Sunday, July 31, 2011

ISAS 2011 Academy 2 Day 1

Welcome to the 2011 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. The blogs are written by the three following individuals.

My name is Andrew Schrader and I am one of the bloggers for the ISAS summer program. I recently completed my freshman year at Valparaiso University with an intended major in Mechanical Engineering. Two years ago I interned at NASA Ames Research Center with the NASA INSPIRE program. I am happy to be a part of the newest ISAS Summer Academy and can't wait to be involved.
My name is Jaime Guevara; I am also a blogger for the ISAS program and am attending Boise State in the fall and like my co-blogger will be continuing my studies in Mechanical Engineering. I am happy to continue being one of the first bloggers for the ISAS Summer Academy and hope that parents will be pleased, not just with the daily blogs, but with the program their children are involved with during this key week in their lives.

My name is LaCinda Villanueva. I am an intern helping with the blogs and am currently attending the College of Western Idaho. I plan on transferring to the University of Idaho for a degree in Chemistry. I attended ISAS last year as a student and I enjoyed every aspect of it. I am excited to be back, and to be helping with the blogs.

The Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Summer Academy is a weeklong 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.

   As noon approached on the first day of the academy, the newest 2011 ISAS Summer Academy students began to arrive at Boise State University and settle into their dorms. Students were given the time to place their belongings into their rooms and interact with the every-growing number of students. Many of the students recognized one another from similar schools or hometowns, but at the same time, many students had the opportunity to meet with others from all parts of Idaho. The students spent some time mingling in the lobby of the dorm and outside, talking excitedly with one another, and very anxious to begin.
Students becoming acquainted
 By 2:00 PM, the students had checked into the Academy and were led by their mentors and Director Peter Kavouras to The Discovery Center of Idaho. In the time it took to walk from Keiser Hall to the Discovery Center, students had already broken the ice. After arriving, the students continued mingling with one another and had an opportunity to experience many of the different exhibits the center had to offer. Some of the students were also happy to let us know what they were most excited about in the upcoming week.
I'm most excited about going to NASA Ames.
-Heather Skovgard

After spending time throughout the center, the students congregated into the front room to be officially welcomed to the Academy by Director Peter Kavouras. The students were also challenged to get to know one another by randomly receiving another student’s nametag. The students were told to present one another to the entire Academy in order to receive their respective nametags. The students laughed as they presented each other and were curious to learn a little bit more about one another. They will definitely need that cohesion in order to successfully design their manned-mission to Mars. During this time the students were also introduced to mentors, split into their four separate teams, and briefed on the expectations of the Academy.
Director Peter Kavouras welcoming students
After a quick meal, the four separate teams, each one representing a different aspect of the mission, presented a patch/logo embodying their group’s responsibilities in the upcoming week. Students had been communicating previously through the internet program in order to present their creative ideas on this first day.
The final event of the night was a project called the "Table Tennis Triathlon". For this project, the students had to use supplies given to them to create simple machines to perform the functions of a catapult, cantilever, and rocket. The students were encouraged to bend the rules in order to achieve the challenges required of the different structures. Each structure was required to carry or fire a table tennis ball throughout the competition. Each event was scored and the team with the greatest overall score was declared the winner.
 
 
Red Team launching their rocket design

 Overall, the first day of the second Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Summer Academy of 2011 was very successful, engaging, and fun for students and mentors alike. These blogs will be uploaded daily, and once the students have completed their final activities every night. A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded to the ISAS Facebook Page as well as an ISAS Twitter page. The students have had the chance to meet, and greet with their peers, and are now ready for the oncoming events of the week.


--Andrew Schrader, Jaime Guevara, LaCinda Villanueva--

Friday, July 29, 2011

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, STATE BOARD APPROVE IDAHO’S MOVE TOWARD GROWTH MODEL

The State Board of Education today agreed to keep Idaho’s current proficiency targets in place for the next year, allowing the state to move toward a new accountability model based on academic growth.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna proposed this move in June by sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The U.S. Department of Education agreed to Idaho’s request this week.

In a special State Board meeting on Friday afternoon, the members of the State Board voted to give the move final approval.

“Through the Students Come First laws, Idaho is moving to a growth model that better measures academic success, putting us beyond the outdated No Child Left Behind law. With our limited resources, we can no longer financially afford to reconcile this new innovative path with an outdated federal accountability system,” Superintendent Luna said. “I am pleased both the State Board of Education and the U.S. Department of Education have recognized our need to move forward and create a next-generation accountability system that best meets the needs of our students.”

Now, Idaho’s proficiency targets will remain at 85.6 percent in reading and 83 percent in mathematics – the same as last year – which are still some of the highest in the nation. The proficiency target is the percentage of students in an entire school and students in a subgroup that must pass the ISAT in order for the school to meet AYP under No Child Left Behind.

Under No Child Left Behind, states are required to hold schools accountable for academic achievement by measuring proficiency, or how many students in a school and each student subgroup within a school, passed the statewide standardized test. The current model of accountability is completely based on proficiency because that is what was available in 2001 when No Child Left Behind became law.

Today, however, Idaho has the ability to measure academic growth, not necessarily how many students passed the test but how much growth did they show in a school year. A growth model is more accurate and can better identify which schools are successful and which are truly in need of improvement.

