Friday, February 20, 2015

Keisha graduates from SIUC

Our colleague Keisha Luhrsen is now with us full time!

As of December, Keisha is officially a graduate of Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology.

Part of her field work included sampling vegetation composition and density on various sites along the Cache River wetlands and tracking local populations of swamp rabbits via radio telemetry.

Keisha started working with us at Little River in 2013. Her knowledge of wildlife biology and ecology strengthens our ability to fulfill our mission of helping river ecosystems through education.

Keisha working with an Emriver Em3 geomodel in our shop.

Keisha started working with us at Little River in 2013. Her knowledge of wildlife biology and ecology strengthens our ability to fulfill our mission of helping river ecosystems through education.

Currently as our assistant prototyper, Keisha focuses on building our Emriver geomodels and Emflume1.

From our Structures Kit to our Alix Digital Flow Controller, Keisha builds what our model users need to teach and conduct research using her skills in soldering and working with acrylics.

She’s also a skilled packer and readies models to journey to clients and conferences within the U.S. and around the world.

We’re happy to have such a great assistant prototyper here at Little River with us five days a week. We appreciate all you do, Keisha!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Our Em2 and Emflume1 models at AGU 2014

Last month several of us went to the American Geophysical Union fall meeting. The meeting had record attendance! Over 24,000 science professionals and students converged in San Francisco from many parts of the world.

People poured into our booth to see our Emriver Em2 geomodel and two of our Emflume1 models. We met new people and saw familiar faces as well.

Akiyo shows the impact gravel mining has on a river.

Jim, Anna, Akiyo and Meriam relax in the exhibit hall.

Our Emflume1 models simultaneously educate and mesmerize.

We debuted our Emflume1 lab manual, which was written by Awoke Teshager, one of Little River’s research scientists. It currently has seven experiments with more to come.

Awoke is pictured on the right in the photo below. Further below are two of his drawings from our Emflume1 lab manual.

Jim demonstrates how to adjust the standpipe in the Em2.

A figure from our experiment titled Calibration of Sharp and Broad-Crested Rectangular Weirs.

A figure from our experiment titled Flow Through a Small Orifice.

Talking with the diverse group of scientists who take part in AGU is a great way to spend a week. A conference where thousands of people are discussing ecosystem ecology and climate change is a welcomed event.

A scientist-in-training experiments with our color-coded-by-size modeling media while Awoke talks with a visitor about our Emflume1 models.  
Akiyo, Anna and Meriam answer questions about the Em2.

We appreciate everyone who stopped by and our colleagues at the office in Carbondale who kept Little River running. We're looking forward to seeing many of you again in San Francisco at the end of 2015 for the summation of another fabulous year.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

‘River Residency’ with University of Michigan

Elementary students are getting hands-on river training thanks to the work of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and our portable Emriver models.

UM’s “River Residency” water education workshops use our Emriver Em3 geomodel at a local school to teach river science with a focus on erosion, flooding and groundwater pollution.

The photo below shows Alicia Comer, UM’s Museum of Natural History science outreach curriculum developer, teaching students about the interactions between humans and rivers. Students fortified banks with simulated vegetation and riprap. Their town flooded, and they learned what factors can lead to destruction.

Students build a town in the Emriver Em3 geomodel.

The next photo shows students using modeling media to build a dam. The students predicted the water would rise up over the dam. Instead they observed water penetrating the bottom of the dam which quickly destroyed it.

Students watch the river interact with their dam.

UM’s pilot River Residency in May spanned three days and involved students in second through fifth grade. Eleven classes in total took part, and workshops were customized for each grade level.

The second grade workshop explored flooding, and the students answered questions about where rainwater goes and what happens to a river during a flood.

Third grade students focused on how flowing water shapes a landscape. They experimented with multiple methods of erosion control.

Fourth and fifth graders studied how humans affect a watershed. They used dye to study how pollutants such as fertilizers spread.

UM plans to return to the same school next semester and expand the River Residency program.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Mississippi River Watershed Education Symposium starts Nov. 14

As the daughter of a teacher, education is at the core of my being, and for a few weeks now I’ve been looking forward to an upcoming event.

A few of us from Little River Research & Design will be attending the Mississippi River Watershed Education Symposium in Godfrey, Ill. in November and engaging our fellow attendees with an Emriver Em3 geomodel and Emflume1.

The deadline to register for MRWES has been extended to Friday, Nov. 7. Originally the deadline was Tuesday, Nov. 4.

The symposium will be held at the Lewis and Clark Community College campus on Nov. 14 and 15. It aims to aid the development and growth of science-based watershed education programs. MRWES is organized by the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center.

Presentations and workshops will focus on watershed concepts, natural history and environmental education, cultural history, civic engagement, sustainability, and concepts focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

The keynote speakers are Sean O’Connor, program manager of educational mapping for National Geographic Education, and Chad Pregracke, president and founder of Living Lands & Waters and the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year.

You can follow LRRD @gravelbar and @annadurrett for tweets during the symposium, and we’ll be using #MRWES2014. You can also follow the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center @NGRREC.

An Em3 in use at LRRD.

I look forward to meeting and learning from many passionate educators at MRWES, as well as demonstrating how to use the Em3 and Emflume1 for hands-on education. Hope to see you there!

An Emflume1 in use at LRRD.

Editor's note: This post was updated Monday, Nov. 3 to reflect the registration deadline extension for MRWES.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

'Beyond the Stream Table' and 'Using the Emriver Em2' at GSA 2014 Vancouver

Next week in Vancouver at the Geological Society of America annual meeting, there will be two Emriver-related digital posters included in the Pedagogical Use of Physical Models topical session.

