Education

Education and learning

The Sound of Science - "Marshmallow Explosion"

Sep 14, 2018

J: Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Jeremy Benson from NIU STEM Outreach, and I’m in the studio with Kate Powers. Kate, today we have a question from Lydia that is making me laugh just thinking about it. Lydia wants to know why Peeps marshmallows expand so much when you microwave them.

K: I love this question Jeremy! Not only is it fun to blow up a marshmallow by nuking it, but it is a great example of one of the basic laws of chemistry.

J: Microwaving a marshmallow demonstrates a basic law of chemistry? That seems…strange.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Northern Illinois University again experienced an overall drop in student enrollment this year.

The biggest loss was in total undergraduates, down 666 students from last year (from 13,454 to 12,788). NIU also saw an eight percent decline in the number of transfer students, from 1,716 to 1,577. Total enrollment now hovers at 17,169 students, which is a drop of 4.8 percent from this time last year.

The Sound of Science - "Don't Drink the Salt Water"

Sep 7, 2018

K: I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach, with Jeremy Benson and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

J: Kate, I have a question from Ariana, it sounds like she may have been reading Swiss Family Robinson or watching Cast Away. Ariana wants to know why you can’t drink sea water as a source of hydration?

University of Illinois

The University of Illinois’ Urbana campus announced Monday it will guarantee any in-state student, from a household at or below the state median income of $61,000 per year, will have tuition and fees covered by a combination of university, state, and federal financial aid.

That doesn’t include room and board, or books, but the university said students can apply additional merit and third-party scholarships to those expenses.

The Sound of Science - "Why So Many Geese?"

Aug 31, 2018

J: Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Jeremy Benson from NIU STEM Outreach, and I’m joined by Kate Powers.

K: Jeremy, I hear you have a question from Sara today -- one that is close to the hearts of all the staff, faculty and students at NIU.

J: Yeah, Sara wants to know: Why are there so many Canada Geese everywhere? They seem to rule campus and can be quite aggressive, chasing poor innocent pedestrians around the lagoon.

Christine Herman/Illinois Public Media

University of Illinois officials announced two big projects for the Urbana campus Wednesday: a new data science center and expansion of the Research Park.

Both projects will get state funding as part of the Illinois Innovation Network, the U of I’s new statewide research enterprise.

U of I Urbana Chancellor Robert Jones said the new data science center, which will be built on the current site of Illini Hall, will be a hub for cross-disciplinary research and workforce development.

Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University’s acting president outlined her vision for the campus in a public address Thursday.

Speaking before faculty, staff, and students, Dr. Lisa Freeman said NIU has been successful in employing a diversity of perspectives across campus. However, she said NIU needs to evolve in order to face future challenges. Chief among those, she said, was the need to guarantee fiscal stability in the wake of an absent state budget and declining enrollment.

Victoria Lunacek

School buses are ubiquitous in northern Illinois. For parents, they're key to getting children to school, and for everyone, they're a significant presence on the road. Brian Scott is Terminal Manager for the buses at Rockford Public Schools. He says it's important for drivers to obey the stop sign that swings out when the buses are unloading children.

"If you are on a two-lane road and you are trailing a school bus or approaching a school bus, all traffic needs to stop when that stop sign comes out," he said.

Illinois.edu

The University of Illinois today announced a new financial aid program designed to make enrollment at its Urbana-Champaign campus more affordable for middle-class students. They’re calling this program Illinois Commitment, and Kevin Pitts, vice-provost for undergraduate education, says the goal is to persuade families they really can afford to send their kids to the state’s flagship university.

 

Rauner Vetoes Teacher $40K Minimum Salary Bill

Aug 28, 2018
Wikimedia Commons

Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill last weekend that would have raised the minimum salary for Illinois public school teachers to $40,000 by 2022. In his veto message, Rauner wrote that legislation isn’t the best way to raise teacher pay.

Victoria Lunacek

Northern Illinois University re-opened the Stevens Building this year. The Stevens Building opens after years of renovations as the home of the School of Theatre and Dance and Anthropology Departments. The $23.7 million project started in 2014 and finished just in time for the 2018-19 school year. The building features a new lecture hall, box office and Black Box theater.

The Sound of Science - "Windy Days"

Aug 24, 2018

Kate: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ, I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach and I have a question for Jeremy Benson. Jeremy, with cooler weather on its way I think Ellie’s question is very pertinent right now. Ellie wants to know why wind blows.

NPR Illinois

Students across Illinois are heading back to school. And increasingly, they’re finding alternatives to bachelor’s degrees to reach their career goals.  NPR-Illinois hosted a forum in Rockford on Thursday about training today’s workforce. Northern Illinois University associate vice president Rena Cotsones and Workforce Connection director Lisa Bly had advice for students setting off on a career path.

Governor Bruce Rauner on Facebook

Illinois is creating a new merit-based scholarship aimed at getting more high school graduates to attend in-state colleges and universities.

The AIM HIGH grant pilot program will provide at least $50 million in financial aid. The state is providing $25 million in the current budget year. Universities are matching that amount.

Lawmakers approved the program earlier this year with nearly unanimous support. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the measure into law Tuesday during a stop in Champaign.

The Sound of Science - "Frizzy Hair"

Aug 17, 2018

Welcome to the Sound of Science. I’m Kate Powers – And I’m Mackenzie Thompson.

M: Kate, this week we have a burning question that comes to mind during the hot summer months. What is it about humidity that makes your hair so frizzy and curly?

