Fall 1998


Todd VanGorden, Editor

Department of Physics
Pittsburg State University
Pittsburg, KS 66762
(316) 235-4292
email: tvangord@pittstate.edu




Elementary Science on the Web

The science education webpage at Pittsburg State University (http://www.pittstate.edu/services/scied) has been expanded to devote a section entirely to the needs of elementary science teachers. On this page you will find information on the annual PSU Elementary Science Conference, science education activities, equipment available for loan from PSU, programs which we can bring to you, courses available for professional development, and more. Surf in and check it out.

Back to top


News from the Department of Chemistry

The Pittsburg State University Department of Chemistry formally dedicated their new Nuclear Magnetic Resonance facility on Sept. 11. The department now has two NMR instruments, a Fourier Transform 60 MHz instrument for routine student use, and a new Bruker 300 MHz instrument with multinuclear and solid state capabilities. It has taken some time, however, for the department to get used to keeping the superconducting magnet cooled with liquid helium and liquid nitrogen on a regular basis. Also, solid state samples are a new experience for the department.


The result of the department's effort is that they now have one of the most modern undergraduate NMR facilities in the United States. Dr. William Shirley spearheaded the efforts to upgrade the facility, and the department is justifiably proud of the new facility.


The Department of Chemistry has also been cooperating with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) to set up a laboratory on the PSU campus. There are currently two forensic chemists working in a temporary crime laboratory in Heckert-Wells Hall. Eventually the department expects that there will be forensic science internships available for students wishing to pursue forensic science careers.


The Chemistry Department and the Biology Department are presently cooperating in the development of new initiatives in improving biochemistry and biotechnology. The department is looking forward to these initiatives, due to high levels of student interest in these areas of science.

Back to top


Science Education Center On Campus Programs

To schedule Nature Reach tours please contact the Biology Department. To schedule Chemistry Demonstrations, Planetarium programs, or a combination of programs on-campus (you come to PSU), please call Michele Barnaby in the Physics department, (620) 235-4391.

Prices for on-campus programs are listed below. These are based on an average-size group. Large groups may require more than one program or tour.

Program Price
Chemistry Demonstrations $XX per program
Nature Reach $XX per tour
Planetarium $XX per program
Glass Blowing $XX per program


Back to top


Science Education Center Off-Campus Programs

There are a number of new off-campus programs for the 1998-99 school year in addition to previously offered programs.

Biology/Life Science Programs

The Nature Reach Outreach programs are again offered. There are several new programs and topics of presentations. For a complete description all of the programs, please see the Nature Reach pages toward the end of this newsletter. You will also find a scheduling form for the Nature Reach Off-Campus (we come to your school) programs, or contact Sarah McCoy.

Physics/Astronomy/Earth Science Programs

Presently there are several Physics, Astronomy, and Earth Science Programs that can travel to your school for classroom, science club, or other presentations.

STARLAB: A STARLAB portable planetarium is available and can be installed in many classrooms (21 ft. x 20 ft. x 11 ft. high). Programs can be tailored to your curriculum and will include various slides of planets, moon, etc.

Rocks and Minerals: We bring a set of rocks and minerals out to your school and take the students through methods for identification of some of the major rock forming minerals, identification and classification of the three basic rock types, along with a general discussion of the environments under which each forms. (Can support 20 workstations, with 1 or 2 students per station). 45 minutes. (Recommendation: all levels)

Plate Tectonics and Natural Hazards: General discussion using maps and slides of the basic tenets of the geologic paradigm of plate tectonics. How the Earth's lithospheric plates move, the geologic consequences of such motion, and where these occur. 45 minutes (Recommendation: Middle School to High School students)

Oceans of the World: Using slides, rocks, fossils, and maps a general discussion of the oceans brings out details on ocean currents, ocean life, the creation and destruction of the seafloor and the changes that we can see in the ocean records through time. 45 minutes (Recommendations: Elementary to Middle School).

The Solar System: Using slides of the various bodies of the solar system, together with hands-on activities and general discussion we explore the wide variety of bodies which comprise our solar system. (Can support 20 workstations, with 1 or 2 students per station). 45 minutes (Recommendation: Elementary to Middle School).

Note: extra time should be budgeted for question and answer sessions.

To schedule a Physics, Astronomy, or Earth Science Program off-campus, please contact Todd VanGorden, (620) 235-4292.

Chemistry Demonstrations

To schedule an off-campus Chemistry Demonstrations program please contact the Department of Chemistry at (620) 235-4748.

We encourage you to schedule programs as soon as possible. The spring becomes very busy, thus we encourage scheduling programs in the fall. We want to make sure that you receive exactly the programs you request.

Back to top


1999 PSU Elementary Science Education Conference

We are currently in the planning stages for the 1999 Pittsburg State University Elementary Science Education Conference. The conference will be held toward the end of February (no specific date, yet). There is a need for teachers to present at this year's conference. If you have an interesting lesson, teaching idea, experiment, hands-on activity, or some aspect of teaching elementary science, please notify us. We would be delighted to have you share your ideas at the Elementary Science Conference. Presenters receive a complimentary lunch and waived conference fees. After (or before) your presentation, feel free to attend other sessions and conference presentations. Last year, teachers such as Vicki O'Neal and Alma Cook from the Baxter Springs, KS district, Debbie Restivo from the Frontenac, KS district, and Sheryl McCoy from the Chanute, KS school district presented. We will mail conference registration information to area schools later, but in the meantime if you would like to present at the conference please let us know.

Back to top



L. Russell Kelce Planetarium Upgrades

The L. Russell Kelce Planetarium at Pittsburg State University has recently undergone some significant equipment upgrades. The facility includes a Spitz A3P star projector, which was installed in 1964 when the facility was initially built. A few years after the planetarium opened, a "homemade" manual slide projection system was installed, which controlled 8 slide projectors. This setup was in operation until this past August. Various pieces of equipment were purchased, making the planetarium a more modern facility. It now has a Sony video/data projector, a laserdisc player, and a laserdisc library of hundreds of images. In addition an automation system was purchased which can control the various slide projectors, the laserdisc player, the video/data projector, and seemingly anything else. The end result is a modern facility that can offer a wider variety of programs, has capabilities to project moving images (an illustration of the creation of the solar system, a black hole, or spacecraft "fly-by's" of various planets), and will allow the speaker in the planetarium to concentrate efforts on the audience. Within the next few weeks, after all of the equipment is installed, all school and public planetarium programs will utilize the new features. If you would like to arrange a classroom field trip to the planetarium we will be happy to customize a presentation (in terms of slides and animated special effects images) to your needs.

Back to top



Results of 1998 Chemistry Capers

The winners in the Chemistry Capers Challenge Contest at the 1998 Pittsburg State University Science Day were:

Individual Winners:

1st Year Chemistry
1. Jay Turner College Heights Christian
2. Melody Morgan Sheldon
3. Nathan Jordan College Heights Christian


2nd Year Chemistry
1. Michael Garrison East Newton
2. Ryan McCoy Topeka West
3. Kory Benz Aurora

Team Winners:

1st Year Chemistry
1. College Heights Christian Jay Turner, Nick Meyer, James Allumbaugh
2. East Newton Mary Hansen, Traci Ward, Alex Wolgamott
3. Uniontown High School (Tie) Beth Ludlum, Marcel Oliveira, Aaron West
3. Topeka West (Tie) Hon Dang, Morgan Hannings, Leah Richter


2nd Year Chemistry
1. East Newton Paula Whitehead, Tuesday Williams, Levi Boettler
2. East Newton Michael Garrison, Kristi Allphin, Joanne Martin
3. East Newton

Jennifer Baker, Amanda Hansen, Travis Lair

Back to top


1998 Science Day: Earth and Space Science Competition Results

A new competition featured at the 1998 Science Day was the Earth and Space Science Competition. These competitions consisted of 59 participants from 14 schools. The winners were as follows.

Astronomical Shuffle
1. Daniel Lesue' - Ash Grove High School
2. Greg Kirk - Riverton High School
3. Stephen Smothers - Webb City High School

Rock Recognition
1. Ashlee Edge - Iola High School
2. Aaron Franklin - Iola High School
3. Hanna Shank - Southeast High School

Seismic Shaker
1. Delia Schlack - Iola High School
2. Natasha Franklin - Girard High School
3. Jesse Green and John Tunnell - Riverton High School

Overall Best School
1. Iola High School
2. Riverton High School
3. Webb City High School

Click here for a complete listing of the Science Day Earth and Space science competition.

Back to top



Science Day 1998: Physics Frolics Results

The annual Pittsburg State University was held on Thursday, April 30, 1998. There were 351 participants from 27 different schools in the Physics Frolics portion of Science Day. Winners in each competition are listed below.

Paper Tower Competition
1. Dallas Kranker and Alicia Ott - Pittsburg High School
2. Curtis Passmore and Andy Prier - Seneca High School
3. Kyle Milune and Adam Gassaway - Aurora High School

Mouse Trap Car Competition
1. Josh Chapman and Josh Ratchford - Webb City High School
2. Mike Burns - Seneca High School
3. Aaron Hight and Andy Martin - Riverton High School

Physics Face-Off
1. Pittsburg High School (Team 2) - Nathan DeLee, Melissa Fite, Jai Hayer, and Erin McChristy
2. Aurora High School - Nathan Baxter, Ben Cummings, Brian Pettegrew, and Aaron Johnson
3. Pittsburg High School (Team 1) - Brian Skahan, Chris Polsak, Jessica Freeman*, and Jake Clements.

Water Balloon Drop
1. Joe Cunningham and Matt Madison - Iola High School
2. Katie Grosdidier and Kortney Grosdidier - St. Paul High School
3. Falisha Lowe** and Rachel Groner - Girard High School (Tie)
and Tina Leck and Rebecca Sherman - Thayer High School

Overall Best School
1. Girard High School
2. Seneca High School
3. Webb City High School

* Jessica Freeman is currently a Physics major at PSU and is a departmental scholarship recipient.
** Falisha Lowe is currently an elementary education major at Pittsburg State University.

Back to top


Under Construction: Earth and Space Science Tours

The Physics Department at Pittsburg State University is currently putting together an Earth and Space Science tour for Yates Hall. The tour will include such things as the geologic history of Missouri and Kansas through the exposed rocks and fossils in the Precambrian Eon and the Paleozoic Era. Displays will also be made on the Mesozoic in the central U.S., on Meteorites, impact events and mass extinction, Hydrology, and Climate change. We hope that these displays will be up and running sometime in the spring of 1999.

Back to top


People To Keep an Eye On

Congratulations to the graduating class of 1998 Science Education majors at Pittsburg State University. As of June 23, 1998, the following students are now teachers:

Brandon Claypool in Nevada, MO
Dustin Jackson in Nevada, MO
Todd Ferguson in Norton, KS
Brooke Peterson in El Dorado Springs, MO
Stan Dillon in Meadow View, KS
Ian Yanez in Linsborg, KS
Matt McLeod in Bonner Springs, KS
Christine Manis in Bonner Springs, KS
Rob Davenport in Odessa, MO
Johnna Gosh in Goddard, KS
Cory Ossana in Stockton, MO
Dan Ellis in Sedan, KS
Kirk Holt in Colony, KS
Kim Pitts in Butler, MO
Jason Walker in Chanute, KS
Jeff Hahn in Effingham, KS
Kimberly Workman in Salina, KS
Travis Daerr in Joplin, MO
Diana Brown in Joplin, MO
Tamara McEwen in Altoona, KS
Rex Ann Randle in Carthage, MO
Arthur Commons in Seneca, MO
Pam Hall in Liberal, MO

Congratulations! The best of success to you all.

