Story Preservation Initiative®

We believe in the importance of sharing ideas and the transformative power of story. For info on our K-3 Learning Lab projects, go to: www.storypreservation.org

Posts from the ‘Scientists’ category

Dayna Baumeister – Looking to Nature for Sustainable Design

 

Click on links below to listen to Dayna’s story.  Guaranteed, you’ll love it.

Dayna Baumeister is the co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute and a big-time advocate for bringing the principles of Biomimicry into the classroom.

Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul. The core idea is that nature has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. Dayna works tirelessly to bring systems thinking into the school system.

The Biomimicry Youth Design Challenge is a new project-based learning experience and competition for students in grades 6-12. Piloted for the first time in 2018, the program challenges students to work in teams to devise a bio-inspired solution to a problem associated with climate change adaptation or mitigation. In 2019, 78 teams submitted projects for consideration by the judges. Stated one judge, “We would be wise to add these (and other) smart kids to the brainstorming table for countless issues we currently face. Their creativity, enthusiasm, ability to look to and be in awe of nature, and refusal to be daunted gives me hope for a more sustainable world!”  

Dayna’s fascination with the natural world began with daily forays into the woods and mountains around her childhood home in Colorado. Since, she has fused a lifelong fascination with nature into a career that began after she received a B.S. in marine biology from New College in Sarasota, Florida. After several years exploring the intricate relationships of coral reefs, she turned in her wetsuit and headed back to the mountains. She earned an M.S. in resource conservation and a Ph.D. in organic biology and ecology from The University of Montana in Missoula, where she specialized in the dynamics of positive interactions among animal and plant life.

Cover photo: Barn Owl in Flight, Luc Viatour; Wikimedia Commons

For more, go to: www.storypreservation.org and please consider making a donation to Story Preservation Initiative.   Details can be found on our website.  Donate = ❤  (-:

 

Stories Matter

Charles Yarish – Fueling the Future

Photo courtesy of Peter Morenus /UConn

Dr. Charles Yarish heads the Yarish Seaweed Marine Biotechnology Lab at the University of Connecticut at Stamford, Ct. and is a pioneer in the field of sustainable seaweed aquaculture, otherwise known as seaweed farming. Yarish is nothing short of bullish on seaweed, and kelp aquaculture in particular, and it is no wonder why. The benefits of seaweed are enormous. Some seaweed species take CO2 out of the atmosphere at 5X the rate of land-based plants and it is a sustainable food source for humans and animals. Nori, a red seaweed, provides more protein than soy, more vitamin C than orange juice, as much heart-healthy Omega 3 fatty acids as many fish, as well as minerals like iodine, zinc, and magnesium – all with no need for agro-chemicals, fertilizer, or antibiotics. Kelp species could well be the biofuel of the future. Initial feasibility studies suggest that an acre of kelp can produce 2,000 gallons of ethanol, five times the amount derived from corn. This just keeps getting better!

With Yarish’s help, seaweed farming is experiencing a small boom in Maine, Southern New England, and Alaska and it is predicted to grow significantly over the next several years. Kelp farmer Bren Smith, formerly a traditional fisherman, contacted Yarish after hurricanes Irene and Sandy devastated his shellfish beds. It was Yarish who introduced him to kelp farming. Smith has gone on to found the non-profit GreenWave whose mission it is to create jobs and protect the planet; grow good, local food for communities; and to make a living on a living planet.

Click on links below to listen to Charlie’s story.

For more, go to: www.storypreservation.org and please consider making a donation to Story Preservation Initiative.   Details can be found on our website.  Donate = ❤  (-:

 

 

This recording and all accompanying materials, as uploaded to our Learning Lab site, were made possible with funding from the Dorr Foundation, Portsmouth, NH.

Eben Bayer – Are Mushrooms the New Plastic?

Click on links below to listen to Eben’s story.

