Tag: First Nations

Don’t delay! Manitoba and First Nations travel course deadline is May 1

Time’s almost up — May 1 is the deadline to register for a fall travel course to Whiteshell Provincial Park, Manitoba, Canada. The course, titled “Gathering the Wisdom of All Nations — Indigenous Teaching and Learning,” takes place from Sept. 9-15. For more information, or to apply, click here.

Northwest Indian College, UM win tribal rocket honors

Final results have been posted from the 2011 First Nations national rocket competition held in May at the Richard Bong State Recreation Area near Burlington, Wis.

The “REZriders” team from Northwest Indian College, Bellingham, Wash., won top honors in the competition involving tribal college entries. In the “AISES” division for public and private institutions with student chapters of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, the winner was the “Northstar” team from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

The annual competition is organized by the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) headquartered on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Teams tested their engineering and rocket science skills. To have a successful flight, the rocket had to reach at least 2,000 feet and be recovered safely, in a flyable condition, as near as possible to a predetermined target. Rockets must carry a payload of some sort, and/or perform a mission. The flight itself is judged mainly by the degree of accuracy with which the college students predict their rockets’ altitude, trajectory and flight path, as measured by tiny flight-data recorders.

Competitions are judged by benchmarks at various stages along the way, preliminary planning and pre-flight procedures among them, with oral presentations to judges on the eve of the launch day at Bong.

Final results from the May 7 launch were not available for several weeks afterward, as participating teams are required to file written, post-mission reports. The top three in each division are as follows:

AISES
1st Place: Northstar, University of Minneosta-Twin Cities
2nd Place: Whiterabbit, Azusa Pacific
3rd Place: Ghostspears, Haskell Indian Nations University

Tribal College
1st Place: REZriders, Northwest Indian College
2nd Place: FDLTCC, Fond Du Lac Tribal Community College
3rd Place: Space Eagles, Haskell Indian Nations University

For photos of the launch day in May, click http://www.uwgb.edu/WSGC/aises/Photos.html

Space Grant hosts annual First Nations Launch

Haskell Launching

Haskell launching at 2010 event

The Richard Bong State Recreation Area near Burlington, Wis., will be the site Saturday (May 7), weather permitting, of the second annual First Nations national rocket competition.

The competition is organized by the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium (WSGC) headquartered on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

The First Nations Launch is expected to have seven entries from a half dozen schools. Teams representing tribal colleges are the “FDLTCC” team from Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in Cloquet, Minn.; “Space Eagles,” Haskell Indian Nations University, Lawrence, Kan.; “Cloud 9,” Navajo Technical College, Crownpoint, N.M.; and the “REZriders” team from Northwest Indian College, Bellingham, Wash.

Teams competing in the American Indian Science and Engineering Society division are student chapters including the “White Rabbit” team from Azuza Pacific University, suburban Los Angeles; “Northstar,” University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; and the “Ghostspears” from Haskell.

The tribal competition is taking place alongside Space Grant’s 2011 Collegiate Rocket Competition, which will involve twelve rocket teams from five Wisconsin colleges and universities: the Milwaukee School of Engineering, UW-Madison, Marquette University, Ripon College and UW-River Falls.

(Saturday’s dual competitions will takes place at Bong’s Parking Lot F, with a launch window of roughly 9:15 a.m. to 4 p.m. Spectators are welcome to attend; park admission is $7.  There is a launch hotline at (262) 677-2249 with a recorded message verifying that launch will occur, as wind and weather conditions allow. The rain date is Sunday, May 8. The site director, Dr. Bill Farrow, will be available for interviews at the launch. His cell phone number is (262) 993-3041.)

Teams will test their engineering and “rocket science” skills. To have a successful flight, the rocket must reach at least 2,000 feet and be recovered safely, in a flyable condition, as near as possible to a predetermined target. Rockets must carry a payload of some sort, and/or perform a mission. The flight itself is judged mainly by the degree of accuracy with which the college students predict their rockets’ altitude, trajectory and flight path, as measured by tiny flight-data recorders.

