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Researchers studied kindergarteners' behavior and followed up 19 years later. Here are the findings.

Every parent wants to see their kid get good grades in school. But now we know social success is just as important.

kindergarten, behavioral research, grades, testing
Image from Pixabay.

Big smiles in class at kindergarten.



Every parent wants to see their kid get good grades in school. But now we know social success is just as important.

From an early age, we're led to believe our grades and test scores are the key to everything — namely, going to college, getting a job, and finding that glittery path to lifelong happiness and prosperity.


It can be a little stressful.

But a study showed that when children learn to interact effectively with their peers and control their emotions, it can have an enormous impact on how their adult lives take shape. And according to the study, kids should be spending more time on these skills in school.

Nope, it's not hippie nonsense. It's science.

Kindergarten teachers evaluated the kids with a portion of something called the Social Competence Scale by rating statements like "The child is good at understanding other's feelings" on a handy "Not at all/A little/Moderately well/Well/Very well" scale.

The research team used these responses to give each kid a "social competency score," which they then stored in what I assume was a manila folder somewhere for 19 years, or until each kid was 25. At that point, they gathered some basic information about the now-grown-ups and did some fancy statistical stuff to see whether their early social skills held any predictive value.

Here's what they found.

1. Those good test scores we covet? They still matter, but maybe not for the reasons we thought.

Back To School GIF by IFC - Find & Share on GIPHY

education, research, competency, kids

Meeting high expectations...

Billy Madison GIF from Giphy

Traditional thinking says that if a kid gets good grades and test scores, he or she must be really smart, right? After all, there is a proven correlation between having a better GPA in high school and making more money later in life.

But what that test score doesn't tell you is how many times a kid worked with a study partner to crack a tough problem, or went to the teacher for extra help, or resisted the urge to watch TV instead of preparing for a test.

The researchers behind this project wrote, "Success in school involves both social-emotional and cognitive skills, because social interactions, attention, and self-control affect readiness for learning."

That's a fancy way of saying that while some kids may just be flat-out brilliant, most of them need more than just smarts to succeed. Maybe it wouldn't hurt spending a little more time in school teaching kids about the social half of the equation.

2. Skills like sharing and cooperating pay off later in life.

Adam Sandler Pee GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

friendship, movies, GPA, emotional maturity

Adam Sandler helps out a friend dealing with a stressful situations.

Billy Madison GIF from Giphy

We know we need to look beyond GPA and state-mandated testing to figure out which kids are on the right path. That's why the researchers zeroed in so heavily on that social competency score.

What they found probably isn't too surprising: Kids who related well to their peers, handled their emotions better, and were good at resolving problems went on to have more successful lives.

What's surprising is just how strong the correlation was.

An increase of a single point in social competency score showed a child would be 54% more likely to earn a high school diploma, twice as likely to graduate with a college degree, and 46% more likely to have a stable, full-time job at age 25.

The kids who were always stealing toys, breaking things, and having meltdowns? More likely to have run-ins with the law and substance abuse problems.

The study couldn't say for sure that strong or poor social skills directly cause any of these things. But we can say for sure that eating too much glue during arts and crafts definitely doesn't help.

3. Social behaviors can be learned and unlearned — meaning it's never too late to change.

social behavior, social skills, learning, positive social traits

Adam Sandler GIF of getting his groove on.

Billy Madison GIF from Giphy

The researchers called some of these pro-social behaviors like sharing and cooperating "malleable," or changeable.

Let's face it: Some kids are just never going to be rocket scientists. Turns out there are physical differences in our brains that make learning easier for some people than others. But settling disputes with peers? That's something kids (and adults) can always continue to improve on.

And guess what? For a lot of kids, these behaviors come from their parents. The more you're able to demonstrate positive social traits like warmth and empathy, the better off your kids will be.

So can we all agree to stop yelling at people when they take the parking spot we wanted?

But what does it all mean?

This study has definite limitations, which its researchers happily admit. While it did its best to control for as many environmental factors as possible, it ultimately leans pretty heavily on whether a teacher thought a kid was just "good" or "very good" at a given trait.

Still, the 19-year study paints a pretty clear picture: Pro-social behavior matters, even at a young age. And because it can be learned, it's a great "target for prevention or intervention efforts."

The bottom line? We need to do more than just teach kids information. We need to invest in teaching them how to relate to others and how to handle the things they're feeling inside.

Ignoring social skills in our curricula could have huge ramifications for our kids down the road.


