Congratulations to Dr. Williams Board Member Honored Nationally

The prestigious Green-Garner Award goes to Dr. Williams our Long Beach Unified School District’s Board Member Was Honored Nationally

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Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education member Felton Williams received the 2017 Urban Educator of the Year award last night at the Council of the Great City Schools’ 61st Annual Fall Conference in Cleveland.

Eleven school board members from big-city school districts competed for the nation’s highest honor in urban education leadership, recognizing in alternating years an outstanding superintendent and school board member from 69 of the largest urban public-school systems in the country.

“I am positively on cloud nine,” Williams said.  “I’m deeply touched and grateful to the Council for this tremendous honor.  While I appreciate the personal recognition, this award also is a reflection of the high quality of our school system in Long Beach and all the hard work of our talented team of educators and support staff, fellow school board members and superintendent, devoted parents, amazing students and exemplary community partners.  I look forward to bringing this award home and sharing it with all of them.”

Urban school leaders applauded Williams during the Council’s annual “Urban Educator of the Year” award banquet, where he received the prestigious Green-Garner Award.

Sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based Council, Aramark K-12 Education and Scholastic, Inc., the top prize is presented each year in memory of Richard R. Green, the first African American chancellor of the New York City school system, and businessman Edward Garner, who served on the Denver school board.

Williams has been on the Long Beach Board of Education for more than 13 years, serving multiple terms as president and vice president of the 74,000-student school system’s policymaking body.  He has led efforts to improve student academic performance, including the planning and implementation of the district’s Academic and Career Success Initiative.  He developed a program to increase the number of students of color pursuing Advanced Placement (AP) courses and exams, and recommended adoption of an ethnic studies program in partnership with California State University, Long Beach.

The former dean at Long Beach City College earned a master’s degree in business administration at CSULB and a Ph.D. in higher education at Claremont Graduate University, where his professors included renowned business management guru Peter Drucker.

Williams has helped to improve urban education nationally.  He has advocated for the nationally emulated Long Beach College Promise since its inception nearly 10 years ago, when LBUSD, LBCC and CSULB leaders committed to providing all local students specific support needed to prepare for and succeed in college.  He is also the immediate past chair of the Council of the Great City Schools’ Board of Directors.

“Felton Williams has made substantial contributions to urban public education at both the local and national levels,” Council Executive Director Michael Casserly said.  “His passion for equity and excellence has had a profound effect on how all of us serve our urban students.  There could be no one more deserving.”

As the recipient of the 2017 Green-Garner Award, Williams receives a $10,000 college scholarship to present to a student.

“Congratulations, Dr. Williams, on winning the 2017 Green-Garner Award,” LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser said.  “We can’t thank you enough for everything that you’ve done for our young people.  From the day you stepped on as a board member you’ve been a huge advocate for equity and access for all of our kids, and because of your efforts to lead our initiatives, our district is recognized as one of the best in the nation.”


Dr. Williams has helped the Super School Design Center and Barboza Space Center over the past few years with establishing  our summer fellowship programs at the California Academy of Mathematics and Science High School on the campus of California State University Dominguez Hills.  This is a Long Beach Unified School District high school on  a college campus.


What can you feed your dog on Mars?

The students at the Barboza Space Center are learning about the chemistry of food.

People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435

Our Animal Poison Control Center experts have put together a handy list of the top toxic people foods to avoid feeding your pet. As always, if you suspect your pet has eaten any of the following foods, please note the amount ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death. Under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately.

Avocado is primarily a problem for birds, rabbits, donkeys, horses, and ruminants including sheep and goats. The biggest concern is for cardiovascular damage and death in birds.  Horses, donkeys and ruminants frequently get swollen, edematous head and neck.

Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine
These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.

The stems, leaves, peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants contain varying amounts of citric acid, essential oils that can cause irritation and possibly even central nervous system depression if ingested in significant amounts. Small doses, such as eating the fruit, are not likely to present problems beyond minor stomach upset.

