RET Alumni (2012)
Research Advisor: Richard Glass , U of A
My six weeks at the Roket program made me learn an immense amount of information of science content, cultural integration, and professional development. Knowledge of science content learned included the field of optics among chemistry. Courses help embrace cultural integration between traditional and western knowledge. Professional development was achieved with science content demonstrations, teacher collaborations, and faculty mentoring.
I will share what I learned about optics. I had no idea on how expansive the field optics serves in science and the world. The University of Arizona (U of A) has an Optics building that provides great resources into viewing the history of optics through a mini-museum. Topics in optics such as the focal point, focal length, and foci were showcased through elements of huge telescopes, to early microscopes, and imagery of a sphere to the human eye. Another area of optics was learning about the light spectrum which expressed components of wavelength, frequency, and speed. Last but not least is visiting the Steward Observatory Mirror Laboratory which displayed U of A international presence in optic research and development. Many demonstrations were shared to the teachers in the Roket program. Such demonstrations taught optic concepts with everyday materials. The use of Styrofoam cups to generate the colors of the light spectrum with lasers, the application of light to play sound recordings on a circuit board, and assembling a refractor kit with barlow lenses of a Galileoscope to view the night sky. I also discovered how optics can be interjected with culture through our Roket cohort's research.
. Looking at biological aspects found in nature (butterfly) through the electromagnetic spectrum
. Identifying iron oxide pigments found in petroglyphs from caves through a spectroscope
. Balancing the natural aspects of the sun in traditional stories in use of photovoltaic technology.
My research area for the Roket program is chemistry. My undergraduate degree is in chemistry and education. However, in the last five years, I distanced myself from teaching chemistry due to tribal school focus on general science and biology. Therefore, I had an interesting learning curve at the beginning of research at U of A. I had to make molar solvents by calculations, work under air-sensitive conditions in the hood, recall element properties, and understand the instruments needed for analytical measurements by checking the presence of hydrogen and bonds. As a result, my areas of research help initiate me back into exploring chemistry through hands on applications.
The research this summer at the Roket program had me synthesize a hydrogenase catalyst. An approach used a metal-sulfur complex cluster which could provide an efficient means of stored sustainable hydrogen energy. Hydrogen is important in being an energy carrier, consumed in fuel cells, harvest from renewable resources, and the byproduct is water among the conversion of chemical to electrical energy transfers.
The following is a basic procedure of synthesis in research for this summer:
. Preparation of solvent was purged under N2 and Ar gas in hood (Schlenk technique)
. Various reagents were measure, mixed, and dried in a rotary evaporator
. Dark precipitate was produced
. Products were purified using chromatography
. Took NMR and IR scan for characterization analysis of product called Fe2S2(CO)6-quinone Thus, in the lab it was possible to mimic a biological catalyst that could be used for possible fuel cell and/or hydrogen production.
In summary, the department of inorganic chemistry helped me to learn analysis in chemistry, gain valuable knowledge into advanced research, provided exceptional mentorship from faculty to graduate student, and challenged me to find avenues of integrating culture into research. Applications to the Pacific Northwest culture focus on the interconnectedness that energy has on the ecosystem. Integration of physical, chemistry, and biological science will provide bridges of western science concepts to traditional knowledge of storytelling, gathering and harvesting trips, ceremonial potlatches, among art and craft projects. Translation of such concepts will provide a system analysis between four units incorporating energy, climate change, hydrogen, and fuel cells.
The following table provides the relationship between western and traditional knowledge for the four units of my summer research. Furthermore, the use of Professor Gregory Cayete's Indigenous Teaching model, help facilitate such ideas into four areas of classroom unit translation.
1. Orientation - background of traditional knowledge
2. Information, Gathering, and Giving - background of science concept
3. Create or Make - Lab lesson of scientific method and/or traditional practices 4. Present or Learning - Sharing topic piece to tribal community
A lesson plan was produced which emphasized the unique properties found in hydrogen through the dyeing of materials. Four types of materials were selected with various dyes.
The objective is to highlight the polar properties and high electron affinity displayed in hydrogen bonding by viewing each material molecular structure. Students would identify such properties to hypothesize which material would bond to dye. Also, a traditional lesson would integrate local native plants and materials to test dyeing.
An end product would generate a journal for the community to continue sharing such traditional knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Therefore, understanding molecular hydrogen develops the foundation of synthesizing it into a secondary energy source and underlines the immense importance in the field of sustainable energy production. In conclusion, words cannot express the amount of gratitude for such a wonderful opportunity in this summer's Roket program.
I learned so much from everyone during this short time. An instant energy charge will add excitement into my teaching, integrate culture into science, and reconnect a strong bond to teach chemistry.
Research Advisor: Bob Norwood , U of A
I had the opportunity to work with Byron Cocilovo, in Robert Norwood's lab. The lab focused on finding ways to increase the efficiency of organic solar cells through the application of thin films and nanostructures on the surface of the cell. Everyone in the lab was very supportive and helped me get up-to-speed quickly.
My research project related to optics in nature, specifically butterfly and moth wings. I was trained to use many different types of lab equipment and processes, getting to work with various scientists and technicians within the Optical Sciences building. Also, a highlight of the experience was receiving training on the use of a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). The SEM helped to show the wing structures of the specimens I was working with and provided an experience that I will share with my students through some absolutely amazing images.
The connection to AILDI helped immensely in finding ways to blend native language into my classroom, and Dr. Cajete's course proved very helpful in designing curriculum and activities to be culturally centered and connect with the learner. Also, the training on different types of teaching technology will help my students in future years. While in these classes, I was able to develop an initial outline for an Ethnobotany unit that I hope to incorporate into my Biology class.
As part of this unit, I plan to incorporate spectral analysis of First Foods and use it as a tool for teaching the electromagnetic spectrum and wave properties of light. Optics is commonly not taught in depth at the high school level, and working in the labs helped a lot to get new ideas to bring to the classroom. Also, my classroom budget is limited, and the supplies budget we were given through the ROKET program provided the ability to purchase the materials required to make those lessons and ideas a reality in my classroom. I am very thankful for this.
Another highlight of being part of this program is the collaboration with other science teachers of Native students. It's difficult to have this at the school I teach due to distance. The ideas and insights shared during the ROKET program were invaluable.
As I return to my classroom I know that it's not just me alone there to make it happen. An amazing part of the program is the development of a relationship with the College of Optical Sciences at U of A. I look forward to the possibility of having Skype sessions with their education outreach class, further collaboration with professors, and the resulting positive impact on my students.
Poster Lesson Plan
Research Advisor: Alan kost, U of A
The opportunity to participate in the ROKET Program has been an interesting and enlightening experience in the world of Renewable Energy. The College of Optical Sciences ROKET Program partnered with AILDI (American Indian Language Development Institute), in an inclusive collaboration to combine Science, Culture, and Native American languages into Curriculum and Instruction at the elementary level. Guest lecturers Dr. Greg Cajete and Lucille Watahomogie provided their expertise and educational philosophy in Indigenous Knowledge as an important aspect of integrating language and culture.
The center of focus was Solar Energy, which I found intriguing. I've often wondered how I could contribute to Native American communities using my own background in basic electronics in solving continued issues of lack of basic essentials of electricity and running water. These issues are not foreign as many families in my hometown continue to exist under such condition. Today, as a teacher serving in this same community, I find it disconcerting these issues continue.
My assigned lab was at the College of Optical Science in the CIAN-TOAN (Testbed for Optical Aggregation Networks). TOAN's research focus is to "increase internet speeds while decreasing rates in energy consumption" (Karbassian, 2011). The lab is developing optoelectronic technologies for high-bandwidth, low-cost, widespread access networks. The research conducted in the TOAN Lab is focused on data derived from functional performance of Solar Panels under environmental stresses. Included is the task of tracking environmental stresses such as weather, thermal effects, etc..utilizing date produced from a PV (photovoltaic) module installed on the rooftop of the Meinel Building. An integrated PV module tester is used to collect measures such as open circuit voltage, maximum power point, current and voltage at maximum power, Fill Factor, Solar Irradiance, and Temperature. Data is sent through fiber optic cable and USB interface devices, analyzed, and recorded.
Poster Lesson Plan
Research Advisor: Galina Khitrova, U of A
I worked in the QNOS lab at the University of Arizona during the summer of 2012 for six weeks. QNOS stands for Quantum Nanooptics for semiconductors. Basically we were working with nanoparticles of different materials to excite them with lasers to create useful products.
One of the interesting lab experiments was to create semiconductors with the MBE machine which stands for Molecular Beam Epitaxy. It is a machine that makes semiconductors by overlying very thin crystalline layers of chemicals, mostly gallium arsenide, to examine their interesting interactions to other metals. On top of the layer of gallium arsenide a checkerboard of 30 nanometer silver metal horseshoes were adhered by a German lab. My lab was specifically interested in the interaction of the silver horseshoes and the layer of gallium arsenide. Theoretically when the horseshoes are lased they can create a negative index of refraction, which can create a new type of perfect lens that would produce what would be a perfect image. A lens of this type would have zero distortion and its applications for society would be great in electronics, optics, microscopes, etc.
