Earth and Space Science News for Educators

Calendar Workshops and Courses Events Get Involved Grants and Awards Resources Mission News and Science



December 14, 2021
Geminid Meteor Shower

December 21, 2021
Winter Solstice

December 22, 2021
James Webb Space Telescope - LAUNCH

February 12, 2022
Artemis 1 - LAUNCH


Workshops and Courses

Supporting Youth Leaders – December 16 @ 6:00 p.m. CST
Join the Climate Generation for a free webinar about teaching climate change and supporting civic engagement. Educators will leave with ideas of how to connect their students to climate change action and inspiring tips for supporting their students as leaders in their communities.

Exploring the Science Practice of Mathematical Thinking to Deepen Physics Understanding - December 14 @ 6:30 p.m. CST
Register now for a free professional development webinar from the Knowles Teacher Initiative. In this course, teachers will gain an overview of the Patterns Approach to physics, experience a Patterns-type lesson, and discuss how the Patterns Approach could be implemented in their classroom.

Exploring a Phenomenon Through the Practices of Science - January 12 @ 6:30 p.m. CST
Register now for a free professional development webinar from the Knowles Teacher Initiative. In this course, teachers will teachers will consider places in their curriculum where phenomena and science practices can support students in building content knowledge.

Virtual Astronomy Institute Winter Session - Applications are open!
The greater universe beyond our solar system; what do we see when we look up at the night sky; stellar classification and evolution; planets around distant stars and their potential as abodes of life; and more! The deadline to register for this 12-week course is January 7, 2022.

Summer 2022: Teacher Innovator Institute - Applications are open!
Middle School (grades 5-8) STEAM teachers who have an interest in expanding their practice to include informal education techniques are encouraged to apply to the Smithsonian's Teacher Innovator Institute. Selected applicants will spend two weeks in Washington, DC, working with education and STEAM experts to explore the connections between informal STEAM education and authentic learning. There is no cost for teachers to participate. Applications close on February 15, 2022.

NASA Educator Professional Development Workshop
This is a list of NASA's current and future events for educators, administrators, and science enthusiasts across all levels.

NISE Network Online Workshops
The National Informal STEM Education (NISE) Network runs a series of free online workshops as professional development opportunities for partners.



Participate Online in the Launch of the James Webb Space Telescope - December 22
Register to participate as a virutal guest in the launch of NASA's JWST. Registration is free and will keep you informed about launch schedule changes, highlighted mission activities, and curated mission resources. Participants will also be notified about post-launch milestones – including when the first JWST images are available!

Galaxy Clusters - January 4
Join the Space Telescope Science Institute to learn about Galaxy Clusters from Dr. Mireia Montes Quiles. This presentation is part of STScI's public lecture series, which are free to attend and presented in a virtual format. Check out the website to learn more!

Psyche: Journey to a Metal World - January 7 @ 6:00 p.m. CST
Deep within the terrestrial planets are metallic cores. The metallic asteroid, Psyche, offers a unique window into the building blocks of planet formation and the opportunity to investigate a previously unexplored type of world. Join the Kalamazoo Astronomical Society for a free, virtual, science lecture by Dr. David Williams, who will discuss NASA's mission to the Psyche.

Introduction to Amateur Astronomy, Part 1: Our Place Among the Infinities - January 15 @ 12:00 p.m. CST
The Kalamazoo Astronomical Society is happy to present a five-part lecture series that will help you become a star-hopping skymaster! Stargazing is easy, and astronomy is something anyone can do and enjoy. Register today for these free, virtual events and take the first step toward a lifetime of celestial exploration and enjoyment!

Introduction to Amateur Astronomy, Part 2: Discovering the Night Sky - January 29 @ 12:00 p.m. CST
The Kalamazoo Astronomical Society is happy to present a five-part lecture series that will help you become a star-hopping skymaster! Your first task as an amateur astronomer is to learn your way around the night sky. In Part 2 of this series, you'll learn how to use of a simple star map or planisphere and discover the wonders you can observe with the naked eye.

