Wednesday, August 24, 2016

New slide shows feature Keweenaw Science and Engineering Festival, alumni visitors, Science Fair winners, Lake Superior Celebration

By Michele Bourdieu

Carleigh Etapa, 2, of Oakfield, Wis., tries out a ringside seat during a tour of the 47-foot long U.S. Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat docked at the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) during the Aug. 5 Keweenaw Water Festival. Her Dad, Michigan Tech alumnus Jeff Etapa, supervises while Mom, Jen Etapa, tries to take her photo. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

HOUGHTON -- Michigan Tech's Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) and Houghton's Kestner Waterfront Park were full of activities for visiting alumni and families during the Keweenaw Science and Engineering Festival (KSEF) held Aug. 4, 5 and 6, 2016. From the Coast Guard boat tour to Michigan Tech's Mind Trekkers' hands-on science challenges and puzzles, kids of all ages learned about science and technology while having fun and enjoying sunny August weather.

Keweenaw Now captured some of the highlights of these events with photos we have now posted in our new slide show format. We also have added a slide show on the Western UP Science Fair winners and the April 26 Lake Superior Celebration at the GLRC. (See Slide Show announcement and links in our right-hand column).

Kris Hill, Coast Guard petty officer, who has spent four years as an engineer on the Coast Guard vessel, led visitors on a tour of the boat. He explained its purpose as a rescue vessel and pointed out the features that make this aluminum boat one of only two Coast Guard boats built to withstand hurricane-force winds and 20-foot waves on Lake Superior.

Pointing to the antennae on the Coast Guard vessel, Kris Hill, Coast Guard petty officer, explains to the Jordan family of Hancock some of the radio and radar equipment and the boat's capacity to survive even a complete roll-over, self-righting in less than 10 seconds. Pictured here are Catherine Jordan and her two sons, Adam (right) and Austin. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)*

"My job is what people retired hope to do," Hill said with a smile.

Groups of Michigan Tech alumni also had the opportunity to take a cruise on Michigan Tech's Research Vessel Agassiz during the Aug. 5 event at the GLRC.

Michigan Tech alumni visitors board the R/V Agassiz for an educational cruise. Inside the cabin, Captain Steve Roblee prepares the boat for a trip on the Keweenaw Waterway. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Guy Meadows, GLRC executive director and Michigan Tech professor, assisted visiting alumni in boarding Michigan Tech's R/V Agassiz for a cruise that including viewing the university's side-scan sonar equipment.

Guy Meadows, Michigan Tech professor and executive director of the Great Lakes Research Center waits on the dock outside the Center to help visitors on and off the R/V Agassiz (setting off for a cruise, top right) during the Aug. 5, 2016, event. At left is the 47-foot U.S. Coast Guard rescue vessel. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Meadows said he was happy to have the Coast Guard boat available for visitor tours during the Aug. 5 event.

"They're very impressive boats," he said of the 47-foot aluminum Coast Guard boat. "It's nice that they bring it down here for everybody to see."

Meadows was pleased with the number of visitors and the fact that the alumni reunion coincided with the Keweenaw Science and Engineering Festival.

"We had a really good turnout," he said. "Good weather sure helps!"

Visitors learn about invasive watermilfoil

Outside and inside the GLRC, Michigan Tech researchers displayed some of the university projects on invasive watermilfoil, a persistent aquatic plant that forms dense mats of vegetation on the surface of water. Milfoil mats can clog water intakes, interfere with swimming and boating and negatively impact other natural aquatic life.

Michigan Tech's Casey Huckins, right, professor of biological sciences, welcomes Michigan Tech alumnus Bryan Milde and his wife, Patti Milde, of Atlantic Mine, Mich., and answers their questions about invasive species. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Taylor Zallek, left, and Ryan Van Goethem, Michigan Tech graduate students in biological sciences, assist young future scientists Owen Cogswell, 5, and Kyle Cogswell, 9, in comparing native and invasive watermilfoil plants under the microscope. The Cogswell family, from Rousseau, Mich., were participating in the Keweenaw Science and Engineering Festival. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

Inside the GLRC Pengfei Xue, Michigan Tech University assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, explains computer modeling that helps researchers by showing the actions of invasive Eurasian watermilfoil now found in the Les Cheneaux Islands of Lake Huron. The invasive plant is spread by recreational activities, including boating. It has also been found in Torch Lake, but not yet in greater Lake Superior, he added. (Video by Keweenaw Now)

Kestner Waterfront Park: Family Engineering, Mind Trekkers, Science Theatre, more ..

