In Brief

STEM in Scouting

There is an ongoing push to bring Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math into the hearts and minds of our youngest generation. As technology engulfs our daily existence, it is critical we have available an influx of viable women and men who will guide developments in STEM-related fields. The drive of this effort is to ensure talented and wise professionals will usher our culture  into the next generations.  

A growing number of STEM learning opportunities are available to our youth, such as Girls Who CodeHackerspaces, and the many featured programs from the Department of Education, just to list a few. Many of these experiences are focused on girls to reduce the gender gap in related professions as well as other underrepresented populations in these fields. Other offerings encourage an expanded educational scope to include Art and Design (STEAM) as so many artistic expressions today are enabled through scientific and technological ideas. Scouting with the BSA is also tossing in a concerted effort to emphasize the value of an appreciation for STEM. It is working to foster an even broader skill set for youth who already are developing strong character, leadership, and positive values through the Scouting adventure.

The first BSA Handbook, 1910.
How to use a watch as a compass, from the first BSA Handbook, 1910.

An interesting historical feature of Scouting, compared to the myriad of programs available, is that STEM concepts and activities have always been an integral component of the Scouting experience. Published in 1910, the first Boy Scout Handbook included activities on how to use a watch as a compass, how to measure distances, and many other adventures involving learning about and appreciating nature, the stars, and wildlife. Today, each rank from the Kindergarten-aged Lions to the elder Eagle Scout includes specific advancement requirements featuring STEM-related components, such as exploring geology, decoding mathematical ciphers, designing and building model vehicles from scratch, and understanding alternative sources of energy. 

To further drive the focus on STEM, the BSA expanded on its long-established offerings to include additional awards and organizational opportunities to explore science through Scouting. The Nova Award program was developed in 2012 for Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturing to clearly incorporate STEM-related learning with fun activities and adventures. Interestingly, the Nova Awards did not have to be built from the ground up: they simply expand on the current requirements already established in the Scouting handbooks. For Scouts who really want to dive deeper, an advanced award, called the Supernova, requires more extensive STEM experiences guided by an approved mentor who is a STEM professional. 

Under the organizational umbrella of the BSA, a separate co-ed program piloted in 2014, called STEM Scouts, fully focuses on STEM. The program uses experiential activities and interaction with STEM professionals for elementary, middle school, and high school-aged youth. The goal is to help young people explore their curiosity about STEM fields while growing in character and skill. STEM Scouts focuses on future careers in STEM designed around a challenging, thought-provoking, and fun program. 

With such a solid base in STEM topics, opportunities through Scouting could become even more interesting and broadly reaching as the BSA is just beginning its expansion to “family scouting” as a fully co-ed organization. With gender restrictions removed from all of its many programs, Scouting is positioned to evolve into one of the top-tier STEM informal educational offerings for youth in the United States. This possibility is intriguing because STEM education through Scouting could soon be identified as the most valuable approach since the Scouting experience is so holistic: there is adventure and experience to be had in nature and the lab, while simultaneously developing character, leadership, and positive cultural values. This complete approach will position youth for successful careers in any professional field to guide the country toward being the leader of a brighter technological future.  

Adopting a New Standard for Curation Attribution

One of the primary efforts at Dynamic Patterns Research is bringing to our readers interesting information and articles related to citizen science and amateur research through our DPR Journal as well as the latest in neurotechnology with Neuron News. These journals are considered to be news and original commentary logs, but are largely based on the curation of content from other sources.

Direct attribution is always provided in articles published by DPR either via direct linking to an article or by other descriptive hyperlink reference to an individual, organization, or program. Formal attribution systems for literary and scientific works in publications already exist, but there has been no clear, universal method to recognize and reference source materials of published articles (either professional or amateur) that are based on “discovery through the web.”

Curator's Code Logo

One of today’s top web curators, Maria Popova of Brain Pickings, recently helped to develop a new system to make attribution consistent and codified, while respecting those who expand upon others’ creative and intellectual work. This simple “Curator’s Code” system features two Unicode symbols to represent the class of attribution used by authors. The sideways ‘s’ symbol, , or “via” corresponds to a direct re-posting or reference to content discovered through another source and shared with an audience with minimal modification or amplification. The second symbol, a curving arrow, , or “hat tip” represents an indirect discovery from another source of an idea, but with significant elaboration when shared with an audience.

