Friday, July 6, 2018

Nebraska Trip Packing List

Here's what I brought on my plane/train summer trip from Northridge -train to- Burbank -plane to- Portland -train to- Fargo -car to- Omaha -plane to- Burbank -car to- Northridge over a two week period. The items with a star are things I wore or used prior to arriving in Fargo.

Three dresses, sleeveless
*Two yoga pants, knee and ankle length
Two polo shirts
Two jeans, ankle and shoe length, belt
*Flip flops and athletic shoes
*Bra and sports bra
*PJ pants
*USA t-shirt, CicLAvia t-shirt
*Sleeveless graphic t-shirt
5 pairs socks
10 pairs underwear

*Watch and IDY bracelet
*Headband and hair clips
Burt's bees, Lipstick: red and pink

*Headphones and Phone charger
*Purse and camera case, cross-body
*Stand to prop up phone
*Journals to write in and pens
*ACS chapter reports

*Toothpaste, toothbrush
*Sunscreen, SPF 30 and 50, face and body
Contact lenses and solution
*Glasses and sunglasses
*Shampoo/conditioner (2 in 1)
*Face moisturizer
*Face wash
*Hair comb
Qtips, Kleenex

Gifts: 28 Visit Santa Clarita bags
stainless steel drinking straws and brushes

I ended up doing two loads of laundry in Fargo and wore everything more than once. I definitely could have traveled with fewer pairs of underwear, but that's the one thing I never want to run out of. It's an experience doing a sponge bath in a moving train bathroom, but I even washed my hair in the sink and it was worth it.

We had fun in Fargo finding silverware to go into the 'Visit Santa Clarita' bags, which were originally made for glasses. I was pumped when I got together with my cousin from Denver (who is currently working in London) and my aunt from New York and they were both really excited about stainless steel straws and reducing single-use plastic utensils.

I brought 29 bags and I came home with only 12 so that means that my family members actually grabbed them (as intended). Since we checked our luggage on the flight home, there was no problem with bringing the sharp metal objects home in my carry-on bag.

According to RESET Carbon Ltd. flying in a short-haul aircraft produces 50% more carbon dioxide emissions per passenger kilometer than taking Amtrak. Driving produces about 25% more carbon dioxide emissions per passenger kilometer than taking Amtrak. Altogether, I traveled 7000 km and produced 1.676 metric tons of carbon dioxide. I feel bad about this, any suggestions for offset?

Amtrak Empire Builder (Portland to Fargo)

This summer I am taking two long-distance trips on Amtrak: Empire Builder and Southwest Chief. I took a plane from Los Angeles to Portland and the Amtrak from Portland to Fargo. My sister sold her house there and I spent a week with her, helping her move.
It was fantastic to take the Metrolink from Northridge to Burbank Airport. Starting the trip with a train ride put me in a good mood.

A post shared by bikecar101 (@bikecar101) on

When I arrived at Portland airport, I boarded the light rail there to get to the Amtrak station. The light rail (MAX) in Portland was easy to navigate.

A post shared by bikecar101 (@bikecar101) on

The Portland Amtrak station is totally cute! There are bikeshare bikes there (and probably in most major cities by now) but the Portland bikeshare bikes are branded with a Nike swoosh.

Empire Builder simultaneously originates in Seattle, WA and Portland, OR in the late afternoon. The individual trains merge in Spokane, WA in the middle of the night. Fresh air stops like this allow you to disembark and stretch your legs. Have a coke, smoke and a joke as my art teacher used to say.
There's a dining car, which is kind of like a restaurant on wheels. There's a cafe car, which is kind of like a coffee shop on wheels. Above the cafe is the observation car, which has floor to ceiling windows. When people gawk at how much time it takes to get somewhere by train, I show them this.
The next fresh air stop is Whitefish, MT which is the following morning. From there, expect breathtaking views of Glacier National Park. I saw lots of people white water rafting and I have to say the smells of the people boarding the train here were more fresh & clean than any detergent.
I met a white water rafting guide who talked me through some of the sights. He pointed out tiny waterfalls and docks where native people fish for salmon using traditional fishing poles made of wood. You get to have great conversations with strangers on Amtrak trips.
Abruptly, you are in a flat part of Montana. Two fresh air stops, Shelby and Havre, may be cut short if the train is running behind schedule. Havre has an antique steam engine at its station, which is an impressive display, particularly popular with train enthusiasts.
In my experience, the dining car is first-come first-served. If you want to be served a sit-down meal in a formal setting, you need to get there right when the meal begins and let them know you will be 'dining' and they will schedule you a time to come back and be seated.
I would not expect the staff to ask you if you want a seated meal, there were a few unhappy 'sleeper car' passengers that missed out on a seated meal because they thought their porter would assist in making their reservation. Nonetheless, they got a hot meal from the cafe car.
As for myself, I brought a variety of items listed below so that I didn't have to partake of the dining car on this particular trip. I highly recommend taking Empire Builder if you get a chance. I saw a couple with loaded touring bikes at the Glacier Park station, and I thought 'I would like to try that.'

