Katie Bouman: the 29-year-old whose work led to first black hole photo

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Katie Bouman sitting at her computer with a smile on her face and hands up to her mouth in excitement

This week, the world laid eyes on an image that previously it was thought was unseeable.

The first visualisation of a black hole looks set to revolutionise our understanding of one of the great mysteries of the universe.

And the woman whose crucial algorithm helped make it possible is just 29 years old.

Katie Bouman was a PhD student in computer science and artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) when, three years ago, she led the creation of an algorithm that would eventually lead to an image of a supermassive black hole at the heart of the Messier 87 galaxy, some 55m light years from Earth, being captured for the first time.

Bouman was among a team of 200 researchers who contributed to the breakthrough, but on Wednesday, a picture of her triumphantly beaming as the image of the black hole materialised on her computer screen went viral, with many determined that Bouman’s indispensable role was not written out of history – as so often has been the case for female scientists and researchers.

The data used to piece together the image was captured by the Event Horizon telescope (EHT), a network of eight radio telescopes spanning locations from Antarctica to Spain and Chile. Bouman’s role, when she joined the team working on the project six years ago as a 23-year-old junior researcher, was to help build an algorithm which could construct the masses of astronomical data collected by the telescope into a single coherent image.

Though her background was in computer science and electrical engineering, not astrophysics, Picture of a Black HoleBouman and her team worked for three years building the imaging code. Once the algorithm had been built, Bouman worked with dozens of EHT researchers for a further two years developing and testing how the imaging of the black hole could be designed. But it wasn’t until June last year, when all the telescope data finally arrived, that Bouman and a small team of fellow researchers sat down in a small room at Harvard and put their algorithm properly to the test.

With just the press of a button, a fuzzy orange ring appeared on Bouman’s computer screen, the world’s first image of a supermassive black hole, and astronomical history was made. In a post on social media, Bouman emphasised the collaborative efforts that had made the imaging of the black hole possible.

“No one algorithm or person made this image, it required the amazing talent of a team of scientists from around the globe and years of hard work to develop the instrument, data processing, imaging methods, and analysis techniques that were necessary to pull off this seemingly impossible feat,” said Bouman. While their discovery was made in June, it was only presented to the world by all 200 researchers on Wednesday.

Continue on to The Guardian to read the complete article.

10 Tips for Women in Banking

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professional woman holding her finger over her mouth as a hush signal

Wall Street, otherwise known as “the Boy’s Club.” For those who are only familiar with the market through pop-culture, the scene is dominated by men (Wolf of Wall Street? The Big Short?). Unfortunately, those who work in finance know that the rumors ring true.

Currently, women account for only 18 percent of finance jobs, which is surprisingly even less than the tech industry! And yet, evidence shows that women tend to be comparable—if not better—investors than men.

A study by Fidelity Investments found that women not only save more on average than men, but they also tend to get better returns on their investments, with men earning a 6.0 percent rate of return and women earning 6.4 percent.

The fact is, women are good with money. Yet, for some reason or another, they aren’t having the same impact on the financial industry as men are. Women are just as capable of forging impactful finance careers as men are, but they face nuanced challenges.

If you’re ready to go into finance, here are ten tips to get started.

1 Focus on your skills, not your job title.

There’s an understanding in finance that money is “fungible.” In other words, no money is different than any other money, and $10 is $10, whether it comes in quarters or a single bill. This helps everyone remember that money is just a tool and unit of wealth measurement.

The same thought process can be applied to the skills acquired at a job. For instance, let’s say you work as an executive secretary. Your skills might include excellent organization, communication, and time management. These are skills that are vital to being a secretary, however, they aren’t only for secretaries! They could be applied to positions in data analytics, business forecasting, and portfolio management. So next time you’re polishing up your resume, focus on the skills you’ve mastered rather than the job titles you’ve had. You might be surprised which direction your experience and skills are pointing you in.

