September 2012

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Back to School!
by Roberta

How did it get to September again so quickly?  I expect most of you have already started back to school for the new school year, and those that haven't will start again very soon.  I hope you've had a break this summer, that you had a chance to relax, recharge, and hopefully visit some interesting geological sites and/or take part in some good professional development opportunities!  Events so far this year will provide lots to talk about in your classrooms - the warmest year on record in the US, record drought, low water levels, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, new photographs from Mars - you name it!  We are lucky that the science we care so much about is the most relevant science to the human experience. 

There have been some substantial changes for me over the past several months - moving to Albany, New York, where I've joined the faculty in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Science.  I will be teaching courses in environmental science and climate change, and will continue to focus much of my work on geoscience education, K-12 professional development, science literacy, and outreach.  And of course, I am continuing in my role as executive director of NESTA and director of Windows to the Universe.  Over the next several years, I will be working on an exciting new effort to develop an undergraduate level of the website, working in collaboration with faculty at the University of Albany. 

This fall we will be offering an even more extensive set of workshops and events at the Fall NSTA Area conferences - see the entry below about these events for more information.  I hope I get to see you there!  Please do consider presenting at one or more of the fall NESTA Share-a-Thons, and we always welcome your assistance, if you are available to help at an Area conference! 

Curiosity Rover Landed on Mars!

On August 5, NASA's most advanced Mars rover, Curiosity, landed on the Red Planet. Curiosity landed near the foot of a mountain three miles tall and 96 miles in diameter inside Gale Crater. During a nearly two-year mission, the rover will investigate whether the region ever had conditions favorable for microbial life.

Some of the tools Curiosity carries are the first of their kind on Mars, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking elemental composition of rocks from a distance. The rover will use a drill and scoop at the end of its robotic arm to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into analytical laboratory instruments inside the rover. It will use a neutron-shooting instrument to check for water molecules bound into soil minerals.

The rover has already started to return amazing color images of the Martian surface. View Curiosity's latest images at the mission website. On August 27, Curiosity returned the first recorded human voice that traveled from Earth to another planet and back - a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

Read more about the surface of Mars on Windows to the Universe and check out this cool color panoramic view from the surface.

American Hero Neil Armstrong Passes Away

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden regarding the death of former test pilot and NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong. He was 82.  "On behalf of the entire NASA family, I would like to express my deepest condolences to Carol and the rest of the Armstrong family on the passing of Neil Armstrong. As long as there are history books, Neil Armstrong will be included in them, remembered for taking humankind's first small step on a world beyond our own.

Besides being one of America's greatest explorers, Neil carried himself with a grace and humility that was an example to us all. When President Kennedy challenged the nation to send a human to the moon, Neil Armstrong accepted without reservation.

As we enter this next era of space exploration, we do so standing on the shoulders of Neil Armstrong. We mourn the passing of a friend, fellow astronaut and true American hero."

Additional information about Armstrong is available on the Web at:

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, Armstrong's family has a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.

We will miss you Neil!  Thank you for the inspiration!

Autumnal Equinox is September 22

This year, the Autumnal equinox will occur on September 22nd (the beginning of Fall for the N. Hemisphere and the beginning of Spring for the S. Hemisphere). At the equinox times in the Earth's revolution, the Earth is neither tilted directly towards nor directly away from the Sun. In other words, both hemispheres receive roughly equal amounts of sunlight. Equinoxes mark the seasons of autumn and spring and are a transition between the two more extreme seasons, summer and winter.

Contrary to what is commonly believed, day and night are not exactly of equal length at the time of the March and September equinoxes. On the day of an equinox, the geometric center of the Sun's disk crosses the equator, and this point is above the horizon for 12 hours everywhere on the Earth. However, the length of the day is defined as the period when some sunlight is visible, and this also happens when the upper edge of the Sun is visible but its center is below the horizon. The date at which the length of day and night are closest to being equal is called the equilux. The specific dates of equiluxes are different for different latitudes.


