January 19, 2005
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
-- HUYGENS LANDS ON SATURN'S MOON
-- SEATTLE SCIENCE LECTURES
-- HOW STUDENTS LEARN MATH & SCIENCE (K-12)
-- NASA ASTRONAUT REMEMBRANCE WEEK (K-12)
-- STUDENT TOURS OF EVOLUTION EXHIBIT (K-12)
-- THE MATHEMATICIAN'S LITERARY FRIEND
On January 14, after a seven-year journey through the solar system aboard the Cassini spacecraft, the European Space Agency's Huygens probe successfully descended through the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, and safely landed on its surface. Huygens is mankind's first successful attempt to land a probe on another a world in the outer solar system.
One of the main reasons for sending Huygens to Titan is that its nitrogen atmosphere is rich in methane, and its surface may contain many chemicals of the kind that existed on the young Earth. Combined with the Cassini observations, Huygens will afford an unprecedented view of Saturn's mysterious moon. Huygens first images and more information from the Huygens-Cassini mission are available at
On Jan. 26, Dr. Toby Smith of the UW Astronomy Department will give a free public talk on the Cassini-Huygens mission, its discoveries and the future of Saturn exploration. The Seattle Astronomical Society will provide telescope viewing of Saturn after the lecture, weather permitting. For more information, go to
This month and next, the Seattle Science Lecture Series will explore topics such as the origins of the universe, string theory, and more. Guest authors include Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of the recent four-part PBS-NOVA miniseries, "Origins"; Jared Diamond, author of "Guns, Germs and Steel"; Roger Penrose, Oxford mathematician and author of "The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe" plus five others.
The next talk, featuring Neil deGrasse Tyson, will take place Jan. 20. Tickets for the lectures are $5 at the door only. The series is presented by Town Hall, the Pacific Science Center, the University of Washington, the Seattle P-I, and University Bookstore. For more information, go to
"How Students Learn: History, Mathematics, and Science in the Classroom" discusses how to build straightforward science experiments into true understanding of scientific principles. And it shows how to overcome the difficulties in teaching math to generate real insight and reasoning in math students. It also features illustrated suggestions for classroom activities.
Full text of the National Academy Press book, a sequel to "How People Learn," is available free online at
A number of local education events are planned for NASA Astronaut Remembrance Week, Jan. 27-Feb. 1. The Museum of Flight will display a special exhibit highlighting the lives of the seventeen astronauts killed in the line of duty, and remembrance journals will be available for visitors to record their thoughts on each of these heroes. There will also be a display of personal memorabilia from the three Washington state astronautsDick Scobee of Auburn, Michael Anderson of Spokane and William McCool of Whidbey Island.
Museum guests for NASA Astronaut Remembrance Week are John Aaron, a flight controller for the Apollo missions, including Apollo 12 and Apollo 15, and later shuttle missions, and George "Pinky" Nelson, shuttle astronaut with three flights into space for a total of 411 hours.
An educator luncheon with Aaron will take place Jan. 28. The cost is $25 and reservations are required. Aaron also plans to visit area school or nonprofit organizations. If your school would like an assembly, please contact Andrea DeLaRosa, Apollo coordinator, at 206-768-7206. Funding is available for schools in Pierce, King, and Snohomish Counties who have 35 percent or more free and reduced lunches. For information, contact
For information on other NASA Astronaut Remembrance Week events, including the teen leadership conference, go to
The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture is offering special admission rates for school tours of the Smithsonian exhibit, The Burgess Shale: Evolution's Big Bang. Discount fees will be provided for up to 30 classes to visit the display, which is on exhibit through March 6. The fossils of the Burgess Shalea UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most important fossil site in northwestern North Americaprovide the world's first window on early multi-cellular life.
Tours are offered on a space available basis Monday-Friday at 10:15 a.m., 11:30 a.m., or 12: 45 p.m. For classes of 15-35 students, admission is $3 per student (regular student admission is $6 per student). For two to three classes (up to 65 students), admission is $3.50 per student.
The deadline to apply for tours is Jan. 28. To apply for the group rate contact the Burke Museum's education office at 206-543-5591 or e-mail
Do you like fiction and mathematics? Are you looking for a book or story that might be useful for the students in your math class? Are you interested in what our society thinks about mathematicians?
Alex Kasman, a math professor at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, has created a searchable database of "math fiction." His site lists and reviews more than 450 novels, short stories, comic books and even television shows with an element of math. Visit Mathematical Fiction at
Ideas, comments and Web sites of interest to other teachers should be sent to Irene Svete, newsletter editor, at
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