March 2014

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements
Windows to the Universe Facebook Group

Come on Spring!
by Roberta

As many of us are suffering through one of the coldest winters in recent history, I'm sure many are eagerly looking forward to spring!  Come on spring!  This winter is too much! 

As always, though, it's all about location, location, location.  While this winter has been particularly severe in the Northeast of the United States, NOAA has recently released data that shows that overall, January was the 4th warmest on record globally.  According to that report, "Most areas of the world experienced warmer-than-average monthly temperatures, with the most notable warmth across Alaska, western Canada, southern Greenland, south-central Russia, Mongolia, and northern China.  Parts of southeastern Brazil and central and southern Africa experienced record warmth, contributing to the warmest January.  Southern Hemisphere land temperature departure was on record at 2.03°F (1.13°C) above the 20th century average.  Temperature departures were below the long-term average across the eastern half of the contiguous U.S, Mexico, and much of Russia".

On the other hand, the population of the United States is skewed to the parts of the country where it has been cold, so our individual perceptions of reality may differ from what global data tells us.  I'm sure that those of us teaching about climate change in coming months will be struggling with this apparent dichotomy.  We offer a suite of classroom activities to help you teach about the atmosphere, weather, and climate as well as extensive content sections on the website on the atmosphere, weather, and climate

If you will be able to join us at NSTA this spring in Boston, don't miss our events addressing these topics, including the NESTA Climate, Atmosphere and Ocean Share-a-Thon, the NESTA Earth System Science Share-a-Thon, our workshop "Effective Strategies for Sharing Climate Change Science and Energy Consumption Implications in the Classroom", and the NESTA Lunchtime Lecture offered by Dr. Tamara Ledley entitled "The CLEAN Collection – Reviewed Climate And Energy Teaching Resources To Enhance Teaching".  Our full schedule of events is available here

Please note that there has been an important change in our plans - we will be holding the NESTA Friends of Earth Science Reception on Friday, April 4th from 6:30-7:00pm at the Boston Museum of Science - providing a great opportunity for teachers to enjoy free entry to the museum, and the wonderful displays they have there, while also taking a moment to enjoy community with fellow Earth and space science educators.  See this link for more details, and scroll down on that page for info about the NESTA reception.  Looking forward to seeing you there!  

Help Support the Windows to the Universe Earth and Space Science Education Newsletter

If this newsletter is useful to you, please consider a charitable contribution to the Windows to the Universe project at the National Earth Science Teachers Association Producing this free newsletter alone costs about $1500 each month! 

Thanks to donations by dozens of individuals, we received $695 in support of the newsletter in December of 2013, and an additional $25 in January 2014.  Your support helps ensure that we can keep bringing this newsletter to you at no cost.  If everyone that subscribes to this newsletter donated just $5, our newsletter production costs would be covered for the entire year!  Better yet, become an Educator Member, and get access to all the resources and services available through Windows to the Universe - without advertising, too! 

NASA's Kepler Mission Announces a Planet Bonanza, 715 New Worlds!

NASA's Kepler mission announced February 26th the discovery of 715 new planets.  These newly-verified worlds orbit 305 stars, revealing multiple-planet systems much like our own solar system.  Nearly 95 percent of these planets are smaller than Neptune.  This discovery marks a significant increase in the number of known small-sized planets more akin to Earth than previously identified exoplanets (planets outside our solar system).

Four of these new planets are less than 2.5 times the size of Earth and orbit in their sun's habitable zone, defined as the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet may be suitable for life-giving liquid water.  One of these new habitable zone planets, called Kepler-296f, orbits a star half the size and 5 percent as bright as our sun.  Kepler-296f is twice the size of Earth, but scientists do not know whether the planet is a gaseous world, with a thick hydrogen-helium envelope, or it is a water world surrounded by a deep ocean.

This latest discovery brings the confirmed count of planets outside our solar system to nearly 1,700.  As we continue to reach toward the stars, each discovery brings us one step closer to a more accurate understanding of our place in the galaxy.

