April 2013

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements
Windows to the Universe Facebook Group

Time To Get Green!
by Roberta

The calendar says it's spring, and I can't wait to see new life in the garden, flowers blooming, and the trees bursting out with life.  The amazing temperate deciduous forest here in the northeast of the United States is something to behold in spring! 

Thanks to all of you that responded to our Needs Assessment of K-12 Earth and space science and environmental science teachers regarding the Next Generation Science Standards, soon to be released in the United States.  We have nearly 900 responses to date.  We, along with our colleagues in many different organizations working to support geoscience and environmental science education, will be studying your responses to find out how we can best serve you.  If you haven't responded yet, there is still time - just complete the survey here.  Once we have a chance to study the results, we will share them with you in this newsletter.

Please do check out the list of our events and sessions at the National Science Teachers Association conference in San Antonio, Texas, this month (April 11 - 13).  I hope to see you there!

April is full of opportunities to Get Green!  Explore some of these opportunities (described in more detail below) with your students.  In April, we celebrate Earth Month, Garden Month, Week of the Ocean, Environmental Education Week, National Park Week, Earth Day, Arbor Day and Save the Frogs Day.  Why wait to be Green?

Comet Pan-STARRS Update

For a comet, visiting the sun is risky business.  Fierce solar heat vaporizes gases long frozen in the fragile nucleus, breaking up some comets and completely destroying others.

That's why astronomers weren't sure what would happen in early March when Comet Pan-STARRS, a first-time visitor to the inner solar system, dipped inside the orbit of Mercury.  On March 10th, NASA’s STEREO-B spacecraft watched as the comet made its closest approach to the sun only 28 million miles away.  At that distance, the sun loomed 3 times wider and felt more than 10 times hotter than it does on Earth.

The comet survived!

Comet Pan-STARRS is now receding from Earth.  It will slowly dim as it heads back into deep space.  Ironically, though, its visibility will improve for a while as it heads into darker skies away from the sun.

For many in the world's mid-northern latitudes, including the U.S., Canada, Europe (except the far north), China, Korea, and Japan, Comet Pan-STARRS will now appear to be approaching the Andromeda Galaxy.  To see this Andromeda Galaxy "encounter" for yourself, step outside after sunset, face northwest, and take a look.  Binoculars would make viewing easier, though Pan-STARRS could appear as a naked-eye object.

Amplified Greenhouse Effect Shifts North's Growing Seasons

Vegetation growth at Earth's northern latitudes increasingly resembles lusher latitudes to the south, according to a NASA-funded study based on a 30-year record of land surface and newly improved satellite data sets.

An international team of university and NASA scientists examined the relationship between changes in surface temperature and vegetation growth from 45 degrees north latitude to the Arctic Ocean.  Results show temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982.

"Higher northern latitudes are getting warmer, Arctic sea ice and the duration of snow cover are diminishing, the growing season is getting longer and plants are growing more," said Ranga Myneni of Boston University's Department of Earth and Environment.

"It's like Winnipeg, Manitoba, moving to Minneapolis-Saint Paul in only 30 years," said co-author Compton Tucker of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

An amplified greenhouse effect is driving the changes, according to Myneni.  Increased concentrations of heat-trapping gasses, such as water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane, cause Earth's surface, ocean and lower atmosphere to warm.  Warming reduces the extent of polar sea ice and snow cover, and, in turn, the darker ocean and land surfaces absorb more solar energy, thus further heating the air above them.

"This sets in motion a cycle of positive reinforcement between warming and loss of sea ice and snow cover, which we call the amplified greenhouse effect," Myneni said. "The greenhouse effect could be further amplified in the future as soils in the north thaw, releasing potentially significant amounts of carbon dioxide and methane."

For more information and images associated with this study published in the journal Nature Climate Change, visit:  http://go.nasa.gov/12Amv2s

Van Allen Probes Reveal a New Radiation Belt Around Earth

NASA's Van Allen Probes mission has discovered a previously unknown third radiation belt around Earth, revealing the existence of unexpected structures and processes within these hazardous regions of space.

Previous observations of Earth's Van Allen belts have long documented two distinct regions of trapped radiation surrounding our planet.  Particle detection instruments aboard the twin Van Allen Probes, launched Aug. 30, quickly revealed to scientists the existence of this new, transient, third radiation belt.  Scientists observed the third belt for four weeks before a powerful interplanetary shock wave from the sun annihilated it.  

The belts, named for their discoverer, James Van Allen, are critical regions for modern society, which is dependent on many space-based technologies.  The Van Allen belts are affected by solar storms and space weather and can swell dramatically.  When this occurs, they can pose dangers to communications and GPS satellites, as well as humans in space.

For more information on the Van Allen Probes, visit:  http://www.nasa.gov/vanallenprobes

Thunderstorms and Tornadoes

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 thunderstorms and tornadoes, explains how tornadoes form, and tells 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.

Webb Telescope Gets Its Wings

A massive backplane that will hold the primary mirror of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope nearly motionless while it peers into space is another step closer to completion with the recent assembly of the support structure's wings.

The wing assemblies are extremely complex, with 900 separate parts made of lightweight graphite composite materials.  They enable the mirror, which is made of 18 pieces of beryllium, to fold up and fit inside a 16.4-foot (5-meter) fairing on a rocket, and then unfold to 21 feet in diameter after the telescope is delivered to space.  All that is left to build now is the support fixture that will house an integrated science instrument module, and technicians will connect the wings and the backplane's center section to the rest of the observatory.  The center section was completed in April 2012.

The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.  It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built and observe the most distant objects in the universe, provide images of the first galaxies formed and see unexplored planets around distant stars.  The Webb telescope is a joint project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

For more information about the James Webb Space Telescope, visit:  http://www.jwst.nasa.gov

A Recipe for Clouds

Many teachers present their weather unit in the spring.  You can't teach about weather until you have talked about clouds!

Do you talk to your class about the 'ingredients' needed to make clouds?  Cloud physics is extremely complicated and scientists are researching that area every day.  Fundamentally though, you do need three main ingredients to create a cloud - water, CCN, and a drop in pressure.

Cloud Condensation Nuclei (CCN) are vitally important in this 'recipe'!  When water in the vapor form experiences a drop in pressure, it wants to condense, but it needs a surface on which to condense.  That's where the CCN come in.  A CCN can be a speck of dirt, dust, pollen or even a piece of human skin or hair.  Do you know what the most common CCN is?  It's tiny bits of sea salt - released in sea spray.  It makes sense when you think about how much of the Earth is covered with ocean water.

We have an activity on the site called the Three Clouds Activity.  It will reinforce these concepts nicely.  The Cloud in a Bottle part comes with a great Student Activity Sheet that you are welcome to use in your classroom.

Black Carbon - Background and a New Classroom Activity

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.

Black carbon stays in the atmosphere for several days to weeks and then settles out onto the ground.  Sources of black carbon are open biomass burning (forests and savannah burning that can start from natural causes like lightning or human-induced causes like slash and burn methods for clearing land), biofuel burning, diesel engines, industrial processes and residential coal burning.  Black carbon is produced around the world and the type of soot emissions vary by region.

Black carbon contributes to global warming in two ways.  First, when soot enters the atmosphere, it absorbs sunlight and generates heat, warming the air.  Secondly, when soot is deposited on snow and ice, it changes the albedo of that surface, absorbing sunlight and generating heat.  This warming causes snow and ice to melt, and darker-colored Earth surface and ocean are exposed and less solar energy is reflected out to space causing even more warming.  This is known as ice-albedo feedback.

The amount and type of aerosols in the atmosphere has an impact on the albedo of our planet.  Earth’s planetary albedo is about 0.31.  That means that about a third of the solar radiation that gets to Earth is reflected out to space and about two thirds is absorbed.  Aerosols like black carbon have a low albedo and reflect very little solar energy.  This air pollution is having an impact on Earth’s climate.

