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SC Dept of Ed provides $33 million worth of PPE for schools

The money has been used to purchase hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, plexiglas and other items to make schools safe.

IRMO, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) is providing more than $33 million in funding for personal protective equipment (PPE) for schools in the Palmetto State.

Education officials announced on Tuesday they would be providing more than $33 million of the protective equipment to all 81 public school districts across the state.

Officials say they were able to make the purchases after the South Carolina General Assembly allowed them to use previously allocated Ccronavirus relief funds.

The protective equipment includes disinfecting wipes, masks, hand sanitizer, plexiglass and many other items. Some of the equipment arrived last week.

Here’s a breakdown of all the equipment the department purchased:

  • 597,585 Adult and student reusable cloth face masks
  • 2,681,950 Adult and student disposable face masks
  • 189,966 KN95 masks
  • 87,010 Adult and student face shields
  • 108,476 Boxes of Gloves (100 count each)
  • 331,913 Gowns for nurses
  • 606,473 Cases of disinfecting wipes (50 count each)
  • 41,474 Gallons of hand sanitizer
  • 99,259 Bottles (16 oz) of hand sanitizer
  • 69,243 Bottles (32 oz) of disinfecting solution
  • 1,746 Electrostatic backpack sprayers

RELATED: $31.5 million to go to public charter schools in South Carolina, Spearman says

State Education Superintendent Molly Spearman hopes this will help get schools back to face-to-face instruction.

“We now know that we can bring more children back with extra measures and plexiglass is part of that so that we can put more students in a room,” Spearman said. “You may hear some of them saying we need more things and we’re telling them let us know what you need, and we have the funding to get it for you.”

The state has also ordered more than 300,000 sheets of plexiglass to be used in classrooms to help bring more students back while following safety standards.

“It will help in the safety of our students returning and for our staff too,” Spearman explained. “You see when you walk in the school, they have the plexiglass up, even for their front office staff. Protecting staff, protecting students, it is worth whatever penny we spend on that.”

Dr. Christina Melton, Superintendent of Lexington-Richland School District Five, is thankful for the new PPE heading their way.

“Because of the funds from our state government, we’re able to make sure that the facilities are safe, that our students are in a safe environment for learning and our staff is in safe environment for working,” Dr. Melton said.

RELATED: SC Supreme Court rules against McMaster on private school grant program

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HBCUs get $15 million from Gates Foundation to expand coronavirus testing

“When you look across the landscape of the country, the intent was really to have all the HBCUs participate,” said Wayne A.I. Frederick, president of Howard. “With us being a total family of 104 HBCUs, I think we do have the capacity to cover just about everyone.”

Howard is looking to work with schools, including Morgan State and Coppin State universities in Baltimore and the University of the District of Columbia, Frederick said.

Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, also selected by the foundation to create a testing hub, will process tests for Edward Waters College, Bethune-Cookman and Florida Memorial universities — Florida’s other HBCUs — said Larry Robinson, the school’s president.

Other testing hubs announced Tuesday will be at Hampton University, Meharry Medical College, Morehouse School of Medicine and Xavier University of Louisiana. Four more schools will be selected in the coming weeks, officials from foundation said.

The $15 million donation will equip the hubs with diagnostic testing supplies, lab equipment and staff.

The coronavirus tests will come from lab equipment company Thermo Fisher Scientific, through its initiative to bolster testing infrastructure on historically Black campuses. The company has donated millions to HBCUs in recent months to make testing available to students, faculty and staff.

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AeroVironment Secures $8.4 Million Puma 3 AE Unmanned Aircraft Systems Foreign Military Sales Contract Award for U.S. Ally

  • Puma 3 All Environment (AE) unmanned aircraft system delivers immediate tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) in maritime and land operations

  • Customer is among the 50 allied government forces relying on AeroVironment’s innovative family of tactical unmanned aircraft systems (UAS); Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program promotes interoperability among U.S. and allied forces for joint operations

  • Long-Range Tracking Antenna (LRTA) enables 60 kilometer range, and is now available in both M1/2/5 and M3/4/6 Digital Data Link (DDL) military operating bands

AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), a global leader in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), today announced it secured a $8,371,332 firm-fixed-price U.S. Department of Defense FMS contract award on September 25, 2020 for Puma™ 3 AE tactical UAS, training and support to an allied nation. Delivery is anticipated by March 2021.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Puma 3 AE (All Environment) is ideal for use in day, night, or low-light environments, and for land or maritime operations. (Photo: Business Wire)

“The United States Department of Defense and the defense forces of 50 allied nations around the world rely on AeroVironment’s family of tactical unmanned aircraft systems to protect and empower frontline troops in the harshest operating environments,” said Rick Pedigo, vice president of sales and business development at AeroVironment. “With an unmatched track record for reliability and effectiveness in combat, training and humanitarian operations, and a roadmap of continuous enhancement and innovation into the future, customers can rely on AeroVironment to proceed with certainty into any operational scenario.”

