OSU Continues Study That Focuses on At-Risk Youth

Research from The Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity is helping the Columbus City Council fund new programs to aid vulnerable youth.

Kirwan Institute Senior Legal Analyst Kyle Strickland presented the findings of the report Renewing Our Call to Action at a hearing in City Hall Monday night. Columbus City Councilman Shannon Hardin hosted the hearing to present the research and announce $100,000 in funding to support programs that aid the boys and young men identified in the report.

Renewing Our Call to Action is intended to help expand the work of the city’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative. President Obama launched the program in 2014 to address the persistent challenges faced by boys and young men of color and find ways to help these boys reach their potential.

According to the Kirwan Institute research, 45 percent of the city’s 290,100 youth between the ages of 0 and 24 live in neighborhoods that experience high or very high vulnerability.

OSU Researchers Awarded Grant to Help Predict Harmful Algae Blooms

Harmful algal blooms in rivers and streams are neither well-understood nor easily predicted, and researchers at The Ohio State University are hoping to change that.

With a three-year $681,343 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a team of Ohio State scientists plans to develop a widely applicable system for assessing watershed health and determining when a crisis is looming.

Much of the previous work on harmful algal blooms in Ohio has focused on the Lake Erie watershed. With this project, researchers aim to uncover more information about waterways in the Ohio River basin, and in the river itself.

Algae is a normal part of freshwater systems, but when harmful colonies proliferate, they choke out native plants and animals and can produce toxins that can be deadly to people and animals. Harmful algal blooms also raise the cost of water treatment and hurt tourism and recreation industries in Ohio and throughout the nation.

To flourish, harmful algae need sunlight, slow-moving water and nutrients – specifically, nitrogen and phosphorous.

The study focuses on Ohio River catchments of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and in particular on non-agricultural freshwater. The grant is part of the U.S. EPA’s Science to Achieve Results program.

Contributors to shifts in nutrient levels in waterways include climate, landscape, flow and a multitude of other factors that the scientists will take into consideration as they develop their diagnostic tool.

OSU Program Adapts Toys for Special Needs Kids

Like scientists in Santa’s workshop, organizers of a program at The Ohio State University are working to adapt toys so that children with special needs are able to use them.

TAP Program Manger Elizabeth Riter started the adaptation effort in the College of Engineering in 2015. The program develops workshops to teach engineering students and community members how to adapt toys for children with disabilities.

The adaptation process adds an external wire to common electronic toys so a simple switch can activate it without preventing the toy from functioning normally. The switches take complicated toys that might have multiple buttons or effects and simplifies them.

The program is not just an asset to parents and their children. It’s also a powerful teaching tool for students.

The Toy Adaptation Program will be adapting toys with several families Saturday, Dec. 9, at Nationwide Children’s Hospital from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. The program will be donating some of the toys to occupational therapists as well. All toys adapted in the program are made available as donations.

Study Finds Drones Pose Much Greater Threat Than Birds to Aircraft

As part of a multi-institution Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) study focused on unmanned aerial systems, researchers at The Ohio State University are helping quantify the dangers associated with drones sharing airspace with planes.

Last week, a research team from the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) released a report concluding that drone collisions with large manned aircraft can cause more structural damage than birds of the same weight for a given impact speed.

The FAA will use the research results to help develop operational and collision risk mitigation requirements for drones. ASSURE conducted its research with two different types of drones on two types of aircraft through computer modeling and physical validation testing.

Reports of close calls between drones and airliners have surged. The FAA gets more than 100 sightings a month of drones posing potential risks to planes, such as operating too close to airports. The FAA estimates that 2.3 million drones will be bought for recreational use this year, and the number is expected to rise in coming years.

Unlike the soft mass and tissue of birds, drones typically are made of more rigid materials. The testing showed that the stiffest components of the drone—such as the motor, battery and payload—can cause the most damage to the aircraft body and engine.

The researchers concluded that drone manufacturers should adopt “detect and avoid” or “geo-fencing” capabilities to reduce the probability of collisions with other aircraft.