Arizona SciTech Blog
This blog is courtesy of the Arizona Scitech Festival.
Guest Author: Ted Kraver, Ph.D. When I arrived in Arizona just out of college for my first STEM job, the politicians, economists and business folks were pitching Arizona’s five C’s. All five were “in your face” industries in the early 60’s. As my wife and I came into Arizona for the first time we drove down through the Globe-Miami area. We saw the weirdest looking high hills that came right up to the roadway. Later I learned they were the tailings from COPPER mining and extracting. I bought my first home a few days after arriving in East Mesa. It had a north facing picture window with a view of farm land and the mountains. A few days later I heard the roar of a radial engine. I turned and my picture window was filled with a bi-plane coming right at me – shades of WWI. Before I could even duck it pulled up over my house and turned for its next dusting pass on the COTTON field. Every road we drove on in East Mesa seemed to be bordered by massive CITRUS orchards – oranges, grapefruit and lemons with an occasional Roadrunner darting in front of the car. We would attend meetings and someone was always trying to give away fruit from the citrus trees new home builders had left on their lots. When my mother first visited, she stepped out of the door of the plane onto the boarding stairs. A ghastly look came over her face and she turned to go back inside. She was hit by not only the 110 degree heat but the stench from the CATTLE stockyards, just north of Sky Harbor airport. The final C was our unique CLIMATE. The one main reason I was not tempted to leave Arizona is that I have never really gotten the chill out of my bones. I was reared in northern Ohio within the “lake-effect” blizzards south of Cleveland and the biting cold during college in Massachusetts. The five C’s are still with us but new economic drivers are now touted as the five T’s by our governance folks. The T’s are less physically obvious compared to the C’s and are still being sorted out. When a sophisticated economic or business presentation is made, it usually focuses on TECHNOLOGY. Technology is not only one of the core STEM themes, but well over a thousand Arizona technology based enterprises in aerospace, defense, telecommunication, electronics, computers, data, microchips, optics, biotech, energy, healthcare and software have grown to global prominence. Enhancing and filling the gaps in our TRANSPORTATION system of highway, rail, air, pipeline and broadband telecommunication is vital for our commerce and industry and pursuit of happiness by our citizens. The five C’s climate was mainly TOURISM which is still strong. With switch from evaporative coolers of the 1950’s to air conditioners of today, Arizona is now a year round attraction from the high country to our deserts. Our biggest five T’s challenge is TEACHING/TRAINING. We have exemplar schools, public and private universities, and training for our workforce. But exemplars don’t scale by themselves. Only with significant new investments in the $billions can we graduate 100,000 STEM savvy students each year and significantly shrink our high drop-out rates in all schools. A major investment in the transformation of our Arizona job training system to serve our 21st century five T system is also mandatory. Finally Arizona’s complex TAX and public investment system must be redesigned and transformed into a 21st century system. Only then can Arizona realize our potential as nation leading state. I will miss the fun I have had with the five C’s. But I am looking for to a reprise of the aggressive collaboration that our ranch, farm, mine, power, road and canal folks had to bring Arizona into the economic main stream a century ago. It is up to the follow-on generations of governance, education, business and technology folks to work together for Arizona to benefit from the emerging five T’s.
By Judy Nichols About 20 middle- and high-school students from the Phoenix area – participants in the Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academy – used flight simulators, learned about piston engines and even used riveters on a recent visit to the aviation program at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. The ACE Academy is sponsored by the Archer Ragsdale Arizona Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. The campus tour, hosted annually by ASU, was facilitated by Jim Anderson, a senior research scientist in the School for the Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, and a retired Southwest Airlines captain. “We want to expose the young students to college education,” said Larry “Jet” Jackson, director of the Academy, who had a 20-year career as a fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force and is now a captain for Southwest Airlines. Jackson and Anderson knew each in the Air Force, and regularly share their experiences with youth. “Aviation is just the hook,” Jackson said. “Some of the students may be interested in aviation, others may not be. We want to encourage them in the STEM areas: science, technology, engineering and math.” Earlier in the day, the students visited Southwest Airlines at Sky Harbor Airport where they saw a Boeing 737 up close, and learned job interviewing skills and airline operations. They also visited Luke Air Force Base to see the military side of aviation and military life. The ACE program culminated with Young Eagles flights provided by the Experimental Aircraft Association at Glendale Airport. “For many of the students, this is the first time they’ve seen anything like this,” Jackson said. “They have no idea what’s under the hood of a car or inside a jet engine. Seeing things in a book is one thing, seeing them in a classroom or lab means a heck of a lot more.”
