This Week in STEM – May 17, 2019

This Week in STEM – May 17, 2019

Blog Contributed by Dr. Christopher Murphy, Chief Strategic Growth & Communications Officer for Concept Schools, @DrChrisMurphy

Half of all amphibian species at risk of extinction

A new study finds that more than 1,000 amphibian species poorly known to science are likely facing extinction, adding to the already identified 4,200 species the UN says are in peril.

National Geographic

In March, a study published in the journal Science found that 501 species of frogs and salamanders had been driven toward extinction by killer fungi known as chytrid. That’s more than twice the previous estimate.

Then earlier this week, a United Nations committee on biodiversity announced that human impacts are threatening the existence of some one million species, including 40 percent of all the amphibian species known to science, or about 3,200 species.

And now a new study, published on May 6 in the journal Current Biology, has used statistical analysis to predict that another 1,100 species of amphibians currently listed as “data deficient” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which sets the global conservation statuses for plants and animals, should probably be added to the list.

If the team’s findings are correct, it would mean 4,300, or more than half the world’s frogs, salamanders, and caecilians are in danger of extinction.

But there’s a sliver of hope…

Middle schoolers may be the secret weapon in fight against climate change

CNN

Teaching middle-school children about climate change may be one of the most important things we can do to save the planet. Yes, the same ones doing those funny “Fortnite” dances while waiting for the bus in the morning.

It’s those kids who have the most potential, according to a new study.

It’s at this developmental age that students can master complex concepts like climate change and remain open to new ideas, the researchers say. Middle school is usually when we start to figure out how we really feel about the world and to form our own opinions.

It’s these kids, the study found, who can best reach adults and encourage them to act to fight climate change, regardless of their parents’ political leanings.

In fact, the researchers found this method has the greatest impact on the people who are otherwise hardest to convince: conservative males.


Play with Physics! How Two-Dimensional Physics Games Inspired Tami’s Tower: Let’s Think About Engineering
Smithsonian Science Education Center

With the recent release of Tami’s Tower: Let’s Think About Engineering, the Smithsonian Science Education Center wanted to take a look back at our inspirations. Those inspirations were the two-dimensional, physics-based video games that helped generations of learners visualize gravity, Newton’s laws of motion, simple machines, structural stability, and numerous other physics principles. With such great influences, it’s no wonder Tami’s Tower has received an outstanding reception!