Tag Archives: Education

What Chance Will America’s Youth Have In A Changing Global Economy?

17 Apr
The first STEM EXPO Fair held at Edmonds School District's new STEM Magnet School at MountLake Terrace HS in Washington State. The student is caring a rocket, which was used in a group presentation at the fair.

The first STEM EXPO Fair held at Edmonds School District’s new STEM Magnet School at       MountLake Terrace HS in Washington State. This rocket club student is caring a rocket, which was used earlier in a group presentation at the fair.

Multimedia eLearning program by: David Anthony Johanson © All Rights

The author is a multimedia specialist, CTE instructor and a former Boeing scientific photographer. For an alternative graphic view of this program, please visit: https://bigpictureone.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/what-chance-will-americas-youth-have-in-a-changing-global-economy/ 

 

A big question asked by concerned people and industry leaders across the Nation is waiting for an answer… How will current and future generations stay competitive in an increasingly, complex, global economy? A high-performance education program involving a blend of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) — is promising solutions as its building momentum within post-secondary and kindergarten-through-grade 12 (K-12) education. 

STEM Robotics team project is demonstrated for an enthusiastic audience of all ages.

STEM Robotics team project is demonstrated for an enthusiastic audience of all ages.

The dynamic learning created from STEM’s project based curriculum is contagious for a growing number of students. And the program’s appeal is spreading to parents, schools and corporate sponsors who are looking for ways to get involved in supporting technology learning through public education. Even the U.S. Congress solidly supports the critical initiatives driving STEM Education, which is mostly funded through the National Science Foundation (NSF.)

STEM Robotics team in action with their project

Enthusiasm and excitement was experienced by those viewing students’ technology project presentations.

A Basic Overview Of A STEM Magnet Program

By the 21st century, digital technology had transformed global industry and commerce by accelerating STEM related industries. The skill-sets, training and knowledge of entry-level applicants was falling behind. Standards for learning, used in our public educational system, were now becoming outdated. Nationally, educators needed a new, comprehensive learning approach to inspire, explore and motivate students’ achievement in the global dynamics of STEM.

Today, the Nation’s public schools place greater emphasis on introducing STEM related content to both teachers and students starting as early as grade school. This program strategy allows all students of varied backgrounds, ethnicities and socio-economic levels to gain access to learning projects associated with science and technology.

By presenting young students with thoughtful STEM lesson plans, they are more likely to engage in the discovery process of even the most technical subject matters. Entering middle school, students are learning accelerated levels of science and technology content, which helps them decide if they wish to enroll in a high school, offering a focused curriculum. The STEM Magnet Program pulls in a diversified population of students, engaged and motivated by their earlier learning experiences.

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 Evolution And Development Of STEM Education

Richard Blais, Chairman of the technology department for the Shenendehowa Central School District in Upstate New York, developed a curriculum in 1986, to support students’ interest in studying engineering. To enable enthusiasm and confidence in students, core courses included; pre-engineering and digital electronics, infused with energetic and interactive learning environments. The curriculum’s proven a success, attracted philanthropist, Richard Liebich, who partnered with Blais to set up, Project Lead the Way (PLTW.) 

Greg Schwab - Principal, Mountlake Terrace High School, greets students at the STEM EXPO Fair

Greg Schwab – Principal, Mountlake Terrace High School, greets students at the STEM EXPO Fair

Dr. Nick Brossoit Superintendent, Edmonds School District

Dr. Nick Brossoit Superintendent, Edmonds School District

Within 10 years of PLTW’s founding, a dozen high schools in New York State adopted the program. Within the next few years high schools in 30 states were using PLTW’sPathway to Engineering Program.” Soon after, PLTW was a major national program, which used innovative activities of project and problem-based assignments. Further adding to PLTW’s momentum and success was the enthusiastic support corporations showed by endorsing and contributing financial resources towards the program.  

Mark Madison  Director, Career & Technical Education

Mark Madison
Director, Career & Technical Education for Edmonds SD

STEM Education incorporated many successful PLTW learning strategies and programs. PLTW is still active in high schools today and plays an active role in STEM Education.  

STEM EXPO Keynote Speaker - Dr. Elaine Scott Director of Science & Technology Program UW Bothell

STEM EXPO Keynote Speaker – Dr. Elaine Scott, Director of Science & Technology Program, UW Bothell 

Mark Sanders’, 2009 STEMmania article in The Technology Teacher, cites the STEM acronym first being used in the 1990’s. The National Science Foundation (NSF) started using “SMET” as a reference for “science, mathematics, engineering and technology.” A department, program officer complained “SMET” sounded similar to “smut,” so “STEM” became the suitable replacement. It would take more than a decade for the public to recognize STEM’s referenced meaning.  