The AeroVironment Puma 3 AE is a fully man-portable unmanned aircraft system designed for land and maritime operations. The hand-launched Puma 3 AE has a wingspan of 9.2 feet (2.8 meters), weighs 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) and operates for up to 2.5 hours at line-of-sight range of 20 kilometers with a standard antenna, and up to 60 kilometers with AeroVironment’s Long-Range Tracking Antenna. Capable of landing in water or on land, the all-environment Puma, with its Mantis i45 sensor suite, empowers the operator with extended flight time and a level of imaging capability never before available in the tactical UAS class.

To expand operational range, AeroVironment’s Long-Range Tracking Antenna (LRTA) can be used with Puma 3 AE, and all other Digital Data Link (DDL) equipped UAS, increasing line-of-sight command and control up to 60 kilometers. The LRTA features a directional antenna mounted on a tracking positioner that allows for automatic or manual tracking of an aircraft at an extended stand-off range. In addition, an omnidirectional antenna provides redundancy and 360-degree coverage with reduced range capabilities. The LRTA is now offered in two versions – M1/2/5 and M3/4/6 – to support all DDL frequency bands and fit diverse mission needs.

About AeroVironment Tactical UAS

The RQ-20A/B Puma™, Puma™ LE, RQ-11B Raven®, RQ-12A Wasp®, together with the VAPOR® Helicopter, comprise AeroVironment’s family of tactical unmanned aircraft systems. This family of systems provides increased capability to the warfighter that gives ground commanders the option of selecting the appropriate aircraft based

SoftBank invests $215 million in education start-up Kahoot as coronavirus boosts e-learning

  • Norwegian education platform Kahoot announced Tuesday that it’s raised $215 million from SoftBank.
  • It plans to use the fresh funds to fuel growth through new partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions.
  • Educational technology, or “edtech,” has flourished this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Masayoshi Son wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera: Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp., reacts during a dialog session with Jack Ma, former chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., not pictured, at Tokyo Forum 2019 in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.

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Masayoshi Son, chairman and chief executive officer of SoftBank Group Corp., reacts during a dialog session with Jack Ma, former chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., not pictured, at Tokyo Forum 2019 in Tokyo, Japan, on Friday, Dec. 6, 2019.

LONDON — SoftBank has invested $215 million in Norwegian education start-up Kahoot, taking a 9.7% stake in the company, as demand for online learning platforms skyrockets during the coronavirus pandemic.


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The Oslo-based firm said Tuesday it had agreed to sell 43 million new shares at a price of 46 Norwegian krone — or about $5 — per share to SoftBank. It plans to use funds raised from the deal to fuel growth through new partnerships, joint ventures and acquisitions, CEO Eilert Hanoa told CNBC.

“It’s all about the general switch in mindset from digital tools being a nice-to-have additional set of features in schools and classrooms, to being maybe the most important toolkit they can use to create engagement,” Hanoa said in an interview Tuesday.

Founded in 2012, Kahoot is a game-based learning service that lets players create and take part in multiple-choice quizzes. One side of the business focuses on schools and home learning, while the other centers on corporate clients looking to make training sessions and presentations.

How the pandemic fast-tracked the multibillion-dollar education technology industry



Educational technology, or “edtech,” has flourished this year as the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to close and increased demand for remote learning software. That’s grabbed the attention of investors: Microsoft, for example, invested over $1 million in U.K.-based computing start-up Kano for a minority stake.

And Kahoot is no exception, securing a $28 million round of funding in June. The company, which is listed on Oslo’s Merkur Market, has seen its shares skyrocket over 150% since the start of the year. Hanoa said the firm now plans to launch a full initial public offering on Norway’s main stock market in early 2021.

“We’ve already accumulated approximately 8,000 new shareholders,” he told CNBC. “We believe that, by doing a re-IPO on the main list on the Oslo Stock Exchange, we could extend the investor base even further.”

Shares of Kahoot shot up almost 12% in morning trading on news of SoftBank’s investment in the company. It now has a market value of 19.9 billion Norwegian krone — or roughly $2.2 billion.

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Study Suggests A Supernova Exploded Near Earth About 2.5 Million Years Ago, Possibly Causing An Extinction Event

Supernovas are amazingly bright explosions of massive stars at the end of their lives. During the gravitational collapse, the outer layers of the star are pushed away, and chemical elements formed inside the star are released into space. This cosmic dust rains down onto the Earth continuously, including exotic elements formed inside the dying star.

Research published in the journal Physical Review Letters used the concentration of two such exotic elements preserved in ocean sediments to hypothesize that a supernova exploded near Earth just 2.5 million years ago.

The authors, led by Dr. Gunther Korschinek from the Technical University of Munich, focused their study on ferromanganese crusts collected in the Pacific Ocean. Ferromanganese crusts form on the bottom of the ocean by layers of iron- and manganese-oxides precipitating out of seawater. The studied samples started to grow some 20 million years ago at depths ranging from 5,200 feet to 3.18 miles (approximately 1.600 to 5.120 meters). The researchers measured the concentrations of iron-60 and manganese-53 isotopes in the hardened crust. They differ from Earth’s most common form of the elements by their varying number of neutrons in the atomic nucleus. Both isotopes are synthesized in large stars shortly before supernova explosions and are unstable, decaying completely after 4 to 15 million years. Their presence in sediment samples is evidence for Earth passing through a cloud of cosmic dust generated by an exploding star in – geologically speaking – recent times.

Research published in August 2020 already noted a peak of iron-60 in sediments dating back 33,000 years, about 2.6 million years, and possibly another at around 6 million years ago. The new research also found elevated concentrations of manganese-53 in a 2.5 million-year-old layer, supporting the idea of a nearby supernova explosion as the source of both isotopes.

Based on the measured concentrations, the researchers calculated that the exploding star was around 11 to 25 times the size of our sun. The researchers also note that the age of the presumed supernova coincides with the end of the Pliocene epoch on Earth, some 2.58 million years ago. The end of the Pliocene is marked by a general cooling trend leading into the ice-age, but also a mass extinction event involving many large land mammals. In theory, a supernova close enough to the Earth (roughly less than 30 to 1000 light-years) could irradiate Earth with a dangerous dose of Gamma rays. The energetic rays could damage and alter the chemical composition of Earth’s atmosphere, exposing the surface to harmful solar and cosmic radiation and triggering a runaway

Applied DNA Secures $1.0+ Million in COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Annualized Revenue, Builds Sales Pipeline for Test Kit and Testing-as-a-Service

– Announces Completion of Initial New York State Department of Health Inspection of Clinical Lab Subsidiary –

Applied DNA Sciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: APDN) (“Applied DNA” or the “Company”), a leader in Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-based DNA manufacturing that enables in vitro diagnostics, pre-clinical nucleic acid-based therapeutic drug candidates, supply chain security, anti-counterfeiting, and anti-theft technology, announced that Applied DNA Clinical Laboratories, LLC (“ADCL”), its wholly-owned subsidiary, has secured COVID-19 surveillance testing contracts under its testing-as-a-service (“TaaS”) offering that are estimated to generate more than $1.0 million in total annualized revenue beginning October 1, 2020. The Company’s surveillance testing revenue expectation is contingent on full-term participation by TaaS customers, including:

  • Private schools based in Long-Island, N.Y., including Harbor Country Day School. Education customers comprise the bulk of the Company’s current testing volume;

  • Several New York State-based small enterprises and private clients.

Unlike diagnostic testing, which looks for the occurrence of COVID-19 at the individual level, surveillance testing looks for infection within a defined population or community and can be used for making health management decisions at the population level. Surveillance testing does not require a prescription. In surveillance testing, pooled test results are returned to the sponsoring organization in the aggregate, not directly to the individual, and may be performed without CLIA certification.

Concurrently, the Company is executing on a sales and marketing strategy to build a pipeline of LineaTM COVID-19 Diagnostic Assay Kit (“Assay Kit”) and TaaS opportunities through:

  • Outreach to independent and hospital laboratories in COVID-19 hotspots nationally and regionally to offer an additional diagnostic kit supply line;

  • Outreach to local laboratories to construct a reference laboratory relationship for overflow testing;

  • Deployment of testing at Stony Brook University in accordance with a recently signed Master Services Agreement.

“Our capacity to perform COVID-19 surveillance testing is grounded in self-collection saliva kits and anterior nasal swab kits that are intuitive to use, a highly sensitive PCR-based Assay Kit that can detect as little as one copy of the SARS-CoV-2 genome per microliter in an individual saliva sample, and a high-throughput surveillance testing lab that can return testing results within 24 hours and often on the same day as sampling. When deployed as part of a consistent and ongoing surveillance testing regime, we believe our Assay Kit can help our clients to detect the virus before its median incubation time of 4 to 5 days from exposure to symptom-onset1. Being able to identify infections early and in a cost-efficient and rapid manner is how surveillance testing gets workers back to work and students back to school,” said Dr. James A. Hayward, president and CEO.

“We are beginning to see the first fruits of our Assay Kit and TaaS sales and marketing efforts translate into revenue,” concluded Dr. Hayward. “As we continue to expand our sales pipeline of Assay Kit and surveillance testing opportunities, we believe these efforts can serve as a potentially material driver of our growth supplemented by diagnostic customer testing upon receipt of CLEP-CLIA certification.”

China’s Mars Probe Tianwen-1 Sends Home Selfies Captured 15 Million Miles From Earth


  • The CNSA released new selfies of Tianwen-1 captured 15 million miles away from Earth
  • The Mars probe took images of itself using a tiny camera ejected from the spacecraft
  • Tianwen-1 is expected to reach the red planet in February 2021

Talk about a clever way to take self-portraits in space! Tianwen-1 has snapped some selfies while in outer space using a camera ejected from its spacecraft.

While on its way to Mars, Tianwen-1 sent home new images of itself captured 15 million miles away from Earth. They were released by the China National Space Administration earlier this month as part of the country’s national day celebrations.

The small camera the Mars probe used to snap selfies had wide-angle lenses on each side and took one photo every second. It sends the images it takes to Tianwen-1, which would then transmit the pictures to Earth.

One of the many photos snapped by the camera is a close-up of the Tianwen-1 spacecraft that shows its two silver solar arrays and the conical aeroshell containing the mission’s rover. Another photo was taken from farther away and showcases the vastness of outer space surrounding Tianwen-1 as it makes its way to its mission.

The little photoshoot went both ways as the Tianwen-1 also took images of the tiny camera while it was being jettisoned into outer space and leaving the spacecraft.

Tianwen-1 was launched by China on July 23 aboard the Long March 5 rocket from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island. This mission is considered to be China’s first attempt at reaching and eventually landing on the red planet.

If all goes according to plan, Tianwen-1 should arrive on Mars in February 2021. The rover will land on the red planet’s surface somewhere along Utopia Planitia, a large empty plain in the planet’s Northern Hemisphere.

The rover will then spend about 90 Martian days (1 Martian day is 40 minutes longer than an Earth day) studying its environment. The lander, meanwhile, won’t be doing any substantial scientific work as it will only be there to act as a delivery system for the rover.

China launched its Tianwen-1 Mars mission in July 2020 China launched its Tianwen-1 Mars mission in July 2020 Photo: AFP / Noel CELIS

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State education board demands $11.2 million back from Epic Charter Schools over state audit findings | Education

Holt began her presentation by setting the record straight on two issues she said have been commonly mischaracterized in public discourse since the release of the state audit report a couple of weeks ago.

She said Gov. Kevin Stitt’s charge to State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd included the task of reviewing annual audits on Epic from the previous three years, but it did not limit the scope of the forensic audit as a whole to any such time period.

In all, $125.2 million of the $458 million allocated to Epic Charter Schools for educating students the past six years was found to have ended up in the coffers of Epic Youth Services, a for-profit charter school management company that has reportedly made millionaires of school co-founders Ben Harris and David Chaney.

“We ask for annual appropriations totaling approximately $3 billion and $125 million works out to about 4.1%,” said state board member Kurt Bollenbach, of Kingfisher. “Are you saying I do not have access to or oversight of 4.1% of the funds that come through this department?“

Holt responded: “Yes.”

Holt described how Epic and its affiliates armed themselves with lawyers to make the state auditors’ task of interviewing school personnel and scrutinizing records particularly difficult.

So difficult in fact that 63% of the funds turned over to EYS — nearly $80 million budgeted for students’ learning needs — remains out of reach of the State Auditor’s Office and outside public scrutiny.

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Sorry, SpaceX. Watch This Week As NASA Pays $90 Million To Launch U.S. Astronaut On A Russian Rocket

U.S. astronauts now fly to the International Space Station (ISS) from American soil, right?

So why is a NASA astronaut about to blast-off to the ISS from Russia at a cost of over $90 million?

