Straw House at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

University of Michigan in Ann Arbor continues its dedication to sustainability and green architecture through the building of a second straw building-the first on main campus in Ann Arbor.

With work being completed mostly by students under the direction of associate professor Joe Trumpey, from the Stamps School of Art and Design, the work has an educational as well as functional purpose.

Their enthusiasm is invigorating as well-“Just knowing you can do things for yourself-I can build my own house after this, you know,” says Kristen Hayden.

The work will be an anchor to the UM farms which provides food for the dining halls and should be an inspiration to those interested in sustainability.

For Morgan Sherburne’s full article, please click here.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Besides the straw, what other features make this a sustainable design?
  2. Where did the materials for this building come from?
  3. What are some of the goals that Joe Trumpey has for this building?
  4. What other products could you use in creating a “sustainable” building?

Pop-Up Retail in Detroit- University of Michigan Students With a Plan

University of Michigan Students and the Social Impact Challenge

The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation recently announced the winners of a challenge hosted by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business-the Social Impact Challenge.

The goal of the competition is to solve challenging real life problems in a competitive format.

The problem tackled by the winning team, quite simply was how to get more businesses into Detroit. While it is true that Detroit has been enjoying growth and improvement in this area over the past decade, any visitor to Detroit will know that there are still tremendous opportunities and challenges to operating a business there. Large areas of vacant storefronts, abandoned houses, lack of developed transportation infrastructure, low pedestrian volume as well as the economic challenges of owning and operating a business.

One of the biggest challenges for a startup or entrepreneur is leasing retail space.

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The University of Michigan students, Team Upstart, presented novel ways to reduce the leasing costs and risk as well as a plan to provide extensive training and resources to the entrepreneurs to develop a small “pop-up” retail space.

The Center for Social Impact at the University of Michigan’s director, Matt Kelterborn states: ”

 “We believe the best way to learn about delivering meaningful social impact is to actually work on the ground with community leaders on projects that will have a lasting impact.”

Congratulations to all who participated in the Social Impact Challenge-a great example of using your academic knowledge to solve real world problems, one of the important themes of our work here at Wide Open Research.

Questions for Discussion

  1. What is the purpose of the Social Impact Challenge at the University of Michigan
  2. What problem was Team Upstart trying to solve?
  3. How did Team Upstart “solve” this problem?
  4. What benefits would their solution offer the residents and consumers in Detroit?
  5. Why does Matt Kelterborn think it is so important that students “actually work with community leaders?”
  6. How could you incorporate a form of the “social impact challenge” at your school?

 

For a link to Greta Guest’s article at University of Michigan News, please click here. 

 

 

Printed Medication: Organic Vapor Jet Printing at University of Michigan

Do you hate to swallow pills? If you can remember back to when you were a kid and you had to take pills rather than your liquid medicine, or if you are an individual who has to take multiple pills each day, you probably can appreciate how beneficial it would be to have your medication combined and delivered on a dissolvable strip or patch.

Thanks to an interdisciplinary team at the University of Michigan this technology is here.

A new study published in the journal Nature Communications authored by Max Shtein and Olga Shalev in the materials science and engineering department along with colleagues in the College of Pharmacy and Department of Physics, demonstrates how this can be done.

Apparently, one of the largest challenges in developing pharmaceuticals is solubility- how to get the medication to dissolve in a patient’s body.

The technology of Organic Vapor Jet printing which has its origin in electronics manufacturing allows a crystalline structure to be printed over a large surface area which allows the material to dissolve more easily.

Eventually, they hope this technology is available at retail pharmacies and hospitals, but for now it will likely be used in university and pharmaceutical labs where it could assist in the development of new medications.

Either way, a tremendous innovation.

For more information, please read Gabe Cherry’s article from Michigan News at the University of Michigan.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Why would it be beneficial to have multiple medications available in a single dose?
  2. What is solubility and why is it so important in delivering medication?
  3. How does Organic Vapor Jet printing work?
  4. Why does a larger surface area help a material dissolve?
  5. What are some of the drawbacks or limitations of using Organic Vapor Jet printing for pharmaceuticals?

March for Science Educator Resources

Educators and parents looking to help provide resources to enrich their discussions regarding the March for Science might want to consider the following:

Yale News: Truth in the Internet Age-Science Under Siege While the title is quite stark, this link takes you to a brief (about 3 minutes) video highlighting a series of symposia Yale has been offering regarding the issues related to science in our “post-truth” climate.

University of Michigan News: Stand Up for Science-Teach Out UMich wants to extend the conversation beyond today’s march. They are offering a free online “teach-out” on May 5 on the edX platform to help provide additional information. This link features a video and information about their intentions to help scientists and science supporters engage in effective communication and dialogue about science and its fundamental importance in a civil society.

March for Science Principles and Goals: The website for the organization has a list of their principles and goals, with a special emphasis on diversity and inclusion.

Harvard Gazette: Harvard Gazette features an interview with the European Union Science Commissioner regarding the role that scientists can play in being vocal about science, telling the story about the myriad ways in which our lives are enhanced by science and technology.

University of Alabama- Adam Jones wrote an informative article about how University of Alabama engineering students created a car for a child with special needs. The video is inspiring and at a great inspiration and reminder of why we believe in education and science.

Nature, Science, Poetry-The Work of Keith Taylor

Nature, Science, Poetry-The Work of Keith Taylor

Michigan based poet Keith Taylor has been an astute and sympathetic observer of nature and the human condition for decades.

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Winter Retreats

His dedication to teaching, writing, reading, and commenting on life and nature through his work has had a profound impact on me, for sure, but I believe for all of us dedicated to the mission of understanding this world in which we live.

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I came across this wonderful post from naturechange.org featuring a brief interview with Keith Taylor by Anne-Marie Oomen, also a writer. Keith talks about his work at the University of Michigan Biological Station in Pellston, Michigan, and reads a bit of his work.

Why exactly does poetry enrich us so? Yet, why do so many find it inaccessible, alien, unwelcoming? Boring? Why do we so easily accept the fragmentation of society and of our own selves? Fostering a dialogue with those outside our areas of interest, our areas of study, our cultural moorings-why has this become so difficult, or was it always this difficult?

Keith’s work, especially, the work highlighted here at the U-M Biological Station in which he spends summers, writing as well as teaching a literature course to science students and researchers, is an effort to bridge the chasm of confusion and apathy, intolerance and exhaustion. Quite simply, to become a bit more integrated and wholly human.

Nature allows us to slow down, to pause, to contemplate, to heal- at its best poetry does that as well.

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It allows us to access that deeper part of our psyches that contains wisdom, perhaps an attribute all too often not appreciated in our age of hyper-connectivity and instantaneous, yet superficial gratification.

Science, at its best too requires a deep concentration, a sense of observation and curiosity about the natural order of things, used to help solve the world’s most pressing problems.

For those of you seeking a bit of the healing power of nature, poetry, and how poetry and science can engage in a nuanced and beneficial dialogue, please check out this wonderful post and video.

For more information about Keith Taylor, please check out his website. 

For more poetry, consider the work of Robert Fanning, click here please.

Questions for Discussion

  1. How has poetry, or a specific poem impacted you?
  2. What does Keith Taylor say about the interaction of poetry, nature and science?
  3. What does he mention about the presence of wolves in Michigan’s lower peninsula?
  4. How does Keith Taylor integrate the work of mammalogist, Dr. Phil Myers into his work?
  5. What do you think of the specificity of images in Taylor’s brief, powerful poem, “Not the Northwest Passage?”
  6. What does Keith Taylor say about optimism, especially related to E.O. Wilson’s work?
  7. Have a poem to share?