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By Tracy Crews

Girls show their engineering designThanks to a grant from Oregon State University’s Women’s Giving Circle and additional funding from the Oregon Coast STEM Hub,7th and 8th grade girls from coastal communities were able to attend Girls in Engineering and Marine Science (GEMS) at Hatfield Marine Science Center on March 10-11, 2017.  This unique Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) camp is led by Oregon Sea Grant in partnership with the Oregon Coast Aquarium and is designed to bring together middle school girls from high poverty areas with female engineers and marine scientists who share their experiences and passion for STEM.

Activities for this two-day camp were led by female undergraduate and graduate students, and faculty from Oregon State University (OSU), as well as female marine scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Students developed teamwork, communication, and leadership skills throughout the program through collaborative, hands-on activities, and learned about what it is like to pursue a degree and career in engineering and marine related fields from mentors. In addition, participants got behind-the-scenes tours of the Hatfield Marine Science Center, the Oregon Coast Aquarium, and the NOAA research vessel Rainier.

Participants for this GEMS program included middle school girls from Astoria, Warrenton, Tillamook, Newport, Toledo, Waldport, and Coos Bay.  Participants had the opportunity to engineer underwater robots and robotic arms, build light traps for sampling larval crabs and fish, and create prototypes of devices which could be used for disaster response. They also worked with NOAA biologists to collect biological samples and data from juvenile salmon, conducted bird surveys in the Yaquina Bay Estuary with an OSU seabird researcher, and identified larval organisms caught in their light traps with the help of an OSU zooplankton biologist. Additionally, GEMS participants spent the night in the shark tunnel at the Oregon Coast Aquarium with female husbandry and education staff where they learned about additional career options.

According to GEMS participants, they really enjoyed the “cool” hands-on activities and the interaction with OSU students and researchers. These students also reported that the program strengthened their interest in STEM and that they gained confidence and additional knowledge by participating in this program.


Tracy Crews works for Oregon Sea Grant as the Marine Education Manager, and she coordinates STEM Experiences for the Oregon Coast STEM Hub.

under: Student Experiences, Uncategorized
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Help recover the SS Dolphin!

Posted by: | December 15, 2015 | No Comment |
The yellow line shows the path of the SS Dolphin in November and December

The yellow line shows the path of the SS Dolphin in November and December

The GPS-equipped unmanned sailboat SS Dolphin prepared by Coos Bay students was launched from the R/V Thompson on May 24, 2015 off the coast of Washington.  It made landfall a few days later on Ocean Shores.  The vessel was recovered, and was redeployed again by the R/V Thompson on November 19th. After sailing several hundred kilometers to the south, it reversed direction, sailed north, and made landfall on Long Beach Vancouver Island on the 9th of December.

Its track can be see here.

Do you have a contact in that area who could help us recover this 5 ft vessel? Please share and contact OregonCoastSTEM@oregonstate.edu if you can assist!

Visit the SS Dolphin page on the Educational Passages website to learn more about the boat, its launch, and its journey.

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Guest Contributor:  Annie Thorp

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T.S. Eliot

I have always thought that as an educator, I learned as much from my students as I taught them. A group of Tillamook students and their instructor recently had an opportunity to put what they had been taught into action. Their belief in what they had been taught combined with their enthusiasm for the project, resulted in achieving an invaluable success in the pursuit of research and exploration. Their findings and results were a huge help to their instructor and a very important project.

Photo credit:  Tillamook Estuaries Partnership

Photo credit: Tillamook Estuaries Partnership

Clair Thomas, an educator and researcher with Tillamook School District, is involved in numerous research projects, some involving water quality monitoring, habitat restoration, and estuary/wetlands management among others. He is also a Professional Development lead partner in the Oregon Coast STEM Hub, and his students have been learning about streams, salmon recovery, as well robotics and their numerous uses in aquatic environments.

