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Showing posts from October, 2014

Foundations of Excellence launch training trip report

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As a member of a team of five, four from the College of Micronesia and one from the University of Maine at Fort Kent, I left Pohnpei on Monday 20 October to attend a Foundations of Excellence® training workshop at the John N. Gardner Institute in Brevard, North Carolina.

Betsy, Kioni, and Joey work on the Foundations of Excellence technology platform
The team checked into the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Brevard on the evening of Tuesday, 21 October. As is my habit, I went for a quick run on a nearby trail up into the Pisgah National Forest.


While running and juggling I met other Brevardians out for an evening walk. Two young men clapped for me when they saw me come around a corner running and juggling. They called out, "Hey, that's good. Can you do it running backwards?" When I responded, "No," they said, "We expect more of you!" I told them I would work on my backwards running and juggling. That encounter well captured the spirit of the peopl…

Speed of sound using sight to sound differential

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Laboratory nine in SC 130 Physical Science has used a procedure that I first used in 1990 when teaching a high school physics class. Boards are clapped in synch with an echo. Timing the claps and the measuring the distance to the building has permitted relatively accurate measurements of the speed of sound.

Towel waver Marla Silbanuz, clapper Malcom Tom, 11:00 section arrangement
The day was sunny, clear, and hot. The past couple of years the sound lab has seen rainy days. Ducking between buildings, listening for echoes in the rain have been the norm. While walking down the road in the 8:00 laboratory I realized that I could demonstrate the delay between seeing an event and hearing the event. I knew that if there was enough distance between the clapper and the observer, the human eyes and ears system would detect the difference.

Human telegraph system in the 11:00 section
I walked down to the maintenance building, leaving the 8:00 section class up near the east intersection of the sem…

Paper airplane confidence intervals

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As a demonstration of a confidence interval for a sample mean capturing a population mean I had the class throw paper airplanes from the second floor balcony. Three prior terms of data provided a population mean flight distance of 614 cm as measured perpendicular to the building.


Each section threw their airplanes and then I measured the perpendicular flight distances. Measuring and picking up tasks were assisted by the students.


Throwing an aircraft.


Measuring distances.


Recording data.


Fetching airplanes.


The data was put on the board and the 95% confidence interval was calculated for each section.

Distances in cmm08m09m10all timelower bound on the mean469275330536upper bound on the mean940704681644pop mean614614614590
Each section captured the population mean. The sections are all less than 30 students, so this exercise provides a vehicle for introducing the t-critical value and the TINV function in spreadsheets. Google Docs does not include the TINV function, those values were gener…

Hide and seek, meters per minute of longitude

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This term for GPS hide and seek I chose an open and easy spot just west of the gym. I actually picked the location using Google Earth. Google Earth has been spot on for locations, so I took the risk. The location was N 06° 54.605, E 158° 09.355'.

Malcom and Lerina were the first group to find the location, and to find me. I had moved south into a shadier location.

 Lerina Nena and Malcom Tom.


Only a few meters north Bernis Pernes, Edward Reyes, and Neilie Mendiola were tracking my location, they were the second group to arrive at my location. Rain then moved us east to the sheltering overhang of the gym.

Laboratory seven has settled on a formula that produces a nice linear relationship while building directly on the prior day's hide and seek activity. The laboratory puts numbers to the question of how far apart is 0.001 minutes in meters? How close to Lee Ling's hiding spot will the coordinates provided put a student group?


In the above image each student has a GPS and is s…

Island Food Community visit by the ethnobotany class

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The SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany class visited the Island Food Community of Pohnpei in their temporary offices across from the Pwunso botanic garden. April presented to the class on the stark statistics - one in three adults in Micronesia are diabetic, one in two children are vitamin A deficient, salt intake is well above daily recommended levels. She noted that 37% of the adult females in Pohnpei are diabetic.

The presentation covered hidden salt in canned foods, ramen powder, and other packaged foreign foods. April noted that the best way to avoid hidden salt, sodium, in the diet is to eat fresh foods. She noted the need to make changes in the diet and in the level of physical activity.

The Island Food Community promotes making achievable, sustainable, modifications and changes in local diets. The concept is to have people commit to policies such as the addition of a local food to each meal, or at least one all local meal a week, as a starting place for families. The idea is to shift your …

Thermal conductivity

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After the effective failure of a thermal expansion laboratory this past summer, I returned to time versus temperature for a thermal conductivity laboratory. This laboratory used to pursue only the maximum temperature and led to a group discussion of possible chart types. This almost always led to a column chart and never led to a consideration of possible mathematical models. Shifting to time versus temperature usually yields a curve well modeled by a logistic function.

The intent is not to teach the students the mathematics of the logistic function, one does not have to have to understand a volcano in order to learn what a volcano looks like and enjoy the beauty of one such as Mount Fuji.
The covered side of the apparatus has 100 Celsius water inside, a metal cylinder is glued into the styrofoam cups near their bottom. A small amount of room temperature water is in the cup with the thermometer. While the apparatus is described in the course text, this specific variation of the labora…