Ruth Patrick Science Education Center


'Tis the Season

EdTech Master's Students Make Conference Presentations

Close Encounters of the Martian Kind

Graduate Programs available at USC Aiken

Publications and Presentation

Masters Degree in Educational Technology Accepting Applications

Lunar Eclipse Eclispsed by Clouds

New Staff

Contact Information

RPSEC Student Programs Soar

Did You Know?




Family Sky Night

Local Unversities and Schools Focus on Higher Achievement

Instructional Fair

Traveling Science

New federal Legislation Affects Funding For Schools

14 Telescopes Added

Undergraduate & Graduate Courses   

Celebrate Christmas in the Planetarium with "'Tis The Season"

Christmas is just around the corner and the Dupont Planetarium will be showing the annual holiday season favorite, "'Tis The Season." The show will be at 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. on December 5, 6, 19, 20, 26, 27, January 2, 3. The popular Digistar Virtual Journey will be shown at 9:00 p.m. on December 19, 20, 26, 27, January 2, 3. "'Tis The Season" has become an annual favorite for many of our patrons. If you have come before, plan on making a visit and make this special planetarium show an annual event. If you have never seen this show, you must plan on attending so that you can see what you have been missing.

'Tis the Season traces the development of many of the world's endearing holiday customs, and how they involve lighting up the winter season. The show also recounts the historical, religious and cultural customs practiced during the time of the winter solstice. Guests will see a few winter constellations and learn how the orbit of the earth around the sun causes seasons to occur. Of course, we explore some possible astronomical explanations for the "Star over Bethlehem

Close Encounters of a Martian Kind

The close encounter with Mars in August of 2003 had a significant impact on astronomy awareness and interest. The media highlighted the closest approach in 50,000-60,000 years and the fanfare grew as the date of the encounter approached. The Dupont Planetarium at the University of South Carolina Aiken hosted a special viewing night on August 27. A number of local, amateur astronomers set up their telescopes on our lawn for public viewing. The Bechtel Telescope, a 16-inch, Meade LX-200, in the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center Observatory was also open. In the planetarium, a special Mars presentation was produced to highlight the exploration of the Red Planet. The show also included a discussion and visual presentation of the orbit dynamics that produced the close encounter. At the end of the Mars presentation, our audience was engaged in our entertainment show, "Digistar 'Laser' Fantasy."

Planning for the special "Mars Party" began in late spring and we conducted our typical advertising campaign. A few weeks before an event, we send Public Service Announcements to the local media outlets. Additionally, our Planetarium Director, Dr. Gary J. Senn, is a regular guest on the local noon and early morning news programs. He appeared on all three major network affiliates in the area on the days preceding the close encounter. On the day of the encounter, two of the local stations came to the planetarium to conduct special interviews about the events to be held that night.

With all of the media coverage and the fairly clear skies that were forecasted, we were optimistic that we would have a nice crowd at the event. The planetarium hosts annual, spring and fall star parties. Average attendance is 150-500. The low end of the average occurs on overcast nights. With the extra media attention surrounding the Mars event, we expected to have as many as 750 people. The first planetarium show was scheduled for 8:00 p.m. with viewing beginning after dusk at about 9:00 p.m. When the ticket collector arrived at 7:15 to open the ticket office, there were already 1,000 people waiting. Before the night was over, we had more than 2,000 people. We were unable to accommodate a crowd that large. The people with the most endurance waited up to three hours to look through the telescope. The last person looked through the telescope at 2:10 a.m.

Because of the large crowd, we decided to hold five other "Mars Parties" over the following two weeks. We had from 300-500 people at each of those events, which we were easily able to handle. On three of those nights, people stayed until after midnight.

In another 60,000 years, we will try to be more prepared for a large crowd.

Publications and Presentations


Dr. Gary J. Senn and Darlene Smalley recently published an article titled, "Ecliptic Constellation Activity." The article was published in the Summer 2003 issue of Southern Skies, the Journal of the Southeastern Planetarium Association.

