Weird & Wacky Animal Noises

For the most part, we know that dogs bark, ducks quack, and birds tweet. But what about other creatures in the animal kingdom? Like humans, animals have developed their own ways to talk each other. Yet, some species have developed some pretty strange sounds for communication.  Whether these sounds are the equivalent of warnings or mating calls, they all sound a lot different than we would imagine. From cheetahs to foxes, we’ve compiled some of our favorites here.

cheetah

Chirping Cheetahs

Cheetahs are part of the same family of felines that include our common house cats. But they’re also the fastest land animals in the world, with the ability to reach maximum sprinting speeds of 64 mph. While they don’t meow like our average tabby cat, cheetahs don’t exactly roar like lions either. In fact, cheetahs chirp quite similarly to birds. Their inability to roar is due to their lack of thyroid bone in their throats. To hear a clip, click here.

Caterwauling Koalas

While they’re called koala bears, koalas are actually marsupials. Most people know that koalas originated from Australia, but a lesser known fact is that mature male koalas exude a dark, sticky substance from glands in their chests that they rub onto trees to indicate their territory. Like most wild animals, males are extremely territorial, and they can become aggressive when they feel threatened or provoked. When a koala is angered, they make screeching noises that sound like this.

Howling Wolf Mouse

It’s a common misconception that wolves how at the moon. In reality, it’s pure coincidence that the moon is present when wolves attempt to communicate with each other. The fact that wolves are nocturnal animals is the more likely reason behind why the moon is often present when they howl. Howling isn’t restricted to only wolves though, because the wolf mouse doesit too. Check out this mouse, making quite a racket, here.

rhinoBleating Baby Rhinos

Generally speaking, baby animals are almost impossible to resist. This holds true for baby rhinos too. At the moment, three out of the five remaining rhino species are considered critically endangered. Humans, by far, are the greatest threat to their survival. Poachers illegally kill rhinos and take their horns to trade on the black market. In this clip here, two rescued rhinos babies, whose mother was killed by poachers, beg for food.

What weird animal sounds did we miss? Let us know in the comments.

Just for kicks, since we’re on the topic of animal sounds, check out this cool infographic that shows you how animals sound in different languages! View it here.

Tech with a Mind of Its Own

Innovation is the name of the game when it comes to technology, and every day, incredible technological advances are unveiled. New technology has provided us with amazing solutions for a multitude of issues that range from the mundane to life-or-death. While technology often works in tandem with humans, recent innovations are proving that technology has the ability to think and work by itself. In short, humans may soon be out of the picture! From cars that drive themselves, to software that fixes itself, let’s take a look at some recent technologies that have the potential to make humans optional for operation.

Software Self-Repair

Scientists at the University of Utah have developed software that is able to detect and eradicate viruses and malware, as well as automatically repair any damage caused by the malware. The software, called A3, currently works with a virtual computer that imitates the operations of a computer, without actual hardware. A3 can detect new, unknown viruses or malware automatically by sensing when computer operations are incorrect. A3 then stops the virus, determines a code to fix the damage, and learns to prevent the bug from occurring again. Read more here.

Self-Park Electric Cars

Your car is already equipped with many various technologies that are designed to keep you safe when you’re on the road. In the future, your car may do more than notify you when your tire pressure is low or you need to refill your gas–your car might be able to drive and park itself. Researchers at E-Mobile are currently designing electric-powered vehicles that will be able to drive and park independently. The cars will also be able to locate a charging station, and they’ll do it without any human help. Read more here.

Degenerative Bone Disease Detection Gets a Helping Hand

Radiographer shortages in the workforce are further strained by the great deal of time that radiographers must spend outlining bones in x-rays, when that time could be better used to take care of patients. Developers of a new software that is able to automatically outline bones hope that their program will save thousands of hours of manual work for researchers and doctors. Developers of the software believe that automation of the process will enable medical professionals to focus more on drawing proper conclusions and developing treatments for degenerative bone diseases, such as arthritis. Read more here.

