Teacher Resources


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Welcome to SciNews!

UPDATE 10/7/2015


SciNews has moved and is now hosted at Penn State University! Click here to be transferred to the new, updated website.


The purpose of SCINEWS is to provide middle and high school teachers timely, pre-packaged lessons on a science current event (such as an oil spill, earthquake, or shuttle launch) that are short (~15 min), easy to implement, and align to AZ state standards. Materials might include a slide show, videos, maps, photographs, or KML files for use in Google Earth. Each current event lesson has an associated PDF document that contains a brief overview of the event and lesson, as well as a map, photo(s), and AZ standards targeted. Although using current events in the classroom is not new, the goal here is to provide simple and short lessons that associate ‘textbook’ concepts with real events in the news while allowing for class discussion.

The SCINEWS listserv will be used to send out updates when new materials are posted and ready for download (expect ~1 email every other week). The overview PDF file (described above) will be attached. All materials will be hosted on this SESE Teacher Resources website and archived.

To subscribe to the SciNEWS listserv send you r name, affiliation, and email address to: emailSCINEWS@asu.edu

*If you have signed up and have not received an email, please check your spam box first - then email me*

This is an ongoing and iterative project initiated by ASU/NASA Space Grant fellow and graduate student Erin DiMaggio. Erin has a strong interest in education outreach and has classroom experience. She welcomes suggestions on how to improve the lessons – or – other general comments (use above email address)


Special note on content and videos: Please note that some of the videos and material may be sensitive to students who may have recently experienced the event (such as a tornado). Videos provided on this website have been prescreened (my myself) and in sone cases downloaded so that they may be viewed in educational settings that do not have youtube. I, of course, also provide the original source for the video and all appropriate video credits. If you need a video in a different format or downloaded, please contact me.

Note from Erin:  In return for this classroom resource, I ask that you please take 3-5 minutes to review and report the usefulness, effectiveness, and quality of each lesson. This information is essential for improving the lessons to fit your needs and is required for reporting purposes that keep the project funded!  Under each lesson you will find a link to a survey specific to that lesson. 
Thank You!

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NEW SPRING 2012: SciNews monthly lessons took a break this semester to accommodate my lengthy field season in the Afar Depression, Ethiopia collecting data for my Ph.D research. Rather than the normal monthly issues, this semester I will be producing one longer lesson based on my Ph.D. research project. The lesson will integrate multiple media sources (Google Earth, Videos, etc.) and will ask students to become scientists and use the REAL geology and fossil data (that we are collecting now in the field) to help us figure out what our field area in Ethiopia looked like millions of years ago! The lesson will focus on a specific Arizona State Standard which is also part of the National Standards. The lesson should be posted here in May, so check back to download!!



  + SciNews highlighed in recent Arizona Geological Survey Spring 2011 Newsletter (vol. 41 #1)





Issue 16: NASA's MSL Rover 'Curiosity' Lands on Mars  -  October 2012

“Curiosity” has landed! On August 6th, 2012, NASA's MSL rover successfully reached the selected landing site at Gale Crater. Now, Curiosity will take a little over a year to drive to the base of Mount Sharp. Its target: a 3-mile-high mountain of well-exposed layered rocks that can provide clues about both the habitability and the geologic history of Mars. As Curiosity navigates to Mount Sharp it will continue exploring the surface, atmosphere, and even astronomical data of Mars, all the while sending back information and images on its discoveries. Join NASA/JPL in the excitement of exploring the Martian surface through Curiosity's well-designed instrumentation.  Help SciNews stay funded! Please provide feedback on Issue 15 using this link.

Event Overview and Lesson Instructions  (.pdf - 817 KB) 

    SciNews Lesson Materials

  • (1) NASA Video on MSL Curiosity Landing:  Video showing JPL engineers and scientists orchestrating the successful landing of MSL Curiosity on Martian surface. Landing Sequence Video [Quicktime: high res]
  • (2) Student Exploration Activity Worksheet  (.pdf ): Organized form for students to make observations and collect data during a short group activity; includes a second page to complete during individual computer-aided exploration of the instruments aboard Curiosity. 
   Educator Background Materials
         - Mission Overview and Fact Sheet 
   Video Clips, Images, and Interactive Websites from NASA/JPL
         - NASA/JPL MARS Science Laboratory Website and the NASA/JPL Mars Exploration Program Website
         - JPL Curiosity Educational Resources Website: Curiosity videos, photos, news, and activities
         - Curiosity Rover Scoops Martian Soil: Press Release with slideshow and story
         - [video] Building Curiosity: Mars Rover Power - How do you power such a large rover? (Quicktime: med resolution)
         - [images] MSL Image Archive from NASA 
         - [videos] MSL Video Archive from NASA 

Alternative Lesson Plan Suggestions
         - Mars For EducatorsNASA site that contains great lesson ideas and materials for all levels.




*Special Issue: The Science of a Sustainable Arizona  -  May/June 2012

This project presents lessons that highlight the natural resources of Arizona and the sensitivity of those resources to a changing global climate. The goal of each lesson is to familiarize middle school students with the unique nature of their state’s resources and future challenges of sustainable resource development in Arizona. Lessons draw on summaries of primary data sources that force students to make their own interpretations of raw information. This approach is not only in line with Arizona state science standards for grades 6th-8th, but it also reinforces students’ development as citizen scientists.

Background: A changing global climate and dwindling non-renewable natural resources promise a challenging future for societies across the planet. Additionally, the feedbacks between global climate and regional resources (e.g., fresh water) require the application of systems science thinking to solve local problems. Success in sustainably utilizing our remaining resources depends upon developing future communities of scientifically literate citizens. All citizens should be well informed about the impacts of their own actions on Earth’s resource budgets, and, ideally, these citizens should have a pool of scientifically literate policy makers to whom they entrust the management of society’s shared natural assets. Young people must also be encouraged to specialize in sciences and math so that they can develop into the research scientists of the future who create innovative solutions to resource sustainability. Currently, constructive discourse between research scientists, the general public, and policy makers is often hampered by misunderstandings of concepts fundamental to the science of sustainability. Help SciNews stay funded! Please provide feedback on this Special Issue using this link.

AZ Sustainability Unit Overview  (.pdf - 578 KB) 

    The Science of a Sustainable Arizona Lesson Materials

   Useful Links






Issue 15: NASA's MSL Rover 'Curiosity' Launches to Mars  -  December 2011

With the success of the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, NASA launched the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover named Curiosity just after Thanksgiving. The goal of this mission is to determine the planet’s “habitability”, meaning it will assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life (from NASA). Although scientists chose to land Curiosity at Gale Crater, located near the boundary between the Martian southern highlands and northern lowlands, the three other finalist sites (Holden, Eberswalde, and Mawrth) all provided compelling opportunities to address the main science goal of studying habitability. Where would you have sent Curiosity? Help SciNews stay funded! Please provide feedback on Issue 15 using this link.

Event Overview and Lesson Instructions  (.pdf - 817 KB) 

    SciNews Lesson Materials

  • (1) The Challenges of Getting to Mars: Selecting a Landing Site:  Briefly describes each potential landing site for Curiosity, as well as MSL mission goals (Quicktime: high res - med res - low res;  -- or -- visit the NASA Video Site for more viewing options)
  • (2) Student Landing Site Selection Worksheet  (.pdf ): Organized form for students to take notes on each Mars landing site; inlcudes a second page with additional information and student questions.
  • (3) Curiosity Landing Site GOOGLE MARS.kmz file: I created a .kmz file for Google Mars that contains information on each of the final four landing sites considered by Mars scientists. The .kmz file provides information on their location on Mars, images, maps, and links to additional sites and videos.  (directions: download .kmz file - double click file to open in Google Earth - follow prompts to open in Google Mars; open folder to view sites)
  • (4) NASA Gale Crater Video Describes the chosen landings site for Curiosity and provides good imagery and commentary by the MSL project scientist Dr. John Grotzinger  (Quicktime: high res - med res - low res;  or visit  NASA Videos for more viewing options)

   Educator Background Materials
         - Mission Overview and Fact Sheet
   Video Clips, Images, and Interactive Websites from NASA/JPL
         - NASA/JPL MARS Science Laboratory Website and the NASA/JPL Mars Exploration Program Website
         - NASA MARSOWEB: Detailed Prospective Landing Site Website for all Mars Missions!! Scientific information (imagery, slide shows,
           scientific papers, meeting reports, etc.) on the real selection process used to decide landing sites on the Mars surface
         - [video] Watch the recorded launch of MSL rover Curiosity to Mars:  (Quicktime: high res - med res - low res
         - [video] Curiosity in Action: A narrated play-by-play of Curiosity's entry, descent, and landing on Mars! (Quicktime: med resolution)
         - [video] Mars in a Minute: How do you get to Mars? (Quicktime: med resolution)  Is Mars really red? (Quicktime: med resolution)
         - [video] Curiosity Rover Trailer: (Quicktime: med resolution)
         - [video] Building Curiosity: Mars Rover Power - How do you power such a large rover? (Quicktime: med resolution)
         - [images]  MSL Image Archive from NASA
         - [3D images]  View Mars in 3D!! (note: requires 3D glasses)
         - [interactive]  Panorama of Rovers in the Mars Yard  &  MSL in the Mars Yard (note: requires free download of Microsoft Silverlight)

Alternative Lesson Plan Suggestions
         - Mars For Educators: NASA site that contains great lesson ideas and materials for all levels.




Issue 14: World Population Reaches 7 Billion  -  November 2011

According to the United Nations the world population reached 7 billion on Halloween 2011, and it is expected to reach 8 billion in just 12 years. Now that’s scary! Although there is plenty of room for us all on the planet (individually we take up very little space) we each require many resources from our planet (like water, food, and energy) making our footprint much larger than the space of our homes and schools.  Please provide feedback on Issue 14.

  Event Overview and Lesson Instructions  (.pdf - 415 KB)

   SciNews Lesson Materials
   Educator Background Materials
         - Population Reference Bureau: World Population Data Sheet   (1.0 MB) 
         - Population Reference Bureau: Population Handbook   (328 KB)
         - Population Reference Bureau: Population Bulletin  (1.0 MB)
   Additional Video Clips, Information, and Interactive Websites
         - [video]  Population Reference Bureau: 7 Billion and Counting  (view at PRB website; YouTube; or download - XX MB)
         - [video]  BBC: The World at seven billion (view at BBC website; or download - XX MB)
         - World Of 7 Billion- Current population counter & very good teacher resources (see below)
         - [interactive]  What was the world population when you were born?  - find out at this BBC website
         - [interactive]  The World at 7 Billion: A PBR Interactive Map - from PRB use to generate your own demographic maps!
         - [interactive]  Generate demographic maps for the world or individual continents - from Index Mundi
         - [interactive]  Seven Billion Actions - An interactive and colorful way to explore world demographics using Google Maps

Alternative Lesson Plan Suggestions
         - WORLD OF 7 BILLION - Teacher Resources: Really well done and current (2011) lesson plans for Middle & High School levels
         - Population Reference Bureau Lesson Plans - A variety of materials and lessons for K-12 educators
         - Population Connection: Population Education - Very nicely presented population education materials for K-12



Issue 13: Dinosaur and Bird Feathers Discovered in Amber  - Sept./Oct. 2011

In September, a group of scientists published a research paper describing a rare find – they discovered amber that contains feathers from dinosaurs and early birds. Yep, dinosaurs had feathers! The amber is from the Late Cretaceous (~75 million years old) and was discovered in Alberta, Canada. What made this discovery so important was that feathers and hairs preserved in the amber span each stage of feather evolution (from primitive to complex). This means that there was a great diversity of primitive and advanced feathers that long ago!  Amber also preserves information about the color of the feathers. Please provide feedback on Issue 13.

   SciNews Lesson Materials

    Original Scientific Papers and Additional Information
         - Supplemental material to McKellar et al., 2011 (above) in the J. of Science (.pdf - 2.5 MB)
         - Fossilized Feathers by M. Norell in the J. of Science (.pdf - 272 KB)
         - Science Paper on pigment in fossils by R. Wogelius & others in the J. of Science (.pdf - 502 KB)
         - Discovery News Article: Dinosaur Feathers Found in Amber
         - National Geographic Daily News: Dinosaur Feathers Found in Amber

  Alternative Lesson Plan Suggestion
         - The Birds and the Beaks: investigate how the structure of an organism is related to its function and role in the environment.



