2011-2012 Modules and Units
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
The shortish answer: Because healthy green plants have a high reflectance value in the near-infrared (NIR) part of the spectrum. We can’t see NIR light normally, but the sensors in our cameras can. (Landsat and other imagers also ‘see’ NIR, as well as several other slices of the EM spectrum.)
Computers display color using three different channels, red, green, and blue. When we look for vegetation in TwinCam or Landsat imagery, we use MultiSpec to ‘map’ the NIR channel from the camera or sensor into the red channel that the computer displays. Since we have now used the red channel to show NIR data we will map the red and green channels from the camera to the green and blue channels on the computer, respectively. (We don't use the blue band here, so it isn't mapped to a channel.)
Vegetation looks red because the red pixels are showing the NIR, which again has a high reflectance value. (Remember that percent reflectance is simply the percentage of incoming sunlight that is being reflected back by the object in the image.) The green pixels on the computer are showing the red information from the camera. Plants absorb red light so these values are low. That means there won’t be much green in the vegetation on the screen. The blue pixels on the computer show the green information from the camera. Vegetation reflects more green light than it does in red or blue, so those values are relatively high. So, on the computer screen:
- Red pixels show NIR information (high reflectance in vegetation)
- Green pixels show Red information (low reflectance in vegetation)
- Blue pixels show Green information (moderate reflectance in vegetation)
- (blue information is discarded)
Below is a graphic representation of the channel mixing process using actual imagery from two cameras - one capturing visible light and the other capturing a slice of the near-infrared around 800 nm. (This is what we do when we process TwinCam imagery.)
A bit more information that you may find helpful:
Our TwinCam cameras have a sensitivity 8 bits per pixel - that is 28 or 256 integer values for each of the red, blue, and green channels. The values represent a grayscale range from 0-255, with 0 corresponding to 0% reflectance (black), and 255 responding 100% reflectance (white). This is called the Radiometric Resolution of the camera or sensor.
Based on the reflectance curve in the graph above, a typical pixel of healthy green vegetation might have the following values:
Normally, we would display the red, green and blue pixels values into the corresponding red, green and blue channels and our leaf would look greenish. However, we are interested in the NIR information, and to see those values we need to map that information to one of the other channels.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Designing High Quality PBL
I emphasize the term ‘high quality’ PBL for two reasons. First, many educators still equate PBL with ‘doing projects,’ ‘hands on’ learning, or ‘activities.’ This is an industrial holdover from the time when projects were designed as an antidote to lecture or a respite from seat time, as a culminating opportunity for students to finally demonstrate what they had learned during the year, or even as a simple reward for having endured tedious instruction.
PBL is a far more evolved method of instruction. Well-executed PBL begins with the recognition that, as in the real world, it’s often difficult to distinguish between acquiring information and using it. Students learn knowledge and elements of the core curriculum, but also apply what they know to solve authentic problems and produce results that matter. Students focus on a problem or challenge, work in teams to find a solution to the problem, and often exhibit their work to an adult audience at the end of the project. Most important, PBL emphasizes carefully planned assessments that incorporate formative feedback, detailed rubrics, and multiple evaluations of content and skills.
But even with a method, mediocre PBL is still possible (and too prevalent). Simply turning students loose on a problem or question, putting them in groups, and having them do an exhibition or PowerPoint at the end of two weeks, does not meet the criteria for ‘high quality.’ This is especially true if innovation is our goal. Fostering innovation is a complex, challenging task that requires a teacher to do many things all at once: Refocus learning on the student; teach critical content; develop and assess global-age skills; offer constant opportunity for deep thinking and reflection; and reward intangible assets such as drive, passion, creativity, empathy, and resiliency. High quality PBL can offer students that complete experience, but it doesn’t happen automatically.
High quality PBL begins with a consistent, considered project design. Teachers move through a design process based on specific principles backed by proven methods and practices. Taken as a whole, this methodology allows teachers to conceive and implement a coherent problem-solving process that brings out the best work in students and addresses the key standards in the curriculum. Slight variations exist among practitioners, but there is general agreement on these methods. In my work, I use seven design principles. Each principle represents a point—or fault line—at which the project can be made more powerful and engaging, or less so:
- Identify the challenge. At the core of PBL lies a meaningful, doable challenge. This means that projects start with a powerful idea, an authentic issue, or a vital concept. The challenge must then be defined so that it aligns with the objectives of the course, but not so narrow that it doesn’t demand innovation and insight.
High quality tip: Design projects that matter. A project that gives students an opportunity to contribute to their community or prepares them for life will invite their best efforts and whole-hearted participation. Generally, if projects originate from a laundry list of standards, they lack a big idea to power the project. There must be a reason to learn beyond covering the curriculum.
- Craft the Driving Question. Your intention drives a project. What is the deep understanding that you want students to demonstrate at the end of the project? There is a proven process for turning a challenge into a driving question that captures the intent and depth of the project.
High quality tip: Make the problem relevant. An effective Driving Question taps a deep level of motivation. For example, a social studies team shifted their question on a Depression-era project to get at deeper lessons from the 1930’s that resonate today:
“What can we learn from the 1930’s?” to “How important is self-reliance in today’s world?”
- Start with Results. PBL mimics the ‘plan backwards’ approach recommended by many educators. Given that PBL focuses on problem solving, innovation, and ‘fuzzy’ goals, it is imperative that you design both the knowledge acquisition as well as the process of learning. Think of yourself as more of a coach than a teacher. Your job is to put together a game plan for high performance.
High quality tip: Think beyond normal lesson planning. Questions that should come up at this stage: What protocols and peer methods will you use to encourage reflection and deep thinking? How will you organize your teams? What evidence will you require to reward innovative thinking?
- Build the Assessment. The key to high quality PBL assessment is to view content as one of several outcomes that will help students become more skillful, be reflective about their capabilities, and prepare them for post secondary success. This means designing evaluations and formative assessments in five areas: (1) global-age skills; (2) conceptual understanding; (3) personal strengths or habits of mind; (4) innovation and creativity; and (5) critical content.
High quality tip: Distinguish assessment and evaluation. Assessment is a constant tool, used to improve performance and support growth over time; evaluation is the final score. Formative assessment is essential to PBL. Use it regularly throughout a project to improve performance. Assess skill development as well as content mastery.
- Enroll and engage. Starting right is the key to success at the end. This includes helping students connect their interests to the question or problem, and organizing teams for effective performance by establishing norms and clear benchmarks.
High quality tip: Use a Critical Friends or tuning protocol to have students refine the question or the project. This is an excellent time to incorporate student voice. If you need a copy of the protocol, download the Top Ten PBL Tools at www.thommarkham.com.
- Focus on quality. High quality PBL relies on teams that demonstrate commitment, purpose, and results, similar to the organizational goals of high performing industries. To do this, let go of the notion of ‘groups’ and move to the language of teamwork. Allow plenty of time for preparation, drafting, and refinement of products, presentations, and skills.
High quality tip: Facilitate deep thinking. Teach your students the tools of inquiry and require the teams to practice the skills of dialogue, visible thinking, peer evaluation, and critique.
- End with Mastery. PBL is a non-linear process that begins with divergent thinking, enters a period of emergent problem solving, and ends with converging ideas and products. A good PBL teacher manages the work flow through the chaos of the project, but also closes the project by giving students every opportunity and support necessary to experience a sense of mastery and accomplishment.
High quality tip: Reflect. Take two days to review and reflect on the project. Reflect on accomplishments, and evaluate the project against criteria. Was the Driving Question answered? Was the investigation sufficient? Were skills mastered? What questions were raised? The project debrief improves future projects, as well as teaching students the cycle of quality improvement.
How can we sum this up? PBL promises more engaging school work and a shift in the culture of learning that should be visible in the form of more satisfied, higher performing, and more innovative students. But it does require a systematic approach that fully engages students, offers a potent blend of skills and intellectual challenge, and prompts or awakens a deeper curiosity about life. From that standpoint, PBL is still a work in progress.
Thom Markham, Ph.D., is a psychologist and school redesign consultant who assists teachers in designing high quality, rigorous projects that incorporate 21st century skills and the principles of youth development. He is the primary author of the Buck Institute for Education’s Handbook on Project Based Learning and the author of the forthcoming Project Based Learning Coach’s Guide. He may be reached through his website at www.thommarkham.com, where visitors can download the Top Ten Tools for PBL.