East Beaver Creek

East Beaver Creek

One of their projects is to provide data for the BLM, the local watershed council, and the Oregon Department of Forestry, by measuring water temperatures in East Beaver Creek (near Tillamook) to determine if the water flow and temperature might be conducive for juvenile salmon migration. If the water flow is too fast, the juvenile salmon cannot swim up stream. The students have been experimenting with stream flow mitigation by placing large logs and boulders in strategic locations to slow the water flow and create areas of slower water called eddies. However, if water temperatures are too high, then oxygen levels may be too low for salmon, so monitoring the temperatures in the stream and pools is essential to provide necessary data for all the stakeholders involved.

HOBO data logger

HOBO data logger

They placed five instruments called HOBO data loggers in several places in the stream to measure the water temperatures. These instruments are checked periodically and the data are recorded. The HOBOs are secured to metal rebar to weight and anchor them to the streambed.

Usually, checking the data recorded is accomplished with a diver or person with a snorkel, but this past December, after heavy rains and water temperature of 8 degrees Centigrade, this normal method used to locate the HOBOs proved to be very difficult. The water visibility was poor due to recent heavy rains, and turbulence made it impossible to see the instruments and even when Clair went diving for them, he could neither see nor feel them, and the current made it difficult to maintain his position. The cold water also made his fingers so cold, they were numb, making feeling anything even more challenging. He managed to locate and retrieve only two of the instruments he needed.

Example of a student-built ROV

Example of a student-built ROV

Fortunately, his enterprising and clever students suggested that they use one of the ROVs they had designed and built in their robotics club. They proposed deploying the ROV in one of the eddies, as they had learned that this was an area where water flow would be minimal, hence increasing the odds of success at floating and maneuvering the device. Clair was skeptical at first, but his students reminded him that he had taught them about eddies, and they were confident they could use the ROV, that was equipped with camera, lights, and a grabber, to locate and retrieve the instruments.

They tethered the ROV on four sides with lines, deployed it in an eddy, and the search went wonderfully well. Within five minutes, they found the three missing loggers. The ROV picked up two of them, and the other could be seen wedged in a crack between two rocks, but after seeing its location, their ever-intrepid instructor, Clair Thomas, was able to retrieve it manually, after donning his wet suit again.

Clair is understandably proud of his student crew. Their collaboration and inspired use of the ROV technology they had designed and built, combined with thoughtful application of what they had learned, is a wonderful example of student success in a “real world” application. Kudos, to student team, Bryton Dorland, creator and builder of the ROV they used, Dylan Lundy, and Sabrina Polman. Another teacher, Nathan Sandberg, assisted Clair in his original diving search when the first two were located. Congratulations to students and staff for your remarkable teamwork.

 

Annie Thorp is a volunteer at HMSC and enjoys working on a variety of projects there. She is a retired community college adult educator, and a lifelong learner with a love of the ocean, ships, and all things aquatic. She was a Teacher at Sea, and a volunteer several times, along with her husband, on university research vessels. While at sea, they coauthored a blog called Buoy Tales, to help educate the public about the research being done by the scientists onboard. Her passion for marine sciences outreach and education, along with her involvement in HMSC education programs, inspired her to become a volunteer blogger with the Oregon Coast STEM Hub.

 

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Students Attend MTS

Posted by: | October 24, 2014 | No Comment |

A group of coastal high school students and teachers were provided with a unique opportunity this week to participate in a professional marine technology conference. The NW Marine Technology Summit brought together industry leaders, researchers, higher education professionals and others who study the ocean with cutting-edge technology, and gave them the opportunity to network and learn from one another.

