Middle Bit: Minnesota plans for driverless future; Computer science training for Iowa City teachers

World's Largest Popcorn Ball The world's largest popcorn ball can be found in Sac City, a town in Northwest Iowa. It was built in June of 2016 and weighs over 10,000 pounds. Guests are asked to sign the guest book.

The creators of “Olli,” an autonomous bus, have submitted a bid to the Minnesota Department of Transportation to test in Minnesota, according to a story in the StarTribune.

According to the story, self-driving cars are creeping into discussions about the future of transportation in the Twin Cities. Researchers say the technology could be required in new cars by 2030.

This technology could lead to parking ramps becoming repurposed for office or living space, roads can be narrower because driverless cars can follow more closely and people with disabilities could have more independence, according to the story.

The self-driving bus will be tested later this year on snowy Minnesota roads and possibly during Super Bowl festivities in February.

Iowa City teachers go back to school

Junior high and high school math and science teachers are asking for more training to boost computer science lessons, according to a story this week in the Iowa City Press Citizen. 

According to the story, a new Iowa law that took effect July 1 encourages teachers to increase computer science lessons in elementary, middle and high schools and comes with a professional development fund to help prepare teachers. The fund will launch in July of 2018.

A computer science professional development workshop was held last week—part of a Google Computer Science for High School initiative—gave 18 teachers a chance to prepare for a pilot project starting this fall that will incorporate computer science lessons into existing junior high math and science curriculum.

Teachers will meet monthly to discuss their progress, according to the story.

Chicago named top startup city

Chicago, Ill. was named the top startup city in the Midwest on Tuesday by crunchbase.

Minneapolis, Minn; Detroit, Mich; St. Louis, Mo. and Cincinnati, Ohio rounded out the top five; Des Moines was the only Iowa city to be in the top 15.

To see the complete list and grading rubric can be found here.

What else happened…

Colorado

Bitcoin teller machines in Boulder led customers jump into the market – The Denver Post

Marijuana legalization fuels black market in other states – USA Today

Popular Colorado company sold Texas engineering giant – The Denver Post

Illinois

Library toys teach coding, without a computer – Chicago Tribune

Cook County residents not happy with soda tax – Chicago Sun Times

Iowa

Why drones are becoming important to Iowa farmers – The Des Moines Register

Iowans gear up for tax-free weekend – The Des Moines Register

Missouri

Pretzel makers to open third store – St. Louis Post Dispatch

Rack performance beefs up with seed investment – Startlandnews.com

LaunchCode instructor appeals to inspiring techies – Startlandnews.com

Lambert endorses $3 pickup/dropoff fees – St. Louis Post Dispatch

Minnesota

Target steps up its game for the college crowd – StarTribune

Branch Messenger Inc—a Minneapolis-based—employee self-service platform for hourly workforces, raised more than $10 million in funding. March Capital Partners led the round and was joined by investors including CrossCut Ventures, and Techstars Ventures, Matchstick Ventures.

Wisconsin

Foxconn’s Wisconsin payroll could reach $800 million annually – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Farmers provide food for the state fair – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel