Posts Tagged ‘Mars exploration’


A hat created by Justin, one of my STEAM it Up students. It is made of upcycled and repurposed materials.

At the beginning of the school year in my STEAM it Up class I had the students vote on which of many possible projects they wanted to work on. The one unit they all agreed on was to make a series of sculptures or cosplay items out of repurposed, upcycled junk. I’ve been collecting materials for years, ever since I created my first “junk” sculpture at the age of 18. I’ve taught this unit three times before in Intersession classes and afterschool clubs when I was at Walden School of Liberal Arts. The results were mixed – the high school students did fairly well, but not so much the middle school students. It seems at that age students are much better at tearing things apart than at systematically planning how to put them back together.


Small junk sculpture of a cat, made by Emily.

My main reason for teaching the class was to actually use up the junk I’ve been collecting and clean out my workshop. Yet it seems I wind up with more stuff before than after – maybe because of the aforementioned “tearing apart” proclivity of middle school students; what was nicely compacted as old VCRs and DVD players is now a series of scattered pieces.


A bracelet and a diagram, created for my STEAM it Up class.

So I was a bit reluctant to do this again and bring in boxes of materials that inevitably make a terrible mess in my classroom. But I also knew it could be fun and educational if done right, so I took the chance. I structured this differently than before: each student would need to produce three items. The first would be a small sculpture as a beginning exercise, something that can be easily held in one hand. The second would be a cosplay item or some type of costume piece or wearable sculpture or prop. The third would be a group project where all eight students would plan out a large-scale sculpture together. The second and third projects needed to be sketched out and planned in advance.


A little man, made from old keys and other recycled objects. Glued together with hot glue and E-6000 adhesive.

They came up with a variety of interesting sculptures for their first and second projects, as seen here. I am also including some of their sketches, although in too many cases they drew the sketches after they made the sculptures. Some of the sculptures involved LED lights, which took some planning and thinking through. The point is to teach them some engineering and materials science skills, and engineers plan everything out in advance. Some students resist this, as they see these sculptures as art forms, not engineering designs, and pre-planning seems to them to impede the creative process. Of course, without planning and thinking through how to attach the disparate materials together, their sculptures tend to fall apart. Glue alone can’t hold a load-bearing member like a leg or arm.


A tiny soldier, made by Noah for my STEAM it Up class.

Which is why we are doing a group project. We decided to build a futuristic Mars colony city (to go with our school’s overall Mars Exploration project – more on this coming in my other blog at http://spacedoutclassroom.com).


A space ship sculpture, made from recycled motherboards and other electronic junk.

Two years ago, we had someone contribute a lot of materials to Walden School that were from a doctor’s office or scientist’s lab. I still have no clue what most of the stuff was even for – some of it is probably valuable as antiques. One item was a still for making distilled water, but bought in the early 1970s because of its horrible avocado green color scheme. I managed to get a chemistry professor at Brigham Young University to take it off my hands. But the rest of the stuff was of little use. One item was a plastic autoclave, with multiple levels for sterilizing surgical equipment. There were also glass containers for storing or cleaning microscope slides (I think – based on similar plastic items I’ve seen in the Flinn Scientific catalog).


A flying saucer that lights up, made by Sam for my STEAM it Up class.

The autoclave looks like a domed city, something out of Isaac Asimov’s Caves of Steel series of books about the android R. Daneel Olivaw and Detective Elijah Bailey. We were looking at the autoclave and other materials and “noodling around,” which is an important scientific and engineering creative process: putting things together that don’t normally go together and seeing what would look good and work toward a harmonious whole. We came up with the glass containers as pillars for the autoclave layers. One of the students suggested offsetting the layers. I sketched these ideas out on my whiteboard, and we worked through how to attach everything together using metal piping from old 1980s brass and glass furniture with bolts and L-brackets, and wire to tie the pillars together to make the whole thing structurally sound.


A steampunk bracelet with LED light, made by Sam.

Teams of students took different layers. The bottom layer (Level 1) will be the industrial and manufacturing center, so one team is making industrial-style equipment and buildings that look like factories and power plants. One team is doing Level 2, which is the main residential sector. One team is doing Level 3, which is the administrative, shopping, hospital, and school level. They built a school from an old calculator and wanted the holes to become solar panels. I remembered having a folder with a shiny metallic-blue cover, so we cannibalized it to become the solar cells. Level 4 is the park, university, and upper class residential sector, and the dome will have spaceports, defense, and communications centers. Already the pieces are shaping up. This is exactly the engineering and materials science I had hoped for when we started this unit.


