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MS Science & Engineering 9/26

Hey all!

Just a quick update from our adventures upstairs. Lots going on in MS Sci/Eng these past few weeks.

We completed our Future Cities project and presented them to our peers. This project involved learning about urban planning and how cities have evolved, along with solutions to the problem of urban "heat islands" which can cause city areas to be up to 10 degrees hotter than surrounding area. Coupled with climate change, this can create a dangerous situation for city dwellers, especially those without the benefit of air conditioning. The students worked in groups and were all asked to keep the idea of reducing this effect as much as possible. As a result, our projects incorporated reliance on clean energy, abolition of gasoline cars within city limits, reflective paint on buildings, and increased green spaces to allow for more transpiration. The students worked hard and did a great job.

We also had our first academic quiz of the year. This provided an opportunity to discuss the "point" of these types of assessments (and grades, in general). It is important to note that while a grade serves as an individual point of data describing our understanding of a part of our curriculum, it will never do so fully. It's also essential that our students remember that DGS is about mastery of the content, so we don't ALLOW our students to just skate by with a poor grade. Rather they will always have the ability to redress and correct their assessments (and work through any points of confusion in the process).

As of last week, we have now jumped into our next design project: the Toothpick Bridge. While this is also in the vein of urban design, it is much more about the physics of structural integrity than thermodynamics. The students are working individually this time to design and construct a bridge made solely from toothpicks and glue. They have specific size guidelines to follow, and their objective is to build a bridge which will support the greatest weight possible under those constraints. Naturally, we have been researching different types of bridges and how they handle tension. and compression. Many students will elect to use a combination of these styles in the construction of their bridge.

We do have class trips coming up next week, so their build time will probably be interrupted, but we will get back on it and take all necessary class time to complete a quality product.

Thanks to Emma and Michael for our last two terrific Master Classes on the subjects of Ghosts and NASA History, respectively. Have a terrific week!

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