Sunday, January 24, 2010

Variation on a Theme!


Turbine offers educational opportunity

Sunday, January 24, 2010
Special to The Oakland Press

Milford High School soon will be able to use a 50-foot tall wind turbine to help offset some of its electrical costs. More importantly, district officials said the turbine also will offer some educational rewards.

The vertical turbine was donated by ENERGYCHEK President Dave Hollens, who has two children attending school in the Huron Valley School District and had a daughter graduate from Milford High School last summer. The turbine is onsite at Milford High School, but the district must receive approval from the state before it is connected, Hollens said.

The turbine will have Wi-Fi capabilities, which would allow individuals to go online and see how it is working once it goes live, Hollens said.

ENERGYCHEK is a Milford-based full-service energy reduction consultant for commercial clients and renewable energy and design consultant for both residential and commercial clients.

Hollens’ connection not just to the Huron Valley School District, but education in general, is extensive. His mother was a longtime teacher in the Lake Orion School District.

“I guess you can say I have a little bit of teaching in my blood,” Hollens said. “We think that Milford High School can see if the energy production generated from the wind turbine can make a classroom sustainable, so there are some great learning opportunities here.”

The real value of this onsite turbine will be for educational purposes, said Milford High School Principal Mike Krystiniak.

“One turbine isn’t really enough to make a big impact on our utility bills, but it will feed back into our grid,” Krystiniak said. “We really see some significant educational benefits from this though.”

One Milford High School class that may see a significant benefit is the advanced placement environmental science course, one that covers topics relating to alternative energy sources, Krystiniak said. Other advanced placement courses, such as mechanical and electrical physics and the general physics classes, also will benefit from the existence of the turbine.

“We will have more than 300 students be able to study the effects of this turbine on our school and their classroom, and having it onsite and available (to view online) will only make it easier for them to envision the benefits,” Krystiniak said.

“They can understand how it works and crunch numbers to measure the impact of electricity and energy. There will be level of hands-on experience because they can monitor the turbine.”

The Milford High principal credited Hollens with “extraordinary patience” as the district has gone through getting county, township and school board approval to use the turbine onsite. He said Hollens also donated a significant number of resource books covering such topics as environmentally sustainable and green energy to the high school’s library.

“There are a lot of hoops we have had to go through to get approval for this turbine to be installed and we hope we are close,” Krystiniak said.

Hollens will be involved with the future assembly of the wind turbine once the state approves the installation, a step he largely considers to be a formality.

“The students won’t be involved in the installation, but once we get it in there it’s going to be their baby,” Hollens said.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Race to the Top (Closer)

Michigan shirks 

Efforts to derail application for federal school stimulus cash reflect the state’s dysfunction

ichigan’s dysfunction is perfectly embodied in the ridiculous struggle to put together an application for $400 million in fed eral education funds — its stubborn refusal to embrace reform as a path out of its misery, its fealty to labor at the expense of sound policy,
 and its irrational fear of change.

The Race to the Top application, due Tues day, should have been signed, sealed and on its way to delivery to the White House by now. The program is President Barack Obama’s effort to improve academic performance, largely by improving the quality of classroom instruction.

To be eligible, Michigan had to agree to a series of measures to better assess the job performance of teachers, hold them account able for how well students learn and provide innovative alternatives to traditional public schooling.

As you can imagine, the Michigan Education Associ ation, the state’s largest teacher and school employee union, wanted no part of these reforms.

Even with the support of Gov. Jennifer Granholm and key legislative leaders, the Race to the Top bill faced an uphill fight in the Legislature before a watered-down version was finally adopted the weekend before Christmas.

Having lost in Lansing, MEA President Iris Salters and her staff took the fight to local districts, urging school boards and local unions not to sign on to the application. Eight Oakland County districts dropped out of the program, saying the benefits weren’t worth subjecting teachers to the more rigorous accountability.

What those districts ignore is that half the federal money will go to statewide programs, freeing up cash in the general School Aid Fund and mitigating the per-pupil cuts need ed
 to balance the state budget. All districts will benefit.

Now there are even defections on the State Board of Education, led by board President Kathleen Straus, the MEA’s de facto repre sentative
 on that body. If state Superintendent of Public Instruc tion Mike Flanagan is able to get a competitive package in the mail on Tuesday, it will be a miracle.

Michigan is again shooting itself in the foot. The reforms passed by the Legislature are in place and will be put into effect even if the Race to the Top funds don’t come.

Additional changes tied to Race to the Top will likely be included in the rewrite of the federal No Child Left Behind law, particularly now that the American Federation of Teachers has signed off on the reforms.

The change is coming. Michigan might as well get the money.

