Astrophysics Club Field Trip

This series is part of an effort to showcase the many great employees who contribute to teaching and learning efforts at MVC.

Posted on behalf of Shahnaz Sokhansanj.

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What teaching and learning opportunity recently occurred at Mountain View College (MVC)?

The Astrophysics Club took three van loads of students on a field trip to the Three Rivers Foundation (3RF) Observatory in Crowell, Texas. This was a continuation of a club tradition that began more than 15 years ago. The astrophysics club has been active for many years at Mountain View College and has been trying to engage students outside of the classroom by inviting experts in the field of physics and astronomy to campus. We encourage students to research various topics related to physics and astronomy, and to later present their research to the class. We also travel to places such as the Very Large Array telescopes in New Mexico; NASA Mission Control in Houston; Cape Canaveral in Florida; the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas; the meteor crater in Odessa, Texas; and the Three Rivers Foundation in northwest Texas. We have done each of these trips a few times. We also have monthly star parties on campus for students, MVC employees, and their families, and for the community as well.

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What about this topic are you most excited about?

Physics and astronomy open the door to the beauty and order of the universe. They also can make science come alive, so that anyone can enjoy it. Science is often misunderstood by the public and is rarely as appreciated as, for example, music or the performing arts. So astronomy is a form of science that people can “relate” to and connect with, and that is what is most exciting to me as a teacher. Physics and astronomy touch upon the great mysteries of the universe. Does the universe have a beginning and an end? Why do human beings exist? We all want to know where we come from and where we are destined to go.  We want to learn about the smallest particle (or string in case of string theory)  in this world as much as we want to know what may lie at the edge of the universe. In sum, physics and astronomy help us understand who we are—morally, mentally and physically.

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Why is this topic so important to everyone at MVC?

Astronomy is inherently appealing to almost everyone, both within the MVC community and outside of it, from young children to older adults. Its appeal to a wide range of people is shown by its millenia-old history in cultures from around the world. Aside from that, there are legions of dedicated amateur astronomers of all ages, from many professions, ethnic groups and genders. Astronomy brings everyone together and creates a common bond among all these people, and also creates a bond from each of these people to science itself.

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What did participants learn or take away from this experience?

Because the conditions for sky observation during this trip were less than ideal, the students had to be patient and resourceful. These are traits that are absolutely necessary for any scientist and for many engineers as well. We were able to do many indoor activities, and also were able to watch the sky whenever there was a break in the weather. We were able to see the Milky Way stretched across the sky full of stars in the middle of the night, while coyotes were making noise a short distance away, probably fighting over scant prey. We visited and learned about a variety of telescopes on the 3RF campus. The trip allowed students to learn how to cope with other people in close quarters while having fun and learning at the same time. They also were able to experience a very rural area far from the urban environs of Dallas, which expanded their educational and social horizons.

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What is some of the feedback you received regarding this event?

The students were very appreciative of this opportunity. They mentioned that the trip was unforgettable to them, not only from an educational standpoint. While this field trip allowed them to have fun with a group of their peers and classmates, it was also a spiritually enriching experience, as it allowed them to see all the beauty of the sky above us.

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If people would like to learn more about this topic, where would you point them towards?

There are many web sites available on the field of astronomy. For example:

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There are very good documentary or films on science-themed channels such as Nova and National Geographic and many others. The resources above are only a few among many. While there are many astronomy-oriented web sites, please be sure to avoid the astrology sites, because that is not what we would consider astronomy.

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Teaching & Learning: Nepantla

This series is part of an effort to showcase the many great employees who contribute to teaching and learning efforts at MVC.

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Posted on behalf of Professor Tina Medina.

What teaching and learning opportunity recently occurred at Mountain View College (MVC)?

Currently a solo exhibition by MVC faculty Tina Medina is on view at Mountain View College in the Cliff Gallery from the dates March 6 until April 7, 2017. A workshop based on the art techniques will occur on March 29, 10:10am until 11:00am in the Cliff Gallery. In connection with the Nepantla exhibition, Dallas artist Tina Medina will demonstrate portrait drawing related to visual heritage. Participants will experience mixed media drawing techniques and be guided on how to draw portraiture. Participants are encouraged to bring a copy of a photo of a face or work from those provided. The workshop is free and art materials will be provided. Space is Limited, the workshop is limited to 15 people, thus, the first 15 who show up to the workshop will be given a seat. However we welcome onlookers and questions from those individuals that do not get to directly participate in the workshop activities.

What about this topic are you most excited about?

The exhibit relates specifically to the student population and community demographic. Through various themes about family, ancestry and US history, the art is portrayed from the viewpoint of people from various ethnic backgrounds and immigrants. The themes relate also to the current events and political topics. Through this art exhibition I am hoping to open avenues of communication, dialogue and discussion for all students and members of the community. These artworks are meant to create critical thinking situations for students in classes of all disciplines.

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Why is this topic so important to everyone at MVC?

These topics are so important to everyone at MVC because these viewpoints are the viewpoints of our students, faculty and staff. Various individuals from all walks of life and cultural backgrounds come together at the community college in order to better their lives, whether that be through working or taking classes there. The diversity of our campus is the strength and beauty of our college.

What did participants learn or take away from this experience?

Participants who view the art exhibit and/or participate in the workshop will learn about various art methods including installation art, mixed media techniques, as well as themes in art regarding ancestry, politics, social protest, affirmation, race, gender and class. Those who view the art will hopefully take away questions about history and the viewpoints of others.

