The next article is from The Inspire Journal. It was published in the April 2001 issue just in time for the MIR spacecraft going back to Earth atmosphere. The russian machine has been a faithful mate for the Inspire members all around the world and some friends like remember those days. LoScrittoio.it is glad to bring this article on the web and thanks Mr Bill Pine, Inspire Journal manager, to have friendly accepted to publish it here.
Looking Back on INTMINS
Authors: Dean Knight, Sonoma, CA
Jack Lamb, Belton, TX
Bill Pine, Ontario, CA
With the approach of the end of the MIR Space Station, we also approach the end of the INTMINS operations. Several participants have contributed thoughts on the value of the INTMINS operations and the future of this type of scientific investigation. Similar contributions are solicited from any other INSPIRE participants. Another article "Looking Back on INTMINS..." will be published in the next INSPIRE Journal .
Dean Knight, Sonoma Valley High School, Sonoma, CA
If I were to list the primary contributions of INTMINS, it would be a statement that included two parts: one for my students and one for international cooperation.
First and foremost is that for my students. The chance for the students to do real science in a relaxed, fun, exciting situation that involves a bit of hiking (both daytime and night), a bit of involvement with technical apparatus (other than a TV or computer), a bit of camaraderie (quite a bit), a bit of careful observation, a bit of new ideas (both up on the mountain-our radio site- and back in the classroom), a bit of continuity (we have been involved with this for a while, and this year we had a group of senior students who had been involved as freshmen as well as present freshmen students who had participated with their older brothers or sisters several years back), and a bit of a chance for students to claim on resumes that they have been involved in an international physics study. (There have also been a few perks for the school to be involved in such a project--actually at this point it may surprise some that this is our last year with the project as it is now configured--hard to believe!) Needless to say, I hope that every effort will be taken to continue the study in a meaningful international way.
The second part (the international cooperation one) has advantages that speak for itself. YES, I think an experiment like INTMINS should be included in the International Space Station, but I hope we don't wait until the Station is available- we need to occupy the intervening years with another project. Coordinated observations are, of course, a possibility, but I personally would like to see a project that would continue to more directly involve the Russians. I really think this is important. Maybe there is something significant that can be done. Thanks for keeping the project going.
Jack Lamb, Belton, TX
So far, I think INTMINS' contribution to science has been minimal since I am not aware of any discoveries that resulted from our work. The fact that we have worked with MIR in this study is a fine example of international cooperation in science. Perhaps it will lead to more such cooperation in the future.
My wife and I have enjoyed getting out to our quiet site to
record the various operations. We wish we knew more about what
we were doing, but we are happy to know we are contributing something
to a project that we feel is very worthwhile. My grandson is
not as excited about standing around listening to static. A few
minutes is enough for him. He always brings a book to read while
I stand around and listen to static. It is nice to have him there
anyway in case something goes wrong.
The value of INTMINS is not entirely clear to me. It has certainly been a valuable experience for me and, hopefully, for all other participants to be part of a team that spans the globe. It is interesting to see the graphs of our data we send in. I am beginning to understand what the dark marks mean. I hope we discover something dramatic (maybe even useful) before MIR burns up in the atmosphere next year. INTMINS should certainly be included in the International Space Station so we can continue our research. Hopefully, the novelty of the new space station will attract more members for our team.
I mentioned a global team above, but have noticed, in particular, that there are no Russian observers as far as I know. I hope that will change soon. I wonder if we would benefit from observers in the southern hemisphere? Now that we are on line, perhaps we can make ourselves known to more people in the world so that they can consider joining us.
I hope there reflections on the past and wishes for the future are helpful for your retrospective article in the April, 1999 issue of The INSPIRE Journal. I am looking forward to reading it.
Bill Pine, Chaffey High School, Ontario, CA
I have been involved with natural VLF radio observations for the past 10 years. I have taught physics for the past 25 years, so I am in a position to compare the physics curriculum with and without VLF radio observations. Even though the radio observations occur outside the normal school day and outside the formal physics curriculum, participation in INSPIRE activities has had a positive impact on both my students and me. INTMINS, as the latest example of INSPIRE activities, is a prime example of that positive influence. There are many good things about being involved in something like INTMINS:
1. Spending time off campus with students allows everyone to get better acquainted - both with the teacher and with each other. Lasting friendships have been forged between students who might not otherwise have even met. The times riding up the mountain and back down are very pleasant and the feeling of accomplishment after successfully meeting an operation schedule is something to be proud of.
2. Meeting a schedule like that of INTMINS is an important activity for students (and teacher). In the school system, the emphasis seems to be less on encouraging students to be responsible and more on constantly giving them second chances. With INTMINS, if the team is late, MIR does not wait! Your "second chance" may not come for another six months. Students do a pretty good job of meeting their time obligations, but when they do not, they find that the "bus" has left and they miss out. This is a good experience for them especially since the only consequence is that they miss out.
3. Finally, INTMINS has a positive impact on physics enrollment and attitude. Each year several students who might not have taken physics otherwise enroll in physics. The enthusiasm and positive attitude of the students involved in INSPIRE is a good example for other students to follow - and some of them do!
I don't know what the physics program at Chaffey High would be like without INSPIRE and INTMINS, but I strongly believe that it would not be as good.
The INSPIRE PROJECT:
I.K.I. Agenzia Spaziale Russa: