August 2006

Are you ready?

Hope August finds you enjoying the last bits of summer (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), refreshed and excited about the coming school year! This month's newsletter is full of information that you can use to get ready for the start of school, including Teacher Resources and classroom activities useful for topics ranging from Climate Change to Space Weather! On top of that, we have our regular August astronomical event of the Perseids Meteor shower to share with your family, friends, and students. Check out Julia's column for an exciting new feature for Windows to the Universe, the Science History calendar!
Here we go again!
by Roberta

Here at Windows to the Universe, we keep track of the number of visitors we have to our website pretty carefully. Every August, we note that the number of visitors goes up from the annual low in July, when most schools in the Northern Hemisphere are out of session, and lots of people are on vacation. We thought you might be interested in knowing about how many people are using the website around the world, so have put together a page for you to visit to find out more! It's a good rule of thumb, though, that when you're visiting Windows, so are thousands of others around the world!

Austin, Texas Workshop Resources
by Randy

On July 24th, we presented a workshop in Austin, Texas, as part of the "6th Annual Environmental Health Sciences Summer Institute for K-12 Educators". This was the first time we've participated in this workshop series, which is hosted by "The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Science Park - Research Division at Smithville". Our day-long workshop was titled "The Sun-Earth Connection and Geomagnetism: How the Sun, space weather, and Earth's magnetic field influence our planet's environment". We covered three major topics during our workshop: magnetism, space weather, and the Sun-Earth connection; radiation; and ultraviolet "light" and its effects on people and Earth's environment. If you're interested in these topics, click here to view links to our resources that were presented at the workshop.

An Online Portal for Climate Workshop Resourses
by Lisa

In late July, Teri Eastburn, Educational Designer at UCAR Education and Outreach and Windows to the Universe contributing writer, led a workshop for Texas (U.S.) educators in order to explore various aspects of Earth's climate. The workshop, entitled Can a Good Climate Go Bad? Past, Present, and Future Climate was a part of the 6th Annual Environmental Health Sciences Summer Institute at the University of Texas. Teacher participants explored how knowledge of Earth's past climate helps us understand the present climate system. They gained understanding of today's climate models and the strengths and weaknesses of these invaluable predictive tools, and they engaged in inquiry activities while searching for answers to the question of how climate change may impact life as we know it.

In an effort to share the workshop's educational resources with the Windows to the Universe community of educators from around the world, we have developed an online portal for workshop resources (see Texas workshop link given above). If you are interested in perusing the materials from other educator workshops, please visit the full catalog of workshop resource pages. We invite you to explore these resources and utilize them as you expand your climate education repertoire!

Science History Calendar
by Julia

It can come in handy for you and your students to get a reminder of noteworthy events in science history. We now have a new tool for this - the Windows to the Universe Science History Calendar. It can show events that happened on a given day, week or month in history, with links to corresponding Windows to the universe pages.

Here's a sample of what had happened in August:

Perseid meteor shower, a good time to make a Perseid party!
by Marina

A meteor shower is an increase in the number of meteors at a particular time of year. This August, as every August, when the cool night air is refreshing, you can go outside - at midnight - and enjoy one of the best known meteor showers as it makes its appearance when the Earth passes close to the orbit of comet Swift-Tuttle! Comets shed the debris that becomes most meteor showers and the pieces are no bigger than sand grains or pebbles and are consumed many miles above our heads. Perseid meteors rise in the northeast around 11 p.m. in mid-August. This year it will be at its peak on Saturday, August 12th. Binoculars are not necessary. Your eyes will do just fine!

Meteor showers are named by the constellation from which meteors appear to fall, a spot in the sky astronomers call the radiant. For instance, the Perseid meteor shower as stated in this 2002 Windows to Universe page, is so named because meteors appear to fall from a point in the constellation Perseus .

Also, ancient cultures and mythologies have interpreted constellations in different ways and have given them different names,. Use these links, to explore more about the various interpretations of Perseus:
Greek Mythology Pleiades
Navajo Flint boys
Hindú The seven Krttika or The seven Rishis
Aztec Tianquiztli

Ready to plan a Perseid Party? Start by sending special Virtual Post Card Invitations to family and friends and plan a fun midnight party under the sky and make a wish on many shooting stars!

Our Teacher Resources Section
by Jennifer

Have you had a chance to visit our Teacher Resources Section? If not, August may be a great time to do so as you begin planning for a new school year.

In our Teacher Resources section there is a page about various workshops we've presented. So if you are looking for information that was presented during one of those sessions - look here!

We also share other educational links and teacher ideas that have been submitted to the site.

But the highlight of our Teacher Resources section is definitely our Activities Page. Here you'll find many K-12 science activities on subjects from space weather to geology to writing in the science classroom. Most are hands-on and use inexpensive materials. You are welcome to make copies of anything on our site (worksheets, example rubrics...) for use in your classroom.

We have tried our best to make our activities teacher-friendly. You will see on the top of the activities a brief summary of each activity, the grade level addressed, time the activity takes and the National Standards addressed. See our Magnetometer Activity as an example.

We hope our activities will be a refreshing addition to your classroom. To those of you in the Northern Hemisphere - all the best for a new school year!

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

The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). ©1995-1999, 2000 The Regents of the University of Michigan; ©2000-05 University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. All Rights Reserved. Site policies and disclaimer