Is Our Food Becoming Less Nutritious?

food becoming less nutritious studygate

Is our food becoming less nutritious? Many people claim that the nutrient content in our food has been decreasing over the decades. But is this really true, and should we be worried?

A study published in 2004 looked at 43 different common garden crops. It examines how their nutritional value had changed between 1950 and 1999. What they found was that on average, the protein content of those plants decreased by about 6%, Vitamin C decreased 15%, and vitamin B2 by a whopping 38 percent. They also noticed declines in minerals like iron and calcium. Now, there is some debate around the numbers because. How well could we really have measured those nutrients back in 1950? But there is still concern that the food we’re eating today might be less nutritious than the same vegetables 50 years ago. Several other recent studies also suggest a pattern is emerging.

So if we’re witnessing a nutrient collapse, what’s causing it?

One factor that many people point to is depletion of the soils. Given plants to draw their nutrients up from the soil, intense farming practices were thought to be the cause of nutrient depletion. If you look at micronutrients, there are decreasing levels in plants. But, farmers have always (besides the Dust Bowl of the 1930s) put a lot of effort into maintaining their soils. They used fertilizers to ensure that the plants have all the nutrients they need. This makes makes the soil depletion argument less convincing. We’re still getting big plants. They wouldn’t grow that well if they didn’t have the nutrients they need in the soil.

So why else might nutrients be declining?

Another possibility is that it’s selective breeding. If you look at crops like corn today, they’re barely recognizable when you compare them to the wild corn from which these were bred. Since the advent of agriculture, we have been breeding our food crops. The result has been higher yields, resistance to pests, and adaptation to changes in the climate. We’ve been successful. Crops are now bigger and grow faster than ever before. But are they more nutritious? Maybe we’ve accidentally been breeding the nutrition out of our foods in pursuit of other objectives. It’s tough to really assess how big of a factor selective breeding is. We can’t easily compare this produce to the same produce a hundred years ago or a thousand years ago.

So we need something else to be able to determine whether it’s selective breeding causing this decrease or something else. What would be really helpful would be a plant that has never been selectively bred. Where would you find one like that?

Well, this is where weeds come in handy. In North America, there is a wild flower called goldenrod. It’s an important source of protein for bees, but not humans. So it has remained wild and untouched by selective breeding, but how would you know what goldenrod was like 100 or 200 years ago?

Fortunately, the Smithsonian Institute has been keeping hundreds of samples of goldenrod dating all the way back to 1842. Using these samples and samples they collected in 2014, scientists were able to compare modern goldenrod with goldenrod from over a hundred years ago. The results were astounding. They found that there was a 30% decrease in the amount of protein in the goldenrod pollen over that period.

If it’s not selective breeding, what else has contributed to goldenrod becoming less nutritious over the last 150 years or so?

One rather surprising idea was that carbon dioxide could play a vital role. CO2 basically increases the growth of all plants. Over the last couple of centuries, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased a lot. It has gone from about 280 parts per million to over 400 parts per million today. Now, that might not sound like a lot, but if you’re thinking of it as plant food, we’re talking about an increase by almost 50%, and we can see the impact from space. It’s called the greening of the planet.

Scientists have been tracking the impact of CO2 on plants via experiments called FACE, which stands for Free Air Carbon dioxide Enrichment. Their experiments run by injecting more CO2 into the area where plant crops are grown, and they find that wheat, barley, rice and potatoes; they will grow faster if there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere.

But here’s the thing. They don’t necessarily become more nutritious, they simply put on more carbs. In other studies conducted in Japan and China, scientists pumped carbon dioxide into rice crops to simulate the kind of CO2 concentrations expected in 50 years time. On average, protein levels fell by 10 percent, iron by 8 percent, and zinc by 5 percent, But a lower concentration of nutrients doesn’t necessarily correlate with a decline in the plant’s nutrient contents. It’s called the dilution effect.

So what does all this mean for us?

By 2050 scientists estimate that up to a hundred and fifty million people in the developing world may be on the verge of protein deficiency, due to the decreasing levels of protein in their staple foods. So does that mean we should all be taking vitamins and supplements? Well, no. At least, not yet.

The nutrient declines are small enough that you should still be able to get everything you need from a well balanced diet, Including plenty of fruits and veggies. But, the increasing levels of CO2 and the dilution effect may be exacerbating the obesity epidemic. The thinking goes like this: We feel full, or satiated, when we’ve consumed a certain amount of protein. So if the protein levels are going down We may have to eat more food, more carbohydrates, and more fats to achieve the same level of protein. And that may make us fatter. While this is still a contentious theory, what is becoming increasingly clear is that the changing atmosphere, specifically the rising level of CO2, is changing the food we eat.

Content courtesy of Veritasium

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10 Life Hacks Every College Student Should Know

life hacks studygate

Here are 10 life hacks every college student should know. Are you ready? Let’s check it out!

Problem 1: You do not have a coffee pot

All you’re gonna need is coffee, a coffee filter, and to boil some water. What we’re gonna do is get a spoon of coffee and we’ll make a tea bag of coffee. Put the ends together, spin, and fasten with a rubber band. Keep twisting until it’s tight. Then we’re gonna dip the coffee bag in the hot water and leave it there for about 5 minutes. Then the coffee will be dissolved in the cup.

life hacks studygate

Problem 2: Annoying to store beer in the refrigerator

Put a black metal paper clip on the metal wire to stack your beer bottles. You will get half of your refrigerator empty for other uses. With this trick you do not have to worry about the unstable beer like when you try and stand them all up straight on the wire shelf. That is too unbalanced. A paper clip is great, nothing will move it!

life hacks studygate

Problem 3: Cannot wake up with the alarm

Put the cell phone inside of a beer glass to increase the sound. And arrive on time to the first class 90% of the time, all the time! The same thing works for music. Don’t have any speakers? All you need is your cell phone to listen to the music inside of your beer glass, which will increase the sound.

