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ASU's Night of the Open Door has a little something for everyone.
This is your chance to see inside ASU's many wonders and discoveries.
February 4, 2016

Minecraft, spiders, Rubik's Cubes and more provide an engaging way to plug into the research and learning at ASU

Dragons and crime scenes and spiders, oh my!

Those are just a few of the sights attendees of Arizona State University's Night of the Open Door will be treated to Saturday, Feb. 6, when ASU's West campus welcomes the community into its folds for four fun-filled hours.

From 4 to 8 p.m., visitors will have a front-row ticket to the latest research and developments taking place on West campus in the form of interactive activities in the fields of mathematical and natural sciences, humanities, arts and cultural studies, and social and behavioral sciences.

The evening is the first of five Night of the Open Door events throughout February, as each campus rolls out the welcome mat with free activities and performances for all ages that showcase what ASU has to offer.

At this Saturday’s event, Michelle Gohr, shift supervisor at ASU West campus Fletcher Library, will be overseeing a host of activities, including “Minecraft Photo Booth,” in which participants can pose with Minecraft blocks, wearable costume pieces, diamond swords and life-sized Ender Dragons complete with glowing eyes.

Gohr loves getting the opportunity to interact with members of the community, especially young, impressionable ones who may not know what to expect from a university.

“Not only is it important to reach out to youth in the community, but it’s also critically important to break down stereotypes of university and college that may be cemented at an early age, which is why the library takes a lighter approach to providing fun and engaging activities,” she said. “Through providing fun activities that appeal to youth, together we can show them that education is fun and engaging.”

Forensics professor Kimberly Kobojek echoed Gohr’s sentiment, saying, “Universities are not ‘scary’ places filled with stuffy people. We’re doing a lot of interesting and impactful research, and we’d like to share what we’re doing since it will have some type of positive impact on our community. ASU West has much to offer the youth in our community in the form of summer camps and outreach events like Open Door; I think the community should take advantage of what ASU West is offering!”

Kobojek will be overseeing “Forensic Science Free-for-all!” in the second floor breezeway of the CLCC building, where participants will have the chance to solve the mystery of Sparky’s missing pitchfork, complete with a mock crime scene and evidence.

Up on CLCC’s third-floor breezeway, associate professor Chad Johnson will be safely introducing guests to live specimens of male and female black widow spiders.

“Members of our team will tell them about the spiders’ general life history — what they eat, where they live, how they make their living,” said Johnson.

The team will also be sharing their research with the community, which looks at why black widows are so successful at colonizing human habitats, as well as how we might go about reducing the problem black widows present in urban areas.

“I think this is an exciting opportunity for the public, and young burgeoning scientists in particular, to get a taste of the life of a scientist,” he said.

Other exciting activities include “Make Your Own Comic Book,” a larger-than-life version of the popular digital game “Angry Birds” and the ever-popular “Arizona Rubik’s Cube Competition.”

“We will have over 500 kids all solving Rubik’s Cubes; how could I not look forward to this event?” said Kimberly Landsdowne, executive director of the Herberger Young Scholars Academy who is overseeing the competition.

“It’s fun and kind of nerdy. Which makes it even more fun!”

More apt words could not be found for ASU Night of the Open Door.


Here’s a glimpse of the lineups at ASU’s other campuses throughout the month.

Downtown Phoenix campus, 4-8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 12

Night of the Open Door at Downtown Phoenix offers fun and interactive activities, exhibits, inspiring innovations and tours of the urban campus that changed downtown Phoenix’s landscape and vibrancy. ASU’s newest campus will offer a first-time peek at the $129 million Arizona Center for Law, home to ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law. Take a ground-floor tour and view vibrant renderings of the six-story building, which will open in the summer of 2016.

Inspired by the popular TED Talks, the Public Service Impact Talks highlight faculty who are champions of change. The College of Nursing and Health Innovation will showcase its Community Health Center and Theranos lab as well as offer up health, nutrition and wellness experts. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the Cronkite School and Arizona PBS during an interactive walking tour of Cronkite’s professional programs, labs, bureaus and broadcast studios. CSI Phoenix offers attendees to investigate real cadavers, plastinates and organs.

Polytechnic campus, 5-9 p.m. Friday, Feb. 19

If Night of the Open Door at ASU’s Polytechnic campus has themes, they are “Become” and “Build.” With more than 30 activities and experiences for all ages, get to experience the fun behind science and technology. Get your high-speed portrait taken and see thermal imaging in “See Your World in a New Way.” At the Career Photo Booth, take a picture of the future you with props from your future career. Undecided on a career? “My Next Move” will walk you through activities to introduce you to possible future careers.

Witness students practicing on the air-traffic control and flight simulators and tour the garage space where student engineers are converting a Chevy Camaro into a high-performance hybrid. At “STEAM Machine” you’ll learn how to make a machine out of PVC pipe, duct tape, mousetraps and other stuff. Get to visit Egypt or play in the Super Bowl in “The Magic of Green Screen Technology.” Whether it’s pickle ball, noodle soccer, beep ball or giant Jenga, there are games everywhere. There’s cotton candy and ice cream at residence hall tours, barbecue sandwiches at the Sun Devil Dining Tent, or a root beer taste test at the Agribusiness Center.

Thunderbird campus, 4-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20

The Thunderbird School of Global Management started its life as an Army base during World War II and signs of that past are still on the Glendale campus. One of the original hangars has been repurposed into an administrative building and the old control tower is part of the student center. During Night of the Open Door the school’s archivist will have a booth showcasing the past, and the movie “Thunder Birds: Soldiers of the Air,” released in 1942 and shot at Thunderbird Field, will be screened.

Other activities will reflect the international nature of the school, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this spring: lessons in Chinese calligraphy, cooking demonstrations and a rugby clinic. Kid-friendly activities include flag making, puppetry, henna tattoos and rock climbing.

In 2005, the school launched Thunderbird for Good, a program that provides business training to non-traditional students to improve their communities. Its signature program is Project Artemis, which brings women business owners from Afghanistan to campus for a two-week boot camp. The Night of the Open Door will feature a marketplace of their craft items. Start at the “passport” booth before beginning your tour of activities.

Tempe campus, 4-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 27

The final evening of the Night of the Open Door events offers a smorgasbord of activities.

Love steampunk books (or just the costumes)? Head to the Steampunk Mini Con in the basement of the Durham Language and Literature Building for a little cosplay, a costume contest and book signing by Suzanne Lazear, author of the Aether Chronicles.

If Indiana Jones is more your style, the Institute of Human Origins opens its doors for visitors to see and touch skulls and bones (casts) from different phases of human evolution and learn about how humans developed over "deep time" — including the "founding fossil" Lucy, the 3.2 million-year-old Australopithecus afarenesis discovered in Ethiopia by Don Johanson in 1974.

There are so many fun activities, you might not have time for them all. Bring your guitar to two hands-on workshops teaching traditional Spanish styles, Rumba and Bolero. Test your mettle at the Army ROTC’s 100-foot long blowup obstacle course on the Hayden Lawn. Learn about the math behind blackjack and roulette in the Game of Chances room (ages 16 and up).

Help paint a mural at the School of Social Transformation. Get in the groove watching the first official K-Pop (Korean Pop) dance club at ASU perform, including a wide variety of exciting audiovisual elements. Discuss the creation and demise of Scrappy-Doo with ASU’s Scooby-Doo expert. Learn a bit of belly dancing, or how to write your name in the calligraphies of the world including Chinese, Hebrew and Russian.

Learn how to identify animal tracks and view nocturnal animals. View stars through telescopes, tour high-tech labs, compete in an audio scavenger hunt, build a scribble-bot, check out engineering’s “Leaning Tower of Legos,” extract the DNA from a banana, get a henna tattoo and more.


To help plan your adventure in advance, download the Night of the Open Door App or follow on Twitter using the hashtag #ASUopendoor. And if you pre-register, you could also win a free prize (one per campus). Check out the full list of events for each campus and be sure visit the Night of the Open Door welcome tents for your free glow stick, available in limited quantities.

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Successful education = engaged and motivated students and teachers says ASU prof
ASU engineering prof aims to establish ways to keep students, teachers motivated
February 4, 2016

ASU professor says to build 'teaching and learning communities'

American Founding Father Benjamin Franklin expressed in characteristically concise and pithy fashion his view on effective education: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

The statement could serve as an abbreviated description of Arizona State University professor Stephen Krause’s goal in his work to develop and implement teaching and learning practices that engage and motivate teachers and students alike.

"It is a no-brainer,” Krause said, that engaged and motivated students and teachers are essential to successful education. The big challenge is to come up with ways to effectively instill new attitudes and approaches necessary to ensure engagement and motivation can be achieved and sustained.

Krause teaches materials science and engineering in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and for the past eight years has also been designing and refining an approach to education called Just-in-Time-Teaching with Interactive Frequent Formative Feedback.

