July 10, 2000
WSGC Newsletter for Educators
The Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium's electronic newsletter for teachers provides curriculum ideas, Internet links and other resources to help you better meet the Washington EALRs and the National Science Education Standards.TABLE OF CONTENTS
--TEACHING ABOUT SCIENTIFIC CONTROVERSY
--COMET LINEAR OFFERS JULY SHOW
--GALILEO & CASSINI GATHER JOINT DATA
--METEOR/SAGE III INSTRUMENT TO LAUNCH DECEMBER 2000
--PATHFINDER POSTERS AVAILABLE
--SUMMER ERC AND NEWLETTER SCHEDULE
Planning to tackle tough topics like genetically modified foods and the possibility of life on Mars? A special two-day workshop, Teaching About Current Scientific Controversies in Your Classroom, will be held at the University of Washington July 31-Aug.1. The workshop is being offered by Science Controversies On-Line: Partnerships in Education (SCOPE), a research project which brings together students, teachers, scientists, and policy-makers to foster a better understanding of current scientific controversies.
Controversial topics include such things as genetically modified foods, the possibility of life existing on Mars, possible reasons for declining amphibian populations and deformed frogs, as well as the treatment and control of malaria. The workshop will introduce science teachers to controversy-focused curricula as well as discuss the use of Web-based projects in the classroom.
An optional session on Aug. 2 will focus on curriculum development activities, primarily involving genetically modified food and high school chemistry topics. For more information, call 206-221-4750 or visit the SCOPE Web site at
Comet Linear -- the brightest comet to come along in more than three years -- glides by the Big Dipper this month. Discovered on Sept. 27, 1999, it appears to be a first-time visitor to the inner solar system traveling in an orbit that will return it beyond distant Pluto after it passes 114 million km from the Sun on July 26, 2000.
If projections are correct, Comet Linear will put on a modest show compared to the great comets of 1996 and 1997, Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp. Nevertheless, it could be a beautiful sight as it moves through the relatively star-poor area around the Big Dipper in late July. In fact, if the comet reaches 4th magnitude it will probably resemble another popular fuzzy blob, our nearest neighboring galaxy, the Andromeda Nebula. Fore more information and a chart of Comet Linear's expected location July 23, visit
For instructions on how to make a comet in the classroom, go to The Comet's Tale (Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley) at
NASA's Galileo spacecraft has left the powerful influence of Jupiter's magnetosphere, marking the first time since early 1996 that Galileo has been outside the planet's magnetic area. The spacecraft has now entered the solar wind, which is a stream of particles emitted continually from the Sun. The solar wind flows at roughly 400 kilometers per second (about 1 million miles per hour.)
This transition marks the beginning of the joint data gathering by the Galileo and Cassini spacecraft. Galileo will return close to Jupiter in October, and Cassini is preparing to swing by Jupiter in December to slingshot toward Saturn. While both spacecraft are in Jupiter's neighborhood, their measurements will be compared to gain new understanding about how the solar wind changes as it flows outward near Jupiter's orbit.
The simultaneous, joint observations also will allow investigators to discover more about how the solar wind influences Jupiter's magnetic field and the charged particles trapped within it. For more information, visit
In 1991 NASA initiated a comprehensive program to understand the Earth's atmosphere, oceans, land, and cryosphere (ice and snow) as a single, complex, interactive system.
The SAGE III (Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment III) role in this program is to provide global, long-term measurements of key components of the Earth's atmosphere.
SAGE III missions are scheduled to begin in December. The first flight will be aboard a Russian Meteor 3M platform. A Student On-Line Atmospheric Reseach (SOLAR) site has been developed with lessons, essay contests and interactive activities. For more information, go to
Pathfinder -- a lightweight, solar-powered, remote-piloted aircraft -- was designed to observe nature without disturbing it. The Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) Program used the aircraft first over Hawaii. The poster includes background information and instructions for building a classroom model that really flies. You can download a copy of the poster at
The Washington NASA Space Grant Newsletter for Teachers appears once a month during the summer. We will return to our regular twice-monthly schedule in September.
The NASA Regional Educator Resource Center, located in the Space Grant office on the University of Washington campus, will remain open through the summer. For appointments, call (206) 543-1943, or e-mail
Ideas, comments and Web sites of interest to other teachers should be sent to Irene Svete, newsletter editor, at
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