Showing posts from October, 2013

Wearing skirts

The Pohnpeian koahl is neither a skirt nor a costume. Men of Pohnpei wore the koahl in times of yore. In the past I have worn the koahl for only a single class period - wearing it only as a costume. Photos from the venerable Micronesian seminar site make this clear. Men with large guns wore the koahl.

Men with high titles going to formal functions wore the koahl. Photo again courtesy of Micronesian Seminar.

This term I decided not to wear the koahl as a single period costume. I donned my koahl early in the morning and wore it throughout the day. In the past the wind has been problematic for my thin koahl. I discovered the perhaps long lost secret of double-koahling (pardon the Pohnglish!). Two skirts provide more security in a breeze.

I am indebted to the division administration assistant who had a second koahl on hand. I now want one like the fellow in front of the governor's residence.

After a day in the koahl, I delivered an outdoor lecture on the loss of material culture to t…

Course Completion Rates

At the campus wide meeting on 23 October an administrator noted a number of contributing factors to the revenues falling short of projections. There are enrollment factors, average credit load decreases, reduced retention, and a drop in course completion rates among other factors. The latter most piqued my interest. My focus has been on producing and assessing learning. I stepped down as division chair in 2007 in part in order to pursue classroom level assessment of learning. I have produced both college reports assessing learning and a number of other reports on learning in my classrooms.

I understood as I worked on assessment that learning was the core. Grades do not measure learning outcomes achieved. And while budgets are to be driven by learning, the metrics that were mentioned in the meeting and which have been discussed in other venues are enrollment, head counts, FTEs, retention rates, and cour…

Vegetative morphology

A selection of leaves that I laid out on a cement cover at class start. I convened the class across the road next to the ethnobotanical garden. The weather was sunny, dry, and conducive to holding the whole of the class outside.

Premna obtusifolia, Eugenia uniflora and their somewhat ovate leaf shapes.

On the right the linear venation and linear form of a ground orchid leaf.

An obovate Terminalia catappa leaf and the somewhat lanceolate leaves of Cestrum jasminoides.

Orbicular and peltate Merremia peltata.

Vanessa, Parkey, and Clinton consult the handout I made for the walk.

Out and about in the forest.

Sagittate leaves in the background.

Speed of Sound

The speed of sound laboratory was done using a GPS and a ten second count as I have done for a few terms now. The lab led off with the determination of the relative humidity. I displayed the projected speed of sound from WolframAlpha using a Nokia Asha 311 I acquired in early October. During the lab I then ran checks of our data against the expected value. This was used to inform the clapping process. Above Dwayne is working on synchronizing to the echo, Allston is working the stop watch. Marvin, Merany, and Brian Tonga are looking on.

The use of the expected value in the field was new, effectively an inversion of the previous terms where the speed of sound was kept under wraps until the end of the laboratory. Berry used the GPS to gather distance data on the longer walks. In the afternoon one student went into the cafeteria to get a drink during the measurement run. The data was off significantly as a result.

In addition, as I have done the past few terms, the data was plotted in t…

Foods of Micronesia

Parkey presented túsolá, a word that connotes "surprise". Ground taro is folded around coconut milk and boiled in a taro leaf. The result is a flavor not unlike Pohnpeian rotama. This is a specialty of Oneop in the Mortlocks islands and is prepared by women.

Inside is the "surprise"!

Pohnpeian uht idihd, Pingelapese wis idihd. Ground and boiled banana. An everyday food.

Eauripikese mar - fermented breadfruit. Smooth as pudding, but enough body to hold shape.

Satawalese pwuna (taro) igeig. Known on Woleai as bulag igeig. Although the spellings differ, pwuna and bulag do not sound as different as the spellings would imply. Ground taro, copra, and sweet coconut juice. Today sugar is often substituted. This is a favorite across Micronesia.

A related dish, Sapwafikese kemelis. Coconut tree sap (skalui, tuba) is boiled down into a molasses like sweetener for this variant.

Pohnpeian uht sukusuk is another favorite - banana with coconut milk on top. The dish is also a do…

Airplane Distance Confidence Intervals

In the Spring of 2012 the MS 150 Statistics students threw paper aircraft off of the second floor balcony. I measured the distance to each plane from the building - the distance perpendicular to the face of the building. The average distance was 627 centimeters. I was curious as to whether that average could be "captured" by repeating the exercise section-by-section this fall 2013 term.

Unbeknownst to me, a student grabbed some images of my measuring in light rain, posted to FaceBook, and tagged me. The students know that I am "FaceBook" friendly. With their permission I grabbed the shots for this blog.

When I embarked on this I had absolutely no idea whether repeating the experiment would capture the former population mean distance. I thought that if statistics worked as I expected, then I had a 95% chance of capturing the mean. In three sections the odds of any one section not including the mean was certainly more than 5%, but one tends to feel safe until the gre…

My annual numbers

Every term in MS 150 Statistics I use a body fat monitor to measure the students weight and to estimate their body fat. The data is primarily used, with names stripped out, as number sets to play with during the term. Secondarily this provides information to a population at high risk of obesity and associated metabolic syndromes, number two on the planet as a percentage of the population with a BMI higher that 25. The 2012 International Diabetes Federation atlas puts the FSM at number one on the planet for diabetes. The students become inured to my exhortations to exercise, eat right, and to track their numbers.

Because I get to see the students numbers, and because I exhort those around me to get annual physicals and exercise, I always feel that sharing my numbers is incumbent on me. Although I do try to take a pill for my health, my health habits are not yet well aligned with modern heart attack prevention guidelines.



Island Food Community of Pohnpei

The ethnobotany class listens to the CHEEF benefits of growing local, eating local at the Island Food Community of Pohnpei. Island Food Community has a revamped web site and a FaceBook page.

Coverage included the upcoming world food day celebration.

The  CHEEF benefits as quoted from the Island Food web site:

Food is a basic part of our culture. When we promote our island foods, we are also promoting the traditional Pohnpeian way of life and farming system. As the forces of globalization affect indigenous peoples' traditions and food availability, it is imperative that traditional knowledge on agroforestry and cultural beliefs surrounding food are preserved for future generations. Connection to the land and local ecosystems is one way to do this.

Consuming island foods provides protection against many nutritionally-related diseases including: diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, vitamin A deficiency, and anemia.
HealthHealth problems emerged from the 1970s with …