Magic wand, made by Sarah for my STEAM it Up class.

We are now beginning the construction of the main city levels, but Winter Break has halted the process. It will be our last project for the STEAM it Up class. It will sit upon two wooden plaques, again donated from the doctor’s office, and we’ll create smaller domes for hydroponics and farms, with small Mars rovers (already made by one student who is great at miniaturized sculptures).


Small sculptures created by my STEAM it Up students: a stamp and a ring.

We’ll make Mars landscaping from paper maché and HO scale model train decorations. I also hope to put wires up through the support shafts and add LED lights to the city. The final city will be quite heavy and hard to move around, so it will stay in my classroom and make a great decoration for my newly completed lab. We’re photographing the construction process, I’ll interview the students, and we’ll add all of this to our ongoing Mars project documentary video. I’ll write another blog post in January when we can show the finished sculpture. I would also like to create a virtual 3D model of the finished city so we can animate and label the parts.


First drawing of our Mars colony, using parts from an autoclave as the levels of our city and glass microscope slide cleaners as pillars.

We still need to pick a name for it. Looking up names for Mars in various cultures, and adding translations for the word “city,” I come up with some possibilities: Aresdelphia, Al-Qahira Madina, Harmakhis Delphi, Hradelphia or Hrad K’aghak’, Huo Hsing Shr, Ma’adim Delphi, Kaseishi, Mangalakha, Martedelphia or Marte Cuidad, Mawrth Dinas, Nirgal Alu, Shalbatana Alu, Simudelphia, Labouville, and Tiuburg. We’ll have to vote on it.


Even without glue or bolts, the layers stack up fairly well in this first attempt to build the Mars colony city. We decided to use two of the boards instead of one so we could add more landscaping and farming domes using HO-scale model railroad decor.

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My presentation

My Presentation at NSTA

On Saturday, March 12, I attended a presentation by Howard Lineberger on the Mars Exploration Student Data team program his students have participated in. It was at the Hilton Hotel, so I hopped the conference shuttle bus over. My students at Mountainland Applied Technology College had participated in this program during its first year in 2003-2004. We used dust opacity measurements from the Mars Global Surveyor probe to predict Martian dust storms. Now the program measures the geochemistry of Martian rocks using the CRISM instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. I’m glad to see that the program is still going, and I hope to get my students from Walden School involved next year for an astrobiology course I plan on teaching.

Measuring Mars

Teachers measuring the Mars model during my presentation

After the session, I rode the shuttle back to my hotel and prepared for my own session. I was in the Marriott hotel in the same room where many of the space science workshops were being held (and where I attended the Mt. Pisgah Observatory session the day before). The session before mine was by Pamela Wheffen, a Solar System Embassador who’s name I’d heard before. I didn’t get to hear her session because I didn’t want to interrupt, so I was pacing outside in the hall with my box of Mars stuff.

I was hoping to improve on the number of participants compared to my session on Thursday, and I was pleased to have about 15 people come and participate. I got all of my materials ready and walked through the Keynote presentation, then we tried out the three methods of measuring and recording the altitude data. This presentation is on my Mars to Model lesson that was submitted to Explore Mars’ competition (although I had submitted the proposal long before I heard of the competition).  A terrain made of clay or paper mache is placed in a box with holes drilled in the lid in a grid pattern (and it was a real pain to drill all the holes the other day). Using a lollipop stick, the height of the terrain is measured from the lid down using three techniques.

Clay model

A physical model of the Mars terrain

The first method uses color bars at intervals on the lollipop stick, and whatever color it comes to, the students record using colored markers on a graph paper sheet. This creates a color-coded topographic map of the terrain, and is appropriate for younger students. The second method uses a lollipop stick with marks in millimeters and numbers are recorded on a graph paper. Modeling clay is rolled out onto a piece of cardboard and drinking straws are cut to the same lengths as the terrain measurements, then stuck in the clay, thus creating a physical model of the terrain. This is appropriate for middle grades. The third method is for high school students. Using the same millimeter stick, the numbers are recorded into a .txt file, then converted to a grayscale image using the Image-J software from the National Institutes of Health. I then use GIMP or Photoshop to clean up the image, then move it into Daz3D Bryce to convert it into a virtual 3D model of the terrain.

This was quite a bit to demonstrate in one hour, but I had already given this presentation at the Utah Science Teachers Association conference in February, so my timing came out just right. It went very well, over all.

