COVER SUBJECT | #MathPaths is “Making Math Meaningful!”
The first video in this series features Dr. Nehemiah Mabry, founder of STEMedia and Bridge Design Engineer at Simpson Engineers & Associates in Cary, North Carolina. Check out a promo teaser for the first installment below:
You can watch the full interview of Dr. Nee by visiting MathPaths.org.
Hi Stemedia team,
I noticed you have a lot of helpful information for STEM students on your Resources page, so I wanted to introduce you to a new interactive tool I helped create for the 2018-2019 academic year, which allows students to sort through over 65 scholarships available to individuals pursuing degrees in STEM.
You can check it out here: https://www.nitrocollege.com/scholarships/stem
If you think it’s a valuable database for students of Stemedia, we’d love for you to add it to your Resources page.
Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing what you think!
Community Outreach | Nitro College
Besides increasing the total number of electric sports cars in outer space from 0 to 1, the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is also stimulating serious dialogue about inter -planetary travel. At the center of those conversations is Mars and the idea of one day establishing a human colony on the red planet.
Musk, who aims to send a crewed mission to Mars by 2024, isn’t the first person to set their sights on the 4th planet in our solar system. In 1948 German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun published The Mars Project, the first engineering analysis detailing the equipment, resources, and calculations needed for planning a trip to Mars. Since the release of The Mars Project there have been over 60 formal proposals for crewed missions to the red planet from both public agencies and private companies. It’s safe to assume that Mars has been on our minds for quite some time.
Of course, like everything else involving space travel, huge technical hurdles must be overcome before humanity can blast off to Mars. The red planet can be anywhere from 55 million to 400 million kilometers away ( 34-250 million miles for you non-metric readers) with an average distance of 225 million kilometers (140 million miles). This translates to a travel time of 6 – 9 months one way which brings a slew of challenges because human space passengers require a whole lot more to survive than robots.
In addition to food, water, air, and staying sane in a cramped living quarters passengers aboard the spaceship to Mars will also have to worry about things such as radiation and micro-gravity. Both of which can be detrimental to health when exposed to for long periods of time. Unless there are major breakthroughs in artificial gravity or space propulsion technologies, there’s not really much that can be done to offset these issues.
After finishing the long and dangerous trek the crew will then have to think about surviving in the hostile environment of the red planet. Although readings as high as 20 oC (68 oF) have been recorded during summer months, the average temperature on the Martin surface is a chilly -63oC ( – 81oF) with a record low of -140oC (-220oF). A thin atmosphere and lack of a magnetosphere still leaves the risk for long term radiation exposure. Let’s not forget that Mars has 38% the gravity of Earth which might be detrimental to long term health.
Should the astronauts need to communicate back to mission control their signal ,on average, would take 13.8 minutes to travel to Earth. Sustaining life beyond Earth has been historically challenging, but a journey to Mars will ratchet up the difficulty to a new level.
The idea of taking our next small step on Martian soil has been popular for a long time. However, Elon and his team don’t have to go to Mars. Keep in mind the mission of SpaceX is to one day enable people to live on other planets. They never specified which ones. If there were an easier option for a planet to colonize Musk could choose to send people there instead. Interestingly enough, an attractive alternative may lie heading one planet closer to the sun.
A journey to Venus would definitely be shorter. The morning star can be anywhere between 38 million and 261 million kilometers (24- 162 million miles) away with an average distance of 170 million kilometers (106 million miles). Venus is roughly 25% closer to Earth than Mars giving a reduced travel time of 4.5 – 7 months. A shorter trip implies that less supplies/ fuel will be needed, but more importantly the crew would have less radiation and micro-gravity exposure. Venus is also closer to the sun making solar power a more effective resource.
Those familiar with our solar system have undoubtedly heard of how hostile the Venetian surface is. Large amounts of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid trap the sun’s heat on the planet making the average surface temperature hot enough to melt lead at a toasty temperature of 450oC (842 oF) . The high concentration of gasses also exert an atmospheric pressure 90 times that of Earth. Make no mistake , survival on the surface of Venus is impossible. Even the probes we’ve sent have only lasted at most a few hours before being burned and crushed.
Surprisingly what makes Venus a nightmare on the surface helps to make it a great option for colonization. The carbon dioxide atmosphere causes balloons filled with breathable air (79 % nitrogen and 21% oxygen) to float like helium balloons do on Earth. After traveling up about 50 km (31 miles) Venus transforms from a hostile planet to one of the most pleasant places in our solar system.
At this high altitude temperatures range from 0 – 50 oC (32-122oF) at a pressure equal to 1 atmosphere. Venus has a gravity 90% that of Earth’s and is also protected from cosmic radiation by its thick atmosphere. Flying high in the Venetian sky, human crew members would experience the most Earth like conditions in our entire solar system. The idea of cloud cities on Venus has been floating around ( get it?) since the early 70’s. In 2015 a team at NASA proposed the High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) which aims to send airships and eventually humans to explore Venus’s atmosphere.
Attempting to build the cloud city from The Empire Strikes Back isn’t without inherent challenges. There will still be hefty communication delays (roughly 10.4 minutes on average) back to planet Earth. Any materials used on Venus for habitats and space suits could also tear due to corrosion from sulfuric acid in the clouds. Luckily if a balloon were to tear in Venus’ dense atmosphere air would leak slowly giving astronauts plenty of time to fix the issue. Also let’s not forget the serious risk of something or someone falling a long way down off the balloon!
Falcon Heavy’s successful launch is one key step in Musk’s goal of reaching Mars by 2024. However with a trip to Venus meaning shorter travel times, better environmental conditions, and a chance to make Star Wars more of a reality one can’t help but ask : is Elon Musk trying to colonize the wrong planet?
Should we go to Mars or Venus instead. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Instagram has no shortage of individuals in the STEM fields who embrace a passion for creative expression. One of our favorites is Katherine (@naturallyshe) whose page is filled with awesome, 60 seconds or less, piano covers of anyone from Adele to Stevie Wonder to even Ludwig van Beethoven!
Katherine is an engineer, musician, and teacher in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Inspired by her own personal story and passions, she has been on a journey to highlight the parallels between music and STEM.
Her musicianship started over 20 years ago, when she started taking piano lessons, learning music theory, notation, and performance. She took lessons for 11 years, and since went on to accompany vocalists at church and events, and currently teaches piano to both children and adult students.
As a young child, she had an aptitude and love for math, but didn’t quite know how that could translate into a future career. At the time, internet was not ubiquitous; as well, STEM outreach programs were not prevalent, so she wasn’t even aware of STEM fields. But a chance conversation with her high school physics teacher steered her to declare an engineering major in college, and she went on to pursue two degrees in Civil Engineering.
Today, Katherine works as both an engineer and a musician. While teaching piano lessons, she began to recognize the parallels between music and engineering. One of the foremost parallels is that the skills gained as a musician (whether learning, listening to, or performing music) develop the ability to recognize and decipher patterns. Music also develops creative thinking which can strengthen problem solving. Music builds imagination which leads to innovation and new design.
In 2015, Katherine started documenting these parallels and sharing them on Instagram, along with media portraying her embodiment of the music+STEM message. In doing so, she hopes to shed light on STEM and encourage/inform artistic students that their passion, gifts, skills, and discipline as artists/musicians can be deployed in STEM.
Watch this inspiring rendition of her singing “World’s Greatest” 🙌🏽
Research and development provide solutions for many societal issues. Unemployment, global warming, and poverty will soon become things of the past due to the growth of STEM. The US Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that 6.2 percent of US jobs in 2015 were STEM related. Computer Science topped the list, followed closely by engineering. Each year more emphasis is placed on STEM education resulting in a society of critical and innovative thinkers; qualities that are crucial for tackling these issues. As STEM professionals, we can find solutions. This article focuses on how our work seeks to tackle unemployment, global warming, and poverty.
