Tag Archives: Outreach

A Metacognitive Moment

We’re beyond the halfway point in most classes, and it may be a good time to take just a (metacognitive) moment to review progress and map the road ahead.

In my physics class, I ask students each day as part of their class preparation to attempt an explanation of a real or simulated physics result. The question is based on material to which they’ve just had their first exposure, by reading or video lecture. It’s challenging, and initially not well liked. But it’s definitely something at which students improve with practice. They become not only more willing to “guess,” but they begin to support their answers with evidence, independent research and/or mathematical analysis far more often.

When I recently told my students that I had begun seeing that progress, a number of them spontaneously reflected and then shared agreement that this was getting more comfortable. It’s easy to lose track, in mid-semester, of how far you’ve come already. And it can be highly motivating to students when they see progress. In a similar way, looking backward momentarily can sometimes help put what remains in perspective.

As a physics student, when I first learned about rotational motion, I missed the idea that every rotational quantity had a linear analog. I struggled mightily as I tried to learn rotational kinematics in about a week, and the pace seemed completely unreasonable to me given that we’d spent about seven weeks learning the same concepts for linear motion.

This week, as I teach the same material, I explicitly connect each new rotational quantity back to the linear one. This seems to help students not only absorb the new material but reinforces the old and makes the pace more reasonable. A look backward could be an open-ended reflection on progress, or an explicit challenge to make comparisons to, connections with, or predictions about what’s coming. It could be done as a formal assignment, an in-class exercise, as a “minute paper” reflection near the end of a class or through a Canvas survey or quiz.

If you’re looking for other instructional strategies (and don’t want to wait for next week), stop into or contact the Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning.

by Mike Meyer, CTL Director


Suits Performs New Chamber Music

Calumet Art Center
Calumet Art Center

Two Faculty Members to Perform in Concert

New Chamber Music at the Calumet Art Center

The Calumet Art Center hosts the fifth year of New Chamber Music at 7:30 p.m. tonight featuring two Michigan Tech faculty. Composer and violinist Paul Seitz, assisted by soprano Christine Seitz, composer and violinist Sylvia del Real, violinist/violist Erica Flyte, cellist Pat Quimby (MSE), pianist Jon Ensminger and flautist Bryan Suits (Physics) will perform recently-composed works by participating composers as well as earlier compositions by Bela Bartok, George Gershwin and Henry Purcell that have features in common with the new works. There is an $8.00 suggested donation.
The Calumet Art Center is located on 57055 Fifth Street in Calumet. Call 906-934-2228 or visit CalumetArtCenter.com for more information.

From Tech Today, by Calumet Arts Center.


Nerds Come Out At Night

Scott Rutterbush  at Nerd Night
Scott Rutterbush at Nerd Night

The Keweenaw Science and Engineering Festival (KSEF) is a four day event that brings learning and fun together for the whole family.

During Nerd Night, teenagers gathered at the Continental Fire Company in Houghton for hands-on activities hosted by Michigan Tech’s Physics Department.

MTU Laboratory Systems Associate Scott Rutterbush says that learning about science now will give these students a leg up in the future.

Read more and listen to audio clips at The Keweenaw Report.

The Keweenaw Report is sharing a video on Facebook which includes an interview with lab associate Scott Rutterbush.

The KSEF Facebook page is sharing another Nerd Night video.

Kids have fun, also learn at Nerd Night

HOUGHTON – From static electricity to inertia, area fifth- through 12th-graders got to see scientific principles brought to life through demonstrations at Nerd Night Wednesday.

Read more at the Mining Gazette, by Garrett Neese (subscription required).

Nerds are the new cool kids in the U.P.

Laboratory Systems Associate in MTU’s Physics Department Scott Rutterbush said, “The more we can expose these kids to that, the more base level of understanding they’ll have and the more we, at places like Michigan Tech, can do with them when they come into our program. It’s making them better engineers, making them better scientists.”

Read more and watch the video at ABC 10 News, by Rick Allen.


2015 Astronomy Research and Education Award for Nemiroff

Nemiroff and BonnellThe Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), one of the most innovative and respected astronomy science education organizations in the U.S., is proud to announce the recipients of its 2015 awards for excellence in astronomy research and education.

The awards will be formally presented at an ASP Awards Ceremony and Banquet on October 10, 2015 at Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, CA as part of ASP’s Annual Meeting and Public Festival (Universe 2015).

