Author Archives: Meaghan Elizabeth Simone

Does school start too early?

As college students, we have the blessing to be able to close when we will take our classes – we wouldn’t have to wake up until 1 pm if we wanted to. However, there are the unlucky few who must get up at ungodly hours for 8 and 9 ams, as do all high school kids and middle school kids. While thinking about the half asleep college student dragging himself to his 8am, you have to wonder: can school time affect school performance?

Null Hypothesis: School times do not affect school performance

Alternative Hypothesis: School times do affect school performance

How early do most schools start?

According to Science News for Students, most schools start anywhere between 7:30 and 8:30 am. The earliest class available for Penn State, for example, is 8am. However, this means that teenager has to get up at around 5-5:30 in order to start getting ready and preparing for the day. Considering most teenagers don’t go to sleep much earlier before midnight (most wait to sleep till later as well), that leaves anywhere between 5-7 hours of sleep for the student. While that may seem like a lot (for college students it does), the recommended amount of sleep for teens is around 9 hours, so we are severely lacking

What’s the biggest problem with schools starting early?

This biggest issue is the simplest one: teens aren’t getting enough sleep. According to Science News for Kids, waking up so early causes students to lose a big part of their REM cycle – or deep sleep. Why is this important? Because it is during REM that the brain recharges and prepares for the day ahead. When REM is lost, the brain and body lacks the energy to keep focus, regulate mood swings, and can lead to mood disorders and weight gain.

Why does losing sleep affect a student’s learning?

Losing sleep can negatively impact a student’s learning because a student cannot be fully invested and class and activities without the proper amount of rest. According to School Start Time, losing sleep will cause the students to not pay attention, lose motivation, lose focus, not retain memory, and negatively affect basic cognitive ability such as making decisions, elaborating on ideas (or even remembering them), and will cause students to lose creativity and elaborate thinking processes.

How can we fix this?

According to School Start Time, when students go to bed earlier and wake up later, their grades tend to improve. Students also need to sleep the appropriate amount (again, around 9 hours) on the weekends to prepare themselves for the week ahead. Unfortunately, do to the high controversy of this matter between school boards, teachers, and the students themselves, most studies on how school times affect academic performance are either not well researched or suffer from the file drawer problem (in other words, no one bothered to publish them or make them known).


While there appears to be evidence linking school start times and cognitive performance, we can neither reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis. This is because not enough research has been done on this subject, and it will take numerous, extensive studies to get a definitive answer.

However, there is enough evidence where it is logical to take reasonable steps in order to get more sleep.

As a college student who rarely gets more than 5 hours of sleep a week, I strongly recommend catching up on sleep however you can, whether it be through naps, staying in on the weekends, etc. Losing sleep is detrimental to your health and well being, so try and rest as much as you can.

Web Sources: herehere

Photo Source: here


Can high heels affect your body?

I’m sure the majority of college girls – and most girls, in all honesty – can agree with me when I say high heels are absolutely horrible to wear. They may look pretty, but they can definitely hurt your feet. However, recently I began noticing that not just my feet were hurting when I would wear heels – I wear a decent size, around 5 in, and now I start to feel my knees hurting with each step and calves feel tighter than usual. So now Im wondering – can high heels affect the rest of your body (other than just your feet)?

Null Hypothesis: high heels do not affect the rest of your body

Alternative Hypothesis: high heels do affect the rest of your body

First off: what about high heels causes that foot pain that we all know and love?

The majority has to do with how much pressure you’re putting on your feet. According to The Spine Institute, wearing high heels actually throws off the usually even amount of pressure on your feet, and focuses on the balls of your feet and toes instead – similar to the pressure you feel in your feet when walking uphill. The taller the heel, the higher the elevation, and the more the pressure.

Wearing a narrow pointed high heel or an ill fitting high heel (whether it’s too big or small) will also cause foot pain as this is why causes ingrown toenails and blisters.

And now how they can affect the rest of the body

Knee pain:

Similar to how it works with feet, The Spine Institute stated that wearing heels also puts a lot of pressure on your knees because its similar to walking in an uphill motion. It also puts stress on the inside of your knees which in time (if you wear heels daily) can possibly lead to joint and muscle damage.

