Thursday, May 7, 2015

Final Energy Net Post: Our Final Project

In the middle of April the Energy-NET staff, environmental interns and student interns debuted their  final project. Pictures of the final product are below.

We would like to Thank all of our followers and the assistance of everyone at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Museum of Art and the Geology and Planetary Science Department at the University of Pittsburgh.

Our exhibit has 3 parts, a Lead Infographic, a texture soil column wall, and a brownfield map of the City of Pittsburgh.

One of our student interns preparing a panel for the textured soil column wall.
The wall features the layers typical in a soil column. These layers are:
O Layer- Is the top layer, which is typically very thin and comprises Organic Matter.
A Layer - This layer is below the O layer and comprises a rich organic materials and minerals.
B Layer- This layer is primarily constructed out of clay.
C Layer- This layer is typically sandy and filled with slightly weathered parent material (Bedrock).
R Layer- The R layer is the bedrock layer.

The Lead Infographic shows the different ways that lead gets into our environment and bodies. This includes sources such as industrial, leaded gasoline, and leaded paint.

The final part of the exhibit is the Brownfield map. This map shows the historic brownfields in the City of Pittsburgh. Panels on the exhibit show what the brownfields looked like and what they have been turned into, whether it be a shopping center or a new research facility for Pitt, or a new residential development.

Please visit the exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh PA.

Look forward to the work the program does next Fall Semester. 

Once again we would like to Thank all of our supporters that helped us build this exhibit.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Week 11 - Thursday, February 12th 2015: Carnegie Museum of Art and more creative communication

Thursday continued off of Tuesdays focus on creatively communicating science. The first activity was taking the teams into the museum of art to examine the exhibits and analyze what makes art effective. How it grabs attention, how it communicates feelings and messages, why we feeling something from it, and so on. Then, a few volunteers shared the pieces of art they selected with the class and spoke about their analysis of it.
An example used to show how visuals can easily and effectively communicate knowledge.

Next, some of the creative ideas from Tuesday were shared with the class to give everyone a starting point for the next activity. The four teams again came together to condense the 2 most important findings from their research on Tuesday and wrote them on sticky notes. Then individual teens placed their sticky notes next to potential creative exhibit ideas on the whiteboard. 
Creative and interactive exhibit ideas!

Ideas with the fewest sticky notes next to them until 4 remained, and then each team was assigned an idea to further brainstorm and develop. The teams worked on this until the end of session.

Having a little fun during the break.

Week 11 - Tuesday, February 10th 2015: Metaphors

Tuesday was all about communicating science. A recap of last weeks museum scavenger hunt started off the session, followed by some researching about lead and then some activities involving using metaphors to communicate the findings.

Some of the metaphor ideas the teens came up with.
The interns and teens split into their respective groups to research these topics: how Pb (lead) works in the body; how Pb affects growing plants; how Pb moves through air, soil, and water; and what kind of research is being done about Pb.
Next, the groups collaborated to create metaphors used to more easily communicate the research findings. After everyone agreed on their best metaphors, they were tested on the other groups to see if they were easily communicated and memorable in a "pass it on" fashion.

One of the teens explaining her groups research and metaphor.
Then, a representative from each group explained the metaphor and its connection to their research to everybody else. After the short presentations, the groups reformed for some brainstorming. Ideas for how to incorporate the metaphors into the existing exhibit components were discussed. Before ending session, there was a brief discussion of the importance of creative communication in the sciences which will continue into the next session.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Week 10 Thursday, February 10th: Radioactive Decay, Hillman Hall of Minerals, and the Benedum Hall of Geology

On Thursday the teens conducted many activities. These activities included an activity on radioactive decay, a scavenger hunt in the Hillman Hall of Mineral, an examination of the Benedum Hall of Geology and a breakdown of science jargon. 

An intern giving a lesson on Radioactive decay of Uranium and Lead. The goal of the lesson was to introduce the teens to the idea that lead is a naturally occurring substance.
The groups were split up some going into the museum and others staying in the classroom. In the classrooom the radioactive decay lesson was being giving. Teens were giving three eggs to be different isotopes, each egg had a different number of neutrons but were the same element. They then weighed these eggs to see that in fact they were different weights. Next a mystery set of eggs, isotopes, were giving to the teens. They weighed these and found the proportion between the different isotopes. Using this ration and a chart giving out by our Grad Student allowed the teens to determine what the source of their lead was.

