Education

Education and learning

Chase Cavanaugh

Schools are putting more emphasis on STEM education, but that doesn't mean they're leaving the liberal arts or interpersonal skills behind.

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and educators at all levels are encouraging students to study these subjects. Much of this has to do with the economic growth of Silicon Valley and the higher salaries that jobs in the tech sector can provide. Exposing students to these more advanced subjects can start as early as elementary and middle school.

The Sound of Science - "Mosquitos"

May 17, 2019

K: I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach here in the studio with Sam Watt and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

S: Kate, I have a question from Ellis today about the upcoming season of mosquitos! Ellis wants to know why some people get more mosquito bites than others. 

K: Sam, this is a question that has personally plagued me as I am one of the chosen ones when it comes to mosquitos - they find me irresistible.

S: Yeah, haven’t I seen you carrying mosquito repellent in your purse?

The Sound of Science - "Caterpillar Soup"

May 10, 2019

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

Kate: And I’m Kate! With spring in the air, Jack wants to know why do caterpillars form cocoons. 

Sam: Most insects go through complete metamorphosis for a straightforward evolutionary reason: separating the adult population from the larva population means there’s more food for each group. If the caterpillars are busy getting fat from leaves, then there’s more sweet nectar for the adult butterflies. This reduces the competition and makes it more likely for their species to thrive and continue.

Sarah Jesmer

It started with a Facebook post. Fayth Springer said that sparked her desire to protest.  

"I've been receiving a lot of support because there's a lot of people who are going through the Title IX process. There's a lot of people who didn't speak today who don't feel comfortable because the school has silenced them so much," said Springer.

 

 

Springer and around 50 fellow students marched recently through the campus of Northern Illinois University in opposition to the way the school handles cases of sexual misconduct.

The Sound of Science - "Flu Season"

May 3, 2019

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

J: Kate, I have a question from Jake today and I think he is just as relieved as we are that this long winter is over. Jake wants to know why we get sick more often in the winter than we do in the spring or summer.

K: Jake is right, flu season definitely coincides with wintertime. In fact, due to our prolonged winter this year we had a prolonged flu season.

RISE Act Lifts Hopes For Student Aid

May 1, 2019
Sarah Jesmer

Witness slips and committee hearings are on the minds of some Northern Illinois University organizers who are watching the RISE Act, or the Retention of Illinois Students Act, move through the state Senate this week.

The RISE Act, or Retention of Illinois Students Act, was scheduled for a meeting in a Senate committee Wednesday afternoon.

The Sound of Science - "Blooming Flowers"

Apr 26, 2019

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 Jeannine today. She wants to know how plants know when to bloom.

K: That’s a great question, especially considering how wacky our winter was this year. If plants bloom too soon and then a late cold snap happens, they risk frost damage. 

J: Right. How do plants know not to bloom during a warm spell in the middle of January?

Mark Cuban Companies

Judson University is going to the "Shark Tank" as it rolls out a new speaker series.

Since 2011, Judson University in Elgin, Illinois, has held the World Leaders Forum. Guest speakers have included Queen Noor of Jordan, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. An early forum organizer was 2004 Judson alumnus Mark Vargas.

Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Students in the School of Business at Northern Illinois University are holding what they call their “Golden Heart Celebration” Monday. The ceremony honors two of their own who were killed in an office shooting in Aurora February 15 -- senior Trevor Wehner and alumnus Clay Parks. It’s also Wehner’s Golden Birthday: he would have been 22 on April 22.

The Sound of Science - "Hard as Diamond"

Apr 19, 2019

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

J: Kate, we have a question today from Sara. She wants to know why diamonds are so hard?

K: Sara’s right, diamonds are one of the hardest substances on earth. They are very important for industrial tools and scientific instruments.

J: Wait, that must be very expensive to make a tool out of diamonds!

The Sound of Science - "Personal Black Hole"

Apr 12, 2019

Kate: Hey Jeremy, do you know what time it is?

Jeremy: I sure do, Kate. It’s time for us to answer another question on The Sound of Science, presented by NIU STEM Outreach and WNIJ.