Dynamic Patterns Research will begin implementing this new system for curation attribution in future published articles as we strongly believe clear reference to the creative and intellectual efforts of others must be obvious in our published writings. However, the additional commentary, information, and original content provided by DPR should also be separated in a similarly clear and obvious way, and the Curator’s Code system simultaneously offers these needs in a straightforward way.

Learn more about the Curator’s Code and let us know what you think about the new system in the comments below.

 

Witness Comet ISON in December

Comet ISON on October 08, 2013
Comet ISON captured by the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter using the 0.8m Schulman Telescope and an STX-16803 CCD camera (via Wikipedia).

Comet ISON joins us this year from the Oort-cloud and is barreling toward the Sun for the very first time. The formal designation of the comet is C/2012 S1 representing a non-periodic (“C”) object discovered in “2012” in the second-half of September (“S”) and was the first comet discovered during that half-month (“1”). To help the name roll off the tongue a bit more smoothly, ISON represents where the discovery is officially attributed at the Russia-based International Scientific Optical Network.

Discovered last year during a series of observations between December 28, 2011 and into 2012 until its official announcement on September 24, 2012, Comet ISON has been watched closely since first being spotted between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn. NASA’s many tools on active duty have had their go at Comet ISON including Deep Impact, Swift, Hubble, Spitzer, the Mars team, STEREO, Juno, MESSENGER, SOHO, as well as many ground-based observatories and amateur astronomers.

What will be ISON’s Fate?

Earlier in the year, Comet ISON was anticipated to be the comet of the century, but as it approaches closer to the Sun’s radiation, its fate is up for grabs. While many of us in the United States are filling our bellies with a bounty of goodness, November 28, 2013 will be the day that decides Comet ISON’s future. It might dwindle away to oblivion under the Sun’s forces — as is just now being reported at Spaceweather.com that astronomers in Spain are observing a change in the composition of the comet nucleus, possibly indicating that it is already breaking apart (read more). It might also break up into bits of comet as its nucleus becomes increasingly unstable, or — and what so many are hoping for — it will survive the fly by of the Sun and will emerge so bright that it will be observable on Earth during the daytime. 

If Comet ISON does survive, then the month of December will offer many opportunities before dawn to make your own observations in the Northern Hemisphere looking toward the East. The animated infographic below provides a visual daily map to help you point your binoculars in the right direction and witness a comet making its first pass through our solar system.

For more information, videos, and images check out NASA’s Comet ISON Watch

Comet ISON

 

 


 UPDATE: November 28, 2013 @ 11:58 pm CST

During many Thanksgiving Feasts today, and some of the ensuing surges of shopping around the country, Comet ISON completed its spin around the Sun. The initial reports and visuals appeared to suggest that the nucleus broke up and the out-gassing tail fizzed away. The following SOHO time-lapse image shows an incredible pass of Comet ISON and a definite reduction in the intensity of the tail:

20131128_ison_lasco-c2_20131128_2148_c2_1024
These images from NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory and the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory show Comet ISON growing dim as it made the journey around the sun. The comet is believed to have broken up and evaporated.
Image Credit: NASA/SDO/ESA/SOHO/GSFC

However, the fate of Comet ISON might not be settled just yet. Scientists are frantically reviewing data to determine what is going on — apparently with the media breathing down their necks! — because there is a hint of a re-ignition for Comet ISON or some other celestial surprise that will certainly offer new insight and data into the amazing functioning of our Universe. New science is happening right now, sloshing through leftover turkey and microwaved mashed potatoes and gravy.

Read more about the latest confusions and hypothesis from scientists from Karl Battams’ blog post at The Planetary Society, “Schrödinger’s Comet.”

 

The Moon at Sunset with Venus and Jupiter

This evening just after sunset, the crescent Moon was positioned in a beautiful triangular alignment with Venus and Jupiter. (view the skymap) I took the kids out to try using the binoculars to see the Moon — which they certainly also just used to walk around the yard finding one another! — and to talk a little about the two planets and how cool it is that we can see them with our own eyes.

These slightly in-focus images were taken with a very simple Nikon CoolPix S8100 auto focus in night landscape mode on a tripod.

 

Last updated October 19, 2020