First-of-Its-Kind Dual Enrollment Program Enables Xceed Anywhere Students to Earn University of Pittsburgh Credits

WESTON, Fla., Dec. 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — When Faith, a Florida high school student, learned she could earn college credits from the University of Pittsburgh from the comfort of her own home and at no cost to her, she couldn’t wait to sign up.

“I was excited to hear that I will be able to take a college-level course in a subject I like and earn credits toward my first year in college,” Faith said. “I’m looking forward to taking Psychology and I’m happy Xceed Anywhere is giving me this opportunity.”

Faith is a student at Xceed Anywhere (XA), a private virtual school for students in grades 6-12 known for its innovative, personalized and flexible educational model. Through a new dual enrollment partnership with the University of Pittsburgh and Outlier.org—the first of its kind in the country—11th and 12th grade students at Xceed Anywhere can earn college credits, online, in a timeframe that aligns with their schedules. The cost is included in their tuition.

“This unique opportunity with the University of Pittsburgh and Outlier.org further extends our mission of building learning plans around our students’ needs, passions and goals,” said Dr. Brent Goldman, founder and CEO of Xceed Anywhere and Xceed Preparatory Academy. “Our students will graduate with credits from one of the top research universities in the country. This is a value-added benefit we are giving our kids.”

“The University of Pittsburgh has a long history of providing opportunities for high school students to gain college credit as they work to complete their high school diplomas and advance their long-term goals. Pitt’s College in High School is one example of our existing efforts—and we are excited to further expand our outreach nationally through Xceed Anywhere,” said University of Pittsburgh Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd.

Xceed Anywhere students will take their courses through the University of Pittsburgh’s partnership with Outlier.org, which was just named one of TIME’s Best Inventions of 2020. Created by MasterClass co-founder Aaron Rasmussen, Outlier.org is an online education platform working to increase access to quality college education for all and reduce student debt. The virtual learning platform features immersive courses, cinema-quality video and interactive exercises that are just as effective as in-person classes. Courses are taught by engaging professors from leading universities such as Columbia, Yale, Duke, NYU, MIT, Cornell and University College London and include Calculus I, Intro to Astronomy, Intro to Psychology and Intro to Statistics.

“As a former dual-enrollment student in high school, it was formative in building my confidence in my ability to do college-level work,” said Aaron Rasmussen, founder and CEO of Outlier.org. “Part of our mission is to increase access to quality college-level courses for students worldwide, and I’m excited about giving this opportunity to students at Xceed.”

Betty Norton, Head of School for Xceed Anywhere, agreed, stating, “Our students are poised to have a competitive

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A first-of-its-kind catalyst mimics natural processes to break down plastic and produce valuable new products

Plastic
Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

While plastics recycling is not new science, current processes don’t make it economically worthwhile— waste plastics get “down-cycled” into lower grade, less useful material. It’s a challenge that continues to be an obstacle in tackling a growing global pollution crisis in single use plastics.


A multi-institutional team of scientists led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory has developed a first-of-its-kind catalyst that is able to process polyolefin plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene, types of polymers widely used in things like plastic grocery bags, milk jugs, shampoo bottles, toys, and food containers. The process results in uniform, high-quality components that can be used to produce fuels, solvents, and lubricating oils, products that have high value and could potentially turn these and other used plastics into an untapped resource.

“We’ve made a big step forward with this work,” said Aaron Sadow, a scientist at Ames Laboratory and the Director of the Institute for Cooperative Upcycling of Plastics (iCOUP). “We hypothesized that we could borrow from nature, and mimic the processes by which enzymes precisely break apart macromolecules like proteins and cellulose. We succeeded in doing that, and we’re excited to pursue optimizing and developing this process further.”

The unique process relies on nanoparticle technology. Ames Lab scientist Wenyu Huang designed a mesoporous silica nanoparticle consisting of a core of platinum with catalytic active sites, surrounded by long silica pores, or channels, through which the long polymer chains thread through to the catalyst. With this design, the catalyst is able to hold on to and cleave the longer polymer chains into consistent, uniform shorter pieces that have the most potential to be upcycled into new, more useful end products.

“This type of controlled catalysis process has never before been designed based on inorganic materials,” Huang, who specializes in the design of structurally well-defined nano-catalysts. “We were able to show that the catalytic process is capable of performing multiple identical deconstruction steps on the same molecule before releasing it.”

Ames Laboratory’s solid state NMR expert Fred Perras’ measurements allowed the team to scrutinize the catalyst’s activity at the atomic scale, and confirmed that the long polymer chains moved readily through the catalyst pores in the manner resembling the enzymatic processes that the scientists were aiming to emulate.

The research is further discussed in the paper, “Catalytic upcycling of high-density polyethylene via a processive mechanism,” published in Nature Catalysis.


What should we do about single-use plastics?


More information:
Akalanka Tennakoon et al. Catalytic upcycling of high-density polyethylene via a processive mechanism, Nature Catalysis (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41929-020-00519-4
Provided by
Ames Laboratory

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A first-of-its-kind catalyst mimics natural processes to break down plastic and produce valuable new products (2020, October 16)
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