Local educator, much more at S.T.E.A.M. Expo April 10-11
Apr 08, 2015 | 4529 views | 0 0 comments | 113 113 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One of the presenters at this year’s S.T.E.A.M. Expo at USU Eastern’s Blanding campus is San Juan County’s own elder statesman of mathematics, Doyle B. Rowley of Monticello. Rowley’s colorful presentations on the magic of geometry are entertaining and educational – a perfect fit for the two-day conference. 

The S.T.E.A.M. Expo allows families to explore the worlds of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics in a fun, relaxed setting. Offerings include hands-on science activities, cultural performances, and demonstrations by local craftspeople.

Presenters include local experts and visitors from USU’s Logan campus. It happens all across Blanding’s college campus on April 10 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and April 11 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. All ages are invited and there is no admission charge for the activities.

Food will be available for purchase from vendors in a fair-like setting that includes booths with items for sale.

“STEM” subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – are getting a lot of attention lately, said Ed Larson, who originated the first S.T.E.A.M. Expo at Blanding’s USU Eastern campus last year.  

“We decided to add the ‘A’ for the arts,” Larson said. “Science is in our daily lives and mathematics is all around us everywhere. The arts help broaden this out. We want this Expo to get people excited about learning, whether that is in the sciences, the arts or anywhere in between.”

Rowley’s presentations at the Expo add an artistic edge to the subject of geometry – one he taught to generations of students during a 34-year teaching career at Monticello High School.

He developed “Dancing Curves” after seeing a presentation at a National Conference of Teachers of Mathematics convention and built his own equipment to give the presentation (with the author’s permission).

The multimedia experience happens in a darkened room, where colored shafts of projected light create moving geometric shapes to the accompaniment of music. 

“The title says it all,” Rowley said.

Rowley’s other presentation grew from his desire to solve a learning dilemma for his geometry students. The idea became his thesis subject for the Master’s degree he earned from the University of Utah in 1965.

“Students have a hard time visualizing three-dimensional things when they are drawn on a two-dimensional plane,” Rowley said. “This was a way to show what happens when a plane intersects with a three dimensional object.”

Rowley built gelatin molds in shapes such as pyramids, cubes and cylinders. Then, he showed his students what happened when dye-stained threads were used to pass planes through the gelatin shapes.

Though digital technology provides today’s students new ways to manipulate three-dimensional shapes, Rowley’s hands-on method remains a memorable learning experience.

“I wanted the students of Monticello High School to have the best of opportunities – at least as good as those students got at the largest high schools in the state,” Rowley said. 

When Rowley arrived at MHS in 1952, the highest math class offered there was Algebra I.  During his tenure, he introduced courses in geometry, Algebra II, college algebra, trigonometry, advanced math, computer literacy, computer programing, technology, earth science, physics and science research.

He made certain his students had the opportunity to participate in additional coursework, summer institutes and the Utah State Math Contest. MHS student Will Edgington was Utah’s highest-scoring junior under Rowley’s tutelage.

“We usually had the best team score for Class 1-A schools,” Rowley said.

One of the highlights of Rowley’s teaching career came in 1985, when he was invited to Washington, D.C. to receive a Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics from President Ronald Reagan.

The honor included a $5,000 cash award that became seed money for a math scholarship awarded annually at MHS in his name.

Rowley’s most satisfying accomplishment has been seeing each of his four children work in teaching careers, he said. His son, Eric Rowley, is a mathematics professor for USU and works on the Blanding Campus of USU Eastern. Eric Rowley will also be presenting at the S.T.E.A.M. Expo. 

Other San Juan County residents involved in the conference include traditional dancers and weavers, and members of a community quilters guild who will talk about the geometry of quilting, Larson said.

Out-of-state visitors include a group from Ohio called Flite Test that will allow Expo participants to help build and fly remote-controlled aircraft. 

Hands-on learning activities include an earthquake table, an air vortex cannon, a giant magnetic wall, crime-solving activities and an opportunity to isolate your own DNA, Larson said.

“Even though we are doing scientifically complicated things, everything has been made approachable in a way that is family-friendly and fun,” Larson said.

“We want to make sure the community can get excited about learning and education, and we want to showcase some fun ways to learn.”

More information about the schedule of events at the S.T.E.A.M. Expo is available at http://www.steamexpousueastern.com
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