Children in grades k-12 and their families were able to observe and share a variety of engineering projects and exhibits at the Aiken K-12 Maker Faire.
More than 750 people attended the Nov. 21 fair, which was held in the Davis Center according to UVM communications.
The fair, which is Vermont’s first for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, was hosted by the creators of the Champlain Mini Maker Faire in conjunction with the University, according the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences’ website.
The Champlain Mini Maker Faire is an event where people of all ages can display homemade projects to other engineers and community members, according to the organization’s website.
The fair featured CEMS’ annual Technology and Science Connection challenge, where students compete to build a device to meet an engineering challenge, according the college’s website.
In this year’s challenge, contestants had to create a device to tilt a flat surface in order to move tennis, lacrosse and golf balls into different zones to score points, according to the official TASC rules.
Contestants had to design the device, or “robot,” to move the balls into position and may be adapted from already commercially available products, such as remote control cars, according to TASC rules.
Teams were made up of two to six students in academic standing ranging from middle school to high school, according to TASC rules.
Author’s note: This story was originally printed in the Vermont Cynic on Sept. 15, 2015
An environmental justice film premiered at Merrill’s Roxy theater this week.
“REUSE! Because You Can’t Recycle the Planet,” directed by Alex Eaves, made its Burlington premier at the local theater Sept. 10.
The screening was hosted by Eaves and the Peace and Justice Center.
The Peace and Justice Center of Vermont has been a leader in working with businesses, nonprofit organizations, activists and volunteers for the cause of social justice for more than 35 years, according to their website.
The film focuses on the necessity of reusing products.
“One of the most important things about the reuse message is that recycling is not going to do it for us, it is not enough,” Eaves said.
Eaves searched the country for people who find innovative ways to reuse, according to the film.
Sophomore Claire Charde, an environmental science major and Greenhouse resident, said the film is a great way to engage the public on social and environmental issues facing the world today.
“Good documentaries will help [expose people to public issues],” Charde said. “Think about the impact of the documentary about the Seaworld whale, Blackfish … Seaworld became a huge topic of moral concern for a lot of people” she said.
Eaves said that his documentary is unique in how it presents issues such as global climate change.
“This documentary is not about problems, it is about solutions,” he said.
Sophomore Charlotte Goodrich said UVM has allowed on-campus students to live a greener life.
“It is so much easier to live more mindful here, as opposed to at home, because of all the propaganda surrounding living green, “ she said.
Author’s note: This story was originally printed in the Vermont Cynic on Feb. 24, 2015.
UVM’s educational horizons span beyond the classroom and are about to get even wider.
The University began a $2.5 million dollar, 13,176 square foot project to improve the Paul R. Miller Farm and create a modern teaching barn for students Feb. 3, according to a Feb.4 press release from Assistant Director of Communications Jeff Wakefield.
The farm’s mission is to “emphasize dairy research, equine sciences, mammary biology, milk quality, biosecurity and safety,” according to their website.
The winter renovations mark the first of three phases of the farm renovations, the press release stated. These include a new instructional barn and milking area used for research for students in their junior and senior years, the press release stated.
UVM President Tom Sullivan said in the press release that he was very excited for the new renovations to begin.
“To fulfill our land grant mission and maintain our position as a university of choice for top faculty and students, it’s crucial for UVM to have a 21st century teaching and research complex in animal science,” Sullivan said.
The new barn will require the deconstruction of a 1960s cow barn, according to the press release.
First-year Hailey Moll said that safe, hands-on, modern and professional experience is crucial in setting UVM students apart in the workforce.
“All my life, I loved animals, but it was not until I got in the field that I realized I want to work in the field. I want to do field research; I went from just liking animals to wanting to do field research,” Moll said.
The research that the new farm will offer will provide students with even better ways of exploring their field, said Tom Vogelmann, dean of UVM’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“The new instructional barn will be a first-class facility and a great learning laboratory for our students. We’re thrilled that both the barn and the larger Miller Farm renovation are finally under way,” Vogelmann said.
This is absolutely true, Moll said.
“Hands-on educational opportunities narrow down your focus on your career and your life path so much more dramatically than if you were to read about something in a textbook,” Moll said.
Author’s note: This story was originally printed in the Vermont Cynic on Feb. 10, 2015.
Science and communication don’t generally mix — one actor is trying to change that.
Six-time Emmy Award-winning actor Alan Alda was at UVM Feb. 2 to speak to students and faculty about the University’s upcoming involvement with the Communicating Science Program and what it will bring to UVM.
“We need new understanding of how nature works,” Alda said. “Think about it: 100 years later, we are walking around with Einstein in our pockets. Science is our future,” he said.
Inspired by exciting conversations with scientists , the former host of PBS’ “Scientific Frontiers” felt it necessary to somehow bring the “understanding and acceptance of science to the public through communication.”
In 2009, he established the Center for Communicating Science at SUNY Stony Brook in New York.
Alda said that he hopes UVM joins SUNY Stony Brook as the second in a nationwide chain of schools involved in this program.
By changing the way students approach the public while explaining science, Alda said UVM students will be ahead of the competition when applying for jobs.
“Not only will they be great scientists, but they will have a leg up when communicating with their peers,” Alda said.
Elizabeth Bass, director of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science, said the relationship between UVM and the program began when Dr. Richard Galbraith, vice president of research at UVM, reached out to her with interest in beginning the program at UVM.
Students such as Alison Denn, who is studying to be a geomorphologist, are particularly interested in the idea of communication within research.
“People develop a stigma against research, so it is easy for there to be a disconnect between scientist and the public,” Denn said.
The big ideas in science need to be put into ‘real talk’ so that everyone, scientists and non-scientists can understand, She said.
“We really need to press the idea of the elevator talk in order to get the public to understand the importance of science” she said.
Some UVM students said they hope that the increase in communication in science will aid in closing the gender gap within STEM subjects.
Senior Lydia Milliken, a mechanical engineer major, said that there are sometimes as few as five girls in some of her classes, and she believes this can be attributed to the lack of communication to girls about what STEM subjects are and what they do for the world.
“There is a lot of research that says that women learn best through storytelling, and you do not find a whole lot of that in STEM subjects,” Milliken said.
“Better communication will change the way women look at the STEM subjects, and as a result, their place in modern society,” he said.