bending light

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We did some physics experiments today. These are pictures of light bending after passing through a semi-solid substance with an index of refraction similar to water 🙂

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serious times

 

 

World Hunger

  • 842 million people – or one in eight people in the world – do not have enough to eat. 2
  • 98% of the world’s undernourished people live in developing countries.2
  • Where is hunger the worst?
    • Asia: 552 million2
    • Sub-Saharan Africa: 223 million2
    • Latin America and the Caribbean: 47 million2

Aiming at the very heart of hunger, The Hunger Project is currently committed to work in BangladeshBeninBurkina FasoEthiopiaIndiaGhana,MalawiMexicoMozambiquePeruSenegal and Uganda.

Women and Children

  • 60 percent of the world’s hungry are women.2
  • 50 percent of pregnant women in developing countries lack proper maternal care, resulting in 240,000 maternal deaths annually from childbirth.3
  • 1 out of 6 infants are born with a low birth weight in developing countries.4
  • Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five – 3.1 million children each year. That is 8,500 children per day.6
  • A third of all childhood death in sub-Saharan Africa is caused by hunger.5
  • 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone.6
  • Every 10 seconds, a child dies from hunger-related diseases.5

The Hunger Project firmly believes that empowering women to be key change agents is an essential element to achieving the end of hunger and poverty. Wherever we work, our programs aim to support women and build their capacity.

HIV/AIDS and other Diseases

  • 35 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.7
  • 52 percent of people living with HIV/AIDS are women.7
  • 88 percent of all children and 60 percent of all women living with HIV are in sub-Saharan Africa.7
  • 6.9 million children died in 2011 each year – 19,000 a day- mostly from preventable health issues such as malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia.5

Launched in 2003, The Hunger Project’s HIV/AIDS and Gender Inequality Campaign works at the grassroots level to provide education about preventative and treatment measures.

Poverty

  • 1.4 billion people in developing countries live on $1.25 a day or less.8
  • Rural areas account for three out of every four people living on less than $1.25 a day.9
  • 22,000 children die each day due to conditions of poverty.10

Rural Hunger Project partners have access to income-generating workshops, empowering their self-reliance. Our Microfinance Program in Africa provides access to credit, adequate training and instilling in our partners the importance of saving.

Agriculture

  • 75 percent of the world’s poorest people — 1.4 billion women, children, and men — live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihood.11
  • 50 percent of hungry people are farming families.11

In each region in which we work, The Hunger Project provides tools and training to increase farming production at the local level. In Africa, our epicenter partners run community farms where they implement new techniques while producing food for the epicenter food bank.

Water

  • 1.7 billion people lack access to clean water.12
  • 2.3 billion people suffer from water-borne diseases each year.12
  • 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water, and none of the 12 percent lives in developing countries.13

The Hunger Project works with communities to develop new water resources, ensure clean water and improved sanitation, and implement water conservation techniques

 

Sources:

  1. US Census Bureau, International Data Base
  2. State of Food Security in the World 2013
  3. MDG Report – Goal 5, 2013 (pdf)
  4. World Hunger and Poverty Statistics, 2013
  5. MDG Report – Goal 4, 2013 (pdf)
  6. World Food Programme Hunger Statistics
  7. UN AIDS Report on the Global Epidemic, 2013
  8. IFAD Rural Poverty Report 2011
  9. Human Development Report, 2007/2008
  10. UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2010 (pdf)
  11. FAO Addressing Food Insecurity in Protracted Crises, 2010 (pdf)
  12. WHO Unsafe Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (pdf)
  13. Water as Commodity – The Wrong Prescription by Maude Barlow, The Institute for Food and Development Policy
  14. A Life Free From Hunger: Tackling Child Malnutrition, Save the Children, Feb 2012

 

 

VICTIMS

SHORTLY after the birth of her sixth child, Mathilde went with her baby into the fields to collect the harvest. She saw two men approaching, wearing what she says was the uniform of the FDLR, a Rwandan militia. Fleeing them she ran into another man, who beat her head with a metal bar. She fell to the ground with her baby and lay still. Perhaps thinking he had murdered her, the man went away. The other two came and raped her, then they left her for dead.

