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Career Choices and Computing Camp a Success
Susan Marino, Head of the Program for Women at the University of Minnesota's Institute of Technology, sponsored two week-long computer camps for fifth and sixth grade girls in July, 1996. About 30 girls attended each session and received individual support from two head teachers and five mentors from the Institute of Technology.

"In computers, just like any of the hard sciences, we see that girls are simply staying away." Marino said,"In any career field they choose, the girls are going to have to be familiar with the new technology."

In addition to basic computing skills, the campers put their knowledge into practice in simulated engineering projects. They built miniature houses with light sensors and little garage doors that opened and closed using special computers provided by LEGO Systems Inc.

"To me, computing is a women's issue." Dr. Susan Marino, Head of Program for Women

Dr. Marino believes that computing is going to be a significant skill for women in the 90's. "Computing offers women flexibility of time and location. To me, computing is a women's issue that way because women have childcare restrictions and I don't see that changing any time soon." The ultimate effectiveness of the camp will be assessed over the next several years. In the meantime, Dr. Marino has a 90% return enrollment for next summer. "The idea is to create a community where the girls feel they belong," says Marino.

Contact the IT Program for Women at (612) 624-1317 for more information. Both sessions are partially supported by MnSGC Space Grant funds. (Portions re-printed with permission, Minnesota Daily, July 29, 1996)

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Liftoff Minnesota: Rockets for Schools Program set for spring of 1998

Gordon Hoff, Manager of the Aviation Education Division of the Minnesota Department of Transportation, is spearheading an initiative called "Rockets for Schools." With support from a wide variety of community representatives, including the Minnesota Space Grant Consortium and with support from a variety of community organizations including the Science Museum of MN, the MN Science Teachers Association, the FAA, and the UM Dept. of Aerospace Engineering, plans are being made to launch a Super Loki rocket in the spring of 1998 from a site near Duluth, MN. Educators statewide are invited to participate in curriculum development and educational leadership prior to the launch. See page 6 for more information.

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BSU Linked to Martian Rocks
Dr. John Annexstad,professor of geology and director of space studies at Bemidji State University, played an important role in establishing the cataloguing system used at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX for documenting Antarctic meteorites. The excitement of the recent discovery of miscroscopic organisms on the Martian rock found in Antarctica in 1984 was felt all the way in northern Minnesota.

"I was thunderstruck," Annexstad said. "I'm absolutely thrilled for my friends (at NASA) who have been working on this."

In 1976-77 Annexstad and a colleague set up a coalition that included NASA, the Smithsonian Institute, the National Science Foundation and the principle investigator for meteorite finds, Dr. William Cassidy, to implement proper collection and cataloguing procedures for meteorites. These procedures are still being used today. Annexstad was on the team that found the first Martian rock in Antarctica in December, 1979. The rock, labeled EETA 790001, was found in a region called Elephant Moraine.

"That's not life as we know it, but the beginning building blocks." Dr. John Annexstad

Annexstad said that some scientists call Mars a failed planet because life never fully developed there. This does not take away from the impact of the recent discovery, however.

"This is one of the most exciting and far-reaching discoveries (to date)," Annexstad said.

(Portions taken from article appearing in Pilot-Independent News, Walker, MN 1996. Printed with permission.)

Augsburg College HostsVisiting Scientist
Dr. Ken Erickson and the department of physics at Augsburg College hosted Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Acting Director of the American Museum Hayden Planetarium in NY City. Dr. Tyson's topic, "Death by Black Hole" was very well received by over 700 in attendance at the free public lecture given in April, 1996. Tyson explained how the Hubble Telescope has helped confirm what happens in the cores of active galaxies. Dr. Tyson is author of two books: Universe Down to Earth and Merlin's Tour of the Universe and appears on PBS.

Atomic Physics at University of St. Thomas
Two undergraduate students from the University of St. Thomas, under the direction of Dr. Paul Lane, worked on setting up an electron scattering experiment this past year. This experiment was interested in collecting data for low energy electron scattering (<100eV) from polyatomic molecules. The low energy electron scattering data for the polyatomic molecules are difficult to collect because they either cover a limited energy range or are in disagreement.

To conduct the experiment, Dr. Lane used the total electron scattering apparatus shown schematically in Fig. 1 below. The apparatus was donated by the University of California, Riverside. UST modified the system by adding time-of-flight detection to increase the energy resolution as well as to make vacuum chamber improvements.

Fig. 1. Schematic of time-of-flight apparatus showing an electron gun (1), deflector-gate (2), flight tube containing oven for condensable vapor targets (3), electron multiplier (4), pumping port for electron gun chamber (5), gas inlet leak valve for gas targets (6), capacitance manometer pressure gauge (7), detector chamber pumping port (8), and supporting instrumentation.

Bethel Hosts Optics Symposium
Dr. Richard Peterson of Bethel College opened his Bethel Optics Lab to students and teachers participating in the Minnesota Academy of Science Junior Science and Humanities Symposium last year. It received a very high rating from participants who said that the tour of the lab and the "hands-on" activities were the best part of the symposium.

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