Friday, November 20, 2015

Instructions for EII Climate Change quiz

The quiz will be given in class on Monday December 7th. It is worth 20 points. There will be ten multiple choice questions and a short essay.

The multiple choice questions will be based on our class discussion, as well as on the booklet Maine's Climate Future (2009) and the 2015 update, both available at this website:

The essay question prompt will be "Describe your own climate philosophy." You should prepare this essay ahead of time, and will be allowed to use one ordinary flash card of notes (three by five inches) for the purpose. You should also study Dr. Nesbitt's useful taxonomy of climate thought discussed in class (see below -- click to enlarge).

ESS final community-based learning project assignment

All students in the Womersley Section of ESS have opted by vote to produce a survey of environmental values in Unity College students as their community-based learning project submission.

The following instructions comprise the outline for the rest of our coursework. They will take care of both assignments, and are worth fifty points total for the class. They are broken into three stages.

There are forty points available to use for the overall survey assignment. This does not include your participation, for which there are a further five points available.

Stage one: Working as individuals: Code your transcripts, and generate hypotheses (Ten points)
  1. Using all five focus group transcripts provided, use the coding technique described in class to collate statements with (per Graham) "commonalities."
  2. Cut and paste these statements into tentative groups using a word processor (MS Word or Google Docs). Give them placeholder titles.
  3. Choosing your words very carefully, reword the placeholder titles so they better reflect the overall grounded theory contained in the excerpts
  4. Generate at least three testable hypotheses on the basis of the grounded theory
  5. Get help from the instructor if you need it
  6. Provide both excerpts, grounded theory, and hypotheses in a document as your submission for twenty points
  7. Due Wednesday December 2nd
Stage two: Working as individuals: Write survey questions (Ten points)
  1. Create survey questions to test your three individual hypotheses generated above
  2. Use the resources below or similar resources to help you do this, or consult with the instructor
  3. Submit by Wednesday December 9th 

 Stage 3: Working as a group: Design a survey (Twenty points)
  1. Using the individual survey questions above, design the overall survey 
  2. Be sure to pay attention to descriptive as well as inferential statistics
  3. Again, get help if you need it
  4. Use MS Word or Google Forms. Do NOT use SurveyMonkey
  5. Submit by Friday December 11th.
  6. If using Google Forms, submit by "sharing" with the Instructor. Instructor must be able to "edit."
Final stage

I will take the results, five draft surveys, and meld them into one. We will then share our survey with the campus. I won't be able to share the results with you until after the break, but I will be sure to do so.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fall 2015 Vehicle Safety Report

Around twenty students from this year's Physics: Mechanics and Energy class and one instructor performed vehicle safety inspections on over forty student vehicles Monday. This was the largest number of vehicles ever seen for this activity.

Most vehicles seen were serviceable, although a number were noticeably battered or rusty.

The following particular safety conditions were noted, documented here for the purposes of education and for the record, so we can compare year to year:
  • Three vehicles were very low on engine oil, and required three or four quarts to get them "up to the mark." These engines would have seized had this condition been allowed to continue for very much longer. If your vehicle is using or losing this much oil, it is no longer sufficient to wait for oil changes to add oil. You have to check the dipstick and add oil more frequently. The best thing to do is to check the oil each time you add gas, until you begin to get a better idea of how much oil your vehicle is using. Then, once you really know what is going on, you can put yourself on a less frequent schedule. Don't let your engine oil drop below the minimum mark on the dipstick. And, if you can possibly afford it, get the vehicle repaired. Generally speaking, a vehicle that is losing oil from a leak can be repaired less expensively than one that is using or burning a lot of oil internally and needs an engine rebuild, a replacement engine, or simply to go to the junkyard.
  • Several tires were low in air pressure, below 20 psi. Tires this low are dangerous because the steering is affected. Steering becomes spongy, and the vehicle will wobble noticeably on corners.
  • Some tires were over-inflated, above 40 psi. The correct operating air pressure for the tires is written on a sticker placed inside the driver's door jamb. It is not the pressure written on the sidewall of the tire. That is the tire's maximum pressure, not the vehicle's design operating pressure. Most sedan cars and light trucks use a tire pressure between 30 and 36 psi. Adding more pressure makes the vehicle bounce on bumps, and you can bounce right off the road on a corner, especially on "washboarded" dirt roads.
  • One vehicle had a worn tie rod end or steering box. This is detectable because of thunking noises in the steering mechanism on slow turns such as those used in parking lots. This is an unsafe condition and should be rectified immediately. Tie rod ends when worn will simply fall out, causing a catastrophic lack of steering.
  • Several owners of vehicles with high mileage, over 150,000 miles, had check engine lights on and asked for the trouble codes to be "pulled" and checked, even though they had had them pulled before and had no intention of rectifying the particular problem. In general, this is a good procedure. Even though it's often not cost-effective or sometimes not possible to fix some minor check-engine defects in high mileage cars, and so we might drive with the check engine light permanently on, it's still best to pull the codes periodically, in case a new defect has appeared that is more dangerous.
  • A new difficulty we observed this year for the first time: An older vehicle was found with failing automatic tire pressure sensors. These resulted in tire pressure warning lights coming on, even when the tires were correctly inflated, or at least within the normal tolerance of one or two psi. Either the tire pressure warning sensors should be replaced, or the tire pressures must now be checked more frequently, since there is no other way to tell whether tire pressure is low or not.
This concludes your Fall 2015 vehicle safety report.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Vehicle Safety Day

 The rust troll surfaces.

Dear students:

Please consider taking advantage of free vehicle check-outs this Monday afternoon November 16th, 12.30 – 4pm, in front of the Activities Building.

Is your vehicle’s population of parts likely to persist to the next generation? Or are they perhaps dying one by one and going extinct? What are the minimum nutrient requirements of oil, lube, and fuel? Has the rust predator taken hold of its prey? Or is this just an unsustainable analogy?

Either way, don’t miss the opportunity Monday to have the old beast checked out thoroughly. In particular, don’t risk being stranded someplace remote, dangerous, or worst of all, without cell phone service!

Before you get in the olde jalopy and drive off over the hill and through the woods to grandma’s house for a fine local food Thanksgiving, let the experienced mechanics and other techy-geeky students of this year’s team of volunteers check the poor beast out.

We will check your tire pressures and pump them up if necessary, check and top off the oil and other fluids, and finally and perhaps most usefully, if your CHECK ENGINE light is on, we will use our computer reader to “pull” your trouble codes so you can finally know just what it is that your poor neglected automobile has been trying to tell you all these months.

(Did you know you can save lots of gas by keeping your car’s tires at the proper pressures? And that tire pressure changes as the weather warms and cools with the seasons, so you have to check them regularly! Did you know that a blown oxygen sensor is easy to fix and can save on gas too? Did you know that low oil level can kill your car’s engine? Well, now you know.)

Each participant will receive a written report on the serviceability of their vehicle, with details of any trouble codes and what they mean.

The college accepts no responsibility for the use or misuse of any of the information we give you about your vehicle, or for your car’s safety after you leave the campus, but we do suggest that it’s always better to know than not to know. In most cases.

(Employees are welcome too. Thanks to the Maintenance and Student Affairs departments for aid in providing this service.)

Be safe, drive safe.

Mick Womersley

ESS second take-home exam