This is what I brought in a cooler
*2 bags (florets) broccoli
*1 bag (8oz) mushrooms
*8 C honeydew melon
*1 bag (2C) mixed nuts
*1 bag (30) dried apricots
*1 bag (8) small pancakes
*1 bag (4oz) beef jerky
*1 flat cake (900g) banana bread
*3 medium yellow nectarines
*Empty ziploc for ice
*Cooler bag
*Empty water bottle

This is what I purchased at the station or on the train
*2 cans soda
*1 bag each: combos, gardettos
*2 cups coffee: $2 each
*1 tuna sandwich on wheat
*1 Greek yogurt cup: $2.50

Monday, June 4, 2018

So much science!

I love teaching the introductory chemistry courses. It engages storytelling, explaining, defining and illustrating of fundamental ideas in my field of study. Last week, I substituted for my friend. The goal of the lecture was to cover Chapter 1, which was a daunting task considering I had 75 minutes to speak about only 28 slides. One of her slides had a URL that directed me to the embedded video below regarding the Law of Conservation of Mass. I found it underwhelming, what about you?

I spoke about atoms, molecules, reactions, and how chemistry is everywhere! I spoke about the good old 'Scientific Method' where you begin with an Observation followed by Hypothesis and then Experiments and lastly Results and Conclusions. After the class was over, I realized that I could have told a better story using more web-based resources. There's so much information publicly available and so much more behind various paywalls of academic publishing, I decided to pick one story and dig around to show you what resources I could use if I were to do the lesson again.

First of all, the Poisoner's Handbook is a fascinating account of how forensic science developed alongside environmental pollution and criminal homicide. There is a section there about leaded gasoline which is something students may be curious about if they have read the gas pumps having "Unleaded" gasoline. There's a reason the lead was added to fuel (to reduce engine knocking) and there was a reason that the lead was banned from fuel (it made people crazy).

I also chose the topic of lead poisoning because I love going to the Protein Data Bank and reading the stories they post on the Molecule of the Month. I love looking at the rendering of the protein, changing the colors and attributes, manually manipulating its orientation and putting it on auto-spin to appreciate its contours and crevices. What I like about this story is that it involves atoms (lead), small molecules (dimercaptosuccinic acid, DMSA) used in chelation therapy, large molecules (aminolaevulinic acid dehydratase or ALAD a.k.a. porphobilinogen synthase) and molecular assemblies.
DMSA-mercury(II) chelate

Another interesting part about this story is that I came across the picture of DMSA-mercury(II) chelate using text-based google image searching. Apparently there are people who advocate the adminstration of DMSA to rid the body of toxicity from mercury amalgams (tooth fillings). I looked at that structure because I was wondering which of the groups on the DMSA would bind to the metal. We call ligands that make two contacts to the metal "bidentate" meaning like they are a set of teeth that chomps down from top and bottom. The rendering above shows DMSA making four points of contact. I had a feeling it wasn't right.

EDTA-iron(III) chelate

The only ligand I think of that makes that much contact is ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) which is considered a hexadentate ligand, making six points of contact. As it turns out I'm not the only chemist that was "triggered" by the rendering of DMSA-mercury(II) chelate and it was a graduate student who posted it to Wikipedia based on their own idea of what it would look like (not on a crystal structure).

So I created the small molecule in two dimensions using ChemSketch, then copied that structure and optimized it in ChemSketch3D. The teal spheres are carbon atoms. It's possible to rotate that small molecule just like with the protein. The only thing I couldn't figure out how to do in ChemSketch is how to make the coordinate-covalent bonds between the ligand and the heavy metal atom. Maybe it's possible and I don't know how to do it, or maybe it isn't possible in that software.

I also explored the enzyme ALAD in the BRENDA (BRaunschweig ENzyme DAtabase) and MetaCyc (Metabolic Encyclopedia). These two sources of information tell me what the enzyme does and what other enzymes are related (structurally similar), and which organisms express this enzyme, and what steps in a pathway leading ultimately to the symptom of anemia are inhibited by the presence of lead. It's also a great way to get towards journal articles that can explain how we know what we know about this enzyme.


Camina, Casas, Castano, Couce, Gato, Herbello-Hermelo, Sanchez, Sordo and Torres. Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry 104 (2010) 599-610.

Andersen and Aaseth. Environmental Health Perspectives 110 (2002) 887-890.

George, Prince, Gailer, Buttigieg, Bonner Denton, Harris and Pickering. Chemical Research in Toxicology 17 (2004) 999-1006.

Choiniere, Scott, Gelb and Turecek. Analytical Chemistry 82 (2010) 6730-6736.

Erskine, Duke, Tickle, Senior, Warren and Cooper. Acta Crystallographica D56 (2000) 421-430.

George, et al. Figure 4

To be continued...

Friday, May 11, 2018


On Monday, May 7th, my dear husband attended Metro Vision 2028 Stakeholder Summit. He left the DRAFT of Metro's plan on the kitchen table and two figures stood out to me. Sometimes, I'm just not into reading text and I want to get everything I need from an image.

I love how the figure above gives you a visual representation of something invisible (carbon dioxide emissions). Single Occupancy Vehicles (SOV) are a selfish way to travel. You can see the huge cloud of combustion product generated. Driving to a light rail station, then taking a train can cut down your emissions by more than half! Taking the bus then taking a train cuts your emissions by a factor of 8. Doing the bike plus light rail reduces your carbon footprint by more than 20 times. That's powerful!