Mathilde’s story is all too common. Rape in war is as old as war itself. After the sack of Rome 16 centuries ago Saint Augustine called rape in wartime an “ancient and customary evil”. For soldiers, it has long been considered one of the spoils of war. Antony Beevor, a historian who has written about rape during the Soviet conquest of Germany in 1945, says that rape has occurred in war since ancient times, often perpetrated by indisciplined soldiers. But he argues that there are also examples in history of rape being used strategically, to humiliate and to terrorise, such as the Moroccan regulares in Spain’s civil war.

As the reporting of rape has improved, the scale of the crime has become more horrifyingly apparent (see table). And with the Bosnian war of the 1990s came the widespread recognition that rape has been used systematically as a weapon of war and that it must be punished as an egregious crime. In 2008 the UN Security Council officially acknowledged that rape has been used as a tool of war. With these kinds of resolutions and global campaigns against rape in war, the world has become more sensitive. At least in theory, the Geneva Conventions, governing the treatment of civilians in war, are respected by politicians and generals in most decent states. Generals from rich countries know that their treatment of civilians in the theatre of war comes under ever closer scrutiny. The laws and customs of war are clear. But in many parts of the world, in the Hobbesian anarchy of irregular war, with ill-disciplined private armies or militias, these norms carry little weight.

Take Congo; it highlights both how horribly common rape is, and how hard it is to document and measure, let alone stop. The eastern part of the country has been a seething mess since the Rwandan genocide of 1994. In 2008 the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a humanitarian group, estimated that 5.4m people had died in “Africa’s world war”. Despite peace deals in 2003 and 2008, the tempest of violence has yet fully to subside. As Congo’s army and myriad militias do battle, the civilians suffer most. Rape has become an ugly and defining feature of the conflict.

Plenty of figures on how many women have been raped are available but none is conclusive. In October Roger Meece, the head of the United Nations in Congo, told the UN Security Council that 15,000 women had been raped throughout the country in 2009 (men suffer too, but most victims are female). The UN Population Fund estimated 17,500 victims for the same period. The IRC says it treated 40,000 survivors in the eastern province of South Kivu alone between 2003 and 2008.

“The data only tell you so much,” says Hillary Margolis, who runs the IRC’s sexual-violence programme in North Kivu. These numbers are the bare minimum; the true figures may be much higher. Sofia Candeias, who co-ordinates the UN Development Programme’s Access to Justice project in Congo, points out that more rapes are reported in places with health services. In the areas where fighting is fiercest, women may have to walk hundreds of miles to find anyone to tell that they have been attacked. Even if they can do so, it may be months or years after the assault. Many victims are killed by their assailants. Others die of injuries. Many do not report rape because of the stigma.

Congo’s horrors are mind-boggling. A recent study by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Oxfam examined rape survivors at the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, a town in South Kivu province. Their ages ranged from three to 80. Some were single, some married, some widows. They came from all ethnicities. They were raped in homes, fields and forests. They were raped in front of husbands and children. Almost 60% were gang-raped. Sons were forced to rape mothers, and killed if they refused.

The attention paid to Congo reflects growing concern about rape in war. Historically the taboo surrounding rape has been so strong that few cases were reported; evidence of wartime rape before the 20th century is scarce. With better reporting, the world has woken up to the scale of the crime. The range of sexual violence in war has become apparent: the abduction of women as sex slaves, sexualised torture and mutilation, rape in public or private.

In some wars all parties engage in it. In others it is inflicted mainly by one side. Rape in wars in Africa has had a lot of attention in recent years, but it is not just an African problem. Conflicts with high levels of rape between 1980 and 2009 were most numerous in sub-Saharan Africa, according to Dara Kay Cohen of the University of Minnesota (see chart). But only a third of sub-Saharan Africa’s 28 civil wars saw the worst levels of rape—compared with half of Eastern Europe’s nine. And no part of the world has escaped the scourge.

The anarchy and impunity of war goes some way to explaining the violence. The conditions of war are often conducive to rape. Young, ill-trained men, fighting far from home, are freed from social and religious constraints. The costs of rape are lower, the potential rewards higher. And for ill-fed, underpaid combatants, rape can be a kind of payment.

Full article: http://www.economist.com/node/17900482

 

 

The power that gives life

Do you believe it’s possible that SOMETHING created the universe and all existence? Is it possible that a power greater than the universe exists?

-“yes, God is the creator of all existence, God alone commands all…”

-“How did the universe come into existence? That’s a hard one, but evidence suggests that the giver of life is controlling the universe, which makes it a greater power than the universe.”

-“SOMETHING HAD to have made life!! Louis Pasteur disproved spontaneous generation of microorganisms, life doesn’t arise from nothing. The universe too, didn’t arise from nothing. The SOMETHING that brought the universe into existence is what most people in America refer to as GOD. The universe came from SOMETHING. That something is a power greater than the universe and what is known to mankind.”

-“How did we get here? I think the answer is so BIG that we would have difficulty wrapping our minds around it.”

-“I definately believe it’s possible. At our core we are but the light of consciousness. A power gives life to that light.”

-“Our people believe that the power that gives life is alive and we communicate with it and we give thanks for life and all the blessings of life. We live our lives in thanks and gratitude. It is a power that is greater than the universe…”

-“יהוה alone gives life to the universe. יהוה alone has power over all.”

A brief introduction to DNA

A brief introduction to: DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)
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In 1928, British scientist Fredrick Griffith was trying to learn about how certain types of bacteria produce a serious lung disease known as pneumonia. He isolated two slightly different types of pneumonia bacteria from mice.

In the lab…
disease strain – grew into smooth colonies on the culture plates
harmless strain – produced colonies with rough edges
(easy to distinguish due to different appearances)
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This led to biologists realizing that genetic information could be transformed from one bacterium to another.
In 1944, a group of scientists led by Canadian biologist Oswald Avery at the Rockefeller Institute in New York decided to repeat Griffith’s work. They did this with the intention of finding what it is that causes the transformation.
they took the heat-killed bacteria and destroyed proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and other molecules, including the nucleic acid RNA. Transformation still occurred. When they then destroyed the DNA, transformation did not occur.
Through this experiment they discovered that the nucleic acid DNA stores and transmits genetic information. 
In 1952, two American scientists, Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase collaborated in studying viruses (nonliving particles smaller than a cell that can infect living organisms). One type of virus that infects bacteria is a “bacteriophage” (“bacteria-eater”). Bacteriophages are composed of DNA or RNA inside of a protein body. When a bacteriophage enters a bacteria, the virus attaches to the surface of the cell and injects its bacteria.
germWarfare.jpg (300×200)
[T2 bacteriophage (tan) invading an E. coli cell (green)].
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Radioactive markers helped the scientists determine which part of the virus entered the infected cell which led them to discover that genes were made of DNA, not protein.
Because proteins contain very little phosphorus and DNA contains no sulfur, the scientists grew viruses in cultures containing radioactive isotopes of phosphorus-32 and sulfur-35. The radioactive substances were used as markers.
* If sulfur-35 was found in the bacteria, then the viruses protein was injected into the bacteria.
* If phosphorus-32 was found in the bacteria, then it was the DNA that had been injected into the bacteria.
The Hershey-Chase experiment concluded that the genetic material of the bacteriophage was DNA!
After this, scientists wanted to know more!
Genes…
1) carry information from one generation to the next.
2) they determine the heritable characteristics of organisms
3) all of a cell’s genetic information is replicated every time a cell divides (mitosis).
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)
DNA is a long molecule made of nucleotides.
Each nucleotide is made up of three basic components:
* a 5-carbon sugar called deoxyribose
* a phosphate group
* a nitrogenous (nitrogen containing) base >>>> there are 4 kinds of nitrogenous bases in DNA: adenine, thymine, guanine. and cytosine.
The backbone of a DNA chain is formed by sugar and phosphate groups of each nucleotide.
Scientists concluded that the four different nucleotides could be strung together in many different ways, so it was possible they could carry coded genetic information.
***  Years earlier, an America biochemist named Erwin Chargaff discovered that the percentages of nucleotides are equal in any sample of DNA.
A=T
G=C
erwin-chargaff-source.jpg (960×1300)
  A British scientist named Rosalind Franklin used a technique called X-ray diffraction to get information about the structure of the DNA molecule. Aiming a powerful X-ray beam at concentrated DNA samples, she recorded the scattering pattern of the X-rays onto film.
rosalind-e-a-descoberta-da-estrutura-do-dna.jpg (620×352)
*** When an American Biologist named James Watson was shown a copy of Franklin’s X-ray pattern in 1953, he, along with British physicist Francis Crick, built a structural model that explained how DNA could carry information and how it could be copied. The published their results in April 1953.
Watson and Crick’s model of DNA was a double helix. (two strands are wrapped around each other)
H4000039-Watson-and-Crick_cropped-by-CM-v1-1440x866.jpg (1440×866)
The Double Helix
doublehelix.jpg (600×376)
A double helix is shaped like a spiral staircase. Watson and Crick then discovered that hydrogen bonds could form between certain nitrogenous bases and provide enough force to hold the two strands together. Nitrogenous based can only form between adenine and thymine, and guanine and cytosine. This principle is called base pairing. This brought Chargaff’s rules full circle. For every adenine there had to be one thymine. For each cytosine molecule, there was one guanine molecule.
dna.jpg (1200×627)

deep inside the forest is a door into another land

The human psyche and methods for altering behavior patterns (teaching resource)

