A lens for thinking
The value of a robust undergraduate research experience goes far beyond doing science.
“As public educators, it’s our job to instill critical thinking in our students because, fundamentally, that’s how democracy works,” says Stephanie Porter. Porter is a microbiologist at Washington State University Vancouver investigating symbiosis.
“I see science in a similar way. Our job is not just to train more scientists but to help all students understand the scientific process of taking information, developing a hypothesis, and then seeing how well it’s supported and, finally, interpreting what you find.”
For Porter, that means that undergraduates working in her … » More …
Video: Imagine Tomorrow 2016
A look at some of the participants at the 2016 Alaska Airlines Imagine Tomorrow competition, along with the winning projects.
Read more about Imagine Tomorrow in “Kids solving the unsolvable.”
Video by WSU Video Services
Kids solving the unsolvable
Flushing the toilet stirred up a good idea in four young women from Walla Walla High School. They recognized that families use hundreds of gallons of water per day, a real problem in places faced with water shortages. To ease that, Karen Maldonado, Edlyn Carvajal, Sandra Escobedo de la Cruz, and Ruth Garcia developed a trapping system using an inexpensive charcoal filter to recycle wastewater back to the toilet tank.
The Walla Walla teens took their plan to the Alaska Airlines Imagine Tomorrow competition, an annual problem-solving challenge at Washington State University that encourages high school students to propose and present ideas … » More …
Trip the light fantastic
When physicist Mark Kuzyk throws a science soiree he doesn’t mess around. Out come the lasers, high-tech origami, ornate wire sculptures, and sticky-stretchy gel that’s fun to throw at the wall. But it’s all for a greater purpose.
The Washington State University Regents professor is developing a shape-changing, laser-guided electrode for the treatment of pain, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and depression.
The ultra-thin electrode is designed for use in deep brain stimulation (DBS) and relies on optics and photomechanical materials to improve the precision and delicacy of the procedure. Sometimes known as the “brain pacemaker,” DBS holds promise for a wide range of conditions and may … » More …
Pam Nolan-Beasley ’88—Physics for five-year-olds
“People don’t realize how much you can teach science at a kindergarten age,” says Pam Nolan-Beasley, a teacher at Waitsburg Elementary. But these kids are inquisitive little sponges, ever curious and energetic, she adds: “It’s a perfect time for science.”
Nolan-Beasley’s success at getting five- and six-year-olds—and their families—interested in science recently garnered her the Presidential Award in Mathematics and Science Teaching, an honor for the nation’s top math and science teachers provided through the National Science Foundation. One of two teachers in Washington to earn the honor, she was nominated by her superintendent who also credited her with convincing the school board to make … » More …
Ask Dr. Universe
Ask Dr. Universe returns, rested and ready to answer science questions.» More ...
Machine in the classroom
New tech tools engage young scientists
In a familiar classroom scene, lab partners take turns squinting into a microscope. They spy a wriggling paramecium, if the organism doesn’t swim away from the field of view. These days they also peer into an iPad to watch videos and access digital textbooks. Engineer and entrepreneur Jeff Stewart sees a happy marriage between these old and new technologies in science classrooms.
Stewart and his colleagues at Exo Labs have enhanced that connection with an accessory that connects any microscope to an iPad, where students and teachers can take pictures and videos, measure objects, and quickly share … » More …
Charting the course of a globe-trotting pathogen
For more than half a century, West Nile virus was someone else’s problem.
The mosquito-borne pathogen was first isolated from a feverish human in 1937 in northern Uganda’s West Nile district. It then lay low for a decade before emerging in an actual epidemic in Israel in 1951. With several Egyptian outbreaks in the early ’50s, researchers started to see the disease infect non-humans, particularly crows and horses. Mosquitoes of the Culex genus appeared to be its chief transmitter, or vector.
By the time the virus hit the United States, in 1999, it had taken on a more sinister character. Where before it mostly struck … » More …