Air Quality Monitor Kau Coffee Mill

NOTICE – The Spec-PPB SO2 PPB data along with the other sensors is an experimental sensor and should be treated as such, it is interesting to track the numbers but accurate results would require calibration and comparison with official data. Please do not use this data as a basis for any important decisions. This is an educational project built by high school students from around the island of Hawaii.
Thingspeak Channel Link

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Air Quality Monitor Keaau Shelter

NOTICE – The Spec-PPB SO2 PPB data along with the other sensors is an experimental sensor and should be treated as such, it is interesting to track the numbers but accurate results would require calibration and comparison with official data. Please do not use this data as a basis for any important decisions. This is an educational project built by high school students from around the island of Hawaii.
Thingspeak Channel Link

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Air Quality Monitor Volcano School of Arts and Sciences

NOTICE – The Spec-PPB SO2 PPB data along with the other sensors is an experimental sensor and should be treated as such, it is interesting to track the numbers but accurate results would require calibration and comparison with official data. Please do not use this data as a basis for any important decisions. This is an educational project built by high school students from around the island of Hawaii.
Thingspeak Channel Link

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Air Quality Monitor Rainbow Falls – DOH Co-Located

NOTICE – The Spec-PPB SO2 PPB data along with the other sensors is an experimental sensor and should be treated as such, it is interesting to track the numbers but accurate results would require calibration and comparison with official data. Please do not use this data as a basis for any important decisions. This is an educational project built by high school students from around the island of Hawaii.
Thingspeak Channel Link

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Air Quality Monitor Pahoa Shelter

NOTICE – The Spec-PPB SO2 PPB data along with the other sensors is an experimental sensor and should be treated as such, it is interesting to track the numbers but accurate results would require calibration and comparison with official data. Please do not use this data as a basis for any important decisions. This is an educational project built by high school students from around the island of Hawaii. Thingspeak Channel Link

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Air Quality Monitor Papaya Farms Road – Dragon’s Eye Farm

NOTICE – The Spec-PPB SO2 PPB data along with the other sensors is an experimental sensor and should be treated as such, it is interesting to track the numbers but accurate results would require calibration and comparison with official data. Please do not use this data as a basis for any important decisions. This is an educational project built by high school students from around the island of Hawaii.
Thingspeak Channel Link

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NOTICE – The Spec-PPB SO2 PPB data along with the other sensors is an experimental sensor and should be treated as such, it is interesting to track the numbers but accurate results would require calibration and comparison with official data. Please do not use this data as a basis for any important decisions. This is an educational project built by high school students from around the island of Hawaii.

Links to the data from the sensors:

Papaya Farms Road – Dragon’s Eye Farm

Pahoa Shelter

Rainbow Falls – DOH Co-located

Keaau Shelter

Volcano School of Arts and Sciences – has internet issues currently

Ka’u Coffee Mill 

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Psychology, brain research, and the growth mindset

“You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” is a classic saying expressed by many frustrated teachers, parents, and presumably horse owners that expresses a sentiment associated with the lack of willingness of an individual to engage with the materials in front of them that that are likely to be helpful to them.   What is it about the horse, or the student that keeps them from engaging?  Brain research has shown that the brain’s fight or flight response (amygdala) is activated in stressful situations in which one’s social status is threatened.  An unprepared student who sits in front of a Raspberry Pi device  with a lot of wires, buttons, and weird looking sensors may feel threatened and choose not to engage.  Looking incompetent in front of peers, especially for teens, can be a very stressful experience.  Both psychology and brain research provide us with clues to help mitigate this stress response and convert the experience into an opportunity for growth.  Play is perhaps the most important and natural method to shoot past the “engagement breaks” being applied by the amygdala in a new learning situation.  Teaching students about the concept of the growth and fixed mindset provides self aware students with a tool reframe their fears into learning opportunities.

Play is an essential part of growth for all animals.  Kittens playing with their tails, and human children playing in a sandbox are both examples of healthy neural development in which the limits of the surroundings are explored and “learned”.   Play as a research topic is huge.  Brain imaging studies have shown that when play is occurring, its difficult for the flight or fight response (amygdala) to be engaged.    For students who have not traditionally been successful in school or in STEM topics, the need to reframe potentially stressful learning situations is imperative.  Students can not truly learn when they are scared.  What we tend to see in the classroom are behaviors that a student can hide behind when they are challenged to learn something that threatens them.   In the T3 alliance, we begin with, ice breakers,  brush bots, and Minecraft (a sandbox game) because they help replace fears with a sense of creative exploration.  When these activities are done as part of a group in a fun and festive way, a bonding experience occurs that helps form social connections that are essential for human growth.  At later points in the program, students play with combining various sensors and outputs in order to “do” something cool. When this is combined with the direct instruction of growth and fixed mindset measurable progress is observable.

Growth and fixed minutes are terms coined by Carol Dweck to describe how students perceive themselves and their relationship to their learning.  Fixed mindset students essentially believe that their intelligence is fixed and that a new learning situation is a threat to their status.  Its likely that a student with this paradigm would see a raspberry pi and a bunch of wires and sensors as threatening.  Students that exhibit Growth mindset, in contrast, see a new learning situation as an opportunity for growth.  They are more likely to embrace the challenge and “play” with the various components.  Not knowing how to do something is an opportunity to learn, asking for help is not seen as a sign of weakness to them.  Teaching students about these mind sets in a non threatening environment gives them a framework to draw upon in a more frustrating situation later on.  The same problem solving skills used fix a brush bot can be employed when setting up an elaborate self driving vehicle.  Teachers who understand the difference between effort based praised (growth mindset) and label based praise (fixed mindset) have tremendous power to influence a student’s resilience.

A student who is confident in their ability to “play” with a new piece of technology, gain an understanding of its limitations, and ask for help within a safe community is poised to find meaningful ways to apply it towards the betterment of the community at large.  In the t3 alliance program we aim to curate an environment in which students feel safe to explore the limitations of a technology and then find ways to allow students to apply that technology to a problem of appropriate measure.  While creating an engaging and nurturing environment is the critical first step, the power of the program lies within the community engagement opportunity that is fostered through the design thinking process.   

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Puerto Rico workshop

Puerto Rico workshop Blog – Adam Low

Day 1

I was a bit nervous setting up for my class this morning with the 16 T3alliance students at the Upward Bound program in Puerto Rico. I hadn’t spoken Spanish to a group of teens since early in my teaching career when I taught at bilingual schools in Colombia and Ecuador.  I always try to remember that new students want to know who you are, and want to know that you care about who they are.

I spent the prior evening preparing a slideshow with a bit about my family, my background, and my role in T3 alliance.  I finished with an exciting set of stories about what students in our T3alliance program were doing in Hawaii.  The kids were visibly excited to set up cameras and sensors and make the kinds of things I had described.

After just having helped students in our Hawaii program complete this kind project in just under a day, I felt pretty confident of where things were going when I asked the students set up their Raspberry Pi boxes.  To my surprise, students weren’t able to get online because of a discrepancy between the clock on the pi’s and what the browser expected to see.  I spent several minutes trying to fumble around with one students pi, while at the same time realizing that they had not had the ability to use the internet up until this point.

I was shocked, and was preparing to teach all the students how to set up the LED light ring and camera with words alone, when a student in the back of the room came forward with a solution that he had found on some website.  It involved going into the terminal, and setting the date.  After this, we were able to reboot the pi’s and access the t3alliance website.

A few students stepped forward and made it work for everyone.  A sense of relief washed over me, because I rely on the website (or someone else who is more knowledgeable than I) to know what goes where in Node Red.  Here is a forum post describing how to fix it.

The students were eager to try everything on the website.  I directed them to start with a the LED ring, and then the camera.   Some students were able to make their equipment do what the tutorials said, and others were stuck.  I had kids get up and walk around the room and work with each other to try to diagnose the problems.  This worked to a degree, but when I couldn’t figure something out, and none of the other kids could, we sometimes had to shrug our shoulders and try the next sensor.

By the afternoon, we had enough sensors working on a handful of different pi’s, that the kids had the idea of how things could be combined to make a project.  Francheska had converted the mini grant proposal I shared with her into Spanish and she helped lead the students through a brainstorming session about how the school might address the security issue from broken windows associated with Hurricane Maria.  The students, with the help of Francheska, divided themselves into teams with specific tasks associated with gaining an understanding of the problem and brainstorming some possible solutions.

After the students left I had a chance to meet Steven, the regular instructor for the T3alliance program.  He wasn’t at the training in Reno, but he had familiarized himself with the pi and taught the students to use the sensors with python.  He will work with me tomorrow.

After everyone left, I had a chance to re-learn Node Red and build a tutorial for the project.  I learned just how much I was leaning on my team in Hawaii to do all of the “complicated” stuff.   I can appreciate what the instructors in the T3programs across the country might be going through as they try to make the technology work.

There are now several new posts on the site, one that will hopefully be fun for all your students is the Node Red Selfie Station set up post.  I plan to share this with the students here in Puerto Rico tomorrow.  If all goes well, they will be able to turn the technology described here into a security system for the university.

Day 2

On the second day of the training the students came into class and I pointed them directly at the tutorials.  I was eager to share everything as quickly as possible, and get the students working successfully on building what I had put together the evening before.  The plan would be to have everyone build the button activated camera selfie station, and then we would collectively apply that same technology to building the security system for class room that had lost its windows from Hurricane Maria.    

Some students were good at following online tutorial, others were either waiting for me to tell them what to do, some were sneaking onto their phones when I was distracted helping another student.  The fact that some of these students spoke better English than others might have played a role. They were polite when I asked them to put them away, but I could tell they didn’t all feel comfortable getting up and moving around the room to ask others for help when I was busy.  

After about an hour 75% of the students had a successful selfie station.  I asked the student that had demonstrated her leadership skills to lead the class in hearing the reports on the tasks from the previous day.  Some students had not done their tasks, others had done an amazing amount of work, measuring, taking photos, and presenting everything in a nice folder.  A few of the mini grant proposals were filled out with clear information. Having a discussion with 17 students was tough, especially when some felt like they were good for doing their work and others felt not good for being slackers.  We walked to the room and discussed what the system might look like with the most engaged students. The other students stayed behind and spoke with Francheska about the mini grant proposal and staying engaged.

We developed a plan to mount the Raspberry Pi’s above one of the ceiling tiles, and cut tiny slits that would just fit the thin ribbon of the Pi cameras.  We unwound a network cable made extension wires that were able to fit perfectly into the jumper wire cables that came in the kit. There were enough jobs here that almost everyone stayed busy.  A few students were working on the Node Red Flow, some other students worked on getting an email that was ready to receive photos, and the rest of the students were hovering and offering some sort of help.

During lunch I made sure all the Pi’s were set up to be on the same network as the wifi hotspot so as to be able to control them through the network when no screens were attached.  The regular university wireless network worked to send data, but it didn’t work when we wanted to “talk” to the Pi’s. It has to do with the security they put in place.


We spent some time after lunch working on the final setup when Francheska announced that she had secured a field trip opportunity for our last day to an area that had experienced damage after Hurricane Maria.  The students were very excited, and eagerly accepted the renewed requirements to brainstorm ways that the class might use sensor technology to help in the community.

After a few final checks with the cellphone and making sure the wires had good connections, we came to the moment when we were ready to install the sensors.  The students carried the ceiling tile sensor setup to the classroom and got right to work. Suddenly everyone was involved. The ceiling tiles were moved and students passed the sensor to the area with the broken windows.  


After plugging in the pi’s to a power source, the students ran over to the various windows and began waving in front of the sensors.  One student was watching the gmail account on his phone and yelled out that he got something. The moment when the photo opened we knew it worked.  Collective congratulations went around, as the students purposely triggered more photos. Francheska went and spoke with the facilities director who came and saw the work of the students.  He was obviously impressed and thanked the students for their work. The students were glowing with pride and promised to maintain the system and help make sure it worked. Discussions began organically on how the system could be impoved or added to.  Plans were made for science type experiments to understand the limitations and capacity of the sensors and their adjustments.

This was a successful day in my book.  The students “felt” like they had done everything, but I knew just how much effort I had put in to assure that it would work.  What had really worked is that the ownership and efficacy had been allowed to foster and germinate. The kids “thought” that they could this kind of project now, and they saw stubborn determination and growth mindset as a skill that they had access to.  It will be exciting to visit some rural areas of Puerto Rico with these students to see what ideas they have for future projects.

Day 3

Today was an excursion day with the goals of exposing the students to some possible project locations, doing some service learning , and having fun.  The students arrived in the morning and submitted their homework from the previous class.  The ones who hadn’t finished their homework, filling out a mini grant for a possible project in the community using Raspberry Pi and sensor technology, had to go and finish their work while everyone else waited.  This method turned out to be very effective, as the students waiting gave suggestions and feedback to get the team on the trip as quickly as possible.

I used the time to go through the plans for the next several weeks of class with Steeven, the T3 instructor, and the students that Francheska and I had identified as the lead students in the class.   You could see the students I spoke with puffing their chest’s out as I told them how impressed I was with their effort and their growth mindset.  They agreed teach other students in the program how to use the website, set up the sensors, and continue modeling the growth mindset as they found new projects to work on.

Francheska gave me an Upward Bound shirt to wear on the field trip, and we piled into the van and headed off to El Yunque National Forest.  This area has been a protected tropical forest region since 1875 when Puerto Rico was a Spanish Colony.  Its a tropical rainforest with trails, waterfalls, and a number of endemic species.  It suffered greatly during Hurricane Maria and many of the roads and trails were still closed.

We went to the visitor center where Francheska and I spoke with Megan, the park superintendent, about partnership possibilities while the students viewed a natural history movie.  Megan was very supportive and said she would speak with scientists who are in the park about some possible projects.  She helped us understand how we would need to navigate the process of getting teams of students into the park to work with scientists and to install our home made sensors. When I informed the students about the conversation and the possibility for projects, they were visibly excited. 

After lunch, we went to long sandy beach on the south east corner of the island.  Francheska handed out garbage bags and had the kids work in pairs to pick up the beach.  Some of the trash may be due to Hurricane Maria, but most of it was likely left on the beach by the local visitors.  The experience was awesome, and students were eagerly finding trash stuck the many crevices between rocks partially buried the sand.

After an hour we had collected a small mountain of bags.  Francheska laid out the rules for getting in the water, and handed out a tennis ball.  For an hour the students played catch like elementary school children in the warm shallow waters while Francheska kept a watchful eye from her beach chair.  On the long ride home, the two students next to me fell asleep in a position that showed just how much energy they had expended during the day.

Francheska and Steeven understand the importance of allowing students to engage and give back to their community.  Giving back in a conscious way fulfills a basic human need for belonging.  The students here understand the expectations and rise to the challenges that are put in front of them.  I look forward to watching them grow over the next few years.

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Design Thinking Overview

When an individual first learns to use a particular piece of technology they generally look for a “recipe” type of approach.  In the T3alliance curriculum this looks like specific tasks or challenges that need to mastered.  Soldering a wire so that a button is able to function, or setting up a circuit so that an LED bulb works on a breadboard are examples of these types of tasks.  When your students are ready for something more, its time to introduce them to Design Thinking.

Design Thinking is a process that, when followed, leads to solutions that take into account the human experience.  Although the name design thinking and the movement that surrounds it has become popular during the rise of the Silicon Valley tech industry, at its core is the very old skill of empathetic listening and respectful problem solving.  In the T3 alliance program we use this process to facilitate student involvement in real world problems that have the potential for meaningful and impactful experiences.

The five stages of design thinking are described in this graphic.

The first stage of this process, empathize, is by far the most critical to the success of the process.  An instructor is always on the lookout for someone with a problem that is willing to ask for assistance in a way that gives a student interviewer a chance to understand the deeper human aspects.  The person with the problem can be considered a client if they meet some key criteria.  First, they know they are working with students and they agree to be kind and forgiving.  Second, they need to understand a little about the design thinking process and agree to be available to communicate with the student and maintain interest throughout the testing process.  Third they agree to appreciate the student for the effort they put into the process.

In a normal upbringing for a child this roll might be filled by a grandparent who knows just how to ask for help in such a way that a child embraces the challenge and is eager to talk about and receive praise after the task is completed.  The grandparent speaks to the child in a kind and loving way and knows that ignoring the child’s efforts will have negative consequences.  Most members of a community will be happy to fill this roll and will take it quite seriously.  Watch out for potential clients who are too busy, or ones that are such perfectionists that they want to do the work themselves.  Its assumed that if a student was ever working with a community member outside of a supervised environment, a background check would be completed.

Preparing a student for a positive empathetic interview experience involves preparing them with two levels of questions.  The first level is the basic 5 w’s of journalism.  Who are you, what is happening, when is it happening, where is it happening, and why is do they think it is happening.  This level of questioning has the potential to bring up a lot of useful information.  The second level is about digging a little deeper and uncovering how the client feels or would like users to feel in this situation.

The design thinking process guide that is produced by the Stanford design school is an excellent resource that goes through each stage in detail.  Here is a link to the design thinking process guide.

In the T3 alliance program we introduce the idea of a grant proposal as a stepping stone to building a prototype.  The mini grant proposal outlines the goals of the prototype, costs of the materials, the metrics for evaluation, and the deliverables (what they are responsible for reporting back) and is submitted to someone who ultimately signs off on the project’s costs.  This step can obviously be skipped when the prototypes involve only the use of inexpensive consumable materials.

Assembling the prototype with purchased materials is an heavy experience for many students.  There is a sense of responsibility and ownership that is healthy.  Its an opportunity to be communicative with team members and ask for help when its needed.   A poorly soldered electrical connection can cause lots of headaches further along in the process.

During the testing stage its a good idea to bring the client back in and experience the product or process design.  In some cases, refinement will need to occur, in others, it will be deemed successful.  A genuinely appreciative client will have a huge impact on a student’s sense of accomplishment.

This process is repeated as often as possible throughout the t3alliance program.  Each successful iteration of this process that a student engages in will engender a sense of efficacy and pride that will enable them to take on projects that require greater levels of collaboration with team members.

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Selfie station example project

Here is an example of an applied design thinking project done with a class of 17 students at the University of Hawaii Hilo Upward Bound T3 alliance program during the summer of 2018.  Node Red and physical Raspberry Pi setup instructions can be found on this post.

Students had mastered the skills associated with basic physical computing and Node Red.  They were capable of setting up a button, an LED Ring, using a sonic sensor, a PIR sensor, and a small camera.  They had been able to combine all these components using Node Red and were capable of generating emails that sent a photo.

I asked around for a person or group at the university that might be interested in a device that could take photos and have them emailed instantly.    Eventually I found the perfect potential client in Shara Mahoe, the director of new student services.    She was planning a scavenger hunt for the new student orientation day later in the summer when 600 freshmen appear and nervously try to find their way around the large UH Hilo campus.  She listened to my description of what the students in our T3alliance program were able to do and how design thinking process worked.   Once she understood what was involved, she signed up to be a client.