Coconut and Coconut Oil
When ingested in small amounts, coconut and coconut-based products are not likely to cause serious harm to your pet. The flesh and milk of fresh coconuts do contain oils that may cause stomach upset, loose stools or diarrhea. Because of this, we encourage you to use caution when offering your pets these foods. Coconut water is high in potassium and should not be given to your pet.

Grapes and Raisins
Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. Until more information is known about the toxic substance, it is best to avoid feeding grapes and raisins to dogs.

Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 12 to 48 hours.

Milk and Dairy
Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset.

Nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats. The fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets.

Onions, Garlic, Chives
These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed. Toxicity is normally diagnosed through history, clinical signs and microscopic confirmation of Heinz bodies.

Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones
Raw meat and raw eggs can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets and humans. Raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract.

Salt and Salty Snack Foods
Large amounts of salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. As such, we encourage you to avoid feeding salt-heavy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, and salted popcorn to your pets.

Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.

Yeast Dough
Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach to bloat, and potentially twist, becoming a life threatening emergency. The yeast produce ethanol as a by-product and a dog ingesting raw bread dough can become drunk (See alcohol).

How can students get creative with STEM to help Puerto Rico?

We are asking students, teachers and others to send their creative ideas and STEM & STEAM++ projects to help Puerto Rico keep their lights on and their water clean enough to drink.   We invited you to visit our new website and see what we have so far.

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Do what you can to keep the conversations and solutions for Puerto Rico going.

How can you help?

Bob Barboza

Barboza Space Center, Kids Talk Radio Science


*STEAM++ (science, technology, engineering, visual and performing arts, mathematics, computer languages and foreign languages.

Who wants to study chemistry?

Chong Liu one-ups plant photosynthesis

New system generates clean energy on the small scale

1:48PM, OCTOBER 4, 2017
Chong Liu

SOLAR STAR Chong Liu, an inorganic chemist at UCLA, has pioneered new approaches to artificial photosynthesis that combine bacteria and inorganic materials.

Inorganic chemist

SN 10 - full list of scientists

For Chong Liu, asking a scientific question is something like placing a bet: You throw all your energy into tackling a big and challenging problem with no guarantee of a reward. As a student, he bet that he could create a contraption that photosynthesizes like a leaf on a tree — but better. For the now 30-year-old chemist, the gamble is paying off.“He opened up a new field,” says Peidong Yang, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley who was Liu’s Ph.D. adviser. Liu was among the first to combine bacteria with metals or other inorganic materials to replicate the energy-generating chemical reactions of photosynthesis, Yang says. Liu’s approach to artificial photosynthesis may one day be especially useful in places without extensive energy infrastructure.

Liu first became interested in chemistry during high school, and majored in the subject at Fudan University in Shanghai. He recalls feeling frustrated in school when he would ask questions and be told that the answer was beyond the scope of what he needed to know. Research was a chance to seek out answers on his own. And the problem of artificial photosynthesis seemed like something substantial to throw himself into — challenging enough “so [I] wouldn’t be jobless in 10 or 15 years,” he jokes.

Photosynthesis is a simple but powerful process: Sunlight helps transform carbon dioxide and water into chemical energy stored in the chemical bonds of sugar molecules. But in nature, the process isn’t particularly efficient, converting just 1 percent of solar energy into chemical energy. Liu thought he could do better with a hybrid system.

Story continues below graphic

Fake it

artificial leaf diagram

Artificial “leaves” designed by Chong Liu and colleagues collect solar energy to generate electric current. The current splits water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, and bacteria in the water transform carbon dioxide and hydrogen into fuels or other useful chemicals.

The efficiency of natural photosynthesis is limited by light-absorbing pigments in plants or bacteria, he says. People have designed materials that absorb light far more efficiently. But when it comes to transforming that light energy into fuel, bacteria shine.