life hacks studygate

Problem 4: Dirty hands with Cheetos

Everyone loves Cheetos. In college we eat a lot of junk food like this because we do not have time. It’s hard to get the Cheetos when the bag is lying down. You have to stick your hand in there and it gets the cheese dust on it. However, you can pull the bottom part out (not apart!) and then push the bottom of the bag inside out. Keep pushing until the Cheetos reach the top. Now you do not have to stick your hand into the and it’s easier for them to come out. Hot Cheetos work great for this too!life hacks studygate

Problem 5: Your beer is not cold enough

Do you want to cool a beer as fast as possible? Wet a paper towel in cold water and put the beer in the freezer. Then wrap the paper towel around the beer. The paper towel will freeze cold, and your beer will be cold much faster. BTW, frozen beer explodes. 15 minutes ought to do it with this technique.

life hacks studygate

Problem 6: Your bananas go ripe too fast

Keep the bananas fresh by wrapping the top of them with plastic wrap and keeping them away from other fruits. This will prevent them from getting bad. But once you take a banana, you have to tie it up again. Bananas ripen with ethylene, but wrapping the stems reduces their flow of oxygen to get ethylene.

life hacks studygate

Problem 7: Cook a hot dog without a microwave

Start with a coffee pot. Make sure your coffee pot is clean, then put the hot dogs in the coffee pot. Run a cycle and leave the hot dogs in hot water until you see they’re cooked. The bottom of the coffee maker will finish the job of cooking the hot dogs.

life hacks studygate

Problem 8: Have no laptop bag to take computer

Make a laptop bag with your hoodie. Lay your hoodie on a table chest up and place your laptop horizontally in the chest area with the long parts facing the arms. Make sure your hoodie has the strings on the outside, then bring the bottom part up and fold it over the hoodie itself. Tuck the extra fabric under the hoodie itself. Next, put the hood over the top of the laptop and pull it around the device so that it wraps like an envelope. Flip the laptop over and tie the drawstrings together. Finally, tie the arms here together so that you can carry it on your shoulder. Guys, this might look like a purse. You’ve been warned!

life hacks studygate

Problem 9: Your pens keep wearing out

You will need some G2 pens. You can usually buy 4 of them for $5. Next, purchase the Mont Blanc brand of two ballpoint pen refills, which usually cost $12 to fill up a $200 pen. Get the cheap pen and take out the ink refill. Remove the top of the cheap refill and place it on the top of the Mont Blanc refill. When you put your Mont Blanc refill with the G2 top into the G2 pen, you’ll see that you just got a very expensive pen that cost only 12 dollars.

life hacks studygate

Problem 10: Not enough space in your closet

Use soda pop tabs to organize your closet. All we need to do is put one hook in one hole of the soda pop tab and the other hook in the other hole. This takes up way less space because it lets the shirts hang down instead of all having to fit side by side.

life hacks studygate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s it for life hacks in college! Thanks to Crazy Russian Hacker for this great original post. Click here for life hacks on how to study as well.

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12 Study Tips That Will Boost Your Results

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How to destroy homework procrastination using YouTube

Study With Me

College and high school students are turning to Study With Me videos to destroy homework procrastination. Their lives are no different from older generations. Today’s students seek support. They feel lonely sometimes. To solve this, students turn to technology to increase their motivation. They hold each other accountable. They take the library to their laptop with study tubers.

This trend has a long history of development on the web that starts with ASMR.

SWM videos are a mostly European trend gone global
SWM videos are a mostly European trend gone global

ASMR Origins

The term ASMR has its online roots in chat forums and stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response dating back to 2007. Maria of Gentle Whispering ASMR fame associates the trend with childhood. “Whenever your mother would treat you delicately, or your doctor or teacher would talk to you gently… The caring touch is the biggest trigger.”

ASMR creators assume that people need to feel personally comforted on the Internet. As early pioneers like Maria realized that quiet soothing sounds produce spine-tingling sensations in people, they used sound to facilitate the experience. Things like the sound of scissors when getting a hair cut. Or crunching food as it is being eaten. Even just whispering can have an effect.

Study With Me Origins

Now imagine a world where life as a student sucks. Everyone expects you to succeed. You’re not doing that. Homework procrastination is so easy. The pressure to succeed is overwhelming.

From that pain point, study tubers today get millions of views on YouTube from doing just one thing: study. In front of a video camera. All by themselves. With the ASMR sounds of pencils scratching notes on paper.

Study with me videos have their origins in ASMR. ASMR creators would make low-budget videos based on their surroundings in their bedroom and living rooms. In September 2014 YouTuber Oldwonderfulsounds read a particularly boring academic article titled “The High Prevalence of Injury Among Female Bassoonists” to put her readers sleep. She stapled the papers together carefully at her desk. She even took notes as she read to her viewers.

Other YouTubers intent on creating alternatives to their normal content would get stuck with revising for exams. In April 2015, ASMRAlice in the UK used her school homework as a tool to create ASMR effects. With whispers and explanations, Alice flips through sticky notes and scratches words on paper from her desk in her video.

This video has since been deleted

The combination of study ASMR didn’t exactly create award-winning content.

Study With Me Study Tuber #1

Mercifully, there was Heleen from Brussels. Anxious about finding some study buddies, she posted in May 2015 about creating a place for people to connect and learn together.

Determined to stop her homework procrastination, Heleen took action. She did not focus on not getting more friends in school. Her channel never showcased fashionable style to get extra clicks for video production. Heleen realized beautiful stationary and back to school videos would not inspire an A. Instead, she shared her desire to build a connected community focused on study.

Three years later, Heleen tells me that people keep coming back because they can find a positive environment to study in. Visitors chat during scheduled 10 minute breaks. As for Heleen, she is on the verge of beginning a career in chemical engineering as she finishes her master’s degree.

Her demeanor is simple, straightforward, and always friendly. According to Heleen, “If I had never started streaming, I would continue procrastinating. I was getting bad grades in math and would have failed. This is an accountability system for me. There is a sense of collaboration and usefulness to our work together.” During our conversation, I was most struck my Heleen’s sense of gratitude to give back to the community that had inspired.

