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The amazing way 5 minutes can affect your child's learning experience.

Because sometimes kids just need to get the 'wiggles' out.

The amazing way 5 minutes can affect your child's learning experience.
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Remember what it was like as a kid trying to sit still in a classroom all day?

Maybe you didn't get enough sleep the night before. You woke up late, rushed through breakfast, and raced to catch the bus to school. You tried to remain still and quiet in class for hours, but even though you wanted to learn, all your extra kid-energy made it hard to focus. Sound familiar?

Classrooms are amazing places of learning where kids discover more about the world, learn social skills, and hopefully cultivate a lifelong sense of wonder.


But they’re also places built around desks and chairs and seated work — something we’re learning isn’t great for adults, let alone growing kids.

Boo knows she needs to learn her ABCs, but she just can't right now. GIF from "Monsters, Inc."

With easy access to mobile phones, video games, and streaming video — not to mention parents' busy schedules — kids today can spend a lot more time sitting down than they used to.

That's not great news.

The CDC recommends that children get 60 minutes of physical activity a day, but government research shows that most children typically get less than 20 minutes. Too much sitting can contribute to low self-esteem, emotional outbursts, or even bullying, as kids look for ways to release their pent-up energy, anxiety, and stress.

If we want to help kids grow up to be their best selves, they need to be able to move and play during their school day, with all the running, dancing, and goofing around that comes with it.

So, how do teachers and parents get kids moving more? The answer is simple: a five-minute "brain break."

Brain breaks are the creation of GoNoodle — an online video service for teachers and parents looking for fun ways to get kids moving. Log on to the GoNoodle website and there's a huge library of videos to choose from — everything from yoga-inspired stretches to dance-a-longs to breathing exercises — all designed to help kids release extra energy and get ready to refocus and learn.

"Together with teachers, parents, schools, and businesses we are on a mission to get kids moving. The response to GoNoodle is amazing. In just over two years we've built an audience that rivals the top websites for kids, with one unique difference — GoNoodle gets kids moving." — Scott McQuigg, CEO and co-founder of GoNoodle.

Image by iStock.

All that moving around really adds up. As of January 2016, more than 480,000 teachers in 68,000 schools have brought "brain breaks" into their classrooms — with 10 million kids participating.

In Tennessee alone, students logged an amazing 100 million minutes of physical activity with GoNoodle, all since the beginning of the school year. They're part of a huge cohort that has used GoNoodle to move for an absolutely astounding 3 billion minutes between last August and this May.

How do you get 40 Kinders ready to go back to class??? 🎈 FLOW!! 🎈#breathe #relax #kinderschillout These short videos are great getting the kids heart rates back down and ready to focus back in class. ❤️~ @amber_j14 @shasta1414
A photo posted by GoNoodle (@gonoodle) on

Not only are kids moving a lot more, they're also doing better in their schoolwork.

Image by iStock.

Plenty of studies show the connection between physical activity and a sharp mind. A 2010 study comparing test scores of 9- and 10-year-old kids who exercised regularly with those who didn't showed that the more active kids scored better on every single test. Another study used MRI brain scans to show how active, healthy kids have a better-developed hippocampus — the part of the brain responsible for long-term memory.

There's research specific to GoNoodle too. In 2015, an independent research company compared a school-year's worth of standardized math test scores for two groups of students and found that those who participated in "brain breaks" scored 50% higher than those who didn't.

Students aren't the only ones benefitting; some teachers are also big fans and are using Instagram to share awesome videos of their classes participating.

#tbt to this Cheerleader dance party at Julia Green Elementary! 📚 Have a happy day, GoNoodlers!
A video posted by GoNoodle (@gonoodle) on

It's clear that helping kids be their bestest, silliest, most active selves makes a real difference for kids — on and off the report card.

Classrooms aren't always fun places for all kids. Making going to school a more joyful, engaging, and playful part of a kid's day can improve their lives in real, meaningful ways. So, take a five minute break, kids! Your brain will thank you.

This article originally appeared on 11.05.15


Which country best represents the "free world"? That was one question at the heart of a report by a London-based think tank.

Each year, the Legatum Institute ranks countries on their Prosperity Index by measuring performance on eight subindices.

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This article originally appeared on 11.05.15


Which country best represents the "free world"? That was one question at the heart of a report by a London-based think tank.

Each year, the Legatum Institute ranks countries on their Prosperity Index by measuring performance on eight subindices.

Keep Reading Show less
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Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."