Raise a Toast to Lake Erie: Faculty members partner with brewery and PA Sea Grant to raise awareness of aquatic invasive species

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications, Penn State Behrend

On a sunny August Saturday, a half dozen fans are lined up in front of the Mysterysnail Speedway, a four-foot plastic box with plexiglass dividers creating race lanes for a field of ten large snails. They place their “bets” and cheer for their chosen snail, each marked with a race number on its shell.

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As the oversized gastropod invaders make their way to the finish line, Dr. Lynne Beaty, assistant professor of biology at Penn State Behrend, explains why we don’t want them in our waterways.

“Mysterysnails are so named because females produce young, fully developed snails that ’mysteriously‘ appear. They’re a group of invasive species that originate in Asia but have found their way to Lake Erie,” Beaty said. “They compete with native species, alter nutrient ratios, and transmit parasites to wildlife.”

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Aquatic invasive species (AIS) are non-native plants, animals, or pathogens that harm the environment, the economy, and human and animal health. They are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity and native communities of other species, and they can spread easily through unwitting human assistance and connected waterways.

Beaty and two other Biology faculty members, Dr. Adam Simpson and Dr. Sam Nutile, have been working with Kristen McAuley, lecturer in marketing, and Sara Stahlman, extension leader for Pennsylvania Sea Grant, to raise awareness about invasive snails (and other species) in the waters around the Erie region. Last summer, the team came up with a novel idea to reach adults: craft beer.

“Good beer needs high-quality, clean water and invasive species threaten our freshwater supply,” Beaty said. “So we thought a collaboration with Erie Brewing Company in Behrend’s Knowledge Park was a great way to promote AIS awareness because controlling invasive species can help improve water quality. We were thinking too that this might be an excellent way to reach adult audiences who are more likely to accidentally transfer AIS when they move boats to different water bodies.”

The group met with Erie Brewing’s brewmaster, Tate Warren, who was on board with creating a ‘draft series’ of special AIS-themed brews for invasive species awareness.

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The first, Mysterysnail Ale, “an amber ale loaded with flavors of bread, biscuit, and caramel malt,” debuted at a launch party, complete with the aforementioned mysterysnail racing, at Erie Brewing. Visitors had the opportunity to try a new brew and also learn about many AIS at tables manned by Behrend School of Science faculty members and staff members from Sea Grant, a research, education, and outreach program administered by Behrend.

The event was well-attended, and the Mysterysnail Ale was well-received. It currently has a 3.6-star review (out of five) on Untapped.com, a website where beer lovers rate and review brews.

Three more brews are planned in the AIS series: a Round Goby Rye, a Zebra Mussel Malt, and a Hazy Hydrilla. Each beer will launch with an event to raise awareness of the AIS the brew is meant to thwart.

In addition, for each of the beers, a promotional poster will be developed that will highlight the beer, the flavor, and the facts about the highlighted species. QR codes on the posters, which will be displayed at Erie Brewing  and other locations on the Lake Erie Ale Trail, will lead users to even more information about the featured AIS.

Mysterysnail Ale is currently on tap at Erie Brewing and other participating Ale Trail breweries, including Lavery Brewing, Arundel Cellars and Brewing, Twisted Elk Brewing, Brewerie at Union Station, Nostrovia, and Erie Ale Works. For more information about aquatic invasive species, visit seagrant.psu.edu.

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Secret Lives of Faculty: Meet Courtney Nagle, assistant basketball coach

There’s so much more to Penn State Behrend’s faculty and staff members than what you see them doing on campus. In this occasional series, we take a look at some of the interesting, unconventional, and inspiring things that members of our Behrend community do in their free time. 

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications, Penn State Behrend

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After just a few minutes of chatting with Dr. Courtney Nagle, associate professor of mathematics, one thing becomes clear: She’s a team player. As chair of the Secondary Education in Mathematics program, Nagle is also quick to share any credit for accomplishments with her colleagues.

Nagle can trace those team skills back not only to her schooling, but to a blacktopped basketball court behind her childhood home. It was there that Nagle and her older sister learned some of the most important lessons in life –resilience, teamwork, selflessness, and how to win and lose gracefully — from time spent on the court with their father, Terry Thompson.

For more than fifty years, Thompson has coached basketball in one form or another at the elementary school through college levels. In 1998, as the assistant coach of the girls’ basketball team at Girard High School, he helped lead his team, including his two daughters, to the state championship.

Today, he is still coaching – offering summer-long basketball skills camp on his backyard court for free to any area youth who want to attend. He has an assist from his basketball-loving daughter, Nagle, who enjoys teaching on the court as much as in the classroom.

Behrend Blog talked with Nagle to learn more about her “secret life” as a basketball coach.

What are some of your father’s career highlights as a basketball coach?

The largest number of years were spent coaching high school boys, including stints as the head varsity coach for Fairview and Girard as well as teams south of the Erie area. He was an assistant coach for the Girard girls’ basketball team during the years my sister and I played in the late 1990s. He even spent a few years as an assistant men’s basketball coach at Penn State Behrend in the early 1990s.

Was it hard being coached by your dad in high school?

At times, yes. He pushed me, and we spent a lot of extra time practicing. That wasn’t always easy. However, he was really good at leaving the games on the court. I often hear about parent coaches who rehash games and go over mistakes around the dinner table. We never did that. We left it all on the court.

He has a court in his backyard?

Yes. We moved to that house in Girard when I was 14, and that’s when they had the court put in. We grew up playing games on it. Kids in the community still use it regularly. It’s almost like a community playground.

Tell us about the Sunday clinics and how they got started.

The Girard community has always embraced basketball with many kids attending summer skills camps and summer-long clinics. Three years ago, when my son, Jack, and niece, Ainsley, were 5, my dad decided to start doing free clinics in his backyard. It was a way for him to get his grandchildren interested in playing basketball, but he also just enjoys working with young people on the fundamentals of the game. That is his favorite aspect of coaching.

Most of the kids who attend are from the surrounding community, including some of the children of my former teammates and classmates who still live in the Erie area. It’s fun to see the next generation start in the same way we did – playing on the same court we did.

After an hour of basketball drills and skills, my parents open their pool for an hour to anyone who wants to stay and swim. The kids love that part of the night!

What is your role on the court?

I’m in an assistant coach role. I do some of the drill demonstrations and work with the kids as we go through the various drills. I also help my dad get the word out about the clinics with social media posts and such.

What do you enjoy about the clinics?

I love watching kids learn the game and improve week after week. It’s such a fun and laid-back environment and the kids who attend are so excited to be there. We have a wide range of ages and abilities, but they all work together.

On a more personal note, seeing my older son learn from my dad on the same court I grew up playing on is pretty special. My 2-year-old, Benny, isn’t quite ready to play, but he joins in on the occasional drill.

My sister lives in Grove City, but usually drives up for the clinics, bringing her kids. My mom prepares the pool area and keeps the freezer stocked with popsicles for the kids to enjoy after playing.

Do you still play basketball yourself?

I hadn’t played much in the last ten years or so, but now that my son is starting to play, I am getting back into it. It’s mostly just family pick-up games. And, yes, my 79-year-old father still plays.

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Virtual Concert Commemorates Unusual Year

By Heather Cass

Publications Manager, Penn State Behrend

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Penn State Behrend choir students weren’t able to gather in person at all this academic year, but they were still able to raise their voices to make beautiful music, culminating in  a year-end virtual concert, now on YouTube at https://bit.ly/3xP0UEG.  

Dr. Gabrielle Dietrich, director of choral ensembles and associate teaching professor of music, said that about twenty choir students continued singing through the pandemic, which meant learning how to use the online recording platform, Soundtrap, to record their parts.

“We used group Zooms during our normal rehearsal times to learn sections of each piece, then used one-person breakout rooms (we called them ‘recording booths’) to individually record what we’d learned in rehearsal,” Dietrich said. “Then, the next time we met for class, we’d listen to the edited recordings to talk about what went well and what we’d like to improve for next time.”