Self-Assembly Lab at MIT

Scientists working in the Self-Assembly Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are currently collaborating on creating materials that could one day build themselves. They have already successfully developed wood planks that fold into toy elephants when exposed to moisture, but the future is even more exciting. Researchers are already looking into materials that respond to weather changes, or furniture that assembles itself with a splash of water. Read more here.

Alright STEM lovers, what kind of technology is blowing your mind? Comment below.

CSI Day Camp Hits Long Beach, MS

On Thursday, October 16th, our STEM team hit the road and landed at Harper McCaughan Elementary School in Long Beach, MS to end our final Camp-for-a-Day with a bang!

This camp consisted of a fantastic group of 99 6th and 7th grade students from both Harper McCaughan Elementary School and Long Beach Middle School. These students gathered together to learn about the various scientific, technological, and mathematical skills that are utilized by CSI professionals.

After a brief introduction to the program, students were thrown into the throngs of a crime scene: a kidnapping had occurred and students were tasked with solving the mystery! Six middle school teachers helped guide the students through each step of the investigation. Throughout the day, students were given a rare glance into the world of CSI. Students were split up into three teams: Alpha, Bravo, Charlie. The teams were then steered through a series of activities involving paper chromatography, facial recognition, and fingerprint dusting, to narrow down their initial lineup to three suspects.

1

Investigators narrowing down their suspects in the lineup.

Students enjoying a snack and learning about fingerprint patterns.

Our investigators were also treated to an exciting visit from the Keesler Air Force Base criminal investigation unit.

Students were pumped up by presenters from Keesler Air Force Base.

Crime scene suits provided by Keesler Air Force Base were a hot commodity.

Just when students thought they were about to finish up the case, another crime was committed. By utilizing the skills that they had learned throughout the day, the teams were able to determine that the two crimes were related and this helped them uncover the identity of the mysterious perpetrator!

We had such a fun time bringing our CSI Camp-for-a-Day program to another community and we are grateful for the equally enthusiastic participation from students, teachers, and school administrators. We want to give a special thanks to the 21 teachers who attended the teacher workshop the night before the event to learn the curriculum and take part in the camp. We are confident that this curriculum will continue to be shared and taught, and many other students will be able to learn how fun STEM can be for years to come!

Inspire Change: Easing ‘Girls in STEM’ into the Roles of ‘Women in STEM’

There are many reasons for students to think about a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). Perks such as job security, high salaries, and the possibility of innovation are all things to consider when prospective students seek a career in one of the STEM fields.

Jobs in the STEM fields are among the most in-demand and highest paying, but these types of openings often go unfilled for longer periods of time in comparison to non-STEM jobs. According to a Brooking’s study, the median duration of advertising for a STEM vacancy is more than twice as long as for a non-STEM vacancy. This indicates that the skills critical for working in STEM are low in supply, but highly sought after.

So if STEM is such a hotbed of potential, why are there not more men and women attempting to break into these fields? One major factor that may explain this discrepancy is the glaring underrepresentation of females in STEM fields. Women who attempt to pursue careers in STEM are often faced with a multitude of issues, extending from the mere fact that they are female, that hinders or discourages career advancement. There is, consequently, an untapped group of women, as well as a new generation of young women, who would otherwise be interested in seeking those careers, but are taught that STEM is for “boys only”.

According to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, women make up 50 percent of the entire labor pool, yet they only hold 25-30 percent of STEM jobs in the United States. This underrepresentation of women proves to be socially relevant, as it demonstrates that the fields of study within STEM are still largely divisive and exclusively gendered to favor men.

Current women who work in STEM face many problems that help account for the overarching gap in female representation within these fields. One potential issue is workplace hostility or discomfort, which can strongly impact perceived levels of work enjoyability. Evidence of this ongoing problem is supported by the research findings of a three-year study done by Nadya Fouad, an educational psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Fouad and her colleagues surveyed more than 5,000 women who had graduated with engineering degrees from some of the top universities within the last six decades. They found that 40 percent of the women surveyed had either quit their jobs or never entered their engineering professions at all.

