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Category: Stuff for Your Brain

The Best Place in the World to Live

Kids Living Around the World

People are always grumbling about the weather. Many think that life would be so much better to live if only they moved to a better place. The fact is, every place is both the best place to live and the worst place to be, depending on the time of year. Let’s take a little trip. Grab your globe or a map of the world and buckle up.

Many people in northern climates dream of living on the equator. After all, they say, life would be so much better without cold and snow. Rainy season in Mexico can last from May to November. That’s seven months where outdoor activity is sloppy and wet. When the rain stops, the world blooms in green and flowers that would shame a rainbow. The lush growth makes places like this a wonderful place to live—after rain season, that is.

All up and down the southern Atlantic coast (check your map) is where you find hurricanes. They are the wicked monsters of weather, blowing cars and homes and even chunks of bridges up in the air. Millions of people have to live with damage caused by hurricanes each year. Most of the damage is in places known for hot, pleasant weather, like Florida, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Central America and the east coast of Africa.

Maybe you’ve longed to live in someplace known for easy, comfortable climate, like, say, California or Switzerland. Okay. But be warned that these are places known for mudslides. Mudslides occur when large amounts of water flow down steep slopes. The mud can be so thick, it can wash away whole towns.

Mudslides and landslides happen all over the world, from Nepal to Peru to Southeast Asia and back to Venezuela. There are gorgeous mountains and lush vegetation—but a good rain can send a mountain sliding down.

Some of the most sunniest places in North America are in winter climates. The temperature is cold and well below freezing, but seeing the bright sun every day can be uplifting. People who live along the Pacific coast enjoy warmer winters, but during the winter the it’s mostly cloudy. In certain areas it can rain continuously for 3 or 4 months straight. In those cases, the sky can be very dark on a daily basis.

Many hot countries are too hot to go out and play during the middle of the day. Lovely island countries like Japan can face tsunamis, which are huge, powerful waves. The wide prairies have to deal with tornadoes. No matter where you live in the world, the weather can be wonderful or it can unpleasant.

The planet is a dynamic place with changing seasons and weather conditions. Luckily, human beings are smart. We are adaptable. We can live happily almost anywhere. The trick is to understand that no place is perfect and every place has its magic and beauty.

When bad weather comes, you have the power to get through it. You don’t have to move to enjoy the world. Just listen to your parents and put on that scarf!

People are always grumbling about the weather. Many think that life would be so much better to live if only they moved to a better place. The fact is, every place is both the best place to live and the worst place to be, depending on the time of year. Let’s take a little trip. Grab your globe or a map of the world and buckle up.

Many people in northern climates dream of living on the equator. After all, they say, life would be so much better without cold and snow. Rainy season in Mexico can last from May to November. That’s seven months where outdoor activity is sloppy and wet. When the rain stops, the world blooms in green and flowers that would shame a rainbow. The lush growth makes places like this a wonderful place to live—after rain season, that is.

All up and down the southern Atlantic coast (check your map) is where you find hurricanes. They are the wicked monsters of weather, blowing cars and homes and even chunks of bridges up in the air. Millions of people have to live with damage caused by hurricanes each year. Most of the damage is in places known for hot, pleasant weather, like Florida, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Central America and the east coast of Africa.

Maybe you’ve longed to live in someplace known for easy, comfortable climate, like, say, California or Switzerland. Okay. But be warned that these are places known for mudslides. Mudslides occur when large amounts of water flow down steep slopes. The mud can be so thick, it can wash away whole towns.

Mudslides and landslides happen all over the world, from Nepal to Peru to Southeast Asia and back to Venezuela. There are gorgeous mountains and lush vegetation—but a good rain can send a mountain sliding down.

Some of the most sunniest places in North America are in winter climates. The temperature is cold and well below freezing, but seeing the bright sun every day can be uplifting. People who live along the Pacific coast enjoy warmer winters, but during the winter the it’s mostly cloudy. In certain areas it can rain continuously for 3 or 4 months straight. In those cases, the sky can be very dark on a daily basis.

Many hot countries are too hot to go out and play during the middle of the day. Lovely island countries like Japan can face tsunamis, which are huge, powerful waves. The wide prairies have to deal with tornadoes. No matter where you live in the world, the weather can be wonderful or it can unpleasant.

The planet is a dynamic place with changing seasons and weather conditions. Luckily, human beings are smart. We are adaptable. We can live happily almost anywhere. The trick is to understand that no place is perfect and every place has its magic and beauty.

When bad weather comes, you have the power to get through it. You don’t have to move to enjoy the world. Just listen to your parents and put on that scarf!

How UK Schools Deal with Cell Phones

Cell Phones in UK Schools

Teachers have always had to fight for the attention of their students. Not long ago they would only be dealing with gossip, note passing, and the occasional trading card. The latest distraction of the mobile phone in the classroom can often be much more difficult to control.

Some teachers have even reported children watching Netflix in the middle of class. There a varying opinions on what should be done regarding the use of mobiles phones by students.

How UK Schools Approach Mobile Phones

Some countries – notably France – have strict laws against cell phone use in schools. There are no laws in the UK that prohibit children from using them. The decision on how to deal with phones is left to individual schools. It can get confusing and certainly far from consistent. Some schools do ban them outright, and then there are other schools that embrace phones as a teaching aid and encourage kids to use them as part of their schoolwork.

In Shiplake College in Henley-on-Thames for example, children that use their mobile phones between 8:15 and 5:45 are given a detention. The headmaster of the school, Gregg Davies, admits that phones can be a great tool, but he found children were being distracted and even losing their ability to communicate in person. The use of cell phones in school was therefore dropped since the policy was introduced.

Then there is Brighton College, where students are encouraged to play games like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit during free periods, instead of using their cell phones. The move is an effort to encourage pupils to socialize with each other more without having to use mobile devices. There are also varying bans on phones where certain pupils are allowed them on certain days of the week; effectively weaning students off their phones over time.

How Phones can Help

The reality is that phones aren’t all bad and studies have shown that banning mobile phones can help in education. Students say that having their phones on hand can improve their engagement, motivation, productivity, and creativity. Some teachers also believe that mobile phones can help, and there have been successful integrations into the classroom.

Mobile phones can give students all the information that they could ever need. A phone by itself can educate students and there lots of phone apps that are even encouraged by schools, particularly those that build relaxation skills and help students find resources. The potential for phones as a learning tool is practically endless.

The Law on Confiscating Mobile Phones

One thing to consider is this; who is responsible if a phone is confiscated and then gets lost or damaged? Would it be the teacher who confiscated the phone, the student who brought it to the school, or the school itself?

Legally, the school has indeed taken possession of the phone. However, in the UK, Section 94 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 says that neither the teacher or the school is responsible for loss or damage of items confiscated as a form of punishment. It also provides no statutory liability for items that are lost in other ways.

There are a few caveats though. The disciplinary penalty has to be lawful; it has to be reasonable and proportionate to the “crime”. Schools must also clearly communicate their policy on mobile phones to students. The school can get in trouble if the pupil who has their phone confiscated was not aware this could happen. Also, teachers are expected to take reasonable care to ensure that items they confiscate are safe, such as storing them securely in the staff room. At the end of the day, unfortunately for the students – the law is ultimately on the side of the teachers and schools.

Should Schools Ban Mobile Phones?

Matt Hancock – the Culture Secretary for the UK – says that more schools need to ban mobile phones. He admires headmasters who don’t allow students to use their phones and believes social media can facilitate bullying. He personally doesn’t allow his children to own their own phones and use social media, but doesn’t think it is the responsibility of the government to legislate against children using phones and technology. He believes it is up to parents and schools to do the right thing, rather than being told to do so by the government.

Schools are all handling cell phone use in their own way. Some are for them and some are against their use. The Culture secretary himself is against them, but doesn’t plan on attempting to introduce legislation to prohibit them.

Read more about kids and cell phones, including Cell Phone Safely Tips.

Teachers have always had to fight for the attention of their students. Not long ago they would only be dealing with gossip, note passing, and the occasional trading card. The latest distraction of the mobile phone in the classroom can often be much more difficult to control.

Some teachers have even reported children watching Netflix in the middle of class. There a varying opinions on what should be done regarding the use of mobiles phones by students.

How UK Schools Approach Mobile Phones

Some countries – notably France – have strict laws against cell phone use in schools. There are no laws in the UK that prohibit children from using them. The decision on how to deal with phones is left to individual schools. It can get confusing and certainly far from consistent. Some schools do ban them outright, and then there are other schools that embrace phones as a teaching aid and encourage kids to use them as part of their schoolwork.

