Pierce Pioneer

Understanding the Murder Hornets and the potential threat posed to the Northwest environment

On Oct. 22, the forests of Blaine, Wash., became a hub for local entomologists, scientists whose area of study involves insects, as the trees around them buzzed with a new, unprecedented life that came in the form of a hornet’s nest.

Washington is no stranger to invasive species — from the Himalayan Blackberry, a behemoth of a rose bush that uses its strong thickets to trample over native flora; to the Gypsy Moth, an insect whose lack of predators allows it to breed rapidly and consume trees and plants just as fast. And as of December 2019, Washington now homes the Asian-Giant Hornet, aptly nicknamed the “Murder Hornet.”

This invasive insect originates from Japan and its surrounding countries in East Asia. Much like their other relatives in the Vespidae family, they’re somewhat easy to spot. With their large frame being over 2 inches long and brightly colored orange and black bodies with long stingers; these ones, however, deliver a potent venom to anyone on the receiving end. 

Justin Schmidt, an entomologist at the Southwestern Biological Institute and University of Arizona, states that an Asian-Giant Hornet’s sting is equivalent to three to 10 yellow jacket stings at once. However, Schmidt adds that despite the intensity of their sting, Japan’s death toll reveals that these hornets are responsible for less than 50 deaths a year, including those with allergies.

Murder Hornets earn their title because their main targets are the honeybees. These hornets form organized, raiding parties and with just a few small fleets are able to wipe out an entire hive. 

Naturally, this causes problems for the ecosystem as humans depend on bees for pollination, something that researcher James Crall emphasizes in an interview with The Harvard Gazette. Bees are incredibly important for human well-being, including both managed honeybees and wild bees,” Crall said. 

“Put simply: About one in three bites of food comes from crops that depend on animals for pollination, and bees are the most important group of pollinators. Losing pollinators means less healthy food and worse health outcomes for humans. Of course, beyond their role in food production, bees are incredibly important for preserving biodiversity, more generally.”

Nina Pullano, a writer for Inverse, goes on to state what makes these hornets dangerous. “Their greatest threat to humans is not their sting. Instead, it’s their proclivity for killing other insects — insects that we very much need to keep alive because of their effects on the ecosystem and agriculture.”

Bees are valuable pollinators and by extinguishing them humans and animals lose food sources, emptying out a very important niche within the ecosystem. The deaths of the bees also has an effect on their other native predators who are now cut short on their food source, making these hornets a much bigger threat to the wildlife rather than to humans and domesticated animals. 

The threat level truly depends on whether or not the hornets continue to reproduce and survive in their new environments. “It will have a massive impact on the bees, who have been facing a rapid decline in the last 10 years, as well as human agriculture which largely depends on pollinator biodiversity.” Pullano stated.

The WSDA is encouraging people to report any sightings of the giant hornets to them and to refrain from taking any direct action of their own, as even typical beekeeping gear is not enough to protect you from their stingers. You can also help the ecosystem not just by looking for the hornets, but by looking out for other insects as well.

According to Eric Lee-Mäder, a co-director of the pollinator program at the Xerxes Society, peoples’ fear of the hornets is affecting other insects in the area. “Fear of these insects seems to be driving people to kill bees and wasps that aren’t Vespa mandarinia,” Lee-Mäder stated.

Invasive species can be a threat to any environment, especially when their targets are such pivotal members of the ecosystem and agriculture. Exterminating the hornets is a careful and time-consuming process and the best way Washingtonians can support our state’s ecosystem and the scientists protecting it is to remain calm, report any possible sightings to the proper people, and to avoid doing any further harm by killing unrelated wasps and bees.

WA Notify – A New COVID Exposure Tool

On. Nov. 30, Gov. Jay Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health launched the app WA Notify. The Washington Exposure Notifications will alert smartphone users of nearby residences exposed to COVID-19, without releasing personal information.

“Secure, private and anonymous exposure notification technology is an important tool for Washington,” Inslee said. “We’ve deployed WA Notify in 29 languages so as many Washington residents as possible can protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities. I encourage everyone to start using WA Notify today so we can continue to work together to contain this virus.”

As posted on DOH’s official site, WA Notify, if activated, will exchange anonymous codes with nearby phones who have also enabled the app. Patients who’ve recently tested positive for COVID will be asked by public health officials if they wish to use the app. If so, their code will anonymously alert those who’ve spent a significant amount of time with said patient regarding their potential exposure.

“If WA Notify detects you may have been exposed, a notification on your phone will direct you to a website with information about what you should do next,” DOH stated. “This includes how and where to get tested, information about keeping yourself and those close to you safe, and resources to answer your questions.”

