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Thumbs up to the hands-on educational experiences available to students in the Quad-Cities. Our teachers continue to be innovative, connecting students to the larger community and future opportunities, one lesson at a time.

We highlighted some great examples recently in the Quad-City Times.

We wrote about 75 seventh graders from Bettendorf Middle School spending the day on land in Mercer County, clearing brush and hand-sowing seeds for a variety of native prairie grasses and wildflowers. Through this hands-on, three-year prairie restoration project, students will learn about our area’s habitat while creating a pollinator-friendly environment. Kudos to science teacher Erin Allen for the creativity and to the private property owner and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for making it happen.

We also wrote about the FarmBot project, a collaborative robotics learning experience that was the brainchild of Buffalo Elementary School Principal Heidi Gilliland. The FarmBot project involves a gardening robot — teaching students both how to garden and how to collect and analyze data in an experiment to see if the robot improves output compared to the human-planted and tended plot. But first students must build the robot. Three schools are participating — Buffalo Elementary, Davenport West and Mid-City High School. This is integrated STEM education at its best.

Thumbs up to a new effort by the Quad-City International Airport and the Quad-Cities Chamber of Commerce Air Service Committee to get businesses with employees who travel to shop for flights at the local airport before “leaking” to Chicago. The Fly Local Alliance is more a message than anything — there’s no cost or obligation, just an agreement to “look before you book.”

The airport has struggled in recent years, since the loss of low-fare carrier AirTran Airways in early 2012. Pilot shortages and competition with metro airports are hitting regional airports like ours nationwide. This messaging campaign for frequent business travelers is a great step toward reducing the number of potential passengers who drive to Chicago and elsewhere for air service.

Kudos to the early companies and organizations endorsing the Fly Local Alliance: Modern Woodmen of America, Kent Corp., MediaLink, Quad-Cities River Bandits, Quad-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, Quad-Cities Chamber, Southeast National Bank, Admospheres Media & Marketing, and US Bank. For more information about Fly Local Alliance, visit www.qcairport.com/alliance.

Thumbs up to the recent Friends of the Davenport Library estate sale, which raised about $8,000.

The sale came about after a donation of more than 1,000 books from the family of John Marshall, a Davenport pharmacist who died in September. Carol Wagner, a volunteer with Friends of Davenport Library, said the turnout was remarkable.

"And for the first two hours, it was wall-to-wall people," she said.

Money raised will go to buy materials, fund programs and be used to match grants such as the Big Read Program.

The books that were not sold will be posted on amazon.com or sold through Matthew Bullock Auctioneers out of Ottawa, Illinois.

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