August 2013

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Ready, Set, ... School!
by Roberta

Well, hopefully everyone's had a chance for a great summer break, including a chance to get outside and see our beautiful planet!  Once again, though, the new academic year is creeping up on us, and it's time to get ready for students!  This newsletter is full of great resources, opportunities, and information for you to get started.  A key item below includes the deadline of August 6th to apply to present at the AGU GIFT workshop in San Francisco!  We also list below our workshops at the fall NSTA conferences in Portland, Charlotte, and Denver, and we look forward to seeing you there!  This year we will be putting particular emphasis on ways to address the Next Generation Science Standards in the Earth and space science classroom.  Best wishes for your last few weeks of summer, and for a great new academic year!

Hubble Finds New Moon Orbiting Neptune

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a new moon orbiting the distant blue-green planet, the 14th known moon to be circling the giant planet.

The moon, designated S/2004 N 1, is estimated to be no more than 12 miles across.  It is so small and dim that it is roughly 100 million times fainter than the faintest star that can be seen with the naked eye.  It even escaped detection by NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft, which flew past Neptune in 1989 and surveyed the planet's system of moons and rings.

For images, video, and more information about Neptune's new moon, visit:

For more information about the Hubble Space Telescope, visit:

Tropical Storms Update

Hurricane season for the Atlantic and Pacific basins runs through November 30th.  Eyes were following Flossie in the Pacific all week, but luckily that storm has been downgraded to a tropical depression.  Areas of heavy rain remain over parts of the island chain and all of Hawaii remains on alert for flash flooding which can cause rockslides and mudslides.

Scientists have predicted an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season for 2013, but thus far the year has had only four named storms, and none has grown to hurricane-strength.  Tropical Storms Andrea, Barry, and Chantal each caused some local flooding, but no major damage when they finally made landfall in Central America and Hispaniola.  The fourth storm, Dorian, has become disorganized and is not likely (less than 20% chance) to become a tropical cyclone.  The low pressure area is causing rain and thunderstorms in the Caribbean and will move across parts of the Bahamas soon.

Check in at the NOAA National Hurricane Center web site for safety and preparedness information, the list of storm names for the Pacific and Atlantic basins that will be used this year, and hurricane tracking maps.   Let's hope Erin and Fernand in the Atlantic and Gil and Henriette in the Pacific are long in coming!

IBEX Satellite Provides First View of the Solar System's Tail

Like a comet, the solar system has a tail.  For the first time, NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) has mapped out the structure of this tail, which is shaped like a four-leaf clover.

While telescopes have spotted such tails around other stars, it has been difficult to see whether our star produced one.  The particles found in the tail do not shine, so they cannot be seen with conventional instruments.  The IBEX team, however, was able to use a technique called energetic neutral atom imaging to measure these particles and map the solar system’s tail.

Scientists do not know how long the tail is, and are testing their current computer simulations of the solar system against the new observations to improve our understanding of the comet-like tail streaming out behind us.

For more information about the IBEX mission, visit:

The Grass is Always Greener -- Where The Lightning Strikes!

Have you ever noticed that the grass in your yard always gets greener after a thunderstorm?  That’s partly because lightning actually helps to feed the plants in the area.  The electrical energy in lightning splits Nitrogen molecules in the air, allowing their newly freed atoms to react with oxygen and form nitrates, which then dissolve in rain drops and fall to the ground, where they nourish plants.  This process is called nitrogen fixation, because it’s a process in which nitrogen is converted from an inert form to one that is usable by living organisms.  Scientists think that roughly 5-8% of the nitrogen fixation on Earth is actually caused by lightning, which means that thunderstorms are actually an important part of the global Nitrogen cycle.  You can learn more about lightning and the Nitrogen cycle on the Windows to the Universe website.

What's a Haboob?

Haboob.  Really?  Ok, I'm not pulling your leg here.  A haboob is a real thing - an Earth science thing!  A haboob is a strong wind and accompanying sand or duststorm.  In Khartoum, Sudan, they occur on average 24 times a year!  Imagine a wall of sand or dust engulfing everything around you - 24 times each year!

Haboobs can happen in almost any desert region.  In fact, haboobs have hit the Phoenix, Arizona area the last two Julys.  The leading edge of the 2011 storm was almost 100 miles across and traveled 150 miles.  There is an impressive video shot from a helicopter that shows this powerful storm moving into the Phoenix area.  This was no doubt a bad day to be out for an evening stroll or casual drive, as Accuweather estimated the swell of dust to be over a mile (5,000 feet!) high and said winds reached 70mph!

Haboobs are named for the Arabic word for wind, habb.  Haboob.  Fun word to say, but not a fun thing to experience.  Check out National Weather Service's safety tips for weathering a haboob.

Ultraviolet Index

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, make sure to wear your sunglasses and to slather on sunscreen.  Ultraviolet "light" can cause sunburn or even skin cancer (melanoma can affect even teens and young adults).  UV radiation 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!

Before you go out, be sure to check the UV Index in your area so you know how strong the sun's rays will be.  The UV Index predicts the strength of harmful solar rays.

Finally, review (and practice!) the EPA's recommendations for sun safety at

The Mysteries of the Sky

People have been wondering about what they see in the sky for a long time.  Because of our curiosity about the sky, we tell stories and myths about what we see there.  The desire to explain what we see around us in the simplest way using science has driven astronomers for centuries.

By carefully watching the sky, astronomers learn about how the universe works.  By studying eclipses and the motions of the planets, astronomers eventually realized that gravity controls the way things move, and that gravity was responsible for the motion of the Sun, the Moon, and the stars in our sky as well.  We now know that the Earth's motion is responsible for seasons.

Ever more powerful telescopes allow us to "see" further away and thus farther into the history of our Universe.  With them, we can study stars and galaxies, as well as many of the more mysterious objects in our Universe.  Someday, we may even be able to predict the ultimate fate of the Universe.

Still Time to View the Delta Aquarids Meteor Shower

Every day, about 100 tons of meteoroids -- fragments of dust and gravel and sometimes even big rocks – enter the Earth's atmosphere.  Stand out under the stars for more than a half an hour on a clear night and you'll likely see a few of the meteors produced by the onslaught.  But where does all this stuff come from?  Surprisingly, the answer is not well known.

The Delta Aquarids meteor shower, which will continue through early August, is thought to be caused by Earth crossing through the orbit of an unknown comet.  The meteors radiate from the constellation Aquarius, for which the shower is named.  The shower produces approximately 15 meteors per hour and the optimal viewing time is an hour or two before dawn.  Meteor watchers in tropical latitudes (both in the Southern Hemisphere and in the Northern Hemisphere) enjoy the best views.

If you turn your gaze skyward during the summer and see something you don't recognize, check out the NASA All-sky Fireball Network web site to figure out what you saw.  This site hosts data from a network of cameras that observe and track meteors brighter than the planet Venus (also called fireballs).

Notable Science History Dates in August

There are several notable science history dates in August.  Here are some of them:

  • August 1, 1818 - Birthday of Maria Mitchell (1818-1889), an American astronomer who was the first female professor of astronomy in the United States.
  • August 17, 1877 - American astronomer Asaph Hall discovered Phobos and Deimos, the moons of Mars.
  • August 25, 1609 - Galileo demonstrates his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers.
  • August 27, 1883 - Krakatoa island destroyed by volcanic explosion.
  • August 27, 1962 - Launch of Mariner 2, the first interplanetary spacecraft.
  • August 30, 1871 - Birthday of Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937), a physicist who is considered the father of nuclear physics.