For users concerned with privacy, DOH informed that the only piece of information being shared from users’ smartphones is the randomly generated codes they’ve entered. “We will not voluntarily collect or share any of your information with anyone, unless you choose to enter a verification code,” DOH stated. 

“If you do so, WA Notify will share your random codes with other smartphones that have been near your smartphone. The verification code cannot be linked back to you by someone who does not have access to your smartphone.”

DOH added that WA Notify is free and voluntary, meaning users have the choice of opting in. “You can opt-out at any time,” DOH stated. “Simply turn the feature off or delete the app. All random codes the phone has stored from other nearby users will be deleted and cannot be recovered.”

WA Notify can be found and installed through users’ Apple or Google app stores; this app will not self-download onto users’ phones. The app only works, however, on iPhones containing iOS versions 13.7 or later, along with 13.5: 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, Xr, Xs, Xs Max, X, SE second generation, and 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE first generations. Android users whose phones supports Bluetooth Low Energy or versions six and above can also download the app.

“Studies have found that the more people who use exposure notification, the greater the benefit,” DOH stated. “Models based on three counties in Washington state show that even a small number of people there using WA Notify would reduce infections and deaths. Just like wearing masks, physical distancing and keeping gatherings small, WA Notify is another tool to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

Tyler’s Tea – Episode 1 – BushFire

Tyler talks about the Australian Bushfire with guest Jesus Contreras.

Host: Tyler Grover

Guest: Jesus Contreras

Editor: Quintin Mattson-Hayward

Homegrown News Goes Viral

Is it news or gossip?


Set into the floor of the main entrance of the University of Washington is a mosaic of a compass. The points of the compass are set so that it spells out “NEWS.”

In today’s world, news travels fast. With one tap of a button stories can reach all corners of the world in less time than it takes to pour a cup of coffee. Consequently when a story is breaking, the pressure for news outlets to be the first to get the word out is high. No one wants to be behind.

However, the standard for accuracy has not changed. In today’s world with technology being used so much, it may be more critical.

People have always shared things that are emotional or sensational, but the facts are often missed. For example, does any one know the real story behind why Brad’s wife got fired from Cracker Barrel?

In the news world, there is only one chance to get the story right. Retractions and corrections happen, but by then people have already acted on what came first. Look at how many times have people cried because Betty White or Chuck Norris died.

It is one thing to share a story among friends. Conversations like, “Hey, guess what I saw in my Facebook today?” are common. The problem becomes when those stories are taken as fact. A picture of students facing a hallway is used to support claims that Islam is being taught in schools. All it takes is a click of the mouse to determine that in fact it is a tornado drill.

An extra ten seconds to stop and think if a story is real and checking the facts supporting it means the difference between credibility and gossip. While the gossip may be more sensational, the facts are the cornerstone on which news rests.

Social media and the Internet as a whole is a great place to find news. Those presenting the news have a responsibility to be honest and accurate. Those reading about current events have an equal responsibility to check the truthfulness before sharing

Awaiting April the Giraffe’s Arrival


Have you noticed these past few months that your work place productivity is down? Or maybe your personal relationships are suffering? I have. Blaming President Trump seemed like the right thing to do. I mean, he is ultimately the cause of 99% of my problems. But this last week, I was pointing blame at April the Giraffe. Here she was, stealing every moment of my precious free time as I eagerly awaited the impending calf. I wasn’t alone; millions of others also were live-streaming the 14- foot creature as she did absolutely nothing in her pen at Animal Adventure Park in upstate New York.

I found myself waking up at 3 am and checking for baby. Would it be today that the 6-foot tall, 150-pound bundle of spotted joy shows up on my Facebook feed? Did anyone throw April a baby shower? Considering she’s sponsored by Toys R’ Us, I imagined she was registered at the popular toy store. Hopefully she didn’t go full cannibal asking for the popular teething toy, Sophie the Giraffe. I mean, here she was approximately 15 months pregnant and let’s face it, pregnant females do crazy things. I know, I’ve been there. Good news for April though, a giraffe’s gestation period lasts 13-15 months, and this can’t last forever.

What I found fascinating about April and her partner, Oliver, was the incredible following of people who were fervently waiting on the edge of their seats for the lovebirds to welcome April’s fourth calf. Quickly approaching 28k followers on Twitter, @AprilTheGiraffe has provided a safe space for those looking for political relief. That’s why I was there, the memes were amazing and reminded me that I’m not the only one without a life, and to see total strangers go WWF (World Wildlife Foundation) on others about giraffe exploitation was mind blowing. People were duking it out, most in support of April while others disagreed and expressed belief that she should be released into the wild. I am pro-giraffe and pro-zoo, nonetheless it was easy to appreciate those who frown upon her confinement. I had to agree, however, she shouldn’t be in a pen. No one who is 15 months pregnant wants to be enclosed in box with nothing to do. Giraffes do not have babies on webcams. It’s weird. She should be out freely exploring the range looking for a serene lion-free pasture to drop that baby.

