Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium

September 8, 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

-- GLOBE CONTRAIL COUNT-A-THON (K-12)
-- ROVERS STILL ROVIN'
-- IGES 10TH ANNUAL ART CONTEST (2-4)
-- UNVEILING THE DEEP SKY
-- TESTERS SOUGHT FOR EARTHTUTOR (9-14)
-- NEW ASTROBIOLOGY CURRICULUM (9-12)

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GLOBE CONTRAIL COUNT-A-THON (K-12)

Contrails are clouds formed when water vapor condenses and freezes around small particles (aerosols) that exist in aircraft exhaust. In celebration of Earth Science Week 2005, interested people around the world are invited to observe and report contrails between 11 a.m and 1 p.m. local time on Oct. 13.

Contrails, especially persistent contrails, represent a human-caused increase in the Earth's cloudiness, and are likely to be affecting climate and ultimately our natural resources. Persistent contrails can last for hours to days, and spread over thousands of square kilometers, becoming indistinguishable from naturally occurring cirrus clouds.

Scientists are concerned about contrails because predicted increases in air-traffic could result in a continued increase in cloud cover. Knowing when and where contrails form is key to determining their contribution to cirrus cloud cover and their effect on the energy balance. Thus, collecting information on short-lived contrails is also of interest. For more information, go to

http://asd-www.larc.nasa.gov/GLOBE/

For more information on Earth Science Week 2005, including lesson plans, go to

http://www.earthsciweek.org

ROVERS STILL ROVIN'

Working atop a range of Martian hills, NASA's Spirit rover is rewarding researchers with tempting scenes filled with evidence of past planet environments. The summit sits 348 feet higher than the site where Spirit landed nearly 20 months ago.

"This climb was motivated by science," said Steve Squyres of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. Squyres is principal investigator for the rovers' science instruments. "Every time Spirit has gained altitude, we've found different rock types." Researchers are viewing possible routes south to apparently layered ledges and to a feature dubbed "home plate," which might be a plateau of older rock or a filled-in crater.

Spirit and twin rover, Opportunity, successfully completed their three-month prime missions in April 2004. They have inspected dozens of rocks and soil targets since then, continuing their pursuit of geological evidence about formerly wet conditions on Mars. For recent Mars photos and stories, visit

http://www.nasa.gov/vision/universe/solarsystem/mer_main.html

IGES 10TH ANNUAL ART CONTEST (2-4)

Many people think about Earth as four different parts—air, land, water and life. But the truth is these parts are all connected to each other. The 10th annual art contest, sponsored by the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), asks students to connect those ideas in an original picture.

The winning entry will be printed—along with the artist's name, age, school name, and hometown—as the 2005 IGES greeting card. The winning artist will also receive a $250 savings bond. The second-place winner will receive a $100 savings bond, with a $50 savings bond awarded to the third-place winner.

Entries are due Nov. 9. For complete rules and entry information, visit

http://www.strategies.org/ArtContest/2005_ContestAnnounce.html

UNVEILING THE DEEP SKY

During the years from 1758 to 1782, French astronomer Charles Messier compiled a list of approximately 100 diffuse objects that were difficult to distinguish from comets through the telescopes of the day. The Messier Catalog was one of the first major milestones in the history of the discovery of Deep Sky objects and it became known as a collection of the most beautiful objects in the sky including nebulae, star clusters, and galaxies.

This site provides a complete guide to the 110 objects recognized as the standard Messier catalog. For each object, an image is presented together with a short description. Visitors can click on the image to get a larger-format version. Also included is some data on these objects such as celestial position (right ascension in hours and minutes [h:m], declination in degrees and minutes [deg:m], both for the epoch J2000.0), apparent visual brightness in magnitudes [mag], apparent (angular) diameter in arc minutes [arc min], and approximate distance in thousands of light-years (kilo-light years [kly]. To learn more, go to

http://www.seds.org/messier/

TESTERS SOUGHT FOR EARTHTUTOR (9-14)

Stottler Henke Associates, Inc. is conducting a pilot study for EarthTutor, a NASA-funded project aimed at fostering the use of Earth science satellite data in advanced high school and college classrooms. Labs are being developed for oceanography, polar ice, vegetation, atmosphere, and natural disasters.

The software aims to accommodate students of diverse abilities and skills. It integrates with an image processing application and offers inquiry-based, self-paced labs. The project is conducting a phase II pilot to evaluate the functionality, usability, and classroom effectiveness of an expanded version of EarthTutor. The estimated time commitment ranges between 4-20 hours, depending on the individual's availability. To participate, please contact Sarika Singh at

sarika@stottlerhenke.com

For more information on EarthTutor, visit

http://www.stottlerhenke.com/earthtutor/

NEW ASTROBIOLOGY CURRICULUM (9-12)

"Astrobiology: An Integrated Science Approach" is a full-year, inquiry-based, high school science curriculum that immerses students in a story that explores the nature of life on Earth and the search for life across the universe.

This story serves as the unifying theme for integrating Earth and space science, chemistry, physics, and biology. The curriculum is mapped to a series of concept threads, derived from National Science Education Standards. Sample activities and chapters, concepts threads, as well as supplemental resources are available at

http://astrobio.terc.edu

FEEDBACK

Ideas, comments and Web sites of interest to other teachers should be sent to Irene Svete, newsletter editor, at isvete@u.washington.edu

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