Leading the News
NASA Examining Possibility Of Deep-Sleep For Astronauts On Mars Missions.
The Times (UK) (10/7) reports that NASA “is giving serious consideration to the idea” of placing astronauts “in a state of stasis — akin to hibernation” for manned missions to Mars. The article details the process by which astronauts would be placed into “deep-sleep mode” to make the interplanetary trip while minimizing physical wear and the need for food and other consumables. According to the Times, NASA has awarded a $100,000 grant to SpaceWorks Enterprises to “study the feasibility of longer-term” stasis use in astronauts.
The Christian Science Monitor (10/6) noted, “Although more research and review is still required, to date, the team has found no ‘show-stoppers.’”
Female STEM Education Promoter Calls For Gendered Tactics.
In USA Today (10/6, Arreola), Veronica Arreola, director of the Women in Science and Engineering program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and her daughter’s Girl Scout troop leader, calls for STEM education promoters to appeal to girls based on gendered interests because “we live in a gendered society,” a pragmatic approach referred to in the piece as “meeting girls where they are.” While Arreola criticizes the need for gendered tactics in recruiting young female scientists, she argues that it is necessary, citing her own experiences.
NSF Grants Allow UVA Faculty To Boost STEM Education.
In continued coverage, WVIR-TV Charlottesville, VA (10/7, Vu) reports three National Science Foundation grants totaling nearly $4.3 million will fund University of Virginia programs targeting STEM education. The first project will follow 150 elementary school math teachers for two years, evaluating their creation and execution of lesson plans; the second will offer 40 $10,000 annual scholarships over five years to students pursuing a teaching career in STEM fields; and the third will measure the development of research skills among PhD students in biology. The report includes the University’s press release detailing the projects, while the televised report included an interview with a UVA associate education professor speaking to the goals of the STEM teaching scholarship.
Research Fellow: Obama’s “Gainful Employment” Rules Threaten For-Profit Colleges.
Dr. Vicki E. Alger, a research fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California argues in Forbes (10/6, Alger) that the Obama Administration’s “gainful employment” regulations on for-profit colleges “amount to a hostile takeover attempt…hurting students, taxpayers, and the economy.” The piece criticizes Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s focus on for-profit colleges, citing loan repayment rates, debt-to-earning levels, and gainful employment rules as unfair barriers to Federal student aid. While the Education Department estimates 90% of students losing Federal financial aid due to higher “gainful employment” standards will find suitable alternatives, the piece cites contrary estimates from the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. The argument closes by stating taxes fund an average $183 per for-profit college student compared to $13,000 per public college student; by those figures, the transfer of for-profit students losing aid to public schools is estimated to cost the nation’s taxpayers an additional $1.7 billion annually.
Research and Development
Google Joins BRAIN Initiative To Help With Petabyte-Scale Data Sets.
Fierce Biotech IT (10/7, McBride) reports Google has become a commercial partner to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) BRAIN Initiative, which has awarded $46 million to 58 projects. “Google’s first task is to team up with the Allen Institute for Brain Science to develop scalable systems for the anticipated data deluge. Collaborations with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus and several academic partners are also in the pipeline.”
NSF Awards Grant To Arkansas Company Making Compostable Bag.
The AP (10/7, AP) reports cycleWood Solution, a company affiliated with the University of Arkansas that makes compostable bags, has been awarded a $741,221 grant by The National Science Foundation. The grant will help the company commercialize the Xylobag, which is being stocked in one store with commitments from two undisclosed retail chains. The bags are made from lignen, a paper mill and biofuel plant byproduct, and is certified by the Biodegradable Products Institute to break down in roughly 12 weeks in commercial composting facilities.
Article Notes Brookings Report On Technology Commercialization.
In an article about efforts to foster entrepreneurship in Knoxville, the Knoxville (TN) News Sentinel (10/6) notes that the Brookings Institute last month “released a series of recommendations for technology commercialization in the report, ‘Going Local: Connecting the National Labs to their Regions for Innovation and Growth.’” Co-author of the report Matthew Stepp said, “The National Labs are the envy of the world and a key element of the U.S. innovation economy. … But we’re missing a critical opportunity to connect the labs’ science and engineering capabilities with the market pull prowess of metros, states and regions. The Department of Energy and the national labs should add ‘going local’ to their mission to turn today’s cutting-edge science into tomorrow’s breakthrough innovation.” The recommendations made by the report “include administrative and legislative changes, most of which the authors state require no additional funding.”
Engineering and Public Policy
Increasing Fracking Efficiency Yields More Oil, Natural Gas.
McClatchy (10/6, Cockerham, Subscription Publication) reports on the increasing productivity of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which has positioned America as the world’s leading oil producer. In particular, the article lists improved geological surveying and the use of more proppant (sand to hold open cracks in the fractured rock, through which natural gas flows) as reasons for the increased efficiency. The article also provides an overview of fracking’s expansion across the US, as well as the environmental concerns associated with the process.
DOE Welcoming Students To Interactive Science Fair.
The Portsmouth (OH) Daily Times (10/7, Pratt) reports that “the Fifth Annual U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Science Alliance, an interactive science fair that will involve more than 1,100 students and educators from 23 southern Ohio high schools,” is slated to take place “at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant October 7-9, 2014.” The event will include “demonstrations related to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and provides students with career information related to those fields.” Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Site Director Dr. Vincent Adams said, “We truly believe this event can have an impact on the lives of the young people who attend. … This is our fifth Science Alliance and local educators have told us how much their students enjoy the event and how it changes the way they look at STEM-related fields.”
Students Learn About Career Opportunities At Chino Airport.
The Inland Valley (CA) Daily Bulletin (10/6, Nisperos) reports that about 700 students from Chino-area high schools and middle schools “were able to get some hands-on experience and knowledge from local businesses” last week in an event organized by the Career Technology Education Community Collaborative at Chaffey College, in partnership with San Bernardino County Department of Airports. Students “learned about career opportunities in manufacturing, technology, and engineering.” Students “also toured Chino Airport and learned about companies located there,” including Southern California Edison, among others.
Miami, Florida Schools Promote Computer Programming Classes.
WTVJ-TV Miami (10/7, Odzer) reports “lots of schools in Miami-Dade and Broward counties,” Florida are offering computer programming as an elective for students. Yet some principals are advocating that the class should be a required course, noting that the nation currently brings people in from other countries to do coding work in the tech sector. The article looks at programming classes at a high school and elementary school.
Products Use Storytelling To Encourage STEM Learning Among Children.
The Huffington Post (10/7, Scheinberg) reports on several products that are using storytelling as a tool to encourage “a love of learning about STEM” subjects. The company notes efforts from companies like Goldiblox, Snap Circuits, Roominate, and Trobo that target children as young as age two and encourage them to learn about STEM.
Monday’s Lead Stories