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The Flavor Connection [Interactive]: Scientific American

The Flavor Connection [Interactive]: Scientific American | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
Scientists link common flavor compounds across the world's favorite ingredients
Bonnie Bracey Sutton's insight:

On holidays we talk about food. Check out this graphic

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STEM Connections
Science, technology, engineering and math in K-12
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STEM and Writing: A Super Combination - Edutopia

STEM and Writing: A Super Combination - Edutopia | STEM Connections | Scoop.it

"I brought a superhero into my classroom the other day. He wasn't wearing a cape. He didn't have an alias. But he had the greatest superpower of all: inspiration.

When you teach using project-based learning (PBL), one brings outside expertise into the classroom. My eighth graders begin the year creating science fiction based origin stories for original superhero characters as an introduction to a greater advocacy unit. Therefore, it seemed natural to bring in an actual scientist. Which brought me to CalTech and Dr. Spyridon Michalakis."


Via John Evans, Suvi Salo
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Class Tech Tips: Eight must-have websites and apps for science reading passages | Tech Learning

Class Tech Tips: Eight must-have websites and apps for science reading passages | Tech Learning | STEM Connections | Scoop.it

"Finding high-interest, informational text is an important part of locating just right resources for your classroom. If you’re on the hunt for digital reading material for your students, there are a few different websites and apps that have science reading passages for kids. The resources on the list below include text appropriate for a range of readers. .."

©


Via Leona Ungerer, Dean J. Fusto
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How Can Robots Be Used in a Classroom? By Paula Hicks

How Can Robots Be Used in a Classroom? By Paula Hicks | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
By Paula Hicks

Via Tom D'Amico (@TDOttawa)
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Oskar Almazan's curator insight, January 17, 8:43 AM
This technology is powerful because it gives them insights into the future. It makes them dream about the ways technology can change the world. Most of all, it inspires them to imagine themselves as part of the force that brings changes. Robots are increasingly being used in classrooms all over the world. The biggest advantage this technology offers is real-time feedback to all students in the class. Students enjoy learning with robots, so inspiring them to accept this new way of learning is not a big issue. Encouraging the teachers and schools to introduce robots in the classroom… that’s our problem.
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New EU Code Week record: A million coded during the 2016 edition

New EU Code Week record: A million coded during the 2016 edition | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
Last year, almost one million people (970,000) took part in one of the 23,000 EU Code Week 2016 events that took place in more than 50 countries around the world – a 70% increase in participants from 2015. Almost half (46%) of the people creating with code were girls or women and the average age of a coder was 11 years. 2017 marks the fifth anniversary of Europe Code Week, which will take place during two weeks – 7-22 October – to cater for different periods of school holidays in European countries.
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The incredible sparking soil on the MOON

The incredible sparking soil on the MOON | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
A new study has found the frigid, permanently shadowed regions near the lunar poles, and may possibly produce 'sparks' that could vaporize and melt the soil.
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How Igloos Can Keep You Warm - And Winter Phys Ed Activities

How Igloos Can Keep You Warm - And Winter Phys Ed Activities | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
How an Igloo Keeps You Warm is a new video from It's Okay To Be Smart. The video does a great job of explaining how an igloo provides insulation and stays relatively warm when people are inside it. The video also explains the engineering concepts used in the creation of a strong and warm igloo.

Via John Evans
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NASA Is Giving Away 14 High Resolution Posters to Download and Use in Class for Free

NASA Is Giving Away 14 High Resolution Posters to Download and Use in Class for Free | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory website is giving away a number of excellent space posters for free. You can download and print  these posters and hang them on your classroom wall to inspire students and kindle their love for science, innovation, and creativity. There are actually 14 posters spanning different space-related themes which you can download at the highest printing resolution either separately or in a single file (612 MB). The full size of each poster is 20 x 30 inches.

 

Jim Lerman's insight:

These are great!!


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Selene, a Lunar Construction Game

Selene, a Lunar Construction Game | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
Bonnie Bracey Sutton's insight:
https://lunarscience.nasa.gov/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/4Serious_5in_300dpi.jpg
This is an awesome game. You build the moon from moonlets





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'Girls of Energy' Launched… U. S. Department of Energy's Office of Economic Impact and Diversity: Engage Diverse Populations in STEM Education & Inspire the Next Generation of Scientists | ASTRA

'Girls of Energy' Launched… U. S. Department of Energy's Office of Economic Impact and Diversity: Engage Diverse Populations in STEM Education & Inspire the Next Generation of Scientists | ASTRA | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
As a recently appointed Ambassador to the Minorities of Energy initiative, I was delighted to be invited by the Director of The Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, Dr. LaDoris Harris, to attend an official launch of Girls of Energy on December 9th 2016 at Excel Academy, the first all-girls charter school in Washington DC. This e-learning initiative has been designed to ignite curiosity and engage young minds across the globe by spotlighting exceptional women who are conquering today’s energy challenges and creating tomorrow’s technology solutions.
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Tesla will power its Gigafactory with a 70-megawatt solar farm

Tesla will power its Gigafactory with a 70-megawatt solar farm | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
Tesla plans to power its Gigafactory in Nevada with a 70-megawatt solar farm, according to a company investor relations document obtained by Electrek. The document, which The Verge confirme
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Here’s How We Can Reinvent the Classroom for the Digital Age

Here’s How We Can Reinvent the Classroom for the Digital Age | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
When I was in elementary school, about 50 years ago, teachers used to stand in front of a class of 40 or 50 children and write on a blackboard with chalk. To make sure the material was absorbed, the teacher asked occasional questions and assigned lots of homework. If students discussed their homework or helped …

Via Grant Montgomery, Mark E. Deschaine, PhD
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Scientists can now grow a beating human heart from stem cells

Scientists can now grow a beating human heart from stem cells | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
A team of scientists from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School have used adult skin cells to regenerate functional human heart tissue. The study, published in the journal Circulation Research, detailed that the team took adult skin cells, using a technique called messenger RNA to turn them into pluripotent stem cells, before inducing them to become two different types of cardiac cells.
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“Street Trees,” or Habitat Restoration? Rediscovering San Francisco’s Fog-Drip Forests

“Street Trees,” or Habitat Restoration? Rediscovering San Francisco’s Fog-Drip Forests | STEM Connections | Scoop.it

“It is true that this port (San Francisco) is good, 

not only for the beautiful harmony that offers to the view, 

but because it does not lack very good fresh water, wood, 

and ballast in abundance.” — Captain Don Miguel Ayala, 1775

 

Full disclosure: I HATE “London Plane” trees. Hate, hate, hate them. Even when fully leafed out, they are not very attractive. When the leaves change in the fall, we don’t get the brilliant reds, purples, and yellows of our native maples, willows, alders, poplars, and poison oak(!). No, the leaves of the LPT turn a muddy brown. When they’re lying on the sidewalk after getting wet, they resemble, well, poo. Without leaves these trees are even less attractive. And while some native insects may have adapted to them, they are not the natural or preferred food or habitat for indigenous birds, bees, and butterflies. That would be our own California sycamore, which also has a very pleasing aroma. London Plane trees are, well, boring. No real natural history there. 

 

The first name given to this settlement was Yerba Buena, which is a mint that grows primarily in mixed evergreen/hardwood forests with a maritime influence. Proponents of the Dune Theory of San Francisco geography have never been able to explain the mountains, hills, valleys, springs, canyons, streams, lakes, and plains that the Spanish described when they arrived. The Conquistadores also describe at least seven separate tribal groups living in the vicinity of Mission Creek, which flowed from Laguna de Dolores, which was fed by a waterfall. What? Waterfalls in The Mission? But wait, there’s more.

 

The presence of one type of plant is always an indication that “companion” plants will be found in the immediate vicinity. Toyon is always from in the presence of oaks, and find me a cottonwood or willow, and I’ll find you a buckeye. A street lined with all the same species of tree is not a “forest.” A forest is a community of hundreds of species plants and animals living together in (relative) harmony. The peregrine eating the duck, the fox eating the ground-squirrel, or the puma eating the deer are brief moments of violence in an otherwise peaceful and bucolic environment (mental image of happy forest creatures singing and dancing).