Sizes vary from a few feet in length to a dozen feet long or more. Most rocket bodies today are fiberglass or heavy cardboard tubes reinforced with plastic mesh and capped with enamel paint. The one area of standardization is in the motors. All are solid-fuel cylinders with ammonium perchlorate the primary propellant, not all that different in basic design from the boosters that powered NASA’s space shuttles. Only certified experts are allowed to purchase, handle and deploy the motors.

Competitions are judged by benchmarks at various stages along the way, preliminary planning and pre-flight procedures among them, with oral presentations to judges on the eve of the launch day at Bong.

The tribal competition originated last year and is supported by a grant from NASA. Evidence of the space program’s investment in the competition is the fact the chief onsite judge is scheduled to be James S. Wood of Cocoa Beach, Fla. He is chief engineer for the Launch Services Program at NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He provides technical insight and approval for all NASA missions, with recommendations for final “go/no go” launch decisions. Working with Wood as part of the First Nations Launch judging panel will be Mary Gustafson, an engineer with Orbital Technologies, of Madison, Wis., and Frank Noble, an officer for the Tripoli rocketry club of Wisconsin.

Likewise, the three-member judging panel for Wisconsin schools competing in Space Grant’s 2011 Collegiate Rocket Competition includes two NASA professionals from the Johnson Space Center in Houston. John Connelly is deputy project manager for the Altair Lunar Lander Project Office, and Todd Issacson is systems engineer for the MAGIK Robotic Analysis Team. The third judge is Todd Treichel, a senior systems engineer for Orbital Technologies, Madison.

Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium is a NASA-supported endeavor aimed at delivering education, research, and outreach programs to assist in training America’s next generation of aerospace professionals. Advocates for the First Nations component of the college rocketry program say it encourages young people, especially First Nations people, to pursue studies in the so-called S-T-E-M fields of science, technology, engineering and applied mathematics. They also say it counters pop-culture stereotypes that native people find comfort only in traditional ways, and shy away from space-age technology.

Final results from this weekend’s launches near Kenosha will not be available for several weeks, when participating teams are required to file their written, post-mission reports. Those results will be posted at the Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium website.

Student speaker makes case for 'playfulness'

Graduating class speaker Amii John

Graduating class speaker Amii John earned her bachelor’s degree in Art with highest honors, summa cum laude. She also earned a warm ovation for her address to her fellow graduates during the Dec. 18 Commencement ceremony at UW-Green Bay.

John shared her personal story of being a cautious, serious returning adult student. It wasn’t until a faculty mentor, former UW-Green Bay Prof. David Damkoehler, convinced her to have fun, take chances artistically, and not be afraid of exploring unknown territory, that her college career took off. John used the word “playful” several times in describing the attitude she adopted toward learning.

She credited Damkoehler for helping her discover, for example, that it best suited her own learning to personalize class assignments and take them in new directions rather than obediently pursue some preconceived expectation. At UW-Green Bay, John said, she discovered what it is “to want to learn.”

John wore items reflecting her Native American heritage at Commencement. Instead of a mortarboard, for example, she wore a turn-of-the-century derby hat, adorned with beadwork and an eagle feather. The hat was given to her as a gift by a tribal elder. The derbies were popular trade items in the 1800s among some Native tribes.

A member of the Cherokee Nation who resides today in Oneida with her family, John was honored during her time at UW-Green Bay for her award-winning art as well as her work promoting cross-cultural awareness and a greater appreciation of Native American Art.

She was co-curator, with UW-Green Bay Curator Stephen Perkins, of this fall’s exhibit “Mostly Indian and Other Fables” at the University’s Lawton Gallery. The show they assembled included current works by dozens of Native artists from the United States and Canada. The project was funded in collaboration with the Wisconsin Arts Board and the Oneida Nation Arts Board.

The show generated significant interest and attendance. John, who minored in Human Development, contributed to the exhibit’s educational component by helping arrange and host visits by school and tribal groups, college classes and Learning in Retirement participants, among others.

John was honored by the UW System last April as a 2010 Outstanding Woman of Color in Education. The award is made to students, faculty or staff and recognizes at least one person on each campus for their contributions to diversity and the status of women.

Chancellor Thomas Harden, Amii John, Scott Furlong
The graduating class speaker is chosen by a committee of the provost and academic deans from nominations solicited campuswide. John posed before the ceremony (above) with Chancellor Thomas Harden, left, and Scott Furlong, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.