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This Day in History: NASA Established

This day in history marks the beginning of the United States’ official journey to explore the “final frontier”–outer space. Featured here are a few of the significant events in the history of American manned space flight.

Equipping the United States for Leadership in the Space Age”President Dwight D. Eisenhower

When the Soviet Union put the first human-made object into space by launching the artificial satellite named Sputnik in October 1957, the United States faced mounting pressures to enter the “Space Race.” Fearful of being surpassed in missile technology, Congress quickly passed legislation to create a new government agency to conduct civilian space exploration. President Dwight Eisenhower signed the legislation creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration into law on July 29, 1958.

 “Sailor Among the Stars”Dr. Allen O. Gamble

The word astronaut first appeared in the English language in 1929, probably in science fiction, but it wasn’t commonly used until December 1958. That’s when NASA adopted it as the name for the men (and eventually women) it would train to compete in the space race. Dr. Gamble, NASA’s manpower director from 1958-1964, described the selection this way: “Someone found that the term aeronaut, referring to those who ride in balloons and other lighter-than-air vehicles, was derived from ‘sailor in the air.’ From this we arrived at astronaut, meaning ‘sailor among the stars.'”

Why Don’t You Fix Your Little Problem and Light This Candle?”Astronaut Alan B. Shepard, Jr.

NASA introduced the Project Mercury astronauts to the world on April 9, 1959, only six months after the agency was established. (Credit: NASA) [public domain]

NASA introduced the Project Mercury astronauts to the world on April 9, 1959,
only six months after the agency was established. (Credit: NASA) [public domain]

The men who made up NASA’s first astronaut class were called the “Mercury 7.” The seven men chosen from a pool of more than 500 American military aviators were Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper, John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Walter M. “Wally” Schirra Jr., Alan B. Shepard Jr., and Donald K. “Deke” Slayton.

Shepard became the first American man in space, making his historic suborbital flight on May 5, 1961. He made the above statement to Mission Control as he sat in the cramped Mercury capsule atop a Redstone rocket on the launch pad, while the launch was delayed for over four hours. The actual flight lasted only 15 minutes but was a success.

“Not Because They Are Easy, But Because They Are Hard”President John F. Kennedy

President Kennedy gave NASA the goal of sending a man to the moon by the end of the 1960s. On May 25, 1961, he stood before Congress and proclaimed that “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” On September 12, 1962, he gave another speech at Rice University in Houston, Texas, outlining his goals for America’s space program. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” Less than seven years later, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would fulfill Kennedy’s vision by landing on the moon.

We Came in Peace for All Mankind”Plaque affixed to the leg of the Apollo 11 lunar landing vehicle

(20 July 1969)--Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot of the first lunar landing mission, poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during an Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. The Lunar Module (LM) is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are clearly visible. (Credit: NASA) [public domain]

(20 July 1969)–Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., the lunar module pilot of the first lunar landing mission, poses for a photograph beside the deployed United States flag during an Apollo 11 extravehicular activity (EVA) on the lunar surface. The Lunar Module (LM) is on the left, and the footprints of the astronauts are clearly visible. (Credit: NASA) [public domain]

When astronauts first landed on the moon in 1969 as part of the Apollo 11 mission, they left behind evidence that they’d been there. Among these items were an American flag and a plaque, which was signed by President Richard Nixon and astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. The plaque bears a map of the Earth and this inscription:

HERE MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH
FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON
JULY 1969 A.D.
WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND

The Eagle Has Landed”Astronaut Neil Armstrong

Six Apollo missions landed on the moon during the years between 1968 and 1972: Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17. Twelve men actually walked on its surface. Each of the five later Apollo missions also left a flag. Photographs taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) satellite show the five flags still standing in place. (Buzz Aldrin reported that he saw Apollo 11’s flag blown down by rocket exhaust when the lunar lander blasted off the Moon’s surface to rejoin the orbiting command module.) The LRO images also show objects such as the lunar rovers used by some Apollo missions, and even the tire tracks they left behind.

