Graduate Fellows 1996

Graduate Research Fellows

Blanchard, Jeff

A graduate student in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering (AME) was awarded a 2 year Space Grant Graduate Fellowship beginning in the Fall of 1996. AME, his nominating department, is co-sponsoring Jeff's award. Jeff has the distinction of being the first UA Space Grant Undergraduate Research Intern (1993-94) to continue on to graduate school at UA and to be awarded a Space Grant Graduate Fellowship!

Jeff describes his Space Grant outreach project as follows:
I am working on a site on the internet where people of all ages and backgrounds can come explore the impact that the space program has on their everyday lives. The American space program has produced thousands of "spinoffs" through a process of technology-transfer; many of these are revolutionary and most are taken for granted. My site will educate people about high-technology research as it relates to the space program, and to how it relates to us here on Earth. There is much to be learned and this is a very important topic for all people to understand.

Also, as part of my outreach project, I am working with organizations to provide web services for public, mainly student use. I have already created:

A web page for the AIAA SSTC (Space-Systems Technical Committee) which describes what the committee is about; and biographies on all memebers.
A help page for two AIAA student design competitions sponsored by the SSTC. This help page is for students putting together proposals for the design competition who have questions about any aspect of the proposal preparation process. URL: http://ares.ame.arizona.edu/ That's it for now. There may be some more projects as the semester progresses...

Brod, Stephen

Brod, Stephen

Space Engineering Research Center (SERC) (2 year award)

Steve Brod is a graduate student in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering. His award is co-sponsored by the University of Arizona's Space Engineering Research Center (SERC).

Steve describes his outreach project as follows: Our lives are dominated by technology. Science is the key to understanding that technology. My project, the writing of a short book for kids, attempts to make the connection between the science learned in the classroom, and the way we use that science everyday. I also want to demonstrate the science we use everyday is the foundation of all science, including the front page sort of stuff that everyone thinks is so great. (My hope is, of course, that students will think that the everyday stuff is exciting, not that the exciting stuff is now boring.)

Emery, Joshua

Emery, Joshua

Planetary Sciences (2 year award).

Josh Emery's Fellowship is co-sponsored by the Department of Planetary Sciences.

He summarizes his Space Grant outreach project as follows:
My feelings are that the major obstacle standing in the way of public knowledge of space science is not lack availability of information or resources, but rather is lack of interest and knowledge base. Coverage of space science in the popular press has been greatly improving as late and will most likely keep improving. Most urban areas already have fairly impressive outreach programs in place or at least under construction, especially Tucson with Kitt Peak and the UofA both working hard to contribute to the community. The problem is that in order to reach out to people they have to be interested. People are generally more interested in topics about which they already have some knowledge base, even if that base if rudimentary. If people know a little about space science, then they will be more tempted to read that magazine article or attend that community space science function. Following this line of reasoning, I believe that it is extremely important to introduce children to space science (and all subject matters really) very early in thier lives. Pre-schools and elementary schools generally do an excellent job of teaching the basics (i.e. reading, writing, arithmetic) but generally don't cover other subject areas. When time is found to introduce students to the non-basics, science is usually the last to be covered. If time is found to teach thechildren science, it is almost invariably not in the form of space science. A large number of students make it the whole way through kindergarten to 12th grade without ever learning about our solar system let alone our universe. I therefore believe that it is imperitive that we introduce our children to space science early, when their minds are still hungry for knowledge of all types. This way, when the oppurtunity comes to them later in life to learn more, they will have the base of knowledge and the interest to do so.

Over the past year I have been trying to improve myself so that I can be competent to do the job I outlined above. I have been studying early childhood teaching methods and talking to some elementary and pre-school teachers in order to learn from them what children are being taught today, what they believe their students are capable of and also to get some feedback on my own ideas. I have tried a few times to go into some pre-school and after school programs and give the children a sort of science day with a focus on space sciene. I quickly learned that I was in a bit over my head. The children were eager and excited, but excited children in large groups are tough to handle, something that seems obvious but I learned the hard way. Also the time needed for organizing and preparing such a project is infinitely greater than I had anticipated. I also realized that children respond much more effectively to a person or group who return on a fairly regular basis. So a one-shot science day is not going to be nearly as effective as an organized, regular program. Because of my utter over failure this past year, my plans have changed a bit. For the upcoming year I plan to participate in a program which is already organized, and I hope regular. This way I can get more experience with teaching and I can hopefully see what is needed for a successful implementation of my ideas.

Hogue, Terrie

Hydrology and Water Resources (2 year award)

Terrie Hogue's fellowship is co-sponsored by the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources and the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth (ISPE).

