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Indian-American among math and science teachers honoured by Obama

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Darshan Jain, an Indian-American teacher is one of the 108 teachers named by President Barack Obama as recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Jain, who has taught mathematics at Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, Illinois for eight years where he currently serves as the director of mathematics, and other winners will receive a $10,000 award each from the National Science Foundation.

The educators will receive their awards at a Washington, DC, event later this summer.

Stevenson High School math teacher Darshan Jain is all smiles while holding his 3-year

“These teachers are shaping America’s success through their passion for math and science,” Obama said of the winners.

“Their leadership and commitment empower our children to think critically and creatively about science, technology, engineering, and math.

“The work these teachers are doing in our classrooms today will help ensure that America stays on the cutting edge tomorrow,” he said.

The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching is awarded annually to outstanding K-12 (kindergarten through 12th grades) science and mathematics teachers from across the country.

“The Presidential Award validates my core belief that all students can learn mathematics in authentic, rigorous, and impactful ways,” Jain said.

“It is grounded in my experience that collaborative teachers can help all students achieve excellence.”

“This award provides opportunities to have discussions around improving math education at local and national levels,” he said.

“Students’ experiences in mathematics must fundamentally change in order to support our national vision for equity, access, and competitiveness.”

Jain’s industry experience includes time spent as a project engineer and a machine designer.

Darshan Jain, director of mathematics at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, has received a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. Here he is when he taught in the classroom.
Darshan Jain, director of mathematics at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire – here he is when he taught in the classroom. – Daily Herald file photo

Jain’s love for teaching was inspired by his work at the Hispanic Math and Science Initiative and his students’ success in learning.

As adjunct professor for mathematics education, Jain supported novice teachers. He now leads exceptional colleagues as curriculum director for his district.

Jain has also contributed to the education community by speaking on research-based pedagogy at local, state and national conferences.

Jain has a BA in mechanical engineering and a MS in secondary mathematics education from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is pursing further graduate work. (IANS)

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Researchers Look for Alternatives To Chemical Fertilizers for a Cleaner Environment

Too many nutrients in the water leads to poor water quality by causing hazardous algal blooms.

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Fertilizers
A farming woman spreads fertilizer in a paddy field. Flickr

Fertilizer is made of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. Chemical fertilizers require huge amounts of energy to produce. But there are other, natural and more readily available sources.

The University of Michigan, with support from the National Science Foundation, is working at making our water cleaner, and our agriculture more sustainable, by capturing one of those sources, rather than flushing it down the toilet.

On a hot summer afternoon near Brattleboro, Vermont, farmer Dean Hamilton has fired up his tractor and is fertilizing his hay field — with human urine.

It takes a bit of time to get used to, says environmental engineer Nancy Love.

“I’ve been surprised at how many people actually get beyond the giggle factor pretty quickly,” she said, “and are willing to listen.”

Fine-tuning the recycling

Rich Earth Institute, a nonprofit, is working with Love and her team. Abraham Noe-Hays says they are fine-tuning new methods to recycle urine into fertilizer.

“There’s a great quote by Buckminster Fuller about how pollution is nothing but the resources that we’re not harvesting, and that we allow them to disperse because we’ve been ignorant of their value,” he said.

Harvesting the resource of urine — which is, after all, full of the same nutrients as chemical fertilizer — will fix two problems at once: eliminate waste and create a natural fertilizer.

The Rich Earth Institute has been using urine as fertilizer since 2012. Kim Nace says they collect about 26,000 liters a year, thanks to a loyal group of dedicated donors.

“We now have people who have some source-separating toilets in their homes. We also have people who have 55 gallon (200-liter) barrels where they collect and then we transport to our farms, and we’ve also got a large urine depot,” Nace said.

`fertilizers
Fertilizers. Wikimedia Commons

They pasteurize the urine to kill any microbes, and then it is applied directly onto hay fields like Hamilton’s.

Next level of project

Now that they’ve partnered with the University of Michigan, Love says they’re looking to take their project to the next level.

“There are three things we really are trying to do with the urine in this kind of next phase. We’re trying to concentrate it. We’re trying to apply technologies to reduce odor, and we’re trying to deal with trace contaminants like the pharmaceuticals,” she said.

Dealing with pharmaceuticals is an important issue. Heat urine kills germs but has no effect on chemicals like drugs that pass through our bodies.

“We know pharmaceuticals are a problem for aquatic organisms and water systems,” Love said. “It’s debatable about the impact on human health at very, very low levels. Independent of that, I think most people would prefer that they not be in their food.”

Fertilizers
Farmer Scott Halpin is facing another year of high prices for seed and fertilizer, and low prices for the corn and soybeans his family is planting on farmland outside Morris, Illinois.

21st century infrastructure

For Love, this is all about redesigning our wastewater infrastructure for the 21st century. Too many nutrients in the water leads to poor water quality by causing hazardous algal blooms.

“Our water emissions are going into very sensitive water bodies that are vulnerable to these nutrient loads,” she said. “We need to change that dynamic. And if we can capture them and put them to a beneficial use, that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Also Read: Common Plastic Chemical May Increase Breast Cancer Risk

Their efforts could make agriculture greener and our waterways cleaner. (VOA)