UNC-TV turns an eye toward science in the state

mwashburn@charlotteobserver.comJune 23, 2013 

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The voracious, venomous lionfish is an invasive species discovered off the N.C. coast in 2000.

KARIM SAHIB — AFP/Getty Images

UNC-TV is developing a series of science segments for its public affairs show “North Carolina Now” that can be repurposed for classroom use.

Launching Aug. 7, the reports will air on Wednesday editions of “North Carolina Now” (7:30 p.m., UNC-TV) and will focus on research and scientific initiatives across the state.

Shannon Vickery, director of productions for UNC-TV, says stories in production include:

•  A look at the science behind historic preservation, featuring the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation from 1862, on loan from the National Archives, that was displayed at the Museum of History in Raleigh this month.

•  How communities deal with stormwater management with an eye toward environmental impact.

•  How the lionfish, an invasive species discovered off the coast in 2000, came to North Carolina waters and what their potential impact is on the ecosystem. They have no known predators and their numbers are growing annually.

•  A new storm-surge forecasting model being developed by university researchers in cooperation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

•  How researchers track the lowly box turtle to learn more about changing habitats.

“We’re interested in showcasing the diversity of scientific work across the state,” Vickery says. “It will give viewers a broader view of who is a scientist and what a scientist looks like in North Carolina.”

Frank Graff, who joined “North Carolina Now” in October, will be the correspondent for the reports.

Lucy Laffitte will work on the project as education coordinator, developing content that can be used with the segments for science instruction in schools. Vickery says that the length of the segments – typically five to six minutes – lend themselves well to classroom attention spans. A website featuring the content is also being developed.

“We’re wanting to create not only great broadcast stories, but stories that teachers can use in the classroom to set up a discussion topic,” Vickery said.

Wednesdays were chosen for the segments because they dovetail with the PBS science night theme, preceding shows like “Nova” and “Nature,” Vickery said.

Underwriting for the project was provided by GlaxoSmithKline.

Washburn: 704-358-5007.

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