California Wildfires


Kasey Dresser | January 5, 2018

Hello everybody!

I’m Kasey and I’m a student at the University of Iowa. I’m currently visiting home during winter break in beautiful San Diego, California. And as I’m sure you seen on the news I came home after an extremely destructive fire season.  Luckily I live closer to the coast so my home was not affected but my grandma and several of my friends were evacuated.  All of the local high schools, including my sisters, were closed. Last weekend, My dad and I headed inland to film the damage.

 

Sustainability volunteers needed for University of Iowa Dance Marathon


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Recycle (Erin’s Rainbow, flickr)
Kasey Dresser | December 22,  2017

Dance Marathon is a student-run philanthropy dedicated to supporting oncology patients being treated at The University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. It is a year-round fundraising  organization that culminates with a 24 hour long big event in February.

The organization is currently looking for volunteers to help with recycling, food waste, and more. The event is February 3rd- 4th.

For questions contact David Strabala, DM operations coordinator or Michael Marchione DM volunteer coordinator.

Sign up here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0c49a5ae2caafb6-dance15

A rise in Bitcoin’s value could lead to an energy crisis


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m00n (John Smith/ flickr)
Kasey Dresser | December 13,  2017

Bitcoin is a type of digital currency or “digital wallet.” It is used like regular money to transfer funds and generate currency but without a central bank. Over the last week, Bitcoin’s value has gone from less than $1,000 to $17,000. 1 Bitcoin is currently equal to 17,793 U.S. dollars. The money was originally viewed as “dirty,” being used for black market items. However this recent surge has sparked interest from mainline investors and bitcoin is looking to be worth millions more in the next month.

Bitcoin is run through data mines which are essentially large rooms of computers running an algorithm to code each transaction. The problem is the 32 terawatts of energy bitcoin will use every year. That much energy has the ability to power 3 million U.S. households; compared to Visa transactions, that only uses enough energy to power 50,000 American homes. According to the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, bitcoin could use enough energy to power all of the U.S. by 2019.

More than half of the Bitcoin “mining pools” are run out of China. Most the energy produced in China comes from coal firepower plants which has the potential to increase smog and pollution in the near by areas. 

UI scientists and Iowa teachers work together to create 8th grade curriculum


Kasey Dresser & Jenna Ladd | November 3, 2017

Eighth grade teachers from around the state came to the University of Iowa’s Lindquist Center for a special kind of professional development last weekend.

The twenty-one participants worked with University of Iowa faculty and graduate students to design new eighth-grade science curriculum as a part of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) development. A large step away from traditional rote memorization, NGSS allows students to engage in self-guided inquiry about phenomena occurring in their local environment.

Chelsea Salba is a high school science teacher at Dike-New Hartford. She said, “I love it all because the old way of doing things was ‘know and understand.’ Well, science is not memorizing facts and figures. It never has been. NGSS challenges teachers to make science actually happen in their classrooms. What I mean by that is [the students] are investigating, reading, creating a claim, doing something, getting feedback and then doing it again.”

Ted Neal, clinical associate professor in the College of Education and project lead, explained that eighth grade NGSS curriculum requires education about the natural systems and climate science. During morning and afternoon breakout sessions, teachers were asked to provide feedback about lesson plans related to how and why Iowans have changed the land and how climate change has affected local landscapes. These lesson plans, bundles five and six, are a part of a six bundle curriculum required by NGSS for eighth grade students. CGRER researchers Scott Spak and Charles Stanier developed their content as a part of the College of Education and CGRER’s effort to connect Iowa educators with local climate science in realtime.

Approved by the Iowa Board of Education in 2015, the bulk of the 8th grade NGSS curriculum will be implemented in Iowa schools next semester. The Iowa K-12 Climate Science Education Initiative team has recently developed a free and public online pressbook where Iowa teachers can access course-related climate science data from CGRER researchers, as well as lesson plans and suggestions from other Iowa teachers.