The session is on Tuesday, Oct. 21 from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Vancouver Convention Centre-West Exhibition Hall C. Authors will be present from 9-11 a.m and 5-6:30 p.m.

The session will host eight additional posters, including others by Emriver model users on such topics as  alternative modeling media.

Our Steve Gough and Emriver Em3 geomodel at GSA 2013 Denver. You can see our blog post about last year's GSA here.

Little River Research & Design won’t have a booth at GSA this year, but it's one of our favorite conferences. We hope everyone has a great time in Vancouver, and we'll see you next year at GSA 2015 Baltimore!

Many thanks to our enthusiastic Emriver model teachers and researchers, particularly Matt Kuchta, who's dreamed up many ways to use his!

In the left corner you can see Matt Kuchta at our booth last year at GSA. Matt used an Xbox Kinect to make a 3D model of topography in one of our Emriver Em2 geomodels (shown here is our Em3). You can see his posts about the Emflume1 at GSA here. You can see and/or join the Google+ Emriver Working Group created and operated by Matt here.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The perfect machinist's apron.

(Ed. note: No river science or geomorphology today!  This is a post about the perfect shop apron, designed at Little River Research & Design!)

As a thanks to all the professional machinists who’ve helped me online, here’s a shop apron design.

Please note I am NOT selling anything here, not the design, not aprons; just passing along my experience.

You’ll wonder why you didn’t do this years ago if, like me, you’ve not liked any of your shop aprons. I haven’t been able to find a decent ready made one, so I made my own.

 I used cotton duck fabric. I started with an old apron and modified from there.  I can sew a bit, so I made mine.  If you don’t have friend or family to sew it, you can always find a local alterations place to do it; it’s a very easy project. In that case, just mock it up with butcher paper and take it to them; a good drawing would probably work as well.

There are also patterns you could modify.   Check a fabric store.   Especially if you want one that wraps around you, I didn't; that would be too hot for me.   Having a tight wrap-around apron (check "French apron") might be just what you want.

 Above:  Me at Little River Research with my home-made apron.  It goes below my knees; one benefit is that it usually catches things I drop when I'm sitting down.

 I made the pocket high and small (and the front of the apron, too, most don’t come up high enough for me) and just the size for a few things; notebook, scriber, pencil, ruler or two — and tight to keep chips out; that’s worked great.
The wide cross straps were made by seaming a tube (think seam-welded pipe) and turning it inside out.  No skinny string digging into your neck.  And the cross strap design just slips on like a t-shirt; you don’t need any ties or buckles.  You could add these if you’re not fat like me and want to look trimmer, or keep the apron out of moving machinery.

If you do work around dangerous machinery, perhaps use big buttons where the straps join the apron; something that will disconnect if it gets caught and not drag you in; I would change that on my design.

Length is about the knee; that’s optional.  I do like that this length protects my usually bare legs, and also if you’re sitting at the bench and drop a tool or part, it usually ends up in the apron and not on the floor!  I would also change this one so the sides wrapped around a bit more; I have the habit of using the apron to wipe my hands and I often miss and hit my shirt on the sides.

If you make it yourself, I'd recommend attaching the straps at the top (front, near pocket) and then experimenting a bit with safety pins on the bottom strap attachment point (and strap length) to get it just right.    Or make them adjustable; here a big button would work; maybe even one turned out of aluminum!

Straps are bar tacked to sides, but you might want to use something that would release if machinery catches it, like a big button or snaps.  I experimented with the length and attachment point until I got it just right; just use safety pins.

 The crossed straps are very comfortable and you just put the thing on like a t-shirt, no knots to tie.  No skinny string digging into your neck all day.

Bar-tacked front straps; again, something that would release if the apron is caught in machinery might be better.  A big turned aluminum button would be pretty cool.

I put the pocket high on my chest and made it tight with just the space for things I keep there; this has worked great to keep chips out, and things don't fall out when I bend over.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Summer of Flumes

We’ve had an exciting summer at LRRD. After six years of development, the Emflume1 is now on three continents, and we seem to be busier than ever.

Back in May, Emflume1 users at the University of Adelaide Australian School of Petroleum sent us several photos, and we've shared a few here.

Geologist and Ph.D. Candidate Jess Trainor, Lecturer in Sedimentology Kathryn Amos, and Geologist and Ph.D. Candidate John Counts pose for a photo with their new Emflume1.
Jess studies the Emriver Color-Coded-by-Size Modeling Media in the Emflume1.
Jess and John experiment with the Emflume1.

Steve, Jim and I took two Emflume1s, two Em3s and one Em2 to the American Society for Engineering Education annual conference that was held in Indianapolis in June.

It was the first time Jim and I attended an ASEE conference, and it was definitely an enjoyable experience. We got to talk with some of our model users and curious LRRD newcomers as well.

Jim stands ready for thousands of visitors.
Jim demonstrates how the Emflume1 works.
A visitor experiments with an Emflume1.
Jim explains the impact of a human-built structure to the river channel in the Em3.
Anna talks with a visitor about the Em2.
Jim describes the erosion occurring in the Em2.

Later in June, Researcher II, Facilities Manager Andy Coursey with Southern Illinois University in Carbondale visited LRRD and picked up SIU's Emflume1.

Andy and Steve discuss the functions of the Emfllume1.

It's been a great season for water education, and I'm looking forward to shipping more models and the excitement continuing through the fall season!

Anna experiments with an Emflume1.