NSN Webinar Series: When Clouds Take Over the Sky - January 10 @ 8:00 p.m. CST
What to do when clouds fill the view of your sky? Turn this into a citizen science opportunity! Join the NASA Night Sky Network to hear Dr. Jessica Taylor from NASA's Langley Research Center share with us how you can provide data to NASA even on cloudy days.

Northern Lights - December 17 @ 7:00 p.m. CST
Register today to join the Manfred Olson Planetarium for an special virtual presentation about Earth's aurorae. Enjoy the radiance of the night sky and colorful displays of dancing lights with a backstage tour of the science behind one of nature’s most remarkable light shows.


Get Involved

AI4Mars - Help Train NASA’s Rovers to Better Explore Mars
NASA needs YOUR help to make future Mars rovers safer! By participating in this project, you will help improve the rovers’ ability to identify different, sometimes dangerous terrain - an essential skill for autonomous exploration. More than 12,000 citizen scientists have already volunteered, individuals and teams of all ages are invited to get involved today!

Artemis I STEM and Public Engagement Collaboration Meeting - January 19
Gearing up for the February launch of Artemis I, NASA is hosting a one-day meeting on public and STEM engagement plans for the mission. This meeting is designed for groups that focus on student and public engagement around STEM content. Attendees will participate in mission briefings, discover new content, and learn about partnership and collaboration opportunities around Artemis I. Register now for virtual or in-person attendance!

#UnfoldTheUniverse - NASA Art Challenge
NASA’s biggest and most powerful space telescope ever is launching soon! What do you think we’ll discover when we #UnfoldTheUniverse? Show us what you believe the Webb telescope will reveal by creating art. You can draw, paint, sing, write, dance — the universe is the limit! Share your creation with the hashtag #UnfoldTheUniverse before December 18 for a chance to be featured on NASA’s channels.

NASA Challenges Students to Design Moon-Digging Robots
NASA seeks young engineers to help design a new robot concept for an excavation mission on the Moon. The Lunabotics Junior Contest is open to K-12 students in U.S. public and private schools, as well as home-schoolers. To enter the contest, students must submit entries, which must include an image of the robot design and a written summary explaining how the design is intended to operate on the Moon, by Jan. 25, 2022.

Join the GLOBE Program - Calling educators, students, and citizen scientists
The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program is an international science and education program that provides students and the public with the opportunity to particiapte in data collection and the scientific process, and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth System and global environment. Get started today!

2021-2022 Growing Beyond Earth: Maker Contest
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, in Miami Florida is partnering with researchers and engineers at NASA to improve food production technologies for long duration space travel. Together, we’re calling on makers across America to submit new designs for gardening systems to be used aboard spacecraft.


Grants and Awards

2022 Edward C. Roy Jr. Award for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching
The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) invites science educators to enter its upcoming competition for Excellence in K-8 Earth Science Teaching. This award is presented to one K-8 teacher and recognizes leadership and innovation in Earth science education. The winner of the Roy Award will receive a monetary prize of $2,500. To be eligible, applications must be submitted by January 21, 2022.

Toshiba Grants for Grades 6-12
Toshiba America Foundation accepts applications from teachers who are passionate about making science and mathematics more engaging for their students.

NSTA Awards
NSTA Awards Programs honor teachers and principals from all grade levels for outstanding work; nominate yourself, a fellow teacher, or a student.

Toshiba Grants for K-5
K-5 grade teachers are invited to apply on-line for a $1,000 Toshiba America Foundation grant to help bring an innovative hands-on project into their own classroom. Grant applications are due on October 1st each year.

Donors Choose Teacher Grants
Donors Choose is funding teacher projects for all subject areas.

Motorola Solutions Foundation's Innovation Generation Grants
These grants support innovative, hands-on STEM programs serving K-university students and teachers in the United States.

Kinder Morgan Foundation Education Grants
$1,000 to $5,000 go to educational programs for K-12 youth in the United States and Canada in communities focusing in areas of academic programs, including tutoring, arts education programs, and environmental education programs that work with local schools and meet curriculum standards.