 

What forests? I’m glad you asked. The forests described by the first European explorers. The research budget for this article does not allow me to study Native American records, but I’m sure those original inhabitants of this beautiful peninsula would be surprised to learn that malicious rumors and gossip has reduced it’s natural history to 49 square-miles of sand dunes. Dune habitats support a very small range of plant and animal species; far too few to support the robust human and animal populations that were here when the first explorers arrived. Of course there were large areas of the City with dunes, but whatever was here had to expand exponentially when all the vegetation was stripped from along the coast. I have seen the Great Highway covered under three feet of sand overnight during one of our typical Winter storms. 

 

The history of the Western side of the Rocky Mountains is so very different from the Pilgrims/Revolutionary War/Civil War narrative that most people learn in school. By the time the first Euros landed on the East Coast, Florida was already part of New Spain. So was most of the Caribbean, Central America/Mexico, most of South America, the Philippines, and the present states of Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and…California. Monterey was the capital of New Spain before there was a “United States of America.”  What is now San Francisco became part of Mexico after that country seceded from Spain. After the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1848, The town of Yerba Buena was renamed San Francisco after the Mission San Francisco de Assisi (Dolores). Hence, the Gold Rush, the 49ers, The “Barbary Coast,” being shanghaied, duels, bawdy-houses, and other fun occurrences. And now, you’re here, reading this. 

 

Here’s a description of the founding of the Presidio that make’s you go hmmmm: 

"(Anza) had found plentiful timber and firewood, much water in several springs or lakes, abundant lands for raising crops…the immediate vicinity (Ft. Point) lacked timber for large buildings…but heavier timber could be secured from the Llano de los Robles, so-called because of the thick growth of oak trees, and from the stands of cedars and other trees on the high ranges to the south.”  (San Francisco Bay: Discovery and Colonization, 1769-1776 by Theodore E. Treutlein © 1968 California Historical Society). The “high ranges to the south” of the Presidio would have referred pretty much to most of the rest of San Francisco The research budget for this project does not allow me to fully document all the redwoods in San Francisco that are native, but Calflora lists several sightings in the Presidio that are presumed to be wild trees, including Mountain Lake Park and Inspiration Point in the Presidio. 

 

This map from 1895 shows very large creeks and streams draining the watersheds of Twin Peaks, Mt. Davidson, and Mt. Sutro into what is now what the Mission, SOMA, and Mission Bay. Notice from how deep in the City they originate, and how big Laguna Dolores and Laguna Honda are. Both Mission and Islais creeks were navigable. Mountain Lake is a large body of water several blocks long, with Lobos Creek showing as a sizable stream flowing into the ocean. The Spanish called seals and sea lions “sea-wolves;” one can only assume Lobos Creek got it’s name because of the pinnepeds hanging out there to ambush the steelhead. 

 

 

San Francisco Historical Creek Map 

Topographic map from the 1890s with original creeks in blue, marshes in green, and modern land fill in pink. Base Maps: USGS topographic sheets, 1/62,500, San Francisco, 1895; San Mateo, 1896; Courtesy of HISTOPO

 

The canyon that is now called (Sigmund) Stern Grove is shown containing a large stream draining from Mt. Davidson into a sizable lake. Not as big as Lake Merced, which you will notice connects with the ocean, (more steelhead), but much larger than it is today. The Eastern part of Stern Grove has a grove of redwood trees, exactly like hundreds of creeks that run East-West along the coast from Humboldt to Monterey (which used to be the capital of Nueva España). And does the presence of one lonely redwood tree in Glen Canyon indicate it is most likely a sole survivor, or that it was planted?

 

This map from FOTUF shows pretty much the same watershed, although you’ll notice that Laguna Dolores, Laguna Honda, and many of the streams are much larger than on the 1895 map. But according to the historical record, much of the “grassland and coastal scrub,” especially along the streams on the mountains, should in fact be labeled mixed maritime, conifer, and hardwood forest.”

 

 

Historical map of San Francisco soil and water, pre-city, via the Urban Forest Plan.

 

Wetlands are a result of lots of fresh water. And by “lot’s” I mean “acre-feet.” The fog that the ouslanders whine about is our rain. The moisture collects on the leaves of trees and the other plants on the hills and mountains. The more plants on the hills, the more water that is condensed from the fog. More water collected means more plants on the hills and along the streams. Some is absorbed, and some drips down and waters the roots. The excess flows into rivulets, which turn into creeks, which run downhill to the sea. Where these streams enter the sea are wetlands, marshes, and even swamps. There were so many waterfowl here that you used to be able to get a duck dinner for $1.00, Way Back In The Day. Those peregrine falcons you occasionally see downtown used to be known as “duck” falcons. 