Lunar Eclipse Eclipsed by Clouds

On November 8, 2003 we held our annual Fall Earth and Sky Night. The date was selected because of the total lunar eclipse that would occur. Preparations were made for the event. A number of hands-on activities were developed, popcorn was popped and free soft drinks for the guests were made available. 

Unfortunately, the sky over the CSRA was cloudy. To add insult to injury, the night before and the night after the eclipse provided wonderful visibility of the moon. While the sky did not cooperate, the rest of the activities were a success for the 260 people who attended the celebration of Earth and Sky. The planetarium show, "Dark Shadows" was a hit. This show described the reasons for eclipses and the phases of the moon. Inside of the planetarium was the best place in the CSRA to see an eclipse that night. People were very excited about the hands-on activities. Free popcorn and soft drinks can rarely go wrong. Make plans for the next Earth and Sky night.

Contact Information*





Gloria Allen



Alicia Brinton


Haneefah Cobbs



Linda Ferrel



John Hutchens



Gwen Johnson



Greg MacDougal


Jeff Mastromonic


Diane Nicholson



Keith Pierce



Elisabeth Schussler



Gary Senn



Darlene Smalley



Cindy Sparling



Janice Weeks




First Floor

Traveling Science



Work Room







Second Floor

Work Room



Resource Room




Third Floor

Work Room 3a



Work Room 3b



*All extensions preceded by 641 when dialing from off USCA Campus.

All extensions preceded by 56 when dialing from within the USC phone system.
From Augusta, dial 278-1967 and request the extension.
NRSMEEP at US Forest Service located at SRS

Ann Bohnet


Jody Childs


Debbie Lindsay





Did you know?

During the equinox an egg will stand on end?

Yes, it will but it will also stand on end every other day of the year. Not just during the equinox. Hold the egg on end untill the yolk settles to the bottom and let go

Do you have any old UNBROKEN aquaria lying around your house with no use for it? We would be happy to take it off of your hands.

We also would like a small dorm fridge for the animal care room to keep our perishable food in, so that our student workers can access it on weekends.


Family Earth and Sky Night
When: April 24, 2004 from 6:30 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.
Where: DuPont Planetarium at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at USC Aiken - directions.
What: Telescope viewing, planetarium shows, astronomy lectures, hands-on activities.
Hosted by: The Augusta Astronomy Club, the Dupont Planetarium, and the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center
The Family Earth and Sky Night will be held rain or shine. Free refreshments will be available. Plan to bring friends and your whole family to a fun-filled evening of celebration.
Telescope Viewing: A number of people from the Augusta Astronomy Club will have their telescopes available for the public to use. Come see many of the wonders of the heavens. This is a good opportunity to learn about telescopes, especially if you have been considering purchasing one. The RPSEC Observatory housing the giant Bechtel Telescope will also be open.
Planetarium shows: "More Than Meets the Eye", will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. The shows will begin at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00, 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. The cost for planetariums shows are:
Astronomy Lectures: Lectures on astronomy topics will begin at 7:00 and 8:00 p.m.

Hands-on Activities: A variety of hands-on activities will be available to help people understand the wonders of earth science and astronomy. Many of the activities will have materials you can take home with you including your very own star chart.

In Mathematics, Reading/Language Arts, Science and Technology
Focus Topic:
Empowering Teachers - Promoting Educational Excellence for All Students
Saturday, January 24, 2004
USC Aiken
8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Join your colleagues for an exciting day of professional development in the areas of mathematics, reading/language arts, science, and technology. Forty-five minute sessions and ninety-minute workshops will be presented by educational leaders, including teachers, university faculty and local engineers

Sponsored by:

Central Savannah River Area Math and Science Regional Center 803-641-3594

Midlands Mathematics and Science Regional Center 803-563-7113

Upper Savannah Mathematics and Science Regional Center 864-388-8966

Ruth Patrick Science Education Center 803-641-3313

USC Aiken Chapter of Phi Delta Kappa

Local Public Schools


To present a session or to register to attend, please contact the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center.

Preregistration Fee: $20 (Includes lunch and morning refreshments.)

Onsite Registion Fee: $25 (Does not include lunch and morning refreshments.)

Presenter Registration Deadline:

Monday, January 5, 2004

Participant Preregistration Deadline:

Friday, January 9, 2004

Click Here for More information on the Instructional Fair and to download forms.


The current federal legislation under consideration as part of the authorization of the Higher Education Act has implications for colleges of education and schools.
Title II of S. 1793 offers new initiatives and new funding aimed at improving the Teacher Quality Enhancement program. Funding for state grants and partnership grants grows to $300 million. Other competitive awards are authorized to provide support for mentoring programs; housing incentives for teachers in certain communities; encouraging community college partnerships with 4-year institutions; programs to provide training for paraprofessionals to become teachers; and a school leadership development program for principals and superintendents. Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to use Technology is also reauthorized under this Title.
In addition to redesigning partnership grant programs to improve teacher preparation and induction programs through enhanced clinical experience, better ongoing professional development opportunities, and paid internships for students who have already completed a 4-year academic program, S. 1793 also includes accountability language for colleges of education.
The bill calls on colleges and universities to report the percentage of teaching candidates who pass each of the state tests, rather than program completers recommended for licensure. States would then rank teacher preparation programs according to these test scores.
States would also be required to collect placement data, numbers of faculty "who teach classes offered by a school of education," and whether the institution tracks graduates for 3 or more years following graduation. They must also report the number of students in the program, hours of supervised "practice teaching," and the faculty-student ratio in "practice teaching." However, the proposed language moves away from holding colleges of education accountable for the success of their graduates in raising K-12 test scores.

by: Gwendolyn Johnson, Director-RPSE

EdTech Master's Students Make Conference Presentations

Students in the Master of Education in Educational Technology Program at USCA are required to make a professional presentation. These Presentations can be made at professional conferences, workshops, inservices or faculty meetings. Two of our students recently made presentations at the EdTech 03 conference in Myrtle Beach.

Art Lader presented a session titled, "A Year of Moodling Around." This was an introduction to Moodle (, a software package designed to help educators create quality online courses. Such e-learning systems are sometimes also called Learning Management Systems (LMS) or Virtual Learning Environments (VLE). Moodle is a free alternative to Blackboard and WebCT.

Michael Casdorph presented a session titled, "Ubiquitous Campus Computing: Technology for Everyone, Education Without Boundaries." Michael was assisted by Dr. Tom Smyth. This presentation described a ubiquitous computing project, which incorporated innovative uses of mobile computing carts, wireless laptops, and PDAs. This was based on a successful grant project that Michael received for USC Aiken.

As you can see, there are some exciting things happening in the Master of Education in Educational Technology program. For more information, see the separate article about this program.

Graduate Programs available at USC Aiken

USC Aiken awards graduate degrees in Elementary Education, Educational Technology and Applied Clinical Psychology. Courses are offered in the evening to accommodate the schedules of working professionals.

The Master of Education in Elementary Education degree is designed to provide advanced professional studies in graduate level coursework for persons who currently hold teacher certification and are committed to excellence in elementary education. The fundamental goal of the program is to enable the teacher to operate from a basis of principles that will guide effective and intelligent functioning as a practitioner of the art and science of teaching in the elementary school. Beginning in January this program will be delivered to a cohort of teachers at North Augusta Elementary. Any teacher interested in participating should contact Karen Morris, Graduate Studies Coordinator at (803) 641-3489.

The Master of Education in Educational Technology Degree is designed to provide advanced professional studies in graduate level coursework to develop capabilities essential to the effective design, evaluation, and delivery of technology-based instruction and training (e.g. software development, assistive technology modifications, web-based development, and distance learning). The program is intended to prepare educators to assume leadership roles in the integration of educational technology into the school curriculum and to provide graduate-level instructional opportunities for several populations (e.g., classroom teachers, corporate trainers, educational software developers) that need to acquire both technological competencies and understanding of sound instructional design principles and techniques. A program using several courses delivery methods including web-based, closed circuit TV, and on-campus courses.

In addition, USC Columbia delivers several graduate programs through their Extended Graduate Campus Office to USC Aiken. Courses leading to degrees in Business Administration, Engineering, Library and Information Science, Educational Administration, Interdisciplinary Masters of Arts in Natural Science, Nursing, Health Administration, Mass Communication and Social Work are available on the Aiken campus.

Masters Degree in Educational Technology Accepting Applications


The University of South Carolina Aiken (USCA) and the University of South Carolina (USC) Columbia established a new graduate degree in Educational Technology that began in the fall of 2002. Twenty-two students were accepted into the program during the first year of implementation. During the second year of the program, 15 new students were accepted. We hope to have another 15 or more during year three. Will you be one of those new students? For more information visit:

The focus of the program is to develop capabilities essential to the effective design, evaluation, and delivery of technology-based instruction and training (e.g., software development, multimedia development, assistive technology modifications, web-based development, and distance learning) in order to (1) prepare educators to assume leadership roles in the integration of educational technology into the school curriculum, and (2) to provide graduate-level instructional opportunities for several populations (e.g., classroom teachers, corporate trainers, educational software developers) that need to acquire both technological competencies and understanding of sound instructional design principles and techniques.

Anyone interested in enrolling in this program should contact Karen Morris at 641-3489. (Note: Students are required to complete EDTE 631, Technology to Support Instruction, or demonstrate prerequisite computer competencies before admission to the program.)

Foundational Core Courses (12 hours)
AERM/EDRM 700 &endash;Introduction to Research in Education
AEET/EDET 709 &endash; Applications of Learning Principles
AEET/EDET 722 &endash; Instructional Design and Assessment
AETE 731 &endash; Instructional and Informational Applications of Technology or
EDTE 731 &endash; Integration of Technology and Instruction
Technology Core Courses (15 hours)
AEET/EDET 603 &endash; Design and Development Tools I
AEET/EDET 735 &endash; Technological Applications for Diverse Populations
AEET/EDET 746 &endash; Management of Technology Resources
AEET/EDET 755 &endash; Design and Evaluation of Information Access and Delivery
AEET/EDET 780 &endash; Seminar in Educational Technology
Electives (9 hours chosen from the following courses)
AEET 650/EDET 650,651 &endash; Internship in Educational Technology
AEET/EDET 652 &endash; Design and Evaluation of Games and Simulations
AEET/EDET 703 &endash; Design and Development Tools II
MGMT 772 &endash; Employee and Organizational Development
AEET/EDET 793 &endash; Advanced Instructional Design and Development
EDRM 736 &endash; Program Evaluation

RPSEC Welcomes New Staff Members

Welcome Alicia Brinton, Student Program Specialist

We would like to welcome a new Program Specialist to the RPSEC, Alicia Brinton. Alicia comes to us from Savannah River Ecology Lab. She will be teaching Ecohikes, Animals with Backbones and several other programs. Alicia can be contacted at 803-641-3574 or at

RPSEC Student Programs Soar

Participation of K-12 students in the science and math programs offered at the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center has reached astounding new levels. From September through mid-November of this school year, student programs have instructed 6,000 students, 270 teachers, and 1,175 adult chaperones. It is anticipated that by the end of the school year, over 21,000 students will have attended student programs, as compared to 16,000 students during the 2002-2003 school year. This increased community participation in the programs is very exciting to the student programs staff! Each school year, the staff adds several new programs, and this year these include the planetarium shows Dark Shadows and In My Backyard, A Walk Across the Solar System, Physics with Toys, Cabbage Juice Chemistry, and Plantastic. Thanks to the many teachers who have brought, and will bring, their students to the RPSEC this year!


Natural Resources Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education Program (NRSMEEP)

A cooperative effort of the Department of Energy, the USDA Forest Service, Silver Bluff Audubon Center, and the University of South Carolina Aiken Campus


NRSMEEP has been awarded a $70,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With $50,000  of support funds from our DOE/Forest Service budget and the Silver Bluff Audubon Society, we are launching the UPLINK Program. UPLINK stands for UNDER-REPRESENTED POPULATIONS LEARNING IN NATURES KINDERGARTEN. UPLINK is a cooperative effort between the organizations listed above to help improve student achievement of under-represented populations through participation of standards based activities in an outdoor setting.  Students in grades 3-12 from high poverty schools will participate in real world problem solving activities developed as part of the NRSMEEP program.  The site of these activities will be the Silver Bluff Audubon Sanctuary located in Jackson, South Carolina.  The activities will be modified to fit the environmental conditions of the sanctuary.  Students will have 4 program visits during the year, 2 at the Silver Bluff Audubon Sanctuary, 2 school visits by UPLINK instructor, and participate in a series of activities that will not only increase their content knowledge, but give students a feel for the kinds of problems faced and methods used by the biologists on a daily basis.  Pre-, Post- interest, content knowledge surveys, standardized test scores, and teacher evaluations will be used to monitor the progress and success of the program. About 15 local schools have already been selected to participate in the program.


NRSMEEP has hired a talented new instructor!

MRS. DANIELLE MURFEE has taken Fonda Slongo's place as Fonda retired this summer. We will surely miss Fonda but have been blessed to have Danielle join our team. Danielle is a recent graduate of USC Aiken with a degree in Biology with an emphasis in environmental science. She has been teaching for the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy at Phinizy Swamp where she gained valuable experience in teaching various students environmental sciences.  We are confident that Danielle will live up to all of your expectations to deliver the high quality learning experiences that you are accustomed to from NRSMEEP.  WELCOME DANIELLE!!!!

Teacher  Workshops  2003-2004

Register at or call 803-725-0070.

GLOBE Refresher and/or Certification (K-12) ( (Fridays)  January 9 & 23, and February 13, 2004 (Free Teacher Resource Kit!). Training protocols on January 9th: Atmosphere & Hydrology; 23rd: Soil; Feb. 13th: Land cover and Biology.  Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment or GLOBE is an international program.  Students collect data around and near your school and share it with scientists via Internet.  Excellent application of math, science, and computer skills.

Project Wet (K-12) ( Thursday, January 29, 2004. This workshop delivers some great student activities involving aquatic study topics.  Many of the activities could be done in the classroom without an outdoor water study site. We will do activities which relate to the science and math standards.  Free guide to all participants!

SC MAPS (Grades 5-8)  ( Tuesday, February 10, 2004. This award-winning interdisciplinary program is ideally suited for team teaching in grades 5-8.  Participants receive free laminated maps and activity materials.  Activities are cross-referenced to curriculum standards in four disciplines.  Workshop is limited to 10 South Carolina teachers.

Project Learning Tree-"Burning Issues" (4th-12th) Wednesday, March 10, 2004. Explore this new project by PLT that gives you not only the PLT teachers guide, but also an interactive CD that lets your students explore various habitats and how they are positively affected by prescribed fire.  You will find this standards based instruction exciting.

NRSMEEP will pay for substitute teachers.  Workshops will be held at the Silver Bluff Audubon Education Center in Jackson, SC except for the Project Wild and Wildlife Management on March 10, 2004, which will be held at the National Wild Turkey Federation in Edgefield, SC.


A portion of the 2002-03 NRSMEEP lessons were conducted at the Silver Bluff Audubon Center, which is a 3,154-acre wildlife sanctuary located between the town of Jackson and Beech Island.  RPSEC's Anne Bohnet was stationed full-time as a teacher/naturalist at the Audubon Center, which in its first year of operation welcomed nearly 1,500 NRSMEEP students, hosted an SCMaps teacher workshop and was the setting for three week-long summer camps for children. This collaboration between Audubon and RPSEC will continue through the 2004 school year.  The center has already hosted two teacher workshops this year and plans to host several more.  Anne will be the primary instructor in the UPLINK program described above and will deliver most of it at the Audubon Site.

There is a $3.00 charge for students participating in NRSMEEP programs at the Audubon Center.  Paul Koehler, Director of the Audubon Center, notes that in addition to hosting NRSMEEP, an interpretive trail system and a visitor center soon will be available to the general public and that Silver Bluff is to be a Discovery Stop along the South Carolina National Heritage Corridor.  For additional information, contact Silver Bluff Audubon Center at 803-471-0291.


Recently the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center (RPSEC) held a focus group meeting with school district superintendents, directors of instruction, and staff development coordinators. The purpose of the meeting was to promote dialogue about the needs of the school districts as they relate to the services of the RPSEC, the School of Education, and the Tech Prep Consortium. Potential partnerships among the districts and the universities were considered as a means for meeting the professional development needs of the districts. Two needs ranked high on all the lists generated by the districts: need for courses addressing science and mathematics content and need for courses addressing strategies for teaching specific curriculum standards. Opportunities for high school teachers seemed to be a more critical need than the other levels. The RPSEC plans to hold a focus group meeting with teachers to gain their perspectives about the services they need most. Any teacher who desires to participate in the focus group meeting or otherwise have input is encouraged to e-mail us with your ideas at

Traveling Science and Mathematics Demonstrations Program (TSMDP)

Successful Workshop!
TA special thanks to the teachers in Richmond County for their excitement and interest at the Richmond County In-service held on October 17th, 2003 at T.W.. Josey High School. This in-service was held to introduce teachers to the resources available through the Ruth Patrick Center and the Traveling Science and Mathematics Demonstrations Program. If you are a teacher that was not able to attend and would like a workshop organized for your school, please call John Hutchens at 803-641-3313.
The 2002-2003 Outstanding S.T.R.A.N.D. Volunteer Award
was presented to-Edward Urbanawiz, Seth Campbell, and William Croft in recognition of their exemplary service and continuous support of the Traveling Science and Mathematics Demonstrations Program.

If you know of a deserving S.T.R.A.N.D. Volunteer please contact John Hutchens at 803-641-3313 for more information


The Traveling Science and Mathematics Demonstrations Program currently has over 350 kits available for checkout. The kits range in form from FOSS (K-6), STC (K-6), Museum to Go, CBL, Math and Science to Go, various teacher created kits and numerous other materials and resources. For a complete searchable and sortable listing of available kits please log on to: To schedule an information session for teachers at your school, please contact John Hutchens at 803-641-3474 or


Log on to to make your kit reservations.

14 Telescopes Added to the Traveling Science and Math Demonstration Program!
The RPSEC has received 14 Meade Model DS-60ME Telescopes courtesy of the Building a Presence for Science (BAP) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). The DS-60ME is a refracting telescope with a focal length of 700mm (27inches). It has 3 eyepieces: 4mm, 12.5mm, and 25mm. This gives the telescope magnification powers of 28x to 175x. The telescopes are easy to assemble and include Starry Night software. This Windows-based software will display the position of stars and planets for any time period over thousands of years in the past and future. The manual states "Starry Night can compress hundreds or thousands of years worth of change into a few minutes' duration, and in doing so, makes these movements easier to see, and easier to comprehend." The software is easy to install and use.
Teachers may order up to 14 telescopes at one time for a period of one month. Gregory MacDougall, the Science Specialist for the CSRA Math Science Regional Center, is available to give presentations on the use of the telescopes to teachers and/or students. Teachers who wish to borrow the telescopes should call the RPSEC at 803-641-3683, or e-mail at .

RPSEC Newsletter Index

RPSEC Home Page

The Ruth Patrick Science Education Center Newsletter is a publication of the RPSEC for educators. The Center encompasses the CSRA HUB, CEET, Dupont Planetarium, and NRSMEEP. If you have any information that would be beneficical to the audience of this newsletter, or would like to be added to the mailing list, please contact the Editor, Cindy Sparling, at (803) 641-3594 or Deadline for submission in the next newsletter is March 1, 2003.

Copyright © 2003 by the Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina.

Ruth Patrick Science Education Center
Center of Excellence in Educational Technology
University of South Carolina Aiken
471 University Parkway
Aiken, SC 29801

 URL: (December, 2003)