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If you ever wondered if Earth science is really important or not, this past month would be the evidence that the answer is - emphatically YES! When we look at the impact of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11, 2011 - the widespread destruction and loss of life - it's almost inconceivable that some people still think that Earth science need not be a required part of the curriculum! And while we are in the midst of witnessing the tragedy, some of you are doubtless involved in discussions with administrators at your school or district where there is pressure to cut Earth science, partly in response to school budget pressures. We will be providing information to you all, as we hear it, about the status of science standards currently in development at the national level. In the meantime, you may find these resources useful to you.
Recent Earthquake and Tsunami - A "Teachable Moment"
The earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11, 2011, provide a "teachable moment" to address core topics in our discipline. IRIS has developed a set of teachable moment resources for you to take advantage of when teaching about these topics. Earth Gauge has also created a nice summary sheet about the recent earthquake and tsunami.
The Spring 2011 issue of TES is openly available to everyone as a PDF thanks to the generosity of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) Consortium (print copies are also available for sale in the Windows to the Universe store). IRIS has partnered with NESTA to produce this special issue, in which you will find a collection of five invited articles that showcase the complexity and wealth of new teaching opportunities that exist within seismology education.
The first article informs us of a newly discovered mode of fault behavior called Episodic Tremor and Slip. The next article tells how you can successfully teach the concept of Episodic Tremor and Slip in the Middle School Classroom yielding new understandings of subduction zones. The third article shares information regarding the USArray, a collection of high-precision seismometers that is providing visualizations of seismic waves, thus supplying rich visual reinforcement of what is known about seismic wave properties. This is followed by an article that deals with the wide array of student-held "alternative" conceptions about geophysics and how some of their ideas persist, despite instruction. The final article shows how, in the classroom, you can examine and model the causes of intraplate earthquakes, such as those along the New Madrid Seismic Zone in the central USA.
We hope you enjoy this special-themed issue of TES. If you are not a member of NESTA, please join today! NESTA offers our journal quarterly, targeting resources teachers can use in the classroom right away. We also provide a monthly e-newsletter full of information about upcoming opportunities and events, in addition to our activities at the state, regional and national level. NESTA membership also gets you a 50% discount on Educator membership in Windows to the Universe, the world's leading Earth and space science educational website filled with resources for you to use in the classroom, and valuable member benefits. NESTA is here to serve you, the Earth and space science K-12 educator.
Space shuttle Discovery and its six-astronaut crew returned to Earth for the final time on March 9, completing a 13-day mission to outfit the International Space Station. Discovery, the longest-serving NASA space shuttle, was launched on its first mission on August 30, 1984. Discovery flew 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited Earth 5,830 times and traveled 148,221,675 miles.
"Discovery is an amazing spacecraft and she has served her country well," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. "The success of this mission and those that came before it is a testament to the diligence and determination of everyone who has worked on Discovery and the Space Shuttle Program, over these many years. As we celebrate the many accomplishments of this magnificent ship, we look forward to an exciting new era of human spaceflight that lies ahead."
Read more about the space shuttle program on NASA's website.
We now offer the Cool It! card game on the Windows to the Universe Science Store for $7.95 plus shipping and handling. Cool It! is the new card game from the Union of Concerned Scientists that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change—and how policy and technology decisions made today will matter. The game requires at least three players (one deck of cards will cover four players and more players can be added with additional decks) and is appropriate for ages eight and up.
Remember, Windows to the Universe Members receive a 10% discount on store purchases. If you are already a member, simply login to the store using your member login and password, and the discount will be automatically applied. If you are a Windows to the Universe Educator Newsletter subscriber, and would like to take advantage of this discount, join today, and then proceed to the store to select your purchases.
Please note that if you are outside of the USA and wish to order products from our store, call us at 720-328-5351 or send an email request to email@example.com for the items you would like to buy (Nature's Own products cannot be shipped outside of the United States). We are sorry, but due to variations in international shipping costs, we are currently unable to process international orders directly via this web-based store at this time. Some products may not be available for international orders.
