January 2009

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements

Happy 2009!

Happy New Year! I hope that you are all enjoying a well deserved break from school, and that you enjoyed the holidays. We're looking forward to a brief respite here, after an intense Fall filled with teacher professional development workshops across the country and in Mexico. I'd also like to welcome our many new newsletter subscribers that we met at our workshops in Charlotte, Portland, Cincinnati, and Zacatecas! The newsletter is now reaching ~10,500 teachers in 157 countries, including ~6,300 in the United States. The top five other counties, in terms of subscribers, are Mexico (624), Chile (418), India (359), Peru (200), and Canada (132).

Given this international audience, I'd like to remind all teachers of the opportunity to share ideas with your colleagues around the world. Our newsletters include the ability for subscribing teachers to share ideas (see the "Teacher Submissions" link at the top of the newsletter) as well as for other programs and organizations to share information about their resources with our subscribers through the newsletter (see "Partner Announcements" link at the top of the newsletter). We do our best to include postings from Partners, even when notice of these opportunities arrives via email, however it's most convenient if the postings come through our Partner system (it helps us to keep track of them, amid an inundation of email).

I'd also like to remind you that I have created a Facebook Group for our project - the "Windows to the Universe Users Group". This is a place where you can join discussion boards about the project. For instance, folks using various classroom activities can post questions there and ask for comments from other teachers. There's not much activity there yet, but hopefully this will be a resource for you in the future. To join the group, you will need to sign up on Facebook (no charge), and then search for the Windows to the Universe group after clicking on "Groups" in the Applications area. The Applications link is on the bottom left corner of your Facebook page.

Quadrantid Meteor Shower January 3rd

The first meteor shower of the new year peaks on the morning of January 3rd. The peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower is expected to occur around 12h50m Universal Time on January 4th (that's 7:50 AM Eastern time). The Moon will be around its first quarter phase then; it will have set by the time of best meteor viewing in the pre-dawn hours, and thus bright moonlight should not interfere with spotting dim meteors. 2009 may be a good year to see some Quadrantids!

The Quadrantids are a shower with an interesting history; they are named after a now defunct constellation, and, like the Geminids, the source of these meteors is a mysterious object that may be an asteroid or an extinct comet. Look for the Quadrantids on the morning of January 3rd; to learn more about them, click here.

Penguin Postcards from the Antarctic

The Penguin Science team is back in Antarctica studying the Adelie Penguins of Ross Island. The research team, led by scientist David Ainley, is looking at how the penguins are coping with climate change, as well as making a documentary about the research. Educator Jean Pennycook is sending virtual postcards to Windows to the Universe that share her observations of the Adelie Penguins. Take a look at these postcards on the Adelie Penguins of the Antarctic page to learn more about these engaging animals.

After you've caught up with the latest penguin news, take a look at Postcards from the Field sent in from other researchers and science educators. Recent posts have come from other parts of Antarctica, South America, and Nepal.

Winter Climate Discovery Courses Start Soon!

Registration for winter session NCAR Climate Discovery Online Courses is open through January 16th. This is a great time to get a head start on your professional development for 2009!

Are you seeking a K-12 professional development opportunity that will enhance your qualifications, competency, and self-confidence in integrating Earth system science, climate, and global change into your science classroom? This winter, NCAR will be offering a series of six- and seven-week online courses for middle and high school teachers that combine geoscience content, information about current climate research, easy to implement hands-on activities, and group discussion. The courses run concurrently January 23 through March 15.

  • CD 501 Introduction to Earth's Climate is designed to guide participants through the basics of climate science, integrating content, classroom activities, and community-building discussions to help middle and high school educators understand the answers to common questions about climate.
  • CD 502 Earth System Science: A Climate Change Perspective explores Earth as a system from the perspective of climate and global change, describing the interactions between the various parts of Earth systems including human activities, and how they all affect our climate.
  • CD 503 Understanding Climate Change Today presents some of the current and predicted impacts of global warming on our planet and human societies. This course explores how climate models are developed and used to understand likely scenarios of future climate and how current scientific research is improving the quality of climate predictions.