The support  and enthusiasm for STEM Education is displayed by an impressive turnout for the District's first STEM EXPO Fair.

The support and enthusiasm for STEM Education is displayed by an impressive turnout for the District’s first STEM EXPO Fair.

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The Challenge Of Integrative Education: Transcending Barriers And Perceived Domains Found Within Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematic Education

Perhaps the greatest test for a STEM Magnet Program will involve achieving the goal, of course/subject integration. As a career, technical and education (CTE) instructor, I’ve heard this complaint more than any other from students — ‘why do I have to learn this subject, it doesn’t relate to other things I’m learning or anything I’ll ever need to know!?’ In truth, all subjects and courses taught in school share dynamic connections, we as educators need to do more in helping students see their associations.   

STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_ae_24 Core sciences and engineering education have traditionally maintained strict disciplinary lines, known as silos. This shortsighted disconnect is generally not found in industry, where the imperative is to find solutions which will “payoff” in the shortest amount of time. Industry’s necessity to cut through process for realizing greater profits is an important lesson plan for all STEM Programs. The realized profit for a student is — being taught how to quickly adapt new, comprehensive and sometimes-unconventional learning strategies to gain a competitive advantage.  STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_ae_18

STEM Expo Robotics team takes a break from their demonstration for a group photo. Teamwork builds confidence and trust in the students themselves as well as other team members.

The STEM Expo Robotics team takes a break from their demonstration for a group photo. Teamwork builds confidence and trust in the students themselves as well as other team members.

Benefits/Advantages For Both Students And The Schools They Attend

Developing a STEM magnet program helps a school district align its resources towards assisting students preparing for college and universities, which specialize in related technical studies. An additional advantage the program offers a student pursuing a post secondary education is — an institution will most likely accept the applicant’s enrollment request based on the knowledge and technical skills achieved through a STEM Magnet Program.   

                  

STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_87   STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_ac_23   U.S. industries have increasingly cited the lack of qualified technical applicants they need as a reason not to hire more employees. The shortage of people with necessary STEM skills has motivated corporations to contribute their resources of funding, mentoring and sponsorship towards public education’s technology learning programs.

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Community exhibitors at the STEM EXPO Fair include corporate sponsors of STEM education.

Community exhibitors at the STEM EXPO Fair include corporate sponsors of STEM education.

 

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Aerospace giant Boeing is a big sponsor of the STEM Magnet Program.

Aerospace giant Boeing is a big sponsor of the STEM Magnet Program.

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Parents and community groups have eagerly supported STEM programs. Student’s parents are critical stakeholders who quickly realized the impact the program was having  — seeing impressive scholastic and attitude improvements with their children.

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STEM Education Uses Progressive Learning Strategies To Develop Critical Learning And Self-Discipline Within Students 

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STEM Education attempts to accelerate student development by modifying the standard teacher-centered classroom with more independent learning. The curriculum encourages project-based learning, problem solving and discovery, which empower the students to engage their cognitive skills to find solutions. This form of learning develops greater self-confidence in students and it opens channels among the students themselves to interact thru peer-to-peer learning. These spontaneous collaborative activities are self-organized learning events and they naturally promote leadership within the group. It has been well documented, knowledge transferred from experience in peer-to-peer activities are highly successful forms of learning.

Students enrolled in STEM Programs are encouraged to engage and connect with others by refining their presentation skills.

Students enrolled in STEM Programs are encouraged to engage and connect with others by refining their presentation skills.

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Tangible Returns In Personal Development Through Teamwork And Leadership

Over the past five years I’ve had the opportunity to teach in a variety of classroom environments using a CTE curriculum. It’s remarkable seeing how engaged students are with learning their STEM subject matter. These same students are much more likely to openly contribute and share their ideas in a classroom discussion using the critical thinking skills they’ve learned to develop.

Most often, STEM classes are more like being in a college environment, requiring a minimum amount of classroom management, as the students are self-motivated to complete their assignments and move on to the next project. Generally the level of leadership development and volunteerism is noticeably higher in STEM classes due to the program’s emphasis on teamwork, self-confidence and academic achievement. These personal development qualities are valuable assets for students applying for college admission and later — when entering the career of their choice.

