NASA Education “Science WOW!” Message — Oct. 11, 2017

Check out the latest edition of NASA Education’s “Science WOW!” — your source for NASA opportunities in science education delivered “Weekly On Wednesday.”

Check out the latest edition of NASA Education’s “Science WOW!” — your source for NASA opportunities in science education delivered “Weekly On Wednesday.”

Science Always Starts With a Question …

This Week’s Question: Why Are Planets Round?

The planets in our solar system are different in a lot of ways. But one thing they all have in common is shape! What makes planets shaped like a sphere, instead of cube, pyramid or disc? This story from NASA’s Space Place has the scoop!

Have You Seen This?

Geodesy is the science of measuring Earth’s shape, gravity and rotation to provide accurate measurements. It’s how we know Earth is shaped like a sphere, though not a perfect one. Watch “Looking Down a Well: A Brief History of Geodesy” to learn more!

Opportunities for Future Scientists of All Ages

Science Opportunities for Educators of Grades K-12

Science Opportunities for Higher Education and Informal Institutions


Opportunities for Future Scientists of All Ages

Earth Science Week 2017 Contests
Audience: All Educators and Students
Entry Deadline: Oct. 13, 2017

The American Geosciences Institute is sponsoring a series of contests to celebrate Earth Science Week 2017. This year’s celebration takes place Oct. 8-14, 2017.

Earth Science Week 2017 Photography Contest — Open to All Ages
Humans interact with the planet’s natural systems in many ways. With a camera, capture evidence of some ways people affect, or are affected by, Earth systems around your home, neighborhood, school, workplace, or local public spaces. In a photo, show human interaction with natural systems where you are.

Earth Science Week 2017 Visual Arts Contest — Open to K-5 Students
The natural world is part of many things that people do. Think of where our food, clothes and homes come from. Think of the forces that shape our weather, our travels, our habits and all the things we can (and cannot) do. Create a picture that shows how human activities shape, and are shaped by, Earth systems.

Earth Science Week 2017 Essay Contest — Open to Students in Grades 6-9
Earth science expands our understanding of human interaction with the planet’s natural systems and processes. Geoscientists explore the relationship between human activity and Earth’s systems. The impact of their research can be seen in areas such as energy, technology, climate change, the environment, natural disasters, industry, agriculture and tourism. Focusing on one topic, explain how geoscience helps us make the most of opportunities and manage challenges.

Earth Science Week 2017 Video Contest — Open to All Ages
Explore the relationship between human activity and Earth systems, including the geosphere (earth), hydrosphere (water), atmosphere (air) and biosphere (life). Submit a brief, 30-90 second original video that tells viewers about how people have an impact on Earth systems, or how Earth systems have an impact on people, in your part of the world.

The entry deadline for all four contests is Oct. 13, 2017. Visit the contest websites for full details.

If you have any questions about these contests, please email the Earth Science Week staff at

**NEW** 2017 von Kármán Lecture Series — Attend in Person or View Online
Audience: All Educators; Students in Grades 9-12 and Higher Education
Next Lecture Date: Oct. 19 and Oct. 20, 2017, at 7 p.m. PDT (10 p.m. EDT)

The Theodore von Kármán Lecture Series, named after the founder of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and presented by JPL’s Office of Communication and Education, shares the excitement of the space program’s missions, instruments and other technologies.

Lectures take place twice per month, on consecutive Thursdays and Fridays. The Thursday lectures take place in JPL’s Theodore von Kármán Auditorium, and Friday lectures take place at Pasadena City College’s Vosloh Forum. Both start at 7 p.m. PDT (10 p.m. EDT). Admission and parking are free for all lectures. No reservations are required, but seating is limited. The Thursday evening lectures are streamed live for viewing online. Archives of past lectures are also available online.

Next Lecture in the Series:

Sink or Swim? Using Radar to Protect California’s Water Supply
Event Date:
Oct. 19 and Oct. 20, 2017, at 7 p.m. PDT (10 p.m. EDT)
California has highly variable annual precipitation and a great disparity between where precipitation falls and where people live and grow crops. To deal with these issues, a vast array of infrastructure is in place. Monitoring and maintaining this infrastructure is critical. Join Dr. Cathleen E. Jones, a signals analysis engineer, for a discussion about how NASA is using high-resolution, airborne radar to make this monitoring more efficient.

For more information about the Theodore von Kármán Lecture Series, including a complete list of upcoming lectures, visit

Questions about this series should be directed to

**NEW** Send Your Name to Mars on NASA’s Next Red Planet Mission!
Audience: All Educators and Students
Deadline: Nov. 1, 2017

NASA invites the public to send their names to the Red Planet aboard NASA’s InSight Mars lander! InSight will launch in May 2018 and land on Nov. 26, 2018. The mission will do an in-depth study of the interior of Mars to answer key questions about how the solar system’s rocky planets formed, including Earth. InSight will place the first seismometer directly on the surface of Mars and deploy a self-hammering heat probe that will burrow deeper into the ground than any device on the planet has ever done.

