July 2006

For those of us in the US, summer is here - most students are out of school and teachers have a well deserved break! But that doesn't mean that we can't all keep learning about the Earth. Many students will probably spend considerable time outdoors, possibly at the beach, seeing neat rock formations, or splashing in lakes and streams. These leisure events are still opportunities for learning, and a number of educational ideas are provided below. Naturally, the Earth remains active, as recent tectonic activity in Indonesia shows. Some relevant resources on Windows to the Universe are linked below. Have a great summer!
The National Earth Science Teachers Association
by Roberta

The National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) is a nonprofit educational organization in the US, founded in 1983, whose purpose is the advancement, stimulation, extension, improvement, and coordination of Earth Science education at all educational levels. NESTA offers services to members, including a quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, an electronic newsletter, NESTA ENews, National Science Teachers Association meetings including Share-a-thons, Rock Raffles, Field Trips, and Earth and Space Science Resource Days. Click on the link above to find out more about NESTA, or apply for membership.

Ultraviolet "Light"
by Randy

Summer is here (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere at least!), and with it comes trips to the beach or pool. When you go outside this summer (or on sunny days in the winter!), make sure to wear your sunglasses and to slather on sunscreen. Ultraviolet "light" can cause sunburn or even skin cancer, and can also damage your eyes. Fortunately, our atmosphere's ozone layer absorbs most ultraviolet radiation before it reaches us on the ground. Thanks to our protective atmosphere, a few simple precautions can help keep us safe from the remainder of this potentially dangerous type of radiation!

Hurricane Season Has Begun!
by Jennifer

As of June 1, hurricane season has begun! NOAA has predicted a very active season - check out this NOAA/National Weather Service page for up-to-date hurricane and tropical storm happenings and information on hurricane preparedness. Stay ahead of your students to see how hurricanes form and to see the make-up of a hurricane.

There is a theory that hurricanes are actually becoming stronger and more frequent as a result of global warming. This has been a hot debate topic in the scientific world. Access this timely CNN article to see the debate issues summarized and discussed.

Hurricane damage is obviously a concern to many citizens of countries like Japan and the United States and that's why so much emphasis is put on improved hurricane forecasting. Look here for more satellite images of hurricanes.

Plate Tectonic Movements Are Current Events
by Lisa

Volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are evidence of plate tectonic movements.   During the past month, the residents of Indonesia’s Java Island have experienced both of these pieces of evidence.  One of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mount Merapi, is in Java. It has erupted many times in the past month. Additionally, a strong earthquake with an epicenter southeast of the capital city of Jakarta occurred on Saturday May 27 and devastated towns in central Java.  

Visit the plate tectonics section of Windows to the Universe to learn how and why the Earth’s plates move. Then allow your students to explore how plates move by trying the Snack Tectonics classroom activity.

by Marina

Tracking the early record of life on Earth is not an easy task. Biologists easily differentiate members of the three domains of life: Eubacteria , Archaea , Eukaryota, but these characters rarely survive fossilization, so they are not easily available to scientists (Paleontologists) who study fossils.

Geological processes have erased most of the early records of life. But sedimentary rocks contain a clue to ancient environments as they preserve traces of Earth's history the same way Leaves From the Past Tell the Future.

Scientist who study rocks are Geologists, and they all study the Surface and the Interior of Earth . Rocks are all around us. They make up the backbones of hills and mountains and the foundations of plains and valleys. Beneath the soil you walk on and beneath muddy swamps, even beneath the ocean basins is a basement made of hard rock.

Whenever you are out and about, over land or under the sea, look around you, grab a rock and look closely! You may be holding a key from the past!

Ready for some more FUN? The activity, Making Sedimentary rocks, lets you recall which types of environments each rock type represents.

Need to print something out?
by Julia

Did you know we have a text-only version? The link is in the lower left corner of the Windows to the Universe entry page. Besides being helpful for users with very slow connection speed and users with vision problems, it allows you to print the page text easily without black background. You can switch to the text version from any page by adding "&text=t" to the page URL, for example, http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/jupiter/jupiter.html&text=t.

To print the text with images, you can also switch to white background. This is done by adding "&col=white" to the URL on any page, for example, http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/jupiter/jupiter.html&col=white. Note that the images will still be on black background.

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