2 Build confidence.

There are innumerable self-help books that proclaim that to succeed, all one has to do is “be confident!” And yes, be confident! Walk into every meeting knowing you’re supposed to be there.

As with everything in finance, however, the strength is in the numbers. Being confident at the bar might be as simple as putting on a smile and giving yourself a pep talk on the way over. But in finance, your success and worth to your company is much more measurable. You do a disservice to yourself by categorizing insecurity as a personality problem, because that holds you back from tackling the issue head-on. Thus, take the time to build confidence instead of trying to wish it into existence. Write down what you believe to be your five greatest strengths in one column and your five greatest weaknesses in another. If you have a mentor or advisor, then ask them if they could do the same. Compare notes, and get to work on both. This is a reminder of all of the hard work you’ve already put in that got you to where you are today. It’s also a reminder that anything you feel insecure about is improvable.

3 Focus on the home runs.

Because women tend to be more judged than men in finance, it’s natural for them to focus on all tiny details, such as whether to wear a pencil skirt or a pant suit. Such details are important, but they are not promotable. A study published in the Harvard Business Review found that women were notably more likely to volunteer to take on “non-promotable” tasks at work. These are tasks important for the functioning of the company but never mentioned in an annual review, such as planning events, writing reports, and serving on committees. In other words, non-promotable tasks are the housework of the office! As tempting as it is to jump in and volunteer when no one else will, first always think to yourself, “Is this something I’ll get proper credit for?” If the answer is no, then wait. You have bigger fish to fry!

4 Interview, interview, interview.

Looking for a new position? Interview elsewhere, of course. Love your current position and wouldn’t dream of leaving? Interview anyway!

Interviewing at other companies nowadays isn’t just about getting a new job; it serves multiple purposes.

First, you will build strong conversation and negotiation skills with every interview. For most women, interviewing is a time of major stress, and the stress itself can cause you to not perform your best. You should never wait until you absolutely have to do well in the interview before practicing. If you interview every two to three months when you’re already comfortable where you’re at, then you’ll feel much more prepared for that big interview where you really, really want the job.

Second, you have an excellent opportunity to network with other professionals in the industry. Even if you don’t get the job you apply for, your interviewer might just like you so much that when the next position comes along, they offer it to you first.

And finally, interviewing gives you a reasonable idea of your market value without having to find out the hard way. If another employer offers you a 20 percent raise, then that may be your signal to start looking for greener pastures.

5 Specialize.

There are many fancy designations in the finance world, which can seem overwhelming. What’s the difference between a CFA and a CFP? What about a CFS or CIC? Why is one of my coworkers stressed about her “Series 7”? Try to familiarize yourself with the most common specializations, but, even more importantly, you should strive to obtain one of them. Many bright-eyed graduates step into their first career in finance with visions of automatic success and wealth. The truth is that “finance” is a broad category, and on its own can lead to a boring career (and equally boring salary!).

In reality, the vision some have of powerful executives doesn’t come from finance but from expertise. It’s simple: People will pay you to do what they themselves can’t. An added bonus? Most employers will offer to pay for these designations! After exploring different areas of expertise, schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss whether the company can support you in your pursuit of a specialization. You will most likely get your supplies paid for and you’ll also reinforce your hard work and dedication to your manager.

6 Embrace technology.

The world of finance has been the catalyst and vanguard for technology for decades. Within the last 20 years or so, the process of depositing checks, for instance, has gone from seeing a teller at the bank, to depositing checks into an ATM, to simply snapping a picture on your phone. Amazing! Finance and technology are intertwined, constantly growing off of the successes of one another.

The next time you have a technology-related problem, challenge yourself to try to solve the problem on your own before calling IT. You may not immediately get the answer you’re looking for, but you’ll become more comfortable with the devices you use and functions they can perform. You have a wealth of information and assistance at your fingertips, and the better you get to know it now, the better use you’ll be able to make of it later down the line.