Calves and Ankle pain:

According to Women’s Health, wearing heels (especially ones that contain straps) can cut off the circulation near your ankle since it forces the ankle to move forward – with enough time, this could cause veins to occur on the lower part of your legs. Walking in high heels (as I have noticed) causes your calves to get really tight as you’re trying to maintain balance – this is why it takes your feet some adjusting to walk normally after wearing heels for a prolonged period of time (the calf muscle needs to loosen itself). If you wear heels constantly for a long period of time, this can result in your calves being consistently tight, causing pain while walking no matter what shoes are being worn.

Back Pain:

When standing with no heels, your back is usually just straight, so there are no points of pressure or strain. According to The Spine Institute, wearing heels causes your back to arch forward, to compensate for the balance being lost. Walking for hours in heels can put a lot of stress on your lower back, resulting in soreness and pain.

Long term effects:

Chronic high heel wearing can not only change the anatomy of your body (as shown with the calf muscles) but can also lead to a chronic nerve pain. This nerve condition causes tingling, sharp pains, and muscle cramps that radiate from the lower back all the way down to the legs.


The Spine Institute shows a variety of ways to help alleviate pain from wearing high heels. Some ways include stretching, buying insoles to place in your shoe (Dr. Scholls, for example), avoiding certain types of high heels and limiting the amount of time you wear heels per day.


We have enough evidence to prove that wearing high heels does in fact affect more than just feet, so therefore we can reject the null hypothesis. 

I was unaware how much damage a pair of shoes could cause, so a word of the wise would be to wear shoes like this in moderation to avoid injury.

Web Sources: herehere

Photo Source: here


Sleep Deprivation

As a fellow college student, I relate to this topic on a personal level. However, I have not been sleeping at all much more these past few weeks due to all nighters, and I am beginning to feel a lot of the harmful side effects of not getting the proper amount of sleep (or more correctly, not getting sleep at all). As I don’t want to steer myself into a lifestyle that can be seriously damaging, I must ask myself: does sleep deprivation have any LONG TERM harmful side effects?

Null Hypothesis: Sleep deprivation has no long term side effects

Alternative Hypothesis: Sleep deprivation has harmful long term side effects

Why do we need sleep?

Similar to how a person charges their phone overnight after a long day so it can be readily available in the morning, people need a good night sleep in order to be fully rested and “recharged.” Along with helping us get through the day without passing out, sleeping also has several important health benefits. According to Healthline, sleeping is actually where important body functions such as the immune system and nervous system depend on you being asleep.

While you sleep, your brain essentially goes into a rest period so it can be all set to go in the morning – sleeping helps recharge your brain so that it has enough energy to get you through the day. With sleep, your brain is able to perform the way it should be, allowing you to stay focused and alert.

It is also while we sleep that our immune system builds its defense. It readily creates and prepares antibodies and other fighters while you sleep, so that during the day if you come into contact with a harmful virus, infection, etc., the antibodies will be readily available to attack.

Where does sleep deprivation stem from?

A popular answer (especially amongst college students) is that we are simply too “busy” with work or school to fall asleep – however, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. According to Web MD, things such as mental health, stress, and possible sleeping disorders (such as insomnia) can actually be factors as well.

Short Term effects:

From personal experience, I can say that with a serious lack of sleep, I’m moody, unfocused, lethargic, and just generally experience a very low quality of life. In addition, I actually now find that staying up all night (pulling all nighters) is a terrible way to study because since my brain is so exhausted, it doesn’t have enough energy to remember anything that I’m studying.

Web MD actually brought up some points I hadn’t considered before – the affect MY sleep deprivation can have on others. Being so irritable and unhappy can negatively affect my relationship with my peers, making an already bad situation that much worse.

Randomly falling asleep is also a very prevalent side effect – where you feel your head dropping with sleep and you jerk your head up to stay awake. it may not seem like a terribly serious thing at first, as for college students it usually means doing so in class or on the comfy chairs in the Paterno Library. However, once you start randomly falling asleep doing activities such as driving, you immediately put yourself and the people around you at a great amount of risk.

