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No Field Trips? No Problem. How Teachers Are Taking Students on Adventures Without Leaving the Classroom

No Field Trips? No Problem. How Teachers Are Taking Students on Adventures Without Leaving the Classroom
Via Verizon

Ms. Roque uses Verizon VR learning with her students

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Right before the pandemic, Rebecca Roque, a STEM teacher at Sports Leadership and Management (SLAM) Academy middle school, realized many of her students had never been to the beach—even though they live in Miami, FL.

“Many of our students come from low-income households,” said Roque. “So we thought, if they had never even been to the beach, because of lack of access to transportation or otherwise, there’s no way they’ve been outside of the U.S. So we wanted to find a way to expand their imagination and view of how big the world is.”

Since March 2020, when remote learning commenced, many students have struggled to stay engaged in their studies. Roque and millions of teachers across the country had to find ways to inspire creativity and get their students excited about education again. So Ms. Roque took them out of this world entirely—and into space—in virtual reality (VR).

Roque’s students began experimenting with Visceral Science, a VR app that allows students to virtually explore outer space in a multiplayer environment and learn how stars, gravity, and planetary orbits work. Through the immersive experience, her middle school students were also to grasp and visualize more difficult concepts, such as force and motion, energy conservation, and thermonuclear reactions.

“Being able to insert this gamification and learning experience into my curriculum was a game-changer, both in terms of teaching a hard subject and also with getting students excited to learn it,” said Roque. “Anything that takes kids into an immersive experience is the future of learning and I can’t wait to do more of it.”

Roque’s classroom had access to this technology and other innovative VR/AR learning apps as part of the Verizon Innovative Learning schools program. Since 2012, the program has equipped students and teachers at more than 500 Title I schools like SLAM Miami with technology, access, innovative learning programs, and professional development. The school this year also unveiled one of the first Verizon Innovative Learning Labs powered by 5G in the country—a space equipped with emerging technology like 3D printers, VR and AR devices, robotics and circuit-building supplies, powerful computers for model making, and 5G technology to help students get the most out of digital curricula.

Students Fabian and Kenneth use Mappers Delight to learn about different types of musicVia Verizon

It is stories like this one from Ms. Roque and her classroom that inspired Verizon to take the technology access provided by the Verizon Innovative Learning program to the next level and support more teachers who were grappling with the challenges of remote learning. The result is the launch of the Verizon Innovative Learning HQ education portal, a free online resource for educators that supplements existing lesson plans and gives them more access to next-gen digital tools to enhance the learning experience. The portal also features professional development courses aligned to research-backed micro-credentials.

Teams from Columbia University, New York University, Arizona State University, and other top institutions and nonprofits collaborated with Verizon to design sophisticated lessons that are easy to use, flexible and aligned with standards for integration into existing curricula. This all comes at a time when technology is experiencing a new renaissance of importance for today’s classrooms.

Students simulate how to fly a planeVia Verizon

Christopher Green is another teacher who is using the Verizon Innovative Learning HQ tools, lessons, and immersive technology to captivate students at home and bring lessons to life in the physical classroom at Jeremiah Rhodes Middle School in San Antonio, Texas.

When Mr. Green was a student, his U.S. history textbooks mostly featured white people. As a young man of color, he struggled to connect with the material. Now as a history teacher in San Antonio, Texas, he has the opportunity to show his students that Black and Brown people have made and continue to make history, too.

Green now uses the Verizon Innovative Learning HQ’s UNSUNG app to immerse his class in interactive stories that resonate and feel relevant to his tech-savvy students. Students don goggles to interact with Storybox, a maze of AR “rooms” that pop up on a desk or wall. Inside, 3D puzzles and short essay questions test students’ knowledge of U.S. history. The answers unlock additional rooms where the young people talk to the avatars of Black artists and activists who were instrumental in cultural movements like the Harlem Renaissance.

Through the app, Green’s students have conversed with icons like Ella Sheppard and Odetta Holmes to learn about their contributions to American history. Created by nonprofit Movers and Shakers NYC in collaboration with Verizon, the app’s content aligns with Common Core standards which makes it easy to integrate into existing curricula.

