Welcome to the AV STEM Center Blog

This blog will provide information about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics efforts within the Antelope Valley, as well as links to helpful STEM sites and info from beyond. Check back periodically for updates.

Connect a Million Minds Tagline

Connect a Million Minds Tagline

Friday, September 26, 2014

Knight HS "Spirit of Niles" Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Teams Return Home With Awards

Traveling from Palmdale, CA, 6 students from Knight High School participated in the UAV Challenge in Kingaroy, Queensland, Australia from 22-24 September 2014.  The first-ever non- Australian high school to compete in the event, three young women and three young men formed two teams in the Airborne Delivery Challenge.  After presenting their technical report, strategy, and goals on the first day, as well as undergoing static and flying scrutineering by local judges, the "Spirit of Niles II" team (young men flying a DJI Evo 800 hexcopter) was in 9th place, and the "Spirit of Niles I" team (young women flying a Phanton quadcopter) was in 12th place out of 16 teams [the teams are named in memory of Niles Nilo, a Lockheed Martin engineer mentor who originally suggested having an Antelope Valley team participate in the Northrop Grumman sponsored event].  Unfortunately, during its scrutineering flight, the Spirit of Niles II remotely-piloted aircraft suffered a hard landing and flipped, breaking 4 of its propeller blades (this, after its battery charger also burned out the night before).  Students and advisors from other teams immediately jumped in to help, providing a battery charger, and calling around Australia to try and find replacement parts (the closest being a 4-hour drive away back in Brisbane).  When time looked to be an issue, a teacher and a community member brought out their MakerBots, took measurements, and began to fabricate new propeller blades.

Mike Nicholls works on UAV prop blade with MakerBot

Unfortunately, with time being short, insufficient numbers of the blades could be completed in time, so the students converted the hexcopter into a quadcopter and underwent scrutineering again, receiving approval to compete.  Due to an additional issue with the remote, the Spirit of Niles II was unable to deliver the Mars bars to Outback Joe, finishing with a score of 44.7 points, enough for an 11th place finish.

Spirit of Niles II readies for second flight attempt
The Spirit of Niles I had successful runs in the Airborne Delivery Challenge, dropping 3 Mars bars to Outback Joe, one within 0-2 meters (hitting his hat), one within 2-4 meters, and one within 4-6 meters.  They finished in 3rd place, with a score of 87.7 points, behind MUROC (Mueller [College] Radio Operated Craft - with a nod to the Antelope Valley!) Hexfactor, and the winner, MUROC DareDivas - another all-female team.

Spirit of Niles I team members have 3 successful drops on the course
Spirit of Niles II decided then to participate in the Search and Rescue event, which requires the UAV team to identify and report 8 symbols in a directional pattern to the judges; results are based on accuracy and speed.  Their performance resulted in a 3rd place finish in that event.
L-R:  Will Curzi, Nathan, Jesus, Ethan, Gabby, Astrid, Natalie, Bridget Howitt

The open/college event took place after the completion of the high school competition.  US team "Robota," with members from Texas and Minnesota, came in 2nd place behind Canberra UAV.  Robota, and Team SFWA from Melbourne were the first two teams in the 7-year history of the event to successfully locate and drop their survival package to Outback Joe in the 2-nm course, then safely return to the Kingaroy Aerodrome.  This accomplishment qualifies them to share a $50,000 first prize.

For more coverage of the event, see Facebook UAV Challenge or UAV Challenge on Twitter .

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Discovery School Seeking Business Partners for "Robotic Golf Holes" Project

Discovery School in Lancaster, CA is seeking business partners to work with 7th grade students on the creation and sponsorship of "robotic golf holes" to become part of an 18-hole game to be played for the benefit of charity.  Partners would meet with students to discuss design of the mini-golf hole based on the business personality, and, if possible, contribute toward materials and "swag" to adorn the hole.  For more information, please contact Mechelle Reynolds at reynoldsm@lancsd.org .

Google RISE Award Applications Due 9/30/14

Programs with a focus in computer science are invited to submit proposals before 30th September 2014 for the Google RISE Awards. With grants ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 and an invitation to attend the RISE Global Summit, selected programs will be able to use the funding to expand their impact on student populations by widening access to and interest in computer science education. Programs aiming to improve education for girls, underrepresented students, and low-income students under age 18 (not already enrolled in university) are also eligible to apply. Award winners are expected to demonstrate growth, report back to Google on achievements, and share resources with neighboring communities. 

For more information, and to apply, visit Google RISE Awards Applications .

Monday, September 15, 2014

Conrad "Spirit of Innovation" Challenge Open for Registration Until 11/3/14

The 2015 Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge is open through 3 November 2014 for registration of student teams from kindergarten through university levels.  With a basic registration cost of $95, teams may choose one of four categories to compete in:  Aerospace & Aviation; Energy & Environment; Cyber Technology & Security; or Health & Nutrition.  There is an optional category (for an additional registration fee) of Giant Leap to Mars.  Once registered, students research problems facing that sector and begin to develop innovative solutions.  An on-line "Investor Pitch" round is conducted on-line, with written and video submissions due by 4 November 2014; winners will go on to the on-line semi-final "Draft Development Plan" round, with a business proposal, technical plan, and graphic representation due by 16 January 2015.  Teams judged to have the top Development Plan will be selected to go on to the Innovation Summit, where they will make in-person presentations, be honored as Pete Conrad Scholars, and compete for $500,000 in sponsored awards.  Final submissions are due in March of 2015, and the Summit will be held in April.

