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Graduate Fellows 2000
Jonathan Alberding, co-sponsored by the University of Arizona Department of Physics.
During the last semester of my outreach program(s), Program ACCESS and the Student Satellite Project achieved the following landmarks. Program ACCESS achieved a successful first summer camp, which was covered in The Arizona Daily Star. Differentially Abled Middle School students were introduced to disciplines such as the Mathematics of music, the Physics behind Star Wars, and the researching of dinosaurs on the World Wide Web. The students also learned the physiology of arteries and veins, visited a clean room, and used bananas frozen in liquid nitrogen to drive nails through boards. In addition, Program ACCESS provided 6-7 local high school teachers with enrichment grants, one of which helped fund a wetlands project at Palo Verde High School that was featured on local news reports. Program ACCESS funded an additional three enrichment grants this year.
The Student Satellite Project successfully recruited a new Systems Engineering Mentor, Dr. Terry Bahill, and recently recruited its second Systems Engineer, Christiano Abadi, SIE graduate student with a BS in Electrical Engineering. Christiano's background will complement the SSP administration nicely. A Systems Engineering plan was decided upon, with the three main goals to be; one, defining interfaces between teams. Two, creation of a design database for ease of monitoring the overall satellite design, and three, budgeting of necessary resources such as mass, power, and volume. SSP was also included in a UNESS proposal to NASA, which, if successful, would help ensure financial solubility for the project. If the proposal is successful, a sea change in SSP will occur, with SSP's current projects moving to another platform (most likely the International Space Station). The current satellite design will then be modified to perform a radio occultation experiment to measure amounts of water vapor in the stratosphere. This experiment will be performed with Principal Investigator Dr. Ben Herman of the Atmospheric Sciences department of the University of Arizona and under the tutelage of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. SSP also is completing an update of its website,http://uasat.arizona.edu. Features include new information about events in the project, updated links, new student distribution and organization charts, and soon new documentation and archival sections. Many team websites have also been updated. SSP's next project is to have a pre-review this semester, and use this opportunity to begin to prepare for a Preliminary Design Review (PDR), one of the first milestones on the path to launching the actual satellite.
The Student Satellite Project has been hard at work attempting to prepare for a Preliminary Design Review (PDR), where the students essentially show that their main design parameters will meet their design requirements. This is the next phase in the satellite design process. The PDR, if successful, will give SSP, in addition to the main idea of giving students real-life experience, a basic design with which to approach potential sponsors and benefactors. SSP hopes to perform its PDR in the Spring of 2001. Program ACCESS continues to perform its summer camp and laboratory design review, in addition to its other responsibilities. Thanks to savings within the program, a fourth year of ACCESS looks to be possible.
My advisor Alfred McEwen, and I are involved with the Mars Orbital Camera (MOC) on the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft. We work with high-resolution images of the Martian surface trying to understand the history of flood lavas on the surface and the nature of layering in the Valles Marineris Canyon system. I'm also involved with using MOC images to help plan future landing sites for missions like the2003 Mars Exploration Rovers.
I have worked with Jay Melosh to put some crater computation algorithms on the web. We have created a web site that will compute the crater size made by a given impactor and impact conditions, as well as the reverse problem of computing the projectile size given the crater diameter. This web site has been very useful for many people around the Planetary Sciences Department and was mentioned in the February 2000 issue of Astronomy Magazine.
Additionally I have taught a class on how to write HTML for beginners, a few times. Additionally, Susan Brew and I have been working on redesigning and streamlining the UA Spacegrant web pages, what you see is a result of our work, we hope you like it.
In the future, Laszlo Keszthelyi and I will be assembling a web site that will contain images of terrestrial lava flows from in the field, aerial photography, and spacecraft imagery. These images will be compared to images of features on planets like Mars and Io that we believe are volcanic in origin. It will allow comparisons to be made on many scales and should be very interesting. Additionally, I am looking forward to giving some public lectures on the MOC/MGS mission.
Kyle Blasch, co-sponsored by Geoscience and the USGS
The goal of this outreach program is to emphasize the benefits of integrated natural, global, and space sciences and how we currently observe and manage our planet Earth. The outreach program I propose targets patrons of all ages of the Coronado National Forest. Mt. Lemmon and Sabino Canyon, located within the Santa Catalina Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest, offer a spectacular glimpse of the sky island ecosystems characteristic of the Southwest. Each year approximately 500,000 patrons enter the boundaries of the Forest to take part in a variety of activities, soaking in the richness and beauty of these environments. Many of these patrons visit the park for leisure and recreational activities, but a large number (especially patrons from outside the Tucson area) visit the Forest as ecotourists. I will plan and develop multimedia presentations for the visitor centers, guided hikes, campfire and amphitheater talks, and CNF publications. I will also assist in developing exhibits for the visitor centers, future trail signs, and hands on laboratories for younger patrons. Finally, I will help develop an outreach chapter on their web page to include a list of outreach activities and a calendar of events. The content of the exhibits is targeted at hydrology, ecology, and management in the 21st century using space sciences.
The outreach program at Sabino Canyon is progressing on schedule. Accomplishments to date include the successful archiving of outreach media (slides, National Weather Service images, USGS flow data, and water quality into a digital format. A portion of this media was incorporated into a natural history and ecology presentation. Since the beginning of January the talk has been given an average two times a week to patrons of all ages. The presentation is going through a final revision with attached notes for final placement on the Sabino Canyon web site. In this form it will be available for teachers to download for class instruction.
The hydrology presentation is almost complete and will be used to educate the Friends of Sabino Canyon on March 16, 2001 who often overlap as interpretive volunteers at Sabino Canyon. A shorter watered-down version of the talk will also be used for the visitor center and placed on the website.
A short remote sensing talk is in production and upon completion of the previous talks will be finished. After talking with several volunteers it became obvious that more provocative talks are required at Canyon for frequent patrons and the Friends of Sabino Canyon. Thus we are accumulating topics such as species reintroduction, fee programs and forest funding, water resources, and forest management in an urban setting for a challenge series of lectures and discussions.
Finally, the presentations are being altered for use in field trips and campfire talks. Overall the response to the presentations has been great. Patrons from Tucson and from afar are amazed at the diversity and ecological wonders displayed by Sabino Canyon.
Fall 2001 Update
The program includes the creation of multimedia presentations for the visitor centers, guided hikes, campfire and amphitheater talks, and CNF publications. The program also will help develop exhibits for the visitor centers and trail signs when necessary. Finally, the presentations will be developed for addition to the web page.The benefits of this program are outreach opportunities for both NASA's global climate change and remote sensing programs as well as the ecological and climatological wonders of the Coronado Forest.
After one years time the outreach program is on track and expanding. Three visitor center presentations have been created highlighting the natural history, water resources, and remote sensing. Recently Sabino Canyon hired a new outreach representative and together we have organized a 2-hour Saturday morning hike focusing on water issues. The hikes and visitor center presentations have been announced in the local Tucson and Phoenix papers. We hope this part of the outreach program will grow. We will be adding more hikes this fall during the day when the weather is a bit more pleasant.
Usually I volunteer on Saturday, as this is the busiest day, however I have supplemented this with visits to schools and an Earth Day activity as a representative of Sabino Canyon. Currently I am designing an exhibit, which will combine the continuous stream flow measurements at Sabino Creek with a description of seasonal, historical, and monsoon flow. I am working on a cost estimate for the project and writing a proposal to solicit funds.
Allison Kipple, co-sponsored by the University of Arizona Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
I became involved in outreach education as an undergraduate at the University of Colorado. It began innocently enough when I agreed to give tours of the aerospace facility where I worked. Some visiting teachers asked if I could help them beef up their space and technology units, and before I knew it I was completely immersed in outreach education - and loving it. In my last year as the volunteer outreach coordinator at the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, I gave space-related presentations and workshops to several thousand pre-college students. It was an incredibly rewarding experience, but I needed help!
Engineering students are pretty busy people. A lot of them also despise public speaking, so I had a tough time recruiting other students to help give outreach presentations. I also didn't have enough time to give appropriate support to those who did volunteer. In those hectic times I sketched out one possible solution which the Arizona Space Grant program has now supported - to offer a class on outreach education specifically tailored to the needs of engineering students. The course credit (with probable GPA boost) and transcript listing (looks good in an interview) will provide a practical justification for taking the class, to boost the more altruistic reasons for doing so. Students will additionally acquire valuable public speaking skills, keeping on that track of simultaneously working toward career goals and helping the community. During the class we'll discuss a variety of topics including: keys to a successful outreach presentation, phases in children's mental development, state education standards, and kindergarten crowd control. Several guest speakers will be brought into the class to elucidate particular topics. Over the course of the semester students will develop, test (with the class), and implement their own outreach programs.
In Colorado, I knew some fantastic teachers and prospective visiting speakers who would help make the outreach course a success. My first goal in implementing the class here at the University of Arizona was to meet the people active in outreach education here. I've been thoroughly impressed with the quality and amount of outreach which folks at this university are supporting. Now I need to jump in with my contribution. While I'm sketching out the course outline for Fall 2000, I'm also developing a new outreach program for my host department, electrical engineering. It's going to be a fun one - I hope you'll see it soon!
