Author Archives: Madeline Dittrich

A Natural High

By now, everyone has probable heard the saying, “Go take a run to blow off some steam”. Many people hold the belief that exercise can improve one’s mood. Speaking from a personal point of view, I have found this to be true. Nothing feels better than having a free hour to hit the gym after a long day of classes, homework, and studying. So, what is it about exercise that improves our moods?

According to CNN, when we spend time exercising, our body releases endorphins. Endorphins are chemicals that a part of the brain produces when our bodies are placed in stressful or painful situations. Psychologist J. Kip Matthews explains how endorphins are a sort of natural painkiller, because endorphins are produced by the body and work to reduce pain. Endorphins have been said to produce sort of a natural high, because of the good feeling that people get when endorphins are released throughout the body. Also according to CNN, a German study found that levels of endorphins in the body increase after a run. So, exercise releases endorphins which work to reduce pain in the body. This is likely to explain why people feel better after a tough workout. It seems that our bodies are trying to compensate for the pain that we feel while going through a rigorous workout or exercise circuit.

Two women running for exercise

One very interesting study, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, attempted to prove that endorphins really do work to improve moods. Here’s a quick explanation of the study: The study was performed by gathering two groups of mice. One group was made up of very aggressive mice, while the other group was made up of timid mice. When placed together, the aggressive mice tended to bully the meeker mice. At first, the researchers did not allow the timid mice to run on the exercise wheel before interacting with the aggressive mice. When the timid mice were placed in the same area as the aggressive mice, the timid mice hid in the corners and acted very afraid. However, when the timid mice were given the chance to exercise before interacting with the aggressive mice, the timid mice no longer acted as afraid of the bigger mice. Instead, the timid mice simply tolerated the behavior of the larger, more aggressive mice. They no longer hid in the corners of the cage. The mice seemed to be in an overall better mood. I found this study to be extremely interesting, and the results of this experiment show that it is likely that endorphins do, indeed, improve the mood and overall well-being of living things. After exercising on the wheel, the timid mice were not as afraid of the larger mice, and they no longer felt threatened by their presence.


It is unlikely that the results of this experiment are due to chance, because time and time again, scientists have found that exercise, which releases endorphins, has a positive effect on people’s moods. I, for one, can attest to this. I strongly believe that there is nothing like a good workout at the gym to relieve stress, and make me feel better overall.

How Safe are Trampolines?

Many homes in America today have trampolines in the backyard. Trampolines are lots of fun for young children, but these fun contraptions can sometimes result in serious injuries for young users. Over the past few years, there has been a spike in trampoline related injuries. So, do trampolines lead to a higher chance of a visit to the emergency room? Are at home trampolines different than trampoline parks? And is it safe to have a trampoline at home?


According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, trampolines result in about 100,000 emergency room visits each year. Many children are injured by crashing into others on the trampoline at the same time as them, or falling on the mat or springs around the trampoline. However, more serious injuries including damage to the skull or spinal cord are more likely to occur while using a trampoline. Using a trampoline is more likely to lead to injury, and the use of trampolines by children poses a significant risk to their health.

According to CNN, the recent spike in trampoline related injury is largely related to the growing popularity of trampoline parks in the United States. More and more of these wall to wall trampoline filled rooms are popping up all over the country. A study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that the number of trampoline related injuries rose from 581 in the year 2010, to 6,932 in 2014. 2014 is about the time when trampoline parks started gaining popularity. It can be concluded that the rise in trampoline related injuries is largely in part due to indoor trampoline parks. The most common types of injuries obtained at trampoline parks are sprains and fractures. The study also showed that those injured at parks were more likely to have injury to the lower extremities, while injuries from at-home trampoline use were more likely to involve the head. So park related injuries are more common, but often not as serious as injuries obtained from home trampoline use. Obviously, it is clear that using a trampoline, no matter what form, increases one’s chance of injury. It is possible that these results are due to chance, but again, that is very unlikely given the data and the results of the experiment.


