NOVA’s ‘Decoding COVID-19’ receives 2021 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award | NOVA



Physique + MindPhysique & Mind

The PBS science sequence was acknowledged for its 2020 documentary throughout final night time’s ceremony “honoring the most effective in journalism.”

Picture courtesy of the Alfred I. duPont Award committee.

The Columbia College of Journalism introduced yesterday that the PBS science sequence NOVA was the recipient of a 2021 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for its 2020 documentary “Decoding COVID-19.” 

NOVA was one among 15 winners of this yr’s awards, offered throughout a particular digital ceremony highlighting excellent reporting within the public curiosity. The hour-long occasion, “The duPont-Columbia Awards: Honoring the Better of Journalism,” premiered on PBS digital platforms final night time at 8:00 p.m. ET. You possibly can watch the ceremony right here.

Written, produced, and directed by Sarah Holt, “Decoding COVID-19” is a scientific investigation into the coronavirus that has triggered a world public well being disaster and turned the world the other way up. Filmed in April and Could of 2020, throughout the early weeks of the pandemic’s affect on the U.S., the one-hour documentary reveals the biology of the tiny pathogen devastating lives from Wuhan, China to New York Metropolis and follows the unprecedented collaboration amongst scientists who have been racing to develop a vaccine. 

Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award particular visitor Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the Nationwide Institute of Allergy and Infectious Ailments, stated in “one masterful hour,” the movie explains how the coronavirus infects and impacts the physique, and the way it may be fought with a vaccine. “Decoding COVID-19” additionally presents harrowing, humanizing chronicles from the frontlines, following the well being care suppliers, sufferers, and households battling the illness.

The duPont-Columbia Jurors acknowledged “Decoding COVID-19” for its reporting on the coronavirus epidemic, including, “NOVA mixed beautiful graphics and skilled medical evaluation with transferring human tales on this hour-long primer on the coronavirus, the docs on its frontlines, and researchers within the race for its remedy.”

“We’re honored to be recipients of this yr’s duPont-Columbia Award, notably for our reporting on and throughout the coronavirus pandemic,” stated NOVA Co-Government Producer Julia Cort. “We’re grateful for this great acknowledgement of NOVA’s dedication to offering accessible, vital scientific info to the general public, particularly throughout such unsure occasions—and maybe when it’s most wanted.”

“We’re thrilled to have acquired this prestigious award alongside our extraordinary PBS colleagues at “American Expertise,” “Frontline,” and “Unbiased Lens,” stated NOVA Co-Government Producer, Chris Schmidt. “We’re happy with our position in public media, which continues to be a most-trusted supply for essential reporting to audiences throughout the nation.”  

NOVA’s top science education stories of 2021 | NOVA



Highschool scientists dazzled us with their improvements—whereas new research revealed insights about math mastery and the way we will put together younger individuals for real-world challenges.

Highschool senior Dasia Taylor was named a nationwide finalist within the Regeneron Science Expertise Seek for her invention of color-changing sutures that may detect an infection. Picture Credit score: Science for Society

In 2021, a excessive schooler invented a beet juice-infused suture thread that adjustments colour when it detects an infection in a surgical wound. Including basketball actions to math instruction boosted mastery and perceived autonomy in college students. And a medical pupil in London developed a visible handbook to supply medical doctors and sufferers with a larger vary of photographs to determine pores and skin situations on darker pores and skin tones. Because the yr wraps up, the NOVA Schooling group shares its favourite tales, research, and assets from 2021.

Meet the excessive schooler who invented color-changing sutures to detect an infection | Smithsonian Journal

Seventeen-year-old Dasia Taylor was named considered one of 40 finalists within the Regeneron Science Expertise Seek for her suture thread that adjustments colour when it detects an infection in a wound.

“I discovered that beets modified colour on the good pH level,” Taylor instructed Smithsonian Journal. “Shiny pink beet juice turns darkish purple at a pH of 9, that is good for an contaminated wound.”

Taylor was impressed by excessive tech sensible sutures that may sense adjustments in a wound and ship indicators to a health care provider or affected person’s smartphone. Nonetheless, realizing that this costly tech won’t be accessible in conditions and nations the place web entry and cellular know-how are restricted, Taylor determined to concentrate on a extra equitable resolution. Taylor believes this new suture may very well be significantly helpful for shortly figuring out surgical infections after Cesarean sections. About 11% of surgical wounds in low- and middle-income nations develop an an infection, based on the World Well being Group, in comparison with 2% to 4% of surgical procedures within the U.S. Surgical wound infections contribute to U.S. sufferers spending greater than 400,000 further days within the hospital and price an extra $10 billion per yr.

