The ‘upward spiral of happiness’: Positive classrooms help kids create healthy neuropathways, says prof
There is a lot schools could do to make their classrooms happier places, Queen’s University faculty of education PhD candidate Scott Hughes argued in a presentation at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Victoria this week. He asked teachers, parents and students from kindergarten to Grade 2 at Waldorf, Montessori, Froebel and independent and public schools about happiness and how it can help kids have a better experience at school.
He told the Post’s Sarah Boesveld all about it.
Five Live Wildlife Webcams You Need to See: Travel Without Leaving Home
For anyone who has an appreciation for the beauty and majesty of Turtle Island’s wildife, the technology exists today to be able to watch animals such as bison and owls in their natural habitats right from the comfort of home.
Explore.org has a fantastic collection of nature webcams, plus an abundance of photos, information and other wildlife resources. Here are five that you don’t want to miss.
When a pothole appeared in front of Stéphan Vigneault’s Gatineau, Que., home, he took it upon himself to fill it with dirt — and then flowers. The Post‘s Kyla Garvey spoke to the guerrilla gardener on Tuesday:
When did you first plant the garden?
Last summer I first planted it with a neighbour at night, filled the pothole. We did it at night so that people walked by in the morning and would be surprised by it. We chose a night without moon, and did it. This year we planted it again two weeks ago.
(Stéphan Vigneault/Family Photo)
PNG villagers celebrate Aussie couple who helped save tree kangaroos
A fascination with unusual kangaroos has led an Australian couple on a 10-year journey in the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea.
Zoologist Jim Thomas and his wife Jean have spent the past decade trying to save two critically endangered species of tree kangaroos.
The Weimang and Tenkile tree kangaroos had been hunted almost to extinction by locals who ate the animals.
Their numbers dwindled to fewer than 500 before the Thomases arrived in PNG’s Torricelli Mountain Ranges.
“There’s a high level of endemism in the Torricelli Mountains, so if it goes from here it’s gone forever,” Mr Thomas said.
The conservationists have since convinced 10,000 people in 50 villages in the region to stop hunting tree kangaroos and sign a moratorium protecting them in an area covering 180,000 hectares.
Instead of eating tree kangaroos, the Thomases have taught villagers to farm rabbits, chicken and fish for food.
“Within a few years some of those villagers came back to us and said, ‘hey we’ve got Tenkile on our land after 20 years’,” Mr Thomas said.
As well as helping locals with new farming methods, the Thomases’ Tenkile Conservation Alliance has run a number of development projects.
Water-borne diseases had been common in the villages until the alliance provided water tanks, which local Caleb Bulu says have changed people’s lives.
“In regard to health issues, we have no sickness anymore,” he said.
Now, hundreds of locals have turned out for a celebration - known as a singsing - to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Thomases’ arrival.
The singsing also marks the opening of their new research laboratory, which aims to attract scientists, encourage research in the area and provide a source of income for the conservation effort.
The alliance is also lobbying the PNG government to declare a conservation area over the Torricelli Mountains to further protect the unique animals.
Rare butterfly found in Glencoe
The Chequered Skipper has previously only been sighted within a short distance from Fort William, but a ranger team from the National Trust for Scotland made the latest discovery at the weekend.
Ecologist Dan Watson, who was accompanied by volunteers Joss Ratcliffe and Callum Gilhooley, Ecologist Dan Watson, joined by volunteers Joss Ratcliffe and Callum Gilhooley, decided that the sunny conditions were perfect for a butterfly hunt. “We targeted suitable habitat in Glen Etive, starting at a fenced off area in Dalness. This looked perfect for Chequered Skippers, having a south-east facing slope covered with scattered trees, purple moor-grass - the larval food plant - and bluebells, which the adults prefer to nectar on,” said Mr Watson.
“After a few false alarms caused by similarly-sized Common Heath moths, Joss caught something different in his net which turned out to be our target species. Once we’d got a better search image we started seeing them everywhere, counting at least thirteen individuals, four of which were metres from the road, seen while we were eating lunch.
The find comes during the Year of Natural Scotland which aims to celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty throughout 2013.“We continued a bit further up the glen to a smaller fenced off area and found another seven within a few minutes of crossing the fence. The records made will go to Butterfly Conservation, who are carrying out a survey of this butterfly as there is a suspicion that it is severely under-recorded at present. Our findings would seem to support this theory, but it is great to know that our habitat management is benefitting one of Scotland’s rarest butterflies.”
(Photo: NBC News)
When Principal Donald Lilley arrived nine years ago, Annapolis High School operated like two different schools where minority students failed and white students excelled. But innovative changes helped transform the school, creating a community that thrives on mentoring.
Not much happens in Geraldine, a small farming community in the interior of the South Island of New Zealand, about 85 miles from Christchurch. So when Hayden MacKenzie, a fourth-generation farmer there, picked up the phone last Tuesday and got a request to participate in a secret project—one that he wouldn’t even learn about until he signed a vow of silence—he and his wife Anna figured that they’d take a shot. That evening, two men showed up at his cozy farmhouse. They bore a peculiar red device, a sphere slightly bigger than a volleyball perched on a short collar, and attached it to his roof. Then they left.
