At Home: Mad Plastics
During 2003’s mad cow disease scare, the Canadian cattle industry was changed forever. Even eight years later, its effects are still being felt: certain parts of the cow, now considered a risk for passing on the disease, are discarded and sent to landfills. However, scientists are discovering a new use for the waste?and It’s nothing similar to the initial product.
As the CBC reports, University of Alberta biochemical engineer David Bressler has ?figured out a way to transform cattle parts into plastic.?
The cattle carcass parts, which contain items like cattle brains and spinal cords, are broken down into their component proteins. Then, they’re bonded together with a second chemical, whose effect is ?much like the rungs joining two sides of a ladder.? The result: a plastic-like material whose ?strength and flexibility can be adjusted by altering the number of chemical steps joining the two sides.?
Formerly, the cattle parts were thrown away, but now the 5,000 tonnes of cow parts landfilled weekly can provide 3,500 ?tonnes of raw material for the new plastic.? One person’s trash truly is another’s treasure!
Around the World: Gettin? Schooled
Putting facts to music isn’t anything new?Schoolhouse Rock!, anyone??but educational songs tend to be extras, supplemental material rather than teaching tools themselves. Not so in one New York City classroom: there, the music is front and centre, but in the end It’s all about the lyrics.
As The New York Times reports, the class, which preps students to take the Regents history exam That’s required for graduation, uses urban music to get its message across. The instructors, who go by the rap handles Rabbi Darkside and M.C. Tingbudong, use lyrics that ?contain . . . the vocabulary that [the students] need to pass their Regents test.? Students in the class try to ?compete with one another to fill in the missing lyrics.?
The class is a project of the Urban Arts Partnership’s Fresh Prep, which is ?trying to help hard-to-reach students pass the history Regents tests.? For the many students for whom English is a second language, the vocabulary used in the tests creates a certain level of bias, one of Fresh Prep’s instructors told reporters.
So far, the pilot program ?has shown strong results,? even beyond the history test: students are improving their reading skills by working through the lyric-heavy songs. In the future, Fresh Prep hopes to unveil an English test prep program as well.