7 Become a mentor.

I know what you’re thinking. “I’m the junior at my company—don’t I need to have my own mentor before trying to mentor others?” Yes, you should try to find your own mentor as well. But by determining to become a mentor early on, you can push yourself into learning more about your industry and practice your leadership skills in the interim. Start small: Educate a coworker about your latest project or invite the intern to lunch. The best way to learn is by teaching!

8 Build your community.

You’ve been told your whole life that you should be loyal to your company. Here’s a new idea: Instead of being loyal to the company, be loyal to the people. The people who inspire you, the people who challenge you, and the people who you know will always have your back. This mindset goes beyond networking. It’s not about building the biggest LinkedIn pool possible, but rather about cultivating rich relationships with colleagues who value the same things that you do. These are people who you’ll stay in contact with regardless of which company and field you’re currently working in. To begin, notice when a colleague reaches a work milestone and find a way to congratulate them in a meaningful way. Years from now, they may not remember what you said to them, but they’ll recall how you made them feel.

9 Negotiate.

It’s no secret that finance is a boy’s club. But one problem is that women often think that it’s lack of experience, which holds them back from higher pay. At my next annual review, after I’ve had some time to establish myself, I’ll negotiate a raise.

Unfortunately, this sentiment betrays the sneaky assumption that pay is entirely based on merit! But studies show that merit alone does not determine your salary. One recent study by the Economic Policy Institute found that men consistently earned more than women in their very first job out of college, even when they had comparable work experience! Sadly, this shows that if you aren’t negotiating for yourself at the first job offer then you’re already too late. In the world of finance, this can easily become a weapon against you for another reason: Employers will think that if you can’t even negotiate for your own interests, then how will you negotiate for theirs? So, at your next review, ask. Negotiation skills are good for you and your company.

10 Time the market.

You’ve finished your first year or two as an analyst or advisor. You remember that first time you saw a spreadsheet and panicked at the sheer amount of information. But now, you can absorb all you need to know at a glance. Feels good, right? Now it’s time to apply your knowledge to your most personal investment: yourself. At this point, no one knows better than you whether to start at a new company, take on bigger roles, or do your own thing entirely. So, go out and do it! Remember, the best investment you’ll ever make is in yourself.

Sources: ucdavis.edu, fidelity.com, gap.hks.harvard.edu, epi.org

Two Tech CEOs Team Up to Take the Guesswork Out of CBD

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Two women CEOs of tech indusrty seated

With dozens of new brands entering the market each month and its own National holiday on August 8,  CBD is quickly penetrating the daily lives of consumers. Between the proliferating field of options and the wide array of formula choices and strengths, how do consumers know where to start? How much should they take? In what form, and how often?

Having built dozens of consumer products and brands between them, co-founders Coco Meers (L’Oréal Alumna and Founder of PrettyQuick, acquired by Groupon in 2015) and Marcy Capron-Vermillion (Founder of Polymathic, acquired by DevMynd 2017) created Equilibria to restore balance to modern women by demystifying the CBD journey, from starting dose to personalized routine development and ongoing Dosage Specialist support.

“The CBD market is expanding at a rapid rate, with little regard to quality, service and education,” Meers said. “We saw an opportunity to deliver not only the highest quality CBD on the market, purpose-built to deliver maximum therapeutic benefits, but white glove, clinical luxury service that caters to each woman individually.”

In a sea of CBD brands, Equilibria— launched this year—offers personalized dosage support led by veteran cannabis educators and unparalleled quality from their exclusive bioscience partner—all to advance the mission of balance for women. CBD as a service – personalized dosage support for all members.

A 37-year-old working mother with insomnia and exacerbated stress during her period. A 73-year-old plagued with chronic pain whose arthritis prevents her from playing with her grandkids. These women are part of Equilibria’s community, and Equilibria gets to know them and their health goals from the start of their journey.