When you hear the very first seconds of The Beatles' "Let It Be" or Debussy's "Clair de Lune," you'll know what songs they are by their famous first chords. But what makes those chords, or groups of notes played together, sound so wonderful? Why do some chords sound not as pleasant as others? The answer lies in math. Centuries ago, the Greeks found out that the ratio of string lengths to each other determine "good" and "bad" sound: "If the lengths of the strings were in ratios of small whole numbers, such as 2:1 (an octave), 3:2 (fifths), or 5:4 (a third)" then that is when chords made by strings will sound "pleasant." What's interesting to see is that if you look at a guitar, you'll notice that the string's overall length, thickness, and even tension are different from eachother. These differences, along with the proper string setup of course, are all related to math, and are what help to make instruments such as the guitar make such beautiful music! What a wonder math is! *Source: "Ask Dr. Math: The Math Forum @Drexel University." http://mathforum.org/library/drmath/view/52320.html
Guest Author: Ted Kraver, Ph.D. Great STEM minds were not all born in the 20th century. Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier was born in 1768 and orphaned at age 9. Educated by the Benedictines, and surviving the French revolution and Reign of Terror he found himself with returning from Napoleon’s Egyptian expedition in 1801 with an ink pressed copy of the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone was the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphs by using the Greek and Coptic letters also on the stone. READ MORE. Fourier was both a mathematician and a physicist. He began by experimenting with the transmission of heat. His innovations include mathematics applied to the physics of heat conduction. The two most important were the use of partial differential equations and dimensional analysis. Determining that a planet the size of the Earth could not be warmed by just the incoming solar radiation, he believed that the atmosphere must be an insulator. This was the first proposal of what we now call the greenhouse effect. His mechanism if heat convection is used today. He is most famous for the theorem that bears his name, the Fourier Theorem. The theorem states that an infinite series of periodic waves such as Sine waves or Cosine waves can be added together to form any shape whether regular like a triangular wave or irregular like a random squiggle. Circles can also be used. The resulting Fourier Transform is used over a wide range of current applications: voice recognition, optics, radio, animation, music, quantum physics and medical body scans to name a few. The huge benefit of the Fourier transformation is that it can compress the huge number of data points needed, for instance, to present a digital color photograph into a much smaller data set. The most common picture data set is a JPEG file that comes out of your camera as a photo.jpg. I was attending my wife’s high school class reunion a couple of decades ago and I got to talking with a husband of one of her classmates. It turned out that he had worked for the air force space program when we started sending up spy satellites in the late 1950’s. We needed to send digital photos back to Earth immediately, but did not have the bandwidth capacity in the early days of space flight. His team was responsible for the “crash” effort to create the Fourier techniques to compress the digital images. Their work resulted in JPEG that we all use. The follow on audio/video technology became known as MPEG that produces the MP3’s we enjoy. Not a bad set of accomplishments for a poor orphan from the city of Auxerre, France. Check out: http://tinyurl.com/FourierAndHomer For a demo of how JPEG works. http://tinyurl.com/blogMathTrick-for-JPEG-MPEG For a more complete description of Fourier techniques.
STEM Matters Coordinator: Marisa Ostos Fish are fascinating creatures, from the giant whale shark to the tiny neon tetra, and will often have some neat hidden talents. Did you know that fish carry small pits on different parts of their bodies, called chemoreceptors, which help them to both smell and taste? Did you also know that some fish use their swim bladder, which they use for buoyancy, to hear? Source: Samantha Henrickson, Curator, Rainforest Cafe
Autora invitada: Carmen Cornejo, Coordinadora de Audiencias Hispanas, AZ SciTech Fest & Dueña de Criticalmassc.com Nosotros que apoyamos la ciencia, la tecnología, la ingeniería y las matemáticas (STEM por sus siglas en inglés) estamos conscientes de la importancia de STEM en la educación y los beneficios que estas aéreas traen a la economía de Arizona, la deEstados Unidos de América y su futuro. Nosotros nos esforzamos para invitar estudiantes a sumergirse en estas aéreasque traerán conocimientos nuevos y oportunidades mejores de trabajo en sus futuros. Nuestras comunidades están llevando a cabo grandes esfuerzos en este aspecto, pero para poder ser inclusivos y aprovechar toda la creatividad disponible, debemos poner esfuerzos para incluir comunidades que frecuentemente tienen baja representación en áreas de STEM. Las mujeres, las personas con discapacidades, los afroamericanos, los hispanos, y los nativo-americanos no tienen los números necesarios de individuos involucrados en campos de STEM, donde necesitamos sus visiones del futuro y sus contribuciones. Nosotros entendemos que un campo de conocimiento es exitoso si incluye oportunidades para todos.Esto es especialmente crítico para Arizona, que se convertirá pronto en un estado de mayoría minoritaria, donde la composición de la población joven, nuestro mercado laboral del futuro, es diferente a la de las generaciones pasadas. Cómo podemos ayudar a incorporar a todos en los campos de STEM? Teniendo maravillosos programas a nivel estatal como el Festival SciTech de Arizona (AZSciTechFest), el cual inspira a individuos de todas las edades y niveles a considerar a entrar aáreas de STEM, es uno de los componentes de éxito a la par del trabajo de nuestras instituciones educativas, desde kínder hasta el 12º grado y siguiendo hasta la universidad, proveyendo el rigor académico necesario para el éxito. Investigadores de educación en STEM han señalado la importancia de establecerprogramas específicos que trabajen con poblaciones de bajarepresentación. Aquí en Arizona tenemos grandes organizaciones e individuos que dedican sus esfuerzos en hacer que la buena nueva de STEM llegue a todos. Esos esfuerzos son reportados en las noticias y nos hacen sentirnos orgullosos. Demuestran que cada estudiante, no importa de donde venga puede enfocarse en alcanzar metas altas y puede lograrlo todo…con un poco de ayuda de la comunidad.