In Shiplake College in Henley-on-Thames for example, children that use their mobile phones between 8:15 and 5:45 are given a detention. The headmaster of the school, Gregg Davies, admits that phones can be a great tool, but he found children were being distracted and even losing their ability to communicate in person. The use of cell phones in school was therefore dropped since the policy was introduced.

Then there is Brighton College, where students are encouraged to play games like Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit during free periods, instead of using their cell phones. The move is an effort to encourage pupils to socialize with each other more without having to use mobile devices. There are also varying bans on phones where certain pupils are allowed them on certain days of the week; effectively weaning students off their phones over time.

How Phones can Help

The reality is that phones aren’t all bad and studies have shown that banning mobile phones can help in education. Students say that having their phones on hand can improve their engagement, motivation, productivity, and creativity. Some teachers also believe that mobile phones can help, and there have been successful integrations into the classroom.

Mobile phones can give students all the information that they could ever need. A phone by itself can educate students and there lots of phone apps that are even encouraged by schools, particularly those that build relaxation skills and help students find resources. The potential for phones as a learning tool is practically endless.

The Law on Confiscating Mobile Phones

One thing to consider is this; who is responsible if a phone is confiscated and then gets lost or damaged? Would it be the teacher who confiscated the phone, the student who brought it to the school, or the school itself?

Legally, the school has indeed taken possession of the phone. However, in the UK, Section 94 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 says that neither the teacher or the school is responsible for loss or damage of items confiscated as a form of punishment. It also provides no statutory liability for items that are lost in other ways.

There are a few caveats though. The disciplinary penalty has to be lawful; it has to be reasonable and proportionate to the “crime”. Schools must also clearly communicate their policy on mobile phones to students. The school can get in trouble if the pupil who has their phone confiscated was not aware this could happen. Also, teachers are expected to take reasonable care to ensure that items they confiscate are safe, such as storing them securely in the staff room. At the end of the day, unfortunately for the students – the law is ultimately on the side of the teachers and schools.

Should Schools Ban Mobile Phones?

Matt Hancock – the Culture Secretary for the UK – says that more schools need to ban mobile phones. He admires headmasters who don’t allow students to use their phones and believes social media can facilitate bullying. He personally doesn’t allow his children to own their own phones and use social media, but doesn’t think it is the responsibility of the government to legislate against children using phones and technology. He believes it is up to parents and schools to do the right thing, rather than being told to do so by the government.

Schools are all handling cell phone use in their own way. Some are for them and some are against their use. The Culture secretary himself is against them, but doesn’t plan on attempting to introduce legislation to prohibit them.

Read more about kids and cell phones, including Cell Phone Safely Tips.

The Benefits of a STEM Education

Benefits of Stem Education

In a job economy driven by rapidly changing technology, it’s more important than ever that our schools foster a love of learning. Starting our students on a steady dose of STEM curriculum in elementary primes them to become the inquisitive kiddos that lead to ambitious adults.

What does STEM stand for?

For anyone who’s seen the term STEM, but kept it on the periphery, here’s a bit of background. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Recently “arts” was added to the educational model, making STEAM an interchangeable term you might also hear.

In school, STEM or STEAM lessons are taught using an integrative approach that shows how each subject relates to and works with the others. This interdisciplinary instruction also closely mirrors how these concept applications function in the working world.

Educational Benefits of STEM

The sooner our students are exposed to STEM activities the better. During the elementary years, when their synapses are most impressionable, youngsters have an innate drive toward curiosity. STEAM programming prioritizes and encourages this curiosity, making lessons easier to internalize.

By making it accessible to anyone, STEM education benefits everyone in the classroom by:

  • Reducing lesson and testing anxiety. The principles of STEM diminish stress by putting the focus on the student’s ability to learn and grow, encouraging a belief in oneself.
  • Making it okay to fail. Our mistakes are powerful teachers. When the environment is safe and welcoming, students don’t fear punishment of failure and learn to view it as an opportunity to simply explore or try new things.
  • Prioritizing the 4 C’s. No matter their age, whatever their job title, they’re going to need to know how to interact well with others. STEAM helps develop the necessary 21st-century learning skills including creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.
  • Helping them apply meaning. STEM curriculum is engaging and motivates students to think through real world-inspired scenarios. Taught in this way, the concepts make more sense and students are able to understand the value and purpose. This depth of knowledge also leads to a greater understanding of each pillar.

STEM Career Opportunities

According to the STEM Diversity Network at the University of Wisconsin Madison, “By 2018, it’s predicted that 8.65 million STEM jobs will exist. Nevertheless, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a drastic shortage of almost 600,000 potential candidates for those jobs.”

So job security is almost guaranteed, but pursuing a STEM career doesn’t necessarily mean students will automatically be chained to a MIT laboratory or relegated to Silicon Valley. STEM is everywhere, permeating just about every fathomable industry.

Contrary to some of the stereotypes, STEM-led disciplines include everything from product development for the fashion industry to Legoland Designer! (And what little boy wouldn’t leap out of his chair for that job?!)

In short, there’s no better way to equip students for their life journey than to turn them into lifelong learners. Once they master this skill, there’s no realm, be it higher education or the real world, which they can’t conquer.

 AUTHOR BIO:

Dave Monaco has worked in education for 24 years and counting. He has put his M.A.T. to great use as the Head of School at Parish Episcopal School and helps Parish live out their mission to guide young people to become creative learners and bold leaders who will impact our global society. With his philosophy to “engage the mind, connect to the heart,” this father of three will continue bringing order to chaos one day at a time.

In a job economy driven by rapidly changing technology, it’s more important than ever that our schools foster a love of learning. Starting our students on a steady dose of STEM curriculum in elementary primes them to become the inquisitive kiddos that lead to ambitious adults.

What does STEM stand for?

For anyone who’s seen the term STEM, but kept it on the periphery, here’s a bit of background. The acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Recently “arts” was added to the educational model, making STEAM an interchangeable term you might also hear.

In school, STEM or STEAM lessons are taught using an integrative approach that shows how each subject relates to and works with the others. This interdisciplinary instruction also closely mirrors how these concept applications function in the working world.

Educational Benefits of STEM

The sooner our students are exposed to STEM activities the better. During the elementary years, when their synapses are most impressionable, youngsters have an innate drive toward curiosity. STEAM programming prioritizes and encourages this curiosity, making lessons easier to internalize.

By making it accessible to anyone, STEM education benefits everyone in the classroom by:

  • Reducing lesson and testing anxiety. The principles of STEM diminish stress by putting the focus on the student’s ability to learn and grow, encouraging a belief in oneself.
  • Making it okay to fail. Our mistakes are powerful teachers. When the environment is safe and welcoming, students don’t fear punishment of failure and learn to view it as an opportunity to simply explore or try new things.
  • Prioritizing the 4 C’s. No matter their age, whatever their job title, they’re going to need to know how to interact well with others. STEAM helps develop the necessary 21st-century learning skills including creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.
  • Helping them apply meaning. STEM curriculum is engaging and motivates students to think through real world-inspired scenarios. Taught in this way, the concepts make more sense and students are able to understand the value and purpose. This depth of knowledge also leads to a greater understanding of each pillar.

STEM Career Opportunities

According to the STEM Diversity Network at the University of Wisconsin Madison, “By 2018, it’s predicted that 8.65 million STEM jobs will exist. Nevertheless, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be a drastic shortage of almost 600,000 potential candidates for those jobs.”

So job security is almost guaranteed, but pursuing a STEM career doesn’t necessarily mean students will automatically be chained to a MIT laboratory or relegated to Silicon Valley. STEM is everywhere, permeating just about every fathomable industry.

Contrary to some of the stereotypes, STEM-led disciplines include everything from product development for the fashion industry to Legoland Designer! (And what little boy wouldn’t leap out of his chair for that job?!)

In short, there’s no better way to equip students for their life journey than to turn them into lifelong learners. Once they master this skill, there’s no realm, be it higher education or the real world, which they can’t conquer.

 AUTHOR BIO:

Dave Monaco has worked in education for 24 years and counting. He has put his M.A.T. to great use as the Head of School at Parish Episcopal School and helps Parish live out their mission to guide young people to become creative learners and bold leaders who will impact our global society. With his philosophy to “engage the mind, connect to the heart,” this father of three will continue bringing order to chaos one day at a time.

What To Do When There Is Nothing To Do

School is done for the season and your family isn’t going anywhere for holidays. You feel like just hanging out in bed watching videos on your phone. After all, there is nothing else to do. Wrong. You don’t have to fly across the country or spend lots of money to have a fun, interesting time.

