Research Experience Begins

Before I even begin these posts, a brief introduction into the the experience would be helpful for some people. The program is supported by Siemens, Discovery, DOE and others. Two experiences took place one at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the other at Pacific Northwest Laboratory. Both at different times Oak Ridge in June and PNNL in July. PNNL is the one I took part in. All the bios of all the participants are located on the Siemens Academy page.


Well it’s the second full day of the Siemens/Discovery STARs experience at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory(PNNL) and I have already learned a lot of information. We have completed 6 different training courses and a Rad test. In the end we became Rad I worker certified. The person who trained us told us that now we were trained for the year and were able to use this in any DOE(Department of Energy) location. Amazing how much we need to know to safely do our research.

Our hotel is located on the Columbia river and it’s a beautiful area for jogging. Located in Richland WA, the area is one of contrast. In one section you see green then in the other you see desert. Definitely a bit different from the East.

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The first two days included lectures, introductions and our research assignments. The people in charge introduced themselves and gave us a brief introduction about to what to expect during the week. Pretty interesting stuff going on at PNNL right now, you can check out their news here. There are five groups of teachers each are working with a mentor at the Lab. All the groups are working on different topics. Some on CO2 capturing , microbes, radiation and then our group, we are working on the Mammoth site. During the first couple of days teachers discussed their goals in their research. One of the things that was stressed to us is that this experience was about the process of research. We were learning how research is happening in the real world. Then teach our students about that process and how to properly implement the process. One of the tools we were given was a science notebook, never had one or used one. But it is a great tool to help keep our research information.

On day two Tuesday we listened to a discussion on Biosecurity: Trends in the Global Age, by Rachel Bartholomew (she is part of research at PNNL). A bit scary about Bio terrorism and the use of genetic manipulation to create viruses. This is a bit different from my last trip when we toured Hudson Alpha and all the good things they are trying to do. Very drastic differences between the two.  After the talk we all went to see our mentors. Ours was George Last, a scientists involved with the Coyote Canyon Mammoth dig. George was awesome and really took the time out to explain what was happening at the dig and what his research was about. We talked about our research as a group and ended the day by solidifying our research hypothesis and purpose. Our goal was to obtain samples from each of the layers of strata and use XRF(X-ray Fluorescence) to identify the layer’s elements. George hoped we could prove or disprove the theory that the mammoth had been brought by the flood waters into the area. The geological history of the area was rich with floods, more specifically ice age floods. As we would learn, this area was rich in geological history.

After a long day we had dinner and listened to a discussion on Technology Tools. The days are long and we were going to get the opportunity to visit the dig site on the third day of the experience. Overall a ton of things were happening, and I have had very little time to keep up with my blog. But I will try.  See the next blog entry for our trip to the dig site and the B-Reactor (yep more glowing).


About rippie77

Science Teacher at Cardinal Gibbons High School, Raleigh NC.

Posted on July 18, 2013, in Earth Science, Labs, STEM, Teacher Ideas and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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