 

This is how the site for the Mission Dolores was chosen:

“Passing through wooded hills and over flats with good lands, in which we encountered two lagoons and some springs of good water, with plentiful grass, fennel, and other useful herbs, we arrived at a beautiful arroyo which, because it was Friday of Sorrows, we called the Arroyo de los Dolores… We went a little further, and from a small elevation there I observed the trend of the port in this direction. I saw that it’s extremity was towards the east-southeast, and that a very high redwood which stands on the bank of the arroyo of San Francisco, visible from a long distance…Near this elevation, at the end of the hill on the side toward the port, there is a good piece of level land dominated by the Arroyo de los Dolores. This arroyo enters the plain by a (water) fall which it makes on emerging from the hills, and with it everything can be irrigated, and at the same fall a mill can be erected, for it is very suitable for this purpose.” — Father Pedro Font, 1776 (San Francisco Bay: Discovery and Colonization, 1769-1776 by Theodore E. Treutlein © 1968 California Historical Society).

 

 

Mission Dolores 1810, from Web deAnza, 

 

Hmmm. A waterfall powerful enough to run a mill. That’s a lot of water, and it had to come from somewhere. In this drawing from 1810, the hills around the mission seem to be heavily wooded. Whassup with that? How did so many people come to the notion that San Francisco never had any native trees? Nothing in the anecdotes of early travelers bears this out:

“Cañizares also mentions another island, to which no name is given, about two leagues to the southeast of Angel island. This is Yerba Buena. The tide flats of the Alameda coast with poles driven into the mud for the fishing stations of the Indians; the Presidio anchorage, Yerba Buena cove, Mission Bay and Islais Creek are all described, as well as the hills and groves of oak and redwood.” — (The Beginnings of San Francisco from the Expedition of Anza, 1774 to the City Charter of April 15, 1850 With Biographical and Other Notes By Zoeth Skinner Eldredge. Copyright, 1912 by Zoeth S. Eldredge San Francisco Printed By [in book form] John C. Rankin Company 54 & 56 Dey Street New York). 

 

So what happened? Why did many of the first English speakers write about “bleak and barren” sand dunes, melancholia caused by the fog, wind, cold (weather wimps)? The fact is that we are so used to a degraded and transformed landscapes that we take it as normal. And people not from here just don’t “get” the fog; it’s our “rain.” Cold? Ever been to Wyoming in the Winter? How about New York or Chicago? This is Weather Paradise, kiddies. 

 

But just for a moment imagine yourself here 200 years ago. Grizzly bears and condors feasting on whale carcasses at Ocean Beach. The sky actually darkening perceptibly because there were so many geese were flying overhead. Imagine being able to walk across streams on the backs of salmon. Imagine…

“When Europeans first came to California they thought they had found Paradise. The vegetation was so lush and splendid that both horse and man had trouble wading through it. In diaries and letters home they mentioned again and again the impression that the entire territory was like a park-endless vistas of bunch grass, wild flowers and enormous, stately trees. Vast herds of elk and antelope surged through, grazing lightly and moving on. The Coast Ranges and the Great Valley contained almost no scrub underbrush or cover as we know it today.

The catastrophic transformation of California's ecology was caused by many factors- overgrazing, the introduction of annual grasses, erosion, herbicides/pesticides/fertilizer, irrigation, mass killing off of indigenous fauna, monoculture, logging, road building, residential development, the "control" of fire and natural drainage. But of all these, overgrazing holds the greatest responsibility.

The California Spanish used cattle hides and tallow for money. In any given year in the late 1700's and early 1800's as many as 100,000 hides passed out through each port. For every hide shipped, many stayed on to graze as reproductive stock, too young, too hard to round up. (The Spanish didn't build fences.) It is no exaggeration to say that millions of cattle- and sheep-ate the heart of California's native ecology almost to the point of disappearance in a few generations, just a geological instant.” — (Reprinted from Growing Native Newsletter, PO Box 489, Berkeley, CA  94701. © 1990 by Louise Lacey. Permission to reprint granted so long as this page is reproduced in its entirety).