Sunspots are visual indicators of powerful magnetic disturbances on the Sun. Solar "storms", such as solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), burst forth from the active regions around sunspots. Upon arrival at Earth, these storms can bombard astronauts with radiation, disrupt satellite and radio communications, and generate beautiful auroras (Northern and Southern Lights). Learn more about sunspots from these pages on Windows to the Universe:

Earth's Magnetic Poles

Did you know that Earth's North Magnetic Pole is actually the south pole of our planet's magnetic field? Did you know that the North Magnetic Pole is located in the Arctic Ocean north of Canada, about 810 km (503 miles) from the Geographic North Pole? Or that the South Magnetic Pole is just off the coast of Antarctica, in the direction of Australia, about 2,826 km (1,756 miles) from the Geographic South Pole? Did you know that the position of the North Magnetic Pole is shifting at a rate of about 41 km (25 miles) per year? Or that the influence of the Sun's fluctuating magnetic field can cause Earth's magnetic poles to migrate by 80 km (50 miles) or more each day? Find out more in our new "Earth's Magnetic Poles" page! For all the details, check out the Advanced level version of the page by clicking on the blue tab along the top of the page.

The Scientific Method at Work

When there are different theories that all try to explain the answer to a scientific question or problem, how do scientists decide which one is right? This is a common problem in science, and we can find big unanswered questions with several different possible answers in every field, from physics to paleontology.

A good example of this is the question of why the dinosaurs went extinct—there are a lot of different theories that propose possible explanations, ranging from asteroid impacts to changes in mammals’ eating habits.

How do we know which is correct? We have to rely on the scientific method—we put together a hypothesis, we make predictions based on that hypothesis, we test our predictions, and then we adjust (or reject) our hypothesis in light of what we observe. In the example above, scientists have used this method to decide that some potential causes of the dinosaurs’ dying off (e.g., asteroid impacts, or increased volcanic activity) are much more likely than others to have contributed to the massive extinction that occurred at the end of the Cretaceous Period.

If you’re interested in reading more, check out our pages about the K-T extinction and scientific method.

Bacteria Discovery

329 years ago, on September 17, 1683, Antony van Leeuwenhoek wrote to the Royal Society about his observations on the plaque between his own teeth and teeth of other people. Looking at it with a microscope of his own design, he reported that he had seen "very little living animalcules, very prettily a-moving". This was the first observation of bacteria.

The name "bacteria" was introduced only in 1838 by a German scientist, Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg, and is derived from the Greek word meaning "small staff". Later in the 19th century, Louis Pasteur and several other doctors and scientists suggested that some diseases may be caused by bacteria.  Robert Koch was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1905 for confirming this theory.

Recent studies have found that bacteria are far more diverse than anyone had suspected. They comprise two out of three domains of life: Archaea and Eubacteria. The third domain, Eukaryota, contains all other living things, including plants, animals, protists, and fungi. This means we are more closely related to trees or amoebas than some bacteria are to other bacteria!


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 the Lab Out Loud podcasts produced by NSTA and the Astronomy behind the Headlines podcasts produced by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Listen, learn and enjoy!

NESTA Workshops at the Fall 2012 NSTA Area Conferences

NESTA is pleased to announce our sessions at the NSTA Area Conference for fall 2012.

Want to present at one or more of our Share-a-Thons? – Sign up to present at a NESTA Share-a-Thon at

NESTA Sessions in Louisville

Friday, October 19 - All events on Friday are in the Kentucky International Convention Center, L15
8:00 – 9:00 am - Activities from Across the Earth System
9:30 - 10:30 am - Let's Get Well Grounded!
11:00 am - noon - Climate Change Classroom Toolkit
12:30 – 1:30 pm – Our Changing Planet
2:00 - 3:00 pm - Share-a-Thon
5:00 – 6:00 pm - Rock and Mineral Raffle

Saturday, October 20
Short Course: Exploring Planetary Science and Astronomy: What Would Galileo Do?  Louisville Marriott, Kentucky C/D, 9:00 am – noon. Ticketed Event: $57 advance; $62 on-site. Purchase tickets when you register online for NSTA or on the Louisville Advance Registration Form.

NESTA Sessions in Atlanta

Friday, November 2 - All events on Friday are in the Georgia World Congress Center, B401/B402
8:00 – 9:00 am - Climate Change Classroom Toolkit
9:30 - 10:30 am - Let's Get Well Grounded!
11:00 am - noon – Activities from Across the Earth System
12:30 – 1:30 pm – Our Changing Planet
2:00 - 3:00 pm - Share-a-Thon
3:30 – 4:30 pm - Rock and Mineral Raffle

Saturday, November 3
Short Course: Exploring Planetary Science and Astronomy: What Would Galileo Do?  Georgia World Congress Center, B404, 9:00 am – noon. Ticketed Event: $55 advance; $60 on-site. Purchase tickets when you register online for NSTA or on the Atlanta Advance Registration Form.

