A dad took these touching photos of his 'astronaut' son exploring planet Earth.

Photographer Aaron Sheldon was at the doctor's office with his son when he stumbled onto the perfect metaphor for childhood.

"[Harrison] was scared to sit on the exam table because it's a little high upfor a 3-year-old," Aaron recalled. "So I'm talking with him about being brave, and whattypes of people are brave and have to sit on exam tables. And we'retalking about policemen and firemen and he said, 'Hey, how aboutastronauts? Are they brave?'"

Yep. Sure are.


"So he pretended he was an astronaut, sat on the table, and did agreat job."

It was there that Aaron's adorable photo project, "Small Steps Are Giant Leaps," was born.

When Harrison had to go back for another checkup a few months later, Aaron brought his camera. And a space suit.

Astronaut Harrison sits on an exam table. All photos by Aaron Sheldon, used with permission.

From that exam room, the two traveled to all sorts of new places. Like a far-off land known only as "Target."

Harrison explores the frozen-food aisle of Target.

And to a tiny indoor ocean. Otherwise known as a swimming pool.

Harrison gears up for a swim.

And to a place filled with the most fantastic creatures you've ever seen.

Harrison watches a polar bear at the zoo.

The more places they went, the more Aaron started to realize that this astronaut thing went beyond just bravery. It was about exploration and boldly venturing into unknown territory.

Which, for kids, is almost everywhere.

Even somewhere as simple as a movie theater.

Harrison chows down on popcorn at the movies.

Aaron says the project highlights just how curious his son and kids like him are about the world.

You can tell by the questions Aaron's son asks during and after shoots.

Harrison gets ready for a plane trip.

Looking at the photos "would prompt him to think of aquestion about space or photography," Aaron said. "Like, 'How do astronauts do laundry in space?'; 'Do they eat spaghetti and meatballs in space?' So that was kind of theincubator of new ideas: OK, how can we show that question in a story,in an image?"

He also wants other parents to see the photos and remember that our kids are like little Earth-bound astronauts: endlessly curious and on a mission to better understand, well, everything.

Harrison waits patiently at the laundromat.

"We need to help them be explorers inour everyday world."

When we get irritated or frustrated or exhausted by our kids (and as a fellow parent, believe me, I know we do), Aaron hopes we'll take a moment to remember what the world looks like through their eyes.

Or, in Harrison's case, their visor.

Harrison waits at the barbershop.

One day last year, Aaron and Harrison were riding around their hometown of Columbus, Ohio, on a bus. And it was a blast ... at first.

Aaron said his son was having the time of his life just looking out the window at the passing scenery. But then, "it's time to get off the bus, and he's just not listening to me and I'm starting to get a little ticked off," Aaron said.

"And I realize: 'Hey, this isn't justa bus ride for him. This is a new experience. So chill and give him acouple of minutes to really enjoy it.'"

Though the project is nearly over and Harrison will eventually outgrow his space suit, that powerful lesson will stick with Aaron forever.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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