Financial District

Skyscrapers in the financial district, San Francisco

After my presentation I cleaned up my materials while the next group prepared. It was a duo from Texas presenting on lesson plans and activities (which they provide on a CD) on cosmology, which was quite cool and very useful for me in my astronomy courses. I then returned my stuff to my hotel and went and got some lunch of a meat pie and soup, which I ate in a small park between the Hilton and the Moscone Center. It felt nice to be outside in warm sunshine. I decided to skip the next session and went for a walk around the financial district of San Francisco. When I got to Market St., a St. Patrick’s Day parade had just ended and there were costumed dancers walking around, and a group of bike riders who weren’t costumed at all . . . and people taking photos of them. I’m definitely not in Utah anymore!

I walked back to the Hilton and attended the last part of the afternoon session, just more or less picking a session at random because I wanted to see the next session that would be in that room. After the session, I called my wife and found all was well at home, then went back in for the last session on creating hands-on activities for rural students in Vermont. I was just getting settled when someone walked in that I hadn’t seen in six years: Dave Seidel from JPL. I had worked with Dave for several years as part of the Solar System Educators Program and the NASA Explorer Schools program. He has been moved up to Assistant Director for Education Programs at JPL, which doesn’t surprise me at all. There are some great memories of those years and my involvement in NASA’s educational programs, and Dave was at the heart of it all. I remember at the educator conference at Cape Canaveral for the launch of the Mars 2001 Odyssey space probe that Dave set up a conference call with Arthur C. Clarke in Sri Lanka, since this probe was named after his book. Dave was the person who called Sir Arthur, and he read out the questions we had submitted the night before, including one of mine. I also remember at the NES workshop in 2004 on robotics how he set up a movie evening in the Space Flight Operations Center. We sat in the visitors’ gallery and he played “Angry Red Planet” on the center screen while telemetry from various probes was coming in on the other two screens. It was the perfect setting for such a movie, and we all laughed our heads off at the appearance of the Bat-Rat-Spider-Crab and the female astronaut walking around Mars in high heels. I recall the puzzled expressions of the controllers in the ops center as they tried to figure out what this movie was all about. Yes, Mars is Red. And its Angry . . . It was great to see him again. He showed me some incredible online programs and data sets JPL has been posting, and some layers for Google Earth that can track satellites in real time, etc.

Downhill on Cable Car

Riding the Cable Car down from Nob Hill

After the sessions, I decided to take the cable cars over the top of the hill to fisherman’s wharf and Pier 39. I ate at the wharf (clam chowder) and walked around Pier 39, buying some kooshy caterpillars that light up when shaken for my sons. It was chilly but not cold, and fun to ride the cable cars again. I had forgotten just how steep some of these hills are.

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I haven’t posted anything in several weeks because I’ve been very busy preparing entries for two major teacher contests, neither of which are related specifically to this blog. The first contest is for Curriculum Support Materials for the Explore Mars program, with teachers creating lessons and other materials about Mars exploration that can be incorporated into other classes and curricula, such as Earth science or astronomy or geology. I had been meaning to update and improve some lessons I’d put together several years ago for the NASA Explorer Schools program workshops I helped plan at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Alluvial Fan-Notch Peak

Alluvial fans at Notch Peak, Utah

North Rim of Holden Crater

North Rim of Holden Crater on Mars

These lessons included a Site Selection activity, where teams of students use Mars maps to find suitable landing sites for Mars rovers (such as the upcoming Mars Science Lab [Curiosity] rover).

The second lesson was a new one, using Google Earth to compare and contrast landforms on Earth and Mars, such as alluvial fans in Holden Crater with alluvial fans west of Notch Peak in the House Range in western Utah. I located terrains in the Great Basin and used them as analogs for Martian terrains, with exact longitude and latitude, that could be looked up and viewed in 3D on Google Earth. I’m going to try this out in my geology class tomorrow. Here’s a .PDF of it.

