April 2010

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements
Windows to the Universe Facebook Group

Spring is Here! A Time of Excitement - A Time of Renewal!

Spring is here – with exciting news!

Spring is here in the Northern Hemisphere – my favorite time of year! Spring is a time of renewal and new life. In Washington DC, it’s a great time to go out and look at the Cherry Blossoms at the Tidal Basin near the Jefferson Memorial.

For Windows to the Universe, this is also a very exciting time of renewal. I am delighted to report that the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has agreed to provide support for a critically important transition of Windows to the Universe to sustainability as an Open Educational Resource. This project, which will begin this month, will involve the transition of Windows to the Universe management from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (where it has found its home since June 2000) to the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA). Project co-sponsors include the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the American Geological Institute. I will continue to lead the project at NESTA, as I have since its inception at the University of Michigan. As the project moves to NESTA, it will provide NESTA one of the world’s most popular Earth and Space science education and outreach websites as a vehicle for reaching teachers and students around the world.

The project will support a major redesign and updating of the website, including implementation of new capabilities and technologies, while maintaining the website as a globally free educational resource for the Earth and Space sciences and related disciplines. Through the programs we develop, we will make it possible for partner organizations, programs, scientists and educators to share information about their research, resources, programs, products and events through the website so that it becomes a community education and outreach facility for the Earth and Space sciences. Our work in the UCAR Office of Education and Outreach, accomplished by our talented staff there, will continue through on-going and new Windows to the Universe projects. These activities will be coordinated by Windows to the Universe management at NESTA, and supplemented by new programs and projects offered through NESTA and other organizations. The goal of this major change is to allow the Windows to the Universe project (the website and our professional development programs) to flourish – with expanded, up-to-date content, resources, and professional development offerings in multiple languages made available through a community of contributors. We will keep you posted as this project develops.

In the meantime, happy spring!

Undersea Volcano & Aurora Movies

We've placed two new videos on the web site. The first, from the National Science Foundation, shows spectacular footage of an undersea volcano erupting. The video was shot by the robotic submarine Jason in May 2009 at a depth of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) beneath the Pacific near the island of Fiji. The second movie includes great views of the aurora (Southern and Northern Lights) as well as some nice visuals explaining these celestial light shows. The video also describes NASA's THEMIS mission, a constellation of 5 satellites which are studying auroras from orbit.

The Global Climate Change Educator Professional Development Network

With support from NASA, and in collaboration with NSTA, Windows to the Universe and the UCAR Office of Education and Outreach are offering a series of free web seminars on teaching global climate change. Building on our existing Climate Discovery online courses, these short web seminars showcase special topics such as how scientists study ancient climates and the effects of climate change on living things. Each web seminar combines science content with classroom activities that your students will love. Online networking after each web seminar will allow you to continue the conversation about teaching climate change with teacher participants and our professional development staff.

Join us for one or more of the four free web seminars offered during April. Please visit the Global Climate Change Educator Professional Development Network for more information. For registration, please visit NSTA Web Seminars.

Hubble Anniversary

On April 24, Hubble space telescope turns 20. The Hubble was first launched in 1990 from Space Shuttle Discovery, but the project began many years before. The project is a joint one between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency (ESA). It was named in honor of American astronomer Edwin Hubble, who developed the idea of an expanding universe, which forms the basis of modern cosmology. Hubble has transmitted awesome images of the solar system, distant stars, and galaxies. Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, like a more accurate estimate of the Hubble constant, the measure of the rate at which the universe is expanding.

Between 1993 and 2009, NASA sent five Space Shuttle missions to the Hubble to repair and upgrade its systems and scientific instruments. The last mission, finished in September 2009, significantly upgraded the instruments and made the Hubble a more powerful tool than ever to study the universe. IMAX partnered with NASA to document this repair mission and explore the breathtaking beauty of other galaxies and nebulae in the new movie, Hubble 3D. To learn more about Hubble, visit NASA's Hubble Space Telescope site.

Dinosaur Debates

The K-T extinction, in which roughly two thirds of the Earth’s species died out at the end of the Cretaceous period, has been a puzzle for many years, and scientists have proposed a number of different potential causes for this massive die-off of plants and animals.

During the last year, this question prompted a lot of scientific debate, because recently scientists found more evidence supporting two very different explanations of the K-T extinction. One of these theories suggests that a major increase in volcanic activity on Earth caused the dinosaurs’ demise by releasing enough dust into the atmosphere so that photosynthesis was blocked and food chains collapsed. The other suggests that the K-T extinction was caused by a cataclysmic impact between the Earth and an asteroid near what is now Chicxulub, Mexico. As with volcanic activity, the impact would have released huge amounts of dust into the atmosphere and interfered with global climate and ecology.

Although scientists generally agree that both volcanism and the Chicxulub impact were important factors in shaping the Earth’s ecology at the end of the Cretaceous, no one knows yet which was most important in causing the K-T extinction. You can read more about this debate on our pages about the K-T extinction and its causes, and on the NSF’s announcements of the latest research findings supporting volcanism and the Chicxulub impact as the primary cause of the K-T extinction.

