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Education & Information

Teacher brought to tears by a very special surprise during an online class

online teaching, teacher appreciation

Teaching over Zoom can be rough. It's the little things…

I only have one Zoom meeting a week, and I find myself facing screen fatigue. I can only imagine the challenges that teachers have been continuously facing during this pandemic—overcoming tech issues, keeping the attention of multiple students from a distance, establishing a stimulating educational environment in a literally sense-less virtual space—all this with little help, and oftentimes even less appreciation.

But then again they don’t do it for the praise, they do it out of a genuine calling to help develop young minds. They certainly don’t do it for the pay.

Still, one group of students found the most heartfelt way to surprise their teacher, and it’s a powerful reminder of why education providers should get a “thank you” during this time.


At first, the teacher thinks that none of his students have their cameras on in order to be “cool.”

“Is that the new cool thing to do-not turn your camera on?” he innocently asks during an online class. “I’ve heard that in some classes, nobody turns their camera on, including the instructor.”

Clearly not this instructor. He’s the only one whose face is visible in a sea of Zoom squares.

Trying to laugh it off, he can’t help but ask, “Seriously is it my fault that you have your cameras off?” he’s met with an awkward silence.

Finally, someone speaks up. A student says, “Dr. Brown, we actually kind of wanted to do something.”

The cameras turn on, and instead of faces, the screen is flooding with handwritten notes of gratitude for Dr. Brown.

One of the most visible messages says, “thank you for making a difference every day.”

Moved, Dr. Brown says, “Oh, you guys…you’re gonna make me cry.” And he does.

The video inspired other people to share their own similar stories.

One person wrote, “During the early days of remote learning, I heard my daughter's history teacher trying everything in his power to just get the kids to respond to him saying "good morning, how are you?" Just....silence. Even if he'd call on them individually. All the cameras were off, despite him all but begging them to turn them on. And this was a teacher they LOVED during normal times…Teachers don't have it easy even on normal days...I can't imagine how hard it was trying to pivot to remote, then hybrid, then in-person....then remote....”

Another person added, “My husband is a teacher…Every day, he fights for his kids. Every day. He works longer hours than I do - even though my shifts are ten hours a day - and even as parents yell at him, the administration refuses to provide curriculum and instead gives busywork, and the pandemic makes it all but impossible to keep kids engaged, he keeps trying to give his kids the kindness, empathy, and understanding they deserve. Teachers are doing their utmost right now. Please, be kind to them.”

It’s hard out there right now, for everyone. But little acts of kindness like this really do make a difference. Here’s to a win for human connection.

Pop Culture

SNL sketch about George Washington's dream for America hailed an 'instant classic'

"People will be referencing it as one of the all time best SNL skits for years.”

Saturday Night Live/Youtube

Seriously, what were our forefathers thinking with our measuring system?

Ever stop to think how bizarre it is that the United States is one of the only countries to not use the metric system? Or how it uses the word “football” to describe a sport that, unlike fútbol, barely uses the feet at all?

What must our forefathers have been thinking as they were creating this brave new world?

Wonder no further. All this and more is explored in a recent Saturday Night Live sketch that folks are hailing as an “instant classic.”

The hilarious clip takes place during the American Revolution, where George Washington rallies his troops with an impassioned speech about his future hopes for their fledgling country…all the while poking fun at America’s nonsensical measurements and language rules.

Like seriously, liters and milliliters for soda, wine and alcohol but gallons, pints, and quarters for milk and paint? And no “u” after “o” in words like “armor” and “color” but “glamour” is okay?

The inherent humor in the scene is only amplified by comedian and host Nate Bargatze’s understated, deadpan delivery of Washington. Bargatze had quite a few hits during his hosting stint—including an opening monologue that acted as a mini comedy set—but this performance takes the cake.

Watch:

All in all, people have been applauding the sketch, noting that it harkened back to what “SNL” does best, having fun with the simple things.

Here’s what folks are saying:

“This skit is an instant classic. I think people will be referencing it as one of the all time best SNL skits for years.”

“Dear SNL, whoever wrote this sketch, PLEASE let them write many many MANY more!”

“Instantly one of my favorite SNL sketches of all time!!!”

“I’m not lying when I say I have watched this sketch about 10 times and laughed just as hard every time.”

“This may be my favorite sketch ever. This is absolutely brilliant.”


There’s more where that came from. Catch even more of Bargatze’s “SNL” episode here.


This article originally appeared on 10.30.23

Science

A wild goose was taken to an animal hospital. His mate knocked on the door to find him.

"We opened the door and gave Arnold his flow-by oxygen in the doorway. His mate immediately calmed down and began to groom him through the door."

As if a Canada goose named Arnold isn't endearing enough, his partner who came looking for him when he was injured is warming hearts and having us root for this sweet feathered couple.

Cape Wildlife Center in Barnstable, Massachusetts shared the story on its Facebook page, in what they called "a first" for their animal hospital.


"We often have people ask if they can visit the patients they dropped off, but today we had our first animal visitor!" they wrote. "For the safety of our patients we do not accommodate visitation requests, but in this case we had to make an exception!"

Arnold is a Canada goose that lives on a pond near the facility and is part of a mated pair of wild geese that have been together for several years. The center said the geese usually keep to themselves, but one of their staff noticed that Arnold was walking with a "significant limp" and kept falling over. They were able to capture him and bring him into the hospital for examination.

wild goose

A goose visits its mate at the Cape Wildlife Center

Image Via Cape Wildlife Center/Facebook

"Upon exam our veterinary team found that he had two open-fractures on his foot," they wrote. "This means that the tissue and skin has been pulled away leaving the bone exposed. Our best guess is that a Snapping turtle or other predator attacked him while swimming."

To save his foot and help him survive, the staff knew they had to amputate one of the digits and suture the other wound closed. They gave him antibiotics and pain meds and prepped him for surgery the following morning.

Then his mate came knocking.

"Today, as we prepared to sedate Arnold and get him ready for surgery, we heard a faint tapping at the clinic door," the center wrote. "We turned to see that his mate had waddled up onto the porch and was attempting to break into our clinic! She had somehow located him and was agitated that she could not get inside. She remained there throughout the entire procedure, watching us work, never moving from the doorway."

Aww.

Surgery went well, and once Arnold woke up the staff decided to let him recover by the doorway so he and his mate could see each other.

"We opened the door and gave Arnold his flow-by oxygen in the doorway. His mate immediately calmed down and began to groom him through the door. They both seemed much more at ease in each other's presence."

AWWWW.

"Arnold will likely need several weeks of treatment in our hospital before he is ready to rejoin his mate in the wild," they added. "He will need to be kept inside for the majority of this time in order to keep his wound sterile and prevent infection. We will do our best to get him back out quickly and will perform bandage changes and treatments in view of the doorway when possible so that his mate can check up on him. ❤️"

While attempting not to anthropomorphize too much, it's so sweet to see animal partners show such genuine care for one another. Canada geese mate for life, and they are known to mourn in seclusion when they lose a mate. Seeing Arnold's mate coming to find him and comfort him during his treatment is just too lovely.

Feel good story of the day, indeed. Wishing you a speedy recovery, Arnold!


This article originally appeared on 07.22.21

Sustainability

Scientists tested 3 popular bottled water brands for nanoplastics using new tech, and yikes

The results were alarming—an average of 240,000 nanoplastics per 1 liter bottle—but what does it mean for our health?

Suzy Hazelwood/Canva

Columbia University researchers tested bottled water for nanoplastics and found hundreds of thousands of them.

Evian, Fiji, Voss, SmartWater, Aquafina, Dasani—it's impressive how many brands we have for something humans have been consuming for millennia. Despite years of studies showing that bottled water is no safer to drink than tap water, Americans are more consuming more bottled water than ever, to the tune of billions of dollars in bottled water sales.

People cite convenience and taste in addition to perceived safety for reasons they prefer bottle to tap, but the fear factor surrounding tap water is still a driving force. It doesn't help when emergencies like floods cause tap water contamination or when investigations reveal issues with lead pipes in some communities, but municipal water supplies are tested regularly, and in the vast majority of the U.S., you can safely grab a glass of water from a tap.

And now, a new study on nanoplastics found in three popular bottled water brands is throwing more data into the bottled vs. tap water choice.

Researchers from Columbia University used a new laser-guided technology to detect nanoplastics that had previously evaded detection due to their miniscule size. The new technology can detect, count and analyze and chemical structure of nanoparticles, and they found seven different major types of plastic: polyamide, polypropylene, polyethylene, polymethyl methacrylate, polyvinyl chloride, polystyrene, and polyethylene terephthalate.

In contrast to a 2018 study that found around 300 plastic particles in an average liter of bottled water, the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in January of 2024 found 240,000 nanoplastic particles per liter bottle on average between the three brands studied. (The name of the brands were not indicated in the study.)

As opposed to microplastics, nanoplastics are too small to be seen by microscope. Their size is exactly why experts are concerned about them, as they are small enough to invade human cells and potentially disrupt cellular processes.