Scientists Ramanathan and Carmichael estimate that black carbon emissions are the second largest contributor to global warming, after carbon dioxide emissions.  Reducing black carbon emissions is one of the fastest strategies for slowing global warming.  Luckily, many policies have been put in place to reduce the production of black carbon around the world, and the technology necessary to lessen black carbon emissions already exists.  To improve further, we need to better regulate the industrial processes that produce black carbon, and individuals need affordable and available technology to be able to make shifts away from practices like biofuel cooking and residential coal combustion that are still used in much of the world today.  The importance of black carbon's role in global warming has come to the forefront of the minds of many concerned citizens and exciting steps are already being taken to address issues like making cleaner burning cook stoves available in developing nations.  These reductions of black carbon around the world will not only aid in reducing global warming, but will improve human health and environmental aesthetics.

Try out the new Changing Planet Activity called Black Carbon - A Dusty Situation to teach about black carbon in your classroom.

NESTA at the 2013 National NSTA Conference in San Antonio

Thursday, April 11, 2013

8:00am-2:30pm NESTA Board of Directors Meeting, Independence Room, Grand Hyatt Hotel

Friday, April 12, 2013

9:30am Geology Share-a-Thon, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A
11:00am NESTA Ocean and Atmosphere Share-a-Thon, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A
12:30pm NESTA Earth System Science Share-a-Thon, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A
2:00pm Climate Change Classroom Toolkit, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A
3:30pm Let's Get Well Grounded!, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A
6:30-8:00pm NESTA Friends of Earth and Space Science Reception, Lone Star D, Grand Hyatt Hotel

Saturday, April 13, 2013

8:00am Activities in Earth System Science, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A
9:30am Exploring Planetary Science and Astronomy - What Would Galileo Do?, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A
11:00am NESTA Space Science Share-a-Thon, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A
12:30pm NESTA Advances in Earth and Space Science Lunchtime Lecture by Dr. Mark Nielsen, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A
2:00pm Our Changing Planet, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A
3:30pm NESTA Rock and Mineral Raffle, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A
5:00pm NESTA Annual Membership Meeting, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom A

April Meteor Showers

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 spot any meteors on the night of April 21st (into the morning of the 22nd), you will be carrying on a long tradition...for Chinese astronomers first observed Lyrid meteors more than 26 centuries ago!  This year's viewing will be best in pre-dawn hours as a waxing gibbous moon will be in the sky before then.

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 21st to catch a glimpse of a "falling star".

Max Planck's Anniversary

The 155th birthday of German physicist Max Planck is on April 23.

Ironically, when Max Planck (1858-1947) was choosing his career, his physics professor told him that almost everything was already discovered in physics.  Planck went on to become a founder of quantum physics, and was one of the most important physicists of the twentieth century.

Planck was the first to suggest that electromagnetic energy is quantized, meaning that it exists in 'packets' of specific (and very small) sizes; the same way matter exists in very small, defined particles.  Einstein later used this result when he developed his theory of relativity.  For his work on quanta, Planck received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1918.  He also made other important contributions to theoretical physics.

Space Missions in April

April is a good month to talk about space exploration.  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.

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.  Columbia 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 captured awesome images of the solar system, distant stars, and galaxies.  In March 2013, NASA extended Hubble's science operations contract, so hopefully the telescope will be operating well into 2016!

Check out more manned and unmanned space missions on Windows to the Universe.

2012 American Geophysical Union GIFT Workshop Resources Available Now!

Workshop presentations by scientists and education specialists selected to present at the 2012 AGU Geophysical Information For Teachers (GIFT) workshop are now available at http://www.windows2universe.org/teacher_resources/2012_AGU-NESTA_GIFT_Workshop.html.  Six presentation teams were selected from among 29 applications, and their materials were ranked as the most relevant and of the highest quality, so these presentations are a must see for all Earth and space science and environmental science teachers.  We will be adding video links that supplement these resources soon!  Thanks to all the presentation teams for their hard work.  Enjoy!

The Mobile Version of Windows to the Universe is Live!