Behaviorist Views of Learning

Behaviorism is a theory that explains the process of learning, which is defined as a change in observable behavior patterns as a result of life experience. Behaviorism focuses on observable behavior. The following review will summarize the two major components of behaviorism: classical conditioning and operant conditioning.

Classical conditioning is a component of behaviorism that explains how people learn involuntary physiological and emotional responses that are similar to instinctive or reflexive (unlearned) responses. We can apply this to a social setting as an example. We are conditioned to dress and behave in a manner that is acceptable in a specific context. If a student in America shows up to class wearing only a rag to cover his privates like Tarzan, then everyone would stare at him confused as to why in the world he is dressed like this. Therefore, as a result of being conditioned to society’s expectations, the student dresses accordingly, in a manner that is accepted by the majority.

Ivan Pavlov, a Russian scientist, reflected on animal behavior which led him to open the field of classical conditioning. After seeing the same person come with food to feed the dogs over and over, the dogs responded the same even when the person did not have food because they were conditioned to associate food with that person and they expected it. This led to an exploration into the psyche of humans after comparing similar responses and behavior patterns exhibited in animals.

Failure can traumatize people sometimes. When we fail, we can develop fear-based anxiety associated with our failure. This can continue to play out every time we attempt to repeat whatever it was that we failed at. The failure is an unconditioned stimulus caused by an unconditioned response (fear-based anxiety). Associating this with the context within which it happened causes a conditioned response to what was formerly a neutral response to a neutral stimuli. This response can continue to plague one with fear-based anxiety if one doesn’t work to correct the problem. If one works to succeed and does so and continues to do so, then one can transcend this negative response to failure. When the conditioned stimulus occurs over and over without the unconditioned stimulus occuring, then extinction will occur and it will no longer elicit the conditioned response. It pays succeed and it pays to work hard and overcome failure with earned success.

Operant Conditioning describes learning in terms of observable responses that change as a result of consequences. For example, being punished for an offense will often times create a paradigm shift that will lead to one to prefer to avoid repeating the incident. Reinforcers play a major role in human behavior patterns and are a major area of study when analyzing operant conditioning. Positive and negative are often regarded as two charges, such as those of a magnet, or two electrical charges. However, in human society, we refer to a positive environment as one that is safe, harmonious, peaceful, and balanced. If someone is really positive, then their outlook is optimistic, happy, motivated, and upbeat. If one is negative or if the environment is negative, then it is generally dark and unloving, unhappy, and when manifested in a person’s consciousness, it can be miserable and even hateful.

As educators, we seek to offer positive reinforcement to all, knowing that the more positive one is, the happier one will be, and the more motivated and inspired one will be. We know that positive reinforcement can only help and heal and produce good results, so we seek to positively reinforce as much as possible. Negative reinforcement is defined as the process of increasing behavior by removing or avoiding an aversive/negative stimulus. Negative “reinforcement” is the terminology used, but I wouldn’t say reinforcement, but instead negative removal. In order to maintain a balanced and harmonious consciousness, as one sees fit, one seeks to remove what is perceived to be the negative stimuli.

As educators, the Premack principle should be employed often, in my opinion. Students will sometimes not be too motivated about certain assignments, so in order to motivate them, we can use a positive reinforcer inspire the student to focus harder on the assignment. For example, an educator could say, “as soon as you are done with this assignment, we will have free time (or whatever activity the educator decided will elicit a positive response that will motivate the student to do the assignment knowing a “reward” of sorts will be the result)”. Shaping is a term used in educational psychology to describe how a teacher, for example, may continue to reinforce a student’s outlook on life by continuously and systematically working to help the student develop a positive outlook through patterns in the frequency and predictability of reinforcers to create a desired behavior.

