Suns Out Guns Out: Carbohydrates Myth Buster

People often say that any type of bread, pasta, or any carbs for that matter, will add fat to your body. This is an untrue statement or myth, I would rather say. People should not fear carbs! They do not add fat to your body!

Chemical compound for carbohydrates

The Science Behind Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates break down into glucose, or sugar, which the body uses for energy. The body doesn’t store carbs well, so they are used first when the body is looking for a source of energy. So, carbs themselves don’t equal fat and weight gain. However, continuous consumption of carbs that aren’t being burned off will lead to excess sugars in the body that then are stored as fat, which leads to weight gain. 

How to Burn off Carbs: Don’t worry, you can make these extra sugars go away either by doing simple exercises or by reducing your overall carb intake, so that your body will will take the stored sugar and use it to make energy.

The key is balance.  Carbs are not evil!  If eaten in moderation and paired with light exercise, carbs will not be stored as fat in your body, and will serve to energize you as you go about your day!

America’s Opioid Crisis

In America, opioid abuse has been a problem for decades, but in recent years it has turned into a national crisis. Opioids are narcotics and are often found in painkillers prescribed by doctors to treat moderate to severe pain. However, because of the extremely addictive properties of these prescriptions, many patients, without meaning to, become dependent on them and open up the door to abuse.

Some examples of highly addictive opioids are Vicodin, Morphine, Percocet, and OxyContin. While these medications may be useful for acute, short term pain relief, the longer a patient uses them, the greater the chance of dependence and addiction.

For some individuals, when they run out of their prescriptions and are unable to obtain more pills legally or illegally, they resort to heroin, known for its recreational use and for being a cheaper solution to prescription opioids.

Lawmakers estimate that to end the crisis, it would cost roughly 45 billion dollars. The opioid crisis affects not just the individuals suffering, but government spending as well.  With more than 650,000 opioid prescriptions dispensed daily, the government has spent 55 billion dollars on opioid abuse treatments.

The government hopes to “cure” the crisis soon, but believes that it will take time considering the amount of abusers and the amount of prescriptions still be written on a daily basis.

Bird Corner: Bird Migration is Happening

A Common Yellowthroat on Long Island, these birds winter in Central America and the Caribbean.

In the winter, Long Island is home to birds like Long-tailed Ducks, Common Loons, Snow Buntings, and even Snowy Owls! But when spring comes, these birds migrate to their breeding grounds in eastern North America north of Long Island, many even going as far as the Canadian tundra.

A Black-and-White Warbler in Connetquot River State Park on Long Island. These birds spend the winter everywhere from Florida and Colombia.

At the same time, billions of birds in Central and South America begin to fly north. Many of them will stop on Long Island to rest and eat before continuing their journey north to forests in New England, upstate New York, and the boreal forests of Canada. These include the Bay-breasted Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, and many, many, more species.

However, many amazing birds stay here on Long Island all summer long to breed and raise their young. Among them are the Black-and-white Warbler, Yellow Warbler, American Redstart, Ovenbird, Osprey, Chipping Sparrow, and Eastern Towhee. So many species breed on Long Island that it would be impossible to list all of them in one article.

Migration doesn’t last for very long, so get out there and see those birds!



Science Fiction Series: “Neural Alchemist,” by Tedd Roberts

“Neural Alchemist” follows a professor who was revived from a stem cell creation. Tedd Roberts, the author, shows us he is an expert on this. He understands that stem cells could potentially replace damaged cells in parts of the body that don’t replace easily. The story shows an understanding of the sources of stem cells used in current research: bone marrow, amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood, transformed endothelial cells and only very rarely, fetal tissue. “Now we know that certain areas of the brain, such as the dentate gyrus of hippocampus, have the ability to make new brain cells. Most brain areas do not. What if we could replace the neurons damaged by stroke, injury or disease? Like the old time alchemists trying to turn lead into gold, the Neural Alchemist turns stems cells into any brain cells we need.” What is not so accurate about the story is the idea of reviving dead humans. Stem cells are pretty amazing, but we have no research to support the ability for bringing deceased humans back to life.

