Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Nov 4, 2020 in Stuff You Should Know

Barrett Confirmed to Supreme Court

Last week, just days before the presidential election, the U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Barrett will replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away in September.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee boycotted the vote to advance Barrett’s nomination to the full Senate in an attempt to slow the confirmation process. But this was ultimately unsuccessful. The final vote was 52-48 to confirm Barrett. All Senate Republicans except Maine’s Susan Collins voted in favor of the appointment. All 45 Senate Democrats and the two Independent senators voted against the confirmation.

Republicans have cited Barrett’s impressive resume and history of working with the Supreme Court as reasons to support her confirmation. Democrats, meanwhile, fought hard against the new justice due to her conservative views. The evening of the confirmation, Justice Clarence Thomas administered the oath of office to Barrett. This makes her the 115 justice in the Court’s history  and the fifth woman to join the Supreme Court. Justice Barrett’s confirmation gives the Supreme Court an expected 6-3conservative majority.

Dig Deeper Who are the other four women to serve on the Supreme Court?  Select one of the four justices and research a case in which she wrote the Majority Opinion.

Teen Wins Prize for COVID Cure Research

A fourteen-year-old girl named Anika Chebrolu from Frisco, Texas, recently won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge. Her project? Discovering the building blocks for a potential cure for COVID-19.

An illustration of the COVID-19 molecule.
An illustration of the COVID-19 molecule. Credit: CDC/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

Anika’s project, which won a $25,000 prize,  identifies a process to discover a lead molecule that binds to a specific protein in the coronavirus. Knowing how this binding process works helps scientists develop a vaccine that may also bind to the protein. Anika originally focused her research on the influenza virus rather than the coronavirus. She learned about the 1918 flu pandemic, and how many people still die of the flu every year despite the treatments available. She herself suffered from a severe case of the flu last year.. But once the coronavirus pandemic struck, Anika recognized that her research was more immediately related to the COVID-19 virus.

Every year, thousands of students in grades five through eight participate in the 3M Young Scientist Challenge, not only for the significant prize money, but for the chance to work with an exclusive 3M mentor. From that pool, ten finalists are chosen based on four criteria: their passion for science, their spirit of innovation, their ingenuity, and their communication skills. Anika hopes to take her research further by working with doctors and scientists to turn her findings into a coronavirus vaccine. Eventually, Anika would like to become a medical researcher and a professor.

Dig Deeper Visit the 2020 Young Scientist Challenge website and choose one of the finalists’ projects to read more about. Write a short paragraph about what you learn.

Burger King to Test Reusable Containers

Beginning next year, Burger King will be joining with other major fast food chains to reduce paper and plastic waste by implementing a reusable container program. Here’s how it works: customers who wish to participate in the program pay a small deposit in addition to the cost of their food. When they’re finished eating, they can return the cup or sandwich container to the restaurant. They will then get their deposit back, and the container or cup is washed and cleaned before it is passed on to the next customer.

To start, the earth-friendly program will be implemented on a trial basis, and only at certain Burger King stores in New York, Portland, and Tokyo. If the program is a success, it will expand to more stores in other cities. McDonald’s has also agreed to try reusable cups. Burger King has committed to additional pro-sustainability efforts, such as using renewable or recycled resources for 100 percent of its packaging. It plans to make all of its packaging 100 percent recyclable at all stores in the United States and Canada by 2025.

What Do You Think? If a reusable container program existed at fast-food restaurants in your city, would you participate? Why or why not?