Pellissippi State partners with NASA to study solar eclipse, will hold viewing party

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Photos of Earth’s stratosphere were taken by Pellissippi State Community College students and faculty members through the camera attached to a high-altitude balloon. This photo, taken during a test launch in March, gives some idea of the types of images the balloon and camera may capture during the total solar eclipse August 21.
 
Pellissippi State Community College is one of only 55 educational institutions across the United States that will participate in a high altitude ballooning experiment — sponsored by NASA — during the August 21 total solar eclipse, and the college will host a viewing party and community event to mark the solar eclipse.
 
The total solar eclipse will move from the west coast to the east coast throughout the day of August 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 is one of only three colleges in Tennessee that are participating in the NASA-sponsored effort.
 
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.
 
Additionally, a viewing party and community event will be held at the Blount County Campus from noon-3 p.m. The free event, called Tailgating in Totality, will include food trucks, games and activities for children — plus a live stream from Pellissippi State’s high altitude balloon.
 
“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 have been 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.
 
The high altitude ballooning effort is being funded through the NASA Science Mission Directorate and the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium. 
 
For more information about Pellissippi State, visit  www.pstcc.edu/cae or call 865-694-6400. 

Pellissippi State students earn top spots in regional Math Contest

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Math contest winners
Pellissippi State students took top spots in the annual regional Student Mathematics League competitions: from left, Son Quang, Bohdan Makarchuk, Lily Turaski and Robert Weber.

 

Pellissippi State Community College finished first in the state — and second in the region — in this year’s regional Student Mathematics League competition.

Pellissippi State had 105 students take part in the 2016-2017 contest. In the first round of competition in October, the top five Pellissippi State students were Lily Turaski, Nicholas West, Son Quang, Ben Koester and Michaela Shoffner. In February’s round two competition, the top five places were earned by Lily Turaski, Son Quang, Robert Weber, Ian Cannon and Bohdan Makarchuk.

Those top five individual scores constitute the college’s overall score. In the final standings, Pellissippi State placed first among Tennessee colleges and second among 19 schools in the southeast region.

Also in the southeast region, Pellissippi State student Lily Turaski took first place among all participating students. Nicholas West and Son Quang tied for ninth place in the southeast region, while Ethan Vals took 19th.

 “All of our students performed very well this year,” said Bobby Jackson, a mathematics professor at Pellissippi State. “The team’s second place regional finish tied the highest ranking we’ve ever had.”

Pellissippi State has taken part in the Student Mathematics League contest for the past 16 years. The contest is sponsored by the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges. Nationally, 165 schools in 35 states participated this year.

Each year the contest consists of two rounds, one during the fall semester and one during the spring semester. In the Student Mathematics League contest, students are tested in many areas of mathematics, including geometry, trigonometry, algebra, probability and logic. Each round includes an exam of 20 multiple-choice questions. Students can use a calculator, but no notebook or textbook. Pellissippi State — thanks to a grant from Oak Ridge Associated Universities — awards its top finishers in each subject with additional cash prizes.

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

Pellissippi State honors outstanding students

posted in: Academics, Awards, Students, TBR | 0

Pellissippi State Community College honored dozens of outstanding students at its annual Academic Awards ceremony April 25. The awards recognized not only excellent academic achievement, but excellence in altruism, community service and leadership.

The college named Leah Hazel Davis and Haley Victoria Ferguson to the All-USA Community College Academic Team.

Gulsah Onar and Dustie Phillips were recipients of the Service Leadership Excellence Award, in recognition of their devotion to civic and community engagement. Susan Spoon was named winner of the Shelley Grace Clayton Award, which honors an altruistic and caring attitude; and several students won Campus Leadership Awards: Heather Butler, Sandra Davis, Sarah Kear, Robert McGinley and Amanda Wollard.

Nathan Armistead was recognized as an outstanding student in the fine arts, and his painting “Presley” was purchased for Pellissippi State’s permanent student art collection.

Additionally, several students were named as Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges: Demi Camia, Sandra de Jesus, Caleb Edmonds, Haley Ferguson, Elicia Ferrer, Kathleen Ford, Jonathan Harter, Apryl Herrell, Yulia Kanevskaya, Jeremy Law, Nikolas Likourentzos, Gulsah Onar, Laura Overton, Walter Rutherford, Valentyna Samonik, Jennifer Sandberg, Mary Templeman, Joy Walker and Darryl Woodridge.

Pellissippi State also named its Faculty Member of the Year — as voted on by students — as Jonathan Lamb, associate professor of mathematics.

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

Pellissippi State hosts summer camp classes

Pellissippi State Community College will host plenty of summer camp class options for children (and adults!) this year.

  • Junior Summer Team Tennis — Ages 9 and up. Enjoy fun, friendly tennis team competitions. Instructor Andy Frost separates players by ability and age. Teams have one practice and one match per week. Cost is $135. May 31-July 26; practices are 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Wednesdays and matches are 2 p.m., Thursdays.
  • STEAM Camp Adventure — Ages 10-17. Spend a week specializing in Minecraft coding, robotics or videography. Cost is $320. Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., June 12-16, 19-13, 26-30 or July 10-14.
  • Self-Defense for Kids — Ages 6-9. Learn fun and easy self-defense moves for common scary scenarios. Cost is $79. Monday-Friday, 9-10 a.m., July 24-28.
  • Self-Defense for Preteens — Ages 10-12. Learn fun and easy self-defense techniques for common scenarios like bullying. Cost is $79. Monday-Friday, 10:15-11:30 a.m., July 24-28.
  • Girls on Guard: Self-Defense for Young Teens — Ages 12-14. Engage in practical self-defense techniques for specific situations. Cost is $89. Monday-Friday, 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m., July 24-28.
  • Reduce the Odds: Self-Defense for Older Teen Girls — Ages 15-17. Learn to recognize and escape dangerous situations through practice with technique and role play. Cost is $89. Monday-Friday, 1:15-2:30 p.m., July 24-28.
  • Multigenerational Class: Did You Get That On Film? — All ages. Learn to use your cell phone camera to capture better videos and use apps for special effects. Cost is $159. Monday-Friday, 1-4 p.m., June 19-23 and Monday-Friday, 8:30-11:30 a.m., July 17-21.

All classes are available through Business and Community Services, which offers lifelong learning opportunities to individuals through personalized, non-credit courses in everything from career training to personal hobbies.

For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/bcs or call 865-539-7167. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or accommodations@pstcc.edu.

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