January 5, 2006
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
-- OPEN HOUSE AT THE NEW NASA ERC (K-12)
-- CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS AWARDS COMPETITION (6-8)
-- COMETS...AND MORE COMETS! (5-10)
-- APOLLO'S MOON DISCOVERIES REVISITED
-- TALK TO ISS ASTRONAUTS LIVE
-- EARTH AT PERIHELION
On Jan. 14, the NASA Regional Educator Resource Center will hold an open house for teachers and other educators at the new Washington NASA Space Grant offices in the remodeled Johnson Hall, Room 141, on the main University of Washington campus in Seattle.
The open house takes place from 1-4 p.m. The ERC offers posters, lithographs, curriculum packs and other aids to help teach aeronautics, earth and space sciences effectively. Refreshments will be served. Families and guests are welcome. For directions, go to
Middle schoolers competing in the Christopher Columbus Awards Program combine science and technology with community problem-solving. The students teams and their adult coaches identify an issue they care about, and thenusing science and technologywork with experts, conduct research, and put their ideas to the test to develop an innovative solution.
Eight finalist teams and their coaches will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World to attend National Championship Week, plus a $200 grant to further develop their ideas. The grand finalists will receive $25,000 Columbus Foundation community grant. Teams do not need to be affiliated with a school to enter. Entry deadline is February 13. For more information, go to
Last July NASA's Deep Impact smashed into a comet, gathering samples. This month marks another comet mission landmark when NASA's Stardust mission returns its sample to Earth. Yet a third comet event is coming up in late April when Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 comes streaking close to earth. Why are astronomers so interested in comets?
At a Feb. 4 workshop, astronomers Julie Lutz and Kristine Washburn of Space Science Network Northwest will give an overview of comets, the clues they provide to the formation of the solar system, and new breakthroughs gleaned from recent NASA missions. Walter Harris of the UW Earth and Space Sciences Department will talk about his research group's plans to observe Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3.
The workshop will take place 12:30-4:30 p.m. at Johnson Hall, Room 162. Participants will receive solar system education materials, including a complete set of Stardust materials. The workshop is free, but pre-registration is required. Four clock hours can be purchased for $15. On-campus parking is free after noon on Saturday. For more information, go to
When Apollo astronauts stepped out onto the moon 30 years ago, they discovered that it only seemed familiar. From the electrically-charged dust at their feet to the inky-black skies above, the moon they explored was utterly alien. Their discoveries were then as well-known to the public as the Man in the Moon. Not anymore.
Now, with NASA going back to the moon, Science@NASA is revisiting some of the best Apollo tales with a series of stories called the Apollo Chronicles. The first one explores the simple matter of shadows. For the complete story, visit
Proposals are now being accepted to participate in live question-and-answer sessions between crewmembers on-board the International Space Station (ISS) and students. Using a format similar to a videoconference, students watching from their school or science center pose questions related to their classroom studies while crew members discuss and demonstrate science, technology, engineering, and mathematical concepts in ways that are unique to the environment of space.
Education downlinks run approximately 20 minutes. The number of downlinks depends upon mission requirements and crew time. The next proposal deadline is January 23. For additional information including the current proposal form and a copy of "Live In-Flight Education Program: A Planning Guide," contact the Teaching From Space Office at
Video from a recent school contact is available at
Don't look, but the sun is bigger than usual this week. That's because earth is at perihelion, the closest point in our planet's orbit to the sun. In the dead cold of northern winter, we're almost 2 percent closer to the sun than the annual average. For more current "space weather," 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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