Monday, December 12, 2011
The ICCARS program has four, distinct deliverables:
- The NASA AEROKATS TwinCam-AeroPod Field Operation Manual and the AEROKATS TwinCam-AeroPod Image Processing Lab Guide.
- The Customized Handheld Field Data Collector (Software Package).
- ICCARS NASA STEM Instructional Units. There will be 60 instructional units produced using PBL methodology grounded in inquiry and student led investigations, applying NASA image data and resources, and aligned with Michigan educational standards in earth science, biology, physics and mathematics. These units will be published online with a subscription setup which will also support the dissemination and sustainability of the ICCARS project.
- ICCARS eLearning Collaboratory
Instructional Module Required Components:
- Utilization of Project Based Learning (Focus of January PLC)
- Grounded in Inquiry (5 E Model - Guides Student Inquiry)
- Aligned to Michigan Standards
2) State the title of the Module
3) List the Driving Question(s) for the Module
4) List the Major Understanding(s) for the Module
5) List the Expectations for the Module, both Inquiry and Content (code plus full written expectation).
6) List the essential content for the Module.
7) List an example of a project/challenge that would be appropriate for this Module. Examples can be found at:
Friday, December 9, 2011
Carbon Nation: carbon nation is a documentary movie about climate change SOLUTIONS. Even if you doubt the severity of the impact of climate change or just don't buy it at all, this is still a compelling and relevant film that illustrates how SOLUTIONS to climate change also address other social, economic and national security issues. You'll meet a host of entertaining and endearing characters along the way.
A Sea Change: It’s a frightening premise, and it’s happening right now. A Sea Change follows the journey of retired history teacher Sven Huseby on his quest to discover what is happening to the world’s oceans. After reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Darkening Sea,” Sven becomes obsessed with the rising acidity of the oceans and what this “sea change” bodes for mankind. His quest takes him to Alaska, California, Washington, and Norway as he uncovers a worldwide crisis that most people are unaware of. Speaking with oceanographers, marine biologists, climatologists, and artists, Sven discovers that global warming is only half the story of the environmental catastrophe that awaits us. Excess carbon dioxide is dissolving in our oceans, changing sea water chemistry. The more acidic water makes it difficult for tiny creatures at the bottom of the food web to form their shells. The effects could work their way up to the fish 1 billion people depend upon for their source of protein.
The Age of Stupid: The Age of Stupid stars Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father, The Usual Suspects, Brassed Off) as a man living in the devastated future world of 2055, looking back at old footage from our time and asking: why didn't we stop climate change when we had the chance?
Earth The Operators' Manual: “Earth: The Operators’ Manual” dispenses with politics, polemics or punditry; instead, it presents an objective, accessible assessment of the Earth’s problems and possibilities that will leave viewers informed, energized and optimistic. Host Richard Alley – a geologist, contributor to the United Nations panel on climate change and former oil company employee whom Andy Revkin of the New York Times once called “a cross between Woody Allen and Carl Sagan” – leads the audience on this engaging one-hour special about climate change and sustainable energy, premiering during Earth Month 2011. Alley’s book of the same name, a companion to the program, is published by W.W. Norton & Company.
Power Surge: Can emerging technology defeat global warming? The United States has invested tens of billions of dollars in clean energy projects as our leaders try to save our crumbling economy and our poisoned planet in one bold, green stroke. Are we finally on the brink of a green-energy "power surge," or is it all a case of too little, too late? From solar panel factories in China to a carbon capture-and-storage facility in the Sahara desert to massive wind and solar installations in the United States, NOVA travels the globe to reveal the surprising technologies that just might turn back the clock on climate change. NOVA will focus on the latest and greatest innovations, including everything from artificial trees to green reboots of familiar technologies like coal and nuclear energy. Can our technology, which helped create this problem, now solve it?
Learn more about the "carbon calculator" discussed in the program at this site from the Cool Climate Network.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
GLISA is an acronym for the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center. The Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA) links producers and users of scientific information, facilitating smart responses to climate variability and change. A changing climate will have significant effects on the economic vitality, ecological health, and the well-being of residents in the Great Lakes basin.