The Keweenaw Science and Engineering Festival (KSEF) kicked off on Aug. 4 with Family Engineering Night at Kestner Waterfront Park, hosted  by Michigan Tech’s Center for Science and Environmental Outreach. Hands-on challenges for the whole family included designing and constructing the tallest tower with spaghetti and marshmallows, a solar house, wind turbines with popsicle sticks and styrofoam balls, and a geodesic dome made of toothpicks.

"It was wonderful to see how intent the youth were at solving the many engineering challenges they tackled. Most of the supplies are household items and can easily be repeated and 'improved upon' at home, just like real engineers always make improvements on their initial designs!" observed Joan Chadde, director of the Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach.

"The Michigan Tech students were terrific role models and encouraging coaches for the kids," Chadde added. 


During Family Engineering Night on Aug. 4, 2016, Joan Chadde, director of Michigan Tech's Center for Science and Environmental Outreach and coordinator of Family Engineering Night, helps the students test the paper package creations they made to hold exactly 293 pieces of popcorn. (Photo courtesy Joan Chadde)

Ryan Dixon of Houghton displays his colorful "Foam Gnome" creation, made with two different polymers, with Mind Trekkers member Kayla Wilson, Michigan Tech student in mechanical engineering technology, who is holding one that she made. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

"Don't try this at home," warns Patrick Morgan of Michigan State University Science Theatre, as he makes "elephant toothpaste" by adding a catalyst to hydrogen peroxide in a chemistry demonstration in Kestner Waterfront Park during the Aug. 6, 2016 KSEF events. (Photo by Keweenaw Now)

April 2016: Science Fair Winners and Lake Superior Celebration

On April 16, 2016, the Carnegie Museum hosted a reception for Western UP Science Fair winners.

At the April 16 Carnegie Museum reception for Western UP Science Fair winners, Devin Messina, a 5th grader at Chassell Elementary, explains her project to prove the time it takes to peel an orange, based on eyesight. (April photos by Keweenaw Now)

Ritvik Thakur and his partner, Jacob Gordon (not pictured), Houghton Elementary 5th graders, compared three types of tennis balls -- cold, hot and room temperature -- to find out which bounced the highest. Ritvik explained that the contraction of air particles in the cold balls is the reason they have less force for bouncing.

Kids had a variety of opportunities for scientific activities at the April 26, 2016, Lake Superior Celebration in the GLRC. Community members of all ages also had an opportunity to learn about local recycling initiatives.

At the April 26, 2016, Lake Superior Celebration at Michigan Tech's Great Lake Research Center, Isle Royale National Park Ranger Valerie Martin shows kids some hands-on biology experiments.

During the Lake Superior Celebration, a young visitor tries out the controls for a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), an underwater robot designed by students at Dollar Bay High School. 

An example of kids' art selected for the North Woods Kids (K-12) Art Exhibit from Western UP, displayed at the GLRC during the April 26 Lake Superior Celebration.

Lloyd Wescoat of Michigan Tech's Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI), one of the main sponsors of the Lake Superior Celebration, serves yummy chocolate cake to participants and visitors.

The April 26 Lake Superior Celebration was sponsored by the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, Michigan STEM Partnership, Western U.P. Center for Science, Mathematics and Environmental Education, Michigan Tech Center for Science and Environmental Outreach, Michigan Tech Center for Water and Society, and the Copper Country Recycling Initiative.

For more photos of these events, showcasing recent Keweenaw science activities and education, click on the links below for our recent slide show photo albums:

Keweenaw Water Festival August 5, 2016

Keweenaw Science and Engineering Festival 2016: Events at Kestner Waterfront Park in Houghton, Michigan

April 2016: Science Fair winners; GLRC Lake Superior Celebration

Click on the first photo in the album. If the caption is not visible, click on the info icon. Then click on forward arrows to view the album as a slide show.

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