Science & Technology
Governor Quinn Announces Illinois Ranked Fourth State Nationally in Green Building Survey PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Leslie Wertheimer   
Thursday, 31 January 2013 14:31

New Study Lauds Governor’s Commitment to Sustainability Across Illinois

CHICAGO – January 30, 2013. Governor Quinn today announced that Illinois has become a national leader in “green building,” according to a study released by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), which ranked the state fourth out of 50 states in new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications. The group cited the governor’s commitment to making Illinois a healthier place to live, play, work and grow.

“Since the day I took office I have been committed to making sure Illinois is the most environmentally-friendly state in the country,” Governor Quinn said. “I’m proud to have the U.S. Green Building Council recognize the success of our efforts to make sure sustainable practices are implemented in homes, schools and businesses throughout Illinois.”

“Illinois has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to USGBC’s vision of a sustainable-built environment within a generation,” Jason Hartke, USGBC vice-president of Advocacy and Policy said. “I applaud the extraordinary leadership of those in Illinois – designers, architects, chapter advocates, public officials, everyday citizens – who are working to create the healthiest possible environment for people to work, live and play in.”

The annual study ranks states based on the amount of LEED-certified space per capita. With 140 million square feet of LEED-certified space, Illinois certified 1.94 square feet per resident - behind only the states of Virginia, Colorado and Massachusetts.

Illinois certified 156 LEED projects in 2012, including the Chicago Center for Green Technology, Northern Illinois Food Bank in Geneva, Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Champaign, G&W Electric Company in Bolingbrook and Rush University Medical Center. The USGBC also lauded the KONE Centre in Moline, the first Illinois project to earn Platinum rating.

“We are so proud of our state’s achievements in green building,” Katie Kaluzny, interim executive director, USGBC Illinois Chapter said. “We look forward to continued partnerships with state and local leaders to advance sustainable building and communities across Illinois.”

Throughout his career in public service, Governor Quinn has been an advocate for green building in Illinois. In 2009, Quinn fought for and signed Illinois’ first capital construction plan in more than decade. The Illinois Jobs Now! plan requires all new state-funded building construction projects to seek a minimum LEED Silver certification, and all major renovations of existing state-owned facilities to seek LEED certification.

The Illinois Capital Development Board currently has nearly 50 projects slated to meet LEED certification, including projects at the University of Illinois and College of Lake County in Grayslake which are expected to earn the highest rating (“Platinum”).

Governor Quinn has also signed numerous Executive Orders and statutes into law to ensure greater energy efficiency, use of renewable energy, and protection of Illinois’ land, air and water resources. For more information about Governor Quinn’s sustainability initiatives, please visit Green.Illinois.gov.

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Pleasant Valley High School Wins Iowa High School Science Bowl and Spot in National Finals PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Joe Hand   
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 16:33

Obama Administration Highlights Importance of Investing in Next Generation of Leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Fields

Washington D.C. – Building on President Obama’s efforts to help more students excel in math and science and his call for investments in a skilled American workforce, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack announced today that Pleasant Valley High School from Bettendorf, IA, won the Iowa High School Science Bowl on Saturday. Pleasant Valley High School competed against 40 other teams from across the state in one of the nation’s regional competitions of the 23rd Annual U.S. Department of Energy National Science Bowl, and is now eligible to compete in the National Finals in Washington, D.C., at the end of April. The National Science Bowl brings together thousands of middle and high school students from across the country to compete on a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, astronomy, and math.

“Congratulations to the students at Pleasant Valley High School for their achievements in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Energy Secretary Chu. “Providing opportunities like the National Science Bowl to challenge today’s students is an essential part of keeping America competitive in a rapidly advancing world.”

"Iowa is home to some of the most dedicated and brightest students, and I'm proud that Pleasant Valley High School students have once again demonstrated why Iowa is a leader in innovation," said Congressman Loebsack. "They demonstrated their knowledge of and the value of STEM learning, which will open up doors for them to secure good jobs and help make them our country's future leaders. I want to extend my congratulations to the team from Pleasant Valley High School and wish them luck in the National Science Bowl Finals."

The Department of Energy (DOE) created the National Science Bowl in 1991 to encourage students to excel in mathematics and science and to pursue careers in these fields. More than 200,000 students have participated in the National Science Bowl throughout its 22 year history, and it is the nation’s largest science competition.