It was as if she owed them something.

Since Heleen posted the first ever study with me video on June 1st, 2015, thousands of students have joined the movement to create their own videos. Millions of students are following these channels across YouTube. You can read more about the varying approaches to study with me videos here.

Expert Perspective: What the Critics Say

Smaller education companies are getting in the mix too. At Studygate, students are creating micro Study With Me sessions with their classmates. Too often, you know what you need to do but just can’t take the first step. Study with me sessions solve that and gives you a place to feel connected with your classmates.

Of course, there are many reasons to question the value of studying with other humans online. MIT professor and psychologist Sherry Turkle believes “the Internet is taking us places we don’t want to go. We remove ourselves from our grief or from our revery, and we go into our phones… we sacrifice conversation for mere connection. We short-change ourselves. And over time, we seem to forget this, or we seem to stop caring.”

Turkle is right that emotions of sadness and excitement are neutralized online, but other professors are slower to condemn a movement dedicated to beating homework procrastination.

Mitchell Nathan is professor of educational psychology and learning sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He compares Study With Me videos with parallel play when young children build blocks next to each other without directly getting involved in the other’s actions. Interest is there, but full engagement is not needed. Nathan describes study with me sessions as a time when “You’re ignoring each other, but that’s still much more preferable than doing it all by yourself.”

Stefan van der Stigchel teaches experimental psychology at the University of Utrecht and describes Study With Me videos as an opportunity to find a place of belonging. “You have the same thing in a library, you just have to look around you to see that you’re all doing the same thing, that’s motivating.”

The Future of Study

Today it’s easy to look at the lives of future generations and believe their experiences will be worse than our own. If humans use technology to be more productive and get better grades, we still have to apply these to things that matter. What are we doing to positively impact the lives of others?

Heleen used the digital tools around her to build a group of friends. To encourage accountability. She made discipline out of homework procrastination. And she did it on YouTube.

As Study With Me videos continue to grow, we should look at the trend as a tool to inspire tomorrow’s leaders. So thank you YouTube. And thanks Heleen. For taking homework procrastination out of the Internet.

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Study with me: 11 study tubers to inspire your next A

The study with me genre is going global. Expect to find videos filled with students doing just one thing: studying. Get ready for lots of silence (music optional) as smart people get to work and invite you to join them.

Why study with me?

There are some great reasons to watch these videos:

  1. Friendship with tons of comments from likeminded students
  2. Community of people committed to learning with you to the next A
  3. Single screen to focus on instead of distracted browsing everywhere

The following are some of the hippest students on the planet, presented in no particular order. Each offer their own flavor and personality to compliment your study session.

Study with me Studytubers

1. TheStrive Studies

 

STUDY WITH ME–let’s study together! | TheStrive Studies! (no music)

Jamie is a medical student with a polished video style based in NYC. Studying with her honestly feels like entertainment AND working in the presence of a guru because she shares so much about her life as a successful medical student. The perfect balance between genius and fashionista, she shows off her space with just enough with multiple camera angles to inspire without distracting. The result is more views than any other video on this list.

2. Study To Success

STUDY WITH ME: 3 Hour Live/Real Time Study Session (Pomodoro)

Estella’s channel packs a flamboyant attitude, proving once and for all that such a thing can exist in AP Statistics. She is focused and tends to show some rough around the edges to keep it real (this video was made before an all nighter). Overall, expect carefully organized highlighters on this channel along with stationary and assortments of neon objects decorating her Instagram profile. She is one of the few Studytubers I found using Google Meet sessions, but there is the added bonus of her phone to track Pomodoro on a 3-hour video. 

3. UnJaded Jade

Real Time Study With Me *with break* 💪 2 Hours of Productivity & Motivation
Real Time Study With Me *with break* 💪 2 Hours of Productivity & Motivation

Birmingham (England, not Alabama)-based Jade kicks ass with a high energy channel that keeps it real. She is not a fashionista, at least not a self-conscious one. While many YouTubers use sophisticated editing techniques to produce their work, Jade films with her phone. Without a doubt one of the most popular studytubers on YouTube, she constantly comes across as a really authentic person, which is actually pretty impressive since she is studying biology.

4. Study Vibes

Study with me | 2 hours
Study with me | 2 hours

The Belgium-based Study Vibes channel consists almost exclusively of study with me videos. That’s unique in a studytuber culture that often mixes fashion or life hacks into its content uploads. One of the more introverted channels I have found, Heleen interacts with a small but highly engaged group of users with enabled live chats during Google Meet sessions. Not only is this the longest tenured channel I found during my research (since 2014), but it represents the only channel treating its viewers like true study partners and not just another view to entertain. 

5. Thomas Frank

Study With Me - A 25-Minute Pomodoro Session
Study With Me – A 25-Minute Pomodoro Session

Thomas Frank might be the king of the studytuber genre, but that isn’t really fair since he is one among very few guys to post in it. Considered slightly old compared to most other study with me creators, Frank admits to finding these videos cheesy and wouldn’t dare go to the trouble of making a whole subcategory of videos like this. For efficiency, he treats this video like a single-view pomodoro session. As Frank would say, “let’s get to work.”

6. 사랑Sarang

STUDY WITH ME | 같이 공부해요
STUDY WITH ME | 같이 공부해요

By far one of the more inspiring channels I found, dental student Sarang shows off an artistic side that constantly comes out in her videos. We find it in the flowers on the intro segments and slightly unfocused camera angles of her videos. Sarang is lucky to be in dental school after taking a long and winding path from Korea to study in the US. Maybe that’s what makes her focus and fancy hair so inspiring. And her study with me music ROCKS with selections by Eventide. To keep it real, expect to hear Sarang highly focused and talking to herself in between tracks.

7. Cracker ASMR

📚 No talking ASMR | Let's study together! Studying ASMR, writing , page turning, white noise
📚 No talking ASMR | Let’s study together! Studying ASMR, writing , page turning, white noise

Another Korean channel, Cracker ASMR contains by far the best sense of aesthetic on this list without overwhelming or distracting. The creator keeps it real by making videos where the sound of what you’re hearing represents the perfect experience to compliment the visuals. Best experienced with headphones, this YouTuber will tickle your ears with paintbrushes and Q-tips (no kidding) on other videos, but no talking. Ever. All you hear are the scratches her pencil makes on the paper she is taking notes on.

