Friday, August 1, 2014

ISAS Academy Two: Day 5

The ISAS students' day began with a tour of the Hewlett-Packard (HP) Boise facilities. HP stands out from other technology companies because they are so broad in specialties. They create many different computers, printers, their accessories and many other technological items, and are constantly researching testing and creating more. This company is also trying to become the world’s cleanest IT company, recycling ink cartridges and any hardware device made by many companies. Boise is loosely known as HP’s inkjet center. HP is strictly a no pictures facility so no inside views will be included in this post.
The entrance to the HP main building.
 Students were able to see how they test their printers to meet global conditions and requirements. This process includes testing different types of paper, inks and the packaging. In the prototype lab students saw 3D printing and scanning machines in action; some scholars got their own hand scanned. Scientists and engineers from different backgrounds sat with the ISAS Academy at lunch, giving students a chance to see more options and possibilities, as well as getting advice for their future. The scholars enjoyed in interactive activities and tours they were able to take part in at Hewlett-Packard.

 Returning to the Boise State University Engineering buildings, the teams got a chance to better discuss all the information they received from the scientists they met at NASA Ames and HP. Mission planning became more intense as students realized the end of the week is soon approaching. A couple of scholars from each team had the opportunity to walk through undergraduate research presentations hosted at Boise State University by the Idaho Conference on Undergraduate Research (ICUR). And there they saw undergradate students from across the nation presenting their research using posters similar to the ones students are designing for their final banquet on Saturday.

The final presentation of the day was given by former astronaut Wendy Lawrence. She spoke to the students on the physiological concerns that exist when we spend extended periods in space, concerns such as: radiation that is in space, fluid shifts, that can affect eye vision and psychological factors such as isolation and lack of resources.

The team leads have grown close over the week. They, along with many other students asked Wendy Lawrence for a picture.

After a stressful week students had the opportunity to relax and bowl, play billiards and ping pong. Both former astronauts, Wendy Lawrence and Barbara Morgan played with the scholars. Students enjoyed the relaxation and interaction with these two esteemed women, as they talked with the students in a less formal manner. The break was much appreciated as tomorrow will be another busy day at the Academy.

Wendy Lawrence plays billiards with ISAS students.
Students had the chance to relax and bowl, along with other activities.

Thank you for reading, and as always be sure to check out the Facebook and Twitter pages for more photos and frequent updates during the day. We hope to see you at the banquet on Saturday where the students will be presenting an engaging and impressive final presentation. #ISASacademy

Camille Eddy (ISAS 2012 alumna) and 
Holly Palmer (ISAS 2013 alumna) 
ISAS Social Media Mentors

Thursday, July 31, 2014

ISAS Academy Two: Day 4

This morning the students again rose early and readied themselves to start their second day at the NASA Ames Research Center. After so many exciting activities yesterday they knew to expect an engaging and informing time during the presentations and tours that would be given. The day did not disappoint.

The sign welcoming ISAS onto NASA Ames.

The morning started off with a presentation from Mark Leon, from the panel last night, as well as from the tour of the robotics yesterday. He talked about his experience building lunar rovers, giving the scholars advice about what they may do with rovers on Mars. Students, during his presentation, also got to control a lunar Mars rover model, driving it around on the floor.

Receiving help from NASA interns, scholars controlled a lunar robot model.

Students then went to visit two human centrifuges. Among other things, these machines study how humans react in conditions of up to 5 g’s, though the centrifuge can go up to 20 g’s. Daniel Morgan explained that one end of the large centrifuge is used for human experiments and the other for non-human ones. Students got the opportunity to sit in the centrifuge chair, take pictures and explore the spinning contraption. The smaller centrifuge used to be human powered, but has since been modified to use an engine. The pedals are still used for experiments studying exercise.

Students sit in the 20 G centrifuge.

The students also visited the Space Shop, where ideas come to life as laser cutters and 3D printers, along with various other machines that cut or shape parts of machines for engineers to compile together. The Space Shop works as an open 3D printing lab where engineers, scientists and other professionals can prototype ideas for products. Alex Mazhari, from last night’s panel of experts, explained how each machine worked and what its purpose was.

