Welcome to the Kansas NSF EPSCoR (KNE) news and announcements blog. Stay up-to-date with all the happenings, discoveries, events and funding opportunities associated with KNE. Enter your email in the "Follow by email" box below and to the right to stay notified of new posts. Feel free to leave comments.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Kansas Physics Teachers Convene at Kansas State University to Connect Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics with the Next Generation Science Standards

Presenters:  Dr. Chris Elles, Mr. Matt Krehbiel, Dr. Bret Flanders, Dr. Charles Fehrenbach, Dr. Anh Thu Le, Dr. Dean Zollman

     On June 8, 2015, a group of five physics teachers from across the state of Kansas and three UKanTeach students from the University of Kansas (KU) met at Kansas State University (KSU) to attend the Kansas NSF EPSCoR teacher workshop titled "Connecting the Physics of Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)."  This three day workshop was developed by Dr. Chris Elles, KU Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Kansas NSF EPSCoR AMO research team member, Dr. Jackie Spears, Director of the Science Education Center and Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at KSU, and Dr. Paul Adams, Dean of the College of Education and Technology, Anschutz Professor of Education and Professor of Physics at Fort Hays State University (FHSU) to address physics teachers concerns related to wave and electromagnetic radiation curriculum gaps.  In addition to addressing the curricular issues, this workshop facilitated the opportunity for teachers to interact with KU and KSU Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) physics team members to discuss the Kansas/Nebraska NSF EPSCoR AMO research project.
     Special guest, Mr. Matt Krehbiel, Science Program Consultant for the Kansas Department of Education, served as the keynote speaker. Mr. Krehbiel modeled and facilitated activities that demonstrated the overarching Next Generation Science Standards teaching and learning expectations. In addition, he provided the framework and emphasized the teaching strategies necessary for developing high school physics lessons related to the Wave and Electromagnetic Radiation Next Generation Science Standard.
     Dr. Bret Flanders, provided some fun, hands-on demonstrations and activities designed to introduce the basic concepts of waves as well as explore wave behavior using several sound waves experiments.
    On day two, Dr. Charles Fehrenbach introduced light wave concepts. He then led the teachers on a tour through the KSU James R. Macdonald AMO Physics Laboratory. While on the tour, the teachers observed the mechanics of the laser designs and interacted with both undergraduate and graduate students conducting AMO experiments.
     Dr. Anh Thu Le introduced the theoretical aspects of the AMO research project and shared some very useful diagrams and illustrations that the teachers could easily incorporate into their lessons.
     In the afternoon, Dr. Chris Elles along with the KU UKanTeach students presented early drafts of spectroscopy lessons associated with Dr. Elles' NSF Career Award and asked the current physics teachers for their experienced feedback. These lessons served as a foundation for the following day's lesson planning session and provided the teachers with some creative examples for how to directly connect the AMO research to the Next Generation Science Standards.
     On the third day of the workshop Dr. Dean Zollman  introduce a unique online physics resource he created titled Visual Quantum Mechanics.  The teachers surveyed the website and recognized it could enhance a lesson related to the AMO research as well as seamlessly align with the Wave and Electromagnetic Radiation Next Generation Science Standard. As the teachers began to formulate their ideas for lessons, some of them met with the AMO graduate students and professors in small groups to solidify their understanding of the AMO physics, wave and electromagnetic radiation concepts.
     Following these informal meetings, the teachers began the task of writing some model physics lessons addressing the "Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation" Next Generation Science Standard. Their goal was to design lessons that demonstrated how to construct student performance assessments; discuss disciplinary core ideas; incorporate cross cutting concepts; and create opportunities to develop science and engineering practices. Upon completion, these new lesson plans will ultimately serve as exemplary lessons for teachers across the state to utilize in their classrooms. 
     As a result of their participation in this Kansas EPSCoR teacher workshop, the teachers stated they now have a better understanding for how to connect the AMO Physics research with the Next Generation Science Standards as well as write lessons that reflect the state of Kansas' science education initiatives.  They also appreciated acquiring a new set of activities and resources related to waves, electromagnetic radiation and AMO physics to share with their colleagues and to assist them with the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards.

The workshop was deemed very informative, very useful and very productive by the participants.  
Special thanks to all KSU, KU and FHSU faculty and staff 
who made the event a great success.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Kansas and Nebraska EPSCoR AMO Research Project encourages STEM interests for young women at the Kansas State University EXCITE Summer Program

     On June 5, 2015, Dr. Vinod Kumarappan, Associate Professor of Physics at Kansas State University and Kansas NSF EPSCoR research team member introduced the EXCITE students to the physics associated with sound and light waves. EXCITE, or Exploring Science, Technology, and Engineering, encourages and fosters female students in the 9th -12th grades to pursue a future in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and agriculture.

