Were the toys you played with as a child either pink or blue?
Supriya Hobbs and Janna Eaves are painfully aware that they are surrounded by mostly male students in their engineering classes at the University of Illinois. That’s part of the reason they’re behind the new start-up Miss Possible Inc., a toy company with intentions to manufacture dolls for girls fashioned after historical figures like Marie Curie and Amelia Earhart.
“Most toys, especially dolls, are empty,” says Hobbs, “Entrepreneur Barbie wears a suit and has a smart phone; that makes her a CEO?”
This hour on Focus, Scott Cameron talks with Hobbs about the start-up, and why Hobbs and Eaves want girls to be interested in science and technology. We’ll also hear from Analisa Russo, part of the company Electroninks, which is bringing a gel pen to draw circuits to market this summer. Isabelle Cherney, a researcher at Creighton University, will tell us how the toys we play can have an effect on our perceived capabilities and our gender identity.
Then, we’ll switch gears at the end of the hour when Jake Kuebler of Bluestem Financial Advisors, LLC in Champaign joins us to discuss issues in personal finance.
Are you anxious to get outside and into the garden? We welcome your calls and questions today on Focus!
We had a taste of spring weather earlier this week and according to Shane Cultra, who helps run Country Arbors Nursery in Urbana, there were lots of anxious gardeners who were more than ready to get outside. During this time in spring, before the ground is completely thawed, is a great time to take care of the gardening chores that don’t involve plating – taking leaves, mulching raised beds and pruning fruit trees and rose bushes.
This hour on Focus Cultra talks with WILL’s Lisa Bralts about getting ready for spring in the garden. We’ll hear this hour about building and starting to grow flowers and food in raised beds if you’re thinking about it, and as always, we welcome your questions about your lawn and garden!
Over the last few weeks, WILL's Sean Powers and Jeff Bossert have spoken with all the candidates running for Rodney Davis' seat in Congress representing the 13th District in Illinois. Today on Focus, we'll hear those interviews.
Rodney Davis has represented Illinois’ 13th District in Congress since taking office in January of 2013. He narrowly won the seat after former Congressman Tim Johnson announced his retirement from politics. The district encompasses 14 counties in central and Southwestern Illinois.
The primary is Tuesday, March 18. Polls open at 6:00 a.m. and are open until 7:00 p.m. Davis has two challengers for the Republican nomination, and there are three democrats seeking the Democratic nomination. This hour on Focus, we’ll hear from all 6 of the candidates – Rodney Davis, Michael Firsching, Erika Harold, David Green, George Gollin and Ann Callis. You can find out more about the candidates and their positions on the issues here.
When Ryan Bartelmay published his debut novel, he based it in central Illinois. This hour on Focus, he talks with host Jim Meadows.
If you were going to create a town with fictional characters who could live anywhere in the world, where would those characters go when they go home? Your first inclination may not be central Illinois. After all, there are much more exciting places to set a novel. But Morton native and author Ryan Bartelmay says he wouldn’t think to write about characters living anywhere else. This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to when he talked with host Jim Meadows about his debut novel, “Onward Toward What We’re Going Toward.” We’ll hear about why he writes about cultures in small towns in the Midwest and will hear about a set of characters who make a living working at a pumpkin canning factory.
Do you fancy yourself a reader? Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?
Non-fiction often gets a bad rap. They’re the books you have you read, the ones you were assigned for class or work. Non-fiction titles don’t commonly have a reputation for being the sort of reading you can get lost in. According to Mary Wilkes Towner and Carol Inskeep of the Urbana Free Library, the idea that non-fiction is non-readable is a myth. This hour on Focus, they join Scott Cameron. We’re making the case for non-fiction. During this hour, we’ll talk about different kinds of non-fiction and the idea that what we read says something about us as a person.
Since we know that lots of you are voracious readers, we wonder – do you prefer nonfiction? We’re working to compile a list of Focus fans’ favorite non-fiction titles, so please send us your favorites! We've compiled a list of good reads below. If you see somethihg missing, send it our way, and we'll add it!
Contine reading for our non-fiction reading list.
Have you tried Sriracha hot sauce?
