Thursday, August 26, 2010

Two Districts Combine Sports Teams

Reporter Kerri Sandaine at the Lewiston Tribune had a great story on her blog last week I thought you all might find of interest.

Two school districts in northern Idaho came up with an innovative way to share resources this year – they’ve decided to combine sports programs.

The Culdesac Wolves and Highland Huskies have worked out an agreement where neither school will lose its mascot. Instead, some sports programs will belong to the Wolves and some to the Huskies.

Cross country, girls basketball, boys baseball and tennis will be based in Culdesac. Volleyball, boys basketball and girls softball will be based in the Highland district. They're still working out the details for track and field and have agreements with other schools to share resources in football.

Get all the details on Kerri’s blog.

~ Melissa M.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

71 Idahoans Win Extra Money for College

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna joined Idaho Treasurer Ron Crane today to announce the names of several lucky winners statewide – who all got a little boost in their college savings this year.

It was all part of the 529 IDeal College Savings Plan contest, organized through the State Treasurer’s office and supported by local businesses.

IDeal is Idaho’s College Savings Plan. Idaho residents who opened IDeal accounts by June 15 were automatically entered into a random drawing with the opportunity to win contributions of up to $529.

The contributions were generously donated by Idaho companies Qwest, Debest Inc., Citi and Norco Inc.

About 3,500 Idahoans participated in the contest this year, contributing more than $2 million to help save for their children’s or grandchildren’s college savings.

Eleven lucky people won $529 in additional contributions, including Grant Beebe of Boise who was at the award announcement today.
Grant Beebe and his daughter
In addition, 60 people from across Idaho won contributions of $52.90 through the contest. Several Treasure Valley winners, including Julie Grainger, Rosemarie Barfuss, and Jerry Nielsen, were also present at the check presentation today.
IDeal 529 College Savings Plan contest award winners!
Learn more about how you can start saving for your kids’ college!

~ Melissa M.

10 State Awarded Race to the Top Grants in Second Round

Education Week is reporting that 10 states have been awarded federal Race to the Top grants in the second round of funding. The states are:
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Rhode Island
Through the $4.35 billion Race to the Top fund, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is awarding multi-million competitive grants to states for implementing comprehensive reforms and innovations.  States must meet certain federal requirements in order to win the award.

Idaho applied for the first round of Race to the Top funding. Based on peer reviewers' comments and feedback from stakeholders in Idaho, the state chose not to re-apply in the second round.

Check out more details on the Education Week blog.

~ Melissa M.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kids in Nampa, Vallivue districts benefit from Feed the Children Donation

Today, representatives of Feed the Children, a nonprofit relief organization, 960 backpacks full of books and school supplies to help children in need in the Treasure Valley.

Karen Seay, Homeless Education Coordinator at the State Department of Education, and about 40 volunteers were on hand at the Nampa School District Warehouse this morning to help unload the backpacks, which will specifically help students in the Nampa and Vallivue school districts who have been identified as homeless in the Nampa and Vallivue school districts.
Karen Seay of State Department of Education with representative of Feed the Children, unloading donations to kids in the Nampa and Vallivue School Districts.
Now, the Feed the Children truck is continuing on to make another donation to children in Montana. 

The population of homeless children in Idaho has grown in recent years during this tough economic time. Under the federal McKinney-Vento Act, students are identified as homeless if they lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.

The Nampa School District has seen an increase in children and youth identified as homeless, from 149 in the 2008-2009 school year to 757 students in 2009-2010.

The number of homeless students in the Vallivue district has increased as well, from 39 students in 2008-2009 to 145 last school year. 

We at the State Department of Education are grateful to Feed the Children organization for its generous donation.  We also extend a huge thanks to Peggy Miller, homeless education liaison for the Nampa School District, who helped make this event happen.

~ Melissa M.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Idaho Students Outpace Nation on College Readiness

Idaho students continue to outpace students nationally in their preparation for postsecondary education, according to the most recent results of the ACT.

Despite this progress, the ACT report still showed far too many Idaho students are graduating high school without the skills they need to be successful in college or the workforce, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said.

The ACT, similar to the SAT, is an assessment that students take before applying to institutions of higher education. The ACT measures students’ college-readiness in the areas of English, math, reading and science. 

“While Idaho students have continued to make progress on the ACT since 2007, I recognize we still have a long way to go. As State Superintendent, my goal is for every student not only to graduate from high school but to graduate with the skills necessary to be successful in postsecondary education or the workforce, without the need for remediation,” Superintendent Luna said.

Idaho’s average composite score has risen since 2007, consistently outpacing the national average. In 2010, Idaho students scored an average 21.8 composite score, compared to the national average of 21.0.  The highest possible score is a 36.

Twenty-six percent of Idaho students met or exceeded the college-readiness benchmarks in English, math, reading and science, compared to just 24 percent of students nationally.  The college-readiness benchmarks are defined by ACT as scores that indicate students will likely be ready for entry-level coursework in college.

Still, despite being above the national average in both composite score and college-readiness indicators, far too many Idaho students are not meeting these benchmarks.

Since taking office in 2007, Superintendent Luna has worked to ensure every Idaho student graduates from high school prepared to live, work and succeed in the 21st century.

He joined Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter to lead the Education of Alliance for the past two years in its effort to develop and implement a vision and mission for Idaho’s public education system, specifically focusing on raising student achievement and improving the number of students who graduate from high school prepared for college or career.

The Education Alliance is made up of the leaders of key educational stakeholder groups representing teachers, administrators, school board trustees and parents as well as leaders of major corporations across Idaho. 

In 2009, the group published its Transformational Education Agenda for the State of Idaho. 

As a part of these efforts, Superintendent Luna has also fought to raise the bar on Idaho’s content standards, the standards students are expected to learn and know by the end of each grade.

In 2009, Idaho joined and became an integral part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, an effort to develop more rigorous, common standards in mathematics and English language arts among states that will be comparable to any country around the world.

These proposed Common Core State Standards have been adopted by more than 30 states around the country and are now up for approval before the Idaho State Board of Education.  If approved, they will go before the Idaho Legislature in January. 

These are just some of the ways in which Superintendent Luna and members of the Education Alliance of Idaho are working to improve the level college- and career-readiness among Idaho’s students.

~ Melissa M.

State Adds Accountability in the Middle Grades

As students get ready to head back to school, Idaho’s middle schools are getting to ready to implement a new credit system.

Starting with this school year, all 7th and 8th grade students will have to pass at least 80 percent of their courses before advancing to the next grade level. 

