Posts Tagged ‘trimble’


August 6, 2010

Summer is coming to an end.  Much of mine was spent working with summer programs at The University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s (UALR) College of Engineering and Information Technology (EIT).  This time of year is also known as Attack of the Unpronounceable Acronyms!

The ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp is a two-week, academic, residential camp that emphasizes increasing students’ mathematics and science skills while introducing them to college life and stimulating their interest in science and engineering as a potential career path. Each day, campers attended classes that included problem solving, research and communication skills incorporated with biology, chemistry, physics, environmental sciences, earth sciences, technology, engineering and design concepts, and field excursions.

An interdisciplinary experience that we created this year that I am particularly proud of called on students to combine skills from Mathematics, Science, and Technology classes to analyze water quality data from various sources on campus.  Trimble, a leading provider of advanced positioning solutions, lent over $40,000.00 worth of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) hardware and software to the camp identical to those used in the gulf oil spill clean-up efforts.

Students worked in groups in the field to analyze water samples from fountains, streams, and sprinklers.  Using their understanding of chemistry fundamentals such as pH, they paired water quality information with location information collected using the GPS receivers.  Back in the classroom, students visualized the data with Google Earth, allowing them to speculate about possible pollution sources.

I have been involved with the University of Arkansas at little Rock’s High School Research Program (HSRP) since its beginning in 2006.  The objective of the HSRP is to engage academic high achievers in a focused research environment by proactively mentoring them and helping them make informed choices on appropriate course work during their high school years for pursuing future careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines. In addition, the three week residential summer program provides informal peer mentoring by engaging students in faculty research projects, allowing high school students to establish early contact with college students and professors in specific areas of their interest.

Students worked on a variety of research projects this summer including Micro-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS)-based piezoelectric materials in health monitoring applications, Computer Modeling of Human Respiratory Physiology, SCRATCH Programming, Robotics, Distributed Computing, and Social Network Mood Analysis.  For a full list including project descriptions, consult the 2010 project list.

As you can see in the above Animoto, the high school students have considerably more “play time” than the middle schoolers, but they all achieved great things this summer!

For more information about UALR, EIT, EMBHSSC, HSRP, or any other unpronounceable acronym, contact Vernard Henley,


Display foursquare Data on Google Maps

July 18, 2010

Just a quick post — I’m stretched really thin working two summer camps simultaneously, but this was just too cool to pass up!

When they first start using Google Maps, most people want to make a “places I’ve been” map.  The Google Maps interface is clunky to say the least, and the requirement to place the pin in just the right place causes some to abandon this project early.  Even when you have a cheat sheet, it’s easy to get lost in the process.

Enter foursquare.  This is a social tool that lets you “check in” with your location-aware mobile phone when you visit a place.  Recently, Starbucks offered discounts to people who were the most frequent checker-inners at their nearby locations.  While I was explaining to a group of middle school students how to use $5,000 Trimble GPS systems to collect and plot geolocation data points in Google Earth this week it occurred to me that it should be possible to do the same thing with foursquare data on a Google Map.

I’m not the first person to make this discovery, but it was my own idea, I swear!

To access your foursquare location feed in Google-friendly KML format, click on History and then pick the orange RSS icon.  From there, copy the second link, labeled KML.  Pay attention to the bottom note about adding ?count=25 to the address you just copied to specify the maximum number of most recent points to pull.  This defaults to 25.  The easiest part of this whole process is on Google’s end.  Just go to and paste your KML URL right into the search box!  Finally, click the “Save to My Maps” link (which only appears if you’re signed into your Google account).

If I survive this middle school camp I promise to blog again soon!