Soon after, students were fortunate to with another NASA scientist, Dana Backman who works on SOFIA, a NASA, DRL (the German space agency) joint project. Sophia is a renovated Boing 747 that has been modified to contain a 2.5 meter diameter inferred telescope, the world’s largest movable telescope. Teachers and scientists across the nation and from Germany have the opportunity to perform experiments on a 10 hour flight. Water vapor in our atmosphere blocks inferred light from hitting us on Earth, however getting the telescope up in the stratosphere lets 80% more inferred get through. To them it is just as good as a telescope in space, without all the hassles of space travel, and with more returns to Earth.

Dana Backman speaks to the students.

Students later paid a visit to the Fluid Dynamics Lab, a lab where many testing has been done for both sport companies and the media, including the 2014 soccer world cup ball, and TV’s Mythbusters. They were able to see the "Life Saver" wind tunnel. Here students participated in an experiment that involved the turbulence created by the flowing air rushing against the walls of the wind tunnel. Around the walls the air slows down to a point where the velocity is zero but as you move away from the wall toward the air stream the velocity gradually increases. This allowed the students to listen to a change of pitch in the airflow as they moved a tube near and away from the wall. Also in the Fluid Dynamics Lab, students could see the air flow as neon dye was pushed through a water tank around a replica of the space shuttle.

Students visit the facilities' smaller wind tunnels.

Students visited the Crew-Vehicle Systems Research Facility for a tour led again by Lisa Grant. This lab is home to a full 747 simulator that sits on six pivoting legs. It gives piolts a chance to practice flying in a motion sensitive environment. They were also able to see an original simulator of a world war two plane made from organ-like air pumps.

Students ask questions about the simulators.

The scholars reluctantly left Ames, however they were excitingly talking about all that they had seen in just two days, and eagerly planning their futures where they might work alongside these and other scientists, engineers and professionals.

We’d like to thank our tour guide, Tom Clausen and Adrianne Wilkinson, and all other professionals at NASA Ames Research Center who took time out of their busy schedules to help and interact with our students. The professionals were all eager and excited about their subject matter, which helped get the students eager and excited. NASA Ames is a memory none of the students will ever forget.

Don't forget to check out the Facebook and Twitter pages for more frequent updates as well as all of the day’s pictures. We hope to see you at the Saturday banquet for the final presentation of the students’ mission plans. #ISASacademy

Camille Eddy (ISAS 2012 alumna) and
Holly Palmer (ISAS 2013 alumna)
ISAS Social Media Mentors

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

ISAS Academy One: Day 3

The ISAS students got out of bed very early this morning to catch a 7:30 am flight to San Jose, California. From there they traveled to the location of the NASA Ames Research Center. At the Ames Center the students will be able to tour many of the testing facilities and scientific labs that have played a large role in bringing us the technology and scientific exploration known to us today. This is also one of the best opportunities in the academy to gain information in regards to their mission planning with many chances to speak with NASA professionals.  
ISAS Students in front of one of NASA's wind Tunels.

 Students began their experience at NASA Ames at the visitor's center where they saw a model of inside the Space Station, a moon rock along with other NASA related missions in space. They also took an interactive tour of our solar system and beyond given by Don Richey with the IMAX like screen in the visitor center. 

Students got to tour a space shuttle model at the NASA Ames' visitor's center

Students then were able to tour the bioengineering lab with Mark Kliss. This lab is experimenting with recycling and cleaning the air and water on the ISS, along with finding a better way to contain trash and waste. This week's scholars asked questions about how they could apply those technologies on their mission to Mars. Students were able to get a glimpse behind the reasoning and methodology of NASA experiments.

Mark Kliss talks to the red and blue teams about the biology involved in space.
 The Vertical Motion Simulator has the benefit of testing many different light scenarios, such as Space Shuttles, Fighter Jets, Moon Landers and 747s. Guided by Lisa Grant and special guest Karol "Bo" Bobco, the students learned that this particular simulator not only gave pilots and astronauts all of the buttons and view screens of the actual vehicle, but it can also simulate the motion of anything that moves,  depth perception,and even microgravity. This simulator is the only one in the world of its kind and another little know fact is that former astronaut Barbara Morgan, current professor at Boise State University, trained in these simulators.  