The Klumpke-Roberts Award for outstanding contributions to public understanding and appreciation of astronomy is awarded to Dr. Robert Nemiroff (left) and Dr. Jerry Bonnell (right) for their work on the Astronomy Picture of the Day. Dr. Robert Nemiroff is a Professor in the Physics department at Michigan Technological University. He is an active researcher, teaches undergraduate and graduate physics courses, and supervises graduate students. Dr. Jerry Bonnell is a research scientist with the University of Maryland Astronomy Department on contract to the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. They are the co-creators and co-editors of Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD). Since 1995, they have selected and explained one image of our universe every day. Their explanations include links to additional information, deepening the educational value of the site. Each day’s image and explanation are archived, forming what is one of the largest annotated archives of diverse astronomy images on the web. APOD’s home site is hosted by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and currently gets an average of 1 million hits per day. Its three major social media sites collectively have over 2 million followers. APOD is translated into 21 languages, including Arabic, Russian, Spanish, Indonesian, and Chinese, and has mirror sites in at least 23 countries.

Read more at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.


Nerd Night at KSEF

KSEFKeweenaw Science and Engineering Festival

Michigan Tech and the community will come together to host the inaugural Keweenaw Science and Engineering Festival.

The event is designed to stimulate and sustain interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in the Keweenaw.

This four-day festival is an open forum to showcase all facets of STEM in the Western Upper Peninsula. Current scheduled events include the Michigan Tech Mind Trekkers, Nerd Night with Tech’s Physics Department, the Family Engineering Day, Summer Concert Series, Science Pub Crawl, The Wonders of Physics, science comedian Brian Malow and David Gaynes presenting his documentary “Saving Hubble” and more!

This event is scheduled for Aug. 5 – 8, 2015, with most of the activities free to the public. Check out the current schedule. If you would like to get involved and run a hands-on demonstration or volunteer please contact Amanda McConnon at amcconno@mtu.edu.

From Tech Today, by the Center for Pre-College Outreach.

Nerd Night (Teens)

Wednesday, August 5th, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Continental Fire Company, 408 E Montezuma Ave. Houghton
Teens! Bring your friends and come discover the WOW! of science with amazing demonstrations and hands-on activities presented by the Michigan Tech Physics Dept.


Naturally Graphite Supplies Samples for Study

Graphite on Tape
K-12 students prepare graphene using graphite and scotch tape.

Naturally GraphiteTM is a local business that started as a project of Nanotech Innovations Enterprise, a former Enterprise program at Michigan Tech operated by undergraduate students. The business, advised by Professor of Physics Dr. John Jaszczak, supplies high quality natural graphite crystals and substrates for research, industry, and education. Jaszczak also serves as adjunct curator at the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum.

Naturally Graphite was recently credited with supplying graphite crystals to a research group at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec in Canada. The research, published in Physical Review Letters, involved the use of high-speed electron diffraction techniques to study electron-phonon coupling in graphite.

High quality graphite crystals from Naturally Graphite are also routinely sought by laboratories around the world for the production and study of graphene. As a single layer of carbon atoms in graphite, graphene often generates much interest in carbon-based nanotechnologies. Graphene exhibits unique and amazing mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties. It is strong, highly conductive, transparent, elastic, and impermeable.

Naturally Graphite also donated graphite crystals to K-12 for an outreach event, Family Math Night based in Rocklin, California. The event involved simple experiments with graphite, including an activity for cleaving the graphite into layers using scotch tape. This was the original experiment by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov from the University of Manchester that led to the discovery of graphene and a Nobel Prize in 2010.

Learn more about the graphene sheet lesson plan in the 22-minute video Family Math Night Collaborative Project: Graphene Sheet by Elementary Mathematics Specialist Karyn Hodgens,.  The description of the experiments begins at about 16:20.


How do you serve?

Edward M. Leonard, Jr.
Physics Alum ’12

Mind Trekkers is a group of undergraduate students from all disciplines that take STEM. “The best part about this group? It’s 100% volunteer on the student side. After finishing homework for the night, it’s Mind Trekker time. There are always more logistics to work, more lessons to plan, and more demonstrations to write, and it’s with the will power and dedication of the volunteers that we are the dynamic sensation that we are today.” READ MORE

See also Mindtrekkers: ORAU Video