We've added more videos to the web site. The first movie illustrates the chain of events that begins with an explosive coronal mass ejection from the Sun, continues as this "solar storm" distorts Earth's magnetosphere, and culminates as a shower of subatomic particles striking our upper atmosphere produces auroral light shows. In this month's second video, Professor Scott Denning of Colorado State University provides a very animated explanation of the greenhouse effect and how greenhouse gases work. The third movie, from the National Science Foundation, shows researchers testing new construction methods to help buildings withstand earthquakes...using the world's largest "shake table".
Little particles in the atmosphere called aerosols may be small but they have the ability to change climate. These tiny particles are a natural part of the atmosphere, coming from erupting volcanoes, sea salt, and wildfires. However, since the start of the Industrial Revolution additional aerosols have been added to the atmosphere as fossil fuels are burned. Black carbon is the term that has been given to the product of the incomplete combustion of fossil fuels, biofuel, and biomass. It is commonly known as soot.
Try out the new Changing Planet Activity called Black Carbon - A Dusty Situation to teach about black carbon in your classroom.
I'm not sure what kind of flowers they might bring in May, but April does usher in one of the major meteor showers of the year - the Lyrids. If you manage to spot any meteors around the night of April 22nd, you will be carrying on a long tradition...for Chinese astronomers first observed Lyrid meteors more than 26 centuries ago! Unfortunately, a waning gibbous moon around the peak of the shower this year might make viewing a little difficult. Typically the Lyrids produce a meager 10-20 meteors per hour, though they sporadically generate large outbursts of 100 or more meteors per hour (as happened in 1803, 1922, 1945, and most recently in 1982). Look toward the shower's namesake constellation Lyra on the night of the 22nd to catch a glimpse of a "falling star".
NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft successfully achieved orbit around Mercury at approximately 9 p.m. EDT on March 17th. This marks the first time a spacecraft has accomplished this engineering and scientific milestone at our solar system's innermost planet.
Japan's struggle with the Fukushima nuclear power plant, damaged by the March earthquake and tsunami, reminds us about a sad anniversary. 25 years ago, on April 26, 1986, the worst nuclear power plant accident in history happened in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Several explosions and fire sent a plume of highly radioactive smoke into the atmosphere. The plume drifted over large parts of the western Soviet Union, and much of Europe. Only about 50 deaths are attributed directly to the accident, but secrecy, as well as late and incomplete evacuation of the area probably caused many more people in the region to suffer long-term health consequences from exposure to radiation.
It bears noting that modern nuclear power plants have many more built-in safeguards. The amount of radiation from Fukishima happenings is much lower than at Chernobyl - comparable to the amount of radiation a person may receive from medical X-rays. However, reviews of Japan's nuclear crisis are already underway to ensure that lessons learned can be applied to all nuclear reactors in the U.S. and worldwide.
This is a good time of year to explore the atmospheric conditions that create persistent squall lines that form over the U.S. central plains where cool, dry Canadian air masses collide with warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. Near the ocean, the Great Lakes, and mountains, uneven heating of land surfaces can produce spectacular afternoon thunderstorms announced by crackling thunder, life-threatening lightning, hail, tornadoes, and flash flooding. Knowing and sharing information about thunderstorm and tornado safety is very important.
The weather section of Windows to the Universe provides information about these weather conditions, including information about thunderstorms and tornadoes, how tornadoes form, and how meteorologists forecast when and where tornadoes will occur. In addition, our Tornado in a Bottle activity provides a great way to illustrate tornadoes for your students.
April marks the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight. On April 12, 1961, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space. He orbited the Earth once aboard the Vostok spacecraft. The flight lasted 1 hour and 48 minutes.
Exactly 20 years later, on April 12, 1981, the first space shuttle Columbia was launched, with two crewmembers aboard - astronauts John W. Young and Robert L. Crippen. It orbited the earth 36 times and returned to Earth on April 14.
