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Teachers College student uses pageant to spotlight reading proficiency

June 29, 2018

ASU's Victoria Hume headed to Florida to compete in Miss United States Organization

Now that the spotlight is on her, Arizona State University student Victoria Hume wants to shift it in another direction.

As Miss Arizona United States 2018, Hume is using her platform as a goodwill ambassador to shine a light on education, specifically on reading proficiency.

“We have a reading crisis in Arizona, and we are nearly the last in the nation for reading rates,” said Hume, a charter school teacher who is about to embark on her master’s degree in elementary education at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College in August. “Almost 60 percent of Arizona schoolchildren can’t read at grade level. This is not OK.”

Her timing is good. Hume is ready to compete at the Miss United States National Pageant on July 2–8 in Orlando, Florida, where she will continue her advocacy of children in the classroom. ASU Now caught up with the educator and graduate student before her big trip back east.

Question: How old were you when you knew you wanted to be a teacher and what led you to this career?

Answer: Honestly, I never considered teaching growing up. I went to college thinking I would be in some kind of sales position, hence why I have so many business degrees. It wasn’t until my pastor’s wife, Lori Morgan, a music teacher at Chandler Christian Academy, encouraged me to teach pre-kindergarten — now I can’t picture myself working in any other profession.

I started my teaching career at Chandler Christian Academy in 2016, where I taught pre-kindergarten to 4- and 5-year-old children for two years. After realizing I have a natural gift for teaching, I returned to ASU to gain the knowledge and skills I need to be successful as an elementary school educator. Recently, I have accepted the lead expert teaching position for second grade at BASIS Chandler Primary School for the upcoming 2018–19 school year. My experiences in the classroom and in the community are giving me an up-close look at the issues teachers and students are facing.

Q: What has excited you about what you have learned thus far in your degree?

A: My first semester at ASU as a master’s student is about to begin, and I’ve already started reading my textbooks. I am most excited about learning from my professors’ classroom experiences and knowledge on subject matter.

Q: As Miss Arizona United States, you chose Stand for Children as your platform. Why?

A: I wanted to focus more on the children and how we can help them reach their full potential in the classroom. Arizona now spends a billion dollars less on our schools than it did in 2008, and our children are struggling in overcrowded classrooms, with outdated textbooks and technology. 

I chose Stand For Children because they are focused on the whole picture. They are working on the #INVESTinEd Act, which gives voters a chance to take matters into their own hands and do something about the growing teacher shortage and overcrowded classrooms. Also, they focus on other issues such as the reading crisis in Arizona and reducing chronic absenteeism.

Stand For Children wants all children to have an equal opportunity to succeed in life. Their mission is to ensure that children, regardless of their background, graduate from high school prepared for, and with access to, college or career training. The organization is made up of parents, volunteers and teachers who work to convince elected officials to increase funding for children’s programs. They support education in a variety of ways from ensuring that funding they advocate for reaches the classrooms and they implement programs to help struggling readers.

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Miss Arizona United States 2018 Victoria Hume reads to a roomful of children at the Chandler CARE Center on June 21. Hume's platform is reading proficiency, and she advocates for Stand For Children, a non-profit organization of parents, teachers and volunteers who work together with elected officials to find funding for children's programs. Photo courtesy of Earnest Robinson/Chandler Unified School District

Q: As you noted on one of your social media posts, Arizona has a reading crisis in that almost 60 percent of children in the state can’t read at grade level. Why is this problem specific to Arizona?

A: Literacy intervention is a key topic to address in Arizona. Low literacy rates cost businesses and taxpayers $20 billion a year across the country. Most importantly, reading on grade level by the end of third grade is the single most essential milestone because at fourth grade the school curriculum shifts requiring students to “read to learn,” and students who have not “learned to read” fall behind. Arizona is struggling, and it’s because we just don’t have the resources to support kids mainly in grades K–3 and funding our classrooms has not been our states priority.

