Category Archives: Arts & Sciences

In the Shadow of the Moon

I guess this is where I’m supposed to describe the Great American Total Solar Eclipse of August 21. The problem is, I can’t. I’ve been attempting to come up with words that would give the event its props and, I’ll admit, I’m coming up short.

Camp Ondessonk. Online photo from Korte & Luitjohan Contractors, Inc.

I’ve been asked many times “How were things in Carbondale?” I didn’t go to Carbondale. That venue was a bit overcrowded for me. My and CU Astronomical Society colleagues and I descended on Camp Ondessonk, near Ozark, Illinois. The Catholic youth camp was previously directed by my brother-in-law, and my kids spent a lot of time there. We set up telescopes in an impressive row in a horse pasture, meaning you had to pay close attention to where you erected your tent! We had numerous telescopes from CUAS, the twin city group from Bloomington-Normal, and University of Illinois students. And my daughter made the trip from Chicago to go with us.

We arrived Saturday morning to avoid traffic, and my wife and daughter took part in some of the camp’s amenities like archery, hiking, and craft-making. Carl Wenning (ISU) and I did three workshops each on Sunday, and Carl did a keynote after dinner. The food was awesome! They treated us well! Stargazing was a bit disappointing as we were greeted with heavy dew and clouds both Saturday and Sunday night. But the main event was Monday.

The observing field (half of it anyway). Photo by Dave Leake.

We all smiled as we opened our tents Monday morning, greeted by blue skies with a few clouds. I did two radio interviews via cell phone before breakfast and then spent the rest of the morning setting up equipment. Our camp director said that with the influx of “Monday only” traffic (no overnight accommodations), he expected 800 people in the camp. I used my telescope to project an image of the Sun, about a foot in diameter, on a poster board. It was here that I shouted, “first contact” to the group right at 11:53 a.m.

The partial eclipse as projected by a colander. Photo by Dave Leake.

We watched as the Moon seemed to consume a wonderful sunspot group on the Sun’s face. People used pegboards, mailing tubes, and even colanders to project the partial eclipse.

As the Moon overtook the Sun, everything seemed “weird!” It is difficult to articulate! Shadows became sharper and the countryside took on a pale appearance as if it were twilight, but it was everywhere (not just one direction) and the Sun was high in the sky! It got darker and cooler. At the first diamond ring, a roar came from the crowd and there was applause as we bathed in the Moon’s shadow. The horizons stayed relatively bright, but the sky overhead darkened and Venus became brilliant. Jupiter was visible east of the Sun.

Eclipse totality at Ozark, Illinois. Photo by Saiko Rosenberger.

Some colleagues began snapping photos. I did not. This was my first total eclipse and I was advised just to watch. That was great advice. It was an emotional scene:

  • My daughter was there, with whom I had shared telescopic views of Saturn when she was just a tyke. She spent seven years as a camper here, so this was a homecoming for her.
  • Chuck Greenwood was there from Florida; he was Staerkel Planetarium’s show producer when I started. We presented shows together for 12 years. Frank Oriold was there from St. Charles. Frank and I were in the UI Astro Club together in 1981 and I had not seen him in years. Mike Rosenberger was there with his wife. Mike and I co-founded CUAS back in 1986—a lifelong friend.
  • And I was wearing my dad’s eclipse T-shirt. I lost him in 2015. The coronal streamers were nothing short of spectacular and the Moon’s perimeter took on a pearl white color. He would have loved this!

My wife kept a timer on her phone and, at 2.5 minutes, I yelled “have your glasses ready!” The second diamond ring was more dramatic than the first. The Sun’s brilliant light appeared as a point that grew in size. Given the high ice crystal clouds in the area, the point was surrounded by brilliant colors and the crowd gasped. Afterwards, club members gathered and either hugged or provided a “high five.” It was only 2.5 minutes but it will be etched in our memories forever!

The next eclipse in the area will be April 8, 2024. I hope I’m around for it. What an amazing experience! I didn’t even mind the 6.5-hour drive home!

[David Leake is director of the William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College.]

Parkland Students Excavate at Allerton Park!

Authored by Erin Riggs, PhD student and Parkland Field Archaeology instructor

Parkland Students who participated in the archeological field dig.