On April 24, 1990, space shuttle Discovery launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit. Since its launch, it has been responsible for many groundbreaking astronomical observations and has transmitted awesome images of the solar system, distant stars, and galaxies.
Table of Contents
Cool It! Game-Store
Three New Movies
April Meteor Showers
EE Week in April
Natl DNA Day 4/15
Natl Park Week
Earth Day 4/22
Arbor Day 4/29
World Oceans Day
Global Science Fair
Marine Art Contest
Friends for Change
Photo Contest (5-8)
R. Carson Contest
INSPIRE - HS
Women in Science
Save the Frogs!
Teacher SubmissionsClick here to submit your ideas to the newsletter
Announcements from PartnersClick here to submit information about your program to the newsletter
National Environmental Education Week (EE Week), the nation’s largest environmental education event, held April 10-16, 2011, inspires environmental learning and stewardship. Focusing this year on the theme “Ocean Connections,” EE Week connects educators with environmental resources to promote K-12 students’ understanding of the environment.
The ocean covers nearly 3/4 of our planet's surface, provides 70% of the oxygen in the atmosphere, and houses about 20% of the known species on Earth, according to the event organizer, the National Environmental Education Foundation. The ocean also regulates climate and weather and provides food and energy resources for humans worldwide.
EE Week provides lesson plans and classroom resources on ocean science - with a special focus on the Gulf oil spill - at http://eeweek.org/ocean_connections.htm. Register for EE Week at http://eeweek.org/register.htm to receive certificates of participation, free online resources, information on professional development and funding opportunities, access to discounts on educational materials, and facts and quizzes that tie into this year's theme.
National DNA Day is a unique day when students, teachers and the public can learn more about genetics and genomics! The day commemorates the completion of the Human Genome Project in April 2003, and the discovery of DNA's double helix. This year, NHGRI will celebrate National DNA Day on April 15.
As part of the annual celebration, NHGRI will host the annual DNA Day Online Chatroom on April 15 from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm Eastern. Send your questions and our experts will respond in real time. Topics up for discussion: everything from the basic facts about DNA to the future medical applications of genomic research. Although the chatroom will be open to the public, questions from schools that register for the chatroom will be given preferred treatment.
If you are interested in registering your school, please send an e-mail to Carla Easter, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get out and discover something new about your 394 national parks during National Park Week. This year's focus, Healthy Parks, Healthy People, highlights the connection between human and environmental health and the vital role America's national parks play in both.
Whether your prefer a 20-mile backcountry hike in Yosemite or a leisurely stroll around Philadelphia's Independence Hall, moving outside is good for you and offers a chance to explore these places. Search the events calendar to find your National Park Week "must-dos".
From April 16-24, admission will be free to all National Parks.
In recognition of the power of millions of individual actions, Earth Day 2011 will be organized around A Billion Acts of Green®: Personal, organizational and corporate pledges to live and act sustainably. At over 73 million actions to date, A Billion Acts of Green® campaign – the largest environmental service campaign in the world – is steadily building commitments by individuals, corporations, and governments in honor of Earth Day. A Billion Acts of Green® inspires and rewards both simple individual acts and larger organizational initiatives that further the goal of measurably reducing carbon emissions and supporting sustainability. The goal is to register one billion actions in advance of the Earth Summit in Rio in 2012. A Billion Acts of Green® website quantifies acts of green through an easy-to-use online registration tool. It demonstrates the kind of environmental impact that can be made when millions of people, corporations and organizations make commitments, both small and large, to better their environment.
Register an event or participate in a local event on Earth Day (April 22).
Arbor Day is a nationally celebrated observance that encourages tree planting and care. Founded by J. Sterling Morton in 1872, it's celebrated on the last Friday in April.
An Arbor Day celebration can be as large or as small as you want to make it. Your Arbor Day can be a few neighbors gathering to plant trees in a park behind your homes or at a nearby school. It can be a weeklong regional festival with activities for thousands of kids and adults. Arbor Day can be a single class project or an event for the whole school, an inner city neighborhood planting trees in a vacant lot, or a huge citywide or statewide celebration.