States had hoped the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind would allow for a growth model by now, but the reauthorization is now four years overdue. Therefore, Idaho will keep its current proficiency targets in place and begin implementing a new model of accountability so we can direct the state’s limited resources to those schools that are truly struggling academically.

The State of Idaho is one of 41 states that recently signed on to the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Roadmap on Next-Generation State Accountability Systems, which includes moving toward a growth model of accountability.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

ISAS 2011 Academy 1 Day 7

Today, the first ISAS summer Academy of 2011 came to a close as students, parents, mentors and honored guests attended a VIP luncheon in Boise State University’s Student Union Simplot Ballroom. In order to prepare this morning for the luncheon, the students practiced their presentations and filled out surveys which would better the program for future years. The students were found themselves caught among different emotions as the day progressed: excitement to see family, anxiety to speak publicly, and a nagging disappointment to leave behind so many new friends so soon.

Students saying goodbyes

Students talking with family

As observers of the students throughout the week, it was amazing to watch a group of high-schoolers from across an entire state gel so quickly and design an original mission to Mars, all while experiencing countless different STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) opportunities. What these students have achieved in the past week is astounding. Idaho is truly fortunate to be one of only five states to take part in the High School Aerospace Scholars program. The state is also exceptionally lucky to have such amazing students within its borders. With students like these earning these experiences, Idaho has a bright future indeed.


ISAS stage

Later in the day, the students walked to the union one last time wearing their respective team colors and chatting excitedly to one another. When the luncheon began, students mingled with parents and met the relatives of their new friends as well as special guests. The luncheon opened with an address by ISAS director Peter Kavouras and the reading of a letter from Governor Butch Otter addressed to the ISAS program.

After hearing what the governor wished to say to the students, all those in attendance ate delicious pasta and chicken with all sorts of sides. The ballroom filled with the sounds of clinking silverware, conversation, and music as a commemorative video of the 2011 Academy played on a screen in the background. Once the meal was completed, each team stepped up to the stage in order to present their respective components of the mission accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation. The parents listened carefully and in some amazement. Here in front of them were their high school children, the same children who were dropped off at Boise State University one week ago, presenting revolutionary ideas as professionals. To witness such an event, parents could not help but feel proud as their children displayed a striking maturity and air of success, uncommon in the typical high school student.

The luncheon continued with addresses by Dr. Arthur Johnson and Dr. Barbara Morgan. Both emphasized just how important this program has been to the students, and the positive impact it has had on all of their lives. Dr. Johnson’s address left the students hollering a boisterous ‘hoorah’ as they answered his many impromptu questions concerning what the program has done for the students. Dr. Morgan’s address left many students and parents imagining what going to space themselves will be like.

The luncheon came to a close with the presentation of diplomas and prepared speeches by a few of the students who were adamant in sharing their experiences with all those present. One of the students gave the following testimonial:



With ISAS 2011 Camp 2 preparing to start in two weeks, many of those involved with the program are excited to witness another class like this past one pass through the Academy. On behalf of the Department of Education and the entire State of Idaho, we would like to congratulate ISAS 2011 Camp
 
This last blog concludes the coverage for Camp 1. Starting on Sunday, August 31st, the blogs for Camp 2 will begin. The blogs will be uploaded daily, once the students have completed their final activities each night. A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS Summer Academy Facebook group and page, as well as to Twitter at ISAS_Academy. Tomorrow will be the students' last day of the program. All of the staff at ISAS wish them good luck and are proud of all the work they have done.



--Andrew Schrader, Jaime Guevara--

Friday, July 22, 2011

ISAS 2011 Academy 1 Day 6

Today, the ISAS Academy focused on offering students plenty of time to work on their mission and solidify each group’s presentation. The teams spent the entire morning discussing technical information with one another, debating different rocket designs and the best methods to cut costs. With Mars practically in their crosshairs, the students began to rush back and forth, attempting to create the best attempt possible for this Mars mission. However, despite the Mars mission being an important component; it has not been the focus of this Academy. The best thing these students can take from this Academy is an opportunity to become immersed within many different scientific fields and witness the real-world applications of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) careers. The Mars mission allows the students to experiment with the necessary combination of the many different scientific, economic, and political processes required to instigate a realistic scientific endeavor.

In order to take a break from all of the hard work, the students were given a short presentation about the field of Biomedical Engineering by Dr. Michelle Sabick. Afterwards, the students were taken on a tour of the Boise State University Engineering building and shown four different research projects. The first project dealt with a concept known as Extraterrestrial Dust Mechanics. Basically, this project studied dust motion and would be used to accurately measure the size and velocity of thousands of dust particles. This NASA funded project will possibly be used to sample Mars dust and better understand its makeup. Another project that the students were able to see was in the CMEMS Lab, where Dr. Don Plumlee gave a short presentation on his department. One of the projects he discussed with the students emphasized energy scavenging with the creation of a small unit in a backpack that would generate power due to the vibrations of the backpack as an individual walks. Dr. Jim Browning was another professor who was willing to show his laboratory to the scholars. He told the students how his research concerned small ion thrusters which can be placed on a spacecraft to more efficiently maneuver the spacecraft. The last presentation was of the Electron Microscope by Dan Osterberg and Nikki Lundy. The students were even shown images of individual atoms from the high powered microscope.

After a quick lunch, the students returned to the Engineering buildings in order to work further on their missions as well as the robots which they had started working on a few days ago. Some of the students were even happy to talk about how this experience has impacted them.


The students also gave their team’s presentations so all the students could get their information together and prepare for the presentations which they will give at the VIP luncheon tomorrow afternoon. They also wanted to have a critique of their presentations so the students could fine-tune any mistakes or problems that would arise. The students gave professional presentations which did require some corrections. However, the students have learned what type of presentations are required of a professional organization. With this knowledge, students can take their experiences from this Academy back to the classroom and possibly even further.

Students practicing presentations

One of the last events that the students did on this last full day was a robot competition which utilized the robots that the students put together earlier in the week. The competition consisted of the robots driving within a rectangular ring, searching for colored strips of paper. The rover which found the most papers and relayed that data correctly to a computer would win the event. Students crowded around the tiny ring as they watched their creations struggle around the ring. For many of the students, it was their first time using robotics and programming equipment. Every student found it interesting and fun to put them together and put them to the test.

One of the robots


The students spent the rest of the evening preparing for tomorrow’s presentations and finalizing their information. The students this year have done an amazing amount of work and have participated in a program that will help not only benefit their futures, but for them as young adults entering a new world through of scientific challenges.

These blogs will continue to be uploaded daily, once the students have completed their final activities each night. A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS Summer Academy Facebook group and page, as well as to Twitter at ISAS_Academy. Tomorrow will be the students' last day of the program. All of the staff at ISAS wish them good luck and are proud of all the work they have done.

--Andrew Schrader, Jaime Guevara--

Superintendent Luna Takes Steps Toward Growth Model

In June, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna told the U.S. Department of Education that Idaho will begin using academic growth to hold public schools accountable for student achievement.

Superintendent Luna sent U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan a letter, informing him that Idaho will start moving toward a new accountability system based on student academic growth since Congress and the Administration have failed to update and reauthorize the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

“The reauthorization of No Child Left Behind is overdue by more than four years.  There can only be two reasons for this inaction: either Congress doesn’t have the political will, or it simply isn’t a priority of the Administration.  Neither reason is acceptable, nor is it the fault of individual states,” Superintendent Luna wrote in the letter. “This inability of Congress and the Administration has left states in a parallel universe, where we are being forced to try and reconcile an inefficient, outdated law with bold, innovative paths toward raising student achievement.  We can no longer financially afford to do both.  Since Congress and the Administration are not going to act immediately, states will take the lead.”

Under No Child Left Behind, states are required to hold schools accountable for academic achievement by measuring proficiency, or how many students in a school and each student subgroup within a school, passed the statewide standardized test.  The current model of accountability is completely based on proficiency because that is what was available in 2001 when No Child Left Behind became law. 

Today, however, Idaho has the ability to measure academic growth, not necessarily how many students passed the test but how much growth did they show in a school year.  A growth model is more accurate and can better identify which schools are successful and which are truly in need of improvement.  The Students Come First education reform laws use this growth model, moving Idaho beyond the outdated No Child Left Behind proficiency model. 

The State of Idaho is one of 41 states that recently signed on to the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Roadmap on Next-Generation State Accountability Systems, which includes moving toward a growth model of accountability.  As part of these efforts, in 2011, the State of Idaho will not lift its proficiency targets for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).  Idaho’s current proficiency targets are 85.6% in reading and 83% in mathematics, some of the highest targets in the nation.  The proficiency target is the percentage of students in an entire school and students in a subgroup that must pass the ISAT in order for the school to meet AYP under No Child Left Behind.

States had hoped the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind would allow for a growth model by now, but the reauthorization is now four years overdue.  Therefore, Idaho will keep its current proficiency targets in place and begin implementing a new model of accountability so we can direct the state’s limited resources to those schools that are truly struggling academically. 

Read the full letter that Superintendent Luna sent to Secretary Duncan.

Idaho’s Deputy of Assessment Will Help Lead SMARTER Balanced Consortium

The governing member states of the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium elected Dr. Carissa Miller of Boise as the new executive committee co-chair. Miller previously served as an executive committee member. She will replace Tony Alpert, who was named chief operating officer for SMARTER Balanced earlier this month.

Idaho is one of 29 states that make up the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, which is working to create a common, innovative assessment system for Mathematics and English Language Arts aligned with the Common Core State Standards. The assessment system will better prepare students for college and careers.

Miller is deputy superintendent of the assessment division for the Idaho State Department of Education. She oversees all state testing and is responsible for Adequate Yearly Progress designations under No Child Left Behind, graduation rate calculations and the growth model deployment. Her background includes extensive experience in the development and administration of online assessments and adaptive testing. Since 2004, Idaho’s general education assessment has been fully administered online.

“Carissa has been instrumental to the work of the Consortium as an executive committee member and through her support to the Accessibility and Accommodations work group,” said Judy Park, co-chair of SMARTER Balanced. “I look forward to working with her to lead the development of a next-generation assessment system.”