“Micro and nanoplastics have been found in the human placenta at this point. They’ve been found in human lung tissues. They’ve been found in human feces; they’ve been found in human blood,” study coauthor Phoebe Stapleton, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Rutgers University’s Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy told CNN Health,

We know that nanoplastics are making their way into our bodies. We just don't have enough research yet on what that means for our health, and we still have more questions than answers. How many nanoplastics does it take to do damage and/or cause disease? What kinds of damage or disease might they cause? Is whatever effect they might have cumulative? We simply don't have answers to these questions yet.

That's not to say there's no cause for concern. We do know that certain levels of microplastic exposure have been shown to adversely affect the viability of cells. Nanoplastics are even smaller—does that mean they are more likely to cause cellular damage? Science is still working that out.

According to Dr. Sara Benedé of the Spanish National Research Council’s Institute of Food Science Research, it's not just the plastics themselves that might cause damage, but what they may bring along with them. “[Microparticles and nanoparticles] have the ability to bind all kinds of compounds when they come into contact with fluids, thus acting as carriers of all kinds of substances including environmental pollutants, toxins, antibiotics, or microorganisms,” Dr. Benedé told Medical News Today.

Where is this plastic in water coming from? This study focused on bottled water, which is almost always packaged in plastic. The filters used to filter the water before bottling are also frequently made from plastic.

Is it possible that some of these nanoplastics were already present in the water from their original sources? Again, research is always evolving on this front, but microplastics have been detected in lakes, streams and other freshwater sources, so it's not a big stretch to imagine that nanoplastics may be making their way into freshwater ecosystems as well. However, microplastics are found at much higher levels in bottled water than tap water, so it's also not a stretch to assume that most of the nanoplastics are likely coming from the bottling process and packaging rather than from freshwater sources.

The reality is, though, we simply don't know yet.

“Based on other studies we expected most of the microplastics in bottled water would come from leakage of the plastic bottle itself, which is typically made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic,” lead author Naixin Qian, a doctoral student in chemistry at Columbia University, told CNN Health. “However, we found there’s actually many diverse types of plastics in a bottle of water, and that different plastic types have different size distributions. The PET particles were larger, while others were down to 200 nanometers, which is much, much smaller.”

We need to drink water, and we need to drink safe water. At this point, we have plenty of environmental reasons for avoiding bottled water unless absolutely necessary and opting for tap water instead. Even if there's still more research to be done, the presence of hundreds of thousands of nanoplastics in bottled water might just be another reason to make the switch.


This article originally appeared on 2.2.24

Pappas Pärlor's fantastic street art.

Anyone who grew up in the late '80s and early '90s—Gen X, I’m looking at you—grew up in a world that was dominated by 8-bit graphics. Back in the day, computers and video game systems had a limited amount of processing power so the graphics had to be simple.

That meant the heroes that we played with such as Mario from Super Mario Brothers or Link from The Legend of Zelda, had to be super simple looking and we had to fill in the rest with our imaginations.

Video graphics have come a long way over the past 30-plus years, but people still love the old designs because it takes them back to a simpler time. This has led to an 8-bit movement where people use their creativity to make art within the confines of the limited medium.

Some people also use the limited 8-bit soundscape to create music that’s reminiscent of the old games. Sure, computer game music may be much more sophisticated these days, but is there anything better than the soundtrack to the original Tetris? Would Super Mario Brothers be the same with a sophisticated soundtrack? I think not.


Swedish artist Johan Karlgren, who goes by the name Pappas Pärlor, creates pixelated 8-bit-looking art and then inserts it into everyday scenes. The interesting thing is that his 8-bit art isn’t done with computer graphics, but Perler beads.

Perler beads are small, plastic beads that one places on a grid, and when the picture is done, they are melted with a household clothing iron. The beads are a fun hobby for kids who love to see the melting beads ooze their way into a fully-formed picture.

Although they weren’t originally intended to make 8-bit art, because the beads are placed on a grid when they melt together the designs look like they came straight out of a Nintendo Entertainment System.

Karlgren recreates iconic images from comics, cartoons, video games and movies with the beads and then adds them to the scenarios, turning the mundane into the whimsical.

What’s Karlgren’s big inspiration? “Anything that makes me feel something,” he told Bored Panda. “It could be anything from childhood memories to politics or people doing awesome stuff that I wanna interpret.”

For Karlgren, his work is the byproduct of having a good time. “I don’t really choose what to create. My work is sprung from playing, and I’ll try to go with the ideas that come up in my head,” he said.

