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Marissa: Of formulas and fatalities

For multiple days throughout the past week we have been learning math equations in NIATT engineering classes. We’re also learning how to pass cars legally in a car simulator. Some of the students got into the simulator and went for a drive down the highway into the country and didn’t wreck the virtual car. However, the students that did roll it on purpose or by accident were having the most fun. Kenny, Taran, another student, and I purposely rolled the car (virtually of course).

Here are some of the math equations that our engineering instructors, Brad and J.J., preached to us:
  • Passing Sight Distance, (PSD): PSD= D1+D2+D3+D4 
  • Stop Sight Distance, (SSD): Velocity multiplied by Time plus Velocity squared divided by two Acceleration
Before class the other day, J.J. started class with traffic safety statistics like these:
  • In 2010, 32,885 people died on American roads.
  • 38% of teen deaths involve traffic accidents and 25% of those accidents/deaths involve underage drinking.
  • 21% of the fatal car crashes involve teens and texting behind the wheel.
  • Out of all the drivers in America, only 6% are “young drivers.”

— Marissa Corbitt

Hope you weren't going to do something important that day!
Hope you weren’t going to do something important that day!
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Let’s hear it for the girls in STEM!

I’ll be the first to admit — I’m not a math and science person. When I was in fourth grade, I spent hours in school filling my math notebook pages with the phrase “I hate math” repeated over and over. (Lord knows why my teacher didn’t stop me.) And when the Teen Talk Barbie doll came out back in the day, I related to her catch phrase “Math class is tough!”

Maybe math really is tough, and maybe I could never be a math person, but historically, the pattern in our educational system has been for girls to struggle in math and science. Girls find that “math class is tough” in grades K-12 and we often just leave it at that. That’s why I am thrilled to see that this summer’s Upward Bound STEM Access student population is 72 percent female! (By the way, I initially calculated that percentage on my own, but doubted my answer until my STEMmy husband confirmed that it was correct — a classic example of my Female Math Doubt.)

Becca’s recent blog post about the Longest Math Problem Ever is a perfect example of how girls are making their way in STEM studies. She claims that she’s never liked math, and yet she worked her way through a three-page proof!

Witnessing work like that makes me think that a kid like me could have learned to engage with math and science if only I’d had an experience like Upward Bound STEM Access provides. When you’re solving real-world problems, math and science don’t feel like homework at all.

— Charity Thompson Egland, STEM Access Writing Instructor

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Will: A full schedule

John, Dana, Will, and Kylie hard at work
John, Dana, Will, and Kylie hard at work

The Upward Bound STEM Access program has an incredibly busy schedule. We get up at 6:00 in the morning, and go to breakfast at 7:00. We have class until noon, eat lunch until 1:00, and we have more class time until 4:00. We spend the rest of the day either playing sports or at dinner. Even without the normal amount of summer downtime, we still have a great time. Since we are constantly working or on the move, we have great opportunities to meet new people and become better friends with the other people in the group.

The constant work is difficult, but it is well worth it for what the program has to offer. We see math and engineering in action and get to meet the people behind the machines. Last week we were able to meet several people on the U of I snowmobile team, and we were able to ask questions about their design process and what awards they had won. Even with as tiring as the schedule can be, it is fun and definitely worth the time.

– William Jelsma

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Taran: Fun and un-fun

Today in class we did a lot of work studying the dynamics of passing vehicles. We did a lot of fun experiments. We also did a lot of un-fun equations.

One of the fun things we did was working with the traffic simulator. I think that everybody in our group got to drive it and some people drove it twice. It showed the data on how important it is to find the calculations for passing. The day also proved how un-fun it is to conclude the data after the fun testing. We had to use a table to find the variables for an equation that we were using to find the variables of the original equation.

— Taran Scheuermann

After the experiment, there's the equation
After the experiment, there’s the equation
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Braidan: Calculated risks

Braidan tries out a motorcycle
Braidan tries out a snowmobile

This summer, we STEM Access students are learning about transportation. We’ve learned about the difference between drunk driving and sober driving, and also texting while driving. In just one year, 32,885 people died on American roads.

As STEM students, we used a car simulator to learn about reaction time. We also have done some calculations about reaction time in different aspects of driving such as sight distance, stopping sight distance, and passing sight distance.

  • The sight distance is how far you can see down the road.
  • The stopping sight distance is how far you need to be able to see to safely stop in time.
  • The passing sight distance is the distance you need to see in order to pass another vehicle.

— Braidan Arrasmith

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Meghan: Driving simulation

On Monday we did a driving simulation. With the driving simulator we calculated how long it took people to pass other cars. Engineers use this simulation for multiple reasons. They mainly use it for testing different ways to slow people down when passing other cars. This helps drivers pass legally instead of illegally.

— Meghan Curtiss

Sativa and Morgan try out the driving simulator
Sativa and Morgan try out the driving simulator
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John: The healthy living low-down

STEM Access students at the Moscow Farmers Market
STEM Access students at the Moscow Farmers Market

A healthy lifestyle is really important to every human being. The World Health Organization says that the minimum requirement for physical activity for young people is 60 minutes, or one hour, each day.

Also, eating right is good for your body. You should eat vegetables, meat (or protein), grains, and also have a glass of milk every day. The students of Upward Bound STEM Access have the routine of getting veggies, meat, fruits, grains, and a glass of milk every day when we eat.

Early this morning, the students of Upward Bound STEM Access went to a tour in the Moscow Farmers Market and  saw a lot of fruits and vegetables being sold to people. Also in the farmers market they had music that we enjoyed.

Everyone in the program is required to get in one hour of physical activity each day. During free time today we were active by playing frisbee, basketball, sand volleyball, and soccer in the sun, which is good for us too.

— John Ariola

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Dana: College living

In the summer program at U of I we are getting a feel for what it’s like to be in college. We have homework and notebooks that are graded nightly, and when we get those done, we get rewarded. Last night we had to edit some videos, and our reward for finishing them was to go out to Movie on the Lawn in front of Theophilus Tower. The movie playing was Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Theophilus Tower
Theophilus Tower

Today we are definitely feeling the work we have done throughout the week and we are all tired, but working hard to finish our projects. Navigating the campus to get to our classes, dorms, Bob’s Place, etc., is really fun and I am enjoying the feeling of being treated like a college student.

Tomorrow night we are having a talent show and everyone in the group has to be in it. We are a wide range of people so I am interested in who will do what, and I am very excited to see everyone’s talents. I have heard some will sing, one is playing his guitar, and I might even juggle! Let the good times fly!

— Dana Gilchrist

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Shannon: Healthy living

University of Idaho's gorgeous campus walkways
University of Idaho’s gorgeous campus walkways

This week in Moscow I have been getting really healthy. Not only do we walk everywhere on campus, we do outside activities every day. Some of the sports we have been playing are volleyball, disk golf, and basketball. We have to eat healthy as well. We have to have a meat, a grain, vegetables, a fruit, and milk with each meal.

Our living situation is really awesome. We live in suites that have at least four rooms. Three of the rooms are singles and one of them is a double.

So far this trip has been a blast. I can’t wait to see what we are going to next. And, to think, I’m not even done with week one! See you guys next time!

— Shannon Hansen