To get your boarding pass to fly your name on the next mission to Mars, visit

Questions about this opportunity should be directed to

**NEW** Citizen Science Project: Cosmoquest’s Image Detective
Audience: All Educators and Students

CosmoQuest’s Image Detective, a NASA-funded citizen science project, invites the public to identify Earth features in photographs taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Citizen scientists are asked to help identify geographic features (natural or human-made) in astronaut photographs and then determine the location on Earth where the photo is centered.

Your efforts can enhance NASA’s database of images taken by astronauts from the space station. To learn more, visit

Questions about this opportunity should be directed to

Search for Gravitational Waves With ‘Gravity Spy’ Citizen Science Project
Audience: All Educators and Students
Project Timeframe: Ongoing

In 1916, Einstein predicted the existence of ripples in spacetime known as gravitational waves. A century later, on Sept. 14, 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, made the first direct detection of this elusive phenomenon. This discovery is the first of many that will give researchers a whole new way to explore the universe. However, LIGO needs your help!

Being the most sensitive and most complicated gravitational experiment ever created, LIGO is susceptible to many instrumental and environmental noise sources called “glitches.” These glitches are difficult to model using computers, can mimic true astrophysical signals, and generally make LIGO less sensitive to gravitational waves.

Classifying glitches using computers has proven to be an exceedingly difficult task. That’s where the Gravity Spy Zooniverse Citizen Science Project comes in! Human intuition has proven time and time again to be a useful tool in pattern recognition problems such as this. One of the innovations of this project is that citizen scientists and computer algorithms will work in a symbiotic relationship, helping one another to optimally classify and characterize glitches. By selecting the right classification for a given glitch, you will help computers learn to do this classification themselves on much larger datasets. That capability will help scientists determine and eliminate the sources of noise.

For more information and to learn how to participate, visit the “Gravity Spy” website at

To learn more about the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory and its mission to detect gravitational waves, visit

Download the “Direct Observation of Gravitational Waves” Educator Guide for activities and background information designed for grades 5-12.

Please direct questions about this opportunity to Tyson Littenberg at

“Gravity Spy” is a collaboration between the following entities:
–Northwestern University, led by Scott Coughlin and Michael Zevin with PI Vicky Kalogera and co-PI Aggelos Katsaggelos. Northwestern’s team is composed of a LIGO group in the CIERA astrophysics research center and a machine learning group in the Image and Video Processing Laboratory.
–The Adler Planetarium Zooniverse Team, led by co-PI Laura Trouille.
–Syracuse University, led by co-PI’s Kevin Crowston and Carsten Østerlund.
–California State University at Fullerton, led by co-PI Josh Smith.
–The LIGO Scientific Collaboration, of which NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Goddard Space Flight Center are member institutions.

The project is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Science Opportunities for Educators of Grades K-12

Free Education Webinars From NASA Educator Professional Development
Audience: In-service, Pre-service, Home School and Informal Educators

The NASA STEM Educator Professional Development Collaborative at Texas State University is presenting a series of free webinars open to all educators. Join NASA education specialists to learn about activities, lesson plans, educator guides and resources that bring NASA into your classroom. Registration is required to participate. To register, simply click on the link provided beneath the webinar description.

Lessons From a Decade of Stratospheric Exploration: STEM in Action for Educators
K-12, Informal and Pre-service Educators
Event Date: Oct. 11, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. EDT
Learn about the Far Horizons project. Managed by the Adler Planetarium, Far Horizons has engaged students and volunteers as young as 10 years old in hands-on STEM experiences with high-altitude balloon missions. The program’s manager will discuss the amazing opportunities — and interesting challenges — high-altitude balloon missions can provide to students and educators. Register online to participate.

Testing Terror — Technology for Exploration: Rockets to Mars
4-8, Informal and Pre-service Educators
Event Date: Oct. 12, 2017, at 6 p.m. EDT
Blast off into learning by exploring the STEM of rockets to Mars with NASA missions and classroom resources. Launch your students’ interest in forces and motion with NASA rocket activities and design challenges that include designing, building and launching simple rockets while recording and analyzing data. Register online to participate.

**NEW** Dance of the Planets: Motion Laws and the Solar System
Grades 4-6, Informal and Pre-service Educators
Event Date: Oct. 16, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. EDT
Participants will get an overview of resources for relating motion equations from Isaac Newton and Johannes Kepler to the bodies of the solar system. The activities presented in this webinar address the Next Generation Science Standards ESS1, PS2 and PS3. Register online to participate.

**NEW** Testing Terror — Technology for Exploration: Engineering a Satellite
Grades 4-10, Informal and Pre-service Educators
Event Date: Oct. 18, 2017, at 5 p.m. EDT
Materials going into space encounter extremely harsh conditions not normally encountered on Earth. Probes dropped into the atmosphere of a planet like Jupiter or Saturn’s moon, Titan, may encounter tremendous pressures, temperatures and corrosive gases. Learn how to bring these challenges into your classroom with two satellite engineering design challenges. Register online to participate.

