Blog Post

Recycling Scrap Metal

By Summer Seligmann, C2ST Intern, Loyola University

Recycling can be tricky–it may not always be clear what to put in those blue bins. Although we may have good intentions when we drop our plastics and papers into those bins, the unfortunate reality is that most of this material ends up in a landfill anyway. From January to August of 2021, less than 9% of Chicago’s 578,687 tons put in blue bins were recycled. The city’s low recycling rates stem from a variety of issues in sanitation, but a prominent one is the lack of resources to properly handle large items. Stoves, furnaces, and other household appliances contain metals that can and should be recycled, yet they end up in landfills. Recycling scrap metal can help with this issue, but at what cost?

Scrap metal is metal material recycled from different products; essentially, the leftover metal parts from objects like motors, transformers and faucets. There are two main types: scrap that contains iron (ferrous) and scrap that doesn’t contain iron (nonferrous). Scrap can be brought to a scrap yard where valuable metal material is separated and recycled. It might seem unnecessary to go to a scrap yard when the City of Chicago picks up bulky items for free, but given how low the city’s recycling rates are, there is no guarantee that what is set by the curb will be recycled. Bringing scrap metal directly to a facility reduces what ends up in landfills

a picture of scrap
This is what a ceiling fan looks like when the metal parts and non-recyclable material are separated. Courtesy of my dad – a scrap metal recycler and environmentalist.


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Blog Post

A Pill to Treat COVID-19 and the Shape of Things to Come

By Robert J. Kriss, C2ST Editor

Pfizer recently used the Advanced Photon Source (“APS”), a powerful x-ray machine operated by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, to help them develop a pill that appears to reduce the risk of hospitalization and death among COVID-19 patients by 89%. Pfizer is now seeking FDA approval to administer the drug to patients. The process Pfizer used to develop this pill may be the blueprint for preventing future pandemics.

an image of covid-19

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Blog Post

Happy Holidays from C2ST!

Thank you to all of the science enthusiasts from Chicagoland and beyond!

We hope you and your loved ones are staying warm and enjoying festivities as the temperatures drop across the city.  

With the holiday season upon us, will you help provide low-cost STEM education? By contributing to the Chicago Council on Science and Technology, you will be directly responsible for new and exciting programming on a variety of important topics. 

By making a tax-deductible donation to our organization, you are directly aiding us in spreading open and accessible science and technology education to the Chicago community and beyond!

Give today and help spread STEM cheer.

Support Science Education Today

Blog Post

Diving into Ryan Lepak’s Great Lakes Research

By Rowan Obach, C2ST Intern, Loyola University

Ryan Lepak is a post-doctoral researcher at the National Science Foundation (NSF). He previously did mercury and food web research with the United States Geological Survey and now works for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). His recent research focuses on measuring contaminants, specifically mercury, in the Great Lakes and observing fish populations as bioindicators of the health of the Lakes. 

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Blog Post

Impacts of Climate Change: What’s up with Wildfires?

By Summer Seligmann, C2ST Intern, Loyola University

2020 was a difficult year for everyone. The global pandemic altered life as we knew it, and the world around us felt like it was burning, and it was. Unfortunately, it seems that 2021 hasn’t been much different. Like the pandemic, wildfires have not gone away, and they probably won’t any time soon. There have been nearly 49,000 wildfires in 2021, for a total of 6.5 million acres burned. Although there have been fewer wildfires this year, scientists warn that the future will be much worse if we don’t act fast.

In September of 2020, 3.5 million acres of land were burned in wildfires. In total, 10.2 million acres were burned in more than 58,000 wildfires in 2020.  The acres that burned across the U.S. combined were bigger than the entire state of Maryland. This was a record high in the 21 years since data has been tracked and reported by federal wildfire agencies in the current reporting system. 22 climate disasters, three of the largest wildfires in Colorado’s history, and 4% of the state of California burned – all in the year 2020.

A map showing wildfires
Wildfire Map

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Blog Post

NASA Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

By Rowan Obach, C2ST Intern, Loyola University

The month of November is Native American History Month

Native Americans have contributed to major discoveries and processes across the STEM field. In 2019, C2ST held a panel on the topic of Ethnobotany and Conservation Practices which revealed how much Native culture has impacted the ethics of this field. Ethnobotany is the study of plants from an ethnic perspective. Multiple research projects into indigenous ethnobotany practices have sprung up over the years. For example, the University of Kansas started an Ethnobotany Research Project with the Ute Tribe of Colorado to identify new types of native plants and to understand their uses. They found multiple native plants whose purposes varied between food for consumption, regeneration through seed dispersion, and resources for creating native products. 

A picture of some ethnobotany

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