April 2006

Spring is a very active period for us here at Windows to the Universe. We have numerous sessions at the NSTA meeting in Anaheim (see the link below, in Lisa's Corner) April 6 - 9. We've been delighted with the postcard reports from the field provided by teachers and scientists working on the MILAGRO campaign studying air pollution in Mexico City. The GLOBE at Night program just finished a week of global observations of light pollution. Keep your eyes posted on these sites for information on the results of these projects!

Our Windows to the Universe Teacher community now includes over 2330 educators from 104 countries ranging from Afghanistan to Zambia, including 1638 teachers from the United States, 90 from India, 58 from Mexico, 43 from Canada, 42 from the United Kingdom, 28 from the Philippines, 23 from Spain, 22 from Australia, 21 from Puerto Rico, and 17 from Pakistan. Within the United States, we have 166 teachers from California, 124 from Texas, 107 from New York, 89 from Illinois, 85 from Pennsylvania, and 84 from Florida. Five more states have 50 or more registrants, 15 states have between 20 and 49, and 14 states have between 10 and 19.

As our global educator community continues to grow, the opportunity for sharing ideas and resources with each other becomes ever more promising. In our recent survey of this community, you overwhelmingly agreed that you'd like to have the opportunity to post to the newsletter and share ideas with each other. Over the next month we will begin planning ways for you to share your ideas with each other through the newsletter, so please keep your eyes on the newsletter and your email for news about this opportunity, when it becomes available!

Roberta's Corner

The global scientific community has reached consensus that global climate change is real, and will present challenges to us as we seek to adapt to the changing environments that will result from our warming world. Windows to the Universe has an entire section on Climate and Global Change that provides detailed information on our current understanding of these topics and the processes behind them. In addition, we have numerous classroom activities on the site that address this topic (which we provide training on at NSTA and other venues). Please feel free to check out these resources!

Randy's Corner

What's up in space? Well, there's been a lot going on around the Solar System of late. The latest mission to the Red Planet, called the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), recently swung into orbit around Mars and has begun a 6-month series of aerobraking maneuvers that will slow it down and lower it into a better orbit for observing the planet.

Further afield, the Cassini spacecraft that is orbiting Saturn has apparently discovered ice geysers spewing forth from the fractured terrain around the southern pole of Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon of the ringed planet. If confirmed, the geysers would make Enceladus one of only four volcanically active (including cryovolcanism!) bodies yet found in our Solar System.

Back home on Earth, scientists studying the comet dust samples returned to Earth from Comet Wild-2 by the Stardust spacecraft were in for a surprise. They discovered minerals, including olivine, that form under high temperature conditions. That is NOT what they expected to discover in samples from those giant iceballs we call comets. The scientists now have a puzzle on their hands: how did the minerals, which probably formed near the Sun (or some other star?!), get out to the icy edge of our Solar System and become a part of a comet?

Jennifer's Corner

Taking a field trip soon? Use our Snapshot Exercise to have your students write about a select moment of the trip. We have a simple page for elementary school students where they can write down as many words as they can think of that have to do with what they see, hear, smell and touch. For middle-high school, we have a large list of sensory adjectives that would be helpful in writing their snapshot!

This activity makes your field trip or outing more meaningful and addresses this National Standard for all levels (Assessment Standard B: The ability to communicate effectively about science).

Lisa's Corner

Are you planning to attend the National Science Teacher's Association annual conference in Anaheim CA (April 6-9)? If so, then we invite you to visit the Windows to the Universe staff at our booth in the exhibit hall (Booth number 1862). Additionally, we will be introducing NSTA attendees to our favorite hands-on classroom activities through a variety of workshops. Check out our workshop schedule!

Even if you are not attending the NSTA conference, we invite you to explore the classroom resources that we will be sharing during our workshops. Check out the resources for workshops by clicking the links below!

Marina's Corner

APRIL brings along a new season that invites all to go out and enjoy the marvelous weather! This month's full moon is on April 13th. But this is not just any full moon, this one is special. April's full moon is the first full moon after the vernal equinox (spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, fall in the Southern). It is known as Full Pink Moon, a Native American Indian reference to the profusion of pink wildflowers that appeared at this time each year! Also, in the Northern Hemisphere, this month brings along the gentlest warmer winds of SPRING coming from the West and there is a Greek God to honor them!

Julia's Corner

Our last newsletter talked a lot about the MILAGRO campaign and "Postcards from the field" that we were hoping to get from scientists and teachers participating in this campaign. By the end of the campaign we had 34 great postcards from 7 participants. Read them for a glimpse of the everyday excitement of a field campaign, even including a few of the participants' weekend trips!

Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association 2006 Summer Field Conference

The Michigan Earth Science Teachers Association will hold their field conference from August 6-12, 2006 on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This geological field experience is designed for science teachers or science-teacher candidates. Two hours of graduate credit will be available through Michigan State University. Information about this opportunity is available through this flyer, agenda and registration form. Members of the National Earth Science Teachers Association members are cordially invited to participate in the conference. Click here for information about joining NESTA. Questions about the opportunity can be directed to Art Weinle at: artweinle@comcast.net

Upcoming CHRONOS workshop - Developing Web-based Activities for Teaching Stratigraphy and Sedimentary Geology

This workshop will bring together faculty who are currently using data and/or tools accessible from the CHRONOS portal or who have ideas on how these data and tools can be used in undergraduate teaching. Participants will help develop materials for an on-line teaching collection (e.g. homework, in-class activities, demonstrations etc) that will be accessible through the CHRONOS , SERC, and DLESE web sites. If you would like to participate, please complete and submit the Application Form before April 30, 2006.

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