This site is created by David V. Black and his students to showcase the uses and history of the chemical elements and how they are mined, and refined.
David Black is currently a science and technology (STEAM) teacher at American Academy of Innovation in the Daybreak area of South Jordan, Utah. He was formerly at Walden School of Liberal Arts in Provo, Utah. His students have created some outstanding projects. These include: (1) two animations for the Center for Lunar Origin and Evolution, part of NASA’s Lunar Science Institute, one on the geographical features of the moon, such as the Apollo landing sites, and another on how the moon formed (the giant impact theory):
and http://youtu.be/dw_Y_gujBwU; (2) a series of four podcasts on topics related to astrobiology for the 365 Days of Astronomy website; (3) a series of demonstrations for elementary classes on chemistry and astronomy topics; (4) a Science Showcase program at our school where they demonstrated their presentations to the public; and (5) a video lesson plan on finding the distances to stars using trigonometric parallax for the MIT BLOSSOMS project:
David has won a number of national awards as a science and technology teacher, including 3rd place in the 2011 Mars Education Challenge (which included a week-long astrobiology field research experience in the Mojave Desert – here’s the link: http://www.exploremars.org/page/mars-education-challenge/winners-2011/) and first place in the 2012 What If Prize competition (here’s the link: http://www.whatifprize.org/educators_winner_2012.php). He was selected along with Carolyn Bushman of Wendover Jr/Sr. High School and 24 others as a SOFIA Airborne Astronomy Ambassador (here’s the link: http://www.sofia.usra.edu/News/news_2012/01_25_12/index.html). He flew on SOFIA in June, 2013 and videotaped his experiences. His students are now creating 3D animations of the aircraft and editing his video footage into a 30-minute video.
Recently, David was chosen as the Utah Geological Association’s Teacher of the Year for 2016-17; as the National Air Force Association’s Teacher of the Year first runner up in 2015; and as a recipient of the Robert E. Yager Excellence in Teaching Award from the National Science Teachers Association in 2015, where he also served on the Aerospace Programs Advisory Board from 2013 to 2016. He received a Research Experiences for Teachers award in 2014 and spent the summer working with Dr. Eric Hintz of the Brigham Young University Physics Department researching high-mass X-ray binary stars in Cassiopeia. He and his students were chosen to participate in the NASA/IPAC Teacher Archive Research Program in 2014-15. They traveled to Caltech in Pasadena, CA and used infrared astronomy data that is archived in the IPAC database to determine if K-giant stars may be consuming their own planets. His students presented their results from this project as a poster at the 2015 American Astronomical Society annual conference in Seattle.
David was chosen in 2015 as a MAVEN Educator Ambassador and has received intensive training at Goddard Space Flight Center on the MAVEN space probe orbiting Mars. He represents science teachers from charter, home, private, and online schools on the Utah Science Teachers Association board. He has been chosen by the U.S. State Department to participate in the Teachers for Global Classrooms program for the 2016-17 school year.
Prior to teaching at Walden School, David taught courses in media design technology (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, 3D Modeling and Animation, Digital Video Production, Web Design, Flash, and Director) at Mountainland Applied Technology College from 1997 to 2009. He has also taught high school science courses (including chemistry, physics, astronomy, geology, and earth systems) at Tioga High School in Groveland, CA; at Juab High School in Nephi, Utah; and at Provo Canyon School in Provo, UT. Altogether he has 26 years of experience teaching high school students and adults. He also works professionally as a freelance graphic designer and video editor for business and non-profit clients throughout Utah. You can check out his videos at the Davidvblack channel on YouTube.
David has also been involved in professional development training and has led educator in-service workshops in such subjects as Macromedia (now Adobe) Director and using Mars 3D altitude data in the classroom. He is a frequent presenter at state and national science and technology educator conferences, including the National Science Teachers Association annual conferences for the last seven years.
In 1998 he was chosen to attend the NASA Educator Workshop program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA, a two-week, all-expenses-paid workshop where he met NASA mission specialists, toured the lab, and learned about NASA educational programs. In 2000 he was chosen as a NASA/JPL Solar System Educator and received additional training at JPL as well as mission materials which he distributed to over 500 teachers through a series of workshops he presented in Utah. As part of this program, he also attended an educator conference at Cape Canaveral for the launch of the Mars 2001 Odyssey space probe. In 2001 he was selected as the Educator Facilitator for the NASA Educator Workshop program at JPL (later the NASA Explorer Schools program) and had the opportunity to help plan and implement the workshops for 2002, 2003, and 2004. As part of this, he has visited six of the ten NASA field centers and has met many of the public outreach personnel at NASA, which has been a great opportunity to bring the best of NASA to his classroom. In 2009 he completed a Research Fellowship at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, PA which was sponsored by the American Section of the Société de Chimie Industrielle. He researched Greek matter theories; photographed many rare books on the history of alchemy, early chemistry, and medieval technology; and toured science museums and mining sites across the country. His experiences during this fellowship have been documented here at the Elements Unearthed site.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, David’s students have achieved some amazing things. Previous to his present assignment at American Academy of Innovation, his students at Walden School and MATC also participated in outstanding projects. In 2003, the media design program at MATC was chosen as a Mars Exploration Student Data Team, the only class in Utah to be chosen. His students were able to use real Mars orbiter data as soon as it was uploaded from the probes in order to predict martian weather and alert the rover scientists in the event of an approaching dust storm. Four of these students presented their results and the multimedia project they created at a student symposium held at the Mars Student Imaging Program center at Arizona State University in 2004. David also traveled to Houston, TX to present his students’ results at the 35th Annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference.
In the fall of 2004, the media design students at MATC embarked on a new challenge: to tell the history of Utah’s AM radio stations. Working with a local media producer, they interviewed 25 current and former Utah disc jockeys about their days in AM radio in the 1950s through 1970s. They scanned photos brought in by the DJs, created animations, and edited hours and hours of video footage down into a two hour documentary that aired on Salt Lake City’s PBS station, KUED, in 2007.
In the 2007-08 and 2008-09 school years the media design students at MATC began the first phase of a new project even more ambitious and challenging. It is called The Elements Unearthed. In this project, teams of students are traveling to mine sites and refineries to document the history, sources, uses, mining, refining, and hazards of the chemical elements, important industrial materials, and energy production. They are working with subject experts including historians, scientists, and engineers to show where the chemicals and materials we use every day come from and how they are made. They are preserving the history of chemistry and are editing the video footage and photos into a series of podcast video episodes that will be linked through this blog and available on iTunes and YouTube.
At Walden School, several grants from the American Chemical Society and elsewhere helped to begin the STEM-Arts Alliance, a program to integrate art and history into STEM subjects, including chemistry. David’s students created homemade iron-gall ink and watercolor pigments and used them to paint and draw illustrations of the history of chemistry. One grant from ACS allowed us to study soil contamination in the Tintic Mining District around Eureka, Utah.
This blog is designed to report our progress on this and other projects. This site will also include comments on science education in general and ways we can use technology to enhance science education. We will also post scripts, proposals. animations, photos, audio files, and presentations for you to look over and comment on. We welcome your input and suggestions. If you wish to contact David Black, please feel free to e-mail him at:
DavidandBecca@comcast.net (our personal e-mail)