Eben Bayer is the co-founder of Ecovative Design. He is a mover and a shaker in the field of biotechnology, using natural materials to solve important environmental challenges. Named one of Forbes 30-Under-30, Bayer and his Ecovative team have successfully developed a process that uses mycelium, the root structure of mushrooms, to grow materials that replace plastics, with a focus on plastic packaging material.

Eben is an advocate for disruptive technology, defined as “one that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry or a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry.” And there is no better place to start the thinking process behind disruptive technology than with young people.

SPI recorded Eben’s story in late August 2019 with upload to SPI’s grades 4-12 Learning Lab coming soon!

Bayer, who grew up working on his family’s Vermont farm, is a pioneer in leveraging mycelium—”nature’s glue”—in mushroom materials to drive sustainable innovation in the industrial sector. Using biology to upgrade existing products and processes, Ecovative has commercialized products into multiple industries including a formaldehyde-free core for engineered wood & insulation; eco-friendly furniture; and home compostable protective packaging, as well as GIY (grow-it-yourself) materials for innovators, students, and educators.

For more, go to: www.storypreservation.org and please consider making a donation to Story Preservation Initiative.   Details can be found on our website.  Donate = ❤  (-:

 

 

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This recording and all accompanying materials, as uploaded to our Learning Lab site, were made possible with funding from the Dorr Foundation, Portsmouth, NH.

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Sherri Mason – Leading the Charge on Microplastics

Click on links below to listen to Sherri’s story.

Story Preservation recorded the personal narrative of Dr. Sherri A. “Sam” Mason on July 22nd on the campus of Bennington College in Bennington, Vermont.

While there has been much study and media attention focused on the spread of microplastics into our oceans, Sam has emerged as a leader in the small but growing study of their affects on lakes and rivers far from the coasts.

In 2018, The Heinz Family Foundation named Dr. Sherri Mason as the recipient of the prestigious 23rd Heinz Award in the Public Policy category. She is recognized for her groundbreaking research identifying the presence of microbeads and microfibers in fresh water, and for raising awareness of the potential impact of microplastics and associated contaminants on the food chain and human health, resulting in state, federal and international policy change.

Her work has drawn international attention to the threats posed by microplastics in freshwater and led to the enactment of the federal Microbead-Free Waters Act of 2015. Other countries are following suit. The Canadian and New Zealand governments banned microbeads in early 2018, and the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and other Scandinavian countries are rolling out bans on microbead-laden products over the next two years. To date, 448 brands from 119 different manufacturers have promised to remove plastic microbeads from their products.

Dr. Mason is also using her expertise to expand her focus to include the presence of microplastics in drinking water. In March 2018, the results of a study conducted by Dr. Mason analyzed bottled water from nine countries — the U.S., China, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Lebanon, Kenya and Thailand — and found that 93 percent showed some contamination from microplastics, or plastic debris less than one millimeter in length. Microplastics have also been found in samples of sea salt, freshwater sediment and even in air samples.

She currently serves in the role of Sustainability Coordinator at Penn State University, Behrend.

For more, go to http://www.storypreservation.org and please consider making a donation to Story Preservation Initiative.   Details can be found on our website.

 

INTRO TO RECORDING:

PLASTIC IS EVERYWHERE:

MICROBEADS AND MICROFIBERS:

LEGISLATION:

TAP AND BOTTLED WATER STUDIES:

WHY WE NEED MORE SCIENTISTS:

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This recording and all accompanying materials, as uploaded to our Learning Lab site, were made possible with funding from the Dorr Foundation, Portsmouth, NH.

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Deepika Kurup

UPDATE!  AUDIO UP!!

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With Deepika Kurup one of Forbes 2015 30 Under 30,  2014 Stockholm Junior Water Prize Winner, and a Google Science Fair award winner (along with much else), Deepika is working on a prototype to quickly, easily, and safely purify drinking water for use in developing countries.

 

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From an earlier post:

First up in the New Year!

