Sunday, March 9, 2014

More adventures from our remote sensing field trip

Yesterday we were fortunate enough to tour the Decagon Devices facilities where the radiometers I’m basing a lesson plan around are made. All I can say is what a facility! From research and development to a machine shop that would make any shop geek drool, Decagon Devices has my recognition as a GREAT company. They care about their employees and it shows in their products.
Gracious enough to give us his time on this day was Plant Canopy Manager Dr. Steven Garrity. After a full tour of the facility, we took some time to talk more about what we’re doing at MOSS and how we use their products. We also talked about doing a video collaboration with Decagon later this year to show how their devices are being used by middle school and high school students, and that they aren’t just for grad students and other professionals. Steve seemed very excited with what we’re doing and even offered to donate some radiometers to MOSS to help us further our research and lessons. Thank you Steve!

After our meeting with Steve, he invited us to the company lunch that goes on every Wednesday, put on by their onsite chef. Pot roast, pork n beans, corn, salad and tiramisu…. Yum! After lunch we hit the road and cruised over to Seattle. Did it rain on the drive you ask? Of course it did.Well that’s all for now. I’d like to say thanks again to Steve. It was an absolute pleasure and I lookforward to talking to you soon about the video this summer.


Dirk Jr.
Hello everyone out there in blog land!

My name is Dirk Anderson Jr. and as my companions Ross and Janeen have already mentioned, I’m a graduate student with the University of Idaho, doing most of my schooling at the McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS). As part of our schooling we were assigned various assistantships and I was fortunate enough to be selected to work with some remote sensing (RS) technologies and design a curriculum for middle school and/or high school students. The “toys” I get to play with are called
radiometers, which are a spectral reflectance sensor (SRS) designed and produced by Decagon Devices in Pullman, WA. These radiometers look at several different bands of light with two different types of sensors indices; Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) and Photochemical Reflectance Index (PRI). My goal is to produce a lesson plan using these SRSs that will not only introduce the concept of light reflectivity, but also produce a more meaningful and context way to teach students about the visible light spectrum using cutting edge technologies.

As Ross and Janeen have already mentioned we are currently touring the northwest making stops in Lapwaii and Moscow, ID and Pullman and Seattle, WA to visit a range of professionals in the RS,
education, and consulting fields. After our stop in Lapwaii on Monday, we headed up to Moscow to visit with several U of I grad students in the education field. During our talk with Becky, Ryan and Audrey over a cup of coffee at the One World coffee shop, we covered some successes and difficulties with teaching sciences at the K-12 level. They got me really excited when they told me about the work that they have been doing. Previously called the GK12 program, they have been working on pairing graduate students with teachers to help build a stronger learning and teaching environment. If I’m lucky enough, I hope to find myself in this program in the future.

The next day we were able to meet with our friend and former orientation instructor, Troy Magney, who’s a Ph. D student at the U of I in RS. Troy also was a part of the MOSS program a few years back, so his insight was extremely helpful. We spent most of the day with Troy as we set up and ran a scan with a Terrestrial Laser Scanner, talked about his research, and toured a farm where several different SRSs were set up. Troy has already been a great help on my project and idea development and I look forward to continue working with him.

Well that’s all for now. Tomorrow we’re headed to Decagon Devices to see where my radiometers come from.


Dirk Jr.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

3/6/2014--Seattle, Washington

Hello to all reading this blog!
My name is Ross Parsons and I work with Janeen and Dirk at the University of Idaho McCall Outdoor Science School.  As part of my research, I have been working with an Autonomously Operating Terrestrial Laser Scanner (ATLS).  This remote sensing device can be used to quantify morphological changes in our natural world.  Examples of this include, but are certainly not limited to, floodplain changes after dam removal (see earlier post) and measuring snowpack dynamics within a complex forest ecosystem.  It is my goal to develop a lesson plan to introduce young learners (5th and 6th graders, for example) to the world of remote sensing.  Furthermore, I am hoping to convince students that remote sensing is a fun and exciting way to observe our natural world.
Through this field trip, I am excited to gather what people have to say about remote sensing, education, and communicating science to a broader audience.

Our rainy and adventurous day started with meeting Jeff Johnson and Mark Indrebo of Watershed Science and Engineering.  Jeff and Mark helped us to better understand the complexities of communicating to a broad audience about their work.  With respect to flood mitigation, they suggested that listening to all parties involved is the best way to accomplish the task at hand.  The key to success, they argued, is compassion.  This philosophy can be transferred to all walks of science communication.  In their case, "multi-benefit" planning has proved successful. 
Our next meeting was with Steve Warren and Karl Lapo of the University of Washington's Department of Atmospheric Sciences.  Steve is a longtime Professor of the University, with interests in Antarctic climate and black carbon in Arctic snow, just to name a few.  Karl is a graduate student who is studying similar processes.  Along with sharing their impressive research, Steve and Karl stressed the importance of mathematics among young learners.  When asked what skills they would like to see more college freshman have, they simultaneously answered math.
Our final meeting of the day brought us to South Seattle's K-5 STEM at Boren School.  The school is Seattle Public School affiliated, and focuses primarily on the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).  We met with Julie Schmick, the school's technology teacher.  Julie told us that in order to get her students interested in STEM, she always asks a "meaty" question--one that they can relate to their community and family.  Julie was very receptive to incorporating remote sensing into her teachings.  As she put it, anything that allows students to have fun will be used in her classroom.

Overall, today's meetings were a great reminder that an interdisciplinary, holistic approach must be taken when communicating and teaching science.  By doing so, we can create innovative young learners who will continue to challenge the way we look at the world.
In Remote Sensing We Trust,

Ross Parsons

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

 My name is Janeen. I have been working on an AmericaView project at the University on Idaho which incorporates Landsat data into curriculum designed for kids ages 10-18. As part of my creation of this curriculum I am traveling throughout the Pacific Northwest this week with a small group of my peers. We are all working on ways to bring remote sensing topics to younger audiences. During our travels we have been meeting with specialists in a variety of fields in an effort to better understand the full scope of our topics. You can follow our adventures over the next few days.

As a graduate student at the McCall Outdoor Science School, I regularly teach week long courses for this age group. I have been working on a lesson plan that will use Landsat images to reference a local state park. The kids will then create habitat maps of the area. After that the kids get outside and explore the area, adding information to their maps about vegetation and signs of animal life. Finally, the kids will use their increased understanding to defend decisions they make in how they would manage the park.

My group started our travels on Monday. Our first stop was to meet with Laurie Ames, who works in the GIS department for the Nez Perce Tribe, in Lapwei, ID. From Laurie, I learned a great deal about how agencies use Landsat and other remotely sensed data. Laurie was particularly interested in our plans to help young people to have a sense of how all the pieces of understanding we get from our data fit together to make a picture of how the whole world works.

Our next meeting was with Mark Corrao, a fellow graduate student at the U of Idaho. Mark is working on advanced degrees in natural resources and law, and also works full time at an environmental consulting firm. Mark helped us to better understand the process of turning information about a piece of land into a good plan that benefits the land owner, the ecosystem, the community. Mark hoped our lessons would help kids to increase their critical thinking skills and appreciation for the interdisciplinary nature of decision making about the land.

Next up, my compatriot Ross Parsons will be explaining a bit about his research.