Preparing for Robotics

Preparing for Robotics
Students at DC's Whittier Educational Campus with ReSET Volunteer Peter Mehrevari

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Daughter and Father Thoughts on ReSET

This week Sarah Kehoe wrote to ReSET:  "My father ... recently retired from a phenomenal government  career as an aerospace engineer. I am nominating him for this volunteer opportunity as I know he will love it and be excellent at it. He mentored me in math/science and I now have my PhD in Molecular Cell Biology because of his enthusiasm and inspiration. He would make an excellent addition to your team."
Bob Williams agreed with his daughter's recommendation and will begin the ReSET volunteer orientation program in January. He writes: "Practicing/retired engineers and scientists have a unique ability to 'give back' to a new generation.  As a nation we are now at the point where 90% of the advanced degrees in the hard sciences and engineering are going to Pacific Rim countries. I am seeing more and more first-class technical papers coming from that region.  Most highly successful people have 3 key people in their lives -  the parent or friend who helped make the subject 'fun,' the teacher who translated the fun into real technical understanding and sparking self-motivated idea creation, and the college-level mentor who carried that foundation into high level achievement."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Volunteer Wayne Sukow's Minerals Experiment

Hi ReSET'ers:  If you're interested in working with students on the experiment Wayne describes (below)let me know (  I have some mineral sets in the ReSET supply stock. John

Hi John, 
This is just a brief note to bring you up to date on my 2010 ReSET 
classroom activities. This afternoon I finished the fourth session on 
Geology---Properties and Identification of Minerals. I was pleased how 
well the 5th grade students in all four classes and especial the last 
class mastered the techniques for 1.) making streaks from the minerals 
on a black or white Streak Plate, 2.) determining if the mineral 
scratched their thumbnail, a copper penny, a piece of glass, or a 
ceramic streak plate, and 3.) inventing descriptive words that 
characterized the appearance of the minerals as they saw them e.g. the 
Luster: shiny, metallic, dull, waxy, sparkly, etc. 
The four  one-hour sessions included all 110 or so fifth graders at Key 
ES and two teachers. The streak plates, glass, and pennies show their 
use after this years intense use.  They will need some replacements for 
the next go around. I also invested in  some good rock samples such as 
gabbro, oolitic limestone, anorthocite, granite with biotite, etc. at a 
cost of $45. Students felt that they were easier to use than the small 
thumbnail size. When students left the classroom for their next class 
each one received one of my  Lake Superior Agate with a Hardness 7, 
which means it will stay polished if they carry it in their pocket or 
purse with of change, pens, etc. 
Next up are experiments on Electricity and Magnetim and/or Light. 
I also tried Key ES lunches.....interesting. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Marty Stein 's Waterborne Disease Session

Washington Latin is doing what they call water world.  I plan to discuss the dangers of unclean water, a major problem, and some of the diseases that are transmitted in contaminated water.  I ordered a complete distillation kit for Carolina Biological.  They have  assembled everything I will need and it is very sexy and will turn on the kids. There are too many things I would have to get and probably miss some if I went for individual pieces so I went with the kit.  My plan is for the kids to get some lousy water three days before.  I have a reagent which they will incubate with the water for 48 hour and then have a color indicator for
the presence of bacteria.  I will distill the dirty water in the classroom  and split up the effluent and have the kids incubate it for another  48 hours to see if the process cleaned the water.  I will bring pictures of the
kids in Haiti and some pictures of the cholera bacteria.  I might even drink some in the class...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Local DC STEM Advocate Elected to National Board

ReSET's November 2010 newsletter included a quote from Mary Lord, DC Ward 2 State Board of Education member, a long-time STEM education advocate.  This week Ms. Lord was  elected to the Board of the National Association of State Boards of Education (see press release below).  A step forward for science and math education. Press release below...


Arlington, Va. - Mary Lord, a member of the District of Columbia State Board of Education, was elected to the board of directors of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Lord will begin her two-year term as a director from NASBE's Northeast region in January 2010.
"Mary Lord is a tireless advocate for students and education, and I know she will bring that same focus and energy to the board of directors," said NASBE Executive Director Brenda Welburn. "She and the rest of our directors give their time and leadership to their fellow policymakers to help them find the solutions needed to provide students the education they need to succeed in the 21st century."
Lord was first elected to the state board of education in 2007 and elected to her first full term in 2008. She is an award-winning freelance journalist who has been writing about education and visiting schools across the country for more than a decade. Her articles have appeared in a variety of local and national publications, including U.S. News & World Report, for which she covered K-12 and higher education. Along with representing Wards 1 and 2 on the DC State Board of Education, she has served on several education-reform task forces, notably NASBE's study group on Career and Technical Education, and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education's working groups on educator quality, career and technical education, and accountability.  
NASBE's directors help set organizational direction and policy positions while also representing their region's concerns to state boards nationwide.


The National Association of State Boards of Education represents America's state and territorial boards of education. NASBE exists to strengthen State Boards as the preeminent educational policymaking bodies for citizens and students. For more, visit

Thursday, October 28, 2010

NY Times Editorial about STEM in the US

From a 10/26 New York Times Editorial:

"According to a follow-up report published last month, the academies found that the United States ranks 27th out of 29 wealthy countries in the proportion of college students with degrees in science or engineering, while the World Economic Forum ranked this country 48th out of 133 developed and developing nations in quality of math and science instruction."

For the full editorial, link to:

Note how ReSET's programs fit in with the National Academies' recommendations.

Monday, October 25, 2010

ReSET at the USA Festival

ReSET was one of over 500 organizations that participated in the USA Science and Engineering Festival on the National Mall this past weekend (10/23-10/24/10).   Hundreds of children visited the ReSET booth to try science experiments, as did many former-children. A number of the scientists and engineers who visited expressed interest in learning more about volunteering.  Many thanks to ReSET volunteers Ji Chen, Bob Blumberg, Rich Repplier,  Bob Hauptman, Bob Stern, Eva Jacobs, and Felton Rogers who attended and helped out.   Bob Blumberg's experiment demonstrating air pressure with an upended cup of water was a big hit.  Ji and Eva spent hours helping future scientists and engineers use batteries and electrical wire to light up a flashlight bulb.  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

ReSET Volunteer Ji Chen's Thoughts

The hands-on experience can bring great promise to students in early science education. As a robot inspector for FIRST regional competition in Philadelphia, I was astonished by the hands-on skills teenage participants demonstrated during the competition.  They knew how to use tools and software properly, and how to solve problems on spot. They were proactive and enjoyed working with each other. The robots they engineered were impressive, with high complexity and functionality. This showed me how well young students can apply what they learn in the field of engineering and science, at the same time, how science can be instructed for the development of their project and interpersonal skills that are highly valued in industries.

Hands-on elementary science not only concretely demonstrates important concepts, but it also nurtures the desire for students to learn more and form good habits of experimentation, teamwork, and inquiry into our natural world. In the long run, applying scientific concepts and forming good study habits in a fun and engaging way at the elementary level will help produce more scientists, engineers and technicians for our society.  Being a ReSET volunteer speaks to my values and motivations as an engineer and educator and it is an honor to work with the children, their teachers, and the ReSET team. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My First Day as a Classroom Volunteer

I explained to my 4th graders that it was my first day in the classroom as a science volunteer and asked them how they thought I felt.  After I received the answers "nervous" and "afraid," to which I truthfully responded "a little bit," a young student raised his hand and asked "Are you elated?"  I answered "why yes, kind of" as I thought to myself "hmm - at his age, I think I was was still monosyllabic..."