Monday, September 29, 2008

Hazy Eyes

Sorry for the lack of updates, school has definately been busy this year. My schedule itself is awesome, and so are most of my classes, but the first third of the week is painfully long due to a conflicting schedule with my girlfriend. So most days require getting up at 5am and being at school until 9:30pm, definately not the greatest thing. Next semester is not the same thankfully! So classes are going good, a lot of review from classes previously taken, but we are really starting to dive into the new material now. With midterms only two weeks away, preparations have begun as I am hoping to keep my marks up this year. This would definately not be a problem if I would actually be home this weekend, but no I have to go on a silly field trip to watch the possible migration of various species of birds. My Ornithology class is definately not what I had hoped it to be, it is less of a true indepth study of ornithology and instead a focus on the memorization of local birds. That does not really help me considering I am planning to leave the country when I am done with school. I am have been keeping busy with a variety of clubs this year. I have the Biology Society as always, the Environmental Action Commitee (EAC), and hopefully the Zombie Defence Club when it gets all set up :D. As well I am going to be taking part in some other school activities run by friends such as Trick or Eat. It is nice to get out and meet all these different people whom may end up becoming a good group of friends :). I have also been hired by Dr. Weeks as a research assistant for his lab which is pretty awesome! We are starting up training tomorow and I have scheduled with Dr. Chowela to be trained on the schools confocal microscope and will be the NRU's go to man when it comes to teaching others how to use it for neural research. This definately gives me a huge advantage for applying to graduate school which is great. It is nice when everything slowly comes together exactly how you hoped they would.

In other news, WoTLK release date is now out! It is sooner then I thought so I have begun making preparations. I feel like Fraffy will be retired, he became quite the legend during BC for his performance, but I just have a feeling I will probably get his holy brother finished before the release and stick with him. I guess in reality both could be active but I just do not think I would have the time for that right now. Illidan will no longer feel the wrath of that little guy.

Final thing for this post is regarding the education system right now. This is completely in terms of Elementary and Secondary school. So I work at the Kumon Learning Centre and have been since like grade 9 so I have been able to watch many kids go from being unable to do subtraction to reaching advanced calculus at the university level. I have a couple of students who one is in grade 5, the other in grade 8, and both are working on Grade 11-12 math. It really shows how working at just 2-3 pages of math a day, 7 days a week, can truly improve your math skills. Now I write this because there is an overwhelmingly large amount of people who are leaving the educational system with almost no skills in math at all, and last I checked you needed a certain level of math to graduate. So how is it that they are getting by? Is it that the teachers mistakenly let them slip through, or is it that the teachers would rather "pass-the-buck" to someone else? I would say its the latter. Just last week I was tutoring a girl in Biochemistry and she could not even do simple addition or subtraction. 7+6, 1-1, 5+8, etc. And for most correct responses the use of 'finger counting' was required. I am sorry but that should have been caught within the first few grades and corrected. And I know for a fact that the problem is starting in the elementary system. I have had a few people when growing up who during Grade 5 and 6 would get a level R on several subjects and yet would be allowed to pass onto the next level. That is garbage. By the way the reason my school system would use an R instead of an F was because they felt it was too mean to tell a child they failed. This is the problem right there, the teachers are too afraid to hurt a kids feelings or get yelled at by a parent for telling them their child should be kept back. So then the problem only becomes worse as the child grows into a teen and reaches highschool. Now the highschool teachers should instantly see the problems that have built up and take action, yet it doesn't. They let you fail and then you go to summer school and get the credit free, and yes I mean free. My brother had found out they pretty much give you the credit free in summer school and would deliberately fail 2 classes so that he can get them free in summer school, and only would be required to go to school for 3-4 weeks to get the credit. How does a system like this make sense? I would have more confidence that the teachers actually know what they are doing but when I can go through my entire highschool science career knowing more about the subjects of chemistry and biology then the teachers then I know there is a problem. Or when you see the Education students in the hallway shooting marshmellows from a homemade catapult. The constant passing a student before they are ready have been an issue for schools for quite a few years now and the other day I read an article of a University of Guelph proffessor who had to run extra classes on weekends to teach his introductory calculus class all of the things they should have learned from highschool math. Should a University professor be required to run extra classes for something that should have already been taught? No. The student should not be even allowed in the class if they do not know material suppose to be taught. The highschool teachers should be doing this. Even Nipissing University give classes on several subjects that should have been taught in highschool where you can get more caught up. It should not be needed but they do it.

