December 8, 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
-- BEST METEOR SHOWER OF 2004
-- BECOME A NASA TEACHER-MENTOR (3-8)
-- ROBOTICS MATH & SCIENCE (5-12)
-- LOOKING FOR ASTRONOMY PROJECTS? (9-12)
-- UW OBSERVATORY CLOSED FOR WINTER
-- OCEAN CAREERS INSPIRE NEW EXPLORERS
-- BURGESS SHALE: EVOLUTION'S BIG BANG
Make hot cocoa. Bundle up. Tell your friends: the best meteor shower of 2004the Geminidsis about to peak on Monday night, Dec. 13. Sky watchers who stay outside for a few hours around midnight can expect to see dozens to hundreds of "shooting stars."
The source of the shower is asteroid 3200 Phaethon. There's a cloud of dust trailing the asteroid and Earth plows through it every year in mid-December. Bits of dust traveling 80,000 mph hit our atmosphere and turn into glowing meteors. For the full story, visit
NASA Ames Research Center is encouraging motivated and creative educators, grades 3-8, to become members of the Airspace Systems Education Cohort (ASEC), a NASA peer-mentoring network for teachers. Educators selected will attend a three-day institute at Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA in August 2005.
These mentors will work within the K-12 community to train other educators in the use of NASA's multimedia products that support math, science, and technology educationand to inspire the next generation of explorers.
Applicants must by U.S. citizens and have three years of teaching experience. The application deadline is March 21, 2005. For more information, go to
The Personal Satellite Assistant (PSA) is an intelligent, free-flying robot that NASA has been developing in an effort to improve how we explore and work in space. Related middle school lesson guides on force, motion and systems are now available online. High school lessons are still under development.
To download the guides, see
Do you have an astronomy club or students anxious to work on some real astronomical data? The Tracking a Solar Storm section of the Student Observation Network Web site allows student observers to analyze images of the sun taken at various wavelengths with detectors aboard various NASA solar missions.
The students can follow the evolution of sunspots, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, prominences and other solar phenomena. For more information, go to
The Sky Server of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) teaches students how to acess the SDSS database of images and to look for asteroids, variable stars and other celestial objects. Visit
There will be no public nights at the Theodor Jacobsen Observatory from December to February. Public nights will resume March 2, 2005. Built in 1895, the observatory, with its 110-year old refracting telescope, is open to the public every first and third Wednesday of the month, March through November. For more information, go to
OceanAGE (Ocean Careers to Inspire Another Generation of Explorers) invites students to interact with the talented people who explore our ocean planet. From underwater pilots to research scientists, these marine explorers provide students with first-hand knowledge of exciting careers through live interviews, profiles, and mission logs.
On Dec. 14, their web chat will feature Dr. Charlie Mazel, principal research scientist at Physical Sciences Inc., and Dr. Edie Widder, senior scientist at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution. Mazel and Widder recently returned from a mission to the Northern Gulf of Mexico where they used advanced camera systems and light-tight traps to explore the creatures of one of the most geologically complex regions on the planet.
For profiles, video interviews and live event instructions, go to
The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is showcasing the Smithsonian exhibit, The Burgess Shale: Evolution's Big Bang, now through March 6, 2005. The fossils of the Burgess Shalethe most important fossil site in northwestern North Americaprovide the world's first window on early multi-cellular life.
The Burgess Shale has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is still being actively excavated and researched. Located high in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia in Canada's Yoho National Park, the fossils were discovered in 1909. The extraordinarily diverse group of 505-million-year-old fossils include the ancestors of virtually all known living animals, as well as mysterious and still controversial creatures unlike any known today.
For more information, 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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