HISI Microhydro January 30, 2016

Posted in Dyf at 6:10 pm by Beth


HISI teachers met on Saturday January 30,2016, from 8:30am- 2:30pm at Humboldt State University. Links to the materials used at the session are available below.

Agenda for the Day

  • 8:30-8:45 – Discuss modules, lesson study, future plans (Del Norte), and year three dissemination, April 23rd, and time commitments for the remainder of this year. (Michael & Dale)
  • 8:45-1:00 — Micro-Hydro with Lonny Grafman and Beth Eschenbach
  • 12:00-1:00 working lunch – math behind the hydro
  • 1:00-2:00 — survey and testing
  • 2:00-2:30 — coaches meet with teachers


At the end of the day, participants will:

  • Understand micro-hydro systems
  • Have a physical sense of friction, head, flow, power and energy


At the end of the day, participants will be able to:

  • define micro-hydro power
  • diagram the basic components of a micro-hydro system
  • identify and explain the use and purpose of the basic components of a micro-hydro system
  • compute the maximum and net power capacity of a specific micro-hydro system using the appropriate formula and tables
    • explain the relation of pipe size to power loss
    • use pipe friction tables to compute head loss
  • measure head, flow and stride using buckets, timers, sticks, measuring tape and levels
  • explain head and flow, and their relation to power in a micro-hydro system
    • relate head, flow, power and energy in a micro-hydro system to their analogs in electrical circuits
  • assess some of the pros and cons and difficulties with a micro-hydro system

Microhydro Basics

Lonny Grafman provided background information on micro hydro design, physics and math.

The teachers learned how to use the equation below .


Fieldwork: Siting Microhydro

Before lunch, the HISI teachers were split into interdisciplinary teams.  Lonny Grafman and Beth Eschenbach led the participants  into the HSU forest along Jacoby Creek.  The teacher participants learned how to determine the potential head in a hydro system, using simple tools such as a measuring tape, a 5 foot pipe and a level.

 Working Lunch: Friction and Head Loss

The teachers also learned how to use tables to calculate head loss due to friction in pipes. They assumed a 3 inch pipe and learned how to use the interactive spreadsheet.  The session notes showing those calculations are provided above.

Putting It Together

HISI teachers were encouraged to consider how they could use this lab in their own classrooms.  Below are lists of suggested equipment for this lab, as well as a sample pre/post assessment.  Teachers were encouraged to review some of the sustainability curriculum that is linked below.

Suggested Microhydro Field Lab Equipment

For 3 to 9 teams:

  • 3 4-gallon buckets
  • 3 timers
  • floaters (orange peels)

Head station:

  • 1 – 1/2″ pipe 5′ minus width of level sticks
  • 1 – 1″ pipe 5′ minus width of level sticks
  • 1 – 1 1/2″ pipe 5′ minus width of level sticks
  • 3 levels

Stride station:

  • 3 long (50′) tapes
  • 9 clipboards
  • 1 package rainpaper
  • 1 ball of string

Suggested Learning Station

Supporting materials

Background Information

Related Curriculum



Posted in Dyf at 3:33 pm by jnskippy

We tried the gumdrop and toothpick bridge design challenge. I will attach the relevant documents we used. JEN & JACKIE


DYF Institute III: Engineering is Elementary – Thursday

Posted in Dyf at 10:40 pm by Beth

Outline for the Day

  • Review yesterday and address feedback
  • Time to prepare for evening presentations
  • Marshmallow Challenge
  • Designing Bridges
  • Presenting to Engineers and Children
  • Minute Paper

Review yesterday and review feedback

We discussed the feedback from the day before.  We spent some time addressing the question:

  • How do we set aside other “have tos” so we can teach engineering/more science in general?

The first answer folks provided was to teach integrated curriculum.

However, folks agreed that they did not need to have new integrated curriculum taught to them.  Participants said that they already knew or had good curriculum. They felt the best use of their time would be to use professional development time  working with other teachers across grade levels at their school to examine existing curriculum.   Participants felt that the expertise exists at each school to identify holes, dovetail existing curriculum, remove duplicated curriculum, and expand and integrate when necessary.

