MARQUETTE – Six Northern Michigan University students have been recognized for their innovative use of technology in academics. Each received a Teaching, Learning and Communication Award – named after the NMU campus-wide notebook computer initiative – at the 10th Annual Celebration of Student Research and Creative Works.

            Recipients of the TLC Awards include Robert Bowen, a graduate student from Burnsville, Minn.; Brock Jensen, a graduate student from Ishpeming; Trisha Hernandez, a senior health and fitness management major from Carney, Mich.; Mike Lemke, a senior from Lake Geneva, Ill.; Elisa Neckar, a graduate student from New Berlin, Wis.;  and JoeyLynn Paquette, a senior elementary education major from Munising.

            Bowen and Jensen collaborated on a research project titled "Effects of Added Weight on Power Output and Heart Rate: Treadmill Versus On-Road Cycling." They used technology to gather and analyze the data. Seven subjects rode on a large treadmill and on a Marquette County road for two minutes over a 2 percent grade and for seven minutes over a 5 percent grade. The students collected both heart rate and power output measurements.

          In addition to comparing the two surface types, Bowen and Jensen also studied the impact of an unloaded condition versus a loaded condition – a four-kilogram weight added to the bike frame. They found that heart rate was not affected significantly by either surface type of load, but the power output was significantly affected by both variables. The graduate students also presented their results at the 2005 American Society of Biomechanics Upper Midwest Student Regional Meeting.

            Hernandez was credited for creating a high-tech PowerPoint presentation as the culmination of a semester-long class research project. Her presentation was titled "Addressing Deficiency Needs in Rwandan Children through Sport Programming." It included photos, video and audio clips. Hernandez visited Rwanda in the summer of 2004 as part of a non-denominational, faith-based organization. She and other volunteers used sports as a tool to engage youth and address the "love, belongingness and esteem needs" of the many Rwandan children who were orphaned as a result of genocide in 1994.

          Hernandez said the experience altered her future career goals. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in health communications and work internationally to address health needs and other concerns impacting citizens across the globe. In April, Hernandez received another honor – 

this one from the American Association for Health Education. She was one of 96 young people nationwide to receive Health Educator of the Year Awards to recognize their contributions to the field.

          Lemke's research project was titled "Turing Machines as Teaching Aids: Alleviating Confusion for Undergraduates." A Turing Machine is an abstract instrument introduced in 1936 to give a mathematically precise definition of an algorithm or mechanical procedure. It is an "elegant way of understanding how a computer program functions in a linear fashion."

            Lemke wrote a Java program that emulated the machine so that intro-level students would have less difficulty conceptualizing what a computer program is doing and why the seemingly insignificant misplacement of commas or capital letters can cause drastic errors. They would gain a better understanding of why a computer program's code must have a linear structure. 

           Neckar was asked to create a Web site for the NMU Writing Center. It was her first attempt at building a site, but it proved to be a success. Her adviser calls it functional, efficient and user-friendly – a site that will be helpful to Writing Center staff and improve service to NMU students.

            The site includes Webstreaming tutorials, Word documents, and a wealth of hyperlinks to relevant sources for additional information. Neckar's next project for the Writing Center will be to help publish an e-newsletter for students.

            Paquette used the program Inspiration to develop a concept map of Michigan's English language arts content standards, benchmarks and content expectations for Grade 2. Inspiration capitalizes on visual learning by allowing users to create diagrams, flow charts, outlines, and timelines to help organize thoughts and develop ideas.

            Paquette said Michigan's new Grade Level Content Expectations (GLCE), which align with the established Michigan Curriculum Framework standards and benchmarks, require careful lesson planning and tighter accountability audits for teachers. Her concept map helps create grade level appropriate English language arts lessons for 2nd grade students. It also displays corresponding benchmarks and exemplary-aligned GLCEs for each benchmark. Paquette has hyperlinked concepts directly to the Michigan Department of Education Web site, offering easy access to supporting documents.

Prepared By
Kristi Evans
News Director