News and Updates

02/26/2013

Many consumers have started replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) to reduce utility bills. CFLs are made of glass tubes filled with gas and a small amount of mercury.

In an online article posted on Chemical & Engineering News Feb. 22, writer Catherine M. Cooney reviews research recently published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology and highlights the importance of tracking mercury’s movement in the environment.

As more people start using the newer lighting source, increasing numbers of fluorescent bulbs end up in landfills, where the toxic metal contained in the bulbs could leach into groundwater.

Research by Chris Mead, a graduate student in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, published in the Feb. 4 issue of the journal Environmental Science and Technology, suggests that researchers could track the mercury from fluorescent bulbs by looking for its unique isotopic signature. This distinct isotope signal could help researchers track the toxic metal’s movement in the environment.

As part of his graduate work, Mead developed an improved method for analyzing mercury isotopes.

“We were all very surprised by just how unusual the isotope fractionation – or signal – was in the CFLs. The mystery of how that fractionation could occur turned out to be very interesting to solve,” says Mead. The research was conducted in the lab of Ariel Anbar, Mead’s advisor and a professor in ASU’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the School of Earth and Space Exploration in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

(Nikki Cassis)

 

02/22/2013

ISTB 4 recognized for green design, construction, operation and becomes largest LEED certified research building at ASU

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has awarded Arizona State University’s newest research center, Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building IV (ISTB 4) with LEED® certification at the Gold level, making it ASU’s largest LEED certified research building. The 298,000-square-foot structure houses ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, Security and Defense System Initiative and the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

HDR, as executive architect, collaborated with architectural design firm Ehrlich Architects, on this uniquely sustainable research and laboratory building.

Formally opened in September 2012, ISTB 4 joins several other ASU buildings that currently participate in the USGBC’s LEED rating systems. Since July 2006, ASU has completed 18 certified LEED projects which are comprised of 36 buildings plus the second floor of the Memorial Union. To become LEED Gold certified, the buildings had to meet exacting standards for energy use, lighting, water and material use, as well as incorporate a variety of sustainable strategies.

The $110 million, seven-story ISTB 4 building achieved 46 total points under the LEED for New Construction version 2.2 rating system. In order to earn LEED Gold, a project must achieve between 39 and 50 points.

As Sustainable Designer, Mathew Cunha-Rigby, LEED AP BD+C, point outs, “The entire project team worked together throughout design and construction to make ISTB 4 a high-performance building that met its sustainability goals. The building had a complex, energy intensive program; and to be able to reduce expected energy use by almost half is a testament to the work of everyone involved in the project. This reaffirms that we have the ability to make well-designed, energy efficient buildings without significant impacts to the project. ISTB 4 demonstrates ASU’s leadership in campus sustainability and its commitment to a better future.”

One of the major project goals for the building was to reduce energy as much as possible— when fully occupied, it is estimated that ISTB 4’s energy use will be nearly one-half that of a typical laboratory building.

Some of the green design and construction features implemented in the building include:

  • Optimal building orientation based on local climate conditions and a high performance façade with vertical sunshades to reduce heat gain and incorporate passive cooling strategies.
  • Efficient Building Systems. The design optimized the building envelope and integrated extremely efficient mechanical systems to reduce energy use by 40.7 percent below a typical laboratory building.
  • On-site renewable energy. ASU allocated energy produced by the photovoltaic array on the parking structure adjacent to ISTB 4, supplying an additional 11.6 percent of its energy use beyond the savings achieved by the building design. The renewable energy reduced the building’s energy costs by over 16 percent, because the peak energy load is also reduced.
  • Minimized resource use. Local building materials, extracted and manufactured within 500 miles of the site, exceeded 44 percent of the material cost under MRc5, Regional Materials. ISTB 4 earned an additional LEED credit for exemplary performance by achieving this threshold.
  • Daylighting. The building envelope and the interior space are designed to admit natural light into as many spaces as possible, and a central atrium brings daylight deep into the building interior.

ASU has the largest number of LEED-certified buildings throughout the Copper State and claims the top spot for achieving the state’s first-ever LEED platinum certification in July 2007 with the Tempe campus’s Biodesign Building B.