Green believes there are enormous academic benefits to integrating next-gen technologies like AR/VR into the classroom, especially for digitally native young people.

“One of the important things about using tech in the classroom is figuring out ways students can be creators and tell stories about themselves and their ancestors,” he said.

Though students are mostly back in person, teachers can still take advantage of Verizon Innovative Learning HQ to help bring more next-gen lessons to their classrooms, and unlock their own creativity and curiosity along the way.

“Access to technology makes students think bigger, dream bigger and it makes them the greatest resources in the classroom”, said Ms. Roque. “When you trust kids to take technology and run with it, you’d be surprised by the results and all that they can learn and the places they can go.

To learn more and sign up for a free teacher account, visit verizon.com/learning.

Health

4 simple hacks to help you meet your healthy eating goals

Trying to eat healthier? Try these 4 totally doable tricks.

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

Most of us want to eat healthier but need some help to make it happen.

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When it comes to choosing what to eat, we live in a uniquely challenging era. Never before have humans known more about nutrition and how to eat for optimal health, and yet we’ve never been more surrounded by distractions and temptations that derail us from making healthy choices.

Some people might be able to decide “I’m going to eat healthier!” and do so without any problem, but those folks are unicorns. Most of us know what we should do, but need a little help making it happen—like some simple hacks, tips and tricks for avoiding pitfalls on the road to healthier eating.

While recognizing that what works for one person may not work for another, here are some helpful habits and approaches that might help you move closer to your healthy eating goals.

man pulling chip out of a chip bagOur mouths loves chips. Our bodies not so much.Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Goal: Snack on less junk food

Tip: Focus your willpower on the grocery store, not your home

Willpower is a limited commodity for most of us, and it is no match for a bag of potato chips sitting on top of the fridge. It’s just a fact. Channeling your willpower at the grocery store can save you from having to fight that battle at home. If you don’t bring chips into your house in the first place, you’ll find it a lot easier to reach for something healthier.

The key to successful shopping trips is to always go to the store with a specific list and a full stomach—you’ll feel much less tempted to buy the junky snack foods if you’re already satiated. Also, finding healthier alternatives that will still satisfy your cravings for salty or crunchy, or fatty foods helps. Sugar snap peas have a surprisingly satisfying crunch, apples and nut butter hit that sweet-and-salty craving, etc.

slice of cakeYou can eat well without giving up sweets completely.Photo by Caitlyn de Wild on Unsplash

Goal: Eat less sugar

Tip: Instead of “deprive,” think “delay” or “decrease and delight”

Sugar is a tricky one. Some people find it easier to cut out added sugars altogether, but that can create an all-or-nothing mindset that all too often results in “all.” Eating more whole foods and less processed foods can help us cut out a lot of ancillary sugar, but we still live in a world with birthday cakes and dessert courses.

One approach to dessert temptation is to delay instead of deprive. Tell yourself you can have any sweet you want…tomorrow. This mental trick flips the “I’ll just indulge today and start eating healthier tomorrow” idea on its head. It’s a lot easier to resist something you know you can have tomorrow than to say no to something you think you’ll never get to have again.

Another approach when you really want to enjoy a dessert at that moment is to decrease the amount and really truly savor it. Eat each bite slowly, delighting in the full taste and satisfaction of it. As soon as that delight starts to diminish, even a little, stop eating. You’ve gotten what you wanted out of it. You don’t have to finish it. (After all, you can always have more tomorrow!)

colorful fresh food on a plateA naturally colorful meal is a healthy meal.Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

Goal: Eat healthier meals

Tip: Focus on fresh foods and plan meals ahead of time

Meal planning is easier than ever before. The internet is filled with countless tools—everything from recipes to shopping lists to meal planning apps—and it’s as awesome as it is overwhelming.

Planning ahead takes the guesswork and decision fatigue out of cooking, preventing the inevitable “Let’s just order a pizza.” You can have a repeating 3-week or 4-week menu of your favorite meals so you never have to think about what you’re going to eat, or you can meal plan once a week to try new recipes and keep things fresh.

