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American Community Gardening Association Annual Conference
Seattle, WA August 8–11, 2013
Cultivating Community, Harvesting Health:
Community Gardens to Urban Farms
Registration opens on May 1, 2013. Join us for this year's events, including:
About the Conference
The American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) promotes community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada.
ACGA's annual conference provides an opportunity for professionals, volunteers, and supporters of community greening in urban and rural communities to gather together, to share information and resources pertaining to:Google Plus One Facebook Like
Rain gardens are in the news a lot these days. What are they, and how do they work? Rain gardens allow homeowners to do their part to help protect streams and Puget Sound while also keeping stormwater drainage away from homes. A free workshop will provide all the details needed to build one or more rain gardens in your yard to create a low-maintenance, attractive landscape feature that will also provide habitat for birds and butterflies.
Part 1 of this how-to workshop will be offered on Thursday, April 18, from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. at Tumwater Fire Hall, 311 Israel Rd. SW. Participants will learn how to create a rain garden landscape plan to suit their needs, and can also register for Part 2 on Thursday, April 25 where experts will offer individualized plan review. Each participant will receive detailed information about designing and building a rain garden, as well as a free handbook and beautiful four-color poster.
The workshop is free but registration is required. Register online at http://www.streamteam.info/getinvolved/calendar/ For more information, contact the WSU Native Plant Salvage Project at email@example.com or call 360-867-2166. This workshop is co-sponsored by Stream Team and WSU Extension’s Native Plant Salvage Project.
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By Doris Faltys
The Science Fair experience occurs in our local schools at differing times of the year. For many schools Science Fair is scheduled in late winter or spring. Science in the classroom follows state mandates but is presented in a variety of ways depending on the district or the particular school.
The Tumwater school district utilizes the STEM program, (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,) as an added boost to their science curriculums. This year the STEM program in Mrs. Potkonjak’s 5th grade class is focusing on transportation by studying robotics, flight, and hot air balloons.
At Olympia School District’s Julia Butler Hanson Elementary School, Science Fair will be in May. Mrs. Rowell’s 3rd grade class hasn’t begun to think about that yet. The class is currently studying rocks using the FOSS Science curriculum. “Our project models the scientific process,” says Mrs. Rowell. “Starting with a clear written hypothesis, the students collect data and work as scientists together. They are learning the properties of rocks. How do real geologists determine the different kinds of rocks? My students learn this by observation, and testing. For example, to see if a rock contains calcite, the rocks are put in vinegar, (an acid test). If there is calcite in the rock, there will be bubbles. If they don’t see the bubbles, they need to wait until the vinegar evaporates to see if there is a calcite residue on the container.”
Mrs. Rowell will encourage all her 3rd grade class to participate in Science Fair this spring. She explains, “Working on a science project my students learn precision and accuracy. Scientists can’t be sloppy,” she adds. I can tell that Mrs. Rowell is excited about science and about teaching in general. She has seen students who are disinterested in reading, writing, and school, become hooked on learning though the investigation of the world of science. “Science is about wonder,” Mrs. Rowell says. “But, if kids, and parents aren’t unplugged, if they don’t unplug from technology and get outside, those, ‘I wonder,’ questions won’t come up.”
Mrs. Hayes, 5th grade Hansen Elementary School teacher has been promoting science in the Olympia School District for many years. She received the Washington State Science Teachers’ Association Science Teacher of the Year Award for 2011-2012. “Science is all about questions,” she says. “What is needed is wonderment.”
Mrs. Hayes says, “Science encourages an open mind, tenacity enough to find an answer to your question, critical skills, and honesty. Kids get a great deal of confidence and satisfaction from having participated in a science fair…it’s a great confidence builder. It is a good opportunity to teach ethics, and for students to learn it is ok to be wrong. For example, sometimes the data does not support the hypothesis.”
“Why do we need to push kids to participate in science fair,” I ask? “There is big money for kids winning science fairs,” Mrs. Hayes replies. “Schools are scouting at the Regional and State Science Fairs. If there is funding out there, we want our kids to have the skills and experience to be able to compete for it. That is why science fair is worthwhile. It is our responsibility to provide the means for our students to obtain these skills.”