Craig DeVine - pre-engineering instructor, talks with his students near a 3-D printer

Craig DeVine – pre-engineering instructor, talks with his students near a 3-D printer

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Improving Forecast For Employment Opportunities Using STEM Education

As STEM Magnet Schools continue to place their graduates into secondary education, followed by the students’ successful careers in STEM related industries — STEM Education will help transform the American education landscape. If STEM Education can sustain its momentum, the future horizon looks bright for our youth to achieve economic opportunities on a global leveled playing field.   STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_91 STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_1 STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_ae_12_1

Entrance to Mountlake Terrace High School -Edmonds School District's first STEM Magnet School

Entrance to Mountlake Terrace High School -Edmonds School District’s first STEM Magnet School

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STEM Education Terms & Definitions

CTE = Career Technical Education NSF – National Science Foundation PD&I = pedagogy referring to – purposeful design and inquiry PLTW = Project Lead The Way STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics  STEM Magnet School = A school with a concentration of STEM classes, which attracts students throughout a school district interested in enrolling in a STEM Program   STEM_Fair_ESD_BPP_ae_5

STEM Education Links

http://www.stemedcoalition.org/ Home The Future of Education / The history of STEM education in America. Handy infographic! What is STEM Education? PLTW | OUR HISTORY PLTW | STEM Education Curriculum for Middle and High Schools http://esdstem.pbworks.com/f/TTT%2BSTEM%2BArticle_1.pdf Home PBS Teachers | STEM Education Resource Center nsf.gov – National Science Foundation – US National Science Foundation (NSF) Siemens STEM Academy – STEM Education Has Arrived… Start Small, But Dream Big http://www.stemeducation.com/ STEM Resources | Early STEM Program Still Going Strong – STEM Education (usnews.com) What STEM Is–and Why We Care – STEM Education (usnews.com) https://education.uky.edu/STEM/sites/education.uky.edu.STEM/files/SEM%20604_syllabus_%20History%20of%20STEM%20Ed.pdf Historical Perspectives on STEM Education in Arkansas | Arkansas STEM Coalition http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42642.pdf STEM ES Home – STEM ES FAQs NSTA :: News Story

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There’s Nothing New Under the Sun, or is There?

19 Jul

Science Tech Tablet provides periodic updates on solar activity, the essay begins after the Space Weather Prediction Center Report

Prepared jointly by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA,
Space Weather Prediction Center and the U.S. Air Force.
Updated 2013 Jul 19 2200 UTC

Joint USAF/NOAA Solar Geophysical Activity Report and Forecast
SDF Number 200 Issued at 2200Z on 19 Jul 2013

IA.  Analysis of Solar Active Regions and Activity from 18/2100Z to
19/2100Z: Solar activity has been at very low levels for the past 24
hours. There are currently 7 numbered sunspot regions on the disk.

IB.  Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is likely to be low with a
slight chance for an M-class flare on days one, two, and three (20 Jul,
21 Jul, 22 Jul).

IIA.  Geophysical Activity Summary 18/2100Z to 19/2100Z: The geomagnetic
field has been at quiet to unsettled levels for the past 24 hours. Solar
wind speed, as measured by the ACE spacecraft, reached a peak speed of
674 km/s at 19/1650Z. Total IMF reached 12 nT at 18/2100Z. The maximum
southward component of Bz reached -9 nT at 19/0122Z. Electrons greater
than 2 MeV at geosynchronous orbit reached a peak level of 2710 pfu.

IIB.  Geophysical Activity Forecast: The geomagnetic field is expected
to be at unsettled to minor storm levels on day one (20 Jul), unsettled
to active levels on day two (21 Jul) and quiet to unsettled levels on
day three (22 Jul).

III.  Event probabilities 20 Jul-22 Jul
Class M    15/15/15
Class X    01/01/01
Proton     01/01/01
PCAF       green

IV.  Penticton 10.7 cm Flux
Observed           19 Jul 114
Predicted   20 Jul-22 Jul 115/115/115
90 Day Mean        19 Jul 121

V.  Geomagnetic A Indices
Observed Afr/Ap 18 Jul  016/015
Estimated Afr/Ap 19 Jul  011/014
Predicted Afr/Ap 20 Jul-22 Jul  014/020-011/015-008/010

VI.  Geomagnetic Activity Probabilities 20 Jul-22 Jul
A.  Middle Latitudes
Active                35/30/25
Minor Storm           20/10/05
Major-severe storm    05/01/01
B.  High Latitudes
Active                10/15/15
Minor Storm           25/30/30
Major-severe storm    50/40/30


 A multimedia eLearning essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights — First Addition

 Please note: This essay is a follow-up from my chronicle on solar storm effects of the 1859 Carrington Event on an industrial era society— forward to the postmodern, microelectronic world of today. To better understand the context of this article, it’s suggested you view my introduction solar storm essay found  by selecting the March 2012 archives found on left side of this page.  The National Academy of  Sciences (NAS) (funded by the U.S. Congress) produced a landmark report in 2008 entitled “Severe Space Weather Events— Societal Impacts.” It reported how people of the 21st-century depend on advance-technology systems for daily living, The National Academy of Science stated— Electric power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity.  A century-class solar storm, the Academy warned, could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina. [1] Some leading solar researchers believe we are now due for a century-class storm.                                

