SLU installs Echo Dots in living spaces on campus

Alexa Echo Dot

Saint Louis University is the first college in the country to put Amazon Alexa-enabled devices in every student residence living space on campus. With more than 2,300 Echo Dot smart devices, SLU hopes to help students get instant answers to more than 100 questions specific to the University. For example, students can ask the Echo Dot the hours for libraries, gyms, and other campus facilities. Alexa will also be able to provide information about:

  • Billiken athletics’ games
  • Concerts
  • Major speakers on campus
  • Student events and organizations
  • Service and mission opportunities
  • Other aspects of student life

YouTube stars burning out

YouTube star

The relentless pace of satisfying fans is burning out some YouTube stars. YouTube star Elle Millsn recently took a month off from posting videos, telling her fans, “I will be putting my mental health first for a bit.” It’s a bit risky when YouTube stars take a break because when they return, it may take a while for them to become popular again.

YouTube knows there’s a problem. It created a section where “creators can get information about how to recognize burnout and what to do to avoid it and live a balanced life.” Read more about it at NPR.

Little League players use smart phones to socialize

Little League players

Baseball players from around the world use Translate to help them communicate with each other at the Little League World Series.

“So goes life in the International Grove, the dorms where 16 teams all are staying during the double-elimination tournament in pursuit of a world title. Apps and even video games are making it easier for the boys to communicate and get to know each other — making smartphones a key part rather than a distraction during their moment of a lifetime. Eight teams are from U.S. states while the other teams represent various countries around the world and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.”

Read more about it at AP News.

HiveLend connects farmers and beekeepers

HiveLend bees

Founded in 2015 by University of Michigan students, HiveLend was created to simply connect beekeepers and farmers.

“Like most entrepreneurial ideas, HiveLend started out as a problem in search of a solution. Specifically, when Nick got started as a beekeeper, he couldn’t find local farms to rent his hives to.

As often happens when a problem is met with a fresh perspective, Nick suspected that there could be an easier way to connect with farmers than attending local beekeeping clubs and calling around asking for referrals.

The idea for HiveLend was born.

Using a proprietary matching algorithm, HiveLend hopes not only to improve the efficiency with which farmers can connect with beekeepers but also to improve crop yields, reduce hive travel times and decrease paperwork.

The team also hopes to have a larger impact through increasing awareness of the importance (and coolness) of bees, thereby inspiring future generations of hobbyist beekeepers and contributing to a healthier planet and a more robust bee population.”

Read the PoplarNetwork article from 2015 and then check out their website at

OpenCat created with more than nine lives

robot cat

Rongzhong Li started working on OpenCat as a hobby in 2016 while teaching computer science and robotics at Wake Forest University. He noticed his robot cat attracted students to STEM who might not otherwise care about robots. As a result, Li plans to manufacture two versions of OpenCat under Petoi, his new company based out of Factory Unlocked, a workspace that provides startups with tools to manufacture their products. Li plans to keep the code open source and offer a robotics kit with a basic lesson plan and some programming, where users will be able to “teach” it to sit or use facial recognition. One possibility he’s considering is integrating the robotic feline with Alexa, meaning this pet will actually answer questions. Read the entire article at The Incline.

College students can save money by renting textbooks


The average college student will spend $1,200 per year on textbooks. That’s not to mention the fact that prices on textbooks continue to rise. They have risen 889% over the last 30 years, outpacing inflation and even the rising cost of tuition. So what’s a student to do? Some students rent their textbooks directly from the publishers such as McGraw-Hill Education and others save money by using textbook rental sites. The College Investor reviews some of the most popular textbook rental websites and also looks at the pros and cons of renting textbooks.

Acoustic lighthouse deflects birds from wind turbines

high pitched noise deflects bird

Wind turbines kill around 350,000 birds per year. According to Popular Mechanics, “when birds fly, they’re usually looking down at the ground instead of ahead of them. This helps with navigation, but increasingly poses a problem when very tall objects like buildings or turbines are placed in front of them … A group of scientists at the College of William & Mary have come up with a solution: an ‘acoustic lighthouse’ that can drive birds away from turbines before it’s too late.”