I also was able to observe very small fiber optic taper loops resonant a nanocavity with light at the same frequency. These tapers were created by carefully heating and stretching a fiber optic until they condensed the laser light down to a very fine beam which allowed for the light to resonate from the taper to the nanocavity by toughing the taper close to the cavity opening. The research is being done to try to create a type of optical switch which would work at the speed of light.
Everything we did in the laboratory this summer was very high tech and cutting edge. I spent many hours getting acquainted with the labs and observing before I actually took part in research. I was also very fortunate to be able to observe an scanning electron microscope (SEM) taking pictures of our silver horseshoes They are on 30 nanometers wide and 300 silver atoms across so even finding them with the SEM was difficult. After adjusting the refresh rate and the contrast many times, the horseshoes appeared!!!! A cheer went up in the room and people peeked around cubicles to see what had happened.
We found that many of these nanohorseshoes were damaged and unusable, which was helpful in the research process. I will never forget my time in Tucson and I will be sharing all the knowledge I gained with my students. I am looking forward to implementing Dr. Cajete's model to help my students succeed. My AILDI class gave me so many ideas which I cannot wait to implement dealing with language and technology. Big thanks to all involved with this great program!!!!!
Poster Lesson Plan
Research Advisor: Schwiegerling , UA
Abstract: The ROKET program has helped me professionally and personally in my lab research experience. I feel that in order to take part in the lab that I was involved with takes patience. You would think that research is finished and done in one day. It's an ongoing process I found out. The lab PhD candidates would try different ideas.
I only just touched the surface about optics knowledge, I gained many engaging lessons for my students to investigate. The Near Field lab I worked in had some great ideas on the curvature of fluid being put into fluidic lenses. I honestly could say it was over my head. In the end the graduate students were passionate about their work. When the ROKET teachers showed up we kind of boosted their self esteem. I developed many lesson plans to help further my students knowledge about light and how the eye works.
I my lab I was able to dissect a cow's eye and see the all parts of the eye. I was able to ask the graduate students questions right on the spot. They were so readily available and wanting to help. If I had an idea I wanted to try, they helped me along the way. They also used their equipment to help me make my projects. They helped me learn that were many types of beam-splitters. One idea was trying to find the focal point with lasers. Instead of making it nice and simple they made it high tech and awesome by bending the light of the lasers many ways. In working with AILDI program also, I have learned that I need to preserve my Dine language.
I was able to gain many technology programs from our Curriculum and Instruction in Bilingual and Second Language Setting with Technology class. It was nice to meet many natives from all over. The main thing was feeling a connectedness about our language. I learned languages from Panama, Mexico, Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma and many others. Everyone gained knowledge of how to greet themselves in a different language. Many people were very interested in learning the Dine language. The Micro teaching was fun. I taught a lesson on using the Microscope.
I have to say everything in Navajo which, was a great way to help me get involved with my language. We also presented and finished many projects such as Go animate, Exerte, Powerpoint, Prezi, Youtube, Moviemaker and Audicity. All these projects we had to use our Native language. It kept me busy for three weeks, but it was rewarding in the end. Dr. Gregory Cajete's teaching model had just come at the end. It polished of my Indigenous teaching style.
This model is going to help me put my own feet plus, the students back on the ground. It has opened up my eyes in coming back to my own self identity. This Indigenous teaching model will always be a part of lesson development for future students. I would recommend to join the ROKET team!
Poster Lesson Plan
Research Advisor: William Montfort , UA
Abstract: My name is Marland Toyekoyah Jr. and I am an American Indian from the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. I work as a Science and Math Teacher at Vechij Himdag Alternative High School, on the Gila River Indian Community reservation in Sacaton, Arizona. We are a small charter school that serves "at risk" students from almost all areas of the Gila River Reservation. A colleague of mine informed me of the ROKET program and suggested I apply.
I read all the literature about the program; and the experience they offered seemed like nothing I had ever heard about. Combining science and culture is something that, a lot of times, is easier said than done. I hoped that the ROKET program, because it was a Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program, would give me ideas to make me a more effective teacher for my Native American Students.
The experience was more than I had expected. This summer, I was given a research experience in the Biochemistry laboratory, under the tutelage of Dr. William Montfort. He was very enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with the program. He was willing to help me make my summer a very enriching experience. He, and his team, allowed me the use of all of their lab equipment, and challenged me with lab procedures that were very technical and fun. They were collaborative, and trusted my educational experience and knowledge to ask for my input about the appropriateness of certain lab procedures. This really made me feel like a part of the lab team.
The six weeks I spent in the ROKET/AILDI program was unlike any I have experienced. The ROKET program was excellent in helping me to take this laboratory opportunity and combine it with Native American perspectives in AILDI. AILDI was effective by immersing me in Native Languages other than my own, and created a perspective that all teachers, of American Indian Children, should experience.
This experience combined with the Native Curriculum Development Class, taught by Dr. Cajete, exceeded my expectations. The ROKET program is an effective design. The design of the ROKET program provided me with the resources and support necessary to create relevant science experiences for my Native American Students. It gave me the opportunity to take prior knowledge and examine it from different perspectives, so that I can be a more effective teacher for my students.
I am glad that I listened to my colleague and applied to the ROKET program; and I hope the connections I made, through the program, will endure and help me be a more effective teacher.
Research Advisor: Shaya Fainman , UCSD
As a math and science educator, I am excited about new technology and love bringing this information into the classroom to share with students that will be transitioning to 4-year learning institutions.
On our first day, my colleague and I met with Dr. Ilyinkh, Dr. Fainman and Dr. Sukamar to set up some goals for our time together. We had been given several papers on a new material called PDMS that could be used to create design features down to 30nm in integrated circuits and could also be used for applications in microfluidics. This optical elastomer was exceptionally useful because it was clear when cured and could be molded in complex 3-D configurations. The UCSD team was interested in the possibility to use this material at a larger scale and with more artistic processes to help K-14 students have more fun with the process of learning science, technology, engineering and math. In this way, STEM learning becomes STEAM. With this new directive, my colleague and I spent started exploring techniques for molding PDMS and brainstorming how this material could be used with the resources available in a typical high school classroom.
We were given additional support through the beginning of this process from Judit Hersko, an art professor at CSU, San Marcos who specializes in creating art installations with transparent materials. She helped us with different molding techniques and perspectives about how to use this material as an artist. Program coordinator Xuemei Wang gave us further support with brainstorming, resource building and exhibition strategies, as she has with other teacher participants for the past 4 years. These talented women realized that the element of play and discovery would be essential to our development of accessible teaching strategies and curriculum. Taking on this philosophy shaped my fellowship experience for the better and allowed me to create a much wider range of activities than I would have on my own.
The first project I attempted involved using PDMS to form parabolas, the ideal shapes for lenses. Most optics labs have spherical lenses because parabolas, as well as ellipses and hyperbolas, are notoriously difficult and expensive to form. I thought that would be extremely valuable for students to see that the foci of conic sections were literally optical foci. I have not yet found a way to create aspherical lenses. However, I learned so much from my attempts at forming lenses, about comparing results, and in identifying progress, I realized that structuring this for students be valuable as a method for scientific inquiry. As I started exploring how to make parabolas, I found modes of failure that brought me to new ideas when I went back to revisit them. For example, molding techniques with Plastaline and Clay caused defects in the curing surface, thus ruining the optical effect. Using cured PDMS 'strips' as a way to preserve this edge didn't work because the strips buckled as the internal volume cured.
Gluing a cured PDMS strip to the external mold and adding a 2nd strip on the inside worked the best, though having several layers of PDMS looked like it changed the curve of the parabola due to uneven thickness of PDMS strips. So, one way to achieve success might be to create a membrane that cured on a more level surface. Similarly, this repeated exploration of what works and what doesn't led me to a new idea about another way to achieve conic sections using more precise methods. This includes creating a 2-3 piece mold out of wood or metal with a lathe or mill. At that point, the surface could be coated with a ridge filling enamel (like a top coat for nails) or, better yet, a molded plastic to give the outside a nice finish. The next step would be to fill each part piecewise so that each section has time to outgas, thus releasing bubbles. Finally, the molds could be brought together in a way to ensure that when the final PDMS was poured, there is still a clear path for remaining bubbles to leave the surface. Though I still haven't made a parabola yet, I can see a development of understanding this material and have viable ideas for exploring this further. This mirrors idea development in real situations in science and industry far more than the rote problems and lab experiments students are often lead through in class.