So, keeping the results of the study in mind, is it safe to have a trampoline at home? The study states that if there is a trampoline at home, safety measures should be implemented to ensure that nobody is injured. First, only one person at a time should use the trampoline, to reduce the risk of collision with other jumpers. Children should also use padding when jumping on a trampoline to ensure that collision with the springs or trampoline mat does not lead to serious injury. Finally, younger trampoline users should be under adult supervision at all times while using the trampoline. Hopefully, if people are smarter about how they use trampolines, the number of injures will lessen. Trampolines are fun, but not when a child ends up in the emergency room because of one. As they say, “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt”.

Are Teenagers Old Enough to Drive?

In Pennsylvania, 16 year-olds who pass a permit test are able to receive their driver’s permit. 6 months later, teens are eligible to take their driver’s test, and ultimately get their license. These rules vary slightly from state to state, but the overall rule is that drivers in the United States are eligible to get their driver’s license during their teenage years. Some people feel that this is appropriate, but other feel that 16 and 17 year-olds are much too young to be driving.  Are teenagers old enough to be driving? Are younger drivers more likely to get into accidents than older drivers? Does texting play a role in the number of crashes that teens get into?


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,270 teenagers aged 16-19 were killed in car accidents in the year 2014. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for this age group. This is an extremely high amount of deaths related to an activity that many teens engage in every day. According to the IIHS, the rate of deaths by car accident is three times higher for the 16-19 age group than it is for drivers aged twenty years or older. This data suggests that younger drivers are not yet mature enough to have their licenses. If teenaged drivers are three times more likely to be involved in fatal accidents, then maybe these drivers should not be driving on the roads after all. Now, this data could all be due to chance, but the data discovered by the IIHS shows that the younger the driver is, the more likely it is that he or she will be involved in a fatal crash. The data collected seems to be highly correlational.


It is possible that younger drivers are more likely to be involved in car crashes due to distracted driving. One observational study, conducted by the CDC, examined the distracted driving rates in the United States versus the rates in several other countries. The United States, by far, showed the highest rates of distracted driving. This is yet another reason why 16 might just be too young for drivers to get their license. One leading cause of distracted driving today is the use of cell phones while driving. Also according to the CDC, about 31% of teenage drivers reported using their phones to send text messages or emails while driving. This means that approximately one-third of teenagers on the road admit to not having their full attention on the road while driving. This does not make for safe driving conditions for anyone, not just teenagers.

Attractive woman in car showing her drivers license

More recently, a survey conducted by the AAA found that many teens seem to be waiting longer before they get their licenses. In fact, in a 2013 survey, only 54% of eighteen year-olds reported as having their driver’s license. This result is unexpected, due to the fact that most teens seem to want to get their licenses as soon as possible. According to the survey the reasons that teens are waiting include: the high price of gas, the fact that most teens are still able to get around without driving, and the fact that they did not own a car to drive even if they wanted to. Whatever the reasons may be, less teenage drivers on the road is an overall positive thing. It might be time for more teens to hold off on getting their licenses.

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

A topic that is often discussed when kids begin college is the “Freshman 15”. This term is used to describe to the sudden gain in weight that many students experience when they first enter college. Beginning college is an exciting, but also somewhat stressful time in a teenager’s life. Students have to deal with adjusting to a whole new lifestyle while also remembering to take care of themselves. Many college freshman struggle with maintaining a healthy diet, and this, along with a lack of exercise, is the cause for the dreaded Freshman 15. So, what causes the Freshman 15, and why does it occur when kids start college?

One study, conducted by researchers at Oregon State University, examined the eating habits of 582 students in college. The overwhelming majority of these students were freshman. The results of the study showed that most college students are not including enough fruits and vegetables in their daily diet. The study also compared the average intake of fruits and vegetables of males versus females. The study found that males, on average, eat about one more serving of fruit each week than females. An interesting observation noted by the researchers discussed the possibilities for the drop in the intake of fruits and vegetables. It was found that students are more likely to skip meals in college than they were before, while still living at home. Students in college are much less likely to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. The researchers were able to conclude that skipping meals is likely to contribute to students eating less fruits and veggies, since students are eating a smaller number of meals overall.