Photo courtesy of NASA

You’re encouraged to help make the essay interactive by entering comments or observations in the dialogue box at the end of the essay.
The essay is a work in progress, please check back as more content will be added
in the coming days.  — To see this essay in another format, please visit the site: http://www.BigPictureOne.wordpress.com
July 15, 2012 aurora borealis sighting near Everett, WA. This event was caused from an X-class solar storm, which occurred within a week of another X-class storm (X-class being the most severe classification). The 11-year solar cycle is approaching a solar maximum around 2013, this will most likely bring more intense solar storm activity.

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Depending on your interpretation of the essay’s title, there is nothing new under the sun when it comes to our neighboring star’s behavior. Since our Sun left its infancy as a protostar over 4 billion years ago, by triggering a nuclear fusion reaction and entering a main-sequence stage, its solar mechanics have maintained relative consistent patterns. What has not remained the same is the evolution of life on Earth, in particular, our species’ development of a civilization which now is dependent on a form of energy called electricity. Our Sun is now playing a version of solar roulette with the World’s social and economic future.

The name “aurora borealis” was given by Galileo Galilei, in 1619 A.D., inspired from the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and Boreas from the Greek name for north wind. First record siting was in 2600 B.C. in China. Collision between oxygen particles in Earth’s atmosphere with charged (ionized) particles released from the sun creates green and yellow luminous colors beginning at altitudes of 50 miles (80 kilometers). Blue or purplish-red is produced from nitrogen particles. The solar particles are attracted by the Earth’s northern and southern magnetic poles with curtains of light stretching east to west.

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Reaching back only a few generations into the 20th Century, electricity was considered a luxury—today ordinary life would be impossible without it! And that’s where our beloved Sun comes into the picture, to potentially cast a shadow on our dependency of electricity. Solar storms have been a reoccurring event before time began, but they didn’t affect people outside of providing a fantastic, special effects light-show  until a critical event happened in 1859.  

In the mid 19th century, while the industrial revolution was near full development, the resource of electric power was first harnessed. Shortly after electricity was put into use for communication using telegraph technology (a 19th century equivalent of the Internet), is when the Sun revealed                                                                                                     a  shocking surprise in the most powerful solar storm ever recorded, which was known a the Carrington Event.

The year 1859 was near a peak in the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle, when the Sun’s polarity readies for reversal. Approaching  the end  sequence of this magnetic shift, brings a solar maximum , which produces violent solar flares and ejects plasma clouds outwards into space. If the flare occurs in a region opposite of Earth, a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) may send a billion-ton radiation storm towards our planet. Fortunately, the Earth is protected by a robust atmosphere and a magnetic field surrounding the globe, which protects us from most  solar winds. However, an intense solar storm with its charged plasma cloud  can overwhelm our planet’s protective shields. When an extreme solar storm’s magnetic energy counteracts with our planet’s protective magnet field, it creates geomagnetic induced currents (GICs). GICs are massive amounts of electromagnetic energy which travel through the ground and ocean water, seeking the path of  least resistance in power lines, pipe lines and rail tracks. 

In the 1859, Carrington event, the GICs surged through the world’s emerging global communication system,known as the telegraph. So much power was generated from the solar storm entering the Earth’s atmosphere, it sent massive currents through telegraph wires, catching offices on fire, nearly electrocuting operators and  mysteriously continued sending signals with batteries completely  disconnected.     

A visual indication of the Earth’s magnetic field being overwhelmed occurs when the aurora borealis appears. If the cosmic-light-show can be seen near the tropics, it’s an indicator our planet’s magnetic fields are severely being overrun. In the extreme solar storm of 1859, the aurora borealis was seen near the equator and it was reported  people were able to read newspapers outdoors at midnight. Navigational compasses (19th century version of GPS)  throughout the world spun-out-of-control due to the flux of electromagnetic energy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
A more recent, dramatic example of a solar storm’s impact is the 1989, Quebec-Power blackout. The geomagnetic storm created was much milder than the solar maxim of the 1859, Carrington Event. However, it’s a chilling preview of what a complex, unprotected  electrical grid faces when up against the forces of super solar storm. Quebec-Power’s large transformers were fried by the GICs overloading its grid network. Electrical grids and power-lines  act like a giant antennas in pulling in the  massive flow of geomagnetic energy. In the 1989 solar storm incident, over 6 million people lost power in Eastern Canada and the U.S., with additional connecting power grids on the verge of collapsing.  Again, the powerful 1989 solar disturbance was not the 100 year super storm, but a small preview of what can if  preparations are made to protect the power grid.
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Solar scientist are now able to put together how extreme storms follow an 11 year solar maxim cycle, like the one we’re now entering, and should peak sometime in 2013. Already this year, six major X-class solar storms, the most intense type, have occurred since January. Within one week of July, we had two of the X-class storms, with last one pointing directly at Earth. On July 13, 2012, the Washington Post’s Jason Sometime, wrote an article with his concerns on how NASA and NOAA were sending out inconsistent warnings about the solar storm from July 12.