Over the next several months, more than 9,000 high school students and 5,000 middle school students will compete in 69 high school and 49 middle school regional Science Bowl tournaments.  Students, in teams of four or five, compete in a fast-paced Jeopardy-style format where they solve technical problems and answer questions in all branches of science and math.  Most teams are coached by teachers from the students’ schools and spend several months preparing for the regional competitions.  Many states have one regional or statewide Science Bowl competition, while larger states, such as California and Texas, hold several regional competitions across their states.

Students from Pleasant Valley High School will be awarded an all-expense paid trip to the National Finals in Washington, D.C., which are scheduled for April 25-29, 2013. The regional tournaments, which host 15-50 teams, are sponsored by federal agencies, national laboratories, institutions of education, and non-profit organizations.

DOE’s Office of Science manages the competition. More information about these events is available on the National Science Bowl website:  http://www.science.energy.gov/nsb/.

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Google’s free Wi-Fi network up and running in Council Bluffs PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Robert Haus   
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 14:18

Additional grant of $50,000 expands access in Council Bluffs

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — Jan. 29, 2013 — Google announced an additional $50,000 grant today to expand the free high-speed wireless Internet network for the city. Once completed, the free Wi-Fi network will be extended to cover the new River's Edge Park and the interior of City Hall. The Wi-Fi network currently provides free internet access to: Downtown Council Bluffs and 100 Broadway District, Mid America Center and Council Bluffs Recreational Complex. Once users agree to the terms of service, they may surf the internet freely.

“Google has been a wonderful corporate partner for our community and this project is just one of the ways Google continues to demonstrate their commitment to be part of our community,” stated Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan. “We are very fortunate to have them in our city, and we look forward to continuing our partnership that will help make Council Bluffs a better place to live and work.”

Google financed the construction of the initial Wi-Fi network through a $154,462 grant (Council Bluffs incurred no charges). The additional grant of $50,000 will finance the expansion efforts to be completed in 2013. The grant will purchase the network equipment and pay for three years of Internet service. After three years, the equipment will be owned and operated by the City of Council Bluffs.

Congressman Tom Latham (IA-3) stated, "Google has a history of making valuable investments in the Third District, and this grant will increase the access that the residents and businesses of Council Bluffs have to a service that is increasingly integral to our daily lives. Widespread Internet access is a crucial component of commerce and job growth in any modern city, and I thank Google for helping make Council Bluffs an even better place to do business."

“Google is a big advocate of the power of the Internet and we feel privileged to bring this free service to the businesses and residents of Council Bluffs," said Chris Russell, operations manager for Google's Council Bluffs data center. "We believe cutting edge technology and Internet access is crucial to developing business, creating jobs, and thriving in the 21st century. The free Wi-Fi network helps Council Bluffs' residents to do just that.”

Wi-Fi is a mechanism for wirelessly connecting electronic devices via nodes that are located throughout a certain area. A device enabled with Wi-Fi, such as a personal computer, smartphone, tablet, video game console or digital audio player, can connect to the Internet via a wireless network access point.

About Google Inc.

Google is a global technology leader focused on improving the ways people connect with information. Google’s innovations in web search and advertising have made its website a top Internet property and its brand one of the most recognized in the world.

Google is a trademark of Google Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated.

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Loebsack Praises “Future Leaders of Tomorrow” PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Vonnie Hampel   
Saturday, 26 January 2013 10:29

Davenport students take part in phone call with astronauts aboard the International Space Station

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after students from the Davenport School District participated in a telephone call with astronauts currently aboard the International Space Station.  The call was hosted at the Putnam Museum’s National Geographic Giant Screen Theater in Davenport.  

 

“I am very proud that our students had such a fantastic opportunity to take what they have learned about in the classroom and interact with those who are experiencing it firsthand.  Iowa is home to some of the most dedicated and brightest students, and I’m grateful that NASA recognized this as well. The folks at the Putnam Museum again demonstrated why they are one of the leading museums for learning and opening our kids’ eyes up to the opportunities ahead of them. The chance for our students to engage with NASA astronauts demonstrates the value of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) learning and the opportunities we can embrace to create the jobs of the future right here in Iowa.”