“By taking a hybrid approach, you leverage what each side is better at,” says Dick Co, managing director of the Solar Fuels Institute at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

Liu’s early inspiration was an Apollo-era attempt at a life-support system for manned space missions. The idea was to use inorganic materials with specialized bacteria to turn astronauts’ exhaled carbon dioxide into food. But early attempts never went anywhere.

“The efficiency was terribly low, way worse than you’d expect from plants,” Liu says. And the bacteria kept dying — probably because other parts of the system were producing molecules that were toxic to the bacteria.

As a graduate student, Liu decided to use his understanding of inorganic chemistry to build a system that would work alongside the bacteria, not against them. He first designed a system that uses nanowires coated with bacteria. The nanowires collect sunlight, much like the light-absorbing layer on a solar panel, and the bacteria use the energy from that sunlight to carry out chemical reactions that turn carbon dioxide into a liquid fuel such as isopropanol.

As a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Harvard University chemist Daniel Nocera, Liu collaborated on a different approach. Nocera had been working on a “bionic leaf” in which solar panels provide the energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Then, Ralstonia eutropha bacteria consume the hydrogen gas and pull in carbon dioxide from the air. The microbes are genetically engineered to transform the ingredients into isopropanol or another liquid fuel. But the project faced many of the same problems as other bacteria-based artificial photosynthesis attempts: low efficiency and lots of dead bacteria.

Bottled up

The bionic leaf doesn’t resemble something you’d find on a tree. Here, wires carry electric current into bottles filled with water and microbes. The electricity splits the water molecules, and then microbes transform the resulting hydrogen into fuel.

bionic leaf setup

“Chong figured out how to make the system extremely efficient,” Nocera says. “He invented biocompatible catalysts” that jump-start the chemical reactions inside the system without killing off the fuel-generating bacteria. That advance required sifting through countless scientific papers for clues to how different materials might interact with the bacteria, and then testing many different options in the lab. In the end, Liu replaced the original system’s problem catalysts — which made a microbe-killing, highly reactive type of oxygen molecule — with cobalt-phosphorus, which didn’t bother the bacteria.

Chong is “very skilled and open-minded,” Nocera says. “His ability to integrate different fields was a big asset.”

The team published the results in Science in 2016, reporting that the device was about 10 times as efficient as plants at removing carbon dioxide from the air. With 1 kilowatt-hour of energy powering the system, Liu calculated, it could recycle all the carbon dioxide in more than 85,000 liters of air into other molecules that could be turned into fuel. Using different bacteria but the same overall setup, the researchers later turned nitrogen gas into ammonia for fertilizer, which could offer a more sustainable approach to the energy-guzzling method used for fertilizer production today.

Soil bacteria carry out similar reactions, turning atmospheric nitrogen into forms that are usable by plants. Now at UCLA, Liu is launching his own lab to study the way the inorganic components of soil influence bacteria’s ability to run these and other important chemical reactions. He wants to understand the relationship between soil and microbes — not as crazy a leap as it seems, he says. The stuff you might dig out of your garden is, like his approach to artificial photosynthesis, “inorganic materials plus biological stuff,” he says. “It’s a mixture.”

Liu is ready to place a new bet — this time on re-creating the reactions in soil the same way he’s mimicked the reactions in a leaf.


C. Liu et al. A fully integrated nanosystem of semiconductor nanowires for direct solar water splitting. Nano Letters. Vol. 13, May 6, 2013, p. 2989. doi: 10.1021/nl401615t.

C. Liu et al. Nanowire-bacteria hybrids for unassisted solar carbon dioxide fixation to value-added chemicals. Nano Letters. Vol. 15, April 7, 2015. doi:10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b01254.

C. Liu et al. Water splitting-biosynthetic system with CO2 reduction efficiencies exceeding photosynthesis. Science. Vol. 352, June 3, 2016. P. 1210. doi:10.1126/science.aaf5039.

