science

Foods to Boost Your Brain!

Foods to Boost Your Brain!

It’s almost THAT time of the year again! You know – when you gotta wake up nice and early in the morning? When your evenings are consumed by mountains of homework? And when weekends become THE most blessed thing you can imagine? You don’t seem too excited… Or maybe you are… BUT ANYWAY, the school year is starting and here are 5 foods that can help you boost your memory and concentration to help you with all that learning!

Guest Guru: Q & A with Mayim Bialik!

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Okay guys, this is a big one for us. Last year, one of OUR role models, Mayim Bialik, invited us to write a piece for her incredible and inspiring site, GrokNation. Today, she’s making a cameo on our blog as an ever-fab Guest Guru! Aside from being a kickass leading lady on The Big Bang Theory, she's one of the big players in the movement towards encouraging women to pursue #STEM. Mayim is an advocate that we totally look up to and wish we could hang out with on the daily - for real. We’re so pumped that she took the time to answer some of our burning questions! Q: Let's start with this: what is the absolute coolest thing about math and/or science?

A: Well, it's hard to pick one thing! I think the coolest thing about math is that it is a completely arbitrary set of names and labels we have given to a system that literally runs the universe. Instead of calling things one, six, and 500, we could also call them polkadot, badger, and violin. Math would still be math because it just IS and we find ways to explain what it is with words and symbols and labels.

Q: Why should high school kids stick with math and science instead of dropping them at the earliest opportunity?

A: The majority of jobs available to young people in the future will require some background in math and science. In addition, some of the higher paid jobs and jobs in the fastest growing most exciting markets require math and science. Plus, understanding math and science sets you up for understanding the world in a whole different way even if you don't choose to go into those for your career. It can help you plan for your life including finances, buying a house, and general decision-making. Also, it gives you an appreciation of the universe that can really change your perspective on life in great ways.

Q: I love love love that you're passionate about finding ways to encourage young women to enter STEM - that's what I'm all about! What are three things that you think we all could be doing that we're not?

A: More positive role models, more mentorship programs, and more funding from the government please!

Q: Girls often develop the belief that they're inherently bad at math much more frequently than boys do. Why do you think that is?

A: Girls and boys brains do tend to work differently, and this means that sometimes the female brain appreciates being taught in ways that have typically been designed to teach male brains.  Sometimes, girls need to be able to picture themselves as a mathematician or a scientist in order to be able to understand why the skills are even important to put in effort to learn. Also, girls tend to be more social, more verbally sophisticated, and more interested in different kinds of activities than these classes sometimes lend themselves to. Creative teachers and more funding for math and science in schools would help this a lot.

Q: I really really believe that a huge part of why girls aren't inspired to pursue STEM is due to the fact that popular media doesn't exactly paint STEM as inspiring or welcoming for girls. What do you think?

A: I think we definitely see a lot of stereotypes of females in the media when we think about women in science. In addition, our culture in general reveres youth and beauty over praising and understanding the kind of people who pursue a life in math and science. So I don't know that I would blame the media, but I think the media is part of a larger problem we have in our culture with what we value and how.

Q: Do you think that your character in Big Bang is finally a step in the right direction for popular media and representations of women in STEM? Have any young women reached out to you about our character?

A: A lot of people think the characters on the Big Bang theory are stereotypes and possibly negative stereotypes of nerds and geeks. I personally know people like all of the characters!  and while Bernadette is a microbiologist who wears more attractive clothing and cute headbands and Amy is more of a modest dresser, we are showing two different kinds of females in science and I love being a part of that.  Also, all of the characters on the Big Bang theory who are scientists enjoy their lives, enjoy the way their life is structured and have friends and successful relationships. I think that is very important to show on television.

Q: Lack of confidence is a major issue when it comes to girls pursuing STEM. What advice do you have for parents of young girls who develop a fear of math in elementary school?

A: Reinforcing that boy and girl brains alike can and should learn math is very important. There are a lot of programs online that parents can be involved with alongside their children to encourage them to build positive skills especially in the math department.

Q: How do you feel about the word 'nerd'? Yes or no and why?

A: I fall under the category of nerd and geek so I say yes!  I have been called a nerd a lot in my life by people who were being mean, but now the culture has shifted, I kind of like being called a nerd. I love all sorts of nerdy and geeky things and enjoy my life a lot because of those things.

Q: Is there hope? Seriously - do you think things have improved in terms of female participation in STEM fields, and do you see them continuing to improve?

A: I think there is definitely hope. You and the work you do give me hope!

For more info on Mayim and the amazing work she does to encourage young women to pursue STEM, check out her full-on website or visit Groknation! LOVE her SO MUCH!

Can you think of someone who you would love for us to feature as a Guest Guru? Holler at us: info@themathguru.ca!

Photo Cred: James Banasiak

 

Guest Guru: Elizabeth Celentano Dishes On Ice Cream!

Hello all! I think there is little else that is more enticing to me than ice cream (OK, I’ll admit it - crème brulee might top it, and realistically it is just a different version of sugary-creamy goodness). So what better scenario could I have this week then being able to make ice cream with my coworkers during a team building exercise?

And the more surprising part? I had 3 experienced, full grown adult, male engineers ask me why salt was needed to make the ice cream.

So, let’s talk science!

First of all, remember that this is when you are making ice cream by hand. Good old hand-crank, churn for long time, until the cream mixture freezes. The salt is required for the ice on the outside of the hand-crank machine.

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OK, now back to the why…

Let’s talk about melting and freezing. They actually happen at the same temperature. For example, if I’m a solid and I want to become a liquid, I have to get enough energy (typically in heat form) to raise myself to my melting temperature. If I’m solid ice, I need to get up to about 0 °C. However, getting up to that temperature won’t automatically turn me into liquid (which is why you can still get ice, or snow, on days that are 0 °C). Liquid molecules have much more energy than solid molecules, which is why they are fluid and can’t hold their form. With all the energy required to go into the phase change, there is no temperature change occurring during the phase change.

So what about the salt?

Well, for ice cream, this melting / freezing point is actually at a lower temperature than 0 °C. The sugars and fats in the ice cream mixture require a colder temperature to freeze than pure water molecules would alone. This requires more than just ice to cool the ice cream mixture (otherwise the ice would melt before the ice cream is frozen).

Salt is the key! Salt itself has a much higher melting point than water, so making a salt-water solution will lower the point at which the solution melts!

But, in turn, it’s actually important for the salt-water mixture to melt. Why? Because the energy needed to change the salt-water mixture from solid to liquid needs energy (remember, the phase change we talked about?). That energy comes from the environment. And in what form? Heat. In other words, taking heat from the surroundings to melt the salt-water mixture ultimately makes everything colder, including the ice cream mixture – which needs to be colder than 0°C to freeze.

It’s not magic, it’s SCIENCE! And delicious science at that.

5 Reasons to Watch Hidden Figures

Oscar season is just around the corner and thanks to Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures, TMG is buzzing with excitement about this year’s red carpet. Telling the story of three African-American women who are BOTH mathematicians and scientists at NASA, this movie is extremely empowering. TMG is OBSESSED with the fact that this movie showcases the incredible abilities of women in STEM – we LOVE girl power! As if watching women crush and crunch numbers like total BOSSES wasn’t reason enough to see this movie, we are providing you with 5 MORE reasons to go and watch Hidden Figures. 1. Math and Science are Relevant

Showing you that math and science have USEFUL applications outside of the classroom, Hidden Figures makes you realize that what you’re currently learning is relevant to not only a potential future career but also relevant to your understanding of what kind of theoretical work is applied to NASA’s space missions.

2. Math and Science are Cool

Hollywood is cool, right?! And sexy, sparkly, glamorous, Hollywood is talking about a movie that features math and science. Therefore, Hollywood is making math and science cool. SO, be cool and get in on the Hollywood buzz!

