Posts about Wisconsin

Bird on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail

close up photo of a bird

Bird on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin. Please comment if you know what type of bird this is.

Related: Backyard Wildlife: Blue JayBird Using Bread as Bait to Catch FishFriday Cat Fun: Cat and Crow FriendsBackyard Wildlife: Sharpshinned Hawk

University of Wisconsin-Stout Wins 2010 Rube Goldberg Contest

University of Wisconsin-Stout wins 2010 Rube Goldberg contest

The team’s machine was called “Valley of the Kings” and had an Egyptian theme, telling a tale of events following the death of King Tut.

The task for the Rube Goldberg machines this year was to dispense sanitizer into a hand. Wisconsin-Stout’s machine dispensed the sanitizer into a mummy’s hand. The Rube Goldberg competition, sponsored by Phi Chapter of Theta Tau fraternity, rewards machines that most effectively combine creativity with inefficiency and complexity.

Machines must use at least 20 steps to complete the task in no more than two minutes. Teams have three tries to complete two runs. Points are deducted if students have to assist the machine once it has started. The Wisconsin-Stout machine has 120 steps. The team completed two perfect runs with no interventions in about a minute and a half each.

St. Olaf’ College of Northfield, Minn., last year’s national winner, took second place with a medieval-themed machine. Pennsylvania State University placed third with an “Indiana Jones” theme.

Related: Rube Goldberg Machine Contest (2005)Goldbergian Flash Fits Rube Goldberg Web SiteBotball 2009 FinalsUW- Madison Wins 4th Concrete Canoe Competition

Researchers Work to Protect Bats Against Deadly Disease

Researchers work to protect Wisconsin bats against deadly disease

Redell, who studies bats for the Department of Natural Resources, lives every day now with the threat of a disease called white-nose syndrome hanging over his head. The disease, though not yet in Wisconsin, has killed more than 90 percent of the cave bats in Eastern states such as New York and Vermont. Experts predict it could make its way to Wisconsin, with its eight species and hundreds of thousands of bats, in as little as two years.

One female little brown bat – with a body less than the length of your thumb – can eat its body weight in insects in one evening, Redell said. Such is the insect-hunting prowess of the bats that they are thought to save farmers billions of dollars in crop losses, according to Sheryl L. Ducummon, with Bat Conservation International.

In a recent scientific article on the ecological and economic importance of bats, Ducummon reported that, in one summer, the 150 bats in an average colony of big brown bats can conservatively eat 38,000 cucumber beetles, which attack corn and other farm crops. Damage from the beetle and their larvae cost corn farmers as much as $1 billion a year.

The loss of such an insect-eating force could be devastating, Redell said. The approximate 1 million bats that have already died of white-nose syndrome in the last three years on the East Coast would have eaten 700,000 tons of insects were they still hunting the night skies, he said.

Bats perform other important tasks, too. Several Western species serve crucial roles as pollinators for desert plants such as agave and as seed dispersers for dozens of species of cacti.

“I mean, this is like a mouse that flies, but it has the predatory capabilities of a polar bear,” Blehert said. “They are physically adapted to command the night sky. You’re talking about a little thing with a body less than half the size of your thumb whose heartbeat can get up to 1,000 beats a minute when they are flying but that can slow when they are hibernating in the winter to 4 beats a minute. And they live 20 to 25 years!”

Bats really are amazing and very valuable animals.

Related: Bats Are Dying in North-East USANectar-Feeding BatsMoth Jams Bat Sonar

Promoting Bio-Literacy

Wisconsin State Herbarium tries to ‘counteract bio-illiteracy’

“In a past century people could go outside and name the flowers or trees,” said Ken Cameron, the herbarium’s director. “Now you take a kid outside and the most they can say is, ‘It’s a tree.’ If we can get students in and get them excited, then I think we’ve helped to counteract bio-illiteracy.”

Herbaria are becoming more of a rarity. And the UW-Madison has the third largest collection of any public university in the country, behind the universities of California and Michigan. At many universities, botany has been absorbed into large biology departments, and collections put into storage. That has not happened at UW-Madison.

“The combination of having a botany department and a big herbarium is getting pretty rare,” said David Baum, botany department chairman. “And more and more herbaria are closing or making the decision to move off campus into storage, which has a real negative effect on research.”

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Herbarium, founded in 1849 (the year the University was founded), is a museum collection of dried, labeled plants of state, national and international importance, which is used extensively for taxonomic and ecological research, as well as for teaching and public service. It contains the world’s largest collection of Wisconsin plants, about one-third of its 1,000,000 specimens having been collected within the state. Most of the world’s floras are well represented, and the holdings from certain areas, such as the Upper Midwest, eastern North America and western Mexico, are widely recognized as resources of global significance.

Related: Plants can Signal Microbial Friends for Helpposts on plantsRainforestsThe Avocado

Fast Fitness Forecast is False, it Takes Time

Fitness Isn’t an Overnight Sensation

“To make a change in how you look, you are talking about a significant period of training,” Dr. Kraemer said. “In our studies it takes six months to a year.” And, he added, that is with regular strength-training workouts, using the appropriate weights and with a carefully designed individualized program. “That is what the reality is,” he said.

And genetic differences among individuals mean some people respond much better to exercise than others

Now, said Mr. Antane, who runs with a group in Princeton on Thursday nights, “everything changed — my outlook on life, who I hung out with, how I felt about myself.”

Our bodies evolved under conditions with much more exercise than we currently get if we sit in an office all day. And we had less food. It is no surprise with more food and less exercise that we gain weight. And given that the benefit of fat was to help us survive when we had little food out bodies don’t change overnight. If they did then our ancestors would have had much more difficulty surviving – the whole point was to provide a resource to tap in bad times. If that resource dissipated quickly it would not have helped much.

Related: Active Amish Avoid ObesityBig Fat LieEat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.Reducing Risk of Diabetes Through Exerciseposts on exercise

Technology and Fun in the Classroom

Bridging technology with fun

Mitch Lown and Dave Arndt teach technology education to students at Bangor High School and West Salem High School. A few of the courses they teach were once, years ago, called “shop class,” but the curriculum is far more advanced today. Not only are these not your father’s shop classes, they aren’t shop classes at all.

Computer programs, 3-D designs, architectural drawing, engineering, mass production and the design and marketing of products are only some of the areas local high school students are tackling in Lown and Arndt’s classes.

In their manufacturing classes, both Lown and Arndt give students a feel for what it’s like to set up a business and produce and sell a product. And they do make a profit. Lown’s students, for example, built and sold mounting kits for deer antlers and made a profit on the venture. Arndt said he always stays conscious of the world that students will face after graduation.

“I address every class as if it’s a job,” he said. “We’re not here to waste time because that’s not the way it’s going to be when they get in the job market. The biggest challenge for me is changing the attitudes of some students and instilling a work ethic. If they say they are going to do something, they need to follow through on that.”

Related: Educational Institutions Economic ImpactMiddle School EngineersInspire Students to Study Math and ScienceComputer Game and Real World EducationKids in the Lab: Getting High-Schoolers Hooked on Science

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