 

The Spanish brought domestic pigs, goats, and sheep; three of the most ecologically destructive animals on the planet. Sheep pull plants up by the roots instead of clipping it at ground level like cattle. Goats will eat anything that grows, including stripping the bark off trees , thereby killing them, and woody shrubs, like manzanita and poison oak. The desertification of the Mediterranean, Middle East, North Africa, Ireland, and Great Britain is directly a result of the damage caused by sheep, goats, and irrigation (salts inevitably concentrate).  

 

Pigs cause havoc with the ecology; they will eat anything except rocks, and plow up acres of land searching for roots, bulbs, and grubs. They will also eat anything they can find, including carrion, snakes, frogs, and birds eggs. The wild pigs wreaking environmental havoc all over California are descendants of Spanish and Russian pigs that went “native.” Cattle compact the soil, and also cause erosion by causing ruts and rills on hillsides. When it rains, the ruts become  gullies. Mules, burros, and horses also had to eat whatever they could forage, to the detriment of native plants. This “ecocide” continues today in the form of industrial agriculture.

 

First this was Ohlone land. Then it was claimed by Spain, then Mexico, then the United States after the “Mexican-American War.” The port of Yerba Buena became “San Francisco” in 1850, at the beginning of the

Gold Rush. The new settlers also brought their domestic animals, who finished what the Spanish and Mexicans had started. These included cats and dogs, who decimated the songbird, reptile, amphibian, and small mammal populations. And, the need for “wood” was insatiable: 

“Great stands of Sequoia sempervirens, the sturdy coast redwood, crowded the mountains of the coast range from Humboldt Bay to the Santa Lucia’s…..San Francisco built up and burned down five times between 1849 and 1851, and Sacramento once more; much of the lumber to rebuild them both was stripped from the stands of redwoods that clustered in the Coast Range.” — (T.H. Watkins, California, Weathervane Books, 1973). Also keep in mind that there was no PG&E; everything that could be burned for warmth and cooking, was. That’s a lot of trees. 

 

Let’s look at it from a grizzly bears point of view. Not the grizzly that Anza killed in the vicinity of Lake Merced, but the one that was captured at Mission Dolores in 1850. Where do you suppose it came from? Marin County? Montara Mountain, perhaps? Well, bears will go over the mountain, but they are also very territorial, so it’s most likely Mr. or Ms. Grizz was a local, lured to the Mission by the smell of cattle, sheep, goats, and/or pigs. Maybe it was the aroma of baking bread and roasting meats? According to Google, in the early 1850’s, homes, saloons, and churches near the Mission Dolores, the Castro, Noe Valley, Bernal Heights, Glen Park, and beyond continued to have bear “encounters.” Of course, if San Francisco was 49 square miles of sand dunes, these must of been the rare, elusive, now-extinct Dune Grizzlies…..

 

OK, now that we have established that before the European occupation the San Francisco peninsula probably looked pretty much like the rest of the Coast Range (with some sand dunes), how does that affect plans for an “urban forest?” The first thing would be to educate the public about alien and invasive species, like eucalyptus, scotch broom, and the Hoodline mascot. Don’t get me wrong; I grew up swinging from a big eucalyptus tree on my grandparents farm. The parks in San Francisco also familiarized me to them. LOVE the smell. But they are an invasive species that does not attract native insects or birds. They suck up groundwater that would otherwise be used by native plants and animals. They are bio-toxic; nothing grows in their understory. And they fall over far too easily. 

 

But they are nice to look at. I’m all in favor of saving some of the larger “landmark” exotic trees around the City; there are some truly magnificent specimens. But most eucalyptus, their cousin the acacias, and most of the ficus should be removed for water conservation and safety reasons. The lovely, stately Monterey pines and Monterey cypress should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, since they are “neighbors.” At least they are native to the coast, and would be preferable to eucalyptus, especially on hillsides. 

 

Of course, what mostly should be on the hillsides is either what was there before, or what will grow there now. Redwood, cedar, toyon, madrone, hemlock, several types of oaks, willow, maples, bay laurel, alder, cottonwood, sycamore, buckeye, hazelnut, and Douglas fir will all do just fine anywhere in San Francisco if their roots are given enough space. Hillsides would have an understory of mahonia, elderberry, ceanothus, manzanita, flannel-bush, poison oak, vine-maple, salmon-berries, blackberries, and ferns. 