Organized by the Marine Technology Society (MTS), the theme for this year’s event was “Empowering Innovation in the Pacific Northwest”, and general subject areas included:

Randall Pittman from OSU (right) explains his poster to a Waldport High School student attending MTS

Randall Pittman from OSU (right) explains his poster to a Waldport High School student attending MTS

  • ROVs and Submersibles
  • Innovations in Data Collection, Usability, and Analysis
  • The State of the NW Marine Science Economy
  • Innovations in Ocean Observation
  • Promoting BlueTech in the Northwest
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
  • Marine Operations
  • New Sensors
  • Innovations in Underwater Communications
  • Marine Renewable Energy
  • Underwater Optics and Vision Systems
Members of Waldport High School's Oceanography class met Rep. David Gomberg at MTS

Members of Waldport High School’s Oceanography class met Rep. David Gomberg at MTS

 

Twenty-five high school students enrolled in Oceanography and Ocean Engineering classes at Waldport High School attended the summit, along with their teachers Melissa Steinman and Daniel Wirick, and two other educators from Toledo Jr/Sr High School. The students and teachers attended session presentations, asked questions, and networked with professionals throughout the two-day event. Students presented their underwater robot and poster at the Oregon Coast STEM Hub table, handed out business cards, and interacted with new technology in the Exhibit Hall. They learned about careers they hadn’t known about before, and met many people living on the coast today who make their living working with marine technology.

Debbie Kelley from the University of Washington offers career advice to students during the Speed Networking session

Debbie Kelley from the University of Washington offers career advice to students during the Speed Networking session

One highlight of the summit designed especially for students was the “Speed Networking” sessions held on both days. During each session, five professionals sat down with small groups of students to talk about marine STEM careers and opportunities, share their experiences and advice, and respond to student questions. After just a few minutes, each group rotated to a new professional, so that by the end of the session the students had interacted with all the adult participants. The fast-paced session was well received by all involved.

The Oregon Coast STEM Hub would like to thank those who shared their time with students in the Speed Networking session: Kevin Buch, OSU Diving Safety Officer; Wil Black, Jenny Walsh and Stacy Fogel from Point 97; Kristen Kolden from Alaska Seismic & Environmental; Markus Horning from OSU Marine Mammal Institute; Michael Vardaro from OSU College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences; Debbie Kelley from the University of Washington; Stewart Lamerdin, OSU Marine Superintendent; and Pete Zerr from Schmidt Ocean Institute.

Pete Zerr from Schmidt Ocean Institute shares career advice with students at the 2014 NW Marine Technology Summit.

Pete Zerr from Schmidt Ocean Institute shares career advice with students at the 2014 NW Marine Technology Summit.

Thanks also to the two Waldport High School teachers who prepared their students for attending the MTS event, and who helped them navigate once they were there. The students themselves are to be commended for infiltrating seamlessly into the summit and asking thoughtful questions. They will surely be discussing their impressions back in the classroom!

Student and teacher participation in the NW Marine Technology Summit resulted in meaningful interactions among current and future generations of ocean STEM professionals. Thanks to all the partners who made this experience possible.

Waldport HS students displayed their underwater robot at MTS

Waldport HS students displayed their underwater robot at MTS

under: Uncategorized

Graphing Stories

Posted by: | August 5, 2014 | No Comment |

Stories capture our interest and imagination.  How can the power of story be applied to math?

graphing-stories

A graphic representation of people walking down the stairs outside a building.

Dan Meyer is a teacher and mathematician who blogs and speaks about math education and teaching strategies.  One of his projects is called Graphing Stories, and the way it works is pretty simple: Watch a video of a 15 second event, and then draw a graph that describes a relationship depicted in the video.  For example, the video “Height” depicts a woman in Costa Rica jumping off a tree-top platform to swing on a giant rope swing.  We hear laughter and hear nervous shrieks.  How does her height above the ground change over time?  Students are challenged to draw a graph that describes the relationship.

There are several videos to choose from on the website, and each shows an event in regular and half time speed, and then ends with the answer.

Of course, the next question is, what kinds of video graphing stories could students create to share with others?  With student creativity unleashed, the whole world becomes potential fodder for creating graphing stories…

UPDATE 8-26-14

This just in… Dan Meyer has evolved his thinking since creating Graphing Stories back in 2007.  He has tweaked the way he uses the activity in his classroom and in workshops which focuses on more on *developing the question*:

Here’s how I’ve been doing a better job developing the question lately in workshops.

 

  • I play the video of Adam sliding.
  • I ask participants to tell their neighbors everything they saw. “Don’t miss a detail,” I say, and I’m always surprised by the details participants recall.
  • I play the video again and I ask the participants to tell their neighbors their answer to the question, “What quantities could we measure throughout the video?” People suggest all kinds of possibilities. Speed, distance from the left side of the screen, height, temperature.
  • Then I tell them I’d like them to focus on Adam’s height. I ask them to tell their neighbors in words what happens to his height over time.
  • We share some descriptions. People compliment and critique one another. Then I point out how difficult it is to describe his height over time in words alone.
  • Only then do I pass out the graphs.

The difference is immense. It takes an extra five minutes but participants are much better prepared to make the graph because they’ve spent so much time thinking about the relationship in so many informal ways. So many more participants walk away from the experience feeling like valued contributors to our group because the questions we’ve asked require a wider breadth of skills than just “graph relationships precisely”.

Read his entire August 15 post

under: Uncategorized

Attention Educators: Are you looking for STEM-related workshops to attend this summer?  Check out the Oregon Coast STEM Hub website to see what’s happening!

Summer is a time to catch up with family, spend time outdoors, and recuperate from a busy academic year.  But for teachers, summer is also a time to hone skills and discover new techniques in preparation for the start of the coming school year.  The Oregon Coast STEM Hub website lists a variety of upcoming STEM-related PD opportunities on its Professional Development page:  http://oregoncoaststem.oregonstate.edu/book/professional-development

Upcoming opportunities are also listed on the Oregon Coast STEM Hub calendar, which can be accessed directly here: http://calendar.oregonstate.edu/oregoncoaststem or from the bottom of the Oregon Coast STEM Hub homepage.

OCEP workshop teacherUpcoming PD events in August include coastal field experiences such as a Shoreline Science workshop in Nehalem (Aug 1-3) and an Oregon Coast Education Program workshop in Charleston (Aug 13-15).  In addition, there are opportunities in nearby regions, such as the StreamWebs Watershed Stewardship training on Aug 13 in Corvallis, or the Scientists and Teachers in Education Partnerships offerings on three separate topics in August on the OSU main campus.

STEM Professional Development workshop announcements are only one of many resources available on the Oregon Coast STEM Hub website.  You can help keep this resource useful by visiting the website often, putting its link on your organization’s webpages, and submitting content that can be shared with the rest of the Hub.

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Role Models

Posted by: | July 20, 2014 | No Comment |

Who are your STEM role models?  The website for the 2014 USA Science and Engineering Festival has multiple pages full of inspiring role models to choose from and to learn more about.

“The scientists and engineers selected for this series have been chosen because they are true heroes and super stars, the epitome of innovation, technological advancement and persistence. These influential scientists and engineers serve as great examples for the next generation seeking a career in STEM.”

 

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Computer Coding for Kids

Posted by: | June 27, 2014 | No Comment |

Like most Americans, my family and I are consumers of technology.  We use a variety of devices that help us learn, work, play and communicate.  It’s hard to imagine a time before the internet and cell phones, but those of us who are over certain age occasionally feel it necessary to impress upon younger generations about What It Was Like In The Olden Days.  Did you know that way back in, say, the 80’s we had to use a manual typewriter and correcting ribbon to produce essays, photograph and develop slides and put them in a carousel to give a presentation, and stand in the kitchen to talk on the phone because it was attached to the wall?  My daughter wonders aloud if I also had walk miles in the snow to school (uphill both directions).

But one experience I did have in those early days of personal computers was the opportunity to play a little bit with coding.  We had a Texas Instruments computer attached to an old black and white television that served as a monitor.  My dad taught me a few rudimentary elements of BASIC, and I was able to create a “choose your own adventure” story for my little sister.  It was fun – and empowering – to see the computer do what I told it to do.

