June 2015

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Time for Summer Vacation!
by Roberta

Summer is upon us, and I hope you all have a wonderful summer vacation!  Note that the Windows to the Universe newsletter will be taking a summer sabbatical as well, after almost 10 years of continuous publication. 

Our newsletter started in September of 2005, and we have consistently published this newsletter in support of both educators and the geoscience education community since that time.  As this summer arrives, NESTA and the Windows to the Universe project are undergoing a transition as I step down from my role as Executive Director of NESTA and relocate to Illinois.  In the meantime, NESTA will be providing Windows to the Universe newsletter subscribers with their monthly newsletter, which arrives typically around the 15th of the month.  This month, you are receiving both the June 2015 Windows to the Universe newsletter as well as the June 2015 NESTA newsletter, which you will continue to receive through September. Unfortunately, this month's newsletter will not be available in Spanish, and we will not be able to continue to offer the newsletter in Spanish unless we have volunteers step up to provide this service, or a funding source becomes available to support this translation. 

In the meantime, if you enjoy receiving the Windows to the Universe newsletter, and would like to volunteer in newsletter contributions or translation into Spanish, please contact us for more information. 

Have a wonderful summer!

  Site and Science News

Eratosthenes Measured Our World

Eratosthenes, an ancient Greek scientist, made the first accurate measurement of the size of the Earth on June 19th, 240 B.C.  He knew that the Sun made no shadow in a well in the Egyptian town of Syene on the summer solstice; and therefore, that the Sun must be directly overhead in Syene on that day.  He measured the length of the shadow of a tall tower in his hometown of Alexandria on the solstice.  He combined this information with the distance between Alexandria and Syene (about 800 km), and with a little geometry, was able to determine the circumference of the Earth with surprising accuracy for that time.

Eratosthenes was a mathematician, elegiac poet, athlete, geographer, astronomer, music theorist, a friend of Archimedes and a chief librarian of the famous Alexandrian library.  He proposed a simple algorithm for finding prime numbers, known in mathematics as the Sieve of Eratosthenes.  He made other major contributions to mathematics, geography and astronomy.  Surprisingly, his contemporaries nicknamed him beta, from the second letter of the Greek alphabet, because he supposedly proved himself to be the second best in almost every field.

NASA Announces Journey to Mars Challenge, Seeks Public Input on Establishing Sustained Human Presence on Red Planet

What do you need to bring, and how do you minimize the need for delivery of future supplies in order to establish a sustained human presence on a planet 140 million miles away from Earth?

NASA is embarking on an ambitious journey to Mars and Tuesday announced a challenge inviting the public to write down their ideas, in detail, for developing the elements of space pioneering necessary to establish a continuous human presence on the Red Planet. This could include shelter, food, water, breathable air, communication, exercise, social interactions and medicine, but participants are encouraged to consider innovative and creative elements beyond these examples.

Participants are asked to describe one or more Mars surface systems or capabilities and operations that are needed to achieve this goal and, to the greatest extent possible, are technically achievable, economically sustainable, and minimize reliance on support from Earth. NASA expects to make up to three awards at a minimum of $5,000 each from a total award pool of $15,000.

NASA’s efforts for sending humans to Mars is well underway today, with spacecraft monitoring Mars from orbit and rovers on the surface. The International Space Station is testing systems and is being used to learn more about the health impacts of extended space travel. NASA also is testing and developing its next generation of launch and crew vehicles -- the Space Launch System rocket and Orion crewed spacecraft.  

NASA’s two-prong approach is to build reusable space capabilities and incorporate commercial and international partners. By developing new technologies along the way and creating the systems necessary to maintain a permanent human presence in deep space, humanity will pioneer space, pushing out into the solar system to stay.

Given spacecraft limitations on weight and volume -- and a minimum 500 days between resupply opportunities -- innovative solutions are required for a mission to Mars that is not dependent on Earth for resources.

NASA seeks technical submissions that describe the development of capabilities and operational events necessary, in both the near- and long-term, to advance this bold journey. Submissions may consist of proposed approaches, capabilities, systems or a set of integrated systems that enable or enhance a sustained human presence on Mars. Solutions should include the assumptions, analysis, and data that justify their value. Submissions should include a process to develop, test, implement, and operate the system or capability.

Submissions will be judged on relevance, creativity, simplicity, resource efficiency, feasibility, comprehensiveness and scalability.

