The Highland Celtic Festival, with one of the Wicked Tinkers drummers letting some of the audience play along with him. These kids were covered in oatmeal, I think. The girl got one of her mom's shoes and joined in on the drum One of the boys had a shirt that said “I'm so cute I must be Irish.” Yes, very cute indeed!
A yellow Columbine kissing the sun during a gap in the monsoons.
The Speakeasy, with a smooth jazz band joining the piano player. Hairy Navels on special, and just send an order through the secret “bookshelf”door if you want something to eat with your fancy cocktails.
Phave-1 (Pseudo-amphibious Human-powered Assault Vehicle Experiment - 1st prototype). R&D Phase 1 - It's gonna be a surprise, but my ancestors would be proud -- or frightened. :) I'll let you know more later, if the design turns out to be feasible. This shot is me loading up on parts at Home Cheapo to experiment with. Have to do ...the whole project human-powered if I can. Gots lots of frightened looks from car drivers as I rode home with this. Appropriate. Beware, ye mundanes of Flagstaff! Something fishy is happening in Denmark! ;) (Okay, that was a big hint, especially when combined with the project name.)
Lowell ground cover springs to life with the summer monsoons!
The Monsoons started here today! Lighting and thunder... Yay! And here's a little yella fella at NAU waivin his fins in the "air" like he just don't care. :)
Death by Bark Beetle
Death by Drought
Made beautiful by a clear blue sky
Another neighbor who is happy about the approaching monsoon season. The humidity is rising, the temperature is dropping... It's only a matter of time! :)
Reaching for rain... I got a dozen or so sprinkles on my walk home from work, then it stopped. Come on, Monsoons! (C'mon-soon!) Can I get a rain dance here?
Called the best view in Flagstaff, this will be the view from the new Science Conference Center on Mars Hill if Lowell builds it as currently planned.
For the past few mornings, this one has been following along with me for quite a while as I walk up the hill to work. I'm guessing it's the same one each day because of its odd behavior that the other Abert's Squirrels don't exhibit. It stays about 10 yards ahead of me, staying on the road as we follow around the curves of it together, instead of running off into the woods at the first good opportunity the way all the others do when they see me coming.
Earth, Air, Fire, and Water -- all four "elements" -- plus plants and animals in this shot.
I saw this one a few days ago and was surprised how calm she was in our heavily trafficked areas.
Okay, maybe this one isn't wild anymore and it's not exactly on the roadside, but it sure is pretty!
(I planted nine plots in the rocky soil around Lowell, trying to grow food if possible.)
(Not much dirt here, but plenty of creatures that live in the dirt.)
(Sorry this isn't a good example of how well the system can provide sharp focus, but the bug was just too pretty to pass up.)
(That little measurement scale at the bottom indicates a hundredth of a millimeter. This bug was the size of a barely visible speck of dust.)
(They've gotta have some dirt in there.)
The star party was held in a new location this year, on a large parking lot behind the new visitor's center. This turned out to be a great venue, but I forgot to bring my camera that evening. I'll have to let others share the story of the star party, while I can share some of the extra-curricular fun we volunteers had. On Sunday morning, I took a short hike down Bright Angel Trail with volunteers Donna Tippins and Dr. Chuck Schroll.
Here's another shot of them at our resting spot before heading back up. Bright Angel Trail follows the earthquake fault line that creates a tributary canyon that crosses the main Colorado River canyon.
The line of separation (unconformity) is amazingly thin between the pale Coconino Sandstone and the red Hermit Shale below, seen near the bottom of this image. Near the center of the image you can see some outlines of the ancient sand dunes that formed the Coconino layer.
Here's a close-up showing the layers as one particular dune was built up over time. The differing widths of each layer make it look a bit like tree rings. I wonder if each layer represents one year's growth of the sand dune, just as tree rings do?
Back at Mather Campground after the hike, we had a pizza lunch party for all the volunteers.
Park Ranger Marker Marshall was presented with an astronomy sculpture as thanks for her hard work over the years in making the event thrive. (The design is little astronomers with telescopes made out of nuts and bolts.) Afterwards we had a little ceremony to spread some of Valerie Goff's ashes where her husband Bob's ashes were spread a few years earlier, then I had to rush home.
Looking forward to next year already!
I don't know what the long-term trend is for the entire Ponderosa population in Arizona, but in just one year I have already noticed the number of standing trees in Thorpe Park is dwindling because there are many infected trees being cut. When new young saplings are often cut to limit undergrowth for fire safety, it appears that there will be few new ones to grow to maturity to replace the ones lost to the beetles. Maybe a re-planting program could be started if the drought ends, but who knows the prognosis on that?