Tedd Roberts is a neuroscience researcher, educator, and writer. He advises up and coming science fiction authors, TV writers, and game developers. His acknowledged consults include novel brain diseases and the medical nanites to cure them, exotic toxins, and brain effects of a zombie virus. 

Class Spotlight: Lab / Garden

At Village School, we have a lot of different and interesting electives. One in particular is Megan’s sixth period class, “Lab and Garden.” Lab and Garden serves as the required lab period for students in Common Core Biology and also offers science elective credit for students not in the CC Bio. Though this class has gained reputation for being one of the loudest classes in the school (!), the class has does some excellent work. Gardening is caring for plants is an interest of mine– plants can’t run away and you don’t need to take them to the vet annually. It’s a win-win situation – the plant stays happy and healthy, while it’s caregiver only has to water it once or twice a day!

This is one of the mushrooms that the Lab / Garden class grew.

A student enrolled in the class, Lucas, gave me some insight as to what the class is all about, “We go outside for half the period and tend to the crops and then the class comes back in to work [on corresponding labs]” says Lucas. Another student, Brian, says that the class is currently growing cucumbers, watermelon, broccoli, and corn. It’s great to give students a very good opportunity to be able to grow fruits and vegetables in the school’s backyard so they can learn about different types of foods and maybe become inspired to grow some of their own.

One type of labs the class does are dissection labs. This is Margaret dissecting an organism.

I went in to see the class in action this past week. Students were learning about bear adaptations, and how environments can affect how organism live. For example, Megan taught about peppered verses non-peppered moths. Another example she discussed was green versus brown grasshoppers and how a green grasshopper is better for a spring environment.

Megan seamlessly wove traditional Bio topics with information that is relvant to gardening. She continued to explain that there many types of adaptations, such as camouflage and mimicry. For example, a tiger benefits from camouflage as the tiger can capture prey much easier. Megan also showed videos to reinforce concepts. One video showed an adaptation that zebras have, which is herding. The zebras run together in a herd so that it is much harder for a predator to catch them. I also learned something new as well– countershading.

This is an example of an organism that countershades.

Countershading is when an organism has protective coloration in parts where there are shadows or light. The areas exposed to light are lighter than the areas exposed to shadow.

The following day, I visited again as the class heading out to garden. On this particular day, they were cleaning the pergola.After a long winter, there was a lot of work to do! Fio and Bella were cleaning the dirt out from the corners and Natanel did some tasks requiring heavy lifting such as moving the the peat moss.  Bella and Natanel worked together to move a heavy board and clear out more areas for gardening tools and supplies. 

After speaking to members of the Lab/Garden class, I wanted to find out if the different foods harvested from this class is used by our Cooking class. This semester, the Cooking class has been experimenting with recipes using all vegetarian ingredients, and according to students, they have thus far used herbs and mushrooms from the Gardening class, and as spring continues, they plan to use more.

It’s great to see two classes working together to create awesome things!

Suns Out Guns Out: Intro to Weightlifting

The master, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Weightlifting or Bodybuilding is a term most people have heard of.  Weightlifters obviously lift weights to achieve a goal such as toned muscle or strength. Some people go light in workouts and others like to go heavy, depending on their goals.

Weightlifters like to balance their workouts.  For example, a weightlifter will work on his arms one day, his legs the next day, his back the day after that, and so on.  Weightlifters need rest days so the fibers in their muscles can regenerate and grow back healthier and bigger. Weightlifters also need a balanced diet. For example, if a weightlifter is doing intense workouts every day of the week, on different muscle groups, then he needs to consume a lot of calories and nutrients since his body is using all of them just to heal and gain muscle mass.

The average man consumes 2500 calories per day and the average woman needs to consume 2000 calories per day, unless he or she is trying to lose weight. Eating is the biggest part of the equation when it comes to weightlifting and bodybuilding. Also, when picking up or lifting heavy weights, a weightlifter needs proper form or she’s putting herself at risk for an injury. Weightlifters can suffer broken bones, torn muscles, strains, and cramps due to either overworking the muscle or having bad form. Some weightlifters often take substances such as steroids, growth hormones, and synthol, all which are illegal, unless taken with a prescription from a doctor.  These substances will cause an individual to grow a lot of muscle mass, but also may affect other body functions and organs in dangerous ways. These substances can cause heart failure, acne, difficulty sleeping, easy bruising, high blood pressure, increased appetite, increased growth in hair, and much more.