For further details and to register, visit the competition website at Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge .

LACOE STEM Unit Announcements of Upcoming Events

A big tip of the hat to Anthony Quan of the Los Angeles County Office of Education STEM Unit for a list of upcoming Science, Technology, Engineering and Math events, workshops, and resources.

Please visit the STEM Unit page at:  LACOE STEM Unit Announcements (this is one to bookmark, folks!  I will also put it in the Helpful Links section in the right column of this blog.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Aerospace Valley Science Olympiad Event To Be Held 2/14/15

The fourth annual Aerospace Valley Science Olympiad will take place on Saturday, 14 February 2015, at Antelope Valley College.  This year, in addition to middle school teams (Division B) and high school teams (Division C), events will be held for elementary school teams from grades 4 through 6 (Division A) from throughout Los Angeles and Southeast Kern Counties.

Event supervisors are currently being sought.  If you would be interested in supervising an event (which may include creating a paper and pencil test or other hands-on activity to be judged, as well as supervising the event on 2/14/15), please visit AV Science Olympiad Event Supervisor Registration.

Registration is also open for team coaches and other upcoming events (including coaches' meeting on 10/8/14):  AV Science Olympiad Event Registration .

For a list of public events related to AV Science Olympiad, visit:  AV Science Olympiad List of Upcoming Events .


Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Applications Due by 11/20/14

Thanks again to Sondra Geddes:

Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program 2015-2016 Applications (Deadline Nov. 20)

The Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship (AEF) Program provides a unique opportunity for accomplished K-12 educators in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to serve in the national education arena. Fellows spend 11 months working in a Federal agency or U.S. Congressional office, bringing their extensive classroom knowledge and experience to STEM education program and/or education policy efforts. Program applications are due November 20, 2014, and must be submitted through an online application system.

For information about the Fellowship Program, visit: http://science.energy.gov/wdts/einstein/

Honeywell Educators Space Camp Scholarship Applications Accepted Until 10/20/14

Thanks to Sondra Geddes from NASA Armstrong/AERO Institute for this info:

Honeywell Hometown Solutions and the financial contributions of Honeywell employees have made possible the scholarships for educators attending Honeywell Educators @ Space Academy (HESA). Each scholarship covers the following: tuition for the 5-day program at U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama; round trip airfare; meals and double occupancy accommodations; program materials; flight suit.

HESA will have 2 program weeks: June 10-16, 2015 and June 17-23, 2015.

To be considered to receive a scholarship for the 2015 HESA program, educators must meet the following requirements:

  • Current and practicing educator that is teaching science or math to students ages 10-14 years old and will continue to teach these subjects areas through 2016
  • Certified teacher in a public or private school system
  • Is not a spouse/family member of a U.S. Space & Rocket Center employee
  • Has not previously attended HESA and/or a Space Camp educator program

All applicants must complete the online application and submit the verification of school employment form along with the application. The deadline for applications and verification forms is October 20, 2014.

All application materials must be submitted by October 20, 2014 to be considered for the 2015 scholarship. Acceptance notifications will be made by November 30, 2014.

Click here to Apply https://educators.honeywell.com/application

Please contact honeywell@spacecamp.com with any questions.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Knight High School Students to Participate in UAV Outback Challenge

Six students from Palmdale's Knight High School Digital Design & Engineering Academy have been selected to participate in the UAV Outback Challenge in Kingaroy, Queensland, Australia in late September of 2014.  The students, 3 male and 3 female, will comprise two teams of students whose unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will be required to search a zone of at least 2 nautical miles x 2 nautical miles around an aerodrome without flying outside the area's borders.  Using GPS technology, they are to locate "Outback Joe," a mannequin, and report its location to judges.  If the location is accurate within certain specifications, the UAV is then tasked to drop a "rescue packet" to Joe and recover at the aerodrome.  UAV Outback Challenge - Search and Rescue .

KHS Students with Quadcopter

KHS Student Practices Flying Quadcopter

The students and chaperones are seeking donations to help offset the expenses of their trip to Australia (approximately $2,500 US per person).  If you would like to donate, please contact James Stockdale at Knight High School, jstockdale@avhsd.org .

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mars Day Activities Slated for 7/19/14 at Columbia Space Center in Downey

The Mars Society Los Angeles is hosting a "Mars Day 2014" commemoration at the Columbia Memorial Space Center in Downey on Saturday, 19 July 2014, from 10:30am to 4:30pm PDT.  There will be fun activities for all ages to commemorate the landing of the Viking 1 spacecraft on Mars in July 1976.  They include (subject to change): Choose a Landing Site; Design a Rover; Mars Colony; Mission to the Red Planet; Rover Challenge; Voyage to Mars (ages 12+ pre-registration required); and a keynote address by Dr. John Callas, Mars Rover program.  There is a fee of $5 to enter the Space Center (located at 12400 Columbia Way, Downey), but no additional charge to participate in activities.  For additional information and registration links, visit Mars Society LA - Mars Day 2014 .