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The Daily Tar Heel

Third grade constructs spaceships

Monday, February 2, 2015



Franklin Porter Graham students are competing to win $30,000. By Rachel Herzog Senior Writer

Allison Stewart never liked physics much, but watching her third-grade students create their own spacecrafts gave her a new perspective. Over the summer, the Frank Porter Graham Bilingue School teacher developed an innovative new space unit for the third graders. In January, the school submitted the program to the Follett Challenge, a national competition that rewards innovative learning programs. A North Carolina Science Festival internship during summer 2014 taught Stewart about the physics of flight. She decided to use what she learned to revamp the third grade unit on space. “I kind of took those pieces of the curriculum in mind and pushed the envelope a little bit with it because there’s no standard about space exploration,” Stewart said. The nine-week unit started in October and concluded in the first week of December with a presentation to a panel that included North Carolina State University engineering students and Stewart’s mentors from the science festival. After learning and researching the physics of outer space, the 50 third-grade students broke into groups to design land rovers and used 3-D printers at Smith Middle School and Duke University to generate small-scale models of their spacecrafts. “Learning doesn’t happen on a flat surface,” Assistant Principal Jose Nambo said. “Learning doesn’t happen on paper or the screen — it’s live.” The unit wasn’t just science — the students also wrote five-paragraph essays to persuade companies to buy their craft. The school is bilingual, so the students learned to advertise and market their crafts during the Spanish half of the day. A grand prize winner will be selected, and additional awards will be given to semifinalists in the high school, middle school and elementary school categories. Each winning school receives $30,000. If Frank Porter Graham wins, the prize money will buy more Spanish books for the school library. “It would be an absolute dream to have our school library 50 percent English, 50 percent Spanish,” Stewart said. “Some of our projects feel very limited because we have limited Spanish resources at the school.” Follett Challenge representative Amy Malpica said the competition, which received 113 entries, is a way to spread innovative ideas. “A school in Washington could find out about a program that’s going on in Florida,” Malpica said. “A lot of times, there are great programs going on that no one knows about.”

DTH/CATHERINE HEMMER N.C. State University hosted UNC’s Samaa and six other South Asian a cappella groups Saturday for an a cappella competition.

UNC is home to the state’s only South Asian a cappella group By Christine Bang Staff Writer

Samaa, North Carolina’s only South Asian fusion a cappella group and a UNC student organization, graced the stage Saturday at N.C. State University during Sangeet Saagar — the first South Asian a cappella competition in the southeast. Translating to “sea of music” in Hindi, Sangeet Saagar featured South Asian fusion a cappella groups that sang mashups of popular western and traditional South Asian music from college campuses across the nation. Delta Sigma Iota Fraternity Inc., a South Asian-oriented organization, invited Samaa to help screen the contestants. Both N.C. State and UNC chapters of the fraternity collaborated to organize the event. Because it gave its recommendations during the voting process, Samaa did not compete in Sangeet Saagar. Instead, the

group performed at the end as an exhibition. Of around 11 groups that submitted videos, six were selected to compete: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ohms, Ohio State’s Dhadkan, Rutgers University’s RAAG, Case Western Reserve University’s Dhamakapella, Pennsylvania State’s Fanaa and the University of Virgina’s Ektaal. Samaa musical director Savita Sivakumar, a senior economics and global studies double major, is inspired by the emerging enthusiasm for South Asian fusion a cappella. “There’s a lot of South Asian fusion a cappella groups slowly growing, so it’s really nice seeing a competition so close to home — it makes it more worthwhile to see lots of people doing the same thing as you,” Sivakumar said. Samaa executive director Karina Javalkar, a senior health policy and management and biology double major, was excited for the chance to see other national

South Asian a cappella groups. “It’s nice to know that there are other groups,” Javalkar said. “There’s not another one in North Carolina, so we’ve never met anyone else.” Akshay Iyer, event leader and previous president of the N.C. State chapter of Delta Sigma Iota Fraternity Inc., is a senior electrical engineering major. “We felt that there was a great market for this sort of event because there are a lot of dance competitions, and people tend not to focus on vocal competitions at the collegiate level,” Iyer said. The proceeds from the event will go toward Drive Education and the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation. Both organizations support children’s education in both the U.S. and rural parts of India. “This is kind of really important to us — important to both Beta and Gamma chapters — because we’re just trying to not only raise money for these great


to to see video’s from the a cappella festival on Saturday.

nonprofit organizations but to promote ourselves by saying we’re an organization that really cares about education,” said Tim Thomas, service co-chairman of UNC’s chapter of Delta Sigma Iota Fraternity Inc. The MIT Ohms won first place at the competition, and Case Western’s Dhamakapella came in second. Because Sangeet Saagar was a success, both the Beta and Gamma chapters of Delta Sigma Iota Fraternity Inc. are trying to make it a recurring event at alternating campuses. “It’s also a great way for both of our communities to come together to show their support for children’s education,” Thomas said.

Q&A with new garden director Damon Waitt The North Carolina Botanical Garden hired a new director, Damon Waitt. Waitt is currently the senior director and botanist at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. Daily Tar Heel senior writer Colleen Moir spoke with Waitt to discuss his excitement about his new position, making the change from Texas to North Carolina and his favorite plant.

THE DAILY TAR HEEL: Why did you choose to apply for and accept the position at UNC? DAMON WAITT: It was just such a clear

choice. There’s a saying in the botanic garden world, “It’s a small green world,” and when it comes to conservation-focused botanic gardens, it’s an even smaller green world. So I’ve been familiar with the people and the programs and the garden for years, and I’ve always admired what they’ve been able to accomplish. It was an easy choice for me to make the transition from the Wildflower Center to the N.C. Botanical Garden. I really like how the N.C. Botanical Garden incorporates people into its mission and doesn’t separate people

from nature.

DTH: What do you

hope to bring to the N.C. Botanical Garden?

DW: I hope to bring my

53 years of experience and love of the natural world and botany and more specifically, Damon Waitt is my over a decade of experithe new director of ence in managing almost the N.C. Botanical every aspect of the native plant botanic garden. I think Gardens. He will that my administrative and start at the position academic background will on April 13. all come together for the benefit of the N.C. Botanical Garden.

DTH: How will you use your expertise in native and invasive plants in your new position? DW: Over the years I’ve been very active in invasive species communities — I sit on the National Invasive Species Council Advisory Committee, I used to be the chair of the National

Association of Exotic Pest Plant Councils and I founded TIPPC, the Texas Invasive Plant and Pest Council. I know that the (N.C. Botanical) Garden’s very involved with invasive species management, both on its own properties but also in North Carolina, so I’m looking forward to working with those groups.

DTH: How will this new position be different

from your old one?

DW: The scale of (the UNC position) is much larger. In my position here, (I am) basically managing all the different aspects of the Wildflower Center ... The fact that the North Carolina Botanical Garden has integrated the botanical resources of the University, including the herbarium and the Coker Arboretum, and Battle Park management, and all these conservation lands, the scale is a little bit intimidating. The park’s got a publicly visited botanic garden, but I’m looking forward to that because I just really appreciate the way that the University thinks about those resources. DTH: What are you most looking forward to

about being here?

DW: Oh, that’s easy. The botany, the basketball and the barbecue. DTH: What do you think will challenge you about the new position? DW: Over the last 20 plus years, I’ve been able to build a network of relationships in the conservation community here in Texas, and that includes nonprofit organizations, state agencies, federal agencies. That’s taken time, and so that’s going to be a challenge when I first get there — to find out who those players are, get to meet them, get to know them, see where our needs are simpatico and to work in that larger conservation community for the benefit of North Carolina. DTH: What is your favorite plant? DW: I’ll tell you what Lady Bird Johnson

used to always say when she was asked that question. It’s that they’re like my children, and I can’t pick a favorite one. So, they’re all like my children.

University Mall continues its rebranding e≠orts The mall will be renamed University Place and begin using a new logo. By Zhai Yun Tan Staff Writer

The 41-year-old University Mall is preparing to welcome a new cinema and many new tenants as part of its ongoing rebranding process — leaving businesses in the shopping plaza optimistic about future opportunities. Madison Marquette, the company managing University Mall, launched a rebranding campaign for the mall in 2013 after the department store chain Dillard’s left, according to a press release. The rebranding process will include changing the name to University Place and a new logo. The process will focus on building a regional mall that features distinctive local retailers. The Dillard’s location will be taken over by Silverspot Cinema, and a redcarpet opening will be held for the

luxury cinema this summer. The 52,500-square-foot movie complex will have 13 screens and an upscale atmosphere that includes a lounge area and full restaurant. Tickets will be $16, and the cinema will show foreign movies, independent films, new blockbusters and 3-D movies as well as live broadcasts of cultural performances. A portion of the mall is under construction as it readies for the opening of Aveda Institute of Chapel Hill, Planet Fitness and the luxury movie theater Silverspot Cinema. Several retailers from Franklin Street’s University Square, which closed in summer 2014, have also moved into the mall — including Fine Feathers and Peacock Alley. “We’ve been welcomed by the mall community, and we have settled in very nicely,” said Pam Patterson, sales manager of the boutique Fine Feathers, which opened in April. Compared to its past location in downtown Franklin Street, where traffic was heavy, Patterson said the new location is more accessible to

customers. “I would hope that some of the people — where it may be inconvenient to fight traffic downtown — will come here and give us a walkthrough,” she said. The construction around Fine Feathers hasn’t blocked the customer flow, Patterson said. Alfredo Mendes, owner of Alfredo’s Pizza Villa, has had his restaurant in University Mall for 25 years and is excited about the changes. “From my space, it’s easy to see people coming in and out, and we do see a lot of new customers coming in,” Mendes said. “It’s been really good compared to five years ago — everybody’s leaving, now everybody’s coming.” He said the rumors in the past about the departure of many shops may have triggered customers’ curiosities to check out the mall. “People are very curious, and they want to see how the mall has been changing for the past few years,” he said. “I see a lot of people I don’t see for years coming in, telling me ‘Alfredo! You’re still here!’”

COURTESY OF UNIVERSITY MALL University Mall is changing its name to University Place. The new name is part of a rebranding of the entire mall, as well as the introduction of a new logo.

Amid the excitement for new openings, the construction has also negatively affected some tenants. “Everything is still under construction,” said Josiah Nicholas, assistant manager at Burlington Shoes. He said he looks forward to the

opening of the gym and theater. “Ever since Roses left, we’ve lost a lot of business,” he said. “Hopefully when those things open, it’ll be worth the loss right now.”

DTH Feb. 2, 2015  

The Daily Tar Heel Feb. 2, 2015 Three pack

DTH Feb. 2, 2015  

The Daily Tar Heel Feb. 2, 2015 Three pack