DLESE Matters newsletter banner March 2006

Vol. 3, Issue 3          All issues index         Submit newsletter content          DLESE home

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Resource of Interest: GLOBE at Night - Join the Star-Hunting Party March 22 -29, 2006!GLOBE at Night website

Students and teachers are encouraged to participate in a global campaign during March 22-29, 2006, to observe and record the magnitude of visible stars as a means of measuring light pollution. GLOBE at Night is an easy observation and reporting activity that takes approximately 15-30 minutes to complete. Students can participate with their parents or families in this global campaign.

The GLOBE at Night web site offers a Teacher Activity Packet to guide you through these steps:

  • Find the latitude and longitude coordinates of your location
  • Locate the constellation Orion in the sky (use the Orion Finder Charts for your latitude)
  • Wait 10 minutes outside to become "dark-adapted"
  • Observe and record the faintest star visible in the night sky
  • Report the observation online to the GLOBE at Night Web site
  • Explore the mapped results of all observations submitted worldwide

Resource of Interest: Sun-Earth Day - Celebrate the Connection!

Sun-Earth Day Eclipse logo and linkSun-Earth Day comprises a series of programs and events that occur throughout the year culminating with a celebration on or near the Spring Equinox. In 2006 a total solar eclipse will occur just nine short days after the equinox! In response to this celestial event, the official date for Sun-Earth Day 2006 has been moved to March 29, 2006 . This year's theme, Eclipse: In a Different Light, shows how eclipses have inspired people to observe and understand the Sun-Earth-Moon system. Join NASA in an extraordinary journey of exploration, discovery and understanding in preparation for a total solar eclipse. NASA is committed to providing you with the essential materials needed to help your students see our sun in a different light! Teachers can find lesson plans for grades K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 as well as other helpful web resources and educational hooks that demonstrate how today's technological marvels in solar viewing were built upon the foundation left by our ancestors.

Professional development opportunities

NSTA Web Seminars

NSTA Web Seminars are 90-minute, live professional development experiences that use online learning technologies to allow participants to interact with nationally acclaimed experts, NSTA Press authors, and scientists, engineers, and education specialists from NSTA government partners such as NASA and NOAA, all from the convenience of a desktop computer. Check out the seminar topics scheduled for April - June 2006: NASA: Preparing for the Journey to Space: Energy; Uncovering Student Ideas in Science; NASA: Stars, Planets, Life, and the Universe; NOAA: Coral Ecosystems; and Energy: Stop Faking It!

National Environmental Education Week, April 16-22, 2006

National Environmental Education Week 2006 logo and linkNational Environmental Education Week will involve thousands of educators and millions of students. It will enhance the educational impact of Earth Day and create a full week of educational preparation, learning, and activities in K-12 classrooms, nature centers, zoos, museums, and aquariums. National EE Week 2006 will be the single largest organized environmental education event in U.S. history.  It is coordinated by the National Environmental Education & Training Foundation (NEETF) in cooperation with hundreds of schools, environmental education organizations, education associations, state and federal agencies.


DLESE Matters to you : Inspiration from a middle school science teacher

Peg Dabel teaches at Adams Middle School in the West Contra Costa Unified School District in Richmond,California. She made the following presentation at the National Science Board's 21 st Century Education in Science, Mathematics and Technology hearing, at the University of Southern California, on March 9, 2006.

My name is Peg Dabel; I am a middle school science teacher. I would like to address the role of the National Digital Libraries and the impact they and their projects have, or could have, on our students and teachers. DLESE—the Digital Library for Earth System Education—is the library with which I am most familiar. It is funded by the NSF Geosciences Directorate.

From a teacher's perspective, there are two primary problems in science education today. First, teachers are often required to teach outside their area of expertise, teaching in areas where they may have only a superficial knowledge of a particular science discipline. Second, our kids face huge distractions, deal with life issues well beyond their age, and give little attention to their education and things academic.

Picture for a moment, a classroom of 8th graders coming in after lunch—young people more interested in what they are wearing than what is happening in the world. Try to imagine how to engage these 35 lively students in any academic endeavor, let alone science.

Our challenge is to capture their interest with high-level science teaching. Life and career choices are often made in the middle school years. Students explore what most captures their interest. We have an opportunity to take an already captive audience, provide them with tools, feed them with information, and free them to explore the future. And what is science if not exploration? (continued below....)

Three new collections accessioned in DLESE

Indigenous Science Resources
Indigenous Science Resources is a collection of online text, video, audio, and image files of Indigenous science that includes knowledge about the natural world and ways of teaching and learning about it. All resources are authored and/or produced by Indigenous persons or organizations or approved for inclusion in the collection by an elder or other Indigenous person with the expertise to assess the resource. It is intended for users of all cultures, but can be a particularly important resource for teachers and students in Native Studies programs and in tribal schools and colleges. The current set of resources is primarily from SnowChange, Tribal College Journal, and Winds of Change.