8. iMia

STUDY WITH ME : MED SCHOOL NEUROANATOMY #2
STUDY WITH ME : MED SCHOOL NEUROANATOMY #2

Study with me is taking over France too, and Marion aka iMia is one of its pioneers. Her videos profile the life of a medical student studying abroad in Italy. Often, she talks about her life studying medicine and has recently taken a plunge into the genre with a very dark back view of her multi-screened study space. The accompanying music is energetic and straight-forward, a great example of how this video genre is revolutionizing how people learn and evolves around the world.

9. MedBros

Study With Me (2 hours w/ music)
Study With Me (2 hours w/ music)

Don’t expect a Pomodoro session from MedBros. Honestly, how could you learn everything you need to get in 25 minutes after all? Much better to learn alongside someone for an extended period of time, and that’s exactly what is provided here with a nearly 2 hour session. Chill hip hop beats are included (or not, your choice). Thankfully, Shaman keeps it real with some minor humor. 🙂

10. Mariana’s Study Corner

STUDY WITH ME IN REAL TIME » 20 minutes of Spartan History
STUDY WITH ME IN REAL TIME » 20 minutes of Spartan History

This Portuguese channel is another one of the more artfully crafted study with me videos. There is the wood finish table, which is gorgeous. Then there is the trendy use of an iPad on Google Drive. Finally, Mariana uses clean pens and highlighters to work out of her notebook with her muted pink fingernails. Users can see her fantastic technique of reading and extracting relevant material from the PDF for later review. We only wish it could be longer!

11. Melissa Brady

study with me (cramming w coffee)
study with me (cramming w coffee)

This American Youtuber has three things going for her: excellent musical taste with saxophonist Dexter Gordon ❤️️❤️️❤️️, an old school iMovie filter, and a snarky personality to make any study session a joy to complete. In this video, her concept is to visit coffee shops around the town where she lives and take us along with her. With those giant glasses, she just might be the hippest study buddy on the list, fashion and video editing heavy.

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Four Examples Of Great Educators And What We Can Learn From Them

When I think of all the teachers I’ve ever had, I am amazed at the many roles they have to play for their students’ success. In addition to being educators, they can be mentors, role models, knowledgeable experts, a sympathetic ear, even a fellow student! Whether you’re a tutor, a schoolteacher, or a university professor, you’ll find yourself playing these roles, and the very best educators play multiple roles seamlessly. Here are a few teachers I’ve had and the lessons that all educators can learn from them.

 

Mrs. Berens: 4th Grade

4th grade was arguably my greatest year of school, period. I’m not kidding. I had it all: good grades, popularity, an active social life, and so much more. I also developed a genuine love of learning, which I owe to the efforts of my teacher, Mrs. Berens.

Mrs. Berens seemed to know everything and was eager to share all that knowledge with you, ready or not. She was a real-life Ms. Frizzle! We covered a ton of subjects every day: Math, Science, History, English, and did a lot of group work in each of them. I remember when she gave us multiplication speed tests, and then instructed us to get with two to three other students to compare answers and correct our work. Everything was a collaborative process in her classroom, and I loved it. The classroom itself was FULL of resources we used during our free time. There was a huge bookshelf that I loved to pick from because she always had the best books that weren’t always available in the library. It was a space designed to maximize learning, but that wasn’t even the best part. Mrs. Berens not only encouraged excellence, she expected and demanded it.

And she rewarded excellence in the best ways: special field trips, lunches, computer privileges—once, when we achieved a reading goal she had set for us, she arranged for our class to attend a movie premiere in Hollywood! She had influence!

The Lesson: Passion

I loved Mrs. Berens because she played a strong leadership role in our learning journey. She set a high standard, expected us to achieve it, and allowed us to be curious and discover new things in the process. With her, learning was a true pleasure, and I understood that attending school was not my duty, it was my privilege.

 

 

Mrs. Rosemann: 6th Grade

As an unruly 10-year-old, I lacked the self-control to focus on my studies sometimes. Take an absentminded child, add a newfound access to video games, and you’ve got a kid who’s not always paying attention in the classroom. Mrs. Rosemann changed all that.

She seemed wonderfully odd to me when I first met her. She had fiery red hair that looked out of place paired with her usual dark blazers. As it turned out, her fashion sense was a perfect illustration of the kind of teacher she was. She struck a balance between stern and empathetic, serious and silly, kind and cold. When teaching math and science, she was all business. When we got to reading and art, however, she’d prance around the room, vibrant and animated. Mrs. Rosemann ran a structured classroom, and her expectations were clearly laid out from day one. She was a strict disciplinarian: if you were caught messing around, she would call you out in front of the whole class. But she was also a free spirit who encouraged creativity from all of us. In the middle of the year, our class wrote and performed our own Greek tragedy—we made our own costumes and everything!

The Lesson: Discipline

Mrs. Rosemann introduced structure at a pivotal time in our lives. At the start of our preteen years, other things were more important than school, and she taught us to remain studious, composed, and to take our own learning seriously. Most importantly, she held us accountable for our behavior, our assignments, and for understanding the lessons. Many of the best educators emphasize that learning is also YOUR responsibility.

 

 

Ms. Bullard: 9th Grade English

Following my middle school years—where I had been puffed up and praised for doing well with relatively easy work—Ms. Bullard shattered my idea of what good academic writing was and forced me to improve my skills—or suffer the consequences…

I’ll never forget that first day: We were a bunch of arrogant freshmen, straight out of junior high, sitting at our desks, waiting to receive a worksheet to fill out for 45 minutes. But it never came.

Instead, Ms. Bullard told us to write an essay about our summer reading. With a thesis, supporting evidence, specific details, a conclusion, and everything. Without the book. Using memory alone. It was a bloodbath.

After that, the real work began. She taught us two important things about academic writing and communication in general: how you say something is as important as what you’re saying, and if you’re going to take a position, you’d better be able to back it up. Her class was rigorous. It was frustrating. It felt impossible. If you managed to break into the “A” range, you felt like a champion because you fought for it.

The Lesson: Humility

With knowledge comes pride. The best teachers give you a good kick in the shins and make you forget everything you think you know so you can start learning from a new perceptive, which ultimately makes you smarter. Even though it was a freshman English class, Ms. Bullard treated us like seniors. She expected nothing but clear, excellent writing from us, and that’s what we had to deliver if we wanted to survive. She was a relentless, unforgiving coach—just what we needed.

 

 

Mrs. Haus: 9th, 10th, and 11th Grade Biology (AND Chemistry)

Science was one of my favorite subjects in high school, and it’s all thanks to Mrs. Haus. A lot of students complained about her because she gave a lot of homework, although I later realized the reason why. Much of the learning process is repetition, and her classes were all repetition, all the time! In high school, test preparation slowly takes precedence over actual learning, but not in Mrs. Haus’ class. She taught for understanding.

In my freshman year, she gave us packets filled with a list of that week’s science terms for us to define, as well as a ton of short answer questions that we had to complete with thorough explanations. One week, we had to explain the process of Meiosis, and if we left out a single part, we could expect corrective red marks all over the page.

The devil was in the details.

Her pickiness followed me on to 10th grade, her 6 week summer Chemistry course (which was brutal), and ESPECIALLY to AP Biology, where I wrote, reviewed, and rewrote answers for her all year.

But here’s the thing: her obsession with detail was only half of her winning teaching style. She also focused on getting to know each student and our weaknesses so she could help us learn in our own ways. She knew that I’d skip over the smallest details, so she made me revise assignments again and again until I learned to be thorough.

And it worked! I scored high on the AP test!

The Lesson: Perseverance

Even though she was incredibly nit-picky, Mrs. Haus taught me that anything worth doing is worth doing correctly. Excellence is all about the small things that can make or break you, and my time with her was a testament to that fact.

 

 

The great educators in our lives have all played roles besides that of “teacher” in order to teach those core values that help us succeed. Good teachers stick to the material, amazing teachers go beyond it. The best thing about that is, every teacher has the opportunity to be a great educator if they’re willing to walk the extra mile.

For more stories like this one, study tips, homework help, and one-on-one live tutoring, check out StudyGate.com!

 

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Exam Preparation: What Are the Best Test Prep Tips?

exam preparation_best test prep tips

In recent years, the American school system has become more focused than ever on test scores in order to monitor students’ progress. While tests can never truly measure a person’s capabilities or worth, they’re definitely not going away anytime soon. In fact, after graduation, many employers will often administer tests to prospective employees to measure their strengths and weaknesses. Check out these effective test prep tips on how to be the best student and test taker you can be. It’s easier than you think!

Test Prep Tip 1: Plan, Don’t Cram

test prep tips_study guideIf you’re taking a test that covers material from a whole unit, or even a whole semester, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Trying to tackle everything the night before the test will make you more likely to get confused and forget smaller details that can be crucial. Instead, create a study guide template to fill over the course of the unit or semester, or make flashcards with important vocabulary words. Writing down or typing what you need to know is a great tool to help you remember key ideas, and when you do it over a longer period of time, you have more opportunities to ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Test Prep Tip 2: Get Together with Friends

test prep tips_study groupPlanning a study group with your classmates is a great way to go over material in a relaxed and low-pressure setting. Friends can help to quiz you on important points and help you fill in the blanks for any concepts you may not have been too clear on. However, when forming a study group, make sure your friends are ready to get down to business and not just socialize!

Test Prep Tip 3: Rest, Relax, Rehydrate

test prep tips_rest, relax, rehydrateBy the time the night before a test rolls around, you should only need to briefly look over your notes for five or ten minutes. Anything more is likely to stress you out instead of helping you. Instead, make sure you relax and get plenty of sleep the night before. Remind yourself that you’ve studied hard and done all you can to prepare. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water too, so you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the world!

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From Small Talk to Big Talk: Having Meaningful Conversations Post-College

From Small Talk to Big Talk: Having Meaningful Conversations Post-College

by Katie Chang

Hi everyone! My name is Katie and this is my first post on the StudyGate Blog!

 

The other week, I awoke to the terrible news of another school shooting, this time in Texas.

Immediately, I ran to my roommate’s bedroom, wanting to talk about this tragedy. My roommate is incredible, but unfortunately she couldn’t talk that morning. She was writing a report before going to work, and frankly, she didn’t want to think about what had happened. There were too many other things to deal with that day. I understood. I know how important her work is to her. But it truly solidified for me how we have become so accustomed to shoving these big issues down, not dealing with them, as there are too many other things to do.

I graduated from college last June and I’ve spent the better part of this past year working in New York City as an actress and writer. Settling in to post-grad life was an adjustment to say the least, and one of the things I found missing from my new normal were the types of conversations cultivated in a university environment. At school, whether it was in class or with my friends, it always felt like we were critically examining something, having productive and meaningful conversations, and gaining new insights from each other’s opinions.

I sat with my roommate for another few minutes while she finished her report. We discussed our plans for the day:

A new face mask she was going to try.

Maybe I would go to a yoga class later?

Does she think Ocean’s 8 is actually going to be a good movie?

And…that was it. Just small talk. But small talk that seemed to be in the place of a meaningful conversation. Small talk as a means to an end. Small talk as pleasantry, without deep thinking. Though still filled with deep love for my roommate, I felt like this small talk needed to be addressed, at least in my own life.

 

How do we do this now, in the real world, where monotony, complacency and other responsibilities seem to infiltrate life before we can even blink?

 

So, this week, I decided to get creative. My wonderful friend Kalina started an initiative a few years ago called Big Talk. Her philosophy is to cut small talk and pleasantries to get down to the nitty-gritty in conversations. Through her initiative, Kalina makes Big Talk cards. Think something similar to Cards Against Humanity but with inspiring questions, instead of jokes and innuendos.

