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.

Exciting new Lending Library video presents new theory of space, time, universe

Host Brian Greene takes viewers on an exciting and in-depth exploration of a groundbreaking new theory: one of the most ambitious and exciting scientific theories ever posed — one that may be the long sought “Theory of Everything”. The presentation is offered in two segments:

  • The Elegant Universe discusses the string theory, one of the most revolutionary theories in physics today.
  • The second segment, The Fabric of the Cosmos, is a mind-blowing exploration of space, time, and the very nature of reality.

Borrow Space, Time and the Universe from the WGBY Collection at the Springfield Public Library.

Sally Ride: A Salute to a Great Educator

Photo Source: NASA

Today, we salute a great educator who we lost last week.   

“(Sally Ride) made history when she rode the space shuttle Challenger into orbit in 1983, but she was also a NASA adviser, a lifelong educator, and a founder of Sally Ride Science, a venture dedicated to inspiring and teaching young people, especially girls, about science and space.”

Read more about Ride’s accomplishments here.

Teachers: your class can build their own space ship today with this Design Squad Nation DIY Touchdown project.

Teaching About The Illusion of Time

Especially for teachers and students, time can seem to pass far more quickly in summer.  So it may be particularly appropriate that from NOVA’s summer programming comes The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time, airing July 18 at 9pm on WGBY.  As well as learning and teaching about the realities of time with this great program, you can discover classroom resources at NOVA’s teacher site such as:

Deep Time, a NOVA approved site, provides a multimedia exploration of 4 billion years of life on Earth with major transformations, geological changes, and extinction episodes. An Evolution Library for teachers and students is also available.

Deciphering Maya:  A Time Line  is another multimedia resource that allows students to trace discoveries in the effort to understand the Maya script.

Among audio stories on time and/or space by physicists:

Max Tegmark says that time is still one of the biggest mysteries in physics.

Sean Carroll says there’s no such thing as past or future in the elementary laws of physics.

Video Lending Library Feature: Explore the Fabric of the Cosmos

In The Fabric of the Cosmos, physicist Brian Greene offers a mind blowing new exploration of space, time, and the very nature of reality as he delves into such issues as defining space, examining the illusion of time, taking viewers on a quantum leap and questioning if we live in a universe or a multiverse. Four hours on two DVDs: I.D. 2191 click here to order the video from our lending library.  Check out this video for a preview:

NOVA’s Educator Site: A Magnet to STEM

Solar panels

New Ways to Catch Rays from NOVA

If you were up later than usual when many schools were recently closed down due to power outages and snow, you may have seen Tavis Smiley’s PBS interview of distinguished Harvard physicist Lisa Randall.  Part of their discussion focused on the concern that “our students are not being drawn like a magnet to math and science.”

Perhaps like Prof. Randall, you’ve noticed “that people are almost embarrassed to talk about scientific measurements or scientific facts.”   NOVA’s Educator Site, a free digital library tied to teaching standards. can be one antidote, drawing students to science,  math and more by bringing such subjects to life in educational settings.

Clicking on Science and Society, you’ll find News Ways to Catch Rays, an interactive activity where students learn about eight of the latest solar technologies and how, in the face of global climate change, scientists and engineers are actively developing new ways to harness the Sun as an alternative to fossil fuels.  (Included are photos, an illustration, and text to investigate how these technologies can provide environmentally friendly solutions.)

On the Technology link, the video segment Brain Tumor teaches students about concussions — a common type of traumatic brain injury — where both a young athlete describes his personal experience and a neurosurgeon/ international expert explains why concussions are difficult to diagnose and how a new tool can help assess brain injury.

NOVA’s Fabric of the Cosmos is coming in November

Coming November 2 to WGBY, Nova’s Fabric of the Cosmos takes us to the frontiers of physics to see how scientists are piecing together the most complete picture yet of space, time and the universe, revealing that beneath the surface of our everyday experience lies a world that is far stranger and more wondrous than anyone expected.

This four-part miniseries hosted is hosted by physicist and acclaimed author Brian Greene.  Thinking about tackling the mind-boggling limits of space with your high-school students?  check out the Educator Resources for this program on the Nova website.

Science Contest for International Space Station Experiment

The New York Times recently reported that YouTube and computer manufacturer Lenovo have announced a science contest called Spacelab. open to students 14 to 18 years old from around the world.  This real world — and out of this world — challenge gives students, either individually or in teams of two or three, the chance to have their experiment flown to the International Space Station!

Rather than conduct any actual experiments, students submit videos with their ideas for experiments that could be performed in “the zero-gravity environs of the space station.”  Space Adventures, a Virginia company that arranges for tourists to travel to the space station, will work with NASA to prepare the winning student experiments for flight.

Student proposals must be submitted by December 7 and address biology or physics’ questions.  Sixty finalists will be chosen from three geographical regions and then narrowed to 10 submissions from 14-to-16 year olds and 10 from 17 – 18 year olds.  Among those making the final decision will be a panel of judges, including Stephen W. Hawking, renowned physicist and cosmologist

Regional winners fly to Washington for a ceremony where two grand prize winners are named.  Those winners can choose to go to Japan for the launch of their experiments or to train as cosmonauts in Russia for seven days!

To learn more visit Spacelab.

Video Lending Library Feature: Timely NOVA videos about Mars

Mars videoA new album just arrived in our library about that mysterious planet Mars. It’s exciting because Scientists have recently announced their probe has uncovered evidence of water on that planet, and that suggests the possibility of life in one form or another. The four-DVD album covers the following topics, seen recently on NOVA: Can We Make it to Mars? Is There Life on Mars? Welcome to Mars, and Mars Dead or Alive. For more details, click on and search for Mars. The I.D. number of this album is 2124.

Special Event: Your Students Can Ask Questions During Live NASA Crew Interview with PBS NEWSHOUR

After 30 years of triumph and tragedy, NASA’s space shuttle era is drawing to a close and you have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a part of this special moment. Google, YouTube and the PBS NewsHour are teaming up to take your class aboard space shuttle Endeavour. Shuttle and International Space Station astronauts — led by Endeavour commander Mark Kelly — will answer some of your questions in a live interview scheduled for Monday, May 2, at 2:15 p.m. ET – as the crew orbits the earth at 17,500 mph.

For more information, visit PBS NewsHour: The Rundown