Longest Serving Martian Spacecraft

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has tweaked its orbit to help scientists make the first systematic observations of how morning fogs, clouds, and surface frost develop in different seasons on the Red Planet.  The change will enable observation of changing ground temperatures after sunrise and after sunset on Mars.  Those observations could yield insight about the composition of the ground and about temperature-driven processes, such as warm-season flows observed on some slopes, and geysers fed by spring thawing of carbon-dioxide ice near Mars' poles.

Neither Odyssey nor any other NASA Mars orbiter since the 1970's has flown a consistent orbital pattern with a view of the ground in morning daylight.  Earlier NASA orbiters and the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter have provided some tantalizing views of morning mists on Mars, but these were just glimpses as the orbiters were really concentrating on afternoon observation times when views of the surface are less hazy.

Odyssey was launched in 2001 and began its science mission 12 years ago this month.  It is the longest-working spacecraft ever sent to Mars.  In addition to conducting its own observations, Odyssey serves as an important communications relay for spacecraft on Mars' surface.

For more about the Mars Odyssey mission, visit:

Spring! The Reason for the Seasons

It has been a very long and eventful winter for many in the Northern Hemisphere.  As spring approaches, it's a great time to discuss the reason for the seasons.  The official first day of spring this year in the Northern Hemisphere will be March 20, 2014.  Celebrate the end of a long winter by going outside and enjoying the great outdoors!

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.

While the vernal equinox corresponds to the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, it marks the beginning of fall in the Southern Hemisphere.  This is a great thing to note with your students.  As you know, seasons are an area where many misconceptions lie (especially concerning the reason for the seasons!).

Atmospheric Optics

Have you ever looked up in the sky and noticed something colorful or unique and you didn't know what it was?  We have a page on atmospheric optics that introduces you to some of these phenomena.  Atmospheric optics shows 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.

Virtual Magnetic Fields

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.  We have a 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 attractive!

Stormwater Calculator

Every community is affected by stormwater (high quantities of surface water that result from precipitation or snow melt).  The EPA has released an updated Stormwater Calculator that takes into account climate models when you calculate stormwater runoff amounts where you live.  Property managers, communities, and home owners can enter any U.S. location and select different scenarios to learn how specific green infrastructure changes, including inexpensive changes such as rain barrels or rain gardens, can reduce runoff.

Safety During Severe Winter Weather

A note from the EPA:

Always run generators outdoors.  Generator exhaust is toxic.  Always put generators outside well away from doors, windows, and vents.  Carbon monoxide (CO) is deadly, can build up quickly, and linger for hours.  Find out more about winter safety and environmentally friendly practices that can be implemented during severe winter weather at

Women in Science

March is Women's History Month.  Read about notable women scientists on Windows to the Universe:

  • En Hedu' Anna- the first female name to be recorded in technical history.  She was a priestess in Babylon and, along with other priests, contributed to early astronomy and mathematics.
  • Hypatia (370-415) - an Egyptian mathematician and philosopher.  She was killed due to her teachings, which were considered pagan.
  • Maria Winkelmann Kirch (1670-1720) - a German astronomer.
  • Nicole-Reine Lepaute (1723-1788) - a French astronomer.
  • Caroline Herschel (1750-1848) - a German astronomer who worked alongside her brother, astronomer William Herschel. Her birthday is on March 16.
  • Ada Byron (1815-1852) - a British mathematician and one of the pioneers in computer programming.
  • Maria Mitchell (1818-1889) - an American astronomer and the first female professor of astronomy in the United States.
  • Williamina Fleming (1857-1911) - an American astronomer.
  • Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868-1921) - an American astronomer who discovered cepheid variables.
  • Florence Bascom (1862-1945) - an American geologist.
  • Marie Curie (1867-1934) - a Polish physicist and chemist who received two Nobel prizes for her studies in radioactivity.
  • Jocelyn Bell Burnell (born in 1943) - a British astronomer who discovered pulsars.
  • Wangari Maathai (1943-2011) - a Kenyan scientist who worked for many years to stop deforestation in Africa.
  • Evelyn Granville (born in 1924) - an American mathematician who contributed to NASA's Space Shuttle program.