“Okay, Houston, We’ve Had a Problem Here”Astronaut Jack Swigert

Photograph of the adaptor made from duct tape and other materials so that Command Module lithium lydroxide canisters could be used in the LM. (Credit: NASA) [public domain

Photograph of the adaptor made from duct tape and other materials so that Command Module lithium hydroxide canisters could be used in the LM. (Credit: NASA) [public domain]

Apollo 13’s journey to the moon was aborted when two of the oxygen-producing fuel cells exploded 2 days after its launch, with the spacecraft about 200,000 miles from Earth. The lack of oxygen wasn’t a real issue, but there was a problem with the CO2 scrubbers–which meant that the three astronauts on board could be suffocated by their own carbon dioxide exhalations. Guided by engineers on the ground at Mission Control, the astronauts used duct tape and surplus materials to repair air filtration canisters in the lunar module to help them survive the journey back to Earth.

“We Will Never Forget Them, Nor the Last Time We Saw Them”President Ronald Reagan

In this photo from Jan. 9, 1986, the Challenger crew takes a break during countdown training at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Left to right are Teacher-in-Space payload specialist Sharon Christa McAuliffe; payload specialist Gregory Jarvis; and astronauts Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist. (Credit: NASA) [public domain]

In this photo from Jan. 9, 1986, the Challenger crew takes a break during countdown training at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Left to right are Teacher-in-Space payload specialist Sharon Christa McAuliffe; payload specialist Gregory Jarvis; and astronauts Judith A. Resnik, mission specialist; Francis R. (Dick) Scobee, mission commander; Ronald E. McNair, mission specialist; Mike J. Smith, pilot; and Ellison S. Onizuka, mission specialist.
(Credit: NASA) [public domain]

President Reagan addressed the nation on January 28, 1986, after the Space Shuttle Challenger blew apart just 73 seconds after launch. The entire country mourned the loss of all seven astronauts aboard. The tragedy was a huge setback for the program, and the next mission wasn’t launched until almost three years later. The program suffered another catastrophe on February 1, 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded over Texas during re-entry, killing all seven crew members.

The space shuttle program was launched in 1981, designed to be the “world’s first reusable spacecraft“–launching like a rocket, orbiting like a spacecraft, and landing like a plane. Crews ranged in size from five to seven people. NASA’s space shuttles have traveled 542,398,878 miles, making 21,152 Earth orbits. In all, there were 833 crew members in the 135 shuttle missions that were carried out through the end of the program in July 2011.

The history of NASA includes not only manned spaceflight, but also the exploration of our solar system, galaxies, and the entire universe. Scientific advances have been made in astronomy, astrophysics, astrobiology, aeronautics, Earth and life sciences, as well as lunar and planetary exploration and much more. NASA technology and research have contributed countless innovations and technologies first pioneered in space exploration that benefit everyday life. Among these are cordless power tools, telemedicine, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, satellite television, joysticks and GPS navigation systems. The impact of our nation’s decision to enter the “Space Race” nearly 60 years ago can’t be truly defined or accurately measured.

An Anniversary for Zoos

Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo in the 1920s (Public Domain) via Flickr

This month celebrates the anniversary of the first zoo opening in the United States. On July 1, 1874, the Philadelphia Zoo, in Pennsylvania, opened its doors to the public. Over 3,000 people visited on opening day. Now, the Philadelphia Zoo gets over 1 million visitors each year.

Zoos were once just a place to see exotic animals from faraway lands. Now, zoos play an important role in housing endangered animals and breeding them in captivity. They also help bring awareness to issues affecting animals around the world, such as habitat loss.

Here are 5 fun facts about zoos:

  • There are over 400 licensed zoos in the United States, plus hundreds of nature centers.
  • There are more than 100 aquariums in the U.S.
  • There are 10,000 zoos worldwide, according to the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
  • Schonbrunn Zoo in Vienna, Austria, which opened in 1752, is the oldest zoo in the world.
  • The word “zoo” is short for zoological garden or zoological park. The word “zoology” refers to the scientific study of animals.

Teachers, for more about zoos, direct your students to SIRS Discoverer. Here are some searches to get you started:

Zoos
Zoo animals
Aquariums
Websites about zoos

Author Beatrix Potter, Born 150 Years Ago

This week (July 28, to be exact) marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of famed author Beatrix Potter. In addition to her writing, Potter was also known for her fascination and work with nature and science.

Beatrix Potter Research Topic

Beatrix Potter Research Topic via ProQuest’s eLibrary

Potter wrote approximately 30 books, 24 of which were children’s tales. And undoubtedly, her best known and beloved story is The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which was published in 1902.