Taylor hopes her sutures will assist sufferers and medical doctors detect infections as early as potential, to allow them to get medical consideration shortly.

The place motion meets arithmetic | Edutopia

In an effort to make math instruction extra energetic and fewer sedentary for college students, researchers from the College of Copenhagen took their research to the basketball court docket. Over the course of six weeks, 750 kids ranging in age from 7 to 12 years had been randomly chosen to take part in math periods both whereas enjoying basketball or in a standard classroom with out bodily exercise. Over the course of the research, researchers measured college students’ degree of intrinsic motivation—how a lot they engaged in actions as a consequence of sheer enjoyment—and emotions of competence after each lesson utilizing an Intrinsic Motivation Stock (IMI) questionnaire. They discovered that college students who engaged in basketball-based studying skilled important cognitive and educational advantages together with a lift in math mastery, intrinsic motivation, and perceived autonomy in contrast with friends studying within the classroom with out bodily exercise.

Train college students to suppose like da Vinci | ScienceDaily

What if we taught college topics round widespread themes like local weather change or meals safety as a substitute of in topic silos? That is precisely what training researchers from the Universities of Cambridge and Edinburgh are recommending. They argue that topics shouldn’t be taught independently of each other. As an alternative, they suggest that the humanities and sciences ought to “educate collectively” round real-world issues, and in a way rooted in college students’ lived experiences. This builds on the physique of analysis surrounding built-in studying, which academic theorists have been advocating for for the reason that twentieth century. Nonetheless, in most American excessive faculties, topics stay siloed in 50-60 minute intervals, with math and studying receiving the majority of the eye as a consequence of their significance in standardized testing.

In a STEAM mission cited by the researchers college students had been assigned an artwork mission that related math to the world round them. The outcomes confirmed that college students engaged deeply with the which means of mathematical ideas at a degree not often seen in conventional classes.

Impressed by Renaissance intellectuals like Leonardo da Vinci who labored throughout disciplines, this mannequin additionally echoes the youth marketing campaign Train the Future, which goals to interrupt down obstacles to instructing local weather change.

Educating science by way of superheroes | The Dialog

Traditional comedian ebook characters which can be impressed by biology, akin to Spider-Man, Ant-Man, and Poison Ivy, can act as academic instruments to assist college students study concerning the pure world, writes Caitlyn Forster, a Ph.D. candidate finding out bee conduct on the College of Sydney. On this article, Forster examines how comedian ebook superheros may help make biology and different areas of science extra intriguing by humanizing scientists and offering visible insights into the life cycles of animals.

Natalia Araña, 16, from Quezon Metropolis, Philippines wins the New York Occasions’ STEM Writing Contest | The Studying Community

The New York Occasions’ STEM Writing Contest invitations college students to analyze a STEM-related query, idea, or subject, and clarify it to a normal viewers in 500 phrases. Natalia Araña was one of many prime 11 winners of the annual STEM Writing Contest. Her story examined why Stradivarius violins are value hundreds of thousands. For years, many have tried to determine and recreate the “brightness” and “brilliance” emanating from these devices. In her profitable essay, Araña takes readers again in time and divulges the thriller of why this violin’s sound is superior and troublesome to copy: international warming.

Construct a robust basis in science media literacy | NOVA Schooling

Analyzing science media may help put together college students to critically have interaction with scientific points and provides them methods to guage claims they encounter on-line. New analysis means that with no basis in science media literacy, college students would possibly overestimate the validity of scientific statements or be unable to tell apart between evidence-based statements and opinion.

Uncertainty on local weather change in textbooks linked to uncertainty in college students | ScienceDaily

The phrases we use to jot down about local weather change matter. A September research from ​​North Carolina State College suggests textbook wording that portrays local weather change data as unsure results in a lower in certainty amongst center and highschool college students, even when they report they already find out about local weather change and its human causes. Nonetheless, college students’ certainty elevated when textbook wording indicated larger certainty. This research has implications for the way academics can put together college students to confront misinformation round local weather change. A report from the Nationwide Middle for Science Schooling discovered that 10 states obtained a grade of D or worse for his or her requirements in local weather change training.

Medical faculties often do not educate how situations look on completely different pores and skin tones. Malone Mukwende is attempting to vary that | TIME

When Malone Mukwende began medical college in London, he recognized a significant well being hole: Nearly all the photographs and knowledge utilized in his lessons got here from white sufferers. However medical signs for situations from fungal infections to meningitis can look completely different on Black and brown pores and skin, which can result in misdiagnosis, extended hospital stays, and even dying. With this in thoughts, he developed a visible handbook, Thoughts the Hole: A handbook of scientific indicators in Black and Brown pores and skin, to supply medical doctors and sufferers with a larger vary of photographs to determine situations on darker pores and skin tones.

Integrating local weather science into power methods and planning | NOVA Schooling

Educators have used gaming as a instructing software for years. Coupled with actual world examples, it may assist college students suppose critically about points that have an effect on their communities and mannequin options. In February, Winter Storm Uri left dozens of Texans lifeless and hundreds of thousands with out energy—and uncovered an ageing power grid unprepared for a altering local weather. NOVA’s Power Lab sport offers college students the ability to resolve their metropolis’s power future with interactive instruments to construct a extra resilient power grid within the face of local weather change.

Child of the yr | TIME

At 15 years outdated, Gitanjali Rao is just not your typical teenager. She was named TIME’s first Child of the Yr, out of greater than 5,000 nominees. She spoke to Angelina Jolie about her work utilizing know-how to deal with points like contaminated consuming water, opioid habit, and cyberbullying, and he or she’s solely getting began. Rao desires of making a worldwide group of younger innovators to resolve among the world’s biggest challenges.

NOVA’s top 5 science stories of 2021 | NOVA



Planet EarthPlanet Earth

Scientific developments helped people push by means of each the pandemic and the environment this yr, and a long-awaited go to from some underground bugs set the nation abuzz.

A brood X cicada photgraphed in New Jersey in 2004. Picture Credit score: Pmjacoby, Wikimedia Commons

As 2021 started, scientists, together with the remainder of us, confronted lots of the identical points that dominated 2020: the COVID-19 pandemic, local weather change, and the continued disruption of college and work. However in contrast to final yr, when scientific progress was hindered by shutdowns and isolation, this yr marked new successes in medication, local weather science, and astronomy. With the event and distribution of coronavirus vaccines and boosters, folks have been capable of emerge and are available nearer collectively. (And in spring, a cohort of bugs additionally emerged and got here near folks dwelling within the mid-Atlantic area.)

2021 was additionally a yr of studying. Now we have a greater understanding of the coronavirus and its variants, and are additionally now armed with vaccines and drugs to guard in opposition to sickness. Scientists delivered new local weather data and proposals for curbing the consequences of local weather change on the planet. And scientific breakthroughs even had some out-of-this-world outcomes: Simply ask the civilians who flew into area. As we are saying goodbye to 2021, right here’s a glance again at a few of the greatest science tales of the yr:

COVID-19 vaccine developments and campaignsfor people and animals

On December 20, Omicron overtook Delta as the commonest coronavirus variant circulating within the U.S., now accountable for greater than 70% of infections within the nation, in response to CDC knowledge. Epidemiologists and different scientists world wide are parsing the potential risks of the brand new variant, whose transmissibility has been compared by doctors to that of the extremely contagious measles virus. Already, Pfizer and Moderna, whose vaccines have been used most within the U.S.’s coronavirus vaccination marketing campaign, have launched early knowledge exhibiting the effectiveness of their booster pictures in opposition to Omicron. Pfizer’s newest improvement, an antiviral capsule referred to as Paxlovid, additionally hit the market this month. The capsule—which works as a protease inhibitor, blocking the virus’s capability to duplicate within the physique—is presently in restricted provide, however with a reported 88% efficacy in stopping hospitalization of these sick with COVID-19, it seems to be a promising remedy for the ailing as we enter one other yr of the pandemic, and the potential future the place COVID-19 is endemic.

The rollout of boosters is one other massive milestone within the coronavirus pandemic, first marked by the event and distribution of extremely efficient vaccines. In accordance with CDC knowledge, greater than 200 million persons are totally vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19 within the U.S., with greater than 67 million having obtained a booster dose. Even some zoo animals, significantly mammal species which might be capable of contract and unfold the virus, have been vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19

A person receives a coronavirus vaccine at Mass Common Brigham’s cellular clinic in Chelsea, Mass. Picture Credit score: Arlo Pérez Esquivel, WGBH

Taking religious- or history-related vaccine hesitancy into consideration, many vaccination campaigns focused significantly weak populations. For instance, Chelsea, Massachusetts, a primarily Hispanic metropolis that in 2020 had the best an infection price within the state, tapped its healthcare suppliers, spiritual leaders, and public well being officers to guide a vaccination marketing campaign that may greatest attain group members. As of immediately, 85% of its eligible inhabitants is vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19. 

Nationwide, Native American communities carried a burden of illness in contrast to another: As of November 2021, American Indians and Alaskan Natives had 1.6 instances the coronavirus an infection price, greater than 3 times the hospitalization price, and a greater than twice the mortality price of white Individuals. Regardless of restricted healthcare entry for Native Individuals dwelling in city communities, profitable vaccination campaigns, a lot of which centered Indigenous values of maintaining relations and the bigger group secure, helped Native Individuals attain the best COVID-19 vaccination price within the nation again in July. 

Vaccination campaigns have had diverse success worldwide. As some locations—just like the U.Ok. and Israel, each of which have greater vaccination charges than the U.S.—obtain boosters, others, together with the vast majority of the African continent, nonetheless face decrease entry to vaccines. The World Well being Group, which advocates for equitable vaccine entry and set a goal for all international locations to vaccinate 10% of their populations by the tip of September, has reported on this drawback and a possible answer—particularly within the face of latest coronavirus variants like Omicron.

House tourism and Mars exploration

An idea as soon as restricted to science fiction, civilian area journey fairly actually took off in 2021. Blue Origin, a non-public area firm owned by multibillionaire Jeff Bezos, launched a number of American celebrities, together with actor William Shatner and former athlete Michael Strahan, into suborbital spaceflight. These flights, nonetheless, weren’t courtesy of Bezos: The roughly $28 million price ticket turned off actor Tom Hanks, who, regardless of enjoying an astronaut within the 1995 movie Apollo 13, had no real interest in changing into one for such a price.   

The area tourism market hasn’t been cornered by Bezos alone. Different aerospace and tech firms, together with SpaceX, Rolls Royce, and Virgin Galactic, have entered the business area race, increasing the definition of an astronaut and permitting those that can afford it the chance to enterprise past Earth’s environment.

A dynamic duo: On this illustration, the Mars Perseverance rover and first-ever area helicopter, Ingenuity, stand upon the Martian floor. Picture Credit score: NASA/JPL/CalTech

In the meantime, NASA additionally hit exploration milestones this yr, a lot of which passed off on Mars. NASA’s fifth Mars rover, Perseverance, efficiently landed on the crimson planet in February 2021, carrying with it a small area helicopter. Perseverance spent 2021 trying to find the stays of microscopic life in Mars’ Jezero Crater, a dry, 28-mile-wide valley that scientists imagine was a river delta on the planet 3.5 billion years in the past. If Perseverance can discover indicators of previous microbial life in Jezero Crater’s sediment, scientists will have the ability to piece collectively extra clues about Mars’ previous and current.

In April, the four-pound area helicopter Ingenuity grew to become the primary human-made craft to raise off on one other planet when it achieved managed, powered flight solely weeks after arriving on Mars. The flying rotorcraft’s mission is to chronicle Mars’ terrain in a manner rovers haven’t been capable of. Whereas its engineers initially deliberate for a complete of 5 flights, Ingenuity has logged 18 flights and counting–totaling greater than half-hour aloft.

Brood X cicadas

In Might and June, 15 states braced themselves for a loud invasion. Brood X cicadas, X being the Roman numeral for 10, are one among 15 broods that seem within the continental U.S. After gestating for 17 years underground, the cicadas emerged in big numbers this yr, changing into a supply of fascination for citizen scientists, nature lovers, and insect-eating fans alike.

Cicadas are primarily defenseless after crawling above floor. Not like different bugs that sting and chunk, male cicadas use their distinctive tune—the loudest noise in the whole insect world—to maintain predators at bay. Their screaming, rattling “tune” is created by increasing and contracting a membrane of their stomach referred to as a tymbal. And whereas the sound could annoy predators and people, the decision is irresistible to feminine cicadas. To point they wish to mate, females make clicking sounds in response to males’ mating calls. In a matter of weeks, cicadas breed, lay eggs, and die. One other 17 years later, a brand new batch of Brood X—their offspring—will emerge.

Earlier than having an opportunity to mate, a few of Brood X’s cicadas fell sufferer to birds, squirrels, canine, and different predators, together with folks. In spite of everything, “cicadas are a particularly versatile and engaging ingredient. You possibly can fry them, roast them, pulverize them, and even eat them uncooked, as in the event that they have been oysters,” Sandra Gutierrez G. wrote for In style Science in Might. The consumption of bugs, referred to as entomophagy, may benefit human well being and assist curb greenhouse fuel emissions tied to the meat business, NOVA reported in October. If you happen to missed your likelihood to eat cicadas this yr, take notice for 2038: Chef Joseph Yoon of Brooklyn Bugs says a freshly molted cicada is the tastiest of all.

Local weather change and excessive climate

In August, the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change (IPCC) launched its sixth local weather evaluation report, detailing the modifications essential to cease international temperatures from rising to ranges that may trigger undue environmental hurt in addition to potential steps to maintain greenhouse fuel emissions low sufficient to forestall widespread climate-related disasters. There have been short-term declines in carbon emissions in 2020 on account of pandemic shutdowns, however the change to distant work for a lot of office-goers was not precisely friendlier for the atmosphere. The IPCC’s conclusion? Sure—people are warming the planet. It’s warmed to 1.09℃ since preindustrial instances, and lots of the modifications on account of this are irreversible. If international warming stays under 1.5℃, explicit damages, equivalent to marine heatwaves and sea stage rise, could cut back in frequency within the coming years. But when it exceeds 1.5℃ and even 2℃, the planet will see a major and dangerous shift within the frequency and development of those and different local weather damages. Excessive climate has turn into extra frequent and intense since 1950, the IPCC additionally reported, a shift maybe exemplified this yr by sandstorms, hurricanes, and typhoons.

On December 13, in a digital press briefing on the annual assembly of the American Geophysical Union, researchers warned that Antarctica’s Thwaites glacier may collapse inside three years. Nicknamed the “doomsday glacier,” Thwaites is the dimensions of Florida and will trigger sea ranges to rise as a lot as two ft. As of 2020, the gradual melting of Thwaites already accounts for 4% of world sea stage rise on an ongoing foundation. The quantity of ice flowing from it and its glacial neighbors has nearly doubled within the final 30 years. In accordance with the newest studies, “Warming ocean water isn’t just melting Thwaites from under; it is also loosening the glacier’s grip on the submerged seamount under, making it much more unstable,” Mindy Weisberger writes for House.com. Present mathematical fashions illustrate that if the glacier have been to break down, a lot of western Antarctica’s remaining ice would turn into unstable. 

Bidding farewell to Hubble; saying hey to James Webb

The Hubble House Telescope launched on April 24, 1990, and for greater than 30 years has delivered photographs of the cosmos, detected the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres, and illustrated how stars kind (and explode). Although Hubble remains to be working, the ageing telescope—final up to date in 2009—was succeeded by the James Webb House Telescope (JWST), which launched from French Guiana on Christmas Day 2021. Throughout its 30-day, one-million-mile journey to a spot about 4 instances farther away than the Moon, the JWST will progressively unfold into its remaining kind. With a 21-foot-wide mirror and a price of $10 billion, the JWST is the biggest, strongest, and most costly telescope ever to be launched into area. 

Twenty-nine days after its launch, the world’s most superior telescope will unfurl in its entirety—assuming it skirts previous practically 350 factors of failure. Picture Credit score: NASA’s Goddard House Flight Middle Conceptual Picture Lab

Accomplished in 2019, proper earlier than the pandemic slowed most operations, the telescope sports activities gold-plated beryllium mirrors optimized for reflecting infrared gentle, which can assist it observe distant galaxies—together with those who fashioned shortly after the Massive Bang. (Because the universe continually expands, the sunshine from stars and galaxies shifts over time from our perspective right here on Earth. By the point the sunshine from the Massive Bang’s earliest creations reaches Earth, it’s stretched from seen blue gentle to warmth radiation that’s invisible to the bare eye and optical telescopes, however whose infrared waves will be detected by a colossal infrared telescope just like the JWST.) 

Apart from observing a few of the earliest galaxies in our universe, the JWST will peer by means of the dense mud clouds the place stars and planets kind, serving to scientists higher perceive the evolution of those celestial our bodies as soon as the telescope reaches its focused location in area. The telescope can even assist researchers research the atmospheres of exoplanets, utilizing its infrared devices to look at water vapor, methane, carbon dioxide, and different chemical compounds. The JWST crew hopes that the telescope’s observations may assist reveal clues about our universe’s future. One factor is for sure: The probabilities of an astronomical telescope with years of universe-gazing forward of it appear countless.