Q: Your bio says you are working with elected officials to address and fix this issue. In your opinion, what more can they do?

A: They can’t ignore this issue anymore. It’s not going to just go away on its own. Simply put, our teachers need the funding back in classrooms so we can appropriately serve the future of not just Arizona but America. The bill HB 2520 was signed by Governor Ducey to strengthen existing reading policies and this goes to show that the Legislature is starting to see that helping struggling readers is critical. Next year, schools with high percentages of students in poverty will receive $12 million in targeted early literacy funding, but this is just the start. There is still work to be done in every single district across Arizona.

In my opinion, before elected officials can make any decisions about education I think they should be required to teach for one year or have to [serve as an] aide in a variety of classrooms to see the issues children and educators are faced with in Arizona. 

Q: Why did you pick the Miss United States Organization to promote education?

A: I chose to compete in the Miss United States Organization to create change. They prepare women with a variety of skills and encourage women to be the total package — meaning that a woman can be beautiful, intelligent, talented and serve the community.

Several people have asked me what my talent is. Since this is a service-based organization, our talent is judged by how well we serve the community in which we live. My work with promoting education and literacy awareness in Arizona has been recognized by the Miss United States Organization, and they are registered with the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Top photo: Victoria Hume, Miss Arizona United States Organization, reads to a roomful of children at the Chandler CARE Center on June 21. Photo courtesy of Earnest Robinson/Chandler Unified School District

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Cool partnership solves hot problem

June 29, 2018

ASU students collaborate with local business to develop new boat misting system

Editor's note: This story is being highlighted in ASU Now's year in review. Read more top stories from 2018 here.

Anyone who has been in Arizona during the summer understands why misters are so important. Misters line the awnings of shopping malls and restaurants throughout the Valley, dispensing a cloud of heavily pressurized water droplets that absorb heat and quickly evaporate. These droplets can cool the temperature by up to 30 degrees, making a huge difference to anyone in their immediate vicinity.

Local cooling-solutions business Mr. Misters is working to bring that same cooling experience to boaters. For the past academic year, Mr. Misters has partnered with students at the Polytechnic School at Arizona State University to develop a misting system for small watercraft.

The few boat misting systems on the market attach to the vessel’s shade structure, called a Bimini frame. The misters use the boat’s power to pull water from an onboard refillable tank. ASU students worked with Mr. Misters to design a new misting system that operates using an independent solar-powered battery that pumps and purifies water directly from the lake through the frame to the misting heads, eliminating the need for an onboard refillable water tank.

The design process initially began in fall 2016 when David Wright, an Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering alumnus and son of Mr. Misters co-founder Duane Dempsey, had the idea to develop a boat misting structure powered by a photovoltaic system, more commonly known as a solar-panel system. One of Wright’s former professors recommended he get involved with the Polytechnic School’s eProjects program to help develop his idea.

“David and I shared our goals for these two semesters and, for the most part, stepped back to allow the students to engineer it,” Dempsey said. “An occasional meeting and emails allowed the teams the opportunity to keep us informed on ideas and testing.”

The eProjects program is just one way the Fulton Schools allows students to gain hands-on work experience. Each academic year, teams of four to eight students collaborate with an industry partner to create innovative solutions for projects proposed by and funded through industry partners to solve real-world problems. Industry partners have ranged from Fortune 100 companies to one-person fashion designers, and the projects challenge students in skill sets ranging from robotics to electrical engineering.

For up to two semesters, students earn credit through engineering courses EGR 401/402: Professional Design Project I/II. However, many students’ commitment to the projects extend far beyond their class credit, with some spending 20 to 30 hours a week developing the projects.

“We treat EGR 401/402 students like first-year graduates,” said Karl Schultz, industry liaison for the capstone eProject program. “Industry partners don’t always have time to hold their hand or walk them through a process; students need to take the initiative to identify problems and come up with solutions, validate those solutions, then execute.” 

