During December, Monument Valley High School (Kayenta, AZ) participated and was introduced to the 4CSCC scientific computing curriculum. Four teachers involved in the 4CSCC outreach dedicated a day to exploring the 4CSCC curriculum. The sessions were conducted by Franklin Stewart, who introduced environmental sensors, and their uses in detecting and monitoring volatile organic compounds and particulate matter. Each class was eager to learn about the Raspberry Pi 400 mobile kit’s performance capabilities. In order to engage students in conversations and the curriculum, we begin by discussing facts that are relevant to the students’ lives. Topics range from soldering jewelry to welding, and we highlight their cultural importance but the adverse consequences they can have on the human body. More information was presented such as proper use and handling when it comes to burning wood stoves. There are numerous accounts of Kayenta residents burning trash, these contaminants remain stagnant in the community. An extreme trigger for various ailments involving the elderly and younger population.
Although students enjoy setting up the kits, In order to save time, only students in the first session were instructed to assemble the 4CSCC mobile kits. Subsequent classes arrived to already assembled kits but had more time to explore using the data sensors. Each class was given a presentation that described volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter (PM), and the potential health risk associated with exposure. After the presentation, students navigated around the Raspbian operating system and were instructed to open their web browser to view the 4CSCC Data Sensor Dashboard, which displayed the ranges inside the classroom. The instructor and students discussed each sensor, along with its respective graph on the dashboard to ensure students understood how to interpret the data. The class also engaged in discussion about real-world phenomena associated with VOC and PM.
We conducted experiments using common household cleaners to manipulate the data sensors and connect the readings to their effects on the body. Students can see in real-time how the data sensors respond to various types and concentrations of cleaners change. From this the students gain a better understanding of what our environmental sensors can provide insight into phenomena we can’t see. This activity entices the students to be more hands-on and attentive during presentations and discussions, and by allowing students to use their sprays and lotions increases their motivation and curiosity.
Our first workshop was held on December 12, 2023, Tatum Davis, environmental scientist and science teacher, brought a total of 91 students in 6 classes. One notable part of Davis’s class included two students chewing mint-flavored gum. After engaging with our activities, students were intrigued to test their gum, which spiked real-time readings on the VOC graph. Another student tested cologne that also significantly increased the VOCs. This constructivist activity prompted students to use the VOC Index and 4CSCC Dashboard to make meaning of the data and see how everyday items might have a direct or indirect influence on their health.
On December 15, 2023, Connie Jay, a chemistry teacher 78 students in 6 classes. Due to the small class sizes, most students in had a kit to themselves, so nobody was left behind or lost during the experiments. Here we notably emphasized the extreme dangers of vaping and its harmful side effects. More discussion followed regarding how common household chemicals and substances can react with one another. One involves the application of hair spray and then blow drying. Ms. Jay shared, “the heat sets off a chemical reaction, and will release fumes and vapor.” Collaborative efforts between students and teachers assist students to think critically and creatively while performing scientific experiments.
On December 18, 2023, Fabio Schneider, another science teacher, brought 105 students in six classes. As a class, students tested the temperature differences between stations at various distances from the space heater. During one of the classes, which had 30 students, we had to reduce the amount of cleaners the students were using to reduce fumes and increase the accuracy of each kit’s air quality sensors. Franklin provided cotton swabs with small amounts of organic chemical cleaner and Goo Gone. As we discuss the impacts cleaners can have on health, we made it a point to engage students in how we control the amount of chemicals used for this experiment.
On December 19, 2023, the last teacher to attend was Daniel Widmaier. He brought 99 students from six science classes. One key takeaway from this session was the shared interest in environmental data sensors and the coding involve. Several students mentioned how they wished a computer class was offered at their high school. More agreed that they wanted a computer class to help them jump-start their experience. Franklin then shared how there were not many outreach events during his enrollment at MVHS either, and how there is always room to refine and grow our STEM skills as we pursue higher education.
We would like to thank Monument Valley High School’s active participation in the 4CSCC outreach events was greatly appreciated. Teachers and students showed enthusiasm during our workshop and described the need and interest to have more events in the future. Expanding and recognizing the value of STEM knowledge through the 4CSCC curriculum. These outreach initiatives expose students to diverse career opportunities. 4CSCC plans larger multi-day workshops later in 2024.