Peter Rabbit and His Mom

Peter Rabbit and His Mom [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Peter Rabbit in the Cabbage Patch

Peter Rabbit in the Cabbage Patch [Public Domain] via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

The following year, Potter published The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin and The Tailor of Gloucester…and from there, the remainder of her treasured stories were penned.

CultureGrams Activity: Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro. (Photo courtesy of the CultureGrams photo collection)

The Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics are scheduled to begin next week on August 5. Get your students excited about the Olympics by having them participate in some of our Olympic-themed activities, which can be found on our Teaching Activities PDF.  One of these activities is included below, but our Teaching Activities PDF has more ideas to help students learn about different aspects of the Olympics.

Grade level
K–5

Objective
Students explore and familiarize themselves with the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Time requirement
In-class: 50 minutes

Materials
CultureGrams Kids Edition—Brazil

Instructions
1. Introduce the activity by discussing the concept of the Olympic Games. Explain that the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Spend some time discussing with the class what qualities and conditions a city or country must meet in order to be chosen to host the Olympic Games.
2. Break students up into groups and have each group read through the Kids Edition Brazil report, paying particular attention to the sections that describe the factors that make it a good home for the Summer Games (e.g., the Land and Climate section) as well as the country’s unique cultural and historical aspects that might play a role during the Olympic Games.
3. Have each group summarize and present their findings. As a class, discuss what they have learned about Brazil and why Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 Games.

Extension Activity
Have students discuss whether or not they think their state has a suitable city to host the Olympics. What would make it a good place? What would be some of its drawbacks? Have students write a letter to the International Olympic Committee, explaining why their state should or should not host the Olympic Games.

Poll: Is the Educator’s Summer Vacation a Myth?

sangria

CC0 Public Domain, via Pixabay

After they met, they sipped sangria and studied each other. He seemed to have potential.

“So, what do you do for work?” he asked.

“I’m a teacher,” she said.

“Oh, it must be so nice to have summers off!” he said.

Her sangria-spiked blood boiled. His insipid, small-talk question was forgivable; his moronic response to her answer was not.

She flung sangria into his face. Fruit and red wine ran down his head. His shirt stained. He looked wounded, bloodied. She immediately regretted her behavior: she just wasted sangria.

***

Sans the sangria, has this scenario ever happened to you?

Of course it has.

It seems like everyone thinks educators spend their summers sunning themselves and sipping sangria at the beach. Nice, right? If only it were true. Last summer, an article on the Atlantic.com declared that a teacher’s summer vacation is a myth. Many educators actually spend the majority of their summers writing lesson plans, attending conferences, taking continuing education classes, teaching summer school, or working second jobs. Does this sound familiar?

Is the educator’s summer vacation really just a myth? Take our poll.

 

Zines, Culture and Self-Expression

"lairs zine" by danie on Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“lairs zine” by danie on Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

At the heart of local culture and creative storytelling emerged zines. The beauty of a zine is its cut-and-paste eclectic taste that questions status quo and gives a voice to anyone and everyone who has something to say. They are visual forums without commercial backing. Zines haven’t gone away, and there are some today that remain pillars in culture for people from all different backgrounds and life experiences. Gritty and messy, zines are mostly about self-expression.

Even libraries have an interest in zines, with articles written about what some institutions are doing to preserve the culture and history of these handmade works. One such example is the University of Iowa Library, where science fiction zines and others from the 1930s and 1950s are being archived. Another example is at the University of Chicago Library where zines about women, music and activism are collected. The need to be heard is always growing, and zines make that possible.

With the first “science fiction fanzine” published in 1930, it’s easy to see that zines have been around for a while. The infographic I’ve created provides a brief history of zines with a more complete timeline found on the Duke University Libraries page.

Some colorful examples of zines can also be found here:

The Lab
Mashable
Creative Bloq

Does your library collect zines? Have you ever made a zine? Let us know in the comments below or Tweet us at #ProQuest! We’d love to hear about it.

This Day in History: July 19

For your entertainment and enlightenment, here are five historical events that occurred on July 19. Follow the links in the text to Research Topics pages and other documents in eLibrary.

1. 1848: Seneca Falls Convention–Organized by Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others, this meeting was held “to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of woman.” A third of the attendees of the convention signed the Declaration of Sentiments, which laid out grievances about the standing of women in a male-dominated society. The convention, which an editorial at the time deemed “the most shocking and unnatural incident ever recorded in the history of womanity,” is considered the beginning of the women’s rights movement.

2. 1863: Battle of Buffington Island–Brigadeer General John Hunt Morgan‘s 1,700-strong group of Civil War “raiders” clashed with Union forces in Ohio, a battle that marked the beginning of the end of their Great Raid through four states. After having made raids and engaged the enemy a number of times in Tennessee and Kentucky in a campaign to distract Union forces, Morgan–disobeying an order from General Braxton Bragg not to cross the Ohio River–invaded Indiana and ransacked numerous towns before moving into Ohio. But, Morgan’s campaign ran into great trouble as he tried to evade Union pursuers by crossing into West Virginia. The Battle of Buffington Island, which included the involvement of the U.S. Navy ironclads, resulted in the capture of half of his men. The Great Raid was finally ended a week later with Morgan’s surrender after the Battle of Salineville, but not before striking fear into northerners and attaining mythical status.

3. 1864: Third Battle of Nanking Ends–The Taiping Rebellion, which raged from 1850 to 1864 was one of the bloodiest wars in history, resulting in between 20 million and 70 million deaths. The rebellion was waged by the Heavenly Kingdom of Peace, a Christian millenarian movement led by Hong Xiuquan, who claimed to be the brother of Jesus Christ, against the ruling Qing dynasty. While the Third Battle of Nanking resulted in a victory for the government and effectively ended the rebellion, China was changed forever. The imperial government was severely weakened and, having accepted assistance from France and Britain, had opened China to foreign influence.

4. 1870: The Franco-Prussian War Begins–Looking to regain prestige lost in the Austro-Prussian War a few years earlier and concerned about the power of an alliance between the German states and Spain, French emperor Napoleon III wanted war. The French Parliament voted for it on July 16, and hostilities commenced three days later. Napoleon’s advisers had been very confident that France could prevail, in part because of new weapons–the breech-loading chassepot rifle and early form of machine gun called the mitrailleuse. This confidence was mistaken, and the Germans won a stunningly quick victory in about 10 months. In the aftermath of the war, Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck achieved his goal of creating the German Empire.

5. 1903: The First Tour de France Concludes–The Tour de France was conceived as a way of boosting the sagging sales of the magazine L’Auto. The first race in 1903 comprised six stages averaging about 250 miles and saw favorite Maurice Garin lead from start to finish of the 1,509-mile contest. The race was a success, and L’Auto’s readership skyrocketed. Today, the Tour is even longer at around 2,100 miles, but it is made up of 21 shorter stages over 23 days. Of course, many of us know the Tour de France largely because of Lance Armstrong, the American cyclist who won seven consecutive Tours, only later to be stripped of them because of admitted doping, or use of banned performance-enhancing substances.

CultureGrams: Now with Google Drive Integration

CultureGrams is excited to announce the addition of brand new feature to our site, Google Drive integration! CultureGrams users can now export any text from the World, Kids, States, and Provinces Editions directly to their Google Drives. This important new functionality allows students and teachers to more easily integrate CultureGrams content into their daily cloud-based workflow. Curious to see how it works? Check out the demo video below to see how you can start saving your favorite cultural reports, recipes, famous people, and interviews to your Google Drive. Enjoy!

U.S.-China Relations…Soundbites Do No Justice

Flag of China


Flag of China
(courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, via SIRS Discoverer) (Public Domain)

 

China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy in 2010. To the United States, that fact makes engagement with this Asian nation very, very, very important. To the world, that fact makes the stability of this Asian nation pivotal to international economies and diplomacy.

What do we understand about the United States’ relationship with China? How do we gauge the significance of the goings-on between these two countries?

0000143493


International cooperation is vital if we are to defeat international terrorism. Here U.S. and Chinese officials sign an agreement permitting pre-screening of containers from China destined for U.S. ports.
(Credit: K. L. Wong/U.S. Customs and Border Protection, via SIRS Knowledge Source) (Public Domain)

 

We hear the Obama administration explain U.S. relations with China. We hear U.S. presidential candidates assert their plans for future engagement with China. We hear political pundits’ opinions and warnings about China. We hear investors’ anxieties about China. We hear authorities discuss the dangers of eating food from China. We hear analysts speculate how the U.S. economy and employment has suffered from purchasing many manufactured goods from China.