“It was slow going” she said, “but students reported that they liked getting feedback on their performance and having the recordings to reflect on as they worked to improve.” 

COVID-19 safety precautions made in-person sessions impractical, since everyone would have to have been masked and spaced nine feet apart and in a single line. Additional requirements would have made gathering to sing together nearly impossible, so the choir worked together virtually.

“It was hard not to be together in person, but it was a relief to know we were keeping one another safe and still making music,” Dietrich said.

The virtual concert represents the final project for choir students, just as an in-person concert would in a normal year.

“The nice thing about having it on YouTube is that anyone can watch it from anywhere whenever they have time, so students can ‘invite’ family and friends from around the world,” Dietrich said.

Another benefit? Guest performers.

“We had help from a Behrend Choir alumnus, Taylor May, and two guest performers from my own musical community: flutist Emma Shubin, who teaches music in the Denver area, and guest bass Dr. Edward Cetto, who was my college choir director and musical mentor,” Dietrich said.  

Among the pieces performed is a rendition of the theme song for the 2014 film Selma, recorded by Common and Legend, Make Them Hear You from the musical “Ragtime,” and Halloran/Bolk’s arrangement of Witness.

“This concert has been quite the labor of love, which is reflected in the themes of the pieces in the concert, Dietrich said. “It’s about love between individuals, love for a world that is learning hard truths, love for what we have lost, and love for what we still have and for what is possible in our future.”

Watch the entire concert here

 

 

Disc Golf Course Doubled to 18 Holes

By Heather Cass, publications manager, Penn State Behrend

Five years after the college’s first 9-hole disc golf course opened, one thing was certain: It was a popular addition to the Penn State Behrend campus. Rare is the rain-free day when you don’t see players tossing discs toward their targets, medieval looking chain-link baskets on metal poles, that snake through campus.

Now, players will have even more targets to hit as the course was recently expanded to 18 holes. See the new course map here.

Brian Streeter, senior director of athletics, ordered the new targets last fall but they arrived too late to install in 2020, so Athletics staff took the extra time to design the expanded course – reworking some of the original nine holes and creating nine new ones with input from members of the Erie Disc Golf club.

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New tees are temporarily marked with flags. Signage will be installed when the course is finalized.

The new holes opened April 1 and expanded play from the west side of Jordan road to the east side of the road. Streeter said the course is a work in progress.

“We’re still tweaking it,” he said. “We discovered some things that weren’t working, like a hole that was too close to Junker Center, which resulted in players trying to throw over the building, and we are listening to feedback from players.”

Additionally, construction now underway on Federal House near Junker Center required some planned holes to be placed in a temporary location.

Once the course is finalized, Streeter said that the plan is  to put up permanent signage, including a full course map and signs at each tee. For now, the new hole tees are marked with orange flags. Maps are available at hole no. 1, near the tennis courts.

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Pick up a course map at hole No. 1 in front of the tennis courts.

Student legacy

The original 9-hole course was a student-driven project, initiated by Kyle Stephan ’14, a former SGA president, who got the ball rolling discs flying. Stephan was joined by then students, Trey Neveux, Mark Malecky, Steve Lester, and Tyler Ferraino, now 2016 graduates, who together designed the course, located equipment, and secured funds. Even as they finished the original course, the team hoped it might be expanded one day.

“I’ve talked to all the members on the original board of the club, and we’re all extremely happy the course was expanded to make it a full 18 holes,” said Neveux, who is now a launch engineer at Space X in Los Angeles. “I’m excited that the new course takes players into less explored parts of campus on the east side of Jordan Road. I’m looking forward to playing the expanded course and have already talked to friends and former professors about playing a round next time I’m in Erie.”

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Former students Tyler Ferraino and Trey Neveux, both 2016 graduates, are two of several students who developed the original 9-hole disc course. File photo from 2015. 

Disc Golf 101

Equipment

basic disc golf set contains three discs—a driver, a mid-range disc, and a putter. Just as with golf, the driver is used for long drives from tee, the mid-range disc is used for shorter distances, and the putter is used when a player is close to a target.