According to Fouad, the gender gaps have less to do about confidence, and more to do with the unaccommodating climate of the workplace.

“We found that even women who are staying consider leaving because they don’t have supervisor support. They don’t have training and development opportunities. And their colleagues are uncivil to them, belittle them, talk behind their backs and undermine them,” said Fouad.

Yet, in elementary, middle and high school, the gender distribution of total students enrolled in science and mathematics classes is roughly even. Despite a relatively equal playing field to start off in, men, by far, dominate as the majority of those in careers related to STEM. This divergence visibly occurs at the college level, where only a small percentage of women attempt to pursue STEM-related undergraduate degrees. Female representation declines even more at the graduate level.

For whatever reason, it appears that girls are seemingly more likely than boys to fall away or lose interest with STEM. To remedy the issue, it is argued that it is crucial for educators and parents to encourage young girls to maintain interest in STEM by consistently showing them positive role models and providing broader opportunities to learn the skills that are necessary in the STEM fields.

The necessity of teaching today’s youth to develop the types of skills utilized in STEM has also been reiterated by President Barack Obama, who has repeatedly expressed the belief that the future of America heavily depends on the strength of the current education system to instill the new generations of students with the kind of critical thinking abilities that are an absolute necessity in STEM professions.

As the pressure to change the way women are viewed and treated in the STEM fields mounts, there has been a greater push for more initiatives that empower girls to participate and engage in learning about STEM. From engagement campaigns like Million Women Mentors that call for corporations, government entities and higher education groups to put more emphasis on mentoring young girls, to an entire video series dedicated to highlighting the accomplishments of various women in their STEM roles, there are many people currently working in STEM who are choosing to rally together to shed light on the gender issues within the STEM community.

These collective efforts, on the part of individuals and corporations alike, show that change starts from within. In this case, change starts by allowing science, technology, engineering and mathematics, to be accessible to all, regardless of gender.

Who are the mentors in your STEM community? What do they do that helps encourage both boys and girls to study STEM? Answer in the comments below.

 

STEM Works Remembers 9/11

It’s impossible to go throughout this day, September 11th, without acknowledging the extent of the impact that the terrorist attacks had on America and its citizens. In the wake of the 13th anniversary of the attacks, those of us at STEM Works wanted to show how STEM has been utilized throughout the aftermath processes of identifying victims, surveying the  damage and rebuilding Ground Zero.

Identifying Victims with Forensics 

After the initial attacks, at least 1,115 out of at least 2,753 victims remained unidentifiable, even after scientists analyzed DNA samples provided by the families of those with missing loved ones who never came home or were never identified. Despite painstaking work over the years from scientists in New York to match bone fragments to an actual identity, restraints in technology left many victims unidentified. However, recent technological advances in DNA testing and forensic identification have given both scientists and families a renewed sense of hope as these DNA tests yield results that would have been impossible 10 years ago. Scientists previously faced the challenge of identifying victims using bone slivers that contained DNA that had been damaged by fire, sunlight, bacteria, or jet fuel. Using the new technology, scientists are able to go back to the same bone fragment and attempt to extract the damaged DNA for testing. Read more here.

Engineering a Better World Trade Center

Considered a testament to the perseverance of the American spirit, the five-year re-construction projects of the new World Trade Center and National September 11 Memorial and Museum are shown in this behind-the-scenes documentary, made by PBS, in cooperation with NOVA, to demonstrate the many various challenges and high expectations that engineers and architects faced to build a stronger, taller, and safer World Trade Center. Watch Engineering Ground Zero

Engineers played a huge role in both clean up and re-building. PBS has also created a number of valuable resources to teach the public about how engineers assisted with rescuing victims, surveying the damage, and preventing unstable structures from falling and potentially injuring more people. Check out these resources here at Engineering the Clean-Up.

Other 9/11 Lesson Plan Resources

  • The National September 11 Memorial & Museum partnered up with New York City’s Department of Education and the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education to develop a different sets of K-12 lesson plans to teach about 9/11. Find them here.
  • Scholastic has created and collected a number of resources to teach 9/11 to the younger kids. Find these resources here.
  • Pearson has created guides and online modules for both elementary and middle school students, parents and teachers. Find them here.
  • McGraw Hill offers a number of activities and lesson plans to teach students about 9/11. Find them here.

Tell us, STEM lovers, how are you choosing to remember 9/11? Comment below.

A School Year of STEM Reading

As the month of August nears a close, the nip in the air is back, which signals the start of a brand new school year. Between the hustle and bustle of soccer games and homework, it’s often difficult for students to find spare time for extracurricular reading. Yet, helping your student find that extra hour to read instead of watching television or playing video games may be the key to overall improvement in school performance, according to research done by the University of London. Without a good book though, reading may be more painful than pleasurable. Finding engaging books may be a challenge, which is why we’ve compiled a list of resources that will help your student find a STEM-related book that he or she will actually enjoy reading.


STEM Reading for Teens: A reading list created by the Young Adult Library Services Association of the best STEM Reads.

Suggested Reading: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder

Cyborg Cinder, a talented mechanic living in the disease and alien-ridden area of New Beijing, meets Prince Kai when he brings in a robot for repair. As their lives intertwine, Cinder is forced to uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her future.

Women in Science: Goodreads list of STEM-related titles about women.

Suggest Reading: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

 HeLa

The creation of the polio vaccine, as well as extensive science research, including information about cancer and viruses, all began from the cells of one Henrietta Lacks, a poor African American tobacco farmer. Henrietta’s cells were harvested and used for research without her knowledge or consent. Her complicated story was the catalyst for the development of bioethics.

STEM Read: Science Behind the Fiction: Program developed by Northern Illinois University to encourage STEM engagement through reading.

Suggested Reading: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Several years after the initial alien invasion on Earth, Ender Wiggins is recruited to train at a battle school in space to prepare for the next attack. As he trains on the space station, Ender is forced to face increasingly difficult questions about humanity, isolation and the morality of warfare.

RocketSTEM: Online magazine with content focused on fostering a love of STEM within parents, teachers and students.

Other Suggested Readings:

Adaptation by Malinda Lo

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Feed by M.T. Anderson

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Matched by Ally Condie

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku

Physics of the Impossible by Michio Kaku

Starters by Lissa Price

The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

The Art of Tinkering by Karen Wilkinson

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

When We Wake by Karen Healey

Wither by Lauren DeStefano


So STEM lovers, which books did we miss? What’s your favorite STEM-related book? Tell us in the comments section!

Encouraging STEM By Engaging Parents

Here at STEM Works, we absolutely adore our Twitter followers because they are a fantastic group of individuals who willingly come together for inspiration, advice, and to share their love of STEM with the world.

As of late, we have initiated a number of Twitter discussions using #STEMWorksDiscussions. We recently asked our Twitter followers the following question:

How do we engage parents in order to drive interest in STEM at school?

Twitter didn’t disappoint, so we’ve compiled a list of their answers, as well as a collection of ideas and resources to help drive STEM via parent engagement.


“Invite them to a school STEM night and show them how great it can be!”

-@Melkoogz

“[Our] school is hosting a 2 week STEM Festival utilizing parents and community members as STEM presenters.”

-hardwicke_sam

“A hands-on learning experience within school [ bridges] the gap between study & workforce.”

-STEAMWrksStudio

“Outreach work starting with 4 year olds! When children learn about doctors, we talk about STEM careers.”

-Sarah4811


Parental Engagement Resources

  • Parents are vital to the success of students, especially during the middle school years, a critical point in students’ educations. Middle schoolers are at a higher risk to lose focus and parental involvement also takes a hit. Prevent this with these tips for successful parental engagement from the Afterschool Alliance, available here.
  • A solid foundation in STEM is critical for the future of society, and we all know that kids are the key to the future. Here’s why we should teach our kids to embrace STEM by starting them young. Article here.  
  • Earlier this year, a panel of educators and experts at the U.S. News STEM Solutions conference discussed some of the often neglected methods of teaching and encouraging students, particularly those in the under-served and minority populations, to take an interest in STEM. Article here.
  • Keeping kids actively thinking, whether it’s after school or during summer vacation, is vital for long-term educational success. The National After School Network is a fantastic resource in offering strategies for parental engagement, available here.

Do you have ideas of your own for parental engagement? Comment on this post or send us a tweet @STEM_Works.

STEM Industries: Bionic Technology

Technology is an integral part of STEM, with far-reaching applications that includes playing a vital part in modern medicine. From limbs to organs, innovation in the field of bionic technology bodes well for the future of healthcare, particularly for people who are forced to live with deformities or debilitating disease. Human prosthetics have been in play for hundreds of years, with evidence of usage that dates back all the way to 1500 B.C. Luckily, the days of peg legs and hand hooks are long gone. The sophistication and function of bionic technology has now developed into a multi-billion dollar industry, and there is plenty of room to grow as new discoveries are made.

Limbs of Life

Source: Shariff Che'Lah | Dollar Photo Club

Source: Shariff Che’Lah | Dollar Photo Club

Prosthetic limbs are a godsend for those who live with physical birth deformities, or those who have been forced to undergo amputation as a result of tumors, infections or accidents. New bionic technology allows amputees to regain mobility while promoting self-esteem and independence at the same time. A new FDA approved bionic arm nicknamed “Luke”, after the Star Wars character, now has the capacity to perform multiple, simultaneous movements by detecting electrical signals from the contraction of muscles that are close to the attachment site of the prosthesis. Amputees who need prosthetic legs are also benefiting from innovation. Before, prosthetic arms were the only type of limb that was capable of being controlled via neurosignals. Those whose legs were amputated were limited to either mechanical or motor powered prosthetics. However, a new bionic leg now has the ability to be controlled via the user’s thoughts through electrodes that pick up electrical signals in the upper leg muscles when they contract. Affordability of these prosthetics is currently the most prominent issue, with prices ranging from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per limb. With continued advancement and engineering, developers are confident that these computerized limbs will gradually become more accessible to the public.

Organs Opening Doors

Source: Olexandr | Dollar Photo Club

Source: Olexandr | Dollar Photo Club

Transplants have helped millions of people, but that still doesn’t wipe away the risks and complications of receiving an organ. Finding organ donors are a battle in itself, with an average of 18 people dying per day while waiting for an organ to become available. Innovation in bionic technology may assist in situations where waiting for an organ is not a viable option. The cornea is the most commonly transplanted organ, but when corneal transplants aren’t the solution to the vision problem, a bionic eye might help with patients who need to regain vision from degenerative eye disease. A great deal of bionics is still experimental, such as a newly developed bionic pancreas that measures the glucose level of diabetic patients and then supplies either insulin or glucagon to stabilize blood sugar levels. For those who suffer from Type 1 diabetes, this technology advances from the current standard of insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors. Researchers are also experimenting with a new bionic heart that is entirely self-contained. For the thousands of patients waiting for life-saving heart transplants, this technology is quite literally a matter of life or death. An internal battery powers the mechanical heart, which can be recharged from an external pack through the patient’s skin. Although it might take time to implement the technology on a widespread scale, the creation of such devices gives hope for the revolution of healthcare in the near future.

Organs from 3D Printers

Source: hopsalka | Dollar Photo Club

Source: hopsalka | Dollar Photo Club

3D printing is finally having its well-deserved time in the spotlight and is a true testament to the spectacular range of modern technological innovation. At the moment, medical applications for 3D printers are concentrated in the dental industry, with crowns, caps and fillings. However, scientists are hoping that 3D printers will one day be able to create living organs, which could eventually help reduce organ shortages. There is already a project in the works to sell strips of liver tissue created from 3D printers to drugmakers. The liver strips would be used to test the toxicity of certain treatments. Currently, the biggest issue with printing organs would be finding an adequate blood supply to keep the organ healthy and alive. With continued experimentation and research, Organ printing is still at least 10 years away from fruition, but with continued experimentation and research, science is closer than ever to radical change in medicine.