We would also like to acknowledge some up and coming elementary science hot-shots. The following students have completed a voluntary physical science discussion group that was over and above the standard PSU elementary science education courses. Congratulations to: Christine Cavanaugh, Christy Cernech, Venita DeCoster, Janie Gillum, Bismark Gonzalez, and Janel Waltrip. Keep an eye out for these folk a year or two down the road.

Back to top


Professional Development: Spring 1999 Courses

The Physics Department at PSU has submitted the following list of courses to Continuing Studies for possible Spring offerings at remote locations (in other words, they can bring a course to your area). If any of these interest you, contact: Continuing Studies (316) 235-4176, or if you want more information regarding any of these classes contact Dr. Tom Shoberg (316) 235-4387 or Mr. Todd VanGorden (316) 235-4292. If there is interest in courses other than this, please give Dr. Shoberg or Mr. VanGorden a buzz and we shall see what we can arrange. This spring's list includes:

Solar System for Teachers*
Instructor: Dr. Tom Shoberg/Mr. Todd VanGorden
Credit: 1, 2, or 3 hrs
The course is designed as both a visual survey of the solar system (by and large looking at images that are widely available on the World Wide Web), and as a "hands-on" segment, where many different activities are used to bring out key concepts about the physical attributes and processes that are instrumental in our solar system.

Science on the Internet for Teachers*
Instructor: Dr. Tom Shoberg/Mr. Todd VanGorden
Credit: 1, 2, or 3 hrs.
This course is designed to acquaint the student with the use of the World Wide Web (WWW) as a science resource tool both in the classroom and as a developmental tool. The pitfalls and advantages of the WWW will be discussed. We will also look at how to create and post some simple web pages.

Earth Science Inquiry for Teachers
Instructor: Dr. Tom Shoberg/Mr. Todd VanGorden
Credit: 1, 2, or 3 hrs.
This course is intended to be sort of a smorgasbord of geological processes and activities which will further develop and enrich the student's knowledge and appreciation of the world around us. The particular topics chosen can be altered to fit a group's needs and desires, but topics can include: Rocks and Minerals, regional history of the four state area, field studies, plate tectonics, seismology and earthquakes, volcanoes, historical geology (including mass extinctions), etc. The particular topics will be chosen based upon student interests.

Integrating Math and Science in the Elementary Classroom
Instructor: Mr. Todd VanGorden
Credit: 2 or 3 hrs.
An activity-based approach to integrating math and science in the classroom, with an emphasis on problem solving strategies in the context of scientific inquiry designed specifically for in-service K-12 teachers.

Elementary Science
Instructor: Dr. Tom Shoberg/Mr. Todd VanGorden
Credit: 1, 2, or 3 hrs.
This course will take a broad approach to teaching elementary science. The course can include such topics as science activities and lessons, equipment (both equipment that in-service teachers currently own, equipment available at PSU, and finding equipment resources), grant writing, field studies and experiences, and others. This course will feature a relaxed and informal setting with additional topics to fit the needs of the participants.

*Courses marked with an asterisk should be taught in a location with appropriate Internet access.

Back to top



Science Education Questionaire

We would like your thoughts and input regarding the Science Education Center at Pittsburg State University. This will be used to better serve the needs of teachers in the area.

Name ________________________________

School ____________________________________________

School Address __________________________________________________


e-mail address ___________________________________________________

Grade(s)/Level Taught ___________________

Subject(s)/Topics Taught _____________________________________________________________________________


Would you be interested in science education courses offered through PSU's Continuing Studies, such as those listed in the Additional Background section of this newsletter?

____ Yes ____ No

Please list any additional courses or topics that would be of interest to you.



Please list any other services that the PSU Science Education Center could provide to you or your school (grant writing collaborations, new on-campus tours and programs, new off-campus tours and programs, instruction in using laboratory equipment, science teaching resources, etc.)





Any additional Comments:


Please return this completed survey to:

Todd VanGorden
Dept. of Physics
Pittsburg State University
Pittsburg, KS 66762
Fax: (316) 235-4050

Back to top