Shara and a colleague showed up in my classroom the next day and I interviewed her in front of the class.  She described her day and what she hoped it would feel like to new students.  She listed out 5 locations around the University that could use a selfie station and asked my students if they could find a solution that would work.  I had previously broken the students up with an ice breaker activity and they now found themselves choosing one of the sites around campus to design a selfie station.  As a team, they discussed what they had heard Shara speak about and filled out the first section of the guide questions associated with the “empathy” stage of the design thinking process.

We took a quick walking field trip to each location and the students finished the “define” phase, where they articulated exactly what was needed and what the constraints were, and moved into a brainstorming “ideation” phase.  Students were tempted to think there was just one type of solution to the selfie station problem, but they sketched out three different ideas. When this was finished they chose a “prototype” design they wanted to build and they wrote out a mini grant proposal.  

When the proposal is complete, we submitted it to the Upward Bound director for approval.  We prepared ahead for this type of project with wires, and buttons and extra raspberry pi devices with cameras and power supplies.  After the proposal was approved we handed out and checked off the items that had been requested on each proposal. The students got right to work building the prototype selfie stations.

We instructors restrained ourselves from helping too much and let the teams figure out how to build their designs.  When students would ask for help, we would respond with a question.  Eventually, the students learned to frame their questions in such a way as to be able to google the answer.  We helped in the areas where a skill had not been introduced, such as soldering, or learning to “remote” into the pi.  The teams were responsible for building the prototype, writing the code that controlled it, and recording and editing a short video.

Several days later, Shara met with us to see the results. The students walked around the campus with her demonstrating the way their selfie stations worked and noting what things could be improved. One team had an opportunity to radically modify their design because it didn’t take into account the safety considerations necessary when a crowd of students would moving past a certain area.

The students were beaming when Shara thanked the group.  She appreciated their efforts and asked them to sign their work so that new students at the school knew who had built these stations.  Each group modified and perfected the design and the instructions.

As part of the initial mini grant application, The teams had been responsible for writing user instructions, making a video about the project and writing a short report about the progress of the project. 

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Setting up Node Red for a Selfie Station

Here is the Node Red setup for a Selfie Station where a button is pushed, a LED light ring turns on, a photo is taken, which is then emailed to a dedicated email.  Its very similar to this project that was done by teams of students at UH Hilo.

Step 1.  Set up the light ring so that it turns on and off after a message is sent:

In this case – we wanted the light ring to turn on with the color red, and then turn to a different color white and then turn off.  To achieve this we used a trigger node.  The first one was set to 8 seconds.

The second trigger node was almost identical, except that the “send” command was white, and the “then send” command was black.

Step 2.  Connect the camera node with a delay:  In this case we chose 9 seconds because it was in the middle of the time when the light ring is white.  When the signal is sent – the light rings should go off and then the camera light should come on.

You will want double click on the camera node and change the file mode from generate to buffermode. You can also change the properties of the photo here.

Step 3.  Check that you ended up getting your photo by looking in the pictures photo on your pi.  Grab the send email node from the sidebar.

Move the email node after the photo node.

You will want to have a special gmail that you have set up to receive emails from node red.  We set up one that was named especially for the project.  Once you are logged in to the account you will need to follow the link for getting emails from “less secure sources.”  The screen you will get to after being logged into the gmail account looks like this: You will want to toggle the button to allow less secure apps.

Open the properties tab for the email node – enter the new email you just created and made less secure into the who “To” field.  Enter the email that you want the data to be sent from into the “Userid” field.   This does not need to be a “less secure” email.  It could even be an email with the specific name of the pi where it will be placed.

Test it out and check your email to see that it worked.  

Step 4: Switch the input to a button (or any other trigger device).  We used a button and connected one side to 5v power, and the other side to GPIO12. Set the resistor to “pulldown” and check the box for read initial state of pin on deploy.

When its working a push of the button should change the “0” to a “1” right below the pin node.  When the button is released it should change back.  Connect up the nodes and push a button to take a photo and send it!


The button can be swapped out for a different type of sensor such as the PIR or sonic motion sensor, just be careful that the sensitivity isn’t set too high, or else you could find yourself with a lot of emails!

If you actually want to set this pi up somewhere (like we did in this project) you will want to configure it to auto start Node Red when the pi is powered on.  As long as the pi is in an environment where it has permission to log into the wifi, it should work.


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Hawaii Eruption Update

Aloha all,                                                                                                            June 29th, 2018

Its time for another update on the eruption in Hawaii.   

We are at about 50 days since the eruption began, and there does not seem to be an end in sight.  Since the last update lava has been pumping out of the main fissure in the Leilani Estates subdivision and forming a river of fast moving pahoehoe lava all the way down to the ocean.  When the wind is going in the right direction, residents of a neighborhood where we once lived (when we first moved to Hawaii in 2011) are able to walk close to the river and marvel in its awesomeness. There are some amazing things to see geologically – this lava lava boat phenomenon is awesome.  The chunk of lava you see in the photo below is moving down the river of lava. 

Its not open for tourism, and if you aren’t a resident, you can be arrested for being out there.  The Hawaii Civil Defense is understandably concerned about public safety.

Tourists have been taking a lot of helicopter rides, and boat rides to see the lava where it is entering the ocean.  Here is a video of what the ocean entry looked like a few days ago.

Sometimes amazing things are seen in the boat – this is a Lavaberg that was caught on video.  I am somewhat baffled how this happens.  I have a piece of the light reticulite lava collected from Leilani Estates that floats on water, but this is likely a dense block of pahoehoe.  I suspect the heat of the rock is great enough to vaporize the water underneath and cause a buoyancy that will last as long as the bubbles keep forming.  I would love to have had a chance to observe this until it sunk,  or even better observe it with a remote underwater rover!

The school where I once taught science, Kua O Ka La, is on the verge of being covered by lava.  I met with the school principal last week and we filmed an interview with her and one of the teachers who lives in an area just a mile south of the main eruption.  The students I work with in the T3 alliance Upward Bound summer program at UH Hilo are working on building deployable air quality monitoring stations that can report information in real time on a website.

Deanna, the preschool teacher in this video has been living in the basement of our home in Hilo since the eruption began. Since this video was recorded, FEMA has changed the classification of her property to uninhabitable and opened up the possibility for her and her husband to receive federal assistance.   She and her husband represent the type of families that inhabit much of this area.  They own their property outright, and have lovingly worked the land so that they could survive and raise a family on one income. Susie, the principal in the video, had a beautiful home in Leilani Estates that was destroyed by lava.  She had paid the high cost of insurance for a home in lava zone one (lava zones are a way that the insurance companies rate risk for lava… 1 is high risk, 5 is the lowest risk) for years only to find out that the insurance company has fine print clause requiring that the owner prove that the home burned before it was covered by lava.  Because she doesn’t have a photo of the home on fire she is out of luck.

Emily has continued to volunteer as a counselor at the shelters on the weekends and has heard these kinds of stories often.  Food and materials are still being provided at the shelters but there is a sense of unease about the future that is gnawing at the community.  FEMA and the Red Cross estimate that close to two thousand individuals have been displaced.  The lack of housing and the huge economic impacts associated with this eruption are driving out those have the ability to leave.  Those that are left are dealing with limited housing options, bleak prospects for work, and the daunting task of dealing with rebuilding their lives with the relatively small allotments that FEMA is able to provide.    

Heart wrenching stories appear on facebook of small businesses, or individuals that have lost everything and are trying to find what it takes to make their next steps.  I am sure that there are even more stories out there that haven’t been written down.