Issue 12: Hurricane Irene hits Eastern US - August 2011

As the first hurricane of the 2011 season, Hurricane Irene grew to a category 3 off the coast of Florida before hitting the coastal regions of North Carolina to Maryland as a category 1. In these areas it caused widespread coastal erosion & flooding from the storm surge & wind damage. Although Irene was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved north, heavy rains caused extensive flooding in low lying regions of New York and Vermont due to swelling creeks and reservoirs, and heavy mountain runoff. Please provide feedback on Issue 12.

   SciNews Lesson Materials

    Hurricane Irene Animations/Photo/Videos
         - Hurricane Tracking Real-Time data via Google Maps: - Google Crisis Response
         - Hurricane Irene on the Move and Irene Viewed by Space Station - NASA Videos
         - Satellite Images of North Carolina Coastline post Irene -NOAA; high-res images of coastal erosion/flooding (Outer Banks - pic 1; pic 2)
         - Photos of post-Irene destruction - NY Times
         - Weather Channel Videos of Irene as it hits North Carolina (YouTube video1, video2) & Virginia Beach  (this guy is crazy!)
         - Weather Channel Videos of Irene - aftermath of flooding in Vermont (YouTube video1, video2) and upstate New York (video1, video2)
         - Irene Tracks - NY Times Interactive
         - National Hurricane Center: Download Hurricane Tracks of past named Atlantic Hurricanes (1995-2011; Google Earth .kmz files)

  Hurricane Information
         - Nice wikipedia entry on past/current Hurricanes (data, images, tracks) - click on the year to view all storms that season; 2011 here
         - Extreme Earth: Anatomy of a Hurricane - Discovery Channel
         - National Hurricane Center Archived Data - really nice data sets of past hurricanes
         - Anatomy of a Hurricane Video - from the USGS (via youtube)
         - Hurricane Survival Video - NOAA

    Alternative Lesson Plan Suggestion
         - CREATE-A-CANE (by NOAA): fun interactive online lesson; students try to create the most ideal conditions for a hurricane to form





Issue 11: Tornado Outbreaks in Southern and Eastern US - May 2011

The National Weather Services estimates that between 4/26-4/28, 312 tornadoes hit the southern US. There were over 600 tornadoes during the month of April, setting a record for total number of tornadoes during any month. The current death toll is over 350, but this number is sadly expected to rise over the next few weeks as clean-up continues. Scientists rate the strength of tornadoes using the Enhanced F-scale. An EF0 tornado is the weakest and an EF5 is the strongest, most destructive tornado. In the recent tornado outbreak two EF5 tornadoes have been confirmed, one in Mississippi, one in Alabama. Please provide feedback on Issue 11.


   SciNews Lesson Materials

    Tornado Videos - real footage and news
         - 4/27/2011 - Tuscaloosa, AL Tornado - WBMA-TV Newscast  [3:50 min]...................................................(download - 14 MB; video source)
         - 4/27/2011 - Tuscaloosa, AL Tornado - Amazing video taken from a car  [6 min].......................................(download - 23 MB; video source)
         - 4/27/2011 - Tuscaloosa, AL Tornado - Close-up HD video from car (Crimson Tide Prod.)  [1 min]...........(download -  6 MB; video source)
         - Aftermath of the Tuscaloosa, AL Tornado in HD [1 min]............................................................................(download - 18 MB; video source)
         - 4/27/2011 - Philadelphia, MS Tornado - from Discovery Channel Storm Chasers [2:20 min]....................(download -   5 MB; video source)
         - 4/27/2011 - Smithville, MS EF5 Tornado - Video of the tornado and aftermath [1 min].............................(download - 3.4 MB; video source) 
         - 4/19/2011 - Barnett, IL Tornado recorded in HD (video by Jerry Funfsinn)  [1 min]...................................(download - 21 MB; video source)

    Tornado Formation Interactives/Animations
         - Forces of Nature - National Geographic
         - Tornadoes 101 - National Geographic (short video for kids explaining how tornadoes form)
         - Torando Wind Patterns - Geoscience Animations - Prentice Hall
         - Tornado Formation - USA Today
         - Birth of a Tornado - MSNBC
         - Animated guide: Tornadoes - BBC NEWS

