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

Monday, November 9, 2015

EII third and fourth assignments

Assignment #3:

Create a script or storyboard for your final digital storytelling assignment.

  1. Choose a group, or chose to work alone. 

  2. Chose the environmental leader or issue you wish to highlight with a presentation. Remember, presentations may be audio, video, narrated slideshow or any of the choices listed below. The only requirement is that the presentation play itself (or be staged, if a traditional play or sketch)

  3. Prepare a storyboard or script

  4. Each individual or group member must hand in their own storyboard or script. In the next assignment you will come together to make only one final submission, but for now, you work alone. This is so I can be sure that each of you learns the basic techniques

  5. If making a video, study the You-Tube how-to below, and prepare a storyboard

  6. If making audio or a narrated slideshow, prepare a script

  7. Produce an introduction to your storyboard or script that explains your project, including thesis statement, evidence, and conclusion

  8. Hand in the introduction plus the storyboard or script

  9. Due either Friday before Thanksgiving break or Monday after, by email

Assignment 4:
  1. Research an environmental leader or issue of your choice. You may work in groups or alone. Identify a thesis related to the issue and supporting evidence, as well as the environmental or conservation organizations that are working on the issue. Prepare a video, audio, narrated slideshow, or other media production built around the thesis, providing supporting evidence, highlighting the work of the leader and their organization

  2. Due either the last day of the semester (Friday Dec 18th) or in time for the student conference (Wednesday Dec 16) -- your choice. Student conference participation is optional, but may be
    recommended for the best products

  3. The options are deliberately wide. Don't get lost in your choices! Pick an issue and format for your presentation that you or your group feel confident you can finalize, and then stick to it.

  4. Use "backwards design" to help structure and outline your presentation, and also to organize your schedule: Start with your topic, and decide on a thesis. Then decide what your want to achieve with this topic and thesis. What is the story that you want to tell, and to whom do you wish to tell it? From that, pick a media format that will best reach your audience, and then organize your schedule so you can deliver a product using this format.

  5. Workshop time will be made available during class hours and by appointment with the
    instructor so that you can get help with this project. The Quimby Library Media Technician is standing by to help you with video and other formats.

  6. Here is a winning example from the year before last

Examples of allowable media:

Video storytelling
Stage plays
Sketch comedy
Traditional video documentary
Narrated slideshows and presentations
Others, after timely negotiation with the instructor

Monday, November 2, 2015

ESS focus group assignment

You are assigned to complete a focus group interview with 4 to 5 fellow students. 

  1. Working in groups, identify a Resident Advisor from the list provided and set up an appointment for the focus group. The RA will help organize the members of the group from their floor or wing. No more than five students and no less than three should take part. The RA may be one of the participants.
  2. Conduct the focus group using the techniques already taught in class. Be sure to employ the Informed Consent script (see below for the script).
  3. Record the group using one of the several techniques/devices taught in class. If you wish to borrow professional transcribing equipment (with foot pedal operation) see the instructor.
  4. Make sure each member, including the RA gets one of the five gift certificates you were issued.
  5. Transcribe the recording, anonymizing as you go (student 1, student 2, etc). Make sure no student names are on the final transcript. 
  6. Check the transcript for accuracy, then erase the original recording.
  7. Hand in only the transcript, together with the names of all the ESS class members involved. This will be your second graded assignment in this class.
  8. The following are the focus group questions:
  • What is your major?
  • Can you describe the environment you grew up in? For example, was it rural, suburban, or urban?
  • What did you learn about the environment before college?
  • Can you describe your environmental values?
  • Which environmental issues concern you the most?
  • Do you think Unity College is “America’s Environmental College”?
Informed consent script:

(To be read out and handed to focus group members, and to appear on page one of the survey, with a check box “I have read and understand the informed consent form: yes/no”.)
You are invited to participate in a research project being conducted by Professor Womersley and the Fall 2015 Environmental Scenarios and Solutions class at UC. The purpose of the research is to measure the orientation and prevalence of certain environmental values and behaviors of UC students

What will you be asked to do?
If you decide to participate, you will be asked to answer questions in a focus group/on an Internet survey. It may take approximately (40/20 minutes) to complete.

Potential Risks
There is a possibility that you may become uncomfortable answering the questions.
If confidentiality is breached, there is potential for you to be judged by other Unity College community members because of any controversial statements you may say.

Focus groups: You will receive a $5 coupon for the SAC, a ticket for a raffle for a $50 Amazon gift certificate, and the satisfaction that you have contributed to the body of knowledge on this subject.

Survey: You will receive a ticket for a raffle for a $50 Amazon gift certificate, and the satisfaction that you have contributed to the body of knowledge on this subject.

Confidentiality and Data Security
This study is anonymous. Please do not state your name or write your name on the questionnaire. There will be no permanent records linking you to the data.

Your participation is voluntary. If you choose not to take part in this study, you may stop at any time (without loss of benefits, if applicable). You may skip any questions that you do not wish to answer.

Contact Information
If you have any questions about this study, please contact Dr. Mick Womersley, the Principal Investigator at If you have any questions about your rights as a research participant please contact Crista Straub, Chair pro tem of the UC Institutional Review Board (IRB) at