For complete course schedule and registration information, visit http://ecourses.ncar.ucar.edu.

Arctic Change

In December I attended the Arctic Change 2008 conference in Quebec City, Canada where the main message was that the Arctic is changing, and rapidly.

The Arctic has warmed about twice as fast as other regions of the world. This is leading to some substantial changes in ice and ecosystems. During this conference, about 800 scientists from 16 countries came together to share information about what they see happening in the Arctic. Presentations highlighted some of the impacts that recent climate change is having in the Arctic such as shrinking sea ice, retreating glaciers, and changing Arctic tundra. Stresses on marine life in the Arctic Ocean were also discussed. Some results from International Polar Year projects were shared too.

For more information about the Arctic Change 2008 conference, visit http://www.arctic-change2008.com.

Winter Weather

In December, near-record cold spells and winter storms hit much of the U.S. We want to remind you about blizzard safety rules. Winter storms can create dangerous driving conditions and cold temperatures can cause frostbite or hypothermia. If you live in an area with cold and snowy winters, be on alert for severe weather advisories. Improperly working furnaces, water heaters or stoves may cause carbon monoxide poisoning, so make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home.

Dante's Peak Movie Review - Classroom Activity

We have many classroom activities on our web site. Once on the classroom activity page, use the top button bar to choose Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced classroom activities.

One of my students' favorite activities when I was teaching Earth science was the Dante's Peak Movie Review. In the activity, students pretend to be expert volcanologists writing a movie review of Dante's Peak for a local newspaper. Students get to review and demonstrate their knowledge of volcanoes and you get to bring writing into your science classroom. A win-win situation!

Table of Contents

Quadrantid Meteors
Penguin Postcards
Online Courses
Arctic Change
Winter Weather
Dante's Peak Review

Env Ed Award
EWOC 2009 Conference


Teacher Submissions

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Announcements from Partners

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POLAR-PALOOZA at the Houston Museum of Natural Science - January 12-13, 2009

POLAR-PALOOZA features high-energy public presentations entitled "Stories from a Changing Planet," which are tales of adventure and science told by a charismatic "cast" of characters, including ice researchers, geologists, oceanographers, climate scientists, biologists and Arctic residents. The event uses HD video and authentic props, such as a 2,000 year old piece of ice core or a caribou parka, to bring polar research to life. Each event includes special programs for schools and workshops for K-12 educators and museum volunteers.

The next POLAR-PALOOZA event is scheduled for January 12-13 at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in Houston, Texas. Stay tuned for details at: http://passporttoknowledge.com/polar-palooza/pp0408k.php

Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award

The Richard C. Bartlett Environmental Education Award is awarded annually by the National Environmental Education Foundation to an outstanding educator who has successfully integrated environmental education into his or her daily education programs. The award is given to a 5th-12th grade educator who can serve as an inspiration and model for others. A $5,000 cash award is provided for the recipient to continue their work in environmental education. Do you know a teacher who stands out among the rest? If so, please nominate him/her for the 2009 Richard C. Bartlett Award. Nominations will be accepted through January 31, 2009. To learn more or submit your nomination visit http://www.neefusa.org/bartlettaward.htm.

Call for Papers - EWOC 2009 Conference in Prague

The Eighth International Conference on School and Popular Meteorological and Oceanographic Education (known as EWOC Education: Water, Ocean, Climate) will convene in Prague, Czech Republic, from July 7 9, 2009. This conference provides a forum for scientists, educators and interested participants to exchange their ideas on educational initiatives to promote the study and to increase the awareness of weather, oceans, and climate. Papers for both oral and poster presentations are solicited and abstracts may be submitted electronically via the EWOC 2009 Web site by 15 February 2009. Workshops featuring hands-on activities for the classroom will be included in the program. A variety of pre- and post-conference outings in the Prague area will be posted on this web site early in 2009 and participants may register for free or for an additional fee. The conference is being hosted by Charles University in Prague. Co-sponsors include the American Meteorological Society, the Royal Meteorological Society, the European Meteorological Society, the World Meteorological Organization and other meteorological and oceanographic societies and institutes around the globe. For more information please visit: http://www.ewoc.org/.

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