Kate: Today’s question comes from Josh in Elmhurst, who asks:

Josh: I would like to know how small a human has to get to create a black hole.

Jeremy: What a great question Josh!  To answer, let’s start by talking a bit about black holes in general.

The Sound of Science - "New Moons"

Apr 5, 2019

J: This is Jeremy Benson.

K: And Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach.

J: And this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

K: Today’s question comes from my friend Danielle, who asks, “Why can we sometimes see the full moon during the day?”

J: Great question, Danielle!  We’ve had good moon questions lately - I guess you could say we’re going through a phase!

K: Oh brother…  I think what Jeremy means is that to answer Danielle’s question, we’re going to have to look at the different phases of the moon.

The Sound of Science - "What's With All These Moons?"

Mar 29, 2019

J: Hi, I'm Jeremy.

K: And I'm Kate.

J: We're here from NIU STEM Outreach to answer another one of your questions on the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

K: Today's question comes from Caroline who asks, "Why are there so many different moons these days?"

J: Good question, Caroline. It does seem like every month I see something new in my social media about an upcoming special moon. Pink moons, blood moons, strawberry banana mango moons.

The STEM Read Podcast - The Women of Frankenstein

Mar 22, 2019

Episode 16:  The Women of Frankenstein with Kiersten White and Christine Brovelli-O’Brien  

The Sound of Science - "Cell Phones"

Mar 22, 2019

J: I'm Jeremy Benson from NIU STEM Outreach and I'm in the studio with Kate Powers. This is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

K: Hey Jeremy, I have a question from Steven for you today about our cell phones, and to be quite honest it is a question that I have as well!

J: There is a lot of cool technology in our hands these days - I'll see what I can do to answer.

K: Steven, and I, want to know why our cell phones can pick up phone calls without interference from other cell phones? And even without interference from radios, WIFI and all sorts of other devices.

The Sound of Science: "The Chemistry Of Baking"

Mar 15, 2019

J: I'm Jeremy Benson from NIU STEM Outreach and I'm in the studio with Kate Powers. This is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

K: Hi Jeremy, I hear you have a delicious question for me today.

J: That's right! This question is about the chemistry of baking. Lynn wants to know why many recipes call for both baking soda and baking powder. And what's the difference between the two?

K: Lynn's right. Many cookie or cake recipes call for both types of chemical raising agents.

J: Chemical raising agent? Are there other types of raising agents?

Northern Illinois University will administer the state’s Migrant Education Program from January 2019 to September 2021. 

MEP is a federally funded program of the Illinois State Board of Education. It focuses on providing schooling to the children of migrant workers. NIU Director of Illinois Migrant Education Services Susana Das Neves says most of the programs are geared for migrants during the summer.

The Sound of Science - "Potholes"

Mar 8, 2019

K: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I'm Kate Powers.

J: And I'm Jeremy Benson.

K: Spencer asked why we have so many new pot holes each spring. Jeremy, what's going on with the roads in the spring?

J: It all starts long before spring, Kate. Water is great at getting into every crack or crevice in anything, right?

K: Yes…

The Sound of Science - "What's Up with All the Lightbulbs?"

Mar 1, 2019

J: I’m Jeremy Benson from NIU STEM Outreach and I’m in the studio with Kate Powers. This is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

K: Hi Jeremy, I love the question you have from Gustavo today!

J: Gustavo just wants to know why lightbulb shopping has become so complicated in the past few years. Why does that question excite you so much Kate?

K: When I moved into my apartment in August and turned on my kitchen overhead light, I noticed it was the kind of lighting you might expect in an operating theater. It was awful and blue and really bright. 

Northern Illinois University

When people hear the word "meteorology," the first thing that often comes to mind is TV weathermen.

A key aspect of meteorology is studying atmospheric patterns to accurately predict the weather. But NIU professor Victor Gensini says there is much more to the field.

"After you get a meteorology degree, you're a broadly trained critical thinker," he said. "You have skills in physics, in mathematics, in computer science, in programming."

Gov. J.B. Pritzker replaced most of the state board of education this week and appointed a new superintendent.