NESTA Sessions in Phoenix

Friday, December 7 - All events on Friday are in the Phoenix Convention Center, 132 A-C
8:00 – 9:00 am - Climate Change Classroom Toolkit
9:30 - 10:30 am – Activities from Across the Earth System
11:00 am - noon – Let's Get Well Grounded!
12:30 – 1:30 pm – Our Changing Planet
2:00 - 3:00 pm - Share-a-Thon
3:30 – 4:30 pm - Rock and Mineral Raffle 

2011 AGU-NESTA GIFT Workshop Presentations, Resources, and Videos Available Online!

We're happy to release the presentations, classroom activities, and videos taken during the AGU-NESTA GIFT workshop for K-12 classroom teachers held during the Fall 2011 AGU Meeting in San Francisco, California, on December 5-6. Please click on this Windows to the Universe page to view the workshop listings complete with presentation descriptions, and links to PowerPoint presentations, activities, supplementary materials, and videos. The workshop included presentations and activities on tsunamis, clouds, climate science field campaigns, the Pine Island glacier in Antarctic, and the dangers of airborne volcanic ash. Enjoy these valuable resources, and the accompanying videos!

Earth and Space Science DVDs, Classroom Activities, Kits, and Books on Windows to the Universe Online Store

We have recently added several new educational DVDs to the Windows to the Universe online store. Available DVDs include:

and the following resources from TASA graphics:

In the Windows to the Universe Teacher Resources section, we have many K-12 science activities on a variety of subjects including geology, water, atmospheric science, climate change, life, space weather and magnetism, and science literacy. Most of these activities are now available in PDF format.

Windows to the Universe Educator Members have free access to all downloadable PDF and PowerPoint materials in our Teacher Resources Activities section (a $230 value!), in addition to other benefits and services for Earth and space science teachers. If you are not a Windows to the Universe Educator Member, you can purchase individual PDF-formatted student worksheets, classroom activity descriptions, and supplementary materials (including downloadable PowerPoints) in our online store.

Want to save time collecting and prepping classroom materials?  We have several classroom activity kits available in our online store for the following popular activities: Glaciers: Then and Now, Traveling Nitrogen Game, CO2: How Much Do You Spew?, and Feeling the Heat - Part 2. Most activity kits are available in a variety of sizes to fit your classroom needs.

Finally, we recently added several new titles to our collection of Earth and space science related books.  New titles include:

As always, Windows to the Universe Educator Members get a 10% discount on all purchases from the online store - and this is on top of publisher discounts.

Windows to Adventure - A New Book Series

Windows to Adventure, a book series devoted to geology, astronomy, the planets, atmospheric science, oceans, and climate, uses fantasy characters, magical realms, and legends from regions around the world, to make science accessible to readers of 3rd or 4th grade.  Angie and Rashad find a strange object in the woods that can take them on adventures, and into a magical realm of talking mountains and planets. 

The first two books in the series have been released and future titles will come out approximately once a quarter through 2014.  The books, translated into English, Spanish and French, will be available in e-Book or print-on-demand format via Kindle, Nook, and Kobo books. They can also be ordered through the science-learning website Windows to the Universe at the Science Store.  Learn more about this exciting series at or follow Red Phoenix Books on Twitter (redphoenixbooks) or Facebook.

Table of Contents

Curiosity on Mars
Thank You Neil!
Magnetic Poles
Scientific Method
Bacteria Discovery
GIFT Workshops
DVDs, Kits, Books
Windows to Adventure

Teaching Planner

Galileo Ed Network
Future City
Campus RainWorks
Be Ready!
Groundwater Day
Congressional Visit
Water is Worth It
VOTE Carson Contest
2012 Estuarine Event
Museum Day
Public Lands Day
Green Thumb Chall
Green Schools!
Mars Explore Teams
My Air, My Health
Lowe's Toolbox
ES Week
EarthCache Day
National Fossil Day
Women in Geosciences
Map Day Oct 19
ES Week Contests
Natl Wildlife Refuge
CubeSat Missions
Pre-College Climate
PEYA 2012
Earthquake Sounds
EarthScope Speakers
Space Travel App
Rocket Game














  Teacher Submissions

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  Sponsored Announcements

The Teaching Planner

How about a little help planning your Earth Science classes at the start of the academic year?