COSEE Resource Collection

The Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) Resource Collection provides access to ocean sciences education materials with particular emphasis on K-12 audiences and instructional materials. The COSEE Collection includes links to information about professional development opportunities for teachers. There is a strong focus on research data and its use in teaching. The collection provides educators with accurate and useful information on global, national, and regional ocean science topics, and gives researchers a contact point for educational outreach.

New York State Earth Science Instructional Collection
The New York State Earth Science Instructional Collection (NYSESIC) is a thematic collection focusing on instructional materials that support teaching and learning in relation to the New York Earth science regents exam. The topics covered by the collection include solid earth forms and processes, atmospheric composition and dynamics, forms and mechanics of water, bodies and mechanics in space, Earth history and Earth models.

New DLESE Matters feature: Podcasts for the classroom

Do you have a favorite radio show or webcast that you would like your students to experience or work into your curriculum? Pod casts allow you to listen or watch on your own schedule. Podcasting is the distribution of audio or video files, such as radio programs or music videos, over the Internet using services such as RSS or Atom syndication for listening on mobile devices, and personal computers.

You can create a collection of favorites and have updates from them automatically delivered to your computer or digital device. It's like having the newspaper delivered to your doorstep, but you can decide what news and information you want to receive.
Here are three of our favorites, to get you started:

The Data Access Working Group (DAWG) meeting highlights

The Data Access Working Group (DAWG) met in Los Alamos, NM on Mar 2-3, 2006 to discuss:

  • The development of an intellectual commons/development area
  • Educationally relevant review criteria for data sites
  • Educationally relevant metadata for data

A summary of these discussions can be found on the 2006 DAWG meeting page: http://swiki.dlese.org/dawg/83

Inspiration from a middle school science teacher - the rest of the story (continued from above)

So, how do we engage these 35 vibrant, young students, and the teacher, who may not have the tools to teach the assigned discipline? The answer is to tap into the power of the digital world, and in particular, to tap into the National Digital Libraries and the projects associated with them. This generation of children is using computers with the same dexterity that we use paper and pencil—the difference being that paper and pencil have limitations while the Internet and digital libraries are limitless. Today's students see the world in three dimensions, with morphing shapes and colors. They travel through the digital world with energy, confidence and enthusiasm. They are fearless in searching for answers. Too often this ability is wasted on games and chat rooms. We need to harness this passion for the virtual world and direct it toward materials and experiences that can satisfy their innate curiosity.

Kids see computers as fun, but they are in fact the single most viable tool for learning in the present and in the future. Technology captures their attention, feeds their creativity, and allows them to think that they are not working, but having fun.

We know that teachers vary in their depth of content knowledge. But even the most experienced and well-versed teacher needs access to new theories, information and methods—particularly in science where the information changes hourly. The problem that has existed in the past with the use of digital libraries is that teachers, unlike children, are afraid of technology. We did not grow up on a diet of instant messaging, iPods and CD ROMS—these are alien to many of us over 50. We need to assure that teachers who venture into the digital world find it to be a reasonable and comfortable process. The DLESE Teaching Box project responds to these concerns.

What is a teaching box? In the past, teachers could access museum resources in boxes sent to the classroom. They would include samples of textiles, pictures, filmstrips, audio tapes and other realia. Opening those boxes was a magical experience. With the contents of the boxes, the written word came alive. But securing each box required significant effort, and the boxes were limited in size and scope. Today, teachers find it difficult to gather all the materials to comprehensively teach advanced scientific concepts, or even elementary ones. But in the virtual Teaching Boxes developed by teachers working with DLESE, all the materials are gathered, neatly and elegantly packaged, and all the teacher has to do is let the genie out of the virtual box that has been created for them. And, by the way, they work!

I am a middle school teacher in a district struggling to provide a high quality education to a very diverse student population. Like many similar urban districts, our students' test scores were well below No Child Left Behind goals. However, last year our school achieved a remarkable 67-point growth on the State Academic Performance Index that is used to document Adequate Yearly Progress for the Federal No Child Left Behind Act. And since the only new factor in the learning equation was the implementation of the DLESE Teaching Box project in our science classes, it seems apparent that this project, with its emphasis on critical thinking and problem solving, had a major impact on student learning across the curriculum.

I am asking you to encourage outreach projects by the Digital Libraries—projects similar to the DLESE Teaching Box project —by requesting that they develop projects and by providing funding for them to do so. Thank you.

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Your feedback is appreciated. To send comments, articles, requests for a text-only version of the newsletter, or to unsubscribe, send email to: support@dlese.org. To contribute photos of interesting Earth science phenomena for use in the DLESE Matters banner, email support@dlese.org. Photo credit acknowledged. Guidelines for submitting newsletter content.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0215640 ( DLESE Program Center ). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Banner photo: Earth at Night Image courtesy of UNAVCO and NASA.
Editor: Mary Beth Reece

Combined DLESE, NSF, and NSDL logos graphic DLESE logo and link - blue sky, green globe horizon line background, white lettering NSF logo and link - dark blue circle within gold sunburst wheel, NSF lettering in white NSDL logo and link - NSDL letters on green/gold/blue/red backgrounds, black outline