STEM Attracts Families

 

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What do dissected pigs, lasers, snakes, equines, rockets, LEGOs and drones have in common? The Mineral County STEM Festival!
Faculty, staff, students and community members volunteered to present a variety of activities on campus March 24. The festival introduced children in Kindergarten through 12 grade to science, technology, engineering and math concepts through hands-on activities. About 1,000 visitors attended the STEM Festival.

The festival included displays put together by the students, faculty and the surrounding community. The Potomac State College agriculture department had horses and goats on display for the families. The equine students were showing the kids how to tack horses and explained their daily routines in the barn. The goat farm also brought some goats to the quad for the children to interact with.

“I think it is important for kids to feel comfortable around animals and gain experience about them,” said PSC equine student Mallie Otoole.

Ameicorps sent representatives from the Americorps Forrest Service and the Americorps Fish and Wildlife to teach the community about non-native invasive species. The point of their booth was to help educate the public on how to identify non-native invasive species and help reduce their spread and the harm that these species can cause to the environment.

“The earlier that children are informed the earlier they can get involved,” said Americorps Forest Service worker Haley Hutchins.

The Mary F. Shipper library had many classic displays, such as the virtual reality glasses that have been a hit at past STEM festivals. The families were allowed to put on the VR glasses and then they were read a story while being shown images through the glasses that went along with the story. A brand new drone display was also being shown in the library. David Miller of the PSC library was educating the public on drone safety and the importance of drones in the future of our society. The children were also allowed to fly the drones through an obstacle course that the library put up.

The sciences were very popular at the STEM festival. Professor of Biology Dr. Gerald Wilcox was showing off the difference between healthy lungs and a smoker’s lungs using real pig lungs. He used the pig lungs to show how smoking can discolor a person’s lungs. There were also dissected fetal pigs being shown to the children. They were even allowed to look through their organs.

“I was sad because they were dead, but I learned that their hearts are really small,” said seven-year-old Juniper Judy.

The Potomac Valley Chapter of the Mountain State Valley Council for the Blind sent representatives to the festival to educate people on technologies that allow for blind people to live independently. These technologies include the “Brail Note” that allows for blind people to type and the “Seeing Eye” application that allows for blind people to read through the cameras on their phone.

There were a lot of engineering presentations on display. The PSC engineering department had a gokart that they built on the quad for families to drive. Orbital ATK was present to teach children about the anatomy of rockets by letting them make their own rockets out of paper and launching them using a using an air bellow. The community robotics team “Rambunctious Robots” was showing off the robots that they built. These robots included a tank, one that used pressure sensors to push off of surfaces and one that is programmed to give high fives.

West Virginia University sophomore Olivia Young was present on behalf of the Science Public Outreach Team, a team founded by NASA and Greenbank Observatory, to educate on space and radio waves. She was running an exhibit that was showing how meteors strike the earth.

“I think it is important for kids to take an interest in science early because as we get older science becomes less about discovery and more about memorization. And it is important to keep that passion in discovery because it really goes a long way,” said Young.

Stoplight to be Stationed on State Street Should Secure Strolling Students’ Safety this September

 

 

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  “I used to have friends who’d call and ask me to help them cross the street,” said Steffan Chapman, a PSC student. 

  For some PSC students, crossing 220 from Catamount Place is difficult due to the lack of a stoplight or crosswalk. The closest crosswalk is on St. Cloud Street, a block from Fort Ave.

  Recent events at West Virginia University Morgantown campus have revealed the urgency and importance for proper student traffic safety. On February 1, 2018 Leah Berhanu, a WVU student, was hit at the intersection of Morrill Way and Patterson Drive near Evansdale Campus entrance. Berhanu was taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. 

What is PSC doing to prevent this? 

To prevent an accident like the one in Morgantown, the city of Keyser and PSC administration have plans to place a stoplight at the bottom of State street. This light will create a safer, more convenient place for students to cross. Discussion of the stop light began nearly two years ago under former campus president Dr. Colelli, said PSC Chief of Police Brian Kerling. 