Additional link: http://www.asu.edu/fm/albums/leed/leed_facts.htm

Caption: Left to Right: Ryan Abbot, Mathew Chaney, Curtis Slife, Doug Wignall, LEED Plaque,
Robert Page (Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences), Paul Johnson (Dean of the Fulton Schools of Engingeering), and Kip Hodges (Founding Director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration). Credit: Tom Story

(Nikki Cassis)

 

02/21/2013

Letting secondary school students use an operating NASA spacecraft to take images of Mars is about as hands-on as science education can get. Nor are the students just aiming the space camera randomly. Instead, they are targeting an image on the Red Planet's surface to answer a scientific question about Mars that the students themselves have developed.

That's the exciting premise of the award-winning Mars Student Imaging Project (MSIP). A key component of NASA’s Mars Public Engagement Program, MSIP is led by Arizona State University's Mars Education Program. This week the prestigious journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is announcing that this innovative, student-focused project will receive the Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction.

At Arizona State University, Sheri Klug Boonstra directs the ASU Mars Education Program under the mentorship of Philip Christensen. He is the principal investigator for the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS), a visible and infrared camera on NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter. He is also Regents' Professor of Geological Sciences in ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration, part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on the Tempe campus.

The Mars Student Imaging Project began in 2002, when Christensen made THEMIS instrument time available for students in grades 5 through early college who enroll in the science class project. Since then more than 35,000 students nationwide have participated. The schools have been public and private, urban, suburban, and rural, and of all sizes, grade levels, and student abilities. In an event that made headlines internationally in 2010, a 7th-grade MSIP class in rural California discovered a cave on Mars previously unknown to scientists.

"As a kid, I was very interested in space, but there was no way for me to participate," says Christensen. "So when NASA put Mars Odyssey and our THEMIS camera in orbit, a lightbulb went on. At last we had an opportunity to let students participate – and to trust them to do real science."

The central idea, says Klug Boonstra, revolves around inquiry-based learning. "Students in an MSIP class develop their own research question about Mars. They identify where on Mars to take an image to answer that question, and then they target the THEMIS camera on Mars Odyssey to take the image."

But that's just the beginning, she explains. "After the image is sent to Earth, the students analyze it and many other THEMIS images, collect data from them, and develop an answer to their question." Finally, she says, the students present their answer to a symposium of working Mars scientists for comment and critique.

The entire process vividly teaches students how real scientists do science by leading them through the same process that the professionals follow.

Klug Boonstra says that students today – far more comfortable with technology than previous generations – love knowing that they can do real research, rather than lab exercises that just repeat what's already been done. "They want to know that there are still things left for them to discover," she says. "Here are kids in middle school with the capability to discover something in real life. Kids today want that kind of chance at something extraordinary."

"At a time when the U.S. critically needs to develop the next generation of scientists and engineers, such student-led discoveries speak to the power of engaging students in authentic research in their classrooms today," said Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division in Washington, D.C. "Not only is the chance to explore Mars motivating, it shows students they are fully capable of entering challenging and exciting STEM fields." STEM stands for in science, technology, engineering, and math.

"The Mars Student Imaging Project is a perfect example of how NASA can use its missions and programs to inspire the next generation of explorers," said Leland Melvin, NASA associate administrator for education. "If we want our students to become tomorrow's scientists and engineers, we need to give them opportunities to do real-world - or in this case, out-of-this-world - scientific research, using all of the tools of 21st century learning."

Over the years, the MSIP curriculum has evolved to stay in step with national standards for for STEM education. It is carefully structured to enable teachers and students without much knowledge of planetary geology to have successful experiences.

"You don't have to be a planetary geologist to be successful," says Klug Boonstra. "We want teachers to feel completely comfortable responding to a student's questions by saying, 'That's a great question. I have no idea what the answer is.' The teacher doesn't have to be a know-it-all."

In addition, says Klug Boonstra, "while MSIP is specifically involved with Mars, the project allows many avenues of investigation that connect with traditionally taught disciplines such as earth science, biology, and chemistry. It's an immersive project with incredible benefits in terms of students understanding both science and the process of science."