Here are a few ideas. Once you start thinking about the world around your home, you’ll see other activities that you can do this summer. By the way, you still get to use your phone when doing these things.

1. Take something apart.

This is really cool, but you need a parent to help you. Ask for a broken machine. It can be a lawn mower or a tower computer or an old toy or bike. Then ask your parents for the tools you need. Before you start, go online and read about the safety steps you need to do the work. You might need eye protection or gloves. Then grab a screwdriver and get going! You’ll see how gadgets do what they do. You’ll learn about the insides of machines and maybe even figure out what is wrong with them. You’ll also learn how to use tools, something everyone needs to know. Taking something apart is perfect for when your parents are doing a task beside you.

2. Become an ornithologist.

That long word looks terribly scary, but it means that you study birds. This is so easy and doesn’t cost much. All you need is a book from the library on local birds and a pair of binoculars. You could even use your phone. Just take pictures of any birds you see then go online to find out what kind of birds they are.

Warning: bird watching can be surprisingly fun and lead to a life-long hobby, not just something you do on your summer vacation.

3. Make a movie.

For this, call the friends who, like you, are bored. Get together and talk about what kind of movie you want to make. It could be a documentary, where your movie is about something real. It could be a drama, where you write a script and play pretend. Then start recording videos. You will need to learn how to write a script, how to talk clearly, how to question people and how movies really work.

4. Build a bowling alley.

You need some outdoor chalk and a flat place—like your patio or driveway or the paved area around the school. With the chalk, draw the place where the “pins” will go, then outline a lane, with a line where you roll the ball. Get some empty plastic pop bottles and fill them about one-third full with water. Then get a ball—a baseball will do. You will need to practice throwing the ball to make sure that the lane is the right length. The bottles may need more or less water. Play around with your bowling alley until the ball rolls right and the bottles are filled so that they need a good hit with the ball to tip over. Once you start building your bowling alley, you might be surprised by the people who stop to watch you and play.

What is there to do when there’s nothing to do? Use your imagination and the adventure will never stop.

School is done for the season and your family isn’t going anywhere for holidays. You feel like just hanging out in bed watching videos on your phone. After all, there is nothing else to do. Wrong. You don’t have to fly across the country or spend lots of money to have a fun, interesting time.

Here are a few ideas. Once you start thinking about the world around your home, you’ll see other activities that you can do this summer. By the way, you still get to use your phone when doing these things.

1. Take something apart.

This is really cool, but you need a parent to help you. Ask for a broken machine. It can be a lawn mower or a tower computer or an old toy or bike. Then ask your parents for the tools you need. Before you start, go online and read about the safety steps you need to do the work. You might need eye protection or gloves. Then grab a screwdriver and get going! You’ll see how gadgets do what they do. You’ll learn about the insides of machines and maybe even figure out what is wrong with them. You’ll also learn how to use tools, something everyone needs to know. Taking something apart is perfect for when your parents are doing a task beside you.

2. Become an ornithologist.

That long word looks terribly scary, but it means that you study birds. This is so easy and doesn’t cost much. All you need is a book from the library on local birds and a pair of binoculars. You could even use your phone. Just take pictures of any birds you see then go online to find out what kind of birds they are.

Warning: bird watching can be surprisingly fun and lead to a life-long hobby, not just something you do on your summer vacation.

3. Make a movie.

For this, call the friends who, like you, are bored. Get together and talk about what kind of movie you want to make. It could be a documentary, where your movie is about something real. It could be a drama, where you write a script and play pretend. Then start recording videos. You will need to learn how to write a script, how to talk clearly, how to question people and how movies really work.

4. Build a bowling alley.

You need some outdoor chalk and a flat place—like your patio or driveway or the paved area around the school. With the chalk, draw the place where the “pins” will go, then outline a lane, with a line where you roll the ball. Get some empty plastic pop bottles and fill them about one-third full with water. Then get a ball—a baseball will do. You will need to practice throwing the ball to make sure that the lane is the right length. The bottles may need more or less water. Play around with your bowling alley until the ball rolls right and the bottles are filled so that they need a good hit with the ball to tip over. Once you start building your bowling alley, you might be surprised by the people who stop to watch you and play.

What is there to do when there’s nothing to do? Use your imagination and the adventure will never stop.

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