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

PSC Fly-Fishing Course Coming Back this Spring

 

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Students and community members will get the opportunity to learn the aspects of fly-fishing in PSC’s returning Spring course. Photo by The New York Times.

By Levi Linn

 

Students and members of the community can take a course that isn’t about hitting the books — it’s about learning how to fly fish. Potomac State College’s Introduction to Fly-Fishing course returns this spring.
Professor Tom Sydow is co-teaching with Charlie Laffey who has extensive knowledge of the Savage River watershed and regional Brook Trout streams. “He’s like a walking encyclopedia,” said Sydow regarding his colleague.
In this course, students will gain all the tools and knowledge they need to pursue this unique hobby. Students will learn about the equipment used, knot tying, entomology (the study of insects), how to read the water and on-stream tactics. All equipment for this course will be provided by the instructors.
“I’m always excited,” said Sydow when asked how he felt about the class starting soon. Sydow has been fly-fishing for almost 30 years and still enjoys it. “It means spring’s here.”
Sydow describes fly-fishing as far more advanced than regular fishing. It’s more difficult but more rewarding and far more interactive as opposed to sitting and waiting for a fish to bite. “Students will be interested because it’s an entirely different style of fishing than most people are used to,” said Sydow, “It’s interesting and takes a lot of skill.”
As for teaching with his colleague Laffey, Sydow can’t wait to get started. “It’s always fun with Laffey,” said Sydow, “We’re both easy going and very enthusiastic about teaching this subject.” Sydow and Laffey have fished together for years.
The fly-fishing class starts on March 8, with meetings every other Thursday in Science Hall 120 from 5-8 p.m. The cost is $99, and the course fills up quickly. The course is open to both students and the public, and registration is available on the PSC website. For more information on the course, contact
Sydow at Tom.Sydow@mail.wvu.edu

Resident Assistants Receive Training

By Cody Brazil, Editor

RA color crop

Resident Assistants Emily Curtin (Left) and Rocky Morgan (Right) hard at work. Photo Courtesy of the Potomac State College Flickr

While Resident Assistants enjoy benefits such as free housing and dining plans, their lives can be an extremely stressful, dealing with problematic peers and juggling work and college. PSC provides training to prepare the students for the position.

Carissa Carter was a RA at PSC in the fall semester of 2016. She admitted to retiring from the position because she did not feel that she personally was ready to cater to other freshmen’s needs while she was getting used to college herself, but she spoke very highly of the ten-day training camp that every RA has to go through.

“So basically during the training we did a lot of team building exercises, we had a re training, active shooter training and a bunch of other general safety classes. Besides that, we just made decorations for our halls and our resident’s doors. It was a lot of fun,” said Carter.

Carter felt that the training period was a good time and the information learned was relevant to her position as a new RA. But not every person who went through the training felt the same way. A current RA who wishes to remain anonymous admitted feeling that the training period only contained one day of relevant training.

“The main job of a RAs to build a community on their floor. It is important to us that our residents feel at home on their floors,” said Michael Lynch the PSC resident hall supervisor.

Lynch stated that the RA training is an intensive week-and-a-half long program where the RAs are trained to adequately do their jobs while attempting to achieve three main goals set for them: building a community on their floor, completing administrative duties and teambuilding among the RAs.

“For a lot of the residents, this is their first time being away from home, so we try to make sure the transition is both seamless and a little fun for them.”

– Colton Dickerson, University Place resident assistant.

A RA on the PSC campus is tasked with building a bond of trust and mutual respect with their residents. They do this by planning programs for the residents and by generally keeping up with their residents. Lynch stated that it is clear when RAs are not doing their job because residents start to move off of the floor.

“RA’ s take a lot of heat for simply doing their jobs. This can be difficult, especially in younger RAs, because it can make them nervous to do their jobs. This is probably the main reason for turnovers in the RA positions,” said Lynch.

The RAs are obligated to complete certain administrative tasks while they are in the position. These tasks can range from roving the halls to handing out temporary keys and guest passes. Lynch would like to ensure residents that the admin responsibilities are completed to ensure the safety of the residents.

“It is a common misconception that when an RA is roving they are out trying to get people in trouble. They are not. They are just out to make sure the halls are safe; they look for broken glass or even lights that may have burned out in the stairwells. But they are instructed to deal with any violations they come across,” Said Lynch.

The final goal of the RA training is to stress the importance of team building. The RAs are backed by their supervisors when they are forced to enforce disciplinary actions.

They always have a Resident Hall Coordinator or Lynch himself on call to back them up if they are not comfortable handling anything alone.

PSC recently hired six new RAs for the spring semester who also underwent training for the position.

 

Potomac State Welcomes New Math Professor Nikki Chandler

Professor Nikki Chandler poses for a photo on campus. Photo by Zoe Sypolt.

by Zoe Sypolt

“For me, I was coming back home.” Coming back home was a priority for new professor Nikki Chandler and her family.

Chandler learned early on what Potomac State had to offer. “My first college classes were taken through PSC when I was a high school student at Petersburg High School.”

Chandler’s love of math started early. “I always loved math. In high school, I think I liked it most because I naturally excelled in the subject matter and enjoyed helping my fellow students learn,” Chandler said.

“As a math major in college, I realized it’s an incredibly deep and powerful subject matter. Odd as it may seem to ‘non-math’ people, I believe it the most interesting and most beautiful subject one can study.”

After high school graduation, she started out in college at West Virginia University before getting married to a U.S. Air Force airman. To be closer to the air force base, she then transferred to a small university, The University of Mount Olive in North Carolina.

While there, her professors inspired her to become a professor of mathematics. “There were only three math professors in the entire math department at UMO. Those three professors became my greatest mentors,” Chandler said.

Her experience at UMO led her to PSC. “Their influence led me to want to teach at a similar small institution, where the professors can get to know all the students and have the greatest impact on the entire student body.”

Chandler’s best advice for students during the busy semester is to remember that college is not a sprint but a marathon. “Just keep swimming” is what comes to her mind when you may feel like giving up. She advises students to push through the semester and just do their best.

In her spare time, Chandler enjoys spending time outdoors or playing tractors with her young son, who will be two in January. She and her family love the West Virginia mountains and are thrilled to now be “home.”

New English Professor Mia Martini Plants Roots in Keyser

Mia Martini poses with a novel by David Wong. Photo by Nicholas Gardner

by Levi Linn

Mia Martini, a new English professor at Potomac State College, has finally found where she wants to settle down.

Before coming to Keyser, Martini was raised in a small town of no more than five hundred between Pittsburgh and Eyre. She eventually moved to Philadelphia to get a taste of the big city but ended up feeling out of place.

Martini craved to return to the mountains while attending various colleges around the country.

She attended Temple University in Philadelphia, the University of Illinois in Chicago and Purdue University in Indiana. While studying at these schools, Martini achieved a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, a master’s degree in English and a doctorate in Post Civil War American Literature.

Martini said she had the same difficulties in her college experience that most students struggle with. In fact, she attributes a big strain on most students to be something called “Imposter Syndrome.”

“It’s where you look around the room and think, ‘Everyone else is so much smarter than me. I don’t belong in this room’, and it’s insidious,” explained Martini. “The biggest thing is being able to look at both what you do well and what you struggle with. You’ll get those moments where you feel like you don’t belong, but you do.”

Martini said that now that she’s arrived at PSC, Keyser and the college have been very welcoming. This is her first year teaching here, and she already feels like part of the community. She is developing great professional relationships with other faculty members.

Martini said other professors have been extremely helpful to her, and they don’t act like she’s imposing on them.

“I enjoy being in an environment that fosters collaboration and not competition,” Martini said.

An important part of her work environment also includes being in the mountains. “I wouldn’t even apply for a job anywhere that didn’t have mountains,” she said. “The Keyser street signs are accurate in calling this the friendliest town in the country. Everyone has been very kind and it’s like an actual community.”

She hopes to bring that kindness into the classroom. “A lot of students are nervous about the stakes of college,” Martini said. She wants to have a place in her classroom where students can still pursue their own interests and give various things a try.