I am thankful that I have some friends going into the B.Ed program who are solely doing it so they can teach there field of study correctly unlike how it is now. As well I definately think every teacher should hold nothing lower then a Masters degree to be able to teach highschool. I am glad the school system in Norway is actally logical otherwise I would be 100% making sure my children were homeschooled in the future.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Green Earth

So I was in the mall at Green Earth today, the girlfriend wanted to check out a shirt of some sort. As she was busy searching for the perfect size and look I decided to take a look around this little shop that I had really never explored in the past. To my amazement I was able to find a lot of really cool things. In the back of the shop is a large collection of various daggers, battle axes, swords, and obsidian sculptures. Growing up completely surrounded by the fantasy world, I really, REALLY wanted all of those things. I would not really have any use for them but they are just SO cool. I love that kind of stuff. It is one reason why I love going to museums. The store has many other really cool things as well. In the front of the shop you can pick out different polished stones, gems, and shells. It reminded me of when in elementary school there was a sort of nature collecting club. Every week we would all meet up in what now is the computer lab, and would bring anything that we found out in nature. Bees nests, snake skin, quartz crystals of various colours, dried flowers, anything that you thought would be cool to bring. Then you could give these objects up to the club which in turn would give you a certain number of points. These points would be then used at the club or at Science North to purchase different natural items that we would want to add to our own personal collection. We also would get points just for going and everyone would eventually get something they really wanted. It was a pretty cool time and I loved collecting all the beautiful gems. Finally this store has a variety of kits for kids who are interested in different areas of science. A crystal growing kit, a volcano eruption kit, or an ant farm kit are only a few of the many kits for children to further their love of science, or to try and spark others to get interested in science. The store is definately a place to check out no matter what your interests are. I forsee myself making many purchases there :D. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Four Months Later...

Yesterday marks a great day in the history of mankind. For all of you who did not know of what event was occuring yesterday I send out my condolences. But for those of you who know, I hope you were as thrilled as I was. It is not often when something so big and marvelous occurs, and it is even more special when a small town like this actually gets to witness it at the same time as everyone else. 
Yesterday morning, Heroes Season 2 DVD was released. After months of waiting it is finally out, only a couple weeks before season 3 shall hit the television world. 

Now many of you may think that all this excitment is for nothing, but for someone who grew up in the age of X-Men, Spiderman, Green Lantern, Hawk Eye, and so on, a day like this is almost as good as Christmas. They honestly should have just renamed the show "X-Men the New Generation" but that really is beyond the point. I love this show. After aquiring the new season I spent 9 hours of straight watching it and was tempted to call in sick to work in order to finish the season. Heroes to me is one of the few shows that can really put  your life in perspective and help you see the person you want to be one day. I don't mean to gain super powers, although that would be totally rad, but instead to work towards achieving great things and push yourself beyond the limits of ordinary life. As well the concept of having your genes to naturally evolve on their own through mutations to the point where they have given you some superordinary power is definately possible. Look at Salamanders who will regenerate limbs when in danger. There are certain invertebrates who live as colonies of females but when stressed or in danger half transform into males to help repopulate the colony before reverting back to a female. Evolution has been driving species towards greatness since the beginning of time and this show takes an interesting spin on it all with the concept of what will happen if this occurs to humans. None of the concepts are new but many have not been shed to the public in such a beautiful manner before. I definately cannot wait for the third season to be air and hope that it is on a night when I am not in class in the evening. 

Monday, August 25, 2008

Countdown to the Future

School is approaching at a rapid rate and I am still in the process of preparing for the future. I am currently going into my third year of the Biology program which is by far in my mind the most important year. This is the year that all biologists must once and for all determine a field of specialization and propose a thesis, the pinnacle moment. This scares me... a lot. I definately know what I do not want to do, but to narrow it down to one specific thing is a problem for someone who loves all aspects of science. Over the summer I was able to take a class on the study of the human sensory systems; Vison, Audition, Gustation, Nociception, Vestibular, etc. I Loved it! The brain is such a complex yet amazing tissue centre and through this class I definately opened up the possibility of working towards a career in Neuroscience in my mind. It was because of this that I decided to check out Nipissing's Neuroscience lab to get a feel for the field and see what it is all about. Visiting Dr. Weeks lab let me see the process of studying a synapse. Through this connection I was able to see a live decap which was an unforgetable moment in my life. Watching the subject being sacrificed for scientific research was one of those moments where you know you should look away yet you cannot take your eyes off it. Coming from a medical oriented family I have no problem with blood or disections which I am thankful for. I got a good feel for one of the aspects of Neuroscience which allowed me to consider more indepth if this is the field of specialization for me. My other option I should mention is Ecology. I have always loved nature from spending my summers living deep in the forests of Northern Ontario at Silver Queen Lake so it was no surprise that I enjoyed the concepts and work in Ecology. But it is because of this love that I am in a situation of unrest. I know that with whatever choice I can always go work towards the other in the future, but being the person I am, it pains me to not take full advantage of any opportunities towards the perfect career. If I went into Neuroscience I think I would focus on studying the visual system or possibly audition. As well with Ecology, nothing would make me more happier then living in Bodø Norway and working to keep the forest and marine life safe from human corruption. I definately have a lot of soul searching to do. In any case, this year will definately be the most memorable yet and I cannot wait for it to begin!