Many weightlifters rely on protein and vitamin supplements to aid their training. 

Weightlifters should only be taking the nutrients that suit their bodies. If a weightlifter isn’t getting enough protein in his or her body, then she can resort to protein powder or protein shakes. Protein powder is a supplement which you put in milk since it mainly comes in vanilla and chocolate flavors and you stir it well then you drink up. Some powders can be up to 60 grams of protein which technically a full meal, but other most powders are only 20 grams of protein per serving. Protein powder is mostly for helping regenerate muscle fibers and it can also be used for daily consumption in case you need extra protein intake. Protein shakes are drinks with protein already are basically ‘ready to go meals.’

Protein powder mainly contains protein but protein shakes can also contain vitamins and minerals. People always ask how they get that protein into the powder but it’s a simple answer: they use plant- based extract or water-soluble milk. Bodybuilders and weightlifters also take pre-workout supplements which help give them a boost in their workouts. Don’t forget that when trying to build muscle mass, it’s not about instant results– it takes a little while to show results– usually about maybe a year or so of consistent effort, and a clean, protein-packed diet will help speed up the results.  Usually bodybuilders and weightlifters might have bulging veins all throughout their arms and legs and maybe their chests too that’s due to a low percentage of body fat.

Low percentage of body fat and bulging veins

Some people are able to get their body fat down to as low as one percent, which means every muscle they have and their exact shapes and layout can be seen through their skin. Although one percent of body fat is hard to accomplish it is also very hard to maintain and can also be unhealthy, so it’s not necessarily a goal to work toward, except for competitions.

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is coming up and it’s a tradition to get your mother gifts on this day. However, it can be a hard and tricky decision about what to get her. The goal is to get her a gift she’ll love that also shows how thankful you are for her. We all know being a mother isn’t the easiest job in the world, no matter how old the kids get! Sunday, May 13, is the day to remind her that she is appreciated for what she does. Also, it’s not necessary to break the bank. The following gifts are affordable with a little saving and/or with all the siblings pitching in.

This is the “One Line A Day: A Five-Year Memory Book,” which is available on sites like Amazon.com.

Say that mom likes to write and likes to keep track of her days. There is a book called One Line A Day: A Five-Year Memory Book that costs eleven dollars. Mom can write down all of the memories she makes in this fun book. Someday, she and her family can look back at all the memories- the good, the bad, and the ugly- that made up the last five years, 

To stick with the writing theme, family members could translate loving sentiments into a poem or a letter for mom and then decorate it with things like stickers or glitter glue.  This is a sentimental gift with a lot of heart and low cost. 

For thirteen dollars on Etsy.com, there are stackable, stamped name rings. The rings come in a variety of metals, including brass, bronze, copper, and sterling silver. The options allow for tons of different ring combinations! This is a fashionable way to show off the names of the children she loves so much. 

These are some of the stackable name rings available on Etsy.com.

Since being a mom is a tough job, maybe consider getting her a “Lush” gift set. One set comes with two bath bombs and a cheerful citrus bubble bar.The bath bombs are supposed to make mom’s skin smooth and are avocado and lemongrass scented.  This specific gift set comes wrapped in happy-face wrapping paper.

Lush gift set

 

 

If the forecast suggests that the weather on Mother’s Day is supposed to be nice, a nice option could be to plan a picnic. Buy items from the grocery store, such as deli foods and fruits, and pack a picnic basket. Enjoy it with the family in the park or a field and spend some quality time with Mom! The cost varies depending on how much the food costs. If weather does not permit, making her brunch or breakfast in bed might be a nice and relaxing treat.

This is the African violet flower.

Then there is the old stand-by– a beautiful plant! A recommendation is the African Violet, which is a very pretty purple flower. It’s said that a purple violet symbolizes thoughts that are loving. This plant has a long life span. Another good choice is the Petite Purple Speckled Orchid, which represents royalty, admiration, respect, and dignity. Of course, there are other very pretty flowers and plants to choose from. There are many places to get plants such as Amazon’s online plant store or your local flower shop.

