Cool Science Festival Presentation on Saturday October 11, 2020
Rich Russel made an online presentation at the Cool Science Festival. The presentation covered the science of radio astronomy and the accomplishments of the Deep Space Exploration Society. The presentation was streamed live on Facebook and Youtube. You can watch the presentation here:
This 8-day regional event, designed to ignite wonder and inspire curiosity about the world around us, attracts between 10,000 and 20,000 attendees each year. For more information about the Cool Science Festival go to:
Bill Miller, Tony Bigbee, and I (Gary Agranat) served last month as judges at the 2020 Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair. The Fair was held at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs on Saturday February 22nd. Tony served as a general judge, representing the Fair. Bill and I served as special judges representing our radio telescope group, the Deep Space Exploration Society. The Fair is there to encourage students in grades 6 through 12 to explore and develop their interests in science and engineering. The Pikes Peak Regional Fair supports students from Elbert, El Paso, Park, and Teller County counties, whether they are in a school or home schooled.
About $8000 in prizes and special awards are given each year from the Fair and special groups like ours. The Fair prizes are divided into subject area categories, like physical sciences, plant sciences, environment, biomedicine, chemistry, and energy/transportation. There are overall Grand Prizes, and prizes in each of the High School and Junior High School Divisions. Students are also awarded invitations to the State Science Fair.
DSES was one of 43 organizations that sponsored special prizes. This year DSES sponsored 4 awards: 1st prizes and honorable mention awards, for both the Senior and Junior High School student categories. Our 1st prizes included an award of $50. This is our second year judging and sponsoring prizes.
DSES this year also supported a high school student, Xander Duvall, who is interested in astronomy and physics.
The DSES Judging and Prizes
Only about 60 students entered this year’s Science Fair, compared to about a hundred last year. Nonetheless, in our opinions, the projects were generally good and well-motivated. One could see the students’ hearts were in it. A number of projects were motivated with real concern for society. Many of the solutions were often quite innovative and truly pushing what had been done before. Even when the projects were not so far reaching, one could tell the students were trying things and learning from their experiences.
Bill and I decided on a 4-part grading system for judging. We wanted to keep this simple, straight forward and manageable, and meaningful. For each student we interviewed, we assigned a grade of 1 to 5 in each of these major areas:
How well they framed their problem
The quality of their data, which included quality of their testing and how they conducted their experiments.
The quality of their analysis, which included how thorough their work was and how well they were able to explain it.
The value added from their work: the general impact to society and science or engineering, and to their own development. A sub category of #4 included, if possible, the value added to the subject areas relevant to DSES work: i.e., astronomy, especially radio astronomy, and any of the engineering, computer, and science areas that enable that work, like data analysis and experimenting with antennas. Those topics are not necessarily easy to get into, and so we wanted to encourage and help young people get exposure to those topics.
We then used our grades as guides to holistically assess all of the students afterwards. In 5 to 10 minutes of interviewing each student, and looking at their work and presentations, it is a challenge to get an objective view of the full work. The quieter time afterwards gave us time to reflect more fully, and let impressions that were working in the background contribute and give us a fuller answer.
Our goal was to support the young people in developing their quality in all 4 of those areas. I think Bill and I were satisfied with the awards we decided on. There were many excellent projects and several of those were outstanding. We were special judges in our own defined special category. We couldn’t award to everyone that we thought worthy. But in our decisions, we indicated the strengths and qualities we wanted the young people to continue to develop for themselves. We interviewed 7 students in the Junior High School Division and 7 students in the Senior High School Division. We were impressed with and proud of all of the students we interviewed.
We decided on these awards:
Junior Outstanding: Naomi Kruse (6th grade) “I speak for the trees: Tree-ring analysis of pinus ponderosa to learn local climate history” . Naomi took slices from about 30 trees that were damaged in the Black Forest fire a few years ago. She systematically analyzed the tree rings and was able to correlate climate change well back into the 19th century.
Junior Honorable Mention: Sara Wilson (8th grade) “Mind your message”. Sara successfully developed a smart garage door opening system that can be operated simply with a home computer and not requiring a smart phone.
Senior Outstanding: Kathryn Kummel (11th grade) “Investigating the urban heat island phenomenon through modeling, satellite data, and on-site measurements”. Kathryn did a multi-faceted study. She examined LANDSAT data of Colorado Springs to get a broad view. She looked at mathematical modeling of temperature and heat response of different surfaces. She checked with measurements of her own. And she made sample roof surfaces to test which would best mitigate heat generation in an urban environment.
