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The Monadnock Building, at 53 W. Jackson Blvd. in Chicago, is an architectural gem in a city famous for its buildings, their design and construction. Completed in 1893, it was the world's largest office building. Monadnock is also famous because it is the tallest load-bearing brick building ever constructed, it has no internal steel structure, and utilized America’s first portal system of wind bracing. Its beautiful staircases were structured of aluminum, also a first. If you are interested in architecture and engineering, tour the Monadnock.

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When I saw this structure it looked like a futuristic cityscape to me; perhaps something out of the Hunger Games. Yes, it’s a recently cut tree stump, and it is at the Morton Arboretum. Can you guess why the blue tacks have been placed in it?

Learn about dendrochronology here and more about what tree rings tell us at The Arbor Foundation website

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You may have guessed that this fuzzy brown and black thing is a caterpillar. Wikipedia says it’s a woolly bear: Pyrrharctia isabella, or the eventual Isabella Tiger Moth. Go to this page to see the moth into which the caterpillar will metamorphose.

While looking for info on this caterpillar, I came across a bit of folklore.

If you do a bit of scientific thinking, you could test out the prediction this winter. While a sample size of one isn’t significant, it could still be fun to see if the prediction rings true.

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Close up of a sawhorse barricade at a construction site (with shadow of photographer’s fingers). Who knew? Looking up information about these safety devices, I came across the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.

This “manual lays out the standards used by road managers nationwide to install and maintain traffic control devices on all public streets, highways, bikeways, and private roads.” Interested in road engineering or traffic safety? Consider a career in Civil Engineering.

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Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) elevated trains pass through this tube at the McCormick Tribune Campus Center on the Illinois Tech campus. The tracks and tube are just above the roof of the student center. Read about it

Architecture is a STEM career. Check out the American Institute of Architects, Chicago.

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Sitting in my car as it goes through the car wash! For more about Car Washes, check out these resources:

How Car Washes Work
• Do you know that you can save water by bringing your car to a commercial wash versus washing it at home? Watch this.
• Brighton Car Wash, in Naperville, utilizes solar panels for heating the wash water and a wind turbine to generate electricity for the business. They’re currently closed for remodeling, but check out this video.

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Chicago has many interesting bridges. The LaSalle Street Bridge opened in 1928. Read about it.

Check out this map of downtown Chicago bridges

Interested in different types of bridges? Learn about different types here.

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We started with a soap bubble solution and added some dry ice. That created foam from the bubbling of the carbon dioxide gas. Next we activated a light stick, and then cut it open. We poured the contents into the soap bubble solution. We turned off the lights and then found a black light to enhance the coolity! Notice the beaker with the soap/light stick solution in the background, and a ring of the solution from the bottom of the beaker in the foreground.

How does a light stick work?

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You are looking at two fiddleheads. These are the emerging leaves of green plants called ferns. The new leaves are rolled up, or furled, and they slowly unroll. Look for ferns in shady, moist habitats.

Fiddlehead unfurling

American Fern Society for more info about ferns

Watch this dancing plant!

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This photo was taken in a DuPage County forest preserve. On a rotting tree trunk find the moss, shelf fungus, and then leaves on the forest floor in the foreground. Do you see the snail hanging out?

Fungi are decomposers; that means they slowly break down (decompose) the organic material they are living on. They use enzymes (proteins that speed up chemical reactions) to accomplish this. Once broken down, the fungus absorbs small molecules of the substrate (what the fungus is living on) to feed itself, and in the process the tree (or whatever the substrate is) decomposes—or falls apart. Nutrients are returned the soil as this proceeds. Decomposition is part of nature’s recycling process. Snails, insects, earthworms, and bacteria are other natural decomposers.

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Too easy? This is my dog’s nose. Read about Dog’s Dazzing Sense of Smell.

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This photo was taken from an airplane window over Alaska. Notice the “roads.” Those are glacial moraines. Glaciers are really cool!

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