Deadline Approaching! Apply to Present at AGU/NESTA GIFT Workshop in San Francisco

Applications to present at the GIFT workshop at the 2013 Fall Meeting of AGU in San Francisco will be taken though August 6, 2013.  Participating in the AGU/NESTA GIFT workshop is an excellent way to share your science and associated educational resources with teachers, and to help them bring these resources directly into their classrooms.  Final decisions on selected presentation teams will be made by August 23.

The workshop will be held December 9-10, 2013, from 7:30 am-3 pm (allowing teachers to explore the exhibit hall and attend poster and presentation sessions in the afternoon).  A Share-a-Thon will be hosted each day during the workshop.

Workshop presentations by scientists and education specialists presented at the 2012 GIFT workshop are available at  Enjoy!

Perseid Meteor Shower 2013

Possibly the best known meteor shower, the Perseids, will be peaking August 12-13 (around midnight until just before dawn).  Luckily, the crescent moon will set early to enhance viewing that peak night.  The Perseids provide chances to see many bright meteors (upwards of 60/hour!), with persistent trains, the week before the peak as well.  So look skyward toward the constellation Perseus and enjoy nature's show!

Need tips for viewing this year's meteor shower?  Check out Sky and Telescope's guide to the year's best meteor displays.

Workshops at the NSTA Regional Conferences this Fall!

Will you be at the NSTA Regional Conferences in Portland, Charlotte or Denver? If so, we invite you to participate in one or more of the sessions listed below.


Portland NSTA Regional Conference

Date Title Time Location
Friday, October 25

Using Natural Hazards as a Hook in the Earth and Space Science Classroom


OR Conv Ctr, Oregon Ballroom 203/204

Effective Approaches for Addressing the Next Generation Science Standards in the Earth and Space Science Classroom


OR Conv Ctr, Oregon Ballroom 203/204

Effective Strategies for Sharing Climate Change Science and Energy Consumption Implications in the Classroom


OR Conv Ctr, Oregon Ballroom 203/204

High-Impact Classroom Earth Science in a STEM World


OR Conv Ctr, Oregon Ballroom 203/204

NESTA Earth Science Share-a-Thon 2:00-3:00pm

OR Conv Ctr, Oregon Ballroom 203/204

NESTA Rock and Mineral Raffle 3:30-4:30pm

OR Conv Ctr, Oregon Ballroom 203/204

Charlotte NSTA Regional Conference

Date Title Time Location
Friday, November 8

Effective Strategies for Sharing Climate Change Science and Energy Consumption Implications in the Classroom


Charlotte Conv Ctr, Ballroom A

Effective Approaches for Addressing the Next Generation Science Standards in the Earth and Space Science Classroom


Charlotte Conv Ctr, Ballroom A

NESTA Earth Science Rock Raffle


Charlotte Conv Ctr, Ballroom A

Using Natural Hazards as a Hook in the Earth and Space Science Classroom


Charlotte Conv Ctr, Ballroom A

High-Impact Classroom Earth Science in a STEM World


Charlotte Conv Ctr, Ballroom A

Denver NSTA Regional Conference

Date Title Time Location
Friday, December 13

Using Natural Hazards as a Hook in the Earth and Space Science Classroom


Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial A/B/C

Effective Approaches for Addressing the Next Generation Science Standards in the Earth and Space Science Classroom


Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial A/B/C

Effective Strategies for Sharing Climate Change Science and Energy Consumption Implications in the Classroom


Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial A/B/C

High-Impact Classroom Earth Science in a STEM World


Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial A/B/C

NESTA Earth Science Share A Thon


Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial A/B/C

NESTA Earth Science Rock Raffle


Hyatt Regency Denver, Centennial A/B/C

Our Teacher Resources Section

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 our E-newsletter summary page.

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, etc.) 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!

Humor in the Science Classroom

Do you or another teacher you know use humor in the science classroom to teach concepts?

Little research has been done on the use of humor as an instructional tool.  A graduate student in the school of Education at the University at Albany is studying the way that science teachers use humor in their teaching to positively affect student learning.

forum has been set up for science teachers to comment about their experiences using humor in the classroom or to nominate other teachers who regularly use humor to teach science.  You are encouraged to visit and participate in this forum.