Everyone should be mindful of the steep budget cliff the state faces in 2011, when the federal stimulus dollars run out. School dis tricts face cutting an additional $400 to $500 per pupil because of declining state aid pay ments.

It’s insane not to aggressively pursue the aptly named Race to the Top dollars. This is a race — a race tomake education in this coun try the best in the world. Michigan, a state with such a high level of need, should be sprinting at the head of the pack instead of shirking along at the rear.

Hopefully, all parties with a stake in this application will wake up Monday morning and do whatever it takes to give Flanagan the makings of a great application.


Race for more stimulus cash on to next step

Kathleen Straus, presi dent of the State Board of Education, signed on Saturday
 Michigan’s application to receive up to $400 million in additional federal stimulus funds.

Her sig nature
 put the final stamp on the state’s quest to be selected by the U.S. Department of Education to receive the money through Race to the Top, a program that will award, on a compet itive basis, $4.35 billion to states to support school reform. Straus’ signature, along with those of Gov.

Jennifer Granholm and state schools Superin tendent Mike Flanagan, was required on the ap plication.

The deadline to submit the application is Tues day. Straus had declined to sign the application, saying she wanted time to read the full application, which details Michigan’s plans for spending the money. Only a summary of the plan was available at the time. Straus re ceived the application Friday.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Photos by WILLIAM ARCHIE/Detroit Free Press

Mosheh Williams, 13, of Detroit inspects freshwater slime algae at the Eco Tek lab near Wayne State Univer sity in Detroit. Keith Young, who founded the Eco Tek program for 100 metro Detroit students, watches.


BMW to expand labs to turn metro Detroit kids into scientists



As the North American In ternational Auto Show opens for the international automo tive news media today, a single gathering could change the lives of hundreds of metro Detroit schoolchildren.

That’s where BMW is to an nounce a grant to expand a successful science program from 100 to 1,000 students.

The $165,000 grant by the German automaker, including donations by metro Detroit’s Eitel Dahm Motor Group and Erhard BMW, is designed to ex pand the Eco Tek program to give students — especially in Detroit — a leap in science, en gineering and research.

Dahm Motor Group owner Eitel Dahm said he went through a similar youth pro gram as a teen in Germany before he immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970s and built the multi million- dollar dealership.

“It (the program) opens the door for kids — inner-city kids or any kids — to live the American dream, as long as they’re dedicated, follow through and are ambitious,” he said.

The program now allows about 100 students hand-picked for their drive and academic skills to spend time exploring in the Eco Tek lab, near Wayne State University.

Mosheh Williams, 13, an eighth-grader at Detroit Edison Public School Academy, a charter school in Detroit, spends Sunday afternoons testing the viscosity and combustion of different biofuels he creates from
 things like soybeans and grape seed oil.

Through the program, he visited the United Nations in New York, tested water in South Africa and is to study sharks in Florida in April.

“It’s worth it because of the experience and how it’s helped me progress in my schoolwork,
 and how it’s helped me become a bigger person thinking-wise,” he said.

The program’s founder, Keith Young, said BMW’s dona tion will help him recreate the Eco Tek lab at Spain Middle School on Detroit’s west side, at University Prep Science and Math School and at Edison

“I look at it from a perspective, either you’re going to lead Detroit or leave Detroit,” Young said. “Either one you choose, you need to have these skills.”



 13, an eighth grader at Detroit Edison Public School Academy. Through the Eco Tek program, he has tested water in South Africa.

PHASE II: MISSING in the EcoExperience Action 2010!

Michigan Tech To Show Off New Hybrid, EV Degree At NAIAS

Michigan Technological University is one of only two universities invited to exhibit at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week and next.

As part of the EcoXperience Showcase on the lower level of Cobo Center, Michigan Tech will be unveiling a pioneering new graduate program for professional automotive engineers, one that will prepare them to work on the hybrid and electric vehicles of the future.

This curriculum development is supported by a three-year, $3 million grant from the Department of Energy under the Transportation Electrification Program. 
The Michigan Tech exhibit is part of the Michigan Economic Development Corp.'s EcoXperience exhibit.

