Pellissippi State to participate in total solar eclipse experiment in 2017

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Pellissippi State Community College is one of 55 educational institutions across the United States that will participate in a high-altitude ballooning experiment — sponsored by NASA — during next year’s total solar eclipse.

The total solar eclipse will move from the West Coast to the East Coast throughout the day of Aug. 21. The moon’s shadow will come between earth and the sun at approximately 2 p.m. in East Tennessee. It’s the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in the U.S. since 1918.

Pellissippi State will launch a high altitude balloon to gather data and conduct experiments during the two-minute window of the total eclipse. Video from the balloon of the eclipse will be streamed live to NASA’s website.

“This is an amazing learning opportunity,” said Lynn Klett, instructor in Engineering and Media Technologies, and a faculty advisor to Pellissippi State’s high altitude ballooning team. “The last total solar eclipse was years ago, so we have the opportunity to learn a lot about what happens during an eclipse. But high altitude ballooning has its own challenges that require critical thinking and problem-solving, whether you’re flying during a solar eclipse or not.”

As an example of those challenges, Pellissippi State’s balloon must be within the proper altitude range — 60,000 to 100,000 feet — precisely during the two-minute window of the total eclipse. The scientific equipment within the payload must be able to withstand temperatures of -60 degrees Celsius and survive a controlled fall from approximately 100,000 feet in space.

And that’s just the beginning.

Jerry Sherrod, associate professor in Business and Computer Technology, and this project’s other faculty advisor, is working with predictive software to determine where the payload is likely to land.

“East Tennessee has geographic challenges when it comes to predicting where a 12-pound payload on a small parachute will land,” Sherrod said. “We don’t want the equipment to land in a lake or in the national park where it may be impossible to retrieve, or where the scientific equipment will be lost or damaged.”

Klett and Sherrod will be working with the students on the high altitude ballooning team — as well as students in their classes — not only to discuss the project, but to design experiments, improve the payload structure and create predictive algorithms for the device’s retrieval.

“This is an accessible project to the STEM field,” student Sarah Graham said. “Everyone can understand a solar eclipse because it’s a real, visible phenomenon. It’s a great way to learn about physics and engineering in a less intimidating way.”

Pellissippi State’s high-altitude ballooning team will spend the next year improving the payload structure and conducting test launches, as well as working with predictive software to improve retrieval. The team also has the chance to create additional experiments, so long as they add less than two pounds to the payload, to include in the launch next year.

The high altitude ballooning effort is being funded through the NASA Science Mission Directorate and the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium. Pellissippi State is one of only three colleges in Tennessee that are participating in the NASA-sponsored effort.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

 

Download this press release: Solar Eclipse Experiment

Record number of high school students takes classes at Pellissippi State

posted in: Academics, Dual Enrollment, Students, TBR | 0

A record number of high school juniors and seniors have taken college-level classes at Pellissippi State Community College over the past academic year.

The college’s Dual Enrollment program — which allows high school students to take college level classes at their high schools or at Pellissippi State campuses in order to receive dual high school and college credit — had 1,849 students in 2015-2016. The students came from Knox and Blount counties. A record 84 academic sections were offered to those students.

“Dual Enrollment is all about helping students reach their goals,” said Spencer Joy, Dual Enrollment specialist. “We’re proud to reach record enrollment, but we’re prouder that these students are achieving so much. Dual Enrollment students can get a jump-start on their college education, entering college as freshmen who already have credits under their belt.”

A Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation grant pays for students to earn up to six hours of college credit during their junior and senior years of high school, but Dual Enrollment students can take additional classes if they choose, at their own cost.

About 55 percent of Dual Enrollment students take courses on one of Pellissippi State’s five campuses. The remainder take college-level courses at their high schools. A record six high schools registered more than 100 Dual Enrollment students this past year — at Farragut High School (259 students), Bearden High School (236), Hardin Valley Academy (174), Halls High School (133), Maryville High School (113) and Karns High School (110).

