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.

Month in STEM: October 2014

October is heading to close, and we’ve got you covered with the latest in STEM news for the month. We’re keeping things a little creepy to celebrate Halloween. From ghostly stars to creepy critters that help solve crimes, here are some of our top picks.

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom

A new report recently came to light about the rapid evolution of a lizard species native to Florida in response to pressure from an invading Cuban species. Scientists have observed and documented this lizard species evolve in the relatively short span of 15 years and 20 generations.

After initial contact with the invasive species, native lizards, called Carolina anoles, began perching higher in trees. From one generation to another, their feet evolved to become better at gripping the thinner, smoother branches found in the higher parts of the trees. Now, their toe pads are larger and there are more sticky scales on their feet.

Researchers believe that the changes are a response to competition for food and living space. It’s also noted that both lizard species have been documented to eat the hatchlings of the other species. Thus, the ability to scale trees at a quicker pace may be the difference between getting to safety and becoming a meal. Read more here.

Under the Sea IconUnder the Sea

New science suggests that if you’re a leatherback sea turtle, staying on the plump size may make it easier to get around the ocean. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Florida Atlantic University (FAU), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have found that long and lean sea turtles are not as efficient swimmers as the ones that are more robust in size. To come to these conclusions, scientists measured the forces that act on a swimming animal and the energy that is expended by the animal to move through the water. After using their measurements and recreating an environment with virtual sea turtles and experimenting with different parameters, they found that rounder sea turtles are able to cover more ground while using up the same amount of energy as their skinnier counterparts. Read more here.

Forensics

We’re getting into the spirit of Halloween with this creepy video. Dead or alive, a body plays host to all sorts of organisms. There are innumerable types of flora that are naturally found on a person’s skin, as well as inside stomachs, noses, mouths and other body parts. But when a dead body begins to decompose, it also becomes a breeding ground for certain types of bugs that act as decomposers to return the body’s nutrients back to the earth. Knowledge of the life cycles of these bugs can help forensic scientists during crime scene investigation. Watch more here.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations

Miniature human stomachs can now be grown in Petri dishes. By bathing stem cells in a concoction of chemicals that boost growth, scientists have managed to create clumps of gastric tissue the size of a pin head. Like normal human stomachs, the lab-grown stomach globs contain cells that are able to make mucus and pump hormones. Scientists are hoping to use the tissue to further study gastric diseases, such as stomach cancer. Read more here.

Robotics IconSpace

NASA’s Hubble Telescope has picked up the faint glow of stars that were ejected from ancient galaxies that were gravitationally wrenched apart several billion years ago. The “ghost lights” from the dead galaxies are no longer bound to any one galaxy. Instead, the stars drift freely between the nearly 500 galaxies in the cluster known as “Pandora’s Cluster”. By observing the light from the stray stars, scientists have gathered enough evidence to believe that as many as six galaxies were torn apart over the course of 6 billion years. Read more here.

Video Games IconTechnology

A team of scientists and engineers at the University of California recently created a new nanoparticle-based material that has the capacity to convert absorb and convert to heat more than 90% of the sunlight that it captures. It is also able to withstand temperatures of more than 700 degrees Celsius, and has the ability to withstand many years of outdoor exposure to air and humidity. In comparison, current solar absorbers have significantly shorter life spans, and are unable to function at higher temperatures. The type of energy that the material is harvesting is called concentrated solar power (CSP). The sun is still an emerging source of power, but it has a great deal of potential within the alternative energy market. CSP currently produces approximately 3.5 gigawatts worth of power at power plants around the globe, or the equivalent to the energy needed to power more than 2 million homes. Read more here.

Okay STEM lovers, what stories did you enjoy? What stories did we miss this month? We want to hear your thoughts!

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.

This Month in STEM: August 2014

Summer wrapped up with a plethora of exciting STEM news. Here are some of our favorite headlines for the month of August.

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom

According to a new study, we have more in common with spiders than we may like to think. Researchers have discovered that some spider species are capable of forming friendships and developing personalities. The study focuses on the idea that within social groups, individuals feel the need to stand out from each other, a theory known as social niche specialization. In this case, relationships between spiders were tested by creating colonies of spiders and testing the spiders’ responses to environmental stress or stimulus. The spiders were then classified as having either a “bold” or a “shy” personality based on their responses. Read more here.

Under the Sea IconUnder the Sea

Whether you’re soaking up some last minute summer rays on the beach or splashing around in the shallow end of the ocean, chances are that you don’t want to take a bathroom break when you’re having so much fun. Nature calls though, so what do you do? Well, according to the American Chemical Society, why bother walking all the way to the bathroom stall when peeing in the ocean is A-okay! In case you needed any more convincing, the American Chemical Society has also taken the liberty of creating a video to assure everyone that tinkling a bit in the ocean is completely backed by science. Watch it here.

Extreme Weather IconExtreme Weather

The number of man-made earthquakes in recent history is on the rise. From 1978-2008, Oklahoma averaged only 2 earthquakes over a magnitude 3.0 per year. Now midway through 2014, Oklahoma has surpassed California’s record, with 230 earthquakes registered at a magnitude 3.0 or higher. So who is at fault? Scientists are dividing the blame between global warming and fracking disposal methods that inject waste water from the fracking process into the ground to avoid contaminating water sources. Read more here.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations/Robotics

Xenon gas is already used in the medical field as an anesthetic, but a new study believes that xenon gas holds the key to treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at the root of the problem. The study found that xenon disrupts the process in which memories, and fear or trauma associated with those memories, are processed and re-encoded. Scientists believe the xenon gas works by interfering with specific receptors in the brain that are involved with the memory re-consolidation process. Read more here.

Robotics IconSpace

A number of international astronomers have compiled a video of two entire galaxies colliding with each other. Since the light from the collision would have taken a significant amount of time before it became visible on Earth, scientists believe the actual collision occurred when the Universe was half of its current age. Watch the video here.

Video Games IconTechnology

We live in a world saturated by smart phones, smart cars and smart houses. The next natural step would be a smart motorcycle helmet. The Skully AR-1 is a new gadget that intends to protect motorcyclists from all angles by putting a real-time video of their surroundings in a transparent screen directly in their line of vision. The helmet also comes equipped with GPS navigation, traffic conditions and weather updates. Read more here.

Wind Energy IconWind Energy

As the overall cost of mass producing wind turbines decreases, the total cost of wind energy is also dropping to record lows in the United States. This is great news for those in search of sustainable sources of energy to combat the environmental impact of fossil fuel consumption. Despite a growing market in the United States for wind energy, other countries are still at the forefront of converting and committing to sustainability. Nationally, wind energy only constitutes 4 percent of America’s electricity production. This is in comparison to the 35 percent of total electricity that is garnered by Denmark through wind farms. Read more here.

Okay STEM lovers, what stories did you enjoy? What stories did we miss this month? We want to hear your thoughts!

Spooky Science!

The week of Halloween is a time for ghouls, frights and treats which in our minds means it’s the perfect time for some fun STEM! We have a lot of great activities on our Kids Ahead and STEM-Works websites but we wanted to help get everyone in the Halloween spirit with some activities uniquely suited to this week. Thank you to Deborah Lee Rose from HowToSmile.org for compiling a great list of activities. Check it out here!

It's Alive!

Also, for the braver readers check out this list of real-life scary science experiments. Pretty creepy stuff!

Do you have a favorite Halloween STEM activity? Share it with us in the comments section!

Got Brains? Teaching STEM Zombie-style!

It isn’t all that uncommon for teachers and parents to hear students lament about their lack of understanding of how they will use particular skills or content they are learning in school in their real life. Here on the STEM-Works team, we will openly admit to being those kids (and adults). As STEM advocates, we feel like these kinds of questions are our opening to get students of all ages engaged in the world of STEM. As a result, we wanted to share some ideas to get you thinking outside your existing curriculum or advocacy materials and then get your thoughts on other ideas.

To start with, we are firm believers that if you find it cool, there’s at least a distinct chance that your students will as well (maybe not always, but we’re sure there are some common interests). For example, we recently stumbled on a Social Studies/Geography curriculum entirely based on Zombies. Using a project-based learning (or Zombie-Based Learning as the developer calls it), this curriculum provides a framework for students to learn important geography concepts by planning for and surviving a zombie apocalypse scenario. In addition to the curriculum being novel and engaging, it is standards-based, which makes it much easier to incorporate into traditional classrooms.  Check out the developer’s explanation of how he came up with this concept:

So think about it and share your thoughts! What concepts, TV Shows, or life events do you think would make a good curriculum or framework for STEM advocacy?