Celebrate Spring with Project BudBurst!

The 2010 field campaign for Project BudBurst is officially underway. Project BudBurst is a national field campaign for students, families, and other volunteers. Project BudBurst is designed to engage the public in the collection of important climate change data based on the timing of leafing and flowering of trees and flowers. Over the past three years, thousands of people of all ages participated by taking careful observations of the phenological events such as the first flower, first leaf, and seed or fruit dispersal of diverse tree and flower species, including weeds and ornamentals. Your help in making observations and sharing information about Project BudBurst will help us make this year even more successful.

For more information, please visit the Project BudBurst Website.

Breaking Science News from the National Science Foundation

Windows to the Universe continues to post news releases and podcasts from the National Science Foundation. The news releases highlight scientific research and cover a wide variety of topics. We have provided links from the news releases to content pages on Windows to the Universe so you and your students can explore, in depth, the subject matter covered in the news release. The podcasts feature short audio stories related to current events in science. You can listen to them online or download them to your mp3 player. There's some really interesting research going on out there and this is a fun way to engage in science learning. Enjoy!

Hispanics in Science

The Hispanic community is one of the fastest growing communities in the country, and young Latinos are rapidly joining our workforce. It is important that they are able to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and we at Windows to the Universe understand that to accomplish this we must start inspiring students early in their lives.

Windows to the Universe is committed to supporting both teachers and students, and it also has a multilevel, bilingual framework for delivering content to every one in the Hispanic and bilingual community. In addition to its traditional pages that contain information about all kinds of science, Windows to the Universe has games, news stories, mythology, field campaigns and citizen science campaigns, postcards from the field, interactives, and collaborative content from Windows users.

Become an ACTIVE USER of Windows to the Universe, and help bring science to those around you. We're looking forward to working with all of you to make a difference!

Table of Contents

Volcano & Aurora
Web Seminars
Hubble Anniversary
Dinosaur Debates
Project BudBurst
News from NSF
Bilingual Community

Earth Development

Deadline Approaching
Online Courses
Warming World
Small Satellites
Earth Day 4/22
Moonbuggy Race
Systems Engin
STEM Careers
Live from ISS!











Teacher Submissions

Click here to submit your ideas to the newsletter

Basic Development of Earth - A Rainwater Example

Thoughts from a fellow teacher - Reni B. It is very important that we talk about the basic development of our Earth as a system because our children have to know what will happen with the rainwater for example. Think about it- if you fill all ways and streets full of concrete, then the water can never find the original way it would have traveled through earth. Look for other possibilities for using rainwater to be resourceful - use the rainwater for your household! Let's consider the important things to create good living conditions with our Earth!

Announcements from Partners

Click here to submit information about your program to the newsletter

Deadline Fast Approaching! Environmental Research Contest for Grades 9-12

The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) is sponsoring the 2010 Thacher Environmental Research Contest for students in grades 9-12. Cash prizes will be given to entries that demonstrate the best use of satellites and other geospatial technologies or data to study Earth's evolving environment. 1st place -- $2,000; 2nd place -- $1,000; and 3rd place -- $500. Both individuals and teams are eligible to enter, and entries must be postmarked by April 5, 2010. IGES plans to announce the winning entries by May 12, 2010. Entries will be judged by IGES staff. For more information, please see the contest website.

Summer Session: Climate Discovery Online Courses for Educators

Are you seeking a professional development opportunity that will enhance your qualifications, competency, and self-confidence in integrating Earth system science, climate, and global change into your science classroom? This summer, NCAR offers a series of seven-week online courses for middle and high school teachers that combine geoscience content, information about current climate research, easy-to-implement hands-on activities, and group discussion. The courses run concurrently June 18 through August 8.

  • CD 501 Introduction to Earth's Climate is designed to guide participants through the basics of climate science, integrating content, classroom activities, and community-building discussions to help middle and high school educators understand the answers to common questions about climate.
  • CD 502 Earth System Science: A Climate Change Perspective explores Earth as a system from the perspective of climate and global change, describing the interactions between the various parts of the Earth system, including human activities, and how they all affect our climate.
  • CD 503 Understanding Climate Change Today presents some of the current and predicted impacts of global warming on our planet and human societies. This course explores how climate models are developed and used to understand likely scenarios of future climate and how current scientific research is improving the quality of climate predictions.

There is a $225 fee per course, but you will save $25 if you register before June 1st! For complete course schedule and registration information, visit ecourses.ncar.ucar.edu

New NASA Web Page Sheds Light on Science of a Warming World

Will 2010 be the warmest year on record? How do the recent U.S. "Snowmageddon" winter storms and record low temperatures in Europe fit into the bigger picture of long term global warming? NASA has launched a new web page to help people better understand the causes and effects of Earth's changing climate.

