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

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

NASA Principles of Flight Workshop for Teachers 1/21/15

Did you know that NASA is with you when you fly? Join NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center Office of Education for an educator workshop on the principles of flight. Come explore aeronautics, the parts of an airplane, and the four forces of flight that allow an aircraft to fly. There will be hands-on, standards-aligned mathematics, science and engineering activities and interactive multimedia that you can take back to your classroom. Make real world connections with NASA research and the airplanes that are flying today. Hear from a subject matter expert about cutting edge research happening right now at NASA Armstrong through the Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the National Airspace System, or UAS in the NAS, project. 

When: Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 4:30 pm to 6:00 pm PST
Target Audience: K-12 Formal and Informal Educators
Location: NASA Armstrong Educator Resource Center at the AERO Institute, 38256 Sierra Hwy., Palmdale, CA 93550

Questions? Call Sondra Geddes at 661-276-2359 or email at sondra.l.geddes@nasa.gov

Friday, December 5, 2014

Call for SOFIA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors - Applications Due by 12/22/14

Thanks to Sondra Geddes of NASA for this information:

SOFIA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors Program

The SOFIA program is now accepting applications for the Cycle 3 Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors program, placing educators on SOFIA research flights during 2015. This call for applications will end December 22, 2014. Information regarding application procedures, eligibility, and selection criteria can be found SOFIA Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors .

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) mission is responsible to NASA for conducting an Education and Public Outreach program that exploits the unique attributes of airborne astronomy to contribute to national goals for the reform of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and to the elevation of public scientific and technical literacy.

SOFIA’s Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors (AAA) effort is a professional development program aspiring to improve teaching, inspire students, and inform the community. It builds upon the legacy of NASA’s highly successful FOSTER (Flight Opportunities for Science Teacher EnRicment) program that flew educators aboard the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO) from 1990 – 1995.

SOFIA’s AAA program now enters its Cycle 2 phase: 12 AAA educator teams representing educators from 10 states were selected.

For the Cycle 1 phase of SOFIA’s AAA program, 13 AAA educator teams plus alternates were selected in a highly competitive application process. Selected educators came from a variety of backgrounds, and their institutions included a school for the deaf, an alternative education site (developmentally challenged), highly underserved student populations, rural schools, and a Native American school site.

The Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors “Pilot” program for educator professional development successfully flew six teachers on the observatory during the summer of 2011, representing California, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Virginia (Washington DC). Evaluation confirmed the program’s positive impact on the teacher participants, on their students, and in their communities. Teachers not only incorporated content knowledge and specific components of their experience into their curricula, they also have also given dozens of presentations and implemented teacher professional development workshops.  Their efforts to date have impacted thousands of students and teachers.

As part of preparation and training for their flight experience, AAA program participants complete a graduate-level Astronomy for Teachers on-line course administered by Montana State University and National Teacher Enhancement Network. Teams are paired with an astronomer with observatory time, and they work with this astronomer throughout the research, from preparation to data analysis. AAAs optimally fly aboard the observatory twice, will implement classroom lessons based on their experiences, and will complete an outreach plan.

Selection into this prestigious program is truly an honor for the educators and their school, planetarium, or observatory.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Loss of a STEM Pioneer

Antelope Valley STEM Education has lost a pioneer with the passing of Bob Johnstone on Saturday, 8 November 2014.  A retired engineer from Edwards AFB, Director of The Aerospace Office at the City of Lancaster, and Chairman of the AV Math Science Engineering and Technology  Consortium, among many other positions and accomplishments, Bob was one of the leaders of the "homegrown engineer" effort for his beloved Aerospace Valley, which helped bring Project Lead the Way pathways to many schools in the area, as well as facilitating degree completion programs with AVC and CSULB-AV.  One of his most recent efforts was to help coordinate the move to create and grow the AV East Kern STEM Learning Network.  Bob will be sincerely missed by his many colleagues and friends.  Services will be held Friday, 14 November 2014, at 10:00am PST, at the Joshua Memorial Park in Lancaster.  In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to DELTA Rescue, PO Box 9, Glendale, CA 91209.

Friday, November 7, 2014

CSLN STEM Summit Scheduled for 3/16-17/2015 in Los Angeles

The California STEM Learning Network will be hosting its fifth annual STEM Summit at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles on 16-17 March 2015, with a theme of "Unleashing Curiosity Through STEM."  Featured speakers are scheduled to include California Assembly Member Susan Bonilla, Dr. Dennis Bartels of the Exploratorium, and Chris Roe, CEO of CSLN.  A variety of breakout sessions are planned.  Spaces are limited, and early registration is encouraged.  Visit CSLN STEM Summit for additional detail and to register.

Cubes in Space Competition Seeks Middle and High School Experiments; Register by 1/12/15

"Cubes in Space," a collaboration among NASA's Science Mission Directorate, the Colorado Space Grant Consortium, and idoodlelearning.com, is providing students around the world aged 11-14 years old to design, prepare and compete at no cost to have their experiments launched into space via a Terrier-Orion sounding rocket launched from Wallop Island, Virginia next June.  Registration for the sponsored teams is now open, with a deadline to register by 12 January 2015; materials regarding the competition are available for download.

A second opportunity is available for US students aged 11-18 years old to have their experiment launched from a high-altitude balloon at the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Fort Sumner, New Mexico in September 2015.

For further information and to register, visit Cubes in Space Competition .
(If you attended the STEMPosium and heard Christy Papadopolous from XCOR, this should inspire you to have your experiments "leave this rock"!)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Third Annual STEMPosium Event Features Mike Melvill and Nathalie Gossett

The Antelope Valley's third annual STEMPosium, held on 5 November 2014 at the Larry Chimbole Cultural Center in Palmdale, hosted over 200 local business, industry, government, and education stakeholders on hand to learn more about the state of STEM in the region.  Three panel discussions featured education partners from AVC's STEM Grant (Christos Valiotis, Project Director), Cal State University Long Beach's Antelope Valley Engineering Program (Dr. Ken Santarelli, Director), Antelope Valley Union High School District (Greg Nehen, Asst. Sup. of Ed. Services), AVC Palmdale Center (Sharon Dalmage, Director), and AVC SB1070/Career Pathways Trust Grant (Dr. Tom O'Neil, Project Director) who discussed progress in each segment, as well as Young Industry Professionals (Stefan and Eileen from BAE Systems, Christy from XCOR, and Justin from AFRL) regarding their experiences, and current industry leaders, Dianne Knippel (Edison), Al Bowers (NASA Armstrong), and Richard Caulkins (LA County Sanitation Districts) on how best to prepare students for the STEM workforce.

Nathalie Gosset, futurist and Senior Director of Marketing and Technology Innovation Evaluation from the Alfred E. Mann Institute for Biomedical Engineering at USC, provided a thought-provoking presentation on gender-specific education customization in STEM fields based upon brain research.

On the tenth anniversary of SpaceShip One, keynote speaker Mike Melvill, the first civilian astronaut and long-time test pilot, gave a retrospective of the development and preparation process in Mojave leading up the  historical spaceflights which won the Ansari X Prize.

Local middle schools including Hillview, Joe Walker, and TPAA had displays, as did the Society of Women Engineers and the Falcon Academy of Sustainable Technology  Solar Car Project.  Video presentations of AVC's STEM Club and Knight High School's Outback Challenge team, as well as "A Perfect Fuel for the Rewards of Risk" rounded out the day.

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 .