CBD is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Female body chemistry, age, metabolism, health goals, and current medications influence the amount of CBD they need and how often they should take it. With daily and consistent use, CBD can change lives. Products and services focus on restoring balance to the lives of women. CBD works with the body to promote balance, and women’s bodies need balance. Equilibria’s female-led team delivers on this vision by focusing their service and R&D efforts on CBD science and female biochemistry. From hormonal regulation and anxiety to auto-immune and inflammation, women’s physiological and mental health systems can easily swing out of balance. CBD helps achieve homeostasis throughout the body’s systems. Equilibria’s Dosage Support team is trained in female biochemistry and applications of CBD for female health. To offer clinical support and maximum therapeutic benefits requires that Equilibria have complete confidence and transparency into the consistency and mquality of their supply chain.

For Marcy and Coco, white-labeling wasn’t good enough. Equilibria is proud to join forces in an exclusive partnership with CFH, LTD—a leading bioscience firm and industrial hemp producer in Longmont, Colorado. Coco and Marcy surveyed the landscape of CBD white-label manufacturers, but it didn’t feel right to purchase product and re-label. These science- oriented and data-driven leaders needed to know that every step of the process was optimized for consumer safety and medical-grade results. They chose to partner with CFH and work together as partner companies with shared ownership—because they recognized the CFH team was as passionate about traceability, consistency,and results as they were.

Source: Equilibria

6 Things Successful People Never Reveal About Themselves

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women talking together at conference table

At work, sharing the right aspects of yourself in the right ways is an art form. Disclosures that feel like relationship builders in the moment can wind up as obvious no-nos with hindsight.

By Travis Bradberry, Ph.D.

Trouble is, you can’t build a strong professional network if you don’t open up to your colleagues. Doing so is tricky, because revealing the wrong things can have a devastating effect on your career.

You must know where the line is and be careful not to cross it, because once you share something, there is no going back.

More than a million people have been tested and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90 percent of top performers, to be exact). Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.

Emotionally intelligent people are adept at reading others, and this ability shows them what they should and shouldn’t reveal about themselves at work. They know better than to reveal any of the following, because these things will send your career careening in the wrong direction.

  1. Your political beliefs. People’s political beliefs are too closely tied to their identities to be discussed without incident at work. Disagreeing with someone else’s views can quickly alter their otherwise strong perception of you. Confronting someone’s core values is one of the most insulting things you can do.

Granted, different people treat politics differently, but asserting your values can alienate some people as quickly as it intrigues others. Even bringing up a hot-button world event without asserting a strong opinion can lead to conflict. People build their lives around their ideals and beliefs, and giving them your two cents is risky. Be willing to listen to others without inputting anything on your end because all it takes is a disapproving look to start a conflict. Political opinions are so deeply ingrained in people, that challenging their views is more likely to get you judged than to change their mind.

  1. That you think someone is incompetent. There will always be incompetent people in any workplace, and chances are that everyone knows who they are. If you don’t have the power to help them improve or to fire them, then you have nothing to gain by broadcasting their ineptitude. Announcing your colleague’s incompetence comes across as an insecure attempt to make you look better. Your callousness will inevitably come back to haunt you in the form of your coworkers’ negative opinions of you.
  1. How much money you make. Your parents may love to hear all about how much you’re pulling in each month, but in the workplace, this only breeds negativity. It’s impossible to allocate salaries with perfect fairness, and revealing yours gives your coworkers a direct measure of comparison. As soon as everyone knows how much you make, everything you do at work is considered against your income. It’s tempting to swap salary figures with a buddy out of curiosity, but the moment you do, you’ll never see each other the same way again.
  1. That you hate your job. The last thing anyone wants to hear at work is someone complaining about how much they hate their job. Doing so labels you as a negative person, who is not a team player. This brings down the morale of the group. Bosses are quick to catch on to naysayers who drag down morale, and they know that there are always enthusiastic replacements waiting just around the corner.
  1. How wild you used to be. Your past can say a lot about you. Just because you did something outlandish or stupid years ago doesn’t mean that people will believe you’ve developed impeccable judgment since then. Some behavior that might qualify as just another day in the typical fraternity (binge drinking, petty theft, drunk driving, abusing farm animals, and so on) shows everyone you work with that, when push comes to shove, you have poor judgment and don’t know where to draw the line. Many presidents have been elected in spite of their past indiscretions, but unless you have a team of handlers and PR types protecting and spinning your image, you should keep your unsavory past to yourself.
  1. That you’re job hunting. When I was a kid, I told my baseball coach I was quitting in two weeks. For the next two weeks, I found myself riding the bench. It got even worse after those two weeks when I decided to stay, and I became “the kid who doesn’t even want to be here.” I was crushed, but it was my own fault; I told him my decision before it was certain. The same thing happens when you tell people that you’re job hunting. Once you reveal that you’re planning to leave, you suddenly become a waste of everyone’s time. There’s also the chance that your hunt will be unsuccessful, so it’s best to wait until you’ve found a job before you tell anyone. Otherwise, you will end up riding the bench.

Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning coauthor of Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the cofounder of TalentSmart®, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training serving more than 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries.

Great Minds in STEM (GMiS) 2019 Conference is Coming September 25

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Great Minds in STEM Flyer with details for the event

Great Minds in STEM (GMiS) invites you to the 31st Annual Conference taking place September 25-29, 2019 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

The GMiS Conference is the nation’s most prestigious stage for building and reinforcing networks and honoring excellence. The place where top executives, innovative professionals, and the brightest STEM students convene.

GMiS draws thousands of diverse high caliber STEM students from a broad array of institutions, including top‐ranked U.S. News & World Report Institutions, Research I Institutions, and Minority‐Serving Institutions.

Network with over 3000 STEM executives, college students and recruiters from all major industries and sectors. Secure an internship, fellowship or full time career!

Click here for a full flyer view.

For more information, visit greatmindsinstem.org .

Five Ways to Succeed as a Female STEM Graduate

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female scientist standing in chemical laboratory

By Audrey Taylor, CEO, Netlogx

As a new graduate, it’s daunting to enter your career not only as a woman but as a woman who is a minority among her peers. Women hold more than half of the college degrees awarded each year, but represent only 25 percent of college-educated STEM employees.

I began my career in technology more than 30 years ago and my company 20 years ago. For context, in 1998, Google was in its very first year of existence, and companies were only beginning to build e-commerce and informational websites.

As a woman in STEM, I strived for equality, diversity, and a successful technology company. To my peers, that might have seemed overly ambitious, but if you want to be a trailblazer, sometimes you have to do what you think is right and not focus on what other people think. Fortunately, I wasn’t wrong: more gender-diverse workplaces have been shown to increase bottom-line revenue by 41 percent. Overall, employees are also more productive and engaged when they work in a diverse environment.

As a female STEM graduate myself, there are five concrete suggestions I’d like to share with other STEM women to help support and foster an inclusive workplace:

  1. Seek mentorship outside the majority. Connect and network in areas that fit your passion and desires for a career, but aren’t necessarily typical. Are you an aerospace engineer? Network with those who also engineer in software and manufacturing. You’ll be surprised what you learn about solving problems from different industries. Think about other minority professional groups where your insights could be valued, and, likewise, their ideas and brainstorming power will be beneficial to you, too.
  1. Understand and improve your own unconscious bias. We all make decisions with unconscious bias. As long as we are human, this will be the case. When men and women were asked to review two identical resumes with a man’s name on one, and a female’s on the other, both groups rated the male resume as more capable and suited for the position, even though the skills and experience listed were identical! When you understand that unconscious bias exists—even within yourself—you become aware of your own decisions and statements in meetings, when hiring new employees, advising the C-suite, or even your interaction with colleagues day to day.
  1. Progress, not perfection. Avoid striving for perfection all the time. That isn’t the way the world works, especially in innovative career fields like science, engineering and technology where trial and error are key. Don’t be afraid to take risks when you think you have a solution or want to try something new. Failure doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it means you’ve found something that doesn’t work. Use it as an opportunity to improve your methods about a business challenge. When you know what doesn’t work, you open your mind to other ways of interpreting and resolving challenges.
  1. You’re in the room for a reason. Use your voice and raise it when you want to share your insight and perspective. That’s how you’ll be heard and start a real dialogue to solve complex business issues. Maybe everyone else hasn’t heard that idea before, or maybe no one has considered something you see as a barrier to solving that issue. True invention and progress requires all the brains in the room, not just brains from one gender or race. Find ways to ask what others have to say, and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you want clarification or more information about something that interests you.
  1. Sponsor and mentor young STEM minds. Whether it’s a woman or someone else in a minority group, lead the charge and help others gain footing where you’ve already learned to connect. It takes more than one empowered woman to make a difference. By fostering young minds, you’re helping STEM grow faster and healthier, with more diversity. Get involved in urban groups that help youth make career decisions, or join Big Brothers Big Sisters. Invite your friends to come along. Humans are inherently designed for relationships with others, and one person you listen to or advise could easily become a future leader.

More than ever, women are taking CEO positions in companies all over the world, but it still isn’t nearly equal. There will be discouraging times in your career, but the only way to increase female STEM graduates and business leaders is to become one yourself. Keep your foot in the door by seeking professional development opportunities and speaking out when you have something to say. Remember where you came from and help other women along the way. After all—to paraphrase—we have to be the change we want to see in our world today.

Rapper Residente partners with scientists to create music with brain patterns

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Rapper Residente sitting on couch dresed in black and baseball cap

Grammy-winning rapper Residente has some new collaborators on his upcoming album: scientists. The Puerto Rican performer said he studied intensely with professors at Yale University and New York University to read brain patterns in worms, mice, monkeys, fruit flies and even hitmaker Bad Bunny to create his second solo project.

“(The album is) going to be about everything that I have inside of my head … because of that I kept brainstorming and I said, ‘Oh I have to study my brain, and then I have to study other people’s brains, and then I have to study animals’ brains,'” he said.

Daniel Alfonso Colón-Ramos, an associate professor of neuroscience at Yale, said Residente spent days at the school doing research.

“We were joking that we should give him a diploma,” said Colón-Ramos.

On campus, they used electroencephalogram (EEG) tests on worms to track and record brain wave patterns.

“Without harming the animals we can actually see as the animal is thinking, as it’s moving, as it’s exploring its environment, we can see individual cells talking into each other. It turns out when these cells, when these neurons talk to each other they’re using rhythms to communicate — we call it rhythms of activity. But, at the end of the day, those rhythms can be turned into music,” Colón-Ramos said.

The untitled album will be released in November. Residente, born René Juan Pérez Joglar, worked with Suzanne Dikker, a senior research scientist in NYU’s Department of Psychology, to use EEG tests on himself and Bad Bunny to produce the album’s first single, “Bellacoso.”

Continue on to NBC News to read the complete article.

CBS Saturday Morning Debuts “Mission Unstoppable,” a New Weekly Series Executive Produced by Geena Davis and Miranda Cosgrove Who Also Serves as Host

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Miranda Cosgrove poses for Mission Unstoppable poster

CBS announced today that new series Mission Unstoppable, featuring female STEM superstars, is joining the Saturday morning block “The CBS Dream Team, It’s Epic!,” which returns for its seventh season Saturday, Sept. 28th (9:00-12:00 ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Each week, host and Executive Producer Miranda Cosgrove (iCarly) and an all-female leadership team showcase women on the cutting edge of science – including zoologists, engineers, astronauts, codebreakers, and oceanographers. Viewers will be inspired by female STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) superstars in leading fields including social media, entertainment, animals, design, and the internet – all categories key to the teen experience.

“Girls need to see themselves on and off the screen as STEM professionals, and as I always say, ‘If they can see it, they can be it.’ This new series strives to empower young women and showcase the many ways they can impact the world through careers in STEM.”

