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XCIT 2017

We invite you to join the Xavier Contemplative Inquiry Team for the 2017-2018 school year. We meet monthly over the course of the year and provide support for each member’s personal practice, contemplative pedagogy, and related research. This year, we'll be adopting an explicit focus on STEM disciplines to examine some of the exciting scientific research in this area. The team is open to all faculty, staff and students.

Read more on our wiki, then download the call for participation and apply today.

This semester Dr. Treva Lee, Xavier's Director for Institutional Compliance and Planning Initiatives, led a class of first-year students in a service-learning project to mentor local youths in the concept of Pi.

On Saturday, March 11, thirty Xavier students joined twenty other community volunteers and twenty local professionals serving as mentors to teach and mentor around 150 area school kids, as part of  STEM NOLA's STEM Saturday event celebrating Pi Day, at Gernon Brown Recreation Center. Two other Xavier faculty, Carroll Diaz (Math) and Floristina Payton-Stewart (Chem), participated as instructors as well, along with some of their students.

The kids were divided into two groups. The first group, kindergarteners through second-graders, learned the concept of Pi through math problems using skittles, construction paper cut-outs, checkers pieces, and building blocks. Skittles were used to graph Pi. Checkers were used for math demonstration of Pi. Construction paper cut-outs were used to make a chain to infinity, meaning each group of kids as they came to the station added their cut outs to the chain to illustrate how Pi never ends. The same concept was used with the building blocks.

The second group, third through eighth graders, led kids through three activities designed to demonstrate the concept of Pi. The first was measurement demonstrations, comparing the ratio of various-sized circles' circumferences to their diameter. The result of these measurements is always the same: it's always Pi. Next was a mathematical cryptography (word decoding) and mirroring (more word decoding) competition. Last was a kite building demonstration, designed to teach the concept of tetrahedral molecular geometry.
Despite some grumbling about having to meet at Xavier at 7:30 a.m., the students had a great time.
One interesting component of the project was the idea of "tiered mentorship." The area professionals served as mentors to the Xavier students, while the Xavier students served as mentors to the youths. As another component of the project, students also completed four hours of volunteering in the STEM NOLA office to learn about the administrative side of the non-profit. Some students were so successful in this capacity that they have been asked to return and may land spots on the payroll.
STEM NOLA is an organization founded by New Orleans native, and former Tulane University engineering professor, Dr. Calvin Mackie. Its purpose is to expose community members to opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and to inspire them to engage in these opportunities. STEM NOLA designs and delivers activities, programs, and events that bring inspiration, motivation, and training to all STEM stakeholders across the city, specifically focusing on underserved communities. Participants gain skills in communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. STEM NOLA realizes that any effective community-based STEM program must be broad enough to include everyone, yet focused enough to reach people where they are, on their level, and to take them to where they need to be in order to compete and succeed in life.

Treva A. Lee holds a Ph. D. in Counselor Education from the University of New Orleans. She received her B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Counseling from Xavier University of Louisiana. In her twenty-five-plus years at Xavier, she has served in numerous capacities, including as a teacher in the Freshman Seminar program, in which this service-learning project took place.

-Jeremy Tuman

Download Conversation #59


Leyte WinfieldA conversation with Leyte Winfield of Spelman College on mentoring students.

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Dr. Leyte Winfield is a teacher, scholar, and mentor. She strives to expose everyone to the beauty and versatility of chemistry and to nurture the potential of women of color interested in pursuing degrees in the field. In 1997, she received a commission in the United States Army Reserve where she obtained the rank of captain and was assigned to the Army Medical Institute of Chemical Defense before resigning her commission in September of 2009. Academically, she pursued the study of chemistry with the hope of becoming a cosmetic scientist. Her aspirations led her to obtain a B.S. in Chemistry from Dillard University and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of New Orleans. She is a synthetic organic chemist with experience in academic, industrial, and military laboratories. From these combined experiences she has gained expertise in the various aspects of medicinal drug design, instrumental methods, and synthetic techniques. Her current research interest is to understand the relationship of the structure of a molecule, particularly benzimidazoles, to its activity as a chemotherapeutic for cancers that disproportionately impact the African American community. Her efforts have been recognized by the American Association of Cancer Research and the Council for Undergraduate Research and have been funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. She holds six patents covering more than 500 unique small molecules. Her emerging interest in chemical education and broadening participation has produced two textbooks, several publications, and funding from the national science foundation.

Links for this episode:

...continue reading "Conversation #59: Leyte Winfield on Mentoring"

by Karen Nichols

At last month's OLC Innovate Conference here in New Orleans, I attended many interesting sessions. I found the one on Brainfacts.org particularly useful and would like to share it with you.

The Brainfacts site is the brainchild of the Society for Neuroscience.  According to the presenter, Alissa Ortman, the original intent was to publish correct information in easy to understand language and dispel myths about their field.  The site, which now has numerous partners and contributors, is a safe, reliable resource for you to recommend to your students.  The contributors are all vetted and the information is presented using a variety of tools and platforms and written at about a tenth-grade level.  You can also sign up for their blog, or follow them on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Information for Educators, the Press and Policymakers may be accessed from the top right of the homepage.  The information has been curated into 6 categories in a dropdown format which can be accessed from several different webpages.  They are:  About Neuroscience, Brain Basics, Sensing, Thinking & Behaving, Diseases & Disorders, Across the Lifespan, and In Society.

Here are a few links to give you a sample of the information and formats:

Video:  Why Does Food Make Your Mouth Water?

Podcast: Patient HM and His Missing Memories

Blog:  Zika:  10 Things to Know

I'm following Brainfacts.org on both Facebook and Twitter and I hope you'll find the information interesting and useful too.

coNeCte|BlogdaSociedadeBrasileiradeNeurociênciase

Download Conversation #45

Calvin Mackie

A conversation with Dr. Calvin Mackie of STEM NOLA on teaching, learning, and service learning.

Dr. Calvin Mackie is one of the nation’s most prolific young STEM and Educational Motivational Speakers and Leaders. He is an award winning mentor, an international renowned motivational speaker, and a successful entrepreneur. His message as a mentor, speaker, entrepreneur and former engineering professor continues to transcend race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and time. His passion and talent is totally devoted to helping people unleash their greatness and transcend personal and societal barriers. Operating under the premise that exposure and experience are two important parameters of success, he utilizes unique strategies and methodologies to motivate and inspire. Calvin Mackie has lectured widely throughout the United States, helping people change the way they think about achieving their lifelong dreams through education in general, and STEM specifically.

Links for this episode:

...continue reading "Conversation #45: Calvin Mackie on STEM"