Newton Network Newsletter: December 2010

Newton Network News:
Greetings from the Newton Network!

2010 is almost over and in less than a month, we will be celebrating the New Year. We wish you a happy break this winter. But before you ring in 2011, take a look at what we have to offer you this month. December 17 is the anniversary of the first successful airplane flight made by the Wright brothers in 1903. Then learn about the many ways technology is assisting people in jobs and everyday tasks. And if you are thinking of applying for a grant, we have resources to help you with the application.

Once again, please pass your newsletter on to your colleagues and let them know that they can sign up for their own newsletter as easily as going to the Newton website.

In This Issue:

Wright BrothersAviation– The annual Wright Brother’s Day is December 17 and celebrates the first successful flights Orville and Wilbur Wright made on December 17, 1903 in North Carolina. The Wright brothers’ first flight lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet at 20 feet above the ground. The engine used to power the airplane was designed and built by the Wright brothers because no other engine manufacturer could supply an engine powerful enough. More on the history of the Wright brothers and lesson plans for all grade levels.

The Wright brothers are often seen as the original innovators in aviation, but did you know that they drew inspiration from their predecessors? Otto Lilienthal, a German civil engineer, was named the first successful aviator in history. In 1891, he became the first to successfully fly in a human-powered glider. Lesson plans on the science and history of aviation for middle and high school students.

The Wright brothers used a system of pulleys and cables to warp, or twist, the wings which in turn helped them control and turn their aircraft. Wing warping was later replaced by ailerons, which became the standard after 1915. See this simulation on how wing warping works.

Lesson plan on wing warping using the models of the Wright brothers’ planes.

Doctor using RoboDocTechnology– Assistive technology is defined as “any item, piece of equipment, or system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is commonly use to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities” (Assistive Technology Act of 1998). Assistive technology includes everything from hearing aids to prosthetics. Scientists are also working on retraining the brain to learn how to see with different senses.

Prosthetics are defined as an artificial substitution for a part of the body. The most common type of prosthetics are limbs and glass eyes. Prosthetic limbs, hearing aids, and even prosthetic eyes are being improved to better assist those needing the technology. See a lesson plan on making an artificial organ for high school students. Or learn more about the heart and perform your own heart transplant.

Assistive technology is not the only type of technology that can help people. In several hospitals, “RoboDocs”, robots that assist doctors in a surgery, are being more widely used. See a lesson plan for middle and high school students on robots.

Professional Development– NASA’s Digital Learning Network focuses on connecting STEM teachers with NASA experts and education specialists. The DLN offers free webcasts and events for teachers and students of all grade levels. Upcoming webcast topics include the search for water on other planets and the launch of a new NASA website.

UNLV is offering an online course called ENV 794, Global Climate Change. All tuition, fees, and books for the class are paid by the Nevada System of Higher Education Change Infrastructure Project. The class begins January 17, 2011 and is available to secondary science teachers. If you are interested, e-mail a copy of the form; Non-Degree Seeking Graduate Students, Residency Application, and your 2010-2011 teaching contract to Juan McAlister at You can also contact Juan McAlister at (702) 992-2637 for more information.

Grant Writing– Successful grant writing is an important skill to have, especially in this type of economy. Whether you have experience with grant writing and just need to brush up or are writing a grant for the first time and need some help, we have several resources that can help you with whatever you need. was established in 2002 to help improve government services to the public. The website allows users to search and apply for grants and contains resources to help applicants with the process.

The Foundation Center is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing information to non-profits. Their website includes information on finding grants, grant writing, and also includes free online training courses and webinars. Upcoming webinars include “Grantseeking Basics” on December 7, 2010. focuses on helping teachers and administrators apply for grants for their school. Resources include information on how to find and apply for grants along with sample proposals applicants can learn from.

Upcoming Events– The National Geographic Society is holding a contest for kindergarten through sixth grade teachers and students at private and public schools. The competition involves students finding ways to reduce their school’s carbon footprint and environmental impact. The winning classroom receives five interactive whiteboards and five sets of 32 ActivExpressions (a feedback tool that students use to interact with the whiteboard), $1,000 worth of National Geographic materials like atlases, books, and maps, and a one year subscription to National Geographic Kids magazine for every student in the classroom. Entries must be received by December 3, 2010. For more information on the contest and helpful materials, visit National Geographic.

The National Geographic Bee is a nationwide, yearly geography competition held by the National Geographic Society. Its purpose is to encourage an appreciation of geography in teachers and students. Final registration deadline is December 10, 2010 with a $110 fee. For more information on the National Geographic Bee, including sample questions and registration information, visit National Geographic Bee.

Newton Network

We need your submissions! Do you have a classroom activity that really excited your students? How about a really great web resource that you have found? We will help you share your resources with other teachers across the state. Send your activities, lesson plans or online resources to us and we will feature you in our newsletter and add your resource to our website. Please contact Robert Newbury at