Big Talk Cards
Big Talk Cards

 

I’ve had some of Kalina’s Big Talk cards for a while, and I thought why not use them since I’ve found myself wanting more meaningful interactions lately?

I started at dinner with my friend Geoff,

an uber-talented orchestrator and pianist who works in musical theater. Over chips and guacamole, I presented my Big Talk cards and pulled the first one off the stack. “What makes you really feel alive?” I asked Geoff. He then let out a big laugh. Us New Yorkers aren’t used to answering these types of questions.  With a sheepish grin, Geoff replied:

“That moment, when the house lights in the theater go down, and it’s the quietest it’s going to be for two hours. And then the conductor signals, and we start the show. I love that moment. The anticipation. The joy I get from knowing I’m about to do the thing I love the most for two whole hours.”

 

His answer astounded me. I’ve known Geoff for two years now, and I know he loves music and his work, but I did not consider the deep connection he has to what he does, that it truly makes him feel alive. His answer was similar to what I would’ve said – although my response would be in the context of filmmaking as opposed to musicals (I cannot carry a tune to save my life). I know that moment before, that quiet, the anticipation of starting a thing that fills you with such happiness and peace you might explode. My moments are when the first assistant director calls: “Quiet on set!” and “Rolling!” These are my cues to take a deep breath, to prepare, and then to let myself go into my character. It is a freeing and cathartic experience, every single time, and I find myself craving when I finish a film and before I start the next one.

By simply asking Geoff this question,

I learned a new way that we are connected as humans and as artists. It made me feel closer to him, and reminded me that small talk isn’t inevitable. I can ask myself and those around me for more, especially if I feel I need more. And the result? Deeper human connection. Finding common ground. Isn’t that what we all want in life? Even in my first Big Talk foray, I learned something new about an old friend. I’m carrying these cards around with me now at least for the rest of the weekend. Who knows who I’ll meet and what I’ll learn about or from them? I want to ask them so many questions.

Some of my favorites: What do you fight for? What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done? What was the most impactful event in your life? I can’t wait to hear their answers.

I want to talk about art.

About sadness.

About success and failure and everything in between.

I think what I’m getting at here is that I wish people discussed more the things that frighten them or make them deliriously happy. Somehow, we live our lives smack dab in the middle, AKA in averageness. I don’t want average anymore. I want Big Talk. Off I go, into the world, to make big talk! I hope you do too.

 

Katie Chang is an actor, writer, and StudyGate tutor that specializes in literature, reading, film, theater, and so much more. If you need homework help, study tips, or one-on-one tutoring, click the button below!

Visit StudyGate.com

 

 

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Common Misconceptions Studying Abroad

First of all, misconceptions studying abroad happen too often. It’s easy to miss that Madrid has a slowly climbing hill on the west side of the city once you cross the ancient Puente de Segovia towards Puerta del Angel. There are cervecerías and lavaderías on the way up, places to drink beer and wash clothes. You can find locutorios too, dirty internet cafés that charge by the minute for a web connection. Walk another thirty minutes and you start seeing the remnants of an era where Francisco Franco ruled Spain. Drab buildings that all look the same tower over mullet haircuts and dog droppings littered along narrow sidewalks. Orange plastic walls next to rough stucco white buildings.

That’s where you’ll find the Conservatorio de Teresa Berganza next to the Lucero metro stop on line 6. Building seriously needs to be knocked down and rebuilt by American standards, so maybe it makes sense that I learned in that place that there is no such thing as a safe space.

I couldn’t get better without some discomfort.

My teacher’s name was Carlos G. Pérez de Aranda y Ramírez. Which is a mouthful even for a Spanish name. He was a music historian, bald with brightly colored green pants and a severe disposition and looked a little bit like Jean-Pierre Coffe, the very very French supermarket personality for Leader Price. I saw Aranda y Ramírez maybe three times the whole year. Which was fine since working with him was not the point of moving to Madrid, where I wound up dominating this music piece instead. But there I was with el Profesor as a saxophone player tasked with writing a paper comparing 19th century romantic composers. The things we do for a piece of paper. I had misconceptions studying abroad that this was important.

My diploma from writing a paper in an unsafe space

If you can imagine a 100% caucasian gringo trying to wax Castilian academic from a family that didn’t go much beyond “hola,” “gracias,” and “enchilada,” then you have my Spanish background. There was the research, the editing, and the revision. I wrote that paper on a boxy PC in a suffocating apartment with the bonus feature of well-ventilated windows to bring in the dusty dry Madrileño air. My friends all laughed at that paper with it’s crazy spanglish grammar and awkward saxophone historian perspective, and that’s when I realized I would never be safe to express myself without exposing myself to criticism. Without getting some smirks. Without some WTFs along the way.

I couldn’t get better without some discomfort.

Safe Spaces Theory

In September 2015, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt released their groundbreaking essay “The Coddling of the American Mind.” The authors describe a safe space as a location where “young adults are shielded from words and ideas that make some uncomfortable.”

Safe spaces. The evolution of this word still surprises me because it suggests that my comfort as a student is the most important.

Certainly, safes space is becoming a loaded and confusing term. In 2016, journalist Oliver Bateman described safe spaces as “an area where subject matter is studied with a full awareness of the students’ own subjectivity kept firmly in mind.” This requires critical student thought in the full spirit of unassuming inquiry. Tressie McMillan Cottom at Virginia Commonwealth University would agree. A “safe space” is all about being safely uncomfortable in classand challenged by new ideas that conflict with previously held assumptions. These descriptions sound nice, but they don’t paint the picture Lukianoff and Haidt describe.

That’s because safe spaces are also intended to shield people from bias, criticism, and situations that might be found threatening. According to some prominent sociologists who wrote a great book on the subject in 2018, safe spaces result in the creation of victimhood culture.

Safe Spaces Abroad

But I don’t see safe spaces happening in other parts of the world, at least not in Europe. Learning moves in the spirit of Quincy Jones, who demands that “You’re supposed to use everything from the past. If you know where you come from, it’s easier to get where you’re going.” That means confronting the tough subjects and acknowledging their impact on current society. Professors don’t care about your opinions. They value your ability to comprehend previously accepted ideas and critically apply them

I lived in Spain for 12 months, which is long enough to embrace many misconceptions studying abroad. Air conditioning will be a luxury and the shower will be cold. The guys will have inside jokes about sex and local futbol players that you won’t understand. The girls will act in unexpected quirky ways that you couldn’t guess. You might find a cockroach in your room and thieves on the metro. Or as Caitlyn Stone who studied abroad in Glasgow, Scotland would say, traveling isn’t glamorous!

“I literally took ten to twelve-hour bus rides to get to Oxford and London. I woke up a 4:30 a.m. to get glam and ready to walk a mile to the train station before 6 a.m. I’ve done my makeup in a bus station bathroom. I walked upwards of 7 miles every day in a new city…”

BONUS: And you’ll have the language ability of a 5-year-old.

Also, Coming from Kansas as a straight white male, I lived in Spain as a definite minority for the first time in my life. And so the world was not made safe for me. People laughed at my Spanish. Teachers didn’t coddle me. But that’s where some of the greatest beauty in my life came. The opportunity to discover lifelong relationship with others, make beautiful music, increase personal discipline, and develop a new worldview of my making.

Finally, none of it could have happened in a safe space. So if you’re headed abroad, here are some tips for integrating into your new adventure and embracing unsafe spaces:

1. Acknowledge everyone you meet. From the grocery cashier to your neighbors and classmates. You will need friends, and you will have only one chance to make a first impression. Make it positive by smiling and speaking their language even if you aren’t fluent yet. Failure doesn’t matter.

2. Be a chameleon. Chances are you will stick out like a sore thumb, so figure out how other people dress and adapt accordingly. Live like your surroundings and embrace the extraordinary exposure to the unsafe space that creates an alternate personality in you and astonishes friends back home.

3. Use learning services. Sites like StudyGate keep students grounded in the details of their learning no matter where they are located. You can easily find a tutor to learn with and stay accountable in your local commitments. Then double down by discussing the concept from your new perspective.

Makes learning constructive no matter what type of learning space

Most of all, only when we encounter pressure do we discover who we really are and avoid misconceptions studying abroad. So if you aren’t in a safe space and headed abroad, count yourself lucky. You’re in a position to grow.

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Four Ways To Stay Motivated And Finish The School Year Strong

Stay Motivated

It’s May! That means state testing, prom, research projects, just a bit more homework than you bargained for, and a whole bunch of other things that can really take a toll on your focus. It’s easy to start slacking right around this time of year. The end of the school year is in sight, summer’s on the way, the weather’s nicer, everything seems more upbeat and relaxed. But you’ve got to stay motivated!

Don’t fall for it!

There’s a lot you can do to sabotage yourself in this critical time in the academic year. It’s okay to stop and smell the roses every now and then, but you’ve also got to stand up straight, square your shoulders, and put in the work. Here are four ways to help you do that:

Organize and Prioritize

If there was ever a time to stay organized, this is it. With so much going on in school and at home, it’s important to keep every date, every obligation, every meeting straight in your head. If you don’t already, keep a planner handy to write down things that you know you need to take care of in the future. Then, rank those things from most to least important. Now,  you can direct your attention to the things that need it the most, and you’ll feel less stressed as a result!

Be Mindful

Speaking of stress, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything that’s going on around you. In the midst of all the chaos, take time to slow down and understand what you’re working on. Group projects and research assignments pile up during this time of year, so it’s a good idea to be especially aware of your work habits and how you’re feeling. When choosing how to divide your time, be selective! Ask for help if you can’t meet a deadline, focus on delivering quality work, and above all, set aside some time to take care of your health.

Get Some Perspective

The tests you take during this important season can improve or hurt your chances of ending up with that A you’ve been working so hard for, or the high SAT or AP score that will take you to the college of your dreams. It’s a crucial moment! But that’s all it is. A single moment in the vast timeline that is your life. Don’t put any unnecessary stress on yourself. One test does not decide what your entire future will be. Chin up, shoulders back, do your very best, and your future will fall into place, you’ll see!

Remember Your Goals

There are so many contradictory things about May. It’s testing season, and you should study hard, but prom is coming up, and you want to party hard. Graduation is coming up, and you feel like you’re finished, but those last few assignments count—it’s not over yet! Take time to remember your goals. What did you set out to achieve? Make them more visible in your everyday life. Write them on post-it notes and stick it in your notebook, on your refrigerator, on your bathroom mirror, EVERYWHERE. With summer around the corner, it’s very easy to get distracted with all the fun things going on, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to stop short of the finish line.

 

Students, this is time to remain focused and do all you can to finish the school year strong! Keep yourself accountable, check your urges to slack off, and accomplish what you set out to do! For more helpful tips, homework help, test preparation, and one-on-one tutoring, visit us at StudyGate.com!

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Fighting The System: Good Students Vs. Academic Dishonesty

Academic Honesty

Students are blurring the lines between academic honesty and legitimate study more and more as time goes on. While the nature of cheating is still clearly defined, students can now find help online in a multitude of ways. It can be difficult to determine what is dishonest and what isn’t.

For example, is it cheating if a tutor works out a math related homework problem for a student to study later? The student did not technically do the work, but the student does not turn it is as his or her own work. The distinction is becoming more and more unclear.

As students go further in their academic careers, there is a greater urge to be academically dishonest. The students who have cheated in the past will continue to do so. But what about everyone else? What about the students who normally perform well, but find the need to find extra help elsewhere? There are many reasons why students cheat, but the most consequential reasons come from the fact that students in higher education are often pitted against an unforgiving system that gives very few second chances.