We hear. And then perception, perspectives, beliefs, and interpretation come into play. Who is “right”? Who is telling the “truth”? What is the “reality” of these situations and their talking points?

I certainly don’t know the answers to those questions. But one thing I am certain of–nothing can be boiled down to a soundbite.

It’s up to us–the receivers of this information–to listen to the dialogue and then engage in our own research in order to form our own opinions.

The National High School Debate policy topic for 2016-2017 requires just that. The topic is this: The United States federal government should substantially increase its economic and/or diplomatic engagement with the People’s Republic of China. In other words, students, probe China’s evolving economic and diplomatic status in the world and consider whether it is in the United States’ best interests to increase areas of engagement with this nation. Find the issues. Consider solutions. Decide for yourselves.

China is a nation culturally and historically rich, filled with beautiful customs and traditions, magnificent cities and countrysides, unique landforms, and diverse ways of living. Its history is complicated–scholars spend a lifetime tracing centuries of events, transformations, and the reasons behind them. Its relationship with the United States is complex, and the outcomes of this relationship potentially impact the world.

President Nixon Visits China


President Richard Nixon and Chinese Premier Chou Enlai toast each other during Nixon’s historic visit to Beijing in 1972, which ended 22 years of hostility between the two nations.
(Credit: Nixon Presidential Library, via SIRS Knowledge Source) (Public Domain)

 

The SKS Spotlight of the Month for July can help anyone–students participating in the National High School Debate, students researching for history class, teachers looking to educate themselves–get started on their long road of research about China. Explore China’s beauty and diversity, scratch the surface of this country’s history and consider its relationship with the United States. These two nations have navigated economic and political transformations, wars, increasing populations, industrialization, rivalries, and partnerships. What is to come? Should the U.S. federal government increase its economic and diplomatic engagement with China? Would an intensification of ties strengthen or threaten the United States’ national interests and international influence? And are those the only questions we should be asking?

Go beyond the soundbites. Listen, read, ponder, speculate, conclude…decide for yourself.

 

Notable Canadians

Learning about other countries and exploring their histories and cultures are integral parts of any K12 research. During the month of July, SIRS Discoverer’s Spotlight of the Month features articles and Web sites on the country of Canada. Our Spotlight of the Month presents information on Canada’s provinces and way of life, but it also highlights Canadian people who have influenced our world.

Authors

Several authors used Canadian themes and landscapes into their works. Lucy Maud Montgomery created the popular Anne of Green Gables books. Farley Mowat, best known for his books People of the Deer and Never Cry Wolf, often wrote about the Canadian North. Although her works are primarily aimed at adults, Margaret Atwood makes Canada–primarily Toronto–the setting for many of her books.

Artists and Entertainers

Emily Carr (1939) Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends
By Emily Carr (Malahat Review (archive)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Emily Carr painted Canadian landscapes and was often inspired by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.

Canadian comedians Michael J. Fox, Mike Meyers, and Jim Carrey all started their careers in Canada. They have achieved fame and success all over the world

Scientists

Dr. Birute Galdikas

Birute Mary Galdikas
By Simon Fraser University – University Communications (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfupamr/5577180639/) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Birute Mary Galdikas is a famed primatologist and founder of Orangutan Foundation International.

Canadian scientists Irene Ayako Uchido and Ralph Steinman made great advancements in the field of biology.

Astronaut Chris Hadfield was the first Canadian to walk in space.

Historical Figures

Samuel de Champlain

Samuel de Champlain
By Book author: François Pierre Guillaume Guizot, 1787-1874; (Boston: Dana Estes & Charles E. Lauriat (Imp.), 19th C.), 190. Etching signed: E. Ronjat [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

French explorer Samuel de Champlain  founded Quebec and Lake Champlain is his namesake.

Laura Secord was a woman who warned Canadian troops about an attack during the War of 1812.

Direct your K12 students and young library patrons to ProQuest SIRS Discoverer and explore all that is Canadian! We are pretty sure that you’ll learn something new about this beautiful and diverse country.