I believe wholeheartedly in zoos and conservation efforts. I think April has brought forth a lot of attention to a much-needed conversation. We need to work together to promote conservation, and April has proven to be a true ambassador for her species. Yes, I would have loved for April and Oliver to welcome baby in a free-range pasture under the stars, celebrating with their herd. Alas, she had to wait out the remainder of her pregnancy in her labor-suite as her significant other looked on. Like the rest of her fans, being awake at 2 a.m. on any given night tweeting about a giraffe I’ve never met became the story of my life.  


For more information about wildlife conservation, check out www.worldwildlife.org  

Or follow me on Twitter @Copyright79 to follow random weird pregnant animals and other things.

Happy Day to be a Raider!!

PICLOGOOur Raider Baseball team won their opening game at the NWAACC Championships last night, defeating Columbia Basin, 5-0!! Sophomore starting pitcher (and UW commit) Ryan Schmitten shut the Hawks out over the first 8 innings, and Tyson Erickson came in to seal the win in the 9th for the Raiders!  Sophomore DJ Gee (MVP of the West Division this season) had 4 hits in his 4 plate appearances, and drove in 3 runs to lead the Raider offense.
The Raiders move on in the winners bracket tonight, taking on Edmonds CC, at 7:35 pm.

You can watch the game live at, www.nwaacc.org<http://www.nwaacc.org/>, and click on the UStream link.
If you can’t make it down to Longview to watch the game in person, watch it live, and………………….


40th Annual Pierce Fort Steilacoom Student Art Show

The 40th Annual Pierce Fort Steilacoom Student Art Show is right around the corner. Please make all efforts to be present for the Wednesday, May 28th gathering. Monocles and berets are optional. A few art students have been crafting a few cardboard puppets including  Toulouse Lautrec and Picasso. Their creations will l be making appearances at the show. The awards celebration is slated from 4:00-5:30. The talented Tacoma painter extraordinaire, and this year’s Juror William Turner will be present to hand out awards and speak at 4:30. This will be your last chance to enjoy the sculptures, paintings, hand pulled prints, drawings, and photographic works before students claim their works following the reception. Many are still available for purchase if one catches your fancy. Student works tend to go at a bargain prices. FYI: The award winners are listed below. Please give them a congratulatory node if you see them around campus.

250 Dick Blick gift card/purchase award winners: Hermosa Tang & Veronica Salas
150 Dick Blick gift card/purchase award winner: Kenneth Edmonson
50  Dick Blick gift card: (Best 3-D work) Katie Lynn Johnson

Honorable Mentions:

John Smith
Lydia Simpson
Nathan Savoie
Kyung Kadekawa

Math Pathways get a makeover

Calculated changes are coming to current math curriculums

Cameron Cyprain Staff Writer

This summer quarter, rearrangements will be made to the current math course sequences. The changes would affect what are more commonly known as ‘pathways’ on the Fort Steilacoom, Puyallup, and Joint Base Lewis-McChord campuses.

Statistics on Pierce from the Achieving the Dream (ATD) National Reform Network indicated that student success rates in math courses have steadily declined over the years. Planned restructurings for current math curriculums are meant to address this issue.

As part of the new outlook for math pathways, certain courses, or elements of them, will be consolidated into others for fluidity. For example, there will be no more Math 60 starting summer quarter because it will become part of Math 54 (beginning algebra).

“We offered a prototype of the [latter] course last summer,” Sharon Camner, math professor and member of the planning team making the course changes, said. “At first, we thought we were just going to rearrange a few things,” she said, “but the administration was really supportive in terms of funding and giving us the time to organize and plan the new changes”

“What we noticed is that if you just offer a string of remedial courses, it’s not very effective,” Rajesh Lal, another math instructor on the planning team, said.

The revised pathway is to include a more comprehensive track with Math 50 (basic math), 54 (beginning algebra), and 96 (intermediate algebra in context). “The goal was to achieve efficiency while also achieving success,” Camner said.

From there, students could opt for one of two tracks. The first one includes Math 107 (math in society), 146 (statistics), and 131 (math for elementary education), while the second contains Math 98 (intermediate algebra for pre-calculus), a lead in to 141 (pre-calculus), 147 (business pre-calculus).

One innovation to the new set of courses involves themes, which are based on real-life scenarios. The scenarios, which involve citizenship, personal finance (taxes, budgeting), and medical literacy will be used to help students grasp difficult to learn concepts. “I wish I had this when I was in college,” Lal said.

Though most degree and certificate programs require some amount of college level arithmetic, choosing to enroll in such classes can be daunting for students who struggle with math.