The appealing thing about the graphic above (to me) is the wait time of 15 minutes. If you factor in the time it takes to find a parking place and the time it takes to walk to and from your car, fifteen minutes is not a long time to wait to catch a bus or train. As dear husband always points out, how do you feel when you get out of your car after sitting in traffic for 2 hours? Don't you need time to refresh yourself and rest from that experience? When you get off a bicycle, it's so stress-relieving and wonderful that you're already refreshed and ready to do whatever comes next in your day.

I love love LOVE living on Reseda Blvd. We have lots of options for transit. It's hard to get to downtown LA using only the buses, not impossible, but it takes about 2 hours. But the Metrolink is fantastic, it's so fast! I hope to see more dedicated bus and bike lanes.

A post shared by bikecar101 (@bikecar101) on

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

What is Tyvek?

In the summer of 2012 (definitely 6 years ago) we purchased a season pass for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The pass came with an envelope made of Tyvek. I have been using that for a wallet ever since.

January 2018
Before this I was using a plastic Ziploc bag, so I felt this Tyvek thingy was an upgrade. People told me that was weird until I went to a stagette party in 2011 and one of the other bridesmaids was also using a Ziploc bag for a wallet. No surprise because she was also a fitness queen.

Yes, the logo is definitely faded and there are holes forming in the corners, but can you tell me another material that would hold up this well and be so lightweight and compact? We were at the movie theater January 2018 to see the movie 'The Post' and in the lobby they were selling wallets made of Tyvek.

January 2018
These wallets cost $15.00 each which kind of seemed like a lot to me, especially considering the one I've been using was given to me. ProTip: Tyvek envelopes can be ordered from in packs of 10 for free.

If you want to make your own "Mighty Wallet" out of a Tyvek envelope, the owner of DynoMighty has posted an instructable here:

I was so curious, as a chemist, about what kind of material would hold up so well and it turns out that it is a form of plastic. Plastic is derived from hydrocarbons (petroleum) and this type of plastic is high-density polyethylene (HDPE). This is a common plastic in the home, one major use is milk jugs.

What makes Tyvek so strong is that the long chains are not branched. The polymer is formed into thin sheets of parallel fibers. More about the manufacturing process can be seen here.

Last year, DuPont celebrated 50 years of Tyvek and it has found many uses. If you are done with the Tyvek product, you can recycle it at any location where you drop off plastic shopping bags.

If you are interested in the Summer Pass for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the cost is $80 for Adults and they go on sale May 1st. You get unlimited rides up Mt. San Jacinto until Labor Day.

January 2018
BTW I also bought a neon yellow "trucker hat" in summer 2013 and I still wear it almost every day. I think my mother-in-law was horrified because she offered to buy me ANY hat at the gift shop and I chose this one over all the other cute frilly girly styles. 

Even though "trucker hats" are cheap, they are durable and functional. With a plastic mesh back and a large, nearly vertical foam front, this "trucker hat" keeps me cool and I love wearing it while walking or biking because I feel safer because it's "safety yellow." Look out, I'm walking here!

August 2013
What I love about my Tyvek wallet is that I can put it in my fanny pack and hit the roller rink, I can slide it into my sports bra and go for a run, I can fit it into my seatpost bag on my road bike, I can zip it into the side pocket of my yoga pants. It goes where I go and it's slim and durable.

Also, Tyvek is water-resistant and the plastic driver's license, credit card and insurance card inside together with the emergency $20 bill aren't harmed by a little teeny bit of perspiration. So go ahead and get your sweat on! Tyvek is a durable material that can handle whatever you are into.  

Unless you're into finely dispersed iron oxide or zirconium oxide solid superacid catalysts above 700 degrees Farhenheit, in which case your Tyvek wallet could be melted down to a wax.

Shabtai, Xiao and Zmierczak. "Depolymerization-Liquefaction of Plastics and Rubbers. 1. Polyethylene, Polypropylene, and Polybutadiene." Energy & Fuels 1997, 11, 76-87.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

255th ACS National Meeting #ACSNOLA

The 255th ACS National Meeting in New Orleans had over 15,000 attendees. The conference theme was "Nexus of Food, Energy & Water" although most of the presentations I attended were about chemical education (CHED).

Sunday, March 18, 2018

CHED 37 Diane Bunce, What makes a "C" student a "C" student? What are the differences between "A/B" students and "D/F" students? Research at the US Naval Academy (USNA) reveals that general chemistry students who get "Cs" know they should be using deep study but they haven't yet fully mastered the deep study approach. "A/B" students use deep study and "D/F" students use surface study. A second study at the USNA found that "A/B" students look at solved problems in the text (self-help, individual) while "D/F" students use peer learning facilitators (PLF) and tutors (help from other people, cooperative).
ACS Board of Directors Meeting There is an ACS Scholars Program which awards renewable scholarships to underrepresented minority (URM) students majoring in undergraduate chemistry-related disciplines, and are also intending to pursue careers in chemistry-related fields. Selected recipients are awarded up to $5,000* per academic year. To date, over 3,000 students have received a funding from the ACS Scholars Program.