The Teaching Planner is a new online tool developed by a team of science education experts that can help you to plan instruction for the whole year. It includes high-quality and carefully selected science and math web resources, plus you can enter your favorite materials. The resources are organized according to core ideas and type. The Teaching Planner includes lesson-planning capabilities, an integrated grade book, the ability to save and share resources, translation, and many other helpful features.

Summing up, the Teaching Planner saves you hours of time and makes teaching more enjoyable. Try it out for free and give us your feedback!

  Announcements from Partners

Click here to submit information about your program to the newsletter

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

Bringing Galileo, NASA, and the Next Generation Science Standards to Teachers

A NASA Galileo Educator Network (GEN) Professional Development Institute (PDI) presented by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) and partners (including NESTA!)

Dates: Saturday–Sunday, September 29–30, 2012, 8:30 am–4:30 pm
Location: Adler Planetarium, Chicago, Illinois
Cost: FREE for accepted participants

Become a NASA Galileo Educator Fellow through this 15-hour Professional Development Institute (PDI) for teacher leaders, teacher educators, and PD providers. The Galileo Educator Network (GEN) PDI emphasizes the integration of science content, science practices, and the nature of science as outlined in the national Framework for K–12 Science Education. Our goals include preparing participants to deliver their own GEN professional development to assist K–12 teachers with the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards, in the context of astronomy and space science.

PDI participants will explore:

  • Classroom-tested, standards-based, and Galileo-themed astronomy investigations.
  • How students learn science.
  • Astronomy teaching resources, including The Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0 DVD-ROM.
  • NASA-developed and NASA-supported resources and science content.
  • How to adapt existing astronomy resources and activities to emphasize science practices and to include reflection on the nature of science.

Participants in this GEN PDI will receive:

  • A $400 stipend, upon delivery of their own GEN professional development program for K-12 teachers in their home region. GEN PD should cover a minimum of 15 contact hours for in-service and/or pre-service teachers, but can be implemented in different ways, such as: (a) a 2-day weekend workshop, (b) a few afterschool PD sessions, or (c) a 15-week, 1 hour-per-week course.
  • Reimbursement of travel expenses for the GEN PDI in Chicago.
  • 20 copies of the astronomy teaching resource, The Universe at Your Fingertips 2.0 DVD, for use with K-12 teachers that PDI participants will subsequently train.
  • NASA educational materials (ex:  SOFIA Mission Active Astronomy activity kit and a mini-kit of selected NASA Night Sky Network activities).
  • Details on what GEN PDI participants (who will become NASA Galileo Educator Fellows) will both receive and commit to (see “Becoming a NASA Galileo Educator Fellow”).

To Apply, go to the GEN PDI online application. For more information, please email:

NASA'S 2013 Lunabotics Competition Open For Registration

NASA is accepting applications from teams of U.S. and International undergraduate and graduate students for the fourth annual Lunabotics Mining Competition. The event will be held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida May 20-24, 2013.

Participants in the competition will design and build a remote controlled or autonomous robot. During the competition, the teams' designs, known as lunabots, will go head-to-head to determine which machine can excavate and deposit the most simulated lunar dirt within 10 minutes.

Registration is limited to the first 50 teams submitting applications.  The competition is designed to engage and retain students in the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, disciplines critical to NASA's missions.

For information on the competition and to apply online, visit:

Future City Competition

The Future City Competition is a national, project-based learning experience where students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade imagine, design, and build cities of the future. Students work as a team with an educator and engineer mentor to plan cities using SimCity™ 4 Deluxe software; research and write solutions to an engineering problem; build tabletop scale models with recycled materials; and present their ideas before judges at Regional Competitions in January. Regional winners represent their region at the National Finals in Washington, D.C., in February. 

While Future City is first and foremost an engineering experience, there are also awesome prizes to win! Teams that win their Regional Competition advance to the National Finals. National Finals take place from February 17 to 22, 2012, in Washington, D.C.  Future City provides round trip transportation and hotel accommodations at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City for the team’s three student presenters, educator coach, and mentor, as well as two meals. 
And that’s not all! Visit your region's site for a complete list of your region’s awards and prizes.

Campus RainWorks Design Competition

College student teams can develop innovative approaches to stormwater management, raise awareness of green design, and train the next generation of landscape architects, planners, and engineers. Students and advisors can start planning now; the competition opens fall 2012.

National Preparedness Month

September is National Preparedness Month - a time to get prepared for emergencies like tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes!  On the web site, you will learn how to get informed, make a plan, build a disaster readiness kit, get involved in your community, and prepare your business.  There's even a section for fun and games for students.  

Protect Your Groundwater Day - September 11, 2012

The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) celebrates its third annual Protect Your Groundwater Day on September 11, 2012, promoting water conservation and contamination prevention as ways to protect groundwater resources.

“Every person can do something to protect local groundwater, from not polluting it to using water wisely,” says NGWA Public Awareness Director Cliff Treyens. “The good news is that for most people all it takes is a small adjustment in their daily habits.”

Why bother? For starters, 95 percent of all available freshwater comes from aquifers underground, according to the NGWA web site.

NGWA hopes that by focusing on actionable steps that every person can take, Protect Your Groundwater Day can spur people to protect this resource. For educational information and resources, see

The 5th Annual Geosciences Congressional Visits Day

Are you a Citizen Geoscientist?

The AGI invites all geoscientists for workshops and visits with congressional members September 11-12, 2012.

Decision-makers need to hear from geoscientists.  Join many of your colleagues for this two-day event uniting geoscience researchers, professionals, students, educators, engineers and executives in Washington D.C. to raise visibility and support for the geosciences.

The first day will be comprised of workshops at AGU headquarters followed by a second day of constructive visits from geoscientists with members of Congress or congressional staff on Capitol Hill to speak about the importance and value of geoscience (and geoscience-related engineering) research and education.  This is a truly effective way to inform congresspeople and impact federal science policy.

For more information about Geosciences Congressional Visits Day please visit GEO-CVD or contact Linda Rowan via email for more information or to sign up.

"Water Is Worth It" Video Project - Submit by September 14!

Make a 15-second video about how water is important to you. The EPA will feature selected video clips as part of its anniversary celebration.

Submit now through September 14.

VOTE in the 2012 Carson Contest

EPA's Aging Initiative, Generations United, the Rachel Carson Council, Inc., the Dance Exchange and the National Center for Creative Aging are pleased to present the finalists for the 6th annual intergenerational dance, photo, essay, and poetry Sense of Wonder contest. All entries were created by a multi-generational team. You are invited to cast your ballot for your favorite entry in each of the categories. Submit your ballot online (or email with your favorites to no later than September 24, 2012.

National Estuaries Day

National Estuaries Day is an annual celebration of the vibrant coastal areas where rivers meet the sea - estuaries. Celebrated on the last Saturday in September (29th this year), National Estuaries Day is a great opportunity to learn more about these dynamic and important ecosystems and how you can help to protect them.  Get involved in a planned activity or celebrate with a special school activity.

Smithsonian Museum Day (It's Free!)

In the spirit of the Smithsonian Museums, who offer free admission everyday, Museum Day Live! is an annual event hosted by Smithsonian magazine in which participating museums across the country open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day Ticket...for free!  View the list of 2012 participating museums!  Tickets are good for Saturday, September 29, 2012, and a ticket is good for the ticket holder and a guest.

National Public Lands Day is September 29

National Public Lands Day (NPLD) is the nation's largest, single-day volunteer event for public lands in the United States. In 2012, NPLD will be held on September 29 and will celebrate the theme "Helping Hands for America's Lands".  During this yearly event, Americans work together to restore and connect with public lands through service projects and outdoor recreation.  The efforts of hundreds of thousands of volunteers result in meaningful, positive impacts on communities around the nation. Register a site for NPLD or volunteer and make a difference!

NPLD educates Americans about critical environmental and natural resource issues including the need for shared stewardship of these valued, irreplaceable lands.  As a supporter of the Let's Move Outside and America's Great Outdoors initiatives, NPLD is especially dedicated to engaging young people to be active and conserve America's treasured places.

Green Thumb Challenge

The Green Education Foundation is calling on schools and groups to join the largest youth gardening initiative!  All participants have an opportunity to be awarded a $5,000 grant in recognition of their garden project. Over $10,000 worth of prizes has already been awarded to Green Thumb Challenge participants, courtesy of program sponsors.  The deadline is September 30th.  

The Green Thumb Challenge aims to connect children with nature and the healthy benefits of gardening as part of a nationwide movement to get kids growing. Whether sowing seeds during one class period, planting bulbs in one afternoon, or planning an outdoor garden that comes back year after year, you and your students can be part of the movement! GEF's gardening resources provide participants with helpful materials and strategies for gardeners of all experience levels. It doesn't need to cost much money, or require many resources - it's really up to you! Every garden, no matter its size, will add beauty and life to what was there before. 

Take advantage of free activities and standards-based lessons linking the classroom to the garden. Kids will be excited to get their hands in the soil, learn while using all their senses, and make real connections to their classroom curriculum.

Green Schools! Action Project Grants

GreenWorks! is a service-learning, community action grant program for educators, students, and communities.  The program focuses on environmental neighborhood improvement projects. Eligible schools must have established Green Teams and must have completed one or more of the Project Learning Tree GreenSchools! Investigations.

Deadline: September 30, 2012 (Proposals are available now.)

Mars Exploration Student Data Teams - Applications Being Accepted Until October 1

The Mars Exploration Student Data Teams (MESDT-- are looking for teams of students to participate in a free program for the 2012-13 school year, where student teams work with scientists, mission planners, and educators from the CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars) group at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory.  Student teams research images of Mars using the CRISM instrument (, which is currently on-board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).  They will work with real data from the CRISM instrument to assist with locating future mission landing sites, finding mineral traces associated with certain surface features, and in some cases, submitting targeted observations of the surface of Mars!  This opportunity will help build confidence and STEM-related skills for students in order to prepare them for future careers in STEM-related fields.  MESDT has developed curriculum and activities that are aligned with the National Science Education Standards.  This program is free-of-charge and is open to teams from grades 9-college across the U.S. 

Applications are being accepted now through Oct 1, 2012. For more information please visit or e-mail Brian Grigsby at For an application to participate, complete the form at

My Air, My Health Challenge

Do you have an idea about how to measure how pollution affects our bodies? EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) started "My Air, My Health," a nationwide challenge with cash awards for inventing personal, portable sensors that measure air pollution and physiological response. The challenge runs through October 5.

Find out more at

Recycle-Bowl Competition

Recycle-Bowl aims to establish new recycling programs within schools, increase recycling rates in schools that currently recycle and provide teacher/student educational opportunities about recycling and waste reduction. A winner from each U.S. state and the District of Columbia will receive $1,000 based on the most recycled material per person per school. An additional grand prize valued at $2,500 will go to the top performer among the State Champions!  Register by October 8 to compete.

Lowe's Toolbox for Education Grants

Are you searching for funding for your outdoor classroom, schoolyard garden, or school greening project? Lowe's will donate $5 million to public schools and public school parent teacher groups at more than 1,000 different public schools per school year. The Fall 2012 grant cycle closes October 12, 2012.  Find out more about this awesome opportunity!

Earth Science Week 2012 - October 14-20th

If you became an Earth scientist, what would you actually do? What funds are available to help pay for your studies? How could you get real-world work experience while still a student? You’re invited to explore such questions during Earth Science Week (October 14-20, 2012) by celebrating the theme “Discovering Careers in the Earth Sciences.”

For the answers to questions like these, look no further than “Geoscience Career, Scholarship, and Internship Resources.” This new page on the Earth Science Week web site can help you learn how to build a geoscience career - in fields such as oceanography, paleontology, seismology, mineralogy, meteorology, geophysics, petroleum geology, environmental science, and space science.

The site includes dozens of links to online resources offered by AGI member societies, program partners, and other governmental, corporate, and nonprofit organizations in the geoscience community. To learn more, visit

Earth Science Week Begins With EarthCache Day

Earth Science Week 2012 will begin with the sixth annual International EarthCache Day on Sunday, October 14. The public is invited to join the Geological Society of America (GSA), which runs the global EarthCache program, and the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), which organizes Earth Science Week, in exploring this exciting and educational Earth science experience.

International EarthCache Day is a time when EarthCachers around the globe organize small gatherings where people learn about the Earth. An EarthCache is a place that people can discover with a GPS device while participating in a “treasure hunt” called geocaching. “The treasure you find at an EarthCache is a lesson about the Earth itself,” says EarthCaching Director Gary Lewis of GSA.

EarthCache events are being held around the world on October 14. To view the locations for EarthCaching events, go to For more information, contact Lewis, Senior Director of GSA Education and Outreach, at 720-201-8132.

National Fossil Day 2012

Time travel is in your future! The National Park Service and AGI are collaborating to kick off the third annual National Fossil Day during Earth Science Week 2012. On Wednesday, October 17, you and your students can participate in events and activities taking place across the country at parks, in classrooms, and online.

Ever look at a fossil and see into the past? Understand why paleontologists protect the locations where fossils are found? Know what fossils can tell you about climate change? National Fossil Day resources and activities help you answer these questions, celebrating the scientific and educational value of fossils, paleontology, and the importance of preserving fossils for future generations.

Resources and events are posted on the National Fossil Day web site at

Prepare for Fourth Annual Women in Geosciences Day

Please join the Association for Women Geoscientists (AWG) in celebrating the fourth annual Women in the Geosciences Day - Thursday, October 18 - during Earth Science Week 2012! Women in the Geosciences Day offers you a chance to share the excitement and advantages of geoscience careers with women of all ages, especially those early in their education.

What can you do? If you’re an educator, invite a female geoscientist to speak in your classroom or institution. If you’re a female geoscientist, visit a local school or volunteer at a science center. Organize a scout event, lead a 4H field trip, or hold a special “Take Your Daughter to Work Day” focusing on the geoscience workplace. No matter who you are, you can help show young women what it means to be a geoscientist.

For AWG worksheets on geoscience careers, see the Earth Science Week 2012 Toolkit ( Watch for additional information and resources online in the coming weeks at Earth Science Week ( and AWG ( Have a great Women in the Geosciences Day!

Geologic Map Day: Celebrate on October 19!

On Friday, October 19, 2012, you are invited to join in the celebration of the first-ever Geologic Map Day! This special event will promote awareness of the study, uses, and importance of geologic mapping for education, science, business, and a variety of public policy concerns.

The final event for the school week of Earth Science Week 2012, Geologic Map Day is being hosted by the United States Geological Survey and the Association of American State Geologists in partnership with AGI, the organizer of Earth Science Week.

Check out the Geologic Map Day poster included in the Earth Science Week 2012 Toolkit ( The poster provides a geologic map of the United States, plus step-by-step instructions for a related classroom activity. Students, teachers, and the wider public can learn more about geologic maps by using resources highlighted on the new Geologic Map Day web page (

Earth Science Week Contests

In celebration of Earth Science Week 2012 (October 14-20th), the American Geosciences Institute (AGI) is sponsoring three national contests honoring this year's theme "Discovering Careers in the Earth Sciences." This year's competitions will feature a photography contest, a visual arts contest, and an essay contest.

Students, geologists, and the general public are invited to participate in this year's photography contest, "Earth Science is a Big Job." Entries must be composed of original, unpublished material, and must capture how Earth scientists work in your community.

This year's visual arts contest, "Imagine Me, an Earth Scientist!" is open to students grades K-5. Use artwork to imagine yourself as an Earth scientist! What would you study? How would you gather information? And what tools would you use?

Finally, students grades 6 through 9 may participate in the essay contest. This year’s essays must address the idea of "Geoscientists Working Together."

Submissions will be judged by a panel of geoscientists on creativity, relevance, and incorporation of the topic at hand. Selected winners will be awarded for their submissions. For details, please visit

National Wildlife Refuge Week - October 14-20th

Overlapping Earth Science Week this year, National Wildlife Refuge Week is also being held October 14-20, 2012. The event celebrates the richness of the 550 units that make up America’s National Wildlife Refuge System.

Whether you prefer to study Earth science firsthand, admire the fall colors, gaze at a flock of migratory birds, explore a mountain trail, or learn about the cultural resources that are part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s conservation mission, you can find what you like at a National Wildlife Refuge.

Sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this week focuses on lands and waters where wildlife and habitats are under federal protection. For information and educational resources, see online. Go to the National Wildlife Refuge Locator’s map at to find refuges near you.

NASA Announces Next Opportunity for CubeSat Space Missions

NASA is seeking proposals for small satellite payloads to fly on rockets planned to launch between 2013 and 2016. These miniature spacecraft, known as CubeSats, could be auxiliary payloads on previously planned missions.

CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nano satellites. These cube-shaped satellites are approximately four inches long, have a volume of about one quart and weigh less than three pounds.

Applicants must submit proposals electronically by 4:30 p.m. EST, Nov. 12. NASA will select the payloads by Jan. 31, 2013. Selection does not guarantee a launch opportunity. The selected spacecraft will be eligible for flight after final negotiations when a launch opportunity arises.  NASA will not provide funding for the development of the small satellites.

For additional information about NASA's CubeSat Launch Initiative program, visit:

Call for Papers on Climate By Pre-College Students

Know a science student in middle or high school who’s fascinated by climate? Harvard University’s Journal of Emerging Investigators (JEI) is collaborating with the Institute for Earth Science Research and Education to publish a series of peer-reviewed climate-related papers authored by middle- and secondary-school students.

JEI is an open-access peer-reviewed online journal whose mission is to encourage and publish authentic student research. In addition to stand-alone research papers, JEI also encourages students who are developing science fair projects to submit journal articles based on those projects.

Notice of intent to submit is due November 30, 2012. For submission instructions and guidelines for articles, including suggestions for converting a science fair project into a journal article submission, go to For more information, see

2012 President's Environmental Youth Awards

The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with the EPA to recognize young people across the U.S. who are protecting our nation’s air, water, land, and ecology. It is one of the most important ways the EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation’s young people. One outstanding project from each region is selected for national recognition. Projects are developed by young individuals, school classes (K-12), summer camps, and youth organizations to promote environmental stewardship. Thousands of young people from all 50 states and the U.S. territories have submitted projects to the EPA for consideration. Winning projects in the past have covered a wide range of subject areas, including:
-environmental science projects
-recycling programs in schools and communities
-construction of nature preserves
-major tree planting programs
-videos, skits, and newsletters that focus on environmental issues

Evaluation results consistently demonstrate that the experience is a life-changing event for many of the young people and sponsors who participate.

Find out how to apply. The annual deadline for the regional award program is December 31.

EARTH: Shake, Rattle and Roll – What Does an Earthquake Sound Like?

A team of researchers may have discovered a way to hear earthquakes. Not the noises of rattling windows and crumbling buildings, but the real sounds an earthquake makes deep underground as rock grinds and fails catastrophically. Typical seismic waves have frequencies below the audible range for humans, but the August issue of EARTH shows you where to find the voice of one seismic monster: the March 11, 2011, magnitude-9.0 Tohoku earthquake in Japan.

Beyond the novelty of simply hearing an earthquake, the team found that the new technology could possibly lead to breakthroughs in other areas of seismology.  How did this group manage to capture the sounds of an earthquake, and what other applications could this technology have? Read the story and find out at

EarthScope Speaker Series Explores Quakes, Eruptions

The 2012-2013 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.

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

NASA 3-D App Gives Public Robotic Space Travel Experience

A NASA-created application that brings some of the agency's robotic spacecraft to life in 3-D is now available for free on the iPhone and iPad.  Called Spacecraft 3D, the app uses animation to show how spacecraft can maneuver and manipulate their outside components. Presently, the
new app features two NASA missions, the Curiosity rover on Mars, and the twin GRAIL spacecraft Ebb and Flow currently orbiting the moon.

"In the near future, we will incorporate the Cassini spacecraft, which is orbiting Saturn, the Dawn spacecraft, which is deep in the heart of the asteroid belt, and the Voyagers, which are right now at the very edge of our solar system," said Kevin Hussey, manager of visualization technology at JPL. "Looking down the road, we've got a veritable solar system full of spacecraft to work with."

Currently, Spacecraft 3D is only available for Apple formats, but should be available for other formats in the near future.

For more information on how to download the Spacecraft 3D app, visit:

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:

Bipolar Earthquakes - global earthquakes since 1898, separated into North and South pole views

61 Years of US Tornado Tracks - 1950-2011 data shown visually by F-Scale

Major US Fires Since 2001 - a visual representation that is colored by units of nuclear power plant output

New NASA Game Lets Players Build and Launch a Virtual Rocket

With NASA's Rocket Science 101, a new game designed for computer and iPad users, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to launch a spacecraft.

Rocket Science 101 is turning over the virtual selection, construction and launch of a mission to players.  NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP), based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, does the same thing for real rockets and missions every day.

Players select their favorite NASA mission and choose from three skill levels, then build a rocket in order to send the spacecraft into orbit. The Rocket Science 101 challenge provides players an opportunity to learn about NASA missions and the various components of the launch vehicles, including how rockets are configured.

Rocket Science 101 is available for iPad users via iTunes at:

Rocket Science 101 is available online at:

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