Mrs. Hayes feels that competing at Regional and State Science Fairs is a great way for students to learn more about science. 15 students from Hansen took their projects to the Regional Science Fair last year. (This year the state fair is April 5-6.)
Some of our Science Fairs invite “Community Scientists”, local doctors, professors, field scientists, researchers, geologists, to judge the students’ projects. In most cases these “judges” do not give a rating. They discuss the project with the individual students’, ask questions, give complements, and suggestions on improving the project. Some of our community scientists say that helping out at Science Fair is a highlight of their year!
June Dhamers, who teaches advanced math and science at Aspire Middle School, part of North Thurston Public School’s Challenge Academy requires all students to participate in Aspire’s Science Fair at Aspire and at the Regional Science Fair at Pacific Lutheran University. Mrs. Dhamers considers her school science fair a rehearsal for the Regional Fair.
“Middle school is the hook you need to keep students focused and excited about learning when they reach high school,” says Mrs. Dhamenrs. “If students are not already hooked on learning high school can feel like ‘paddling up stream.’ It is easier to motivate middle school students. It is the right time to grab them,” she adds. Mrs. Dhamers shared a few quotes about Science Fair from her students:
Capital High School, Olympia School District held their Science Fair earlier in March. One highlight was the project created by two of Mr. Bove’s Physic’s tenth grade students, Morgan and Jack. Their project answered the question, “Can we generate a standing wave using a Ruben’s Tube?” Fire and great music had the high school audience captivated!
Take some tips from Mrs. Potkonjak when attending a science fair.
By Tom Rohrer
One individual was at a computer using a program that displayed the working robot at the center of all the student’s attention. An adult supervisor plugged in numbers into another computer and saw the metal design move appropriately. Two other students monitored the robot’s movement and reacted in a positive or negative fashion depending on whether the machine moved appropriately.
The answer is the Seattle Regional of the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), which will be held on Friday, March 29 and Saturday, March 30 at the CenturyLink Event Center.
Together, the students form FRC Team 4450, of the Olympia Robotics Federation.
It will be Team 4450’s first FRC competition, which requires them to erect a robot using specific guidelines in six weeks before shipping it off to Seattle for the competition.
Comprised of about two dozen students from Olympia, Capital and Avanti High School, the team was given official specifications in January. Using that template, team 4450 created a robot that has the ability to dispense a Frisbee and climb up a sloped structure.
Participation in the FRC is part of the Olympia School District’s CTE (Career Technical Education) Stem Robotics Program, which has courses across 20 district classrooms at the middle and high school level and allows students to learn and practice a variety of different technological disciplines.
“The single reason we chose robotics is because of the breadth and depth of the different engineering disciplines,” said Randy Steele, the CTE STEM Coach for the Olympia School District, and one of the coaches for Team 4450. “It’s electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, system design engineering, software design engineering, and electronic engineering. You have this broad exposure and the depth so students can go as far as they want to.”
The OSD thought they were a few years away from implementing an FRC team despite the success at the middle school level. That’s where Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni Peter Cook came in. Cook came to Steele asking if he could lead the team, and together, along with Richard Corn, the students are able to learn from three knowledgeable and dedicated instructors. Steele is no slouch himself, having spent twenty years as a computer chip designer before working for the OSD.
“He’s been true to his words and has put in hundreds of hours,” Steele said of Cook. “And Richard has been great with the kids as well.”
The competitive aspect of the FRC regional brings the team together, and makes them work even harder toward a common goal.
“I think the competitive aspect for me is just icing on the cake,” said Olympia High School senior Trevor Johnson, one of the team’s two captains. “I am really in to building things and competing is just an added bonus to building a very complex, huge robot.”
“We looked at science, technology, engineering, and math, and thought, how can we make it more exciting and engaging,” Steele said. “So we looked at sports and music programs that are so successful with kids, and you have that team based element and competitive element with a common goal.”
To reach that common goal and compete in the FRC regional event, the team had to delve out tasks to certain project groups focusing on a particular element of the robot. This could include the design, mechanics or connection between the computer and the robot (among many other aspects). In January, the FRC sent out a template for teams to follow, which included required dimensions and capabilities, and the team had six weeks from that point to assemble the project. With that many separate tasks for one common goal project, it’s important for the team to be in constant communication.
“With all the different design groups for different things, we make sure there isn’t any conflict for the space people requested and we make sure we allot that space,” said co-captain Will Clem, a sophomore at CHS. “We talk frequently just to make sure we have enough space for everything.”
This constant communication has only brought the team closer together.
“I’d say we have become pretty close, how can you not?” said Clem.
“It is really fun to work with other students from the cross town schools,” Johnson said. ”Some of my teammates were part of First Technology Challenge (FTC) rival teams and it is pretty cool that we can all join FRC and create an awesome robot.”
So will Team 4450’s creation stack up to the rest of the competition? It will be up to the various judging panels at the contest, and of course, the robot itself. At this point, both the team members and coaches are feeling confident.
“We took it up to Tacoma about five weeks in and set up a full arena (the space where the robots will compete, about the size of a gymnasium) and we were the only rookie team and one of three teams overall that had a functioning robot,” Steele said. “As a rookie team, we were happy with that.”
“It’s tested generally well to my knowledge,” Clem said. “It’s an unpredictable contest, and that can be fun, because it makes you think quick and react with adjustments. I just want it to run properly, and I think it will go very well if that’s the case.”
For more information on the Olympia Robotics Federation, visit http://www.frc4450.tk/
For more information on Washington First Robotics, visit http://www.firstwa.org/
For a schedule for this weekend’s event, click here.
Thurston here to there provides access to a variety of information about travel choices, public and private transportation services, and other transportation-related resources within Thurston County and the greater Puget Sound area.
Check them out at www.thurstonheretothere.org
You DON’T have to dump your car to be a Rebel by Bus.
Last week is a good example. Like many died-in-the-wool Pacific Northwesterners, I love our green and temperate climate… however, come winter I crave blue sky and sunshine. Around February I head somewhere for a dose of sun and warmer temps.
This year my destination was Sedona and Phoenix Arizona. The red rocks of Sedona are simply breathtaking. Every direction you turn is a new formation. The angles and light exposures make every glimpse a new experience.
After a few days in Sedona, I headed to Phoenix (passing through Peoria to watch a Mariner’s baseball game, which was stopped after a couple innings due to rain:-0) I had two attractions on my list: Taliesin West (winter home of Frank Lloyd Wright, architect extraordinaire) and the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden. Taliesin West was very interesting; I thoroughly enjoyed the tour depicting the architect’s philosophy of houses and life.
Now the purpose of this post: I used the Phoenix Metro bus service to get to and from the Desert Botanical Garden. From the financial district of Phoenix (and next to both the Phoenix Art Museum AND the Heard Museum) I caught Bus 17, eastbound from Central Avenue and McDowell. The adult fare was $2.00. The bus travels along McDowell for several miles. I exited the bus at McDowell and 64th. Directly behind the bus stop is a large “Welcome to the Desert Botanical Garden” sign. I followed the rock lined gravel path which led me through the garden’s parking lot to the garden. A huge trio of neon-bright chartreuse Dale Chihuly towers is placed at the entrance. An Adult entrance fee is $18 (60 and older is $15.)
After two days of rain and gloomy skies, the warm sun and blue sky were welcome. The garden has several sections, such as herb, cactus, wildflowers, and displays and information about indigenous people living in the desert.
Trails wandered throughout the park, with vistas to distant mountains and hills. Benches, playful sculptures, and comfortable patio chairs were scattered everywhere. One of the most interesting sculptures was a collection of four huge faces, each comprised of fruits and vegetables from each of the four seasons. Very colorful and clever!
I found the bus drivers to be exceptional friendly and polite. Neither driver knew that their route was next door to the Botanical Garden!
For more information about the Desert Botanical Garden: www.dbg.org