 

Vascular plants like the oft-spoken but completely neglected yerba buena, and showy flowers like wild rose, irises, larkspur, clarkia, California and matilija poppies, and monkey-flower would once again grace the hillsides and ridge tops. The songbirds and butterflies would return. Columbine, ferns, and leopard-lily would bloom along the newly restored creeks. Steelhead would return to the creeks, and (cue the happy forget creatures again).

 

But what about the City streets? One of the primary benefit of re-introducing native plants to San Francisco is so people can learn about the natural history of the Bay region. The new Urban Forest Plan casually mentions there are over 500 plant species native to the San Francisco Peninsula. What would be nice to see more of these native bunch grasses, annual wildflowers, ground-covers, vines, ferns, and shrubs, as well as trees replacing exotics in municipal and commercial spaces. Clearly labeled, they would provide an instant natural history lesson.

 

The idea of trees or other marching single file down our streets is a relic of 18th-century European planning concepts. A real urban forest will require a complete reimagining of public and “private” spaces as well as the responsibilities of municipalities to the citizens they pledge to represent. Do residents really want to see a hundred London Plane or other exotic trees marching down Market street? Or would we rather see an actual forest of many types of trees, shrubs, and flowering plants? Including fruit and nut trees? Along with permaculture/garden/picnic/rest spaces?

 

There is no such thing as a “street tree.” Tree evolution did not include having their roots covered in concrete or asphalt, and absorbing the various toxic substances through their leaves and roots typical in an urban environment. Rather, trees evolved so that their falling leaves or needles act as both moisture-retaining mulch and time-release fertilizer. Without going all The Secret Life Of Plants on you, trees are living, sentient beings that live in communities with other individuals and other species. There are no mono-forests, except for commercial tree farms. 

 

The much-discussed but seldom-seen Western Tiger Swallowtail will feed on London Plane trees, presumably because they are a cultivar of the California Sycamore, one of it’s natural foods, but that’s an adaptation other animals like birds may not make. Animals smarter than an insect may make just decide to go somewhere else. These butterflies other favorite foods while they are caterpillars are willows, cottonwoods, and alders. All of these trees grow along seasonal creeks, not in sand dunes. As butterflies, they prefer the nectar of the California Buckeye, along with lobelia,yerba santas, brodiaeas, vetches, milkweed, dogbanes, and thistles. The presence of this one species alone points to a very different natural history than does the one promulgated by the Dune People.

 

Maybe a “canopy” is not the most practical or even desirable outcome for an urban greening plan. Perhaps the goal should be to create as much green space with as much plant diversity as possible. Continuous greenbelts of native plants species that would mimic or re-create San Francisco’s native fog-drip forests. Planting trees in an urban area is always going to be problematic, because the root system of a healthy tree is as extensive as the trunk and branches: “as above, so below.” 

 

Most City streets have buried electrical, water, and sewer infrastructure that roots can and do damage. Tree roots also have no problem buckling streets and sidewalks, and damaging the foundations of buildings. Maybe most public planting should be done in some type of container?Big tree? Big container. Perhaps trees really don’t need to get tall enough to interfere with power-lines to be effective as a source of oxygen, greenery, and eater of CO2? Simple installations like this could be part of a new way of thinking about “greening” the City:

 

The primary reason that the majority of landscaping in San Francisco (and everywhere else) should consist primarily of native plants. The first reason is that California is an arid state, even before the climate changed. We simply do not have water to waste, and most of the water wasted in the world is by municipalities and businesses, not individuals. So it is simply environmentally and fiscally responsible to use native plants in landscaping whenever possible. It would be irresponsible, indeed negligent to use plants in landscaping that require more than natural rainfall once they are established. Of course even natives might need additional water during the drought, but far less than many of the exotic/alien/invasive species that are crowding out natives in many of our natural areas. 

 

The average citizen does not know or care to know the names of the exotic species because they have no real relationship to anything in the individual’s life other than being “a tree” or a “shrub.” There may be some recognition that they are providing a service by providing oxygen while removing carbon dioxide, but generally street trees and other plants are ignored by most people, because they have no context as part of the environment. 