This article originally appeared on 08.12.15

Science

Researchers dumped tons of coffee waste into a forest. This is what it looks like now.

30 dump truck loads and two years later, the forest looks totally different.

One of the biggest problems with coffee production is that it generates an incredible amount of waste. Once coffee beans are separated from cherries, about 45% of the entire biomass is discarded.

So for every pound of roasted coffee we enjoy, an equivalent amount of coffee pulp is discarded into massive landfills across the globe. That means that approximately 10 million tons of coffee pulp is discarded into the environment every year.



When disposed of improperly, the waste can cause serious damage soil and water sources.

However, a new study published in the British Ecological Society journal Ecological Solutions and Evidence has found that coffee pulp isn't just a nuisance to be discarded. It can have an incredibly positive impact on regrowing deforested areas of the planet.

via British Ecological Society

In 2018, researchers from ETH-Zurich and the University of Hawaii spread 30 dump trucks worth of coffee pulp over a roughly 100' x 130' area of degraded land in Costa Rica. The experiment took place on a former coffee farm that underwent rapid deforestation in the 1950s.

The coffee pulp was spread three-feet thick over the entire area.

Another plot of land near the coffee pulp dump was left alone to act as a control for the experiment.

"The results were dramatic." Dr. Rebecca Cole, lead author of the study, said. "The area treated with a thick layer of coffee pulp turned into a small forest in only two years while the control plot remained dominated by non-native pasture grasses."

In just two years, the area treated with coffee pulp had an 80% canopy cover, compared to just 20% of the control area. So, the coffee-pulp-treated area grew four times more rapidly. Like a jolt of caffeine, it reinvigorated biological activity in the area.

The canopy was also four times taller than that of the control.

Before and after images of the forest

The forest experienced a radical, positive change

via British Ecological Society

The coffee-treated area also eliminated an invasive species of grass that took over the land and prevented forest succession. Its elimination allowed for other native species to take over and recolonize the area.

"This case study suggests that agricultural by-products can be used to speed up forest recovery on degraded tropical lands. In situations where processing these by-products incurs a cost to agricultural industries, using them for restoration to meet global reforestation objectives can represent a 'win-win' scenario," Dr. Cole said.

If the results are repeatable it's a win-win for coffee drinkers and the environment.

Researchers believe that coffee treatments can be a cost-effective way to reforest degraded land. They may also work to reverse the effects of climate change by supporting the growth of forests across the globe.

The 2016 Paris Agreement made reforestation an important part of the fight against climate change. The agreement incentivizes developing countries to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, promote forest conservation and sustainable management, and enhance forest carbon stocks in developing countries.

"We hope our study is a jumping off point for other researchers and industries to take a look at how they might make their production more efficient by creating links to the global restoration movement," Dr. Cole said.


This article originally appeared on 03.29.21

via Eltpics / Twitter

Mapping out the structure of the inner ear.

There are no two human beings who are exactly alike. One of the funny quirks of evolution is that some of us can do things with our bodies we think are routine, but are impossible for others.

Some people can wiggle their ears, others can't. Some can wiggle their nose like Samantha from "Bewitched" while others just look really silly when making an attempt.

Not everyone can lick their elbow but most wouldn't attempt to do so in public.


A Twitter user named Massimo dropped some knowledge about a skill that not everyone has and even fewer discuss: ear rumbling.

Those of us who can do it know exactly what it is, while it's a mystery to those who cannot.

People who can ear rumble have the ability to control the tensor tympani, a muscle within the ear. Contracting the muscle creates a rushing, rumbling sound that, if flexed enough, can drown out a significant amount of noise.

This can be useful when someone is saying something that you don't want to hear but don't want to be rude and cover your ears. It can come in real handy if someone is about to spoil your favorite TV show or if you live with someone who can't stop nagging.

Some people cannot voluntarily create the rumbling sound but hear it when they let out a large yawn.

There's a Reddit sub-forum just for ear rumblers with over 60,000 people. Here's how some of them get rumblin'.

"I just squeeze the muscle in my ears I guess," — melvinthefish

"When I flex and hold whatever I'm manipulating to do that, I get my rumble," — ttywzl

"I get a mild rumble just doing the usual flex, but i can make it a bit louder by bringing my top lip up to my nose," — Willmono7

"The best way I can describe it is I 'squint my ears,'" —SteeleIT

The muscle exists to mask-low frequency sounds so we can focus on those at a higher frequency. It also works to mute sounds we create ourselves such as eating potato chips or coughing. It's a way that helps us from becoming annoyed with our own bodies.

Unfortunately, the muscle has a rather slow reaction time so it cannot prevent us from hearing loud sudden noises like a gunshot or a book slamming on the ground.

Massimo's tweet caused quite a stir on the platform.

Although scientists have known about ear rumbling since at least the 1800s, there doesn't appear to have been too much research on the topic. We know that some can rumble and others cannot, but it's unclear how it breaks down percentage-wise or if it's more prevalent in certain groups.

The good news is that the word is starting to get out and people who've been rumbling all their lives suddenly don't feel so alone.


This article originally appeared on 03.05.20

Family

Naming twins is an art. Here are some twin names people say are the best they've ever heard.

With twins, all the regular pressures of having a baby are doubled, including choosing a name.

Are you in favor of rhyming twin names? Or is it too cutesy?

Having twins means double the fun, and double the pressure. It’s a fairly known rule to name twins in a way that honors their unique bond, but that can lead to overly cutesy pairings that feel more appropriate for nursery rhyme characters than actual people. Plus, it’s equally important for the names to acknowledge each twin’s individuality. Again, these are people—not a matching set of dolls. Finding the twin baby name balance is easier said than done, for sure.

Luckily, there are several ways to do this. Names can be linked by style, sound or meaning, according to the baby name website Nameberry. For example, two names that share a classic style would be Elizabeth and Edward, whereas Ione and Lionel share a similar rhythm. And Frederica and Milo seem to share nothing in common, but both mean “peaceful.”

Over on the /NameNerds subreddit, one person asked folks to share their favorite twin name pairings, and the answers did not disappoint.


One person wrote “Honestly, for me it’s hard to beat the Rugrats combo of Phillip and Lillian (Phil and Lil) 💕”

A few parents who gave their twin’s names that didn’t inherently rhyme until nicknames got involved:

"It's the perfect way! Christmas cards can be signed cutely with matching names, but when they act out you can still use their full name without getting tripped up.😂"

"The parents of a good friend of mine did this: her name is Allison and her sister is Callie. Their names don’t match on the surface, but they were Alli and Callie at home."

“Alice and Celia, because they’re anagrams! Sound super different but have a not-so-obvious implicit connection.”

This incited an avalanche of other anagram ideas: Aidan and Nadia, Lucas and Claus, Liam and Mila, Noel and Leon, Ira and Ria, Amy and May, Ira and Ari, Cole and Cleo…even Alice, Celia, and Lacie for triplets.

Others remembered name pairs that managed to sound lovely together without going into cutesy territory.

twin names, twins, babies, baby namesThese matching bunny ears though. Photo credit: Canva

“I know twin toddler boys named Charlie and Archie and they go so well together,” one person commented.

Another wrote, “Tamia and Aziza. I love how they follow the same sound pattern with the syllable endings (-uh, -ee, -uh) without being obnoxiously matchy matchy.”

Still another said, “Lucy and Logan, fraternal girl/boy twins. I think the names sound so nice together, and definitely have the same 'vibe' and even though they have the same first letter they aren't too matchy-matchy.”

Other honorable mentions included: Colton and Calista, Caitlin and Carson, Amaya and Ameera, Alora and Luella, River and Rosie, and Eleanor and Elias.

One person cast a vote for shared style names, saying, “If I had twins, I would honestly just pick two different names that I like separately. I tend to like classic names, so I’d probably pick Daniel and Benjamin for boys. For girls my two favorites right now are Valerie and Tessa. I think Val and Tess would be cute together!”

Overall though, it seems that most folks were fans of names that focused on shared meaning over shared sound. Even better if there’s a literary or movie reference thrown in there.

twin names, twins, babies, baby namesMany adult twins regret that their names are so closely linked together. Photo credit: Canva

“My mom works in insurance, so I asked her. She’s seen a lot of unique ones, but the only twins she remembers are Gwenivere [sic] and Lancelot... bonus points... little brother was Merlin,” one person recalled.

Another shared, “If I had twin girls, I would name them Ada and Hedy for Ada Lovelace and Hedy Lamarr, both very early computer/tech pioneers. Not that I’m that into tech, I just thought it was a brilliant combination.”

Other great ones: Susan and Sharon (think the original “Parent Trap”), Clementine and Cara (types of oranges), Esme and Etienne (French descent), Luna and Stella (moon and stars), Dawn and Eve, plus various plant pairings like Lily and Fern, Heather and Holly, and Juniper and Laurel.

