Where are they now? Victoria “Vikki” Crystal

kss where are they now vikkiWhere is Victoria “Vikki” Crystal now? Vikki was KSS Summer Staff from 2010-2012 and a camper/CAP from 2006-2009. She recently started the Ask a Scientist Podcast where she "sits down with a different scientist each episode and asks them all of your questions and questions written by students at elementary and middle schools throughout the country!"

We caught up with Vikki and asked her a few questions below.

What is your goal with the podcast?

The goal of the podcast is to make scientists more accessible to kids (and to the general public) and inspire kids to pursue their own interests and studies. I think it is really important for people (but especially kids) to 'get to know scientists' and to see that scientists are people just like them (and to see that being a scientist is a realistic and attainable career path).

What lifelong skills did you learn while working at KSS?

So many. The one that stands out the most is the ability to believe in myself. I used to struggle on Challenge Hikes at KSS. During my first few Challenge Hikes as a camper/CAP, I wanted to give up. I didn't think I could make it. But my fellow campers/CAPs and the counselors encouraged me to keep going and I did! I finished the Challenge hikes! And I also realized that I was capable of finishing the Challenge Hikes, even when I thought I wasn't. And that experience taught me to believe in myself. That even when it seems like I can't do something, I have the ability somewhere inside me to do it! And that is something I think about almost every day. Whenever I'm faced with a challenge that seems insurmountable, I remember that first Challenge Hike that seemed impossible but I did it and I remember to believe in myself.

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Mars in Opposition

mars“Astro” Mark Laurin, Keystone Science School Adjunct Instructor

Have you been curious about a bright reddish orb rising from the southeastern horizon after sunset as of late? That’s the planet Mars. To the ancient Romans, Mars was the son of Jupiter and the god of war and the guardian of agriculture and farming. Did you know that the month of March is named after Mars?

At Keystone Science School we explore all components of our environment. Throughout all our overnight outdoor education programs we love to highlight and celebrate the celestial events. The ever-changing night sky is a great way to engage our students to be curious learners whether they are on an expedition program or one of our traditional overnight summer camp programs. We don’t just teach facts about the night sky but want all our students to experience it. We want everyone to be a life-long learner. Go outside, look up, be curious, and wonder.

Mars in Opposition

No, Mars is not warring with the other visible planets Saturn and Jupiter, currently reflecting bold sunlight in the southwestern sky from dusk to deep into the night. In astronomy, an opposition is the time when a planet (Mars) is in the exact opposite position in the sky to the Sun. At the same time, as the Earth passes between Mars and the Sun, Mars will be the closest to Earth since its elliptical orbit varies between 128.4 million and 154.8 million miles from the Sun. This happened on October 13th. When the Sun set that night in the west, Mars rose in the east and shone loudly throughout the night, and then later when it drops below the western horizon early the following morning, the Sun at the same time popped up above the eastern horizon on the opposite side on the sky announcing the start of a new day.

Around every 15 years, the geometry works out that the Earth passes Mars while the Earth is near aphelion (our maximum distance from the Sun) and Mars is near perihelion (its minimum distance from the Sun). When that happens, our two planets are much closer to one another and thus Mars is bigger and brighter. On the 13th, as Mars reached opposition a mere 38, 568,000 miles separated it from Earth. The next time Mars is in opposition is 2035.

What’s Up with Mars?

Here’s what is going on. Mars has an orbit that is about 50% farther from the sun than Earth’s, on average. This results in the Earth completing an orbit of the sun more quickly than Mars does. In fact, Earth circles the sun almost twice in the time Mars takes to complete one orbit. If Earth and Mars were placed at the same starting line on an imaginary racetrack around the sun (as is the case tonight), when Earth returned after one lap, slowpoke Mars would be out of sight on the opposite side of the sun from Earth. By the time the Earth completes its second lap, Mars would be back on the same side of the sun as the Earth. Earth passes Mars every 2 years and 50 days.

Because the Sun and Mars are directly opposite each other as viewed from Earth, we see the fully lighted daytime side of Mars. A fully-lit planet is brighter than a less-fully-lit one. It’s the same with a full moon. When the moon is full it is directly opposite the Sun in the sky; rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. Yep, you are correct, the Moon is in opposition when it’s a full moon.

Viewing Mars

There is no denying that when you look at Mars with your naked eye, you’ll see a reddish ruddy planet. That reddish appearance is distinct to Mars and is the effect of the iron oxide prevalent on the surface. As a terrestrial plant, viewing Mars through a telescope or binoculars you’ll see valleys, deserts and polar ice caps. At higher magnification through most telescope impact craters will come into view, just like the ones you see on the Moon.

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What skills do I need to start a career in Outdoor Education?

career outdoor education

Here is a helpful list of skills to gain when considering a career as an outdoor educator or summer wilderness instructor. Make sure you’re prepared when we begin the summer hiring process.

Obtain a First Aid Certification

Applicants are required to have a valid CPR certification and either a Wilderness First Aid or Wilderness First Responder certification. Make sure yours will be current for the Summer 2021 season or register for a course. There are a number of organizations that provide first aid certifications. Check out NOLS Wilderness Medicine, Wilderness Medical Associates, SOLO Schools.

Gain Childcare Experience

Whether through a part-time job or volunteer opportunity, gain as much childcare experience as possible before applying. Candidates with prior teaching experience, with school-aged children, will be prioritized for consideration over those who have little to no experience. 

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Keystone Science School’s 10 Principles of COVID Safety

In the book Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, Bruce Tremper writes about managing avalanche risk while traveling in the backcountry. Just as avalanches are a real risk that can seem hidden, the spread of COVID-19 is a real risk that can be hard to identify. Tremper beautifully sums up a key point about safety and risk - ‘Safe travel is more than a technique, it's a ritual. It only works if you do it all the time.”

KSS blog group distanced in fieldListed below are the 10 principles of COVID safety Keystone Science School follows all the time to ensure successful programming. The following points are prioritized by rank and have been tested by hundreds of campers at multiple locations over the course of the 2020 summer camp season in Summit County Colorado. These 10 principles continue to be our best practice rituals to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID. We hope these points help guide your family, group or organization as well.

1. Keep Your Distance
You can’t catch COVID from far away. This is our number one tool for reducing the spread of the virus.
Setup indoor spaces with the intention of providing space between individuals.
Maintain at least six feet between individuals indoors. (Finally, a reason to keep a personal bubble…!)

2. Wear Facial Coverings
Remember - masks are not a substitute for physical distancing.
Spittle is real.

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