Keynote Speaker Lisa Balbes "Nontraditional Careers for Chemists: Thinking Outside the Beaker" Lisa started out by presenting some data: in one year there are 2704 PhDs awarded in but only 501 faculty positions available. There are a range of careers besides academia. Further, doing a post-doc is only useful if you are planning a career in academia. Doing a PhD in the chemical sciences teaches time management, ability to learn quickly, ability to manage a project that are transferable skills for careers outside of academia. Lisa showed a Chord, a cross between a bar chart and a flow diagram, showing the size and links between various categories. US Census data from the 2012 American Community Survey looked at which US college major subjects are commonly associated with employees in STEM jobs. The graph here shows that a minority of students who graduate with a STEM major end up working in a STEM occupation. The majority of STEM graduates end up in occupations such as management, health care, education, sales, business, legal, etc.

The good thing about attending the Board of Directors Meeting is that you get an overview of the conference and that can give you ideas of what you want to see. I learned about the session PRES: Science Cafes & Engaging the Public: Techniques for Hosting Successful Events. After we checked into our hotel, we came back to the convention center and I went to see

PRES 7 Science Cafes & Engaging the Public: Techniques for Hosting Successful Events by Pete Joseph Bonk, the session co-presider representing the Rhode Island ACS local section. He gave us some guidelines for planning events. (1) create a 45 minute presentation. Keep your talk on science. Tell them what we know, how well we know it, how do we know, what are the known unknowns, what are possible unknown unknowns, what are common misconceptions, what are our assumptions, are there any complications? Show humility. Avoid projections & predictions. Use unbiased sources (not news articles). Challenge your audience, don't avoid complexity. The audience has come to learn and they will trust you to inform them, you are an expert. This talk will be a basis for part (2) a large-group discussion. The total event is 2 hours, so allow for significant participation in the second part of the event. You function as a moderator, not a director, of the conversation. Above all, show your enthusiasm and have fun! Advertise your events on facebook, via email and using fliers/postcards.

PRES 8 From science cafes to a state-wide STEAM festival by Preston John and Tara A. MacDougall. In 5 years, they hosted 11 science cafes at their Discovery Center (science museum). Lessons learned: props and demos are essential, get experienced speakers, coach your speaker on what to focus on (takaways and problem solving strategies), involve the Boys & Girls club to be inclusive of diversity, use hot topics (e.g. bioengineered mosquitos to fight Zika virus), make the event two-way engagement (get volunteers to participate, do not just lecture). There is a Science Festival Alliance at MIT that can provide you training. They have a 5 year plan to create a non-profit so that the STEAM festival can become self sustaining. Currently they rely on corporate donations in $10,000 increments. The total cost of the festival exceeded $300k. With corporate partners, they can use the event to recruit the workforce of the future (e.g. Schwann cosmetic company that has trouble finding workers). Including the arts allowed for involvement of the country music hall of fame, kids made Jason Aldean style hats out of paper. Also there was a video contest with a GoPro as a prize where kids used innovative instruments to play a B# note. Video entries were tagged with #besharp

HIST 14 "Food at the Crossroads: Chemistry's Role in Sustainability, Past & Present" This is pretty much the only talk I went to that would qualify for being at the "Nexus of Food, Energy & Water" and I didn't even stay very long, but it was at least tangentially related to my passion for gardening and the experiment we do in our second analytical chemistry course about scoville heat units of a habanero.

PRES 9 "Brewing Chemistry” in Detroit: Maintaining a long running Science Café by Meghann N Murray. Her website is here. There's funding for these events here. The ACS Committee on Local Section Activities (LSAC) funds new local section projects through Local Section Innovative Projects Grants (IPGs). Application deadlines occur twice yearly: January 31 and June 30.

At my poster (CHED 160) I got to catch up with my BFF Cheri (Barta) Rossi.

Monday, March 19, 2018

CHED 237 Amanda Holton from UC Irvine presented her work on active learning in massive lecture courses. I met her last year at the Collaborative Chemistry Conference in Oxnard, CA. 

CHED 253 Justin Carmel at Florida International University studied students' ability to (1) engage arguments from evidence (2) plan and do experiments (3) analyze and interpret data and (4) construct explanations. Students were given two graphs, see below, and asked "What if anything can you say about this data? Can you make a conclusion?" He found that students agreed that the left graph was inconclusive, but that students tended to make a conclusion from the graph on the right.

He also had some cool assessment based on Rhodamine. He showed students a UV-Vis absorbance spectrum and asked them "Based on this analysis, do you believe it? What are the similarities and differences? What would the solution look like based on the absorbance spectrum?" A third activity was based on Phlogiston theory. Data was presented to students (burning magnesium, forming magnesium oxide) and students were asked to explain their reasoning using Phlogiston theory (or not).

CHED 254 Dulani Samarasekara from Mississippi State University presented data evaluating designed laboratory partnerships. Her groups were (A) free choice (B) random (C) side to side (D) high-low and (E) cohort. The side-to-side partnerships were where the ACT math score was similar between partners and the high-low partnerships were where one person in the group had a higher ACT math score than the other. The model inputs were post-lab critical thinking questions, survey attitudes, and lecture course final exam grade. Groups (4) and (5) had the highest cooperation based on survey data, while group (4) had the highest average final exam score. This is two semesters worth of on-sequence general chemistry (FA12 and FA13) with N = 1400ish. Group (4) enjoyed the partnerships the most. Future work will examine the effect of gender and ethnicity. The audience member asked if she conducted any face-to-face interviews.

