Archive for June, 2010

The St. Petersburg College Clearwater Campus hosts a Student Veterans Association (SVA), a group dedicated to easing the transition of students from the military to college. That group held its first annual Summer BBQ today (June 23, 2010) to attract students who are veterans and explain what assistance is available to them.

Richard Nichols

The group’s president, Richard Nichols, a former Army medic who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, said students can have difficulties adjusting to college after spending time in the military because the style of learning is not the same. The SVA, he said, can offer counsel to help ease the transition.

If you are a veteran and have interest in attending St. Petersburg College or contacting the SVA, contact Veteran Affairs Coordinator Jeff Cavanagh at cavanagh.jeff@spcollege.edu or the SVA office at veterans.clearwaterspc@gmail.com.

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A serious Red Tide bloom that killed life on two reefs off the coast of Clearwater Beach five years ago may have provided critical data that will help scientists predict damage to life in the Gulf of Mexico from the ongoing BP oil spill.

Heyward Mathews, a professor of oceanography at St. Petersburg College, says information he gathered following the Red Tide bloom in 2005 may provide a critical baseline of information when he and others try to predict how long it may take life in the Gulf to recover from the oil spill.

Dr. Hayward Mathews, St. Petersburg College

“We don’t know when the oil will reach our beaches here, or even if it will get here at all,” Mathews said. “But if it does, and if we experience serious damage to fish and other life in the Gulf, we may have a good baseline of data that could be immensely valuable.”

The Red Tide bloom in 2005 was one of the worst such events in about 50 years. The tide killed fish, and the decomposing life forms absorbed oxygen on the bottom of the gulf, killing almost all the remaining marine life on the reef.

Two reefs off Pinellas County were affected – a natural reef, and an artificial reef that Mathews built in the 1960s. After the Red Tide bloom, Mathews and some of his students would boat out to the reefs and then dive down to count fish and other life forms. Over time, they were able to get a handle on how long it took for life to return to the reefs.

Fish came back first. Conchs and starfish are still missing.

The baseline of information that resulted from the Red Tide bloom can be critical to predicting how fast the Gulf area off Pinellas County may recover if it is damaged by crude oil from the BP leak, Mathews believes. But he thinks future research may offer another benefit, as well.

Diving down to the reefs and photographing the active life there might be an effective way to convince tourists and others that the waters off Clearwater are still clean and pure, he said.

“I think that short, three-minute videos that really show the good quality of the reefs might be more effective in convincing tourists to come than the kind of ads that we see running on TV now,” Mathews said.

Mathews and some of his associates plan to form a non-profit corporation to gather and distribute video of the offshore reefs to television stations and other news outlets. Those videos, he said, should be valuable in convincing tourists and others that the Gulf waters off Clearwater are pure and undamaged.

He said the non-profit will apply for grant money to fund the effort. If that fails, he said he will fund the non-profit from his own pocket.

See videos of the interview with Hayward Mathews:

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Less than three weeks into the 11-week enrollment for Fall, St. Petersburg College’s classes are at 40 percent of capacity. If the trend of the last three terms is any indication, finding an open class will be difficult the longer you wait. Find all the details you need to apply or enroll.

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     St Petersburg College architecture students Linaea Floden, Chris Galbraith, Greg Martinez and Jason Weldon have submitted a design for the 2010 U.S. Green Building Council Natural Talent Design Competition.

     The competition challenges entrants to design an affordable, LEED for Homes Platinum, 800-square-foot, environmentally friendly home for an elderly client in the Broadmoor neighborhood of New Orleans.

     The winning design will be selected by judges from New Orleans and nationally. The winning entry will be built under the supervision of the entry’s designer.

SPC’s ADA accessible design will cost under $100,000 to build. It features:

  • Structural insulated panel construction (SIP) and pre-fabricated trusses which reduce material requirements, construction waste and construction time.
  • Strategically placed windows and doors to allow for significant breezes through the home, reducing the impact on HVAC.
  • Recycled siding and decking wood from Mississippi River barges, purchased through the local restoration effort “Rebuilding Together, New Orleans.”
  • Drought resistant, native landscaping with little to no turf.
  • Large trees on the south side of the structure to maximize shading and natural cooling.

     The SPC design team found that New Orleans has a rich history and community, enabling its evolution.

     Respecting the tradition and history, without directly reproducing it, the design echoes the forms of the historical architecture of the area.

     “Rather than being abandoned after Hurricane Katrina, the strong historical and community ties actually take New Orleans to the next level,” said Linaea Floden, SPC architecture student and project leader.  “The local culture is so strong and iconic that it is unique within our country.”

     As a design team, they asked, “How does the home reflect this culture?”

     Their solution was to divide the home into three zones: one public, one private, and one transitional. For security purposes, the design provides living and dining spaces in the front, and bedrooms toward the back.  The kitchen serves to join the two.

     Large windows at the front of the house allow the interior to open up to the front porch and then to the street.  For added security, a large scale louver system protects the glass during storms.

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About 950 people packed The Palladium Theater at St. Petersburg College last night to take part in a panel discussion on the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Read this morning’s account in the St. Petersburg TIMES.

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Looking for a“cool” indoor activity this week? Don’t miss the All Pinellas County High School Art Exhibition at St. Petersburg College’s Crossroads Gallery on the Clearwater Campus.

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Thinking about a bachelor’s degree? St. Petersburg College is the place to start .

Learn more at SPC’s Baccalaureate Expo on June 17 at the EpiCenter, 13805 58th St. N. in Clearwater.

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