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Take A Stand Against Sitting January 10, 2013

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Brain Power, Easy As Pie, Human Body, Nutrition and Health, Obesity.
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Exercise is good – you probably already know that, don’t you? So it makes sense that people who have jobs involving lots of sitting might not be getting enough. What’s the solution? According to exercise expert John Buckley from the University of Chester, we should all stand up more. Dr Buckley explains:

It’s little changes in behaviour…that can add up to make quite a big difference to your health.

Dr Buckley likes to practice what he preaches. Check him out standing straight as he works on his laptop!

Jump Up!

A mere three hours a day of standing can burn off 8lbs (3.6kg) of fat each year. Dr Buckley points out that between working at a desk, sitting in a car and perching in front of the television, people are far too sedentary – meaning they’re way too inactive.

Fortunately, there are some neat desks designed to allow you to stand while you’re working. So for adults, there are no more excuses if you’re stuck at a desk all day.

What About Kids In School?

If you’re in school, it’s a bit trickier because of the standard desks. Plus, your teacher will probably think you’re standing to answer questions. Instead, you can fight inactivity by making sure you get plenty of movement during lunch and breaks. Try kicking around a ball on the field. If walking to school is an option, it’s good exercise and also a great way to shake off the sleep cobwebs for the day.

I bet there are many more ways to stay fit if you’re often at a desk. Tell me – how do you stay active?

The Report Card Blues January 17, 2009

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Easy As Pie, Human Body, Psychology and Behavior.
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It turns out that how you handle first grade doesn’t just affect your report card in future years, but it also affects how you feel about yourself. In turn, it could link up to feelings of depression way down the line in seventh grade.

Making The Grade

Researchers at the University of Missouri kept track of 474 girls and boys from first grade right up to seventh grade. For my UK readers who may not be familiar with the North American grade system, kids in grade 1 are usually six years old while kids in grade 7 tend to be around the age of twelve.

A lead researcher – Keith Herman, an associate professor at the university – found that the kids who had a hard time with the core subjects such as reading and math were more likely to show some of the risk factors for negative thinking and depression once they hit sixth or seventh grade. Herman thinks that differences in how kids learn will still be an issue, even if a child gets help with the difficult subjects at school.

What Can We Do About It?

So, if Herman’s theory proves true and kids are experiencing depressive thoughts due to their continued struggles with school learning, then what can we all do about it? One suggested solution is to acknowledge skills and positive growth in other areas, such as sports or singing. Herman shared his thoughts on the study and explained:

Children’s individual differences will always exist in basic academic skills, so it is necessary to explore and emphasize other assets in students, especially those with lower academic skill relative to their peers. Along with reading and math, teachers and parents should honor skills in other areas, such as interpersonal skills, non-core academic areas, athletics and music.

Researchers also found that girls responded differently to boys when it comes to self-perception. How a girl performed academically had a far more significant effect on how she viewed herself.

It meant that girls who didn’t really do as well academically saw themselves as not being in control of other parts of their lives. That feeling of not having control over important decisions in your life is considered a risk factor for depression symptoms.

A Little Backtrack

I posted about teen depression and suicide back in January of 2008 – a year ago. You can read the post here. I talked about ways in which teens can get support for depression. Afterwards, I received intense, emotional responses from a range of people – teens and adults.

But one thing that struck me is how responses seemed to bring up the aspect of a person not feeling valued or appreciated – not feeling like they have a special place in this world. There was a real sense of isolation for teens who felt depressed.

Feeling Good About Yourself

When I look at this new study, it seems as though the academic focus can maybe become so overwhelming, that we as adults forget about all the other amazing and cool abilities that teens have in life. The scary thing is that if we don’t acknowledge and share our enthusiasm, respect and admiration for these abilities, how can we expect teens to experience and acknowledge those same feelings?

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Fun School Tests March 3, 2008

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Easy As Pie, Psychology and Behavior.
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Students 1

Now, now, don’t run away from your computer after reading the title. It’s apparently true. School tests can be fun. Nope, neither your teacher nor the government paid me to say that!

Tzu-Hua Wang at the National Hsinchu University of Education in Taiwan came up with a really super idea. He created a Web-based multiple-choice test that is guided by the fun stuff in the popular television show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. He figured that instead of using the usual, boring multiple-choice tests that our education system seems to adore so much, comprehension levels in students could get a much needed boost by tweaking the traditional test a bit. His work was published in the journal Computers and Education.


While you might normally have cringed to see the word above, the new Web-based test developed by Wang could put some punch back into the traditional, bland school assessments.

Let’s Play A Game

The test itself allows students to do the usual game show stuff like phone a friend or ask the class for help. They can also eliminate two of the false answers, just like you can in the actual game show. Overall, kids seemed to be down with getting quizzed when it involved Wang’s lively test system. Better still, their comprehension levels were higher after playing the game, which shows that Wang’s idea has exciting potential for use in the education system.

My Complaint

The only problem I have with Wang’s game, however, is the fact that you don’t get to win any money. Mind you, if kids really could become millionaires while also improving their comprehension, I think myself and many other adults would be galloping back to school with the hope that we could play. Plus, your parents would bug you to study even more if there was a chance you could be buying them a very nice birthday present!

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