A spectrum of telecommunication may be lost during severe solar and geomagnetic storms. Photo: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

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The federal agency FEMA, appears to have learned its’ lesson from Hurricane Katrina and being proactive with a series of super solar storm scenarios. These  scenarios  illustrate the many challenges towards maintaining communication and electric power, based on the strength of the solar event. Without reliable power, food distribution will be problematic. Today we have less reliance on large warehouse  inventories and more dependenancy on — “just in time” food delivery. According to Willis Risk Solutions (industrial underwriter insurer for electric utilities) and Lloyds World Specialist Insurer (formerly LLoyds of London), there’s a global shortage of industrial large electric transformer, which now are only made in a few countries. It would take years to replace the majority of the World’s electric transformers and technically require massive amounts of electric power, which ironically, would not be available in an event of an extreme geomagnetic storm.  http://www.lloyds.com/News-and-Insight/News-and-Features/360-News/Emerging-Risk-360/Transformers-a-risk-to-keeping-the-power-on-230810
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The companies and  the federal agencies mentioned in this essay, are overall, considered highly respected and cautious in forecasting major threats to societies and national economies. All of the mentioned government entities and scientific organizations realize it’s not a matter  if, but when will the next super solar storm be aimed and sent to Earth.
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The good news is we can still take the necessary precautions to protect our society and economic future form this clear and present threat. Here’s a link to the 2008 National Academy of Science (funded by congress) report:  Severe Weather—Understanding Societal and Economic Impact: A Workshop Report (2008). This group meets every year to work on preventative strategies. The report contains cost-effective protection plans for electric power grids, please see link provided.        http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12507 
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Second Addition: More to be added in the days ahead including…
— Update on U.S. House of Representatives and Senate sponsored  legislation for solar and geomagnetic storm preparedness.
— Electric power industry mitigation and preparedness for solar and geomagnetic storm preparedness.
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Chronicles of the largest solar and geomagnetic storms in the last 500 years.

1847  — First geomagnetic storm caused by solar flare inadvertently documented with telegraph technology.  Reports were the telegraph system was sending clearer signals by disconnecting its batteries and using the geomagnetic energy from the storm.  First published affects caused from geomagnetic storm.

1859  — Becomes known as the “Carrington Event;” telegraph system becomes inoperable worldwide as reports of offices are set on fire from supercharged telegraph wire. This is the largest geomagnetic storm in 500 years. Scientist impressed with the event begin documenting future solar storm activity. The destructive power from a storm of this magnitude would devastate global power grids, satellites, computer and communication systems.

1921 — Know as the “Great Storm,” it impacted  worldwide telegraph and radio signals with total blackouts  and cables were burned beyond use. This scale of geomagnetic storm is likely to occur approximately once every 100 years.  As we approach a century mark since this type of storm took place — it’s possible another one could happen at anytime, with devastating results unless preventative measures are taken.

1989 —  Major solar flare erupts on surface of the Sun opposite of Earth; a resulting solar storm trigers a massive geomagnetic storm, which overwhelms Quebec’s power grid. As a result of the storm, six million people instantly loses power as U.S. Northeast and Midwest connecting grids come within seconds of collapse. As a result, Canadian government becomes proactive and takes effort to protect its power grid from future solar storms.

2003 — Know as the “Halloween Storms” this series of geomagnetic storms disrupted GPS, blocked High Frequency (HF) radio and triggered emergency procedures a various nuclear power plants. In Scandinavia and South Africa, section of  power grids were hit hard, many large power transformers were destroyed by the powerful geomagnetic induced currents (GICs).

Chronological  Reports and News Accounts of Solar Storms From 1859 to 2003

This is one of the most comprehensive  list of solar storm accounts on the web. The site chronicles strange solar storm happenings; such as reports in the early 1960s  with TV programs suddenly disappearing and reappearing in other regions. Other unsettling reports include the U.S. being cutoff from radio communication from the rest of the world during a geomagnetic storm. Please see link below:

http://www.solarstorms.org/SRefStorms.html

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Solar Storm Acronyms and Terms

ACE — Advance Compositional Explore = NASA satellite used in detecting and monitoring potential damaging solar flares and CMEs.

AC — alternating current

BPS — bulk power system 

CME — coronal mass ejection = caused from a solar fare near the surface of the sun, which sends  a billion-ton radiation storm out into space.

EHV — extra high voltage

FERC — United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

GIC — geo-magnetic induced current = an extreme solar storm’s magnetic energy counteracts with our planet’s protective magnet field, creating electric current which conducts or travels through the ground or ocean water.

