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.

Everyday Sustainability (Infographic)

Saving the earth may seem like an uphill battle at times, but little changes in your lifestyle can have a huge impact in terms of keeping Mother Earth healthy and happy.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, here’s a helpful little infographic to get you started. We want to hear your input, STEM lovers. What are you doing to go green?

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!

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.

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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!

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!

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.

World Water Week Awareness

This week is World Water Week. Let’s take this opportunity to inspire change and bring awareness to the world’s water problems!

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge + Water Challenge

As the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge took the Internet by storm over the summer, water has certainly had its fair share of time in the spotlight. The stunt has already raised over $100.6 million for ALS research, so it’s a fair assumption that A LOT of water was used to pull these challenges off! In fact, it’s been estimated that over 6 million gallons of fresh water have been used to pull these ice bucket challenges off.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has brought some much needed attention to Lou Gehrig’s Disease and research, but it’s also a great segue to bring awareness to the fact that over 780 million people in the world have no access to clean water. If you enjoy the Ice Bucket Challenge, take a look at the Water Challenge, which helps fund water projects at schools and community centers in Africa. It’s a simple concept of “drink water to give water”!

Study STEM: Water Innovation

Scientists around the world are looking to bring clean water to those in need by coming up with innovative ways to purify water, like a direct-contact membrane distillation (DCMD) system, which removes the salt out of otherwise undrinkable ocean water; or a Midomo machine, which holds and filters water while the machine is rolled. The machine’s innovation is based on the fact that the daily average distance a person in Africa travels for water is 3.7 miles.

Working on the Water Crisis in America

The lack of available water impacts millions around the world, but we don’t have to look far to see the effects of the water crisis in America. California is currently in a declared state of emergency as it faces its third consecutive year in one of its worst dry spells in the past century. California is no stranger to wildfires, but the current conditions have resulted in about 1,000 wildfires more than usual in the past year alone. Experts estimate that California’s agricultural industry will face over $2.2 billion in losses as a result of the drought. Although California lawmakers have already established fines for wasting water, there is a critical need for us to be proactive about water conservation. Luckily, small adjustments in daily water use patterns can make a huge difference. Inspirations for over 100 different ways to conserve H2O are available here.

Alright fellow STEM lovers, what are you doing to save water? Do you have any additional tips? 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!