Senior Honorable Mention: Xander Duvall (9th grade) “Analysis of neutral hydrogen radio emissions in the Milky Way galactic plane”.
Xander was the student we supported. He had come to us just earlier this year. We discussed with him his interests and what we were doing. We only had enough time to provide him with some data, to try to analyze and understand. The data we gave him was from a drift scan with our 60-foot dish of the 21 cm HI hydrogen spectral signal, scanning across the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Xander was able to research the background and develop a sharp presentation with some good explanations and illustrations. We hope Xander will continue to explore and develop his experience with astronomy research. He got a good start, and there is potential for lots of good solid work. Meanwhile, Xander earned several other awards at the Fair: the NASA EARTH System Science Award, the Northrop Grumman Special Awards in Science and Engineering (Sr.Div.), and the Senior Division People’s Choice (which is a popular vote by everyone who attends the Fair).
Additional DSES members helped Xander, including Rich Russel in supporting him with the observational data.
These are the students we interviewed.
JA3) Ezra Voth [03:58] Measuring water ﬂow through speciﬁc placements of rocks on varying inclinations to reduce soil attrition.
JA4) Naomi Kruse [03:49] I speak for the trees: Tree-ring analysis of pinus ponderosa to learn local climate history
JC1) Ava Connelly [01:48] ‘‘Electricity free emergency’’
JD1) Sara Wilson [06:06] ‘‘Mind your message’’
JD3) Aditya Gonella [06:50] :‘‘A hiker’s third eye’’
JD5) Shrey Rohilla [02:50] ‘‘Windmill wonders’’
JD7) Phoenix Doyle [02:42] ‘‘Electromagnetism’’
SA6) Hudson Kruse [06:15] ‘‘Searching for blunders: Discovering the relative factors which inﬂuence faulty thought process in chess”
SB5) Jesus Gil [01:21] ‘‘Durability of casein plastic’’
SD1) Steven Lewis [02:20] ‘‘Cyber security engineering for aircraft’’ (Using AI machine learning to counter vulnerability of aircraft ADS-B)
SD2) Gryphon Patlin & Zakery Snider [06:32] ‘‘A device to digitally assist and enhance perception’’
SD4) Xander Duvall [03:17] ‘‘Analysis of neutral hydrogen radio emissions in the Milky Way galactic plane’’
SD5) Axton Hiltion [00:30] ‘‘Mitigating the cost of expensive solar repair by shielding environmental effects’’
SE6) Kathryn Kummel [02:59] ‘‘Investigating the urban heat island phenomenon through modeling, satellite data, and on-site measurements’’
In the near future, Bill and I plan to meet over coffee and assess our lessons learned. We’ll think about how we did, our criteria, and what we want to do going forward for the next science fairs, for supporting the young people in developing their work, and in judging at the fairs.
The Science Fair has a website. Pikes Peak Regional Science Fair. There you can learn more details about the Fair and the awards. They also have a nicely done video that highlights the students with their presentations and the experience of participating in the Fair. https://vimeo.com/393350748 The times in brackets in our above list of the students we interviewed are when they appear with their presentations in the video.
By Gary Agranat. Participating were Bill Miller and Gary Agranat.
Bill Miller and Gary Agranat represented the Deep Space Exploration Society at the 2019 Haswell Bazaar last Saturday, October 26th. The bazaar is held at the town’s community center, which is their former elementary school. At the bazaar are crafts, foods, and specialized products sold by local residents. Our antenna site is located just a few miles from the community center. The fair is also an opportunity for the local residents to socialize. And for us in DSES, it is a chance for us to socialize with them too.
Bill Miller created two new display panels for the event. These present an illustrated overview of our work and accomplishments to date. The panels are organized into four topics: infrastructure work, our radio astronomy science, ham radio, and outreach.
Gary brought a laptop which presented a running slide show of about 180 photos of our activities from the past year.
The bazaar concluded by 3 PM. The bazaar was a good opportunity for us to participate in the community activities, to show to the community what we do, and to continue to foster our good relationships with each other.
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During the past year, the local railroad line that runs east-west through town had restoration work begun. The line had been abandoned several decades ago. We learned that the original Haswell railroad depot building is still in town. We were told where it is, and we went to look. We were told that if passenger rail service was restored, there was interest to restore this depot, and bring it back to the rail line and utilize it again. It is the only surviving railroad depot building from the original Missouri Pacific Railroad.
