Education

Education and learning

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?

The Sound of Science - "Instant Pots"

Jan 4, 2019

Sam: This is the Sound of Science from WNIJ. I’m Sam Watt from NIU STEM Outreach and I’m here with Jeremy Benson to discuss my favorite kitchen gadget.

Jeremy: Today we are talking food. Janell asked how an instant pot work to cook food so quickly? 

Sam: But an instant pot is just a pressure cooker, right? You get the same benefits as the old-fashioned stove-top pressure cookers?

The STEM Read Podcast - Revisions in Writing, Engineering, and Life

Jan 2, 2019

Episode 14: Revisions in Writing, Engineering, and Life with Craig DeAmbrose and Mike Mullin 

The Sound of Science - "Rainbows"

Dec 28, 2018

Sam: I’m Sam Watt from NIU STEM Outreach and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I have a question from Madison today and Jeremy Benson is going to help me answer. Jeremy, Madison wants to understand more about rainbows. Why do we see them and why do they appear in the sky just after a rainstorm?

Jeremy: Let’s start with the basics. Sam, have you ever looked at a straw in a glass of water? What do you notice?

Sam: Well, the straw looks bent at the top of the water.

Nelle Conley

Seven years ago, a girls school founded by two Northern Illinois University professors opened its doors to its first eleven students in rural western Kenya. Now, 160 girls attend the school that has a goal of being “good enough for the richest, open to the poorest.” The school added music to its curriculum this year, and that created a mutual opportunity for one DeKalb native. On this week’s Friday Forum, WNIJ’s Susan Stephens sits down with Nelle Conley before she heads back to Kenya.

       

The Sound of Science - "Purring Cats"

Dec 21, 2018

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

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

S: Jeremy, we have a cuddly question from Kim today. Kim wants to know how and why cats purr?

J: That’s a question that I have wondered myself. Our co-worker Kate has two cats at home, Betsy and Irma, and they purr so differently and at different times. Betsy purrs when you just glance in her direction and Irma really makes you work for a purr.

The Sound of Science - "Floating Magnets"

Dec 14, 2018

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.

Behind The Numbers: A Closer Look At Campus Safety

Dec 14, 2018
Claire Buchanan

This fall, Northern Illinois University released its annual Safety and Security report. We spoke with university and community leaders to find out how they are trying to keep students safe.

The annual report details campus crime statistics for the past 3 years. It’s mandated by the Jeanne Clery Act. The act is named for Jeanne Clery, a Lehigh University student who was raped and murdered in her dorm room in 1986. All institutions of higher education that participate in federal student financial assistance must publish an annual report.

Sarah Jesmer

A long-awaited email landed in Nicole LaDue's inbox earlier this year. It was a survey sent by NIU's Presidential Commission on the Status Of Women. The group wanted to know how NIU employees felt about FMLA, or the Family Medical Leave Act. FMLA is a federal law that lets qualified people take leave for 12 non-consecutive weeks without threat of losing their job. FMLA applies to any eligible organization, including universities.

The Sound of Science - "Cool Mints and Hot Peppers"

Dec 7, 2018

Kate: Hi there, this is Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach, and it’s time for another installment of The Sound of Science on WNIJ. Today I’m joined by Sam Watt, who has another great question from a listener. 

Sam: That’s right, Kate. Today’s question comes from Richard, who asks, “Why do spicy foods make my mouth feel hot, but minty foods make it feel cool?”

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

Hundreds of teachers at a large northern Illinois school district remain on strike.

Earlier this week, hundreds of Geneva teachers, community members and even students rallied outside of the high school.

The main sticking point between the union and school board is how much teachers are paid.

That includes how they are paid throughout their career based on education and experience.
 

The union says their new deal would give bigger raises to younger, less experienced educators in an effort to attract new teachers.

The Sound of Science - "Can Sound Move in Space?"

Nov 30, 2018

Kate:  Hi!  I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach, joined by my good friend Sam Watt.  Today we have a question from Annie who wants to know more about how scientists study stars from so far away. Well Annie, scientists listen to the stars, of course.

Sam:  Um, that’s a confusing answer Kate. First, do stars…talk to us? Second, I thought space was a vacuum, and sound doesn’t travel through a vacuum.

Farm fields abound around Indian Creek High School. But step into a classroom, and you're a far cry from the rural stereotype.
 

The kids are looking down at laptops, glancing back up to check the flat-screen monitors mounted to the walls displaying the Quizlet program they're using to study.

The only thing that isn't updated is the bell. "It's actually a real bell," jokes Principal Sarah Montgomery. "It's not digital."
 

The Sound of Science - "Fruits and Frugivores"

Nov 23, 2018

Kate: This is the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach. I’m joined in the studio by Sam Watt. Sam, I want to share some cutting-edge research I just read about.

Sam: Oh, is it about machine learning or gene editing?

Kate: No Sam, it’s about fruit.

Sam: How is fruit cutting-edge? We’ve been studying it since forever. What could possibly be new about fruit?

Kate: Well, you heard about how flowers attract pollinators with beautiful petals, right?

The Sound of Science - "Self-Driving Cars"

Nov 16, 2018

Kate: Hi, I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach, and this is the Sound of Science. Joining me today is Sam Watt who has a question from one of our loyal listeners.

Sam: That’s right, Kate. Today’s question is from Marcus, who asks, “How do self-driving cars work?”