Students take a picture with Astronaut Hall of Famer Karol "Bo" Bobco.

Lynn Rothschild presented to our scholars on how to go about finding life on other planets. She recommended that the students first figure out what exactly they are trying to find: intelligent life, bacteria etc, because that dictates how you go about searching. The next step is discovering the limits of life on Earth. Then they would need to discover places similar to Earth out in space, including the extreme habitats here on earth. Finally they might try to create synthetic organisms that could exist in the more extreme space environments to see if it is possible for life to exist.

Talking about her work, Lynn Rothschild presents to the scholars on life off this planet.

NASA Ames Research Center is home to the 80 by 120 wind tunnel, the largest wind tunnel in the world. Bill Warmbrodt presented the students with a very fascinating presentation on this scientific apparatus. He also gave examples of different studies they have conducted, including the Curiosity, 7 minutes of terror parachute. Students appreciated his approach of engaging them with questions and amusing stories. This wind tunnel uses the amount of electricity that it would take to power a city of 225,000 people and can produce wind at 115 miles per hour. It uses hydro-electricity that comes from dams in Big Creek of Nevada and the Snake River of Idaho.

Inside The World's Largest Wind Tunnel.

Students got to visit the First Robotics Lab at Ames. First Robotics is a global competition where participants build robots that have to compete in random teams of three in a different game every year. There are many robotic teams in Idaho and one of our students had even met the tour guide, Mark Leon, at a competition.

Students visit the First Robotic field at the NASA Ames Center.

The final event of the day was a great time for the teams to take advantage of the fact they were on the site of a NASA center walking among elite scientists, engineers and other professionals. A panel of experts, including Mark Leon, Jake Forsberg, Greg Swanson, and Brian Day and two interns named Julia and Lauren brought over a sixty minute question and answer session to the students. Questions were asked such as, "Would a sky crane be an effective landing system?" “Should our drilling operations on Mars be manned or unmanned?”  And, "Should we use the moon as a stepping stone in developmental plans to get to Mars?" To find out about the answers to these questions and to find out what decisions the teams made on the specific details of their missions, be sure to join us for the banquet on Saturday where the teams will present their final reports.

The student's got to pick the brains of these panelists.

ISAS students asked very thoughtful questions, that our panel had fun answering.

Throughout the day these students attract the attention of different NASA professionals working at the research center. Students are often stopped on the street and asked what state they are from and what program they are participating in. Please take some time to visit the ISAS Facebook and Twitter page for more pictures and updates. #ISASacademy

--Camille Eddy (ISAS 2012 alumna) and

Holly Palmer (ISAS 2013 alumna)

ISAS Social Media Mentors

Monday, July 28, 2014

ISAS Academy Two: Day 2

Academy students started putting together the more specific aspects of the missions early on the second day.  Jason Budinoff of the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center came in with mission guidelines or parameters. He gave the students their main landing site and eight specific research sites they need to collect core samples from. The students were told that they would have to bring all the samples with them back to Earth. The teams split up and brainstormed their needs. Both needs they’d need for their team and needs they would need from other teams, as well as what they would contribute as a team. Teams are to now collaborate and sometimes compromise on the different aspects of the Mars mission. This activity will help the mission planning to become a cooperative effort and the mission will develop as each team realizes how changes in the logistics and itinerary overlap and affect the other teams.

Jason Budinoff of NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center gave the teams there mission goal and parameters.

After three hours of mission planning the students were taken on a tour of Boise State University's College of Engineering. They visited different labs to learn about different instruments and research projects that are on campus. Students visited the Materials Science & Engineering lab and they also visited the Scanning Electron Microscope. The students were able to learn about Micro Propulsion which, while the thrust would not be able to lift anything here on earth, in space these little thrusters would be easily able to orient spacecraft to where they needed to be. Students were also able to visit the New Product Development Lab, to see the products of their 3D printing and learn about how those Boise State University students are doing business for real clients and gaining valuable experience. Students also had the chance to visit a lab where they were shown materials that were made out of magnetic shape memory alloys. One of the demonstrations in this lab allowed students to see a spring stretched out and then returned to its original shape under the presence of heat. Students also had the opportunity to ride a Segway in the courtyard.