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Local Students Excel at State Robotics Competition PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Science & Technology
Written by Rachel Chamberlain   
Friday, 25 January 2013 15:45

"3, 2, 1 - LEGO!"  This enthusiastic phrase was on repeat last Saturday at Iowa's FIRST LEGO League (FLL) state competition held on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, IA.  72 teams from around the state (including twelve from the Quad Cities) qualified to attend the event.  Each team of 9-14 year olds was armed with a LEGO Mindstorms NXT robot they designed, built, and programmed themselves.

 

The results are in, and the Quad Cities has reason to be proud!  Four of the twelve teams from our region received awards – BIG ONES!

 

Team "World Changers" (Trinity Lutheran, Davenport), brought home top honors with the Champion's award.  Not far behind was team "Technical Difficulties" (Rivermont Collegiate, Bettendorf), winner of the third place Champion's Award trophy.  Other big winners included team "Charged Up", (Rivermont Collegiate, Bettendorf) winning 1st place for Core Values, and the "Robodawgs" (Bettendorf Middle School) winning 1st place for their project.

Rivermont Collegiate's robotics coach, Rachel Chamberlain, praised the program, saying, "FIRST LEGO League provides a fun and creative platform for kids to learn basic engineering techniques.  Students work really hard during the four month season, but it's all done in a fun, hands-on way that allows them to make discoveries every day with their team mates.  It's a great way to learn!"  Rivermont Collegiate had five teams at the regional competition in Davenport last month, three of which qualified for the state competition, and two who brought home with big wins.

 

"I'm so proud of all the teams from the Quad Cities." Says Chamberlain, "FLL teaches 'Gracious Professionalism' and the kids all know it's not about what you win, but about what you discover along the way.  The trophies are neat (especially the ones made out of Legos), but what's even neater is the pride the kids feel when they talk about what they learned.  It's music to my ears to hear them encourage their peers to participate next year.  It's an experience they will never forget."

 

FIRST LEGO League is an international robotics competition for teams of two-ten students.  This year there were over 20,000 teams in more than 70 countries, including over 400 teams from the state of Iowa.  56 teams from the Quad Cities competed in the regional qualifier last December at the Putnam Museum in Davenport, IA, and twelve teams were selected to advance to the state competition at Iowa State University on Saturday, January 19, 2013.

 

During the four month FLL season, students work together with their team to build a robot that can accomplish predetermined missions on a common playing field to earn points.  Each team receives the same field with the same missions at the beginning of the season.  With a 2 1/2 minute time limit, teams must figure out how to make the best use of their robot's time to earn as many points as possible.  At the competition, teams go head-to-head in a race against the clock, and then add up points at the end with referees.  The robots are completely autonomous, meaning they are preprogrammed and not controlled by any sort of remote or handheld device.  The programming is done on the computer ahead of time, and then uploaded to the robots before the competition.

 

In addition to building and programming a robot, teams are tasked with creating an innovative solution to a real world problem to present in front of a panel of judges.  This year's theme was "Senior Solutions" - solving problems affecting senior citizens.  Students solicited the help of local experts when designing their inventions and shared their ideas with members of the community before the competition to get feedback and advice.

 

The third and final piece of the FIRST LEGO League competition was Core Values.  According to the First Lego League website, the FLL Core Values are the cornerstones of the FLL program. They are among the fundamental elements that distinguish FLL from other programs of its kind.  By embracing the Core Values, participants learn that friendly competition and mutual gain are not separate goals, and that helping one another is the foundation of teamwork.

 

Harrison Brown, a 5th grader at Rivermont Collegiate, was on team "Charged Up" (winner of the Core Values award).  "I'm proud that our team won the Core Values award." Says Brown, "This is actually a really important award. I feel like our team worked well together and had fun.  That's probably why we won.  If a team doesn't have strong Core Values, it would be hard for them to be successful because they wouldn't be able to work well together."

 

"The real life skills these kids learn through this program are priceless." Says Chamberlain, "We're not only teaching kids how to program and become future engineers, but we are teaching them how to problem solve, brainstorm, build presentations, and work on a team.  These skills are invaluable and will cross over into many different areas of their life and future careers."

 

Although teams don't know details yet about next year's challenge, they do know the theme - "Nature's Fury".  The 2013 season officially kicks off on August 27, 2013.

 

For more information about First Lego League, visit www.firstlegoleague.org.  For more information about this year’s championship at Iowa State University, visit www.isek.iastate.edu/fll.

 

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