Only when the men returned the next day did they reveal what they were up to. Inside the red ball was an antenna that would give the MacKenzies Internet access. It was custom-designed to communicate with a similar antenna that would be floating by in the stratosphere, over 60,000 feet above sea level. On a solar-powered balloon.
Oh, and the men work for Google.
Swallows Nest: Vincent Callebaut unveils glittering zero-carbon Möbius strip cultural center for Taiwan
The Swallows Nest cultural center has a system of moats in the basement level between the floors and walls that stabilizes the building in case of earthquakes. Glass overhangs provide further protection against typhoons. Three vertical gardens climb up the pillars in the vegetated entrance area called the “Endless Patio.” These pillars are separated by slabs with glass-covered joints that allow visitors to see the cores from the ground floor to the roof, which is crowned with a solar array.
All of the interior galleries and reading rooms are oriented either towards the Endless Patio or the surrounding city, so there is a constant interaction between the indoors and outdoors. At the same time, the half opaque facade helps to protect the cultural relics housed inside. A host of other state-of-the art renewable communication and information technologies have been incorporated into this complex design, which aspires to be a zero carbon emission structure that will transform Taichung.
For India’s poor, a school under a railway bridge
NEW DELHI (AP) — Their classroom is a flattened patch of dirt and rocks under the elevated rail tracks. Their blackboards are rectangles painted on a chipped concrete wall. Their teacher is a shop owner with no formal training, but a conviction that education is their only hope.
For some of these dozens of children of poor migrant workers in India’s capital, this makeshift, open-air school under the rumble of mass transit is the only school they have. Others who attend overcrowded and dismal government schools come here as well — to actually learn.
India’s Right To Education Act promising free, compulsory schooling to all children ages 6 to 14 was supposed to take full effect March 31, but millions of children still don’t go to school and many who do are getting only the barest of educations.
So every morning, more than 50 children gather under the bridge for two hours of lessons at Rajesh Kumar’s informal school. They sweep the dirt flat and roll out foam mats to sit on, just meters (yards) from the bushes were several men had been squatting and defecating minutes earlier.
The students, ages 4 to 14, study everything from basic reading and writing to the Pythagorean Theorem.
[Photos: Altaf Gadri]
Sydney has recently become home to the biggest green wall installation in Australia, amid a wider campaign to green the cityscape.
Currently 15.5 per cent of Sydney is blanketed in green canopy, but the city council wants to increase coverage to 23.5 per cent by 2030.
There are similar campaigns in other Australian capitals and an even wider global trend to boost the number of green spaces in urban centres.
Green roofs and walls project officer at City of Sydney council, Lucy Sharman, says the city is on track to reach its green canopy target, but more green roofs and walls need to be installed.
Antarctic expedition to walk in Mawson’s footsteps
Over 40 researchers and members of the public will retrace the steps of Antarctic adventurer Sir Douglas Mawson as part of the New Australasian Antarctic Expedition. The group will collect data to compare with Mawson’s research conducted over 100 years ago.
New machine expected to cut TB diagnosis time dramatically, enabling speedier treatment
A new machine that should speed up diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis is being rolled out across Mozambique.
The GeneXpert machine, which has been trialled in hospitals in Maputo and Tete following pilot schemes by NGOs, should speed up TB diagnosis from two to three months to two hours. More machines will be rolled out around the country over the next few weeks. Every province will have at least one machine, while areas with high rates of TB will have more.
The new test, which has been implemented successfully in South Africa, uses cartridges to automate diagnosis. The patient spits in a cup, and the sample is fed into the machine to identify any TB bacteria. These machines mean people can be tested, diagnosed and started on multi-drug resistant treatment on the same day – a significant improvement on current waiting times. The sooner patients are diagnosed, the better their prognosis. The new test will be subject to delays only if the patient has not supplied enough sputum.
US government to end effort to restrict morning-after pill
New York Times: The Obama administration told a U.S. District Court judge it would stop trying to block the over-the-counter availability of Plan B One-Step for all women and girls.
The reversal by the government means that anyone, no matter how young, will soon be able to walk into a drugstore and buy the pill, Plan B One-Step, without a prescription.
The Justice Department had been fighting to prevent that outcome, but said late Monday afternoon that it would drop its appeal of a judge’s order to make the drug more widely available. In a letter to Judge Edward R. Korman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the administration said it would comply with his demands that the Food and Drug Administration be allowed to certify the drug for nonprescription use.
Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images via nytimes.com
When he was 14 years old, gang members destroyed his Cleveland home because he refused to join their group. He and his siblings were then split up, because his mother couldn’t afford to buy a new house and he ended up spending many nights sleeping on park benches.
But now? David Boone is Headed to Harvard.