Curriculum Written Solely by Chris

Given a subject matter (weather), a title ("Weather: Myths and Mysteries"), a timeline (1 month) and the goal of matching a field trip and lesson plans to Next Generation Science Standards for third grade, Chris took the lead in creating this field trip and lesson plans for the Cosmosphere (the program is missing from their online field trip links as of 1 June 2016).

"Weather: Myths and Mysteries" is a 3rd grade field trip experience that can be easily adjusted to groups of different sizes thanks to its built-in rotations. For the lesson plans, Chris interpreted data sets from NOAA and the National Weather Service, created graphics from scratch, and created physical pieces to accompany the program as well. One of the largest challenges was connecting seemingly-unconnected math, science, and writing standards to weather in a coherent set of lesson plans. The gallery to the right highlights parts of the lesson plans and provides further explanations.

Curriculum Co-Written by Chris

"Apollo 13 Redux" is a field trip experience that a coworker and Chris wrote while at the Cosmosphere (official description here, some social media of it here, and a news article about it here).

Given the directive of creating a fast-paced field trip that would foster creative thinking and teamwork in response to an imaginary problem with an Apollo mission, Theresa and Chris researched and designed the experience based on actual NASA reports. Their deadline was 3 months as they worked around the Cosmosphere's staff-intensive camp season. They also collected or created public domain graphics as necessary and even physical components when needed. The gallery, right, showcases the work. More detailed explanations are here. Photos of the program are from the Hutchinson News (source here).

Research Conducted by Chris:

Historical Event


After reading a NASA report on an attempt to recover early manned rockets, Chris combed through contemporary NASA reports, historical photos of Navy operations, and other miscellaneous sources to find:

  1. Why the project was abandoned, including that
    1. Recovery of boosters was deemed inessential
    2. The "moon race" elevated other priorities
  2. What Navy vessels were involved in the project
    1. Based on descriptions and photographic evidence, probably the USS Fort Snelling
  3. The possible disposition of the booster used in the test
  4. Other early recovery plans including for the Atlas rocket, Saturn I rocket, and Titan II

The research turned into a full blog post, linked here.



With the discovery of paintings Olive Beech, of Beechcraft fame, had given to a Celeste and John Patton, Chris read through contemporary newspaper mentions of the couple as well as mentions on to figure out how she would have known the two and why she gave them the painting. Although nothing was telling, the couple did live interesting lives and the painting they received was from an interesting project. Details are here.



Per the invitation of a political science professor at his alma mater, Chris researched and published an academic encyclopedia article on Dwight D. Eisenhower and his use of deception and lying in war and politics, available as:

Givan, Christopher and Tobias T. Gibson. “Dwight Eisenhower.” Encyclopedia of Lying and DeceptionTimothy R. Levine and J. Geoffrey Golson, eds. SAGE Reference, 2014.

Projects Constructed by Chris

Interactive: Fairbairn Crane


Chris built this interactive crane for the public library's summer celebration (theme: "Build a Better World"). He intentionally designed it to be cheap but durable, made mainly of layered cardboard. To give it appealing aesthetics, it was modeled after the graceful shape of a Fairbairn steam crane and featured both a hoist and hydraulic swinging arm. More pictures here.

Facade: Pirate Ship


This facade was commissioned to hide a donation bin for a pirate themed "Trunk or Treat" event. Chris researched different types of ships to model it after, settling on a caravel because the donation bin was rather tall. Constructed of layered cardboard, the total cost of the ship was $0 thanks to the use of available materials. More pictures here.

Programming by Chris

Chris had learned some C in high school, so he used online tutorials and forums to extend that into a working knowledge of C++ for a new project. His goal was to provide a system which could use face detection to automatically assess the attentiveness of participants in a museum setting. Besides doing academic reading on eye-tracking and attention, Chris had to learn C++ tools, the Boost and FFMpeg libraries, and design the system to work automatically for already-busy educators and docents. Instead of tackling the complex needs of today's security risks, the system relies on existing, free, third-party tools for transferring data. A (partial) video showing setup and the basic results returned is to the right.