“It’s about making the students feel like a part of the class. There are goals and objectives to meet, but we can do that with topics interesting to the students and their passions.” Martini said she truly enjoys reading interesting topics with unique perspectives.

Along with reading and writing, Martini is an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy. She enjoys George R. R. Martin’s writing in “A Song of Ice & Fire.” She’s currently waiting for the last book in the series to be released before she begins watching the television adaptation, “Game of Thrones.”

In the future, Martini hopes to still be teaching at PSC. She said she has been focused on getting a job like the one she has now, and she wants to put down roots in a community where she feels at home.  It’s looking like Keyser is going to be home. “I hope I’ve found my community. Nothing has told me otherwise.”

Professor Steve Oberlechner’s Big Midterm Test: Becoming A Dad

Professor Oberlechner and his daughter Elizabeth. Photo courtesy of Oberlechner.

While most students were taking their midterms this year, professor Steve Oberlechner was preparing for the “test of his life”: becoming a father.

His wife and fellow professor, Cassandra Pritts, gave birth to their daughter on Sept. 27, 2017. On that day, Oberlechner added “proud dad” to his list of accomplishments, which includes hiking over 2,000 miles and being a published author.

Oberlechner is using his English background to pick up on ways his newborn daughter communicates. “Instead of just crying, we can hear cooing noises,” he said. “She can make some very funny faces!”

The test of fatherhood is one that Oberlechner finds exciting and terrifying. He and his wife are adjusting and learning as they go.

“No regrets, just less sleep!” he said with a chuckle. “It helps to have Cassie going through it with me. We’ll be supporting each other while we learn to support a child.”

Juggling the responsibilities of grading midterm papers and a newborn in the hospital made Oberlechner’s time dedicated to hiking the Appalachian Trail alone seem like a walk in the park.

The trail runs from Georgia to Maine, through 12 different states with hazards that include severe weather, black bears, venomous snakes, limited water and tick-borne diseases.

Oberlechner on the Appalachian Trail. Photo courtesy of Oberlechner.

“I really love it, despite the difficulty,” Oberlechner said.  He plans to keep working his way south, finishing up the last 400 miles of the trail.

The beauty of the world and the adventure in seeing it appeals to him.

“Part of what I enjoy about it is just being in nature and being alone to reflect and take in a gorgeous view.”

Oberlechner often finds inspiration on the trail, too. “There’s little to distract me,” he said.

Inspiration is the first part in Oberlechner’s long process of writing. He’s had nonfiction pieces appear in The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner and most recently, The Cimarron Review.

His fiction work has appeared online at The Cortland Review and Connotation Press.

In his published writing, Oberlechner has written about his family and growing up in rural Pennsylvania.

He plans to write about his time spent hiking, and he is working on a collection of essays linked by people and places.

Getting his work published is something that has taken much time and attention. Oberlechner’s goal is to one day be published by the Alaska Quarterly Review, a biannual literary journal published by University of Alaska Anchorage.

“I like the idea of my work laying around in some coffee shop in Anchorage or Juneau for somebody to pick up and enjoy or suffer,” Oberlechner said.

Recently, Oberlechner received a personal note from The Alaska Quarterly Review encouraging him to send more pieces, though his submission was not published. This has driven Oberlechner to continue to perfect his work.

“I don’t send out a piece unless it’s ready, and that means it can take a long time,” Oberlechner said.

He tries to stress that message to his students. “If [being published] is something that excites you, [it] can absolutely happen, but you’ve got to submit your very best work. It requires good care and attention.”

That level of care and attention is something he will teach his new students in English 100, 101, 102, and 214 next semester.

In English 214, Creative Non-Fiction, Oberlechner places value in peer feedback and collaboration. Students ‘submit’ pieces to the class, and the works are discussed as a group with other students offering praise and suggestions in a friendly atmosphere.

Unlike composition classes, the focus is on creativity, allowing students to get concrete feedback on their concepts and ideas without a heavy focus on grammar.

“Writing is a way to represent yourself,” Oberlechner said. “I hope [students] can see the broad application of effective communication, no matter the career goal.”