However, skipping out on fruit and vegetables is not the only cause of the weight gain that many students experience when the go off to college. The study conducted also found that students were getting far more than 30% of their calories from fat. The American Dietetic Association recommends that no more than 30% of daily calories are from fat. In college, students are likely to eat whatever is convenient for them. It is usually more convenient to run to the dining hall for a slice of pizza than it is to prepare a meal with the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. So for college kids, a combination of not enough fruit and too much junk food leads to substantial weight gain in a short period of time.

Furthermore, a study done by researchers at the Manheim Institute of Public Health found that there is a significant decrease in students’ exercise habits from the time that they finish high school to the time when they begin. The largest decrease in exercise is likely to occur during a the first through third semesters of college, as opposed to the later semesters of college. The first semester of college is the time when a student is experiencing lots of adjustment, and he or she is likely not to make exercise a top priority.

Now, like all hypotheses, it it true that this could all just be due to chance. But time and time again, college freshman have experienced a significant weight gain after their first few months in college. Speaking from personal experience, I can relate to the struggles that students face when adjusting to college. It is often difficult to balance schoolwork, a social life, exercise, and healthy eating all at once, especially since it is my first time living away from home. However, it’s important to take care of yourself first, and then worry about everything else. Eating properly and getting enough exercise are important factors of becoming a successful college student.


Too Much of a Bad Thing

Time and time again throughout my childhood, I’ve heard my mom say, “Turn off the television, it will turn your brain to mush.” Now, I never really listened to her, until I started learning of the very real effects that too much television can have on the developing brains of children. Many people have the idea that T.V. is bad for the brain. It’s a distraction, and nothing good can come from watching hours upon hours of cartoons every day. Today, however, children seem to be watching much more T.V. each day than past generations. For example, I had limits on how much T.V. I was able to watch each day when I was younger. Now, parents seem to let their children watch however many hours of T.V. they want. This is especially harmful to young children when it comes to schoolwork and grades. T.V. is taking up the time that should be spent doing homework and studying, especially in the early years, when children’s brains are still developing.

One observational study, conducted by two professors at Johns Hopkins and Stanford University, examined the test performance of 386 third graders in relation to the time they spent watching T.V. The professors wanted to study the home environments of these children. The professors inquired about the number of television sets in the home, the time the kids spent watching T.V., the presence of any other electronic devices in the house (such as video game sets), and also about the time these children spent doing homework, reading and studying. Overall, the children without televisions in their rooms outperformed the children with T.V. sets. One interesting result concluded from this experiment is that a child who has a television set in his or her bedroom is likely to score about 8 points lower on a math exam than a child who does not have a T.V. set in his or her room. While this result could be due to chance, the result suggests that it is harmful for young children to have a T.V. set in their room. It seems that having access to a television during all hours of the day can be detrimental to a child’s success in school. It is likely that the more television a child watches, the likely it is that a child will perform well in school.


Whether or not a child has a television in their room can have a significant impact on their school performance. According to the New York Times, placing a television in a child’s room puts them at a much higher risk of sleep and school related problems. If a young child is able to watch T.V. whenever they want, the parents are no longer in control of how much time their child spends watching T.V., when the T.V. is turned off at night, or what kinds of shows the child is watching on T.V. A study that was also discussed in this article also found that those with T.V. sets in their rooms were also likely to spend much less time reading as opposed to children without T.V. sets in their bedrooms.


This article also raises other important concerns about health issues that too much T.V. can cause. One study found that children who spend more time watching television are at a higher risk of becoming obese, especially boys. It appears that spending too much time in front of the television can cause young children to become lazy, less responsive to the world around them, and form unhealthy habits. It seems that it is important for all children, and especially young ones, to strike a good balance between work and play. A little bit of television is okay, but too much of one thing is never good, no matter what.






Double the Fun

For as long as I can remember, I have been very fascinated with the concept of twins. It amazes me how two people who are so very similar can be born at the same time. Throughout my lifetime, I haven’t had the pleasure of knowing too many sets of twins, but when I meet them, I am always very intrigued. Twins are very interesting to me for many reasons.


Now, I’m not an expert on how twins are formed, but here’s what I can recall from science class: there are two kinds of twins, monozygotic and dizygotic. These kinds of twins are more commonly known as identical and fraternal. Monozygotic twins begin as one egg that later separates into two eggs, so both eggs share identical DNA. Dizygotic twins result from two eggs that are fertilized by two different sperm at the same time. This creates two babies who have their own DNA, but are still born at the same time.

I think the way that twins act with each other is so interesting. Some sets of twins are best friends, while other sets of twins do their own thing entirely. I have seen both of these situations happen in real life. For example, a set of twins that I went to elementary school with were very different, and had completely different groups of friends. But another set of twins that I went to high school with were absolute best friends, and were never found separate from each other. I especially love when twins are young, and their mothers dress them in matching outfits. One rumor that has become very popular is the “twin telepathy” story. According to this article, there is no scientific proof that twin telepathy is a real thing. Twins cannot actually communicate with each other via mind-reading or intuition. This kind of situation is often portrayed in television shows or movies. While it would be extremely fascinating if this concept was true, there is no proof that that twins can communicate in this way.


According to Baby Center, having twins is not always very likely. Three years ago, studies showed that about 3 in every 100 births resulted in twins. This is not a very high number. Now, however, twins are much more likely to occur. The article I read suggested that this recent spike in women giving birth to multiples is a result in an increase of the use of assisted reproductive methods. From what I’ve learned, twins are more to occur likely when in vitro fertilization is used, or other forms of assisted reproduction. Take, for example, the TV show Jon and Kate Plus 8. The mother, Kate Gosselin, first gave birth to twins, and then a few years later, had sextuplets. This was possible with the help of assisted reproduction. In vitro fertilization is common today, but it is also very expensive. Not everyone has the means that are necessary to have this operation done.

All in all, twins are extremely fascinating. They can either be exact copies of each other, or different types of people entirely. Twins are interesting to learn about, even though they are really just regular people. In any case, double the children = double the fun!



I Don’t Have Time to Sleep

Everyone always tells me that I need to make sure I’m getting enough sleep. My parents always say it, my doctors tell me, and even my grandparents say it. My sleep schedule in high school was pretty normal, and I liked to stick to a consistent pattern. I would wake up at about 4:45 in the morning for swim practice, and go to bed at about 10:30 or 11:00 each night.  Now I know that this really isn’t enough sleep, but I’m not really the kind of person who requires a whole lot of sleep.

Now that I’m in college, my sleeping patterns have definitely had some adjusting to do. And now, when and if I go to sleep is completely up to me. I have to make sure I’m going to bed on time, and I have to make sure I’m getting out of bed in time to get to class. Club meetings, sports practices, socializing, and homework sometimes take priority over sleep. This, of course, is not ideal, but it’s the cold, hard truth for college students today.


An article found here gives some helpful advice for college students who have issues with sleeping. One thing the article suggests is that people should stop using electronics 30 minutes before they go to bed. Well this right here could be one of the main problems. I know for the majority of people, their cell phone is the last thing they look at before they fall asleep each night. And if it’s not their cell phone, it’s the television. People are aware that this habit could be affecting their sleep, but they still do it anyway.

Another tip the article gives is to stay away from caffeine after 3 in the afternoon. Now, I’m not a coffee drinker, but this just seems like a very unrealistic expectation. With everything college kids need to do in one day, many students often turn to coffee during all waking hours. Late night study session? Last minute cram for exams? Coffee is always the answer.

Yes, I agree that it’s very important for college students to be getting enough sleep. I know the effects that a lack of sleep can have on a student over the course of the day. I’ve experienced this first hand. For example, after a particularly rough night of studying, I started out the next day feeling tired and sluggish. I didn’t start to feel better at all until I was back in bed again the next night. Getting enough sleep each night seems to be vital to one’s success during college.

I believe that the weekends often have a strong impact on a student’s sleep schedule. On the weekends, students tend to go to bed much later than usual, and wake up sometime in the late afternoon. It can’t be healthy for someone’s sleep schedule to be disturbed this often. It is definitely a challenge for most college students to get enough sleep each night.

