Archive for Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Local teen taking part in research expedition in California

July 6, 2005

A Tonganoxie teen is off on an adventure.

Tyler Truesdell, who will be a senior at Tonganoxie High School this fall, is participating in this summer's Earthwatch Institute's scientific research expedition.

Truesdell is among 80 youths from 30 states to qualify for an all-expenses-paid Student Challenge Awards Program.

Truesdell, the son of Jim and Diane Truesdell, left Friday to travel to the Mammoth Lakes region of California.

Ron Lewis, THS chemistry teacher, recommended Truesdell for the program. Truesdell said he learned about it when high school counselor Kathy Walker asked him if he would like to apply.

"I looked the information over, it looked like a pretty interesting trip," Truesdell said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance, so I took it."

The application process included answering three essay questions.

The camps are held at four sites across the country. Truesdell is with a group studying how plants in the western part of the United States respond to climate changes. More specifically, they're be looking at how snow fences in California affect plants and vegetation in the area.

And, the study will be published.

"What's really neat is at the end, once we do all our experimenting, they can publish the information in a scientific journal," said Truesdell, who plans to study physics and astronomy in college. "That's pretty cool."

Truesdell has interests outside the realm of science.

He participates in debate and forensics. And he likes to read. Lately, he's been reading philosophy books.

One of his favorite authors is Friedrich Nietzsche, the late-19th century German philosopher.

"He's an existentialist, so that means he believed that moral values are based on your life experiences," Truesdell said.

Lewis described Truesdell as being very creative, as well as having a strong interest in science.

He was pleased to learn Truesdell had been accepted to the summer study program.

"We've had a few in the past that have gone, but it's a fairly selective thing," Lewis said. "It's a great opportunity for him."


ESSAY QUESTIONS

Editor's note: The application for the Earthwatch Student Challenge Awards program included three essay questions. Printed below, with Tyler Truesdell's permission, are his answers.

What makes you tick?
There are many things that make me tick, but there is one that stands above the rest: knowledge. One thing that always amazes me is the complete vastness and diversity of everything around me. It is a wonderful feeling to look up in the night sky and realize that I am surrounded by an infinite universe; realize that I am just one small aspect of a huge and diverse world. Also, I feel that within the big picture I have been thrown into, there is an innumerable amount of knowledge to be gained from the world around me. So, to answer the question, knowing that there is an infinite amount of knowledge that can be obtained is what makes me tick. It is my goal in life to learn as much as I can about as much as I can. It always excites me when new technologies arise that allow us to learn something new about the complexly beautiful universe we live in. The sheer complexity of our world is what makes the pursuit of knowledge so worthwhile. The search for knowledge is not an easy one, but it is a fulfilling one. Knowing that I, as a human, have been endowed with the intelligence to crack the mysteries of the universe, but will never know the true wealth of knowledge that is present, is the reason that my favorite quote is: "The only true knowledge is knowing you know nothing." -- Socrates

If you were to invent a toy, what would it be? How would it work?
If I were to invent a toy, I would invent a roof slide. The slide would be a long, plastic slope that would attach to the roof of a house. It would be much like a water slide common at pools, with rail guards to prevent falling off the side. It would come with a ladder for getting onto the roof and padding for the landing. The slide would only attach to the first story of the house as anything else would be too high. Because of the obvious safety risks of being on the roof, the age prerequisite would be10 years and adult supervision would be required. Due to the fact that the slide is only plastic the weight limit would be somewhere in the vicinity of 300 pounds. In the summer it could function as a water slide. All that would be required for this would be to wet the slide down with a hose. In the winter the slide could function as a sledding slope. It would have to be placed outside before the snow came so the snow could get on it. It could also function as a normal slide. Many accessories could be available as well. A ramp for the ending could be provided for the sledding aspect. An end pool for the waterslide aspect could be available. There would be several different models ranging from a strait slope to many humps. On top of getting kids exited, it gives the parents an excuse for urging their children to clean the gutters. This multi-purpose slide would be a fun toy that I would invent.

Identify something that you think needs to be changed in your community. Explain why you think this change needs to be made. If you were asked to make this change happen, what specific steps would you take?
There is one problem in my community that stands out in my mind. Recently, our school district passed a school bond issue, one of the side effects being an increase in taxes on people in our community with a limited fixed income. These people might not be able to afford the tax increase. Because of this problem, I would suggest to the Student Council that there be some sort of community effort to help the people on fixed incomes. This would consist of organizing a civic organization. We would start off by going to churches and lobbying for them to start an offering for this specific purpose. We would also get volunteers to gain support and awareness around the community and outside the churches. We would put the money collected in a bank account where it would collect interest until it was needed. There would be no need for involvement from the local, state, or federal government as it would be an entirely local civic project. I think this would be a great idea because not only does it show strong community cohesion, but it is a way for us to help the people that have helped us much in the past years, but are no longer able to contribute financially to the community. Moreover, this will be a good movement for other communities to see that bond issues can be accommodated by communities with a higher level of people living on limited fixed incomes. About 90 percent of school bond issues fail the first time. Education is one thing worth supporting, so by taking these steps there might be a greater acceptance for bond issues.

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