Back to School!

It’s almost back-to-school time again, and that’s a big part of why the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have designated August “National Immunization Awareness Month.”  Immunizations (or vaccinations) are a huge part of modern medicine, and in many ways they are the most important means of controlling infectious diseases like measles, polio, and diphtheria.

Vaccinations work by showing your body’s immune system what a potentially harmful virus or bacterium looks like, without actually exposing your body to a real infection.  Once your body learns to recognize the virus or bacterium, it can deal with a real infection much more efficiently.  This means that your immune system can often clear an infecting virus or bacterium without you even knowing you were exposed.

There’s a lot of discussion about vaccines’ safety these days, but it’s important to remember this — the one thing that that’s been proven again and again for more than 200 years is that vaccines save lives.

Podcasts and ScienceCasts!

Listening to science podcasts is a great way to brush up on your own content knowledge!  They are easy to "carry with you" on trips and they are free!  You'll glean tidbits of information that will make your subject fun and fascinating, plus relevant, for your students.

The Windows to the Universe podcast zone is a great place to find brief podcasts produced by the National Science Foundation.  Other favorite podcasts of ours include Lab Out Loud podcasts produced by NSTA and Astronomy behind the Headlines podcasts produced by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.  Listen, learn and enjoy!

ScienceCasts are NASA videos created by an astrophysicist and a team of agency narrators and videographers.  New videos are posted weekly.  The format is designed to increase understanding of the world of science through simple, clear presentations.  Current episodes include the improbable anniversary of Opportunity, noctilucent clouds and glow-in-the-dark plants on the ISS.

For a complete list of ScienceCast episodes that you and your students can enjoy, visit:

Interactive Version of the Next Generation Science Standards

Earlier this spring, the final Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a new set of voluntary, rigorous, and internationally benchmarked standards for K-12 science education, were released. 

Achieve has launched an online, interactive version of the NGSS that allows users to search the standards and organize content to meet their needs by simply clicking Within the Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI) or Arranged by Topics (then further organize by grade band/level).  The NGSS can also be viewed as the individual performance expectations that make up the standards.  In this arrangement, content can be organized by the three dimensions:  from the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and DCIs.

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Table of Contents

New Neptune Moon
Trop Storms Update
SS Tail
Lightning - N Cycle
What's a Haboob?
UV Index
Delta Aquarid MS
Sci History Dates
AGU GIFT in SanFran
Perseid MS
NSTA Workshops-Fall
Teacher Resources
Science Humor
Vaccines (BTS)
Sci Standards Online
Address Book

Shark Week 2013!
Congressional Visit
Green Thumb Chall
GreenWorks! Grant
K-5 Math/Sci Grants
ES Wk Mapping World
ES Week Contests
Junior Paleo
Geologic Map Day
Night Rovers
EarthScope Speakers
Science Behind News
Flat Stanley-Stella
GeoWord of the Day
SEED Program
Geography Resources
2 Minute Geology
NOAA Activity Book
Meteorology Glossary
Iowa Impact Crater














  Teacher Submissions

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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

Shark Week! Night After Night, Bite After Bite

How are you celebrating Shark Week this year?  Join Discovery Channel for a "Happy Shark Week" starting Sunday, August 4.

Find out why Great White sharks are swimming just off beaches from South Africa to Australia, and up and down the coast of California.  Find out how sharks hunt and if certain sharks might "go rogue" like in the hit movie Jaws.  Get your shark fix with the many available TV shows, online videos, games, photos, news and even shark apps!  

With shark populations on the decline, find out the top ten shark conservation projects and read about ways that sharks do help people!