David Bidwell, Project Director, opened the Symposium explaining that GLISA is funded through a five year grant from NOAA. This symposium is the first annual since their funding began in October, 2010. He introduced the website:
http://glisa.umich.edu or http://glisa.msu.edu
He stated that their focus is on Lake Erie and Lake Huron, but also the remaining Great Lakes. He said that they work on mitigation (causes of climate change) and adaptation (the effects of climate change and actions that can be taken) but their focus is on adaptation. He also noted that the symposium is the culmination of a two day series of meetings that GLISA has been holding with stake holders. He then introduced three sessions (20 minutes each) that are sharing research from the GLISA Core Team.
These presentations included:
- GLISA Climate Information from Laura Briley, GLISA -- http://www.glisaclimate.org/
- Review of Assessments from Maria Carmen Lemos of the U of M -- http://glisa.umich.edu/great_lakes_climate/reports.php
- Stakeholder Analysis from Ken Frank of MSU -- http://glisa.umich.edu/research/social_science.php
GLISA funds different projects. There are 5 - GLISA-Funded Assessment Projects, that can be found at: http://glisa.umich.edu/research/grants.php They are:
- An assessment of the implications of climate variability and changes for Michigan's Tourism Industry (Don Holecek and Sarah Nichols, MSU). Their research is looking primarily at winter sports.
- Modeling framework for informing decision maker response to extreme heat events in Michigan under climate change (Laura Schmitt Olabisi, MSU). Most of her work is to examine heat event deaths.
- Assessing the impacts of climate variability and change on Great Lakes evaporation: Implications for decision making, adaptation, and water resource management (John Lenters, University of Nebraska-Lincoln). They are actually measuring direct evaporation using the "eddy covariance" method. The study is mostly taking place on Lake Superior and Lake Huron.
- Predicting the impacts of climate change on agricultural yields and water resources in the Maumee River Watershed (David Hyndman, MSU). The interesting aspect of this project what our growing season will look like in the year 2100 -- comparable to Kansas, 2011. This project utilizes GIS and remote sensing.
- Designing a decision support system for harvest management of Great Lakes lake whitefish in a changing climate (Abigail Lynch, MSU) Lake Whitefish is the most economically valuable fishery in the Upper Great Lakes. Question--What happens with climate change? Their model contains climatic conditions; population dynamics; management strategies and fishing management.
Her focus is helping people make better decision and taking action based on information. The US Strategic plan is at http://www.globalchange.gov The goals are to: advance science; inform decisions; sustained assessments; communicate and educate. She spoke about the "New" National Climate Assessment. This new Assessment will be "web-based" not "paper-based." She is speaking about the complexity of putting a team together to write the assessment. It took 14 months just to put the team together. She shared an interesting point that this assessment will use the study of severe weather as part of the science of climate change.
She spent a lot of time talking about the new climate assessment, but now is talking about her experiences that have brought her to where she is today. Her background was in Arizona where she worked on water resources and the impacts of climate change. Her experiences showed her that management between scientists and stakeholders is very important. She is now sharing her experience in enhancing water supply reliability in the Grand Canyon. Here are the lessons she has learned:
- Asking and Answering the right questions
- Actively managing the interface between scientists and decision-makers
- Problem-solving focus, focusing on outcomes and best professional judgment
- Reframing -- for example water conservation through major energy-intensive technologies is not a meaningful solution
- Reinventing/repurposing existing capacity
- Building "knowledge networks" or networks that connect users and producers of information.
- Being focused on adaptive management
- Investing in capacity building
- Using trusted intermediaries
- Products tailored for specific audiences instead of one size fites all
- Engagement events designed to suit specific audiences and outcomes with local sponsors; working through professional societies at their own meetings
- Symmetry of interests--information empowers people to truly participate
- Science as a "boundary object" (A boundary object is a concept in sociology to describe information used in different ways by different communities) - coproduction
- Excessive focus on downscaling techniques as the approach to decision-scale support
- Excessive focus on reducing uncertainly as opposed to focusing on using what we already do know
- Shared assets are more vulnerable: the case of the Arizona Water Institute.