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.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Manhattan High School Student Explores Growing Nanowires

    Zach Culbertson, a junior at Manhattan High School in Manhattan KS, enjoys learning about science research.  At school, he participates in the Science Olympiad, Scholars Bowl, Quest, FRC Robotics Club, Tennis, and Fencing.  He also enjoys studying Arabic, the Middle East and Politics.
    As part of a class assignment, Zach was asked to explore his career interests and select someone in that position of interest to interview. He knew he enjoyed science, engineering and “hands-on research." In addition, he knew "practical lab experience is very useful in any science career,” so, Zach decided to investigate a career in physics and to interview Dr. Bret Flanders, Associate Professor of Physics at Kansas State University and a member of the Kansas NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Collaborative Research: Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules and Nanostructures research team.  It was during this interview that Dr. Flanders saw great potential in Zach and offered him an afterschool internship opportunity to work in his lab.
    The focus of Dr. Flanders’ research is making electrodes for the creation of nanowires to be used for experiments involving electronic transfer.  Zach is responsible for constructing and thinning electrodes so that “we can ‘grow’ nanowires” on the tips of the electrodes by sending an electrical current through a solution containing the unique materials needed to create them.
Above are illustrations of methods used for growing nanowires.
    Zach said his lab task is to grow nanowires that can be used to study electronic transfers that will “help increase the speed and efficiency of the electronic devices.”  He stated that the best part of the internship experience is seeing the practical use and impact of what he has learned in his high school science classes.  Zach added that this internship has given him “lots of practical laboratory experience related to lab procedures and practices" as well as an opportunity to better prepare him for whatever kind of science career he chooses to pursue.
    As for his future plans, Zach said, “I would like to attend college, hopefully Harvard, and am looking at going into Aerospace Engineering or Biomedical Engineering, and Middle Eastern Studies. I would also like to try to get involved with the World Food Program as a volunteer.”

The Flanders Group works in the areas of soft matter nanotechnology and biological physics.  Current projects focus on measuring the distribution of cell-electrode residence times as a function electrode-voltage.

Education and outreach funding for this high school internship opportunity is provided by the Kansas and Nebraska NSF EPSCoR Track 2 Grant #1430519 titled: "Imaging and Controlling Ultrafast Dynamics of Atoms, Molecules, and Nanostructures."  The grant's educational objectives are designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce or prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of atomic/molecular/optical science.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Emporia State Partners with AVID Climate Initiative to Explore Aerosols

     Dr. C. Matt Seimears, Chair and Associate Professor of the Education/Early Childhood/Special Education Department at Emporia State University was awarded a Kansas NSF Education and Diversity award to develop four spring 2015 mini-camps and a summer 2015 camp addressing the AVID Climate Initiative (ACI).
Seimears' mini and summer camps’overarching goal was to initiate an AVID/ACI systemic reform involving Emporia State University, USD 259 Wichita, Kansas and USD 490 EL Dorado, Kansas; and Butler Community College (BCC) and to train each participant from USD 259 Wichita, Kansas; USD 490 EL Dorado, Kansas; and Butler Community College (BCC) to the use of the newly developed ACI curriculum. USD 259 is an urban district, USD 490 is a rural school district both with underrepresented populations of minority and first generation education students. Specifically, the camps were designed to analyze the impact of Aerosols in relationship to the atmosphere as well as create climate experiences and experiments that could easily be replicated district wide. In addition, the program exposed both students and teachers to the possibilities of STEM Climate careers. Two ESU faculty, one BCC science faculty member and eleven rural students, eight teachers and twelve pre-service teacher candidates from five high school AVID programs within USD 259 and USD 490 participated.

   The highlights of the program were: 1.) determining Wichita might have too much brake dust in the air above the city, and 2.) discovering the existence of burning pasture Aerosols in air around rural parts of Kansas.  Participants commented, “This was very exciting, we had no idea that even sea spray can be an Aerosol in the air. We always thought it was only hair spray or paint cans.” Students built a solar dehydrator as a final project.

   If future funding becomes available, Seimears plans to invite urban students and teachers from the Kansas City area to participate next year. He wants to continue to encourage students, especially those from lower economic and underrepresented communities, to pursue STEM climate careers .

AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a global nonprofit program whose mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college or other post secondary opportunities.  

The 2015 Kansas NSF EPSCoR Education and Diversity Grants were designed to enhance STEM education in Kansas by supporting activities that will lead to an expanded STEM workforce and prepare a new generation for STEM careers in the areas of climate or energy research or atomic/molecular/optical science.