In partnership with Judy Park, Utah’s associate superintendent for federal programs and student services, Miller will oversee the work of the executive committee and collaborate with SMARTER Balanced staff, leadership and advisory committees.

SMARTER Balanced is a national consortium of states working collaboratively toward the goal of preparing all students for college and careers by creating a comprehensive assessment system for math and English language arts that is aligned to the Common Core State Standards. This rigorous, summative and interim assessment system will include formative processes and tools to help classroom teachers determine how students are progressing toward career and college readiness.

“To be successful, we must create assessments that benefit all member states and provide timely feedback to students, teachers and parents to improve teaching and learning,” Miller said. “I am committed to the work of SMARTER Balanced and remain dedicated to achieving a comprehensive assessment system that transcends state boundaries.”

Miller has served in numerous leadership positions. She is chair of the Education Information Management Advisory Consortium (EIMAC) and past chair of the Northwest Regional Advisory Council. She serves on the Institutional Review Board for Boise State University and has served as a reviewer for the National Research Council. Miller earned her doctorate in education from the University of Idaho.

The Consortium will elect another representative to fill Miller’s position on the executive committee within the next month.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

2011 ISAS Academy 1 Day 5

After returning from NASA Ames Research Center, the students were able to rest for a little while before continuing to visit more places. With a quick and early breakfast, the students piled into a coach which took them to Micron Technology for a day of exploration around a worldwide manufacturer of electronic goods. For those who do not know, Micron specializes in creating revolutionary memory units for computers and other devices. As the students were led into the factory, they were brought into a small conference room. While in the room, the students were shown a slideshow and video detailing the products and applications of the memory units manufactured by Micron.


The students were also fortunate enough to receive a personal visit by the Vice President of Memory System Development, Dean A. Klein. Mr. Klein further demonstrated the uses of memory in everyday devices by drawing a simple diagram which simplified a system that is used in practically every electronic device. He also showed the students a quadricopter (a small toy helicopter flown by four blades), which was controlled by an Ipad 2. The quadricopter helped reinforce the concept which Dean Klein was attempting to stress to the students: almost all electronics require some form of memory to function. He also showed the students a presentation which showed to the students a recent technology known as solid state drives which are thinner and more reliable than the more common computer hard drives.

After Dean’s presentation, the students were taken to the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of Micron where all the laboratories for their chip research. Once there, the students were further split into smaller tour groups. One presentation, at the Central Lab, was done by David Fillmore who described to the students his job as an “electronics CSI” and the methods he employed such as using X-ray spectrometers which enabled Dave and his co-workers to scan the surfaces of the test wafers. Other exams included studying the crystals of the wafers in order to determine the composition and, in a sense, better the production method of the final products, and using a mass spectrometer to determine more properties of the silicon by its mass.

The next stop for the students was the Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) in which the members working there showed the students that to get a sample ready for the TEM, it had to be reduced and already micrometer thick sample down to nanometer thickness. They also learned that Micron is one of very few places, if not the only place, to have four electron microscopes working at the same time. Though what impressed the students the most was the “images” of the microchips that were being tested in the microscopes. When asked if they could have copies of the atom-sized images, the engineers responded by telling them that it would be simpler to take a black and white photo of their own denim jeans.

Leaving the electron microscopes behind, the students headed towards some of the fabrication labs where Micron tests new developed method of producing parts in a more economic, sustainable, and efficient matter. The students were shown robots that instantaneously assembled the microchip parts. But the main attraction of the day was the lunch that awaited the students back in the small conference room used by the Micron Foundation. The lunch, which consisted of chicken fajitas, Spanish rice, and brownies, was jumped upon by the hungry, yet satisfied students as they awaited the next big thing on the program: the rocket launch at Simplot Field.

Upon completing the visit to Micron, the students were taken to Simplot Fields in order to witness a rocket being launched. After spending a good portion of the day inside Micron, the students were visibly refreshed by the sunlight and fresh air. Although there were some technical difficulties with launching the rocket, the launch was eventually successful, causing all the students to shield their eyes and follow the screaming rocket as it ascended higher and higher. Upon reaching its zenith, the rocket plummeted back towards the crowd of students until its parachute deployed. The students erupted in cheers as the rocket slowly floated back down and landed only a few hundred feet away.

That evening, the students had a fun evening of eating dinner at the union, listening to a presentation by Dan Isla, and rock climbing. Dan Isla’s presentation was centered on the Mars Science Laboratory, a new ‘super’ rover that is going to be launched for Mars this Fall. Dan told his story to the students and even showed them a video concerning the vehicle’s entry and landing on Mars’ surface. The Mars Science Laboratory plans to land on the planet using a revolutionary new method known as “Sky Crane.”

Students listening to Dan Isla's presentation

Students and Dan interacting across the country


Afterwards, the students spent the evening burning off some steam by rock-climbing and slack-lining. Many of the students literally rocketed up to the top of the rock-wall and did amazingly well. All the students needed some time to relax and release some stress.

Hanging on by fingertips

Chris Hill reaching the top

These blogs will continue to be uploaded daily, once the students have completed their final activities each night. A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS Summer Academy Facebook group and page, as well as to Twitter at ISAS_Academy. The students are eager to continue work on their missions as they prepare for the last day of work on their mission and presentations.