We as STEM professionals are in demand. The job market though constantly changing will begin to see a significant shift towards STEM related fields. If we can train people now they will be ready to fill those much-needed positions. Adecco states that “there could be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs by 2018.” People tend to shy away from STEM because they believe they don’t have the aptitude to excel. However, we know an inquisitive nature, determination, and logical mindset are all you need to embark on a successful STEM career.
STEM training also provides an outlet for creativity that many Humanities and Social Sciences related professions may lack. STEM professionals invent products and programs that solve problems. With a skill like that, it’s hard to be without opportunity.
Solving problems is a core function of many STEM professionals. Global warming is a crisis that could potentially eliminate the entire human race. Billions of dollars have been spent on climate change research and global warming solutions. One of the most recent breakthroughs in climate change research came through the work of a group of researchers in Iceland. They found a way to pump carbon dioxide underground and transform it into limestone. While carbon dioxide is a vital component of the atmosphere, rising carbon emissions threaten the fate of our planet. This, along with other solutions, are poised to help us conquer the threat of global warming.
The Borgen Project cites research that states that “3.5 percent of a country’s GDP should be invested in science, technology and innovation.” Poverty alleviation cannot be found entirely in the millions of dollars spent annually to provide food, water and healthcare. Nelson Mandela once said, “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity, it is an act of justice.” All countries should have equitable access to education with emphasis placed on quality STEM education. This paradigm shift will help the world truly begin to make steps towards poverty alleviation.
STEM educated individuals are able to create their own jobs and do the research necessary to propel their countries towards success. Countries with more educated populations achieve remarkable growth. Many countries in Africa are experiencing a burst of tech start-ups which are not only providing ways to uplift their communities but also more jobs and financial growth. We are a part of the solution for better societies.
STEM careers provide viable solutions for unemployment, reducing global warming, and poverty alleviation. The ingenuity STEM professionals possess and the influence we can pass on will change the world. Let’s get started!
Christine is an authentic Jamaican who loves curried goat, fried plantains, and festivals. She lives and breathes writing. Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) causes a fire within her to ignite as the words flow from her heart. She is the author of two e-books and enjoys jamming to music in her room where no one can see. You can learn more about her by visiting her website.
One very basic definition of an engineer is simply one who is a “problem solver”. In the profession, this typically involves using the principles of math and physics to derive a desired solution. However, in a general sense, engineering is also something that happens in our everyday life, whenever we use available resources to find the solutions to navigate whatever challenges we may face.
Often though, it is the abundance of tough challenges and difficult circumstances in life that lead many to embrace low or mediocre expectations for themselves, others or the world around them. For some it may be the expectation to eventually drop out of school simply because no one else in your family has ever gone past a certain level of education. For others, it may be the expectation of always being a part of a broken home, mainly because long-lasting marriages are rarely seen in your community. Perhaps there is economic or emotional poverty that you find yourself struggling with. Or maybe even for some, it is a literal physical or mental condition which seems that it will forever limit your performance. Whatever the situation may be, I believe that God is able to do “exceeding abundantly above” anything that you expect for your life and this is done according to the “power that works in [you]”.
Therefore, you don’t have to be a victim of circumstance, but rather become a master of it. We have the potential to not merely meet these expectations, but to EXCEED all expectations. In spite of the expectations held by our peers, our family, society or even ones we’ve placed upon ourselves! Whatever the obstacle, whatever the impediment, whatever the challenge, whatever the problem, know that it can be conquered and not only that, but the problem can be solved in such a way the world has never seen before. #EngineeringGreatness
By: Nehemiah J. Mabry, PhD Founder and President of STEMedia who wholeheartedly believes “there is something inspiring about inspiring.”
