November 2006

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements

Lots to Share this November!

by Roberta

As we prepare this newsletter in Boulder, Colorado, we hear that tonight a major winter storm is predicted. Moisture from the remnants of Hurricane Paul is moving our way, and will produce deep snow late tonight in parts of Colorado. Weather can certainly be dramatic!

In this month's newsletter, we share a number of features with you, including activities for the classroom, new content and interactives on sea ice at the Earth's poles, our popular Moon names page (with a request for input from you), as well as the announcement of our new online Science Store!, and upcoming Windows to the Universe events at NSTA meetings this fall.

One of our subscribers from Minnesota submitted a suggested activity for students - check it out in our "Teacher Submissions" section. Also, we have several notices about upcoming events or new resources for Teachers from partner organizations including Michigan State University, University of California Museum of Paleontology, the National Earth Science Teachers Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, the American Meteorological Society, and the American Geophysical Union.

Many of you may be aware that a major international scientific campaign will begin in March 2007 - the International Polar Year (IPY). We are in the process of developing new content and activities for the website on topics associated with IPY that you may find useful if you chose to highlight IPY in your classroom. We'll let you know in advance when we start to post this content on the website.

Thanks to those of you that dropped by the NESTA Share-a-Thon in Omaha, Nebraska in October. It was nice to chat with you and find out about how you use our website in support of Earth and Space Science education. For those of you here in the US, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving!

Invite a scientist to your classroom or take your class on a real science adventure!
by Jennifer

School is in full swing. The time for beginning-of-the-year class meetings and assemblies is dying down. Maybe it's time to plan a field trip! When I was teaching, we went on quite a few (very) local field trips -- we went on a walk along the river behind our school and visited the wetlands across the street. Of course, field trips to the closest state quarry and the IMAX theater downtown were highlights too. Whatever the trip, using our Snapshot Activity could make your field trip more significant. It also brings writing into your science classroom.

If you can't fit in a field trip due to scheduling or funding, why not invite a scientist to visit your classroom. Even if you don't live in a town with a college or university, there are scientists in every town! Maybe there's a wetland engineer who works in your local Army Corps of Engineers or a meteorologist who works at the nearest airport. Show them this Scientists in Schools section on how to make a classroom visit more meaningful. It even includes a checklist for a classroom visit and steps so the scientist can make their own lesson plan. What a great way to get your kids interested in science as a career!

Windows to the Universe at NSTA!
by Lisa

Will you be at the NSTA Fall Regional Conference in Baltimore, Maryland (2-4 November)? If so, we invite you to participate in one or more of the Windows to the Universe sessions listed below. (To find out more about these workshops, visit our Workshops page.) Additionally, Windows to the Universe principal investigator Roberta Johnson will be at the NSTA Fall Regional Conference in Salt Lake City (7-9 December). If you will be there, stop by the NESTA Share-a-Thon and find our more about Windows to the Universe!

Date/Time Location
Short Course: Climate and Global Change: A Toolkit for Teaching About Our Ever-changing World (Pre-register through NSTA!)
2 Nov,
Holiday Inn
Harbor II
Magnetism, Electricity and Space Weather
3 Nov,
Wyndham, International D
Climate Change: Classroom Tools to Explore the Past, Present, and Future
3 Nov,
9:30 - 10:30
Wyndham, Liberty B
Magnetism and Space Weather
3 Nov,
Wyndham, Liberty B
Bring Writing and Reading into Your Earth Science Classroom: Innovative Assessment Ideas
3 Nov
Convention Center, Rm 311
National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) Share-a-Thon
3 Nov,
Convention Center, Rm 308
Aha! Is Just a Stone's Throw Away
4 Nov,
Wyndham, International D
Water, Air, Land, Life, and Space (WALLS)!
4 Nov,
Wyndham, International D


New Windows to the Universe Science Store!
by Julia

Want to get an early start on holiday shopping? Looking for a unique gift for your fellow teachers, students, or family members? Want to share your excitement about Windows to the Universe and help support the site?

We're delighted to announce our new online Science Store, where you can buy souvenirs with the Windows to the Universe logo. We are going to add new items over the next several months for kids, teachers and the general public, so come back often!

