December 2005 Vol. 99

From the President’s Desk

I send this Christmas Greeting to you from home, as I enjoy the seventh day of a wonderful eleven day respite from school. As I’m sure you do, I love my job (new adventures EVERY day); but it’s nice to wake up to nature rather than an alarm clock!

As we end 2005 this may be a good time to reflect on the wonders, both good and bad, that involved science this year:

· Recovery efforts and discussion on early warning systems from tsunamis after the devastating earthquake in the Indian Ocean Basin of December 26, 2004.

· A severe hurricane season along the Gulf Coast with long –term socioeconomic and engineering costs that are staggering, after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. (As a side note, I am currently reading “State of Fear” by Michael Crichton. This book at very least makes a person think about the issue of global warming. While still a fictional work, it sites several references that state that this issue is not as clear cut as the media might have us believe.)

· The “early winter” blizzard that left much of East-Central South Dakota without power and under a blanket of ice for weeks.

· NASA’s success with the Deep Impact Mission, hitting the bulls eye of the comet Tempel I with a remote controlled spacecraft. This mission gave NASA information about comets and a much needed confidence boost in the eye of the public.

· Continued inroads into the workings of the human genome and heightened concerns over a potential world-wide flu pandemic.

Needless to say, this list could go on and on. I will try to remember the next time a student mumbles, “Why do I learn this stuff?” not to get exasperated but see it as a challenge to make my science lessons even more relevant. If like me you sometimes struggle with where to find good resources for current science topics, may I suggest the NSTA website It is absolutely brimming with handy ready to go lesson materials, public relations information (such as the recent court decision in Pennsylvania allowing us to teach science in our science classes and not “intelligent design”) and the latest changes in national science curriculum standards. One very nice part of this site is that these resources are available to all educators, whether or not they are dues paying members of the NSTA.

Speaking of resources……the Math and Science Conference in Huron is only about a month away! I will look forward to seeing as many of you as possible as we learn new tricks of the trade at the beautiful newly remodeled Crossroads Hotel and Convention Center.

So, whether you use this winter downtime to get crafty, get outdoors, read a new book, or try a new recipe I hope that these “short days” of sunshine are good ones. For you sun worshippers…….cheer up: winter may not be over, but the daylight hours are only getting betterJ

Yours truly, Mark Farrand

SDSTA President


Voices from the Cacophony
By Trudy E. Bell and Dr. Tony Phillips

Around 2015, NASA and the European Space Agency plan to launch one of the biggest and most exacting space experiments ever flown: LISA, the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna.
LISA will consist of three spacecraft flying in a triangular formation behind Earth. Each spacecraft will beam a laser at the other two, continuously measuring their mutual separation. The spacecraft will be a mind-boggling 5 million kilometers apart (12 times the Earth-Moon distance) yet they will monitor their mutual separation to one billionth of a centimeter, smaller than an atom's diameter.
LISA's mission is to detect gravitational waves-ripples in space-time caused by the Universe's most violent events: galaxies colliding with other galaxies, supermassive black holes gobbling each other, and even echoes still ricocheting from the Big Bang that created the Universe. By studying the shape, frequency, and timing of gravitational waves, astronomers believe they can learn what's happening deep inside these acts of celestial violence.
The problem is, no one has ever directly detected gravitational waves: they're still a theoretical prediction. So no one truly knows what they "sound" like.
Furthermore, theorists expect the Universe to be booming with thousands of sources of gravitational waves. Unlike a regular telescope that can point to one part of the sky at a time, LISA receives gravitational waves from many directions at once. It's a cacophony. Astronomers must figure how to distinguish one signal from another. An outburst is detected! Was it caused by two neutron stars colliding over here or a pair of supermassive black holes tearing each other apart in colliding galaxies over there?
"It's a profound data-analysis problem that ground-based astronomers don't encounter," says E. Sterl Phinney, professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
Profound, but not hopeless: "We have lots of good ideas and plans that work-in theory," he says. "The goal now is to prove that they actually work under real conditions, and to make sure we haven't forgotten something."
To that end, theorists and instrument-designers have been spending time together brainstorming, testing ideas, scrutinizing plans, figuring out how they'll pluck individual voices from the cacophony. And they're making progress on computer codes to do the job.
Says Bonny Schumaker, a member of the LISA team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory: "It's a challenge more than a problem, and in fact, when overcome, a gift of information from the universe."
For more info about LISA, see . Kids can learn about black holes and play the new "Black Hole Rescue!" game on The Space Place Web site at .
- - - - - - - - -

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The ARMADA Project has placed teachers in research experiences all over the world. Past experiences include taking part in the largest North Pacific humpback whale study in the waters off the coast of Alaska, investigating the impacts of global change in the Arctic Ocean and the Antarctic, monitoring and assessing tidal creeks in South Carolina, studying the impact of human activity on dusky dolphins in New Zealand, exploring the seafloor off the coast of Sumatra to better understand the forces that lead to the 2004 Asian tsunami, water circulation studies in the Norwegian Sea, and a variety of ecosystem monitoring projects in the Bay of Fundy, Narragansett Bay, Gulf of Maine, Stellwagen Bank, Western Shelf of Florida, Sargasso Sea, Bahamas, Alaska, and Block Island Sound.
Application deadline is
February 6, 2006
For more information about teacher qualifications, responsibilities, and to download an application see the ARMADA Project website or contact Andrea Kecskes at 401-874-6211 or
Lewis & Clark Youth Rendezvous

Attention: 06-07 Junior & Seniors!

