Tag Archives: Technology

Champions of the Environment: Richland Two Institute of Innovation’s Ecofitness Project

by
Kristin Bullington
Richland Two Institute of Innovation

This is the third of a series of blog posts recognizing winners of the 2016 Champions of the Environment awards.

The purpose of the Ecofitness project is to explore mechanical energy as an alternative energy source while promoting green and healthy lifestyles.  Using a Read and Ride bicycle as a mechanical energy generator, students in the Next Energy class calculate the efficiency of the bike and compare it to other alternative energies studied in class, including solar, wind, and hydrogen fuel cells.  After using the bike for their energy efficiency studies, students will use the Ecofitness generator as an outreach tool to middle and elementary school students, as well as the greater community as a tie-in with the county library branch located on the school campus.  As the Read and Ride bicycle is designed to allow its users to read a book while exercising, it provides a unique opportunity to promote air pollution reduction, literacy, and healthy lifestyles at the same time.

The bicycle is available for supervised exercise, which feeds current back into the grid, thereby reducing the power needs within the class.  Students calculate watts generated, carbon dioxide avoided, and calories burned as measurements of the impact of the bicycle on energy use.  The inspiration for the Ecofitness project was to engage students in both environmental education and healthy lifestyles in a way that makes energy conservation meaningful to each participant.  When students discover that their laptop needs roughly 30 watts of energy to charge, and they have to provide it through moderate exercise, the meaning of a watt in terms of power becomes clearer, as well as its relationship to calorie burning and intake.  In addition, the bike can be used to charge mobile devices, which can be a powerful incentive to exercise for teens!

Environmental education is an excellent venue for interdisciplinary projects and student-generated solutions.  As an engineering teacher, I have found that most students are interested in protecting the Earth and its natural resources, but sometimes lack the specific skills needed to design their own solutions.  Environmental engineering allows students to apply their knowledge across courses, and with instruction in project management and technical content, they are able to create new solutions and become empowered to make a real difference.

The best part of the project for me is watching students explain to their peers and adults how the bike generates electrical energy; the confidence and specificity they exhibit tells me how much they have mastered our alternative energy standards.  It is also rewarding to see so many students of all ages eager to try out the bike.  The most challenging part of the project is charging a battery directly; the students have discovered that it is difficult to cycle at the needed wattage consistently, and that it is much easier to return the current directly to the grid.  However, the Ecofitness project will definitely be a permanent addition to the Next Energy class, as it provides a kinesthetic understanding of electrical power while promoting green energy and exercise.

Morning News: Smart Mosquito Traps, Flu in Orangeburg, Boil Water Advisory, Random Acts of Kindness

News for February 17:

The high number of flu cases across South Carolina has led to visitation restrictions at the Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg County:

Testament to how widespread the flu is comes from none other than the hospital. The Regional Medical Center has restricted patient visitation temporarily because of influenza.

“We have seen an increase in the number of flu cases as the season has progressed,” RMC Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. John Samies said Wednesday. “To protect our patients and their families, we have closed the doors to all inpatient units and have restricted visitation to immediate family members over the age of 12 only. Children under the age of 12 will not be permitted to enter any of the inpatient units.”

Remember, it’s not too late to get a flu shot. Find a clinic near you.

A boil water advisory has been issued for Valley Public Service Authority Water System customers:

General Manager Calvin Smith advises the customers of the water system residing on Pinegrove Road, Old Chavous Road, Bailey Drive, Sapp Drive, Divine Drive, Pepper Branch Road, Scottsville Road, C.C. Camp Road, Storm Court and a portion of Storm Branch Road that the water service has been interrupted for emergency repairs due to an unforeseen waterline break on Thursday.

Find information on what to do in a boil water emergency here.

Have we found new high-tech way to fight mosquitoes? Microsoft is testing a “smart trap” to do just that:

A smart trap for mosquitoes? A new high-tech version is promising to catch the bloodsuckers while letting friendlier insects escape – and even record the exact weather conditions when different species emerge to bite.

Whether it really could improve public health is still to be determined. But when the robotic traps were pilot-tested around Houston last summer, they accurately captured particular mosquito species – those capable of spreading the Zika virus and certain other diseases – that health officials wanted to track, researchers reported Thursday.

It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day! Use this “kindness generator” for ideas on doing something great!

 

Detecting Outbreak Causes Faster with New Technology

By Jim Beasley

In a disease outbreak that threatens the public’s health, time is of the essence.

Thanks to the new FilmArray BioFire system acquired recently by DHEC’s Bureau of Laboratories, identifying the pathogens that cause these outbreaks has been reduced to approximately 90 minutes. Prior to this important acquisition, identification of the causes of disease could take one-to-three days.

BioFire proved its significance when five people fell ill after swimming in a Lowcountry community pool. Using regular testing procedures, the pool’s water sample provided nothing of major concern to DHEC’s investigators. The tests found only extremely low levels of germs, and it appeared the pool would be allowed to reopen.

However, a different type of sample was sent to DHEC’s lab to undergo further testing using the new BioFire system. BioFire identified the microscopic parasite Cryptosporidium, also known as “Crypto,” which can cause severe diarrheal illness. Because of its outer shell, Crypto is able to survive outside the body for long periods of time — and can even survive disinfection by chlorine used in swimming pools.

“This technology not only allows us to get results faster,” explains Dr. Shahiedy Shahied, bureau chief of DHEC’s Bureau of Laboratories, “but it expands the number of pathogens that we can identify. For a gastrointestinal outbreak it allows us to test for an additional seven pathogens, and the respiratory panel allows us to detect seven additional pathogens that we have no other way to detect.”

Dr. Shahied adds that running samples through the BioFire system is more expensive than more commonly used tests but, in this case, it proved its worth. Identification of Crypto enabled health care providers to offer the appropriate treatments for the five swimmers, helping them on their path to recovery more quickly.

Speaking of BioFire, Rachel Radcliffe, director of DHEC’s Surveillance and Outbreak Investigation Section, said, “It is particularly useful when a pathogen is initially unknown during an outbreak investigation because it can provide timely results that allow us to implement appropriate preventive measures and limit disease transmission.”

BioFire enables DHEC’s public health investigators to respond more rapidly to outbreak situations and makes possible a quicker response and containment of the outbreak. As a result, DHEC can identify threats like Crypto more quickly, helping protect you from bugs that can make you sick.