Deb was an important contributor to the Michiana STEM community. From her work with the PTA at Kennedy, to her administrative leadership of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics, to her participation in the Notre Dame Physics Department’s outreach committee, she was always active, eager, joyful, and professional. Come to this event at Kennedy school on Monday night to honor her, if you can.
For 15 years, Dale Wiand has been the lead teacher at the Notre Dame QuarkNet Center, leading weekly meetings of physics teachers and hosting full-time summer research opportunities for some 50 teachers and over 200 high school students. All the while, Dale (teaching at Adams) and his wife Lauren (at Riley) were raising one of those 200, a pretty good son. Andrew Wiand soared through Riley, then Notre Dame, and is now serving as Senior Fellow at enFocus. And he’s fighting for South Bend.
Tune in at half-time during tomorrow’s ND-Temple game for some highlights of this story on the NBC-Notre Dame “What would you fight for?” series. Be inspired. Then let’s roll up our sleeves and join the fight for South Bend, and for all of Michiana.
This is a shout out to a great group of kids (of all ages) who explored the cosmos together for two weeks in July. 55 middle school students, two physics graduate students, one high school student, a veteran middle school teacher and myself had a great time. I could tell you a lot about it, but navigating some 1400 images taken during the event will be a lot more fun than reading about it. (This is a busy page, and the embedded widgets sometimes won’t load on the first attempt: if they don’t, just refresh the page.) Oh…and please don’t miss the fun you can have with the Cooliris widget: play with the buttons, and build your own here.)
For those who like a more ordered presentation, below is a slide show organizing some images around activity headings. The STC schedule has links to many of these activities. Enjoy.
To download the registration form immediately below, just find and click the “slideshare” button to the lower left of the frame; on the top of that slideshare page, find and click the “save” button, as illustrated on the screengrab further below.
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.