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UNI News Briefs:Financial Literacy Month good time to discuss credit management with children ; Hubble Space Telescope celebrating 15th service anniversary; National Playground Safety Week a time to focus on children's outdoor play environments; ;

Posted on Sunday, April 24th, 2005
Contact: 

Lois Lindell, assistant director, Center for Economic Education, 273-2952
Siobahn Morgan, UNI professor of astronomy, (319) 273-2389 or Siobahn.Morgan@uni.edu
Donna Thompson, director, National Program for Playground Safety, (319) 273-7529
John Johnson, UNI professor of history, (319) 273-7077
Vicki Grimes, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-6728
Scott Cawelti, UNI professor of English, (319) 268-1001, (319) 273-3810 or Cawelti@forbin.net





Financial Literacy Month good time to discuss credit management with children



Parents are urged to talk to their kids about credit management as Financial Literacy Month winds down. 'Credit education is one of those things we don't learn about except through trial and error,' says Lois Lindell, assistant director of the Center for Economic Education at the University of Northern Iowa. 'But any mistakes you make with credit cards will follow you for the rest of your life.'



The average American has credit card balances of several thousand dollars on a regular basis, according to Lindell. 'It's really important to stop and think about how the interest compounds. When people make just the minimum payments and keep using the card, they're digging a very deep hole.' While credit cards are a necessity of life these days, she recommends parents have serious conversations with their children before providing any cards.



The latest data from college students is very alarming, says Lindell. 'College students are graduating with a heavy load of college debt plus credit card debt. Right away they have to budget a large portion of their new income to pay off their past. The poor decisions made as a college student will follow them well into their adult life.'



Contact:



Lois Lindell, assistant director, Center for Economic Education, 273-2952



Melissa Barber, University Marketing & Public Relations, 273-2761



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Hubble Space Telescope celebrating 15th service anniversary



Monday, April 25 marks the 15th anniversary of the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope, 'One of the most amazing and frustrating scientific instruments ever built,' according to Siobahn Morgan, professor of astronomy at the University of Northern Iowa. She said it's amazing because of the images, knowledge and scientific discoveries it has enabled ï¾— and those discoveries have, literally, rewritten textbooks ï¾— one of things that makes it frustrating. 'I have to update my notes every year to incorporate the new findings from the Hubble Space Telescope,' she says. 'In what other field do the basics change from year to year?'







Morgan, who served on one of last year's review panels for scientific proposals using the telescope, says the number of scientific papers written over the past 15 years that have used data from the Hubble number more than 10,000.



She says another frustrating aspect of the Hubble is its limited life. 'Without a future servicing mission, there will come a time when the telescope will have to be shut down. At that time, astronomers will become blind to certain aspects of the universe. I think of it as 'losing our glasses.' It will be several years before the next generation of space telescopes is operational. It will be a very sad day when the Hubble telescope does stop workingï¾—sad for not only the loss of scientific opportunities, but also for the loss of a chance to see some of the most beautiful and inspirational images ever obtained.'



Contact:



Siobahn Morgan, UNI professor of astronomy, (319) 273-2389 or Siobahn.Morgan@uni.edu



Vicki Grimes, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-6728



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National Playground Safety Week a time to focus on children's outdoor play environments



It's National Playground Safety Week and the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS), headquartered at the University of Northern Iowa, is launching a 'Play S.A.F.E. Promise' campaign to encourage children to promise to play safe on the playground and to encourage schools and child care agencies to promise to provide safe play environments for children.



'A trip to the playground should be a time for fun, play, exploration, and social and physical growth,' says Donna Thompson, NPPS director. 'Yet for many children, it's a trip that ends in tears. Statistically, more than 200,000 children are injured on America's playgrounds seriously enough to require a visit to the emergency room, and on average, 17 die each year as a result of a playground incident. By learning about safety hazards, children and adults can take steps to help reduce these numbers.'



She said NPPS employs the acronym S-A-F-E: Children should be Supervised by an adult on all trips to the playground; children should be taken to Age-appropriate equipment (2- to 5-years or 5- to 12-years); Falls to surfaces must be cushioned; and Equipment and surfacing must be maintained. She urges parents to talk to their children about these important safety messages. More information is available at www.playgroundsafety.org/safetyweek.



Contact:



Donna Thompson, director, National Program for Playground Safety, (319) 273-7529



Vicki Grimes, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-6728



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30th Anniversary of the fall of Saigon



April 30 marks the 30-year anniversary of the fall of Saigon to the Peoples Army of Vietnam.



On April 29, 1975, the United States withdrew from Saigon, leaving the noncommunist capital to North Vietnam. 'Many Americans recall the images of the last American helicopter leaving the U.S. Embassy roof with South Vietnamese citizens hanging from the supports, or the South Vietnamese swimming to ships in the harbor, knowing that without American military protection they would face possible death at the hands of the North Vietnamese,' said John Johnson, University of Northern Iowa professor of history.



The fall of Saigon marked one of the major military defeats in U.S. history. The war left 2 million dead, including more than 50,000 Americans. According to Johnson, many Americans look back and question the purpose of the United States' involvement in the Vietnam War, knowing that in the end, communism prevailed.



There are similarities and differences between the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq. The Vietnam War spanned several presidencies. It began with bipartisan support but ended in widespread criticism. In contrast, the war in Iraq has been driven by one presidential administration and has been met with only partisan support. However, in both wars it proved difficult to project power into hostile areas of the world where governance was weak.



'Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from the Vietnam War and the war in Iraq, in that the United States should pick its adversaries carefully and examine what is in our best national interest,' said Johnson.



Contact:



John Johnson, UNI professor of history, (319) 273-7077



Stacey Christensen, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-6728



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National Turn Off the TV Week has merit



While turning off the television for an entire week-- as advocates of National Turn Off the TV Week suggest-- might be too extreme, Scott Cawelti, a University of Northern Iowa professor of English, says there is merit in limiting one's viewing. 'Viewers get enormous messages from television, particularly through commercials,' he says. 'We're happy or sad or lonely or ugly or fat, or we're urged to consume more food or acquire more possessions.'



Cawelti says the more possessions we acquire, the bigger the houses we seem to require and the bigger our debt becomes. Bankruptcies are way up. He says if we watched less TV, perhaps we could make a tiny dent in this cycle. 'Getting our TV viewing under control is better than turning it off. There are some good programs, and watching a little bit here and there makes sense. But TV is pernicious. There are so many good books to read, things to see and places to go. Yet too many people are mindlessly turning the TV on when they come home at night and going to sleep with it.'



He says in addition to over-consumption, negative self-image and other feelings of inadequacy that can be caused by the commercials, people are reading less and less. 'We get so much valuable information from reading, and when people are not reading, they are less and less informed about the world. They're often just getting the visuals in TV and these can be slanted and biased and not necessarily in context or explaining the issues.'



Cawelti says Norman Mailer has called television 'a small and modest malignancy, wicked and bristling with dots,' and Mailer recently called for outlawing all commercials, saying that commercials are killing us all. 'I think that's extreme,' says Cawelti, 'but at least it points out that some people are thinking about this.'



Contact:



Scott Cawelti, UNI professor of English, (319) 268-1001, (319) 273-3810 or Cawelti@forbin.net



Vicki Grimes, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-6728



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