Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Steven Vogel has died.

Scientist Steven Vogel died today.

In early 2007 I called Steven Vogel out of the blue -- we'd never met -- expecting a short, maybe even hostile response from such an important man. 

We talked for over an hour that first time, and that hour profoundly influenced me and Little River Research.  I knew there was a need for a small turnkey teaching flume and hoped to answer it; he mentioned "swim tunnels" in his papers.

He sent me a stack of notes, and many digital files and said "build it, the world needs it!  I'll help any way I can."  He never mentioned money or credit. 

With amazing scientific and technical skill, and all the math and physics down to basic theory, Dr. Vogel figured out that a ducted propeller (not a noisy, heavy inefficient centrifugal pump) was the way to go with small flumes.  So we used that.
Vogel's 2007 drawing of a "flow tunnel," unpublished.

Vogel's realization of his theoretical best, emailed to me. He said "I'm not good with construction."

Steven Vogel is a hero to me, an amazing cross-disciplinary scientist, educator, researcher, and communicator.  He could do jaw-dropping technical work; his writing was unparalleled; he got away with wry humor in even his journal articles.  His books are marvelous that way.

He cared about educating people, about exposing as many people as he could to the beauty of biomechanics and, as the title of one of my all-time favorite academic books reads, "Life in Moving Fluids."

I never met him face to face, but I see his aims in everything he produced.  He funded much of his research personally. 

Thank you, Steven Vogel.  We shot this video just a couple of weeks ago, for a major launch of our model; and I intended to tell you that this week. 

Emflume1 two-minute overview from Little River Research on Vimeo.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Watch our new video of the Emflume1

Check out our new video on the revolutionary, turnkey, desktop Emflume1. We introduced the Emflume1 in 2013 and it is now in use around the world, helping students in engineering, geosciences, and fisheries learn fluid mechanics with hands-on experience in the lab.

Emflume1 two-minute overview from Little River Research on Vimeo.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Em2 Owner Receives Environmental Excellence Award

Vermont’s Ottauquechee Natural Resources Conservation District was a recipient of the 2015 Vermont Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence for their River Road Show, a traveling educational display that uses the Emriver Em2 model to demonstrate how rivers and streambanks react to human impacts. The program has educated thousands of Vermonters on river science and flood resiliency. We blogged about the great work ONRCD was doing in 2013.

With 13 Emriver models in use throughout the state by multiple agencies, organizations, and schools, Vermont continues to be a leader in using the models to effect positive change in river management and education. Keep up the great work!

Vermont Governor Shumlin and Congressman Welsh at the Springfield Apple Festival. 
Photo Courtesy of ONRCD.

Em2 Installed in Japan Museum

Little River is proud to have an Em2 model at the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History in Japan. A big thanks to Akiyo and Go Matsumoto who represented Little River during the dedication ceremony and demonstration in July.

Akiyo speaks on stage during the dedication ceremony.

Akiyo and Go conduct a demonstration with museum visitors. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Japan Geoscience Union meeting in full swing

We are happy to report our exhibit in Japan is being visited by multitudes of Japan Geoscience Union meeting attendees. All the excitement has us barely feeling the time change anymore. Despite Chiba, which is located in the Greater Tokyo Area, being 11 hours ahead of Southern Illinois, we are having a phenomenal time at JpGU.

On Monday we felt an earthquake that was centered just northeast of Tokyo. The U.S. Geological Survey measured it at a 5.3 magnitude. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

If we had been filming the Em2 when the earthquake happened, we would have captured the significant bank failure we saw in the model.

A few visitors to our booth had seen us before at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, and they were happy we brought two of our models, an Emriver Em2 and Emflume1, to Japan. Thanks to the packing skills of Steve, Jim and Keisha, they arrived safe and sound without a scratch.

Thursday is the final day of exhibition, and we hope you will stop by and see us in booth number 43 if you are at JpGU. If you are elsewhere, you can see the next best thing--more photos from JpGU on our Facebook Page.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Em2 and Emflume1 models to make debut in Japan at geoscience meeting

Editor's Note: Akiyo Matsumoto, who is a native of Japan, translated this post into Japanese.

Three of us from Little River Research & Design are heading to Japan in a few days to attend the Japan Geoscience Union meeting.

JPGU is a partner organization of the American Geophysical Union, and we have attended annual AGU meetings for several years.

Akiyo, Anna and Meriam at our booth in San Francisco at AGU 2014.

We are excited to be taking two of our models to Japan. We will have an Em2 and Emflume1 near Tokyo at the Makuhari Messe International Conference Hall in booth number 43 from May 24 to 28.

Japan has a long history of river research, and many challenges with water-related geohazards, including flooding, landslides and tsunamis. Our Emriver models can further efforts to understand these hazards.

Jim, Keisha, Anna and Akiyo see off the first Emriver Em2 geomodel to Japan.
We are also excited to add two Japanese institutions to the list of our worldwide owners. Our Emflume1, Em2, Em3 and Em4 are facilitating river science education and research in Canada, Australia, nine countries in Europe, China, Taiwan, and 48 U.S. states. We are happy to add Japan to the list!

We look forward to meeting new people at JPGU and continuing to send our models across the world to contribute to worldwide science education and research.

今月末、Little River Research & Design(リトルリバーリサーチ&デザイン)から三名が、日本地球惑星科学連合大会(JpGU)に参加するため日本に向かいます。JpGUはアメリカ地球物理学連合(AGU)のパートナー組織でありこのAGU大会にここ数年連続して参加しています。
Anna and Akiyo demonstrate a landslide in an Em2.


An Emriver Em3 geomodel at an event in Denver, Colorado in 2013.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Little River heads to Environmental Education Association conference

In an effort to share our interest in outreach environmental education with others, we are attending the Environmental Education Association of Illinois Annual Conference at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center in Makanda, Illinois.

The conference began today and runs through Saturday, April 11. Amanda and Jim will be there for Friday’s events, which include an exhibition of one of our Emriver Em2 geomodels facilitated by Amanda.

This year’s theme is Bridging Gaps Under Southern Skies, which emphasizes the connection between creating programs for people from all walks of life and understanding how to align programs with STEM and Next Generation Science Standards. Sessions include Environmental Education in Practice, Environmental Literacy, and Journey into Environmental Education.

An Em2 at the Mississippi River Watershed Education Symposium last year in Godfrey, Illinois.
Little River has always considered environmental outreach education one of the primary tenets of our models. From the U.S. to the UK and beyond, Emriver models have been used in demonstrations for all ages on how waterways are connected to the land and people.

By encouraging hands-on play and experimentation, people can observe different visible processes, such as infiltration, seepage, erosion, and deposition, while listening to an educator explain what is happening. Learners can then put their observations into words, involving them mentally and allowing multi-sensory learning to take place.

We're excited for tomorrow and the opportunity to teach fellow attendees and learning from them as well.

Blue dye helps visualize streamflow.

An organizer of MRWES examines our color-coded-by-size modeling media.

Editor's note: This blog post was written by Dr. Amanda Nelson, a River Scientist at Little River.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Powering Emriver Geomodels with batteries

Students experimenting with an Emriver Em2 geomodel.
There's nothing quite as cool as running an Emriver model next to an actual river! It's a fantastic way to teach fluvial geomorphology.

Our Em2 and Em3 models are designed for portability, and you can use them just about anywhere. For field sessions or spots without easy access to wall current (or "mains power" in the UK), you can use a 12-volt battery.

While we supply a battery power hook-up kit, we do not supply batteries. They are best bought locally. Here are a few tips on finding the right battery:

1. Make sure it's a "deep cycle" battery. Car and motorcycle batteries won't work. They are not designed to be deeply discharged, and they will be damaged if they are.

