School Reform in Vermont

There has been a lot of attention given to school issues in Vermont lately. The most common topic that is talked about has to do with the belief that providing the same education to all is fair, middle and high schools must be similar to the elementary schools, and that high school education is defined exclusively by classes offered. These wide held beliefs make it so officials make an effort to cut costs while also offering at most an adequate public school education.

While placing every child in the geographical area into one school might make sense for elementary school children, but it may not be as efficient for middle and high schoolers. This is because there is such a high cost of trying to appeal to widely diverse student needs. This is why productivities in organizations should come from allocating resources around a shared and clear purpose. Instead of trying to make every single school meet a minimal standard for all of its offerings, Vermont should instead adopt a system of choices where each school specializes in different aspects. Already, there are many technical centers, public schools, and independent schools that provide this. However, there is still much more work to be done as all of the schools should take this strategy. By offering more options, then it would be easier to cater to each individual students’ needs.

Overall, the idea of high school reform is a very important one. The children of today are tomorrow’s leaders, and the schools are what begins to train them for this. This is why we must experiment to see which type of schooling system is the best and leads to the most success. Then, this system should be implemented all around the country in order to strengthen the children’s education as much as possible.

Shoessages

Well it’s been a nice run There have been some ups and some downs but in the end we made it through. To be honest, I’m pretty happy it’s over just because I completely ran out of ideas a couple of weeks ago and my inventions have only gotten worse with time. So I want to say that I saved the best for last….but I can’t. I’m literally out of ideas. My brain is fried. Give me a couple of minutes.

Alright got it. My feet hurt. Penn state has a huuuuuuge campus so walking has become a religion for most of the students who opt out of the not so reliable loops and links. Not to mention walking to frats in high heels? That’s a one-way street to blisters and lots of uncomfortableness. So, what’s the remedy? Well everyone knows how good massages feel! But I have class and work and homework and procrastination to do, I don’t have time to get foot massages all the time! Well, that problem is gone thanks to Shoessages! This new and ingenious invention is a constant massage on your feet! Our slogan you ask? They’re toetally comfortable! Never again do walks have to be uncomfortable and painful. Now you can be in your own personal spa whenever you walk around!

Basically how I imagine it is like one of those chairs at a nail salon but on your feet. There will either be a little remote or maybe even a bracelet where you will be able to set the pace and intensity. Not only that, but the shoes will be super stylish of course. Not going to lie, but making these shoes would be an amazing feet. (#foothumor)

Prescription Pill Abuse

For my advocacy project, I have chosen the same subject that I have used for my persuasive essay- the dangers of the abuse of prescription drugs. I think that this is a very important topic to talk about because the number of people who do abuse these drugs is rising exponentially. Abusing these drugs can lead to some terrible side effects, along with debilitating addiction and sometimes even death. I plan on building a website in order to educate the general public about this issue. Many people have access to the internet, so I think that having all of the information in one place would make it a lot easier to completely understand the whole issue of medicinal misuse.

However, there is a difference between my focuses on my persuasive essay and in this advocacy project. For the persuasive essay, I focused around the issue of showing why it is necessary for everyone to be educated about prescription drug abuse. In my advocacy project, I will be getting straight to the point and doing the actual educating. This means I will provide people with background information, statistics, how to recognize signs of prescription drug abuse in others, and how to safely use and store prescription drugs. Basically, my main goal is to build a solid foundation of knowledge concerning the topic, and to build awareness around this epidemic. Although I believe that it is important for everyone to be knowledgeable about this topic, I think the main audience would be to parents of teenagers. This is because the people who abuse them the most is young people, and they do so because they have easy action to their parents medicine cabinets. If parents knew how to properly store their medicine and the signs of abuse, then perhaps we would be able to stop the problem before it starts. The problem is that many patients are not given thorough information about the drugs by their doctor, on the consequences of abuse and addiction. This would be a helpful resource to give that important information to the parents that need it. Since this is a growing problem in our country, it is important that drastic measures are taken up in order to stop it before it gets even worse.

No More Blandaids

Nobody likes to get hurt. After our booboos and owchies all we want is to put on a bandaid and hope that it heals soon, right? Of course! Well wouldn’t it be nice to know when we’re all healed up? That is why the newest invention I have is going to change the nation and healing process forever. It’s a bandaid, but not any type of average bandaid. This bandaid has color changing abilities. So you just would put it on, and it would be maybe a red color. Using some complicated science that I don’t understand, the bandaid would then be able to sense as your body is healing itself. As your wounds get better, the bandaid would then turn colors to become a nice blue. When you see that color, you know that youre ready to take it off and let your skin breathe again!

