Lunar and Planetary Institute

Education and Public Outreach

LPI Earth and Space Science Newsletter
December 2004

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Workshops and Courses | Grants and Funding I Events/Opportunities | Resources | Mission News and Science

Workshops and Courses

Looking for Exciting Online Graduate-Level Coursework? American Museum of Natural History Opens Winter Registration – K-12 educators can deepen their knowledge of the life, Earth, and physical sciences this winter through an online course from Seminars on Science, the award-winning online professional development program of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). This winter's offerings begin January 31, and include "The Diversity of Fishes: Classification, Anatomy and Morphology," "Genetics, Genomics, Genethics," and other courses in the life and physical sciences. For more information and to register, go to or call 800-649-6715. All the courses are online and only require internet access. Each course is available for up to four graduate credits, is taught by Museum scientists and educators, and includes classroom resources.

Earth System Science Course for Middle School Teachers - The 16-week professional development course was developed by the Center for Education Technologies and will be facilitated by educators at McREL (Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning). January 14, 2005, is the deadline to register for the fall session of the Earth System Science Course for Middle School Teachers. In the 16-week professional development course successful participants will earn three semester hours of graduate credit from the Colorado School of Mines (CSM). The cost of the course is $215, which includes all of the materials.

Grants and Funding

NASA Explorer Schools '05 Program Registration Open Online - Applications are now being accepted from educators and administrators interested in becoming a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Explorer School. Once accepted into this exciting program, your school or school district will enter into a unique three-year partnership with NASA to bring exciting opportunities to educators, students, and families. NASA Explorer School educator and administrator teams, working along with NASA personnel and other educational partners, will develop and implement team action plans for staff and students. The action plan will promote and support the use of NASA content and programs that address the teams' local needs in mathematics, science, and technology through authentic experiences. NASA Explorer Schools receive grants up to $17,500 over the three-year partnership. The NASA Explorer Schools (NES) program is sponsored and implemented by the NASA through a cooperative agreement with NSTA. Deadline to apply for this exciting NASA/NSTA opportunity is January 31, 2005.

Educator Researcher Workshops - The SCORE program offers grants to assist in the development and implementation of local professional development workshops for educators in the SCORE six-state region. Workshop design is flexible and should meet the needs of the local community. Funding deadline for spring workshops is January 15, 2005.

Educator Researcher Collaborative Projects - The SCORE program offers grants of up to $1000 to collaborative teams of educators and Office of Space Science researchers in the SCORE six-state region. The grants are intended to help initiate new partnerships between educators and Office of Space Science researchers. Funds can be used to purchase materials and resources to increase student or public understanding of space science content. Deadline: September 30.

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Space Day 2005 Design Challenges - now available for our inquiry-based curriculum enhancement program. Please share this information with others. The three new Design Challenges for 2005 are now available to download from the Space Day website. The 2005 Design Challenges are based on the theme of "Return to the Moon". As in the past, Design Challenges can be submitted for the national competition by teams of 2–10 children in grades 4–5, 6–8. There is also a club-based groups category available to the same ages. Please notice that this year's submittal date is February 15, 2005. Best wishes on your students' experiences being successful learning opportunities using the Design Challenges!


Astrobiology Education Web Adds Dynamic Atmosphere Module - As NASA prepares to investigate the atmosphere of Saturn's moon, Titan, NASA education experts are helping students investigate the importance of an atmosphere to human life. The Educational Technology Team at NASA Ames Research Center, located in California's Silicon Valley, has updated its award-winning Astro-Venture Web site with the addition of an Atmospheric Science Mission module. The site encourages students in grades five through eight to design their own Earth-like planets suitable for human habitation. Students also can role-play NASA occupations. "This is the task placed before students as they discover the primary building blocks for supporting life on a rocky, Earth-like world. This new addition to our NASA educational complement is sure to engage the inquisitive mind." For more information visit or go directly to the Astro-Venture site.

Night Sky Network - Is a nationwide coalition of amateur astronomy clubs bringing the science, technology and inspiration of NASA's missions to the general public. We share our time and telescopes to provide you with unique astronomy experiences at science museums, observatories, classrooms, and under the real night sky. We focus on:

Night Sky Network member clubs are already conducting a number of outreach events using the first outreach toolkit: "PlanetQuest: The Search for Another Earth." The toolkit includes a number of items, e.g.:

The Space Box - Check out totally cosmic music. "The Best, Worst, and Weirdest music inspired by space!"

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Mission News and Science

A black hole is an object whose gravity is so strong that not even light can escape from it. If we can't see them, how do we know they're there? As matter falls or is pulled towards the black hole, it gains kinetic energy, heats up and is squeezed by tidal forces. This violent accretion and collision emits X-rays and gamma rays, highly energetic forms of light. Scientists are investigating these poorly understood processes with the help of current missions. Two of which are:

The CHANDRA X-Ray Observatory is designed to observe X-rays from high-energy regions of the universe, such as the remnants of exploded stars.

The recently launched Swift Mission is designed specifically for Gamma Ray Burst science.

Swift Educator page

CHANDRA Educator page

Structure and Evolution of the Universe science theme

Sun-Earth Day 2005: "Ancient Observatories, Timeless Knowledge"
Traditionally Sun-Earth Day occurs annually on or near the spring equinox. However, throughout the year there are many related events and activities such as Webcasts and Local Happenings that highlight the current Sun-Earth Day theme. Sun-Earth Day is sponsored by NASA's Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum.

The next series of activities that will take place under the Sun-Earth Day umbrella include webcasts, educational resources, and national public and school events around the theme of "Ancient Observatories, Timeless Knowledge."

Our first event for this year's Sun-Earth Day - Ancient Observatories - Timeless Knowledge comes Live from the Exploratorium on December 21, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12 Noon PST. Join the Live@ the Exploratorium crew and NASA scientists during a live webcast from the Exploratorium and Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico. Public and school audiences will be fascinated as we delve into the timeless knowledge of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Chacoans were believed to be daily sky watchers who amassed a great knowledge about the movements of the sun. Find out what they knew, and how they used this knowledge to predict, track, and celebrate the seasons. Today, astronomers and solar physicists continue to watch the sun using ground-based observatories and orbiting space telescopes. Learn why this work is important, and why solar research is still so vital. Additional information, including how to best access the webcast, details of the webcast program, and activities for educators will be posted at

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Last updated
May 2, 2007