Some products that may be coming soon to our store include coloring books and teachers activity kits that go with some of our classroom activities on the website. Please send us a comment to let us know what you would like to see in our store!

Sea Ice Extent
by Randy

As winter begins to set in (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere!) we thought you might like to take a look at the sea ice pack in the Arctic Ocean. We've added a new animation that shows the annual growth and recession of the sea ice pack over a two-year period. We've also added an interactive that allows you to compare the sea ice extent at different times in a given year, or at the same time in different years. The decline in size of the sea ice pack in the Northern Hemisphere over recent decades appears to be an important indicator of global warming. You might want to have your students graph the maximum and minimum extent of sea ice over several years to explore the rate of this decline!

Names for the Moon
by Roberta

You've probably heard a Full Moon in the autumn called a "Harvest Moon" or a "Hunter's Moon". You may even realize that farmers can work late, after sunset, by the light of the Full Harvest Moon; hence the name. But did you know the Moon has ten other aliases, one for each month of the year? That the names of the Full Moon come from Native Americans, the Algonquian tribes of eastern and northern North America? Learn more at "Full Moon Names".

Windows to the Universe is used by people from all over the world. Do you know of other names for Earth's Moon in your culture? If so, please share them with us through our comments page and mention that you're responding to the Moon posting in the November newsletter. We'll compile the responses and share them back with the rest of you. Please be sure to include not only the name of the Moon, but also the geographic region/country/culture in which this name is used.

Coming Soon to Windows to the Universe!
by Lisa

Postcards from the Field: Antarctica, a new section of Windows to the Universe, will debut in December. Your students will gain insight into what it takes to research and film a documentary about Adelie Penguins in Antarctica by reading the first-hand accounts of educators and researchers from the Penguin Science program who will be in Antarctica during December and January. Check Windows to the Universe or the newsletter in December to read their stories of science!

Connecting with Latin American Educators!
by Marina

In March 2006 a team of researchers from around the world went to Mexico City and Veracruz to study the atmosphere there during the MILAGRO campaign. Two members of the Windows to the Universe (W2U) team, who traveled to Mexico to train scientists to submit electronic "Postcards from the Field", took the opportunity to meet with Veracruz Sub-secretary of Education, Maestra Xochilt Osorio.

Together with Maestra Osorio our W2U team members Randy Russell and Marina LaGrave conducted a "MacGyver magnetometer" workshop (like the TV show character MacGyver, our team used science and their wits to improvise activities for this impromptu workshop) that included 65 teachers at MILAGRO's Operations Center in Veracruz. During this workshop our Windows team highlighted some activities from our Teacher Resources section as well as from the Globe at Night activity.

Spreading science education beyond our borders has led to two wonderful opportunities that will take place in the upcoming months.

UCAR-NCAR Director of Education and Outreach Dr. Roberta Johnson and her team have put together the "B-STARS" Bilingual Science Teachers Annual Resources Symposium for approximately 120 teachers (including teachers from Veracruz, Mexico!). The symposium will take place on Wednesday, November 29th at the Mesa Lab facility of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. The purpose of this symposium is to encourage collaboration with local K-12 educational and community groups as they promote understanding and engagement in the geosciences, with a focus on the Hispanic community. Activities will include professional development for Spanish-speaking and bilingual educators during the symposium and at future educational and community venues throughout Colorado.

Our team will also be attending the 7th National Convention for Professors of Natural Science that will be held in the City of Puebla, Mexico, from November 9-12. We consider this a magnificent opportunity to exchange experiences and to discuss different viewpoints regarding our schools and the future direction of science education. The convention is intended for professors of natural science at all levels of education.








Teacher Submissions

Click here to submit your ideas to the newsletter

Take the Swamp out of Swamp Water!

Submitted by Joan, Albert Lea, Minnesota, USA

Prepare some dirt or potting soil and water slurry. Tell students they have 20 minutes, 2 filters, 10 ml of sand and a funnel and beaker to get clean water. Give the winner a prize. My students loved it and did an excellent job with the assignment!

Announcements from Partners

Click here to submit information about your program to the newsletter

Life Preservers computer game

Life Preservers game Life Preservers is an online computer game that teaches about evolution, adaptation, and the history of life on earth. The Life Preservers game, which touches upon several of the National Science Education content standards, was developed by the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab at Michigan State University with support from the National Science Foundation. Two versions of the game are available: a short version (approximately 30 minutes playing time) that covers the Age of the Dinosaurs only, and the full-length version (~45 minutes) that also includes the Age of Mammals. The game is available online at A companion teacher information site can be found at Check it out!

Understanding Evolution

Submitted by the University of California Museum of Paleontology

Understanding Evolution is a comprehensive website on evolution developed especially for teachers and their students. Its purpose is to provide up-to-date content and resources for teachers at all grade and experience levels in order to facilitate the teaching of evolution. The site was developed by a team of scientists, graduate students, and teachers working together to respond to the needs of K–12 teachers. It is a project of the University of California Museum of Paleontology with funding from the National Science Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Upcoming NESTA Events in November and December!

The National Earth Science Teachers Association will hold Share-a-thons and Rock and Mineral Raffles at NSTA Regional conferences in November and December, as follows:

Baltimore, Maryland
November 3, 2006, Baltimore Convention Center, Room 308

  • 15:30-16:30 - NESTA Share-a-Thon
  • 17:00 - 18:00 - NESTA Rock and Mineral Raffle

Salt Lake City, Utah
December 8, 2006, Salt Palace Convention Center, Ballroom F

  • 14:00-15:00 - NESTA Share-a-Thon
  • 15:30 - 16:30 - NESTA Rock and Mineral Raffle

EPA Kid's Club

EPA LogoThe Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new "Kids Club" is a great opportunity to stimulate learning and get students recognition for environmental projects that benefit their community. The Kids Club is open to all kids in the U.S., pre-K through 4th grade. Upon completing a project, members receive special recognition by having their name on the Kids Club site for other members to see (with parents permission). Sign up is easy at Kids Club members get a membership card and a certificate.

2007 Maury Project Summer Workshops Announced!

The American Meteorological Society’s Maury Project is a nationwide K-12 teacher enhancement program based on the study of the physical foundations of oceanography. A summer workshop for master teachers and supervisors will be held at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, during July 9 – 20, 2007. Teachers who are members of groups underrepresented in the sciences and/or teach significant numbers of students from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply. A stipend, housing, food, and travel will be provided, and three semester hours of tuition-free graduate credit may be earned. For details and application form, go to, or contact Ira W. Geer, AMS, 1120 G Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20005. The application deadline is March 16, 2007.

The American Meteorological Society is offering a summer workshop for K-12 teachers and supervisors at the National Weather Service Training Center in Kansas City, MO, during July 16 – 27, 2007. Teachers who are members of groups underrepresented in the sciences and/or teach significant numbers of students from underrepresented groups are especially encouraged to apply. A stipend, housing, food, and travel will be provided, and three semester hours of tuition-free graduate credit may be earned. For details and application form, go to, or contact Ira W. Geer, AMS, 1120 G Street NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20005. The application deadline is March 30, 2007.

American Geophysical Union Geophysical Information for Teachers (GIFT) Workshop: Earthquakes And Tsunamis

Wednesday and Thursday, December 13-14
Marriott Hotel, Room TBD

In December 2006, more than 13,000 Earth and space scientists from around the world will convene in San Francisco to attend the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union and you can benefit from this scientific gathering!

  • Are you a current or pre-service middle or secondary school teacher interested in learning about the latest research on earthquakes and tsunamis?
  • Are you and your students curious about what it means to live on a plate boundary and how to protect yourself and others when an earthquake and/or tsunami occurs?
  • As part of this scientific conference, there will be a 2-day workshop for middle and secondary school teachers. We are pleased to invite you to participate! The workshop presenters will be a combination of leading scientists and science educators.

The Fall 2006 GIFT Workshop is free for participating teachers who register by Friday, 24 November 2006. Space is limited to 30 participants on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to register early. The Workshop will include hands-on classroom activities directly aligned with the National Science Content Standards. More information about the detailed program can be obtained by contacting Dr. Inés Cifuentes, AGU Education and Career Services Manager.

To register for the workshop, please complete the GIFT Workshop online registration form.

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements