Inside Iowa State

Inside Archives

Submit news

Send news for Inside to, or call (515) 294-7065. See publication dates, deadlines.

About Inside

Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

July 22, 2004

Research briefs

Plane safety

The Center for Nondestructive Evaluation will study nondestructive evaluation techniques that can be used to assess the aging of military aircraft. A $6.5 million contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, will fund the project, the most recent of many collaborations between the center and the U.S. Air Force.

Nondestructive evaluation is a method of testing materials without destroying the sample. The Air Force project focuses on improving non-destructive evaluation techniques and applying them to the military branch's aging fleet, much of which is at least 25 years old.

The center and Air Force have reviewed more than 20 non-destructive evaluation technologies to determine which best meet the Air Force's inspection challenges. For instance, one project goal is to extend the life of critical components such as jet engines; their parts can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

"Clearly, if you don't have to throw away a $20,000 part because its useful life is extended, that's significant cost savings," said R. Bruce Thompson, CNDE director and Anson Marston Distinguished Professor in Engineering.

Science, writing and language combined

A three-year study will gauge the effectiveness of using writing and language to complement the science education of kindergarteners through sixth graders in west and central Iowa school districts.

A $600,000 Iowa Department of Education grant will fund the study by the Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education.

Brian Hand, director of the center , said the new research seeks to improve student performance in both science and language arts by linking science inquiry to reading/writing programs in elementary schools using the Science Writing Heuristic method.

"We will create a curriculum that replicates authentic science activities -- experiments, evidence and reflection, for example -- by building on students' critical thinking and problem-solving skills," Hand said. "Instead of the traditional laboratory format, the Science Writing Heuristic method asks students to write statements about their research questions, followed by the process of making claims and framing evidence from their investigations."

This summer, 32 kindergarten through sixth grade teachers will participate in the first of three workshops, Hand said. Seminar instructors will receive a science content update and learn about critical reading skills and science inquiry teaching strategies.

"Teachers in the workshop will learn by using the same science inquiry/language arts-based strategies they will teach in the classroom," Hand said.


"Clearly, if you don't have to throw away a $20,000 part because its useful life is extended, that's significant cost savings."

R. Bruce Thompson