On Wednesday I got to treat some Navajo kids to "Views of Billions" through a telescope at Anderson Mesa (Lowell's dark-sky research site) as part of our Navajo-Hopi Astronomy Outreach Program. The energy of the middle-schoolers is infectious, and all the Lowell staff involved had a blast.
On Friday I gave hands-on training to five of Kaci's 5th-graders, teaching them how to use the video software and Excel to measure and record data from their bubble experiments. I was amazed how fast they all caught on. It was impossible to keep up with them! I'm sure some of these kids will go on to excel in college someday. (Pun intended.)
Tomorrow the Bike-To-Work-Week festivities begin. I may have to miss the bike parade because "Brunch with the Putnams" at Lowell has been scheduled for that same time slot.
Today I chose to miss the Kite Festival and other events around town in order to volunteer at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center's "Amazing Arthropods" show that the NAU bug lab gave. I shot lots of photos and video (and we got permission from the parents to use the photos of the kids).
Indoors were the live bug shows and specimen trays. Jacob taught the kids how to handle Rosie, our oldest and most kid-experienced tarantula.
He also introduced them to some local Arizona species as well as some exotic specimens from around the world.
Another crowd pleaser is to show how scorpions glow green when you shine an Ultra-Violet light on them, because of the phosphorous in their exoskeletons.
Outdoors in the perfect weather, the kids scooped up water from the pond into trays to look at the teaming variety of life as Kim answered all their eager questions.
They could also look through microscopes to see even closer in the mid-day sun.
Before heading home, I just had to take a panorama view of Flagstaff and The Peaks from Willow Bend.
I'm excited to report that the proposal was accepted by NASA! I visited Kaci's classroom on Friday to introduce the kids to some concepts about recording data and analyzing it with Excel. The kids refined their bubble-making and videoing techniques then we looked at the videos on a big "smart-screen" and recorded some sample data in Excel. In the following few weeks I'll make more visits to the class to continue the progress, and to give hands-on training to five students who will help with the data reduction and analysis after the airborne experiment flies this summer.
There was a newspaper article about this in our local paper which you can read online at:
Here's the header and sample data row of the spreadsheet (broken into 3 segments) to give you a taste of what we will be recording and analyzing.
If you'd like a copy of my procedures document and Excel template (which are still a work-in-progress at the moment), let me know and I'll be happy to email them to you. The full results of the project will be published later in the summer. For me, this is an experiment in teaching and mentoring techniques to help me discover ways to introduce real science projects to kids of different ages. I'd love to hear what you think of these ideas and any similar examples you might have tried.
Last week I was invited to help out with a "live bug show" that the NAU bug lab often does for local schools. This time was at a Montessori school and I was blown away by the experience -- by how much the kids love bugs, and by how much I loved the way the teachers worked with the kids. This was my first time to see a Montessori classroom in action and the results were astounding, which I attribute to the gentle, respectful, and curiosity-encouraging approach from the teachers. Many of the kids were amazingly bright for their age (ranging from 3 to 6 years old), absolutely all of them were well behaved (even the most restless older boy kept himself in check), and all of them were curious and attentive the entire 80 minutes of the show (an amazing feat for the short-attention-span of such young ones). My favorite moment was when everyone in the room became absolutely silent with eyes open wide when the other "bug man" showed the huge fangs on a giant tarantula he was holding up. (And yes, the spider was very alive and very unhappy.) I loved them all and look forward to a chance to do that kind of volunteering again soon.
I couldn't take pictures of the kids with the bugs, but I did take one of a terrific Indian poster hanging in the hallway. The text reads:
The Ten Indian Commandments
Treat the Earth and all that dwell thereon with respect.
Remain close to the Great Spirit.
Show great respect for your fellow beings.
Work together for the benefit of all Mankind.
Give assistance and kindness wherever needed.
Do what you know to be right.
Look after the well-being of mind and body.
Dedicate a share of your efforts to the greater good.
Be truthful and honest at all times.
Take full responsibility for your actions.
Here's more about Montessori if you're curious:
Tomorrow I begin the first of my sessions with a 5th-grade classroom to train them on how to record and analyze data for a NASA experiment that will fly in June. More on that in my next post.
In less than two months, all these techniques will be put aside as I focus on implementing a new state-of-the-art imaging system. The difference in the results will blow you away!