Education and learning

What To Know About Recreational Cannabis On Campus

3 hours ago
Andrew Heiserman

On a recent Thursday, a small group of Northern Illinois University students took their seats at an open forum to discuss recreational cannabis. It will be legal in Illinois soon.

Administrators wanted to make one thing clear: marijuana will still be banned on NIU’s campus.

That’s mostly because of the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.    

The Sound of Science - 'Salted Hashes'

Dec 6, 2019


Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science. I’m Sam from STEM Outreach. 

Jessica: And I’m Jessica from NIU Division of Information Technology. With cyber-attacks on everyone’s minds, we thought it would be nice to introduce some of the basics of password security.

Sam: We’ll get into how attackers get into databases in a future episode, but for now just imagine a large company just had a breach and your information is at risk. Let’s go into some of the measures that go into keeping your information secure.

Spencer Tritt

In response to mass shootings, schools across the country are spending millions on school safety projects.

School districts across Illinois will be able to submit grant requests through the Illinois State Board of Education. The law takes effect in January.

Paul Morigi for the National Park Foundation

Art students from Harlem Middle School in Loves Park were chosen to create ornaments representing Illinois for the annual National Christmas Tree celebration in Washington D.C.

They had been working on the ornaments in secret since September. Their teacher, Ruth Meissen, said she chose 24 students for the 24 ornaments.

And she says it was up to them to decide what the design of the ornaments was going to be.

SIU's Board of Trustees will vote Thursday on the appointment of a new system president.

Last month, Northern Illinois University police investigated a potential threat circulating on social media.

The university sent a late-night “community awareness message” telling students and staff the threat wasn’t credible. But many NIU students had already seen the rumors online and were not satisfied with the university’s short response.

That morning, November 18, Kaitlyn Frisby woke up to Facebook and Twitter reactions about the situation from her classmates -- questions like: How long did they talk to the person? Are they in police custody?

The Sound of Science - 'Non-Newtonian Fluids Pt. 2'

Nov 29, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach.

Nicole: and I’m Nicole James from NIU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. I researched non-Newtonian fluids like Oobleck for my PhD.

Sam: Oobleck is a cornstarch and water mixture that acts kinda funny. It’s runny and goopy until you apply a sudden force, then it feels solid. It’s one of many non-Newtonian fluids.

Using Nature To Nurture Social-Emotional Skills

Nov 29, 2019
Peter Medlin

Three kids crunch the leaves under their feet while helping a fourth kid get a foothold to climb a short tree on the edge of a fenced-in yard.

On the other side of the yard, a sensory wall is adorned with chimes and bells. But the most popular attraction has got to be the mud kitchen. It’s actually just a few wood pallets made to look live a stove, but it’s much more to the 4 and 5-year-olds here.

Peter Medlin

This week, a really special episode we've been excited about for a while. It’s a conversation with Dick Hart. He’s an 89-year-old retired choral teacher at Downers Grove North High School. He also played trombone in the Army band when he served during Korean War. Dick talked to Peter about all of that, his motto "music is life" and so much more.

Also on the show, a trip to the STEAM Academy at Haskell Elementary in Rockford to see how they jumped from being a lowest-performing school to a "commendable" one in just a year.

Spencer Tritt

DeKalb is a university town. But even growing up in the shadow of Northern Illinois University, that doesn’t mean every student sees themselves as a potential college student.

Advanced Placement classes are one way to make a student feel college-ready. They can also earn actual college credit from them.

The Sound of Science - 'Non-Newtonian Fluids'

Nov 22, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach.

Nicole: And I’m Nicole James from NIU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. I researched non-Newtonian fluids for my PhD.

Spencer Tritt

The DeKalb School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night against a proposal before the Illinois Association of School Boards on allowing trained staff -- including teachers -- to be armed on school property.

The association has been asking local school boards to weigh in before they vote later this month.

Spencer Tritt

The DeKalb School Board is considering a “welcoming resolution” to undocumented students and families. Some board members strongly disagreed about whether the statement is necessary at all.

The resolution wouldn’t result in any major policy shifts from the district. It doesn’t change how student information is disclosed.

Peter Medlin

The Partnership for College Completion held an event at Northern Illinois University discussing their new reports on the cost of college, specifically for black students.

Along with university officials and local lawmakers, several black NIU students came to the event to talk about their own challenges paying for school.

Gabrielle Sims is a junior at NIU.

The Sound of Science - 'Wastewater Injection'

Nov 15, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ, I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach.

Megan: And I’m Dr. Megan Brown from NIU Geology and Environmental Geosciences. I am a hydrogeologist interested in how fluids interact with and can induce earthquakes. 

Sam: Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has become less of a hot-button topic in the past few years, but it’s still a question we get asked every once in a while. I’ve asked Megan to dispel some myths, clear some things up, and give some tidbits about the science of hydraulic fracturing.