Write an essay about Lewis & Clark and their famous expedition of discovery and win a FREE trip to North Dakota with 540 youth from all over the United States, on August 13-18th.

You will be able to walk the Lewis & Clark trail in their footsteps to experience the same American Indian culture and see the same landscapes they did over 200 years ago. Contest is open to junior and senior students during the 2006-2007 school year. Essay submissions accepted online - from November 12, 2005 through February 28, 2006.

For more information and to submit your essay online, visit



Discover Mars in Alaska!
Become a part of the Phoenix Mars Mission Education Team by participating in the Alaska Phoenix Mars Arctic Region Science Field Experience for Secondary Teachers--Phoenix MARSFEST.
Applications are due February 15, 2006. For an application and more information, please visit the Phoenix Mars Lander Web site at:
or contact: Doug Lombardi, Phoenix E/PO Manager,,


The Science Ambassador Program is a professional development program, in which selected middle and high school science teachers work with CDC scientists to develop science lesson plans on public health topics that meet National Science Education Standards. Selected teachers come to CDC for in an intensive workshop led by CDC scientists

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Science Ambassador Program at 404-498-4080 or or you can visit their Web site at



Physics Bowl XXXII, set for Friday, March 31, at South Dakota State University.

For more information or an entry form for Physics Bowl XXXII, contact the SDSU Physics Department at (605) 688-5428. Only the first 18 teams to return an entry form will be accepted.

Join the DOE Science Listserv

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SDSTA Officers _

President: Mark Farrand
4009 Brookside Dr.
City, SD 57701

Micheline Hickenbotham
19650 Mossing Lane
Spearfish, SD 57783

Past-President: Ken Graupmann
Box 111
Kadoka, SD 57543
White River School District

Treasurer: Tom Merrill
1522 Walnut
Yankton, SD 57078
Yankton Middle School

Secretary: Ramona Lundberg
PO Box 770
Clear Lake, SD 57226
Duel High School

Elem Advisor: Marcy Farrand
4009 Brookside Dr.
Rapid City, SD 57701
R. C. Wilson Elementary

Secrondary Advisor: Brenda Murphey
21 St. Joseph St.
Rapid City, SD 57701
R. C. High School

College Advisor: Larry Browning
405 20th Ave. SDSU
Brookings, SD 57006-2338

Newsletter Advisors:
Pamela Zubke & James Stearns
13883 443rd Av . . . . 15 North 5th Street
Waubay, SD 57273 . . Groton, SD 57445-2024
Waubay High . . . . . . Groton Area H.S.

January 2, 2006 Deadline to enter Young Naturalist Awards contest

January 10 / 11 / 13 Science Roll Outs-Physical Science-Abdn/SF/RC

January 20 Advanced Registration Deadline for Joint Math & Science Conf

February 2-4, 2006 Joint Math & Science Conference
                Huron, SD - Starts Thursday evening at 7 PM with Sharing Sessions

February 6 Application deadline for ARMADA

February 21 / 22 / 24 Science Roll Outs—Earth/Space Sci-Abdn/SF/RC

February 28 Application deadline for Lewis & Clark Rendezvous essay

March 1 Application Deadline for the Science Ambassadors

March 14 Pi Day ( 3.1415926535897932384626433832795... )
                                     & Albert Einstein’s birthday

March 15 Deadline for 5th-6th to enter Arbor Day essay contest

March 31 Physics Bowl XXXII - SDSU (605) 688-5428

April 6 - 9, 2006 National NSTA Convention - Anaheim, California

June or July TLRBSE Program at
Kitt Peak National Observatory, Tucson, AZ
June 12-16 & July 17-21 Science Ambassador Workshops, Atlanta, GA

October 11-14 National Assn of Biology Teachers (NABT) Convention

October 19-21 Midwestern NSTA Area Conference-Omaha, NE

November 2-4 Eastern NSTA Area Conference-Baltimore, MD

December 7-9 Western NSTA Area Conference-Salt Lake City, UT


The 2006 Program Schedule for the February Professional Development Conference is available on-line (or booklets will be given out at the conference.) Don’t forget to attend the SDSTA Business meeting. Several prizes will be given out.

Conference Booklet link