Perhaps the cleverest name pairing goes to “Aubrey and Zoe,” since…wait for it… “they’re A to Z.”

It’s easy to see how naming twins really is a cool opportunity for parents to get creative and intentional with their baby naming. It might be a challenge, sure, but the potential reward is having the most iconic set of twins ever. Totally worth it!

Health

8 nontraditional empathy cards that are unlike any you've ever seen. They're perfect!

Because sincerity and real talk are important during times of medical crisis.

True compassion.

When someone you know gets seriously ill, it's not always easy to come up with the right words to say or to find the right card to give.

Emily McDowell — a former ad agency creative director and the woman behind the Los Angeles-based greeting card and textile company Emily McDowell Studio — knew all too well what it was like to be on the receiving end of uncomfortable sentiments.

At the age of 24, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Hodgkin's lymphoma. She went into remission after nine months of chemo and has remained cancer-free since, but she received her fair share of misplaced, but well-meaning, wishes before that.

On her webpage introducing the awesome cards you're about to see, she shared,

"The most difficult part of my illness wasn't losing my hair, or being erroneously called 'sir' by Starbucks baristas, or sickness from chemo. It was the loneliness and isolation I felt when many of my close friends and family members disappeared because they didn't know what to say or said the absolute wrong thing without realizing it."

Her experience inspired Empathy Cards — not quite "get well soon" and not quite "sympathy," they were created so "the recipients of these cards [can] feel seen, understood, and loved."

Scroll down to read these sincere, from-the-heart, and incredibly realistic sentiments.


Emily McDowell Studio

Pretty great, right? If you know someone who's in the less-than-ideal position of dealing with a serious illness, you can purchase any of these eight cards to share with them.

Visit Emily McDowell Studio's shop to select the card(s) you need. They're $5.00 each.

(We're not being paid to share these, nor were we asked to do so. We came across the cards and I loved them, so I reached out to Emily McDowell Studio and asked if I could share them with you. Unfortunately, a lot of us know someone who could use a card like one of these.)


This article originally appeared on 05.06.15







mage from Everyday Feminism, used with permission by creator Alli Kirkham.

There are many different scenarios where consent is necessary.



In 2013, Zerlina Maxwell ignited a firestorm of controversy when she strongly recommended we stop telling women how to not get raped.

Here are her words, from the transcript of her appearance on Sean Hannity's show:

"I don't think that we should be telling women anything. I think we should be telling men not to rape women and start the conversation there with prevention."

So essentially — instead of teaching women how to avoid rape, let's raise boys specifically not to rape.


There was a lot of ire raised from that idea. Maxwell was on the receiving end of a deluge of online harassment and scary threats because of her ideas, which is sadly common for outspoken women on the Internet.

People assumed it meant she was labeling all boys as potential rapists or that every man has a rape-monster he carries inside him unless we quell it from the beginning.

But the truth is most of the rapes women experience are perpetrated by people they know and trust. So fully educating boys during their formative years about what constitutes consent and why it's important to practice explicitly asking for consent could potentially eradicate a large swath of acquaintance rape. It's not a condemnation on their character or gender, but an extra set of tools to help young men approach sex without damaging themselves or anyone else.

news, campaigns, young men, cultural norms

Zerlina Maxwell is interviewed on "Hannity."

Image from “Hannity."

But what does teaching boys about consent really look like in action?

Well, there's the viral letter I wrote to my teen titled "Son, It's Okay If You Don't Get Laid Tonight" explaining his responsibility in the matter. I wanted to show by example that Maxwell's words weren't about shaming or blaming boys who'd done nothing wrong yet, but about giving them a road map to navigate their sexual encounters ahead.

There are also rape prevention campaigns on many college campuses, aiming to reach young men right at the heart of where acquaintance rape is so prevalent. Many men are welcoming these efforts.

And then there are creative endeavors to find the right metaphors and combination of words to get people to shake off their acceptance of cultural norms and see rape culture clearly.


This is brilliant:

consent, rape prevention, community, consent culture

A comic about different types of consent.

Image from Everyday Feminism, used with permission by creator Alli Kirkham.

There you have it. Seven comparisons that anyone can use to show how simple and logical the idea of consent really is. Consent culture is on its way because more and more people are sharing these ideas and getting people to think critically. How can we not share an idea whose time has come?

This article originally appeared on 06.27.15