 

Photo: In the Mars Student Imaging Project, students work together to develop a question about Mars, target an image using a NASA spacecraft, receive their image and analyse it, and write a formal scientific report on their findings. The project has won the Science magazine Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction. Photo by: Arizona State University/Sheri Klug Boonstra

(Robert Burnham)

02/14/2013

Arizona State University will host ASU's Night of the Open Door on Saturday, March 2, 2013. Join the School of Earth and Space Exploration to celebrate earth and space science. A variety of tours, hands-on activities and more will be offered in ISTB 4, Mars Space Flight Facility (Moeur building) and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera visitor center (Interdisciplinary A). Wonder what you will see and do? VIsit the Night of the Open Door website to see a list of activities: http://opendoor.asu.edu/ 

 

 

 

02/13/2013

Seeking to better understand the structure and composition of asteroid 4 Vesta, one of the major protoplanets of the asteroid belt, a team of researchers has developed a new model that reproduces the global topography observed by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, and makes predictions for the internal structure. A paper published Feb. 14 in Nature reports the team’s three-dimensional simulations of Vesta’s global evolution under two overlapping planet-scale collisions, starting from a spherical differentiated small planet.

The southern hemisphere of Vesta is dominated by two giant impact scars, one overprinting the other. A key issue regarding Vesta is to what extent its geology is derived from this pair of massive basins, and how deep the interior of Vesta was excavated by these global-scale collisions. According to the team’s simulations, materials from 80-100 kilometers beneath the basaltic crust of Vesta should have been excavated and exposed.

Planetary geologist Erik Asphaug, the Ronald Greeley Chair of Planetary Science at Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, is one of the paper’s authors, and has been studying the origin of the Vesta family of asteroids since the early 1990s. These ‘chips off Vesta’ are small asteroids that are believed to have been blasted off by these same collisions, ultimately bringing meteorites to Earth, samples of Vesta.

After examining Hubble Space Telescope images of Vesta obtained in the late 90s, Asphaug created the first numerical model of the Vesta-shaping collision, showing how chunks of the asteroid got blasted out of the huge crater. However, this early attempt at an impact model failed to reproduce the observed topography, and could not account for the fact that the asteroid is a rapidly rotating body, with a rotation period of only five hours.

With Dawn on its way to the asteroid, Asphaug worked with Martin Jutzi, lead author of the paper, to revisit the calculations and predict the consequences of such a mega-crater – this time in 3D. Their first attempt, published prior to Dawn’s arrival, showed that there should be massive deposits of ejecta distributed in strange mountainous deposits around the surface. But the real work could not begin until Dawn showed the detailed shape of the asteroid, giving the modelers something to aim for.

“When Dawn saw Vesta up close for the first time, we realized that our model was still too simple, because our topographic predictions were not very close,” explains Asphaug. “At the same time, the Dawn team reported the identification of two huge impact craters, both overlapping in the southern hemisphere! This changed everything, and we began looking at the effects of one impact structure forming on top of the previous one.”

Detailed images of Vesta revealed the south polar depression to be deeper and larger than estimated from previous Hubble observations, and consisting of two overlapping giant craters, one forming relatively early (a few billion years ago), and one relatively late (about one billion years ago).

The researchers took these observations into account as they created the new simulation, which reproduces the basin’s formation using a very high-resolution 3D simulation, including pre-impact rotation, and establishes some of the major impact-related aspects of Vesta’s geology. Overall, the model results are in good agreement with the topographic observations by Dawn.

“With the suitable choice of size, speed and impact angle for the colliding bodies, we get an excellent match to the topography – shape – of the asteroid,” says Asphaug. “But also, we find that two impacts dig twice as deep, so that there should be material from the deep mantle exposed at the southern hemisphere, and distributed all over the place.”

However, contrary to the researchers’ prediction, expected large areas of olivine-rich rocks or other characteristic mantle minerals, diogenites for example, are not observed on the surface.

It is possible that everything is masked by a layer of recent debris that hides the olivines and diogenites, although such a model has yet to be put forward. Instead the researchers propose that the interior structure of Vesta is very much different from what cosmochemists have considered ‘typical’ for a small differentiated terrestrial planet. Their conclusion is consistent with the fact that comparatively very few asteroids and meteorites have mantle-like compositions.

“I must say that I did not expect us to get so close to predicting the final topography of Vesta. That we predict, on the basis of two impacts, the major mountain ranges and ridges and gaps in crater rims was beyond my expectation,” says Asphaug. “I think this has raised the level of planetary collisional modeling to a state where you can begin to understand where shapes of minor planets come from, and in so doing, understand the specific provenance of the materials that are observed by telescopes and remote sensing, and that are brought back by sample return.”

“Of course, the story is not over,” he continues. “Hypotheses are meant to be overturned. But they are only valuable if they are testable.” The standard model for the differentiation of Vesta-sized asteroids suggests they evolve with an olivine-rich mantle, and olivine is found in the diogenite meteorites that presumably derive from Vesta. But Dawn sees no olivine at Vesta. This requires that the crater models are wrong, in which case topography must be explained in a different way, or else that the olivine that was exposed, was somehow hidden in the past billion years.

“Not to be forgotten is that Vesta is absolutely unique,” adds Asphaug. “It is the only major asteroid that has a basaltic crust, while other differentiated asteroids seem to have been destroyed down to their core. How did it get so lucky? We don’t know. It suggests we keep an open mind.”

Debris from Vesta’s colossal collisions are found on Earth in the form of meteorites. These meteorites probably did not derive directly from Vesta, but were ejected by impacts into the kilometer-sized Vesta-family asteroids that were the direct fragments of the more ancient massive collisions. ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies currently houses over 40 meteorites believed to originate on Vesta. Two notable specimens are currently on display in the Meteorite Gallery: Pasamonte (eucrite) and Johnstown (diogenite).

Already in the 1980s it was strongly suspected that certain meteorites probably derived from Vesta, so the Dawn mission has been a sample return mission in reverse, starting with the rocks and culminating in an asteroid mapping rendezvous. In early 2015 the spacecraft will conduct a comparable investigation of the even larger main belt asteroid Ceres.

(Nikki Cassis)

Image credit: Martin Jutzi, CSH, University of Bern / Pascal Coderay, EPFL.

 

02/05/2013

Faculty and students in Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration collaborate with the artists of an upcoming exhibition centered on the issue of limited earth materials, specifically copper, on view Feb. 8 through May 11 at the ASU Art Museum.

The exhibition, titled Cu29: Mining for You, will explore the process of staking a claim, the idea of owning the Earth’s natural resources, and our dependence on copper for everything from saucepans to cellphones.

The artists and the exhibition curator, Heather Sealy Lineberry, have collaborated with geologist Steve Semken, a professor in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE), in building their ideas for the exhibition and programs. He specifically advised them on geology, as well as the issues of place and culture related to mining, copper mining in Arizona, and a clearer understanding of how earth materials are limited.

“Geologic processes have richly endowed the state of Arizona with copper deposits. Copper has been central to the modern history and economic development of our state. Geology is key to the understanding of how and where copper deposits formed in Arizona, and how copper can be mined most economically and with the least possible impact on the environment,” says Semken.

Semken was interviewed, along with SESE professor Donald Burt, an economic geologist who regularly teaches ore geology and resources courses, for a sound piece that will play continuously in the gallery. The collaged voices will include other scientists, chefs, musicians, sculptors, miners, climbers, electricians and others who use copper in their professions and lives.

The resulting exhibition traces the extraction of copper from the ground to its use by artists in their studios, electricians and plumbers in houses, and chefs in their kitchens. It contains a series of installations, some of which are formed by community participation, pointing toward the pervasiveness of copper in our lives—and our bodies—and our dependence upon it. Art objects from the ASU Art Museum’s collection will be displayed alongside copper scrap waiting to be recycled, raising further issues of use and value.

Geology students are contributing research on the limited elements and copper. Their work is focused on school programs as the exhibition addresses the State standards in science, Arizona history and art. The students will collaborate with ASU Art Museum student docents to lead the tours of the exhibition. Two SESE undergraduate majors — Salimeh Hobeheidar and Reed Seamons —received training and will be student docents for the exhibition.

“My role is to lead groups of people on a tour of the exhibit, talking with them about how copper impacts our lives and how the resource is becoming limited,” explains Hobeheidar, a junior majoring in Earth and Space Science Education. “My education degree is helping me a lot with this project. Since I did my project in Professor Semken’s “Earth Science in Arizona and the Southwest” class about copper being used in art, I can understand where the artists are coming from, and I am able to help explain what it is and what other minerals are, and how they impact our state and in general our society.”

Hobeheidar’s project from Semken’s class, a beautiful necklace of copper and copper minerals that she created, will also be on display in the exhibition.

Through projects like Cu29, faculty and students of SESE are able to share specialized geological knowledge with an audience that might not otherwise be exposed to science.