However, one participant, who is the only person teaching her grade, at her school, said it was important to be able to visit other teachers at other sites to learn more about pedagogy as well as curriculum.  Another participant agreed with the importance of watching someone implement new curriculum.  Another participant mentioned that teachers could be videotaped, and those tapes available to others for learning about pedagogical approaches to presenting new curriculum.   However, it takes time to develop safe relationships amongst teachers to share teaching experiences, particularly classroom observation.

One idea was to have a multi-year project where the first part of the project focused more on integrating curriculum at each school, so the focus would be “local”.  Then, more ideas could be shared across schools on what types of integration seem to be working.

Participants discussed Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).  Participants felt they worked well when teachers could self identify weaknesses (based on data), discuss approaches and then design an intervention to address those weaknesses.  However, PLCs were seen as less productive when PLC time was used to listen to hired consultants to talk about how to pass the test – “drive by professional development”.

Participants said that as long as there is one measure (STAR test) then it will be hard to have people change.  There need to be multiple measures.

Participants discussed a project called THRIVE Teacher Incentive Fund Grant.  This discussion brought out how they thought funds should be distributed.   Participants suggested that funds be awarded to specific schools and not superintendents.  If funds were to be awarded based on merit, then funds should go to the school fund and not to specific faculty.  The funds would then go back to the students.

Inspiration for the Day

We watched a video from Engineer Your Life is site devoted to communicating to girls about engineering career options.  We watched a video about Daniele, an Environmental Engineer.

Time to prepare for evening presentations

Participants spent the rest of the morning preparing their presentations.

Marshmallow Challenge

Some participants were ready at 1pm to work on new material, while others were not.  So, those four participants worked on the Marshmallow Challenge.

Designing Bridges

A little later than expected, after just about all presentations were prepared, we went to SD 23 and learned more about engineering statics.  We viewed Lonny’s presentation from two years ago and learned about statics, tension and compression. 

We discussed the concept of science misconceptions.   Some sources of misconceptions are below.

Ken pointed out to be sure to not point out misconceptions to students, as that they often only remember the misconception!

Participants were provided handouts from Building Big.  Beth showed some of her favorite activities

We watched the video of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge failing .

Participants built gumdrop structures exploring the difference between triangles and squares.  At the end we had an impromptu design competition.    Others have a more careful approach to presenting a design challenge.  Students should be sure to know how their designs will be tested.

Presenting to Engineers and Children

After taking a break, participants returned to present their modules to visiting engineers, children and each other.

Minute Paper

Most Important thing learned

  • The activity we prepared for the engineers and the students was great.  It was great ot get all-age level perspectives.
  • The feedback and interactions were helpful to see how the activity would run, what I might add and what I would tweak.
  • It takes many trys to make something that seems simple – work properly.  A design taht seems to work – won’t necessarily.
  • How strong triangles are compared to other shapes when constructing bridges.
  • How to adapt an activity geared for 3-6 graders to be appropriate for 1-2 graders.
  • Given access to great curriculum can be a valuable spring board to other relevant grade appropriate curriculum/activities.
  • Persistence!
  • Not all activities in each module are going to be easy for implementation.  Consistence of materials quality was the issue.
  • Even kits from what seems like a reliable institution do not have all the bugs worked out.  Even with that said, there are some really cool simple and elegant demonstration activities that will be fun to do with students.
  • Triangles
  • Setting up for evening exploration and seeing all the projects with children and adults having fun.

Remaining Questions

  • How will I have enough time to do all of these “fun” and educational engineering lessons next year”
  • Where is the support for teachers to know how to succesfully create the design challenge module?  Teachers usually do not have time to experiment until the prototype works.
  • How do we make sure that great classes like this continue?  I always fee renewed, jazzed and excited when I leave these classes.
  • What IS the name of that startup company that is 60 cents/share?
  • What is the likelyhood of these activities becoming kits like the RCEA ones?
  • What is the availability during the school year to either have engineering students come to our classes to play or tour campus.


  • I really enjoyed having the kids and the engineers “play” and give us feedback.  Thanks!
  • There was too much down time for such a long day.
  • Worthwhile endeavors today! All the activities were fun and interesting!  Conversations and discussion – great as usual…. Like the comment “going to the dark side” to redirect.
  • Another fun dynamic day!  I enjoyed the bridge activities, the chance to have conversations with colleagues (including higher ed.) and the freedom to pursue a satisfactory outcome with our chosen module.  Gracias!
  • Hands-on X 3.
  • What a great week!  I am more tired than I thought I would be, but what stuff!


