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Complexity Rules

Thorp High School Student at WorkRube Goldberg was an engineer-turned-Pulitzer-Prize-winning cartoonist who specialized in whimsical drawings of complicated machines designed to perform the simplest of tasks. For 23 years, the Rube Goldberg Machine contest at Purdue University has inspired high school and college teams to construct working models of the wacky machines. This year’s winner? Thorp High School in Wisconsin.

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Feature: Speedway Pioneer

Alba ColonA woman and a Latina, Alba Colon is a leader of a new generation of engineers in a sport — auto racing — long dominated by white men. After a few years in data acquisition, Colon entered racing management, becoming GM Racing’s Chevrolet program manager in 2001 — the only top-ranking female engineer in NASCAR and a key point of contact between drivers, owners, and crew chiefs.

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Which Way for Education Reform?

Defense of Public Education BannerWhat’s the best way to fix America’s education system? Conservatives push voucher programs and charter schools. Liberals want to fix schools with more money and reduced class sizes. But columnist Steve Chapman says research shows that neither side has the right answers.

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Congress Eyes K-12 Engineering

A number of teachers think engineering helps boost K-12 math and science learning and stimulates student interest. If a congressional panel gets its way, soon there may be real data to back up the theory.

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Contest: Environmental Calendar. Alabama, grade K-6. Deadline: April 30, 2010

Legacy, Partners in Environmental Education, is sponsoring its annual Environmental Calendar Contest. Alabama students, grades K-6, are encouraged to submit a drawing concerning an environmental issue such as recycling, ozone, water conservation, wildlife, forestry, and energy conservation. Application deadline: April 30, 2010. Prizes: One $50 prize, and 12 $25 prizes, with the 13 selected drawings featured in the Legacy calendar.

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Lesson: Landfills and Contamination

What happens to garbage? In this lesson, students grades 9-12 derive the answer by building their own landfill. While observing how household waste can leach into soil and groundwater, they also learn the importance of well supervised, sanitary disposal sites.

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Resource: Hazardous Waste Class Activities

EPA-Logo1HAZ-ED is a collection of class materials for grades 7-12 focusing on hazardous waste, dump sites, and efforts of remediation The materials — which include basic information, warm-up and full class activities, fact sheets, a glossary, suggested readings, a brochure about the Superfund program, and a bibliography — can be used as part of a larger curriculum or stand-alone.

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Website: Superfund Sites Where You Live

EPA LogoThis comprehensive website, run by the Environmental Protection Agency, provides lists of Superfund sites organized by state. A Superfund site is an uncontrolled or abandoned place where hazardous waste is located, possibly affecting local ecosystems or people. Important documents, contacts, timelines, and historical information are available for each location.

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Teachers’ Summer: Environmental Institute. Alabama. July 18-23, 2010

Legacy Summer Teacher Institute in Birmingham, July 18-23, 2010, is for Alabama teachers interested in learning about environmental topics and issues such as pollution prevention, ecology, waste management, and natural resources. Teachers participate in hands-on activities, presentations by classroom teachers, field trips, and content presentations by environmental experts. All expenses, include housing, meals, and materials paid. Application deadline: not posted, but early application encouraged. No new information for 2011.

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