Category Archives: Events

Mars Day taps NASA, StarLab and HI-SEAS Crew Member

StarLab_1It’s fun to have an event such as Mars Day at a time when there’s so much more being discovered about the Red Planet. Like the excitement about flowing water, a few weeks ago.

For this year’s Mars Day at Salt River Elementary, we feature three interesting facets of Space exploration and discovery.

StarLabThis is an inflatable planetarium that will give younger grades an interstellar experience. It comes to us through ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. Just the idea of having a planetarium come to the school turns science into something more experiential. Added to that we have a great outreach team that gives students a ‘tour’ of the night sky, and a hands-on table-top experience.

hi_seas_3Zak Wilson is one of the crew on the Mars Habitat experiment last year. He will be here to conduct concurrent sessions, and be our keynote speaker. Zak, who was part of a 6-member crew lived in a Martian habitat (seen on right) for eight months! It was situated on a volcanic terrain that resembled Mars. More about this experience here.

ASU/NASA. And last but not least, we have the team from ASU’s Mars Space Flight Facility conducting hands-on sessions with grades 3,, 4, 5, and 6. This is the fourth year of our collaboration with this group.

Mars Day 2012 - Kody EnsleyHere’s how Mars Day has evolved.

In 2012, we had our students talk to Kody Ensley, a
Native American who interned at NASA, and worked on Robonaut,

In 2013, we featured Commander John Herrington, former Space Shuttle commander,and the first Native American in Space.

In 2014, we had the Hi-SEAS Mission team, and Dr. Jack Farmer from ASU.


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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Education, Events, STEM


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Derrick Mains on Augmented Reality

Could a pair of cardboard goggles become a critical student engagement tool?

Derrick_1I invited Derrick Mains to my computer lab yesterday to explain Augmented Reality, and what doors it might open for us educators, and of course students. I think I am sold!

Many students have heard of AR and VR, and you would be surprised how curious they are about this. Just as they are more interested in photography today because of disruptive devices such as the GoPro, they are more interested in Apps like these because of what it could do “seeing things differently.”

Cardboard_tnAs Derrick explained, this is another way to use Apps in education. Not just to stare at a screen but to ignore the screen (which disappears, the moment you put these goggles on) and engage and explore new worlds. We are not talking about fictitious virtual worlds, but uncharted territories whether it is at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, or to observe an eco-system in a rain forest.

Some of you might remember Derrick Mains from his work in social media. He was one of my co-presenters in a workshop on Digital Citizenship. The reason he’s on camera again, is because he will be in one of the several videos I am producing with my Salt River Pima-Maricopa TV team for another upcoming workshop.


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Sri Lankans “consolidate the January 8 revolution” in landmark elections

Pardon for my dredging up the cliché about how “the people have spoken.”

As Sri Lanka sees the results of a peaceful general election today, the real revolution has been in the making for a few years.

We now take for granted that most journalists provide results and news in real-time. Even providing clarity today, amid the euphoria, and contradictory ‘reports’.

We aren’t surprised anymore that the Deputy Minister of Policy Planning and Economic Affairs, Harsha de Silva uses his Twitter handle, as if he was texting you personally (and bilingually, too).  He’s not alone in this digital democracy of 20.8 million people.

One of the 5 trends in Sri Lanka, as outlined by Anna Bruce-Lockhart at the World Economic Forumis the gains in digitization. (The Full report is here.)

I welcome the maturity of an informed digital democracy in our Chat Republic.


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When science works, machines break, and coffee cups burn

In teaching technology we like to say that it’s OK mess up the first time. This is counter to how we like things to run smoothly – neat transitions, good closures etc. A formula, in other words. Even when doing a demo, you probably want your audience to see the end result.

earthquake-simulatorBut I’ve realized that in many lessons – life lessons, not class lessons– the worst thing you could do is to have something perform flawlessly.

Take this ‘Earthquake ‘simulator’ we built here. The plan was to simulate tectonic plate movement that brings down buildings. This was for our STEM Night, which happened on 21st April. A rickety contraption that would shake-rattle-and-roll using a power drill. We quickly ran into a few issues. The wheel you see here was cracking.With two hours to go to the ‘earthquake challenge’ we implemented Plan D – Duct tape. Which looked messy, but it worked. In a sense, I loved that uncertainty; an opportunity to tell students that this ‘problem-solving’ stuff we go on about, is real, even for us.