Academy-Award winning actor and advocate Geena Davis serves as co-executive producer of the series, bringing her passion for creating change in the portrayal of strong female characters in entertainment and media that positively influences young viewers.

“Strong female role models are essential to breaking down barriers and educating the next generation of leaders about gender equality,” said Geena Davis, Executive Producer, Mission Unstoppable. “Girls need to see themselves on and off the screen as STEM professionals, and as I always say, ‘If they can see it, they can be it.’ This new series strives to empower young women and showcase the many ways they can impact the world through careers in STEM.”

Serving as Showrunner is Anna Wenger, four-time Emmy-nominated producer for Billy on The Street, Between Two Ferns, and Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles. Wenger’s expertise in narrative television and sketch comedy television series will provide Mission Unstoppable with its core intent to bring fun and science to life for young viewers.

Continue on to Businesswire to read the complete article.

Mexican Scientist Creates Biodegradable Plastic Straw From Cactus

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Sandra Ortiz stands in kitchen behind table filled with vaiations of her new plastic

Researchers from the University of Valle de Atemajac in Zapopan, Mexico have created a biodegradable plastic from the juice of the prickly pear cactus.

The new material begins to break down after sitting in the soil for a month and when left in water, it breaks down in a matter of days. Plus, it doesn’t require crude oil like traditional plastics.

“There were some publications that spoke of different materials with which biodegradable plastics could be made, including some plants,” Sandra Pascoe Ortiz, the research professor who developed the material, told Forbes.

“In this case the nopal cactus has certain chemical characteristics with which I thought it could be feasible to obtain a polymer, that if it was combined with some other substances, all of them natural, a non-toxic biodegradable plastic would be obtained. The process is a mixture of compounds whose base is the nopal. It’s totally non-toxic, all the materials we use could be ingested both by animals or humans and they wouldn’t cause any harm.”

This means that even if any of this material made its way into the ocean, it will safely dissolve. It’s estimated that between 1.15 million to 2.41 million tonnes of plastic are entering the ocean each year from rivers. Last month, divers found a plastic KFC bag from the 1970s during an ocean clean-up off the waters off Bulcock Beach in Queensland, Australia and earlier this year, during a dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench – the deepest point in the ocean – a plastic bag was found.

According to Ortiz, the project was born in a science Fair of the The nopal cactus sitting on table with blender in the backgroundDepartment of Exact Sciences and Engineering, in the chemistry class with industrial engineering students of the career. They began to make some attempts to obtain a plastic using cactus as raw material.

“From that I decided to start a research project in a formal way. Currently in the project collaborate researchers from the University of Guadalajara in conjunction with the University of Valle de Atemajac.”

Continue on to Forbes to read the complete article.

WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge Unveils New Origami Exhibit with STEM Focus

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Young girl proudly holding an origami that she made

WonderWorks, located in Pigeon Forge, is adding more fun and educational opportunities. The new feature will have an origami exhibit that has an education focus on math (STEM).

The STEM exhibit will introduce people to how math is related to the art of origami. The new exhibit is available to the public that began on August 25, 2019, and is included with the regular admission price.

“The origami exhibit just adds another element to help us achieve our core objectives as a company,” says Ed Shaffer, general manager for WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge. “We always strive to make sure our guests have fun and make memories to cherish, but we also hope they learn a little something along the way.”

The origami exhibit is education-focused, providing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning opportunities. Origami, which originated in Japan, is the art of folding paper in a sequence to get a particular shape. What many people don’t realize is that origami has a strong connection with math and can help kids understand math concepts better. This is because origami designs contain complex geometric patterns, angles, and shapes. Origami is believed to help improve student’s skills, by strengthening their understanding of geometry, fractions, and improving problem solving skills.