David Tran, the owner of Huy Fong Foods, started making his sriracha-style hot sauce after his family immigrated to California from Thailand. Thirty years after he made the first batch, he’s nearly tripled the size of his operation and sold a reported 20 million bottles in 2012. Who is Tran, and where did the recipe for the wildly popular hot sauce come from?
This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to host Jim Meadows' talk with Griffin Hammond, a Bloomington-based documentary maker, about his newest film “Sriracha.” We’ll hear about the origins of the hot sauce and about the lack of a a marketing team for advertising the sauce. Despite that, Sriracha still has a large enough fan base to have inspired several cookbooks, tattoos of the rooster logo on the bottle, a Lay’s Potato Chip flavor and even themed air fresheners. We will hear from Randy Clemens, author of “The Sriracha Cookbook: 50 Rooster Sauce Recipes” and “The Veggie-Lover’s Sriracha Cookbook."
Do you grow vegetables in a garden or in pots around your home or apartment? If you do -why did you start? If you don’t, why not? This hour on Focus, Lisa Bralts talks with Jeanne Nolan, author of “From the Ground Up” about why she does and how she learned.
Jeanne Nolan has run the Edible Gardens at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago for eight years. In addition to working with Green City Market, the organization which maintains the Edible Gardens, Jeanne runs a business helping people learn to plant and grow their own vegetable gardens. Getting to where she is today, however, was a long and winding road.
This hour on Focus, we'll listen back to guest host Lisa Bralts' talk with Nolan about why she’s devoted her life to organic gardening and how she got to where she is today. We’ll hear her talk about the time she spent learning about agriculture at a commune in California and about the US’s urban farming movement and if it’s losing steam or still gaining momentum. During this hour on Focus, we dig a little deeper into the cost of the grow-your-own model and talk about Nolan’s “five food principles” when starting a backyard garden or urban farm.
The team has no grandmaster, no local coach, little funding to speak of and no formal recruitment. Yet the U of I team has made it to the Final Four of competitive chess in the U.S. for the second consecutive year.
In late December, the University of Illinois chess team qualified for the Final Four for the second consecutive year. U of I junior Michael Auger is a big part of the reason why and is one of 4 team members who will be going to the tournament in April. Auger recruited Eric Rosen, the most accomplished and highest-ranked member of the team, away from top chess schools, like te University of Texas-Dallas, Texas Tech and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
This hour on Focus, host Jeff Bossert talks with Auger about the team’s success and where he thinks they're headed next. We’ll also hear from Al Lawrence who is the director of Texas Tech’s chess program and former executive director of the United States Chess Federation, the largest chess governing body in the United States. He'll tell us more about the world of collegiate chess is like across the country, and gives us a better sense of what the U of I chess team is up against in April.
During this hour, we want to know from you how chess plays a role in your life. Did you grow up playing it? What do you like about it? We're on Twitter during the show @Focus580.
Have you ever been through a tornado?
When severe weather happens, most of us take shelter. There are a few who don’t. Jeffrey Frame is one of them. He’s a clinical assistant professor of atmosphere sciences at the University of Illinois and is also a storm chaser. He says when he sees a tornado there’s an incredible moment of adrenaline, followed quickly by fear.
Over the course of the last 200 years, storm chasers and meteorologists like Frame have been largely responsible for collecting the information that informs our knowledge of severe weather.
This hour on Focus, Lindsey Moon talks Frame about the risk he takes for science. We'll also hear from Lee Sandlin about his book “Storm Kings: America’s First Tornado Chasers."
This hour on Focus, Scott Cameron talks with democratic candidates for the 103rd House District seat in the Illinois legislature ahead of the March 18 primary. Do you have questions for Carol Ammons or Sam Rosenberg?
A democrat has long represented the 103rd district for the legislature in Illinois. Both Carol Ammons and Sam Rosenberg want to keep it that way. One of the two candidates will represent the district in the general election in the fall, but whomever that will be has to win the March 18 primary first. So far, Champaign county democrats have been divided.
Last week, Scott Cameron talked with Republican candidate Kristin Williamson, who is running unopposed. This hour on Focus, he talks with Ammons, an Urbana Alderwoman and Sam Rosenberg, a Champaign based attorney.
Do you have questions for Ammons or Rosenberg? Give us a call this hour on Focus or Tweet us @Focus580.
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