(Teacher instructions): Mars_on_Earth-teacher

(Student version): Mars_on_Earth_Student

Monument Valley

Monument Valley, Arizona

Deuteronilus Mensae

Deuteronilus Mensae on Mars

The third lesson is an update of one I’ve used in my 3D classes and astronomy classes: to take a mystery box terrain and use a grid of holes in the box’s lid and a lollipop stick with measurements on the side to calculate the altitude of the hidden terrain at each grid location. This is an old activity, but my spin on it was to have the students take the data, type it into a word processing program as a .txt file, then use ImageJ software from NIH to translate the numbers into a grayscale image, which was cleaned up in GIMP and translated into a 3D model in Daz3D Bryce. It sounds complex, but converting data between various multimedia software packages is something I do all the time. In fact, this process can be used to visualize many types of scientific data sets in 3D. Here’s a .PDF of the activity  (teacher version): Mars_to_Model

I started uploading this lesson two minutes before the deadline (10:00 p.m. my time, Jan. 31) along with a Powerpoint (PDF version included here: Mars_Lessons_Overview ). But my e-mail suddenly bogged down (the Powerpoint was too large) and I finally had to submit the files in two e-mails. But then I got a bounceback saying the Explore Mars e-mail was full. After a few minutes of panic, I sent the files via an alternate route as an attachment to the e-mail address of the President of the organization, whom I had communicated with a few times before.

The next contest was the Apple Distinguished Educator program, and in addition to a long written application I needed a two-minute video showing how great I am at using Apple products. I’d spent weeks working on it, but the deadline was at 1:00 a.m. Feb. 1 (just three hours after the Explore Mars deadline) and by 12:30 I only had the final edit of the video done half way. So I never submitted the application. And I think I had a good chance. It’s just too hard to try to do two major contests at the same time. So I’ll have to wait another year and submit my application then, with any changes. I’ll keep chipping away at the video over the next two weeks and get it ready for next year, then all I’ll need to do is make a few changes and send it off. One good thing to come out of all the work was that I dug into my computer files and discs and found some things I thought were lost, including a working Mac version of the “Unveiling the Red Planet” interface my students designed back in 2004 as part of the Mars Exploration Student Data Team program they were chosen for. Much of the work for that project was lost because a hard drive I had saved the files onto was stolen out of my classroom. But I had apparently saved a few things elsewhere, which I was able to find. Here’s what the interface looked like:

Mars project interface

Mars project interface, 2004

This is always my greatest fear: that there will be a wonderful opportunity that I will either fail to find out about until it’s over, or I won’t be able to get the application done on time. But I’m also patient. For many of the best things I’ve had the chance to do, such as the NASA Educator Workshop program or being a NASA Explorer Schools educator facilitator, I had to apply multiple times over the course of several years. I kept trying, and each year as I applied I got better at it until these opportunities finally came true. I really wasn’t looking forward to spending a week in Phoenix in July for the training, anyway (yes, I know that’s “sour grapes” rationalization on my part).

But now back to the world of the chemical elements. I’ll have a new post soon. I received word two days ago that we’ve been selected by the Air Force Foundation to receive a $250 grant for use in our Elementary Science Demonstration program. This will certainly help to defray costs. Thank you, Air Force!

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It’s gratifying to see how many people have viewed the videos on the history of the Periodic Table since they were posted a few days ago. As soon as I had them uploaded, I had to turn right around and create another video for a PBS Innovative Teachers contest that I am entering. This video has to be under three minutes (I had 1/3 second to spare . . . ) and show a project my students and I have worked on that proves I’m an innovative teacher, so I chose The Elements Unearthed Project, of course. I figured even if I’m not chosen, I can at least use a short video overview of the project to place on this blog and show people at conferences (such as the NSTA conference next week).

So here it is:

It was in HD format (similar to the Business Profile Videos I do for clients) but WordPress seems to want videos only at 720 x 480, so I apologize if the video is a bit squished. It talks about several projects my students have done, such as the Mars Exploration Student Data Team program back in 2003-04 and the AM to FM documentary we did for KUED (Salt Lake City’s PBS station) in 2007. Then it discusses this project, why we’re doing it, and how it engages students in authentic learning.

I’ll place this video on the Videos page as well as the About Us page so that it’s easy to find no matter where this post gets to. I uploaded my application to PBS this afternoon (successfully) and will hear about the contest sometime in April. If I’m one of the ten top finalists, it will mean a trip to Austin, Texas to the annual PBS conference in May, where I hope to pitch this project to the movers and shakers there. Since I’ve done a documentary for PBS before (albeit a local station) I feel on somewhat familiar ground here.

But again there’s no rest for the wicked, so it’s back to work putting together my Keynote presentation for next week, writing a few proposals, packing – oh, and doing some work for pay, as well.

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If you have read the previous post you might be wondering what an Applied Technology College is doing creating a science history project. This post is to describe who we are and why we’re doing this.