GMD — geo-magnetic disturbance

GAO — Government Accounting Office

GPS — global positioning system = A series of satellites positioned in an Earth, geostationary orbit for use in military and civilian navigation

NERC — North American Electric Reliability Corporation

NASA — National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NOAA — National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminestration

POES — Polar Operational Environmental Satellite

SEP — solar energetic particle

SOHO — Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (satellite)

STDC — Solar Terrestrial Dispatch Center (Canada)

STEREO — Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (Satellite)

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Sources and Links

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NASA Resources
Illustration courtesy of NASA
A useful illustration for understanding NASA’s efforts with Heliophysics System Observatory
Detail explanation of space weather and NASA monitoring can be found at the following link:   http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/spaceweather/index.html
NOAA Solar storm monitor sites:
NOAA is the nation’s official source of space weather alerts, monitoring and alerts. The following NOAA site provides realtime monitoring and forecasting of solar and geophysical events.  http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/
http://www.n3kl.org/sun/status.html

Washington Post story on conflicting NASA and NOAA solar forecast warnings for the July 12, 2012 solar storm event.
 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/solar-storm-incoming-federal-agencies-provide-inconsistent-confusing-information/2012/07/13/gJQAkm06hW_blog.html

NASA and NOAA sites (post warning of impending dangers to the electrical grid from solar storms producing extreme geomagnetic induce currents (GICs) on Earth). http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/21jan_severespaceweather/ http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/26oct_solarshield/ http://www.noaawatch.gov/themes/space.php

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/mar/18/solar-storm-flare-disruption-technology

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/07/solar-flare-cme-aurora/

http://www.usfa.fema.gov/fireservice/subjects/emr-isac/infograms/ig2012/4-12.shtm#3

My solar storm articles from February www.bigpictureone.wordpress.com  and in the March addition of  www.ScienceTechTablet.wordpress.com  present a comprehensive picture of how solar flares and solar storms originate, with the potential of producing geomagnetic storms on Earth.  If these geomagnetic storms are severe enough, they can threaten our way of life. Some strategies and common sense precautions are offered  for civic preparedness in the case of an extreme solar event.

 

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The Unworldly Splendor of Oregon’s Painted Hills.

3 Apr

Photo/video and text by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights

The sun had just set as I arrived at my friend’s condominium on Lake Washington near Seattle.  Rick was loading camera equipment into his SUV Ford Escape, which is a gasoline-electric hybrid and incidentally one of the first American-built hybrids.

We had a long drive ahead of us and we’d be traveling all night until reaching our destination in the high desert of Central Oregon.  It was a cool, but clear, May evening, as the SUV climbed steadily up Snoqualmie pass; taking us over the Cascade Mountains and  into dryer Eastern Washington.  After a few hours of driving the glow from a near full moon was illuminating the desert sagebrush outside the town of Goldendale on the Columbia River.

Wind turbines above the Columbia River are lit by the moon.

Our adventure to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, was planed  to coincide with a full moon to illuminate the surreal Painted Hills within the Monument.  Rick and I use digital cameras, featuring full-sized imaging sensors and fast optical lenses, which are ideal for capturing in lowlight environments.  Taking the opportunity to harness some moonlight as it rose above the Columbia Gorge, we made a stop to photograph wind turbines, which populate this section of Washington and Oregon.  The site is ideal for wind farms due to the wind tunnel conditions created by compressed airstreams forcefully moving through the constricted Gorge.   

Standing next to a colossal tower is a strange experience.  These wind catchers are the largest machines you’ll probably encounter on land and the eerie sounds produced from the massive propeller blades takes some getting use to.

Driving on the Washington side of the Columbia River and into Oregon you see legions of wind turbine sentinels, as they constantly harvest the restless winds.  It takes an hour of driving south on the highway before we no longer have towers flanking our drive. What I’m surprised not to see are other cars traveling in either direction on the highway.  The vast size of Eastern Oregon is not appreciated unless you spend some time touring in its’ large, unpopulated counties.

After traveling all night and encountering some falling snow as the hybrid SUV started ascending the road to the high desert—we finally entered into the realm of the primeval Painted Hills.  It’s totally dark now that the moon set hours earlier, so we pull into a remote area to catch a couple of hours of sleep before our video and photography expedition begins.  The John Day Fossil Bed National Monument is organized into three Units; the Painted Hills is the third Unit, which contains 3,132 acres of wildlife, plants and some unusual geology.

Over millions of years, layers of ash from nearby volcanic eruptions mixed with clay through the process of erosion to cause intense patterns of color.

The following morning was a like waking up in some eye-candy dreamland.  The colors just popped out of the scene like a TV monitor, which had been over adjusted with the saturation turned way up.  Stunned by the startling beauty, I grabbed my video camera on a tripod and began shooting panorama footage.  Ready for capturing the details of the environment; an external microphone was used to record the outburst of chattering songbirds, which had woken up to herald the beginning of a new day.  My first impression was an experience of sensory overload; it was  challenging to take in all the colors, sounds and surreal shapes of the textured topography.  What I was seeing, appeared to be out of this world —like viewing some futuristic post cards of a terraformed  Martian landscape.

What I remembered from earlier road trips to Southwest was how striking the Painted Desert in Arizona appeared but that now seemed pale in comparison to the Painted Hills.  What makes the  geology at this site so vivid with saturated color was caused by a series of volcanic  eruptions, occurring over millions of years.  The accumulation of bright  layers of ash, dust and clay mixed together from relentless years of erosion — forming intense, saturated strata of colors, layered into the hills.

What remains buried beneath the volcanic soil is a time-capsule, of preserved fossil remains from mammals and plants, which thrived  during the  Cenozoic Era – the Age of Mammal [roughly 65 million years ago.] This National Monument is a target rich environment for paleontologist studying fossils from this time period.

After I shot about an hours worth of video from the spot we had park at from the night before, it was time to scout other dramatic locations.  Not too far into our drive we spotted a family of graceful antelope, casually grazing in a large field.  Apparently, from talking with one of the NPS Rangers, this National Monument is full of indigenous wildlife including: bears, cougars and eagles.

Latter in the afternoon we stopped at the side of a gravel road to take in a stunning view of  one of the larger hills at the site.  The clouds above were opening and closing like a massive shutter on a spotlight; producing lighting effects which were irresistible.  We set up tripods along with our video and still cameras to begin shooting right away.  Shortly after, a ranger  pulled up close to the SUV and was intently watching us. Rick and I looked at each other with a shrug, thinking perhaps we had unknowingly parked in a restricted area. Eventually the ranger introduced himself, he had the impression we were part of a National Park Service video crew, which was schedule to be doing work at the Monument.  The ranger was there to lead a group of photographers into a restricted area for a guided tour, so he invited us to join in.  As it turned out, this special photography tour only takes place one weekend out of the entire year —when the John Day chaenactus (a bright yellow wild flower) begins to bloom; then as quickly as it appears—it begins to fade away.

The photographer’s tour was visually fantastic and can only be experienced under the supervision of an NPS Ranger.  The plant life is so fragile here, you’re only allowed to  walk inside a dried out creek bed while touring this area.  The Ranger was gracious enough to allow me to interview him about the site.  Wind is common and unpredictable in this high desert area, so I came prepared with a wind guard on my microphone; but I did experience a few audio dropouts,  hopefully you’ll able to hear the main message clearly enough.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMno4hbg-ZA

Later that evening we photographed the landscapes using a full moon for our lighting. I’ve never seen greater clarity of the stars and moon from this high desert environment, which created a great backdrop for an unearthly landscape. We photographed throughout the night until the light of predawn appeared.

At a little over 2,000 feet in elevation, the high desert can produce cold, bone-chilling weather and as mentioned—windy conditions.  I recommend warm clothing and gloves to help keep your hands comfortable from wind-chill.  For photography, the higher altitude is a great benefit, especially for optical clarity if your focus is on night photography of stars and landscapes.

I definitely plan to go back to the Painted Hills as soon as possible… it’s a dreamlike setting I have rarely experienced, which captivates the senses, with its splendor of stunning colors contained within an unworldly environment. ~

LINKS:

Here’s a link to National Park Service’s John Day Fossil Bed National Monument:   http://www.nps.gov/joda/index.htm

Paine Field in the Pacific Northwest is becoming an aviation mecca.

27 Mar
General Aviation Day 2013, is on, Saturday, May 18th, Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. For details please visit:  http://www.painefield.com/

 
Most of the following photo/video essays can be seen in another format which features an alternative graphic style and a black background, please see:  http://bigpictureone.wordpress.com 
General Aviation Day 2012 is on Saturday, May 19th. Admission is $5. or $10. per family.  For details please visit:  http://www.painefield.com/
In
Paine Field in the Pacific Northwest is becoming an aviation mecca.
Paine Field’s, General Aviation Day takes place in mid-May, located next to a vast aviation center; including the world largest building (by volume), where Boeing/MacDonald assembles most of it’s commercial aircraft, along with an ultramodern Future of Flight museum, all clustered around an international airport.  
Photos & essay by: David Johanson Vasquez © All Rights
Wow, I knew to expect a great event from the warbirds appearing at the General Aviation Day, but I had known idea it would be so fantastic! This dynamic annual aircraft exhibition held at Paine Field in Everett, WA has one of the best settings for such an event and is becoming a major aviation mecca.”
A surprise appearance of a Boeing Dreamlifter has photographers scrambling to get a shot.
Aerial view of Paine Field Airport looking north.