Pb210 and Pb206 used to demonstrate the concept of half-life. Over a certain interval of time half of the parent material would be turned over into the daughter material. In this case Lead 210 to Lead 206.
While in the museum the groups were further split into their teams, Cream, Peaches, Flaming Wolves, and the Swizzle DIzzle Penguins. In their individual teams they went on a scavenger hunt in the Hillman Hall of Minerals. The goal was to find as many elements as they could in ten minutes. The winning team had found 18 different elements. 
The Peaches right before the scavenger hunt.
While one team was doing the scavenger hunt the other followed Michele into the Benedum Hall of Geology to examine the exhibit and learn more about half lives. This is valuable information to have while developing our exhibits further. 

One mineral with six different elements in it. A very valuable contribution to the scavenger hunt.
Afterwards the teams reconvened in the classroom for a final activity. Rob gave a sample of a scientific paper that was heavily worded. The teens then went sentence by sentence to break it down into understandable english. While developing the E-Net exhibit we will have to keep this in mind so that all of our audience can understand the information being presented. This includes teens and small children all the way up to the elderly and included all educational backgrounds. Effective communication is key to many aspects of life and understanding your audience is key to effective communication.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Week 10: Tuesday February 3 Lead Jeopardy and E-Net Exhibit Space

On Tuesday, we all went up into the museum to view the space available to develop our exhibit. While we were there we broke into our groups, Peachs, CREAM, Flaming Wolves and Swizzle Dizzle Penguins. While in these  groups we brainstormed different ways to develop the space and how to incorporate different exhibits in with ours. These included such things as using our projects and developing them further with some of the activities that we have done previously.
Our exhibit area has shrunk :( We have from the grey wall to the end of the carpet and from the windows to the end of the table. We will have to get creative to utilize this space in the most efficient way.

Lead Jeopardy: A creative game to teach people about lead.
After viewing the museum we came back to our room and played a game of lead jeopardy. It ended in a tie between the two teams Swizzle Dizzle Penguins and Flaming Wolves; against Peaches and Cream. This game goes into depth with uses, pollution, contamination and remediation, and health affects. 

Keep checking in to see how the E-Net exhibit continues to be developed for its debut on April 11th. 

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Week 9: Thursday January 29th - Personality Test and Museum Exploration

On Thursday, the teens and interns started the day by taking a personality test. This personality test would place them into one of four different animals based an how they rated certain qualities. As it turns out the teens are mostly type A personalities. The animals associated with these were Buffalo and Eagle. In contrast the interns tended to be type B Personalities characterized by Beavers and Mice.
Two of our teens posing for a picture.
After the personality test the teens were broken up into there groups. These groups are 3-4 teens per intern and will be utilized through out the program for different projects and tours. These groups were paired up and sent into the museum to look at the importance of soil. This gave the teens more cultural and historic back ground on lead and soil.

The names the teens chose for their groups.

This was also the first time the teens were exclusively lead by the interns. One group went into the Mineral Hall and the other group went into the Cultural Exhibits.
Here at E-Net we try to be inclusive and welcoming to all of our interested partners. This includes Steve the Skeleton, Karl the Snake and Bella the Polar Bear.

Week 9: Tuesday January 27th - Coming Back Strong

On Tuesday we performed some team building exercises and welcomed our new students and interns. It was great to see everyone again and we are all looking forward to continue to develop our exhibit. The two main activities that were performed by the teens were a Tower Building Competition and an Obstacle Course. 

Teens constructing a tower out of pipe cleaners.
The teens were given a box, 2 newspapers, 25 pipe-cleaners, a length of tape and string. Using these materials the teens had 10 minutes to create the tallest tower possible.

The second team building their tower.
The teens showed their creativity and problem solving skills when creating the towers. The competition ended in a tie, as it was not stated that body parts could not be used.

The end of our obstacle course, with one of the new interns.
The teens built and guided their fellow teens through an obstacle course. This involved crawling under a table. Then they navigated over several chairs and had to guide a table to the white board. At the white board they had to draw a cat. After the cat they were guided to the skeleton. Our resident skeleton felt much love as everyone had to hold his hand.

Steve and his new friend Karl!
Keep checking-in and seeing what our team develops as the Spring Term continues.