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What is some of the feedback you received regarding this event?

Some of the feedback so far has been that many who have seen the art comment on how the topics are powerful and meaningful. Faculty have requested to view the exhibit with their classes, the Culture of Writing Festival will feature the exhibit as part of a presentation during the festival. A local news channel has contacted MVC media about interviewing the artist.

If people would like to learn more about this topic, where would you point them towards?

Interested people who want to learn more about the art exhibit or the workshop can visit or contact the Cliff art gallery or contact the ARCO division office. Regarding learning more about the topics in the art exhibition people will find more information in libraries and literature and history books written from the viewpoints of people of varying racial ethnicities and cultures.

Teaching and Learning – Outdoor Nation

We’d like to take time to learn more about a teaching and learning opportunity and why it matters to the Mountain View College (MVC) family.

By Lori De La Cruz.

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What teaching and learning opportunity recently occurred at Mountain View College (MVC)?

MVC recently participated in the Outdoor Nation Campus Challenge. For six weeks we encouraged students, faculty, staff and community members to “get outside.” Participants earned points by taking selfies while doing outdoor activities and then posting the photos to the Outdoor Nation app. It was so easy! Every week was a new challenge and a chance to win great prizes like backpacks from Osprey or North Face, a really nice hammock from Grand Trunk, a $75 gift card from Adidas, and tote bags and water bottles from REI. All you had to do was hike, stargaze, camp, walk, fish, skateboard, garden, birdwatch…even hammock! Eighty-eight people participated and posted 583 activities over six weeks – it was a tremendous campaign!

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What about this topic are you most excited about?

I’m most excited about people experiencing the outdoors. You don’t need to climb mountains or kayak a treacherous river to enjoy being outside. Lots of the posted activities were just people walking their dog or enjoying a picnic lunch at the park. Sure, the campaign celebrated those who did the most or used the right hashtag during the right week, but it all boiled down to people spending time outside. Every participant I talked to mentioned how much fun they were having and many made their children get involved – outdoor family time!

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Why is this topic so important to everyone at MVC?

At the most basic level, this challenge offered opportunities to be in nature and appreciate it. Nature isn’t just going to the Arboretum or the park; it’s all around us, everywhere we go. Even a stray weed poking up through a crack in a concrete parking lot is nature. It is both persistent and beautiful. We need to slow down and appreciate the nature that surrounds us, especially on our college campus! Our urban forest is a gem in Oak Cliff that hosts an abundance of biodiversity and we shouldn’t take it for granted.

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What did participants learn or take away from this experience?

I can’t speak for others, but I learned that we have the most fun when we’re with our friends and classmates, and we’re celebrating nature without even realizing it. I have a great photo of two ECHS students roasting marshmallows around the grill with Dr. Davis. All around them students were laughing, trying out the hiking meals, checking out the solar ovens or just taking a break from class. They’re all just taking a few minutes to enjoy the sunshine and the camaraderie.

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We also did a nighttime activity hosted by the Astrophysics Club: Tents and Telescopes. Around dusk we roasted marshmallows and hot dogs and hung out talking until it got dark enough to use the telescopes. I’ve never used a really nice telescope before, so imagine my delight when I saw Saturn and its rings just a clear as if it were a few feet away! And did you know that the sunrise/sunset on Mars is blue, not red/orange like ours? We got to see it and it was awe-inspiring! And the best part was that students participated who have never been and didn’t know what to expect. (BTW: the Astrophysics Club hosts star parties every month and the experience is stunning!)

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What is some of the feedback you received regarding this event?

The feedback has all been positive. People have been purposefully getting off the couch and heading outdoors. Even at work, participants were taking time to walk during their lunch hour. And they have been really surprised this week as I’ve been delivering prizes; many folks were having so much fun that they forgot they were competing for prizes!

A special congratulations goes out to Lorena Faz as officially being “MVC’s Most Outdoorsy Person!”

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If people would like to learn more about this topic, where would you point them towards?

Classes:

Trails:

Just Get Outdoors:

Campus Project: Classroom Renovations

We’d like to take the time to learn more about departments, campus initiatives, and why projects such as these matter to the Mountain View College family. Please take a moment to learn about more them, in their own words.

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Can you tell us a little bit about what is happening in your area?

Media Services is doing a massive renovation of classroom equipment in rooms W60, W67, W122, W165, W167 and the large group instruction rooms W168 and W171.

What can Mountain View College (MVC) expect regarding this project?

We are very excited about the renovations because MVC can expect a better equipment experience for classroom instruction and meetings, depending on the individual room’s needs, we have installed new overhead projectors, instructor stations, screens, document cameras and fire-resistant wiring. Most importantly, W168 and W171 will have new microphones in each room.

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What is the planned timeline for this project?

We started this project in June of this year and anticipate that our vendors will finish by October 1, 2016.

What is a secret tip to keeping calm during such a process?

The absolute essential component of staying calm in a massive project like this is COMMUNICATION: communication with administration, faculty, MVC business offices, district business offices and the vendors contracted to do the installations.

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What does finishing this project mean to the MVC?

We are very proud that Mountain View College will enjoy current state-of-the art instructional technology across campus. When Dr. Valencia started working with Media Services, there were only three smart classrooms on MVC campus. Now, with the dedication and hard work of Nathan Albers, Jason Jordan, Ella Barton, Julie Chin and Randy Clower, and with funding assistance from MVC and the STEM grant, almost every classroom, with the exception of those with original construction issues, has smart technology.