Paine Field’s, General Aviation Day takes place in mid May, located next to a vast aviation center; including the world largest building, where Boeing/MacDonald assembles most of it’s commercial aircraft, along with an ultramodern Future of Flight museum, all clustered around an international airport.  Located next to these aviation assets are Paul Allen’s, (cofounder of Microsoft and commercial space visionary/developer) Flying Heritage Collection and John T. Session’s (Seattle attorney and entrepreneur) Historic Flight Foundation.

    It’s remarkable this quality of event has such minimal admission fees, yet it offers the public a rare opportunity to walk right next to these historic World War II airplanes; to look inside at flight controls and touch the aircraft aluminum skin of these fierce flying machines. Only minutes later these same vintage World War II fighters, bombers and scout planes are beginning to fire up their inline and radial engines; which sounds like a monstrous dragon clearing it’s throat until there’s just a steady roar that grabs everyone’s attention. As one airplane after another takes off and returns making multiple passes, spectators are lining the edge of the airfield and to watch in awe.

Formation flying over a navy blue warbird with her mighty wings folded.

    At midday the participating, Historic Flight Foundation open house began.  Within the Foundation’s grounds were scores of World War II aircraft, along with dozens of people in army uniforms of the era; I had to remind myself… this was not a movie I was watching, nor a dream, but an actual live event. Even Steven Spielberg couldn’t have outdone the staging for this assortment of warbirds, soldiers in uniform and military equipment of the era.

Is that Steven Spielberg
Is that Steven Spielberg wearing an aviation hat in the background? No, it’s John T Sessions, founder of Historic Flight Foundation.
Having taught history of photography courses,  I had some fun adding postmodern sepia to the photos taken at the event.

Constructed in 1936, Paine Field was a works progress administration project during the great depression. Most of the vintage collections began flying shortly after the Field started operating, so it’s fitting the warbirds are now roosting here. Inspired by history and the original purpose for these aircraft; I employed digital post production techniques for the images in an attempt to recreate a photographic “look” of the 1930’s and 1940’s. In particular, sepia-tone as well as early Kodachrome transparencies inspired my recreated images.

This image looks so authentic, as if it could’ve been taken 60 years ago.
Another birds-eye view of the warbirds.

It’s rare to see such multigenerational enthusiasm for a public event. Especially seen within children and adolescent’s eyes were  genuine looks of awe and wonder from what these aircraft inspire. Seeing the kids excitement resonated with my own memories about aviation when I was a youth. The fact that these historic fighters and bombers were not just static displays — but actually flying at “tree-top-levels”  — whose roaring, rumbling engines you could feel, hear, and smell –captivated every age-group’s attention.

Cub Scouts enjoying the day, viewing vintage aircraft making fly-overs.

Being that my house is only minutes away by car, I enjoy taking photos from my backyard of visiting warbirds in the days before and after the event. Within easy reach is my ever-ready camera with a telephoto lens mounted, so I’m always ready when that rare vintage aircraft makes a surprise appearance overhead.

I look forward to the coming years to see how this show will grow and receive even greater support from the public.

A beautiful day for a vintage air show.

One particular image in the photomontage series below, captures the wonder within faces of a group of youth standing underneath the wing of a Historic Flight Foundation bomber, just as an aircraft roars nearby. The adage –“a picture, tells a thousand words” applies to this one; but also simply put…  a face can sum it up with just one… wow!

Hope for the future, by remembering the past.
Female pilot inspects the B25 she’s ready to take into the sky.

Here’s my flying quote of the day — “Both optimist and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.” ~ Gil Ster

Look, up in the sky it’s a tight formation of warbirds.
Yes, that tough cat really does have claws.
“Navy blue” ready for takeoff with a ribbon of Cascade Mountains in background.
Looking and touching is encouraged for a great live interactive experience.
An awesome flyby with two fighters accompanying a B25 bomber.
Up close and personal views of warbird taxing for takeoff.
Plane spotting groupie at Paine Field’s GAD vintage airshow.
This warbird isn’t shy and knows how to be a crowd pleaser!
Never a dull moment for a full house, and plenty of flybys to see.
For over three generations these warbirds still inspire awe on the faces of youth and elders alike.
Something for the entire family to enjoy.
Another target rich environment for a photographer.
Inspired by the wings of flight.
A target rich environment for airplane spotting photographers.
This vintage navy warbird gets ready to fly by modern Boeing airliners.
Mom and dad with kids in tow to see a great show.
A sunshine halo encircles vintage warbirds returning home from a successful flight.
Father and son with a birds-eye view from top of the world.

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