Newton Network Newsletter: September 2011

Newton Network News:
Greetings from the Newton Network!

Welcome to the new school year! We hope you enjoyed your summer as much as we did. We have a lot in store for you this year, but first a recap of what happened this summer. This newsletter features solar flares with plenty of ways to study the sun and space. We also have several upcoming opportunities for both you and your students over the next few months.

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

In This Issue:

Summer Wrap Up– The summer was a busy one for many of you!

NERDS student looking into microscopeNERDS (Nevada Educators Really Doing Science) visited Newport, Oregon in June. The seven-day trip gave teachers the opportunity to improve their science teaching skills through hands-on experience. Participants explored the local ecosystem and presented their findings to the group. They are also required to develop a class activity to give to their students. For more information, visit the NERDS website.

Summer camp studentsThis year’s summer camps were also a big success. Here are some highlights:

  • KIDS University took place at UNR. Students participated in many different sessions and had fun while learning. Some of the session topics included “Developing Your Own Website” and “Crazy Chemistry”.
  • UNR Engineering Camps were also a big success this summer. Over 100 students attended the camps and experienced engineering first hand. Students interested in computers explored computer graphics used in films and video games. The engineering camps also gave students the chance to explore chemical, mechanical, and electrical engineering.
  • Girl Math and Technology Camp helped girls in middle school develop a better understanding and appreciation for math. The goal of the camp is to increase interest in math and technology and prepare young women for college.
  • Great Basin Naturalists Summer Day Camp took place in the Galena Creek Recreation Area and Regional Park. The camp increased awareness of the Galena Creek ecosystem through one week sessions. Students learned about local vegetation, animals, history, and more.

[Return to Index]

Solar Flares– The sun has recently entered into the period solar maximum, when the sun emits solar flares, and is expected to peak in January 2013. Solar flares are responsible for the Northern Lights but can also damage power grids, satellites, and disrupt communications. They are caused by clouds of radiation and electromagnetic charges escaping from the sun.

For grades for 6-8, Science NetLinks has a lesson plan on the sun and its features, including solar flares.

National Geographic has a lesson plan on “space weather”. The lesson plan explores different kinds of space weather like auroras and is for grades six and above.

Let students collect information on space weather by creating their own space probes.

Web 2.0– Edmodo is an online social learning environment for your classroom. Edmodo was created specifically for teachers and schools, giving teachers control over who is part of their online classroom. Assignments and classroom resources can be posted to the classroom and teachers have the option of grading the assignments on the site itself. Edmodo is completely free.

Professional DevelopmentPBS is offering online courses for the fall. The online classes include “Teaching with WebQuests”, “Inspire Elementary Students with Engineering”, and “Teaching for Multiple Intelligences”. Courses start on October 26, 2011.

Educators Professional Development is hosting a few professional development opportunities in both Las Vegas and Reno over the next few months. Workshops include “Creating a Digital-Rich Classroom” and “Improving Student Learning”.

NASA Explorer Schools and the National Science Teachers Association are hosting two upcoming webinars in September. The first, “Engineering Design Process: On the Moon”, will take place on September 6, 2011. The second, “Weather and Climate: Satellite Meteorology”, will be held on September 8, 2011.

NASA is also hosting two online classes. The classes are free and last for five weeks each. “Project-Based Inquiry Learning” beings on October 5, 2011 and “Technology Integration—3-D Visualization” will begin on October 12, 2011.

Upcoming Events– Stanford University is offering free, worldwide online courses in the fall. The classes available are “Artificial Intelligence”, “Introduction to Databases”, and “Introduction to Machine Learning”. All classes are taught by leading experts in the field and are taught over ten weeks. Students will receive feedback on their progress and a certificate at the end of the term. More information on the Artificial Intelligence course.

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. Starting in September, Principals may register their school for the competition. Deadline to register with a $90 fee is October 15, 2011. After October 15, 2011 and until December 9, 2011 the fee is $110. Registration ends on December 10, 2010. For more information on the National Geographic Bee, including sample questions and registration information, visit The National Geographic Bee Website.

Spheres ZERO Robotics Challenge is a robotic competition taking place in space. High school students of any age and gender form teams to write a program that will control a satellite in space. Teams must register before September 5, 2011. Chosen teams will then write the program for a SPHERES satellite.

The Kids’ Science Challenge is a nationwide competition for elementary students in grades 3-6. Each year, students submit questions and experiments to real scientists and engineers to solve. This year’s topics are “Zero Waste”, “Animal Smarts”, and “Meals on Mars”. Registration for the competition begins on October 1, 2011.

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