CHED 240 Nawaporn Sanguantrakun from St. Louis College of Pharmacy measured the effects of active learning and flipped classroom on the success of students enrolled in a two year integrated chemistry sequence. She used POGIL and PollEv to create the active classroom environment. A set of 3 cups was used to indicate whether a group was (Green) no problem, in progress (Red) stuck, need help or (Gold) finished, ready to move on. This is how she managed the dynamic classroom environment with a large enrollment. She provided students a team checklist to manage behavior and to allow students to evaluate their teammates (turn around, participate, focus, etc.). She also found that assigning team roles formally, as suggested by Moog, was better. There were team presentations for share-out. A reflection sheet was also used and collected for points. Her grading scheme overall was 60% cumulative exam, 25% midterms, 10% in class activity (3% quiz, 4% POGIL, 3% PollEv), and 5% outside class activity (supplemental instruction, office hours, review session). Her in-class lectures were 5-10 minutes long and interactive (or maybe that was the outside class video, IDK).

CHED 242 Monica Illies from Drexel University spoke about assigning a "Study Buddy" to students in her general chemistry (freshmen) and introduction to medicinal chemistry (seniors). She found via survey that her students were not valuing employer-desired skills such as teamwork. Her "pedagogic composite strategy" involved (1) think-pair-share (2) metacognition (3) feedback. She used flipped classroom, muddiest point, clickers, tie-ins to content from her students' concurrently enrolled courses, awarding participation points, and handwritten feedback. She teaches the "Study Cycle" as recommended by Saundra McGuire. She found that her freshmen were focused on reproducing/imitating the professor, they were motivated by GPA, and they considered feedback as criticism. By contrast her seniors were focused on being original, they were motivated by career readiness, and they perceived feedback as help. A big take-home point for me was that teamwork helped students avoid "the illusion of knowing" that can be associated with studying from a book.

CHED 244 Kalyn Shea Owens, a chemist, together with Ann Murkowski, a biologist, from North Seattle College have developed a set of interdisciplinary investigations (IDIs) with funding from NSF DUE. Three examples of projects involve (1) aquaporin for water purification (2) epigenetics to teach hybridization (3) hemoglobin to teach thermodynamics. These projects engage biology, engineering and public health majors. The model they follow is: connect --> extend --> challenge. The IDIs involve students reading primary literature and collaboration. The first week students generate a drawing (model) and teachers give a mini lecture. The second week students give seminars. They tell students "Your model does not need to be correct, just well supported!" A rubric instructs that students' model should utilize 2+ disciplines and communicate clearly. They discussed threshold concepts in biochemistry. Specifically intermolecular forces.

CHED 319 Charlie Cox from Stanford University uses active learning in his TA training workshop. Stanford has 40-50 incoming graduate students to train, so they match 5 trainees with 1 experienced TA. Three days (8h/day) prior to the start of the semester are used (1) policy = honor code, sexual harassment (2) safety = manifolds, ppe, spills, fires (3) teaching = office hours, problem solving, microteach, prelab lecture. Day 3 format is that new grad students give their microteach, receive feedback, eat lunch, then present an improved version of their microteach. The TA training itself uses clickers and discussions to avoid "death by powerpoint." They pay experienced TAs $500 to facilitate. The Mentors in Teaching (MinT) program extends the 3 day training into a semester (1) goal setting (2) midquarter evals (3) observation (4) end of quarter wrap up. The overall goal is to create a welcoming environment, NOT a scary experience. Presiding over this session was Rebecca Kissling, the chemistry undergraduate advisor at Binghamton University, SUNY.

CHED 290 David Cartrette from South Dakota State University spoke in the session titled "ACS Award for Achievement in Research for Teaching & Learning of Chemistry" discussing a course developed jointly with an art teacher. He followed from Rhode Island School of Design. Scientists with creative hobbies (such as music, literature, art) are 1.7x more likely to be members of the National Academy of Sciences, 1.8x more likely to be members of the Royal Society, and 2.8x more likely to be Nobel laureates. The course they developed had a 400-level designation and enrollment with half art students and half chemistry & biochemistry majors. It was populated with first-semester freshmen (FTF). It came with an honors designation. First, they deconstructed stereotypes of artists and scientists, encouraged students to focus on their common creative process (concept, trial & error, problem-solving, discovery, final approach). They presented students with an image and used Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) as a framework to discuss that art can mean something different to each individual (see and discuss). Students were tasked with creating a public installation which required them to think: Who is the audience? How many people pass by? What is an appropriate scale? They settled on a kinetic sculpture in the student union.