It might help to designate one day a week to “shop and chop”—getting and prepping the ingredients for the week’s meals so they’re ready to go in your fridge or freezer.

woman holding blueberries in her handsOrganic foods are better for the Earth and for us.Photo by andrew welch on Unsplash

Goal: Eat more organic/humanely raised food

Tip: Utilize the “dirty dozen” and “clean 15” lists to prioritize

Many people choose organic because they want to avoid pesticides and other potentially harmful chemicals. Organic food is also better for the planet, and according to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown that organic produce is higher in certain nutrients.

Most people don’t buy everything organic, but there are some foods that should take priority over others. Each year, researchers from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) analyze thousands of samples of dozens of fruits and vegetables. From this data, they create a list of the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” fruits and vegetables, indicating what produce has the most and least pesticide residue. These lists give people a good place to start focusing their transition to more organic foods.

To make organic eating even simpler, you can shop O Organics® at your local Albertsons or Safeway stores. The O Organics brand offers a wide range of affordable USDA-certified organic products in every aisle. If you’re focusing on fresh foods, O Organics produce is always grown without synthetic pesticides, is farmed to conserve biodiversity, and is always non-GMO. All animal-based O Organics products are certified humane as well. Even switching part of your grocery list to organic can make a positive impact on the planet and the people you feed.

Healthy eating habits don’t have to be all or nothing, and they don’t have to be complicated. A few simple mindset changes at home and habit changes at the grocery store can make a big difference.

Around 1 a.m. on April 24, semi-truck drivers in the Oak Park area of Michigan received a distress call from area police: An unidentified man was standing on the edge of a local bridge, apparently ready to jump onto the freeway below.

Those drivers then did something amazing. They raced to the scene to help — and lined up their trucks under the bridge, providing a relatively safe landing space should the man jump.

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Family

12 hilariously relatable comics about life as a new mom.

Embarrassing stains on your T-shirt, sniffing someone's bum to check if they have pooped, the first time having sex post-giving birth — as a new mom, your life turns upside-down.

All illustrations by Ingebritt ter Veld. Reprinted here with permission.

Some good not so good moments with babies.



Embarrassing stains on your T-shirt, sniffing someone's bum to check if they have pooped, the first time having sex post-giving birth — as a new mom, your life turns upside-down.

Illustrator Ingebritt ter Veld and Corinne de Vries, who works for Hippe-Birth Cards, a webshop for birth announcements, had babies shortly after one another.

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Angelina Jordan blew everyone away with her version of 'Bohemian Rhapsody."

At Upworthy, we've shared a lot of memorable "America's Got Talent" auditions, from physics-defying dance performances to jaw-dropping magic acts to heart-wrenching singer-songwriter stories. Now we're adding Angelina Jordan's "AGT: The Champions" audition to the list because wow.

Jordan came to "AGT: The Champions" in 2020 as the winner of Norway's Got Talent, which she won in 2014 at the mere age of 7 with her impressive ability to seemingly channel Billie Holiday. For the 2020 audition, she sang Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," but a version that no one had ever heard before.

With just her Amy Winehouse-ish voice, a guitar and a piano, Jordan brought the fan-favorite Queen anthem down to a smooth, melancholy ballad that's simply riveting to listen to.

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Health

Women shared how they make sexist men explain their nasty jokes, and it's so satisfying

Making them sit in the discomfort of their own filth is an excellent way to shut that garbage down.


Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

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People started a viral thread about the most random facts they know

Certain people have an innate ability to remember random facts. They are great at trivia but can also be insufferable know-it-alls.

So why are some people better at recalling random facts than others? Researchers in Europe believe that it's because their brains are more efficiently wired than other people's.

"We assume that more efficient networking of the brain contributes to better integration of pieces of information and thus leads to better results in a general knowledge test," biopsychologist Erhan Genc, from Ruhr University Bochum, said according to Science Alert.

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via NASA

Back in the late '80s, NASA was looking for ways to detoxify the air in its space stations. So it conducted a study to determine the most effective plants for filtering the air of toxic agents and converting carbon dioxide to oxygen.

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