Building a Smarter Power Grid

Wouldn’t you know, all of the electricity used in the United States is supplied via three huge electric grids, called interconnections. There’s an eastern interconnection, and a western, and the third – the Texas interconnection – covers most of the Lone Star State.

Furthermore, America’s power grid is old. For example, the average power line is 25 years old. Like anything old and massive, parts can breakdown. Remember the power outage that left much of the northeast U.S including New York City in the dark in 2003? That was caused by a single tree branch in Ohio.

Wisconsin Public Television, as part of QUEST: The Science of Sustainability, recently looked into what’s being done to improve the production and delivery of power in America. Author and UW-Madison graduate assistant Eleanor Nelsen writes, “Planning is underway to replace the aging U.S. power network with a new, “smart” grid, one that’s energy efficient and flexible enough to handle variability in both supply and demand — and one that can isolate electrical crises before they spread.”

One of the first steps to building this “smart” grid might be to incorporate several microgrids that help power individual buildings or vast neighborhoods, resulting in increased use of renewable energy and better overall energy efficiency. Read the full story Microgrids: Electricity Goes Local.

For more on the current state of our power grid and a fascinating look into how a single tree branch caused the 2003 northeast power outage, watch America Revealed “Electric Nation.”

Keep the Lights on with Microgrids -- Infographic

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Who Wants to Be a — Slumdog — Millionaire?

Slumdog Millionaire

“Slumdog Millionaire” airs 10:30 p.m. Saturday, July 26.

When Who Wants to Be a Millionaire first aired in the United States, viewers watched as intellectuals with photographic memories flocked to be quizzed by hosts Regis Philbin, Meredith Vieira and later Cedric the Entertainer for a chance to win $1 million, or perhaps even a consolation prize of a few thousand.

Slumdog Millionaire’s premise, however, paints a picture of how the game show could play out differently in India. The fictional film, which premiered 6 years ago and won 8 Academy Awards, centers on 18-year-old Jamal Malik, a penniless orphan from the slums of Mumbai. Against all odds, Malik advances to the final stages of the Indian version of the game show (called Kaun Banega Crorepati). In fact, Malik is just one question away from winning 20 million Rupees when he is arrested on suspicion of cheating.

How could a young, penniless orphan know so many correct answers? Through heartbreaking flashbacks to Malik’s youth, viewers are led through a lifetime of struggles that in the end show that every life event really does provide kernels of wisdom; kernels that, in Malik’s case, help him advance through the game show.

Slumdog Millionaire is a story of perseverance and perhaps prevailingly, a story of the power of love against all odds.

Whether you’ve seen it before or are watching for the first time, tune into WPT 10:30 p.m. Saturday, July 26 to catch this excellent independent film.

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All the Best of “Wisconsin Life”

Wisconsin Life logoLast winter, Wisconsin Public Television joined Wisconsin Public Radio in its effort to capture the character of Wisconsin. Wisconsin Life, now on the radio, television and online, showcases the creative passion of some of our state’s most interesting people.

Each story presents a unique slice of “Wisconsin Life” from a vast range of interests, including art, music, science, sports and the environment.

Since the show launched, WPT has produced 80 stories. Here are just a few of the most memorable and talked about stories that illustrate the best of Wisconsin Life.

Stay connected to Wisconsin Life on Facebook where new stories are posted regularly. You never know who you’ll meet!

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Mark Your Calendars for Get Up and Go! Day

Attendees enjoying Get Up and Go! Day 2013

Kids enjoying Get Up and Go! Day 2013

The WPT staff enjoys Wisconsin summers as much as our viewers do, and that’s why we’re happy to provide Wisconsin families with new opportunities to be active and enjoy the outdoors.

PBS Kids Get Up and Go! Day 2014 — Friday, August 1 from 10 a.m. to noon — is one such opportunity. Mark your calendars to join us at locations across Wisconsin, or watch live on WPT. Favorite Kids characters will be at each location!

This year’s Get Up and Go! Day locations and special guests include:

Kohl Center Plaza
601 W. Dayton St.
Special appearances by PBS Kids host Miss Rosa and Peg + Cat.
Musical performance by PBS Kids host Mr. Steve.

La Crosse
(Three locations)
La Crosse Public Library
Main Library, 800 Main St.
North Community Library, 1552 Kane St.
South Community Library, 
1307 S. 16 St.
Special appearance by Curious George.

Eau Claire
L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library
400 Eau Claire Street
Special appearance by Clifford the Big Red Dog.

Appleton Public Library
225 N. Oneida Street
Special appearance by The Cat in the Hat.

We hope to see you there! And, if you would like to see a sneak peek of the event, check out Mr. Steve’s performance of the “Get Up and Go!” song at last year’s Get Up and Go! Day:

Funding provided by Meriter-UnityPoint Health and Friends of Wisconsin Public Television. 

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‘Sewing With Nancy’ Returns with a Variety of New Projects

We recently stopped by Nancy Zieman’s office to pin down a few remaining details about the upcoming season of Sewing With Nancy. In Nancy’s words, this season could be billed as a “variety show” of sorts.

Nancy Zieman at her desk

Nancy working on the upcoming season.

But don’t expect to see any singing and dancing segments this season. Nancy was quick to clarify that viewers can expect to see a wide “variety” of  innovative sewing and quilting projects.

“Sewing quick projects from rectangles and squares, making column quilts instead of block quilts, creating doll costumes, sewing fashion wraps, and learning the absolute easiest way to sew are a sampling of the array of projects that will be shown.”

And that’s just the first half of the season. New episodes are still in the works, but Nancy says viewers can expect to discover a diverse range of sewing and quilting projects throughout the season.

The new season of Sewing With Nancy begins in August with full episodes streaming online right here at Check back Aug. 12 to watch the season premiere. Meantime, click here to watch the most recent seasons online anytime.

Before we left Nancy Zieman Productions, we couldn’t help but poke our heads into the workspace. Here are a few more candid shots from our visit.

Behind the Scenes of Nancy Zieman Productions

Bursting with Creativity

Behind the scenes at Nancy Zieman Productions

The Cutting Room

Behind the scenes at Nancy Zieman Productions

Photo Shoot

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