But wait! Oh no! Is that an infection? Well you don’t have to worry about if you have one of those anymore, because these bandaids will be able to tell you! If they turn green you know that well….you’re in trouble. You should probably go to the doctor. So yeah that’s bad news but at least you still have your cool color changing bandaids!

Now what’s the name of this amazing invention you ask? Well it’s not the best but coloraid! But check out the slogan: Don’t have a blandaid bandaid- try coloraid! Now I’m no marketing specialist but I’m pretty sure that alone will make it sell thousands or millions. So I’m not encouraging you to get hurt, but if you do, try a coloraid! (if they existed)

The TBC

There’s war, crime, and disease in this world. It’s cruel but true, that’s why it’s great to see advocate groups that are trying to make a change. Yes, the TBC has really done a lot to change our country. Not familiar with the TBC? You may know them by their full name The Balloon Council. Still no? Oh. Well the TBC is an organization of retailers, distributors and manufacturers that was formed in 1990 to educate consumers and regulators about how magical foil and latex balloons are and the proper handling of them. What the TBC is really angry about is that several state legislatures were considering laws that would have severely limited consumers’ rights to have full enjoyment from balloons. Gasp! However, the TBC’s product labeling, media relations, public awareness and legislative initiatives have helped save the balloon industry and keep it up and running. It’s been quite a busy year for the TBC, with its main effort being to drum up support for the Helium Stewardship Act, which lays out a plan on how to maintain a helium reserve in the future. The council spent approximately $60,000 on its lobbying efforts in 2012.

The reason that the TBC cares so much about this issue is because any major shortages of the helium market would be a potential shock to businesses and jobs in the balloon industry and thousands of other businesses in technology, health care and research that relies on helium. Well that makes sense. This is not backed up by any facts and we can’t know for sure how disastrous a shortage of helium would actually be, but it is an argument nonetheless. They go on to say how it is critical to maintain a stable supply of helium for a wide range of industries including manufacturing of semiconductors, MRI machines, research, fiber optic cable, plasma televisions and balloons.

After scouring the page for fallacies, it seems like there aren’t really any, more of just a bit of confusion. For example, are they just trying to educate people or are they trying to actually do something? And is this group supporting helium in general or strictly balloons? You would think they would call themselves the THC if they didn’t want to be known as the group of strange people obsessed with balloons. Another problem is that the issue is just not very important. They keep saying how important balloons are because they give people so much happiness, but I don’t really think they do that. I mean balloons are nice and all, but if you think about it, they’re just sacks of air. The idea of them in general just doesn’t make sense. In all there aren’t too many fallacies, just a lot of vagueness and exaggerations.

There’s war, crime, and disease in this world. It’s cruel but true, that’s why it’s great to see advocate groups that are trying to make a change. Yes, the TBC has really done a lot to change our country. Not familiar with the TBC? You may know them by their full name The Balloon Council. Still no? Oh. Well the TBC is an organization of retailers, distributors and manufacturers that was formed in 1990 to educate consumers and regulators about how magical foil and latex balloons are and the proper handling of them. What the TBC is really angry about is that several state legislatures were considering laws that would have severely limited consumers’ rights to have full enjoyment from balloons. Gasp! However, the TBC’s product labeling, media relations, public awareness and legislative initiatives have helped save the balloon industry and keep it up and running. It’s been quite a busy year for the TBC, with its main effort being to drum up support for the Helium Stewardship Act, which lays out a plan on how to maintain a helium reserve in the future. The council spent approximately $60,000 on its lobbying efforts in 2012.

The reason that the TBC cares so much about this issue is because any major shortages of the helium market would be a potential shock to businesses and jobs in the balloon industry and thousands of other businesses in technology, health care and research that relies on helium. Well that makes sense. This is not backed up by any facts and we can’t know for sure how disastrous a shortage of helium would actually be, but it is an argument nonetheless. They go on to say how it is critical to maintain a stable supply of helium for a wide range of industries including manufacturing of semiconductors, MRI machines, research, fiber optic cable, plasma televisions and balloons.

After scouring the page for fallacies, it seems like there aren’t really any, more of just a bit of confusion. For example, are they just trying to educate people or are they trying to actually do something? And is this group supporting helium in general or strictly balloons? You would think they would call themselves the THC if they didn’t want to be known as the group of strange people obsessed with balloons. Another problem is that the issue is just not very important. They keep saying how important balloons are because they give people so much happiness, but I don’t really think they do that. I mean balloons are nice and all, but if you think about it, they’re just sacks of air. The idea of them in general just doesn’t make sense. In all there aren’t too many fallacies, just a lot of vagueness and exaggerations.

D.A.R.E to defy D.A.R.E?