 

Natives require no synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides, and are pest and disease resistant. I’m not sure how many chemicals are being sprayed on our landscape by various public and private entities, but whatever it is, it’s too much. Many exotic species brought diseases or insects with them. Any type of monoculture encourages a concentration of organisms that prey on that particular plant. That’s why another reason an urban forest should contain as diverse a range of plants as possible. 

 

For example, blackberries are esthetically pleasing, delicious, fast-growing, require almost no care, and make excellent barriers and habitat for native creatures. I seem to remember a lot more ceanothus around when I was a wee tad. It’s an all-purpose plant, from low, spreading shrubs to small trees (arboreus). Dark-green shiny leaves, purple or lavender flowers, evergreen, needs no water once established. A much under-utilized plant. So is manzanita, especially the local Franciscan manzanita. Fremontia (flannel-bush) are just cool. 

 

So, who is going to perform the removal of exotics, and planting of natives and habitat-restoration? Volunteers? For-profit or non-profit corporations? The ten arborists employed by the City and County of San Francisco? While many of the NGO’s that contract with the City do good work, the overall design and care of the City is the responsibility of the municipal government. A properly organized and funded Public Works should be in charge of all infrastructure in the City. I’m not sure how successful a plan involving an NGO selling trees to homeowners on behalf of an urban forest plan can be. For $600, the average homeowner can plant their own forest!

 

The removal of alien/invasive species and the establishment and maintenance of a real “urban forest” would require “lots” full-time (City) workers. Removing mature trees requires special training, physical strength, stamina, and coordination. It is also fairly hazardous work. This would seem to be the perfect job for the legions of otherwise unemployable individuals in San Francisco, especially young men between the ages of 16-24. Planting new trees, shrubs, and other plants can be done by a wide range of people, from seniors to single-mothers. 

 

People with disabilities can plant seeds and tend to seedlings in the nurseries. At $20 per hour, at-risk youth and other people who are not likely to become coders would have an alternative to selling street drugs or mugging you for your iPhone. Sort of a local CCC/WPA. Maybe call it EcoCorps or something. Funding a “City Greening” project would be a perfect way for the tech, real estate, and financial companies to live up to their community benefit agreements. What’s that you say? The real-estate and financial industry has no CBA? Well, there’s a story for another day…..


©Joseph Thomas 2016

info.blackhorsemedia@gmail.com

 


Via The Planetary Archives / San Francisco, California
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Climate Migrants

Climate Migrants | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
Climate change has already displaced tens of thousands of people. If it continues unabated, it could lead to one of the largest mass human migrations in history.

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Seth Dixon's curator insight, January 18, 10:21 AM

This StoryMap shows some key regions where migrants are fleeing some of the negative impacts of climate change, a trend that appears very likely to increase in the future.  It is also an excellent example of the ESRI's new Cascade template for creating a web app. 

 

Tags: physical, weather and climate, climate change, environment, resources, watercoastalmappingESRIStoryMap, visualization, environment depend, political ecology.

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Libraries, Makerspaces, and STEAM Labs: What’s the Difference? By Dyan Branstetter

Libraries, Makerspaces, and STEAM Labs: What’s the Difference? By Dyan Branstetter | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
Recently, my school district formed a committee to explore the idea of making our libraries relevant again. With drastic budget cuts a few years ago, our elementary had more or less been reduced to book circulation with a part-time librarian that shares three elementary schools. Relevancy is not a word that I would use to

Via Tom D'Amico (@TDOttawa)
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Geology IN: Scientists have made a diamond that's harder than diamond

Geology IN: Scientists have made a diamond that's harder than diamond | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
Scientists have made a diamond that's harder than diamond Nature's toughest material just got upgraded. When most people think abou
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We ARE stardust: The elements of life are spread through our galaxy

We ARE stardust: The elements of life are spread through our galaxy | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
Research at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico has revealed that we really are made of stardust. The results came from a catalog of more than 150,000 stars.
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Tech found in your cell phone could cure motion-sickness and save lives

Tech found in your cell phone could cure motion-sickness and save lives | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
Until recently, gyroscopic stabilizers were monstrous machines weighing about 100 tons. Now they're small enough to go on 30-foot boats.