3. Learn About History

Want to sound knowledgeable about American history? Go and watch Hidden Figures! Because this movie is based on a true story, you will come out of this movie knowing SO much more about an important (yet underrepresented) part of American history.

4. Strong Acting

Featuring fierce and fiery performances by Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae and Taraji P, this trio of women is one that will keep you riveted from beginning to end. With Oscar nominations to prove the star-quality of their performances, the acting in Hidden Figures will NOT disappoint.

5. Feel-Good Story

A lot of movies currently in theatres are super-heavy tear jerkers that have you leaving the theatre in a bit of a slump. If you want to be picked up, enlightened and empowered, this movie is the one to watch. Hidden Figures will make you laugh and cheer loudly for these amazing women, you will feel GOOD after leaving the theatre.

If you think about it, we have really given you 6 reasons to go and see Hidden Figures. So, get off of Netflix and get into a theatre to watch this empowering, inspiring and educational piece of highly talked about art that ACTUALLY features STEM!!!

 

 

 

Self-Care Tips for Studying

Whether or not you had a valentine this past Valentine’s Day, HOPEFULLY you noticed that it’s MOST important to be your OWN VALENTINE and LOVE YOURSELF! Although we think it’s SUPER important to love and take care of yourself, this can be extremely difficult – especially while studying! Studying can sometimes overwhelm us, stress us out, and completely take over our lives. To avoid having school-life completely take over, it’s important to practice loving yourself by using different self-care tips. By practicing the following 5 self-care tips you will be able to avoid unnecessary school-related breakdowns, you will be able to keep calm and carry on - trust us.

  1. Take a bubble bath

If work is starting to make you go crazy, STOP whatever you’re doing and pour yourself a warm and luxurious bubble bath. Want a TMG trick? Using lavender soaps and Epsom salts in the tub will help to relax the muscles in your mind AND body. Try spending JUST 15 minutes in the bath soaking your body and quieting your mind - that's all it takes, and it makes a huge diff in terms of how you approach your work after giving yourself some soaking time to chill out!

  1. Write in a journal

Get out ALL thoughts clogging your mind and inhibiting you from doing your schoolwork by writing them down. By getting out all your feelings on paper, it will be easier to compartmentalize the thoughts as they continue to flow through your mind. And who knows, maybe now that you’ve written down all your thoughts they might not come back – at least until after you're done focusing on the work you have to do RIGHT now!

  1. Exercise

Exercising is one of the best ways to focus on something other than schoolwork. While running as fast as you can on the treadmill who even has TIME to think about school? Aren’t you just focused on putting one foot in-front of the other and BREATHING to stay ALIVE? Not only does exercising actually rejuvenate you physically, it actually causes your brain to release endorphins which amps up your mood! Science in action guys!

  1. Take the day off

Sometimes you’ve been working SO hard that you just need a day off to do next to nothing. On your day off do NOT even THINK about doing schoolwork. This day off is COMPLETELY for you! Take time to sleep in, stay in your PJ’s and curl up on your sofa with the latest Netflix releases (or like, read a book - FOR FUN). Sounds like the perfect day, right?!

  1. Plan something to look forward to

Sometimes all we can think about is school, school and MORE school. If you have nothing to look forward to besides school, it can be difficult to be optimistic about the future. To make you excited about something other than all of that homework that lies ahead, plan something to look forward to. Whether it’s a smaller outing like a movie with a friend or a bigger excursion like a vacation, planning events (whether big or small) in the future will allow you NOT to ONLY focus on school work; with events planned you will now have other things to think about and motivate you to get work done!

We never said it was easy to take care of yourself. However, we DO know that it’s EXTREMELY important. So, the next time you’re feeling out of control, like the world is going to end if you don’t ace your math test, try implementing one of these many self-care tips - you've got this, we know you do!

5 Super Awesome Online Resources for Extra Math and Science Help

Do you ever miss what your teacher said in class? Do you ever fail to understand your chicken scratch handwriting and piece together the notes you took? Do you ever completely forget the lesson given? Do you ever need further clarification on concepts explored? Do you...love Youtube?! If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you could SERIOUSLY benefit from watching online videos that focus on teaching math and science concepts explored in the classroom. By watching online videos after class you can cover the material that you missed, forgot or failed to understand. Not only do online videos help fill the gaps in your knowledge, they help to consolidate and enhance your knowledge too. Math and science websites are information goldmines that can help you in SO many ways BUT can be SUPER overwhelming because there are so many options out there! In order to help you navigate the big wide world of math and science websites, here’s TMG’s guide to some of the best.

1. Khan Academy

Salman Khan, the voice and teacher behind Khan Academy, is simply incredible. Seriously, he’s THE best. Khan explains things SO clearly and concisely while using plain and accessible language - it’s almost impossible to miss what he’s saying. Plus, Khan often uses real-life examples that make the information given relevant.

2. Tyler DeWitt

Super energetic and enthusiastic about all things math and science, Tyler DeWitt’s YouTube channel is actually AMAZING. Covering topics that may seem basic but are actually complex (like significant digits and conversions), DeWitt takes you through these concepts slowly and surely while using extremely appealing visuals. Not only does DeWitt have written visuals, but he films himself doing the problems. This added visual of Tyler DeWitt explaining the problems makes it feel like you’re in a classroom listening to a real-life teacher. How awesome is that?!

3. MooMoo Math and Science

Using fun graphics to explain concepts like quadratic equations and the area of an isosceles triangle, MooMoo Math and Science is taught by certified math and science teachers. Geared more towards a younger audience, MooMoo Math and Science has an entire section of their channel dedicated to middle school science teachings.

4. LearnCOACH

Because LearnCOACH is based in New Zealand, the website divides the material featured on their website into 3 levels that correspond with their education system. Despite this difference in the New Zealand schooling system, LearnCOACH covers plenty of math and science topics. From chemistry, biology and physics, LearnCOACH provides you with material that is similar if not the same as what you would be learning in class.

5. MathHelp.com

With a section devoted to getting you back on track in school, MathHelp.com is the perfect resource for remedial help. Featuring a wide range of material from grade 5 math to college math, MathHelp.com can aid you with so many of your math needs no matter the stage of your academic career.

Next time you feel lost in class and need some extra help clarifying topics covered, turn to these amazing resources to get you through the material. Always presented in a way to better help you understand, there’s no chance that after watching these videos you won't understand math just a LITTLE bit more...at the very least!

 

 

How to Beat the (Procrastination) Blues!

We’ve all been there. We’ve all done it. We’ve ALL procrastinated at one time or another. But that was then and this is NOW. Now is the time to change, to put the past in the past. Today you can start establishing new and healthy study habits that maximize productivity and decrease procrastination. Sounds impossible, right? Think again! With these five quick and easy tips to beat your old habits, you will be establishing effective routines in no time! Feeling like there’s absolutely NO WAY you can master the information that is about to come your way? Well, that’s because you’re not meant to “master” it all! What we’re asking you to do is read over these tips and try your BEST to implement only SOME of them. At the very least TRY to put some of the tips into place because you want to SUCCEED in school during what can be THE busiest time of the year. So, without any further introduction, presenting to you on this week’s blog: How to Beat the (Procrastination) Blues!

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  1. Make a schedule

A sure way to help you combat your procrastination habits is to make yourself a study schedule. When making yourself a schedule, be specific! Commit to working in an environment that you know is effective for you (more on this later) and write down the set amount of time that you will be studying for each subject. By writing down a schedule with set instructions on WHERE to study, WHEN to study, and WHAT to study for, studying becomes hard to avoid!

