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LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter

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December 13, 2016 Geminid Meteor Shower

December 21, 2016 Winter Solstice--First day of winter

August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse visible across the US


LPI workshops at NSTA Portland
Come join our sessions, presented by educators from the STEP program, at the NSTA conference in Portland! "NASA's Exploration of the Solar System" is a short course on Nov. 10 at 3pm; "Seasons in the Sun" is a workshop on Nov. 12 at 9:30 am, and "Moon Mania" is a workshop on Nov. 11 at 12:30 pm.

LiftOff 2017: Starry Night
This weeklong aerospace workshop emphasizes STEM learning experiences by incorporating a space science theme supported by NASA missions. Teacher participants are provided with information and experiences through speakers, hands-on activities and field investigations that promote space science and enrichment activities for themselves and others. Free to Texas participants. Application deadline: April 14, 2017

Astronomy Workshop at Harris County Department of Education
On Dec. 7, 2016, LPI will present an astronomy workshop for 8th grade science and High School astronomy teachers. Discover how astronomers study the stars, nebulae, and galaxies that make up the Universe! Create classification diagrams, explore the properties of light, and model the scale of our Galaxy through a variety of hands-on activities. Addresses TEKS 8.8 (A,B,C,D). Participants receive reference materials, hands-on lesson plans, and lunch. Materials and LPI education staff time provided by NASA Science Mission Directorate’s cooperative agreement with USRA.Advanced Registration required. ($30).


LPI Public Presentation "Impact Cratering Across the Inner Solar System"
On Nov. 17, LPI senior staff scientist Dr. Buck Sharpton will speak on "Impact Cratering Across the Solar System" as part of LPI's Cosmic Exploration Speaker Series. The presentation begins at 7:30 and will be followed by a light reception.

Total Solar Eclipse
On Aug. 21, 2017, the moon will pass between Earth and the sun, creating a total solar eclipse visible along a narrow path stretching across the continental United States. The NASA eclipse page lists events, activities, inofrmation about the science, and more.

AAPG Conference and Exhibition
The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) invites middle and high school teachers to help celebrate its 100th anniversary; the conference will be in Houston April 1-4, 2017, and teachers can attend at reduced rates. More details and final agenda coming soon.


Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program
The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program provides a unique opportunity for accomplished K-12 educators in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to serve in the national education arena. Fellows spend 11 months working in a federal agency or U.S. congressional office to bring their extensive classroom knowledge and experience to efforts related to STEM education programs and policy. Program applications are due Nov. 17, 2016, at 8 p.m. EST

Fly Your Exoplanet on the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite
Set to launch in June 2018, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite is an explorer-class planet finder. In the first-ever spaceborne all-sky transit survey, TESS will identify planets ranging from Earth-sized to gas giants. As the TESS team prepares for launch, it invites the public to ponder what exoplanets might look like and share their ideas in the form of sketches and graphics.

The Oceans Project
Oceans is an international online collaborative project for students ages 12-16. The objective is to help students understand that the sea is not the same worldwide through making their own observations and sharing them with students from around the world. The project lasts eleven weeks, takes place in English, and is free of charge. Materials are also available in Spanish, Catalan, and Italian.

Scientific Divers Visit School Classrooms
EPA divers enjoy opportunities to visit school classrooms and talk with kids about ocean stewardship. Visits typically include pictures and video of aquatic creatures as well as polluted water sites to show how EPA uses scientific diving to help protect our underwater environment. Contact the Unit Diving Officer for more information.

NASA Invites You to #SpotHubble
NASA wants to see the Hubble impact in your life! Share your photos with NASA on Instagram, Twitter, Flickr and Facebook.

Lexus Eco Challenge Scholarships
The Lexus Eco Challenge is a national STEM competition for grades 6-12 that awards up to $500,000 in grants and scholarships to eligible teachers, students, and schools each year. Student teams tackle environmental issues related to land, water, air, and climate, and create practical solutions while competing for prizes. Land and water entries due Oct. 17; air and climate entries due Dec. 12.


Shell Science Lab Challenge
The Shell Science Lab Challenge offers you a chance to compete to win a school science lab makeover, valued at $20,000, by sharing your creative approach. Middle and high school science teachers (grades 6-12) in the United States and Canada are encouraged to apply. The deadline for submissions is January 23, 2017.

Texas Medical Association's Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching
The Texas Medical Association awards one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school science teacher $5,000 and their schools will receive a $2,000 award for science curriculum. Also, three additional science teachers will receive $1,500 each. Nominations are open through November 18, 2016.

TMA's Ernest and Sarah Butler Awards for Excellence in Science Teaching
In these awards by the Texas Medical Association, one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school science teacher will receive $5,000 and their schools will receive a $2,000 award for the science curriculum, and 3 additional science teachers will receive $1,500 each! Nominations open through Nov. 18, 2016.


NASA JPL Education Classroom Activities
Explore a database of lesson plans for grades K-12; search by subject matter, grade level -- and even educational standards. In an easy-to-browse format, each lesson includes background information, materials lists and related links. New lessons are being added all the time featuring the latest NASA discoveries, missions and research.

Curriculum with an Impact
The Barringer Meteorite Crater curriculum is a free inquiry-based 10-day curriculum that takes middle school students from observers to experimenters to educated participants in the investigation of the scientific processes of impact cratering. The unit culminates with a scientific and historical narrative of how Barringer Meteorite Crater in Arizona was identified.

The Universe in the Classroom
A new edition of The Universe in the Classroom is now available on the ASP website. "Recent Lunar Science Discoveries and an Opportunity to Celebrate Them" describes how you can get involved in International Observe the Moon Night, and how recent NASA missions have changed the way we view our nearest celestial neighbor. Past articles are also available.

NASA's "Science WOW!" newsletter
NASA has a new science education newsletter. Science starts with a question, and so will "Science WOW!" Each week's message will kick off with a science question and a link to where you can find the answer. "Science WOW!" will also highlight an awesome science education tool each week.


Dione Also May Have Ocean
Saturn's moon Dione may have a 65 km thick global ocean covered with a 100 km thick crust, making it similar to its smaller neighbor Enceladus, famous for spouting jets of water vapor but with a much thicker crust.

Water Plumes Erupt on Europa
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have imaged what may be water vapor plumes erupting off the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa. The observation increases the possibility that missions to Europa may be able to sample Europa's ocean without having to drill through miles of ice. Europa has a huge global ocean containing twice as much water as Earth's oceans, but it is protected by a layer of extremely cold and hard ice of unknown thickness.

Mystery of Ceres Missing Craters
The Dawn mission studying the dwarf planet Ceres has mapped small craters but shows Ceres is missing the expected large craters for an object its size. Scientists suspect that Ceres' icy layers may contain salts that have smoothed out its features over time, or perhaps icy volcanism may have buried older craters.

New Gullies on Mars Not from Liquid Water
New findings using data from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show that gullies on modern Mars are likely not being formed by flowing liquid water. There data show no evidence of the minerals that would form from liquid water present in these cullies; they may be formed from freezing and thawing carbon dioxide frost instead.

Enceladus' Ice Crust Thinner than Expected
A new study indicates that the shell of ice around Enceladus is thinner than previously believed, particularly at its poles. It may be as thin as 1 mile, making it the thinnest known ice shell of the ocean-covered moons. This makes the ocean of water more accessible, for future exploration.

News and Events

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