Several sets of discs are available for students to borrow for free at the registration desk at Junker Center, or players can pick up sets of their own at most retailers or online for less than $30.

How to play/rules

Standing at the tee, a player throws the driver disc toward the basket. Players — typically in groups of two to four — take turns throwing their discs with the one whose disc lands the farthest from the basket going first (as with golf).

One point (stroke) is counted each time the disc is thrown and when a penalty is incurred. The goal is to play each hole in the fewest strokes possible. A disc that comes to rest in the basket or chains marks successful completion of that hole. The player with the lowest total strokes for the entire course wins.

Most of the holes on Behrend’s course are a par 3, but there are also some par 4 and 5. Map here.

Learn more about how to play disc golf here.

Visitor parking, course notes

  • Visitors may play for free anytime the course is available. Users are encouraged to park in the overflow lot on the south side of Jordan Road on Old Station Road, which is the closest lot to start and finish of the 18-hole course. A visitor parking pass can be obtained from Police Services. In current times, players are asked to wear masks and stay socially distanced from other teams.
  • Note that, at times, some holes may be closed for safety reasons when an athletics event, such as a baseball or softball game, is underway nearby.
  • Penn State students, faculty and staff members may borrow a set of three discs (driver, mid-range, putter) at the Junker Center registration desk with their Penn State ID.

RELATED: Check out this post from the Behrend Blog archives about the original 9-hole disc golf course at Behrend.

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Eight ways to enjoy a spring day at Behrend

By Heather Cass, Publications Manager, Penn State Behrend

Spring has finally sprung and it looks like we will be enjoying some warm and sunny weather all week! Here are eight great ways to get outdoors and make the most of a beautiful spring day at Penn State Behrend.

*** Don’t forget to mask up; masks are still required at all times on campus, even outdoors. Photos below were taken prior to January 2020 or were taken with high social distancing measures in place. ***

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Play a round of disc golf. Penn State Behrend is home to a 9-hole disc golf course that starts in front of the tennis courts. Students, faculty, and staff can borrow discs for free at the Junker Center. Just ask the student worker at either entrance desks. Never played? It’s not hard to learn. For instructions, check out this story or this how-to video.

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Have a picnic. If there is no event going on (and there aren’t many right now), Wilson Picnic Grove, adjacent to the Wilson Lot, is available for use by the Behrend community. It’s open air and big enough to allow for social distancing.

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Go to the gorge. Wintergreen Gorge on the edge of campus has winding wooded paths, gorgeous vista views and, if you walk down far enough, a babbling creek to wade in or skip rocks. There’s no better place to enjoy a spring day than in the gorge. Access it from trailheads behind Trippe Hall or in the back corner of the Prischak Lot.

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Take a walk or run. The paved Bayfront Connector Trail starts at the corner of the Erie Lot and runs all the way to Erie’s bayfront (about 8 miles). The path meanders along the Bayfront Connector through fields, marshy areas, woods, and more. For more details, see this story. Need a 5K route? Check out this story from the archives.

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Play some games. Behrend has outdoor ping-pong tables (in front of Reed, behind Trippe) and a permanent cornhole game (behind Reed) as well as cornhole boards that you can check out and set up anywhere. You can borrow equipment for any of these games at the Reed Union Building desk with a University ID. They also have other lawn games, including giant Jenga and hula hoops, as well as checkers and chess pieces for the tables in front of Reed.

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Read/study outside. Big test or paper coming up? Find a spot to work outdoors. There are tables outside most buildings and in the Wilson Picnic Grove, or you can just hang a hammock or spread out a blanket under your favorite tree. Behrend has plenty to choose from.

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Hitch a ride to the bayfront. If you have a car, hop on the Bayfront Connector and take a walk along Erie’s bayfront. Park at the Blasco Library or near Dobbin’s Landing and take the bayfront trail along the waterfront. Cross the Bayfront Highway at the light at Liberty Park and take the ramp/walkway to Second Street to walk along the bluffs and take a photo at the new Erie sign. (About a 3-mile/1-hour walk). Just follow the bluffs/trail back down to State Street to return to your car. Don’t forget, you can take a city bus, too. See the RUB Desk for bus schedules.

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Watch the sun set from the parking lot. The top of the Burke Parking Deck is the best place on campus to catch a gorgeous Erie sunset (or sunrise, but we know few students are early risers). It offers a wide, birds-eye view of the entire bayfront and, on a clear day, you can even see Presque Isle.

Broaden your holiday tune horizons

By Heather Cass, Publications Manager, Penn State Behrend

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In this tumultuous year when nothing is normal, we can take comfort in one thing that hasn’t changed: Christmas carols. Everyone has their favorites and most of us have more than a few.

We asked the music experts on campus to share with us their favorite holiday tunes and also to suggest some new songs/artists or albums to expand our holiday music playlist.

Here’s what they had to say:

Emily Cassano, assistant teaching professor of theatre, music, and arts

My all-time favorite Christmas tune is “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” because I love the musical Meet Me in St. Louis. I don’t necessarily have a favorite version; there are a lot of great renditions.

For more modern music, I typically turn on any of the Pentatonix Christmas Albums, and their song “White Winter Hymnal” is a favorite of mine.

In November, the three Fates from Hadestown (last year’s Tony Award Winner for Best Musical) released a Christmas album called If the Fates Allow.  It’s really great, and very non-traditional, like Hadestown itself.  One of the three Fates is played by an Erie native and Penn State alumnus Mike Karns’ wife, Kay Trinidad.

Gabrielle Dietrich, director of choral ensembles and associate teaching professor of music

I have to admit my holiday music tastes are eclectic, and also more modern in their conception.

I really enjoy Dar Williams’ “The Christians and the Pagans,” the Goo Dolls’ “Better Days,” and Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles’ “Winter Song.”

As for classics, I have a real soft spot for “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” because what says “Happy Holidays” better than some good old-fashioned insult comedy!

Gary Viebranz, teaching professor of music

The first classic that comes to my mind is an oldie, but a goodie: “Mary’s Boy Child” by Harry Belafonte. In a most traditional sense, I love “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” especially the rendition by the King’s Singers.

For some nostalgia, I grew up with the Harry Simeone Chorale recording “Sing We Now of Christmas” and still listen to it. My silly side likes “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” by Spike Jones and his City Slickers, and I appreciate “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” from the original soundtrack of the animation, which is sung by Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger. Heeeeee’s Grrrrreat!

If you want to expand your horizons, I’d encourage you try some instrumental collections. My favorites include “A Canadian Brass Christmas” and the Philadelphia Orchestra’s “A Christmas Festival,” which is an amazing album recorded in 1964.

Recreating history: One tiny soldier at a time

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications, Penn State Behrend

Today, when most of us in the United States are focused on the pandemic and political warfare, Jerry App, a junior History major, need only walk down his basement stairs to escape current affairs and lose himself in the drama of 1500s Italy.

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Jerry App, junior History major at Penn State Behrend

App is a kriegsmodelle enthusiast. He paints tiny figures and scenery and then stages elaborate and historically accurate battle scenes in miniature. Lately, he’s been working on the Italian Wars, depicting battles between the Holy Roman Empire and France for control of Italy.

He has plenty to work with. Between 1494 to 1559, the Italian peninsula became the main battleground for European supremacy. Everybody wanted a piece of Italy’s “boot,” which was economically advanced but politically divided among several states, making it an attractive target.

“I’ve had to do a lot of research before I could actually begin building and painting the models, but it’s worth the effort,” App said.

Delving deep into history is a labor of love for App who can trace his fascination with the past to a classic fantasy game he played as a child.

“My dad taught me to play Dungeons and Dragons when I turned 10,” he said. “I got really interested in the medieval ages, specifically the realistic and historical sides to fantasy tropes. We bought some old pewter Grenadier models and painted them together. Later, I discovered a game called Warhammer Fantasy, and that is what really kicked off my interest in miniature painting and wargaming.”

It’s a pastime that he and his father still share today, and one that is particularly suited for a pandemic.