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After the bazaar was finished, we stopped at our Plishner antenna site. There we looked at the progress of the ham radio tower. And Gary retrieved the ham radio log data from the most recent contacts. Steve Plock made our first contacts with the Yagi antenna on the new tower last Friday. He contacted AG5Z in Mississippi on the 20 meter band, and 9Y4D in Trinidad on the 15 meter band.
4th Annual Deep Space Exploration Society Open House – Public Invited
Saturday August 10, 2019, starting at 10 AM, at the Plishner Radio Telescope Site, located on Kiowa County Road 20, 5 miles south of Haswell, CO.
Tours and educational programs will be offered during the afternoon. Radio Astronomy projects will be demonstrated, including galactic spectral Hydrogen Line and Pulsar detection with our 60-foot antenna dish, and Jupiter-Io radio astronomy (Radio Jove), Meteor detection, and the IBT (Itty Bitty Radio Telescope). Optical Astronomy and Ham Radio operating will be demonstrated.
Solar Optical Telescopes will be available to view the sun and its sunspots. Other optical telescopes will be available during the evening hours. The annual Perseid meteor shower starts on the Aug. 10th weekend. Meteors may be seen at night, sky conditions permitting.
Food will be served for lunch and dinner. Ice water and lemonade will be available for all throughout the day.
Overnight RV and tent camping will be permitted. Please let DSES know what type of RV/trailer you will come in. A limited number of 20 amp electrical hook ups should be available. A $10/night donation will be asked for electrical connections. Hotel rooms may be available at the Cobblestone Inn & Suites in Eads, CO, about a half hour drive away.
For more information, please contact us at our email address: information (a)dses(dot)science or destm(a)gmail(dot)com.
Please read our Review of our annual Open House at the Plishner Radio Telescope site in Haswell, in August 2018. We host our Open House each year during the Perseid Meteor Shower. The link will open our review report as a PDF file. It was an enjoyable weekend, with many science and social activities. A significant highlight is our ability to now make observations with the 60-foot antenna. With many photos.
DSES conducted its first open house on Friday, August 12, in conjunction with the Perseid Meteor Shower. We had 11 DSES members and over 20 guests spend the evening looking at Saturn, Jupiter, Mars and the Moon through telescopes while watching for meteors at the Plishner Radio Astronomy and Space Science Center in Haswell, CO.
We had five optical telescopes on site for viewing of the skies as well as lectures from 2 Pikes Peak Community College astronomy instructors who provided instruction on the use of the various telescopes present.
We had a few glitches such as the mice eating the wiring in the generator controller which shut down the main source of power for the site. However, thanks to some quick calls, Dave and Bill were able to get a generator shipped down to the site. This generator powered the site for the next two days while Ed worked out how to fix the primary generator regulator.
Special recognition for Don and Adam who traveled 4 hours to attend the event. They also spent many hours clearing the bunker ramp of tumbleweeds.
We had four or five optical telescopes set up for everyone’s viewing pleasure and some of the local community came out for an impromptu start party. Everyone had an educational and great social time together.
Kevin Ahrens and several other photographers came down and shot some amazing photos and time-laps videos of the storms rolling in.
Gary Agranat organized and manned a special events Ham station and collected 86 contacts on several different bands during the event. This was the first major use of the DSES new Club Station call sign, k0prt (prt stands for Plishner Radio Telescope). New QSL card were made by Kammie Russel, the daughter of a DSES member.
Much progress was made in outfitting the dish and getting control set up.
Many members stayed overnight at Diane’s Park which is under the 60 foot dish.
Ray and Floyd prepared a 6 meter antenna for the meteor detection radio telescope. The communications van was outfitted with extra antennas for 6 meter ham radio plus UHF and VHF amateur satellite communications. The van also has a 6 meter to 180 meter dipole for HF communications.
Bob counted sunspots and solar prominences using the solar telescope lent to DSES for this event by Pikes Peak Community College. A star party with multiple optical telescopes was a big hit while watching for meteors.
Myron set up an AMSAT communications system in the communications van.
The neutral hydrogen experiment was installed using the SpectraCyber system. The dish was moved to accommodate the new advanced feed built by Ray. The feed will be permanently mounted on the dish in the next couple of week. This will allow for UHF, VHF, 1296 MHz Earth-Moon-Earth (moon-bounce) and 1420 MHz neutral Hydrogen radio astronomy.
The next expedition will involve using the new antenna feed system for the ARRL Moon Bounce contest in the October time frame as well as the first use of the primary dish for the neutral hydrogen radio astronomy experiments.