For my persuasive essay, I want to discuss my opinions on the D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program. My question of policy, should D.A.R.E. continue to be in existence? Many people would assume yes but I do not believe this to definitely be the case. This program is in 75% of US school districts and in 48 countries. About 70,000 police officers have taught over 200 million K-12 students the dangers of drugs and alcohol. (3 Kalishman)

This clearly sounds like a beneficial program, right? After all, we want to teach the youth of America about the potential harms they could come in contact with. However, some major studies have shown that the D.A.R.E. program actually may not be as advantageous as many people think it is. In fact, it can actually cause some bad side effects. That is why I believe that is notably important to address this issue. Most people blindly believe the idea that the program is causing nothing but positive effects, yet they are the ones who need to be educated about the actual program. The public needs to fully know about this program and how it is taught, before they can trust people to teach their children. I am particularly interested in this topic because of the new setting that I am in: college. Drinking and drugs are much more prevalent than they were in high school, to an almost unbelievable degree. Yet, almost all of these kids went through D.A.R.E. So if I still constantly see myself surrounded by drug use and underage drinking, there clearly is something wrong with the system.

There are a couple of main questions I want to focus my research on. Firstly, how has D.A.R.E. affected drug use since it began? Has it gone up? Down? No change? And are these changes due to the program or some other latent variables? Second, how much does it cost? Can these funds be used in some more efficient way? Thirdly, what can be done instead to prevent drug use and underage drinking? Is education really the best way? Or would harsher punishments act as a better deterrent?

I find all of these questions very interesting and I hope that by researching this topic in depth, I will get a full understanding of all beneficial and bad effects of this program.

 

 

Ariel Kalishman, “D.A.R.E. Fact Sheet,” Drug Policy Alliance website, Apr. 2003

 

Smellchat/ Smellagram

Nothing compares to the smell of freshly baked cookies. That’s not an opinion, it’s a fact. I mean how many times have you walked into your house and been bombarded by the delicious aroma of some baked dessert by mom or dad? (Remember it’s the 21st century, dads cook too!) Well coming from a family that LOVES food, I can tell you my nostrils have been quite spoiled over the years. So that really got me thinking, that’s not fair. Why I am the special one who gets these joys? I bet that a lot of my friends have never had that benefit. So that’s where my idea comes in. Sending smells.

I imagine it as a snapchat sort of thing, but for smells. Snapsmell perhaps? Smellagram? Now don’t ask me how this would be done, because I obviously have no idea. I mean I’m no scientist. But if you think about, what’s a phone? It’s a device you use to send sounds. So it only makes sense that there should be a device to send smells. Think of how easy it would become to buy the perfect perfume or flowers for that special someone. Or are you trying to get even with someone? Send them a skunk or garbage smells.

Clearly a lot of good (or bad) could come from my invention, but it would overall benefit society as a whole. As we bring the sense of smell between people together, we would be bringing unity all across the nation. Right?

Another aspect to this invention I would want to add is being able to save smells. For me, smells remind me of experiences more than anything else. For example, I went to Hawaii and went to a luau. I distinctly remember the strange smells of flowers mixed with a pig on the spit. Now, when I smell anything that smells somewhat similar (which I very rare) I am automatically brought back to that memory. I would love to be able to bottle up that scent and then smell it whenever I am nostalgic for Hawaii.

Basically, my thought is that photos don’t always cut it. Sometimes you need to use your other senses in order to really grasp a certain memory.

Moderators

During our deliberation, the moderators play a key role in where the discussion leads. Their prompts are what keeps the conversation flowing, so they are therefore a vital aspect of the deliberation process. Therefore, the ideal moderator has to embody a couple of important characteristics. Firstly, they must be completely neutral. It is not the moderators job to discuss their point of view; instead they want to figure out the consensus of the rest of the group. Thus, they must ask questions that are unbiased, and do not hold any of their personal opinions. Secondly, they must be adaptive. When there is a lull in conversation or the conversation starts to veer off topic, they must quickly be able to react. They may have to come up with prompts on the spot, or rephrase a question that generates confusion. Thirdly, they must be authoritative. During a deliberation, the moderators are the ones who are running the show. So if people start to get out of line, the moderators have to be able to use their power and get everyone to settle down. They cannot let participants talk over them. Finally, the moderators must be fair since they have a lot of power over the discussion. They must be able to choose different people to speak and not constantly pick on the same people. This means they may have to disregard their own personal relations with people in order to make sure everyone has equal opportunity to speak their opinions.

However, the moderator is not responsible for putting opinions into people’s mouths. If there aren’t many people participating in the deliberation, this is not always the fault of the moderators. They cannot force people to speak if they do not have the motivation to do so. In theory, the moderators should have complete control as to where the conversation heads. However, this is not always this case. This is because many times people will go on tangents, and then people after that may build on those tangents. Although moderators cannot always prevent this from happening, they can stop it while it is happening.

Overall, I think that the moderators for both deliberations worked out pretty well. In a few instances however, I did notice that a moderator would sometimes show his or her opinion. This may have happened with or without the moderator realizing they were doing it. It also seemed that sometimes the moderators were not prepared with enough prompts, or that the prompts were long and hard to understand. The final problem was that a lot of times the moderators would call on two different people at the same time. This is only natural because there was more than one moderator, and was not a huge issue. Everyone was respectful and would not mind letting the other person talk first.

Overall, the moderator role is an important role to the deliberation process. I am pleased with how it worked out. Personally, I was the moderator for the introduction of the topic. Thus all I did was explain the topic, so I did not have to come up with prompts. However, I think that me and my co-moderator did a good job and the personal stakes portion went much quicker. It was a great experience to have and I think it will help me in future discussions.

Color Changing Tattoos

So its common knowledge that chameleons are really cool. In fact, one might go as far as to say they’re awesome. I mean, these reptiles can change colors! That basically almost makes them superior to humans. Anyway, my newest invention has to do with these crazy reptilian studs. But before I can tell you what the invention is, I first have to explain how a chameleon changes colors.

The science behind their color-changing abilities is pretty amazing to be honest. Firstly, the outermost layer of their skin is transparent. Then, beneath this, there are several more layers of skin that contain specialized cells that are called chromatophores. At each level, these chromatophores are filled with sacs of different kinds of pigment. The deeped layers have brown melanin, then blue pigment, then yellow, and then red. These pigments are usually locked inside tiny sacs within the cells, but when a chameleon changes its body temperature or mood, its nervous systems makes certain chromatophores expand or contract to change the color of the cell. This is how the chameleon is then able to produce vibrant colors and patterns.

Now that’s pretty amazing. But how amazing would it be if we had the same ability? My idea is to inject these chromatophores into human skin, in order to have color changing tattoos. This would be a complete breakthrough in body art. Imagine having a tattoo that turned red when you are angry or blue when you are cold. Really, the possibilities are endless.

Now clearly, I am no scientist. I have no idea how this would be done. I’m sure it’s more complicated than simply saying “take the cells of a chameleon and inject them in a human.” In fact, what I am saying may sound completely ludicrous to a biologist. However, I think that the idea is still strong. I have always been a huge fan of body art despite not having any tattoos of my own, but I think that color changing tattoos would add a whole new creative and personalized flair. I know I’ve always been a fan of things that changed color in the sun, (i.e. shirts, hair clips, nail polish) so that is where the inspiration comes from.

Yet again, my mind has been basically blank in terms of names. Chameleoos? Sounds too childish. Color changing tattoos? Boring. So again, the name is still in the works. However, with the sudden fad of flash tattoos, I think that color changing tattoos would easily catch on. So if any scientist or chameleon expert happens to be reading this, please contact me. Thanks!

Television and Diversity

Television has been an important part of the American entertainment system for decades, and its popularity is only growing.  Since so many people watch it, the shows that people watch affect things outside of the fictional world.  As the journey to more racial equality continues, many people are saying that television shows are obligated to show more diversity.  While I am a strong proponent for racial equality, I simply do not agree with this sentiment.  I think the reason why my opinion differs from the norm is because of differing ideas about the purpose of television.  Journalist Jemima Johnson states “The goal is for a person to turn on the television and not only see himself or herself or people who they already identify with, but to be able to identify with people they do not share a race or culture with” (12).  However, is this really the goal?  My thought is that television is made strictly to entertain.  Therefore, I think that learning about other cultures is important, but I do not think television producers should be obligated to do anything.  It is my and many others belief that “imposing standards for television programming would be unconstitutional and damage important values that define America: the right to a free and open media [and] the right to free speech” (Frederickson 13).  If television shows are obligated to show diversity, who is to say that they won’t become obligated to fix other criticisms?  It is up to the individual if they want to watch something or not, and if they don’t like what they see, my advice is to turn off the TV.

How would adding diversity to television change real life and/or society?

What are some incentives for television producers that could be offered for showing more diversity?

Frederickson, Caroline. “Why Government Should Not Police TV Violence and Indecency.” The Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor, 6 Sept. 2007. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0906/p09s01-coop.html&gt;.

Johnson, Jemima. “OPINION — Johnson: Strong Need for Diversity in Television Shows.”    The Daily Toreador. N.p., 16 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <http://www.dailytoreador.com/opinion/opinion-johnson-strong-need-for-diversity-in-television-shows/article_aa53bcec-b64d-11e4-8fff-2ba1e8dcb029.html&gt;.

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