The next day, FOX 10 News showed up. More issues, with the weather guy and a camera pointing at our ‘machine’.

  • Problem #1: The drill that drove the wheel, had been taken home!
  • Problem #2: Reporter Cory McClousky wanted to repeat the ‘quake’ and of course, it failed. On camera. Nice!
  • Unrelated issue. Behind the earthquake simulator was the solar oven we used the previous day. I had left my coffee cup inside while we were waiting. A solar oven, in case you haven’t heard can reach up to 250 degrees in 30 minutes. So does the plastic cap, as you can see here, which warped out of shape.

You cannot plan these things. What looks bad, actually informs the story. McClusky’s parting line about the solar oven was: “We’re burning coffee cups in here…” Indeed. You can’t touch this.
STEM Night 2nd Red Camera (12) Solar baking After

FOX 10 News |

 Cory Goes Back to School


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My school profiled on US Dept. of Interior website

When Sec. Sally Jewell visited our school last week, little did we know how it would figure in the grander scheme of things. It was much more than a simple ‘air drop’ of a dignitary.

Turned out it was to kick off something bigger – a Listening Tour, of Native youth.

Yesterday we noticed that apart from the previous media coverage of this visit, the folks managing the communication for Secretary Jewell’s department had featured a lot of great shots of her engaging with our students. Two of the students featured are potential podcasters in my class on audio. Three are in robotics.

Here’s the video:

And below are some of my pictures taken at the event – also covered here on this blog.

This, taken in my class. Student Council president and robotics student explains how they approach a mission, program and document their work.

More pictures from my class blog, here

We often complain that government is tone deaf to much of what goes on in our communities.Speaking to Sec. Jewell, I could tell that this was much more than a token visit so as to report to the boss she’s been on the road.

We spoke of science. A lot! I mentioned that in the midst of so many changes in education, government seems to be not doing enough to promote science and technology.I mentioned that the State of the Union this year barely touched on STEM, despite Obama’s otherwise talking the talk on why we need more investment and more STEM teachers in science in schools. She was a good listener.

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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in Education, Events, Robotics


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Now that selfies are in, can we start ignoring them?

If I see one more selfie on a national awards show, I may gag. It’s getting rather tiresome, seeing grown-ups climb aboard a bandwagon that usually has reserved seating for self-obsessed teenagers.

Sure the made-up word entered the OED last year — but so did jorts and fauxhawk in 2012. It also trumped the word ‘schmeat“, the new word for fake meat. In case you needed to click on the above link, you are probably like me, shaking your head in despair.

But to get back to selfies, yesterday on the Country Music Awards, there was a selfie moment, and we wondered whatever happened to human ingenuity. Didn’t Ellen make it clear that she owned that brightly lit space that celebs inhabit?

Just to cement the fact that we are in that moment in time when this awful word is rushing to meet us, there’s that annoying song. Obnoxious, albeit a wonderful parody of selfie culture. It’s title: “Let Me Get a Selfie.”

To add to this there’s the pres of the United States fawning over a selfie, as if it was the best thing that happened to image management –with a touch of product placement. I understand the man is desperately going after all the Likes and re-tweets he can get.

It’s time for people over 21 to calmly put away their phones and start real conversations.


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In a job search – again?

What if this is not the last career move you’ll ever make? Job searching in a world of blogs and social networks has been a topic I’ve spoken about –and still wrestle with — considering the fact that resumes are not exactly passe.

So this topic ‘What is this isn’t my last job search?” is very relevant. It’s the theme of a networking event next week in Phoenix, hosted by the Southwest Job Network (SJN).

The Speaker: Jason Alba, author of  “I’m on LinkedIn – Now What???” and the person behind (a software app)

  • When:  Wednesday 9th February
  • Where: Gateway Community College. 108 N. 40 Street, Phoenix, AZ 85034
  • Cost: Free.  SJN exists on donations; the suggested donation is just $5 –which is tax deductible.
  • Registration and more details: At this link
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Posted by on February 2, 2011 in Arizona, Events, LinkedIn, Social Media


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