Via THE *OFFICIAL ANDREASCY*
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An MIT professor designed this supermarket of the future — take a look inside

An MIT professor designed this supermarket of the future — take a look inside | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
MIT professor Carlo Ratti led the design for the "Supermarket of the Future," where information about every food appears on augmented reality mirrors.

Via THE *OFFICIAL ANDREASCY*
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THE *OFFICIAL ANDREASCY*'s curator insight, January 11, 3:39 PM

This looks like an amazing place to shop.

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Goddard Visitor Center Exhibits

Goddard Visitor Center Exhibits | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
NASA.gov brings you the latest images, videos and news from America's space agency. Get the latest updates on NASA missions, watch NASA TV live, and learn about our quest to reveal the unknown and benefit all humankind.
Bonnie Bracey Sutton's insight:
Science On a Sphere (SOS) is a spherical projection system created by NOAA. It presents high-resolution video on a suspended globe rather than a flat screen, with the aim of better representing global phenomena.[1] Animated images of atmospheric storms, climate change, and ocean temperature can be shown on the sphere to explain these complex environmental processes. SOS systems are most frequently installed in science museums, universities, zoos, and research institutions, although new and novel uses for these systems in a variety of presentation spaces and contexts are starting to emerge. The system has been installed in more than 130 locations worldwide.[2] You can get it for your school, library or learning center or use the alternative ...Explorer with the flat screen. What is SOS Explorer? SOS Explorer™ (SOSx) is a flat screen version of the widely popular Science On a Sphere® (SOS). The revolutionary software takes SOS datasets, usually only seen on a 6-foot sphere in large museum spaces, and makes them more accessible. The visualizations show information provided by satellites, ground observations and computer models. There are two versions available. SOS Explorer is an exhibit-quality version and SOS Explorer Lite is a free introductory version. Learn more about SOSx here! Watch a short video about SOS Explorer Lite here!
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Catherine Chase

Catherine Chase | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
Catherine Chase is assistant professor of cognitive studies at Teachers College, Columbia University.  She studies how the design of instruction impacts student learning, transfer, and motivation, largely in the context of science education. One branch of her work explores the impact of contrasting examples on student perception and transfer of deep scientific structures. A second…
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The Dividends of Funding Basic Science

The Dividends of Funding Basic Science | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
MIT president L. Rafael Reif writes that in the 1970s government spending on fundamental research was 2% of GDP. That’s how to beat cancer, climate change and more.
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RT Space 360: Celebrating New Year’s 16 times & ‘360 degrees of happiness from ISS’ (VIDEO)

RT Space 360: Celebrating New Year’s 16 times & ‘360 degrees of happiness from ISS’ (VIDEO) | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
“We are all children inside and want to believe in miracles. I would like to wish you a happy New Year, and both your grown-up and kid wishes come true in the coming year. I wish you luck, happiness, love! And see you soon here at RT Space 360. Happy New Year, and 360 degrees of happiness to you!”

Space 360 is a collaborative project between RT, Roscosmos, and Energia Rocket and Space Corporation. Videos are available in six languages at the dedicated site here.

Via The Planetary Archives / San Francisco, California
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Skills For Future Success in a Disruptive World of Work

Skills For Future Success in a Disruptive World of Work | STEM Connections | Scoop.it

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not in fighting the old, but on building the new.” – Socrates

The future that comes to us (and generations to come) will always be uncertain

Via Fred Zimny, steve batchelder, Jim Lerman, John Purificati
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How one scientist is using technology to try and hack his genes to transform his body

How one scientist is using technology to try and hack his genes to transform his body | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
In a dream Brian Hanley told me about, he’s riding a bus when he meets a man in dark leather clothing. Next thing he knows, he is splayed across a tilted metal bed, being electrocuted.

Via THE *OFFICIAL ANDREASCY*
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THE *OFFICIAL ANDREASCY*'s curator insight, January 11, 4:37 AM

"I think getting near Spider-Man-like transformations of people is potentially possible," says biologist Brian Hanley.

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Improve your programming skills with Exercism

Improve your programming skills with Exercism | STEM Connections | Scoop.it
Exercism is an open source project and service aimed at helping people level up in their programming skills using a philosophy of discovery and collaboration.

Via Skip Zalneraitis
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