August 2016 Newsletter

Making A Difference

Ariel Therrien

Here's the latest news from the lab! In this issue:

  • North County School Launches Experiment in Space

  • Internet of Things Workshop Underway

  • Member Highlight: Paying It Forward with STEM

  • Educator Workshops by OSML

  • NASA Unveils New Public Web Portal for Research Results

North County School Launches Experiment in Space

Vista Magnet Middle School is currently participating in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Mission 8 which is launched on July 17 at 9:45 PM PDT. We watched the launch live at OSML, including the perfect landing of the SpaceX first stage back at its launch pad. Their experiment will run for several weeks on board the International Space Station (ISS) in microgravity, while a duplicate experiment is run at the school in Earth’s gravity. When the ISS version of the experiment is returned, the two results will be compared and analyzed.

Vista Magnet Middle School is participating again in the upcoming SSEP Mission 11 that OSML is organizing for several North County Schools. College students from Cal State San Marcos, Palomar College and Mira Costa College will be working as mentors for high school and middle school students during the design of the experiment proposals starting September 6. Community partners recruited by OSML from local industry and government will evaluate and select the top three proposals from our community to compete in the national level review. Of our three community candidates, one of them will be selected to fly on the ISS in Mission 11 during 2017.

The team’s implementation plan received final approval last week by Dr. Jeff Goldstein, Center Director for the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE). So far, we have commitments for  participation by over 400 students from Vista Magnet Middle School, Vista Visions Academy, Vista Innovation and Design Academy (VIDA), High Tech High North County, Cal State San Marcos, Palomar College and Mira Costa College.

More information about the SSEP Mission 11 is available here:

If your school is interested in joining this year's program, or if you're interested in being a community partner, please contact us at

Internet of Things Workshop Underway

One of our instructors, Bryan Hendricks, is teaching a month-long workshop on the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is a system of getting multiple internet-connected devices to share data and information between them, and allows for home automation, machine wear analysis, and just about any data gathering and analysis. So far, one workshop has been completed, in which the students learned about what the IoT is, then set up their own example to try it out. They hooked up a temperature and humidity sensor to the internet, and were able to view the data through a web interface. In future workshops, we plan to use industry-standard tools, such as IBM Bluemix and Node Red, to do data acquisition, analysis, and response, all through a Raspberry Pi.

These workshops aren’t just about learning how the technical side of the IoT works, however - the data you get from all of these sensors isn’t useful if you don’t know what it means. An interesting example of this occurred in the first workshop: the students tested their temperature sensors, which read a value in Celsius, and then converted it to Fahrenheit. The sensor and the IoT connection were working fine, and data was going through perfectly - though upon closer inspection, the data itself didn’t make sense. The Fahrenheit reading was significantly lower than it should have been. Because the students in the workshop were able to identify what the data was supposed to mean, they were able to determine that the conversion equation they were using to get Fahrenheit from Celsius was incorrect, and fixed it.

The biggest thing that students are getting out of this workshop is gaining experience with the “next step” of making: utilizing skills learned via making in the real world. The IoT is geared towards the tech and industry fields, because those fields are looking very closely at it - companies like Intel, IBM, and GE are putting millions of dollars into research and development for the Internet of Things. The IoT is gaining traction in the industry at a surprising rate, and it’s only going to get bigger in the field.

Despite the fact that large companies are putting huge investments on this future of technology that is the IoT, most schools don’t teach anything about it, simply because it is so new. There is no singular established method of how the IoT works, and no standard curriculum has been developed. The tech sector and industry need people who are experienced with the Internet of Things, and this workshop has so far proven to be a very good place to do just that.

To learn more about the Industrial Internet of Things, see GE’s site here:

Member Highlight: Paying It Forward with STEM

One of our newest members, Nathan Howell, is a  third year UCLA student in astrophysics, who wanted to do a STEM project to help his former high school, San Pasqual. After discussing several options, the OSML team suggested amateur radioastronomy as a project area that would tie in Nathan’s degree program at UCLA with the needs of high school science teachers. Nathan worked with one of the high school science teachers to develop the project. It had to be low cost, sustainable, and demonstrate specific NGSS standards. OSML provided guidance on the project design, and worked with Nathan to review other examples of low-cost radiotelescopes that have been used in schools.

After finding a used Dish Network antenna on Craig’s List, Nathan was able to start building the prototype. His initial test of locating a signal while pointing at the Sun was successful. Next steps will include completing a turntable base with azimuth bearings etched on our laser cutter, and eventually the inclusion of an open source software defined radio running on a laptop computer for more advanced experiments.

More information about amateur radioastronomy can be found here:

Educator Workshops by OSML

OSML was a key presenter at the Carlsbad Unified School DistrictLeadership Symposium on August 15, hosted by Dr. Benjamin Churchill, the district’s new Superintendent. Dan Hendricks led a workshop for 34 Principals and district leaders entitled, “A Nation of Makers: Find the Maker in You”. It was a fast-paced workshop with hands-on applications of Design Thinking, hosted in Calavera Hills Middle and Elementary Schools’ new makerspace.

More workshops are planned for this school year, and many are specifically designed to help teachers leverage the capabilities of school makerspaces. OSML and CraftEd haved teamed up to provide local teachers with 30 hours (and 2 CEUs) of professional development on designing deeper learning experiences for students through making.

For more information on our workshops, please contact us

NASA Unveils New Public Web Portal for Research Results

PubSpace is an archive of original science journal articles produced by NASA-funded research and available online without a fee. The data will be available for download, reading and analysis within one year of publication.

This is part of a great trend that we like to see - "open science". If the research is publicly funded, the results should be publicly available. This particular NASA effort was the result of a policy recommendation by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

OSML is open for tours each Saturday and Sunday, and weekdays by appointment. We have a variety of membership plans available for makers and innovators today - be a part of these great projects we're doing!