When I asked the 17 students in my class this past week how many of them had a direct family connection to someone that had been affected by the eruption, about half raised their hands.  They have taken on the task of building these sensors with a vigor that is uncharacteristic of most teens.  We met with a chemist at the department of health and they peppered him with questions about air quality and how it can be reliably measured.  They helped outline tasks and a timeline and and are diligently working to have a prototype ready for testing early next week.  If tests go well, they are preparing to go into production mode and have sensors set up at schools and in communities around the island by the end of the following week. Summarizing the project and educating the public on the meaning of the data with short clear videos will be the task for the last week of the summer program.

This is an audacious plan, but its exactly the kind of project that the T3 alliance program was designed for.  Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, the program teaches students to use emerging technologies to address community based problems.   Upward Bound programs receive kits and a curriculum with access to “soft money” that can be allocated as needed.   UH Hilo Upward Bound and the T3 alliance program agreed to help with any additional funding needed to make this project work.   The air quality sensors are being built with supplies that can be bought at Home Depot and 35 dollar Raspberry Pi’s. With all the sensors and components included, we are looking at something in the range of two hundred dollars.

I humbled by the students and the incredibly talented team of instructors that are working on this project with me.  We are about to begin posting updates on social media and via the website as to the progress of the project. Please give their posts a thumbs or a few words of encouragement.

With luck their story will inspire other students and to step into their potential roles as engaged problem solvers in their communities.  Success here for these kids may mean that they have the efficacy and drive to teach and help others make their world a better place.

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RPi Node-Red Start Auto Start

When deploying a Raspberry Pi as a permanent/semi permanent installation is will be useful to have Node-Red start persistently, in the case of power failure, etc.

Open a terminal and paste the following command

sudo systemctl enable nodered.service

Now Node-Red will start automatically when the Raspberry Pi boots up.

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RPi Node-Red: DHT11 Temperature and Humidity Sensor

Please wire up your DHT11 sensor as below:

To be able to use the DHT11 temperature and humidity sensor we will have to install the Node-Red node and the BCM2835 library to support it, the easiest way is explained below.

First open a terminal  window and copy and paste the entire code block and press enter.

#install bcm2835 library
cd ~/
curl > bcm2835-1.56.tar.gz
tar zxvf bcm2835-1.56.tar.gz
cd bcm2835-1.56
sudo make check
sudo make install

#install node
cd ~/
sudo npm install --unsafe-perm -g node-dht-sensor
sudo npm install --unsafe-perm -g node-red-contrib-dht-sensor

After the commands finish running press enter again to make sure the last one has been run.

Restart your raspberry pi, start Node-Red and search for “dht” you should find a node called “rpi dht22” this indicates that the node has been installed correctly.

The node must be setup as in the below image – make sure you select DHT11

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Hello T3Alliance Directors,
As your summer programs get up and running, we need you to identify a group of students within your Upward Bound program to be used as a comparison group to the T3 Alliance students. (I’ve cc’ed instructors here too in case it helps!)
Please select about the same number of students with a similar background and provide those names to the proper individual who can forward the survey link to the selected students. This comparison group will take the SOAR survey at the same time as the T3 Alliance students – both at the start and end of their UB program. The comparison group can come from a similar school or have a similar demographic distribution based on ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, etc. It does not matter what the comparison group is doing within their UB program or if they have the same instructor as the T3 Alliance students. The comparison group will be used in order to understand long-term goals of the T3 Alliance project.
You will be sent a separate link for the comparison group students to share with the instructors. Please find attached the consent form/information letter specifically for the comparison students. They are taking the same SOAR survey but have the T3Alliance logo and title removed. Follow the same instructions for the survey with both the T3Alliance students and the Comparison students.
Please refer questions specifically on the comparison group to Barbara on the evaluation team.
The Evaluation Team
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