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A visit to Island Food Community of Pohnpei and a guest speaker

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The SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany class visited the Island Food Community of Pohnpei to learn about the benefits of local food. The class was treated to a special guest speaker as the Chief of Agriculture for Pohnpei state spoke to the class about the importance of local foods and the role the state division of agriculture plays in supporting farmers in their production of local foods.

Chief of Agriculture for Pohnpei state Mark Kostka addresses the class


The class listens intently to the role agriculture plays in supporting farmers



A miscommunication meant that the class did not arrive until 16:06. I had cross-checked that this trip was go last week, but I did not reconfirm in person on Monday as I often do. This is something I need to remember to do.
Gina, RJ, Kun on the far side. Myrantha with Sheeron on her right.


Island Food Community of Pohnpei coodinator and lead educator Emihner Johnson explained the health benefits of local food.


I also briefly mentioned the CHEEF benefits of local f…

Cycad with cone and presentations on gymnosperms

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Presentations on gymnosperms, timber trees, and spice trees went well. The newer arrangement of assigning groups ahead of the field trip to Pwunso continues to function exceptionally well. This allow me to point out to each pair the plant they are presenting upon. This really captures their attention and shifts their presentation from being an abstract exercise to a presentation on something they have seen, touched, and smelled.


The day of the presentations I gathered the class outside to see a cone on the cycad in the college yard.


The cycad at Pwunso did not have cones when we visited, so having a cone to see on campus was a real plus.
Dr. Daisy and Paltiela have a look at the cycad cone
Myrantha also considers the cycad cone. 
The cycad on campus is often taken to be some form of palm, and few realize that the plant produces a cone and is thus a conifer. So the presence of the cone is usually a real surprise for the students.


Paltiela and Adore present on the features that distingu…

Assessing the physical science midterm

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Galileo wrote,

La filosofia è scritta in questo grandissimo libro, che continuamente ci sta aperto innanzi agli occhi (io dico l' Universo'), ma non si può intendere, se prima non il sapere a intender la lingua, e conoscer i caratteri ne quali è scritto. Egli è scritto in lingua matematica,...
which might be translated today as, 
[Science] is written in that great book which ever lies before our eyes — I mean the universe — but we cannot understand it if we do not first learn the language and grasp the symbols, in which it is written. This book is written in the mathematical language,...
This would be echoed by physicist Freeman Dyson,
For a physicist mathematics is not just a tool by means of which phenomena can be calculated, it is the main source of concepts and principles by means of which new theories can be created... ...equations are quite miraculous in a certain way. I mean, the fact that nature talks mathematics, I find it miraculous. I mean, I spent my early days calcul…

Aligning the physical science midterm with the course

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The midterm examination has, in the past, been an aggregation of the in-class quizzes and tests for the first half of the class. These quizzes and tests, however, have gradually been replaced by activities and content as the course has matured. This term midterm arrived with only a single quiz at the end of the first week having ever been given. The midterm as given spring 2019 was no longer aligned to anything the students had actually done.

The core of the course is now firmly structured around measurement and the language of mathematics to describe relationships between measurements, doing science. Engaging in research into simple physical systems. Content is encountered in the context of experiencing the phenomenon. In light of this, the midterm as written was no longer aligned to the course.

This term I decided to start from a blank sheet. The students would be provided with novel data, freshly gathered, and asked to analyze the data in a single 50 minute period. I wanted the exe…

Latitude and Longitude

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This unit has evolved to include a more formal introduction to latitude and longitude on Monday. While some students recall that the equator is the middle line of latitude, fewer remember or know of the prime meridian. None seemed to know the location of Pohnpei in terms of latitude and longitude.


This term I opened with the coordinates for minimal typhoon Mitag which was churning in the Philippine sea. I moved on to latitude and longitude.


By 12:30 I had moved on to describing the operation of the GPS units. This was area that had been assessed as needing improvement. Touchscreen and smartphone era students seem less capable of deciphering older button driven devices.


The globe was my only prop in this lecture, along with the GPS units.


I also suggested the option to use an app such as GPS coordinates.


The app is ad supported, there appear to be no apps that directly read out the raw GPS coordinates in real time. Google Maps does not provide real time continuous read outs from the GP…

Pwunso botanic garden

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The Japanese agriculture station in the 1930s.

At least 433 new plants were introduced to Pohnpei in the past 150 years via the Pohnpei Agricultural Station by the Spanish, Germans, Japanese, and Americans.

Pre-Western contact period
50 species of food, fiber, medicinal plants including coconut, breadfruit, taro, bananas, sugarcane, were introduced.

Early European contact 1830 – 1886 Spanish vessels, whaling ships introduced diseases (smallpox, etc.) also plants: tobacco, mango, soursop, chili pepper, cassava, citrus, bamboo, new varieties of traditional crops like sugarcane, bananas, yams.

Spanish period 1886 - 1899 American tropics: cacao, sweet potato, pumpkin, papaya, pineapple, guava, corn. Africa: watermelon, coffee. Philippines: Manila hemp, abaca (Musa textilis).

German Period  1899 - 1914 69 documented plants, 27 unique introductions: Including: mangosteen, avocado, litchi, durian, figs, grapes, peaches, custard apple, Japanese wax tree, Formosan lacquer tree, cucumbers, pum…

Graphical confidence intervals for a linear regression in Google Sheets

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For a brief period of time Google Sheets had a Statistics add-in which generated graphs of regressions lines and 95% confidence intervals for the regression line graphically.


The graph above provided a visual approach to whether a slope could possibly be zero. A possible slope of zero would leave open the possibility of no relationship between the variables. The Statistics add-on was credited to "Google Developers" and was eventually removed as an add-in. Google lost a number of capabilities with this deletion, including boxplots.


The LINEST array functionavailable in Google Sheets since 2016, when configured to do so, will provide the information necessary to calculate the 95% confidence interval for the slope and the intercept. This provides a numeric answer to whether a slope could be zero, is more precise than a chart, and yet is less visually satisfying.

The above analysis show that a slope of zero is possible and that the negative slope is not necessarily significant. …