The 6th Annual Geosciences Congressional Visits Day

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI), in collaboration with many other geoscience societies, invites geoscientists to come to Washington DC for the annual Geosciences Congressional Visits Day (GEO-CVD) on September 17-18, 2013.  Decision makers need to hear from you.  Become a citizen geoscientist and join many of your colleagues for this two-day event uniting geoscience researchers, professionals, students, educators, engineers, and executives in Washington DC to raise visibility and support for the geosciences.

A constructive visit from citizen geoscientists about the importance and value of geoscience (and geoscience-related engineering) research and education is the most effective way to inform and impact federal science policy.  Find out more information and sign up for this important event at

Green Thumb Challenge Grant

The Green Education Foundation (GEF) and Gardener’s Supply Company have teamed up on a funding opportunity for established youth garden projects nationwide.  The organizations are calling on schools and youth groups to submit chronicles of their garden projects in a race to win a $1,000 prize.  The award is designed to support the continued sustainability of an exceptional youth garden program that has demonstrated success, and has impacted the lives of kids and their community.  

Click here to learn more about the grant or application process.  The deadline for applying is September 30th.

Apply for a PLT GreenWorks! Grant

Project Learning Tree has GreenWorks! grants of up to $3,000 available to schools and youth organizations for environmental service-learning projects.  The application form is now online and the deadline to apply is September 30, 2013.

PLT's GreenWorks! program is open to any PLT-trained educator in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.  The grants help students actively improve their local environments, which include both their schools and their communities.  Possible project ideas might include implementing recycling programs, conserving water and energy, improving air quality, or establishing school gardens and outdoor classrooms and integrating these projects into the curriculum.  PLT also provides grants for youth to plant trees, conserve forests, restore habitats, improve streams, construct nature trails, and more.

PLT GreenWorks! projects combine academics with service projects using the service-learning model.  In this way, students “learn by doing” through an action project they both design and implement.  The projects encourage students to partner with school decision-makers, local businesses, and community organizations to provide opportunities for student leadership.

Teachers and students can visit to download an application and apply today.  Successful applicants can expect grant funds to be awarded in December 2013.  All projects must be completed by December 2014.

Toshiba America Foundation Grants for Grades K-5

Toshiba America Foundation offers grants of up to $1,000 to support innovative projects designed by elementary (K-5) teachers to make their classrooms more exciting for students.  Proposed projects must advance the teacher's science and math teaching units.  The deadline for submission is October 1, 2013.

Earth Science Week 2013 - 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.  To pre-order Earth Science Week 2013 Toolkits, please visit  You may also call AGI Publications to place your order for toolkits at 703-379-2480.

Contests Add Fun, Learning To Earth Science Week 2013

AGI is sponsoring three national contests for Earth Science Week 2013.  The photography, visual arts, and essay contests - all focused on the event theme of “Mapping Our World” - allow both students and the general public to participate in the celebration, learn about Earth science, and compete for prizes.

The photography contest, open to all ages, focuses on “Mapping My Community.”  Open to students in grades K-5, the visual arts contest is titled “Making Maps Through the Ages.”  Finally, students in grades 6-9 are eligible to enter the essay contest:  “How Geoscientists Use Maps.”  Essays of up to 300 words should describe how geoscientists use maps to monitor interactions of Earth systems.

The deadline for entries is October 18, 2013.  The first-place prize for each contest is $300 and a copy of AGI’s “Faces of Earth” 2-DVD package.  To learn more about these contests, including how to enter, visit

Encourage Your Students To Be Junior Paleontologists

The National Park Service’s Junior Paleontologist program seeks to engage young people in activities that allow them to discover the significance of fossils and the science of paleontology, and introduces them to the national park system and to the mission of the National Park Service.