It’s been a great hobby to have during the lockdown,” App said. “Earlier this year, I was home from college and my parents were off work for a while, too, which gave us a lot of time to catch up on painting and playing. A typical wargame takes an hour or two to play out, so we had plenty of time to play. You could start a wargame on Sunday and play it all week.”

We caught up with App to learn more about his hobby, his personal history, and how both influenced his academic and career choices.

Your dad introduced you to both fantasy gaming (Dungeons and Dragons) and modeling?  

Yes. He started modeling when he was a kid, putting together World War II kits. He actually still has some of those kits, and he’s assembled a few WWII models recently. He was inspired by our recent visit to Gettysburg, and he recently bought some Civil War models. So, we’ve been working on those, too.

What do you enjoy about Kriegsmodelle?

I enjoy being able to take gray, flat plastic sprues (generic figures) and turn them into fully built and painted pieces. It’s very calming and helps me relieve stress after a long day. When I build and paint models, my mind is completely focused on what I am doing at that moment. It’s almost like meditation.

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Unpainted sprues.

Where do you buy the figures?

It depends on the genre. Historical models can be difficult to find, depending on the period. For example, you can easily find Napoleonic or Late Imperial Romans, but you’ll really have to scrounge for Wars of Lombardy or Russian Civil War. I’d recommend Perry Miniatures or Warlord Games. Science fiction and fantasy models are easier to find, and you can find them on Ebay or Amazon for a decent price. Local stores or hobby shops that carry models are especially nice to work with, if you have one nearby.

The figures arrive in need of a paint job?

Yes, that’s the best part! I try to sit down for an hour or two every day to work on a squad of models. It can take a while to paint them up (a few hours per model), but I paint them in groups which speeds up the process a lot; this is referred to as “batch painting.”

How many models have you done?

I have around 2,250 models, but only about 1,000 of them are painted with 100 still needing assembly. My dad has a comparable amount. We work on the models in our basement, which is affectionately named the “Nerd Bunker” by friends and family. I’ve been painting for ten years this month.

What are you working on now?

The Italian Wars, as well as some medieval levies (militia units raised by conscription), a couple of Warhammer 40,000 armies and the Civil War models my dad picked up.  It’s a lot of different projects, but I’m never without something new to paint.

You also study German?

Yes, I’m working toward a certificate in German. My grandmother, Omi, is from southern Prussia, and she inspired me to take up German. I’m hoping I will become proficient enough to be able to speak with her in Deutsche.

What are your career goals?

Originally, I wanted to become a civil servant and work for a government agency. However, I’ve also looked into museum work and law school. Right now, I’m considering using my degree as a launch pad into Naval Officer Candidate School. I’m not committed to one plan yet, but I’m starting to narrow it down.

What advice do you have for those who might want to try modeling?  

I’m the Vice President for the Behrend Game Club, and I’m also the club’s strategy committee head. If any students are interested in pursuing the kriegsmodelle hobby, join the club on Behrend Sync and get involved. I’m happy to answer any questions and share resources to help another start their own collection.

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Cook with Chef Kyle at Virtual Cooking Party

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications, Penn State Behrend

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Penn State Behrend Managing Chef Kyle Coverdale

Ever wish you could have a professional chef next to you, walking you through a new recipe? Thursday night, you can. Penn State Behrend’s culinary king, a.k.a. Managing Chef Kyle Coverdale will be offering a virtual cooking tutorial via Zoom.

The event, cohosted by two student clubs, Leaders in Education and Action in Food Systems (LEAFS) and Greener Behrend, is not a watch-and-learn, but an interactive cook-along. Sign up and you’ll get a list of ingredients along with your Zoom meeting link. Then, get your shopping done, do the recipe prep work and log on Thursday, November 19, at 6:30 p.m. from your kitchen to cook with Kyle and dozens of other members of the Penn State community.

“As periods of isolation and quarantine continue, we wanted to create a sense of community by coming together, virtually, to learn, cook, and share a meal and conversation,” said Pearl Patterson, a senior Psychology major and co-president of the LEAFS club.