Stargazing in December
Myriad planets line up in the evening sky this month. Visit StarDate to plan your next stargazing adventure!

NASA's Afterschool Universe
Want to make out-of-school-time totally out-of-this-world? Afterschool Universe is an out-of-school-time astronomy program targeted at middle school students. It explores astronomy concepts through engaging hands-on activities and takes participants on a journey through the Universe beyond the solar system.

NASA Coloring Pages
Encourage young learners to exercise their creativity, learn about amazing technologies, and explore faraway worlds with these coloring pages!

Working with STEM Experts: A Guide for Educators in Informal Learning Settings
The NISE Networks has created a professional development guide to help informal STEM educators find, prepare, and work with STEM experts to engage with the public.

Energize Schools
​SEI's Energize Schools curriculum engages students in sustainability projects, develops valuable career skills, and is aligned with ​Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, and California Career Technical Education. It is available by request, at no cost to educators.

Project Spectra!
“Project Spectra!” is a science and engineering program for 6th – 12th grade students, focusing on how light is used to explore the Solar System. “Project Spectra!” emphasizes hands-on activities, like building a spectrograph, as well as the use of real data to solve scientific questions.

Exploratorium Science Activities
Hungry for fresh, exciting science activities based in amazing phenomena? Check out the Exploratorium's extensive collection of hands-on, teacher-tested activities that use cheap, available materials.


Mission News and Science

Europa has Water in its Atmosphere
According to new research, a critical piece of evidence of Europa’s watery nature has at least been confirmed. Lorenz Roth of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology confirmed that Europa has water vapor in its atmosphere. This discovery could lead to a greater understanding of Europa’s atmosphere and surface environment, informing missions headed there in the near future.

Perseverance Sees Evidence of Flash Floods in Jezero Crater
Nearly eight months into the Perseverance rover’s mission on Mars, researchers have confirmed that Jezero crater is an ancient lakebed that once experienced flash floods powerful enough to push boulders tens of miles upstream into the crater basin. While the source of the floods in not yet known, they may be related to global shifts in Mars' ancient cliamte.

Is "Hot Ice" Producing Chaotic Magnetic Fields in our Solar System?
The outer “ice giant” planets, Neptune and Uranus, have plenty of mysteries. One of the biggest is where exactly they got their magnetic fields. Researchers at the University of Chicago have been studying how, under the right conditions, ice can be electrically conductive and capable of generating a magnetic field. This "superionic ice" could exist in the interior of ice giants, like Uranus and Neptune.

Volcanism on the Moon Ended About 2 Billion Years ago
Thanks to the samples of lunar rock brought back to Earth by China’s Chang’e 5 mission, scientists are learning more about how the Moon formed and evolved. The samples are the first to be returned to Earth since the Apollo era (45 years ago) and were obtained from the volcanic plain known as Oceanus Procellarum, which is believed to have hosted the most recent basalt lava flows on the Moon. The samples are not only helping to fill in the gaps of the Moon’s geological history but also of other bodies in the Solar System.

That will be us... in 5 Billion Years
For the first time, scientists have observed an exoplanetary system that resembles what our solar system will look like in billions of years, after the Sun’s death. Astronomers had previously theorized that some planets might survive a star’s destructive red-giant phase and end up orbiting remnant white dwarfs, but this is the first exoplanetary system that shows such an arrangement. And the parallels to our own system are striking!

A Volcanic Comet Blows its Top
Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann is no ordinary comet. It has volcanoes, and at least four of them just erupted. A cloud of "cryomagma" is expanding into space, wider than Jupiter and an easy target for backyard telescopes.

First Mars Sample Stored
The Perseverance rover, which has been on Mars since February 18, has successfully drilled its first core sample and stored the sample in a titanium tube. The sample comes from a ridge in Jezero Crater, the site the rover has been exploring for months. The Mars2020 mission has the capacity to collect and store dozens more samples. The rover will eventually move to an area that was once covered by water, where the Perseverence team will search for evidence of astrobiology on Mars.


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