Besides learning about Earth’s history, ancient life, and past changes to climate and environments, Junior Paleontologists explore the ways paleontologists work to protect fossils found in more than 230 national park areas that preserve these scientific resources.  This is a great way to prepare for the third annual National Fossil Day, taking place on Wednesday, October 16, during Earth Science Week 2013 (October 13-19).
The Junior Paleontologist Program is a part of the National Park Service's Junior Ranger Program, which aims to connect young people to their national parks.  Download the Junior Paleontologist Activity Booklet for children ages 5 to 12 at

Geologic Map Day: Celebrate on October 18

On Friday, October 18, 2013, you are invited to join in the celebration of the second annual Geologic Map Day!  Geologic Map Day will promote awareness of the study, uses, and importance of geologic mapping for education, science, business, and a variety of public policy concerns.

The event will enable students, teachers, and the wider public to tap into educational activities, print materials, online resources, and other opportunities for participation.  Check out the Geologic Map Day poster included in the Earth Science Week 2013 Toolkit (  The poster provides a geologic map, plus step-by-step instructions for a related classroom activity, encouraging students to explore what geologic maps can tell them about natural hazards.  Additional resources for learning about geologic maps can be found on the new Geologic Map Day web page (

Finally, don't forget that university-level students can enter the 2013 Best Student Geologic Map Competition.  To be considered, students should contact the official U.S. Geological Survey representative by September 6.  To learn more, visit

NASA Night Rover Energy Challenge

Registration is open for teams seeking to compete in the $1.5 million energy storage competition known as the Night Rover Challenge, sponsored by NASA and the Cleantech Open of Palo Alto, CA.  To win, a team must demonstrate a stored energy system that can power a simulated solar-powered exploration vehicle that can operate through multiple cycles of daylight and extended periods of darkness.

"The goal of the Night Rover Challenge is to stimulate innovations in energy storage technologies of value in extreme space environments, such as the surface of the moon, or for electric vehicles and renewable energy systems here on Earth," said Michael Gazarik, NASA's associate administrator for Space Technology at NASA Headquarters in Washington.  "NASA wants this challenge to generate new ideas that will allow planetary rovers the ability to take on a night shift, and possibly create new energy storage technologies for applications of benefit here on our home planet."

For information about the Night Rover Challenge or to register a team, visit:  Registration closes October 25, 2013.  Trials will begin in January 2014.

EarthScope Speaker Series Explores Quakes, Eruptions

The 2013-2014 EarthScope Speaker Series is presenting scientific results of EarthScope research to faculty and students at colleges and universities.  EarthScope explores the structure and evolution of the North American continent and the processes that cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Speakers, who present science-based lectures on their own EarthScope-related projects, are selected based on their outstanding research accomplishments and their abilities to engage various audiences.  Speakers in the 2013-2014 series include Corne Kreemer, Michael Oskin, Ken Ridgway, Mousumi Roy, Anne Sheehan, and Ben van der Pluijm.

Travel and lodging expenses for speakers are provided by funds from the National Science Foundation.  To apply for an EarthScope Speaker, go to  For more information, contact EarthScope at

IDVSolutions Photostream

Need a little inspiration for the upcoming school year?  Look no further!  IDVSolution's photo stream on flickr has remarkable images that will get you (and your students) inspired!  Use them as visual teaching aids, for classroom discussion or have your students examine them in small groups.  After all, a picture is worth a thousand words!  Here are some stunning examples:

Tornado Travel - Historic tornado travel direction in the U.S.

Hurricanes Since 1851 - An updated version of the historical hurricanes swirl map.

Global Bathymetry - A desktop image.

Science Behind the News Video Series

The National Science Foundation (NSF) and NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News, have developed Science Behind the News, a fast paced video series exploring the STEM content of current events.  Each video runs between 4 and 10 minutes and features at least one interview with an NSF-funded scientist or researcher.  Earth Science Titles include Impacts on Jupiter, Extrasolar Planets, Predictive Policing and Tornadoes.

NBC Learn also has other free educational resources available through their portal including Sustainability: WaterChanging Planet, and many more that students, teachers and parents will find useful and interesting. Offers News and Info on Earth Science provides a variety of geoscience materials including Earth science news, maps, an online dictionary of Earth science terms, and information on geoscience careers.