That has meant providing a variety of meticulously detailed strategies and techniques aimed at realizing Ben Franklin’s educational ideal. It has also involved establishing evidence that results of using this method can be rigorously analyzed and objectively evaluated to gauge its success or expose any need to alter the blueprints.

The project has shown enough promise that the National Science Foundation recently awarded Krause a $1.5 million grant to expand the endeavor. In the next three years, he will work with more than 80 ASU engineering faculty members to put the Just-in-Time Teaching approach into action.

They are to be trained in how to establish productive “communication channels” between themselves and students, something that requires teachers to transition “from being the sage on the stage to being the guide on the side,” Krause explained. “It is about teaching teachers not just how to teach certain subject matter but how to teach students how to learn it.”

This requires knowing how to foster collaborative learning in the classroom, creating an environment in which students teach each other with guidance from the faculty member.

“The class becomes more than a transfer of technical knowledge from professor to students. It becomes a social activity that evolves into a learning community, and it’s this kind of cooperative environment that is motivating to students and teachers,” Krause said.

Seeing the relevance of classroom lessons

The social connectedness and collaborative spirit also extends to the relationships among teachers who will work to institute the change in approach.

For the project to be successful, “faculty support for each other is a big thing,” Krause said. “They have to talk to each other about issues and problems that come up, and work together on solutions.”

The overriding objective is not only to develop camaraderie that enhances teaching and learning. The foremost focus is on communicating to students the relevance of their classes.

“In all the equations, calculations, formulas, data, graphs, charts and the stuff in the textbooks, students must be made to see the possibilities of things they can get excited about doing,” Krause said. “They need to understand the social impact engineering and science can have and be able to envision their future being a part of it.”

The new style of teaching and learning emphasizes enabling students to frequently put to use the technical knowledge they’re being given in the classroom.

Teachers would encourage students to explore how they might be able to contribute valuable things to the world by using what they’re learning in class.

“Engaging in hands-on activities generates the kind of thinking you use in engineering design, and that is where motivation sets in and real learning happens,” Krause said.

Evaluating effectiveness of teaching methods

The project will include regular and stringent evaluations to determine if the new method is producing intended results.

How well faculty members adapt to the new approach will be assessed through classroom observations by graduate student researchers and through faculty surveys about changes in their motivation, attitude and social connectedness to other faculty members involved in the project.

In addition, an automated web-based system will give students the opportunity to provide feedback on their classes and how effectively they think teachers are boosting student learning.

Evaluations will also assess changes in students’ attitudes and motivation, and measure how the changes affect students’ persistence in completing courses.

These performance assessments will be used as a basis for formulating steps to improve course content, teaching techniques and materials.

Expecting significant progress

Krause said there is no getting around the fact that learning engineering and science is difficult, and that the demands of mastering the disciplines will always lead some students to abandon the pursuit. But he thinks the Just-in-Time-Teaching approach can help keep more students from dropping out of even the tougher courses.

His confidence is bolstered by studies of the outcomes of two classes at ASU and two at other universities that have employed Just-in-Time-Teaching strategies. Few students dropped out of the courses and their grades were notably higher than is typical for most classes. Grades for poor performance and failing grades dropped by half from what had been normal for those courses. Retention rates in the classes jumped from about 80 percent to 95 percent.

With the teaching and learning framework he has developed, Krause says, “I think we can hope to achieve similar success at ASU. I believe we can successfully scale it up, not just to involve more faculty in engineering but to transfer it into teaching in other disciplines.”

Project will be team effort

Helping him attempt to achieve that goal is a team of co-principal investigators for the project.

Fulton Schools faculty members on the team are James Middleton, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, Keith Hjelmstad, a professor of civil, environmental and sustainable engineering, and biomedical engineering lecturer Casey Ankeny.

Others ASU faculty involved are Robert Culbertson, an associate professor of physics in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, along with associate professor Eugene Judson and assistant professor Ying-Chih Chen, who teach and do research on science education in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

“Having this team of colleagues to work with has been critical to developing the project,” Krause said. “The range and depth of their expertise in what it takes to truly educate students is what made it possible to put together a comprehensive, high-quality proposal that was able to earn the support of the National Science Foundation.”


Top photo: Arizona State University professor Stephen Krause (second from right) is shown meeting with materials science and engineering students to help them develop strategies for making progress on their projects for a capstone engineering design course. Krause emphasizes a teamwork approach in his classes that encourages students to collaborate in acquiring the knowledge and solving the problems necessary to successfully complete assignments and projects. Photographer: Nora Skrodenis/ASU

Joe Kullman

Science writer , Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering