August 30, 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
-- PLUTO: AN ASTRONOMER'S PERSPECTIVE
-- NIGHT SKY KITS AVAILABLE (5-12)
-- ADD TO THE 'STAR COUNT' (6-8)
-- TUNE INTO SCIENCE
-- FACTORS IN COLLEGE SCIENCE SUCCESS (9-12)
-- MARINER METEOR MYSTERY SOLVED?
If you are covering the solar system during this school year, the topic of Pluto will likely come up. As you have read or heard, objects like Pluto are now being called dwarf planets, and they are in a different category than the eight major planets.
NASA Regional Educator Resource Center Director Julie Lutz, UW astronomy professor and member of the International Astronomical Union, explains why. To read her explanation, go to
Are you a member of an astronomy club that's interested in public outreach? Or an educator for grades 6-12 looking for hands-on demonstrations and activities on advanced astronomy topics like black holes and extrasolar planets?
Night Sky Network toolkits, developed by NASA educators and researchers, may be borrowed for up to two weeks from the NASA Regional Educator Resource Center in Seattle.
The kits -- PlanetQuest: the Search for Another Earth; Our Galaxy, Our Universe; Black Hole Survival ToolKit; and Telescopes: Eyes on the Universe --- contain demonstration materials, activities, PowerPoint presentations, images and animations, star charts and thorough training videos.
The kits must be picked up in person from the Space Grant office on the University of Washington campus. There is no charge to borrow the kits, but the borrowers will responsible for any replacement should a kit be lost or damaged.
To reserve a kit, please send the name of the kit you would like to reserve and the dates, along with your name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and the name of your school or organization, to
Star Count is NASA Web site designed for middle school students to investigate whether people in different parts of the world see the same number of stars.
Students share their data with other students from all over the world to find out why differences might occur. To participate in Star Count, go to
Tired of listening the same old tunes? Try dialing into the sweet sound of science.
The Earth & Sky radio series provides a daily dose of 90-second educational science shows, including the Observing Earth series that often features NASA scientists and research. Programs can be heard on affiliate stations across the country and internationally, as well as on satellite radio.
For more information, go to
The Science Media Group at the Harvard-Smithsonian (authors of "Private Universe" and "Minds of Our Own") have released results of a new study designed to identify measurable factors in students' college science success. The interactive Web site outlines measurable factors in high school science classes that predict different levels of achievement in introductory college science courses.
Survey participants include students and their professors at randomly selected colleges and universities across the United States; a percentage of the students' previous high school teachers; and another 3,000 or so randomly chosen high school teachers. All either taught or studied physics, chemistry or biology. To view the results, visit
On July 14, 1965, Mariner 4 swooped over Mars. With flawless precision, the probe dipped less than 10,000 km above the planet's surface and took 22 pictures -- guaranteeing no one would ever look at the red planet the same way again.
Without enough fuel to return home, Mariner 4 cruised the dark emptiness between Earth and Mars. That might have been the end of its role in science exploration had it not run into a mysterious meteor storm more intense than any meteor storm seen on Earth.
For almost 40 years the source of the shower remained a mystery. But now, meteor expert Paul Wiegert of the University of Western Ontario may have cracked the case. For the full story, go to
Ideas, comments and Web sites of interest to other teachers should be sent to Irene Svete, newsletter editor, at
If you are not a regular subscriber and would like to receive our newsletter, simply go to UW's Mailman and fill in a subscription form. Concerned about spam? Please note Space Grant does not sell its address lists.