March 3, 2004
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
-- PLANET PANORAMA IN THE EVENING SKY
-- EXTREME EXPLORATION WORKSHOP (K-12)
-- NEW SUMMER TRAINING IN GIS/GPS (K-12)
-- FIRST IMAGES FROM CASSINI
-- NASA EXPLORES FLYWHEELS, SPACE LANGUAGE AND FOOD (K-12)
-- ETHICS IN THE SCIENCE CLASSROOM (9-12)
-- PROJECT ASTROBIO TEACHERS WANTED
-- SMART SKIES EXPERIENCE (5-8)
Over the next few weeks, all five naked-eye planets can be seen simultaneously. In order from west to east, this March's long planetary lineup will consist of Mercury-Venus-Mars-Saturn-Jupiter. Not until April 2036 will there be a more easily observed display of all five naked-eye planets at dusk. In late March, Mercury and Venus will be about as high as possible at dusk for viewers at mid-northern latitudes.
Viewing sessions should begin by about 45 minutes after sunset to insure catching Mercury before it sinks too low. From March 22-April 1, the Moon will fit within the span of five planets, bringing the total of visible solar system bodies to six. Another fine chance to view all five planets, but in the morning sky, will come in late December 2004 through early January 2005.
For a chart of the sky March 27, go to
Venus transiting the sun, new results from Mars and an up-close peek at our neighbor Saturn are only part of what's cooking in our solar system this coming year. On March 20, astronomer and NASA ERC Director Julie Lutz will lead a free half-day workshop of hands-on activities and content sources to help teachers make the most of these developments in their classrooms. Participants will receive copies of new solar system exploration materials.
Participants will be divided into by grade level (K-4, 5-8, 9-12). All NASA Educator Educator Resource Center workshop materials conform to WASL and national science and math standards. Clock hours are available for $15. For times, location and registration, visit
CORSE2004 (Conference on Remote Sensing Education) is designed to teach educators how to use Geographic Information Technology (GIT) in their classrooms. The conference, sponsored by NASA, the Institute for the Application of Geospatial Technology, the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and others, will take place in Auburn, N.Y. June 28-July 2.
Travel awards are available to a limited number of applicants to help defray teacher costs. There is a $250 registration fee which covers books, materials and a GPS, as well as a one-year school license for ArcView 3.3.
This year, Land Surveyors of Washington is offering to registation fees for several Washington teachers to attend the conference. These awards are available on a first come, first served basis. For more information, see the February issue of Professional Surveyor Magazine at
Registrations and other information on CORSE2004 is available at
After 13 years in production, Cassini's official approach to Saturn has begun! The Cassini Imaging Team has released its latest natural color image of Saturn.
Since their last release, the planet has grown in size by 60 percent, new details in the atmosphere and rings are becoming visible, and scientists are already puzzling over the noticeable absence of the ghostly spoke-like dark markings in the rings first seen by Voyager on its approach to the planet 23 years ago. See the latest image at
This week NASAexplores features three new articles: "Reinventing The Wheel" on flywheels; "The Language Of Space" on how different countries communicate while on the Space Station; and "Food For Thought" on growing plants in space.
Lessons are available in packages for grades K-4, 5-8 and 9-12. To access the materials, please visit
The Northwest Association for Biomedical Research (NWABR) will present a week-long workshop focused on the teaching of ethics and effective strategies for incorporating ethical issues into science classrooms. The 'Ethics in the Science Classroom' program, now in its fifth year, engages secondary school science teachers in model classroom activities and discussions with professionals in the fields of science and ethics.
The workshop takes place July 19-23 at the University of Washington Pack Forest Conference Center, Eatonville. The workshop addresses the recommendations in National Science Education Standards through classroom practices that foster critical thinking and promote understanding of the fundamental relationship between science and citizenship.
Participants will receive a $250 stipend upon program completion. All meals and lodging are free of charge. In addition, educators will have the option to earn 5 graduate credits from the University of Washington or 40 clock hours from WSTA. The deadline for registration is May 7. A refundable $50 deposit is required upon acceptance into the program. For an online application and more information, go to
NASA Ames Research Center is looking for classes to participate in a nationwide pilot test of "Smart Skies," a standards-based math and science curriculum supplement for grades 5-8. Students will take on the roles of pilots, air traffic controllers, or NASA scientists to solve real world air traffic control problems involving two planes flying on routes where a conflict may occur.
In each lesson, student teams conduct an interactive classroom flight experiment. The experiment is supported by problem-solving worksheets featuring a variety of grade-appropriate mathematics methods (tables, graphs, or equations) for solving the airplane distance-rate-time problems. Worksheets, lesson plans and teacher guides will be available to download online.
Teachers whose classes complete the pilot-test will receive a special NASA gift award. Their classes will receive a gift pack of NASA certificates, CD's, posters, and more. Participants must sign up by March 15. To apply, go to
Ideas, comments and Web sites of interest to other teachers should be sent to Irene Svete, newsletter editor, at
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