  Construction of the light will be completed no later than the end of September 2018, according to West Virginia Division of Highways’ Kenneth Clohan who oversees the placement of stoplights and other road signs in seven WV districts. Until the light is in place, PSC drivers and pedestrians can take precautions to remain safe.

What can drivers and pedestrians do until light is installed?

“Actually pay attention,” said Kerling when giving advice to drivers and pedestrians on campus.  Kerling emphasizes that both drivers and pedestrians need to be completely aware of their surroundings.

Kerling said he was on Campus Drive recently in the patrol car, and a female was walking in the middle of the road. She had her face down, looking at her cell phone. The female headed straight towards the patrol car, and Kerling had to come to a complete stop before she walked into his vehicle. Kerling encourages pedestrians to use the sidewalks and look up from their phones. 

  WVU released a list of tips to pedestrians and drivers on how to stay safe on the streets. For pedestrians, WVU encourages students to obey all traffic signals, make eye contact with drivers, show your intentions of crossing and always assume a car won’t stop for you. The safe use of cell phone usage was emphasized within the tips.

  A study conducted by the National Safety Council in 2015 shows that cell phone usage while driving leads to 1.6 million crashes each year. It also showed that one out of every four car accidents is caused by texting and driving.

In 2015 alone, 3,477

total deaths and 391,000 injuries were due to distracted driving in the U.S.

Source: DMV.com

  “When someone else is driving and they are checking their phone, eating or fidgeting with the radio, I tend to feel very nervous and uncomfortable,” said PSC freshman Mariah Boyce.   

  “I’m sometimes tempted to smack their phone out of their hand,” said Katie Shreve, PSC freshman, “it makes me cautious to ride with them again.”

  Most drivers will acknowledge that texting or being distracted while driving is dangerous. According to AAA poll, 94% of teen drivers acknowledge the dangers of texting and driving, but 35% of those students admit to doing it anyway. “To be honest, I eat, text and talk on the phone while I drive,” admits one PSC student who wishes to remain anonymous. 

  WVU campus administrators are working to protect their students and prevent any more tragic accidents. Kerling stated that last school year signs instructing pedestrians to use side walks were placed on State Street. 

   In Morgantown, University Police recently placed portable signs at busy intersections where accidents have occurred. Morgantown campus’ SGA also held two safety walks near busy intersections to identify where areas may need additional safety measures for pedestrians. “We recognize that all these immediate actions are not permanent,” said Rob Alsop, WVU vice president for strategic initiatives in a WVU press release, “but long-term solutions will take time to investigate and then implement appropriately.”

PSC and Keyser Focus on Building a Community

The Indie on Main is providing cultural experiences including art shows and theatre performances for the city and campus community. Photo courtesy of The Indie on Main

   The first day of your college life begins, and you’re excited. As you head to your first class, you’re greeted by unfamiliar faces and quickly find yourself given an intense workload that’s entirely your responsibility.

   You’re living with a stranger, missing your old bed, pulling all-nighters and finding it hard to make friends in what little spare time you have. It’s easy to get overwhelmed during your college experience. Potomac State College is working to make sure that students stay happy through it all.

   One of these steps involved looking at students who decided to leave the campus. PSC surveyed students in 2016 and 2017; in both years, the surveys revealed approximately 20 percent of students surveyed who left experienced emotional problems, and 20 percent also indicated they felt alone or isolated. 

   In 2016, 35 percent of students surveyed said they were dissatisfied with social life on campus, a number that dropped to 9 percent in 2017.

   Pennsylvania-born student Aleeya Mayo said that the social life was one of the reasons she left PSC. 

   Mayo said she missed city life and being close to home. “Potomac State compared to Philly is like a completely different world. In the city I had all of my friends and family, about a million places to shop and eat, but at PSC I didn’t have that,” she said. 

   Counselor Kristin Morton had advice for students facing homesickness and emotional problems. “ Understand that homesickness is a very normal feeling when adjusting to a brand-new environment and does not mean that there’s anything negative about the new place or one’s ability to fit in there,” she said. 

“I definitely got homesick a lot, but something that helped with the distance was just applying myself to my school work 100 percent.”

 – Aleeya Mayo

   “The best way to move through homesickness is to get involved in your new environment.  The more engaged one is in building his/her new life, the quicker the feelings of homesickness will pass.” 

   Morton offered a reminder that Counseling Services is “always ready to listen” to students dealing with any issues.

   Combatting these feelings of homesickness are a high priority for the school. Alumni Relations Coordinator Derek Artimez believes PSC is capable of building a welcoming community that retains students through student life and academics that engage students. 

   “If we succeed in building a true community, then this will feel like a second home to students, relieving some of the strains of homesickness,” he said. 

   Dean of Students William Letrent has been working to offer activities students will enjoy. Surveys have been used to gauge student interest in various activities. 

   Letrent talked about changes coming in the fall that should help students get involved before classes even start. The fall semester’s Welcome Week will be focused more on team-building exercises and less on academia that some students found “boring.” 

   Students will be grouped with classmates from their WVUe class, in the hopes that students will see familiar faces as classmates on the first day of the semester. 

   Part of WVUe classes include encouraging students to participate in activities on campus.

 “We are looking at many ways to help students persist from one semester to the next until they complete a degree,” Campus President Orlikoff said.  

   “This includes academic support, advising and mentorship by faculty, student activities, financial assistance, welcoming facilities and an overall positive campus climate. We want students to feel they belong and are a part of the campus community so they want to stay and complete their degrees.  With a degree in hand, students are in a great place to launch into their future.”

   Making the area more college-friendly is something the city of Keyser is working towards as well. Stephen Settimi runs the Indie on Main, an art house designed to give local artists a venue to share their works with the public. 

   The Indie has worked with PSC in developing a script-writing opportunity for aspiring playwrights and has created a non-profit aimed at providing scholarships to students for the arts.

   Settimi said the Indie offers students “an exposure to the visual and performing arts that they might normally find in a city area.”

   Settimi added that students who want more things to do in the area need to get out, participate and make their voices be heard. 

   “There are lots of cultural and social groups in the area. They’re always looking for ideas,” he said. 

   Settimi and other local businesses try to give customers what they want to see, but in return participation is required. 

   He remarked that the Indie has shown numerous films, from classics to recent releases, but attendance has made it hard to justify the licensing fee. 

   The Indie now offers a “BYOM” – Bring Your Own Movie – where anyone can come in and stream what they’d like to see in a private theatre among friends. He added that the Indie tries to support anyone who comes in with a good idea. “We welcome people to come in and say we want to do this. Generally the answer is yes.”

Keyser High School’s Tornado TV gets “Locked Out”

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Keyser High School’s Tornado TV (TTV) recently created a 10-part miniseries titled “Locked Out,” available to watch in its entirety on the Tornado TV Facebook page.

Filmed over the course of four months (from September to January), showrunner Logan Cook, and fellow TTV members Jonathon Myers and Jerrod McGann, used an iPhone and the video editing software iMovie to bring “Locked Out” to life.

According to KHS journalism teacher Michael Staggers, who oversees the production of the show, TTV used to be a daily announcement show broadcasted via television to every room at KHS during the early 2000s. Now that the wiring in the television sets has gone bad due to age, TTV has become a web series that still acts as a news show for the school, but Staggers has also given his students the creative freedom to explore their storytelling talents.

Cook, a junior at KHS and an aspiring filmmaker, created the 10-part scripted comedy miniseries “Locked Out,” a series that acts as a clever excuse for why the TTV crew can’t film in their recording room while they are remodeling it. “I wanted to clean up the room,” Cook said, “but to clean up the room I couldn’t film [in] the room, so I had to have a reason why we weren’t in the room.” The series gets its title from the very reason the crew can’t film in their regular recording room: someone has locked them out of the room, and it’s up to them to find out who.

Episode one of the series begins with Cook whistling as he tries to find the correct key to open the TTV room. After testing every key on his keyring with no success, he calls his journalism teacher, Mr. Staggers, to try his luck with the keys. When none of them work for him, Staggers notifies Cook that they have been “locked out” of the room. At the end of the episode, a mysterious masked figure dressed in black from head to toe appears at the TTV room door and disappears in a flash as soon as he’s spotted.

Episode two has Cook bored out of his mind as he sits in class with nothing to do since the TTV room is locked. Before the episode comes to an end, Cook comes face to face with the masked figure again in the hallway after a bathroom break.

In episode three, Cook starts to descend into madness as he creates a list of clues and evidence on a whiteboard to solve the mystery of who the masked figure (now known as Nemo) is and why he locked the room. Staggers chose this episode as one of his personal favorites from the series. He enjoyed watching Cook at the end of the episode kicking and screaming as McGann and Myers drag him out of the classroom. “I also enjoyed the whiteboard in general just because it had a lot of inside jokes and stuff like that written on it that people might not have gotten,” Staggers said.

After crying hysterically over their locked room, Cook, McGann and Myers walk out on an interview with KHS cheerleaders outside of the TTV room and decide to go against Staggers’ wishes and hunt down the mysterious Nemo in episode four.

Episode five has the TTV crew interrogating three KHS students they suspect are secretly Nemo in a series of good cop-bad cop-funny cop scenarios. McGann sited this episode as his favorite from the series.

Episode six of “Locked Out” is packed with so many twists and turns that to spoil even one of those elements would be a disservice to the creativity of the TTV crew. However, Staggers also sited this episode as one of his favorites because at one point in the episode, the TTV crew visit his former co-anchor from when he was a member of TTV, Keyser Primary School teacher Stephanie Stephen, at her classroom in KPS to seek her help in finding Nemo (pun intended).

Cook, who directed every episode of “Locked Out,” said his favorite scenes were the last scenes of each episode.

Staggers said Potomac State College students will enjoy seeing a show completely produced by students in their age range. “[PSC student’s] humor is similar to I’m sure what [TTV students] have, and they would probably laugh at a lot of the same things that these guys find funny.”

With 1,197 likes and 1,247 followers, the TTV Facebook page continues to upload new episodes weekly. Other episodes available on their page include “Mr. Staggers, I Have an Idea,” “The Fazz and the Fureyous” and “Tornado TV 3017.” TTV can be found on Facebook at Tornado TV.

 

Classic Westerns Return To Site of Keyser Theatre

Screenshot_20180409-085118

Photo by IMDB.com

The classic film “High Noon” returns to the silver screen at the site of the former Keyser Theatre where, over half a century ago, audiences gathered to enjoy it.

This dramatic showing is just one of several cinematic selections that are being studied in a course on the American western film genre at Potomac State College.

The course consists of both a classroom portion on campus and a cinema portion in the restored theatre at The Indie On Main, Keyser’s budding destination for art and film enthusiasts.

“The western is the story we tell ourselves about America,” said the instructor, professor Richard Hunt, “This film is a morality play; it’s about duty, honor and community.”

The other films being explored in the course are:

 

This selection represents the genre that remained popular all throughout the twentieth century and starred famous actors such as Gary Cooper, John Wayne, Grace Kelly, Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood.

The students not only immerse themselves in the history of American filmography, but also the history of Keyser itself. The renovated theatre retains the architecture from when it was first constructed in 1939 and served the residents of Keyser as the town’s sole movie theater until it closed its doors in 1977.

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Now, the building has been refurbished and reinvented as much more. In June of 2017, Stephen Settmiti purchased the venue and transformed it into The Indie On Main.

“When I saw the old Keyser movie house for sale, I decided to go headlong into reopening it as a mixed arts venue,” Settmiti said. His goal is to create an environment where students can get involved and experiment with the arts.

