Science, environmental issues addressed at Expo

At an expo that discussed scientific and environmental issues, organizers said an exhibit on e-waste was one of the most important displays.

E-waste is any electronic product that is discarded or broken but not properly disposed of.

“This is a huge problem every year because only 15 percent of electronic appliances gets recycled each year,” said William C. Bullock, professor of industrial design and director of the Product Innovation Research Laboratory. “The rest go into landfills and contain damaging materials.”

The e-waste exhibit was one of many at the second annual Naturally Illinois Expo held Friday and Saturday at the Natural Resources Building.

The event, which was funded exclusively through public donations, centered on the research of the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability and boasted demonstrations and hands-on activities for people of all ages.

“Part of our mission is to inform the public and to do this as an outreach activity,” said Libby Johnston, coordinator of communications for the institute. “Part of that is to help people learn about science.”

More than 900 elementary students attended on Friday. Among the activities for kids were a fossil dig, the workings of a wind turbine and an archaeology display.

“There are roughly 50 exhibits, so there is something new for everyone to learn,” said Bill Shilts, director of the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability.

One goal of the expo was to display a range of what the institute does to inform the public. The other goal was to promote more active communication between the Illinois Natural History Survey, the Illinois State Archaeological Survey, the Illinois Geological State Survey, the Illinois State Water Survey and the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, Shilts said.

The institute was established July 1, 2008, and aims to give Illinois citizens and businesses science solutions necessary to manage the state’s resources, environment and economy in a responsible way, according to a press release about the expo.

“The research that is done here is used by the state, businesses and industry to deal with natural resources issues and economic issues,” Johnston said.

“So the research that goes on here is beyond what is done in the academic research labs of the University.”

Information about the Campus Bike Project was also a highlight of the expo. Bike project members were at the expo attempting to get the group’s name out to the public.

Starting March 29, the Campus Bike Project will be a collaboration between the University and The Bike Project of Champaign-Urbana.

The group will aim to serve students, faculty and staff by addressing their biking needs while offering repairs, knowledge and safety tips. The bike project’s new shop is located at 608 E. Pennsylvania Ave., in Urbana, and will require a paid membership that is valid for one year.