There’s been LOTS of research into this topic, and some of it has been collected in the book The new science of learning. [Coursera] To name a few things that improve the quality and effectiveness of learning:
- Growth Mindset (Ref.Carol Dweck) – a good students work on the assumption that their capacity increases with effort, rather than being limited by “hard” physical limits;
- Metacognition – they think about, and reflect on, their efforts and process;
- Responsibility – they practice self-regulated learning and participate actively in their development. Often they focus more on intrinsic motivation than just “getting an A”;
- Deep Thinking – rather than trying to remember / reproduce the course materials, they look for connections with other subjects and try to gain a deeper understanding of the principles underlying the subject matter;
- Task Analysis & planning – they make sure to understand what their learning goals are, and make plans on how to achieve those goals;
- Strategy – a good student can choose between different learning strategies: reading and repeating the course material, practicing, peer discussion, times of day, etc. They choose the strategies that fit the subject matter, learning goals and their personal preference.
- Nutrition – eating healthy and avoiding sugars and junk food gives the brain the nutrients it needs to work optimally;
- Exercise – same as nutrition, it helps the brain to function. Cramming for 8 hours straight is never an effective strategy.
These are just a few general points, but at the core of it are motivated, attention and attitude.
By: Patrick van Aalst, Applied Science University Instructor
Disney’s Frozen was a smashing success, which introduced Elsa, a new royal role model who learns to embrace her inner power. Initially, Elsa’ parents keeps her in a controlled environment during her childhood, but through an unexpected burst of passion, Elsa reveals her powers to her whole kingdom. As the movie progresses, it becomes more evident that Elsa would make the perfect architectural engineer.
Architectural Engineer (with a Specialization in Castles)
- Regards efficiency as paramount
- Seamlessly incorporates beauty into every aspect of the final project.
- Provide everything required for building the perfect castle: plumbing, air-conditioning, heating; design, budget, and customer preferences; building materials, terrain, and climate.
- Delicately balances each component while maintaining the vision of the final project.
The movie Frozen only shows one side of Elsa—the isolated, repressed teenager who discovers her powers are her strength. However, since she built a multistory ice castle by the time she finishes her song, the movie should have been about her engineering genius. How many castles have been completed in under five minutes?
Have you seen that dress? Have you seen that chandelier? I mean, come on….
Services of Elsa’s Firm
- Air-conditioning included*
- Design from a tortured artist
- Cost is subsidized by the starving tax payers of Arendelle**
- Customer satisfaction is guaranteed***
- Free building materials
Specialist in arctic climate construction near cliffs
*Plumbing and heating not included.
**Feudalism was a dark time in the world’s history
***Scarred from growing up in isolation, the owner of Snow Industries is still learning social formalities, and is perhaps too eager to please her customers.
- Problem: Anna illogically “falls in love” with a man she’s only met once
- Mistake 1: Elsa forbids Anna from marrying the prince without an explanation
- Mistake 2: Elsa shoots Anna in the heart with ice
- Resolution: The prince reveals he doesn’t love her, and Anna realizes she loves a husky woodsman who eventually helps save her life.
Like many engineering students, Elsa gets the right answer by making two mistakes that eventually cancel out.
Engineers must envision a grand venture and passionately drive it towards completion. Elsa comes up with the unique idea of using her powers to build a castle. Her only competition would be the Minnesotan engineer who 3-D printed a concrete castle in his backyard. Unfortunately for him, the snow monster kept melting before it was done printing.
Engineering is Better than Love
Comparing the socially awkward, depressed sister to an engineer is perhaps too stereotypical. However, in The Snow Queen, the book on which Frozen was based, Hans Christian Anderson portrays the snow queen (Elsa) as a powerful matriarch with a flock of magic snow bees that guard her ice castle. Gerda (Anna) is a pathetic peasant who risks her life to change her scathing boyfriend by removing the magic ice from his eyes. Who wouldn’t take the nanobot-snow-bees and become the engineer that her mother always wanted her to marry?
Like all math and science nerds going through puberty, Elsa also had to work through issues with her parents, emotions, and special abilities. Moreover, like all engineers in adulthood, Elsa is able to forge awe-inspiring structures, soar to the top of management, and domineer all the social science majors…Oh, I mean, subjects of her kingdom.
Written by: Sarah K. R. Long >> “After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at NC State University, I adventured to Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Israel for a medical doctorate. My compliant southern demeanor was squeezed in the aggressive, blunt culture of Israel and the weighty expectations of my teachers. I exploded into words.”