Logo design by Spencer Tritt

This week on Teachers’ Lounge, Illinois High School Baseball Hall of Fame Coach, Neal Bertram! He’s been a coach and P.E. teacher at Rockford Lutheran for over 30 years. He talked to Peter about the joy of watching his kids gain confidence, the huge impact his P.E. teacher and basketball coach had on him, and baseball as an allegory for life.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

An advocacy group is calling on Illinois to make higher education more equitable for students.  It says that means changing the way it funds post-secondary schooling.

Before they dug into the numbers, Kyle Westbrook said his group wanted to try to reframe the conversation around the cost of college in Illinois.

The Sound of Science - 'Hydraulic Fracturing'

Nov 8, 2019

Sam: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ, I’m Sam from NIU STEM Outreach.

Megan: And I’m Dr. Megan Brown from NIU Geology and Environmental Geosciences. I worked as a geologist in an environmental consulting firm on the East Coast, focusing on remediation of groundwater and soil. 

Sam: Megan is here to explain a bit more about hydraulic fracturing and maybe cast it in a slightly different light.

If a school resource officer wants to question a student about a criminal act, they first have to notify the student's parents. That's according to a new law implemented at the beginning of this school year.

But State Representative Stephanie Kifowit (D-Oswego), says at least one district has already created a workaround. 

"The resource officer's dog, a K-9 unit, was walking through the parking lot and alerted on a student's car. The student got questioned with the resource officer present. They looked at the car, there was nothing there,” Kifowit says. “And the parent was never notified of this questioning until the student came home upset."

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

State disinvestment in higher education has put a college degree out of reach for many Illinois students. That’s a key finding from a new series of reports from the Partnership for College Completion.

The “Priced Out” reports focus on the three groups most impacted by funding lapses: Black, Latinx and students who live in rural communities.

Peter Medlin

During a recent visit to an elementary school in Rockford, the kids were making catapults in the MakerSpace lab. The lab is one of the central hubs of the STEAM Academy at Haskell Elementary. It’s in a new modular building, housed next to their 60-year-old school.

On weeks they don’t get to work in the MakerSpace lab, students try their hand at Lego education.

DeKalb County Sheriff's Department

Laurie Borowicz began her position as Kishwaukee College President in 2015, becoming the first woman in its history to lead the school. Police records show that in June of 2019 President Borowicz received two anonymous letters.

Spencer Tritt

The beginning of the school year is always hectic. That’s according to Suzy Changnon. She’s been a paraprofessional in the DeKalb School District for around 15 years.

If you’re not sure who paraprofessionals are, you might know them better as instructional assistants or aids.

“There's a lot of scrambling," as Changnon characterized the job. "Students have needs that need to be met. And sometimes a lot of us are doing double duty trying to cover one schedule and then breaking away mid-class to go help another student.”

The Sound of Science - 'Floating Magnets'

Nov 1, 2019

Jeremy: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Jeremy from NIU STEAM. 

Sam: And I’m Sam. Today’s question comes from Abus from Rockford.

Abus: I would like to know: why does magnetism make an object float? 

Jeremy: That’s an excellent question, Abus. I think most of us know that magnets can attract or repel each other depending on which way they’re facing. You might’ve even seen objects that seem to float in mid-air by using this magnetic force to oppose the force of gravity.

Peter Medlin

This week on Teachers’ Lounge, we take a look at the science behind brewing with DeKalb High School biology teacher, Steve Byers. He’s also the owner and brewmaster behind the new Byers Brewing Company in downtown DeKalb. Byers talked with Peter about how he got started brewing in college trying to recreate his favorite discontinued beers. They also discuss how he manages running a small business, being a full-time teacher, oh, and he has a new baby!

Last week, Northern Illinois University announced the Huskie Pledge. The grant could cover tuition and fees for a student’s first year and up to four additional years.

The university is now offering more details on what the process will look like for students interested in applying.

Peter Medlin

The organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids released a report on Thursday on after-school programs.

The report found that the hours immediately following school, between 2 to 6 p.m., when youth are most likely to get in trouble with the law.

Chase Cavanaugh

Northern Illinois University will open up the remodeled first floor of its student center Saturday.

Construction focused on turning the first floor of Holmes Student Center into a hub for student activity. This includes greater views to the outside and more lounge space to sit or meet with others. Dean of Students Kelly Wesener-Michael says a major improvement is a shared workspace called the OASIS.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

In four years of medical school, Illinois Director of Public Health Ngozi Ezike didn’t have to treat a single case of measles.

The World Health Organization certified the United States measles free in the year 2000. But after an outbreak in New York that started last year, the US came dangerously close to losing the designation.

Susan Stephens

Northern Illinois University President Lisa Freeman announced the “Huskie Pledge” grant program in her State of the University speech. 

Illinois students enrolling as full-time freshmen at NIU in fall 2020 will be awarded a grant to totally cover their first year of tuition and general fees. To meet the grant criteria, they must come in with a 3.0 or higher high school GPA and have a household income of under $75,000.