If all else fails, spend a nice day with Mom. Make her feel special and lucky to have such wonderful children who appreciate her. You can take her shopping and out for a nice lunch, and bonus points if the kids pay for it –or at least most of it!

In a Situation That’s Stressing You Out?

Have you ever been in a stressful and anxiety- inducing situation? If the answer is ‘yes,’ you know what it’s like to have the sweats, the feeling that your heart almost beating out of your chest, and more. Some individuals cope by taking a prescribed medication such as valium, or use breathing techniques, but most times, people don’t know how to take control of their emotions and calm themselves down.

However, if you’re reading this, you’re in luck! In recent years, scientists at the University of Michigan have conducted research and made a remarkable discovery. What was found was that if a person talked to themselves in third person, their heart rates significantly lowered.

Recently a Youtube show, “Good Mythical Morning,” decided to test this theory out. The video showed one of the hosts, Link, as his head was put in a box with anxiety- inducing materials, while Rhett, the other host, tracked Link’s heart rate. One anxiety-provoking ‘material’  was a Boa Constrictor snake.  Link’s heart rate jumped higher than 140, but when Link started talking to himself, it dropped dramatically to the 90s. The two were shocked with the results, as were the viewers.

Other situations included dirty tissues being put in the box with him. Again, the third person talking worked and dropped his heart rate dramatically. This trick might not work for everyone, but it sure worked for Link. Try it out, see if it works, and if it does, you now have a coping skill to use the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation.

Honoring Third Generation Gaming

Nintendo Entertainment System

8-bit is a measure of computer information during the 1980s generally used to refer to hardware and software in an era where computers were only able to store and process a maximum of 8 bits per data block. This limitation was mainly due to the existing processor technology at the time, which with which software had to conform. This resulted in blocky graphics and slow compute times.

At present, when 8-bit is mentioned, it is generally associated with slow computers, low-resolution graphics, and simplistic sound.  I’m pretty sure most people who grew up in the 80s and 90s have heard of 8-bit video game which include classics like Mega Man, Super Mario Bros 3, Popeye, Pacman, Sonic, Ms. Pacman, Pokemon. The 8-bit gaming universe is my personal favorite because it is filled with fun puzzles and real challenges.

Mario from Super Mario Bros

People are way too spoiled with the games they have today and they forget about the old days of 8-bit gaming. But if it wasn’t for 8-bit, we wouldn’t have these realistic games today.  Everyone remembers the old 8-bit Mario tune- who hasn’t heard it? A lot of these games have been played on an old gaming system called the Nintendo Entertainment System and when you hear the name, “Sega,” – that’s old!  The Nintendo Entertainment System is pretty much one of the basic gaming system for 8-bit games back then.

Link from the Legend of Zelda

Today, it’s called a ‘third generation console.’ Even if it did just have a joystick, it was still entertaining with all the puzzles and activities in the games. I say we should still remember the old video games that kept us entertained as children and might still keep us entertained as adults.

American Lunches VS Other Countries’

All around the world, most kids attend school from ages 5 to 18. There are different schools with different protocols, syllabi, philosophies, and, of course, different cafeteria lunch food. Cafeteria lunch food is usually made up of some kind of vegetable and protein with a fruit or yogurt on the side.  As obesity levels are climbing in America, school lunches have been including healthier options. Lunches all around the world are different and often given choices rather than the same meal every day. In Brazil, school lunch is made up of pork, mixed vegetables, beans, bread, salad, and baked plantains.

Typical Brazil school lunch

Other places like Thailand have lunches made up of sauteed chicken over rice. In America, there are different options such as grilled cheese, pasta, and pizza, paired with fruit or vegetables and a side of milk. School lunches are generally small, or so they say in America. Many students report that they’re still hungry after lunch. However, even with healthier school lunches, in America, the obesity levels are still climbing because of chips and other snacks. In America school cafeterias and vending machines sell a variety of chips, juice, cookies, and ice cream.

Typical American school lunch

Many schools have tried making up for it by replacing juice with water in vending machines. The difference between American school lunches and other countries differ from nutrition and quantity, but America is trying to make school lunches healthier and more filling as children grow and obesity levels drop.