The new "A Warming World" page hosts a series of news articles, videos, data visualizations, space-based imagery and interactive visuals that provide unique NASA perspectives on this topic of global importance.

The page includes feature articles that explore the recent Arctic winter weather that has gripped the United States, Europe and Asia, and how El Nino and other longer term ocean-atmosphere phenomena may affect global temperatures this year and in the future. A new video, "Piecing Together the Temperature Puzzle," illustrates how NASA satellites monitor climate change and help scientists better understand how our complex planet works.

The new web page is available on NASA's Global Climate Change Web site.

Fully-Funded Teacher Program to the Galapagos Islands!

We are pleased to announce that the application is now available for the 2010 Toyota International Teacher Program to the Galapagos Islands, a fully-funded professional development program for U.S. educators. Funded by Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., and administered by the Institute of International Education, the program aims to advance environmental stewardship and global connectedness in U.S. schools and communities.

The program will take place November 20 – December 4, 2010 and the deadline to apply is May 26, 2010. Full-time classroom teachers and librarians of all subjects for grades 6 – 12 are eligible to apply! Please visit our website at www.toyota4education.com for application instructions, FAQs, and to apply online.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact the Toyota International Teacher Program Team at toyotateach@iie.org or (toll-free) 877-832-2457.

NASA Opens High Frontier to Education and Not-For-Profit Groups

NASA is announcing a new initiative to launch small cube-shaped satellites for education and not-for-profit organizations. CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called picosatellites, having a size of approximately four inches, a volume of about one quart, and weighing no more than 2.2 pounds.

This is NASA's first open announcement to create an agency-prioritized list of available CubeSats. They are planned as auxiliary payloads on launch vehicles already planned for 2011 and 2012.

Proposals must be submitted electronically and be received by 4:30 p.m. EDT April 15. Submissions will be evaluated by NASA personnel. Selection is anticipated by June 30.

For additional information on this announcement and a complete list of requirements, visit here.

Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day!

Earth Day is April 22! This year is actually the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Celebrated in 175 countries, Earth Day is a tribute to our home planet. It is also a time to consider ways that we can be kinder to our planet.

The day will be celebrated by events around the world which focus on finding renewable energy sources, encouraging an individual's commitment to responsible, sustainable consumption and creating a vibrant economy with plenty of green jobs.

It's not too late to plan an event for your classroom, your school or your community! Or find an existing event in your area. If you can't make it to a specific event, why not use Earth Day as an awesome reason to make a "Green" commitment for the upcoming year. It can be as simple as turning off the lights when you leave a room or biking to work every other day. There's so much that could be done to protect our home planet, it will be hard to choose just one thing!

Just before Earth day, National Environmental Education Week will be celebrated (April 11-17, 2010).

Student Teams Ready to Battle Lunar Terrain at NASA's 17th Annual Great Moonbuggy Race

More than 100 student teams from around the globe will drive their specially-crafted lunar rovers through a challenging course of rugged, moon-like terrain at NASA's 17th annual Great Moonbuggy Race in Huntsville, AL, April 9-10.

Some 1,088 high school, college and university students from 20 states and Puerto Rico, Canada, Germany, Bangladesh, Serbia, India and Romania are expected to participate in the race at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Students begin to prepare for the event each year during the fall semester. They must design, build and test a sturdy, collapsible, lightweight vehicle that addresses engineering problems similar to those overcome by the original Apollo-era lunar rover development team at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville in the late 1960's. Teams of students build their rovers from a variety of parts and winning teams are awarded prizes.

NASA Announces Systems Engineering Student Competition

NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate is inviting teams of undergraduate and graduate students throughout the country to participate in the fourth annual Systems Engineering Paper Competition. Participants in the competition will submit a paper on an Exploration Systems mission topic.

The deadline to register for the competition is April 16. Papers are due April 23. The winning teams will be announced in May. Awards include up to $3,500 in cash scholarships and VIP invitations to attend a future space shuttle or rocket launch at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The competition is designed to engage students in the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, disciplines critical to NASA's missions.

The Funworks...for Careers You Never Knew Existed

The Funworks web site, developed by the Educational Development Center, features a collection of STEM career exploration resources. The site helps middle and high school aged students think about what they enjoy and how to connect those interests to STEM jobs they never knew existed!

The Teachers' area has lesson plans and activities, career counseling links and other resources.

Live Video from the International Space Station

NASA announced recently that they are providing live streaming audio and video of astronauts working in the International Space Station's laboratories. These streams will complement the live views of Earth and the ISS exterior that NASA has been providing since March 2009. Take a look and see what the ISS crew members are doing while in orbit. To find out when the ISS will be visible in your area, visit http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/sightings.

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements

Newsletter archive
Log in to visit our members' area, change your registration information or newsletter options.

The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at http://www.windows.ucar.edu/ at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). © The Regents of the University of Michigan. Windows to the Universe® is a registered trademark of UCAR. All Rights Reserved. Site policies and disclaimer