February 2002 TOPS Newsletter
News for Everyone
TOPS 2002 ParticipantsWe are pleased to have the following teachers and students participating in the June workshop. Welcome to the TOPS ohana (family). We are also pleased to have so many returning teachers.
TOPS Awarded as a Science PrizeParticipating as a TOPS student this year will be Melissa Lamberton of Tucson, Arizona. Melissa is the winner of the Discovery Challenge "Reaching for the Stars" award. The Discovery Challenge arranged with the University of Hawai'i Institute for Astronomy to award the TOPS workshop experience as the top prize.
Melissa won the prize with her project, "Hydraulic Conductivity." Melissa sought to determine a way to conserve limited water resources, since she is aware of the importance of water conservation in today's world. Melissa discovered that one way to conserve water is by recharging, or filtering water into a saturated zone where it can be saved as ground water in the soil. Melissa measured the hydraulic conductivity (or permeability) of southern Arizona soils to determine the best type of soil that can be used in recharge areas to help conserve water. Congratulations, Melissa, and welcome to TOPS.
Comet Tour Student/Teacher ContestNASA is holding a comet tour challenge for teachers and students. The grand prize for the winners is a trip to Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral Spaceport, Florida, to witness the launch of the spacecraft, scheduled for July 1.
Students and their teachers are being challenged to devise a program to educate and involve their communities about Contour's goal to study at least two comets as they travel through the inner solar system. The spacecraft will provide the closest look ever at a comet's nucleus. The teams submitting the two winning programs -- one in grades 5 through 8 and one in grades 9 through 12 -- will be invited to attend four days of launch-related activities, including interviews with mission scientists and engineers, at Kennedy Space Center. Each team will be allowed a budget of up to $1,000 for its educational program. The winning teams, each consisting of a teacher and a student, will be chosen by a panel of educators and scientists on the basis of the originality and feasibility of the submitted plans.
For more information on the space mission and how to enter the competition, go to http://www.contour2002.org.
News for Teachers
Pilot Test Teachers WantedMiddle and high school science teachers are invited to pilot test four classroom activities for the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) Education and Outreach team. The application deadline is February 28. [Sorry for the short notice.] The hands-on lab activities in "Active Astronomy: Classroom Activities for Learning about Infrared Light" focus on improving student understanding of infrared light and are designed to supplement classroom instruction about the electromagnetic spectrum. The activities are aligned with the National Science Education Standards and are suitable for physical science, earth science, general and integrated science, astronomy, and physics courses. Pilot teachers will conduct the activities at least once, administer the student pre- and post-test surveys, and provide an evaluation of the activities. Pilot testing needs to be completed by May 15, 2002. For more information about applications and SOPHIA, go to their web site: http://www.sofia.usra.edu/.
Hawaii Technology ConferenceCheryl Shintani (2001) sends this information about participating in "Building a Community of Learners" on March 12-13, 2002, at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel. Nainoa Thompson and Mary Montle Bacon are the keynote speakers at the 5th annual technology in education conference. More information is available on the Web site, http://www.k12.hi.us/~eschool/conf2002/. You can even register online.
Cheryl says, "This conference is a marvelous way to network with many people, organizations, and businesses to bring the best education to our classrooms. Perhaps next year, we can do a presentation on TOPS. (Applying for a workshop presenter happens around October.) Since this is a high tech conference, the presenters do PowerPoint presentations, video conferences with students and teachers from other states and countries, etc. Awesome networking for all those attending."
Skies of Mauna Kea WorkshopUp to 10 TOPS teachers can attend the Sky of Mauna Kea workshop for FREE. The dates are June 30-July 3 at the Royal Kona Resort on the Big Island. The Sky of Mauna Kea is a four-day program featuring two days of intensive lectures given by astronomers and engineers from the observatories atop Mauna Kea. These observatories will include the Keck, with the largest light gathering capacity in the world, the Canada - France - Hawaii, one of the outstanding telescopes of the world, and the 8-meter single piece Subaru. One day of the program will be spent doing comparative planetology to illustrate the similarities and differences between Earth and Mars. These lectures will provide preparation for the drive to the 13,000 foot summit of the world's tallest volcano to visit various observatories, including the Keck Observatory. The extreme altitude does restrict access to individuals in reasonably good health. Children under the age of 16 and pregnant women are not permitted to travel to the summit by observatory policy. The workshop director, Dr. Yanow, is presently the Outreach Coordinator for the Genesis Mission and is a member of the Deep Impact Project. He has been at JPL for 27 years. He has been a Principal Investigator on several NSF teacher enhancement and curriculum development programs. For more information about the workshop, see the Web site at http://www.engr.pitt.edu/chautauqua/astronomy.html.
NSTA Presentation Proposal DeadlinesTOPS teachers, consider making a presentation about TOPS at one of the NSTA conventions. Starting with NSTA's 2002 area conventions in Louisville, Ky., Portland, OR, and Albuquerque, NM, all session proposals for NSTA conventions are to be submitted online. This new procedure will allow NSTA to more quickly and efficiently process the large volume of session proposals now received for the various conventions.
Deadlines for 2002 area conventions have passed, but you can still submit a proposal for the Philadelphia convention, March 27-30, 2003. The deadline is April 15, 2002.
For more information about the conventions, please see the NSTA Web site convention page at http://www.nsta.org/conventions. To start the online proposal submission process, go to http://ecommerce.nsta.org/sessions/proposal_submission.asp.
Science Highlights and Resources
Internet-Based Telescope for High School StudentsThe Student Telescope Network (STN) is a collaborative project to enable high school students interested in astronomical observing to access a telescope with digital camera in a remote dark location via the Internet, and to pursue basic observational research. For information about the pilot project, and how to participate, students and their science teachers are invited to look at the Web site, www.youthinastronomy.org.
TOPS Alum Happenings
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|Karen Meech, Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii email@example.com|