In the next couple of months we have two excellent opportunities for student participation in Science and Engineering. The Exoplanet Masterclass is for high school students; the National Robotics Week event is open to the general public.
Maybe you’ve seen the picture: the best image we have of the cosmic microwave background radiation, from the Planck mission. This newest image of the oldest things is creating a bit of stir. It’s important to know something about why.
Cosmic microwave background radiation is the observable limit of the light that is emitted from the big bang. For most of us this has an unfamiliar ring, but it’s not so hard to grasp. When we catch a glimpse of the sun, light has just traveled the ~93 million miles to reach us, which took about 8 minutes. As we look further out–to the nearest star, say–it takes light longer (about four years) to cover the distance. But it turns out that the space over which that light is traveling is actually stretching: we know this from watching the chemical signatures in the light, which shift with distance in just the way that sound waves stretch (and seem lower in pitch) when their source (say, an ambulance) is moving away from us. Our speeding away from the source makes the wavelength of light more red when we detect it, just as sound waves seem lower when their source is fleeing; we call this change in light “red shift.” The upper limit of red-shifted light is from the oldest, furthest-away sources. These sources–like points on opposite ends of a balloon while it is being blow up–are fleeing every other point on the balloon most rapidly, and are stretched into longer wavelengths, in the microwave region.
This oldest, most red-shifted light from the big bang is the cosmic microwave background radiation. And it’s not behaving quite as the standard model of cosmology–what most scientists accept as pretty well established–predicted that it would. In many ways, that’s a bit misleading: it behaves as expected in a great many respects. But not in all. Watch the short video below to find out more. And stay tuned: Planck is still taking data, and what it has already delivered has stirred a flurry of scientific activity. It’s worth stretching a bit to follow the conversation.
The St. Joseph Valley Local Section of American Chemical Society has given a donation to provide scholarships to cover the cost of the conference for girls who indicate on the registration form that their main interest is in chemistry or earth sciences. The scholarships are available on a first come, first serve basis.
Our sixth annual Collaborating for Education and Research Forum was held on February 23, 2013 in Jordan Hall of Science on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. Over 140 attendees participated in the event. Thanks to all involved. Below is the “raw data” from our photographer. We had some technical difficulties in an earlier attempt to share them here; these seem to now be resolved:)
Images courtesy of Matt Cashore, University of Notre Dame.
I got to Code for South Bend on Saturday…or rather, I got to the presentation on the projects they undertook that day. It was a fantastic experience. I had spent six hours earlier in the day listening to some of the best ideas around for promoting STEM education in Michiana. By the end of my time at Code for South Bend, it was clearer to me than ever that even the best of our typical conversations about STEM education are overlooking a hugely important element that is crucial to Michiana’s future. Kids need to code. Take 10 minutes to watch this very fine defense of that claim.
Want to learn to code, but don’t know where to start? Consider starting here, at Code Academy. See my first mistake and first success, below. There are many free resources beyond this one, but I’d start here if you’re starting from scratch. (You can move on to Scratch, a free and easy-to-use program, later:)
Here’s work that one local High School student has done with MATLAB, very early on in the learning process. (He had already learned to code in another language, Java, and was only just a month or so into learning MATLAB.) Very plainly, he’s learning to tell the computer what he wants it to do. For those really interested, his code is here.
This fantastic event, scheduled for this Saturday, February 23, conflicts with our Collaborating for Research and Education Forum. But if you have the time and the spark, consider attending. Register for Code for South Bend here. Even if you have more interest than technical aptitude, there are projects here for you, including the writing of a South Bend-area wiki.
If you are attending the Forum, consider joining the Code for South Bend event (as I will) for the concluding presentation of projects at 5:00 pm. Hope to see you there!
Don’t miss the 6th Annual Collaborating for Education & Research Forum on February 23, 2013 from 8:15 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. in Jordan Hall of Science on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. We’ve compiled a wonderful program for this year’s event!
SPECIAL GUEST Glenda Ritz – Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction
On the Road to High Quality Instruction: Creating a Culture of Support for Teachers
MICHIANA SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER PLANNING
President Greg Jones will present an overview of the MSTCi Strategic Plan
LEARN more about Teacher Quality Metrics
REVIEW great STEM Related Opportunities for Teachers & Students
MEET new collaborators in STEM engagement activities
VISIT the lunchtime Project Fair & register for various summer activities
ENJOY a free continental breakfast and lunch
RECEIVE 5 PGPs for participating (teachers only)
REGISTRATION IS FREE, BUT SPACE IS LIMITED.
To register, visit events.michianastem.org.
Please register by Feb 20th to attend.
Continental breakfast begins 8:15a.m.
Program begins promptly at 8:50a.m.
If you have already registered, but cannot attend, please contact email@example.com.
It’s early to tell, but it looks like we’re in for quite a show later this year. Comets can be astonishingly beautiful “pokes” from the cosmos, giving us a glimpse of natural processes that are typically too long in duration or too far in distance to make much of a cultural impact. This new comet could provide an exceptional educational moment. And unlike last year’s transit of Venus, no one saw this one coming…until just recently. Watch the four minute story, below.
Comet Hale-Bopp provided a nice show nearly two decades ago. A South Bend Tribune article encouraging even new amateur astronomers to photograph the spectacle drew me into astroimaging. Below is an image I took, following those published instructions, with an ordinary SLR camera and print film–remember print film?–my first night out. Comet ISON could provide as good, and potentially much better, a target for new astroimagers. Big fun is on its way.
To whet your appetite for the big ISON show in the Fall, watch this video about a naked-eye comet that should peak on March 12 and 13 this year. March 5 and 12 are other key viewing dates.
We are pleased to invite you to Collaborating for Education and Research Forum VI to be held at Notre Dame’s Jordan Hall of Science on Saturday, February 23, 2013 from 8:30am to 2pm. The Forum is sponsored by the National Science Foundation and Notre Dame to foster a collegial approach to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and research in Michiana. We will be discussing the opportunities and challenges facing the local STEM community. In previous years some 350 STEM professionals have participated in these Fora.
This year we will be offering local K-12 STEM teachers and administrators who register and participate in the entire event a Certificate for 5 State of Indiana Professional Growth Points.
For more information and to register please visit: Forum VI Registration We will welcome last minute registrations, but for planning purposes it would be helpful if you would register by Thursday, Feb 21.
If you have colleagues who you believe would appreciate knowing about the forum, consider forwarding this their way:)
For more information please call Therese Blacketor at 574-631-1264.