Since then, there have been a few other times when I worked with computer codes.  In graduate school I had to run statistical analyses on SAS.  Later I helped customize new medical records software for a paperless veterinary practice.  These days I help manage content for a variety of social media pages, but it is rare that I ever have to move beyond the What You See Is What You Get screen and delve into HTML.  Even though I don’t comprehend most coding languages, I can appreciate the patterns and sometimes troubleshoot and fix small things.  I also respect the power of coding, recognizing that the omission of a single character could mess up an entire program!

My kids are growing up in a different world than I did.  They are technologically-savvy and take many of their computer tools for granted.  But… they don’t write code, they poke at icons.  They, like most of us, are computer consumers, not computer programmers.  It was to their generation that President Obama was speaking when he urged “Don’t just play on your phone, program it” last December.

So it was with great interest that I read Tasneem Raja’s cover story in this month’s Mother Jones magazine:  Is Coding the New Literacy?  She begins the piece with an impressive story about how young coders from Code for America solved a problem Boston was having with fire hydrants buried under snow.  However, while there is clearly a need for workers with computer coding skills, the number of students are graduating with degrees in computer science does not meet the need in this high-paying industry.  She goes on to explore a variety of reasons for this, but Raja writes:

 

What if learning to code weren’t actually the most important thing? It turns out that rather than increasing the number of kids who can crank out thousands of lines of JavaScript, we first need to boost the number who understand what code can do.

 

And then she ties computer literacy to the concept of computational thinking:

 

Researchers have been experimenting with new ways of teaching computer science, with intriguing results. For one thing, they’ve seen that leading with computational thinking instead of code itself, and helping students imagine how being computer savvy could help them in any career, boosts the number of girls and kids of color taking—and sticking with—computer science. Upending our notions of what it means to interface with computers could help democratize the biggest engine of wealth since the Industrial Revolution.

 

Computational thinking — that’s the key.  Examples of computational thinking can be found in everyday and meaningful tasks that we can all relate to, and the article uses cooking a meal as a type of “light CT”.

After reading the article, I thought about my kids and the way they interact with technology.  I have a 12 year old who has long been interested in engineering, electronics and generally How Stuff Works.  His most recent experience with programming has been to program robots to complete missions as part of a FIRST Lego League Robotics team.  This has been a great project-based learning experience for him, but even the FIRST robotics program uses software that teaches programming through a graphic interface rather than basic command line programming.  So last night my son and I explored http://code.org/, which is a site that provides free computer science and coding curriculum for K-12 students, and is listed on the Oregon Coast Regional STEM Hub’s Resources page.  We managed to program our way through a series of mazes during our first Hour of Code.  It was fun, painless and engaging for both of us.  After writing each secret messages to each other in binary code, I showed him the HTML view of a few websites.  The view looks messy, but he could appreciate and decipher some of the commands.  He appears to be eager to continue exploring the world of coding, and I admit I’m now curious to learn more as well.

 

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The draft Oregon Coast Regional STEM Hub Partnership Plan is now available for public review and comment.

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Watch it LIVE June 26-28 at www.marinetech.org

Watch it LIVE June 26-28 at www.marinetech.org

Tune in to the MATE ROV International Competition at the end of this month and cheer on the three competing teams  representing Oregon:

  • Explorer Class ROV team from Clatsop Community College
  • Explorer Class ROV team from Linn-Benton Community College, and
  • Ranger Class ROV team Typhoon Industries from Azalea, Oregon

This year’s contest focuses on shipwrecks, science and conservation in our National Marine Sanctuaries.  Students will pilot their ROVs to explore and document an unknown shipwreck, collect scientific samples, inventory invasive species, and remove trash and debris, among other tasks – all staged in the 80-foot diameter, 600,000 gallon tank at the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary facility in Alpena, Michigan.

Watch the competition LIVE on June 26-28 at www.marinetech.org.  Go get ’em, Oregon teams!

 

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