The Great American Eclipse 2017

On August 21, 2017, North America will see its first total solar eclipse in a century. A solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and Earth. Even though the sun is much bigger than the moon, because the moon is so much closer to us, they appear about the same size in … Read more

Celebrate World Oceans Day

| By Debra Kirby |

Did you know that World Oceans Day is celebrated June 8 each year and that it was officially recognized by the United Nations in December of 2008? Or that the Canadian government first proposed the idea at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992?

Each year World Oceans Day events are organized around a different theme, with this year’s focus on “plastic pollution prevention and cleaning the ocean of marine litter.” http://www.worldoceansday.org/

Even if you don’t live near an ocean, or are not planning to participate in an event on June 8, there are many things you can do to make a difference. Since all of Earth’s waterways are connected, what affects your local stream, river, or lake also eventually makes its way to the oceans. Here are a few easy things anyone can do throughout the year:

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Science Behind the Headlines—U.S. Abandons the Paris Climate Agreement

| By Debra Kirby |

On June 1 President Trump’s announcement that the United States will exit the Paris climate accord made headlines throughout the world. To learn more about the agreement, climate change, global warming, and other topics relevant to this news, Gale’s databases are the perfect resource.

Learn more about the Paris Climate Agreement from Science In Context.

Unclear on the difference between Global Warming and Climate Change—which are sometimes used interchangeably by non-scientists? Science In Context has the answer here!

If you’re more of a visual learner, watch this mini-lecture on global warming, or watch this interview with President Obama on the Threat of Climate Change.

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See How One School Improved Science Grades

Improved grades. Fulfilled Next Generation Science Standards. Saved time. Those are just a few of San Luis Obispo High School’s accomplishments thanks to resources like Gale’s Science In Context. Download their success story and learn how transitioning to engaging digital resources also helped them: • prepare students for research success in college • meet other curriculum … Read more

Digging in to Earth Day

| By Debra Kirby |

On April 22, Earth Day will be observed by more than a billion people in nearly 200 countries, making it the world’s largest civic observance. The first Earth Day was held in 1970, a year I remember well. I had recently moved to a smaller high school where the student body was less diverse and more conservative. When I found out that my new school had no plans to mark the important occasion, I gathered a few like-minded friends and, with a sense of righteous indignation, we marched out to the parking lot to pick up trash! Not the most impactful way to celebrate the first ever Earth Day, but the effort apparently helped cement my reputation as a “rebel egg head,” as I learned years later when I was introduced as such to more than one former classmate’s spouse at our 20th high school reunion.

Many years later I can’t recall much about that day or even, now I think of it, the history behind Earth Day. But having access to Gale’s rich database content, I recently set out to educate myself. Here’s what I found:

  • The concept for Earth Day began with United States Senator Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin Democrat, who in 1969 proposed a series of environmental teach-ins on college campuses across the nation. Hoping to satisfy a course requirement at Harvard by organizing a teach-in there, law student Denis Hayes flew to Washington, DC, to interview Nelson, who persuaded Hayes to drop out of Harvard and organize the nationwide series of events. (Science In Context)

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WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH

| By Traci Cothran |

How wonderful is it that following the release of the movie “Hidden Figures,” the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson are now known by millions?  Their collective story is an impressive and important one, yet it’s a part of our history that’s been concealed for decades.

What other significant contributions by women are also shielded from view?  It’s a joy to uncover these gems, and allow them to inspire other women and girls today.  To me, that’s what Women’s History Month is all about—shining a light on the often overlooked contributions made by women throughout history.

Here are just a few, randomly chosen women from today and yesterday whose work and lives are notable.  You’ll find them all in Biography In Context, among other Gale resources.  As you read about them, you’re bound to discover other interesting women, too!

Maria Tallchief – (1925-2013) Tallchief was the first American-born woman to achieve prima ballerina status at a major dance company; she was also a member of the Osage Nation.  She’s featured this month in Research In Context.

Zora Neale Hurston – (1891-1960) A writer and major figure in the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston is a favorite of mine, for both her wonderful writing and her ability to live an unconventional life for women of her era.

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One Shining Moment in Space and Time

| By Debra Kirby |

While a history major in college, one of my classes was a one-on-one tutorial on the history of science.  During one session my patient professor was able to explain Einstein’s special relativity theory so that I was truly able to understand it—for one bright shining moment. I could almost feel my brain working! It was beautiful! Sorry to say, I was never again able to recapture that moment in quite the same way, despite later taking a “Physics for Poets” class and going through quite the hero worship phase, which included reading every book on Einstein I was able to purchase or borrow. I even hung a poster of him in my bedroom. Because my history focus was on World War II, I found Einstein biographies especially fascinating, since much of his life was intertwined with and influenced by that war.  In honor of Einstein’s birthday today, March 14, I recently visited Gale’s Science In Context to reacquaint myself with the great physicist. Here are just a few of the interesting facts I found:

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50-Year-Old Flashbulb Memory

By Debra Kirby

Flashbulb memory is a term first coined in 1977 by psychologists to describe the vivid, detailed and lasting memories triggered by experiencing or hearing news of traumatic events. Most people have a list of “flashbulb memories” that, depending on their age and location, might include the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor; the JFK, Bobby Kennedy, and MLK assassinations; the Challenger explosion; and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. People often say they can remember in sharp detail where they were, what they were doing, and sometimes even what they were wearing when news of the event broke.

One of the events on my flashbulb list occurred on January 27, 1967 when astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward Higgins White and Roger Chaffee perished in the launch pad fire at Cape Canaveral.

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Hidden No Longer

By Debra Kirby

Sometimes it takes a critically acclaimed movie to shine a light on extraordinary achievements. This has proved to be especially true when the subjects of those achievements are women or members of minorities. The movie Hidden Figures, based on a book of the same name, has recently generated interest in three African American women who played important roles in the U.S. Apollo Space Program. As is often the case, once you start digging into the details around historic events or people, you discover many related interesting facts and stories. When your sources include Gale databases you can spend hours exploring and learning.

Here are some of the facts I found when I began my journey to learn more about Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson—the fascinating women whose stories are told in Hidden Figures.

  • Katherine Johnson began her career as a “human computer” at the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (NACA), NASA’s predecessor. Before the age of electronic computers, NACA employed hundreds of women mathematicians as human computers. Men with similar qualifications were classified as professionals; women were sub-professionals. Black mathematicians were segregated in their own office and loaned out to various divisions as needed. (Read more about Johnson in Biography In Context.)

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Winter in Michigan—It Could Be Worse!

By Debra Kirby What do winter in Michigan, the Detroit Zoo, and the “greatest survival story of all time” have in common?  Answer: The Shackleton Endurance Exhibit that runs through the end of the year at the Detroit Zoo, one of my favorite local hang outs—with or without kids in tow. I visited the exhibit … Read more