The mobile version of Windows to the Universe is live!  We hope the new site will make it more convenient for you to plan your lessons or explore Earth and space science while on the road.

Please note that, depending on your phone, some Java and Flash games might not work.  If you notice any problems other than that, please let us know.  Do not forget to tell us your phone model and the page where you noticed the problem.  Thanks!  We appreciate your feedback!

Join NESTA and Windows to the Universe Today!

Are you looking for resources and support to help you bring the best to your students?  Are you concerned about the state of Earth and space science education today?  Now is the time to join the National Earth Science Teachers Association!  Membership benefits are many and include receiving The Earth Scientist (a quarterly journal), full voting privileges, access to members-only areas of the NESTA web site and the monthly e-mail newsletter that shares new resources, opportunities, alerts, and upcoming events.  There are also many special NESTA events at professional meetings.  Plug into this supportive network.  Cost is low!  Join today!

Available for only $10/year for NESTA members (50% off the non-NESTA rate), you can also join Windows to the Universe as an Educator member.  Experience benefits tailored just for educators!

Windows to the Universe also provides these other membership and partnership opportunities:

Table of Contents

Comet Pan-STARRS
Growing Seasons
New Radiation Belt
Severe Weather
Webb Telescope
Black Carbon
NESTA in San Antonio
April Meteor Showers
Max Planck
Space missions
GIFT Resources
Mobile Site is Live!
Join NESTA and W2U!

Selene Videogame
Earth Month 2013
Natl Garden Month
Natl Wk of Ocean
EE Week Webinar
EE Week Coming!
Space Apps Challenge
Earth Day 2013
IGES Photo/Essay
Free Natl Parks
DNA Day!
Arbor Day 4/26
Save The Frogs!
Summer Rocket Work
Intel ISEF
Carson Contest
Design Challenge
Mapping Our World
Global Change Survey
Einstein Fellows
Free H2O Poster
VHUB - Volcano
Soil Sci Education
AGI on YouTube














  Teacher Submissions

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  Announcements from Partners

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

Have a Blast Learning About the Moon!

Play Selene, the free, award-winning online videogame that Science magazine and the National Science Foundation honored in 2013 as one of the top educational games or apps in the world (International Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge).  Learn the solar system's basic geological processes by firing away at what will quickly become a full-fledged, pockmarked moon like our own.  Replicate the Moon's 4.5 billion-year history.  Incorporate Selene into your classroom curriculum (ages 9 and up).  Follow with our MoonGazers hands-on activities that take Selene players outside to explore the Moon and its phases from their own backyard.  Empirical research shows Selene causes and measures learning.  Discover and apply concepts that are standards-based, then investigate the Moon.  BILINGUAL EDUCATORS:  Selene is now available in a Spanish language version!  Contact us:  selene@cet.edu.

Earth Month 2013 at Union Station in Washington DC

Union Station in Washington DC is hosting Earth Month 2013, a month-long event scheduled for April 1 through April 30, featuring interactive, eco-friendly experiences to raise awareness of environmental issues and encourage sustainability.  Earth Month 2013 represents a significant expansion of Earth Day festivities held previously on the National Mall.  As a historic landmark that attracts travelers from around the globe, Union Station is an ideal setting to spread a message of sustainability and conservation to worldwide audiences.  In addition to the scheduled events, exhibitors from across the country will be on hand to highlight their own green initiatives, programs and events. 

Earth Month is presented by Earth Day Network and the Premier Tourist and Landmark Association and will feature a film festival, a farmers’ market, alternative energy demonstrations, a green fashion show and a science fair with local schools, all held at Union Station throughout the month of April.  Earth Month is also incorporating the National Cherry Blossom Festival into its activities by hosting its Youth Art Contest at Union Station.  In addition, there will be programmed activities, entertainment, discussion panels, contests, games, giveaways and much more, with a full day of special events and entertainment on Earth Day (www.earthday.org), Monday, April 22.  Most events are free and open to all ages.