Students toured research labs at Boise State Univerity's College of Engineering

Students had the opportunity to ride the Boise State College of Engineering's segway.

After lunch the students  were greeted by Dr. C.J. Northrup, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and by Dr. Jennifer Snow, Associate Dean of the College of Education. These two Associate Deans talked about different programs and opportunities at Boise State University and really went in depth with student questions. Questions the students asked were about college and student life in general as well as specific career paths some students are thinking about leading.

Associate Deans talk candidly with students about their future options in education. 

Next we learned about rockets. Rob and Olly, two recent graduates in mechanical (Rob) and electrical (Olly) engineering, brought in their senior project, a model rocket that was just shy of 13 feet long and 8 inches in diameter. Students also had the opportunity to watch a video of a model rocket launching up into the stratosphere. Students seemed to really enjoy this presentation and will get an up close look of another rocket at the rocket launch on Thursday

Showing off their senior project, recent graduates, Rob and Olly talk to the students about rockets.

We then learned about the proper way to design a scientific poster from Dr. Jennifer Forbey. She also discussed tips for presenting and keeping your audience captivated. For Saturday’s presentation, each team will have to put together their own poster to present their discoveries and plan for their portion of the Mars mission.

After dinner and more team time, the final event of the day was a three hour session on robotics with Woody Sobey of the Discovery Center of Idaho. The students had programmed these robots through basic maneuvers for there semester class, but today they needed to build and program their robots for more complicated tasks. Their objectives were to get it to move, go approximately a meter and make a square. Then students added LED lights and programmed these lights to blink. Next the robots were programmed to make a sound and then the sounds were arranged into song, a couple of students even had their robot perform the mockingjay theme from the Hunger Games. The songs that were played varied in how complicated they were. The next challenge was to add a light sensor and to program in a theremin which would allow a tone to vary based on how much light was on the sensor. And finally the different teams challenged each other's robots in a sumo match. The robots were programmed to drive around a black circular field, turn around when they saw the white line border and hopefully in the process push their opponent's robot out of the ring.

After building, programming and testing, students hope their robots stay inside the ring.

These ISAS students are working very hard and have accomplished much this the second day of the academy. They are incredible students who enjoy working together and learning new things. Tomorrow will  be another jammed packed day as we will be taking an early flight to visit the NASA Ames Research Center in California. Be sure to check out the Facebook and Twitter pages for more photos and updates. #ISASAcademy

--Camille Eddy (ISAS 2012 alumna) and 
Holly Palmer (ISAS 2013 alumna)
ISAS Social Media Mentors

ISAS Academy Two: Day 1

Hello and welcome to family members, friends and others who are following the activities of the Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars.

We here at ISAS hope to give you more than just a glimpse of how much fun these students are having every day at the Academy. You can check out many more photos on the ISAS Facebook Page and receive frequent updates as they are happening on the ISAS Twitter page.

The Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Summer Academy was formed in 2010 based off similar programs in both Texas and Virginia. It is a competitive academy for high school juniors where students apply for the program prior to their second semester of their junior year. After completing a semester of coursework, the top students are chosen to join the week long program. This week they will help create a mission to Mars, tour NASA Ames Research Center in San Jose, California, and explore the potentials of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.

Around one o’clock today students began arriving and checking in to Kieser Hall. After check-in the students had time to meet each other and group into their teams. Then the time finally came for the students to make the short walk to the Discovery Center of Idaho where the fun began. They had the chance to look around the Discovery Center and experience the new Leonardo Da Vinci exhibits.

Students participate in the hands on activities at the Discovery Center of Idaho

The students were then brought to a classroom in the center where they would construct a planetary lander. This lander needed to deliver a payload safely to the ground. In this case the payload was an egg. The students were given a limited amount of materials to work with and had to come up with a design themselves. This then led to the launching of the planetary landers from fifty feet in the air. Special thanks to Carl Baker of Quality Electric and Corey Morasch of Micron for making this launch possible.

