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.”

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.”