National Garden Month

Every April, communities, organizations, and individuals nationwide celebrate gardening during National Garden Month.  Gardeners know, and research confirms, that nurturing plants is good for us:  attitudes toward health and nutrition improve, kids perform better at school, and community spirit grows.  Join the celebration and help to make America a greener, healthier, more livable place!

Remember, when you garden, you grow!  Here's 101 ways to celebrate Garden Month this April!

National Week of the Ocean

National Week of the Ocean will be celebrated March 31-April 6, 2013.  Week of the Ocean is a marine education program credited with more than three decades of learning about and caring for the ocean.  It is a grassroots program that appreciates, protects and uses the ocean wisely.

Week of the Ocean offers four ocean awareness concepts:  the Campus Event, the School Marine Fair, the Community Festival and the Local Chapter.  Check out the schedule page for more information.

NASA Casts a Wide Net for STEM Education Partners

NASA is inviting potential partners to help the agency achieve its strategic goals for education.

Using its unique missions, discoveries, and assets, NASA supports education inside and outside the formal classroom to inspire and motivate educators and learners of all ages in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).  The agency is seeking unfunded partnerships with organizations to engage new or broader audiences across a national scale.

Potential partnership activities are varied, and NASA is receptive to a wide range of possibilities.  All categories of domestic groups, including U.S. federal government agencies, are eligible to respond to this announcement.  NASA particularly seeks responses from creative organizations with wide-ranging areas of expertise that can affect systemic change for improving STEM education.  NASA will accept responses through Dec. 31, 2014.  Review of responses will begin April 1.

Organizations interested in responding to this education opportunity can access the announcement at:  http://go.nasa.gov/VgRZYt

EE Week Webinar: 21st Century Tools for Environmental Learning in the Community

Get ready for EE Week 2013:  Taking Technology Outdoors by tuning in to an upcoming webinar hosted by EE Week and Green Teacher.  You'll learn about turning student interest in technology tools and media into a powerful venue for learning.

Ruth Kermish-Allen, Education Director, and Rachel Thompson, Education Programs Associate, at the Island Institute will introduce the Institute and their strategies for integrating and applying technology with community-based environmental education programs.  They'll discuss lessons learned and explore how to apply these strategies in a formal classroom setting.  They'll also discuss how to engage students in hands-on environmental learning through the application of 21st century skills and knowledge.

This webinar will take place on April 3, 2013, at 7:00 p.m. EDT.  Register now (it's free!).

EE Week is April 14-20

National Environmental Education Week (EE Week), the nation’s largest environmental education event, inspires environmental learning and stewardship.  Focusing this year on the theme “Greening STEM:  Taking Technology Outdoors,” EE Week (April 14-20, 2013) connects educators with environmental resources that promote K-12 students’ understanding of the environment.

The environment is a compelling context for teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as it provides teachers with a diverse range of real-world challenges that can provide students with meaningful hands-on (often interdisciplinary) opportunities.

EE Week provides a range of resources at http://eeweek.org/greening_stem.  Register for EE Week at http://eeweek.org/register.htm to receive educational materials and unique opportunities.

NASA Launches Second International Space Apps Challenge

NASA and government agencies worldwide will host the second International Space Apps Challenge April 20-21, with events across all seven continents and in space.  Participants are encouraged to develop mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualization and platform solutions that could contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth.

The two-day event will provide an opportunity for government to harness the expertise and entrepreneurial spirit of citizen explorers to help address global challenges.  During the event, representatives of NASA and other international space agencies will gather with scientists and participants to use publicly released open data to create solutions for 50 software, hardware and visualization challenges, including robotics, citizen science platforms and applications of remote sensing data.  Challenges selected to be worked on during the event will be published online prior to the event.

The 2012 challenge engaged more than 2,000 participants who collaborated on more than 100 open source solutions to 71 featured challenges.

Twelve locations in the United States will host an International Space Apps Challenge event:  Atlanta, Austin, Cape Canaveral, Cleveland, Detroit, Easton, New York, Philadelphia, Reno, Rochester, San Francisco and Syracuse.  38 other events will be held in 30 other countries:  Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Poland, Macedonia, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Uganda and the United Kingdom.  Also participating will be McMurdo Station in Antarctica and astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Registration for citizen participation opened on March 1.  To learn more about the International Space Apps Challenge, visit: http://spaceappschallenge.org

Earth Day 2013

Earth Day 2013 is quickly approaching!  Millions will celebrate this day on April 22, emphasizing the theme The Face of Climate Change.

Climate change can seem like a remote problem for our leaders, but the fact is that it's already impacting real people, animals, and beloved places.  These Faces of Climate Change are multiplying every day.  Fortunately, other Faces of Climate Change are multiplying too:  those stepping up to do something about it.  Together, we'll personalize the massive challenge climate change presents by telling the world these stories through images shown (and collected) at thousands of Earth Day events around the world.

Help build a global Earth Day mosaic or contribute an Act of Green (the number submitted has surpassed 1 billion - help reach 2 billion!) or attend an Earth Day event.

Let's be among those who make a difference for the Earth on April 22 and all year long!

2013 Earth Day Photo & Essay Contest

The 2013 IGES Earth Day Photo & Essay Contest encourages students to rediscover their world through the lens of a camera, taking note of the dynamic changes around them.  Some of these changes may be quite dramatic - the impact of a winter storm causing changes to a shoreline; the introduction of a creek created by strong spring rains; the placement of a birds' nest in a neighborhood tree; or the presence of plants in an abandoned building or on a rooftop.

What better way to capture those changes than with a photograph?

During the week of Earth Day (April 22), middle school students (grades 5-8) across the country can be part of a unique photography contest, documenting changes in their local natural environment.  The photograph must be taken anytime from Monday April 15 through Friday April 26, 2013. 

Students should then research and write an essay about the photograph.  The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES) staff will judge entries submitted by May 10, 2013, based on relevance to the contest theme (depiction of change in the natural environment), uniqueness and overall appearance of the photo, and quality of the essay.

The top three winners will receive $150, $100, and $75 Visa gift cards, respectively.  Each of the top 10 winners will receive a photo book featuring the top 10 photos with his or her photo on the front cover.  The top 10 photos will also be featured on the IGES website.

For submission instructions, entry form, suggestions for using this activity in the classroom, and to see winning photographs and essays from previous years, please visit:  www.strategies.org/EarthDayPhoto

Free Entrance Days in National Parks

The National Park Service is proud to once again join with the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America's national parks, to present National Park Week.

Looking for something fun, free, and fantastic to do with family and friends?  Head out to America's national parks where millions of stars light up the dark night sky, deer and antelope (and a few other critters!) play on the wide-open range, and history is an unbelievable experience, not an exam.

And the best news?  During National Park Week, April 22-26, ALL 398 of your national parks offer free admission all week long!  Enjoy!

National DNA Day is April 25

April 25 is National DNA Day, when people around the U.S. commemorate the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 and the discovery of DNA's double helix by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953.  Although the structure of DNA was only discovered 60 years ago, it sparked a revolution in biology and medicine that has continued into the present day in the field of genomics, and this annual celebration offers students, teachers and the public many exciting opportunities to learn about the latest advances in genomic research and explore what they may mean for their lives.

A wide variety of National DNA Day events are sponsored by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), in cooperation with the American Society of Human Genetics, the Genetic Alliance, the American College of Medical Genetics (AMCG), the International Society of Nurses in Genetics (ISONG), the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC), and the American Pharmacist Association.

To read more about DNA day, and for ideas on how to celebrate it in your classroom, visit the NHGRI DNA day website at http://www.genome.gov/10506367.

Celebrate Arbor Day on April 26!

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.

5th Annual Save The Frogs Day - April 27th

The 2013 SAVE THE FROGS! Art Contest will run through October 15th, 2013.  People of all ages, nationalities, and skill levels are encouraged to enter the contest, and we hope all schools will draw frog art on Save The Frogs Day -- April 27, 2013.

Why save frogs?  Learn more by exploring cool frog facts and find Save The Frog events near you!

NASA Seeks University Participants for Summer Rocket Workshop

University faculty and students interested in learning how to build scientific experiments for spaceflight are invited to join RockOn 2013 from June 15-20 at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.  RockOn 2013 is an annual workshop held in partnership with the Colorado and Virginia Space Grant Consortia.  Registration is open through May.

During the program, participants will work together to build experiment payloads to fly on a NASA sounding rocket predicted to reach an altitude of 73 miles.  The flight will take place June 20, the last day of the workshop, weather permitting.

"The purpose of the program is to bring together university students and instructors, and introduce them to building scientific experiments for space flight," said Chris Koehler, director of the Colorado Space Grant Consortium.  "We really get into the basics of building experiments, including developing circuit boards, programming flight code and working together as a cohesive team on space projects."

For more information and to register online, visit:

Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF)

Intel ISEF is the world's largest international pre-college science competition and will be held May 12-17, 2013 in Phoenix, AZ.  It is the premier global science competition for students in grades 9–12.  Each year more than 1,500 high school students from about 70 countries, regions, and territories display their independent research and compete for more than $3 million in awards.  We encourage you to visit the Intel ISEF 2013 homepage to learn more, view the Recent Results page for information about past Intel ISEF award winners, and check out all the latest pictures from the event on Facebook.

Rachel Carson Contest

Enter the Rachel Carson "Sense of Wonder" contest.  Show how the beauty of nature inspires you through poetry, essays, photos, songwriting 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, 2013.

NASA Launches Exploration Design Challenge

NASA unveiled an Exploration Design Challenge to give students from kindergarten through 12th grade the opportunity to play a unique role in the future of human spaceflight.  The challenge asks students in the U.S. and abroad to think and act like scientists to overcome one of the major hurdles for deep space long-duration exploration -- protecting astronauts and hardware from the dangers of space radiation.

NASA's Exploration Design Challenge brings cutting-edge learning to educators and students using standards-based activities, as well as print and video resources developed by leading education experts.  Students taking part in the challenge will discover how to plan and design improved radiation shielding aboard a new spacecraft.

Younger students, in grades K-4 and 5-8, will analyze different materials that simulate space radiation shielding for a spacecraft and recommend materials that best block harmful radiation and protect astronauts.  Students in grades 9-12 will learn about radiation and human space travel in greater detail.  Using what they have learned, they will be asked to think and act like engineers by designing shielding that protects a sensor on a spacecraft from space radiation.

To learn more about the Exploration Design Challenge and to sign up to become a virtual crew member, visit:  http://www.nasa.gov/education/edc

Earth Science Week 2013 Theme Announced: "Mapping Our World"

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is pleased to announce that the theme of Earth Science Week 2013 will be "Mapping Our World."

This year's event will promote awareness of the many exciting uses of maps and mapping technologies in the geosciences.  Earth Science Week 2013 materials and activities will engage young people and others in learning how geoscientists, geographers, and other mapping professionals use maps to represent land formations, natural resource deposits, bodies of water, fault lines, volcanic activity, weather patterns, travel routes, parks, businesses, population distribution, our shared geologic heritage, and more.  Maps help show how the Earth systems (geosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere) interact.

Earth Science Week 2013 will be celebrated October 13-19.  For more about this week and ways to get involved, including newsletters, local events, and classroom activities, please see the Earth Science Week web site.

AGI Survey on Geoscience Impacts of the Sequester

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) has started a web-based survey to gather information on whether the sequester is having an impact on the geosciences and, if so, to gauge the nature of the effects.  AGI is urging as many people as possible to respond, ideally on a weekly basis (as impacts are likely to increase over time).  They would like to hear from geoscientists across the spectrum including those in industry and academia in addition to those with direct links to government.  Responses that report “no impact” are important and stories detailing any impacts are welcome.

Responses will provide AGI with valuable insights and real-life reports about how the sequester is, or, alternatively, is not affecting geoscientists’ ability to address our nation’s critical needs.  To participate in the survey please click here.

Understanding Global Change Educator Survey

In response to the need for a better informed and more scientifically literate populace, the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) and the National Center for Science Education (NCSE) with funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation are developing a web-based resource for science education that will provide rigorously-vetted, non-partisan, scientific information on global change (defined broadly to include the varied ways the Earth’s natural systems change over time). 

To inform that process of developing this web-based resource, they need help from the science teaching community!  The following anonymous survey should take less than 15 minutes to complete, but will help hundreds of thousands of educators and students for years to come! 

To participate in the survey, follow this link:  UNDERSTANDING GLOBAL CHANGE SURVEY.  If you have any questions about the survey, please email BSCS.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and time.  All responses will be thoughtfully reviewed and the information collected will be used to develop the best web-based resource on global change issues possible.

Announcing the 2013-14 Einstein Fellows

The Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education announced the 27 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educators who have been selected for the 2013-2014 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program.  Selected educators will serve in Washington, D.C., for 11 months beginning September 1, 2013, at sponsoring federal agencies which include the Department of Energy (DOE), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Einstein Fellows provide practical classroom insight in guiding education programs and policies, especially those related to STEM education.
Founded in 1990, the Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program is a paid fellowship for K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics educators with demonstrated excellence in teaching.  Fellowships aim to increase understanding, communication, and cooperation between the legislative and executive branches of the government and the STEM education community.  The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Act, authorized by Congress in 1994, gave DOE federal responsibility for the program.  The Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education administers the Program for the DOE Office of Science in partnership with the other participating federal agencies.

To see if there was a fellow chosen from your state or to learn more, visit:  www.trianglecoalition.org.

Free Water Cycle Poster for Kids

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have teamed up to create a water-cycle diagram for students in elementary and middle schools.  It is available in Spanish and a number of other languages.  To view or print a copy of this poster go to http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycle-kids.html.

VHub - Volcano Resources

VHub is a site for collaborative volcano research and risk mitigation.  Use the Resource Warehouse to locate a plethora of quality educational resources including posters, crossword puzzles, slide shows, factsheets, and activities.  This is your one-stop free shop for all things volcanic!

Climate Literacy & Energy Awareness

The Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness Network (CLEAN) is a wonderful community with more than 500 different teaching resources on climate, climate change, and energy.  These resources (including classroom activities, experiments, and visualizations) are reviewed by educators and scientists, and are annotated and aligned with standards and benchmarks making it easy to locate the best resources to meet your needs.  Make climate literacy and energy awareness a priority by visiting the CLEAN web site.

SSSA Offers Riches Of Soil Science Education

Six thousand members strong, the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a scientific organization that aims to support geoscience teaching and learning about soils.  This AGI member society provides an educational resources web page (https://www.soils.org/about-soils/lessons/resources) that includes lessons, activities, fun facts, sites of interest organized by soil topic and grade level, and soil definitions for the novice soil scientist.

You can also visit the online version of “Dig It,” an SSSA-sponsored exhibition on soil that ran in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History through January 2010.  Explore Dig It online and you'll find interactives, videos, educational materials, and more.

AGI Releases Faces of Earth Series in HD on YouTube

The American Geosciences Institute is pleased to announce that it has released its award-winning Faces of Earth series on YouTube in full High Definition (http://www.youtube.com/user/AmericanGeosciences).  Delve into the Faces of Earth and rediscover the wonders behind our dynamic planet.  From the resounding cacophony that bore Earth 4.6 billion years ago, to the steady and resolute changes that affect our surroundings even today, the Faces of Earth series explores the vibrant, forceful, and ever-changing facets of planet Earth. 

Conveniently packaged into four informative and energetic videos, the Faces of Earth series seamlessly flows from an exciting introduction to the geosciences, to a deeper understanding of what fuels our planet.  Experience spectacular imagery, exclusive interviews, and captivating commentary from distinguished geoscientists as you explore this compelling collection of videos.  Use these dynamic videos as an engaging learning tool for students of all ages!

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