2. Make sure it's a sealed battery that can be tipped, even used upside down, without spilling acid. These batteries are designated "SLA" for "sealed lead-acid." Another designation to look for is "UB" for "universal battery." These are very commonly used for computer backup systems (they're inside that big black UPS box) and to power alarm systems during power outages.

3. Get a battery with at least 12 amp-hours of capacity; this will sometimes be abbreviated as "12ah."  The Em2/Em3 pump uses only about one Amp of power. A good 12 Amp-hour battery should power it for at least four hours. If you want to know more about this, there are many sources on the web, and here's a detailed one.

The photo below shows a good choice, a UB12120, or "universal battery" 12-volts, 12 Amp-hours. This battery will weigh only about seven pounds and be 6 x 3 x 3 inches in size. It's very compact and easy to manage. These can be bought locally and online.

Get a charger from whoever sells you the battery, and you're ready for the field! You don't need a large automotive-style charger. Here's a small one we like at LRRD.

A UB12120 universal battery.

Emriver battery adapter and extension cord.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Kids' Lab at the University of Basel Explores River Science

Dr. Nikolaus Kuhn and Debora Haller work with students at the Kid's Lab. Photo by Brigitte Kuhn.
The University of Basel’s Kids’ Lab illustrates the world of natural science to children between 6 and 12 years of age by engaging them in hands-on exploration.

Debora Haller is the head of the Kids' Lab. The Physical Geography and Environmental Change Research Group of the University of Basel supports the lab, including Dr. Nikolaus Kuhn, Dr. Wolfgang Fister and Brigitte Kuhn.

The students were asked at the starting point of a recent session using the Emriver Em2 geomodel how a gorge like the Grand Canyon can form. The children were free to hypothesize, and soon they found out the answer by running an experiment in the Em2.

First they helped fill up the Em2 with its granulate material—color-coded-by-size modeling media made of melamine plastic—which got them physically involved. With the guidance of an expert scientist, they built a plateau and then let the water run through. They were asked to observe different processes visible, such as infiltration, seepage, erosion and deposition and to put their observations into words, which involved them mentally. Once the canyon had formed, they documented the sequence of erosion on a worksheet to record their findings.

A model house in the Emriver Em2 geomodel. Photo by Debora Haller/Brigitte Kuhn.
Following the structured part of the lab, the more fun part followed. In groups the children had the task to save a model house placed at the riverbank from being swept away by flood water. They figured out solutions themselves or with the assistance of the instructors, such as supporting the bank with boulders and trees.

The children had their hands and minds engaged in this sensory learning experience. Little side-experiments were carried out—for example islands were heaped up, only to discover the river constantly sweeps the sediment away again. That brought up the subject of artificial islands, like Palm Islands built in the Persian Gulf, and what problems might turn up there. Overall, geological processes became visible, tangible and fun, even for the smallest kids in this session of the Kids’ Lab.

Students experiment with the Em2. Photo by Debora Haller/Brigitte Kuhn.

It is wonderful to see a university who is doing sophisticated research with an Em2 and Emflume1 also use the Em2 to educate young students—our researchers of the future.

Dr. Wolfgang Fister teaches students at the Kids' Lab. Photo by Debora Haller/Brigitte Kuhn.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Teaching remote sensing concepts and methods with Emriver Modeling Media

Our Emriver color-coded-by-size modeling media is labeled as component 3
in this figure from Clark's paper.
Editors note: This blog post was written by our new River Scientist, Dr. Amanda Nelson.

Recently our Emriver color-coded-by-size modeling media was featured in a paper written by Dr. Jeffrey J. Clark, out of the Lawrence University Department of Geology and Environmental Studies.

In “ ‘Hands-on’ Remote Sensing of Physical Models in Exploration of Surficial Processes,” Clark utilizes our color-coded media to teach remote sensing concepts and methods. Remote sensing is the science of obtaining information about objects or areas from a distance, typically from aircraft or satellites.