Guest Author: Carmen Cornejo, Hispanic Market Liaison, AZ SciTech Fest & Principle, Criticalmassc.com We STEM supporters are aware of the importance of STEM education and the benefits it brings to Arizona’s economy and that of America and its future. We strive to invite students to dive into the areas that will bring incredible knowledge and stronger job opportunities for their future. Great efforts and programs have being initiated in our communities but in order to be inclusive and tap all the creativeness and ingenuity available to us, we must allocate efforts to include often unrepresented communities in STEM education. Women, people with disabilities, African American, Hispanics, and Native Americans do not have the numbers of individuals involved in many STEM fields where we need their visions for the future and contributions. We understand a successful field is one that is inclusive with opportunities for all. This is especially critical for Arizona, which is set to become a minority majority state soon where the make-up of the young population, our future labor force, is different than previous generations. How can we help to incorporate everybody into STEM fields? Having wonderful statewide programs like the Arizona SciTech Festival, which inspires individuals at all ages and levels to consider and enter STEM fields, is one of the components for success along with the work of our educational institutions, from K-12 all the way to college, providing the instruction and academic rigor needed to succeed. Researchers of STEM education point out the importance of setting specific outreach programs that target specific underrepresented populations. Here in Arizona we have great organizations and individuals who dedicate their efforts to share the gospel of STEM to all. These efforts make the news s and make us all proud. They demonstrate that every student, no matter where she or he is or where he/she comes from can set their minds to achieving higher goals and expectations and can accomplish anything… with a little help from the community.
Guest Author: Ted Kraver, Ph.D. The news this month includes the passing of 96 year old Maxine Greene, a leading educational theorist at Columbia Teachers College. She was a progressive thinker that believed the most effective path to learning was “creative thinking and vivid imaging.” The core of her belief was that “the color, glimmer and sound” of the arts were an essential part of learning. She wanted her students to engage the world both as it is and what it could be. Her use of the Thoreauvian “wide-awakeness,” hampered our struggle to avoid our electronic inputs so we can focus. We all try to avoid wasting hours on YouTube or turn off our devices for a day but to no avail. Two thirds of our work force cannot focus on one specific job. The answer may be found in our young children. They are learning and doing at a prodigious rate. What’s their method? Secure place so they can be absorbed in one thing without outside distractions or demands; Narrow focus on the current obsession; Not being self-consciousness, they ignore the little narratives found in our older heads and experience life directly. The shelf of books between “wide-awakeness” and “art of focus” has many other titles. But the most important take away for STEM students and practitioners is three fold: Put the creativity driver of STEAM into STEM; Create a steam age environment of quiet, expect when your obsession sounds the whistle; Immerse yourself into your self-made center of the universe and let creativity fly. Ref: Bruce Weber, “Maxine Greene, 96, Dies: Education Theorist Saw Arts as Essential,” The New York Times, June 3, 2014David Brooks, “The Art of Focus,” The New York Times, June 3, 2014
Editor: Marisa Ostos We've often heard that our thoughts can influence our behavior, but can our behavior influence our thoughts? Science certainly points in a "yes" direction. The "Facial Feedback Hypothesis" states that our facial expressions can influence how we feel. In a study called the "Pen study," people were told to hold a pen in their mouths so that their lips didn't touch the pen. Without knowing it, the participants' mouth-shape reflected a smile. Then, while still holding the pen between their teeth, the participants were told to rate a funny cartoon that they were shown. Low and behold, the participants whose expression reflected a smile found the cartoon to be much funnier than the ones who weren't made to hold the pen in this manner. In a similar study called the "Headset study," participants were told to listen to a speech while they either moved their head up and down (unaware that they were actually nodding) or kept their heads still. The ones who "nodded" tended to agree more with the speech that they listened to! Isn't that something? It's a wonder to think about just how much our actions can influence our thought-processes and feelings. Perhaps on those off-days, or even the on-days, try a smile. It may help to brighten your mood! [*Source: Mae, Lynda. "Lecture 8: The Cognitive Approach." Arizona State University. 24 Jun 2014. Online Presentation.]
Editor: Marisa Ostos "I'm quiet like my parents." "My sister and I have the same sense of humor." How often do you look at a sibling or parent and become amused at just how similar you actually are? Does that similarity come from living in the same environment or from genes passed on to you through your parents? Although shared environments and culture definitely have an effect on how similar you and your family-members may be, more and more research is being done that supports just how much genetics influence who you are as a person. For example, twin-studies have been done that show that there are actually quite a number of similarities between identical twins, regardless of whether or not they grew up in the same home. This points to genetics playing an important role in the shaping of our personalities. Who knew biology could be so interesting! [*Source: Burger, Jerry M. "The Biological Approach: Relevant Research." Personality. 8ed.]