Farragut, Bearden, Karns, Alcoa, Central and Gibbs high schools, plus the L&N STEM Academy, set individual records for the numbers of Dual Enrollment students each had enrolled.

For more information about Dual Enrollment, visit www.pstcc.edu/dual or call 865-539-7349. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

 

Download this press release: Dual Enrollment 2016 Record

Pellissippi State launches Design for Web and Print

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Students at Pellissippi State Community College will have the opportunity to study a new degree concentration this fall.

Design for Web and Print, a concentration in the Media Technologies program, combines graphic design and web design in one, cross-disciplinary concentration that prepares students for careers in graphic or web design, marketing, promotions or e-commerce.

“This new concentration allows students to have their feet in different areas,” said Martha Merrill, program coordinator of Web Technology at Pellissippi State. Merrill will teach the Web Design I course offered this fall. “It’s allowing students to learn things like web design and coding, combined with the aesthetic finesse of graphic design.”

“In today’s workforce, you can’t compartmentalize what you know,” said Stewart Taylor, an associate professor in Media Technologies. Taylor will teach two courses this fall as part of the new concentration: Design Basics for Web & Print and Photoshop for Web & Print.

In four semesters, students in the program will be able to gain proficiency in programs like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign, will learn to code using JavaScript, jQuery, CSS and HTML5 and will study essential elements of design for web and print publications.

Additional information about the concentration is available in the College Catalog, catalog.pstcc.edu. Students interested in the Design for Web and Print concentration can contact Pellissippi State’s Advising office at 865-694-6556.

 

Download this press release: Design Web and Print

Pellissippi State launches sustainable garden, food pantry

Annie Gray
Annie Gray, program coordinator of Service-Learning at Pellissippi State, shows off lettuce grown in the Hardin Valley Campus Garden.

Pellissippi State Community College is building on a history of sustainability and service with a new campus garden and food pantry.

The garden, which is located on the Hardin Valley Campus, is not only an outdoor education and community service hub, but a supplier of local produce to the college cafeteria. A significant portion of the food produced will help low-income students at Pellissippi State.

“What makes this project unique is not only the sustainability aspect, but the emphasis on providing for students in need and educating them about healthy food choices amid real concerns about poverty,” said Annie Gray, Service-Learning coordinator and leader of this project.

The Hardin Valley Campus Garden will complement a new food pantry that will support college students who struggle with chronic hunger issues. Most of the garden’s produce — 75 percent — will supplement the food distributed through this new Pellissippi Pantry, which also will partner with Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee.

The remaining food from the garden will supplement Hardin Valley Campus cafeteria food offerings, available to anyone.

The Pellissippi Pantry will be available on all five Pellissippi State campuses in Knox and Blount counties. It will offer qualified students healthy packaged and fresh food, as well as nutrition education. It will launch for at-risk students this summer.

Research shows there’s a need for this type of outreach. A 2015 study out of the University of Wisconsin has shown that, nationally, about 52 percent of community college students experience ongoing food insecurity, or the inability to readily access healthy or nutritious food. Atlantic magazine has reported that 22 percent of community college students nationwide reported they’d gone hungry due to a lack of money.

Pellissippi Pantry will operate on a basis of confidentiality. Students will be identified to workers only by an ID and will be able to discreetly pick up food at a pre-specified time and location.

Pellissippi State has a history of launching sustainable and service-oriented gardens. In partnership with other local organizations, the college opened the Pond Gap Elementary School community garden in 2013 as part of the Service-Learning program. That community garden has been a widely-regarded success in enhancing curriculum and after-school programs and providing healthy food for Pond Gap students and their families.

For more information about how to support the Pellissippi Pantry or the Hardin Valley Campus Garden, contact the Pellissippi State Foundation at www.pstcc.edu/foundation or call 865-694-6528. For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400.

 

Download this news release: PSCC Garden Pantry

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