In my opinion, the worst (or worst feeling, at least) short term side effect is that you always feel sick. Since I haven’t slept, my immune system hasn’t been able to produce enough effective antibodies and is now working very poorly. I now get colds and sick constantly, from nausea to headaches to full out lightheadedness.

Long Term Side effects:

In all honesty, I speculated the worst long term results would be behavioral – I’d get more depressed, cynical, and moody. Unfortunately, that is also just scratching the surface.

Sleep deprivation, according to Web MD, can actually lead to some very serious health problems, including excessive weight gain, high blood pressure, heart problems, etc. Also, it can cause more than just being very “moody” – I can get serious behavioral and mood disorders, and I can even become mentally damaged, all simply due to a lack of sleep. As it turns out, lack of sleeping can have a higher death rate than that of doing other dangerous activities, such as drinking or smoking.


We have enough evidence of long term health problems caused by sleep deprivation, and therefore we can reject the null hypothesis. I was truly surprised at how detrimental lack of sleep can be to a human, and I encourage anyone seriously struggling to get help and take care of themselves.

Web Sources: herehere

Photo Source: here

Can writing improve memory?

During my first semester at college, I’ve become used to my computer being my lifeline. I am not exaggerating when I say that in almost EVERY class I am enrolled in, I use my computer – with the exception of Andrew’s wonderful SC200 class, of course. However, I noticed in my “computer” classes that I found it a lot harder to retain the information – in fact, when studying for exams, I look at the notes I took on the computer and rewrite them with a pen and paper! I personally have noticed that it does help me remember the information, but can writing actually help improve memory?

Null Hypothesis: Writing does not improve memory

Alternative Hypothesis: Writing does help improve memory

First off: why are computers so popular amongst us anyway?

There is nothing a college kid craves more than a shortcut. Using computers not only speeds up the note taking process, but keeps it all in one, organized, easy to maneuver device. In addition, typing notes on the computer makes it significantly easier to read (I know from experience that dozing off in class tends to create pretty illegible handwriting)(*never in SC200*) so just being able to type along quickly and efficiently takes a lot of stress off one’s shoulders.

Testing the theory:

According to Medical Daily, there was a study conducted using a randomized control trial (college kids of various ages) in an observational study. The students were instructed to take notes they normally would – whether it be by hand or typed – and afterwards they were assessed on the lecture they had just sat through, and asked t expand on the materials, ideas, etc. that they had just learned.

A second study by the same group took place, and this time the students were allowed to review the material for a week before, again, being assessed on the materials they had learned / had been studying for.


While all the college students in the sample sat through the same lecture and had to learn the same amount of material, the students who hand wrote their notes were recorded as performing much better than the students who typed them.


According to the study, the students who typed the notes wrote them down exactly word-for-word; in other words, they were just writing down the words they saw without allowing it to make an intellectual connection with what they were were learning. It was just mindless writing, like a robot following code. With handwriting the notes, you can actually create a sort of muscle memory, which can help a student remember and connect with he material they are writing down. For example; it’s like playing a scale on the piano. the more you play and practice it, the faster it’ll become second nature and you’ll do it without thinking twice.

Handwriting also allows for creative expression. Using a preferable pen color or being able to write little notes in the margin all help a student remember what they are learning. For example, I personally doodle while I’m taking notes – it helps my mind become less all over the place and helps me focus on what I’m writing about.


Since we have enough evidence proving that handwriting does in fact help retain memory, we are able to reject the null hypothesis. 

Study Source: here

Photo Source: here



BPA and Human Development

BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical used in the creation and production of the majority of plastics and other household items such as tin cans, toys, baby bottles, etc. It is so widely produced that the majority of the people in the United States have been contaminated by it. With something so mass produced, it’s definitely natural that people would like to know the long term effects and if it is something to be concerned about.

However, since the production of this chemical is essential in many production factories to make money, the CEOs of said companies tend to refuse to admit that it could have any harmful side effects.

Let’s found out which assumption (if any) is correct:

Null Hypothesis: BPA does not do anything to human health or development (favored by big companies)

Alternative Hypothesis: BPA does something to human health and development (favored by

Now for some background information.

How does it get into your system?