Learn how you can incorporate Arbor Day throughout your school curricula as well.
Join thousands of others in gathering valuable environmental and climate change information from across the country with Project BudBurst (www.budburst.org). Project BudBurst is a national field campaign for all interested 'citizen scientists' including students, families, and other volunteers. The field campaign is designed to engage the public in making careful observations of plant stages such as flowering, leafing, and fruiting of trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses in their local area. Participants contribute to a better understanding of how changing climates impact plant species at a local level. Data collected through Project BudBurst is made available to scientists studying climate change. All information necessary to participate can be found on the Project BudBurst Web site (www.budburst.org).
Project BudBurst is co-managed by the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and the Chicago Botanic Garden.
June 8th of every year marks the official, United Nations-recognized celebration of World Oceans Day, and hundreds of aquariums, zoos, museums, conservation organizations and thousands of individuals around the world will participate in educational events. This year, celebrations will draw attention to the importance of getting young people inspired to protect the ocean as part of the 2011 theme: Youth - the Next Wave for Change.
Google has partnered with NASA, CERN, National Geographic, Scientific American, and the LEGO Group to create the Global Science Fair competition, open to students ages 13-18. The science fair will culminate in an event in July 2011 at Google headquarters in California, where finalists will compete for internships, scholarships, and prizes.
Submissions are due by April 4, 2011. To find out more information and to sign up for free resource kits for your classroom or school, visit the Global Science fair website at http://www.google.com/sciencefair.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program would like to know how marine debris impacts you and what you are doing about it. Winning artwork will be showcased in a 2012 calendar that will help raise awareness about the global problem of marine debris. Additionally, the winners will be featured on the Program’s website and in their newsletter, reaching over 200,000 people each month!
All entries (entry form + artwork) must be submitted via mail (postmarked) no later than Saturday, April 16, 2011.
YSA (Youth Service America), together with Disney, is now accepting applications from youth around the world for the Disney Friends for Change-YSA Grants. The grants fund youth-led service projects that focus on making environmentally beneficial changes and engage youth on Global Youth Service Days, April 15-17.
The Disney Friends for Change program will award fifty $500 grants to youth-led service projects that demonstrate youth leadership, creativity, and the commitment to making a positive impact on the environment. Applicants must be between the ages of 5-25 and must be associated with a school or organization. Disney's Friends for Change initiative encourages projects that address issues of waste, habitat, climate, and water. Apply By: 04/17/2011
The InvenTeam initiative, created by the Lemelson-MIT Program, offers an unparalleled opportunity for high school students to cultivate their creativity and experience invention. InvenTeams are teams of high school students, teachers, and mentors that receive grants up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. Each InvenTeam chooses its own problem to solve.
InvenTeam students rely on inquiry and hands-on problem solving as they apply lessons from science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to develop invention prototypes. Interactive, self-directed learning coupled with STEM curricula are essential for being successful at invention. Students learn to work in teams, while collaborating with intended users of their inventions. They partner with professionals in their communities to enrich their experiences. Most of all, students learn to move forward through challenges and celebrate "Eureka!" moments.
Initial application deadline: April 22, 2011 and final application deadline: September 9, 2011.
Are you an educator with a class project that is short on funding but long on potential? Do you know a teacher looking for grant dollars? ING Unsung Heroes® could help you turn great ideas into reality for students.
For more than 10 years, and with $3.0 million in awarded grants, ING Unsung Heroes has proven to be an A+ program with educators. The program’s “alumni” have inspired success in the classroom and have impacted countless numbers of students. Each year, 100 educators are selected to receive $2,000 to help fund their innovative class projects. Three of those are chosen to receive the top awards of an additional $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000. The application deadline is April 30, 2011.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accepting grant applications for $1.9 million in funding for environmental education projects and programs that promote environmental stewardship and help develop knowledgeable and responsible students, teachers and citizens. EPA expects to award at least 20 grants nationwide ranging between $15,000 and $100,000. EPA will be hosting a conference call for potential applicants who want to learn more about the application process on April 6th. Applications must be postmarked or submitted electronically via www.grants.gov by May 2, 2011, in order to be considered for funding.