Exotic settings, buried secrets, treks through the jungle—these are all things you (and the typical undergraduate student) might associate with archaeology. We make this association because that is how archaeology is portrayed by such pop culture icons as Indiana Jones and Lara Croft. As Parkland’s field school students would be quick to tell you, there are usually snakes and spiders involved. Otherwise, this portrayal is not very accurate.

Actually, the majority of professional archaeologists in the United States are employed in Cultural Resource Management (CRM) and work domestically (Malloy 2017). CRM archaeologists survey areas that are about to be developed for construction. In these areas, they collect information on existing material heritage and steer development away from sites protected by law. Archaeology in America is primarily this: protecting and contributing to what we know about the the historic landscapes that surround us every day, under our streets, lawns, and public parks.

Students rarely learn about CRM archaeology when they attend a traditional archaeological field school. More often than not, field schools are located overseas and are marketed as study-abroad experiences (Boytner 2012). They also can be prohibitively expensive, ranging in cost from $1,000 to $6,000 (Perry 2006).  While these experiences can be incredible opportunities, they often leave students with little knowledge of the archaeological job opportunities and infrastructures here at home.

At Parkland College this summer, we wanted students to work on an archaeological project within their own community. We wanted our course  to be accessible to students who might not have the funds or time required to attend a field school abroad. We achieved these goals through collaboration with the Illinois State Archaeological Survey (ISAS), the primary CRM group in Illinois. ISAS had recently surveyed Allerton Park in conjunction with a trail improvement project. Their survey work rekindled interest in a mound cluster existent on the property, Samuel’s Mounds. Allerton is a unique space within Illinois—an island of relatively undisturbed, unplowed forest land in the midst of a sea of agricultural fields.

Through our Parkland College/ISAS collaboration, students were able to assist professional archaeologists in excavating at this site in late July. They opened 1×1 meter square units around the mounds (leaving the mounds themselves undisturbed) to search for artifacts and features. We hoped to find something diagnostic that could help ISAS associate the mound group with a culture and time period. The materials are still being washed and inventoried. However, our first guess based on observations in the field point towards Middle to Late Woodland—meaning this site is likely 1,000 to 2,000 years old!

Parkland students worked hard and had a great time! In the process, they grew familiar with some of the quintessential features of CRM work—shovel testing, eating packed lunches in the field, the necessity of redundancy and precision in CRM paperwork, the tedium of a day without many artifacts, and the sheer joy of finally finding something of interest!

Here is what students had to say after completing the course:

“Although there were bugs buzzing around my ear every second, intense heat, and labor intensive digging, this field school allowed me to experience real fieldwork and gave me the satisfaction of unearthing an artifact which may help give context to these ancient mounds. I’m a bit sore, but I have greatly enjoyed this experience.” -Josh Boone (Senior, Anthropology)

“I never once thought I would be a part of an archaeological field school. But here I am, 5 days after leaving the field, and I am still thinking about the great experience I had! From our individual projects, to digging hand units, to shovel testing, I had a blast! It was tedious, and quite a few times I thought about backing down, but there is no quitting in archaeology! I learned so much over the past six weeks, and I’d do it all over again if I had the chance.” -Evyjo Compton (Senior, Animal Science)

“The experience I have gained from this field school has been excellent, and I plan to use what I have learned in my future. I have gained many valuable skills while also having a lot of fun. I am so very thankful that the Illinois State Archaeological Survey allowed us to assist them.” -Kaleb Cotter (Junior, Anthropology)

 

Cited

Boytner, Ran. 2012. “The Changing Nature of Archaeological Field Schools.” The SAA Archaeological Record 12 (1): 29-32.

Malloy, Maureen. ” Questions About: Archaeology As A Career.” Questions About: Archaeology As A Career. Accessed August 04, 2017. http://www.saa.org/ForthePublic/FAQs/ForAdults/QuestionsAboutArchaeologyAsACareer/tabid/975/Default.aspx.

Perry, E. Jennifer. 2006. From Students to Professionals: Archaeological Field Schools as Authentic Research Communities. The SAA Archaeological Record 6(1):25–29.

PRECS Summer Research “Invaluable” to Students

Ten science-focused students from community colleges across Illinois and two other states came to Champaign recently to participate in the inaugural summer of PRECS (Phenotypic Plasticity Research Experience for Community College Students), a research experience for undergraduates program (REU) funded by the National Science Foundation. PRECS provides community college students with authentic research experiences in the area of phenotypic plasticity, the phenomenon in which a single genotype produces multiple phenotypes depending on environment.

Our summer program started with a two-week boot camp at Parkland College on May 24. The boot camp prepared participants for the eight-week research immersion portion of the program, where students became integrated into research laboratories at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The immersion portion ran through July 26.

PRECS is different from the NSF’s other REU programs in two ways. First, although most programs include research immersion experience, it is less common to have a boot camp. Second, many REU programs are designed for undergraduates in their junior and senior years, while PRECS is specially designed to meet the needs of community college students, who may not have had any research experience and relatively few college-level science courses. In fact, as far as we can tell, PRECS is the first NSF REU in the field of biology to be open exclusively to community college students and to have a community college faculty member as one of the creators and administrators of the program.

As our program wraps up, two PRECS participants,  Elliot Ping and Aaron West, share a bit about their experiences and what they are taking away from this excellent summer opportunity (below).

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“PRECS provided a platform for growth and learning, both academically and professionally, while also providing a candid look at what it’s like to be a part of a research lab. The program has been a whirlwind of learning opportunities (including the mistakes and frustrations that often come paired with them) from start to finish. These experiences, from the outright failures to the great successes, are all good preparation for what it means to be a person in research.

An average workday for me was 9 am to 5 pm, sometimes earlier or later depending on what we were doing. If we could only get a timeslot on the confocal microscope at 8 am or at 6 pm, for example, then the day would be adjusted differently. The specific project I was working on involved a lot of downtime between steps while things ran their course, so I had the opportunity to learn other skills (like R programming and other software skills), read papers, and shadow other members of the lab.

My favorite moment was when we finally got our antibodies to work. We were at the confocal microscope doing a continuous scan to get a look at the brain tissue, and we found real colocalized staining on the sample. It felt good to see my efforts come together and to get good images of something, especially after something like two weeks of repeated failure.

This summer, I have gained more perspective about science as an institution than I gathered through the entire course of my associate’s degree. Research is not the simple, straightforward thing many people think it to be. It is failing and trying again, or trying something else, until you get it right, and, like with most other things worth doing, it takes practice, patience, and outright stubbornness to gain the skills necessary to make success a possibility.

I will hold close to my heart for a very long time the relationships I have built and the education I have received, both formal and informal, from working and studying in the PRECS program. The opportunity to work, learn, and present, especially when coupled with the guidance of so many knowledgeable, experienced people, has been, and will likely continue to prove itself to be, utterly invaluable to my development as a student and as a professional-in-the-making in the sciences. I am so grateful to Parkland College and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for working to make this opportunity for community college students possible. It has been a privilege to be involved with PRECS, and I would encourage any community college student who thinks research may be for them to look into this or other opportunities as something that can both broaden their horizons for the future and deepen their understanding and appreciation of the things they are learning in the classroom.”   — Elliot Ping

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“I am honored to have been picked to participate in PRECS (Phenotypic Plasticity Research Experience for Community College Students). Coming from a community college located in the south suburbs of Chicago, I only had a vague sense of what being in a lab entailed. What PRECS would go on to teach me this summer is the community a lab has. Every lab is different, specializing in different fields, participating in different research.

PRECS has been a great program to participate in over the past 10 weeks. It has prepared a mindset geared toward graduate school. PRECS has exposed me to real-world scientific practices, and stresses. PRECS gave me a true experience, exposing me to what my life would be like after graduating with my bachelor’s degree. I feel more prepared moving forward with my education. Whether I go on to continue scientific research or not is not foreseen, but I know that it is a viable option.” — Aaron West

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For more information about PRECS, visit precs.igb.illinois.edu.

[C. Britt Carlson, PhD, is an associate professor of chemistry in the  Natural Sciences department at Parkland College.]

Graphic Design Students Earn $$ For Excellence

Last night at the 2017 Parkland Graphic Design Juried Exhibition opening reception, eight students split $1,100 in cash awards for exhibiting excellent work.

Every year, the students in Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design Programs have the opportunity to showcase their best work in the Giertz Gallery at Parkland College. This year, 207 entries were received and 137 entries were accepted by a jury of our design faculty.