MATC logo

MATC logo

 MATC Programs:

   Mountainland Applied Technology College (MATC) is one of nine regional campuses of the Utah College of Applied Technology (UCAT) and is part of the state’s post-secondary education system. Our mandate is to provide vocational, non-credit certificate programs such as Medical Assisting, Business, IT, Dental Assisting, and Cosmetology. The Media Design Technology program is set up to provide hands-on, project-based training to both high school and adult students in graphic design with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Flash, Premiere, and Director; 3D modeling and animation with Daz 3D Bryce and Carrara and Autodesk Maya; video production with Apple Final Cut Studio; and more. Students join the class in an open-entry, open-exit format and finish the program with the software, design, and project management skills they need to secure a job in media design.

Mountainland Applied Technology College

Mountainland Applied Technology College


MATC Students:

   In order to train them in project management and leadership, we have the students do at least one large-scale group project where they must follow the entire multimedia development process of idea formation, planning, design, content creation, editing, testing, and deploying their project. In the past groups have worked on many types of projects. In 2003-2004, MATC students were chosen by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to be part of the Mars Exploration Student Data Team project (MESDT) 


Students learned how to use the NASA Unix server to download up-to-date data on Mars’ weather conditions from the Mars Global Surveyor probe, then analyze that data to predict upcoming dust storms and cold fronts. Our students were the only group that was not a science class; instead of merely reporting on the weather, their task was to take the data and turn it into media that could be displayed and presented visually, such as how a December 2003 dust storm bloomed and spread over the surface. They downloaded accurate 3D altitude data of Mars and turned it into 3D animations of the rover landing sites.

Gusev Crater on Mars

Gusev Crater on Mars

Several students attended a final project symposium at Arizona State University to present their graphics and animations. This experience taught us the essential role of media designers in presenting scientific data and their place in the citizen science movement. As their instructor, I had the privilege of attending the 35th Annual Lunar and Planetary Sciences conference in Houston, Texas in 2004 to present how to get actual NASA data into the hands of students and what to have them do with it. 

AM to FM project:

   In the 2004-2005 school year we began work on a new project: to document and preserve the history of AM radio stations and disc jockeys in Utah during the 1960s and 1970s. We were approached by a local television producer to help film and edit a two-hour documentary to be aired on Utah’s main PBS station, KUED in Salt Lake City. We planned and researched the history of radio, then put together a radio reunion dinner in November, 2004 and invited all the former and current DJs we could find. 16 DJs attended as well as many local community members. We divided the DJs into groups by which stations they worked at and took them into side rooms with lights and cameras and interviewed them in the form of panel discussions. Then over the next two years we transcribed, captured, wrote scripts, edited, and tested the video until it was of sufficient quality to be broadcast by PBS. The final video, titled “AM to FM: Three Decades of Radio in Utah” aired on KUED twice in January, 2007 and again in July, complete with closed captioning. We also mastered the video into DVD format and sold enough copies to pay for much of the project costs.

AM to FM video segments

AM to FM video segments

   The program had excellent reviews, and we were able to collaborate with audio and video students at Utah Valley University and with professionals. MATC students worked on all stages of the project, from pre-production to filming to editing to marketing and gained invaluable professional experience along the way.

   Best of all, we preserved a slice of Utah’s history by digitizing old station air checks and jingles and scanning hundreds of music surveys and other documents. Our interviews of the DJs were marvelous, and one of them has already passed away since his interview. We have preserved a unique story that would have been lost forever. This experience has also given us the necessary expertise to lead an even more ambitious project: The Elements Unearthed.

AM to FM advertisement

AM to FM advertisement

 Qualifications of David V. Black: Early Teaching Career

   As the lead instructor for the Media Design program at MATC, I have 20 years of teaching experience at the high school and college levels. I began my teaching career with a teaching degree at San Jose State University in California in 1990 and began teaching that fall at a small start-up high school in the Sierra Nevada foothills called Tioga High School in Groveland, only 30 miles west of Yosemite National Park. We had only 40 students that first year, and I taught six different subjects including computer applications, world history, biology, and art. While there I developed courses in chemistry, Earth science, photography, and other subjects. I first learned how students can be motivated to learn a subject if they create their own content through a project my chemistry students completed on organic molecules using Hypercard, one of the first multimedia authoring programs. They were to put together a hypercard stack that would teach the other students about their assigned organic groups (such as esters or alkanes) using images, text, interactivity, and to even include a quiz or game at the end to test the audience’s knowledge. Students started asking to come in at lunch to the computer lab so they could work on the project – a level of motivation I had never seen before. Since then I have involved my students in activities that allow them to use inquiry in the classroom and share what they have learned with others.

