Field Trip: From Glacial Till to Minerals that Thrill! (Buy tickets online!)
8am-5pm Indianapolis, IN

Thursday, March 29

NESTA Board of Directors Meeting
8:00am-noon Westin Indianapolis, Senate 3
NESTA Half Day Field Trip: Sampling Midwest Geology (Buy tickets online!)
1:00-5:00pm Indianapolis, IN
Friday, March 30 NESTA Geology Share-a-Thon
9:30-10:30am Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
NESTA Atmospheres, Oceans, and Climate Change Share-a-Thon
11:00am-noon Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
NESTA Earth System Science Share-a-Thon
12:30-1:30pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
Drama in "Near Earth" Space: The Sun, Space Weather, and Earth's Magnetic Field as We Approach Solar Maximum!
2:00-3:00pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 3
Earth and Space Science Education Today in K–12: Status and Trends at the State and National Levels
3:30-4:30pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
Friends of Earth and Space Science Reception
6:30-8:00pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 1
Saturday, March 31 Activities Across the Earth System
8:00-9:00am Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
Strategies for Teaching About Charged Topics in the Earth Science Classroom
9:30-10:30am Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
NESTA Earth and Space Science Educator Luncheon: Dust in the Wind - The Geological Record of Ancient Atmospheric Circulation (Buy tickets online!)
11:30am-1:00pm Westin Indianapolis, State
NESTA Astronomy, Space Science, and Planetology Share-a-Thon
2:00-3:00pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
Our Changing Planet
2:00-3:00pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 3
NESTA Rock and Mineral Raffle
3:30-5:00pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5
NESTA Annual Membership Meeting
5:30-7:00pm Westin Indianapolis, Grand Ballroom 5

It's Not Too Late to Sign Up for Share-a-Thons in Indianapolis!
by Jennifer

As you can see from looking through our session listings above, the National Earth Science Teachers Association will be very involved at the National NSTA conference in Indianapolis.  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 will host four Share-a-Thon sessions at the NSTA Indianapolis. Whether you are a NESTA member or not, you can present at those Share-a-Thon sessions.  It's not too late to sign up to be a presenter or a volunteer!

This is a fun opportunity to share your activities at a national conference and simultaneously have a chance to meet an extended group of colleagues. For people who are first-time presenters, this is an easy way to get some experience.

Not ready to share an activity? We also need volunteers to help behind-the-scenes. We need volunteers to check in presenters, greet attendees, make packets, and just generally help out. Each volunteer gets a complete set of Share-a-Thon materials.

If you are interested in being a part of a NESTA share-a-thon this March, please email our share-a-thon coordinator, Michelle Harris ( Share-a-thon presenters will need to register for the NSTA meeting, provide complete name and address, and return a confirmation form in order to participate in the event (confirmation forms will be sent out after you have signed up with Michelle). If you have any other questions, please email Michelle for more details.

Table of Contents

Tornadoes Midwest
GIFT Workshops
DVDs, Kits, Books
Sea Level Activities
CP Class Activities
Solar Cycle Update
Virtual Magnets
Atmospheric Optics
Emmy Noether
Women Astronauts
Lorax Returns!
Ecosystem Games
Vernal Equinox
Indy Share-Thons

Free Resources
USGS ES Education
DOE Education
Hurricane Webinars
Tsunami Debris!
Climate Change DVD
Facebook Science
AGU Blogosphere
Climate Change Tool
Energy Lab Program
Budburst Spring
WWC New Reports
Chasing Ice
Sea Turtles
3rd Rock Radio
Bowling Supply Grant
Ground Water Aware
Lamont Summer Prog
World Water Day
Earth Hour 2012
EE Week in April
Thacher Env Contest
Science/Engin Expo















Teacher Submissions

Click here to submit your ideas to the newsletter

Announcements from Partners

Click here to submit information about your program to the newsletter

NSTA Provides Links to Free Science Resources

Looking for teaching resources? Check out a page called "Freebies for Science Teachers" on the National Science Teachers Association web site.