A major concern shared by instructors, advisors, and other faculty members is with students who, due to a lack of academic preparation, waste time and money repeatedly failing their math courses.

Camner and Lal have discussed modifying the math pathways for several quarters now, making it clear that what they would like to see is dedication coupled with a solid plan to succeed at math. “I call it productive persistence: tenacity: having the will to try it again while also having a strategy,” Camner said.

SLAM literary magazine anniversary reception

To celebrate the 2014 issue of SLAM, the 16th,  there will be simultaneous release receptions held on both the Fort Steilacoom and Puyallup campuses on Tuesday, May 6th from noon to 1 p.m.

At Fort Steilacoom, the reception will be held in the 4th Floor Performance Lounge, CAS421.

At each venue:

·         Copies of SLAM will be made available for the first time;

·         The “best of” award winners for poetry, prose, drama, art, and cover art will be announced;

·         The winner of the inaugural Richard J. Soileau Scholarship will be announced;

·         Contributors will be acknowledged;

·         Contributors will be encouraged but not required to read their work;

·         Patrick Daugherty’s acting class students will perform selections from this year’s issue;

·         Refreshments will be served.
Join in as the creative endeavors of Pierce College students are celebrated.

Credit By Examination

Neal-Curtis Duguay Contributing Writer

There have always been individuals bored with their classes. Whether it’s due to the class difficulty not matching the student’s intellect, the student needing to take the next level class but lacking the required perquisites, or merely needing an extra credit for their transcript, there have been students needing to skip classes.

Fortunately, Pierce College allows students to “challenge” their courses by taking an examination to receive credits. In order to earn this “credit by examination,” the student must apply, get their instructor’s approval, and pay a $30 per credit fee to take the exam. If passed, the student can take the exam and potentially gain a credit without taking the entire class. More information can be found at the testing center. Taking the exam requires photo identification.

The applications apply to many situations. Some students, particularly those who are close to graduation, might miss the opportunity to join a class if it isn’t available due to limited class sizes. Some students may not have time to take an extra class and can do the exam to save time and money. Others may be gifted, have already studied the subject, or have taken a similar but more advanced class and wish to skip a lower level class and simply get the credits.

The choice of taking this examination has some implications for student and teacher behavior. Skipping a class through this method could portray a student as advanced,but could reflect poorly on the teacher. A teacher may be offended if a student feels as if the class is no longer challenging them, or if they feel they are not learning in the classroom environment.

Alternatively, it could be seen as arrogant on the student’s part. However, there is a compromise between the two viewpoints. The instructor and student could cooperate and find that the student is more advanced than the rest of their class, and the instructor could provide the remaining materials for the student in order for them to pass the examination and class.

For more information, call the Fort Steilacoom Testing Center at 253-964-6521.

College 110 Becomes Mandatory

Sera Tucker Contributing Writer

The optional academic skill course College 110 will become mandatory for future students fall quarter 2014.

Pierce College is planning to make this course a requirement, because of the benefits of taking an introductory course may encourage enrollment and help students to become successful in their classes.

Pierce College 110 coordinator, Jeffrey Pisetzner said that the course will increase retention, persistence, and completion among students. Another coordinator, Irene Brewer said “Students will develop an education plan and complete career research,” in the course along with teaching students how to use college resources and services that will benefit them in their future schooling.

“We have already seen gains in our success rates with students who have taken College 110, so it is natural to want all students to experience the benefits of taking this course,” Pisetzner said.

The plans to make this class mandatory will only affect new students, however many students benefit from the introductory skill course. Pisetzner said “The mandatory requirement is not retroactive; it will be for new students, but not limited to them – I know of students who have been here a while but still decided to enroll in the course and found it beneficial.”

The course may attract new students looking for schools with high success rates and assist them in being successful in future college courses they may take. “I haven’t seen any statistics suggesting that enrollment will increase or decrease [from] a mandatory college success course.” Jeffrey Pisetzner said.

“Savvy students will pick colleges with higher success rates, so we are predicting our enrollment will increase as more students learn their chances of being successful will be greater if they come to Pierce.”

Evidence supporting Big Bang Theory surfaces

This week, new scientific evidence has arisen suggesting that the theory of inflation, that the universe arose from a massive expansion from a small point, is in fact correct. Scientists in Antarctica, using an advanced telescope, have detected gravity waves expanding out from the point of origin, patterns matching the predicted age of the universe some 14 billion years ago.

While the “Big Bang Theory” has been a popular explanation for the creation of the universe, critics have pointed out that such an explosion of matter would leave the universe ringing like a bell. These gravity waves now discovered are exactly that, the echoes of the cosmic expansion. This is yet another practical demonstration of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, as these waves are consistent with Einstein’s vision of space and time creating a fabric that makes up the cosmos.

For more info, click here

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