Then, two industry professionals were invited to come in to judge the entries and to select the award winners. This year’s judges were Maria Ludeke, design studio manager at Neutral Design Studio and Ralph Roether, graphic designer at Champaign Park District. Their mission: Find the best 11 pieces in the show and then select the one piece that would receive the coveted “best of show” award.

“Judging this years show proved challenging as we had to pick just one best of show,” said Maria. “These students will do so well moving forward in their careers. They show great creativity, execution, and capacity to make beautiful, thoughtful work.”

“I was honored to be a judge for the Parkland Graphic Design Show,” added Ralph. “It was enlightening to see how many different aspects of design are being taught: print, packaging, logos, identity, history, web, digital, video titles, animation etc. I’m a little jealous. What a fantastic program to have available to our community.”

“I was thrilled to see the breadth of student work produced by Parkland’s Graphic Design program,” added Maria. “The professors at Parkland have prepared them well for transitioning into the professional world of design and marketing.”

Most of the awards were donated by local businesses and supporters of Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design programs. These friends include Surface 51, The Robeson Family, [co][lab], Studio 2D, and the Champaign-Urbana Design Org (CUDO), who all donated cash awards. CUDO was also the co-sponsor of the opening reception.

More than 270 industry professionals, alumni, friends, family, and students attended the reception. At 6:30 p.m., each of the winners were acknowledged with a round of applause, a certificate, and a check.

Here’s who won:

• Graphic Design Best of Show

Motion Design by Jason Dockins (click image to view)

 

• Illustration Best of Show

Illustration by Shannon Martin

 

• Typography Best of Show

Packaging by Emily Gorski

 

• President’s Award of Excellence

Poster by Shannon Martin

 

• CUDO Award of Excellence

Packaging by Justin Klett

 

• Surface 51 Award of Excellence

Packaging by Brooke Armstrong

 

• Studio 2D Design Strategy Award

Web Mockup by Brooke Armstrong

 

• [co][lab] Award of Excellence

Calendar by Brielle Arnold (Designer), Nikolas Atwood (Copywriter), Jason Dockins (Art Director), Shannon Martins (Illustrator)

 

• Electric Pictures Award of Excellence

Poster by Justin Klett

 

• David M. and Shirley A. Jones Student Art Award

Packaging by Kristy Lau

 

• Fine and Applied Arts Department Chair Award

Book Cover by Emily Gorski

 

The 2017 Parkland Graphic Design Juried Exhibition will continue in Parkland’s Giertz Gallery through June 1. Summer gallery hours are Monday–Thursday, 10am–7pm (closed Saturday and Sunday).

To see more examples of student work from Parkland’s Graphic Design and Interactive Design programs, please visit our virtual galleries.

[Paul Young is the program director of Graphic Design at Parkland College.]

Pathophysiology, the Bridge to Understanding

It’s one thing to know WHAT disease or injury a person suffers from. It’s another thing entirely to understand WHY he or she became sick or injured in the first place.

If you’re studying to be in a Parkland College Health Professions program, or even if you’re already in a health career, you may not yet have made the important connection that fits these two pieces of knowledge together.  In fact, most clinical programs in the U.S. acknowledge a slight disconnect between foundational health career courses and the applied clinical practice. What is needed, they recognize, is a ‘bridge’ of understanding that can answer the question: What has gone wrong within the basic anatomy and physiology of a particular patient to cause the disease or condition that they present with?

With a basic knowledge of pathophysiology, you can come to understand this link and be on your way to delivering better care for your patients.

Pathophysiology (BIO 225) is that bridge; this course describes the underlying disturbances in the basic homeostatic mechanisms that lead to the signs and symptoms of selected diseases. In other words, you can learn to determine what is it that causes the problems associated with congestive heart failure, glomerulonephritis, or a host of other maladies that we humans can get.  

Professor John Moore teaches BIO 225 this summer, and students find that he makes that health education-clinical practice connection lots clearer. One of his students commented:

I have learned some of the same material in my health career classes, but [Professor Moore’s] presentation of the subject matter makes it much more tangible. When he teaches, I get it. I never want to miss any of his classes.”

BIO 225 meets  Mondays and Wednesdays,  1–3:50 p.m., from June 19 to Aug. 10 in Room X104. For more information, visit Parkland College’s summer class schedule or go to the my.parkland student portal.

[Cindy Smith is program manager for Arts and Sciences at Parkland College.]