Despite the success of “Launch America” back on May 30, 2020 when NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley journeyed to and from the ISS in SpaceX hardware during the historic SpaceX Crew Demo-2 mission, NASA astronaut Kate Rubin will this week leave Earth from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

As I reported back in June, it’s the final part of an existing contract between NASA and the Russian space agency to send a US astronaut to the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

When is the next rocket launch to the ISS?

Rubin is due to lift-off on Wednesday, October 14, at 1:45 a.m. EDT (10:45 a.m. Kazakhstan time) together with cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of Roscosmos. Their two-orbit, three-hour journey will begin their six-month mission on the ISS.

Where to watch the rocket launch to the ISS

You can tune-in to the launch online by visiting NASA TV on the space agency’s website or NASA TV on YouTube:

Why is NASA paying Russia $90 million to launch an astronaut when it now has SpaceX?

NASA has been signing contracts with Russia to buy seats on Soyuz spacecraft since 2011 when the Shuttle was grounded. This is its last currently contracted seat, NASA confirmed to me last week. In fact, a contract modification in May 2020 procured one seat at a cost of $90,252,905.69. The cost covers training and preparation for launch, flight operations, landing and crew rescue services.

So does this mean NASA had a Plan B while SpaceX was testing its Crew Dragon spacecraft last summer? “NASA continues to have high confidence in our U.S. commercial crew partners for regular crew rotation,” said NASA in an emailed statement to me.

However, there’s a refreshing lack of nationalism in what is, after all, an entirely global endeavor. “As the U.S. commercial crew capability becomes operational, astronauts and cosmonauts should resume flying together on our respective spacecraft, consistent with past practice,” reads the statement from NASA.

Will Russian cosmonauts fly on NASA SpaceX missions?

Almost certainly—because it’s safer. “A problem with a spacecraft in orbit may require the full crew of that spacecraft to return to Earth,” reads the NASA statement. “Flying mixed crews is mutually beneficial as it would increase the probability that both astronauts and cosmonauts will be on the space station to perform critical operations.”

NASA and Roscosmos are now discussing plans to ensure at least one U.S. and Russian crew member are aboard the ISS at any one time.

So while the days of paying $90 million-per-seat are over for NASA, we can expect to see Russian cosmonauts on SpaceX missions

Missouri University Of Science And Technology Receives $300 Million Gift, The Largest In Missouri Higher Education History

Missouri University of Science and Technology(Missouri S and T) announced today that it had received a $300 million donation, the largest single gift in the history of Missouri higher education. St. Louis businessman and Missouri S and T alum Fred Kummer and his wife June are giving the money to a foundation they created that will support several initiatives at the university.

The Kummers’ gift will be administered by The Kummer Institute Foundation. Funds from the foundation will support several new initiatives at Missouri S&T, including:

  • A new research and development entity modeled after other university-affiliated centers like the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. The new organization will be the home to four new research centers – focused on infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, and environmental and resource sustainability.
  • The Kummer School of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development, a new school that will combine academic programs in business with new programs related to innovation and entrepreneurship at the bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. levels.
  • Scholarships, fellowships and other enhancement for high-achieving undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Expansion of the university’s online degree programs.
  • New research faculty positions.
  • Expansion and renovation of existing facilities along with construction of new buildings and labs.
  • Enhanced community outreach through student-community engagement, a lecture series, and a shuttle service between S&T and St. Louis to bring students from the metropolitan area to Rolla

“This gift is transformative for S&T, the Rolla region and our state,” said Dr. Mo Dehghani, Missouri S&T chancellor. “For nearly 150 years, Missouri S&T has been known as the state’s premier technological university. Now, thanks to June and Fred, S&T will have the opportunity to become one of the nation’s leading universities for innovation… With this gift, we expect to be able to dramatically increase the size of our student body, recruit outstanding new faculty, establish powerful new centers of research, and engage with the community in new and exciting ways.”

Fred Kummer, 91, is the founder and chairman of St. Louis-based HBE Corp. Established in 1960, HBE Corp is a leading design-build firm for hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the US. Kummer is a 1955 civil engineering graduate of Missouri S&T, then called the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy. He and his wife have been major donors to the university for decades. 

“I owe much of my success to the education I received at Rolla,” Mr. Kummer said. “My Rolla experience taught me how to think, how to work hard and how to manage my own career. June and I believe in the mission of this great university, and that’s why we have chosen to invest in S&T’s future success. We believe that Missouri S&T’s best days are ahead.”

The Kummer Institute Foundation is expected to generate $250 million in gross domestic product