At the Edge of Space: A Frontier Full of Enigmas

nova_hunting_the_edge_of_spaceWGBY will air “At the Edge of Space” on Wednesday, November 20, at 8:00pm.  This NOVA episode takes viewers on a spectacular exploration of the earth-space boundary zone, home to some of nature’s most puzzling and alluring phenomena:  the shimmering aurora, streaking meteors, and fleeting flashes that shoot upwards from thunderclouds, known as sprites that flicker into existence for a mere split-second — 40 times faster than an eye blink.

NOVA rides with scientists in a high-flying weather observation plane as they hunt for sprites and finally succeed in snaring them in 3D video, gaining vital clues to unravel their mystery. NOVA also combines advanced video technology with stunning sequences shot from the International Space Station.  Preview.

NOVA’s Beta site offers many related links, including stunning images galleries.   And at PBS LearningMedia you’ll find nearly 2000 digital resources for space — videos, lesson plans, interactives and more — for grades 6-12 (and younger).  With easy to use search filters for grade, specific content and standards, you can explore, save and file favorites for teaching and learning about this infinite subject.

Earth Science Week Resources

indexIn recognition of Earth Science Week (October 13-19), invite your students to investigate the relationship between the land, ocean, and the atmosphere. Use the special collection highlighted on the homepage of PBS LearningMediato to illustrate key concepts with student-friendly visualizations and vivid imagery.

Here are two resources aligned to National Standards that you’ll find among many for Earth Science Week:

Lightening Produces Nitrates (Grades 6-12):  In this video excerpt from NOVA: “Earth From Space,” learn about the global impact of lightning and how it produces an essential nutrient for living things. Satellite images show the distribution of electrical storms on Earth and the frequency of lightning strikes. Visualizations and narration describe the formation of lightning and its role in the production of nitrate, a vital nutrient for life. This video also explains how rain transports nitrate to the ground, where it is absorbed by plants and becomes a part of the food chain.

Life on Fire: Measurement (Grades 6-12):  Understand the current technological revolution driven by the extensive use of telemetry to monitor volcanoes and the conflict between the scientists risking their lives to understand and predict the next eruption set against the pragmatism of people who live and work in the shadow of moody volcanoes. See how one scientist measures the seismic activity of a volcano in Papua, New Guinea.

NOVA Launches New Cloud Lab Website

Cloud Lab imageWe hope you’re already familiar with NOVA and NOVA educator resources. Now this longest running television science program is excited to announce the launch of the Cloud Lab at, the third Lab in a growing collection of research offerings on the NOVA Labs site. In this NASA-funded site users can learn how to track the development of storms and better predict their impacts by conducting their own investigations about developing storms.

The Cloud Lab also includes a cloud gallery with 260 beautiful images of a range of 10 cloud types, from cirrus to cumulus to altostratus. Users are challenged to analyze the cloud images and classify each cloud type they observe in the image — collecting favorites along the way.

If you want to learn more about the Cloud Lab, you’re invited to join NOVA for an online presentation about this free digital resource this fall —

Australia’s Interesting Animals

imagesHere is a four-part series that take an incredible Australian journey to learn about some of the most iconic animals found in this breathtaking country. The series comprise: Survivors of the Firestorm; Outback Pelicans; Cracking the Koala Code and Kangaroo Mob. DVD format. Borrow this video, Australia: Animals Down Under (I.D. 2375) for a month by clicking here.

NOVA Special Report: Manhunt – Boston Bombers” + Classroom Resources

manhunt-boston-bombers-viThis Wednesday, May 29, WGBY airs A NOVA Night of Special Reports: “Manhunt- Boston Bombers” at 9:00pm & “Oklahoma’s Deadliest Tornadoes” at 10:00pm.  Watch preview

 On May 24 we posted some of the teacher resources available to you for “Oklahaoma’s Deadliest Tornadoes.”  (See previous post below.)  The special new one-hour NOVA documentary “Manhunt-Boston Bombers,” follows quickly unfolding events, step by step, and examines the role of modern technology—combined with old-fashioned detective work in cracking the case. And in a special collaboration, producer Miles O’Brien is also re­porting a special broadcast that same evening prior to NOVA for PBS NewsHour.

