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Kids Explain to Adults Why We Should Repower Our Schools With 100% Renewable Energy

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Kids Explain to Adults Why We Should Repower Our Schools With 100% Renewable Energy

As families across the country gear up to head back to school, kids in North Carolina want to start off the school year on the right foot. That's why parents, teachers and students with the help of education and environmental organizations have developed the "Repower our Schools" initiative to transition Charlotte and Durham schools to 100 percent renewable electricity.

"As utility costs continue to rise and renewable energy, such as solar, continues to get cheaper, the opportunity for schools to go renewable has never looked better—in fact the cost saving potential is the primary reason why nearly 4,000 schools nationwide have gone solar," Greenpeace said.

The project, which was initially launched in January, is made up of a coalition of groups, including the Charlotte branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Alliance for Climate Education, Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, Action NC, Greenpeace and more than 15 others. The groups have urged Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Durham Public Schools to pass resolutions to save critical school funding by transforming their operations to 100 percent renewable energy.

Greenpeace cites the fact that renewable energy has become cheaper and cheaper and the fact that our children's futures are on the line when it comes to climate change as reasons that schools should be at the forefront of the transition to renewables. "By transitioning school systems to run on 100 percent renewable electricity, schools can reinvest in the classroom and provide hands on experience with 21st century technology," said Greenpeace.

Since January, the coalition has brought renewable energy lessons to schools through a solar truck tour and classroom presentations. And this fall, the groups plan to participate in the Green Apple Day of Service sponsored by U.S. Green Building Council and other STEM-related activities.

"As utility costs continue to rise and renewable energy, such as solar, continues to get cheaper, the opportunity for schools to go renewable has never looked better—in fact the cost saving potential is the primary reason why nearly 4,000 schools nationwide have gone solar," Greenpeace said.

But sometimes you just need the simple explanation that only a child can offer. So, watch these adorable kids explain why schools need to go 100 percent renewable:

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A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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