    Additional Information
         - Tornadoes...Natures Natures Most Violent Storms from NOAA/NSSL **REALLY NICE WEBSITE**
         - Tornado Teacher Basics from NOAA/NSSL
         - Tornado Tracks/Outbreak Maps - National Weather Service - ALAMBAMA - MISSISSIPPI (survey in process) - TENNESSEE - GEORGIA
         - April 2011 Tornado Information - NOAA
         - Rapid scan infrared imagery from the GOES-East weather satellite - NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory
         - Before and After Aerial Photographs - Google/GeoEye
         - Enhanced Fujita Scale for Assessing Tornado Damage (NOAAWikipedia)
         - Tornado Information for Kids (FEMA)

    Alternative Lesson Plan Suggestion
         - Hunt for the Supertwister - PBS video (Watch FREE Online - 52 minutes)  & Teachers Guide to Video





Issue 10: Devastating 9.0 Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan - April 2011

On March 11th, 2011 at 12:46 AM EST (2:46 PM in Tokyo) a M 9.0 earthquake occurred ~100 km of the NE short of Honshu, Japan at a depth of 32 km. Japan lies along the Ring of Fire, where the Pacific and North American plates converge at ~83 mm/yr forming a subduction zone plate boundary. Stess builds up due to the collision of these plates, and is released during earthquakes. Large earthquakes occur frequently in Japan, and some cause devastating tsunamis. Please provide feedback on Issue 10.  


    Lesson Materials

    Science of Tsunamis - Media Sources
         - Anatomy of a Tsunami, narrated  -Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute [2min]......................(download 7.4 MB; source)
         - Animation of Earthquake and Tsuanmi -Tectonics Observatory [24sec]...................................(download 1.0 MB; source)
         - ASU Geology Professor Arrowsmith on the Japan earthquake/tsunami [2:30min].................(download 14.5 MB; source)
         - Narrated video on plate tectonics, earthquakes and tsuanmis [7min].......................................(download  27 MB; source)
         - Detecting elastic rebound after an earthquake using GPS [48sec]............................................(download 1.5 MB; source)
         - NY Times Iinteractive: How shifting plates caused the earthquake and tsunami in Japan & other multimedia
         - Convergent Boundaries discussed  -IRIS/EarthScope [30sec]...................................................(download  2.2 MB; source)
         - 2004 Tsunami in the Indian Ocean  -History Channel Clips ..........(Clip 1: watch now 15.2 MB; source) (Clip 2: (watch now 3.0 MB; source)
         - Tsunami Teacher Basics:  -NOAA [6:30min]...................................................................................(download 21.1 MB; source)
         - Tsunamis: Know What To Do! -NOAA (for a younger crowd) [6:20min].....................................(download 13.8 MB; source)
         - Tommy Tsunami & Ernie Earthquake Coloring Book (for a younger crowd)............................(download .pdf 162 KB; source)

    Tsunami Footage
         - Satellite photos of Japan before and after the earthquake & tsunami (ABC News Part1 - Part2 - Part3NY Times Photos)
         - The Weather Channel [all <1min] (video1 download - 3.6 MB; video 2 download - 4 MB; Tsunami hits USA download -5 MB)
         - Helicopter aerial view of tsunami waves and their destruction [2:40min] (download 10 MB; source)
         - Tsunami engulfing town -Ordon News [5:45min] (download 10 MB; source)
         - Images from Sendai -Ordons News [3:20min] (download 19.4 MB; source)
         - Earthquake Shaking - Various Footage [1:30min] (download 11.4 MB; source);  Buildings Swaying [<1min] (download 2.9 MB; source)
         - NOVA SPECIAL: Japan's Killer Quake (watch for free on the PBS NOVA website)
    Additional Information
         - US Geological Survey - Earthquakes  - USGS simulation of Japan 2011 Tsunami (download 4.3 MB; source)
         - NOAA Tsunami Centers -NOAA simulation of the tsunami traveling across the Pacific (download 7.6 MB; source)
         - Japan Shake Map

    Alternative Lesson Plan Suggestion



Issue 9: Student Health Issue: Should we tax sugary drinks? - March 2011

One year ago Michelle Obama began a national campaign called Let’s Move: America’s Move to Raise a Healthier generation of Kids. The goal of this initiative is to solve the problem of childhood obesity within a generation. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years in the US. Recently in Texas and Vermont, lawmakers have proposed bills that would tax the purchase of sugary drinks. This is seen as an effort to combat the obesity epidemic  (especially in children), as well as to raise revenue for states. Food for Student Thought: Should we pay a little extra for foods or drinks that are unhealthy and could lead to costly medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes? Please provide feedback on Issue 9.


    Lesson Materials

    Additional Information
         - Let's Move! -- Kids Health  --  Nourish Interactive
         - Center for Disease Control and Prevention: US obesity trends; childhood obesity; Healthy Youth
         - Update! New York Times Video on Childhoold Obestiy ...really neat video!!! 
   Other Lesson Plan Suggestions
         - Grades 3-6: HealthScience_SnackNutrition (download .pdf; website)
         - Grades 6-9: HealthScience_Fast Food  *see above*
         - Grades 9-12: HealthScience_Diabetes (download .pdf; website)




Issue 8: Kepler Mission Identifies Potential Exoplanets in the Habitable Zone - February 2011

The purpose of the Kepler mission is to detect potentially life-supporting planets around other stars in our galaxy. Based on data collected by Kepler since May 2009, in January 2011 NASA announced that scientists identified the first rocky planet orbiting a star other than our sun! This planet, called Kepler-10b, is also the smallest exoplanet ever discovered. Then in February 2011 NASA announced the discovery of 54 exoplanets (5 are near Earth-sized) that initially appear to be in the Habitable Zone or “Goldilocks Zone”. Please provide feedback on Issue 8.


  Lesson Materials

   Additional Information
         - Kepler Mission Homepage
         - NOVA SCIENCE NOW SPECIAL (Watch FREE Online; Aired July 7th, 2009; 13 minute video on the lead up to the Kepler mission)
         - Kepler Mission: DiscoveriesMultimediaDetails about the MissionBasics on the Mission
         - PlanetQuest Webpage
   Other Lesson Plan Suggestions
         - Lesson 1: NASA lesson on Habitable Planets - grades 5-8   (.pdf -  569 KB)
         - Lesson 2: NASA Interactive - Kepler Exoplanet Transit Hunt - middle to high school   (1st interactive on the page)
         - Lesson 3: NASA lesson on Detecting Extrasolar Planets - grades 6-8   (download .pdf here  - 1.45 MB)


 Issue 7: Severe Flooding in Queensland, Australia related to La Niña - January 2011

Recently, intense rains have caused flooding in the Australian state of Queensland. These flooding events are associated with large monsoonal systems likely attributed to an unusually strong La Niña. La Niña is characterized by cooler than normal ocean water temperatures (up to ~4˚C cooler) in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean. This contrasts with El Niño which is characterized by warmer than normal ocean water temperatures (up to ~4˚C warmer) in the same region. Oscillations between El Niño and La Niña [called ENSO cycles] occur every 3-8 years producing natural changes in global weather patterns. Please provide feedback on Issue 7.
Lesson Materials
   Additional Information
         - NOAA's  La Niña webpage  and  El Niño webpage
         - What is ENSO? website and animation; and another animation of ENSO cycles (for advanced level students)
         - El Niño, La Niña and Australia's Climate (download .pdf 1.7 MB)
         - Australian Floods: an Interact Map from guardian.co.uk
         - Australian Government Bureau of Meteorology Climate/Maps - Really nice webpage! Can create maps of rainfall, temp, etc. for Australia.
         - USA Today article and animation: El Niño and La Niña: Tropical troublemakers (article .pdf)
         - *Lesson Plan Suggestion* - Comparing the Effects of El Niño and La Niña: download lesson .pdf or go to Pathways to Inquiry website
 download event and lesson overview (.pdf)

 Issue 6: NASA's EPOXI mission makes a flyby of Comet Hartley 2 - November 2010

On July 4th, 2005 NASA’s Deep Impact mission sent an impactor that successfully collided with the comet 9P/Tempel. The collision liberated debris that scientists are studying to learn more about the composition of comets. NASA’s EPOXI mission is the extended mission of NASA’s Deep Impact. This means that scientists re-used the Deep Impact spacecraft already in orbit around the sun. On November 4th, 2010 EPOXI successfully flew within ~700 km (435 miles) of the Hartley 2 comet at a speed of 12.32 km/hr (27,560 mph) and took beautiful photos of the peanut-shaped comet.  Please provide feedback on Issue 6.