CHED 330 Jack Eichler from University of California, Riverside used Active and Blended LEarning (ABLE) in general chemistry funded by NSF IUSE. A publication from The Coalition for Reform of Undergraduate STEM Education motivated his use of flipped classroom. A concept inventory revealed that peer instruction improves student performance. Best Practices for Flipped Classroom include (1) online pre-class videos with interactive questions (2) online pre-class simulations that are interactive. These must be mandatory! (aka. worth points). Then (3) the class time should be used for problem-based learning involving case-inspired real-world issues such as sustainability and renewable fuels. Eichler combined studio-produced videos with screencapture using the playpauseit software. For simulations, he used mathematicaCDF, Norton ChemTours, and PhET sims. A quiz through the learning management system (LMS) is an effective way to gauge student progress. Worksheets with open-ended questions were graded and returned. Eichler had undergraduate SI leaders and graduate TAs attend lecture. He lowered the DFW rate from 15% to 5%. He also used ALEKS for homework. Using a responsive approach, flipped classrooms together with collaborative discussion was found to be better than collaborative discussion alone.

CHED 331 Overtoun Jenda led the "Making to Advance Knowledge, Excellence and Recognition in STEM (MAKERS)" program in Alabama, which was an alliance between community colleges and universities. The goals of this program are to improve the graduation rate, lower the DFW rate, and get more people in the pipeline for STEM careers. Freshman-sophomore pairings focused on time management, study skills and academic resources. Junior-senior pairings focused on summer internships, GRE preparation, choosing a graduate school and writing. The program components that were deemed mandatory were: check your school email, attend all meetings, maintain a 3.0 GPA and full-time student status, attend workshops and summer programs. The issues were that obtaining an IRB for a multi-institution project was an absolute nightmare. NSF funding is great but you can't start the project without the IRB. His advice: choose faculty who love working with students, not just those who love getting grant money. It was hard to recruit students due to fluidity of community college population.

CHED 293 Amy Phelps from Middle Tennessee described the differences between wet labs and virtual labs. She found that in a wet lab, students talked about the procedure (and complained about missing and broken equipment) whereas in virtual lab students discussed the concepts and theory. **If students in CHEM 102 @ CSUN work in pairs for the VLabs, they may work better** Students who did the virtual lab tended to learn the micro and symbolic aspects better, whereas students who did the wet lab learned the macro aspects better. So it seems they are both good because students who did the virtual lab didn't learn the macro aspect and students who did the wet lab could not articulate symbolic or micro level understanding.

CHED 333 Sunghee Lee from Iona College in New Rochelle, New York described the "Development of Excellence in Science through Intervention, Resilience and Enrichment (DESIRE)" which funds 6 students per year (summer stipend + tuition/fees) for 4 years. The 5 pillars of their program are Academic (peer learning), Professional (REU, industry partner, career seminars, networking, field trips), Interpersonal (learning community), Intrapersonal (reflections on service learning, academic advising, career counseling: what do YOU want? not your parents'), Intercultural (understand, honor, value, resilience, apply a cultural perspective to solving problems in diverse teams). They offer a class called "Science Society & Self" SOC490 that is an elective for the sociology major and a core elective for the college of science & math. It is offered every spring and recommended for all science majors. She gave lots of detail about the assignments for this class (see image at left).

CHED 334 Marion A Franks from Virginia Tech spoke about his "Emporium" style general chemistry course. The shift in pedagogy was due to the fact that 89% of students were scoring below 40% on the ACS gen chem exam and only 3% of the students scored above the 50% benchmark. The emporium is a staffed 24h/day computer lab for students to use ALEKS. They found a decrease in DFW rate, an increase in the number of ALEKS topics mastered, and an increase on the score on the ACS exam. The peer tutors working in the emporium attend lecture and work through ALEKS. The emporium group had 2 lectures per week and 2 class meetings in the emporium whereas the control group had 3 lectures per week and a traditional recitation.

test   control test   control test   control
52 71 65 20 47 40
47 54 70 65 60 57
36 62 75 58 41 36
DFW rate ALEKS topics ACS Exam

CHED 1796-1800 "STRETCH your students' minds using materials to engineer ideas about water, food and energy in the chemistry classroom," a make-and-take session.

A post shared by Kayla Kaiser (@hamerk02) on

CHED 1870 "Pasadena City College (PCC) Chemistry Club" saw Veronica Jaramillo and had a great coffee talk with her the next day.

Mississippi State Alumni and Friends Reception at Mulate's the original Cajun restaurant. Found out that they are hiring 5 faculty without any restrictions on the discipline. A great place to solve a "two-body problem."

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

CHED 1929 Lance Shipman Young at Morehouse College spoke about Peer-Lead Team Learning (PLTL) and his conclusions were that you need (1) an "Army of the Committed" so that if some faculty or administrators leave the program will survive (2) creative funding sources, they get $12,000 per year in donation from Corning (3) and willing open-minded faculty and deans. At his school, the program actually went on a 2-3 year hiatus due to a lack of these three items, but it's revived now.

CHED 1930 Rick Moog spoke about POGIL, PLTL and Pratibha. In a talk from 2005 they were using student-centered pedagogic approaches including process-oriented guided inquiry learning (POGIL) and peer-led guided inquiry (PGLI), physical chemistry online (PCOL), problem-based learning (PBL), calibrated peer review (CPR), and just in time teaching (JITT) so these ideas are hardly new.