Why?  Currently, too many students are moving on to high school without the necessary skills they need to be successful in the higher grades.  It’s not because they aren’t capable of passing.  Oftentimes, it’s because the student has figured out that without credit requirements in place at the middle level, grades don’t really “count” until graduation requirements begin in the 9th grade.

Several school districts across the state have already done something to address the issue by implementing their own credit system – Wendell, St. Maries and Jefferson County, to name a few.

When Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna took office in 2007, he worked with the State Board of Education to create the Idaho Middle Level Task Force to find ways to increase student achievement in the middle grades.  One of the group’s key recommendations was to implement a credit system in the middle grades, increase accountability and ensure students are prepared to go on and succeed in high school.

Through the middle level credit system, teachers and administrators across Idaho will now have the tools they need to hold students accountable in the middle grades.

The State Board and Idaho Legislature have approved this new credit system, which will be implemented statewide in the 2010-2011 school year.

Under the credit system, the state has set minimum requirements and then given each local school district and public charter school the flexibility to implement a system that meets the needs of its local community within those requirements.

The following are the state requirements:
  • A school district shall require a student to attain a minimum of 80 percent of his/her credits in order to be promoted to the next grade level.
  • Students will not be allowed to lose a full year of credit in one academic area (i.e. a student would not be able to fail a full year of math).
  • Students not meeting credit requirements will be given an opportunity to recover credits or complete an alternate mechanism in order to be eligible for promotion to the next grade level.
  • Attendance is a factor either in the credit system or the alternate mechanism or both.
Learn more about Idaho’s Middle Level Credit System requirements. 

Check out a great editorial in the Twin Falls Times-News about Idaho’s new Middle Level Credit System and why it’s necessary.

~ Melissa M.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Nonprofit Organization to Donate School Supplies to Students in Need

The nonprofit relief organization Feed the Children will be in Nampa tomorrow morning, dropping off nearly 1,000 backpacks filled with books and schools supplies for students in need.

At 9 a.m., a semi-truck from Feed the Children will pull up to the Nampa School District Warehouse, 12 15th Ave. South in Nampa.  About 40 volunteers will be on hand to help unload 960 backpacks full of school supplies and books for children and youth identified as homeless in the Nampa and Vallivue school districts.

The truck will then continue on to deliver backpacks to students in Montana. 

We know the population of homeless children in the state of Idaho is growing. Students are identified as homeless if they lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, under the federal McKinney-Vento Act.

The Nampa School District has seen an increase in children and youth identified as homeless, from 149 in the 2008-2009 school year to 757 students in 2009-2010.

The number of homeless students in the Vallivue district has increased as well, from 39 students in 2008-2009 to 145 last school year. 

We at the State Department of Education are grateful to Feed the Children organization for its generous donation.  Feed the Children is a nonprofit relief organization that delivers food and other necessities to individuals, children, and families in poverty.

We also extend a huge thanks to Peggy Miller, homeless education liaison for the Nampa School District, who helped make this event happen.

~ Melissa M.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Idaho to Apply for Education Jobs Fund

Today, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna issued a joint statement, confirming Idaho is eligible to receive funding through the Education Jobs Fund and that Idaho will apply for the funding.

Here is the news release:

(BOISE) – Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and State Schools Superintendent Tom Luna announced today that the State will apply for Idaho’s share of federal education funding recently appropriated by Congress. A review of the federal guidelines for the Education Jobs and Medicaid Assistance Act made it clear that Idaho is eligible for a share of the school funding. The Governor and representatives from the Superintendent’s office planned to meet with legislative leaders on Tuesday to discuss the specifics related to this issue.

“While I am leery about Congress continuing to spend beyond our grandchildren’s means, I realize that Idaho schoolchildren will be repaying this debt no matter what decision I make today. So I’ve decided to apply for an additional $51.6 million in one-time federal funds for Idaho’s public schools. I believe that any additional revenue, including this funding made available by Congress, should go straight into our classrooms to preserve student-teacher contact time by reducing furloughs and other local measures that have been taken.  I also join Superintendent Luna in encouraging local school districts to use this additional funding over two budget years while we maintain our focus on making progress toward economic recovery,” Governor Otter said. “Funding for public schools remains one of our highest priorities for state government. The Legislature and I have put the largest percentage of General Fund dollars into K-12 education since 1989. With today’s decision I have directed more than $445 million in additional resources to public schools since 2009 to minimize the impact of State budget cuts. Over this same period, the unprecedented revenue decline has resulted in cutting the rest of State government by 19.5 percent.”
           
“This is great news for Idaho students and teachers. I’m pleased the Governor supports applying for the federal Education Jobs funding for Idaho schools,” Superintendent Luna said. “As State Superintendent, I have strived to find additional sources of revenue to help keep student achievement moving forward in Idaho schools while not increasing our deficit in this tough economic time. This additional funding will help Idaho schools maintain one of my key priorities: preserving student-teacher contact time.”
                                                           
More information about the Education Jobs Fund, including frequently asked questions and the official federal guidance is now posted on the State Department of Education’s website.

~ Melissa M.

Idaho Schools Receive $12 Million in School Improvement Grants

Idaho schools will receive more than $12 million in additional federal funds for school improvement efforts over the next two years, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced today.

The U.S. Department of Education approved Idaho’s application for the additional School Improvement Grant program funds today. These funds are part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“As State Superintendent, I have been looking for every source of revenue to help Idaho schools continue to improve student achievement in this tough economic time. The School Improvement Grant is an additional source we have identified and worked with the U.S. Department of Education to ensure it provides an effective plan for Idaho schools,” Superintendent Luna said. “For the past three years, we have seen unprecedented growth in student achievement, and this grant will help keep this momentum moving forward across Idaho.” 

To receive the funds, Idaho had to identify “persistently lowest-achieving” schools in the state.  These schools will take priority in receiving this funding.

In Idaho, a persistently lowest-achieving school was identified as a school that has persistently struggled to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under No Child Left Behind, or a secondary school that is eligible to receive federal Title I funding for low-income students but is not currently receiving those funds.

Idaho identified 12 schools statewide. Each school identified as a persistently lowest-achieving school will have the opportunity to apply to the Idaho State Department of Education to receive these additional funds. Schools will be eligible to receive at least $50,000 and can apply for up to $2 million. 

Schools will be able to use this additional funding on school improvement efforts, such as professional development for teachers, instructional coaches for staff, new curricular materials, or extended learning time for students after school or in the summer.