DYF Institute III: Engineering is Elementary – Wednesday

Posted in Dyf at 9:03 pm by Beth

Outline for the Day

  • Review yesterday and address feedback
  • Overview of Engineering Fields
  • Tour of Environmental Resources Engineering facilities at HSU
  • EIE Water Quality Design Challenge
  • Review of Redwood Coast Energy Authority Kits
  • Tour of Hydrogen Fueling Station
  • Brainstorm on how to change what we measure to improve learning
  • Minute Paper

Review yesterday and review feedback

We discussed the feedback from the day before.

Inspiration for the Day

We got inspiration from Sheryl Steiner’s experience working with middle school children who ended up winning a national transportation design competition.

We watched the Build a Tower, Build A Team to learn that Kindergartners are great designers when working on teams.

Overview of Engineering Fields and touring the ERE building

We visited the Engineering Go For It site developed by the American Society for Engineering Education to learn about the different fields of engineering.  This site tries to convey to children how engineers make a difference.

We learned there is a teacher resources site on eGFI and an online community of teachers teaching engineering.

Engineer Your Life is site devoted to communicating to girls about engineering career options.  Again, this site is trying to convey what is great about studying engineering using the messages developed in Changing the Conversation as described in this NAE The Bridge article.

We then learned more about the Environmental Resources Engineering program at Humboldt State University and about how people become licensed engineers.

EIE Water Quality Design Challenge

We started Lesson 4 of the EIE Unit:  Water Water Every Where, Saving Salila’s Turtle. Folks worked in groups of three to design their own water filters that met the design challenge constraints.  The filters needed to filter out tea, soil and cornstartch, not be too expensive and not be too slow.  Folks had a chance to re-designed to try new ideas.  In general, no one was satisfied with their filter’s ability to remove color, but most filters were able to move sediment and cornstarch.

We discussed the black box diagram used to help focus the designer on what the problem is.  We discussed the importance of developing criteria before one begins to brainstorm on solutions.

Review of Redwood Coast Authority Energy Kits

Allison Oakland of the Schatz Energy Research Center(SERC)  and Shannon Atherton of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority asked DYF III participants to review Energy Teaching Kits that were developed by ENGR 215 students. This activity was similar to the DYF activity reported in this blog.  However, SERC is now funded by RCEA to update the most useful kits using the feedback from the DYF participants.

Tour of Hydrogen Fueling Station and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle

Richard Engel, SERC engineer, met with DYF participants and showed them the fueling station and vehicle.

Brainstorm on how to change what we measure to improve learning

The group discussed the following questions

What would you measure so you could facilitate learning to prepare a student to graduate in 2020 in Humboldt County?

What would you measure so you would facilitate the type of learning you think should happen in your classroom?

The teachers thought project based learning was the way to go.  This type of learning allows cross curricular and integrated experiences that are real world because the are long term.  A rubric could be used to assess how well a student performed.  Some aspects to assess are

  • demonstrates cooperative behavior in a group
  • demonstrates emotional and social development during project

We discussed the importance of public education in preparing students to become active members in a democratic society.  We discussed that PBL could be used to engage students in civic projects.

We focused more on what needs to be measured.  We commented that if the student is competent in the affective domain (e.g. demonstrates resilience/persistance, has impulse control and core character values – trustworthy, respect, work ethic, honesty) that teaching/learning becomes very easy.  So, it becomes important to work first on the affective domain.

We discussed the importance of students developing skills such as good study and homework habits, problem solving, project management, critical thinking, and creativity.  We thought that helping students develop self assessment skills and meta-cognition around these skills and the affective domain characteristics was important.

Jen noted that in her experience, as guided by another professional development activity that overt, explicit grading had led to deeper learning.  So, if we can find the right measures and communicate them carefully with students, parents, teachers and administrators, we thought we would could make a positive change.

Ken suggested an idea where a kindergartner is required to learn about one career, including the required preparation.  Each year in school the child is required to investigate at least one career option.  By senior year, you could require the investigation of 5 careers. So, by the time the student had graduated, they might have thought about 30 different careers.  We also thought internships were very important.

One barrier that was discussed were parent attitudes about what should be taught at school.  Many commented that parents are NOT interested in the assessment of their child in the affective domain.  They are more interested in their child learning content knowledge.  Some parents think more work means more learning.  This group of teachers were concerned with “drill and kill”.  Students need time to reflect and synthesize.