Members of the team (from left, David Bowersox, Adam Standard, Mike Dietterick, Elijah Guinanao and Tanner Woodward) pose in front of the Bimini frame and FRIP (Filtration with Rotating Inlet and Purge) system at the Spring 2018 Innovation Showcase at ASU's Polytechnic campus. Photo courtesy of David Bowersox

During spring 2017, an eProject team presented Phase Zero of the boat misting system project at Innovation Showcase, a massive exhibit of projects at the Polytechnic School produced through student-industry collaboration. The initial phase consisted of a preliminary design for a misting system that could be attached to any Bimini frame but prevented the shade structure from retracting when not in use. Despite students completing a full academic year of work on the concept at the time, the project was far from completion.

“It was too great of a challenge for our first time to achieve all of our goals in just two semesters,” said Wright. “Despite not meeting our goals, the first team did some excellent work. They helped us understand how to refine our goals and requirements.”

So in fall 2017, the boat misting system project was divided between two teams for Phase One. Students ranged from an electrical systems major who had experience working with solar photovoltaic modules, to an automotive systems major. The first team worked on redesigning the Bimini frame with the goal of completely integrating the misting system into the framing structure. Meanwhile, the second team began creating a system that could collect water from the lake, then pump and purify it for use in the misters.

Because this type of frame is not currently on the market, the team would need to construct a stainless-steel frame — a challenge considering its size and the difficulty of working with the material. No one on the team had welding experience, and welding the frame was not a task for a beginner.

After a month of searching, the team connected with Harder Mechanical, a construction contractor. As it turned out, their point of contact at the company was also a Fulton Schools graduate. Paying it forward, Harder Mechanical agreed to comp the labor as long as the team provided the material.

“If we had paid for the labor, we would have gone over our budget for sure,” said Adam Standard, a recent electrical systems engineering graduate and student contributor to the Bimini frame design. “Harder Mechanical came through on that and helped us out a lot.”

Throughout the semester, the team met at least once a week, completing paperwork for the class, discussing ideas for the project and working with their advisers. A project manager kept track of logistical progress, while the team members held regular discussions with their Mr. Misters liaison to focus on outlining objectives and materials selection for the design.

The Bimini frame redesign and pump system debuted at the Spring 2018 Innovation Showcase. And with another academic year of progress behind them, the team still sees opportunities for improvement — such as incorporating foldable solar panels that will perform to their desired standards.

“There aren’t many companies that make folding-style modules,” said David Bowersox, an electrical systems major who contributed to the solar module design. “We would have had to custom-make the module that I had designed. Even though I was able to come up with a schematic, we found the old modules from our previous supplier had high internal resistances, which makes them almost completely useless for us.”

The team realized financing a new design of the panels would significantly strain their budget and had to display the Phase Zero version of the panels at the showcase.

Though not every goal was accomplished, this project has progressed over the past two years from a concept to an operating Bimini frame that the students have taken out for a trial run on the lake.

Wright appreciates the students’ work and helping realize his idea for a better misting system for small boats. While many of the eProject team members graduated this spring, Wright believes that Mr. Misters will continue working with the Polytechnic School students for the testing and improvements to come in Phase Two.

“[Engineering students] want to work on something that allows them to innovate and not just analyze something that has already been created,” Wright said. “Given the time these amateur engineers had to work on their prototypes, I’d be surprised if seasoned professionals could do much better given the same amount of time. Granted, these students did not deliver a final product, but they took concepts we gave them and, in the end, created something we can work with. I am very proud of what our students accomplished in the past two years partnering with ASU, and my hat is off to the ASU staff who helped us communicate our goals.”

Top photo: Through the eProjects program, students in the Fulton Schools have been working with local company Mr. Misters over the past two semesters on the redesign of a photovoltaic Bimini frame to house a misting system that will be used to cool passengers of runabout-style boats. Photo courtesy of Tanner Woodward

Student Science/Technology Writer , Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering