Nano Days: Exposing Sabathani youth to nano technology

On Saturday, April 4, 2015, the Sabathani Community Center, in collaboration with the Bakken Museum, the Science Museum, the University of Minnesota, and S.E.L.F. International, Inc., hosted the fourth annual Nano Days. By definition, a nano is one one-billionth of something.For example, a nano meter is one-billionth of a meter and is so small that it can’t be seen on a macro scale. It requires a nanoscale to be seen. Scientists must use special tools when working with atoms and molecules at the nanoscale. Nano research is leading to new technologies that are dramatically changing and improving modern medicine, computers, cell phones, energy production and manufacturing.Photo by James L. Stroud, Jr.Bonnie Everts (far right) with Nano Days participantsIn fact, one demonstration during the Nano Days event showcased a waterproof, stain-resistant material used to make khaki pants and rain coats. Continue Reading

Two students work for more Native Americans in the sciences

Two students work for more Native Americans in the sciencesByEthan NelsonApril 07, 2015 Native American students have traditionally had difficulties breaking into science-related fields, like biology and engineering.Two University of Minnesota students, Jake Grossman and Siddharth Iyengar, are working to change that.The ecology, evolution and behavior doctoral students are helping oversee a summer research and mentorship program that will help Native American students recognize their heritage in a field that doesn’t often reflect the values of their culture.Grossman and Iyengar are working on a summer program called Our Earth Lodge, a NASA-funded project aimed at encouraging Native American undergraduates to study climate change and potentially pursue science or engineering as a profession. Applications to participate in the students’ research will close Friday.The three accepted students will assist Grossman and Iyengar with their research in plant ecology during the program, which will be set at University-owned Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve in East Bethel, Minn.The research will intersect Ojibwe traditions and experiences with biology by allowing Native American students to design their own studies.“Science and engineering research reflects our understanding, but it’s mostly a Euro-American perspective,” said Wren Walker Robbins, vice president of the Midwest’s chapter of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, which is partnering with NASA on the project.Walker Robbins said a lot of people don’t realize that research can lack objectivity, which can discourage Native American students from entering the field if the perspectives shared in it don’t reflect their cultures.“When we look at research experience for undergraduates nationwide, Native Americans are underrepresented significantly,” Walker Robbins said.Grossman and Iyengar attended camps earlier this spring at the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet to inform their mentoring approach.Neither Iyengar nor Grossman are Native American, and neither had worked with Native students before, they said.“We want to be sensitive and not ignore Ojibwe environmental knowledge,” Grossman said.He said students could do research on topics like how biodiversity affects decomposition or productivity in forests.Iyengar said students will also be introduced to a broad research community.Eric Seabloom, an ecology professor who does research at Cedar Creek, said the center is world-renowned in biology research.“Bringing students into a setting where they’re meeting foremost researchers is really exciting,” he said.The program also includes a three-day STEM summer camp held at Cedar Creek for K-12 Native American students.“They’re learning about science through the tribal lens,” said Mary Spivey, Cedar Creek’s education and outreach coordinator. “It’s a whole different way of looking at the world.” Continue Reading

Asian Americans in Science

Omnifest 2015 isn’t the only thing beginning this weekend at the Science Museum of Minnesota.Beginning this Saturday, January 10, science, culture and opportunity will meet during the Science Museum’s popular Science Fusion event series. This long-running event series, taking place on four Saturday afternoons in January and February, focuses on the accomplishments of members of the Twin Cities’ Asian American, African American, American Indian and Latino and Hispanic communities in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).During each Science Fusion event, science and education professionals from leading Twin Cities companies will present displays that demonstrate their passion for their work and highlight the contributions they’ve made to science and innovation. Visitors of all ages will get a memorable, hands-on look at the scientists’ areas of expertise in a science fair-style setting that is the perfect atmosphere for in-depth, one-on-one interaction between visitors and presenters.In addition, eight students from around Minnesota will be formally recognized and awarded the 2015 Donaldson Science Award, which recognizes outstanding student effort and achievement in the STEM disciplines.The 2015 Science Fusion events are:African Americans in Science: Saturday, January 10First celebrated in 1992, African Americans in Science was the pioneer Science Fusion and has become a beloved Science Museum tradition. Visitors will meet science and educational professionals from USDA Forest Service, Boston Scientific, the University of Minnesota Medical School, 3M, the Association of Genetic Technologists, and other organizations, learn about what they do through interactive displays and presentations, and discover the inspiring contributions they’ve made to technology, education, health care, and innovation.Amantes de la Ciencia!: Saturday January 24Amantes de la Ciencia (Lovers of Science) introduces visitors to science and education professionals from the Twin Cities’ Latino and Hispanic communities. Companies and organizations represented this year include Academia Cesar Chavez, Ecolab, General Mills, and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Continue Reading

Vanishing bandwidth

Superintendent Silva’s decision last spring to provide every Saint Paul Public School student with an iPad in two years has not proven to be a seamless transition for SPPS staff and students. For those students who have received iPads it sometimes takes several minutes for web pages to load on their devices. Quite often the students are unable to download apps due to a dearth of bandwidth available to the devices. The network remains sluggish and iPads often lose their IP Addresses that allow them to access the network and the Internet. This generally means the iPads need to be restarted in hopes that the devices will be able to connect to the district network after they restart. Continue Reading

Girls explore creative coding at Katie DoJo

Since my return from the Code for America 2014 Summit I have replayed – virtually and literally – the images of the presenters. One image keeps recurring – the image of creative young women working with users to craft techie tools that solve real-life human needs. For so many of these young women the story was not so much about the tool but about the ways in which the app improved someone’s life. That implicit purpose seemed uniquely explicit in the presentations of dozens of young female coders. Continue Reading

Code + Collaboration: Open government is greater than the sum of its parts

The challenge of genuine, sustained, respectful collaboration, both the hope and the life blood of the information age, fascinates me. Over time I have learned to value viable collaboration and to celebrate the power of a diverse community of human beings who share the serious work it takes to identify, then achieve, a common purpose. I understand that collaboration is organic. More important, I appreciate that, while people and organizations will pay for goods and services, no one wants to pay for collaboration. Continue Reading

ST. PAUL NOTES | CTEP: Mending chairs and relationships

With six “very old” chairs, the elderly woman knew she needed some repairs. Trying out her new computer skills, she put “chair repair” into Google, and saw several repair shops within easy driving distance — and a website called “how to repair chairs.” And, she proudly told her Computer Club friends, she followed the directions and fixed all the chairs herself!The Computer Club for Seniors at Episcopal Homes in St. Paul was just one of the projects that this year’s CTEP members dreamed, planned and implemented. CTEP stands for the AmeriCorps Community Technology Empowerment Program of SPNN. Continue Reading