And the Writing Begins…

Having finally compiled my research, I set off on the last leg of my summer project: actually writing my paper. By far the least anticipated section of my summer research (which was not exactly unexpected seeing as I started my summer with a trip to Italy), my paper writing has nonetheless produced some interesting results – beyond seven pages complete with 35 footnotes. Forcing myself to create an outline, I first worked to synthesize the research that I had compiled. When working on a paper, I generally have a prompt to focus on, given by a professor, with very specific guidelines and expectations. This time around, I was tasked with creating my own guidelines and working off my own prompt. To be honest, it was a strange mix of terror and liberation, knowing that I was making my own parameters.

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Hydrogen Peroxide Fun

In the closing weeks of my research experience, Dr. Cooke tasked me with finding a procedure for determining the actual percentage of hydrogen peroxide that was in a sample.  The hydrogen peroxide was used in cleaning to prepare an algal sample for imaging under a scanning electron microscope.  Very small amounts of the hydrogen peroxide (30%) are actually used in the cleaning and so I had been using a smaller sample separate from the larger container.  This container went through multiple cycles of heating and cooling, so it was natural to ask whether the amount of hydrogen peroxide is comparable to the apparent starting value of 30% by volume or if the sample had degraded significantly after the heating cycles.

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Live and Learn in Lamjung

Students in Sahilitar mapping a bridge with GPS

Students in Sahilitar mapping a bridge with GPS

Namascar,
On July 13, Aarti and I stumbled up a precarious hillside path to our temporary home in Sahilitar, Lamjung District. With the help of a translator, we spent a week teaching 20 students at the Shree Gyanodaya Higher Secondary School how to think spatially, using GPS to map their community to this end. The students struggled at first to overcome a number of misconceptions: most had difficulty envisioning objects from a bird’s-eye view, and had not considered mapping as related to photography or math. We tailored our lessons to take advantage of the student’s skill with geometry, which they were in the process of learning during their regular school hours. Geometry is critical to cartography, so they picked up the basics more rapidly than we had initially expected based on their prior inexperience with maps. By the end of the training, they were able to confidently orient themselves North and South, to conceive of their community in geospatial terms, and were prepared to begin mapping online for Open Street Map (OSM).

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Game Changers in Hattiban and Dhulikhel

My sixth week at the School of Arts was a mixed bag.
The refresher course and advanced training week for KU staff fell short of what my colleague, Aarti Reddy, and I had planned. All of the Development Studies professors and the dean himself made an appearance at the opening presentation by Young Innovations, but we had lost most of our audience within an hour. When I consulted one of the few remaining scholars, he admitted that many were unwilling to learn ArcGIS because they were frustrated with the early expiration of the software last year. However open the staff may have been to GIS initially, some had become wary of a tool that might suddenly and permanently stop working. There was a handful of teachers who were still willing to learn, and one of them advised us to take a different tact.

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