Kate: Great question, Sam. We hear a lot these days about self-driving cars and if they’re safe, but how do they actually work with no one at the wheel?

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced sweeping rules on how colleges handle cases of sexual assault and harassment that she says will fix a "failed" and "shameful" system that has been unfair to accused students.

It’s been a rough couple of years for Illinois community colleges, from the slashed funds of the budget impasse to concerning enrollment declines. This is the final installment of a three-part series on how these very different schools have stayed afloat by embracing change and, more importantly, putting the "community" in community college.

 

The Kishwaukee table tennis club's practice is in full swing. They're preparing for a tournament coming up soon.

 

It’s been a rough couple of years for Illinois community colleges, from the slashed funds of the budget impasse to concerning enrollment declines. We begin a three-part series on how these very different schools have stayed afloat by embracing change and, more importantly, putting the "community" in community college.

 

It’s been a rough couple of years for Illinois community colleges, from the slashed funds of the budget impasse to concerning enrollment declines. This is part two in a three-part series on how these very different schools have stayed afloat by embracing change and, more importantly, putting the community in community college.

 

The Sound of Science - "Fall Leaves"

Nov 9, 2018

M: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I'm Mackenzie Thompson from NIU STEM Outreach, and today I'm joined by my good friend, Sam Watt. Sam, today we have a question from Rhea, who asks, "Why do the leaves change colors in the fall?"

S: Good question - and a timely one. I was raking all those pretty colored leaves out of my yard last week.

M: Yeah, they certainly are everywhere this time of year, but they sure look nice while still on their branches.

The Sound of Science - "Genes from our Parents"

Nov 2, 2018

Kate: Welcome to the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m Kate Powers from NIU STEM Outreach. Today we have a question from Marcella. She wants to know what percentage of our genes come from our parents. Marcella, it depends on who bought the denim pants and how many pairs you already have.

Sam: That’s not what she had in mind. She wants to know about DNA, not dungarees. Obviously we get 50 percent of our genes from our biological mothers and 50 percent from our biological fathers.

Kate: And 8 percent from viruses.

Sam: Viruses?

Episode 13: Chainsaws and Wedding Cake with Lex Thomas

Happy Halloween! On this spooky edition of the STEM Read Podcast Gillian and Kristin sit down with Lex Hrabe and Thomas Voorhies, who write the popular Quarantine book series as Lex Thomas (@LexThomasAuthor). We’ll explore using horror books in the classroom and talk learning, writing, teaching, and most importantly, horror-movie binging. Grab a bowl of candy and kick back for this very special episode.

DeKalb School District Unveils Diversity Plan

Nov 1, 2018

A public forum was held last week at DeKalb High School to officially unveil District 428’s Diversity Plan.

The seven part plan has been in the works for at least a decade. It was recently approved by the school board.

Amy Crook is the district’s bilingual programs coordinator. She says that student feedback after a tense episode following a black history month assembly at the high school in 2016 sped up the plan’s construction.

Episode 12: Games, Goldfish, and Greatness with Filament Games and Jennifer L. Holm

The Sound of Science - "Why Does Salt Melt Ice?"

Oct 26, 2018

Sam: I’m Sam Watt from NIU STEM Outreach and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I have a question from Andy today and Kate Powers, our resident chemist, will help me answer. Kate, Andy wants to know why we put salt on our sidewalks and roads to melt ice in the winter?

Kate: That’s a great question Andy. It does seem kind of magical that a solid, salt, turns another solid, ice, into a liquid. Sam, to start answering Andy’s question I have a question for you: what happens when you put table salt into water?

S: Um, I suppose it disappears right? It dissolves?

Northern Illinois University

Northern Illinois University’s STEMfest is working to be more inclusive this year.

The annual event takes place at NIU's Convocation Center. It features scientific demonstrations, intricate displays, and STEM experts scattered across the large space.  But it’s often a loud, crowded show.  NIU STEM educator Sam Watt says they’re trying to expand access to the event with a low-sensory hour.

The Sound of Science - "Starlings in Flight"

Oct 19, 2018

Sam: Hi I’m Sam Watt from NIU STEM Outreach and this is the Sound of Science on WNIJ. I’m joined in the studio by Kate Powers who’ll help answer a question submitted to us by Elisa.

Kate: Hi Sam. Yeah, Elisa has a question about a spectacular natural phenomenon that occurs right in our own backyard.

S: Elisa asks, “Why do starling birds join up in those large groups and swoop around the sky?”

Episode 11: Science Fiction to Fuel Science Fact with Andy Weir and Joe Magliano

The Sound of Science - "What's in the Water?"

Oct 12, 2018

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

Sam: Samantha wants to know what water is made of. Luckily, I have Chemist and known water drinker Kate Powers here. Well Kate? What’s water made of?

Kate: Water molecules consist of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. They–

Sam: There we have it! This has been the Sound of Science on WNIJ where you learn–

Chase Cavanaugh

Northern Illinois University will be the fourth research hub for the Illinois Innovation Network.

This hub will be part of a research network that spans three University of Illinois campuses, each focused on different subjects.  Gov Bruce Rauner says the state’s already budgeted $15 million for NIU’s center, and NIU President Lisa Freeman says the center will focus on issues of sustainability.  

"Environmental sustainability, water and food policy, water and food shortages," she said. 

Gov. Rauner said this could lead to significant innovation.

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