The State Department of Education has worked closely with all schools that have been identified to begin writing their applications and plans for the school improvement funds.  The Department will host a workshop in the coming weeks to provide additional technical assistance to these schools.

If funds remain after the schools identified as persistently lowest-achieving have been fully funded under this grant, other schools in Idaho that have not met Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under No Child Left Behind are eligible to apply for funding.

The following schools will receive first priority in receiving funding under this grant:
  • Aberdeen Middle School in Aberdeen School District
  • Fort Hall Elementary School in Blackfoot School District
  • Jefferson Middle School in Caldwell School District
  • Melba Middle School in Melba Joint School District
  • West Elementary School and Hacker Middle School in Mountain Home School District
  • Murtaugh Middle School in Murtaugh School District
  • Lakeside Elementary School in Plummer-Worley School District
  • Shoshone Elementary School and Shoshone Middle School in Shoshone School District
  • Snake River Junior High School in Snake River School District
  • Holmes Elementary School in Wilder School District
More information is available on the U.S. Department of Education's website.

~ Melissa M.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Idaho Schools Could Receive $51 Million through Federal Jobs Bill

Idaho is estimated to receive $51 million in federal funding from the $10 billion Education Jobs Fund that Congress approved and the President signed into law this week. The funding is expected to flow to states within the next 45 days. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education, states will be able to use the money on salaries and benefits for K-12 employees at the school level. The funding cannot be spent on district-level administration, higher education, or rainy day funds.

The U.S. Department of Education released official guidance for the Education Jobs Fund today.  States will have until September 9, 2010 to submit applications for the funding.  The U.S. Department of Education has said it will work to approve state applications within two weeks of receiving them.  

In the coming days, the State Department of Education and the Office of the Governor will be working closely with the U.S. Department of Education to nail down estimates for how much each local district will receive and to ensure Idaho meets the maintenance of effort requirements in the legislation.

Here are a few answers to some of the frequently asked questions we have received from school districts across Idaho.
 
What are the allowable uses for the funds? According to the U.S. Department of Education, the funding CAN be used for school-level personnel. Examples include: principals, assistant principals, teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, foodservice personnel, counselors, school nurses, and librarians, to name a few. The money CANNOT be used for district-level administrative costs or personnel, higher education, or rainy day funds. 
 
Can the funding be used to restore furlough days?  Yes. Officials from the U.S. Department of Education said funds can be used to “eliminate furlough days and pay decreases” for personnel at the school level.

How long will districts have to spend the money? Districts will have up to 27 months to spend funds from the Education Jobs Fund. States must distribute the funds to local school districts in the 2010-2011 school year, and districts will have flexibility to spend the funds in FY2011 and FY2012. 

The State Department of Education will have more information available after we review the official guidance and state application. We’ll keep you posted! 

~ Melissa M. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

ISAS Day 7: The Final Presentation

The ISAS students raced about this morning putting the final touches to the final Mars project and resulting presentation at the luncheon later this afternoon. They made sure to start as early as possible and, somewhat hectically, attempted to finish their requirements. With a quick run through before the actual presentation luncheon, the students appeared organized and confident and happily carried their presentation boards to the Simplot Ballroom in the Student Union Building for the last time.

It was here that the folks from Boise State University had set out a spectacular array of food. Of course, since this is Idaho, the food was a potato bar with every adornement imaginable for baked potatoes. The students enjoyed the food and talked with parents and other guests as they watched videos, slideshows, and listened to other speakers relate to them just how important and successful this program was.

The most touching moment during the luncheon was when a select group of students gave personal testimonies to those who were listening about what they experienced through the program. Speakers such as Superintendent Tom Luna, Dave Marquart, and Barbara Morgan congratulated the students on their exquisite work. Finally, the main event; the final presentation. In front of a room packed with eager listeners, the students described a successful mission to Mars and supported their positions with information supplied by a professionally-done powerpoint. The students had impressed everyone who had the pleasure to witness the luncheon and were beaming with pride after all of their hard work was finally completed.

The luncheon concluded with a graduation-like ceremony where the students were handed their certificates of completion and strutted across the stage with a little bit of confidence to put in their pockets. With the conclusion of the luncheon many students headed home and many decided to travel to the Discovery Center of Idaho to talk to visitors to the center about their experiences. Although they will all go home eventually, the students have left behind a legacy that will have to be matched by the following generations. These students are the top in their class and will steer the course of all of our futures. They deserve so much for the work they have done, and will do.

There are no pictures on this blog due to a highlight video which will be posted soon in a separate blog.

The blogs for the ISAS Summer Academy are now concluded. If interested, the ISAS: Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars' facebook page can be accessed as students stay in contact and the next year's program begins.

--Andrew Schrader and Jaime Guevara--

Friday, August 6, 2010

ISAS Day 6: Work Day

The morning began with a presentation by Dave Marquart on astronaut suits and other problems which are often encountered in space. The ISAS students chuckled as they watched astronauts from the old Apollo moon landings struggle with simple tasks such as picking up a hammer or trying to stand up. Mr. Marquart elaborated that most of these problems could be blamed on the spacesuit's inflexible design. He showed slides of how the older Apollo-era suits had been recently redefined into harder suits that provided greater mobility and were being tested in United States' deserts.

After the entertaining lecture, the students were told to finalize the budget for their mission to Mars. Each team had to research, analyze, and value the totality of their objectives. After several hours of each group being glued to computers, the students had managed to put together a budget that met most of the teams' individual needs. The students had to defend their team's rights to certain funds and tried to persuade the presenter from the Gray Team into allowing more money to be allocated to their respective projects. The students began to understand how much work goes into organizing such a large scale event. However, it is understandable why these gifted students are in this program. Again and again they astounded the mentors by their organization, innovation, and creativity. These students are taking the project very seriously and are doing an amazing job. If the students continue their achievements in this program and bring them to life in the future, then it shall be a bright future indeed. This research and presentation session raged until noon when the students split up for lunch and some well deserved rest in the cafeteria of the Student Union Building.
Students working hard to finalize their presentations
When the luncheon was over, the students headed back to the Engineering Building to continue work on their presentations and periodically work on the rovers they had started building on the second day of the academy. Students were scattered throughout the buildings but periodically returned to the main lecture room in order to compile their data and report on the day's highlights. While in the midst of one of the students' work sessions, Superintendent Tom Luna visited the students and found them highly energized about their projects. Superintendent Luna went out of his way to congratulate the writers (Jaime Guevara and Andrew Schrader) on the work they have done and was happy to take pictures with them.