Students proudly present their finished landers to the rest of the group.

A little bit later it was time to introduce each other to the group. Students were given a random name tag and then had to find that person to learn a few things about them to say before the group. The introduction concluded with the student's hometown being pinned on the board.

Students introduced each other to the rest of the group.

A map of Idaho showing where the students come from.

Then they continued with the introduction of team names, patches and white pages. There are four teams, each focusing on a specific aspect of the mission including Mission Integration, Getting There and Back, Living There and Working There. Each white page for the teams needed to detail the parameters in which the teams will be working on in their specific groups. Soon after this the students participated in the Table Tennis Triathlon facilitated by Woody Sobey of the Discovery Center of Idaho. Each team was given materials to construct a cantilever, a free standing structure the extended up and away from a base that held a ping pong ball at the end; a catapult that sent the ping pong ball into the air; and a ping pong ball rocket that would be propelled by a stomp launcher.

Students work on the Ping Pong Triathlon Challenge.

As you can see ISAS students are launched into rigorous activities right away. And today was a great example of fantastic students easily interacting with each other and engaging enthusiastically with the activities of the academy. Tomorrow they will build on the team relationships they have begun to form today and build a better awareness of the mission they will be developing.

--Camille Eddy (ISAS 2012 alumna) and
Holly Palmer (ISAS 2013 alumna) ISAS Social Media Mentors

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Healthy Schools Program Funds $400,000 for School Nurses Across the Gem State

Fourteen districts will share $400,000 to fund school-based nurses thanks to the Healthy Schools Program, administered by the State Department of Education.

The goals of the Healthy School Program is to increase the availability of health screenings and coordination with health providers, minimize barriers to health services, and boost community awareness around student health issues, and promote overall student health. The funding comes from the Department of Health and Welfare.

More than 30 districts and schools applied for the funding and 14 were awarded. Awards were based on school and community needs, as well as the overall merit of the program proposed. The competitive grant awards for the 2014-2015 school year ranged from $20,000 to $40,000.
The following schools and districts will receive funding from the Healthy Schools Program:

• American Falls School District
• Boundary County School District
• Caldwell School District
• Cassia School District
• Coeur d'Alene Venture High School
• Emmett School District
• Glenns Ferry School District
• Jerome School District
• Lake Pend Oreille Alternative High School
• Melba School District
• Nampa - Sherman Elementary and Snake River Elementary
• Orofino Joint School District
• Weiser School District
• West Bonner School District

For more information about the Healthy Schools Program, please contact Lisa Kramer at or (208) 332-6947. Or read more online at

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fast Forward Program Gives Idaho High School Students Access to up to $600 for Exams, Courses

Beginning next school year, high school students attending public schools across the Gem State will have access to new funding to help cover the costs of taking college-level courses or professional-technical certification exams while still in high school with a program called Fast Forward. 

“The Fast Forward program is a win-win for students and their parents. Students get a jump start on college and parents pay less for college-level classes. The Fast Forward program opens the doors of opportunity to all of Idaho's public school students, no matter where they live,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna.

During the 2014 Legislative Session, the Idaho Legislature passed Senate Bill 1233, which approved funds to cover up to 75 percent of the cost of taking dual credit courses, college-bearing exams, or professional-technical exams. The Fast Forward Program provides every high school junior access up to $200 and high school seniors access to up to $400 per year. To find out more information about the Fast Forward program, please attend one of the following community events in your area.

• Coeur d’Alene – July 30, North Idaho College, Student Union Building, ESU1 Lake Cd'a at 6 p.m.
• Moscow – July 31, University of Idaho, Renfrew Hall, Classroom 126 at 6 p.m. 
• Boise – August 6, Boise State University, Yanke Family Research Park at 6 p.m.
• Pocatello – August 11, Idaho State University, Student Union Building, 2nd floor ballroom at 6 p.m.
• Twin Falls – August 12, Canyon Ridge High School, auditorium at 7 p.m.