Juab High School students

Juab High School students

   My second teaching position was at Juab High School in Nephi, Utah where I taught chemistry, physics, photography, earth science, and math classes. Chemistry and physics students researched the chemical elements, developed hypercard stacks to teach others of them, then developed demonstrations and short lesson plans to present to their classmates, who critiqued their teaching. They then had to revise their lessons and present them to their parents and the public at an annual back-to-school science night. The advanced Chemistry II and physics students took their lessons on the road once per month and presented them to classes at Nephi and Mona Elementary Schools. They would take the Van de Graaf generator and teach about static electricity, or electromagnets and teach concepts of magnetism. All their lessons were coordinated with the teachers at the schools to fit into their curricula at the appropriate time and level during the year. These programs were very well received by the elementary students, by the public, and by my students. Their general level of knowledge and enthusiasm were much higher than if they had merely learned by rote or even by lock-step labs.

NASA Educational Programs:

   I have also had the privilege of working with NASA as part of the NASA Educators Workshop (NEW) program in 1998. I was selected to attend a two-week all-expenses-paid workshop at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, where I met project sciences, education and public outreach coordinators, and practiced NASA lesson materials which I brought back to my classroom. Wanting to stay involved in NASA educational programs, I applied to be a NASA/JPL Solar System Educator in 2000 and received additional training each year at JPL from project scientists and education specialists, then took back what I had learned and trained over 100 other teachers each year, for a total of about 500 teachers over four years of participation.

David Black in clean suit

David Black in clean suit


   In 2001 I was invited to a launch conference for educators at Cape Canaveral in Florida for the launch of the Mars 2001 Odyssey space probe. In 2002 I was selected to be the Educator Facilitator for the summer workshop (now called the NASA Explorer Schools program).


I helped with participant transportation, housing, meals, event planning, tours, and presenting lesson plans. I organized tours to Dryden Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, to the Deep Space Network complex at Goldstone in Fort Irwin, to the Mt. Wilson Observatory, and to Caltech for the 25 participants who were from around the country. The following two years I continued as Educator Facilitator, planning and leading three more workshops for JPL. Through these experiences I have gained expertise in inquiry-based learning and student-created content.

Mars topographic activity

Mars topographic activity

   Recently, I have published an article in the November, 2008 edition of SchoolArts Magazine entitled “Virtual Self-Expression” about how students at MATC are using 3D modeling to create artistic scenes. I try to blend many subject areas (art, architecture, history, physics, chemistry, geography, math, etc.) in with my multimedia courses, as I am a firm believer that courses and subjects should be integrated if we are ever to engage our students and prepare them for life.

Fellowship at the Chemical Heritage Foundation; Philadelphia, PA.

   This expertise will be used to good advantage for The Elements Unearthed. My passion for the physical sciences, for history, and my skills in media design will come together to build a worthy program that will involve students and the public from around the country, starting here in Utah. As part of the planning and background research for this project, I have been named as the Societe de Chimie Industrielle (American Section) Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia for 2008-09.


   As part of my fellowship, I will be in residence at CHF conducting research on the history of chemistry and the elements through the Greek and Medieval periods as well as creating accurate 3D models of laboratory equipment and re-creating the labs of alchemists and chemists to produce animations for the video podcasts. Ultimately this research will form the basis for the first segment of a six part mini-series that will compile the footage and interviews we create for the podcast episodes to tell the complete story of how the elements were unearthed and how we use them today.

Why do a project about the elements?

   The Elements Unearthed is the culmination of over 15 years of planning. As a teacher of chemistry, I have often wanted a comprehensive, in-depth source of information about where the elements come from, how they are mined, refined, etc. Next week we will go into more detail about the need and the audience for this project, but suffice it to say that the need is deep and critical; my students and I are in a unique position of knowledge and expertise to fulfill that need. Simply put, we will do this project because no one else can and because it is desperately needed. All of our past projects have prepared us to be in the right place and time with the right technology, knowledge, and skills to build an excellent program and to provide leadership and direction to the collaborating teams. All that remains now is to gain your support as participants or as funding agencies and a lot of hard work to make this plan a reality. This is not a pipe dream. We know how much work this will take, but it will be a worthwhile journey getting there and the benefits will be incalculable. 

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