BPA can get into your system through a number of ways, including breast milk, food, and even just handling items that contain it. BPA can contaminate food and beverages from the containers, and once that is ingested it’s in your system.

How can it be detected?

According to ScienceDirect, BPA levels can be detected and measured through standard procedures such as blood and urine tests, but it can also be detected in prenatal development through amniotic fluid or the umbilical chord. It can also be detected in semen.

Effects on human development:

While BPA has been known to contaminate men, children, infants, and even animals, the most studied and known side effects are present in woman. According to ScienceDirect, women with certain ailments such as PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Symptom, which is when there is too much testosterone produced in a woman), miscarriages (even more so if the woman has already had miscarriages in the past), or being overweight tend to have higher concentrations of BPA in their system than those who don’t. It is also suspected that women with higher BPA concentrations tend to start puberty earlier than those who don’t (at around age 9 or 10 instead of the usual 13 years old).

Study Drawbacks:

According to the article, it appears that studies and observations on BPA side effects are typically not well researched or even documented – or in other words, suffer from the file drawer problem. The ScienceDirect article states that the majority of BPA observations usually lack detail, limit the control of third party variables, and usually don’t even have enough participants to see a definitive statement.


While we have enough evidence to say that BPA does in fact do SOMETHING (and therefore, reject the null hypothesis), until more well-written and well-tested studies are done, it is unclear as to what exactly the BPA side effects are, the extent to their harm, or what people can do to prevent/alleviate them.

Article Source: here

Photo Source: here




Is drawing therapeutic?

Ever since we were little kids, art was implemented into our lives in many ways – as a form of expression (drawing our imaginary friends and portraying our ideas and dreams) and as a form of communication (our feelings that we may not be able to verbally express, or for nonverbal kids in general). Art had a way of making us feel better and happier. Now that we’re (mostly) adults, can art still help us in the same way?

How can art benefit you as an adult? According to The Drawing Website, drawing can be used as a form of therapy. When someone starts drawing, they can express whatever stress or hardships they are feeling, and in that way almost alleviate it. By drawing whatever is upsetting you, you remove it from yourself and your body and put it into something else – in a more symbolic way, you can physically destroy those hardships by throwing out the paper, tearing it, burning it, etc. Drawing can also be used as a method of communication for the more introvert people (in regards to expressing ideas and thoughts) and encourages creative problem solving and self discovery (finding your own style, for example).

How effective can “art therapy” actually be? According to The Drawing Website, enough to the point where it can assist people with mental health issues. Drawing provides a safe, stress-free environment where people with these issues are able to freely express themselves without hurting themselves or others. Drawing provides an outlet to the stress or tension building inside, where otherwise they would not be able to express how they are truly feeling. Since these people were able to express themselves, they became more emotionally stable, thus making doctor or therapist visits much easier.

Long-term benefits of drawing? If art is implemented in a person’s life as a child, it can improve memory, encourage out-of-the-box thinking, and help sustain a healthy method of self expression.

In the end, those doodles all over the pages of your science notes don’t mean that you weren’t paying attention – it was your body expressing all of your jumbled thoughts so that you can think clearly. If all it can take is a pencil and some paper to clear your mind and make yourself feel less stressed, it is absolutely worth it.

Web Source: Here

Photo Source: Here


Waist trainers: worth it?

Being a female in the modern society, I have been around multiple “health and beauty” trends since I was little. A very popular one at the moment is wearing waist trainers while exercising, doing everyday business, etc. in an effort to lose weight and get body shape that society currently wants. I personally have been curious in trying these items, but I wanted to ask myself – are these things actually safe?

So what exactly are waist trainers? They’re essentially modernized corsets. The biggest difference between waist trainers and corsets is that waist trainers are being used to lose weight and improve physique (specifically to reduce inches on someones waist), whereas traditional corsets were used to give the appearance of the hourglass shape in order to look more feminine and improve posture.

How do you use them? You wear them the same way you wear a corset – it surrounds your midsection, and depending on what type you get, you can get more traditional ones that are tied in the back or more modern ones that are either zipped or clipped together in the front.

How often do you use them? As often as you want. Some people only wear them while working out or doing physical exercise, and others will wear them all day, every day no matter what they are doing. It truly depends on your personal preference.