EcoXperience will feature a quarter-mile indoor ride-and-drive test track surrounded by landscaped and forested terrain.  MEDC is expecting at least 50,000 of the Auto Show’s 650,000 visitors to see EcoXperience.
“We were invited because we are leading the way in professional education in hybrid electric vehicles and battery technologies,” said Carl L. Anderson, associate dean for research and graduate programs in Michigan Tech’s College of Engineering. Anderson and Michigan Tech engineering faculty Jeff Naber and Wayne Weaver are heading the development of the new graduate curriculum.
Representatives from Michigan Tech’s College of Engineering and Michigan Tech alumni who work at General Motors will staff the exhibit to answer questions about the University’s new professional Master of Engineering curriculum.
The pioneering professional master’s curriculum is being developed in partnership with AVL and GM.
For the past two semesters, Naber and colleagues have collaborated with the Engineering Society of Detroit, the Michigan Academy for Green Mobility and Michigan Tech’s industry partners to offer a pilot course for automotive engineers in the Detroit area. This course, including distance instruction and hands-on labs, attracted 100 graduate students each time it was taught.
A fully outfitted mobile lab for the new curriculum is being built at Michigan Tech’s Keweenaw Research Center, and the University’s Husky Game Development Enterprise is developing computer software for student simulations in the lab.  
The mobile lab will also be used in outreach programs, including the United States Department of Education’s GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) at Michigan Tech and the University’s Youth Programs, which bring hands-on engineering and science experiences to more than 1,000 middle and high-school students each year.
Youth Programs and Admissions representatives will be at the Michigan Tech booth on Automotive Education day, which is Jan. 20.
A press preview is scheduled for Jan. 11-12, followed by an industry preview Jan. 13-14. The Auto Show will open to the public at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16 and close at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24.
Michigan Technological University ( is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.

© MMX WWJ Radio, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

TROUBLED WATERS: NOT SO FAST THERE, Partner! (And do these folks NOT read the newspapers, watch the news, etc?)

Districts shun federal money 

Leaders say Race to the Top goal unclear



Some metro-area school leaders are refusing to sign agreements that would assure they could share in up to $400 million in federal stimulus funds — money that will be awarded to states with innovative plans to reform schools.

It is unclear whether the lack of signatures will affect the state’s application for the grant from the Race to the Top program. Federal officials have said it is imperative to
have support from local dis tricts — school boards, admin istrators and union officials. But a consistent concern school leaders raise is the lack of clarity in what Michigan’s plan will include. Districts had to submit the agreements by the close of business Friday, before the Michigan Depart ment of Education posted a fi nal summary of its plan..

And for many school officials opting not to sign, the uncertainty isn’t worth the little money they would receive. Birmingham
 Public Schools, for instance, stood to receive only $60,000. The amount depends on how many low-income students a district educates.

“They didn’t feel it would be responsible to sign something that lacked clarity. It committed us to adopt a plan that isn’t yet finalized,” said district spokeswoman Marcia Wilkinson.

School boards in Bloomfield Hills, Eastpointe, Lake Orion, Novi, Richmond, South Lyon and Walled Lake also opted not to sign. The board in Berkley took no action.

Jan Ellis, spokeswoman for the education department, said the refusal to sign “is troubling” at a time when “education is paramount and every penny counts.”

In Bloomfield Hills Schools, where the Board of Education decided Thursday night not to sign the agreement, there were broader issues than the lack of clarity. In a letter sent to parents and staff, Superintendent Steven Gaynor said he’s concerned that the Race to the Top grant ties teacher evaluations to student achievement.

Gaynor said there is no evidence
 that linking the two is effective, and he said he’s concerned that teachers fearful for their jobs will be forced to teach to the state exams “to the exclusion of all other worth while instruction now going on in Bloomfield Hills Schools.”

But Ellis responded that “it no longer matters” now that the governor has signed legislation that requires districts to use student achievement growth to evaluate teachers.

“It’s now state law,” she

Sunday, January 3, 2010

PHASE II NAIAS / Update (OUT of the BOX!)

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) is returning to the 2010 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) for a second year with The MEDC Eco Xperience. Located in Michigan Hall, the Eco Xperience will feature a quarter-mile indoor Ride and Drive track surrounded by landscaped and forested terrain. A variety of electric vehicles will be provided by various manufacturers, including avant-garde electric vehicle inventions. More than 30,000 NAIAS visitors participated in the 2009 Ride and Drive.

MEDC will be introducing a dynamic, new exhibit at the 2010 NAIAS which will be located adjacent to the Eco Xperience Ride and Drive track area. The MEDC Alternative Energy Showcase will feature ten of the most innovative alternative energy component suppliers displaying the latest battery and related technologies.

Companies participating include A123 Systems (Preview Week), Johnson Controls-Saft (Preview Week), Dow Kokam, DTE Energy and Sakti3 (Preview Week). Other participants include some of the nation's leading universities such as Michigan Technological University and the University of Michigan as well as TARDEC, the nation's research lab for military energy initiatives. Department of Energy and MEDC funding for research and development activities have produced significant progress in the vital and expanding electric battery field.

Additional Exhibitors include: Magna International (Preview Week), SPX Service Solutions (Preview Week), PEP Stations, Wayne State University (Public Show) and University of Windsor (Public Show).