Searching under “terrorism” at PBS LearningMedia, you’ll find various classroom resources, such as the lesson plan Breaking Up is Hard to Do for grades 9-12 about Russian/Chechen relations with the focus on nationalism, separatism, and terrorism.  You’ll also want to check out PBS NewsHour Extra, news for kids and resources for teachers, including free lesson plans, news videos, articles and original student-generated reports.

NOVA: Oklahoma’s Killer Tornadoes + Teacher Resources

wttw_1340903013This Wednesday, May 29, at 10:00 pm WGBY will broadcast NOVA’s Oklahoma’s Killer Tornadoes.  On May 20, 2013, a ferocious EF5 tornado over a mile wide tore through Moore, Oklahoma, inflicting 24 deaths and obliterating entire neighborhoods. It was the third time an exceptionally violent tornado had struck the city in 14 years. Yet predicting when and where these killer storms will hit still poses a huge challenge.  In this NOVA special, you’ll meet scientists in the front ranks of the battle to understand these extreme weather events. You also meet storm survivors whose lives have been upended and learn how we can protect ourselves and our communities for the uncertain future.

At the NOVA Beta site, you can watch a preview and find related links such as Hunt for the Supertwister, Rate Tornado Damage, Tornado Country, and Killer Tornado of 1928.  NOVA Teacher resources include the videos How Do Tornadoes Form?  to learn how scientists use computer simulations to explore the question of how supercell thunderstorms produce tornadoes and Chasing Tornadoes to follow scientists on their hunt for tornadoes using Doppler radars to gather data and solve how tornadoes are formed.

Venom: Nature’s Killer from NOVA

nova_vemomFrom Emily Dickinson’s poem “Narrow fellow in the grass” to the story of Adam and Eve, snakes are likely to get our attention as they will this Wednesday, May 8, at 9:00pm when WGBY airs NOVA’s Venom:  Nature’s Killer. 

Over the millennia, thousands of creatures have developed that most sophisticated of biological and chemical weapons: venom. These complex chemicals can scramble our brain signals, paralyze muscles, puncture blood cells, even begin digesting us from within. But nature’s most potent toxins might also contain the keys to a new generation of advanced drugs to help doctors treat serious illnesses such as heart attacks, cancer and diabetes.

Follow NOVA crews as they join scientists on a dangerous quest to track down and capture the world’s most venomous animals—to find out both how they can kill us, and how they can save us.

You can find classroom resources on venom and snakes at NOVA’s Beta site for teachers and at PBS LearningMedia.

Program Feature: Australia’s First 4 Billion Years

Epic in scope, intimate in nature, this 4-part NOVA miniseries reveals the untold story of the Land Down Under. With high-energy host and geologist Richard Smith, meet titanic dinosaurs and giant kangaroos, sea monsters and prehistoric crustaceans, disappearing mountains and deadly asteroids.  Though it started last week, you still have a chance to catch up.  The series continues on Wednesday nights through May 1 from 9-10pm on WGBY.  Learn more.

Check out the preview below:

“After Newtown” Special Programming on WGBY

“After Newtown” is a series of special programming set to air February 18-22, 2013.   On Wednesday, February 20,  correspondent Miles O’Brien investigates how much science can tell us about a brain at risk for violence on NOVA “Mind of a Rampage Killer.”  Check out a preview here:

Then, learn how schools can detect problem behavior and prevent violent attacks on The Path to Violence.  We hope this special series of programs will be helpful and informative to those in decision making positions for school policy and safety.

Viewing Earth from Space with NOVA

With our predictably unpredictable climate in recent years, NOVA’s amazing, new documentary “Earth from Space,” offers engaging and relevant material to adapt for the classroom with photos, computer models, video and other data on subjects such as how a weather or geological event on one side of our globe might affect life on the other side.

WGBY airs the film on February 13 from 9:00pm -11:00pm, after which you can also view it at NOVA’s website where you’ll find related links.  At the NOVA beta site there are literally hundreds of resources on subjects like Planet Earth and Space and Flight, some of which are designed specifically for teachers.  Or just follow the link to NOVA Education to search your own topics.  For example, on the subject of weather, you’ll find Climate Change and Sandy, What Does the Earth Sound Like? and Fastest Glacier.