One of the hallmarks of Karlgen’s work is taking drab places such as a parking lot or other types of urban infrastructure and livening them up with the addition of one of his Perler bead creations. "It's something that makes me happy, and hopefully other people [when] seeing it as well," he told Newsweek.

Karlgren is a father of four and started posting his creations on Instagram back in April 2014. Since then, his fun, old-school designs have earned him more than 144,000 followers. Here are some of his coolest, and funniest 8-bit designs.


8-Bit Joker
Raiders of the Lost Fence Knob
Mario Kart: Snow Speeders
"Here's 8-Bit Johnny!"
The Man of Steel
That Creep Can Roll
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man
Anthony Adams Rubbing Hands Meme


"I Said God Damn!"

"Take My Money!"
Darth's Day Off


"Go Ahead, Make My Day."


Mini Bernie


Tony Montana


The Homer Meme


This article originally appeared on 02.25.22

Woman refuses to change seats for mom and kids

Traveling with preteens and teens is a breeze in comparison to traveling with little ones but as a parent you still want to sit near your kiddos in case they need you for anything. If you've traveled on an airline in the last several years, you know it's much cheaper to chose the basic seats in the main cabin.

There's nothing different about these particular seats other than the airline sort of randomly selects your seat and if you're traveling alone, that's really not a bad deal. The risk gets to be a little higher if you're traveling with a party that you'd like to keep together - like your children. One mom took the risk and banked on a stranger accommodating...that's not quite how it played out.


People sit in the wrong seats on planes all the time, usually because they read their ticket wrong or accidentally sit one row ahead. Takes no time to double check your ticket and move along, but when Tammy Nelson did a double take at her ticket after seeing the mom in her window seat, she realized she wasn't mistakenly staring at the wrong row.

This mom boarded the plane with her older children and had taken it upon herself to sit in the same row as her children, essentially commandeering a stranger's seat. Nelson assumed it was a mistake and informed the woman that the seat was in fact hers but the response she received was surprising.

"She said, 'Oh, you want to sit here?'," Nelson tells Good Morning America. "She said, 'Oh, well I just thought I could switch with you because these are my kids.'"

That's an interesting assumption when seats are assigned and many people, like Nelson, pay extra to have the seat they prefer. Now, there's no telling if funds were tight and this was an unplanned trip for the mom and kids which caused her to buy the more budget friendly tickets or if she was simply being frugal and was banking on the kindness of a stranger.

Either way, Nelson specifically paid for a window seat due to motion sickness and though she paid extra, she was willing to sit in the other row if that seat was also a window seat. But it turns out, it was a middle seat.

Surely there's someone out there that loves the middle seat. Maybe a cold natured person that enjoys the body heat of two strangers sitting uncomfortably close. Or perhaps someone that doesn't mind accidentally sleeping on an unsuspecting passenger's shoulder. But that person isn't Nelson, so when the middle seat was offered in exchange for her bought and paid for window seat, she politely but sternly declined.

@myconquering

Having had only 90 minutes of sleep the night before and knowing I had to give a presentation to 500 people, I desperately needed some sleep, so I did not agree to switch seats. 🤷‍♀️ Before anyone comes after me… the kids looked like they were about 11 and 15 years old. And the mom was in arms-reach of both of them from the middle seat in the row behind us. The mom proceeded to complain for at least 15 minutes to the person next to her loud enough for me to hear. But the woman actually defended me – several times. It was so kind and I appreciated it so much because I was feeling really guilty. 🤦‍♀️ ##airplaneseat##seatswitching##airplanekarens

Her refusal to give in to the mom's seemingly entitled request for Nelson's seat has resulted in parents and child-fee people cheering her on after she posted the details on her TikTok page, MyCONQUERing. The video has over 3.4 million views.

"Nope. If it's not an upgrade it's a sacrifice," a commenter writes.

"You did the RIGHT thing. Folks need to plan their travel together. Lack of planning on their part does not constitute an inconvenience on yours," one person says.

"I have 3 kids and have sat in different rows when they were passed toddler age. I agree, book your flight earlier," another writes.

"You were right. As a woman with 3 children, I always pay extra so we're sat together," another mom says.

Nelson is also a mom so she knows how important it is to sit next to kids on flights. But since airlines have made that a luxury, as the parent, you have to plan to pay extra or accept that you likely won't be seated next to your children. Hopefully in the future, this unnamed mom is seated next to her children or pays extra to make sure it happens. In the meantime, people continue to support Nelson standing her ground.

This article originally appeared on 7.28.23