Springtime is arriving. And changes are taking place in the air, land, water, plants and animals all around us. Celebrate the season with students across the country by taking part in IGES's 2011 Earth Day Photo & Essay Contest.
Enter the contest by taking a photograph of something that is changing in your local environment. The photo can be taken anytime from Monday April 18 through Friday April 29, 2011 (Earth Day itself is April 22). It can be a photo of something changing in your backyard or neighborhood, near your school or in a local park, on the ground or high in the sky, off in the distance toward the horizon, or anywhere you happen to be.
Then, research and write an essay (400 words or less) and enter by email or mail. Deadline is May 13, 2011.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Leadership in Science Education Prize for High School Teachers recognizes high school science teachers for the development and implementation of innovative methods for teaching and encouraging the next generation of scientists. Teachers must be currently employed as a science instructor in a public or private school for grades 9-12 in the U.S. or its territories. Teachers must be nominated by an administrator within their school, district or state. The winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize to support the development and continuation of the strategy, activity or program. Additionally, an announcement will be published on the AAAS website and in Science magazine and the winner will receive a one-year institutional subscription to Science magazine. Applications for the 2011 AAAS Leadership in Science Education Prize must be received no later than 27 May 2011.
Enter the Rachel Carson "Sense of Wonder" contest. Show how the beauty of nature inspires you through poetry, essays, photos or dance. Entries must be from a team of two or more persons, and must include a young person and an older person. The deadline for team entries is June 10, 2011.
High school students in the United States are invited to participate in NASA's Interdisciplinary National Science Program Incorporating Research Experience, or INSPIRE, through the program's online learning community. Applications are being accepted through June 30, and NASA will make selections for the program in September. Selectees and their parents will participate in an online learning community with opportunities to interact with peers, NASA engineers and scientists. Students selected for the program will also have the option to compete for unique experiences during the summer of 2012 at NASA facilities and participating universities.
INSPIRE is designed to encourage students in ninth through 12th grades to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. The summer experience provides students with a hands-on opportunity to investigate education and careers in those disciplines.
NASA announced the creation of a new website that features women in NASA careers telling their stories in their own words. The website has 32 video interviews with women of diverse backgrounds who represent different aspects of the agency's work. Subjects include astronauts, engineers and scientists. They discuss their accomplishments and offer encouragement to women and girls considering technical careers so they can become the trailblazers of tomorrow. The site also provides information about NASA internships and career opportunities.
Green Teacher Magazine is offering 30 webinars on Planet Earth Education topics. Examples of topics include "School Grounds for Healthy Play and Learning," "Plugged In; But Tuned Out: The Need to Reconnect with Nature," "Innovative Curriculum Design for Sustainability", "Using the Environment as a Context for Learning in Standards-Based Education Systems", "FROG SONGS: Poetry and Essays, Field Ecology and Entomology", and "Green Craft-Making" . To sign up for the webinars and to find out specific dates, check The Green Teacher Webinar page frequently. The webinars begin at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.
The 2011 SAVE THE FROGS! Art Contest will run through October 15th, 2011. All ages and nationalities are welcome to enter the contest.
Also, don't forget to participate in the 3rd annual Save The Frogs Day (April 29th 2011) - Translating Science Into Action!
American middle and high schools are now eligible to participate in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy-Related Laboratory Equipment (ERLE) program. 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 ERLE is updated periodically, as new equipment is identified. Equipment is awarded on a first-received application, first-qualified basis. The Department of Energy, an active Earth Science Week partner, invites schools to acquire equipment by reviewing the list at the ERLE web site and completing an electronic application form.
The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at http://windows2universe.org/ from the National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA). The Website was developed in part with the support of UCAR and NCAR, where it resided from 2000 - 2010. © 2010 National Earth Science Teachers Association. Windows to the Universe® is a registered trademark of NESTA. All Rights Reserved. Site policies and disclaimer.