Students for a Smarter Planet ..leaders with conscience

When solar panels first began cropping up on rooftops and in large fields, a number of people were ‘offended’ by what they considered an ‘unsightly blight’ on the landscape.  This rather fun story tells the tale of how a film director’s sense of humor can turn things around…


James Cameron’s


Open Source


Sun Flower


And a second article on this happy topic from Spirit Science

Perhaps the most exciting dimension of this flora is that it’s expected to be OPEN SOURCE!  That means you and I can make our own “garden”!

A little sunshine & laughter can go a long way to making the formerly unpalatable more appealing & acceptable – and who doesn’t smile at the sight of sunflowers?!

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The divide between men and women in the field of science has been undergoing a slow, but steady, transformation.  Possibly the most familar female scientist in much of the developed world is Marie Curie.  There have been countless other woman pioneers over the past centuries…whose names are more obscure – but, whose contributions have also been of great value to humankind.

One group who lauds and applauds the brains and outstanding achievements of these women around the globe is EPWS: European Platform of Women Scientists.  Formed in 2005, more than 100 networks of women scientists and organisations promoting women in science from 40 countries have joined the Platform, working for the promotion of equal opportunities in the research fields of all scientific disciplines and aiming to give women scientists a voice in European research policy.

Click on the logo to learn more about this fascinating and dedicated group – explore their website and take note of the data section which addresses both the European and US promotion of science education for females:


Perhaps you’ll be motivated to take advantage of what’s sure to be a rewarding discourse at their upcoming conference to be held in Berlin, Germany in November of 2015 (click on the link for more details…): Ready for Dialogue

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Travel can be risky – monetary crises, allergies to unusual foods, unsafe drinking water…and being a potential robbery target as you navigate unfamiliar locales.  Not that I’m advocating fear of traveling!  I love to go exploring anywhere and everywhere.  Sometimes, just getting there carries risks, too.

Read this short piece published by RedOrbit about a budding 17-year-old scientist named Raymond Wang from St. Georges School in Vancouver. Wang’s device sets up “personalized breathing zones” for each passenger.

Teen invents way to stop airborne viruses on planes


And watch the YouTube video linked there of the award for his prize-winning invention – and an interview with the inventor himself (you can click the pic below to go right to it…)

Airborne virus

With global concern about the spread of diseases, this young man’s invention may make the air we breathe safer for everyone – and it has applications far beyond commercial flights.  What adaptations can you envision?

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As we use more and more electronic equipment and continually upgrade to newer, faster, sleeker versions of these items, the amount of toxic, non-biodegradable material we produce grows alarmingly.  Health concerns and unsightly piles of useless and forgotten old computers, televisions, cell phones and other electronics can be likened to the rat-infested wharfs of old -  havens for rotting garbage and disease.  There may be a way to change that…

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a surprising way to make tossing out future smartphones and tablets easier on the environment and the conscience. They’re replacing the bulk of toxic and non-biodegradable materials in modern microprocessors with wood.

Specifically, the researchers’ method replaces the rigid base or substrate material in smartphone and tablet chips, often comprised of the arsenic-containing compound gallium arsenide, with cellulose nanofibril (CNF). CNF is a flexible, transparent material made by breaking down the cell walls of wood to the nano scale and forming it into sheets, much like paper.  The team has investigated methods to combat the moisture accumulation inherent in wood products.

When scaled up … the costs for creating CNF from renewable wood should be inexpensive as well, helping entice device makers to switch from more traditional substrates. After all, wood is abundant, and doesn’t need to be mined from the ground like gallium. The pliable nature of CNF will make it a good fit for the emerging field of flexible electronic devices.

Read the full article here:

Click on the picture to read the abstract and full paper:  High-performance green flexible electronics based on biodegradable cellulose nanofibril paper (originally published in Nature Communications)

Maybe being a more eco-friendly garbage dumper will make us less of a drain on our planet in the years to come?  Think about it…

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June 17th, 2015

Finding ways to best utilize our planetary resources has been a theme of UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – a specialized agency of the United Nations) for many years.  This initiative has garnered less attention in the media than perhaps might be expected – but, as ordinary citizens, we’re becoming more personally aware as our world continues to undergo startling changes relative to climate, water availability, sustainable construction, etc., etc.

One of UNESCO’s objectives in which I find myself particularly interested is the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), which “develops the basis within the natural and social sciences for the rational and sustainable use and conservation of the resources of the biosphere and for the improvement of the overall relationship between people and their environment.”

There is a yearly competition in which you might wish to participate (and of which you may be unaware…as I was), that encourages new avenues to tackle the issues mentioned above affecting everyone around the world -

UNESCO logoMAB Young Scientists Awards


Although the 2015 application has not yet been posted, you can find out details about the competition by clicking the link above.  There is a $5,000 USD award to the winner(s).  To be eligible, award applications must be made on the MAB Young Scientists Award application form (in English or French) and be endorsed by the applicant’s MAB National Committee, which may endorse only two applications per year from applicants who are not older than 40 years of age (at the closing date of the application).

There are other incentives UNESCO offers as well; take a look here: Awards and Prizes

Even if you find that you don’t qualify for the competitions, I do hope that you’ll spend some time exploring the wealth of information on UNESCO’s website… There’s much food for thought and many pathways to explore – what will YOU contribute?

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