Ted Neal explained, “This whole curriculum is free. Use it how you want, where you want, how you want, we’re just trying to compile this together for school districts in a time when budgeting is so tight.”

The NGSS standards require students of all ages to understand Earth’s systems. Scott Spak, assistant professor of Urban and Regional Planning, said, “Of the dozens of standards, there are 36 that from kindergarten through high school that are required to be able to understand how the climate system works.”

Spak and his fellow CGRER researchers will provide data that is relevant to learners specifically in the Hawkeye State.

Drew Ayrit is high school teacher from Waco that participated in last weekend’s workshop. He said, “I really believe in the standards because it’s very student-centered, students doing real science, students engaging in discussion based on evidence.”

Drinking water symposium scheduled for September


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Jenna Ladd| August 23, 2017

A symposium examining issues related to drinking water in Iowa and across the U.S. is set to take place in Des Moines next month. Challenges to Providing Safe Drinking Water in the Midwest: A Symposium will feature presenters from Iowa as well as nationally-renowned speakers.

The event’s agenda includes panel discussions concerning the human health impacts of nitrate in drinking water, new and emerging drinking water threats, and communicating about water quality with the public, among other topics. The symposium is co-sponsered by the The University of Iowa Environmental Health Sciences Research Center and the Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination along with Drake University.

What: Challenges to Providing Safe Drinking Water in the Midwest: A Symposium

When: September 21 from 8 am to 5 pm, September 22 from 8 am to 12 pm

Where: Drake University, Des Moines

Those interested in attending the symposium can register here.

On The Radio – Huge crowds attend March for Science rallies in Iowa and worldwide


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Hundreds of scientists and supporters gathered at the Pentacrest for the March for Science in Iowa City on Saturday. The march was one of more than 500 others in communities around the nation.
Jake Slobe | April 24, 2017

This On The Radio segment discusses the March for Science rallies that took place worldwide on Saturday, April 22.

Transcript: On April 22, scientists and science advocates flooded the streets of over 500 cities around the globe to show their support for scientific research and evidence-based policy.

This is the Iowa Environmental Focus.

Following in the footsteps of the Women’s March on Washington, the March for Science was the biggest public demonstration against the Trump administration’s budget cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency, National Institute of Health, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and more.

Since February, the momentum behind the March for Science grew quickly, with many organizations offering support. Over 100 science organizations including the American Association for the Advancement of Science supported the March for Science.

The initiative started as a scientists’ march on Washington, D.C., but has since spread to cities across the U.S. and the world.

Organizers of the march have recently announced they plan to transition from organizing marches to creating a global organization focused on science education, outreach, and advocacy.

To learn more about the march, visit iowaenvironmentalfocus.org.

From the UI Center for Global & Regional Environmental Research, I’m Betsy Stone.

Science Not Silence: March for Science set to take place in Des Moines on April 22


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Jake Slobe | April 5, 2017

Des Moines’ March for Science is set to take place Earth Day, April 22, and will kick off at 12 a.m. at the Iowa State Capitol.

Following in the footsteps of the Women’s March on Washington, the March for Science promises to be the biggest public demonstration against the Trump administration’s assault on evidence-based scientific research.

Since February, the momentum behind the March for Science has been growing quickly, with many organizations offering support. Some 100 science organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science support the March for Science.

Des Moines’ march is part of a “global call to support and safeguard the scientific community,” as the March for Science champions publicly funded and communicated science as an integral part of everyday life.

The initiative started as a scientists’ march on Washington, D.C., but has since spread to cities across the U.S. and the world. Organizers periodically update an interactive map that shows the locations for all planned marches.

Iowa City will also be hosting a March for Science on the 22nd from 12-4. You can follow efforts for each location’s march via their individual Facebook groups.

The March for Science website includes a call to action to support scientific research: “The mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted.”

Those interested in participating in  one the March for Science demonstrations in Iowa or learning more about the march can do so at marchforscienceiowa.org