May 2007

Teacher Submissions
Partner Announcements

Lots to Do! - New Activities, New Subscribers, New Workshop

As many of you, our newsletter subscribers, complete the school year, we offer a couple of new activities for you to consider for your classrooms. "Graphing Sea Ice Extent in the Arctic and Antarctic" helps students study data on sea ice extent while using their graphing skills and knowledge of the scientific process. "Food Chain Checkers" is a fun way for students to learn about ecosystem science in a game context.

A hearty welcome to new subscribers that signed up at the National Science Teachers Association National Convention in St. Louis, Missouri in late March. We estimate we had the opportunity to work with over 600 teachers between our 4 workshops and participation in the three National Earth Science Teachers Association Share-a-Thons, in addition to those of you that found out about Windows to the Universe at our booth in the exhibit area. We hope you like the newsletter, and that it brings you useful activities and information about the geosciences for classroom application.

This month, Marina LaGrave and myself will be sharing activities from Windows to the Universe at the American Geophysical Union meeting, 22-25 May, in Acapulco, Mexico. We will be participating in the Geophysical Information for Teachers (GIFT) workshop, as well as the Family Science event. See the "Partner Submissions" section below to find more information about events relevant to teachers at the meeting. I hope you can attend, and look forward to seeing you there!

Finally, please see below about a new online course on climate and global change we will be offering in June. The course is the second in our Climate Discovery sequence (but completion of the first course is not required for enrollment in the second course).

Meteoroids and Space Debris

Fast-moving, rocky particles called meteoroids , and space debris, are hazards for astronauts on spacewalks. Every day Earth's atmosphere is struck by hundreds of thousands or even millions of meteoroids, but most never reach the surface because they are vaporized by the intense heat generated when they rub against the molecules of Earth's atmosphere. A few make it to the Earth's surface. They collide with the planet, making craters. In space there is no blanket of atmosphere to protect spacecraft or astronauts on spacewalks from the full force of meteoroids.

In order to demonstrate the penetrating power of a projectile with little mass but with high velocity, try the Take a Stab activity.

Want to have some fun? Play our Junk in Space game!

More interested in astronauts than space junk? Do your students know who was the first person to walk on the moon? During the first manned trip to the Moon , astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on its surface. It was with great excitement that everyone on Earth both saw the Apollo 11 lunar mission approaching the moon and also heard Armstrong's voice!

Sea Ice Extent Graphing Activity & Animations

I've added a new activity titled "Graphing Sea Ice Extent in the Arctic and Antarctic" to the Windows to the Universe web site. In it, students examine actual data from the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) about the extent (in millions of square kilometers) of the sea ice coverage in both the Arctic and in the Antarctic. They look at the monthly variation throughout the year as the seasons change, then at the longer-term trends over a 25-year period. Students pose hypotheses about the variation, then graph data to test their hypotheses. The activity reinforces students' understandings of the seasons, encourages them to consider differences between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, and enables them to investigate some of the effects of climate change and global warming using actual data. We also have expanded upon some animations and interactives that show maps of sea ice variation, to include both the Arctic and Antarctic and to cover more dates; check out these links below:

Play in School with Food Chain Checkers!

What does it take for an ecosystem to remain in balance?  Play Food Chain Checkers in class, and your students will find out! This new classroom activity uses a board game as an informal scientific model to foster student learning of ecosystem science. Students work together during the game to make predictions, experiment, and to improve the model.

Teaching through games that are science models allows students to develop a more comprehensive understanding of concepts such as the dynamic nature of ecosystems and the delicate balance that is needed for them to games are just plain fun!

Elementary School Science Resources

Do you teach science at the elementary level? If so, we have resources for you!

We have thousands of content pages written at a Beginner level. That means the vocabulary is simpler and the text length is shorter overall. Use our Table of Contents to access our content pages at the Beginner level.

We also have Classroom Activities designed specifically for use in your elementary classroom.

Younger students will love to try out our games, Journals and our popular Solar System Coloring Book!

Bookmark our Elementary Resources Page to have easy access to all of these resources.

Table of Contents

Sea Ice Graphing
Food Chain Checkers
Elementary Resources
Will Steger
AGU Acapulco
NESTA Membership
Climate Courses










Teacher Submissions

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Announcements from Partners

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Will Steger Foundation International Summer Institute

Submitted by Nicole Rom, The Will Steger Foundation, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Join experienced educators from around the world for an interactive, cross-disciplinary workshop on Global Warming, its effects on the Arctic and Antarctic, and the scientific and cultural program associated with the International Polar Year.

August 13-15, 2007
Science Museum of Minnesota
St. Paul, Minnesota
Explorer Will Steger will present visual evidence of Global Warming from his Arctic and Antarctic expeditions and invite educators to join his 2008 Global Warming 101 Expeditions to the ends of the Earth. Educators will receive a toolkit of resources, also available free for download from and following the Summer Institute.

The Institute will include:
- speakers on education
- instructional technology
- scientific and cultural research underway in the Polar Regions
- ecologic and cultural impacts of Global Warming.

To download an application, visit

Events at the American Geophysical Union meeting, 21 - 25 May, in Acapulco for Teachers

There will be several events at the AGU meeting in Acapulco that are of interest to teachers, including a Short Course on Rock and Paleomagnetism on 21 May, a Geophysical Information for Teachers (GIFT) workshop on 23 May (8:30 - 15:30), and a Family Science Event that evening from 16:30 - 18:30. More information about these events is available at this link, including information about how to pre-register for the Short Course (pre-registration is required). For more information about these activities for teachers, please contact Ines Cifuentes, AGU Education Program Manager, at

Don't forget, AGU welcomes teacher members! AGU is the world's largest association of Earth and space scientists, with over 45,000 members worldwide. AGU offers numerous meetings annually, and leading publications in the geosciences. For teachers, AGU offers GIFT workshops at AGU Fall and Spring meetings with information and activities designed to be directly useful in the classroom, and a discounted rate for meeting registration. Becoming a member of AGU helps you to stay well informed and up to date in geoscience research. To join go to: For $20/year you receive the weekly news magazine, EOS, and the monthly journal, Physics Today, from the American Institute of Physics. EOS, AGU's weekly newspaper for geophysicists, includes interesting and timely articles about the forefront of geoscience research.

Join the National Earth Science Teachers Association

The National Earth Science Teachers Association (NESTA) is a nonprofit educational organization, founded in 1983, whose purpose is the advancement, stimulation, extension, improvement, and coordination of Earth Science education at all educational levels. NESTA membership (for only $20 per year, and less for a multi-year membership) brings access to a high quality quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, an electronic newsletter, NESTA ENews, connections with the only nationwide professional association dedicated to the improvement of Earth and space science education at the K-12 levels, and many other benefits, including our events across the country. To join, simply fill out the membership form and send it, with your check, to the address shown on the membership form.

NESTA will be hosting a Share-a-Thon and Rock and Mineral Raffle at the three regional NSTA conventions this fall in Denver, Detroit, and Birmingham. Opportunities to present at these Share-a-Thons will be announced soon!

The Epic of Evolution

Submitted by Cathy Russell, Boulder, Colorado, USA

The Epic of Evolution ( is the 13.7 billion year-old scientific story of the evolution of our Universe and of life on planet Earth. This Web site provides valuable resources to help students and teachers learn about the story of where we came from and to gain insight about where we may be going.

This Web site includes 1) an overview of this epic story, 2) hands-on activities (with emphasis on DNA which is at the heart of biological evolution) about the science that reveals the Epic of Evolution, 3) reviews of books, videos, and Web links about the Epic of Evolution, 4) a portal to the many stories and storytellers of this Epic and 5) a celebration of the clarity, hope and empowerment gained via an evolutionary worldview that recognizes and honors major world religions and philosophies.

Climate Discovery Courses for Educators from NCAR Online Education

Submitted by National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, USA

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? The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is offering a series of online courses designed for middle and high school science educators called Climate Discovery.

Apply now to participate in Earth System Science: A Climate Change Perspective. This six-week course for middle and high school science teachers explores Earth as a system from the perspective of climate and global change, describing the interactions between the various parts of the Earth system and how they affect our climate This is the second course in the Climate Discovery series.


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The source of this material is Windows to the Universe, at at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). © 1995-1999, 2000 The Regents of the University of Michigan; © 2000-07 University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. All Rights Reserved.