Last semester, some students from my university worked with university officials to get a game of Humans vs. Zombies going. After hearing about the game, I decided I wanted to join up to play the game. It was going to be a two-day game: starting Friday at 5 PM, and ending Sunday at 5 PM, as a trial for the university. Unfortunately, I was going to be off campus that weekend, so I wasn’t able to sign up. However, as soon as I heard they were doing another round, I knew I had to do my best to be on campus for the game.
So, working with the university some more, these students organized a three day game: starting Thursday at 5 PM, and ending Sunday at 5 PM. The students wanted to have a week-long game, but the university wanted to see how the game would work with people travelling between classes before they allowed that. I got a Nerf gun for Christmas, and was eager for the game to get started. I attended the necessary meeting to sign up for the game, and just had to wait until Thursday to start playing.
Now, after the game is over, I have this to say: I can’t wait for the week-long game which is planned for some time in April. Humans vs. Zombies is not only a great excuse to run around campus with a Nerf gun, shooting people for the fun of it, but also a great way to be social and meet new people. The teamwork and strategy involved is amazing, and I definitely met some great people I would have otherwise never said hi to. Needless to say, I’ve been disappointed to find out that some college campuses refuse to allow the game to happen. (continue reading…)
Woah. Here’s a scary topic. Talking about science and religion in the same blog post. That’s dangerous. Look, I even put them next to each other in the title! I must really be crazy. Or, more hopefully, I have some interesting thoughts. Let me start out with a quote from the book (and movie) Angels and Demons:
Science and religion are not at odds. Science is just to young to understand.
In preparation for going to Fermilab, my AP Physics C class has been learning about quantum physics and string theory. I find all of this rediculously fascinating. Yet, when I start hearing dates, it sounds like all of this was figured out so long ago. Then, I look at the LHC (Large Hadron Collider), and realize that the greatest discoveries are yet to come, and are even within my lifetime.
For those unaware, I’ll start off with quantum physics (which we know to be true). The scale of things in quantum physics goes like this: an object is made of atoms. These atoms contain electrons orbiting a neucleus. This neucleus contains protons and neutrons. And (this is where quantum mechanics comes in), protons are made of smaller pieces called quarks. Without going into too much detail, there are six types of quarks, but we only need two of them to make up protons and neutrons. So, to make up everything we normally see, we only need two quarks and an electron. This sounds nice, but it leaves some mathematical gaps.
This is where string theory comes in. String theory says that these quarks are made up of tiny, vibrating bits of energy called strings. Now, when I say tiny, I mean MINISCULE. These strings are going to remain invisible to us for quite some time. Also, there’s another problem. In order for this to make sense, there needs to be not three or four dimensions, but eleven dimensions (one of time, three of space, and seven additional spatial dimensions). Assuming that all of this is true, the math works out beautifully, and everything seems to make sense. (continue reading…)
You know what class this is? P.E. You know what that stands for? Physical Excersise.
This quote is attributed to a P.E. sub at my high school. I’m paraphrasing, because I don’t remember the actual words, but believe me: this phrase was actually uttered by a substitute P.E. teacher. Perhaps this wasn’t the best way to start of the blog post. Let’s go back a bit.
A couple weeks ago, I needed a form signed so I could go on a field trip. All of my teachers need to sign a form saying that it’s OK for me to skip out on class, and acknowleging that they realize that I’m not going to be in class that day. Granted, most teachers just sign the form without looking at the date, but that’s beside the point.
On this form, we also have to write which class we have each hour. So, for my seventh hour class I wrote the following: Gym. Seemed fine to me. I go up to my teacher and have her sign it. She first crosses out “gym” and writes “PE”, then signs the form (all without saying anything to me). I thought this was slightly humorous. I didn’t think much of it because, after all, the form was signed. However, I’ve started to think more and more of this small action.
To me, and to most of the world, PE stands for Physical Education. Education, to me, implies that I will learn something. It could be useless information, and it could be useful information, regardless, I should learn something. I would attribute a class like Health to this title. It suits all the requirements: physical — You learn about how your body functions and how to keep yourself healthy; education — did I not just use the word learn?
Let me make this a bit more clear. Here’s how Google defines eduction:
knowledge acquired by learning and instruction
Once again, the key words here are knowlege, learning, and instruction. These are the three important requirements in order to have the “education part.”
I would define my “P.E.” class this year as anything but that. It consists of:
Today we’re playing tennis. Grab a ball, racket, and partner, and start playing tennis.
No instruction, no guidance, no help while attempting to play the sport, just a: “This is what we’re doing. Go.” So, where, then, does the education come in?
Freshman and sophomore year was different: we actually learned about the muscles and bones in our body. We learned about what excersises work which muscles, and we were taught easy excersises to help keep us in shape. Once again: we learned. This was not gym class, it truly was physical education.
So, I suggest a reform of the class. Because Illinois is the only state that still requires four years of gym P.E. in high school, we must be true to the classes title: teach us. It doesn’t even have to be individual attention (although that would be nice). But, at least inform us of the rules of tennis before telling us to play. If you want to get really crazy, try to make us play by the rules. If we are going to take Physical Education, let’s keep the Education there.
Although, I’ve heard an alternative suggestion: make P.E. half-classroom. This alternative would suit Illinois perfectly. We could still have a P.E. class, but we would actually learn. Once the program got started, the school could start offering “specialized” P.E. classes, where you can learn about one specific topic. You could then take the P.E. class that sounded most interesting to you, instead of being stuck in a general gym class.
After all this, I have to question my school’s definition of P.E. I was always taught that P.E. stood for Physical Education (acronym finder agrees), but it seems the crazy old gym teacher is right: PE stands for Physical Excersise.