As the contraptions 'fell with grace' students crossed their fingers
and hoped their's would survive the Egg Drop Competition
The highlight of the day, for everyone, was the final egg drop competition. The students had to figure out a way to drop an egg from a balcony so that it survived its impact with the ground. The students showed tremendous enthusiasm during the drop and cheered as one another's contraptions slammed into the floor of the Engineering Building.
Superintendent Luna, Dr. Schrader, Dave Marquart, and mentors watching the competition
Dinner came and went and the students gave the cafeteria staff a standing ovation for the exquisite food they had provided. Upon arriving back at the Engineering Building, the students broke up to continue the work on their mission projects and also started to convert their collision sensing rovers into color seeking ones. As the rover would drive over a colored piece of paper it would either beep or send a transmission to a receiver and record which color it had just identified.
Students writing programs to help their rover identify colors
The students finished the evening by practicing their presentations for the final Mars project and critiqued one another in order to optimize their reports for the following day. The hours passed by as students pushed to accomplish all of their goals and most of the day was spent at computers or tables. Overall, it was fairly quiet. The students have been working hard and the mentors have been helping at every available opportunity. Though arriving at the academy from separate backgrounds, these students have almost made it seem easy to cooperate and launch a mission to Mars. Their final presentations tomorrow will show how much they have accomplished in so little time.


These blogs will continue to be posted every evening.  A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS: Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars' facebook page.

--Andrew Schrader and Jaime Guevara--

Thursday, August 5, 2010

ISAS Day 5: Model Rockets and Astronauts

Despite coming home from Ames Research Center, the students continued exploring integral technologicial facilities by spending the morning touring Micron. The tour started with a powerpoint presentation concerning the main mission of Micron; creating memory units. The title of the presentation was, "Memory Makes the World Work", and it showed countless systems and everyday devices that use Micron semiconductors. An alternative project  Micron is involved with is Endoscopy pills. These pills are small cameras that are injested and as they move through the patient's system, film the esophogus and intestines in order to help doctors diagnose serious issues without invasive procedures. The students were also allowed to see some of the work that Micron is involved with concerning new automotive sensors. These new developments in technology are on the cutting edge and the students had an exclusive presentation.

Micron executive talking with the students
Next, the students were driven to another one of Micron's buildings and were toured about a chemistry lab, witnessed how Micron checks its wafers for inconsistencies, and were shown what atoms look like under an electron microscope. The electron microscope, called the TEM, gave the students the opportunity of seeing individual atoms interacting amongst one another. Many of the students wanted to operate the microscopes, but due to their 1.5 million dollar pricetag the students had to grudgingly surrender that position. Another thing that the students were able to discuss with the presenters was the future generation of LEDs. Many myths concerning LEDs were discussed and the videos the students watched displayed the wide variety of uses for LEDs and how common they have become in our culture. Probably the most entertaining event of the Micron visit was the students getting a chance to have hands-on interaction with some prototype personal projectors which could be used with gadgets such as Ipods and Iphones.

Although that was the most interesting event, the most appealing was the large lunch provided by Micron which the students took advantage of, even helping themselves to seconds. During lunch, the students were all given a gift by Micron; an LED light and a battery that can be used in many experiments. The students were surprised and thrilled to start finding interesting uses for their new LED lights.
Upon their return to Boise State University, the students immediatley plunged into work. They broke up into their teams and began to organize information for their final projects and created powerpoints to present in front of the rest of the ISAS students. Each team gave a presentation that was related to their mission objectives.

Red Team: Waves and Spectroscopy
Blue Team: The Basics of Launching
Grey Team: Rovers
White Team: Model Rockets

The students knew that the next speaker was going to discuss model rockets and display some of his creations, but no one had expected him to carry in a nine-foot tall missile that looked like something that  had fallen off a passing military jet. Don't despair though, the rocket was a model and not in the least bit dangerous, especially with it's engine removed. The rocket had already flown multiple times before and even had an onboard HD camera. Logging onto YouTube, the presenter showed some of his previous launch footage. The students all cheered as they witnessed the rocket's viewpoint as it accelerated into the air, reaching an altitude of nearly 13,000 feet. I'm sure many of the students wished they could have somehow been in that rocket, but seeing as it was only 8 inches across it was doubtful that they would have enjoyed it.

After the presenter was done with his discussion, the students had to focus hard on their mission parameters. Some of the students were even beginning to feel the effects of the time constraints and heated compromises began to appear. However, the students rose to the occasion and quickly organized themselves and easily became independent entity. The mentors were there to assist the students, although for the most part the students have had the independence and organizationial skills with which to operate by themselves.

Dinner was a quick event and the students were thrilled to share their dinner with former astronauts Barbara Morgan and Wendy Lawrence. The students quickly ate their food and got ready to go over to DCI in order to listen to a presentation on astronaut life and also on the International Space Station, which was given by Wendy Lawrence. A first person account of what it was like to compete in the elite program to becoming an astronaut was given to the students. She also mentioned that the ISS had been declared a national laboratory and the experiments in the ISS ranged from growing vegetables to basically the astronauts themselves. The students found it extremely interesting how astronauts have to exersize in order to ward off the negative effects of living in a low to no gravity environment. Their favorite story was about one astronaut who wanted to run the Boston marathon, but unfortunatley she was in orbit at the time. So, she called the marathon organizers and explained her situation. The organizers said she could have a race number and the astronaut competed in the marathon while in space by being tethered to a treadmill. When she had finished the 26 miles of the Boston marathon on the treadmill, the ISS had orbited the Earth three times. Another interesting fact that the students chuckled at was when Wendy Lawrence declared that, "Sleeping in space is like sleeping in the world's best waterbed!" It was obvious the students were enjoying themselves, many were leaning forward staring at the slide show composed of amazing pictures from space. Perhaps a few of them, if not all of them, will be able to call themselves astronauts in the near future.

Wendy Lawrence giving presentation

When the presentation was over the students were allowed a private question and answer session with Wendy Lawrence who described her experience in space as, "A very moving experience...a very emotional experience." The students asked an array of questions and were competing against one another to see who could stick their hand highest so that impressive astronaut in front would call on them for the next question.
The evening was relatively quiet as the students broke off into teams and began to work on many different projects. It was one of those nights where everything was beginning to come together, yet there was still a lot of work down the road. The students looked forward to tomorrow to delve deeper into their projects and finalize their missions to Mars. This academy will be good practice for the students when they attempt the mission, one day, for real.
Wendy Lawrence and Barbara Morgan talking with students

These blogs will continue to be posted every evening.  A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS: Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars' facebook page.