C. Liu et al. Ambient nitrogen reduction cycle using a hybrid inorganic-biological system. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. May 2, 2017. doi:10.1073/pnas.1706371114.

High School Students Finding Creative Ways to Help Puerto Rico

Kids Talk Radio Science Helping Puerto Rico

We are calling on students from around the world to help other students in Puerto Rico.  We are looking for your creative ideas to make drinking water safe to drink.  We are looking to use solar energy to to create light and to charge cell phones.

What other ideas do you have?

Visit the new Puerto Rico Website today and you will see what we are starting to do to help fellow students on the island.



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Jr. Medical School: Space Science & Engineering

What It’s Like to Work in Space, Using Bulky EVA Gloves’s Samantha Mathewson experienced how difficult it is for astronauts to work in the vacuum of space, using an EVA glove simulator from NASA’s Langley Research Center.

Credit: Jeremy Lips/

Tightening a lug nut on the tire of your car in the driveway seems like an easy enough task, but imagine trying to do it while wearing incredibly bulky gloves and working in the vacuum of space. Still sound easy?

That is what a day’s work entails for astronauts working outside the International Space Station. A simple task that would otherwise take 5 minutes to complete on Earth can take hours in space.

I had the opportunity to experience a simulation of what it is like for astronauts working in space. I tested out an EVA (extravehicular activity) glove simulator operated by NASA’s Langley Research Center at “Star Trek”: Mission New York earlier this month. The EVA glove simulator challenged users to put the top on a plastic bottle and tighten it into place. [Weightlessness and Its Effect on Astronauts]

While this sounds like a task someone may complete a dozen times a day — opening a jar of peanut butter, taking the top off a milk carton or water bottle — it is a far different task to complete when working in the vacuum of space (which is a fancy way of saying low-pressure environment).

To begin the simulation, users were given soft gloves to put on before putting their hands in the EVA gloves, which were housed in a plastic box. Inside this box, there was a plastic bottle and top. The air inside the box was drawn out to mimic the low pressure of space and create a vacuum. Then, once a near-perfect vacuum was reached, users had to try to put the top on the bottle.

Although I was able to pick up both the bottle and the top and place the top on the bottle, I could not maneuver my hands well enough to screw the top down into place. Brandon Guethe, an exhibit tech for Space Technology Game Changing Development at the Langley Research Center in Virginia, explained why this task was so hard to complete.

“The biggest problem is that they [astronauts] lose the majority of their dexterity because of the vacuum in space,” Guethe said, adding that the gloves also have multiple layers that restrict an astronaut’s movement.

Guethe, who was operating the simulator at Mission New York, said that thousands of people had tried to complete the task at hand, but only eight were able to successfully screw the top onto the bottle. Guethe noted that firefighters, hazmat technicians and scuba divers who are used to working under extreme conditions while wearing bulky equipment are generally more successful at using the space glove simulator.

The EVA glove simulator challenged users to put the top on the bottle and screw it down into place in a container whose air had been drawn out.
The EVA glove simulator challenged users to put the top on the bottle and screw it down into place in a container whose air had been drawn out.

Credit: Jeremy Lips/

Another big problem with operating the gloves is that astronauts can’t tell how hard they are actually pulling on something or how hard they need to hold on to a tool when they are tightening a nut or bolt, Guethe said.

“This has actually caused a lot of damage to their hands just because they don’t have the circulation … and they don’t know how hard they are really grabbing something,” Guethe added.

A third major problem Guethe mentioned was the accumulation of moisture and bacteria in the astronauts’ gloves.

“They have a lot of problems with losing their fingernails, cuticle damage and fingernail fungus,” he said. When astronauts are outside the space station working, the vacuum of space pulls moisture through their skin, into the glove material, Guethe added.

NASA scientists are working to create a “High Performance EVA Glove” that will revolutionize current glove designs.

NASA says current EVA glove designs account for nearly 50 percent of spacesuit injuries reported in the past 18 years. The new EVA gloves, however, are designed to reduce potential injury and improve finger restraint and mobility, according to NASA. The gloves also will have lightweight, dust-tolerant bearings, which is important for deep-space missions, where astronauts may encounter more orbital dust and debris.

In addition, the new gloves will simulate the vibration of texture to give astronauts more dexterity, Guethe said. While astronauts may not be touching anything physically (because multiple layers of thick material separate their hands from the physical object), vibrations will send sensory signals to the astronauts’ brains, telling them they are holding something. The more they grab onto an object, the more certain sensors in the glove will vibrate.

Testing out the EVA gloves alone proved to be extremely difficult. Astronauts must not only overcome this challenge but also figure out how to work in an entire spacesuit made of the same thick, restrictive material.

“When they’re doing repairs [outside] the space station, it is actually much harder because it’s not just the gloves; their entire suit is stifling,” Guethe said. “They really don’t have that much mobility from the waist up.”

To overcome this challenge, astronauts plan and practice for EVAs (aka spacewalks) in a facility called the Neutral Buoyancy Lab — a large swimming pool at NASA’s Johnson Space Center that houses a replica of the space station. Astronauts train in this pool for up to 6 hours at a time, wearing their spacesuits.

So, do you have what it takes to be an astronaut?

Follow Samantha Mathewson @Sam_Ashley13. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Google+. Original article on

High School Students from Australia Visit the USA








School education in Australia includes preschool, preparatory (or kindergarten), primary school, secondary school (or high school) and senior secondary school (or college).

Schooling lasts for 13 years, from preparatory to senior secondary. School is compulsory until at least the age of 16. Types of schools include government schools, non-government schools (including faith-based schools such as Catholic or Islamic schools) and schools based on educational philosophies such as Montessori and Steiner. All schools must be registered with the state or territory education department and are subject to government requirements in terms of infrastructure and teacher registration.

Australian schools do more than just educate students. They prepare them for life − developing communication skills, self-discipline and respect for themselves, their peers and their world. Schools offer a broad curriculum in the key learning areas – English, mathematics, studies of society and the environment, science, arts, Languages Other Than English (LOTE), technology, health and physical education. They also believe strongly in the benefits of a rounded education – including the teamwork, self-expression and personal development that happen outside the classroom.

In Australia, students will enjoy a diverse learning environment that is as personally enriching as it is educational, and develop the skills and qualities needed in a changing world.


Australian schools are among the finest in the world. See for yourself what makes an Australian education so valuable:

  • Small class sizes (a maximum of 30 students in a class).
  • University-trained and qualified teachers and specialist teachers in subject areas.
  • Facilities of a high standard – including a high level of technology, with all schools having computers and internet access.
  • ‘Gifted and talented’ programs to extend students who are high achievers.
  • ‘High Achievement’ programs, which see the top students studying university-level subjects for advance credit.
  • Individual learning programs for students who require additional learning support.
  • Quality assurance frameworks where schools must meet required standards.


The Australian school curriculum prepares you for your future. Our schools aim to develop students into independent and successful learners, confident and creative individuals, and active and informed citizens – with the view to giving them all the skills, knowledge and capabilities to thrive in a globalised world. From Kindergarten to Year 12, Australian schools focus on providing equity for every student, and striving for excellence in all areas of education.


A variety of teaching methods are used, including: teacher-directed learning, student research, group projects and presentations, visual presentations, e-learning and interactive classrooms. A variety of assessment methods are used to assess student outcomes. These may include individual research projects, group assignments, oral and visual presentations, the use of technology including PowerPoint, podcast or vodcast presentations, as well as the more traditional class tests and assignments. National and state testing programs ensure standards are met and maintained.


After completion of senior secondary school (Years 11 and 12) students sit for exams and receive an official certificate of qualification. The name of this certificate varies within Australia’s state-based education systems but regardless of what the certificate is called, it is recognised by all Australian universities, higher education and vocational education and training institutions, as well as many institutions internationally.