Here’s 17-year old Deepika’s story (so far)  ~

On family trips to India as a child, Deepika Kurup often saw kids like herself forced to drink dirty water — as a result, at age 14, she became determined to find to a way to ensure that everyone has access to safe drinking water. For an 8th grade project, the Nashua, New Hampshire teen invented a water purification system that uses a photocatalytic composite and sunlight to clean water — an invention which earned her recognition as America’s Top Young Scientist in 2012.  And that’s just the beginning.

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Deepika at the 2013 White House Science Fair

Access to clean water is a global crisis. “One-ninth of the global population lacks access to clean water,” she explains “and 500,000 children die every year because of water related diseases.” On the trips to India, her immigrant parents’ native land, Deepika saw the struggle for clean water first hand: “[My parents] would have to boil the water before we drank it. I also saw children on the streets of India… take these little plastic bottles and they’re forced to fill it up with the dirty water they see on the street. And they’re forced to drink that water, because they don’t have another choice. And then I go back to America and I can instantly get tap water.”

Her early investigations into water purification methods found that many of them were expensive and potentially hazardous. “Traditionally, to purify waste water, they use chlorine, and chlorine can create harmful byproducts,” she points out. “Also, you have to keep replenishing the chlorine, you have to keep putting chlorine into the waste water to purify it.” She wanted to invent a new way to clean water that would be both cheap and sustainable.

Deepika came up with the idea of using a photocatalyst — a substance that reacts with water’s impurities when energized by the sun — that also filters the water. The combination of the reaction and the filtration can remove most contaminants for a fraction of the cost of chlorine purification. She determined that her system reduces the presence of coliform bacteria by 98% immediately after filtration and by 100% within 15 minutes. Another advantage is that her catalyst is reusable: “a catalyst doesn’t get used up in the reaction,” she says. “Theoretically you can keep using my composite forever.”

Deepika’s efforts have already been widely recognized — in addition to being named America’s Top Young Scientist in the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, she was also the recipient of the 2013 President’s Environmental Youth Award and the 2014 U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize.  In 2015, she was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 2015 “30 Under 30 in Energy” and received the National Geographic Explorer Award.

Deepika is looking forward to taking her research from the lab to real life: “It’s one thing to be working in a lab, doing this, and another thing to actually deploy it and see it working in the real world. So that’s one of my steps in the future.”

To listen to Deepika’s story, click on links below:

Stories Matter

Make Way for Sy!

AUDIO UP! on this fabulous recording.   It’s impossible to not love and be inspired by Sy!  

Photo by Paula Gordon

Photo by Paula Gordon.  Used with permission.

To research books, films and articles, Sy Montgomery has been chased by an angry silverback gorilla in Zaire and bitten by a vampire bat in Costa Rica, worked in a pit crawling with 18,000 snakes in Manitoba and handled a wild tarantula in French Guiana.

She has been deftly undressed by an orangutan in Borneo, hunted by a tiger in India, and swum with piranhas, electric eels and dolphins in the Amazon. She has searched the Altai Mountains of Mongolia’s Gobi for snow leopards, hiked into the trackless cloud forest of Papua New Guinea to radiocollar tree kangaroos, and learned to SCUBA dive in order to commune with octopuses.

smontgomery_soulofanoctopusSy’s 20 books for both adults and children have garnered many honors. The Soul of an Octopus was a 2015 Finalist for the National Book Awards. The Good Good Pig, her memoir of life with her pig, Christopher Hogwood, is an international bestseller. She is the winner of the 2009 New England Independent Booksellers Association Nonfiction Award, the 2010 Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award, the Henry Bergh Award for Nonfiction (given by the ASPCA for Humane Education) and dozens of other honors. Her work with the man-eating tigers, the subject of her book Spell Of The Tiger, was made into in a National Geographic television documentary she scripted and narrated. Also for National Geographic TV she developed and scripted Mother Bear Man, about her friend, Ben Kilham, who raises and releases orphaned bear cubs, which won a Chris award.