--Andrew Schrader and Jaime Guevara--


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

ISAS Day 4: Last Day at Ames

The students were well rested as they emerged from their hotel rooms this morning. Breakfast was a quick affair of hard boiled eggs, muffins, and assorted fruits. They huddle all around one another talking excitedly about what else they might see today. Gulping down their remaining food they twitch their feet impatiently as the mentors make some last minute preparations. With a nod from Dave Marquart, the students immediatley push out the door and start walking towards Ames. Within seconds, the hotel lobby is cleared. It appears that they wanted to get going this morning.

Students getting ready to leave in the morning
The morning sky is overcast with a nearly impenetrable marine layer casting a somber shade upon the surroundings of Ames Research Center. However, the thick blanket of clouds has no effect on the students as they stride confidently down the sidewalks wearing their bright ISAS t-shirts. The first event for the morning was a lecture by Dr. Chris McKay and was about life on Mars. He broke the lecture into three main points. The first was that life may be found on Mars and it is possibly more related to us than we think. The second point was that life should be taken to Mars in order to see how well it can survive. And the last point was that Mars should be warmed in order to support life. The students were receptive towards the new information and were curious about much of the data. The students asked many questions and probably would have enjoyed hearing more, but time had run out and there were other things to explore.

Students listening to Dr. Chris McKay
For the next events, the students once again broke up into two separate groups. As though it had become second nature the students quickly split themselves and began walking towards the respective events. Ken Smith, an Ames scientist, took one of the groups to the Mars wind tunnel where he was helping with research involving the increased understanding of Mars' surface. The wind tunnel was located in a giant pressurized building originally intended for the testing of certain rocket engines. The builiding was unnaturally high for its present purpose and the yawning mouth that hung above the students was enough to throw anyone's senses into a whirlwind. The purpose of the study was to test how a pressurized atmosphere similar to Mars would effect objects in the wind tunnel and atmospheric effects upon the movement of sand. Usually, however, for these kinds of tests the room is at the same atmospheric pressure as Mars which could prove fatal to anyone trapped inside the building. Of course though, the building remained at a safe atmosphere while the students were touring inside of it. In fact, to demonstrate how the wind tunnel functioned, Kevin Smith placed some walnut dust into the wind tunnel and turned it on. As the turbines groaned into motion the student's compressed closer to the small viewing area. As the air increased velocity, the dust was thrown into a frenzy. When the machine had to be powered down, it moaned as the gears ground to a hault. Conincidently, the moaning from the machine was drowned out by the disappointed moans of the students who had wanted to see more. 

Brushing dust off of one another, the students emerged from the building and swapped with the other group. In this next presentation, the students were led through the astrobiology and astrochemistry labs. Here the students had the opportunity for one-on-one question and answer sessions as the scientists led them through all of the present experiements. At one point, while stressing the importance of infared waves in astrochemistry, the students were given the opportunity to see one another through an infared scope. 

Students asking scientists questions in the astrobiology lab
At Ames there is a weekly tradition where every Wedensday in the cafeteria is known as Burrito Wedensday. So, because it was all part of the Ames experience, most of the students loaded their plates with monstrous burritos and tackled them with a fork and knife. When lunch ended, which it did quite quickly because all of the students were ravenously hungry, the students went and listened to an in depth presentation on the importance of Ames throughout the years. 

Students posing for a group shot

Only two more presentations were left before the students would say their temporary goodbyes to Ames. As before, the students broke up into two groups. The groups were going to be toured around the VMS (Vertical Motion Simulator) and the Vertical Gun. Yesterday, the students had seen two simulators that only had three degrees of motion. However, the VMS is a simulator with an astounding six degrees of motion. This means that the simualator is housed inside a large structure meant to give it a full range of motion. The six degress available to the simulator are: yaw, pitch, roll, up and down motion, side to side motion, and frontwards and backwards motion. These six different movements reproduce a nearly lifelike simulation experience. When the students all piled into the observation deck to watch the simulator in action, they were all startled as all of a sudden a large object fell at a sickening speed. The VMS was being tested for some astronauts who were arriving later in the week and it appeared that those inside controlling it were having a terrific time. The students were immediatley envious. 

The vertical gun was an interesting contraption. It was built back in the '60s and is still in use today. It's purpose is to shoot objects down a high velocity tube that would simulate an asteroid impacting a body. Using insanely high speed cameras, the scientists were able to document and understand how asteroids impact planets or other bodies. Available to the students was some data of previous firings. The students all laughed in amazement as the high resolution cameras showed the slow and tracable fractures of a granite block . Also the complete disintegration of the object fired was a surprising feature that none of the students had ever witnessed before. 

With a fond farewell and many promises to return soon, the students parted with Ames by scavenging the gift shop at the Visitor's Center for trinkets and souvenirs. Once again, the shuttles carried the students safely to their final destination in California; the San Jose Airport. While awaiting for the plane to arrive and take them all home, many of the students partook in large and heated card games. Many blushed with embarrassment as they yelled in frustration across the terminal at their misfortunes with the cards. 

As the students boarded the airplane it appeared that the urgings of the mentors to pack light were taken too literally. One of the flight attendants soon announced that the plane was actually underweight in the cargo hold and the students needed to put their bags down below in order to keep the plane balanced. As soon as the plane was weighted correctly, we took off and with a final view of Hangar One in the distance, turned away from the setting sun and headed home. Looking out the window, the students  could view acres and acres of wind turbines lazily rotating as the sun bathed their blades in bright orange. Seeing these spectacular innovations of the present, it can only be logical that the innovations of the future are in these student's hands.

These blogs will continue to be posted every evening.  A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars' facebook page. 

--Andrew Schrader and Jaime Guevara--

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

ISAS Day 3: Ames Research Center

The ISAS Summer Academy students maneuvered through security screenings in the Boise Airport early this morning as they prepared for their trip to Ames Research Center. Bags were inspected and shoes were removed, but everyone soon arrived at the gate without much trouble. Students yawned and looked out the window at the brightly colored chartered plane that would shortly be taking them to San Jose and anticipated the nearly two hour nap that they had been hoping for. As with most flights, the trip to San Jose was quiet and uneventful. Students either took the opportunity to rest their eyes or engage in hushed conversations.