Updated periodically, this searchable “array of free resources for you and your classroom” features publications, CD-ROMs, DVDs, videos, kits, and other free materials for science education. Take a look at

Dig Into Earth Science Education With USGS

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) offers a wealth of information on virtually every Earth science topic, from natural resources and hazards to geospatial data.

The USGS education web site ( includes lesson plans and other resources for K-12 students, educators, and others. For example, GIS Lab focuses on using Geographic Information Systems to teach spatial analysis, and GPS Class provides lessons on Global Positioning Systems in education.

USGS has thousands of free images and over 69,000 searchable publications such as maps, books, and charts online. If what you’re looking for still proves elusive, just “ask a geologist” ( And don’t forget to check out the USGS podcast series, CoreCast, featuring stories and insights on climate change, satellite monitoring, human health, wildlife disease, and more. To listen, go to

Energy Department Programs Empowering Teachers

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), provides learning opportunities for teachers and students at all levels. For example, DOE’s Energy Education & Workforce Development web site offers hundreds of K-12 lesson plans.  For standards-based activities covering topics from energy basics to biofuels, hydropower, and wind energy, see The annual National Science Bowl ( tests middle and high school students’ science knowledge.

With laboratories across the country, DOE scientists and instruments offer valuable resources for geoscience education. DOE programs for educators include the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship, in which teachers work for a year in a congressional office or federal agency to improve science education. For more on teacher programs, visit

America's WILD Read - Burning Rivers

Whether you are a nature enthusiast, book lover, young conservationist, student, teacher, or writer, you are invited to participate in America's WILD READ community discussion. This blog is provided to you by the Friends of the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) in partnership with the NCTC Conservation Library. All are welcome!

A new discussion began in February with moderator Dr. John Hartig, author of Burning Rivers: Revival of Four Urban-Industrial Rivers That Caught Fire.  Conversations will focus on "Urban Conservation" and John will post his thoughts and converse with you.  Join in the discussion today!

Hurricanes: Science and Society Webinars

Hurricanes: Science and Society ( will be hosting a webinar series in the spring of 2012. The webinar series will provide participants with an opportunity to "meet" some of the country’s top hurricane scientists and introduce a range of hurricane topics from the basics of hurricane science to advances in forecasting hurricanes to preparing for an approaching hurricane. Each of the one hour webinars will have leading members of the hurricane research and forecasting fields discussing their research and answering questions from the "audience."

The next webinar is March 13, 2012.  Webinar attendees must register in order to participate.  Registration information, a full list of webinar topics, speakers, and additional information can be found at: Questions? Please contact Holly Morin at

The 2012 Hurricanes: Science and Society Webinar Series is presented by the University of Rhode Island, Graduate School of Oceanography in partnership with the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE), and the National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Be on the Lookout for Debris from the Japanese Tsunami!

According to predictions by NOAA scientists, debris from the tsunami that devastated Japan could reach the United States as early as this winter. However, there is still a large amount of uncertainty over exactly what is still floating, where it is located, where it will go, and when it will arrive.

Information on significant marine debris sightings in the North Pacific Ocean and on the United States western coast is greatly needed and can be reported to the NOAA Marine Debris Program at Educators who might be interested in taking students into the field to conduct surveys should send an email to to receive a shoreline monitoring field guide. Additional FAQs are available at

Understanding Global Climate Change DVD from the Byrd Polar Research Center

The Understanding Global Climate Change DVD that covers the basics of climate change (developed by teachers and used in online professional development for those in careers outside of education) is downloadable (and free) in both English and Spanish from Byrd Polar's website (direct links below).

Understanding Global Climate Change DVD 2011 (English Version - 3.5GB)

Understanding Global Climate Change DVD 2011 (Spanish Version - 3.5GB)

The instructions to burn a DVD (if you'd like to make a physical copy of the DVD for distribution) are available.  It's recommended that users work from a downloaded version (resident on each computer) where possible. This is especially important for groups - to avoid server slowdowns.

