STEM the Tide at Pennsbury Manor

     I was happy to be able to attend a workshop at Pennsbury Manor in Morrisville, PA on STEM concepts. The Manor is the archaeological restoration of William Penn’s home on the Delaware River rebuilt in 1937. The “STEM the Tide” event hosted 6 presenters. This was a great opportunity to connect with other teachers and see how we can use local resources to promote STEM.

    The first presenter was Newspapers in Education supported by Calkins Media, owners of several news papers in the Philadelphia area and a few TV stations. They demonstrated the powerful resource their online newspaper publication of the Intelligencer. Once logged in students can browse the current paper in a HTML version or a full print version. The paper has an app in the iTunes store that is just as powerful as the computer based version. The most impressive feature is the ability to search the full text of the paper for STEM key words to find articles to use as starting points for STEM lessons. In addition to being able to search the current paper the students can search the archives for past issues containing the key words. I know since I loaded the app on my phone I have fun each morning searching for articles relevant to the content I am teaching in just a few minutes.

    ACT Engineering presented to us next. I was most interested in their presentation because they showed the math of an timely project I could use with my geometry class in the next few weeks. They gave us an overview of the planning that goes into determining flood zones. The specific example was that of the wide part of the river in front of Pennsbury Manor vs. the narrow channel the river funnels into when it gets to Trenton. They demonstrated the application of cross sectional area, unit conversions, volume, flow rate, and some basic fluid dynamics.  I hope to have to PowerPoint they used in the presentation posted here shortly after this blog is live.

     Conestoga-Rovers & Associates presented to us on the environmental consulting they do. They are a collection of biologists, engineers, chemists, geologists, and technicians working with federal, state, and local government agencies to meet environmental regulations and requirements. The specific example they showed us was mitigation of the effects of a mining project on a habitats of the local wildlife. They built a new habitat near the mining site to mitigate the effects the mining was going to have on the old habitat. Through a many year process of designing, building, monitoring, and maintenance they created a place for the new wetland to take hold.

     The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Education took over from there and presented an exciting 1 year grant program. The deadline is December 13 2012 to apply. You can apply for up to a $7,500 grant with a 20% matching funds or up to a $3,000 mini grant with no matching funds. The grant should be sustainable over time and should be related to the EE standards to produce a permanent change in the organization or school. They are funding Environmental projects that address: watersheds, air quality, brownfields, energy education, environmental literacy, formal and non-formal EE Certification, STEM education, Curriculum Revision or Integration to align with EE standards, or other Environmental and Ecology Topics. For more information visit keyword: EE Grants. If you act soon you can email a summary proposal to them before November 15th and they will work to give you feedback on your application to improve your chances of winning the grant.

     Waste Management presented a great over view of their recycling and land fill operation. Pennsbury Manor is situated in one corner of the Waste Management property. You would never know if you were not told. There is no sound, no smell, nothing ugly to see. They go to great extents to protect the environment. The science demonstrated to accomplish that is amazing. They also had a very important message for all Pennsylvanians. The eCycling program goes into effect January 1st 2013. This means that any electronics must be taken to a collection center to be disposed of properly and any electronics bigger than 4″ cannot be put on the regular trash pickup. This is part of a federal initiative.

The last presentation of the day was from the Historian at Pennsbury Manor itself.  He took us on a wonderful tour of the grounds.  The science that went into rebuilding Pennsbury Manor is impressive.  They looked at foundation remains and calculated how much load the foundation could take and used that information to rebuild the building.  The only other information they had was letters about the construction between Penn and the builders as well as two very tiny pictures (1 inch by 1 inch) of the building.

I believe Waste Management sponsors this workshop every year so check out their website (probably will have a 2013 instead of a 2012 for next years as soon as they put it up) and to find out when and what the next one will be on.



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