For more information about the challenge, and details on how to apply, visit:


For more information about NASA's journey to Mars, see:


NASA Study Shows Antarctica’s Larsen B Ice Shelf Nearing Its Final Act

A new NASA study finds the last remaining section of Antarctica's Larsen B Ice Shelf, which partially collapsed in 2002, is quickly weakening and likely to disintegrate completely before the end of the decade.

A team led by Ala Khazendar of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, found the remnant of the Larsen B Ice Shelf is flowing faster, becoming increasingly fragmented and developing large cracks. Two of its tributary glaciers also are flowing faster and thinning rapidly.

"These are warning signs that the remnant is disintegrating," Khazendar said. "Although it’s fascinating scientifically to have a front-row seat to watch the ice shelf becoming unstable and breaking up, it’s bad news for our planet. This ice shelf has existed for at least 10,000 years, and soon it will be gone."

Antarctica's Larsen B Ice Shelf
Antarctica's Larsen B Ice Shelf is likely to shatter into hundreds of icebergs before the end of the decade, according to a new NASA study.Credits: NSIDC/Ted Scambos

Ice shelves are the gatekeepers for glaciers flowing from Antarctica toward the ocean. Without them, glacial ice enters the ocean faster and accelerates the pace of global sea level rise. This study, the first to look comprehensively at the health of the Larsen B remnant and the glaciers that flow into it, has been published online in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Khazendar's team used data on ice surface elevations and bedrock depths from instrumented aircraft participating in NASA's Operation IceBridge, a multiyear airborne survey campaign that provides unprecedented documentation annually of Antarctica's glaciers, ice shelves and ice sheets. Data on flow speeds came from spaceborne synthetic aperture radars operating since 1997.

Khazendar noted his estimate of the remnant's remaining life span was based on the likely scenario that a huge, widening rift that has formed near the ice shelf's grounding line will eventually crack all the way across. The free-floating remnant will shatter into hundreds of icebergs that will drift away, and the glaciers will rev up for their unhindered move to the sea.

Located on the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, the Larsen B remnant is about 625 square miles (1,600 square kilometers) in area -- roughly the size of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan combined -- and about 1,640 feet (500 meters) thick at its thickest point. Its three major tributary glaciers are fed by their own tributaries farther inland.

"What is really surprising about Larsen B is how quickly the changes are taking place," Khazendar said. "Change has been relentless."

The remnant's main tributary glaciers are named Leppard, Flask and Starbuck -- the latter two after characters in the novel Moby Dick. The glaciers' thicknesses and flow speeds changed only slightly in the first couple of years following the 2002 collapse, leading researchers to assume they remained stable. The new study revealed, however, that Leppard and Flask glaciers have thinned by 65-72 feet (20-22 meters) and accelerated considerably in the intervening years. The fastest-moving part of Flask Glacier had accelerated 36 percent by 2012 to a flow speed of 2,300 feet (700 meters) a year -- comparable to a car accelerating from 55 to 75 mph.

Flask's acceleration, while the remnant has been weakening, may be just a preview of what will happen when the remnant breaks up completely. After the 2002 Larsen B collapse, the glaciers behind the collapsed part of the shelf accelerated as much as eightfold – comparable to a car accelerating from 55 to 440 mph.

The third and smallest glacier, Starbuck, has changed little. Starbuck's channel is narrow compared with those of the other glaciers, and strongly anchored to the bedrock, which, according to authors of the study, explains its comparative stability.

"This study of the Antarctic Peninsula glaciers provides insights about how ice shelves farther south, which hold much more land ice, will react to a warming climate," said JPL glaciologist Eric Rignot, a coauthor of the paper.

The research team included scientists from JPL, the University of California, Irvine, and the University Centre in Svalbard, Norway. The paper is online at:


NASA uses the vantage point of space to increase our understanding of our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records. The agency freely shares this unique knowledge and works with institutions around the world to gain new insights into how our planet is changing.

For more information about NASA’s Earth science activities, visit:


Women in Space Anniversaries

June marks two anniversaries for women in space.  The first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova (born in 1937), flew aboard Soviet spaceship Vostok 6 51 years ago on June 16, 1963.  At that time, she was a factory worker without a college degree, and was selected for her skydiving skills.  Later, Tereshkova obtained a graduate degree in engineering and was active in politics.

20 years later, the first American woman in space, Sally Ride (1951-2012), flew aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger.  Ride, a physicist by training, remains the youngest American astronaut to be launched into space.  Later, she founded a company that develops classroom materials for STEM educators.  She also wrote or co-wrote five children's books about science.  Her family accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom on her behalf from President Obama in 2013.

