This Month in STEM: September 2014

September is wrapping up, and we’ve got your monthly STEM news! Here are some of our favorite stories.

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom

Researchers have discovered a brand new species of poison dart frog in Donoso, Panama. At 12.7 millimeters in length, the freshly dubbed Andinobates geminisae is tiny enough to fit on a fingernail and is distinguishable by its unique call and smooth, bright orange-colored skin. Scientists believe that habitat loss is a significant issue of concern for these newly found frogs, as it appears to only be found in scarce regions of the Panama rain forest. To guarantee the survival of their species, the creation of special conservation plans have been recommended. Read more here.

Under the Sea IconUnder the Sea

Several groups of fish in Antarctica have developed the ability to manufacture their own “antifreeze” proteins in their blood that help them survive in the icy Southern Ocean. Unfortunately, it appears that this evolutionary survival tactic has created some undesirable consequences. Researchers have discovered that the same temperature regulation proteins are helping internal ice crystals that accumulate inside the fish resist melting, even when the temperatures warm. Read more here.

Extreme Weather IconExtreme Weather

At least 36 people have been killed following the unanticipated eruption of Mount Ontake, Japan’s second largest active volcano. The eruption is believed to have stemmed from a kind of steam-driven explosion that scientists say are especially difficult to predict. Ontake had a minor eruption in 2007, but it’s first major recorded eruption was in 1979. Japan is considered by seismologists to be a hotbed of seismic activity. Read more here.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations

Each year, over 2.5 million children die worldwide because they do not receive life-saving vaccinations. To combat this global issue, researchers at Michigan State University are currently developing a fingerprint-based recognition system that has the potential to save babies’ lives through vaccination tracking. Vaccinations are normally tracked by paper documentation. However, keeping track of babies’ vaccinations on paper is highly ineffective in developing countries because they are easily lost or destroyed. Researchers are hoping that, over time, the new electronic registry systems will fix the issues of lacking and lost patient information in third world countries. Read more here.

Robotics IconSpace

Water is crucial for sustaining biological life. Consequently, scientists believe that finding the original source of Earth’s water is crucial for understanding how life-fostering environments are created, as well as estimating the likelihood of finding other environments that have the potential to hold life. Scientists at the Carnegie Institution now believe that the water found on Earth is older than the Sun, and originated in interstellar space. Read more here.

Video Games IconTechnology

Harry Potter fans likely dream of owning an Invisibility Cloak. They may be excited to learn, then, that researchers at the University of Rochester, in New York, have discovered innovative new ways to use complex lenses to hide objects from view, in a process called cloaking. The so-called “Rochester Cloak” is realistically not cloak-like at all. Nonetheless, the cloaking device has been able to successfully make a hand, face, and a ruler disappear from view. Earlier versions of cloaking devices have been complicated and financially unfeasible. This new device breaks the mold, costing researchers little more than $1,000 in materials. The implications for these types of devices are broad, and researchers believe that they can be applied everywhere, from health care to the military. Read more here.

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

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!

Intergalactic Adventure

source: nasa.gov

source: nasa.gov

Want to start 2014 off with a bang? Why not shoot for the stars? We wanted to go big for our first scavenger hunt of the year, so we thought we’d take you on an intergalactic adventure through our solar system. In a world with few remaining unexplored areas, we can always look to space for a dose of mystery and wonder. For this scavenger hunt you will be leaving the comfort of your home planet and moving into the great beyond. Have your student(s) travel from planet to planet and learn a thing or two about our solar system before reaching their final destination.

http://www.kidsahead.com/subjects/12-space/scavenger_hunts/14