She summarizes her proposed Space Grant Outreach project as follows:
As a graduate student in the Department of Hydrology and Water Resources at the University of Arizona, I am presented with an excellent opportunity to educate children about the importance of water in their lives, not only here in the arid southwest, but around the world. As part of the NASA Outreach Program, I have proposed an educational "hands-on" program geared towards elementary age school-children. This program will be modeled as a monthly "Water Smart Day" in local elementary schools where children will be exposed to various topics such as the hydrologic cycle, floods, current water issues in the news, and conservation of our most precious resource. These important topics, presented in a simplified format, will expose children to some of the scientific hydrologic research being done at the University of Arizona, as well as teach important facts about water. I hope to gear part of this program towards the "at-risk" kids, those who would not normally be exposed to such topics, and who could especially benefit from such an outreach program. The goal of this program is simple: if we can reach children about the importance of water and science in their lives, lessons learned will be taken home and out into the community. Water is the one of our most precious resources, and there is no better place to begin understanding its importance then in the young and impressionable years of the elementary age child.

Phillips, Cynthia

Phillips, Cynthia

Planetary Sciences (2 year award)

Cynthia's award is co-sponsored by the Department of Planetary Sciences.

Here's a brief summary of my outreach project: I'm working on developing the Galileo Satellite Science objectives into a set of curriculum modules adaptable for grades K-12. These modeules will be available on the Galileo educational web pages, as well as in stand-alone format for teachers without web access.

http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/~phillips

Weltzin, Jake

Weltzin, Jake

Renewable Natural Resources (1 year award)

Jake's Space Grant Fellowship is co-sponsored by the Department of Renewable Natural Resources and The Institute for the Study of Planet Earth (ISPE).

He describes his Space Grant outreach project as follows:
I am working to establish an interactive science outreach program with students in science classes in southeastern Arizona. Elementary-, middle-, and high school students will be involved in a large-scale, experimental research project designed to assess the effects of potential climate change on the ecosystems in which they live and are active. In particular, students will help me investigate potential scenarios of anthropogenically-induced changes in precipitation distribution (i.e., amount and seasonality) on the recruitment of trees at a woodland/grassland boundary. Students will help apply simulated precipitation at predetermined, experimental rates, and will help assess the effects of different treatments on tree and grass populations. We will discuss our results in terms of potential effects of climate change on vegetation distribution, with a focus on subsequent ramifications for residents of southeastern Arizona.

Progress report (February 22, 1996):

My outreach program is moving along at great speed: I met with my first set of students (and parents) during the first week of February - we all had a great time. Their knowlege and interest amazed me. I am quite excited about the curriculum (e.g., we wrap Saran-wrap around the globe to simulate carbon dioxide; students fill out and interpret their own data sheets in the field), and support from teachers, parents, and students has been quite high. I will be conducting at least three field trips in the first two weeks of March with students from Tucson and Sierra Vista. My goal is to talk to and conduct field trips with at least 150 students (plus parents and teachers) by the end of the semester. And, I am looking into working with community groups (of adults) under a modified curriculum - education is a process that doesn't end with school.

June 1996 update:

It's the end of the schoolyear, so I'm planning on putting my outreach program on the summer back burner (not like it's cool outside or anything - yikes!). Overall, the year was a great success. I spoke with a total of about 330 students ranging in age from 8 to 13, including a Tucson Home School Group, Daughters on Campus, and 6th and 7th grade science classes from Smith Middle School, Fort Huachuca Military Reservation. In addition, most of these students joined me on a total of six field trips to my research site at Lower Garden Canyon. There, we discussed the effects of global climate change on ecosystems and ecotones, and collected, summarized, and analyzed data from my research plots. I enjoyed being grilled about my experimental design and research methodology by kids about half my size! I've also found out I like teaching - so that's a big change for me. My wife, the teacher, is delighted. So, I look forward to next year. I've already got speaking requests, and want to expand up to include the eighth grade.

Update: 7 Feb 1997

I will be going to my outreach demonstration site for the next several Saturdays to get things set up for the first groups of students. The main task is going to be getting some seedlings established and growing in the plots - we lost them all in last fall's drought! (How's that for a demo of reality?). The first three sets of students will be from Sunnyside High School. And, Sunnyside is picking up the travel tab by using their own buses! The next set will be from Mountain View High School or Salpointe. And, I'll be speaking to and field tripping with the AZ Sonoran Desert Museum junior naturalists later this month and in March.

Update: 26 Feb 1997

I went to the Desert Museum last weekend (February 22-23), and will this weekend, to talk to the Junior Naturalists and a Climate Change/Science Teacher Training and Curriculum Symposium. I will travel locally on the 6th and 7th of March (Desertview speaking and field trip), and to the study site (field trip with Junior Naturalists) on the 8th. I may travel to Benson and the study site on the 13th and 14th. I travel locally on the 20th and 21st (Desertview again). I have a field trip for my global change class scheduled for either the 12th or 19th April. I will be local on the 17 and 18th of April (Sunnyside HS).