Sy writes for adults and children, for print and broadcast, in America and overseas in an effort to reach as wide an audience as possible at what she considers a critical turning point in human history.

“We are on the cusp of either destroying this sweet, green Earth—or revolutionizing the way we understand the rest of animate creation,” she says. “It’s an important time to be writing about the connections we share with our fellow creatures. It’s a great time to be alive.”

She speaks frequently at schools and museums, libraries and universities.

She is a 1979 graduate of Syracuse University, a triple major with dual degrees in Magazine Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and in French Language and Literature and in Psychology from the College of Arts and Sciences. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Keene State College in 2004, and an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Franklin Pierce University and also from Southern New Hampshire University in 2011.

 

 

 

What a Plant Knows

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Audio is up on this fascinating look into the inner life of plants.  On the last track, Danny makes an impassioned and educated argument for genetically modified food.  You may agree / you may disagree, but worth listening to!

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This recording, like so many, has been a long time in coming – and worth the wait!

I first became aware of the work of plant biologist (and so much more, read on for his complete bio) Daniel Chamovitz in 2012 and contacted him then to try to arrange a meeting. Unfortunately, my timing was off as he was just leaving the States and returning to his home in Tel Aviv.

Fast-forward three years and – finally –  I will have the pleasure of meeting and recording Danny this summer.

And here is what we’ll be talking about:

Danny will share with us an intriguing and scrupulous look at how plants themselves experience the world–from the colors they see to the schedules they keep. Highlighting the latest research in genetics and more, he takes us into the inner lives of plants and draws parallels with the human senses to reveal that we have much more in common with sunflowers and oak trees than we may realize.

Chamovitz shows how plants know up from down, how they know when a neighbor has been infested by a group of hungry beetles, and whether they appreciate the Led Zeppelin you’ve been playing for them or if they’re more partial to the melodic riffs of Bach.

Covering touch, sound, smell, sight, and even memory, Chamovitz encourages us all to consider whether plants might even be aware of their surroundings.

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He studied at both Columbia University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he received his Ph.D. in Genetics. From 1993 to 1996 he carried out postdoctoral research at Yale University before accepting a faculty position at Tel Aviv University where he recently served as Chair of the Department of Plant Sciences. In 2002, Prof. Chamovitz was a visiting scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. He is currently the Dean of the George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University.

Audio is a production of Story Preservation Initiative.  All rights reserved. 

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The Snow Leopard

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Photo courtesy of George Schaller. Used with permission.

Wildlife preservationist George Schaller shared over 100 of his personal photographs with Story Preservation for our Learning Lab project. All I can say is they’re lucky students to have these available as learning tools!

Here is a RARE photograph of a snow leopard, taken by George. Be sure to CLICK!!

For those of you who have read THE SNOW LEOPARD by Peter Matthiessen, you’ll know that it is an account of Matthiessen and Schaller’s two-month search for the elusive animal on the Tibetan Plateau in the Himalayas.

To listen to George’s audio, go to: https://storypreservation.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/wildlife-conservationist-%E2%8E%A2-george-schaller/

Meet the Harvard Computers

1466268_1428800040666481_1159123551_nWhen I met with Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, one thing that we talked about was the history of the Harvard observatory.  Jonathan explained to me that there was a lot of work involved in mapping the night sky.  I guess!  So, Edward Charles Pickering, the director of the observatory (1877 – 1919) decided to use “computers” for analysis.  Meet the Harvard Computers, pictured above, circa 1913.

To listen to Jonathan talk about the Women Computers, click on the link below.  I’ve also included an edited transcription.