--Andrew Schrader and Jaime Guevara--

ISAS 2011 Academy 1 Day 4

Today’s events were off to a very groggy start as our scholars woke up extra early in order to get ready for another day at NASA Ames. After picking up their sack breakfasts provided by the Navy Lodge, the students were instructed to leave their belongings in one of the staff member’s rooms. As the final bags were organized into place, the students and staff headed towards the guarded gates of Ames Research Center, where they were seated in an auditorium for their first presentation.


Students relaxing before presentation

Dr. Bryan Day was the first presenter; he lectured the students on the LCROSS (Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite) which was a mission NASA used to determine whether the moon held ice. As the presentation got into full swing, the students kept asking tremendous questions which Dr. Day responded to with equally great answers; the questions by the students developed into useful tips which they could apply towards their own mission.

After the students departed the auditorium and had their fill of questions and answers from Dr. Day, they met with Dr. Patricia S. Cowings, Director of Psychophysiological Research at NASA Ames, and received a personal tour of her facility. She explained to the students exactly what her line of work and experimentation had brought to NASA over the years. After the tour, the students were assembled by teams inside of a small room to watch a video which explained even more about the research done by the Psychophysiological team there at Ames. Once again, this presentation gave the students even more ideas for the teams living there and getting there.

Next, the students were taken to the Aviation Systems Division next door to the Psychophysiological building where they were shown a system called Future Flight Central. Here the students were shown a simulated airport in Nevada, from the perspective of the control tower, and were impressed by the ability of the tower to see all the runways on the other side of the simulated airport. The students were also impressed by how life-like the snow, rain, and fog simulations were in the tower. Even more realistic was a simulated voyage they witnessed from Nevada to the surface of Mars. The simulation was able to put into better perspective what conditions the students would have to prepare for once their “team” got to the surface of the red planet.

Red Team in the tower

After these amazing first tours, the students were ready for more good food at the Mega Bites café; from their previous day, many had noticed that at the centrifuge, the scientists had outlined all Wednesdays as Burrito Days and were even more intrigued when every NASA scientist appeared to have a burrito on their plate. Deciding to try out this NASA culinary specialty, most students built their own burritos and once they took their first bites were impressed by the hidden culinary talents of NASA.

Once the students were refueled with burritos, and had finished some more shopping at the gift shop, they departed towards the same auditorium they had entered earlier that morning. This time the presentation fell upon the shoulders of Dr. Dana Backman, who had personally worked on the SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) project. Dr. Backman showed the students how SOFIA was able to scan space using a 100-inch telescope that used infrared light to detect objects in space that would usually be missed by even the famous Hubble Telescope. The infrared pictures shown by Dr. Backman revealed a different side of space that many students had not previously witnessed.

For the final BIG event at Ames Research Center, the students were taken to the breath-takingly large 80x120 wind tunnel. This wind tunnel, the largest in the world, is 80 feet high by 120 feet wide and it has been where NASA has tested many objects such as shuttle parachutes, shuttle models, and even an F-18 Blue Angels jet. The students also found out that many of the chutes tested in the wind tunnel were also dropped over their own state of Idaho during further testing. The students were also allowed to go into the wind tunnel as well as witness how the wind tunnel functioned both by itself and with the attached 40x80 wind tunnel.

Students inside the 80 X 120 wind tunnel

Outside view of the 80 X 120 wind tunnel
After being in the wind tunnel and listening to NASA’s longest standing mission, inspiring and motivating young people to academic and social greatness, the students were taken over to the space shuttle model outside for a small, yet professional, photo shoot. Here the teams were assembled by color, with their respective mentors, and finally with the other teams and mentors intermingled for a ISAS group picture before heading back to the San Jose International Airport. There, they awaited the flight back home while interacting happily with one another.

Students awaiting their flight in San Jose
These blogs will continue to be uploaded daily, once the students have completed their final activities each night. A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS Summer Academy Facebook group and page, as well as to Twitter at ISAS_Academy. The students are eager to continue work on their missions as they prepare for an extensive tour of Micron.

--Jaime Guevara, Andrew Schrader--

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

ISAS 2011 Academy 1 Day 3: Ames Research Center

Today began earlier than normal for all the students and staff of ISAS as they geared up for the much anticipated trip to San Jose, CA, to visit NASA Ames Research Center in the Silicon Valley. Getting through the security checkpoint at the Boise Airport (BOI) was a smoother transition than anticipated, given the size of the group, and all students were able to rendezvous with their groups and locate the respective departure gate on time.



Students headed to San Jose

After a relatively short flight, the students and staff arrived at the San Jose International Airport (SJC) and immediately headed towards the coach bus that was waiting at the bus stop in front of the airport. The students stayed at Navy Lodge, and each student departed the bus in an orderly fashion, took their belongings and awaited their turn to drop off their suitcases and begin exploring Ames Research Center. As the students headed to the visitors center, they were able to steal their first glimpses of the center through the security gates.

The students started the visit at the Ames Visitor Center, where the students were able to view different displays such as moon rocks brought to Earth by Apollo 11 and an interactive lecture on the universe. Other students, as well as staff, were in the gift shop buying items both for themselves and for their family members back home.