CHED 1940 Allison Caster from Colorado School of Mines spoke about how and why she converted general chemistry in large traditional lecture sections (250 students) to smaller class size (50 students) with active learning. Using a pre- and post-test in the traditional lecture revealed that students were coming out of the class with misconceptions and poor mastery of the material. Also, there was a 20% DFW rate. The 4 Pillars that support their work are (1) learning by doing (2) finding relevance (3) communicating (4) scaffolding = start with what they know. They noted that it can be overwhelming to implement active learning given the array of techniques in the literature. Leading students to an impasse is critical. They used whiteboards and authored (or borrowed) 60+ activities. They used the science writing heuristic (SWH). There are lots of resources here. With a class size of 263 students they were able to lower the DFW from 25% to 15%. They saw a bump in attendance from 70% to 95% even though the worksheets were worth a small amount of points. Students recognized that attending class was of value. They did intentional grouping and also allowed groups to reshuffle throughout the semester.

CHED 1941 Kimberly Linenberger Cortes from Kennesaw State University in Georgia spoke about her Fall 2016 Science & Math majors cohort. The students took chem lecture and lab as well as math class and freshman seminar together. She used GoFormative and iClicker for daily group quizzes (analogous to learning catalytics). POGIL and ChemSource were the resources for in-class activities. ChemQuest and PhET were used for simulations. Camtasia was used for flipping the classroom, with embedded quizzes in the videos. The barriers to implementation were: PLTL facilitators and rooms. Also, it was difficult to get faculty to adopt high-tech video production. Her framework was Model-Based Inquiry (MBI) which (1) anchors (2) presents initial ideas (3) engages students in an activity (4) revisits hypothesis. The activities intentionally created cognitive dissonance. Labs were paired with simulations. The learning community was found to decrease the DFW rate. The flipped classroom environment was appreciated by freshmen but a more difficult adjustment for nontraditional students. Examples of her activities were flame tests, legos for dilution, and a FlinnSci activity on paramagnetism.

CHED 1943 Scott Lewis at the University of South Florida spoke about flipped classroom and PLTL in the second semester of general chemistry. He used measurable linked content (MLC). He created 47 instructional videos together with a team of 3 people. They have an upper level chemistry course that is PLTL training. Using class-level data over 8 sections, he found that the following deviations from the mean:

flipped traditional    p value
midterm +0.25 -0.31 0.003
final +0.16 -0.18 0.008

The advantages to his approach is that it is scalable, covers the same content and presents a minimal cost to students. His future work involves longitudinal tracking of his former students and PLTL facilitators in analytical chemistry.

CHED 1944 Drew Meyer from Case Western Reserve in Ohio described several semesters worth of data where he used ALEKS, clickers and POGIL-like active learning in 40% of his lectures. Twice he also used pre-lecture videos. He had a large class (300 students) and a small class (45 students). Best practices dictate that if you plan to do active learning, you must begin on day 1. If you have a theater-style classroom, make a seating chart that leaves some rows open for you to move through the room. The pre-lecture videos get everyone on the same base of knowledge and a start-of-class quiz gets them there on time. He used Camtasia for his videos, no more than 10 minutes each. He measured students' attitudes toward chemistry.

CHED 1967 David Malik from Indianapolis University presented data on the success of ALEKS and PLTL on lowering the DFW rate from 40% to below 20%. He emphasized that remedial courses hinder student progress and decrease the graduation rate. Many students get stuck and never finish.

CHED 1968 Bobby Kunnath from Syracuse University in New York spoke about his experience with bridging high school and university. He is a high school math teacher plagued with students constantly asking why they need to learn math. He found chemistry is the perfect way to show students exactly why they need math skills. Also being an immigrant, he is sensitive to the communities of refugees from Congo, Somalia, Nepal, Burma, Yemen, Sudan, and Vietnam that can be found in New York. He reported that 80% of his students qualify for free or reduced lunch. The experience he provides for them ranges from 6 weeks to 1 year where students shadow and then do hands-on experiments to receive a $250 stipend when they turn in a reflective essay. This made me wonder: Why can't the chemistry placement test (CPT) be a part of Freshman Orientation? We already require a math and writing placement exam.

CHED 1969 Ranier Glaser from University of Missouri discussed his recent publication wherein he taught spectral deconvolution using Excel in a course about how to do science. A take-home point of his talk was that "If the essence of science is peer review, then we're not teaching science if we're not doing peer review." And also "The idea that scientists are objective is a myth. They're ego driven, especially the successful ones. Peer review constrains the egos. Arguments are necessary. Peer review is a way of communication." You can find more about this course here: Undergraduate Seminar in Chemistry (3).New Curriculum on Scientific Writing, Peer Review, Science Communication. Writing-Intensive. Methods for reading, locating and presenting chemical information; data management, presentation and analysis; scientific writing; scientific peer review; professional ethics.

CHED 2015 Emily Lauren Atieh of Rutgers University in New Jersey presented her chemistry game consisting of "Sleuth Problems." Students could choose to solve a problem by purchasing various pieces of information on a budget. Constants are free. If students get the problem correct they will gain money, if they submit an incorrect answer money is deducted from their budget. Using a Likert-scale tudents (N = 52) agree that the sleuth problems helped them self-diagnose their problem solving skills, encouraged them to work in groups, and helped them understand. The Likert-scale questions revealed that the sleuth problems did not help them prepare for the exam. Open-ended surveys also found that students were frustrated by the sleuth problems, namely where to begin. Finally, the open-ended survey uncovered that students felt the sleuth problems did not relate to the exam. Her future work will include a note in the IRB that students' solution maps will be collected as data.

