WSU Magazine Spring 2011 : Page 12

There’s No Place Lik allison barlow hess , university communications Helping parents, especially moms, teach children to embrace science, engineering AmyJo Proctor , who holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology with a minor in chemistry and is completing a second bachelor’s in microbiology with a minor in botany, wants everyone to love science as much as she does. She is the assistant director of the Ott Planetarium, and her nationally recognized work creating stunning star shows has visitors gazing awestruck at images of the galaxies. Yet Proctor’s own interest in science was nearly grounded in elementary school when a teacher told her she could not pursue science education because she was a girl — a prejudiced sentiment she and others at Weber State University are working hard to eradicate. “Women, in this culture particularly, tend to get overlooked as far as science goes,” Proctor said. “They are told it’s a man’s field. If you were to visit any one of WSU’s science classes, you would see a few females and a slew of guys. I wanted an environment where women would be comfortable to speak up.” That desire was the catalyst for her Science Moms course funded by the Utah Families Foundation. On the second Saturday of each month for eight months, 15 women gather to study and experiment with scientific principles. College of Science faculty lead the discussion on topics from astronomy to zoology. “We want to show moms how science works in their daily lives and how they can help their children better understand it,” Proctor said. “The moms influence the children. The child says to the mother, ‘Hey, I’d like to do this when I grow up,’ and if moms are excited as well, and recognize the great opportunities for children in science, they will be more eager and encouraging.” Engineering Confidence wsu magazine | spring 2011 Celeste Baine travels the country with the same message as Proctor. The author of 20 books on engineering education, Baine was invited to lead the activities for Parent-Daughter Engineering Day, sponsored by the WSU College of Applied Science & Technology. On an early Saturday morning in the Hurst Center for Lifelong Learning, she had 40 giggly teen girls and their engaged parents concentrating on two engineering tasks: cradling an egg from a fall and building a crane. “My favorite moment is when I see the look on people’s faces as they realize they have engineered something,” Baine said as she surveyed the scene. “All their lives, most people hear engineering is only for the super smart or elite. When they take materials that are really colorful and common and have fun and build things, they gain confidence and want more experiences.” At age 12, Matisse Mosher doesn’t lack the confidence to try. She likes arts and crafts, so when she received a bag of pipe cleaners and cotton balls, drinking straws and string, she was eager to design an egg “helmet,” to protect an egg in a fall. “First I dropped my egg from 5 feet, and it didn’t crack,” Mosher happily explained. “Then when the parents started cleaning up, a bunch of us were like, let’s PHOTOS BY ZAC WILLIAMS 12