After the students had viewed all of the exhibits, both students and staff were guided into Ames by Tom Clausen, Director of Education, and arrived at the cafeteria on the base; MegaBites. The students were able to luncheon amongst soldiers and NASA scientists and even visit a secondary gift shop.

Directly after lunch, the students were divided into two groups, Blue Team and White Team comprised Group A while Red Team and Gray Team comprised Group B. Each group headed towards two separate buildings: the Crew Vehicle Systems Research Facility and the Fluid Mechanics Lab. In the Fluids Lab, the students were guided by undergraduate interns and shown two different wind tunnels. These wind tunnels have even earned some fame on an international scale. These tunnels have been used to test the regulation World Cup soccer balls as well as model vehicles from the popular show Mythbusters. The students were even allowed to place small plastic hoses into the tunnels to listen to the different sounds produced by the air vibrations. In another laboratory, the students were shown a small model car submerged in water with a colorful dye, allowing observation of wake and drag acting on the car.


Students entering the Fluid Mechanics Lab

In the CVSRF the students were allowed to enter two different flight simulators used by NASA to study how pilots operate while flying. The students thoroughly enjoyed not only going into these simulators but seeing them in action while “flying” around the Bay Area. Students and NASA directors smiled and chatted happily as the students had the opportunity to experience what very few individuals are even allowed to see, let alone touch.

Afterwards, the students were taken to a different building were they met Natalie Batalha from San Jose State University. Natalie lectured the students on the Kepler telescope project and its mission of searching for other Earth-sized planets outside of our solar system. Many students, and staff, had great questions about the use of the Doppler Effect in order to search for planets and whether said planets were gaseous or solid. In fact, so great were the questions that Natalie decided against narrating the flyover about the planet Kepler-10 and let the students decipher what they were viewing. The students were exceptionally happy to be given the opportunity to feel involved with a true NASA project.

The next stops for the students were the Centrifuge and Vertical Motion Range. In the centrifuge, the students were briefly lectured on some of the functions of the centrifuge and how it has been used for various films ranging from Hollywood films to History and Discovery Channel documentaries. After the lecture, the students were allowed to go into the centrifuge room and take pictures, look into the capsules, and even take team photos in front of the NASA logo.


Exploring the centrifuge

At the Vertical Motion Range, the students were able to see an actual simulation of a shuttle landing. They learned about how the simulation was able to function and reproduce the same g-forces on those inside the simulator without the actual craft taking off. After the simulation was over, the students were able to go into some of the simulation capsules that were being prepped in the warehouse and roam around the small rooms were many astronauts test their shuttle landing skills.


It was a long, exciting day

At the end of the day the students came back happy and tired, ready to dive into the delicious plates of lasagna and salad provided by the staff. After getting their fill of the delicious Italian dish, the students were given free time and enjoyed it thoroughly until bed time.

These blogs will continue to be uploaded daily, once the students have completed their final activities each night. A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS Summer Academy Facebook group and page, as well as to Twitter at ISAS_Academy. The students are eager to continue exploring Ames Research Center and have another busy day ahead of them.




 -- Jaime Guevara, Andrew Schrader --

Monday, July 18, 2011

ISAS 2011 Academy 1 Day 2

The students’ day began with a trip to the Simplot/Micron building at Boise State University, where they partook in a video conference with Alan Ladwig from NASA’s headquarters. Alan discussed the importance of space exploration not only to NASA, but also to the technological advancements consumers enjoy every day. Alan showed the students new concept vehicles for future missions. He also discussed the new expectations of the American public concerning space exploration and budget cuts from Congress that would push NASA to look for more economical ways to carry out their missions. Students also were surprised to learn about the newest influence of private sector companies on space travel. When given the opportunity, students gladly asked questions concerning the future of space exploration as well as asking for tips for their missions here at ISAS and for their futures.

The students then traversed across campus to the Boise State Engineering Building in order to listen to Jason Budinoff, an Aerospace Engineer from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He discussed with the students what responsibilities would be expected from the four different teams. These four teams (Red, Gray, Blue, and White) split up the Mars mission into four separate arenas: Mission Integration, Getting There, Living There, and Working There. The students became more lively and inquisitive upon hearing what was going to be required of them throughout the next week.

Jason Budinoff talking with students

The guidelines for their mission were purposefully vague: Go to the Poles (on Mars), Stay for 30 days, and Come back. Jason Budinoff challenged the students to debate the question, “How do we change this vague idea into a full-blown mission?” After discussion, the students split up into teams to debate further the goals of their teams and to develop the mission outline into a detailed mission plan. They then grouped back together, and presented their research to the entire Academy. They also had the opportunity to share their findings with Jason Budinoff where he was able to critique their work.

Landon Browning presenting ideas

After a short break for lunch, the students returned to the Boise State Engineering Buildings to hear from the Boise State Engineering Dean, Dr. Amy Moll. She spoke about Boise State University, and the College of Engineering. The students were encouraged to ask questions about different types of degrees & minors offered at the College of Engineering. She stressed to the students that their ideal college, should be a perfect fit for their education style, and should fit their needs.