 

Numbers Matter

Many rigorous college courses weigh some assignments more heavily than others. It’s very common for a teacher to instruct a course in which there are two important assignments—a midterm and a final, or a final and a research project. The homework has little, if any, influence on the final grade. Students understand that they’ve got to learn strategy if they want to succeed in higher education. It’s not enough to just show up, listen, and do the assignments. You’ve got to know how to work the numbers and figure out what hits you can and cannot afford to take. If both your tests are each 40% of your final grade, and you don’t do so well on the first one, you know you’re performing damage control for the rest of the semester. This is part of the problem. Students will do anything to boost or stabilize that grade percentage. Sometimes, they run into situations that are less about ethics and more about survival.

 

Full Speed Ahead

The pace of the course is also a contributing factor to why students cheat. You’ve got to be absolutely ready for a midterm in a ten-week course because, again, doing poorly will cost you for the rest of the term. It’s one thing to have difficulty learning at such a rapid pace. Being penalized for it is another matter entirely! Yes, that’s just part of the challenges students face in higher education and they should learn to adjust. But the breakneck pace leads to a lot of anxiety among students who have a lot depending on the outcome of a course. A low or average grade could cause a student to miss out on an internship, university admission, or scholarship. The challenge itself is not what causes academic dishonesty. The outcome and subsequent effect on a student’s life is enough for even the most ethical student to weigh their options more closely.

 

Learning Factory

Many universities around the country offer courses with an enrollment size of 100 or more students total. Professors often do not have time to get to know each student individually, much less learn their handwriting, work ethic, and learning style. Academic dishonesty becomes much more attractive knowing that the instructor may not know that the student is cheating in the first place. It’s much harder to do in community colleges or schools with smaller class sizes, but is relatively easy in larger university courses.

 

So What’s The Takeaway?

I don’t believe new technology has any influence over a student’s decision to cheat. The way we cheat today is the same way we’ve cheated 30 years ago, those methods have just moved to an online format. However, today’s students are aware that they have to understand the system they’re engaged in if they want to survive. Every course syllabus explains the weight of various assignments. The student decides what to focus on. If they slip up on a certain assignment, or perform poorly on a test, they understand that it’s not enough just to do well on the next one. Academic dishonesty isn’t necessarily a route for lazy students to avoid applying themselves. It’s also a way for students to stack the odds in their favor. If we want to address the growing threat of academic dishonesty, we first need to understand the situation students all over the country contend with. It’s so much more than just studying and taking tests. It’s strategy, too.

 

For homework help, one-on-one tutoring, and more articles like these, visit StudyGate.com!

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Four Reasons Why Vocational Classes Will Make AP Students Successful

AP Students

Harvard president Charles Eliot expresses how difficult it is to provide an  education that leaves students prepared for the workforce in his 1869 article, The New Education. On one hand, he champions trade schools. He cites their usefulness in producing effective workers with a strong sense of practicality. On the other hand, he recognizes the need to develop the American educational system to cultivate strong thinkers and educators. His difficulty in finding a comprehensive education presented a problem that still exists today.

About forty years ago, lifestyle courses such as home economics and wood shop were serious elective classes. They taught important skill sets for everyday life. As schools slightly shifted their focus to boosting academic test scores, these classes have taken a backseat and gained a reputation for being “easy A” courses. They are basically where unmotivated students can gain extra credits toward graduation.

In recent years, however, schools like Tesla STEM High School in Redmond, Washington are starting to combine Advanced Placement courses with vocational classes to provide much needed hands-on experience and better prepare students for life after high school, according to a recent PBS article. It’s a move that could potentially lead us to emphasize that pragmatism and scholarship go hand in hand. Here are a few reasons why this improvement is a step toward Eliot’s vision that will give students the tools to be more productive and successful in the future.

 

Practice Over Theory

Typically, high schools separate hands-on experiences from textbook learning as students get older. Yes, many courses incorporate effective learning exercises into their curriculum, but at the end of the day, there is a greater emphasis on standardized testing and sprucing up that all-important college transcript. Students mostly apply their knowledge to hypothetical situations. While this may do wonders for test scores, abstract theories do not completely prepare students for the future. In short, students learn by doing things. The more things they do, the more they think about their skills and work they want to pursue in the future.

 

Practical Skills Are Essential For Survival

Home economics, wood shop, auto repair, and other vocational courses teach valuable skills that adults use every day. While it is important to learn advanced science and math concepts, learning to cook a complete meal is equally important. Students need to learn basic survival skills, such as how to change a tire, change oil, sewing, tax preparation, and so much more. As students transition into college life, these skills will give them a sense of independence.

 

More Application, Less Memorization

In most AP courses, students rapidly move through difficult concepts and lessons throughout the year, taking tests regularly. Then, over the months of March and April, students and teachers shift into test preparation mode. They study the AP test format, nailing down all the definitions and possible questions and preparing students for the big test in May. These courses are useful for teaching students advanced concepts and how to take on challenges, but they are ultimately test centered. The knowledge gained is quickly lost. Students at Tesla STEM High School agree that applying knowledge to real-world situations helps them understand the material. One student links behavioral sciences to a career in forensics, saying that, “The lab work really puts things in perspective and makes them easier to understand when we take tests.”

 

Mixing Students Of Different Academic Levels Could Be Beneficial

In our current academic culture, the gifted and talented students are slowly separated from everyone else. In high school, there is a clear distinction. Mixing students of various skill has the potential to increase learning by removing status as a factor in academic success. The students normally suited to AP courses can apply their knowledge with other students and learn to become problem solvers. They learn how to work in a team of people will different backgrounds and skill sets. Students who lack the skills to succeed in college and beyond would face greater challenges and demand excellence from themselves. A learning environment plays a significant role in a student’s success and there is a lot that they can do to support each other.

 

 

A man cannot run an organization or company without having first performed the organization’s basic services, according to Eliot. A doctor cannot become the head of a major medical institution without having spent time with actual patients. The same concept applies here. Students will be better off if they apply their advanced lessons to real situations. Knowledge coupled with experience yields longer lasting success, and it is time that our educational system reflected this principle.

For more articles about education, homework help, study tips, and one-on-one tutoring, visit StudyGate.com!

 

 

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