There's No Place Like Home

<i>Helping parents, especially moms, teach children to embrace science, engineering</i><br /> <br /> <b>Allison Barlow Hess</b>, University Communications<br /> <br /> <b>AmyJo Proctor</b>, who holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology with a minor in chemistry and is completing a second bachelor’s in microbiology with a minor in botany, wants everyone to love science as much as she does.<br /> <br /> She is the assistant director of the Ott Planetarium, and her nationally recognized work creating stunning star shows has visitors gazing awestruck at images of the galaxies.<br /> <br /> Yet Proctor’s own interest in science was nearly grounded in elementary school when a teacher told her she could not pursue science education because she was a girl — a prejudiced sentiment she and others at Weber State University are working hard to eradicate.<br /> <br /> “Women, in this culture particularly, tend to get overlooked as far as science goes,” Proctor said. “They are told it’s a man’s field. If you were to visit any one of WSU’s science classes, you would see a few females and a slew of guys. I wanted an environment where women would be comfortable to speak up.”<br /> <br /> That desire was the catalyst for her Science Moms course funded by the Utah Families Foundation. On the second Saturday of each month for eight months, 15 women gather to study and experiment with scientific principles. College of Science faculty lead the discussion on topics from astronomy to zoology.<br /> <br /> “We want to show moms how science works in their daily lives and how they can help their children better understand it,” Proctor said. “The moms influence the children. The child says to the mother, ‘Hey, I’d like to do this when I grow up,’ and if moms are excited as well, and recognize the great opportunities for children in science, they will be more eager and encouraging.”<br /> <br /> <b>Engineering Confidence</b><br /> <br /> <b>Celeste Baine</b> travels the country with the same message as Proctor. The author of 20 books on engineering education, Baine was invited to lead the activities for Parent-Daughter Engineering Day, sponsored by the WSU College of Applied Science & Technology. On an early Saturday morning in the Hurst Center for Lifelong Learning, she had 40 giggly teen girls and their engaged parents concentrating on two engineering tasks: cradling an egg from a fall and building a crane.<br /> <br /> “My favorite moment is when I see the look on people’s faces as they realize they have engineered something,” Baine said as she surveyed the scene. “All their lives, most people hear engineering is only for the super smart or elite. When they take materials that are really colorful and common and have fun and build things, they gain confidence and want more experiences.”<br /> <br /> At age 12, <b>Matisse Mosher</b> doesn’t lack the confidence to try. She likes arts and crafts, so when she received a bag of pipe cleaners and cotton balls, drinking straws and string, she was eager to design an egg “helmet,” to protect an egg in a fall. <br /> <br /> “First I dropped my egg from 5 feet, and it didn’t crack,” Mosher happily explained. “Then when the parents started cleaning up, a bunch of us were like, let’s Drop our eggs from the balcony. We ran up and dropped eggs from the balcony, and mine stayed perfect, and we were all like AWESOME!”<br /> <br /> Working to outdo one another building cranes, sisters <b>Sydney and Shaely Spradley</b> each devised a crane capable of lifting a magnet 4 inches off the table. They discovered that the same principles used to lift a small object a little way could be used to lift a mighty object extremely high.<br /> <br /> “I learned that everything around us is engineering, and also that there’s no wrong answer to anything,” Shaely said.<br /> <br /> Sydney had so much fun at the parent-daughter event that she attended two years in a row.<br /> <br /> “I came here last year because I’ve always been in to inventing stuff and creating things,” she said. “Seeing everyone’s designs and how they work makes me wonder about how everything in the world works.”<br /> <br /> <b>Physics is Everywhere</b><br /> <br /> Sometimes it’s easier to understand how the world works by understanding what’s close at hand, which was the premise for the honors course, Physics at Home, designed by physics professor <b>Stacy Palen</b>.<br /> <br /> Every week of the semester, she helped students understand, construct and employ a different household machine. The first lesson was particularly sweet, as the students built a solar oven and baked chocolate chip cookies, setting up the ovens in a sunny spot on the Lawn near the Science Laboratory.<br /> <br /> “Class members were so excited,” Palen recalled. “In the weeks following the oven, we made a radio out of a big hunk of wire and a plastic bottle. We made swamp coolers out of a box, a fan and some paper towels. All the items are found commonly around the house, but the students had never before connected them to science.”<br /> <br /> Unlike typical science courses, most of the class members in Physics at Home were women, and although none became physics majors, they told Palen after the course that they started annoying their family and friends by constantly explaining scientific principles.<br /> <br /> “Several of them wrote in their semester review that they had been frightened of science previously and didn’t want anything to do with it, but after the class they were seeing physics everywhere they went. Some of them jokingly complained they couldn’t get physics out of their heads and could never look at an object the same way again,” Palen recounted.<br /> <br /> <b>Lynette Oberg</b> was one of those students who said she received more than college credit from the course; she received a new Understanding and appreciation of the world in her own backyard — literally. Her final project was a home-energy audit.<br /> <br /> “We live on three acres of land in the Ogden Valley, and we have a river that flows through the back of our yard, so I started looking into solar, wind and water as sources of energy,” Oberg said. “I found out what energy we use, and how we could improve. I researched solar panels and wind or water turbines, and I’m now considering a wind turbine.”<br /> <br /> By training and education, Oberg is an artist, but she said great artists and great scientists must have the ability to see the world through a creative lens. Both occupations take courage, practice and support.<br /> <br /> “I’ve always been a firm believer that mothers have a lot of influence in the lives of their children,” she said. “Children’s excitement to learn and their willingness to explore and discover new ideas comes from parents — especially their mothers.”<br /> <br /> <b>If You Build a Solar Oven, the Cookies Will Bake</b><br /> <i>A project from Stacy Palen’s Physics at Home course</i><br /> <br /> <b>Materials:</b><br /> <br /> • Two cardboard boxes (one must fit inside the other, leaving at least one inch of space between the two all the way around)<br /> <br /> • Scissors or box cutter<br /> <br /> • One sheet of cardboard for the lid<br /> <br /> • One roll of heavy-duty aluminum foil<br /> <br /> • Adhesive (duct tape, white glue, glue stick or spray glue)<br /> <br /> • One oven bag (turkey size)<br /> <br /> • Filler (popcorn, packing peanuts or crumpled newspaper)<br /> <br /> <b>Building the Base:</b><br /> <br /> 1. Close the top flaps on the bigger, outer box. Set the smaller, inner box on top and trace around it. Remove the inner box and cut along the traced line with scissors or a box cutter to make a hole.<br /> <br /> 2. Glue aluminum foil to all interior surfaces of both boxes and to the inside of the remaining top flaps of the outer box.<br /> <br /> 3. Glue or tape the top flaps closed on the outer box.<br /> <br /> 4. Add filler to the bottom of the outer box. Insert inner box. Fold the extended flaps of the inner box down so they are even with the perimeter of the outer box. Glue or tape the flaps of the inner box to the outside of the outer box.<br /> <br /> <b>Making the Lid:</b><br /> <br /> 1. Place the outer box on top of the large sheet of cardboard, and trace its outline, pushing hard with your pencil to score the lines. Add three inches on all sides, and draw another line. Cut out around this line.<br /> <br /> 2. Fold the three-inch frame down along the scored lines. Cut, fold and glue the corner flaps around to make a lid.<br /> <br /> <b>Making the Reflector:</b><br /> <br /> 1. Trace an outline of the inner box onto the lid. Cut around three sides of this rectangle, and score the fourth side with a pencil. Fold the newly made flap up. Glue aluminum foil to the inside of the flap.<br /> <br /> 2. Use a scrap of cardboard, wire coat hanger or other method to make a “prop” to hold the flap open.<br /> <br /> 3. Glue the oven bag to the underside of the lid to make a window.<br /> <br /> <b>Baking the Cookies:</b><br /> <br /> 1. Add spoonfuls of your favorite cookie dough. Put the lid on, and place in the sunshine. On a sunny day, the cookies should take less than one hour to bake.<br /> <br /> 2. Eat the cookies!

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