Coverdale said the Food Services staff, including Behrend’s five chefs, have been looking for ways to bring students and the college community together and, traditionally, those events on campus revolve around food.

“Last week, we did a cooking class with students in-person at Bruno’s (with all COVID safety measures and distancing in place) and we made and enjoyed classic Ukrainian dishes,” Coverdale said. “Doing it virtually allows us to include a lot more people because we’re all in our own kitchens.”

We caught up with Chef Kyle to find out what attendees will be making and what he loves about cooking for Penn State Behrend students, faculty, staff, and guests.

What’s on the menu for the Fall Cooking Party?  We’ll be making a Roasted Butternut Squash with Quinoa, Kale, Dried Cranberries and Feta bowl, and Beet Carpaccio with Roasted Carrots and Goat Cheese Mousse.

How long have you been a chef?  I have been cooking for more than fifteen years. I attended culinary school at Mercyhurst University.

What do you enjoy most about being a chef? Being able to bring people together with my work. When I travel and get to cook with other chefs from all over the world, it is amazing how we can “talk” through food. Also, it is an ever-changing artform. There is always something new to learn.

What do you enjoy about cooking at Penn State Behrend? We have so many great events and a diverse population. It gives me a lot of opportunities to cook different things, learn new dishes, and get ideas from our students.

What is the most popular meal/food you make at Behrend?  This is a hard one. From a catering perspective, I have a surf-and-turf meal that is quite popular. It includes a fillet and crab cake over garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus topped with bearnaise sauce. In the dining hall, we just offered a Katsu sandwich, which is an amazing Japanese street food sandwich, that was very popular.

What makes or breaks a recipe? Bad ingredients. If you start with low-quality ingredients, the outcome of the dish will likely be subpar.

What would you say to people who say they hate to cook?  Anyone can cook and if you don’t believe me, watch the Disney movie Ratatouille. Cooking doesn’t need to be hard, and it’s okay to use items that are already prepped to help make the task less daunting. If you do eat out, please do support local restaurants.

Join us!

Want to cook with Chef Kyle? Email pbp5102@psu.edu to receive a list of ingredients and a link to attend the Zoom event!

We Challenge You to Share some Snapshots

By Heather Cass,

Publications Manager, Penn State Behrend

It’s safe to say the last few weeks have been a difficult and challenging time for all of us. But now that we’ve had some time to adjust to studying and working remotely, we are ready to inject a little fun and creativity into your day and the college’s social media pages with a month-long photo challenge.

“It’s one thing to have a memory, which we know can deteriorate over time, but it’s another to document it forever with a photo,” said Rob Frank, owner of R. Frank Media and adjunct lecturer of Photo 100 classes at Behrend.

We asked Frank a few questions to help you up your photo game:

BEHREND BLOG: What would people be surprised to learn about photography?

ROB FRANK: There is a ton of math and science involved in photography, especially understanding light transmittance, and properties of glass/refraction etc.

BB: What is the first step in taking a good photo?

RF: Composition is 95 percent of a great photo. Look at the items in the background and make sure it’s a nice, clutter-free setting. Frame the subject in an interesting or unique way and follow the rule of thirds.

BB: What one thing can everyone do to improve their photos?

RF: Slow down. Everyone is quick to flick open their phone and start snapping. Then they get back to their computer and the image is blurry because they weren’t paying attention or rushed through taking the photo.

So take a break for second. Give yourself a few moments to look up from your computer and capture the world around you. Beautiful, amazing, and incredible things can be found in even the most ordinary and familiar places, if only you look for it.

Find it, photograph it, and share it with us on Facebook (@pennstatebehrend), Instagram (psbehrend), or Twitter (@psbehrend) with the hashtag #behrendathome.

Below is our April photo challenge to you. Feel free to interpret these any way you like. Creativity is, of course, encouraged, but please do be mindful of the audience following the college’s social media pages, which includes children.

April 2: Home office – Show us where you’re working now

April 3: Windows on the world – Show us your favorite view from inside your house

April 4: Blue – Anything Penn State Blue

April 5: Co-workers – Who is now sharing your workspace?