Windows to the Universe on Facebook + Space Race Blastoff

Did you know that Windows to the Universe is on Facebook?  "Like" the group's page to follow the latest Windows to the Universe happenings and to participate in a wonderful science education community.

NASA has also launched a new endeavor on Facebook - its first multi-player online game to test players' knowledge of the space program. Who was the first American to walk in space? Who launched the first liquid-fueled rocket? These are only a few of the questions players can answer in Space Race Blastoff. Enjoy!

AGU's Blogosphere

Did you know that the American Geophysical Union hosts a collection of Earth and space science blogs?  Explore topics like extreme weather, landslides, volcanoes, astronomy, earthquakes and climate change.  And, of course, you and your students can join in discussions about these topics!

EPA Offers Climate Change Toolkit for Middle School Students

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a free collection of resources to enhance middle school students’ understanding of climate change impacts on the United States’ wildlife and ecosystems.

“Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlands: A Toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators” contains case studies, activities, and videos based on climate science, environmental education, and stewardship information. The toolkit is available online at For more information, see

Energy Lab Program Open to Secondary Schools

American middle schools and high schools are now eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Laboratory Equipment Donation Program (LEDP). For over 30 years, this program has enabled colleges and universities to acquire hundreds of millions of dollars in high-quality surplus laboratory equipment from the department’s National Laboratories.

The listing of free equipment available through LEDP is updated periodically, as new equipment is identified. It is made available for a limited time on a first-received application, first-qualified basis.

The Department of Energy invites schools to acquire equipment by reviewing the list and completing an electronic application at the LEDP web site (

Project Budburst - Timing is Everything!

Project Budburst is a network of people across the United States that monitors plants as the seasons change. They are a national field campaign designed to engage the public in the collection of important ecological data based on the timing of leafing, flowering, and fruiting of plants (plant phenophases). Project BudBurst participants make careful observations of these plant phenophases. The data are being collected in a consistent manner across the country so that scientists can use the data to learn more about the responsiveness of individual plant species to changes in climate locally, regionally, and nationally. Project BudBurst began in 2007.  Since then, thousands of people from all 50 states have participated.

Data is being collected now!  It's free to participate and Project Budburst is open to people of all ages and abilities.

New Reports from the What Works Clearinghouse on Interventions for Science Education

What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) released two reports recently on interventions for science education. The reports are available through the following links and there is a reference fact sheet for further information.

Chemistry That Applies:


Chasing Ice Premiere

"Chasing Ice" - a documentary film about one photographer's journey from a single magazine shoot to a five-year project recording climate change's impact on glaciers - premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Photographer and AGU member James Balog, the subject of the film, stopped by AGU headquarters in Washington, D.C., to share his tips for scientist-communicators. Watch the video interview on The Plainspoken Scientist:

Sea Turtles and the Quest to Nest

Sea Turtles and the Quest to Nest, a game developed by NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Ocean Service, is designed to help students understand how they can help protect turtles and their habitats. The game takes place in the southeastern United States. Students are introduced to all of the people and animals that play a role in the life of loggerhead turtles.

For more educational games created by NOAA, see

Third Rock Radio

Did you know you could listen to NASA's Third Rock Radio on your iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad or Android?

"Now you can listen to great music in the same app that still provides all of NASA's amazing content wherever you are," said Jerry Colen, NASA App project manager at NASA's Ames Research Center.

Try out the NASA app and listen to the Third Rock station.

$100,000 Bowling To Teachers Classroom Supply Grant Program

Applications are now being accepted for the $100,000 Bowling To Teachers Classroom Supply Grant Program.  If you are a teacher, have a teacher in your family or if you LOVE your child's teacher, please take advantage of this great opportunity.