Students getting organized in the San Jose airport
After feeling slightly more rested, the students disembarked the flight in much livelier spirits and began to grin excitedly as the weight of where they were going finally hit them. The shuttles taking them to Ames Research Center slowly meandered through traffic. Students watched curiously from behind glass as a strange, new city sped by them. Quickly, though, everything else faded away as the formidable hulk of Hangar One rose into view. The hangar was located on the airstrip next to Ames Research Center and was the most prominent structure in the area; rising hundreds of feet above everything around it. Shocked by the sudden change in scenery the students scrambled for their cameras and succesfully shed any drowsiness that remained from the flight. They had arrived.

Upon arriving at Ames Research Center, the students dropped their bags off at the Navy Lodge and hurriedly walked into the base. Although, by this point in the day, the expediency of the walk was motivated more by hunger than by the strict schedule. The students strolled down the sidewalks as they headed towards lunch, nudging one another and snapping as many pictures as their cameras would allow. The students were given a long and satisfying lunch at the MegaByte, the cafeteria located in the middle of Ames. Here they had the opportunity to eat a hearty meal, peruse through the gift shop, or simply sit outside in the warm California sunshine.

Leaving the peaceful cafeteria behind, the students were given a history lesson of Ames outside of the humongous structure known as the 80-by-120 Wind Tunnel; the largest wind tunnel in the world. After the entertaining history lesson, the students were given an inside tour of the wind tunnel and were allowed to roam freely across the cool gray tiles. Many students were stricken silent at this colossus of human innovation and listened intently as Bill Warmbrodt, a scientist from Ames, regailed them with stories of testing failures and successes. It was the highlight of the entire day.

The 80-by-120 Wind Tunnel at NASA Ames
The next stop on the tour brought the students  to view the development of the future NASA Mars rovers. Maria Bualat, another scientist from Ames, displayed to the students the mock control centers that sent instructions and received data from the rovers. These rovers were only in the experimental stage and were actually roaming the alien landscape of Devon Island. The island is the largest uninhabited island in the entire world and is deeply scarred by a magnificent crater. The barreness of the landscape mixed with the impact crater resulted in a prime location for the testing of rovers and other NASA equipment intended for missions on Mars or the Moon.

From the command center, the students continued their trek and split up into two groups. One group went to the CVSRF and the other went to the Fluid Dynamics Lab. After a short tour, the groups then switched in order to allow the students to witness all of the interesting labs without being too overcrowded. The CVSRF is a building in which two flight simulation machines tower silently and mechanical sounds whir constantly. These simulation machines are intended to be used to test pilot endurance, pilot abilities, new planes, and other variables. While touring the facility, the students were allowed to go into one of the simulators and participate in a landing simulation. At one point during the simulation, the fog cleared from San Francisco Bay and the students all saw a runway suddenly materialize out of the haze. The simulation was so realistic that one student commented as he descended from the machine, that as the plane landed he had braced himself for the usual bump when the wheels touch the tarmac, but then remembered afterwards that they weren't really landing.
A flight simulator in the CVSRF
In the Fluid Dynamics Lab, the students walked among the smaller scale wind tunnels and were even informed that the Discovery Channel show, Mythbusters, had repeatedly come to that lab and had asked for help in testing certain myths. The students were also witnesses to a live demonstration of a phosphorescent material that was released in a water tunnel that clearly showed how fluids move around objects. Students began pressing their noses up against the glass like they were children again visiting the aquarium for the first time.

Phosphorescent demonstration in the Fluid Dynamics Lab
With weary legs and bulging minds, the students trudged slowly back towards the Navy Lodge for some much needed rest and a delicious cookout. With the mentors brandishing spatulas and plates, the students were fed a tasty array of freshly cooked burgers, potato salad, watermelon, and more. Even the hardest workers are entitled to a relaxing break.

As evening began to nestle into the Silicon Valley, the students walked back into Ames in order to get a group shot in front of the monolithic Hangar One. To many of the students, it came as a surprise to tour so much of a NASA facility yet to have seen so few space projects. They learned that there is actually another purpose to NASA. Despite having a commitment to the exploration of space, NASA has an even greater commitment to improving the lives of people here on Earth. In the students' eyes, the world of NASA suddenly broadened, and so did their possible futures. With their remarkably gifted minds and NASA's limitless involvement in the world, these students have the opportunity to change Earth for the better.

These blogs will continue to be posted every evening.  A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS: Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars' facebook page.

--Andrew Schrader and Jaime Guevara--

ISAS Day 2: Rockets, Robots, and Beyond

Because the students had an early wake up call, they were still somewhat asleep when walking over to the Boise State University Engineering Building this morning. However, they were clearly excited to listen to the lecture by Alan Ladwig from NASA's office of communications and to experience the first full day of the academy. Alan Ladwig's briefing dealt with the following topics.

The Fiscal Budget for 2011 for NASA
 Shuttle funding and Launches
The International Space Station
Aviation
Climate Change
Space Science
Telescopes
Human Exploration
Commercial Cargo/ crew
Technology Development
Prizes and Competitions for new ideas
Public Interest
Humans to Asteroids by 2025
STEM Education
Space Tourism

Following the briefing, the students were introduced to their mentors. The mission parameters were presented clearly and the students departed the lecture room to design their team's logos and patches. Immediately the students hunched around one another and bombarded the computers with brainstorms, compromises, and ideas. Although the teams had a time limit of thirty minutes, they all successfully managed to design the requested patches/logos and immediately headed back down to the lecture room to hear from Dave Marquart. Dave Marquart gave the four different teams their team objectives and restated that the teams need to cooperate with one another in order to meet the main objective of the weeklong academy; configure a realistic mission for man to go to Mars and return. The students were clearly having a good time and began joking with the leaders and one another. When Dave Marquart questioned what the students knew about space laws, a voice shouted from the back of the room, "you mean gravity?". Even the mentors couldn't help but crack a smile.
Dillon Irminger taking charge during a brainstorm session
When Dave Marquart's presentation finished, Superintendent Tom Luna addressed the room and encouraged the students to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers and to continue their educations. When discussing the purpose of the ISAS Summer Academy, Superintendent Luna emphasized the importance of participating in 'hands on experiences'  in order to increase education, "The opportunity to actually apply what you are learning, to me, has always been a great tool for learning." The discussion took an interesting turn when Superintendent Luna prompted the students to ask him questions about education or extracurricular activities which could benefit students attempting to pursue STEM careers. The students asked highly engaging questions ranging from math and science courses offered by schools to early graduation. The students' questions were very advanced and Superintendent Luna was happy to answer. All in the room benefitted from the discussion.