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  1. Hide all electronic distractions

Just do it. I know we’re all addicted to our phones, computers and the social media that comes with these devices BUT the sure fire way to be effective and get work done is to POWER DOWN. Commit to putting your devices away and out of sight for JUST 30 MINUTES! Crazy, right?! TRUST ME ON THIS ONE. If you turn your phone off and put it out of plain sight, you will be able to get SO much more work done! Just TRY it!

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  1. Make studying fun!

Hate the quiet in the library? Go to a buzzing coffee shop! Hate studying alone? Make a study group! Studying doesn’t always have to consist of you sitting alone in a library. No! Studying can be fun times spent with friends outside of school. Need someone to quiz your for your upcoming test? Make a game using flash cards to help you prepare. Studying doesn’t need to be as dry as your textbook. Get creative, have fun – studying CAN be good times.  

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  1. Know yourself

OK, I know I just told you to have fun while studying and I sincerely mean it. But come on, we can’t have SO much fun that NO work gets done. It’s important to strike a BALANCE when working so that you are PRODUCTIVE. This is where “knowing yourself” really comes into play. If you don’t study well with friends, don’t do it. Instead, make plans to meet up with your friends after you’re done studying alone. Can’t focus when there’s too much background noise? Find a quiet environment that allows you to pay attention to what you’re working on. Don’t know what works for you yet? Don’t worry. Figuring out what kinds of studying techniques are right for you takes time, be PATIENT!

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  1. Be kind to yourself

Being patient with yourself brings me to my final piece of advice. At TMG we believe it’s most important to be KIND to yourself. It’s really easy to beat yourself up over your schoolwork. Thoughts and feelings about not doing enough and needing to do more are likely to pass through your brain. Rather than thinking about what you NEED to do and what you HAVEN’T done, think about how much you have already checked off your to do list. Studying and creating effective study habits take time, but trust me, they will come and so will the marks!

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Books We Love: "Rosie Revere, Engineer" and "Ada Twist, Scientist"

The CRAZIEST thing happened to me the other day. While strolling by the Mt. Pleasant bookstore Mable’s Fables, I stopped in my tracks at the sight of a beautiful window display showcasing children’s books that promote women in STEM. For me, the existence and promotion of “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, and “Ada Twist, Scientist”, in the window of Mable’s Fables is one of the biggest advancements in the field of women in STEM since, like, EVER and I could not be more excited to feature information about these books and their author on this week’s TMG blog.

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Andrea Beaty is a total super-star talent; prior to writing children’s books, Beaty attended school in Illinois where she studied Biology and Computer Science. After that, Beaty worked at a computer software company where she helped people with their computer problems and worked loosely as a technical writer (which proved to be great training for writing children’s literature). Not only is Beaty a talented children’s author, her background in STEM demonstrates that there is no such thing as a math or science mind. Thus, Beaty’s interest in multiple disciplines proves the TMG philosophy that there’s no such thing as a “math person” to be true.

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Beaty’s “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, tells the story of a little girl named Rosie and her dream to become a world-class engineer. Rosie is starry-eyed—she views both ordinary and unordinary objects with great wonder and sets out to turn said objects into great inventions. In this work, Rosie fears failure and is guided (as a child should be), to celebrate her creative mind. Not only does the book praise Rosie’s willingness to invent and become an engineer, when her first invention fails she is encouraged to try again because the only true failure is to quit. Rosie’s story is one that should be emulated by us all—we should all strive to create new things despite the fear of failure and, in the face of failure, continue to create.

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Not only is Beaty the author of “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, she is the author of a slew of other children’s books including “Ada Twist, Scientist”. The themes present in “Rosie Revere, Engineer”, are continuously present in that of “Ada Twist, Scientist”; curiosity is privileged, perseverance is emphasized, and girl-power is demonstrated at every turn.

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TMG loves these books by Andrea Beaty as they teach children lessons that we try to instill in our students. So, remember: you have the power to create whatever you wish and face your fears because the sky is the limit! For more information on the author and her amazing books check out www.andreabeaty.com