Click here:

 

To listen to Jonathan’s full recording, go to: https://storypreservation.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/we-are-all-stardust/

 

The [Harvard] Observatory was founded in the 1840s. There had been astronomy at Harvard since very early times – maybe the 1700s – but they just had a few small telescopes on the roof. … There was a big comet in the early 1840s that got a lot of the public interested in astronomy. Astronomers in Cincinnati, which at that time was pretty much Wild West, had a big observatory. The upshot was that the New England elite were a little embarrassed that they didn’t have anything to match. And so one of these guys decided that they really needed to have something to be a premiere astronomical institution and he should raise some money. His name was John Quincy Adams. So he was able to raise the money in [something] like two weeks, or something ridiculous. So the great refractor was born on Observatory Hill – or what became Observatory Hill. … It was one of the biggest refractors in the world. … On this great refractor telescope the Harvard astronomers did the first experiments with photography. They took some of the first daguerreotype of the moon and other objects. … An important development was the systematic photography of the sky where [they] took lots of photographic plates of parts of the sky and stored them – and we still have them. And so we have 100 years – or more than 100 years – of archive photographic plates. …

This was a lot of work though and more than the astronomy professor at Harvard could do. So, he did the observations for the most part – but he hired computers to do the analysis. And these were not digital computers, they were human beings and, for the most part, they were women. And the tradition at that time in observatories and other laboratories was that for mathematical calculation and for data reduction kind of work, it was a good opportunity to hire women who didn’t require the same pay scale as men at the time and were thought to be reliable and good at detailed work. So they were just meant to catalogue these stars … but just do rote work, not really think about it too much, not make discoveries. But, of course, that kind of job attracted women who were smart and wanted an intellectual challenge – and they did make discoveries. Instead of taking the discovery credit for himself, the observatory director actually recorded who made the discoveries and gave them credit. And so we know the names of these women. So we know that Annie Cannon is the person who catalogued a quarter-of-a-million stars and made the distinctions we still use today between an O-star, which is a blue star and an M-star, which is a red dwarf star. …

Copyright 2013 Story Preservation Initiative.  All rights reserved.

The Singing Life of Birds  A Conversation with Don Kroodsma

Don Kroodsma

Don Kroodsma has studied birdsong for 45 years.

Audio UP!  

 

He has listened to and recorded bird songs from the East Coast to the West, and constantly adds to his birdsong library back home in Massachusetts, where he’s professor emeritus of biology at the University of Massachusetts.

His book The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong won the 2006 John Burroughs Medal “for outstanding natural history writing” and the American Birding Association’s Robert Ridgeway Award “for excellence in publications in field ornithology.”

Kroodsma explores the mysteries of birdsong — how birds learn to sing, why some sing and some don’t, and why songs vary from bird to bird and even from place to place. “Birds have song dialects just like we humans have dialects,” he says.

On his travels, Kroodsma enjoys listening, knowing that where a bird learned a song is just as important as a bird’s genealogy. He noticed in his travels that birds of the same species but in different states sang the same song, but with their own unique “accents.”

His field of study may be unique, but the way he goes about his research is equally unique — Kroodsma tours the continent on his bicycle, collecting bird songs along the way. He biked completely across the nation once in 2003, and in 2004 biked from the Atlantic shore to the Mississippi, lugging his recording equipment with him.

“There is no better way to hear a continent sing than by bicycle,” Kroodsma says. “You can read the minds of these birds if you simply listen… Riding a bike is just a great way to hear birds.”

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“There’s this wonderful Zen parable,” he says. “If you listen to the thrush and hear a thrush, you’ve not really heard the thrush. But if you listen to a thrush and hear a miracle, then you’ve heard the thrush.”

Don’s new book tentatively titled “Listening to a Continent Sing.  Birdsong by Bicycle from the Atlantic to the Pacific,” is soon to be released from Princeton University Press.

A fun site:   http://www.wildmusic.org/animals/thrush

Check out Don’s website at donaldkroodsma.com

To Listen to Don’s recording, click on links below.

 

 

Audio copyright Story Preservation Initiative 2014.  All rights reserved.

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Stories Matter