Students then split to work in their teams even further in order to meet their deadlines. After working for an hour, the students were then able to listen to a presentation about rockets by Corey Morasch from Micron and another presentation from Boise State University’s own Microgravity University Team. Both presentations helped the students gain a stronger understanding of the limitations of trying to reach space and what is necessary to remain in space. All the students were fascinated by the 12 foot rocket in the corner of the room and the stories from the Microgravity Team from their ride in the Zero G plane, affectionately known as the “Vomit Comet”.

Later in the evening, the students were also visited by Woody Sobey From the Discovery Center of Idaho. He educated the students about what is and is not a robot and how to create an autonomous system. Being such a complicated system, Woody let the students know that they were about to cram a week’s worth of material into about a three hour time slot. The students immediately rolled up their sleeves and dived into working on the robots. Many different students took charge and displayed impressive leadership skills when organizing the robots. They all impressively worked hard to make their robots listen to different programs and follow a rigid set of instructions

Students building their robot

By the end of the long day, the students had already gelled as a functioning mission control. The students even began to express how well the teams were coming together.

"We already work together really well."
-- Erika Isom

With the day winding down, the students began to prepare themselves for the exciting trip to NASA Ames Research Center during day three and four of the ISAS Summer Academy. These blogs will continue to be uploaded daily, once the students have completed their final activities each night. A more "live" version of the days' events are being uploaded onto the ISAS Summer Academy Facebook group and page, as well as to Twitter at ISAS_Academy. The students have established themselves as mission control and are now ready for the trip to Ames Research Center.

--Andrew Schrader, Jaime Guevara, LaCinda Villanueva--

Sunday, July 17, 2011

ISAS 2011 Academy 1 Day 1


Welcome to the 2011 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. The blogs are written by the three following individuals.

My name is Andrew Schrader and I am one of the bloggers for the ISAS summer program. I recently completed my freshman year at Valparaiso University with an intended major in Mechanical Engineering. Two years ago I interned at NASA Ames Research Center with the NASA INSPIRE program. I am happy to be a part of the newest ISAS Summer Academy and can't wait to be involved.

My name is Jaime Guevara; I am also a blogger for the ISAS program and am attending Boise State in the fall and like my co-blogger will be continuing my studies in Mechanical Engineering. I am happy to continue being one of the first bloggers for the ISAS Summer Academy and hope that parents will be pleased, not just with the daily blogs, but with the program their children are involved with during this key week in their lives.

My name is LaCinda Villanueva. I am an intern helping with the blogs and am currently attending the College of Western Idaho. I plan on transferring to the University of Idaho for a degree in Chemistry. I attended ISAS last year as a student and I enjoyed every aspect of it. I am excited to be back, and to be helping with the blogs.

The Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Summer Academy is a weeklong 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.

 As noon approached on the first day of the academy, the newest 2011 ISAS Summer Academy students began to arrive at Boise State University and settle into their dorms. Students were given the time to place their belongings in their rooms and interact with the every-growing number of students. Many of the students recognized one another from similar schools or hometowns, but many students had the opportunity to meet with others from all parts of Idaho. The students spent some time mingling in the lobby of the dorm, talking excitedly with one another, and very anxious to begin.

 
Students mingling
 By 2:00 PM, the students had checked into the Academy and were led by their mentors and Director Peter Kavouras to The Discovery Center of Idaho. Here, the students were able to mingle further and had an opportunity to experience many of the different exhibits the center had to offer. Some students even shared what they were excited about.


"We wanted to take part in ISAS because we love engineering and space"
--Evan Lovel

After spending time throughout the center, the students congregated into the front room to disperse into their separate teams: Gray, Red, White, and Blue. The teams discussed the Academy rules and chose team leaders. In order to encourage the students to interact outside of their teams, nametags were passed out randomly, requiring the students to become better acquainted with one another. Students laughed as they introduced one another and clearly began to come together as a stronger unit. They will definitely need that cohesion in order to successfully design a manned-mission to Mars.

 
Students being briefed in Discovery Center of Idaho

After a quick meal, the four separate teams, each one representing a different aspect of the mission, presented a patch/logo for their team which they had designed. Students had been communicating previously through the internet program in order to present their creative ideas on this first day.

The final event of the night was a project called the "Table Tennis Triathlon". For this project, the students had to use supplies given to them to create simple machines to perform 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 was scored and the team with the greatest overall score was declared the winner.
 
Blue Team Strategizing
 Overall, the first day of the new Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Summer Academy was very successful, engaging, and fun for students and mentors alike. These blogs will be uploaded daily, and 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. The students have had the chance to meet, and greet with their peers, and are now ready for the oncoming events of the week.


-- Andrew Schrader, Jaime Guevara, LaCinda Villanueva--




Thursday, July 14, 2011

Idaho Students to Study with NASA Experts this Summer

Nearly 90 Idaho students will spend part of their summer break studying space exploration with NASA officials and Idaho experts in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). These students are part of the second annual Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Program Summer Academy.

In 2009, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna worked with astronaut and Boise State Distinguished Educator-in-Residence Barbara Morgan to create this competitive program that allows Idaho high school juniors to take an engaging online course developed by NASA during the school year and then compete for the opportunity to work on developing a mission to Mars with NASA and Idaho scientists.