     Dr. Kumarappan is one of the key researchers involved with The Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Nebraska and Kansas NSF EPSCoR Track 2 project Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures. His main research focus is to develop methods to align and orient small molecules in the gas phase, and to study ultrafast physics in the molecular frame.

     During his presentation, Dr. Kumarappan conducted several demonstrations illustrating both sound and light wave behavior under a variety of conditions. The participants were fascinated with the experiments and actively participated in the discussion.

     Once the EXCITE participants had a general idea of wave behaviors, Dr. Kumarappan led the group on a tour of the James R. Macdonald Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics Laboratory and showed the participants the intricate workings of a complex laser system. He then explained his research, emphasized connections to his previous presentation and provided concrete examples to illustrate his scientific methods for addressing his research questions.  

     The participants were visibly intrigued by all the demonstrations.Following the conclusion of the presentation and the tour, several participants exclaimed "This physics stuff is so cool!"

Friday, June 12, 2015

HERS Student receives the NAPIRE Award

David Tyndall presenting his HERS research
David Tyndall, a current undergraduate student at Haskell Indian Nations University and participant in the Haskell Environmental Research Studies (HERS) Program, has received the prestigious Native American Pacific Islander Research Experience Award (NAPIRE) and will travel to Costa Rica to participate in the NAPIRE summer research program.

The NAPIRE Program provides a unique, intensive opportunity for undergraduate students to conduct scientific field research as well as apply the scientific method to ecological discovery in a collaborative and team-oriented environment.  The experience requires students to complete a research project which includes experimental design, data gathering and analysis, and a presentation of their results at the NAPIRE Symposium.  In addition to completing a research project, students will participate in lectures, seminars and field activities that focus on tropical ecology and conservation as well as interacting with the indigenous groups observing the role of Native People in tropical forest conservation.

David, a member of the Red Lake Minnesota Band of Chippewa Indians, is currently working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science at Haskell Indian Nations University.  During his time in the HERS program, his research interests focused on Fish Waste Anaerobic Digestion, an effort to manage fish waste and convert it into electricity and fertilizer for the reservation. This project inspired him to work with University of Kansas Associate Professor of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, Belinda Sturm as a member of her wastewater management research team. Kansas NSF EPSCoR partially funded Dr. Sturm’s research as part of its major initiative, Climate change and Energy, Basic Science, Impacts and Mitigation.

From his NAPIRE research, he hopes to better understand water quality impacts on decomposition rates of leaf-litter. He also hopes to discover and better understand the culture of Costa Rica as well as observe the role of Native People in tropical forest conservation.

As for his future, David plans to graduate from Haskell Indian Nations University with an Environmental Science degree, and either attend graduate school to pursue a master’s degree in Environmental Engineering or join the Air Force where he can have a career and protect my country at the same time.”

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

Friday, June 5, 2015

NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Researchers Host Impressive Research Review

The Kansas and Nebraska Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Research Review participants
The Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) research groups in Nebraska and Kansas held the first of three review meetings for their joint NSF EPSCoR Track 2 project Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures.  The two state research teams gathered at Kansas State University on May 26 to present updates as well as new scientific findings in the field of AMO physics to a review panel of experts in the field.

The project team's recent efforts wowed the review panel that consisted of three AMO physics specialists, Louis DiMauro from Ohio State University, George Gibson from the University of Connecticut, and Mark Stockman from Georgia State University, as well as an evaluation expert, Cindi Dunn from the Office of Educational Innovation and Evaluation at Kansas State University. The panel was invited to review, question and provide feedback based on their evaluation of the scientific progress made since the award was granted in August, 2014.

Uma Venkateswaren, NSF EPSCoR Program Manager, was also invited to provide additional guidance from a federal perspective. Kansas and Nebraska collaborative teams spent the day presenting engaging reports of their progress as it pertained to their scientific goals, partnering efforts, joint publications and plans for future research. The framework for the educational outreach and broader impacts events as well as participant projections for these activities were also shared. Following the morning sessions, meeting attendees were invited to tour the James R. Macdonald Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics laboratory where the Kansas State University AMO research is conducted.

Following the day's activities, the panel met to discuss their observations and recommendations. The research teams received a favorable review and will incorporate the panel’s suggestions in their future efforts.

The next event, an AMO Research Symposium, will take place at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln in September.

For more information related to this EPSCoR project go to The National Science Foundation webpage for Award Abstract #1430519