Physical repercussions? Almost exactly the same of that experienced with traditional corsets. According to Women’s Health, overuse of waist trainers can result in bruised ribs, bruised organs, and breathing problems. It’s been known (through every generation of corset-wearing) that wearing corsets too tight for too long can make it very hard to breathe and even cause some people to pass out. Think of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie: a woman is wearing a corset pulled too tight and she passes out from not being able to breathe – into the ocean – and that that is a very real health concern for people that continuously wear these items.

If they are so bad to use, why do people keep buying/wearing them? In part, it is because some people feel the need to reach that “societal standard” of beauty by any means necessary, even if it hurts them in the long run. Another large part is celebrity endorsement of these items. As shown in Women’s Health, the Kardashians are known for relentlessly endorsing and supporting these items. Due to their wealth and status in the world, they are very influential to the impressionable youth – if they see very famous celebrities wearing them, they will want to wear them too.

In the end, it appears that waist trainer is not a terrible idea if you are careful about it. While it MIGHT not hurt to try it safely, the most effective (and usually the safest) methods are healthy dieting (not avoiding eating) and living an active lifestyle. It may not be easy at first or even at all, but it’s better than to seriously risk hurting yourself using dangerous shortcuts.

Web source: Here

Photo source: Here

How does mint help nausea?

A handy trick I learned about a year ago was whenever I felt nauseous, I should chew a piece of mint gum. I was told that the menthol in the mint gum is what alleviates nausea – naturally, I had no idea what that meant. Since I just got over a spell of nausea a few days ago with the help of several pieces of mint gum, I wanted to ask: what about mint gum (or specifically, menthol) helps get rid of nausea?

The main difference I noted whenever chewing gum when I felt queasy was that it helped relax and soothe my stomach. But how and why does it do that? According to LiveStrong, the answer lies within one of the main ingredients – menthol. When ingesting menthol through peppermint, it relaxes your stomach muscles and gets rid of that tight, uncomfortable, cramping feeling that your stomaches get whenever you feel sick. In other words, it acts as a kind of cooling massage to your stomach – kneading all of the knots out until your stomach is stretched, relaxed, and comfortable. This can actually be related to why people tend to feel more relaxed and at ease when smoking cigarettes that contain menthol – it has the same effect.

Any precautions? Yes, but not many. LiveStrong noted that using peppermint as a relief agent should be avoided by people with certain stomach or gastrointestinal problems, as this can actually cause more pain. In other words, the best use of peppermint as a nausea relief would be when you’re sick from food related causes, anxiety, nerves, etc., instead of serious medical concerns and ailments. *(Disclaimer: this is not to undermine the severity of people with anxiety. I am referring to anxiety as for example, being nervous to give an oral presentation in front of the class. In other words, just being nervous).*

Is the use of peppermint for nausea limited to just gum? Nope! A person can use peppermint oils, candy, tea leaves, gum, etc. to alleviate nausea, although peppermint oils would most likely be the most effective route, as it has the most concentration of menthol and a lesser amount of sugar compared to the other options.

Peppermint gum has helped me whenever I had nausea from the day I found out about it. It is a useful “life hack” and can benefit a lot of people that might not have known of its usefulness. So in the end, if you’re feeling nauseous and don’t want to take an Alka Seltzer or force yourself to get sick, peppermint gum can be a helpful alternative. And of course, if symptoms persist, go to the nurse or doctor for additional help.

Web source: Here

Photo source: Here

Do horror movies have health benefits?

In the spirit of Halloween, I have noticed that everyone tends to be a little on edge: with creepy clowns, scary decorations, and horror movies galore, everyone’s anxieties are elevated. This got me thinking: when people are scared or nervous, they exert a lot more energy than they would being happy, calm, or lighthearted. So I began linking the feeling with ones that are similar to physical exercise, which is scary enough on its own. Is it possible to actually gain any health benefits from watching scary movies?

According to The Telegraph, the University of Westminster in London, England permed a study where they had people watch horror/thriller movies, and noting the bodily reactions. After watching some of these movies, it was noted that the people on average had burned over 100 calories, which can equate a brisk walk on the treadmill.

