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Friday, May 9, 2014

Climate and Energy: Education Outreach Activities Summer 2014

Engaging a broad spectrum of the education continuum in Kansas on the importance of STEM research (particularly climate and energy) is one of KNE's goals. To advance this goal KNE provided funding for Education and Diversity Grants that take a wide range of approaches, many of which involve summer workshops and symposia for students and teachers in the state. A description these events are below.

July 7-9, 2014 - ESU Summer Scholars Program (Emporia State University, Emporia, KS) run by Elizabeth Yanik, Professor of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Economics.

The Emporia State Summer Scholar program is a three day summer program targeted toward Hispanic middle school students. This program will extend the STEM outreach work already underway at ESU. The focus of this program will be mathematical modeling where students will work in teams learning how to use functions on a graphing calculator. The will then be asked to create simple mathematical models to analyze various situations. Such a model could be used for studying the effects of global climate change on Kansas agriculture. One example might be to select variables such as moisture level, temperature, and rainfalls and relate these to differences in crop yields. Each team will make a presentation of their modeling efforts and summarize their conclusions at the end of the program.

The objectives of the program as a whole are to: increase Hispanic youth’s interest in science and mathematics, foster awareness of career opportunities in mathematics and science-related fields, and provide Hispanic youth with an opportunity to meet and form personal contacts with professionals working in mathematics and science-related careers.

Summer of 2014 - Increasing Energy Education in Grades 5-12 for Rural School Teachers (Fort Hays State University, Hays, KS) run by Paul Adams, Anschutz Endowed Professor of Teacher Education.

Energy education is critical to the economic future of the United States. Knowledgeable teachers are essential to provide this education. While opportunities exist for teachers to become knowledgeable in this area, underrepresented groups such as those in geographically underserved locales have few opportunities to participate in professional development programs. The project addresses this lack by offering a professional development model that will improve STEM education by enhancing teachers’ knowledge of energy. This is being accomplished over a two-year period as the teachers participate in learning that blends virtual and face-to-face experiences. 

For more information about any of these programs please visit http://www.nsfepscor.ku.edu/EducationDiversity2012.html or contact Doug Byers at dbyers@ku.edu.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Student's Research SOARS to New Level

Summertime is often a busy time for students preparing for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. When properly leveraged, opportunities are abound for students to develop research skills and projects that will advance them to the next level. This is exactly what Eugene Cody has done.

Cody, an undergraduate American Indian Studies major at Haskell Indian Nations University (and enrolled member in the Hopi tribe), was recruited to participate in the summer of 2013 Haskell Environmental Research Studies (HERS) Institute. During this time he developed a research project examining the air quality associated with the burning of coal in the homes of the native Hopi people in northern Arizona and to identify solutions to the resulting problems (air quality, climate change, water use, and human health).

As a follow-on to his research project Cody and his cohort of HERS interns took a one-week field trip to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado where they conducted experiments in air quality testing. They followed up the research by presenting their findings to the NCAR community.

At the conclusion of the trip, Cody was invited to apply as a protégé to the Significant Opportunities in Atmospheric Research and Science (SOARS) program conducted through NCAR. "My time at NCAR was very fulfilling and I applied" he explained.

Cody was accepted as to the 2014 SOARS summer program and will spend ten weeks conducting original research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) or at laboratories of other SOARS sponsors. By the end of the summer, protégés will prepare scientific papers and present their research at a colloquium. To help protégés succeed academically and professionally, SOARS offers each protégé up to five mentors: a research mentor, a writing mentor, a computing mentor, a coach, and a peer mentor. Research shows that this comprehensive, multi-dimensional mentoring is a key contributor to the continued success of SOARS protégés.

Cody's upcoming SOARS internship will take his air quality research to the next level. He will be working with the Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences (IMAGe) at NCAR where his project will consist of using atmospheric inverse modeling to apply to carbon flux estimation problems.

Kansas NSF EPSCoR would like to congratulate Mr. Cody for the success he has leveraged from his opportunity at the HERS Institute.