Forming parabolas was my least successful endeavor in terms of having a final product to show. However, this exploration and discussion around this project launched 5 avenues for exploration. These included: using creating waveguides to explore color combinations, molding a cone in different planes to demonstrate conic sections, creating LED circuits, molding optical components and designing a 2-day challenge for modeling a 4-layer integrated circuit. In addition to this, discussions with artists Tara Giannini and Stephen Greenhalgh and with future UCSD student Denise Collantes, led to ideas about how to differentiate these activities to elementary, middle and high school students as well as some fun explorations that students of all ages would be excited to try.
I came in to this program expecting to participate in graduate research in ultrafast and nanoscale optics. I ended up receiving incredible gifts of time and resources in order to develop new teaching methods and to collaborate with research staff, teachers, artists and students about how to play with math and science concepts. I am leaving with several activities to do with students, with many more ideas to explore with other teachers and with the motivation to continue developing ideas with this CIAN.
Research Advisor: Shaya Fainman , UCSD
The Research Experience for Teachers at the UCSD Photonics Laboratory was a tremendously and uniquely beneficial experience for me as a new secondary-school engineering teacher. I believe this experience helped me develop ways to create a classroom and classroom culture conducive to having students learn to collaborate, to think critically, and to solve problems. This experience also allowed me to form relationships among teachers, researchers and people in the UCSD community that would be mutually beneficial in our future.
My introduction to the engineering field was quite informal. At the time I was employed as a technician in a medical device company, in the process of obtaining a second undergraduate degree in the biological sciences. My supervisors, however, took note of my enthusiasm for innovative ways to solve mechanical problems - and suggested I consider a career in engineering instead. As I took on more engineering-related tasks, I was also given more freedom and unstructured, open-ended goals to meet. It was both this unstructured environment, as well as exposure to resources and experienced people that helped me learn to become an engineer.
Which isn't to say that my later formal schooling in engineering wasn't useful or beneficial - it was and still is. There are important aspects to the field that are best learned in a classroom: The academic language used to communicate problems and solutions is an integral part of any field. In addition, in the case of engineering, the origin and history behind the tools that created our civilization - be they the infinite incarnations of levers or differential equations - are utterly fascinating and wondrous.
However, the motivation for obtaining a degree in engineering instead of biochemistry ultimately came from a desire to understand, express, and solve the problems that arose in the laboratories where I worked. The mathematical equations helped understand mechanical phenomena - and predict the conditions where things might or might not function. Mathematics is an integral part of the language in which results are communicated in the scientific and engineering communities - and it was necessary to master these as well as the concepts in order to be understood.
As I became serious about entering the teaching profession - one of the issues I had to grapple with was the dichotomy between this laboratory environment and the traditional classroom. On the one hand, the most productive phase of my life was something that was fostered in an unstructured, collaborative and open environment. It was marked by a culture that encouraged taking risks, on learning by doing, and on trying something new or pursing novel ideas. It was a culture in which information and knowledge were freely shared - and available. This was a complete opposite of the traditional academic environments I had - ones which were risk-averse, which focused on competition, and on hoarding of knowledge and resources. (or the knowledge was simply not available among the teachers and counselors that I had access to) I have since come to understand that my experience through public high school and college is a very common one - and I feel it is a critical problem in American education.
It is actually a goal in my teaching career to recreate in my own classroom the open, collaborative and somewhat unstructured environment that changed my life. I was delighted to find in the first week that the Research Experience for Teachers was opportunity to explore this. I was able to form mutually beneficial collaborations with researchers at the UCSD Photonics Laboratory and my fellow RET teacher. In this environment we were able to acquire and share much knowledge and resources, evaluate project and classroom activities, and successfully generate projects and lesson plans.
While I had experienced this previously, this time I was able to engage in this collaboration as a classroom teacher - with questions in my mind like: "How do I recreate this environment in classroom?" "What needs to be explicitly stated to make this happen?" "How do I show students how to analyze and critique each other's work?" "How do I manage miscommunication or encourage mutual feedback and constructive criticism in a classroom?" As I reflect on these observations over the last six weeks, I have come to realize how profoundly this will help me achieve my goal as a teacher.
My work with PDMS and optics this summer certainly had outcomes that will be useful for my mathematics, science and engineering classrooms. And it is my sincere hope that a collaboration with the UCSD Photonics Laboratory and future RET teachers will be mutually beneficial for quite a long time. And finally, I am as grateful to this experience in a laboratory setting as I am for those days in a laboratory before I went into teaching - they are important experiences for me to become the sort of teacher that I want to be.