"The opportunity to actually apply what you are learning, to me, has always been a great tool for learning."
-- Superintendent Tom Luna
During the lunch break, Boise State's Engineering Student Support Coordinator Leandra Aburusa-Lete and many students came to talk about their personal experiences in engineering, research, NASA's Microgravity University, and other activities . The ISAS students listened intently, many even putting down their plates of food to better focus on what the BSU students had to say. The lunch was finalized by an address from the Dean of Engineering at Boise State University, Dr. Cheryl Schrader, who encouraged the students to take advantage of the many opportunities and mentors available to them during this week-long experience.

With the lunch concluded, the ISAS community traversed back across campus and towards the Engineering Building. Once they arrived, the students broke up into their separate groups to better organize their respective objectives. However, behind the intense organization, each student was bristling with anticipation for the robotics lecture by Woody from the Discovery Center of Idaho.

After Woody led a concise lesson on how to set up the robots, the students quickly broke out and started putting the robot kits (supplied by Micron) together. The students spent nearly two hours huddled close together following the directions and toying with the wiring of each robot. Many different students took charge and displayed impressive leadership skills when organizing the function of the individual teams. When dinnertime rolled around the robots had to be rolled away, much to the chagrin of many students. Many thought that it was amazing how quickly the time flew by. After all, for most of the groups, there was still a lot of programming to do.
One of the robots being assembled
After dinner the students listened to two lectures on the ethics of engineering and overall ethics in the workplace. The lectures brought to light many ethical dilemmas that many will have to tackle when they are out working on their own. Each group also gave presentations over certain aspects of their objectives. Some of these presentations, though having been put together in a short amount of time, were very detailed with hand-drawn animations and skit performances.

Following the presentations the students broke off into their groups in order to program their robots further and finish the night by designing and testing rover vehicles to safely protect an egg as it is dropped from either a staircase or ladder. The actual egg drop competition will be held on Thursday after the student return from Ames Research Center. This activity further tested the different teams' organization, ingenuity, and further increased the cohesiveness of the ISAS community. It is apparent from any passerby that these students are beginning to come together and form true friendships which will benefit them this weekend, throughout college, and possibly in NASA. This academy is not intended solely as an academic experience, but one where students from all around Idaho who have interests in STEM activities and careers can come together as a community.

These blogs will continue to be posted every evening.  A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS: Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars' facebook page.

--Andrew Schrader and Jaime Guevara--

Monday, August 2, 2010

Idaho Schools, Students Reach Higher Academic Goals

While the state has continued to the raise the bar, more than 60 percent of Idaho schools are still reaching the state’s high academic goals – some for the first time ever, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced today.

“Since 2007, we have worked to raise the bar in Idaho’s public education system, and our students have risen to meet these challenges every year with the help of our talented teachers and dedicated parents,” Superintendent Luna said. “I am proud of the great progress we have made in raising student achievement over the past three years. While we celebrate our successes today, I recognize we still have a long way to go.”

Superintendent Luna announced the statewide Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) results this afternoon at Caldwell High School, which made AYP for the first time ever this year. The entire district has made significant strides in raising student achievement over the past three years.  In 2007, none of Caldwell’s 10 schools made AYP. Now, eight schools in Caldwell are making AYP, including the high school and Canyon Springs Alternative High School.

Several other schools statewide also made AYP for the first time this year, including Twin Falls High School in Twin Falls and Farmin Stidwell Elementary School in Sandpoint.

Since 2007, we have made significant gains in student achievement. In 2007, 26 percent of our schools met AYP. Two years later, that number increased to 66 percent. This year, we raised the bar, making it more difficult to meet AYP, and still, 62 percent of our schools reached this higher goal.

Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Idaho is required to calculate and report the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) of every public school, based on results of the Idaho Standards Achievement Test (ISAT). The ISAT is the statewide standardized test that measures student performance in reading, mathematics and language usage in grades 3-8 and 10.  Students also take the Science ISAT in grades 5, 7 and 10, but those scores are not counted toward AYP.

To make AYP, a school must meet the student achievement goals set by the Idaho State Board of Education in 41 different target areas during a given school year. The 41 targets include students in the entire school, students with disabilities, students with limited English proficiency and students who are economically disadvantaged.

The student achievement goals were increased in the 2009-2010 school year. To make AYP this year, 85.6 percent of students in a school had to reach grade-level proficiency in reading, compared to 78 percent last year.  In math, 83 percent of students in a school had to reach grade-level proficiency this year, compared to 70 percent last year.

AYP results for each school and district will be available online.

The following are a few examples of the many success stories we have seen across Idaho this year:

Caldwell High School and the Caldwell School District:
The Caldwell School District has much to celebrate this year. In 2007, none of Caldwell’s 10 schools made AYP. Now, eight of Caldwell’s schools are making AYP. Caldwell High School made AYP for the first time ever this year. Caldwell Superintendent Roger Quarles attributes the district’s success to recruiting, hiring and retaining the very best teachers with the intent of increasing student achievement. Focus in the classroom is on the individual needs of each student. Each of Caldwell's 10 schools has an instruction coach who assists each teacher and their needs to be successful. Quarles also credits tremendous community support as members of the Caldwell community have donated their time and money and supported 50 years of supplemental levies.

Twin Falls High School in the Twin Falls School District:
Twin Falls High School made AYP for the first time this year. Dr. Wiley J. Dobbs, Twin Falls Superintendent, attributed the success to the dedication and hard work on the part of school leaders, teachers, parents and students. “Teachers, administrators and parents have worked diligently on the TFHS Building Leadership Team to develop strategies that helped to lead to their success.” TFHS teaches students a rigorous academic curriculum that has been strengthened by their implementation of the High Schools That Work model, a school improvement model that focuses on increased student achievement and creating an environment that motivates students to succeed. TFHS also implemented an advisory program, which helps to build a positive community within the school and promote a personalized learning environment for each student. Advisors take an active role in the students’ academic progress and their college/career readiness.

Fort Hall Elementary School in the Blackfoot School District:
The Blackfoot School District has made great strides in student achievement over the past three years. Adding to its success, Fort Hall Elementary School made AYP this year for the first time in four years. Scott Crane, superintendent of the Blackfoot School District, attributes their schools’ success to efforts district-wide efforts to improve student achievement. For example, the district created Professional Learning Communities at every school and gave teachers the time they need to collaborate and use standards, data, and best teaching practices to meet individual student needs. At Fort Hall Elementary, the district created additional supports. They developed an academic advisory task force consisting of the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, District Federal Programs, Special Education, Curriculum and Indian Education Directors. The district hired a consulting teacher to further support Fort Hall Elementary teachers as they worked to raise student achievement. “I contribute the success at Fort Hall Elementary to the district-wide implementation of research-based programs, a determined academic advisory task force and a hard working school staff,” said Crane.