Lesson Materials

   Additional Information
         - EPOXI Mission Site:  NASA/Univ. of Maryland page  -  NASA current mission page
         - Deep Impact Mission Site:  NASA/Univ. of Maryland page - NASA legacy page
         - Lesson Plan Suggestion - Video on How to Make a Comet! (link opens website to view video -or- download video from website)



download event and lesson overview (.pdf)


  Issue 5: Health Effects of Volcanic Ash - an example from Indonesia  - Sept. & Oct. 2010

 The recent eruptions of the volcano Merapi in Indonesia highlights the health effects and hazards associated with volcanic ash. Volcanic ash is composed of very small particles of volcanic rock that are fragmented during explosive volcanic eruptions. During an eruption these tiny bits of rock form ash clouds that can move laterally with the wind. Additionally, flows of fast moving hot ash called pyroclastic flows can occur along the flanks of volcanoes and are extremely hazardous for those living near explosive volcanoes. Please provide feedback on Issue 5. 

  Lesson Materials

   Additional Information
         - Download poster on how to protect yourself from volcanic ash  (.pdf - 3.7 MB)
         - The International Volcanic Health Hazard Network  (source for the above pamphlets & poster)
         - USGS Website on Volcanic Ash
         - Wonderful site for teaching photos of the Merapi eruptions
         - News report and video on Merapi eruptions
         - Lesson Plan focused on ash clouds by the USGS

download event and lesson overview (.pdf)


Issue 4: Copiapó, Chile Mining Accident  - August 2010

On August 5th, in the Atacama desert of Chile, an unstable portion of the long graded mine shaft in the San José Mine collapsed trapping 33 men ~700 m underground. Unlike most mining accidents of this magnitude, miners safely made it to an emergency shelter room. After a careful rescue plan was devised and implemented, all 33 miners were safely rescued after having spent 69 days underground. Please provide feedback on Issue 4.


  Lesson Materials

   Additional Information
         - USGS Active Mines and Mineral Plants in the US   (source for .kml files above) - download state specific digital data
           from site)
         - State of Arizona Department of Mines and Mineral Resources  (Free mineral education kits for teachers)

download event and lesson overview (.pdf)


Issue 3: Deepwater Horizon/BP Oil Spill  - May and June 2010

On April 20th, 2010 there was a large explosion on the Deepwater Horizon/BP drilling platform located in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion killed 11 people and caused the rig to sink. Oil continued to leak from broken risers at the bottom of the Gulf for 86 days making it the largest marine spill in history. After multiple failed attempts, the well was finally capped on July 15th and officially sealed Sept 20th. Click here to download cartoon diagram of the main events. Please provide feedback on Issue 3.


  Lesson Materials

   Additional Information
         - NOAA Education on Wildlife

   download event and lesson overview (.pdf)

Issue 2: Eruptions of the Icelandic Volcano Eyjafjallajökull  - March and April 2010

Eruptions of the hard to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland lasted from March to June 2010. The eruption quickly received worldwide attention as airspace over a significant portion of Europe was shut down due to concerns over ash interference with airplanes. Please provide feedback on Issue 2.


  Lesson Materials

   Additional Information
         - Stromboli Online - Iceland   (photos, videos, info)
         - How are Birds Affected by Volcanic Ash? (cool article!, video, & animated ash dispersal model) 

download event and lesson overview (.pdf)
Issue 1: Large Earthquakes in Chile and Haiti - January and February 2010

Media coverage of the Haiti & Chile earthquakes reminded the world just how quickly earthquakes can cause massive devastation and death. This is especially true in poorer countries where buildings are not retrofitted to withstand earthquake shaking. Please provide feedback on Issue 1.


  Lesson Materials

   Additional Information
         - *Watch the PBS NOVA special DEADLIEST EARTHQUAKES about the Haiti and Chile Earthquakes. Aired on Jan. 11th, 2011 (60 min).
         - USGS information on the magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Haiti
         - USGS information on the magnitude 8.8 earthquake in Chile
         - NY Times article on the earthquake in Chile