“The artists – Clare Patey and Mathew Moore – have long histories exploring through art events and installations what we need to live in cities, whether food or basic materials, whether London or Phoenix,” Lineberry says. “Working with Steve Semken and the students at ASU has inspired the artists to create this new, collaborative body of work so tied to our place, its history and future. They encourage us to look more closely at what we do, how we live and what is important.”

More details on the exhibit are available at: http://asuevents.asu.edu/cu29-mining-you

 

01/28/2013

The Grand Canyon offers otherworldly panoramas of plateaus and basins, towering canyon walls and soaring rock structures. If you’ve always wanted to raft the Grand Canyon and learn the story behind the rocks you’re seeing then the annual School of Earth and Space Exploration-sponsored raft trip is for you.

The date is May 6-13, from Lee’s Ferry, Ariz. to Whitmore Wash, a distance of 188 river miles. The trip is limited to 28 passengers on two boats, and the cost is $2,660. Travelers must be 18 or older.

“The Grand Canyon is a place where, in eight days, you can take people through the grand themes of geology,” says Paul Knauth, professor of geology in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. “We will examine and discuss side canyons, geologic features, and fossils not normally viewed by commercial river trips.”

“Scenically, it’s unsurpassed. Don’t ever get hooked on it, because it will take you back again and again in a compulsive way,” says Knauth, who speaks from experience. Since about 1990, he has organized and led 25 trips, introducing interested members of the community to the geology behind the canyon’s celebrated scenery.

Knauth’s goal is to help the public experience the canyon as he experiences it. The trips take the form of tours, with Knauth acting as guide. Throughout the day, the group stops and discusses geologic features they encounter.

The trip price includes lodging at Cliff Dwellers Lodge the night of May 5 (double occupancy), basic camping gear, all meals while on the river, helicopter exit to Bar 10 Ranch, and plane flight back to Marble Canyon or Las Vegas.

The trip includes an extra day on the Colorado River relative to normal trips, a pre-trip orientation, the National Park entrance fee, a waterproof guide book, geologic handouts, a post-trip party/slide show, and bag return from the rafts to Phoenix.

“This last feature means you can bring amounts of gear not normally allowed, and you do not have to lug it out on the helicopter at the end,” explains Knauth.

Hatch River Expeditions provides the large, motorized inflatable rafts. Participants will rendezvous at the Hatch facility at Cliff Dwellers in Marble Canyon no later than the evening prior to departure and will return there via aircraft on the 8th day.

To make reservations, call Hatch River Expeditions at 1-800-856-8966. Specify that you want “Knauth’s geology trip putting in on May 6, 2013.”

Cancellation policies, insurance options, and other questions regarding payment are available at: http://hatchriverexpeditions.com. Please note that the ASU-sponsored trip is a charter geology-oriented trip and has somewhat different logistics than the normal commercial trips described on the Hatch website.

For more information about the trip, call Knauth at (480) 965-2867, send an email to knauth@asu.edu, or visit: http://www.public.asu.edu/~iaclpk/River%20Trip%20Flyer.htm.

(Nikki Cassis)

01/23/2013

Michael Veto, a third-year graduate student in the School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) at Arizona State University, has been chosen to build an infrared and visible light camera system that will launch on a space satellite. Veto, who earned his undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering at ASU, is a geology doctoral student of Philip Christensen, Regents' Professor of Geological Sciences in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The new camera will play a central role in the payload for the Prox-1 satellite, which won the seventh University Nanosat Program (UNP) competition, sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Air Force Research Laboratory. It will be constructed in a cleanroom at SESE's new Interdisciplinary Science and Technology Building 4 on the Tempe campus.

The Prox-1 mission is designed by students at the Georgia Institute of Technology under the guidance of professor David Spencer, within Georgia Tech's Center for Space Systems. It will demonstrate automated trajectory control in low-Earth orbit relative to a deployed sub-satellite, or cubesat.

The flight plan calls for Prox-1 to release this smaller spacecraft, which is a version of The Planetary Society’s LightSail solar sail spacecraft. (A solar sail uses the pressure of sunlight for low-thrust propulsion.) Then using the ASU camera's images to guide its trajectory, Prox-1 will fly in formation with the LightSail spacecraft. The ASU camera will also take images of the LightSail solar sail as it opens.