Clark emphasizes the importance of using physical models when demonstrating various aspects of science. All the projects he described use data acquisition systems consisting of common consumer electronics (e.g. a digital camera and Microsoft Kinect) to track changes in time and space (temporal and spatial) in a scale model of a fluvial setting.

The first project was designed for GIS and Earth Science courses and involved taking photography of the fluvial models and creating Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) from them. Then, the class compared those DEMs to DEMs of Mars topology.

Another project was geared toward an Introduction to Remote Sensing course. It involved using the camera and software to demonstrate procedures and theories of remote sensing by experimenting with resolution and the equipment.

There was also a more experimental portion using the same camera and computer program to simulate remote sensing and how it helps science today. They ran a stream model while photographing it and subtracting the resulting DEMs from the initial DEMs to get a map of the change over time, including erosion and sedimentation, after predicting the changes they expected. This imitates what can be done with satellite imagery of streams. 

A figure from Clark's paper.

A figure from Clark's paper.

It is exciting to see our modeling media used for this application. GIS and remote sensing add to the richness of fields for which Emriver products have already been found useful, including geomorphology, hydrology, civil engineering and more. 

Clark's paper can be found on our Resources Page of emriver.com. The page compiles materials to help Emriver users get the most out of their models.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Keisha graduates from SIUC

Our colleague Keisha Luhrsen is now with us full time!

As of December, Keisha is officially a graduate of Southern Illinois University - Carbondale, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in zoology.

Part of her field work included sampling vegetation composition and density on various sites along the Cache River wetlands and tracking local populations of swamp rabbits via radio telemetry.

Keisha started working with us at Little River in 2013. Her knowledge of wildlife biology and ecology strengthens our ability to fulfill our mission of helping river ecosystems through education.

Keisha working with an Emriver Em3 geomodel in our shop.

Keisha started working with us at Little River in 2013. Her knowledge of wildlife biology and ecology strengthens our ability to fulfill our mission of helping river ecosystems through education.

Currently as our assistant prototyper, Keisha focuses on building our Emriver geomodels and Emflume1.

From our Structures Kit to our Alix Digital Flow Controller, Keisha builds what our model users need to teach and conduct research using her skills in soldering and working with acrylics.

She’s also a skilled packer and readies models to journey to clients and conferences within the U.S. and around the world.

We’re happy to have such a great assistant prototyper here at Little River with us five days a week. We appreciate all you do, Keisha!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Our Em2 and Emflume1 models at AGU 2014

Last month several of us went to the American Geophysical Union fall meeting. The meeting had record attendance! Over 24,000 science professionals and students converged in San Francisco from many parts of the world.

People poured into our booth to see our Emriver Em2 geomodel and two of our Emflume1 models. We met new people and saw familiar faces as well.

Akiyo shows the impact gravel mining has on a river.

Jim, Anna, Akiyo and Meriam relax in the exhibit hall.

Our Emflume1 models simultaneously educate and mesmerize.

We debuted our Emflume1 lab manual, which was written by Awoke Teshager, one of Little River’s research scientists. It currently has seven experiments with more to come.

Awoke is pictured on the right in the photo below. Further below are two of his drawings from our Emflume1 lab manual.

Jim demonstrates how to adjust the standpipe in the Em2.

A figure from our experiment titled Calibration of Sharp and Broad-Crested Rectangular Weirs.

A figure from our experiment titled Flow Through a Small Orifice.

Talking with the diverse group of scientists who take part in AGU is a great way to spend a week. A conference where thousands of people are discussing ecosystem ecology and climate change is a welcomed event.

A scientist-in-training experiments with our color-coded-by-size modeling media while Awoke talks with a visitor about our Emflume1 models.  
Akiyo, Anna and Meriam answer questions about the Em2.

We appreciate everyone who stopped by and our colleagues at the office in Carbondale who kept Little River running. We're looking forward to seeing many of you again in San Francisco at the end of 2015 for the summation of another fabulous year.