Norman Borlaug

March 25 marks the 100th birthday of Norman Borlaug, 1970's Nobel peace prize winner and father of the Green revolution, who died in 2009 at the age of 95.  His studies of agricultural plants and genetics led him to develop high-yield, disease-resistant wheat varieties.  During the mid-20th century, Borlaug led the introduction of these crops in Mexico, India, Pakistan and other developing countries, where as a result the food production increased spectacularly and mass famines were averted.  According to some estimates, Borlaug's discoveries have saved over a billion lives worldwide.

Advertising and Membership

Those of you that use the Windows to the Universe website regularly, and are not members, notice that advertising appears on the website.  You might wonder why we need to include advertising on this website. 

The unfortunate reality is that the effort required to maintain this website needs to be supported somehow.  One of the ways we do this is through advertising - which we try to ensure is filtered so that inappropriate advertising does not appear.  Advertising does help support our efforts, but in no way is sufficient to cover the costs of maintaining the website and offering the professional development programs we offer. 

In addition to advertising, we raise support for the website and our programs through donations, memberships, and sales.  We also partner with organizations that share our commitment to improving K-12 Earth and space science and environmental science education and literacy. 

If you are a regular user of Windows to the Universe, and would rather not have to deal with the advertising on the website, please consider becoming an Educator Member.  This provides critical support we need for our ongoing programs, and also provides you access to an advertising-free version of the website.

Windows to the Universe Educator Membership Options!

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).

Call for Share-a-Thon Presenters!

NESTA is recruiting presenters for our famous share-a-thons taking place at the NSTA Conference on Science Education in Boston, MA.  If you have an activity, demonstration, or lesson to share with science educators, then this is a great way to share it with fellow teachers.

Our schedule of share-a-thons is:

Geology on Friday, April 4th at 9:30 – 10:30 am
Oceans and Atmospheres on Friday, April 4th at 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Earth System Science on Friday, April 4th at 12:30 – 1:30 pm
Space Science on Saturday, April 5th at 8:00 – 9:00 am 
All sessions are in the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, 052A/B.

At a share-a-thon, you’ll have a table to demonstrate your activity or materials.  We usually have about 150 – 250 teachers passing through these sessions.  This is an easy and effective way to participate in an NSTA Conference, so we hope you will help us out by agreeing to be a presenter.

To sign up for one or more of these sessions, please go to

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 Climate, 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 / Geosciences – The Nexus of Data Driven Science and Applications by Professor Suchi Gopal  2:00-3:00pm Boston University (CC 210A/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 6:30-7:00pm Boston Museum of Science
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 - The CLEAN Collection – Reviewed Climate And Energy Teaching Resources To Enhance Teaching by Dr. Tamara Ledley, TERC  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

Support Newsletter
Planet Bonanza
Mars Odyssey
Reason for Seasons
Atmospheric Optics
Virtual Magnets
Stormwater Calc
Winter Safety
Women Scientists
Norman Borlaug
Ads or No Ads
New Member Options
Share-Thon Present
NSTA in Boston

UNL Program

AMS Summer Workshops
Natl Center Sci Ed
Critical Geoscience
GEN Workshop - TN
GEN Workshop - GA
GEN Workshop - ND
TR Naturalist Award
NOAA Climate Steward
Natl Groundwater Wk
Climate Video Cont
Endangered Sp Cont
Poison Prevention
Fix a Leak
Natl Wildlife Week
Asteroid Initiative
Green Schools Conf
Sci in Fiction Video
World Water Day
Tufts Essay Contest
Earth Hour! 3/29
Global Youth Service
EE Week 2014
Green Week 2014
RockOn! Workshop
ES Week 2014 Connect
Space Tech Grants
NOAA Citizen Science
Disk Detective
Send Name-Asteroid
GSA Geocorps
Young Meteorologist
Tsunamis from Sky
Ocean Dynamics













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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.

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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

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:


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:

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, or on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

Climate Change Seen as the Most Critical Geoscience Issue

Climate change is the highest priority issue facing society, according to geoscientists, decision makers, and public citizens who responded to an online survey conducted by the Center for Geoscience Education and Public Understanding at the American Geosciences Institute.  Water, human population growth and health issues, and energy were also listed as issues needing
immediate attention by all groups of respondents.

The majority of responses were from geoscientists in the post-secondary academic sector.  This group ranked climate change as the highest priority issue that requires immediate attention; water as the next most important issue; and human population growth and health as the third highest priority.  Energy was cited frequently as a critical issue but geoscientists did not rank it among their top three priorities.  

The number of responses from the public and the decision-making community was substantially smaller than from geoscientists.  Climate change was again the highest-priority critical issue.

"There is a dynamic relationship between geoscience topics, such as water and energy resources, natural hazards, climate change, environment, etc., and human populations that is recognized across the geoscience, public, and decision making communities." said Dr. P. Patrick Leahy, Executive Director of the American Geosciences Institute which houses the Center for Geoscience Education and Public Understanding, "This highlights the importance of establishing strong communication pathways in order to provide timely, accurate geoscience information to decision makers and the public."

The aim of the web-based survey was to understand how the decision-making community, geoscience community, and the public defined the term "critical issue," as well as which critical issues were of top concern to each community.  The report can be accessed from the Critical Issues program webpage.

Galileo Educator Network Professional Development Workshop - Chattanooga

Dates & Times:  Friday, March 7th from 8am – 4:30pm and Saturday, March 8th from 8am – 3:30pm (it’s a 2-day program, 15 CEU hours total)

Place:  The McCallie School (500 Dodds AV Chattanooga, TN 37404)

Description:  In partnership with the Astronomical Society for the Pacific (ASP) and NASA, The McCallie School invites you to the Galileo Educator Network (GEN) Professional Development Workshop on March 7th and 8th.  Become a NASA Galileo Educator through this 15-hour workshop for pre-service and in-service K-12 teachers, and learn about implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and elements of the Common Core in your teaching.  Within the context of astronomy and space science, you will experience hands-on inquiry activities, reflect on the nature of science, demonstrate how students can argue from evidence and even practice integrating NGSS into your existing science lessons.

This workshop requires a $20 deposit (refunded upon completion) to attend.  Registration is required to secure workshop materials.  The first 15 educators to sign up will receive GEN materials to take back to their classrooms, including a copy of the ASP’s “Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0” DVD-ROM of activities and resources.

Lunch will be provided both days.  To register, complete this information (Name, School, Subject/Grade Level, Address, Phone, Email Address) and submit to Michael Lowry at  Mail deposit to Michael Lowry, 500 Dodds AV, Chattanooga, TN 37404.  Make out the check to “The McCallie School.”  The check will be returned upon completion of the workshop.

Galileo Educator Network Professional Development Workshop - Georgia

The Aviation Museum at Robbins Air Force Base, Warner Robbins, GA (near Macon, GA)

Saturday, March 12 & Saturday, April 12  9:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

The NASA Galileo Educator Network (GEN) is a NASA-funded teacher professional development program managed by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.  GEN professional development engages teachers of astronomy and general science, especially in grades 3-­9, in effective instructional strategies and educational resources to teach space and Earth science in the context of the Next Generation Science Standards.

GEN makes effective use of NASA-developed and NASA-supported resources, integrating astronomy/space science content with Galileo-inspired science inquiry and exploration.

Teachers who participate in this 15­-hour GEN teacher workshop (12 hours of contact time supplemented with 3 hours of online work) become Galileo Educators.  Participants will receive NASA education materials, including The Universe at Your Fingertips, which includes 133 classroom­-tested hands-on activities, and additional resources on a DVD­-ROM.

For additional information and to register, contact GEN Fellow Frank Lock at or 941­-475-­1578.

Galileo Educator Network Professional Development Workshop - 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 or 707-777-4856 or visit

Young Naturalist Awards - Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Award

The Young Naturalist Awards is pleased to announce a new award for the 2014 competition that honors the legacy of visionary conservationist Theodore Roosevelt.  Roosevelt's lifelong passion for nature led him to become America's greatest conservation president.  To commemorate his legacy, the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Award will be presented to an urban student whose investigation demonstrates close observation, thoughtful analysis, and deep appreciation of the biodiversity, ecology, and habitats found in an urban environment.  The winning essay will be selected from the pool of Young Natural Award entrants and will be evaluated according to the same criteria.  There is no separate submission process.  FAQ's?  Submit your entry by March 1st.

NOAA Climate Stewards National Webinar & Project Meeting

Join us on Monday, March 3, 2014, at 7:30pm Eastern Time for a NOAA Climate Stewards National Webinar.  Space is limited.  Reserve your Webinar seat now.  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the webinar.

This month, our main presentation will be given by LoriAnne Bennett, the Education Coordinator for the USA National Phenology Network.  In her presentation, LoriAnne will introduce the topic of phenology, how to use it as a teaching tool in formal and non-formal settings, and as a lens to view the natural world.  She will share how to capture nature observations in Nature’s Notebook, the plant and animal phenology observation program from the USA National Phenology Network, how to implement a long-term monitoring program at your site or school, and how Nature’s Notebook aligns with the new Next Generation Science Standards.  Participation in Nature’s Notebook enhances national research programs used for better understanding of climate change.  LoriAnne will discuss how to collaborate among formal and non-formal educators to build a local dataset valuable for asking and answering meaningful science questions with your students, and will offer an opportunity for you to develop a project of your own to share.

Following LoriAnne's presentation there will be several announcements for all NOAA Climate Stewards including information on connecting with each other at a free all-day Climate Change Workshop at NSTA Boston!

National Groundwater Awareness Week is March 9-15, 2014

Groundwater Awareness Week (March 9-15, 2014) will shed light on one of the world’s most important resources - groundwater.  Groundwater is essential to the health and well being of humanity and the environment.

To learn more about Groundwater Awareness Week, visit the Virtual Museum of Groundwater History or watch a "water well show".  For additional educational activities and resources, visit the National Groundwater Association web site.

Climate Change Video Contest for Students

Students (ages 11-14) are invited to create and submit a brief video about why they care about climate change and what they are doing about it.  Be cool!  Be creative!  Use storytelling or images or shadow puppets in your video.  There are prizes for the winning entries and prizes for the first 100 entries submitted.  Entries are due March 10.  Find out how to create and enter your video.

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!

National Poison Prevention Week is March 16-22

March 16-22, 2014, is National Poison Prevention Week.  Protect children from accidental poisoning by household substances.  Lock up household pesticides and chemicals in a high cabinet out of the reach of children.  Learn more about how to protect your family at

Fix a Leak Week is March 17-23, 2014

Nationwide, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from U.S. homes each year.  That's why WaterSense reminds Americans to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems each year during Fix a Leak Week.

Pledge to be "for water" during this special week and save up to 10,000 gallons in 10 minutes!  For more information, educational resources, a kids' zone and a Fix a Leak video podcast (available in English and Spanish), click here.

National Wildlife Week is March 17-23, 2014

What do bald eagles, black bears, otters and sea turtles all have in common?  They all need water!  The theme of National Wildlife Week 2014 is "Wildlife and Water" — from the mountains to the rivers to the oceans.

National Wildlife Week is National Wildlife Federation's longest-running education program designed around teaching and connecting kids to the awesome wonders of wildlife.  Each year, a theme is picked to provide fun and informative educational materials, curriculum and activities for educators and caregivers to use with kids.

Celebrate National Wildlife Week March 17-23, 2014!

Asteroid Initiative Opportunities Forum

As the next step in advancing NASA’s asteroid initiative, the agency will host an Opportunities Forum March 26 at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The forum, which is open to industry, academia and interested individuals, will provide status updates from ongoing asteroid redirect mission studies and summarize how responses to a 2013 Request for Information (RFI) are helping improve mission planning activities.  The event will also highlight opportunities for public engagement in the mission and activities associated with the Asteroid Grand Challenge.

NASA’s Asteroid Initiative includes two separate, but related activities:  the Asteroid Redirect Mission and the Asteroid Grand Challenge.  NASA is currently developing concepts for the Redirect Mission, which will employ a robotic spacecraft to capture a small near-Earth asteroid, or remove a boulder from the surface of a larger asteroid, and redirect it into a stable orbit around the moon.  Astronauts will travel aboard NASA's Orion spacecraft, launched on the Space Launch System rocket, to rendezvous in lunar orbit with the captured asteroid material.  Once there, they will collect samples to return to Earth for study.

The Grand Challenge is seeking the best ideas to find all asteroid threats to human populations, and to accelerate the work that NASA is already doing for planetary defense.

Seating is limited for this event.  Individuals who plan to attend must register online.  The forum will be carried on NASA Television and streamed online for virtual participants.

Media who wish to attend the forum should contact Sarah Ramsey at or 202-358-1694.

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.

‘Science in Fiction’ Contest

The USA Science & Engineering Festival, in association with the Kavli Foundation, has launched the “Science in Fiction” video contest.

Using scenes from popular science fiction movies and TV shows, and video games, grade 6-12 students are invited to create 30- to 90-second videos that investigate how science fictional scenes could be realized using current and developing technologies.  The video contest culminates in a popular awards show, hosted by Bill Nye, as part of the festival, which returns to Washington, DC, on April 26-27, 2014.

Entries are due by March 21, 2014.  First prize is a $2,000 cash prize and a travel stipend to travel to Washington, DC, for the Expo.  The second prize is $750, and the third prize is $500. The People's Choice Award prize is $250.  For more information, click here.

World Water Day 2014 is March 22

Access to clean water is one of the most basic human needs, but in many areas of the world, ensuring that everyone has access to clean freshwater is a complex problem.  With this in mind, the United Nations has declared March 22 as World Water Day.  The day has been celebrated on March 22 every year since 1993.  

This year’s World Water Day celebrations will focus on water and energy, with main celebrations happening in Toyko, Japan.  Of course, people around the world can make a difference in providing a sustainable future for all inhabitants of the Earth, and especially the poorest of the poor, who suffer greatly from lack of access to water, sanitation and modern forms of energy.  Find out more about how you can make a difference.

2014 Craig Tufts' Youth and Nature Essay Contest

In memory of long-standing employee and naturalist, Craig Tufts, the family of Craig Tufts, Family Summits Inc., and the National Wildlife Federation invite youth to enter the 5th  Annual Craig Tufts Educational Essay Scholarship competition.  This competition is open to any young person between the ages of 8 and 18 to submit an essay according to these guidelines and requirements.  One winner will receive a once-in-a-lifetime experience to attend a week-long summer outdoor adventure camp with a parent or guardian in Pacific Grove, CA (transportation, registration, food, and housing costs paid in full).  Entries are due by March 28th.

Earth Hour is March 29!

Did you know Earth Hour is coming up soon?  Earth Hour is an event in which people around the world are urged to turn off non-essential lights for one hour to show their concern about climate change.  This year’s Earth Hour will be on Saturday, March 29 at 8:30 PM local time, and is expected to include people in more than 150 countries worldwide.  If that's not enough to pique your interest, let's just say that Earth hour participants will be joining Spider-Man in saving the planet!

To read more about how Earth Hour got started, or how it’s being observed around the world, visit

Global Youth Service Day

Your students don't need to wait to grow up to change the world!  Have them plug into the Global Youth Service Day, where children and teens are creating change every day through service to others.  They can create their own project or join an already-existing project.  This year, Global Youth Service Day is April 11-13, 2014.

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.

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!

RockOn! Workshop

Registration is open for NASA's seventh annual RockOn! workshop to be held June 14-19 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, VA.  This workshop, offered in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia, engages university and community college students and faculty interested in learning how to develop science payloads for spaceflight.

During the workshop, participants work in teams to build experimental payloads to fly on a NASA Terrier-Improved Orion sounding rocket expected to fly to an altitude of 73 miles.  The flight will take place the final day of the workshop, weather permitting.  Since 2008, 240 people have participated in RockOn! workshops and have successfully built and launched 79 payloads into space.

Registration closes May 2.  Workshop participants must be U.S. citizens or have a valid, government-issued green card.  For more information and to register online, visit:

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

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 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.   Deadline to submit proposals is Thursday, December 18, 2014.

NOAA Citizen Science - Help Track Whale Movements

Are you a boater?  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration invites you to help scientists track the movements of endangered humpback whales between NOAA’s Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and its sister sanctuaries across the Caribbean as part of Carib Tails, a new international citizen science effort.

By photographing the tails of humpbacks they encounter at sea, boaters can support on-going research to collect migration data on the shared population of approximately 1,000 humpbacks.  Photographs will be matched to entries in the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog and images of previously unknown and unphotographed whales will be added to the collection.  A dedicated website provides tips on how to photograph flukes for research purposes, photo submission forms and other information about humpback whales.

Researchers identify individual humpback whales by the black and white patterns on the underside of their flukes (tails). Scars and natural pigmentation, ranging from all white to all black, along with the scalloped shaped edge of the tail, give each whale a distinct identification. Photographs of humpback flukes have allowed researchers to monitor the movements, health and behavior of individual animals since this research began in the 1970's.

Read more about the program at the Carib Tails website.

'Disk Detective' Lets Public Search for New Planetary Nurseries

NASA is inviting the public to help astronomers discover embryonic planetary systems hidden among data from the agency's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission through a new website,  Disk Detective is NASA's largest crowdsourcing project whose primary goal is to produce publishable scientific results.  

The WISE mission was designed to survey the entire sky at infrared wavelengths.  It took detailed measurements on more than 745 million objects, representing the most comprehensive survey of the sky at mid-infrared wavelengths currently available.  Astronomers have used computers to search this haystack of data for planet-forming environments and narrowed the field to about a half-million sources that shine brightly in the infrared, indicating they may be "needles":  dust-rich disks that are absorbing their star's light and reradiating it as heat.  But galaxies, interstellar dust clouds, and asteroids also glow in the infrared, which stymies automated efforts to identify planetary habitats.  There may be thousands of nascent solar systems in the WISE data, but the only way to know for sure is to inspect each source by eye, which poses a monumental challenge.

Disk Detective incorporates images from WISE and other sky surveys in brief animations the website calls flip books.  Volunteers view a flip book and classify the object based on simple criteria, such as whether the image is round or includes multiple objects.  By collecting this information, astronomers will be able to assess which sources should be explored in greater detail, for example, to search for planets outside our solar system.

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 that will be on 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:

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.

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

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.

Tsunamis from the Sky

On a beautiful, clear June morning in 1954, a massive wave suddenly swept out of Lake Michigan killing at least seven people along the Chicago waterfront.  At the time, the wave was attributed to a storm that had earlier passed over northern Lake Michigan, but how it came to swamp faraway Chicago, with no warning, was not understood.

The Great Lakes, along with the Mediterranean, Japan and many other parts of the world, have a long history of such waves, which have characteristics similar to tsunamis triggered by earthquakes or landslides.  Only recently, however, have scientists unraveled how a storm can create and propagate these far-traveling waves — called meteorological tsunamis or meteotsunamis.  The waves, which arise out of a complex interplay of storm speed, wave dynamics and ocean-bottom bathymetry, may be less common than seismic tsunamis, but they can still be destructive and deadly.

EARTH Magazine talks to scientists trying to forecast meteotsunamis and develop a warning system for coastal residents, particularly along the U.S. East Coast, where in June 2013, a series of large waves swept into Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, knocking fishermen off jetties and sending scuba divers over a breakwater, causing some injuries.  Read the full article at:

Ocean Dynamics Speed Sea-Level Rise Along U.S. East Coast

With the help of increased computing power, scientists have found that changing Gulf Stream patterns and shifting climate are responsible for higher-than-normal sea-level rise averages on the U.S. East Coast.

With implications for public safety in the wake of events like Hurricane Sandy, scientists are paying even closer attention to the role ocean dynamics play in sea-level rise.  Using historical tidal gauge and satellite data, geoscientists have observed that already fast sea-level changes on the U.S. East Coast sped up during the last 20 years.  Addressing this change, scientists at the University of Arizona and elsewhere plugged the data into sophisticated models to examine how ocean dynamics affect sea-level rise.  The results pinpoint a northward shift in the Gulf Stream that is affecting ocean water density in a complex way.  Explore these complexities in the February issue of EARTH Magazine.

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