In addition to demonstrating automated proximity operations, Prox-1 will provide first-time flight validation of advanced sun sensor technology, a small satellite propulsion system, and a lightweight thermal imager.

As the winner of the UNP competition, the Prox-1 mission will receive an Air Force launch slot as a secondary payload plus additional development funding over the next two years. The Prox-1 team will complete spacecraft integration and testing, working toward a launch in 2015.

In addition to support from the U.S. Air Force, the Prox-1 team has been supported by contributions from the Georgia Space Grant Consortium, The Aerospace Corporation, Raytheon Vision Systems, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Photo: ASU graduate student Michael Veto has begun work on an infrared and visible camera system that will fly as part of the Prox-1 satellite payload. The infrared part of the camera (in breadboard form) lies to the left of the laptop. Photo by: Arizona State University

(Robert Burnham)

 

12/12/2012
SESE scientists Meenakshi Wadhwa and Tom Sharp are in Antarctica this winter, collecting meteorites as part of the Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) 2012-2013 field season.  This is the first ANSMET team to feature two scientists from the same University!
 
You can read their blogs from the field, as well as those of other ANSMET team members, here.

 

11/29/2012

Lectures, PowerPoint presentations and assigned readings are the basis of the typical classroom experience, but experts say science education is moving away from this traditional teaching routine.

 
A new teaching style called inquiry based instruction focuses on student inquiry and project-based learning. It encourages students to develop creative and practical problem-solving, experts said.
 
Kip Hodges, founding director of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, will be honored in this week’s issue of Science magazine for his work in developing this teaching style.
 
Hodges was chosen as one of 15 recipients of the Science Prize for Inquiry Based Instruction by the editors of Science magazine. He describes his work in an essay published in the Nov. 30 issue of Science. “Instead of giving students information in a classroom, the idea behind inquiry based instruction is to create an environment where students have to find things out for themselves,” Hodges said.
 
Hodges initially developed the idea for his teaching style for a class named “Solving Complex Problems” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he taught before moving to ASU in 2006.
 
In that class, Hodges said he challenged his students to design a mission to Mars to search for signs of past or present life.
 
“Students had to learn how to find information from many different domains of science, engineering and policy,” Hodges said. “They learned how to think across the boundaries of traditional disciplines.”
 
At ASU, he used the same approach teaching “Engineering Systems and Experimental Design,” a class typically taken by students majoring in Earth and Space Exploration in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Aerospace Engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport, and Energy.
 
Frequently, he partnered in teaching the course with Winslow Burleson, a faculty member in ASU’s School of Computing and Informatics.
 
Shay Cheeseman, an Earth and Space Exploration senior, took the class as a sophomore. Her class was given the challenge of designing a mission to the moon.
 
Cheeseman said the class taught her skills that more traditional classes do not, including teamwork and taking an interdisciplinary approach toward problem solving.
 
“Students did a lot of work to make sure everybody did their part,” she said. “You have people depending on you, so it’s more like a work situation.”
 
Raymond Sanders, a senior astrophysics major, was a classmate of Cheeseman. He said the class focused on how science is done “in the real world.”
 
From the student’s perspective, “A lot of traditional lecture courses wind up being simple regurgitation,” Sanders said. “Hodges’ course takes the practical approach of ‘Here is a problem. I want to see how you solve it.’”
 
He explained that creativity is a key part of effective problem solving, especially when Hodges would throw challenges at the class like “What if your rocket blows up during the launch?”
 
“Hodges didn’t put constraints on anything. He didn’t want us talking about Star Trek or Star Wars, but he did want us to find novel ways to solve the problem,” Sanders said.
 
Hodges said that one of the goals of inquiry based education is to teach students how to be creative.
 
“When you’re an undergraduate, much of your education is about learning how to solve problems for which there is an answer key,” he said. “But after you graduate, society asks you to solve problems that have no well-defined solution, and that requires much greater creativity.”
 
Hodges hasn’t taught the engineering systems and experimental design class since the Fall 2011 semester because of curriculum restructuring within the school.
 
But starting in Spring 2013, Hodges will teach the senior capstone course for the school’s B.A. major in Earth and Environmental Studies as an inquiry based class.
 
“The more we teach students that there is a profound value to creativity, the better we’re serving them in terms of preparing them for the rest of their lives,” he said.
 
(Kristen Hwang)