January 2000 Update:
One of my major goals for this year was to identify local teachers and university affiliates who would help make the planned engineering outreach course a success - both in terms of providing forums for the engineering students' programs and as guest lecturers in the class. I've attended teacher workshops where I've not only met highly-motivated teachers but also practicing engineers who've offered time and resources for the engineering outreach program. Through SAMEC, I've met a number of energetic individuals who are working through various university programs to improve education in our community. I'm genuinely impressed by the number of people involved and the quality of their work, and I look forward to working with them.
I gave a briefing on our plans for an outreach course at one SAMEC meeting, and I was very surprised to learn that two other groups had similar plans. Gail Burd of Molecular Biology has been offering a course titled "Science Connection" to undergraduates who plan to enter teaching careers. I'll be reviewing her class this spring. The recently-funded CATTS program will also be offering a similar class this spring. I'm happy to say that a fellow engineering student (and friend) was awarded a CATTS fellowship, and we'll be discussing what aspects of that program would be beneficial to ours.
In the meantime, I've been developing a new outreach presentation which is better suited for my host department of electrical engineering (previous presentations were space-related). It will be done by the end of January, and I think it will be educational and fun! Some Girl Scout troops are ready for the presentation when I'm finished, and I'll advertise it in the March SAMEC newsletter as well.
In the Fall 2000 semester, I took some science education courses (see http://samec.lpl.arizona.edu/) in the hope of improving my outreach activities, and now I'm actually doing a PhD project in the field of science education. I have found the field of science education to be very interesting, and I have found education outreach to be highly rewarding. I hope that this fellowship will encourage more of you to become involved in these activities!
Janice Lee, co-sponsored by the Department of Astronomy.
Through my training in science education and previous experience with students as a high school physics teacher, it has become clear to me that traditional American science curricula is the source of many misconceptions of how scientific progress is made and how research is performed. Frequently, laboratory "experiments" are merely exercises in following cookbook-style directions while assignments and lectures are overly focused on memorization, imitation and repetition. Students are rarely engaged in inquiry activities and are not afforded the opportunity to experience the thrill of discovery or the frustration associated with unmasking trends in data and the gradual construction of a framework for understanding observed phenomena. Traditional classroom science not only is inadequate for developing critical thinking skills, it also leaves students confused about how real-world research is conducted.
As a Space Grant Graduate Fellow, I have been provided with the opportunity to address these concerns while concurrently pursuing research in extra-galactic astronomy as a doctoral student at Steward Observatory.
Presently, I am working with the education department at the Flandrau Science Center to reorganize and improve their demonstration "modules," hour-long ready-to-implement hands-on science lessons. These modules, which include lesson outlines, worksheets and all the materials needed for the suggested activities, are an invaluable resource Tucson classroom teachers, who often do not have the time or supplies required to plan such lessons. Instructors can even request that a Flandrau "demonstrator" come to their classroom to teach the lesson or bring their classes to the Science Center to experience the module instead of implementing the module themselves. However, only four modules are currently available. To remedy this, we are working on creating new ready-to-use modules. In addition, we are also re-organizing the existing modules so that they more nearly approach the student-centered and inquiry-based ideal rather than reflecting the instructor-centered and lecture-based traditional model.
On a second front, I am also beginning a collaboration with the "Research-Based Science Education with the Hubble Space Telescope" (RBSE) project at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. This initiative involves the development of research-based curricula in which the acquisition and analysis of real astronomical data become the primary channel though which students learn science. I am presently investigating the feasibility of creating a off-site program in which advanced high-school students can become involved in long-term astrophysical research. This requires the identification of a target student population, local mentors, and appropriate research projects. Currently, many able students who are interested in research astronomy are funneled into other disciplines simply because of the greater availability to learn about and participate in projects in those fields. My objective is to encourage more students to pursue careers in astronomy and astrophysics by increasing number of early opportunities for involvement in research in these fields.
Fall 2001 Update
During the Spring of 2001, I completed my collaboration with the Flandrau Science Center in the development of "demonstration modules," hour-long ready to implement hands-on science lessons. We have designed a module that allows primary school students to explore the phenomenon of magnetism. In this module students are introduced to the concept of "force field" through discussion and activities that involve building compasses and mapping field lines of various types of magnets using iron filings and ferromagnetic fluid. In an experiment that involves building electromagnets, the students also discover that current carrying wires have magnetic properties. They learn about the variables that contribute to the strength of an electromagnetic field through a class competition that asks the student to build the strongest electromagnet possible using a given set of materials. Flandrau volunteers were trained to use the module, which includes a central lesson plan, worksheets, and lab materials, this past April. The module has been made available to TUSD teachers since mid-April. In addition, we have worked on modifying and updating other existing modules on the subjects of light and optics.
This past April, I also developed an inquiry-based galaxy classification activity. In this activity, students are asked to work in groups of three to four. After a short introduction to the various types of celestial bodies that an astronomer can observe in the night sky, each group receives a set of 25 galaxy cards consisting of mid-quality black-and-white images of galaxies of various morphological types. The groups are asked to invent a classification scheme to categorize the different types of galaxies and then are asked to compare and contrast their schemes. The students are then asked to think about the possible physical relationships between the objects. The activity was field tested at the Mansfield Elementary School as part of a week-long unit which introduced students to the importance of classification in science. The activity was also offered to participants in "Daughters' on Campus Day" as individual hour-long introductions to extragalactic astronomy. The activity was a success with children (and adults) of all age groups, and allowed the participants to truly explore and learn about crucial concepts of astronomy without the need for a prerequisite of a large base of prior knowledge. It was extremely satisfying to observe students as they reinvented Hubble's classification scheme and developed theories on galaxy mergers and effects of inclination on the appearance of disk galaxies. Currently, I, along with Suzanne Jacoby (NOAO), Connie Walker (NOAO) and Tim Slater (Steward), are writing a NASA IDEAS grant to request funding to develop, test and disseminate the activity on a nation-wide level. We are working to incorporate these central ideas concerning the extragalactic sky into the standard basic science middle school curriculum. This endeavor will involve the acquisition of color high-resolution galaxy images from existing archives, the design and mass-production of new galaxy cards, testing and evaluation on the district level, dissemination through the existing Project- Astro network and the National Science Teachers' Association, and presentations at conferences. We project that these goals will be completed on a two-year time scale.
Carrie Morrill, co-sponsored by Geoscience.
My outreach project is to develop and carry out a program designed to familiarize middle school or high school students with the scientific method and with several issues related to climatic change and variability. In this program, students will carry out a scientific experiment to test the following hypothesis: the amount of winter rainfall in Tucson varies with the state of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. To test this hypothesis, students will collect several types of data. These include precipitation amount for the current winter measured in their own rain gauges, precipitation amount for past winters available from the internet, and information about the state of ENSO gathered from satellite data. Students will "publish" our results on our own web page.
In the beginning of the school year, I will work for several months with a well-established education outreach project, the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment) project, to learn about developing a successful inquiry-based curriculum. I will also use this opportunity to develop contacts with teachers in the Tucson Public School District. After working with teachers to tailor my proposed project to the abilities and interests of a particular age level, we will initiate the project in their classes.
This summer, I attended a workshop for GLOBE teachers to learn how this program is used in the classroom. This fall, I visited Ms. Suzanne Maly's middle school class (Grades 6-8) at Safford Middle School several times a week to help students with their GLOBE activities. The students collect temperature, humidity, cloud cover and precipitation measurements from their weather station and enter their data into the GLOBE server. These measurements will be used by scientists to study topics such as global warming. This winter, Ms. Maly and I have begun leading a discussion of the students' GLOBE results during one class each week. Each week, the students examine a different set of graphs and try to make sense of their results. Our goal is to give the students practice in critical thinking and asking questions. This spring, we plan to have the students turn their questions into hypotheses that they will test using the meteorological data that they have collected. We hope to share our experiences (successes and failures) with other GLOBE teachers in order to make it easier for them to initiate similar projects in their own classes.
Fall 2001 Update
My first step in carrying out my outreach project was to work for several months with a well-established education outreach project, the GLOBE (Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment) project, in order to learn about developing a successful inquiry-based curriculum and to develop contacts with teachers in the Tucson Public School District. In the summer of 2000, I attended a workshop for GLOBE teachers to learn how this program is used in the classroom. I began visiting a middle school classroom (Grades 6-8) several times a week the following fall and spring and I helped students with their GLOBE activities (e.g., collecting temperature, humidity, cloud cover and precipitation measurements from their weather station and entering their data into the GLOBE server).
While working with GLOBE, I have noticed the difficulties teachers face in getting their students to critically examine the data they collect and to ask and answer scientific questions using their data. There is a significant need for a curriculum unit focused on the scientific method that teachers can integrate with their GLOBE data collection. Currently, I am redesigning my proposed program in order to achieve this. This fall I will be testing and refining the curriculum unit in several middle school classes in Tucson. Eventually, my goal is to make the unit widely available so that any of the more than 10,000 GLOBE classrooms around the world would be able to use it.