Day: May 17, 2012

Science Buddies

Science Buddies makes it easy K-12 students, parents, and teachers to quickly find free project ideas and help in all areas of science from physics to food science and music to microbiology.

Science Buddies includes:

  • An online library of 1000+ Project Ideas, which are detailed scientist-authored outlines that help students create a project in any of 30 different fields of science and engineering
  • The Topic Selection Wizard tool, which helps students find a project idea that perfectly matches their unique interests
  • The Project Guide, an online encyclopedia for how to do science research and science fair projects. It includes step-by-step guidance, actual sample assignments, photos of science fair projects, tips for success, and self-grading checklists for students. Also includes tools, techniques, and reference information such as safety guidelines and a section on the engineering process.
  • A robust Teacher Resources area with a curriculum for teaching the scientific method, printable classroom handouts, grading rubrics, and enrichment tools
  • The Ask an Expert online advice forum where scientists and engineers guide students who are doing science and engineering projects
  • Career Information,including 100+ Career Profiles to inform students about science, technology, engineering, and math careers. Career Profiles are tied into our library of Project Ideas so students can easily see how the science in their project is used in real-world careers.
  • The Summer Science Fellows Program, which is a small group of recent graduates (and Intel ISEF participants) who join Science Buddies to work on specialized projects during summer months.


Sustainability and Self-Interest

Read the full story in Stanford Social Innovation Review.

John Elkington is an optimist. In his new book, Elkington, an authority on corporate responsibility and coiner of the term “triple bottom line,” argues that a new set of entrepreneurs in business, government, and universities are stepping up and taking actions that will help us to reinvent capitalism, combat climate change, and reduce our exposure to toxics.

New Cement-Making Method Could Slash Carbon Emissions

Read the full story at Technology Review.

Researchers at George Washington University have bolted together an ungainly contraption that they say efficiently uses the energy in sunlight to power a novel chemical process to make lime, the key ingredient in cement, without emitting carbon dioxide. The device puts to work about half of the energy in sunlight (solar panels, in comparison, convert just 15 percent of the energy in sunlight into electricity).

Estimated United States Residential Energy Use in 2005

Download the document.

A flow chart depicting energy flow in the residential sector of the United States economy in 2005 has been constructed from publicly available data and estimates of national energy use patterns. Approximately 11,000 trillion British Thermal Units (trBTUs) of electricity and fuels were used throughout the United States residential sector in lighting, electronics, air conditioning, space heating, water heating, washing appliances, cooking appliances, refrigerators, and other appliances. The residential sector is powered mainly by electricity and natural gas. Other fuels used include petroleum products (fuel oil, liquefied petroleum gas and kerosene), biomass (wood), and on-premises solar, wind, and geothermal energy. The flow patterns represent a comprehensive systems view of energy used within the residential sector.

Create the Future Design Contest 2012

The Create the Future Design Contest was launched in 2002 by the publishers of NASA Tech Briefs magazine to help stimulate and reward engineering innovation. The annual event has attracted more than 8,000 product design ideas from engineers, entrepreneurs, and students worldwide. The contest’s principal sponsors are  COMSOL, Nordson EFD, and Tech Briefs Media Group. See below for information about the sponsors’ products for engineering design & analysis.

Categories include:

The contest began on March 1, 2012 and ends June 30, 2012. Entries must be received by 11:59 pm ET on June 30, 2012. Read the contest rules here. There’s also a FAQ.

Prizes include:

Grand Prize (1)
$20,000 USD, provided by principal sponsors COMSOL and Nordson EFD

First Prize in Each Category (7)
A workstation computer (mobile or desktop) provided by Hewlett-Packard

Popular Vote Prizes (10)
SpaceMouse Pro 3D Mouse from 3DConnexion ($299 value)

Top 100 Entries (100)
Certificate of Achievement suitable for framing

Winning entries will be featured in a special supplement to NASA Tech Briefs magazine’s November 2012. Top prize winners will be invited to a special awards reception and dinner in New York City.

National Global Change Research Plan 2012-2021: A Strategic Plan for the U. S. Global Change Research Program

Via Docuticker.

Source: U.S. Global Change Research Program
From the press release:

The Obama Administration today released a 10-year strategic plan for research related to global change, identifying priorities that will help state and local governments, businesses, and communities prepare for anticipated changes in the global environment, including climate change, in the decades ahead. …

Federal research under the USGCRP has for two decades focused largely on detailed documentation of specific environmental changes by satellite and other Earth-observing technologies and the development of sophisticated computer models of the Earth’s climate system to predict how such changes will manifest in the near-term. In the ten years going forward that emphasis will expand to incorporate the complex dynamics of ecosystems and human social-economic activities and how those factors influence global change.

+ Link to full report (PDF; 31.29 MB)
+ Link to fact sheet (PDF; 814 KB)

Cooling Streams in a Warming Climate?

Read the full story from USGS.

A new analysis of streams in the western United States has found that despite a general increase in air temperatures over the past several decades, western streams are not necessarily warming at the same rate. Several factors may influence the discrepancy, including snowmelt, interaction with groundwater, water flow and discharge rates, solar radiation, wind, and humidity. But even after factoring out those elements, the scientists detected cooler-than-expected maximum, mean, and minimum stream temperatures. Looking at streams individually, they found that some seemed to be getting warmer, some cooler, and others showed little change at all.

Results of the research, which was supported by the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Forest Service, and Oregon State University, are published in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Vermont governor signs bill banning hydraulic fracturing

Read the full story in the Burlington Free Press.

An anti-fracking crowd gathered Tuesday night in Albany, N.Y., for a benefit concert that included actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo and musician Natalie Merchant.Somebody mentioned that Vermont was about to become the first state in the nation to ban the practice of extracting natural gas from shale. “The place exploded,” said Chris Tate, an activist from Hector, N.Y., who was there.

Swap, Don’t Shop

Read the full story in Sustainable Industries.

Good green marketers push the innovation of different products. Better products. But can we profit from making less products in the first place? “Swap Don’t Shop,” the most recent of the Columbia Business School Alumni Club’s Making Green from Green events, explored this very dilemma.

Cool buildings, parched cities? EDF and AT&T target water savings

Read the full story at GreenBiz.

We live indoors, we work indoors, we shop indoors, we even often play sports indoors! With so much of the modern American economy taking place indoors, and population centers shifting to warmer regions, the environmental and economic impact of building cooling systems is on the rise. We often hear about the energy needed to power and cool this sprawling infrastructure.

But there’s another crucial dimension that is only just starting to surface: water.

As water becomes a more expensive, and sometimes contentious, commodity in many regions like the drought-stricken southwest, managing thirsty commercial buildings is going to become an increasingly important challenge for building owners.

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