Clearly, students today are getting less sleep than they should be, or having a difficult time falling into a consistent pattern of sleep. Researchers and doctors can offer all the advice and tips they want, but in the end, it’s up to each student to take care of themselves. This is part of why college is such a big adjustment for most people. This is the first time that most of us are living alone, and it’s up to us to make sure we are living healthy lives.


Music is a big part of my life, and I’m sure this is the case for the majority of college students as well. I’m constantly listening to music, whether I’m walking to class, relaxing in my room, or working out at the gym. I love listening to all types of music, and I’m constantly on the hunt for new songs or albums to listen to. I’ll listen to any kind of music, and I love when I learn about new songs from my friends. Listening to music automatically helps me feel better. I’m fascinated by the effects that music has on the human brain. Time and time again, people have wondered: Does music make you smarter?

Scientists have been researching the effects of music on the brain for a long time. I’m interested in the discoveries they’ve made, because maybe all of the music I’ve been listening to will help me out in the long run. Before I even discuss what science has to say on the matter, I absolutely think that music can help make people smarter. I think music can help me to focus, and it helps to relieve stress. Overall, listening to music helps me become more relaxed and less tense.

Many professionals tend to agree with me. One study, which I learned about here, suggested that early exposure to music can lead to children having higher IQ scores and reading levels. I can definitely attest to this. When I was about eight years old, my mom enrolled me in music classes at my school. A few times a week, I would meet with my class, and we would play musical instruments and listen to different songs. It was during this same time that I was given a standardized reading test, because my mom feared that my reading level was not up to par with that of my peers. On this reading test, I got the same score that an average seventh grader would receive. Now this could be due to the fact that I was absolutely obsessed with reading the Harry Potter series around the same time, but it also could have had something to do with music.

music girl

Now, some people think that it’s the listening to and performing of music that can make you smarter, but others believe something else. According to this article, it’s the studying of music that actually increases brain functionality. The term ‘musical aptitude’ refers to one’s ability to learn music. It is very clear that not everyone has the same abilities when it comes to learning music. However, it has not been determined whether musical aptitude is something people are born with, or if it is something that is learned at an early age. I, for one, know that I am very musically inept. My music career started and ended with those music lessons I took when I was eight. This leads me to believe that musical aptitude is something that is learned throughout one’s lifetime. Some people have a knack for music, while others simply do not.

I know that I certainly won’t be the next Mozart, and I’m okay with that. However, I strongly believe that listening/performing music can help cognitive functions. From what I’ve gathered, nobody has found any negative impacts of music, only positive ones. Now, I know that listening to music won’t suddenly boost my GPA to a 4.0, but I do think that only good things can come from listening to music.

Science is the Worst

Hi everyone, my name is Maddy and I’m from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. I’m an advertising major in the College of Communications. I’m so happy to finally be here at Penn Sate, since I have wanted to come here for college since sophomore year of high school. I’m really excited to take SC 200 with you guys, and hopefully I’ll get to know some of you better!

I decided to take this class because it really stood out to me when I was looking for a science class to fulfill the gen ed requirement. I liked the description of the class, and it really appealed to me since I am someone who does not plan on being a science major. I chose this class because it specified that the class was for people who don’t like science, and that describes me perfectly. I’m happy that everyone taking the class isn’t majoring in science, because I think that makes it a lot more interesting that we have such different interests.

i am not majoring in science because I really don’t like math or science, and I never have. I would much rather write a paper for an english class, or be tested on the history of the U.S. than sit down and finish a page of math problems or complete a science lab. The way I’ve been taught, science questions have to have one answer, and one answer only. Science and math have both always been very confusing for me. I am excited to take this class because I hope to be able to see science in a different way. I hope that I learn to really appreciate science instead of just ignoring it because I don’t like it.

This is sometimes how I feel when I have to answer questions in science class:

Sometimes I'll Start A Sentence And I Don't Even Know Where It's Going - I Just Hope I Find It Along The Way (1)

I do think that there are certain concepts of science that are really interesting, but I just don’t like the way that science was taught to me during grade school and high school. There are mny things in the field of science that I am fascinated by. For example, here is an article that I thought was really interesting even though it’s related to science.

I enjoyed reading some of your blog posts and I’m excited to take SC 200 with you guys!