Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How does the Science Posse interact with k-12 students?

Recently we were asked How does the Science Posse interact with k-12 students? In particular, what if a Wyoming student is exclusively home-schooled? Do they still have access to Science Posse resources?

Answer from Posse Coordinator Megan Candelaria:

Great question!! We interact with students both during our two science summer camps and also through our school-year activities. Any teacher in the state of Wyoming can request us through our online request form (found at our webpage: Our graduate students - who are masters and PhD candidates in STEM fields - will then work with that teacher to bring students interactive, hands-on STEM activities. Here are a few of the options we offer:

• Lab Tours: graduate fellows bring middle and high school students into their research labs at the University, providing a hands-on experience of what scientists, engineers, and mathematicians do.

• Science Mini-Lessons: graduate fellows engage students with short, interactive, enjoyable hands-on activities that tap into the ‘wow’ factor of math, science, and engineering!

• Specialized Lessons: teachers’ request graduate fellows in the fellow’s area of expertise to have the fellow design specialized lessons to meet the curricular needs of the classroom with a hands-on, innovative activity.

• Focus on Mathematics: The Science Posse's mathematicians will bring hands-on, inquiry based mathematics lessons incorporating our research to your students!

• We also provide science fair mentoring, consulting, and judging.

You can learn all about what we do, view our current graduate students (and see their areas of expertise), see examples of past and current lesson plans, as well as fill out a request form on our website. (Requests for fall 2012 will open September 1st.) All of our services are completely free to schools as we are funded by an NSF GK-12 grant as well as the University of Wyoming. Our current grant has a focus on middle and high school students, however we also work with elementary schools.

We love sharing our passion for science, mathematics, and engineering with Wyoming students!

Homeschooled students can (and often do!) attend our summer camps, which are week-long adventures in science, mathematics, engineering, and place-based education. We also have worked with homeschool groups in the past when a parent or guardian has gotten a group of home schooled students in the community together and provided an appropriate space for an activity to occur. Homeschool students would also be more than welcome to come to campus for lab tours. The Science Posse works with many programs throughout the state besides the 'traditional' classroom, from Big Brothers Big Sisters here in Laramie to the Wyoming Boys' School in Worland. If traveling to you or you traveling to us is not an option, we also have the capability to do 'virtual visits' using a program called Blackboard Collaborate. All cyber set-up is done on our end; all that is needed on the other end is an internet connection, microphone, and a webcam!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Can I build and EMP?

Recently a Wyoming sophomore asked us, "I'm looking into building a small scale EMP for the Science Fair. Do you think this would be okay with ISEF?"

Several of the Science Posse's engineering graduate Fellows responded:

What an interesting idea!

Unfortunately, there is a pretty good chance that playing around with an ‘electromagnetic pulse’ producer immediately rubs up against FCC rules in the US Because the effects of EMP can be damaging to both electronics and people (and other living things), I'd back away from it pretty quickly.  A "twist" on the idea might be to look at EM sensing, that is, there are a bunch of things that can be "picked up in the ether," beyond just radio broadcasts.  Here's an example detector found via googling:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Slippery Science!

Recently a Wyoming sophomore asked us, "I am currently considering researching and doing my project on the coefficient of friction and how it applies to winter sports. I heard that when you snowboard down a hill, the friction between the board and the snow melts a thin layer of it and gives you a sheet of water to slide on. I am looking to research this more in depth and possibly experiment with different amounts of friction."

Wow!  What an interesting project!  One of our graduate students in mathematics, Stephen Garth, found an article he thought might be interesting to you as it looks at the same idea you are interested in, although it talks about the idea using ice skating. We would encourage you to read it over and then get back to us with how that might impact what you want to research, and how you might research it.  (What does the article say about the ice melting under an ice skate? Do you think the same might be true with a snowboard?)   From there, we can try and match you up with a mentor who could help you a bit more!

Here is the link to the article that talks about 'why ice is slippery':  The New York Times article is pretty good and also nontechnical.  

Also Cornell has an “Ask a Scientist” portion on their Center for Materials Research website which is also below. This might be another great resource for your project as you develop it further!