Due to a comment I recieved on my “Gym in High School” post, my reply, and some events of today, I feel that this subject needs revisiting.
It isn’t about whether you should or shouldn’t excersise. It’s about how excersise is used as a punishment throughout middle school and high school. Today, my class went out to play tennis. As a warmup, we had to run down to the end of the tennis court and back twice (I use run lightly here, we could have jogged and been fine). Eager to play tennis, I was the first jogging, and quickly got the two rounds complete. A friend of mine, and another kid in my gym class were on pace with me, and we all three were done.
However, some of the other kids in my class are lazy. I see this all the time: they either just walk, turn around half way, or find another way to pretend that they ran what was required. As I was coming back the second time, I heard my gym teacher yelling something to the effect that they weren’t running, so had to redo the run. Fine, whatever. I had done what was required, so I shouldn’t have to worry.
Here’s where the problem comes in. As I get back to my teacher, she tells me (and the other two kids running with me) that we’ll have to do one more time there and back. I ask her why, noting that we had already ran there and back twice, and she tells me something along the lines of this:
Yeah, I know, but some of your classmates feel they didn’t need to do the whole thing, so now everyone has to run more.
And, here’s where I find the problem. I ran what was required of me. I know this, I’m sure the class knows this, and the teacher knows this. Yet, because one or two people in my class are lazy (the teacher even named who the person was), I have to run more. So, I propose a hypothesis to everyone reading this: group punishment does not work.
Teachers seem to love it. Why single out kids, and deal with them individually when you can just make everyone do more work? On top of that, peer pressure should cause the others to do what’s required of them in the future, right?
Wrong. I have zero influence on the kids in my class who are lazy. This is due to multiple factors: they are in a different social group than I am, I try to avoid associating myself with them, and (not trying to sound conceited here… you have to trust me that this is true) they are on a lower intellectual level than me.
In most classes, I don’t have this problem. I take honors or AP classes, so I generally am in a class of smart people who are willing to do work required so they don’t have to face the punishment. However, I have two classes that go outside this norm: gym physical education (my commentary on this correction is saved for another post), and my lit class (again, my commentary on this will be saved for another post). Somehow, it seems that, when scheduling classes, they ignored intellectual level, and just stuck whoever in whatever gym class.
However, here’s where it stops making sense to me: there is another gym class the same hour that I have my gym class which has at least three people that are on the same intellectual level as me. In my gym class, I can think of one person, maybe two people, that fit this description. It seems that they took this group of people who they knew would goof off, and stuck me in with them.
So, while group punishment hinges on the assumption that peer pressure is the greatest form of influence, this is not always true. So, how can punishment be implemented to be successful? Single the person out. My school does this often for postive accomplishments, why not do it for negative influences? Make the person do thirty pushups while everyone else just watches. This will cause embarassment, distress, etc., hopefully fixing the behavior.
Of course, this keeps the idea of using excersise as a punishment. But, perhaps that’s OK for people who are going to goof off anyway. We can let them think of excersise as a punishment, and let them grow fat and stupid as the rest of us thrive. As my Physics teacher so often says:
We call that natural selection.
I often hear from my friends (and I’ll admit to helping spread the rumor) that Illinois is the only state that still requires four years of gym in high school. Technically, the rumor is eight semesters, but I’m still not sure of its validity. I’m fairly certain that this is a state requirement, but is Illinois the only state with this requirement?
Being a computer geek, I’ve always found gym slightly useless. A class where they make you run around for however long they feel like it, for no reason. Usually, the teacher doesn’t even participate in the activity, or give demonstrations for activities. Teachers in gym seem to not be teachers, but lesson planners. They plan what the class will do each day. Sometimes, as is the case in my high school, this isn’t even up to them. The department chooses when each class will do each activity. Although, it’s still up to the teachers to decide how to go about doing this activity.
Regardless, gym has always seemed to be more of a punishment than a class. This is due to the fact that they only have two punishment options: make us fail (which doesn’t work for one-time offenses), or make us do more physical activity (running, usually). Because physical activity is so often used as a punishment, we learn to associate it with punishment. Let me give an example. Let’s say that you enjoy, or can at least tolerate, doing push-ups. You can do 30 push-ups without any problem. Your gym teacher decides to make ten push-ups a punishment for some offense. You don’t really mind push-ups, so you end up goofing off. You get “punished” once, twice, three times. However, you don’t realize that you’ve already done thirty, so keep goofing off. Eventually, you’ve done forty, fifty, sixty push-ups in a day: way more than you’re comfortable with. Now that you’ve been made to do the extra push-ups, you associate push-ups with punishment, and now loathe doing push-ups. (continue reading…)
As a senior in high school, it often seems like there just isn’t enough time. Go to school from 7 AM to 3 PM, participate in extra-curricular activities, eat dinner, work 15 hours a week to save up for college, do whatever the family planned, do homework (for AP classes, at that), and have some me-time? Yeah, right.
Every week day I get up at 6:15 in the morning (which some of my friends would say is late, even), eat breakfast, and go to school. While my first class doesn’t start until 7:30, I get there early to have some socializing time/for the convinience of my parents, who drive me to school. I have classes (including lunch, and five-minute passing periods) until 2:50. This includes two AP classes, which are, luckily for me, spread out: on in the morning, one in the afternoon. By the end of this day, I’m pretty mentally exhausted. But that’s not all. I participate in the theatre tech crew at my school. I’ve been a member all four years, and am even getting an award for my work. So, every day after school, I go to the theatre to work on whatever show we’re working on until 5:30/6:00 on normal days. On show days, I usually just stay after school until the show, run the show, and get home around 10 PM. (continue reading…)