April 6: Nature – Go outside and take a photo of anything that makes you happy

April 7: Home – What is home to you?

April 8:   Lunch – What’s for lunch today?

April 9: We ARE… – Show us how you display your Penn State pride at home

April 10: Shadows/light – Capture an imagine with creative lighting or shadows

April 11: Filter fun – Play with the filters on your phone or camera and post your favorite one

April 12: Easter – Rabbits, eggs, baskets…share an Easter image with us.

April 13: Product you can’t live without – Show us something you cannot imagine living without

April 14: Trees – Show us the tree you love most in your yard or neighborhood

April 15: Sunrise or sunset – Share your best sunrise/sunset photo

April 16: Enjoy the little things – What small or little thing makes you happy

April 17: I’m reading this – What are you reading right now?

April 18: Cozy – What place in your house or yard do you find comfort?

April 19: Self-portrait – Let us see you!

April 20: Spring – Share a sign of spring with us!

April 21: Task you hate – What job or chore do you despise doing?

April 22: Love – Who or what do you love?

April 23: Black & white – Share a photo taken in monochrome

April 24: Exercise – How are you staying fit these days?

April 25: Landscape – A landscape-oriented photo or a photo of actual landscape around you

April 26: What’s on your desk? – Send us a photo of the strangest item on your desk right now

April 27: Pattern – Find a pattern, any pattern and take a cool photo

April 28: Clouds and/or sky – Send us a photo of the world above you

April 29: Blessed – What are you grateful for today?

April 30: Friends – Share a photo of you with your PSB Bestie (or besties) that you are missing.

STEAM ideas to keep kids learning, engaged

By Heather Cass,

Publications Manager, Penn State Behrend

With schools closed across the country, parents have found themselves suddenly thrust into the role of teacher and activities director. It’s no easy task.

The experts in Penn State Behrend’s Youth Education Outreach (YEO) program are here to help you. They have plenty of experience holding kids’ attention while teaching them about Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM). They have put together a few fun activities/resources that you can use.

Sweet Chemistry Experiment

In light of the number of students now learning remotely, The American Chemical Society has made the American Association of Chemistry Teachers website more available to the public. Tracy Halmi, associate teaching professor of chemistry, said the site offers high-quality information and activities for students of all ages, including elementary students.

Halmi shared one activity that caught her eye as an experiment that kids would find fun: Analyzing root beer floats is suggested for students in grades 1-5, but we’re guessing “kids” of any age would enjoy it.

root beere

You can see a full list of unlocked activities on the website.

Easter/Spring STEAM Fun

Robyn Taylor, K-12 program educator for YEO, said the website littlebinsforlittlehands.com offers several STEAM activities with eggs that are easy and fun to do at home. Here are a few of her favorites:

Easter Egg Catapults. Experiment with motion, design, and basic engineering and physics principals by designing a simple machine to launch plastic eggs into the air.

catapult

Photo credit: Little Bins for Little Hands

Egg Crystals: With just a few simple materials, your young learners will be ready to start growing cool crystals in the shape of eggs in this hands-on chemistry experiment disguised as a fun holiday craft.

egg crystals

Photo credit: Little Bins for Little Hands

Suncatchers: Bring some sun and color into your home by making suncatchers that incorporate a little science into the art, especially if you choose to make the crystal or slime suncatchers.

Crystal-Suncatchers-BABBLE-DABBLE-DO-displayed

Photo credit: Babbledabbledo.com

Lego Maze Challenge. If you have a bin full of building bricks, kids will have a blast making their own Lego mazes while also learning about engineering, design, and physics. There is no limit to how elaborate or creative the mazes can be – students can incorporate buildings and figures into their mazes and then compete with siblings to see who can race the marble through fastest!

marble maze

Photo credit: Mammapappabubba.com

Take a tour!

Send the kids on an adventure from the comfort and safety of your own home. You can tour a whole host of museums and zoos virtually, including the National History Museum in London and the The National Museum of Computing, where you can take a 3-D virtual tour.

computer musuem

Photo credit: The National Museum of Computing