There's No Place Like Home!

In the familiar children's story Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Goldilocks found a porridge that was just right.  There is a Goldilocks idea in science that says that the Earth is just right for living creatures.

There are so many factors that make our home planet just right - consider just a few of the things that make Earth habitable by living creatures.

The temperature of Earth is just right for flowing water on the surface, and for rock that allows for continental drift.  With continental drift, particles of the atmosphere, which become trapped within the ground, are brought back to the atmosphere through eruptions of volcanoes.  These conditions refresh the planet's atmosphere.  A medium-sized atmosphere helps keep temperatures just right through the greenhouse effect.

The atmosphere contains oxygen that is needed by most creatures.  And the atmosphere works to protect life, as the ozone layer filters out the Sun's harmful rays.

The Earth has yet another layer of protection - the magnetosphere (including the radiation belts) which prevents most of the particles from the Sun, carried in solar wind, from hitting the Earth.  Some particles from the solar wind enter the magnetosphere, creating the harmless auroral oval light shows.  Other particles become trapped in the radiation belts, making the belts an extremely dangerous place for humans or animals to stay in without protection.  But, most of us remain safe here on Earth, which is just right.

It's worth thinking about how wonderful and unique this home of ours is.  And it's worth taking care of this planet of ours - after all, moving is such a pain!

The Water Cycle

Water is always on the move, and summer can be a great time to learn more about the water cycle.  While you're on vacation, notice what is happening with water all around you.  It can be in the form of water droplets in clouds or in the form of precipitation falling as rain or hail.  Water collects in rivers, lakes, and the ocean, and can be found in plants on the land.  It also falls as snow and ice and is stored in glaciers and other types of ice.

Water moves through the water cycle through various processes, including precipitation, evaporation, transpiration, and condensation.  During the water cycle, water changes state between liquid, solid (ice), and gas (water vapor).  It is recycled over and over through the cycle, and stays in some places longer than others.  For example, a water drop usually spends a lot longer in the ocean than it does in the atmosphere.

Encourage your students to notice water in its many forms this summer!

Warming of Large Lakes - Video and Classroom Activity

Many of us will be vacationing during this upcoming break.  Lakes are a great place to visit on a family vacation.  Did you know that scientists have found a global warming trend in large lakes?  Now warmer water to swim in might sounds like a good thing, but like other effects of global warming, the warming of large lakes could have undesirable implications.  We sure hope you don't find these on your travels, but these effects are something to be aware of for yourself and your students.

Scientists are just starting to study and understand the implications of rising temperatures on lake ecosystems.  One area of concern is the fact that rising lake temperatures result in increased algal blooms.  Algae are naturally found in lake ecosystems and are in fact the base of the aquatic food web.  But when the numbers of algae in a lake rise dramatically, a bloom results.  Some algal blooms are harmless to life, but are simply unappealing.  Water in that area might look terrible, smell foul, or even taste bad (when water is drawn for drinking and purification from that source).  Other times, algal blooms can be toxic to fish, other aquatic organisms, wild and domestic animals that use that source of water, and humans.  Humans can experience gastroenteritis (if the toxin is ingested), lung irritations (if the toxin becomes aerosolized), or skin irritation (e.g., if the algae/toxin is touched while swimming).

Rising lake temperatures have also been shown to favor invasive species found in lakes.  In the Great Lakes region, two examples of invasive species under scrutiny are zebra mussels and lampreys.  Zebra mussels have been seen to thrive in warmer and warmer waters, which means they can extend their living range to higher and higher latitudes.  Lampreys seem to thrive in warmer waters growing bigger and bigger and are staying active for more of the year.  Both of these invasive species are extreme pests that are killing off native species, eating the food of native species, or in the case of zebra mussels, causing billions of dollars of damage to structures and aquatic vehicles.

Clearly, more study and attention is due these important limnic ecosystems where so many people live, work, make their homes, and enjoy recreation and relaxation.

To learn more, explore our Warming Lakes Classroom Activity or watch a video produced by NBC Learn called Warming Lakes.

Are You Feeling the Heat?

Did you know that the air in urban areas can be 2 - 5°C (3.6 - 9°F) warmer than nearby rural areas?  This is known as the urban heat island effect.  An urban heat island can increase the magnitude and duration of a heat wave.  It can also influence weather - wind patterns, clouds, and precipitation.

In the classroom activity, Feeling the Heat, students learn about the urban heat island effect.  They investigate how trees, grass, asphalt, and other materials in their schoolyard affect temperatures.  Based on their results, students hypothesize how the temperature of cities might be affected by abundant asphalt and concrete and fewer planted areas.  These surfaces have a large impact on temperature.

In the second part of the activity, students explore a case study of the urban heat island in action.  They examine data about how the number of heat waves in Los Angeles, CA, has increased as population has grown.  This part of the activity makes data analysis a kinesthetic experience as students each represent a decade and order themselves along a rope based on the data from their decade.  Like good scientists, students look for patterns in the data and explore the possible reasons for those patterns.

Take a look at the Feeling the Heat Classroom Activity for more information.

Sun Safety Tips

Stay safe!  If you're outdoors this summer, protect yourself and your family from sun overexposure.  Use a sunblock of SPF 30 or higher, wear clothes and sunglasses that help shield your body from solar radiation, and use extra caution near water and sand, which can reflect the sun’s rays and increase your exposure.

Click here for more sun safety tips and access free printable activity books and sun safety fact sheets for the kids.

Solstice is Coming!

The solstice occurs this month on June 21.  The solstices (summer and winter) and equinoxes (spring and fall) are astronomical events that mark our seasons.  Because of the tilt of Earth's axis, the Sun appears to climb higher (in the summer) and sink lower (in the winter) in the sky as viewed from our planet.  A solstice is a time when the Sun momentarily pauses in this apparent migration as it reaches the greatest extremes of its "wanderings" and begins to "move" back in the opposite direction.  The word "solstice" comes from two Latin roots:  "sol", which means "Sun", and "sistere", which translates as "stand still".

The June solstice is the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere.  The situation is, of course, reversed in the Southern Hemisphere - where the June solstice is the winter solstice.  Because our planet's atmosphere and oceans "store" heat, seasonal temperature extremes tend to lag behind the dates of minimum (or maximum) heating by the Sun, so the coldest part of winter (or hottest part of summer) happens after the solstice.

Students often mistakenly believe that the seasons are caused by variations in Earth's distance from the Sun.  This misconception doesn't make sense when one remembers that the seasons are opposite in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres - why isn't it cold everywhere on the globe when the Earth is farthest from the Sun?  As Earth travels around the Sun in its elliptical orbit, its closest approach to our celestial furnace is in January, during the depth of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

To learn more about the solstice and seasons, check out these pages on Windows to the Universe:

Learn about Tornadoes!

Although tornadoes can happen at any time of the year, they are especially common during the spring and early summer.  May and June are usually the peak months in terms of numbers of tornadoes in the northern hemisphere.

The conditions that lead to the formation of tornadoes are most often met in the central and southern U.S., where warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico collides with cool, dry air from the Rockies and Canada.  The area where tornadoes occur most often extends roughly from the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians, and from Iowa and Nebraska to the Gulf of Mexico.  The center of this area, which includes parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska, is often called tornado alley.  Tornadoes can also occur elsewhere though, including all U.S. states, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

The weather section of Windows to the Universe provides information about these storms, including how tornadoes form, how meteorologists forecast where and when tornadoes will occur, and how scientists use the Enhanced Fujita Scale to determine the strength of a tornado.  In addition, our Tornado in a Bottle classroom activity provides a great way to illustrate tornadoes for your students.

It's Hurricane Season!

Storm surge, high winds, and heavy rain - it's that time of year again!  Hurricane season in the Atlantic begins June 1st and ends November 30th.  The Eastern Pacific hurricane season began May 15th and also ends November 30th.  Check out Windows to the Universe to learn more about how hurricanes form.  

Check in at the NOAA National Hurricane Center web site for safety and preparedness information, the list of storm names that will be used this year, and hurricane tracking maps.  Print out a tracking map and plot the paths of the eye of each storm as it travels across the Atlantic or Pacific this summer.

Cousteau's Anniversary

June 11 is the 105th anniversary of the birthday of Jacques-Yves Cousteau - a famous French explorer, ecologist, author, filmmaker and researcher.  He studied the sea and marine life and co-invented the aqua lung, an early underwater breathing device.  But his most important legacy is in marine conservation efforts and educating the public about treasures of underwater life and the dangers of pollution.  Cousteau wrote more than 50 books and created several films and TV series about marine life.  He founded the Cousteau Society that continues his exploration and education mission. 

Windows to the Universe has many pages on Earth's oceans and marine life, including the Ocean Literacy Framework and postcards from scientists exploring the deep sea in the Alvin submersible:  Eric Simms (2007) and Tim Killeen (2009).

  Calendar of Events

2015 International Year of Soils

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 that includes lessons, activities, fun facts, information about soil disciplines, and soil definitions for the novice soil scientist.

This year, the SSSA is coordinating with the Global Soil Partnership and other organizations around the world to celebrate the 2015 International Year of Soils and raise awareness and promote the sustainability of our limited soil resources. During the International Year of Soils, SSSA will have monthly themes that reflect the diverse value of soils to our natural environment and society. Each month will have information on the theme, a lesson plan, and other outreach activities. Visit the International Year of Soils page for more information and to sign up to receive monthly lesson plans.

Earth Science Week 2015 Theme Announced: "Visualizing Earth Systems" - October 11-17, 2015

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is pleased to announce that the theme of Earth Science Week 2015 will be "Visualizing Earth Systems." 

Earth Science Week 2015 learning resources and activities will engage young people and others in exploring ways of visualizing Earth systems. Using technologies ranging from on-site data collection to satellite-based remote sensing, scientists investigate conditions of Earth systems. And today's geoscientists display their findings in charts, graphs, diagrams, illustrations, photos, videos, computer-generated animations, and 3D-printed creations.

"With this theme, Earth Science Week explores what it means to see our planet through eyes informed by the geosciences," says Geoff Camphire, AGI's Manager of Outreach. "Geoscientists are finding innovative ways to not only examine natural phenomena, but also present that information to professional, educational, and other audiences. In addition to tools such as telescopes and microscopes, we also can view and map changes in natural systems through new avenues such as computer games, smartphone apps, and online videos."

Earth Science Week 2015 will be celebrated October 11-17. 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.

Webcast Details 'Focus Days' Of Earth Science Week - October 11-17, 2015

What does Earth Science Week 2015 have in store for you? Each day during the week, you can focus on a different area of Earth science. Go online today to view a new webcast about the "Focus Days" of this year's celebration:

* International EarthCache Day (Sunday, October 11)
* Earth Science Literacy Day (Monday, October 12)
* No Child Left Inside Day (Tuesday, October 13)
* National Fossil Day (Wednesday, October 14)
* Geoscience for Everyone Day (Thursday, October 15)
* Geologic Map Day (Friday, October 16)
* International Archaeology Day (Saturday, October 17)

This free webcast, narrated by AGI Outreach Assistant Katelyn Murtha, provides an overview of opportunities, activities, and resources available. The roughly four-minute tutorial includes a wealth of online links, which viewers can click during the presentation to review available resources.

To view the webcast, visit http://www.earthsciweek.org/webcasts. In the coming months, look for additional webcasts on Earth Science Week 2015: "Visualizing Earth Systems." To learn more about Focus Days, go to http://www.earthsciweek.org/focus-days.

June 8th is World Oceans Day

Join in the celebration of World Oceans Day (June 8), our planet’s biggest celebration of the ocean.  Explore the World Oceans Day web site for ideas, resources, and information about how you can get involved.

UN World Environment Day

On June 5th, the United Nations will sponsor annual World Environment Day (WED).  World Environment Day is a day in which activities around the world are aimed at stimulating awareness of the world we live in and encouraging people to come together and work toward a cleaner environment.

Learn more about World Environment Day and this year’s theme at:  UN World Environment Day.

June is a Month to Garden!

June is Perennial Gardening Month.  Celebrate by getting your hands dirty!

Need some help getting started?  KidsGardening.org provides lessons, activities, handouts and articles (PK-12th grade) that apply across the curriculum.  Educators can register school and community gardens, communicate with other programs and engage in meaningful discussions about garden activities.  Complete with how-to guides, garden stories, grants and resources, this free resource helps educators of all ages engage children in hands-on learning opportunities.

National River Cleanup and National River Month

In June 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught on fire, spurring the Clean Water Act and other water pollution control legislation.  Over forty years later and the Cuyahoga is doing much better!  

Why not make a difference during National Rivers Month (every June) to help clean up a river near your home?  The National River Cleanup is celebrating 20+ years of making a difference.  Make this June a month in which you and your family make a difference!

  Other Announcements

Space Math @ NASA

Are you looking for a way to bring math into your geoscience curriculum?  Check out the Space Math @ NASA posted by Sten Odenwald from NASA Goddard.  To date, there are almost 700 problems posted!  Problems range from upper elementary to high school level, and use math to solve real problems in the Earth and space sciences!

Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures Now on YouTube

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is happy to announce that the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures, featuring noted scientists giving nontechnical illustrated lectures on recent developments in astronomy, are available on their own YouTube Channel at:  AstronomyLectures.  There are many different talk topics covered such as how the discovery of Eris led to the demotion of Pluto, the possibility of multiple universes, black widow pulsars, and discussion about if we can survive a bigger impact than the Chelyabinsk Meteor?

The lectures are taped at Foothill College near San Francisco, and are co-sponsored by NASA's Ames Research Center, the SETI Institute, and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

Note that the top page of the channel shows the lectures in the order they happened to be uploaded to YouTube.  If you want to see them in chronological order, select the Playlist option.  Both new and older talks in the series will be added to the channel as time goes by.  Many noted astronomers have given talks in this series since its founding in 1999; recent lectures are being recorded so that people around the world can "tune in" and learn more.

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.

Flying Wild: An Educator's Guide to Celebrating Birds

Flying WILD's focus on migratory birds is designed to inspire young people to discover more about the natural world.  It encourages students to get involved in activities that promote environmental learning and stewardship.  The Flying WILD program places special emphasis on reaching urban schools with student populations that traditionally receive few opportunities to participate in environmental education initiatives.

The Curriculum Guide's many activities can be used to teach classroom lessons or to initiate service-learning projects that help birds and improve natural habitats.

Project Learning Tree Blog

If you’re like most educators, you want your students to have a deep understanding of the environmental issues in our country – but if you’re like most educators, you probably also have difficulty incorporating environmental education into a classroom schedule that’s already packed. And with the proliferation of new standards, your job isn’t getting any easier.

Project Learning Tree works to support teachers like you by creating environmental education materials and curriculum resources that link with existing educational mandates, such as the Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, National Social Studies Standards, as well as state-specific learning standards.

With Project Learning Tree, you can help your students develop the knowledge, critical thinking skills, and leadership they will need to tackle the environmental problems of the future – all while enhancing student achievement.  Please visit the PLT blog to see what curriculum resources and activities might fit your needs and teaching standards.

Project Noah

Project Noah is an online and mobile location-based application that encourages people to reconnect with nature by documenting local wildlife. The tool harnesses the power and popularity of smart phones to collect important ecological data and help preserve global biodiversity.

You can earn patches, identify wildlife, go on missions and become a citizen scientist. Join today!

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!

Geography Resources

The Association of American Geographers (AAG) offers an array of web resources for K-12 and college-level Earth science education:  

* The Geographic Advantage (http://geographicadvantage.aag.org/), an educational companion for the National Research Council’s “Understanding the Changing Planet,” outlines teaching strategies and geographic investigations that show students how geographers explore environmental change and sustainability.

* AAG’s Center for Global Geography Education (http://www.aag.org/cgge) offers online modules for undergraduate courses in geography and related social and environmental sciences.  All modules feature a conceptual framework, regional case studies, and collaborative projects.

* GeoSTART materials will help middle/high school students learn state-of-the-art approaches to geography, earth science, and spatial thinking skills using NASA Earth Observing Missions' remote sensing imagery and related data.  Go online (http://www.aag.org/cs/education/k12_and_teacher_education/geostart_teaching_earth_science) for free activities and materials.

Environmental Summer Reading List by Project Learning Tree

Do you want to motivate your students to learn more about the environment over the summer?  Would you like to brush up on some nature literature yourself?  With summer break right around the corner, it's a perfect time to check out Project Learning Tree's Environmental Summer Reading List that will help students (and teachers) develop the knowledge, critical thinking skills, and leadership they will need to tackle the environmental challenges of the future.

This list is sorted according to age group.  Please take a look – we hope you find something inspiring for your students – and maybe even for yourself!

Table of Contents


Journey to Mars Chal
Antarctic Ice Shelf
Women in Space
The Water Cycle
Large Lakes
Feeling the Heat
Sun Safety Tips
Tornadoes 2014
Hurricane Season!

2015 Year of Soils
ES Wk Visualize OCT
ES Wk Webcasts
World Oceans Day
June Gardens

Space Math @ NASA
Si Valley Astronomy
Free H2O Poster
Flying Wild
PLT Blog
Project Noah
VHUB - Volcano
Geography Resources
Env Summer Reading















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