A student’s self-esteem, perception of life, and overall state of consciousness plays a major role in learning and development. Therefore it is important for a teacher to be aware, as much as possible, and as appropriate as is expected, of a students state of consciousness in order to help the student reach the pinnacle of human consciousness evolution. Ultimately, every human should, ideally, be extinct in ego, and at peace to the depths of all being, which lies at the core of consciousness. We can’t expect everyone to achieve this because it is difficult to achieve in this world. Even more so, if one does achieve this, how long can one maintain this state of equanimity? As educators, we need to recognize that humans are complex beings that are emotional and in need of support. When we genuinely care and genuinely want to help all people with equal love and care, then we will make leaps and bounds. As educators, we need to be trained thoroughly in this area so we can understand what is happening and how to improve the classroom environment in order to make it a more productive learning experience for the students.

Fight Oppression.

Cognitive learning and memory

The following review is an overview of cognitive learning and human memory. Being able to store information in the long-term memory is the focus of this study. In the field of education, it is our goal to teach the student the content material in an effective manner so that it is understood, processed, and stored in the memory in a manner in which the student can recall the information at will.

When considering cognitive processes, we generally take the senses into account. Everything we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell is information being interpreted by the brain. Therefore in the classroom, it is necessary for a student to control their senses and focus their attention on learning. Paying attention is necessary for the learning process to attain maximum effectiveness. Maintaining student attention is a difficult process, but a necessary process for teachers to engage in. As a result, educators need to arrange their lesson plans in a manner that is designed with the intention of keeping their students attention so the learning process can be maximized.

When organizing lesson plans and when considering teaching strategies, it is important to reflect on the meaning of perception and how it applies to the classroom and in general as an educator. Perception is identified as being an immediate or intuitive cognition or judgement. Who we are, how we think, why we think, and the way we think, all determine our interpretation of everything that happens. Thus as educators, while it is our focus to instruct in the content area, it is similarly important to be sure the students are aware, to some extent, of perception and how it can help and/or inhibit the learning process. For example, such primitive ideologies such as hate, can lead to a negative and delusional perception of reality. This then can inhibit cognitive growth and it can destroy the learning process in some cases.

Encoding information in the long-term memory is most naturally done through “rote learning.” Rote learning is the process of storing information one piece at a time. When we memorize information, we gradually absorb, process, and retain the information. Imagery helps us visualize ideas and this helps to improve our ability to remember. The dual-coding theory suggests that our memories have two systems, one for verbal information and one for images. Organizing content material will help us teach the material more efficiently and it will help our students organize the material better as well which will help them remember it better.

“Schema Activation” is an encoding strategy that involves activating prior knowledge in order to connect new knowledge to it with the intent of strengthening a students understanding and enhancing the learning process. After this “bridge” connects the old knowledge with the new, the educator then needs to elaborate on the knowledge being presented. Analogies are proven to be an effective elaboration strategy. Mnemonics are memory strategies that create associations that don’t exist naturally in the content. These have been proven to work well.

In order to learn well, the students need to pay attention carefully and want to learn. We can apply all of the aforementioned concepts and more in order to provide a catalyst of sorts for the learning process. After the lesson has taken place and time as passed, students will often times forget knowledge or have issues retrieving the information. In order to avoid this, the educator must teach with a high level of meaningfulness so the students will be able to remember better.

Metacognition is our awareness of and our control over our cognitive process, meta-attention is our awareness of and our control over our ability to pay attention, and metamemory is our knowledge and control over memory strategies. It is necessary for educators to be familiar with these processes and effectively use them in the classroom. Developmental differences will vary among students. It is important to be aware of the levels of development in order to avoid overloading or underloading the amount of information being processed.

Giving students assignments, quizzes, and exams will give the teacher hard data to collect and score while being free of bias. It is important that teachers grade fairly and honestly. The assignments, quizzes, and exams need to be crafted in a manner that is ideal for helping the students learn and remember content information. As with anything, the more one practices, generally, the better one gets. Study and more study is necessary for students to achieve a complete understanding. Remembering to employ the meaning of the term “equitable distribution” is important in an educators overall approach. Intending and genuinely working to help all students equally is absolutely necessary for one to be a good teacher. Embracing the following thoughts and ideas and making them a part of the classroom environment will help educators disseminate information with greater effectiveness.

the spirit within

Born within it’s mind
rhythm with the rhyme
beyond space, beyond time
the living sublime

the cycles of life
from beginning to end
and around again
going deep within

from the source we spring forth
and we return in the end
to a beginning again
light shining within

health is wealth

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