Another barrier was administrative control of the classroom.  Project based learning can appear to be chaos to an administrator.  PBL requires skilled educators and administrators do not know how to identify areas for professional development when a teacher is not successful with PBL. However, testing small bits of information (e.g. standardized tests) are easier for an administrator to manage.

Teachers discussed feeling put in the role of a villain because of films such as Race to No Where and Waiting for Superman.

Minute Paper

Most Important thing learned

  • Redwood Coast Energy Authority Kits
    • Hands on learning with a variety of kits from Redwood Coast Energy Authority (2).
    • Getting to try out the school kits for my students – happy about the prospect of using this great teaching tool for more fun and learning in my classroom!
    • I liked the RCEA kit on global warming.
  • Hydrogen station & car
    • I always like  learning more about the hydrogen fuel cell car.
    • Hydrogen fueling station
    • I learned about the hydrogen fueling station at HSU.  This type of technology for new way to fuel our cars will be very important for the future and decrease our dependency on oil.
  • Water filtration process
    • The hands-on lab and refining the water filters was an engaging and useful experience.
    • Cotton fibers make good filters.
  • Interaction with other grade levels

Remaining Questions

  • Is there a correct way to filter with available materials?
  • How am I going to do the project on Thursday?
  • Can we make time on Friday to tour SERC? (3)
  • Still have questions on how these design kits will play in the classroom. – Would like to do one of these design projects as if we were in elementary class – explicit- step-by-step
  • How do we set aside other “have tos” so we can teach engineering/more science in general?
  • I am concerned we did not have any time to construct our module for tomorrow’s presentation.


  • Long day and super informative.
  • Very informative and fun on several levels and many areas of education – thanks!
  • Thanks for more engaging experiences and activities.
  • Only so many videos and chats and visits hold me hear, even though fun and interesting – need to see how they relate to me teaching engineering.
  • I liked going to the different labs and the fueling station.
  • Brainstorming ideas was great at the end…. gave me ideas.


DYF Institute III: Engineering is Elementary – Tuesday

Posted in Dyf at 10:37 pm by Beth

Outline for the Day

  • Review yesterday and address feedback
  • EIE Parachute Design
  • Rube Goldberg & other cool videos
  • Helping students work in groups
  • Dry Ice Explorations
  • EIE Water quality materials testing
  • Selection of Module for presentation on Thursday
  • Minute Paper

Review yesterday and review feedback

We discussed the feedback from the day before.

EIE Parachute Design

We started Lesson 4 of the EIE Unit: A Long Way Down: Designing Parachutes. Folks worked in groups of three to design their own parachutes that met the design challenge constraints.  All three teams met the design criteria their first try.  So folks re-designed to try new ideas.

We discussed the black box diagram used to help focus the designer on what the problem is.  We discussed the importance of developing criteria before one begins to brainstorm on solutions.

We discussed typical design criteria and how these criteria usually conflict with one another, so engineers have to consider trade-offs between different criteria.  Most lists of engineering criteria include:

  • safety
  • cost
  • effectiveness
  • aesthetics

Rube Goldberg and other cool videos

Helping students work in groups

Participants shared ideas about how they help students learn how to work in groups.  Some themes were team building, strategies for selecting teams, roles on teams.

Team Building and Establishing Ground Rules

Project Adventure has curriculum for building teams. Teaching Engineering Made Easy also has some team building curriculum.

Participants seemed to agree on the importance of taking time out of the school year to establish norms and expectations for team work.

Rocio shared the use of role playing to teach children how to behave during group work.  She has them role play inappropriate group behavior and then have student process how that behavior made them feel.  She then has them role play appropriate group work behavior and then asks them to process that as well.  The children enjoy the role playing and they seem to learn from it.

Elizabeth shared the strategy of leaving the teamwork norms on the wall for constant reference.

A number of participants were familiar with the Jigsaw or Numbered Heads Together approach to facilitating group work, but holding individual’s accountable for their own learning, as expected in cooperative learning.

Strategies for selecting teams

Beth discussed the idea that a team is a group of people that will work together for a long time (e.g. 10 weeks or more) while a group of people that are not together for long, will not really have a chance to become a team.  In engineering education, teams are usually selected to increase diversity in learning/thinking styles as well as backgrounds.   More diverse teams have higher potential of being more creative, but it is harder to work with a diverse team.  We avoid isolating students because of gender or underrepresented background.  When forming teams, we almost never allow students to choose their teammates.

However, when working in groups for a short task, it is not seen as critical to form teams based on learning style etc.  Some strategies for choosing groups are

  • Random (can also be used to assign roles)
    • colors associated with a student’s seat at a table
    • use a deck of cards, each with one student name on it.
  • Let students choose
    • as a reward (so this method is used infrequently
    • let students choose a buddy and then assign the buddies another pair of buddies to work with
    • choose team captains and then help the team captains choose

Participants discussed that sometimes students need to learn through experience why it may not be a good idea to work with a friend.

Peer Evaluation

We discussed that peer evaluation can be helpful to include individual accountability to teamwork.  Beth has used a software package developed at Purdue called CATME.  There are also tools to help teams self monitor their progress with team processes.

Team Roles

Beth shared that four main roles are introduced to HSU engineering students and Jen added a 5th that works well in K classes:

  • Presenter
  • Task and Time Keeper
  • Scribe
  • Facilitator
  • Getter (and put-ter back-er)

We discussed that all students need to learn all these skills.  Students should try to learn from others that perform these roles well.  Some times a cynic is needed on a team and sometimes someone needs to be encouraged to not be a cynic!

The following comes from Concurrent Engineering. “There are nine team roles defined to help the team function more effectively:

  • Organizer – a person who visualizes and plans for the whole design process.
  • Motivator – a person who takes care of the schedule and goals of the team.
  • Pusher – an active person who makes team work faster.
  • Solver – an imaginative person who deals mainly with problem resolution.
  • Gatherer – a person who is good at collecting information and communicating with other teams.
  • Listener – a perceptive person, who can listen and combine the ideas and statements of others.
  • Completer – a careful person who specializes in eliminating design defects.
  • Specialist – a dedicated person who is extremely skilled and has a lot of knowledge in a specific area.
  • Evaluator – a person who has good strategic skills, keeps the balance between immediate needs and long-term goals, and weighs consequences (Skalak, Susan).”

Dry Ice Explorations

Ken showed us some demonstrations using dry ice.

Ken has tubs.  Send him an email and he will have them delivered to your school via courier when school starts.

EIE Water quality materials testing

Participants completed Lesson 3 of the Environmental Engineering module.

Selection of Module for presentation on Thursday

Each participant chose one of the EIE modules to present on Thursday.  Some participants are working in pairs.

Minute Paper

Most Important thing learned

  • Discussion of collaborative groups (2).
  • The engineering process became more clear.
  • Hands on activities.
  • Learning the procedural outline for presenting the lessons.  It was great to focus time and energy on asking, imagining and planning the design.
  • First hand knowledge of the design process
  • How important the “ask” stage is
  • I have abandoned many good practices in our current education culture.
  • I have learned to say… “Yes, and” instead of ” Yes, but” to build teamwork and be more positive.
  • Reinforce the engineering process.
  • Hands on activities for new experiences/experiments/investigations
  • Plastic canopy really was best, though I thought it would be too floppy.
  • EIE can be easily modified to different ages/class levels.

Remaining Questions

  • Still want more ideas on how to implement these ideas into my class (more ideas are always welcome!)
  • How do I initially present the project?
  • Classroom management issues during the initial materials tests and design component.
  • Clarification on Thursday project.
  • How will I get the materials and the adult help I will need to pull off 1-3 EIE units/year?
  • How will I make time in my busy schedule to implement on or two modules of the EIE curriculum?
  • Are sand/gravel filters better vertical or horizontal?


  • Super Fun!
  • I loved all the group work!
  • These have been great lessons.  I feel that I could readily implement these lessons with great success and fun and learning.
  • Having lots of down time was both good and bad.
  • I really love working in groups and need to have my students work together more often to problem solve and have fun!
  • Fun!  Thanks!
  • Fun day.  Mix of talk vs. activity was very good.


DYF Institute III: Engineering is Elementary – Monday

Posted in Dyf at 5:05 pm by Beth

Outline for the Day

  • Introductions
  • Pre-Assessment
  • Why teach engineering in K-12?
  • Expectations
  • Introduction to Engineering is Elementary curriculum
  • Designing Parachutes
  • Thursday Assignment
  • Reflection on Curriculum
  • Minute Paper


Participants were invited to watch this video before coming to the institute.

As folks signed in, they completed paperwork, including pre-assessments.

The DYF institute started by introducing the facilitators (Beth Eschenbach, Shanna Atherton, Erin Cearley, Allison Oakland and Richard Engel).  Julie Van Sickle, Redwood Science Project Co-Director was introduced.

Participants had the following expectations:

  • Creating a larger community of K-12 engineering educators in our region
  • Developing additional contacts, getting ideas and collaborating
  • New ideas
    • for labs
    • for classroom activities
  • Having FUN!
  • Learning about Engineering is Elementary and how to apply activities
  • How to incorporate math and science and problem solving with young students
  • Learn more about engineering and how to engage students in engineering
  • Support for teaching hands on science in Spanish

Beth then presented an overview of why it is important to teach engineering to K-12 students.   We tied engineering to local needs as described by the Decade of Difference project, based on the Targets of Opportunity.  We defined STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) and discussed national efforts to effectively use private funds  improve K-12 education – Change the Equation. We discussed the difference between science, engineering and technology.

We then started into the EIE Unit: A Long Way Down: Designing Parachutes.

We started with the Prep Lesson.  Teachers worked in groups and discussed a specific technology (purpose, materials etc).  Teachers also addressed the questions of what was a likely recent design improvement and what was an improvement that was needed.

For Lesson 1 we reviewed the book about Paulo.

For Lesson 2 we reviewed the handouts on the planets.

For Lesson 3 we first watched a golf ball fall in water and in air and discussed the concepts of atmosphere and drag.  We then had teachers work in three groups and explore the impact of the following items on the speed of a falling parachute.

  • line length
  • canopy size
  • canopy material

Cool Links



Teachers then reflected on the curriculum and considered what modifications might be necessary and what were possible barriers

Modifications discussed included

  • For older students require more data collection and the calculation of velocity
  • For younger students, just let them all design individually before asking them to work in groups.

Barriers discussed included

  • Younger students cannot read
  • Time – both classroom and prep
  • Teamwork skills need to be taught


Minute Paper

Most Important thing learned

  • My partner is excited about working together to teach science
  • It is critical to actually build stuff by a better understanding of how the world works.
  • Review of engineering process
  • Meeting participants
  • I learned that there are a lot of things that I can do with my kindergartners.
  • This class is going to be very valuable for me because I will have materials to take home with me.
  • We as educators need to foster a desire in the field of engineering in children.  Fewer students are choosing this field and there fore there are less engineers in the workfoce.  This will create a problem when the current engineers retire.
  • I learned how large the field of engineering is.  We went from thinking primarily of bridge design to a dozen different ideas.
  • Resources for teachers online.

Remaining Questions

  • Implementation! (3)
  • How to include engineering in K-12 in California?
  • I will need great ideas to change/modify for Kingergarten


  • I like that there is a curriculum to go with this!
  • Yahoo!
  • Thanks for all the preparation and planning.
  • Today has motivated me!
  • I loved making the parachute and conducting the experiment.
  • This was very fun, informative and low-pressure.  Thank you!


HyTEC Fuel Cell Refresher- DYF Teacher Institute

Posted in Dyf at 11:22 am by Beth

Brooks, Forrest, Ellen and Jim (on left) and Maggie, Becca, Byron and Dave (on right)

DYF participants meet the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

The second followup for the DYF Teacher Institute II occurred on May 23, 2010 from 8am- 4pm at Humboldt State University. Links to the materials provided at the institute are available below.

Seven DYF teachers attended Brooks Franklin, Byron Giese, Dave Haller, Ellen Osten, Maggie Peters, Rebecca Schuler, Forrest Stamper.  The instructors were Jim Zoellick of the Schatz Energy Research Center and Beth Eschenbach of Environmental Resources Engineering at HSU.

Teachers took home their own Kill-A-Watt meter, a box of  Engineering Go For It magazines, and Engineer Your Life brochures.

Opening Conversation

In the morning Beth shared information from HSU’s 2010 Institute for Diversity in Learning and Teaching.  The group reviewed demographics of the US and compared those demographics to the current demographics of the Science and Engineering (S&E) workforce.  We noted that, although the diversity of the S&E workforce has increased over the years, it still does not reflect the diversity of our nation.  In addition, we learned that the average 12th grade student is not meeting the Basic level  of National Assessment of Educational Preparedness science assessment, with underrepresented minorities consistently scoring lower than white and Asian students.

Ellen, Brooks and Maggie with HyTEC fuel cell kit

Ellen, Brooks and Maggie work with a HyTEC fuel cell kit.

We then considered the idea of developing a “Scientific Temper”, a term which was used by India’s Prime Minister Nehru in the 1950’s and brought into the conversation of science education by Editor-in-chief Science magazine Bruce Alberts.  Alberts points out that much excellent hands-on K-12 curriculum exists, but our current testing paradigm does not support excellent science education.  Alberts calls for using a new approach for fostering excellence and innovation in science education; an approach seen in industry and science.  In particular, he calls for a paradigm shift, similar to that seen in the US auto industry 40 years ago, where excellent teachers would join those who lead education reform.  Alberts also suggests we apply our best understanding of how people learn and how people learn history, math and and science into the classroom.  This work is summarized on the National Academies of Press website and can be downloaded at no cost.

The last part of the conversation was based on  Ken Bain‘s presentation and focused on how to inspire students to use deep learning approaches instead of surface or strategic learning approaches.

People are most likely to take a deep approach to their learning when they are trying to solve problems or answer questions that the learner regards as important, intriguing or beautiful. – Ken Bain

We ended with thinking about what kinds of “hooks” teachers can use to tie  standards based curriculum to questions our students find “important, intriguing or beautiful”.  We wondered if the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering could be seen as important, intriguing or beautiful to secondary science and math students.  Possibly the 5-Part Make It Happen Plan outlined on the  NAE Grand Challenges K12 Partners Program site could be used to create links from existing curricula to the NAE Grand Challenges.

As we discussed ideas, we shared some favorite books and websites:  Cadillac Desert, Monkey Wrench Gang, Physics by Inquiry and Google physics.

Hytec Kit

HyTEC Electrolizer and Fuel Cell Kit. Sets of 8 kits are available for check out from SERC.

Brooks shared information from the workshop he had attended on Career and Technical Education (CTE) and Mathematics.  The approach suggested starting with a typical CTE situation then present similar CTE situations and then, only then present the “naked math”.  They focused on linking existing curriculua to CTE.  Brooks also shared a video presented at the workshop.  This version is still funny, but a little longer.

Multiple times the conversation touched on the difficulties of teaching hands-on curriculum in a setting that is driven by high stakes testing.

HyTEC Refresher

Jim joined the group a little after 10am as we were talking about “hooks” for secondary science and math students.  Jim provided an overview of the Schatz Energy Research Center’s involvement a project sponsored by the California Energy Commission to study Humboldt County’s potential to rely on renewable energy in the future.

Fuel cell vehicle at HSU.

Hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicle available to visit schools in Humboldt County.

We went outside to see the hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicle.

Then we came in and set up the HyTEC kits and began to move through lessons 2-5. Teachers learned that they can

  • check out a classroom set of HyTEC electrolizer and fuel cell kits from SERC
  • request a SERC docent come and assist in the classroom
  • request SERC would provide the KOH required for the electrolizer.
  • request a visit from the SERC fuel cell vehicle
  • bring students to HSU and visit the hydrogen fueling station.

Byron had the kits mailed to his school.  He told Jim how he changed the kits and the handouts when working with this students, since the kits had arrived missing a few tubes.  Jim learned the kits are more flexible than imagined.

Jim, Dave, Maggie and Brooks at the hydrogen fueling station

Jim shows Dave, Maggie and Brooks the HSU hydrogen fueling station. K12 students and teachers are welcome to come to campus for similar tours.

During lunch Jim took participants on rides in the fuel cell vehicle.

Closing Conversation

DYF teachers provided input for this summer’s institute which will occur July 19-23.  Topics may include polishing some of the RCEA kits, learning new engineering curriculum, design and planning time for incorporating new ideas into already full courses.


RCEA Kits: Windbelts and Power Drill Generators DYF Teacher Institute

Posted in Dyf at 10:22 pm by Beth

Errin and Forrest

Errin and Forrest with a Can You WorKIT

The first Followup for the DYF Teacher Institute II occurred on May 16, 2010 from 8am- 4pm at Humboldt State University. Links to the materials provided at the institute are available below.

Seven DYF teachers attended Brooks Franklin, Ellen Osten,  Rebecca Schuler, Errin Odell, Ken Pinkerton, Forrest Stamper, and Sheryl Steiner.  The instructors were Lonny Grafman and Beth Eschenbach of the Environmental Resources Engineering at HSU.  ERE students Elisabeth Johnson and Holly Leopardi presented the Windbelts RCEA kit and ERE student Bobby Voeks presented the Power Drill Generator RCEA kit.

Teachers took home their own windbelt, a box of  Engineering Go For It magazines, and Engineer Your Life brochures.

Opening Conversations

In the morning Beth Eschenbach reviewed the importance of increasing the number of students interested in studying STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics). The DYF teachers discussed the importance of school culture and parent involvement to support students’ success in STEM.  Errin reminded us of the 2020 Initiative: Decade of Difference and its focus on developing a culture in Humboldt County where all students are expected to graduate from high school and continue their education in a vocational, technical or professional area.  Errin shared his story of visiting a school in S. California that changed its culture and in 5 years went from scores of 500 to 700.  FHUS is experiencing its own culture shift.  Students are tardy less and coming in at lunch to make up tests, because they do not want to perform required remedial work.

Beth described the Family Engineering program being funded to NSF to help parents learn the importance of engineering.  Brooks relayed a story of how involving parents correlated with a dramatic increase in test scores.

Ken shared his recent epiphany that more science and engineering would be taught in classes if hands on activities required less prep or if teachers could have more assistance with prep from either parents, volunteers or students.  Any kits designed for STEM K-12 education needs to have lower prep requirements.

Participants discussed the current approach to teaching math is an emphasis is on “drill and kill” and not on projects.  Some felt that some administrators are not as supportive of hands-on project because they require “stuff”, which can make a classroom “messy” and do not provide as many completed worksheets for accountability.

Beth shared the National Academy of Engineers summary of 14 engineeirng challenges http://www.engineeringchallenges.org/ and the related K-12 site http://www.grandchallengek12.org/about which provide examples of how teachers can include the 14 grand challenges into science and math lessons.

Participants discussed that Humboldt County Office of Education is interested in having engineering taught in high school and Project Lead The Way seems to be a viable approach http://www.pltwcalifornia.org/

Teacher DYF Experiences

Ellen shared how her 4th period exploratory student worked with the HyTec electrolizer by showing them the DVD and let them figure it out.  Then one group taught another group.

Ellen let us know that Vince had the GATE kids meet with the school board and then design a playground.  The students then presented their design to the board.   The students like the fuel cell and the play ground.  Next week they will make pasta bridges, by bringing their own pasta to school.


Brooks shared pictures of the Engineering Club he started at EHS.  Students met for 30 minutes for lunch to complete various activities such as the pasta bridges and Save the Penguins.  Thirty minutes is not enough time to do a lot, and these students are not available after school.  Brooks and the HROP teacher will be attending a conference at the end of the week on production.

Ken and others shared about related engineering/project sites.

Can You WorKIT 2?!

Brooks, Ken, Sheryl, Lonny and Bobby with Can You WorKIT

After reporting out, the DYF teachers completed a pre-assessment.

Can You WorKIT Activity

Lonny provided an overview of the Redwood Coast Energy Authority Kits project completed by the HSU Introduction to Design engineering students using a presentation software called prezi.


Building the Half Windbelts

Posted in Dyf at 10:22 pm by Lonny

DYF prebuild Team Aero Marty FuzzyTeam Aero works with Marty to develop wind belts for DYF teachers.

In preparation for the Sunday workshop, Team Aero members Andres Pineda, Elisabeth Johnson, Holly Leopardi, and Nathen Theobald worked with CNRS Equipment Tech Marty Reed to build ten half-windbelts in one day!

You can see a video of their windbelt working below.


Energy Boxes for Classrooms

Posted in Dyf at 12:04 pm by Lonny

The Redwood Coast Energy Authority, HSU course Engineering 215, and Design Your Future have partnered to build energy education boxes for classrooms. These boxes will aim to build standards based educational packages focused on energy conservation, renewable energy or climate change curriculum. The boxes will contain lesson plans and other instructions, and be housed at the RCEA in Eureka for teachers to use or docents to bring into classrooms.

If you can help give guidance to the student design teams or if you would like a box designed specifically for your classroom, please comment here or contact Lonny at lonny at humboldt dot edu.

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