CHED 2016 Nathaniel Beres and Aaron Roerdink from Heidelberg University in Ohio teach a course where students study the chemistry in art and then take an international trip to view the art. Stateside, students made paint & pigments, degraded the paint & pigments, analyzed the samples, discussed forgeries. They also studied the effects of acid, base and neutral solutions in contact with marble, brass, copper and clay (materials used to create sculptures). A key assignment prior to the trip is that students were delegated to serve as tour guides for the group at specific times in the overseas experience. While traveling, students completed a journal prompt for each day of the trip. Tours included a museum conservatory, a university with an art conservation program, and a world-renowned ceramics studio. Collaborating with the Psychology department gave these chemistry professors a "Universality-Diversity Scale" to assess if the program ended up enhancing students' world-view. A final assignment was for students to articulate when they observe an object that they would NOT consider "art" among the pieces they viewed during their trip. The cost per student was charged upfront as "fees" for the course $2500 / student. They refunded any unused portion of the money, in this case $700.

I read an article just before attending the conference about the hashtag #scicomm. A response article, which I have not fully read, was posted on a different media outlet about 24 hours later. I definitely do use social media to promote science. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, March 4, 2018

45th Assembly Candidate Forum

CSUN Office of Government Relations in partnership with League of Women Voters hosted the 45th Assembly District Candidate Forum, Sat. 3/3/18, Orange Grove Bistro.

From Left to Right in the above photo:

Ray Bishop - vietnam vet, no special interest $
Daniel Brin - west hills neighborhood council
Justin Clark - government accountability
Jesse Gabriel - lawer, politician, transpo, enviro
Tricia Robbins Kasson - valley d'town, transpo
Ankur Patel - #metoo campaign ally

April 3rd special primary election
Register to vote in person or online by March 19th

Questions from the moderators...

RB - veterans, not for profit
DB - winnetka facility, rent control, new infill
JC - motel conversions, transit corridor
JG - meas H, city HHH, build it, tax cred, supply
TRK - mental health, subs abuse, obamacare
AP - coordinators at the local level, deliver

Cochran - Reseda neighborhood council president
She is a write-in candidate

Gun control?
AP - stop movement of guns across borders
TRK - gun buybacks, longer wait, health srvc
JG - prop 63, ban assult weapons in CA
JC - train & fund schools to prepare for shooting
DB - limit ammo, raise age to 21, address bullies
RB - weapons of war should not go to regular people

MeToo movement?
RB - prosecute aggressors
DB - pass ERA, protect all gender identities
JC - power dynamic, politicians not above law
JG - new people in Sac, protect victims
TRK - all women have more than one story
AP - get to K-12 ed, rape is a tool of war

Economic development?
AP - health care, enviro, transit, pay teachers
TRK - empowerment zones, vocational programs
JG - extend film tax credit, affordable higher ed
JC - small businesses, no lifelong student debt
DB - living wages, unions, empower workers
RB - small business advocate

Gas tax: senate bill 1
RB - get away from fossil fuel, clean our mess
DB - no bullet train, drives a volt, has solar panels on his house 
JC - 12 cent raised, with little action
JG - competitiveness, $ from washington
TRK - shift to clean renewable energy
AP - electrify orange line, tax vehicles/axels

What do u about the 45th?
AP - educ opportunities, diversity
TRK - beauty, big trees, mtns
JG - family-friendly
JC - kind caring protective people
DB - hiker / cyclist, plants acorns
RB - equity, cooperation

Audience questions...

How are you different / unique?
RB - experience and service, ch of commerce
DB - manages fb group, keeps it civil, open
JC - not a speed bump, an accelerator
JG - listen, advocate, represent fairly, represent
TRK - giving back, local govt, Bloomenfield
AP - people-powered, horizontal thinker

What issue would you risk your campaign on?
AP - single payer health care
TRK - housing = 10 yr problem, impacts transp
JG - climate change
JC - govt accountability / transparency
DB - enviro, clean air, w/out that whats da point
RB - nothing

RB - deportation is inhumane & undignified
DB - there should b a pathwy to citizenship
JC - does not support
JG - represents them in court
TRK - it makes us safer, crime reporting
AP - hire immigration application processors

Charter schools?
AP - does not support, will not shut down good
TRK - free ed, they're good for competition
JG - nonissue, more $ support for public ed
JC - supports family choices, special needs
DB - protect teacher's pensions, incr teacher pay
RB - high tech ed, free college, admin pay ⬇

Health care
RB - Berniecrat
DB - system is overly complicated
JC - privatize, deregulate, reform
JG - human right, universal, affordable, quality
TRK - prepaid instead of pay after a disaster
AP - focus on providing care, not profit

Closing remarks
RB - experience counts, stand by your decision
DB - experience, civil discourse among differen
JC - real reform, no prehistory, clean slate
JG - new ideas, dem supermajority, blue CA
TRK - tenacity / persistence, community
AP - get involved, you are not alone, humble

The Kaisers in CSUN's Orange Grove
celebrating 10 years of marriage this month.