Using Multi-Media in Automotive Education

September 25, 2009

Automotive tech programs are often very firmly rooted in the shops. While this is a known and productive method, some auto tech teachers are instructing their students using new technology in the classroom.

As profiled by the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) in January, Denis Ashton of the East Valley Institute of Technology is doing just that. He has implemented an interactive Power Point curriculum for his program. In this program, after each lesson a quiz is given using electronic keypads, allowing the instructor to know how much information has been retained by the student. By making the quizzes for groups, he also is able to engage the students by making it a competition.

For automotive instructors who are worried about the content of Power Point, simple ones can be made on any computer, and even self-made videos can be created using software such as Adobe Premier or Windows Movie Maker.

But for those who prefer to use an overhead projector either in conjunction with or instead of Power Point, Nada Scientific offers a line of intricate transparencies as well as tabletop models. They include moving parts and up-to-date details. The bright colors and functional motion are a wonderful teaching aid.

Science for Food Source

September 25, 2009

For years scientists and the government have been trying to lower carbon emissions to help the environment. Many of the projects trying to do this are aimed at the automotive industry. The emissions from trucks, planes and cars are being debated and discussed. But there is a source of emissions that creates more that all of them together, nearly 1/5 of the human population’s emissions according to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

That source is meat consumption.

Now before the carnivores and omnivores in the audience get incensed, this article is not to promote vegetarianism. And vegetarians, it is not to discuss the suggestion of a PETA funded scientist who suggested that Australians could help with the issue by eating kangaroos.

Instead, there has been some movement for a scientific alternative: lab grown meat. Last month SEED Magazine interviewed Jason Matheny of New Harvest, a non-profit aimed at discovering and funding lab grown, or in-vitro, meat.

This meat is made with cells, either stem or myoblast (precursor to muscle). These are placed in a medium of a nutritious mix that is the biochemical equivalent of blood. These cells are then fused using energy, either mechanical or electricity. This process takes a few weeks, and produces the equivalent of a ground meat.

This process may seem unnatural, and students may think of this as science fiction. But everyday foods like cheese or yogurt are bio-tech products. Students can learn about food science for themselves by cooking. Or you can discuss this generally in terms of the power of science, and the things scientists can accomplish.

Right now this idea, while being accomplished in small quantities in labs, is not yet commercially viable. But that may change, and science educators may now be teaching the young scientist who could develop it.

Integrating Science Education with Music

September 11, 2009

Making sure students are engaged in the subject is an important aspect of science education. One way to grab students interest is to link the lessons to something they are passionate about, for example music.

One example of mixing music and science was presented in INTERDISCIPLINARY SCIENCE REVIEWS, Vol. 34 No. 2–3, 2009. Entitled Modeling Folksong Melodies, it discusses the Onder de Greoene Linde collection at the Meertens Institute in Amsterdam. This is a collection of more than 7,000 field recordings of Dutch ballads.

This is interesting for more than just social scientists due to the research being done with that collection. They are developing a way of searching through the database not only using metadata, but by the musical content itself, a musical search engine. Not only do they aim to be able to search by musical signatures, but to scientifically analyze musical similarity.

This collaboration of musicology and computer science utilizes the best of both fields. In the same way, but linking music and science in the minds of students, science teachers can bring out the best in them. One simple example of this is using tuning forks, physics teachers can demonstrate the nature of frequency and sound waves.

Sally Ride Speaks

September 11, 2009

Sally Ride, who was the first woman to go into space, wrote an article on the state of science education for the October 2009 edition of American School Board Journal. In it she emphasized the growing demand for scientists, as well as the gender disparity in the field.

She offers a good suggestion for how to engage students’ interest in science by incorporating stories of modern scientists into lessons. This gives them both role models and helps break down stereotypes of scientists. Students will be able to picture themselves as scientists, encouraging them to pursue that avenue.