Students who are interested in the visual arts may wish to take advantage of The Indie’s studio space and art classes; musicians and entertainers can perform in front of an audience on open-mic nights every Thursday; and fans of cinematography can enjoy cult classic films on the weekends. More information on events taking place at The Indie On Main can be found at the venue’s website or Facebook.

The STEM Festival Returns to PSC

By Cody Brazil

Drone Photo for Online

David Miller tinkers with his drone before the STEM festival. Photo by Cody Brazil.

The time for the Potomac State College student body to showcase their knowledge in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math is almost upon us. The STEM festival, which is a day for the community to learn about many interesting topics in those fields from the students themselves, will be taking place on March 24, 2018 from 12-4p.m.

Past favorites such as green screen technologies and Rubik’s Cubes mosaics will be making a return this year, but some new and exciting demonstrations will be on display this year. One of these displays will be the drone demonstration put on by David Miller of the PSC library.

Miller explained that he will be setting up an obstacle course for people to fly a training drone through, so that they may learn the basics of operating a drone. Miller went on to talk about how bigger drones have built-in GPS to keep them level in the wind and smaller ones do not. Teaching people to fly on a smaller drone helps them to build the skill to manually keep their drone level if the GPS were to ever go out.

Drones are going to play a bigger part in industries, such as shipping, so it is important for people to get comfortable with the use, and soon we will have to decide laws on how drones will be allowed to be operated. So it is important for people to gain experience in order for them to make informed decisions,” said Miller on why it is important to learn about drones at a young age.

“Hands on Anatomy” is a display that will be returning this year that aims to teach the public a little more about their bodies. The display consists of posters that will be created by the Anatomy and Physiology 2 students. Each poster will cover a different organ system that the students will be on site to explain. Along with the posters there will be actual dissected organisms on display for viewers to interact with. This display is put on by Sheri Chisolm the PSC Anatomy and Physiology professor. Chisolm explained that she loves the STEM festival because she enjoys interacting with the public and seeing her students be able to teach the materials that she taught them.

“A lot of what we will be teaching transcribes to human health, so hopefully you’ll be able to be your own advocate at the doctor,” said Chisolm

The engineering department is doing a Moon Racers Robotics Obstacle Course and a Solar System Rocket Launch. There will also be a display on identifying different kinds of trees and a math activity about triangles.

“It’s a can’t miss opportunity for families to explore all aspects of science,” said Andrea Schafer, STEM Festival organizer. The event is free.

Greenback Observatory Researcher Lectures at PSC

By Matthew Timbrook, Contributing Writer

Green Bank Pictures

Andrew Seymour gives his lecture in the Davis Conference Center. Photo by Matthew Timbrook

The students and guests gathered in the Davis Conference Center to experience a close encounter of the third kind, but it wasn’t an extraterrestrial who had come to deliver a message.

Dr. Andrew Seymour, a researcher from Arecibo Observatory and Green Bank Observatory, came to share a presentation on the subject of radio astronomy.

Seymour is an experienced astronomer who has worked as a research associate at Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico made famous as the setting of the 1997 lm “Contact” starring Jodi Foster. In addition to working on the cutting edge of radio astronomy, Seymour attended Potomac State College in 2002 and was a research assistant in the Department of Physics at West Virginia University from 2010 to 2014.

In his presentation, entitled “Fast Radio Burst: The Eagles of The Universe,” Seymour showed the relative size of the massive satellite dishes used in radio astronomy, discussed some of the techniques currently being applied to discover pulsars and explained how radio waves can be identi ed by likening them to bird calls.

The students in the audience asked questions about some of the technical aspects of scanning the skies.

Seymour emphasized the importance of passionate students offering fresh perspectives “Radio astronomy is a eld that still has engineering puzzles to be solved,” he said “Finding new solutions to these problems will quickly result in great scienti c advances.”

At the end of the presentation, the students were given details and directions on how to sign-up to further their education through research programs.

For more information on the Arecibo Observatory and Green Bank Observatory, you can visit outreach.naic.edu/ao/landing and www.greenbankobervatory.org