Media tip sheet: Experts for summer fun, safety, and keeping young minds challenged

Media tip sheet: Experts for summer fun, safety, and keeping young minds challenged

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sun in blue skyTo help adults and children stay safe while having fun this summer, the University of Iowa is offering a list of experts who can talk about everything from bike safety to preventing sunburn. ©

The following story tip sheet is being made available to news editors and directors. Contact information for individual stories are listed below.

Summer officially begins June 21, but Iowans are already celebrating the warm weather by hitting beaches, parks and pools across the state. To help adults and children stay safe while having fun this summer, the University of Iowa is offering a list of experts who can talk about everything from bike safety to preventing sunburn (or worse).

Additionally, we’re offering experts from the UI College of Education who can provide tips to parents for keeping their kids fresh academically during the summer break from school.

TV stations from outside the Iowa City area that would like to interview subjects remotely via two-way video, or media looking for experts not included here, may call Stephen Pradarelli in the UI Office of Strategic Communication at 319-384-0007, or email

Summer skin safety

Expert: Marta Hemmingson-VanBeek, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Dermatology, UI Health Care

Quote: "There is no such thing as a healthy tan, but you can still have fun in the sun with the proper UV protection,” VanBeek says.

Expert contact:, 319-356-2856

UI communications contact: Jennifer Brown, 319-356-7124,

Children and bike safety

Expert: Jodie Plumert, Professor and Chair, UI Psychology Department

Additional Information: Plumert can also comment on general indoor and outdoor child safety.

Expert Contact: jodie-plumert@uiowa.edu319-335-2405

UI Communications Contact: Amy Mattson, 319-384-0070 or

Bike safety

Expert: Pam Hoogerwerf, Coordinator, Community Outreach and Injury Prevention, UI Health Care

Quote: "On average, nearly 1,000 bicyclists die each year and there are about 50,000 reported injury-producing bike-car crashes each year. It is important to teach good safety habits to kids so they can become better cyclists when they grow up.”

Additional Information: Hoogerwerf can also comment on general outdoor/playground safety for kids.

Expert contact:, 319-353-7972

UI communications contact:Jennifer Brown, 319-356-7124 or

Older adult falls prevention

Expert: Carri Casteel, associate professor of occupational and environmental health

Quote: "As the weather improves, many people – including elders – get outside for recreation and exercise. A properly designed physical activity program, including recreational walking, keeps elders active, improves strength, and can help prevent a fall."

Expert contact: or 319-384-4388

UI communications contact: Bill Barker, or 319-384-4277

Lawn mower safety

Expert: Charles Jennissen, M.D., director of pediatric emergency medicine at UI Children's Hospital

Quote: “Parents can create a bad habit and potentially dangerous situation when they take their small children along for a ride on the riding mower,” Jennissen says. "Not only do a lot of serious injuries occur when a child slips off a lap, but every time the child sees the mower moving it's a signal for another ride. A child running up to a moving mower creates a hazardous situation where they may be run over.”

Additional information: Jennissen can also comment on ATV safety

Expert contact:,

UI communications contact: Jennifer Brown, 319-356-7124, or

Exercising and working in the summer heat

Expert: Kevin Kregel, professor and Chair of Health and Human Physiology

Quote: "Working and exercising in hot summertime conditions may pose special hazards to safety and health, including dehydration and an increase in body temperature. Young children and older individuals are especially vulnerable in these circumstances. It is important to understand the signs and symptoms associated with heat stress, as well as appropriate precautions and behaviors that can help individuals cope with warm weather conditions."

Additional Information: Heat stress and heat stroke; dehydration; heat acclimation

Expert contact: 319-335-7596 or

UI communications contact: Amy Mattson, or 319-384-0070

Safe play on farms

Expert: Marizen Ramirez, Associate Professor, Department of Occupational and Environmental Health, College of Public Health

Summary: When school is out, summer is a time of outdoor play for children. The Safe Play Area on Farms program helps parents learn how to create safe play areas on farms or ranches. Strategies include building fenced-in play areas that reduce exposure to dangerous hazards, and improved supervision. If you are interested in Safe Play program materials, please feel free to contact Dr. Ramirez.

Additional Information: Ramirez can also comment on other strategies used to help children stay safe at school, at home, and in the community. She works with the Injury Prevention Research Center, which has programs on teen driving safety, bullying prevention, and disaster planning.

Expert contact:, 319-335-4425

UI communications contact: Bill Barker, 319-384-4277,

Keeping kids engaged as active learners over the summer

Expert: Renita Schmidt, associate professor, Elementary Education, UI College of Education, Department of Teaching and Learning

Quote: "There are many ways to sharpen kids’ learning skills during their break from the academic school year. A good place to begin is by thinking about what intrigues your child and what your child likes to do during free time. We all love to learn more about what interests us!”

Additional Information: Schmidt can also comment on children’s and young adult literature, elementary reading and writing, literacy performance assessment and evaluation, and qualitative research methods.

Expert contact:, 319-335-5589

UI communications contact: Lois Gray, or 319-384-0077

Avoiding the academic summer slide

Expert: Kate Degner, PhD, Administrator for the Secondary Student Training Program and the Iowa Online AP Academy, Belin-Blank Center, UI College of Education

Quote: “Taking advantage of the great learning opportunities through the Belin-Blank Center at the University of Iowa not only stops the summer slide, but can spark new interests and passions students carry with them for the rest of their lives.”

Additional Information: Kate can also comment on Advanced Placement courses and course-taking, STEM/Mathematics Education, and the sociology of education

Expert Contact:, 319-335-6148

UI communications contact: Lois Gray, or 319-384-0077

Summer academic camps, apps and books to keep minds fresh

Expert: Laurie Croft, Administrator, Professional Development, Belin-Blank Center, UI College of Education

Quote: “Students benefit from attending the variety of summer programs at the Belin-Blank Center, but if they can’t join us on campus, they can benefit from a variety of worthwhile sites online, from educational apps, and from books that challenge their imaginations.”

Additional Information: Croft can also comment on opportunities for teachers to sharpen their skills and enhance their understandings over the summer

Expert contact:, 319-335-6148

UI communications contact: Lois Gray, or 319-384-0077

Nurturing potential, inspiring excellence, and building excitement at the Summer on the Brain

Expert: Lori Ihrig, Challenges for Elementary School Students, Belin Blank Center, UI College of Education

Quote: “At the Belin-Blank Center we develop a wide variety of talents and interests during students’ break from the academic school year. We provide children with meaningful and exceptional opportunities with summer programs in computer programing, ancient Greece, literature, journalism, creative writing, advanced math, physical and life sciences and visual arts.”

Additional Information: Jan Warren, administrator for Student Programs with the Belin Blank Center, can also comment on programming for junior high and high school students. Leslie Flynn, clinical assistant professor of Science Education, Department of Teaching and Learning, UI College of Education, can comment on the Innovation Institute--a two week residential summer technology and innovation immersion program administered by the Belin-Blank Center, the Jacobson Institute and the Iowa Centers for Enterprise.

Expert contact:, 319-335-2393

UI communications contact: Lois Gray, or 319-384-0077

Don’t just play a video game, invent one

Expert: Benjamin DeVane, assistant professor, Behavioral Sciences, Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, UI College of Education

Quote: “Don't just play a video game this summer; make one yourself! Game design is a fun way for young people to learn about coding and computing while being creative. And it's not just for programmers anymore.”

Additional Information: There are a number of free and easy-to-use tools like MIT's Scratch ( and Microsoft Research's Kodu Game Lab ( that provide tools to create, code and even share games at kids' fingertips. Play a game on a rainy day, then go and make a better one with Kodu or Scratch. Dedicated and enthusiastic game creators can use free and programming-lite tools like GameMaker Studio ( and Construct2 ( can produce commercial-quality games.

Expert contact:, 319-335-6422

UI communications contact: Lois Gray, or 319-384-0077


Stephen Pradarelli, Office of Strategic Communication, 319-384-0007


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