Also on (, are resources for teachers, including links to lesson plans from major Earth science organizations such as the U.S. Geological Survey, the Geological Society of America, and NASA.  To view their teacher page, visit

Flat Stanley and Flat Stella Explore the Environment!

"Stanley and Stella Explore the Environment" is a new blog that will help kids learn about protecting the environment while they also build reading and science skills.  Kids will have loads of fun when they join Stanley and Stella on their adventures this summer at:

GeoWord of the Day From the AGI

The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) has a free GeoWord of the Day service.  GeoWord of the Day is a fun and convenient way to learn a new geoscience term every day.  Each morning (US ET), the service will highlight a new word or term featured in the Glossary of Geology, ensuring daily authoritative terms and definitions for years to come.  Users may choose to receive the GeoWord of Day directly through email by subscribing online.

SEED Program and Web Site

SEED (Schlumberger Excellence in Educational Development) is a volunteer-based, nonprofit education program that empowers Schlumberger employee volunteers and educators to share their passion for learning and science with students aged 10 to 18.  The SEED “learning while doing” methodology draws on the technology and science expertise of volunteers to engage students in global issues such as water, energy, and climate change.

SEED’s School Network Program invites qualified underserved schools to apply for grants that provide various resources, typically including funding for computer hardware and software, and Internet connectivity.  Educational programs offer students and educators in SEED network schools hands-on workshops and online activities using a project-based approach.

The Online Science Center provides educational resources and opportunities to learners and educators in seven languages:  Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.  Learning materials include ready-to-go SEED experiments, activities, and articles from the Online Science Center.  Find out more at

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 (, 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 ( 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 using remote sensing imagery and related data from NASA's Earth Observing Missions.  Go online ( for free activities and materials.

2 Minute Geology

A new series of short geology videos from scenic Washington are now available online!  "2 Minute Geology" is hosted by Central Washington University geology professor Nick Zentner and created by Tom Foster for  12 episodes so far...with many more coming!

Looking for Something to Fill Those Summer Hours? Check Out This NOAA Activity Book!

NOAA has a new activity book about the principles of climate science - Discover Your Changing World With NOAA has ten activities to keep your kids and students engaged this summer.

Chapters include:

  • How does the Sun drive Earth's climate system?
  • How have plants, animals, and humans affected Earth's climate?
  • How do the ocean, ice, clouds, and atmospheric gases affect the impact of the Sun's energy on the Earth?
  • How may Earth's changing climate affect plants, animals, and humans?

Are your students ready to discover their changing world?  This free activity book will introduce students to The Essential Principles of Climate Science, and they will learn what they can do to explore, understand, and protect our Earth.  Download the full activity book or complete individual activities and have fun!

AMS Glossary of Meteorology Available Online

The American Meteorological Society Glossary of Meteorology, an authoritative source for definitions of meteorological terms, is now fully electronic and freely available for anyone to use online.  The direct link is at the Glossary of Meteorology.

The AMS first published the Glossary over 40 years ago.  Containing 7,900 terms, more than 10,000 copies were sold in print.  The new electronic version of the Glossary contains more than 12,000 terms and will be an excellent resource for many years to come!

Iowa Impact Crater Confirmed

Scientists have recently confirmed the existence of an impact crater buried below the town of Decorah, Iowa.  Scientists first discovered what they thought resembled a crater in 2008, but now it has been corroborated by an airborne geophysical survey.  Scientists estimate the diameter of the crater at 5.5 kilometers wide, nearly five times the size of the Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona.

Based on the crater's size, scientists calculate that the region was likely hit by a meteorite roughly 250 meters in diameter about 500 million years ago, and could be related to other Midwestern impact craters.  Statistically, similarly sized impactors could hit Earth's surface every 30,000 to 60,000 years.

Read further in the July issue of EARTH Magazine to learn more about the crater and to find out what implications it might have for the availability of water and mineral resources:

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