The origami exhibit will be a new addition to the Gallery of Wonders, which currently also offers a series of optical illusion artwork pieces that will adorn the attractions  second floor. The artwork pieces contain hidden objects, riddles, and will challenge people. Optical illusions trick the eye and give people a chance to explore different perspectives.

“Educational value is a big part of our attraction. With a constant stream of school groups and field trips of all kinds, we are always looking for ways to engage the students and assist our teachers in making the most out of their visit with us, ”added Shaffer.

WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge offers 35,000 square feet of “edu-tainment” opportunities, billing itself as an amusement park for the mind. They offer over 100 hands-on exhibits covering natural disasters, space discovery, an imagination lab, a physical challenge zone, a far out art gallery, and a light and sound zone. WonderWorks is open daily from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. For more information, log onto their site: wonderworksonline.com/pigeon-forge/.

About WonderWorks

WonderWorks, a science focused indoor amusement park, combines education and entertainment. With over 100 hands-on exhibits – there is something unique and challenging for all ages. Feel the power of 71mph hurricane–force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab. Get the NASA treatment in our Astronaut Training Gyro and experience zero gravity. Nail it by lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails. Conquer your fear of heights on our indoor Glow-In-The-Dark Ropes Course. WonderWorks is also home to Wonders of Magic, starring Terry Evanswood, the award-winning and longest running performer in Pigeon Forge. WonderWorks hosts birthday parties and special events seasonally. Open daily from 9 a.m. until midnight. wonderworksonline.com/pigeon-forge

Teachers Get in Free During Teacher Wonder Days at WonderWorks Orlando

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WonderWorks Orlando

WonderWorks Orlando is inviting teachers in the state of Florida to check out all they have to offer for free on select dates in September and October 2019. During Teacher Wonder Days, educators can learn about all the programs they offer.

Teachers will get free admission into WonderWorks Orlando on Friday and Saturday, September 28-29, 2019 and October 5-6, 2019. Each additional guest they bring will only be $15 per person.

“WonderWorks Orlando looks forward to hosting our annual Teacher Wonder Days, where we invite teachers and their families from all over the state of Florida to experience WonderWorks’ educational, upside down adventure!” says Brian Wayne, general manager of WonderWorks Orlando. “Over 1,500 teachers registered for our 2018 event and we look forward to surpassing that for 2019!”

Teachers who would like to take part in the program need to RSVP online. Each teacher will also receive a goodie bag filled with coupons and items from local businesses and attractions. WonderWorks Orlando will also be giving away door prizes, and there will be a special guest appearance by Professor Wonder. Everyone who attends Teacher Wonder Days will also be entered to win $500 worth of school supplies. Teachers can RSVP at the WonderWorks Orlando website: wonderworksonline.com/orlando/rsvp/.

Educators will not only get a chance to have fun and see the way families are challenged at WonderWorks, but they will also learn about a variety of the programs they offer. The special programs they offer include:

  • School fundraisers. The program allows your school or class to have a spirit night, with your class or school receiving a portion of the proceeds.
  • Sensory days. These are special days where exhibits are altered to provide limited stimulation for children with special needs.
  • Homeschool days. WonderWorks offers special homeschool days with discounted rate for homeschoolers.
  • Scout programs. There are programs offered for Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, including appreciation days and sleepovers.
  • School field trip programs. WonderWorks offers a unique educational field trip opportunity, where kids can learn about earth science, physics, astronomy, and more.

WonderWorks in Orlando is an adventure that tourists and locals both enjoy. The indoor amusement park is open 365 days per year from 9:00 a.m. until midnight. WonderWorks features a glow-in-the-dark ropes course, laser tag, 4D XD motion theater, magic comedy dinner show, and the Wonder Zones, which include interactive exhibits on natural disasters, space discovery, light and sound zone, imagination lab, far out art gallery, and a physical challenge zone. With over 35,000 square feet of “edu-tainment,” the attraction combines education and entertainment with over 100 hands-on exhibits. To get more information or purchase tickets, visit the site at: wonderworksonline.com/orlando/