400 ($250) classroom grants will be given to teachers in an effort to help them offset their out-of-pocket school expenses.  Starting in March, 80 grants will be awarded monthly.  

Get all of the details by visiting  If you're interested, just complete the short application.

National Ground Water Awareness Week, March 11-17

Ground Water Awareness Week (March 11-17, 2012) will shed light on one of the world’s most important resources - ground water. Ground water is essential to the health and well being of humanity and the environment, according to the National Ground Water Association.

To learn more about Ground Water Awareness Week, visit the Virtual Museum of Ground Water History ( or watch a “water well show” ( For additional educational activities and resources, see

Lamont Summer Intern Program

Targeting young people with an interest in conducting research in the Earth or ocean sciences, Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Summer Intern Program offers students the opportunity to experience scientific research as an undergraduate. The program is open to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who have completed their junior or sophomore year in college with majors in Earth science, environmental science, chemistry, biology, physics, mathematics, or engineering.

Students receive free housing, public transportation and a stipend of $5,000 for this 10-week program. The application form must be submitted by March 15, 2012. For the online application form, see For more information, see

World Water Day 2012 is March 22

International World Water Day is held annually on March 22nd as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

Each year, World Water Day highlights a different aspect of freshwater. The objective of World Water Day 2012 is to focus international attention on "Water and Food Security".  Do you know how much water you consume every day?  Do you know how you can change your diet to reduce your water footprint?  With almost 7 billion people on Earth who need food and water daily, these are not trivial questions.  Find out more on the World Water Day web site or at a Worldwide event.  There is even a new World Water Day Game available for use in your classroom.

Turn Off Your Lights for Earth Hour! (March 31, 2012)

During Earth Hour, hundreds of millions of people, organizations, corporations and governments around the world will come together to make a bold statement about their concern for climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour. The movement shows that by working together, individuals can make a positive impact. To participate, turn off your lights on March 31st at 8:30 p.m. local time. After participating in Earth Hour 2012, think about the next steps you can take to make our planet healthier for everyone. Together our actions add up!

For more information about the science of Earth's climate system, visit the Climate and Global Change section of Windows to the Universe. There you will find information about the science of climate, the impact of climate change on the Earth systemclimates of the past, and climate modeling.  Also, look through our suite of classroom activities that allow students to explore aspects of climate science.

National Environmental Education Week is April 15-21, 2012

National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) is April 15-21, 2012. Celebrate the environment as an engaging context for teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concepts and skills.  This year's theme is Greening STEM: The Environment as Inspiration for 21st Century Learning.

Those who register for EE Week 2012 will have access to a free educator webinar, planning toolkits and several other perks (including discounts, giveaways and special offers).

2012 Thacher Environmental Research Contest

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 2012 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. $3,500 in cash awards are available.

Eligible geospatial tools and data include satellite remote sensing, aerial photography, geographic information systems (GIS) and Global Positioning System (GPS). The main focus of the project must be on the application of the geospatial tool(s) or data to study a problem related to Earth's environment.

Entries are due April 16, 2012.

USA Science & Engineering Expo to Include Career Focus

Do you know a young person who is uncertain about their career choices? Inspiration and information will be in great supply at the USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo hosted by Lockheed Martin on April 28-29, 2012, in Washington, D.C. The event supports the Earth Science Week 2012 theme of “Discovering Careers in the Earth Sciences.”

“The USA Science & Engineering Festival is custom-built to help you check out the amazing variety of jobs in the science, technology, engineering and math fields that you may not have heard of before,” says Geoff Camphire, Earth Science Week program manager. “One of the focuses of the festival is to impress upon students and their families the many exciting career opportunities available with the best job prospects for the future in Earth science.”

The festival’s Career Pavilion - where students can see STEM in action - will be filled with exciting experiences, including the opportunity to explore tomorrow’s hot careers in areas such as renewable energy, space tourism, clean technology, education, and many other exciting fields.  To find out more, visit the festival web site at

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