So watching scary movies can in fact burn calories! But how?

When people are scared or anxious, their heart rates quicken, their breathing rates increase, and they sweat. When a person’s heart rate increases, it helps blood circulate much faster around the body and increases the amount of adrenaline in the body – a great example of this is when you’re watching a movie with a “jump scare” – a sudden, spontaneous, frightening scene. A jump scare is so sudden that it can make your heart rate spike instantly, and forces all of these processes to happen essentially all at once. That experience can be similar to a sprint on a race track – your heart is already pumping blood faster than usual because you’re anxious and excited, and once you start sprinting and exerting so much force and energy almost immediately, it causes the heart to react in the same way.

So this Halloween, if you’re looking for easy ways to burn off the extra calories from all the halloween candy you ate, a good solution would be to sit back and watch AMC’s horror movie marathon on repeat.

Photo source: here

Web source: here

How do people wiggle their ears?

This question has been bugging me for probably all 18 years of my existence. Ive always known some people can wiggle their ears and some can’t (with me being in the latter category) but I never figured out why. This question brought new passion to me when this past weekend, while me and some friends were at dinner, my friend started wiggling his ears. Now it’s time to find out: how do people wiggle their ears?

Using my basic knowledge of science, I can generally assume that some people can wiggle their ears because the muscles in that area are somehow active and the nerve responses can travel to the brain, allowing the person to wiggle them, like how they would scrunch up their nose or wag their finger. According to The Tech, people are able to wiggle their ears through the muscles that surround your ear behind your earlobe, from above to behind your earlobe. These muscles are commonly used in animals that rely a lot on hearing, such as rabbits, dogs, and horses.

So why can (some) humans wiggle their ears? It’s uncertain.

Also according to The Tech, it is possible that their is a hereditary link to ear wiggling, similar to the way that if one or both parents have blue eyes, the odds of their child having blue eyes would be greatly increased. When applied to ear wiggling, if one or both parents can wiggle their ears, the chances of their child being able to wiggle his/her ears is greatly increased.

But what about the people who don’t have parents that can wiggle their ears?

The Tech mentions that while having the possible hereditary link can help people learn how to wiggle their ears, it is possible that anyone can learn how to do so. With the help of various online tutorials, it is likely that anyone willing to try can learn how. That being said, there is a lot of controversy and uncertainty as to how exactly the talent is carried on/presented.

Why would people need to wiggle their ears in the first place?

Studies show that our ancestors might have had to wiggle their ears at one point, but as evolution occurred and time passed, the trait became futile. An example of this would be the appendix – it might’ve had important use in the past, but now it’s no longer needed.

I hope this helped anyone that has been asking the same question I’e been asking for most of my life. In the end, if you really want to figure out how to wiggle your ears, chances are a wikihow tutorial could be the most helpful option.

Photo source: here

Web source: here

Define “science”

Hi everybody, my name’s Meaghan Simone, I’m a freshman currently majoring in Graphic Design. I’m from Long Island, NY which is a good 4.5 hours from here. What’s so cool about Long Island, you ask? Well, other than beaches, some 3 star hibachi restaurants, and an abundance of car dealerships the answer is: nothing. Which is why being so far away is kind of a blessing.


What brought me to SC 200? In all honesty, the environmental science class times just didn’t work with mine. Then I actually read through the course description and realized it was by far the most interesting and challenging class I had found, and it just seemed really cool to me. It didn’t fit the standard definition of “science” that we learned in school (just know the facts and definitions if you wanna pass), and I just really need a class where my brain can actually do something. Naturally, this turned into the perfect class for me.

Why is the artsy-fartsy kid not a scientist but in a science class? I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be one. I really do love science (specifically the kind of science this class has to offer), since I was a little kid, but in the end my passion for art takes gold. Needless to say, looking at this class is making my love for science grow a lot more, and it’s making me feel the same excitement and passion for it i had when I was little. You know what REALLY sealed the deal? The fact that one of our teachings is “Do Aliens visit Earth?” WHO DOESN’T LOVE ALIENS?!? Anyway, here is a link to one of my favorite alien cases. Live long and prosper guys, can’t wait to get to know all of you 🙂