For a full schedule of upcoming NASA Educator Professional Development webinars, visit

Questions about this series of webinars should be directed to Steve Culivan at

**NEW** Updated ‘Teachable Moment’ Educational Resources Available From JPL Education — Nobel-Prize-Winning Research: Modeling Gravitational Waves
Audience: Educators of Grades 6-8

Are you looking for ways to bring the latest NASA science and mission news into your classroom? Education specialists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California have the resources to help you do just that! The “Teachable Moments” blog brings together news, activities and education tips on the latest happenings at NASA.

Check out the latest offering from JPL Education.

Teachable Moment —
Nobel-Prize-Winning Research: Modeling Gravitational Waves — Grades 6-8
Researchers Kip Thorne and Barry Barish of Caltech and Rainer Weiss of MIT have been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics for their “decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.” To learn more about the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory and ways to bring its scientific breakthroughs into the classroom, visit

Looking for more? Check out the “Teachable Moments” archives for more resources.

**NEW** Middle School Teacher Reviewers Needed — Online Astrobiology Game
Audience: Educators of Grades 7-8

The NASA Astrobiology Institute has funded the production of an exciting new online educational game for 7th- and 8th-grade classrooms called “Life Underground.” In the interactive experience, the student takes on the role of a young scientist who navigates and investigates a subsurface environment, searching for and characterizing microbial life.

The project’s development team at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts is seeking teacher reviewers for the game. Reviewers are asked to spend an hour or so exploring the software and reviewing the accompanying supplemental materials.

To learn more, fill out the brief interest survey found at

Please direct questions about this opportunity to Daniella Scalice at

**NEW** GLOBE Student Research Campaign — Water in Our Environment
Audience: K-12 Educators
Campaign Dates: Now Through June 30, 2018

Water continuously circulates through one of Earth’s most powerful systems: the water cycle. Join GLOBE for its latest campaign that uses a set of guiding investigative questions to enable students to meaningfully explore water in their local environment and collaborate to consider the influence of water on a global scale. The project is flexible, allowing teachers to choose between many options to involve their students.

Visit the site for details about the project and upcoming informational webinars.

Please direct questions about this opportunity to

Opportunities for Higher Education and Informal Institutions

2018 RASC-AL Special Edition: Mars Ice Challenge Tech Demo and Engineering Design Competition
Audience: Higher Education Students and Faculty
Notice of Intent Deadline: Oct. 13, 2017
Project Plan Submission Deadline: Nov. 16, 2017

The 2018 RASC-AL Special Edition: Mars Ice Challenge is an engineering design and technology demonstration contest open to full-time undergraduate and graduate students at accredited colleges and universities in the U.S. This challenge gives teams the opportunity to design and build hardware that can extract water from simulated Martian subsurface ice.

Up to 10 teams will be chosen to demonstrate their system’s water extraction capabilities in June 2018 at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

A notice of intent is requested by Oct. 13, 2017. Project plans are due Nov. 16, 2017.

For more information, visit

Please direct questions about this opportunity to

NASA Accepting Applications for NASA Spring Internships
Audience: High School, Undergraduate and Graduate Students
Application Deadline: Oct. 17, 2017

Now is your chance to apply for exciting hands-on spring internship opportunities available at all NASA centers. High school, undergraduate and graduate students are needed to help NASA scientists and engineers with ongoing scientific and engineering research, technology development and spaceflight operations activities. Internship opportunities also exist in nontechnical areas such as communications, budget, procurement, education and human resources. NASA internships are stipend-paid and offer students mentor-directed, degree-related, NASA-relevant tasks. If you think you have what it takes to be a NASA intern, please visit today to apply or to learn more about the numerous opportunities available.

The deadline for spring applications is Oct. 17, 2017!

Please submit inquiries about the NASA Internships, Fellowships, and Scholarships One Stop Shopping Initiative, or NIFS OSSI, via

Check out the ‘Explore NASA Science’ website!
Science starts with questions, leading to discoveries. Explore the redesigned NASA Science site and send us feedback. Visit To view the site in Spanish, visit

Don’t miss out on upcoming NASA education opportunities
For a full list of events, opportunities and more, visit the Educators and Students Current Opportunity pages on NASA’s website:
— Educators
— Students

Are you looking for NASA educational materials to support your STEM curriculum?
Search hundreds of resources by subject, grade level, type and keyword at

Find NASA science resources for your classroom.
NASA Wavelength is a digital collection of Earth and space science resources for educators of all levels — from elementary to college, to out-of-school programs.

Visit NASA Education on the web:
NASA Office of Education:
For Educators:
For Students:
NASA Kids’ Club:

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