This summer, while many of us were sleeping in and avoiding heavy school work, lots of exciting things were happening in and around our solar system! Here's a guide to launching the 2016 school year right and turning those stellar events into educational connections from NASA. 

Science on Fire

An image of the Soberanes fire, in northern California near Big Sur
This false-color image of the Soberanes fire in Northern California, near Big Sur, was captured by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft on July 28, 2016.

Here at home, on Earth, it is fire season in many places in the Northern Hemisphere. Fire season comes about with warmer temperatures, dry air, and dry brush. Once a fire gets started in these conditions, it can rapidly spread and become out of control, especially when high winds are involved. This summer has already witnessed some dangerous fires including the Sand Fire in Southern California and the Soberanes Fire near Big Sur on the Central California coast. Beyond the immediate threat from flames, smoke degrades air quality and burn scars leave hillsides vulnerable to rain-induced mudslides.

NASA satellites and airborne instruments are helping scientists better understand wildfires and their impacts on our changing climate. And in the immediate term, they are helping firefighters track wildfires and respond to people and structures in risk areas.

Check out JPL's latest Teachable Moment to find out more about how scientists are studying wildfires, what they're learning and why it's important. And get links to two new lessons for students in grades 3-12 that have students use NASA data, algebra and geometry to approximate burn areas, fire-spread rate and fire intensity. (You can also go straight to the new lessons at: Fired Up Over Math: Studying Wildfires from Space and Pixels on Fire)

And speaking of Earth science, find out how you can get a free bulletin board featuring posters and lithographs about NASA Earth science and missions for your classroom!

Greetings from Jupiter

Watch a recap of the July 4 excitement as NASA's Juno spacecraft entered orbit around Jupiter.

On July 4, just in time for a fireworks spectacle, the Juno spacecraft went into orbit around Jupiter. Juno launched from Earth aboard a huge rocket and had been hurtling toward Jupiter for nearly five years. Getting into orbit around Jupiter was a real nail-biter here at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (which helps manage the mission) and we are all very happy everything went as planned. Juno’s mission is to study the origin, core and magnetic fields of our solar system’s largest planet. Juno will orbit Jupiter for only about 20 months before Jupiter’s intense radiation environment takes a toll on the spacecraft.

Communicating with a spacecraft as far away as Juno is a challenge that involves a lot of planning and teamwork. Try out this new lesson for young learners that demonstrates this process and provides practice with number concepts, counting and geometry, and data collection in a concrete, active manner. 

Wish you had your very own Juno spacecraft you could use to uncover secrets beneath Jupiter? Check out this easy-to-build Juno model that uses household objects and can be used in a game with friends and family!

Explore more about Juno with these related lessons and videos: 


TAGS: Back-to-School, Juno, Wildfires, Bulletin Board, Lessons, Activities, DIY

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Image of Earth

UPDATE - Sept. 13, 2016: Our Earth Science Bulletin Board materials are out of stock. To download and print out the resources, click on the links next to each product.


Climate change is a hot topic and one that's become a key part of science education. Introduce students to NASA's climate-science research and Earth satellites with this free bulletin board from the Educator Resource Center at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The set of posters, lithographs and stickers helps visually engage students while teaching them about topics such as sea-level rise, clouds and greenhouse gases. Note:Materials are available on a first-come-first-served basis.

The Earth Science Bulletin Board includes:

Sea-Level Rise Poster

Sea-Level Rise Mini Poster

This poster describes the science behind sea-level rise, who's affected and what NASA is doing to help.

Earth's Carbon is Off Balance Poster

Earth's Carbon is Off Balance Mini Poster

See what NASA scientists are doing to understand if our land and ocean can continue to absorb carbon dioxide at the current rate – and for how long.

NASA JPL Edu Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity lithograph poster

Earth Lithograph

Get fun facts about Earth science on this two-sided lithograph featuring a stunning image of our home planet.

A Wild World of Clouds poster

Wild World of Clouds Poster

This poster illustrates how NASA satellites study clouds from space.


Additional materials may include rulers, stickers and lithographs featuring NASA Earth science missions.

TAGS: Bulletin Board, Back-to-School, Earth Science, Resources, Educator Resource Center

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Journey to Mars Poster - NASA JPL Edu

UPDATE - Aug. 31, 2016: Our Mars Bulletin Board materials are out of stock. To download and print out the resources, click on the links next to each product.


Get the school year back in gear with a Mars-themed bulletin board for your school, classroom, library or educational program. The Educator Resource Center at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is offering a set of free posters and lithographs with fun facts about the Red Planet and NASA's Mars missions.

The Mars Bulletin Board includes:

NASA JPL Edu Earth/Mars Comparison Poster

Earth/Mars Comparison poster

This poster highlights the likenesses and differences between the Red Planet and Earth.

NASA JPL Edu MSL Mars Curiosity rover lithograph poster

Mars Science Laboratory: Curiosity Rover lithograph set

This lithograph set features images of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity as well as images the rover has taken on the Red Planet. Facts about Curiosity and its discoveries are included on the back of each image.

NASA JPL Edu Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity lithograph poster

Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity lithograph

Learn about the twin Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, and their key discoveries. (Opportunity is still roving on Mars, more than 10 years after landing on the Red Planet!)

NASA Journey to Mars poster

Journey to Mars poster

As part of its "Journey to Mars" initiative, NASA is developing spacecraft and technologies that will pave the way for a future manned mission to the Red Planet. This graphic shows some of the key milestones of that initiative.

NASA JPL Edu Mars lithograph poster

Mars lithograph

Learn about the history, composition and exploration of Mars on this lithograph featuring images of the Red Planet on one side and fun facts on the other.


The NASA/JPL Educator Resource Center provides formal and informal educators with NASA resources and materials that support STEM learning. For more information, visit the Educator Resource Center page.

TAGS: Bulletin Board, Mars, Journey to Mars, Rover, Spacecraft

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Solar System Family Portrait - Artist's Concept

UPDATE - Aug. 31, 2016: Our Solar System Bulletin Board materials are out of stock. To download and print out the resources, click on the links next to each product.


Get ready for back-to-school with a “Solar System Bulletin Board” for your school, classroom, library or educational program. The NASA/JPL Educator Resource Center is offering free back-to-school materials featuring NASA images, science and fun facts.

The set includes:

    Titan Poster

    Titan Poster
    This poster features an image of Saturn’s mysterious moon Titan taken by NASA’s Cassini mission at Saturn as well as activities for students in grades 1 through 8.


    Solar System Lithograph

    Solar System Lithograph Set
    Featuring NASA images of planets, moons, asteroids, comets and other solar system bodies, this Solar System Lithograph set also includes key facts about each body.


    Solar System Extreme Facts LithographExtreme Space Facts Lithograph

    This lithograph features a solar system “family portrait” on one side and 16 extreme space facts on the other.



    Saturn PosterSaturn and Our Pale Blue Orb Lithograph

    This stunning lithograph featuring an image of Earth as seen at Saturn describes how the image was captured by NASA’s Cassini mission at Saturn.


    The NASA/JPL Educator Resource Center provides formal and informal educators with NASA resources and materials that support STEM learning. For more information, visit the Educator Resource Center page.

    TAGS: Back to School, Resources, Materials, Bulletin Board, Educator Resource Center

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