“The Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholars Program is an unprecedented opportunity for our high school students to work side-by-side with experts in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics from across the state of Idaho and at NASA. We are grateful to partner with NASA, Boise State and other Idaho organizations this year to continue this exciting program,” Superintendent Luna said. 

“Engaging the next generation in research and opening their eyes to the possibilities of STEM are priorities at Boise State, and this program is an outstanding extension of our mission,” Morgan said. “We are delighted to be collaborating with all of the great organizations and dedicated people who make this wonderful program possible.”

In its first year, 73 students enrolled in the online course, and 44 students went on to the Summer Academy.  The program was expanded this year, with the help of a $939,457 in grant funding from NASA. This year, 134 students enrolled in the online course, and 88 students will be participating in the Summer Academy, which will be held twice.

Forty-four students will attend the first Summer Academy July 17-23, and 44 students will attend the second Summer Academy July 31-August 6.

The weeklong summer Academy takes place partly at Boise State, Micron Technology and the Discovery Center of Idaho, and partly at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. At the Summer Academy, students are immersed in a NASA mission, a problem-based engineering design challenge. STEM experts, teachers and mentors will guide these Idaho students as they design a human mission to Mars.

The Education Idaho blog will provide live updates of the week’s events during both Summer Academies.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Idaho Schools Will Receive $60M in Additional Funds

Idaho’s public schools will receive an additional $60 million in state funding this year, Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter announced today.

"This is a great day for Idaho schools," Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. "I thank the Legislature and Governor Otter for their fiscally responsible approach to budgeting and continued commitment that Idaho public schools will receive the first dollars available. Now, we are able to distribute $60 million in additional funds to our schools, which will more than cover the $47 million shortfall school districts were going to face in the upcoming year."

The additional funding will be distributed to public schools through discretionary funds.

Read Governor Otter’s full statement on the additional revenues statewide.

Monday, July 11, 2011

School Net and Discovery Learning Presentations

Led by Jason Martinez, several members of the Denver Public School system spoke to the Technology Task Force today about the success they have enjoyed in implementing their Instructional Management System. SchoolNet, a program Idaho is soon to employ thanks to a generous donation by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, gives classroom teachers and school administrators the data they need to guide instruction and raise student achievement.


Wuanita Vann, a high school teacher from Denver who described herself as data-averse, spoke enthusiastically about how the data system won her over. Because she can access student data more quickly, she is much better able to serve her student population. This is especially true for at-risk students. She can now get information before or shortly after students arrive in her classroom—not months or sometimes a semester later, as it worked in the past. The system also allows her to plan interventions and collaborate with other teachers to develop individualized learning strategies for students who need remediation. SchoolNet allows her to more efficiently locate problems so she can spend more time developing solutions.

“I get the whole picture of a student,” said Wuanita. “It’s like Gatorade for teachers…It really has revolutionized the way we work.”

The team from Denver did a good job explaining how online data could benefit school systems and teachers; Hall Davidson, from Discovery Learning, showed how his company could further augment this online data bank.

Not only can teachers access student information, state content standards, curriculum and online assessments, Discovery Learning also has worked with SchoolNet to provide digital content that teachers can incorporate in their classrooms. The digital content and multimedia further enhance classroom learning and engage a new generation of students who are accustomed to assimilating information from media. Whether it is engaging video or interactive media opportunities that inspire student creativity, Discovery Learning represents a serious online resource for teachers.

Technology Task Force - Steven Garton of Maine Learning Technology Initiative

Steven Garton of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative met with the Technology Task Force this morning via web video to deliver his insights gleaned from ten years of successful laptop implementation in Maine schools. Much of his presentation highlighted not only the benefits of technology in the classroom, but the benefits of allowing students to fully embrace and take ownership of that technology.


Key to the success of any program, said Garton, is a very thorough and well-considered plan. A clear idea of tech goals for the classroom, proper negotiation of laptop plans, and even consideration of how students will store and transport their devices all contribute to a more successful tech implementation.

Professional development and teacher participation were central features of Garton’s presentation; he repeatedly emphasized the need for teachers to have the skills and training they need to meaningfully integrate laptop use in the classroom. When students see that teachers take the technology seriously and respect the devices, they have a tendency to do the same.

Most interesting, perhaps, was Garton’s suggestion that allowing students to take ownership of their machines led to greater learning and reduced damage. When students were allowed to take their machines home and use them for personal purposes, they could see the benefit of taking care of them. Last year, Maine had a breakage rate of less than 2%.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Students Come First Technology Task Force to Meet Next Week

The Students Come First Technology Task Force is scheduled to meet July 11-12, 2011 at the Idaho Statehouse in Boise. The meeting is open to the public.

The Technology Task Force meeting will include presentations on the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, the Denver Public Schools Instructional Management System, and Discovery Learning’s digital content for classrooms.

The task force will meet from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Monday and from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday. The Executive Committee, made up of subcommittee chairs and vice chairs, will meet from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. See the full agenda.

All meetings are open to the public and will be streamed live online via Idaho Public Television's Legislature Live.

Find more information about the Students Come First Technology Task Force at the Students Come First Website.