Mar 012011

I’m very excited to share the work I’ve been doing with several colleagues using underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) as a tool to enhance outdoor education. The Increasing challenges of getting youth to care about the outdoors are associated with the challenge of getting them outdoors. Competing for their attention is the interest young people have in technology-related activities, such as gaming and television (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010). My colleagues and I have conducted multiple programs in the past several years using ROVs to educate youth and adults on the importance of protecting underwater natural resources, as well as enhance their connection with their outdoor environment. Since 2004, we have implemented and systematically assessed more than 30 ROV public education programs from the Great Lakes to the Chesapeake Bay. Participants operated ROVs in underwater parks and such protected areas as Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Chesapeake Bay, or observed underwater exploration via national broadcasts from dive sites. As a result of participation, individuals became connected to, expressed pro-environmental attitudes toward, and indicated a propensity to engage in protective behaviors toward those places on completion of the program. We are most recently using the ROV to enhance a three-year Chesapeake Bay Watershed education program with Fairfax County Public Schools and look forward to future applications of this exciting technology.



Submitted by Laurie Harmon, assistant professor and program coordinator for Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Studies in the School of Recreation, Health, and Tourism

Oct 192010

Ever since I “graduated” from being George Mason University’s mascot, my life has been full of excitement and fulfillment. With the help of Mason’s Office of Community Relations, a unit of University Relations, I had a makeover and became a community ambassador, teaching schoolchildren about sustainability.

The Go Green with Gunston Program, I am proud to say, is the result of some wonderful partnerships. One partnership is with the National Energy Education Development Project, which helped develop our innovative and interactive environmental-education program.

Another great partnership we have is with the Fairfax County Office for Children, which manages the School Age Child Care (SACC) Program, where, with my partner, Mason, I teach children in kindergarten through third grade about, well, going green. That partnership, in fact, earned us the 2010 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties.


 Posted by at 1:11 pm
Sep 082010

As part of a developing stewardship approach to maintaining the grounds on campus, we have eliminated some troublesome areas from the turf and mowing program by converting them into areas that attract native insects and birds: butterfly gardens and bumblebee havens.

Some of the areas on the Fairfax Campus are near the Finley Building, Fenwick Library, the Lecture Hall, the Sandy Creek Parking Deck, the handicap ramp from Presidents Park, and some sites by student housing.

Flowers such as zinnias, white and purple coneflowers, liatris, marigolds, hydrangeas, lupines, coreopsis, orange butterfly weed, and gaillardia have been planted. They attract butterflies and moths, bumblebees, and birds, such as gold finches and hummingbirds, which have been observed feeding on the flowers or the insects that are attracted to the blooms at the sites.

Over time, as manpower and budgets allow, the Mason Grounds Shop will add a more diverse blend of perennials to the sites.

Submitted by Archie Nesbitt, grounds shop supervisor and “ecosystem artist”

 Posted by at 3:48 pm
Aug 302010

For decades, the construction of a computational model of the brain has been a kind of Holy Grail in neuroscience and computing. Through this research, Giorgio Ascoli and his team of researchers want to gain a better understanding of how mind and body connect and interact. The findings have potential biomedical implications in the study and treatment of debilitating diseases such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s, as well as the mental decline that comes with aging.

Ascoli also is working on understanding how the changes of neuronal anatomy similar to those occurring in Alzheimer’s patients may cause the impaired behavior of nerve cells at the basis of memory loss and dementia. His research may shed light on the basic mechanisms underlying the neuronal malfunction that typifies Alzheimer’s and related diseases

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 Posted by at 12:43 pm
Aug 302010

George Mason University is proud to be the artistic home of the Theater of the First Amendment (TFA), a resident professional theater company. Since its inception in 1990, TFA has helped the university make its name in the arts by nurturing new playwrights and new plays, providing a professional training ground for students, and offering the region great theater.

View Program Website

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 Posted by at 11:26 am
Aug 122010

Transforming a used shipping container into a prototype for a zero-carbon mobile exhibition gallery, students in the School of Art created one of the first spaces on campus that aligns with Mason’s commitment to zero emissions.

The students ripped out all the original wood and rusty bolts inside the 31-year-old shipping container. They repurposed used shipping pallets to replace the floor and chose a paint for the walls that contains no harmful volatile organic compounds.

Working with collaborators on and off campus, the students installed custom skylights made from several pieces of recycled frosted glass, which were placed at angles corresponding to the degrees of the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn.

As a stand-alone, student-managed exhibition space, the shipping container allows for many creative exhibition opportunities.

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 Posted by at 12:48 pm