The board includes seven women and two men. The new superintendent, Carmen Ayala, is the first woman and the first person of color appointed to hold that position full-time.

"It's amazing. It's such an honor, I mean, it still hasn't hit me today,” she said. “Somebody texted and said, ‘You know, Carmen, today you made history in Illinois,’ and I was like wow! That's just amazing. It's an honor."

University officials are praising Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed budget increases for higher education. 

It would provide more money for student aid and gives colleges a five percent boost in their operating budgets. Northern Illinois University President Lisa Freeman says the increase won’t undo the damage from previous cuts and the 700 day budget impasse. But it’s a good first step.

The Sound of Science - "Gold"

Feb 22, 2019

K: I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach here in the studio with Sam Watt and this is the Sound of Science.

S: Kate, I have a question from Colton today. He is wondering why you have to polish silver but not gold?

K: Yeah gold is pretty amazing. Colton is right, gold doesn’t tarnish like other metals. Before we talk about gold, though, we should talk about what is happening when a metal tarnishes. 

S: Well, I know silver turns black when it tarnishes. What other metals tarnish?

The Sound of Science - "How is Oxygen Made?"

Feb 15, 2019

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

Jeremy: And I’m Jeremy! This week’s question comes from Hazel in Dekalb.

Hazel: I want to know how oxygen is made?

Sam: That’s a pretty good question. Jeremy, where does the oxygen we breathe come from?

Jeremy: We can thank all the plants and trees in the world for that! They take in the carbon dioxide we breathe out, use the carbon, and release oxygen molecules. But that doesn’t really explain how the oxygen even came to exist! For that, we need to think about nuclear fusion.

The Sound of Science - "Why Does E=mc2?"

Feb 8, 2019

Jeremy:  Greetings, I’m Jeremy from NIU STEAM.

Sam: And I’m Sam, and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

Jeremy:  Today’s question was asked by Hunang from Orland Park.

Hunang: I'm Hunang, I am from Orland Park and I would like to know, why does E=mc2? 

Sam:  That’s a great question, and one we should be able to answer relatively easily. Get it, relativity?

Cabin Fever Breaks After Snow Days

Feb 5, 2019
Sarah Jesmer

Freezing temperatures last week closed countless businesses and schools in northern Illinois. For some, snow days meant working remotely. Students are now returning to class after some school districts closed their doors for safety.

 

The Sound of Science - "Extinct Humans"

Feb 1, 2019

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

Jeremy: And I’m Jeremy! Today we have a question from Maddy.

Maddy: I'm Maddie from Fox River Grove, and I would like to know what would happen if all of humanity went extinct? 

Jeremy: Great question Maddy! Sam, what are your thoughts on the extinction of our species? What would happen?

The Sound of Science - "Becoming a Scientist"

Jan 25, 2019

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

Kate: And I’m Kate. We’re here from NIU STEAM to answer your questions about anything to do with science, technology, engineering, and math.

K: Today’s question comes from Judy from Chicago. 

[How does someone become a scientist?]

J: Kate, before you joined NIU STEAM, weren’t you a researcher in a chemical lab? How did you become a scientist?

The Sound of Science - "Fruitcake"

Jan 18, 2019

J: I’m Jeremy Benson from NIU STEM Outreach and I’m in the studio with Kate Powers. This is the Sound of Science on WNIJ.

K: Jeremy, I hear you have a question from Lizzy today. 

J: Yes, Lizzy is concerned that her mom is still eating fruitcake from Christmas. She wants to know if that fruitcake is too old to eat, but I’ve heard stories about really old fruitcakes before. I just figured fruitcakes last a long time because nobody likes them.

The Sound of Science - "Hoar Frost"

Jan 11, 2019

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

K: Jeremy, I hear you have a question today from Maria about a spectacular weather phenomenon. 

J: That’s right, Maria wants to know why sometimes on a cold morning you wake to find everything outside covered in glittery frost and sometimes you don’t.

K: That is a great question and one that I used to wonder as well. The glittery frost that Maria is talking about is called a hoar frost.

J: What kind of frost?

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