After digging around the web for a bit, I found Mary Masterson’s web sites that chronicle her life, with the Littrow Spectrograph project figuring prominently. (See my earlier post on High School Innovation for the initial story on Mary’s award-winning science fair project.)
Check out the Spectroscopy web site that Mary put together including links to the MIT science institute for high school students she recently attended FREE OF CHARGE!
She also has a more technically oriented site that describes her project in detail, including nice photos of her equipment in operation. The real beauty of her shining example is that Mary covers all the scientific bases from strong inquiry and innovation, disciplined and meticulous experimental techniques, strong communication and presentations skills (including web, paper, and poster publication), all the way to strong participation in the broader scientific community to learn from others at world-class institutions and share her ideas with mentors and peers.
One of the things I really love about Mary’s project is how she was able to assemble a first-rate solidly designed and constructed bit of scientific equipment for under $300. At first glance, the whole assembly looks like a bit of expensive commercial-grade laboratory equipment, but the reality is that Mary found many of these parts to be readily available in surplus equipment shops. A couple of used camera lenses, a pre-owned CCD camera and a laser were the big tickets that were all attached to some custom-machined base and mounting hardware. So in order to complete the project, Mary started with the theories, designed the physical system, machined the parts, assembled them, wrote software, managed the computer interface, data collection and analysis, and finally published the results.
A very complete package indeed.
The real shame, in light of this gold standard, is that most students are completely unaware that these sorts of opportunities exist and are open to any motivated applicant.
17 year-old Mary Masterman of Oklahoma City just won $100,000 by designing and building a Littrow Spectrograph system with just under $300 worth of parts in Intel’s Science Talent Search
competition. Not a bad investment after all, not to mention her high likelihood of getting into the college of her choice.
Here is a picture reproduced from the Make Magazine web site of Mary in front of her contest-winning poster.
Note in particular, the three hefty laboratory notebooks resting on the table. That gives you an idea of the likely efforts, scope, and duration of a genuine science research and development project that is actually approachable in high school with the right mentorship and guidance.
Plus she got to meet the President.
In the spirit of leading our nation to technological greatness, I hereby issue a call for your favorite science and technology resources, comprised of either online or traditional media. Please post comments here with links, stories, pictures to your hidden, or not so hidden gems!
Here is the list of speakers:
- Catherine Drennan, Associate Professor, Chemistry – Chemistry and Beyond
- Woodie Flowers ME ’73, Pappalardo Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering – FIRST Competition
- Mitch Resnick EE ’88, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research, MIT Media Lab – Lifelong Kindergarten Research Group
- Isaac Colbert HM, Dean for Graduate Students – Introductory Remarks
- Dedric Carter ’99, Executive Director, Office of Engineering Outreach Programs – Moderator
It is a great panel, where each told of anecdotes and learnings from the K-12 science innovation efforts. Here are some of the comments from attendees:
“Very impressed by all of the speakers. I am a physics teacher so it energized me to hear great ideas and wonderful stories.” Kelly Forest CE ’92
“Great speakers, very timely topic in both my personal life and the world at large.” Megan Brewster, PhD student
“Very significant and important topic. Personally interested for both my own children and our nation. Very creative programs have shown practical tools/links to find more info-Thanks!” Scott Brazina GM ’89
Here are some links to a few of the individual web sites chronicling their respective missions.
MIT’s K-12 education outreach initiatives
for students and teachers. This one is a real treasure trove with dozens of programs throughout the year for students and teachers to come to MIT and learn to do their own science research and undertake their own creative efforts at technical innovation. Every school should make strong efforts to find and attend services like this one, even if it would require extra fund raising efforts to make it happen. (I would very much like to hear from anyone, student, teacher, administrator or otherwise that would like to attend such a program but is having difficulty for any reason, be it finance, distance, or time that is the barrier. I would also like to receive links to other programs in other cities that support similar notion of hands-on, unguided exploration and innovation.)
MIT Alumni Discussion on K-12 science education.
Go forth, crusaders, and banish the ignorance!
If these first test shots from NASA’s Stereo-B satellite are any indication of what more is to come, the future is bright indeed. NASA’s Stereo Satellite pair is now in orbit around the sun, both leading and lagging the earth in order to capture stereo views of solar activity.
The first official images are expected in April, but on the warm-up run, Stereo-B captured an amazing series of images of a lunar transit across the face of the sun. (Note that the moon looks smaller than a typical solar eclipse because Stereo-B is much farther from the moon than the earth, while at a similar distance from the sun.)
Despite my general policy of separating this blog from my day job, I can’t resist a plug for MobiTV’s latest public relations home run. Everyone should run out and get a copy of Time Magazine’s latest issue.
Jason and Nicole from our PR department scored us a 5 page gate-fold spread on why people work at MobiTV. You can see the online version here
, but do check out the hardcopy to get the full page photo-impressions of many of the awesome people who make MobiTV such a fantastic place to work.
Here are a couple links from the Time online site:
What draws workers to MobiTV? A hot technology, a cool company and maybe even a big payoff.
Portrait of Jason Mikami inside the network operations
closet of MobiTV, in Emeryville, Calif., February 2007.
TIMOTHY ARCHIBALD for TIME