Farmin Stidwell Elementary School in the Lake Pend Oreille School District:
Farmin Stidwell Elementary School in Sandpoint made AYP for the first time this year. As the largest elementary school in the Lake Pend Oreille School District with 630 students, it has been a struggle to move all sub-groups to meet proficiency, despite relatively strong overall school ISAT scores. The school and district attribute Farmin Stidwell’s success this year to an ongoing after-school tutoring program taught by classroom teachers, more focused attention on specific student needs through the RTI process, curriculum taught with fidelity, and improved scheduling for students most in need of academic interventions. Teachers and staff at Farmin Stidwell are also responding more effectively to student data and ongoing assessments.

~ Melissa M. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

First Day of ISAS Summer Academy



Welcome to the 2010 Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Summer Academy blog and media channel. These daily blogs will be posted on the Department of Education website, keeping parents, students, and others informed about the program's activities.

My name is Andrew and I am one of the bloggers for the ISAS summer program. I will be attending Valparaiso University this coming fall with an intended major in Mechanical Engineering. Last year I interned at NASA Ames Research Center with the NASA INSPIRE program. I am happy to be a part of this first ever ISAS Summer Academy and can't wait to be involved.

My name is Jaime. I am also one of the bloggers for this ISAS program and will be attending Valparaiso University in the fall as well. Like my co-blogger above I will also study Mechanical Engineering. I am happy to be one of the first bloggers for this ISAS Summer Academy and hope that the parents will be pleased with the program their kids are involved with during this key week in their lives.

The Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Summer Academy is a week long academic workshop that engages and challenges high school Juniors to utilize the knowledge they have gained in their classrooms and apply this knowledge in real life scenarios. The students, while residing and working out of Boise State University, will also undertake a trip to NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California where they will be exposed to the many different STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) careers available to them. While partaking in activities that encourage thought and problem solving skills, the students will also have the opportunity to interact with scientists working in their field on real life projects.

The first day started with all of the students checking in with their housing arrangements on Boise State University's campus. Students were given their room assignments and excitedly hastened off to see who they would be spending the camp with. After getting settled in, the new 2010 ISAS community quickly walked through Julia Davis Park to go explore the Discovery Center of Idaho.


Students on the way to DCI
       The students meshed well together and did not hesitate in enjoying the many scientific exhibits. When approached the students were happy to disclose their feelings on the upcoming week. We asked them what they wanted most out of this week and what had made them decide to come to ISAS.
"I am mostly looking forward to the main project"
"I thought that coming to ISAS would be a lot of fun"
-Nick J.
After experimenting throughout the Discovery Center the students were called into an orientation detailing the rules and regulations of the camp and were assigned into their groups and given their own personal ISAS bags and supplies. The students were randomly given the identification cards of other students and had to search for whoever was holding their actual identification card. This activity allowed students to intermingle and meet the people they would be working alongside of during the upcoming week. After their meeting, the students were called back into the presentation room and told the groups about the person they had met. The students were initially shy, but eventually began to warm up to the crowd and even laughed and smiled with one another.

Students listening at orientation
The possible future rocket-engineers refueled with pizza and salad and immediatley began an exciting new project called the "Table Tennis Triathlon". For this project, the students had to use supplies given to them to create machines to perfom the functions of a catapult, cantilever, and rocket. Each of these different machines must carry with it a table tennis ball and at the same time fulfill certain requirements. Each event is scored and the team with the greatest overall score is declared the winner.


Blue Team building a cantilever
Overall, the first day of the new Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Summer Academy was succesful, engaging, and fun for students and mentors alike. These blogs will be uploaded each day once the students have completed their final activities every night. A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS: Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars' facebook page.

--Andrew Schrader and Jaime Guevara--


Idaho Science & Aerospace Summer Academy Launches Today

The first-ever Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Summer Academy begins today, as 44 high school juniors from across Idaho arrive at the Boise State campus.

At this weeklong Academy, these students will have the unprecedented opportunity to see the relevance of the science, technology, engineering and math they’ve learned up close while working side by side with scientists and engineers from NASA and Idaho. 

The Summer Academy is the culmination of the Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Program, which challenges Idaho high school juniors to take an engaging online course, developed by NASA and Idaho Digital Learning Academy, and then to compete to attend the residential Summer Academy.

The Summer Academy will be held through August 7 at Boise State University, Micron Technology, the Discovery Center of Idaho, and the NASA Ames Research Center in California.

Throughout the week, participating students will be learning from the best in the industry as they work in teams to construct rovers, robots and rockets, plan missions and understand the material in the context of the real world.

Students are kicking off the weeklong Academy with team-building activities at the Discovery Center of Idaho at 3 p.m.  At 8 p.m., they’ll break into groups and start working to build rockets that will be tested later in the week.

Here are other highlights of the Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Summer Academy:

On Monday, August 2: Boise State campus
  • 8 a.m.    Alan Ladwig, NASA Deputy Association Administrator for Public Outreach, will address students.
  • 11 a.m.    State Superintendent Tom Luna will speak with students about the importance of STEM education.
  • 1 p.m.    Team presentations on rocketry, model rockets, and lander safety.
On Tuesday, August 3 and Wednesday, August 4: Students will travel to NASA Ames Research Center in California. 

On Thursday, August 5: Boise State campus and Discovery Center of Idaho
  • 1 p.m. Students will work on team project. (Boise State)
  • 6 p.m. Wendy Lawrence, former astronaut, will speak with students. (Discovery Center of Idaho)
On Friday, August 6: Boise State campus
  • 8 a.m. Students will work on team projects.
  • 1 p.m. Students will present their rover demonstrations.
  • 6 p.m. Students will launch rockets on the Boise State Quad.
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna funded the inaugural year of the Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Program. Based on its success, Idaho has received a $1.2 million grant from NASA to expand the program to serve 400 students over the next two years.
Stay tuned to the Education Idaho blog all week for live updates on the Idaho Science and Aerospace Summer Academy.

Andrew Schrader and Jaime Guevara, two recent graduates of Eagle High School, will be live-blogging from the Summer Academy all week. Andrew and Jaime are both aspiring engineers who will be attending Valparaiso University in the fall.  We’re glad to have them on board this week!

You can also follow updates via Facebook.  Become a fan of the Idaho Science & Aerospace Scholars Program.

~ Melissa M.