K: As a curly hair girl, Pati, this question is close to my heart. And the basic answer to the question is simply: chemistry.

M: Chemistry? Are there chemical reactions between humid air and your hair?

Gov. Bruce Rauner/Facebook

A new state law will allow Illinois high school students to take an unlimited number of dual-credit courses and earn both high school and college credits.

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed legislation Friday that he says will give students better access to higher education. The General Assembly unanimously approved the measure in May.

Some school districts have limited the number of dual-credit classes students may enroll in or the number of credits they may earn.

The Sound of Science - "Coffee"

Aug 10, 2018

Kate: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Kate Powers, and today’s question comes from Alex who wants to know why coffee tastes so weird. With me is STEM Outreach’s resident coffee enthusiast Sam Watt. Sam loves his coffee so much, he even went out of his way to pick and roast his own coffee in a coffee grove in Cambodia!

Flickr user James Clay / (CC x 2.0)

Two of Illinois’s regional superintendents were recently tasked with recommending ways the state can funnel new money to schools for at-risk students, and other alternative school programs.

The Sound of Science - "Allergies"

Aug 3, 2018

Kate: Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ.

Sam: Kate, today we have a have a question that I am particularly interested in knowing the answer to. The question comes from Jackson: Why do some people have allergies and some people do not?

Kate: I know why you are interested, Sam. Don’t you have a severe allergy to some types of seeds?

Sam: Yeah, I have a terrible allergy to sunflower seeds and it can be a real pain in the neck. Why does that type of reaction happen to me but not to everyone?

The Sound of Science - "Pee in the Pool"

Jul 27, 2018

Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ.

(K) Today we’re going to tackle a question that we all try not to think about, but one that surely crosses everyone’s mind during the summer. Is there pee in the pool?

(P) Not what I want to talk about, but what about that chemical in pool water that changes color if someone pees in it?

(K) That is one persistent urban myth! There is no color changing chemical that indicates that someone peed in the pool.

(P) So, if that isn’t a real indicator, how do we know?

The Sound of Science - "Fireflies"

Jul 20, 2018

Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ.

(P) We’re answering listener questions this month and today we have a great summer question. “How do fireflies light up?” Living in the Midwest, one of my favorite signs of summertime is seeing fireflies winking across the fields. How can fireflies light themselves up on command?

April Alonso / The Chicago Reporter

A series of state laws meant to reduce the number of kids getting kicked out of school appears to have worked. That’s the good news. But the bad news is: Those same laws also seem to have magnified racial disparities in school discipline.

Kalyn Belsha covers education for the Chicago Reporter, and she analyzed three years worth of discipline data from the Illinois State Board of Education.

SIU Appoints Interim President After Dunn Steps Down

Jul 17, 2018
BENJY JEFFORDS / WSIU

The SIU Board of Trustees met Monday in Edwardsville to vote on a separation agreement with SIU System President Randy Dunn and to appoint an Interim President. 

Victoria Lunacek

Former Illinois State Rep. Bob Pritchard joined NIU’s Board of Trustees on Monday.

Pritchard previously served in the state House of Representatives for the 70th District (which encompasses parts of DeKalb, Kane, and Boone Counties) from December 2003 to July of this year. Pritchard says he’s eager to tackle the challenges facing NIU.

siusystem.edu

Southern Illinois University Trustees will meet in special session Monday to vote on a separation agreement for System President Randy Dunn.

 

 

 

The agreement spells out that Dunn's employment as President ends July 30th - but that he will be on leave starting July 17th. He'll receive a six-month severance equaling $215,000, and will then be assigned as a visiting professor on the system's Edwardsville campus starting in the Spring of 2019.

 

The Sound of Science - "Wavy View"

Jul 13, 2018

Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ.

(K) We’re answering listener questions this month and today we have another summer question. Andy asks, “Why do things look wavy when looking at them across the roadway in the summer?”

(P) Great question, Andy. There’s a lot of science in the answer. First, you likely know from experience that the air you are looking through when things look wavy is hotter than the air around it. That’s usually from heat radiating off a dark surface like the road or the hood of your car. Let’s talk about what that does to light speed.

Flickr user / alamosbasement "old school" (CC BY 2.0)

Ten days ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public sector employees who choose not to join unions no longer have to pay reduced fees to cover collective bargaining. And already, a crusade to persuade teachers to drop union membership has hit Illinois.

The Sound of Science - "The Color of the Sea"

Jul 6, 2018

Welcome to The Sound of Science on WNIJ.

We’re answering listener questions this month and today we have another question on color. Neeha’s question is, “Why does the sea look blue?"

Well, Neeha, the short answer would be because water is blue. 

Wait a minute, my bottle of water is clear, not blue. What’s going on?

Water is a very faint blue so it appears clear in your bottle. The deeper the water, the deeper the blue.

But not all lakes and oceans are the same color. Why not?

Carter Staley / NPR Illinois

When school districts outside of Chicago negotiate contracts, they do so with the assurance that the state will pick up the tab on pensions. To control growing pension costs, lawmakers capped salary bumps at 6 percent in 2005. This year, the cap tightened to 3 percent.

Illinois' teachers unions have collected more than 15,000 signatures on petitions urging state lawmakers to reverse that measure.  

State Rep. Will Davis (D-Homewood) chairs the House K-12 appropriations committee, and was involved in budget negotiations.

NPR Illinois

Long before he ran for governor, Bruce Rauner was a champion for school choice. That’s the shorthand way of saying he used his considerable clout and cash to support charter schools, most of which don’t welcome teacher unions.

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