Take a Break at The Study Academy’s Coffee House and Silent Auction!

Take a Break at The Study Academy’s Coffee House and Silent Auction!

High School

Well folks, the end of term is sneaking up on us again! That means a busy time for students as they gear up to complete summatives and exams. We’ve made careful efforts to ensure that work is worthwhile for students. But we also know deadlines can be stressful. That’s why we’re fantastically excited for our students to have the opportunity to shelve the books for an evening and attend our Coffee House this coming Wednesday, May 20, from 7-9PM.

Our very own student government proposed the idea for the event, presenting it as a great way for the students to showcase their many talents. While sign-ups for performers were progressing a bit slowly on the offset, the students demonstrated that they could hide their talents no longer – and just like that, sign-ups were abound! And we’re sure that readers will agree the set list is quite an impressive one. Fellow students and proud parents will be treated to performances of instrumental music, stand-up comedy, and rap, as well as a fashion exhibition and a sports tricks demonstration (there are also rumours that our favourite band will make a surprise appearance).

But alas! I’ve only covered half the evening’s offerings so far. We’re very proud to report that, in the name of education, the night will feature a Silent Auction, from which all funds raised will go toward supporting our partner school in Zambia. And since the Student Government pulled off the impressive feat of organizing the evening with absolutely zero overhead, every cent we raise will go directly to the Zambian school. The money will enable co-ordinators there to pay rent on a sustainable and safe building, and provide basic school supplies to their students.

Considering the list of fantastic items up for bid, we’re positive that parents will be jumping for ballots. They’ll be bidding on items including a Smart TV, a four-night accommodation in Manhattan, Blue Jays tickets, Factory Theatre tickets, and many more! All items provide great excuses for parents and students to spend quality time together. So join us in the gym on Wednesday evening and take a look at these great items, and don’t forget to check out the talent that students of The Study Academy have to offer!

Civic Responsibility in the Classroom: Senator Frum Visits

Civic Responsibility in the Classroom: Senator Frum Visits

High School

Senator Linda Frum

We try our very best to encourage our students to become more responsible young adolescents and contribute meaningfully to society. For instance, our students volunteered with the Waves of Hope organization and made a large donation to St. Joseph the Compassionate Mission this year. In this way, we firmly believe that acknowledging civic responsibility and participating within that space is an important component of a student’s education.

That being said,  we were very happy to have Senator Linda Frum visit our school last week. She was appointed to the Senate in 2009 and currently sits on multiple government committees, but made time in her schedule to visit us at The Study Academy on Thursday morning. During her visit, she discussed with our High School students what the Senate and its Senators do, and the value both have to our current Canadian democracy.  She stressed to our students that our Senate assists in forming the laws we live by and as such, it is the Senator’s job to work out relevant issues like literacy, poverty, and environment in forming these laws.

As we venture into a new generation, we will need new members of society to stand for new and growing causes that senators like Senator Frum currently fight for. Senator Frum encouraged our students to become more active in politics to help shape a better tomorrow in Canada.While highly informative, we also found Senator Frum’s visit a great way to motivate our students to assist in this mission and to be the very best citizens they can be.

Volunteerism as a Support Tool for Depression Among Teenagers

Volunteerism as a Support Tool for Depression Among Teenagers

Educational Research High School

Hello Readers,

teens-with-mde

Rates of teenage depression by age (years).

I hope you had a wonderful week and maybe even indulged in a bit of theatre (like our High School students). So, dear Readers, my questions for you today are: Looking back at this past week, what did you do with your leisure time? Did you participate in any sports? Did you catch up on your favourite television shows? Did you volunteer in your community? Well, as part of each student’s OSSD requirements and our educational vision, our students are actively encouraged to volunteer in activities they enjoy. We, as an educational institution, firmly believe that volunteering helps students to form important life skills that will promote growth in transitioning from student into responsible adult and citizen.

Recent scientific results published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences seem to reinforce the importance of volunteering! The study, conducted at Urbana Champaign at The University of Illinois, found that students who prefer more altruistic past times are less likely to experience teenage depression. These results are so significant because teenage depression is a growing concern for today’s generation of students, with 11% of adolescents being diagnosed before the age of 19. In finding a place where students enjoy their volunteering experience, we can work together to find another preventative measure to assist struggling students!

Ventral Stratium

A diagram of the brain pinpointing the location of the ventral stratium, our reward centre.

So, how does volunteering help prevent depression? Well, Eva Telzer and her colleagues at the university discovered — while using a functional brain scan — that activity in the Ventral Striatum (the reward centre of the brain) in response to different rewards predicted whether the subjects’ depressive symptoms would worsen or lessen over time. When teenagers showed higher levels of reward activation in the ventral striatum in the context of the risk-taking task, they showed increases in depressive symptoms over time. In contrast, when a teenager showed higher reward activation in the pro-social context, they showed declines in depression over time. So then what does this all really mean? One implication is that meaningful and enjoyable student volunteerism (which promotes social connection) may be used to shape internal reward systems through varying activity in the Ventral Striatum. Further, community service may provide more to a body of students than just an OSSD requirement, it may help to promote stronger mental health.

If you are interested in reading more about this seminal study, you can find the article here:

H. Telzer, A. J. Fuligni, M. D. Lieberman, A. Galvan. Neural sensitivity to eudaimonic and hedonic rewards differentially predict adolescent depressive symptoms over time. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014; DOI: http://www.scn.ucla.edu/pdf/TelzerLieberman2014PNAS.pdf

Exploring the Deep Blue Sea: Ripley’s Aquarium!

Exploring the Deep Blue Sea: Ripley’s Aquarium!

Middle School

Hello Readers,

photo 6

Our students building their very own plankton!

I hope you all have an exciting long weekend planned. Quite a few of our students mentioned some rather fun plans they were arranging, however, that is only after speaking so enthusiastically about their adventure at Ripley’s Aquarium.  I’m sure you recall how earlier this month a group of High School students traveled there for our Workshop week. If not, please check out the post at your leisure.

Just like our High School students, Middle School students and faculty truly enjoyed this educational and entertaining field trip. So, what were some of the activities that our animated students spoke so highly of?  The Great Plankton Challenge was certainly a highlight for many and featured academic ties to the Science curriculum. You might be thinking that something as small as plankton couldn’t possibly be so interesting. Well, dear reader, I am glad to tell you that you are wrong. Students were delighted and inspired; they learned how essential the role of the small organism truly is to our larger ocean biodiversity! They were even given a chance to design their own perfect plankton!

 

photo 7

Life within coral!

Middle School students were also able to explore the multiple galleries available at this large Toronto aquarium.  In the Canadian waters exhibit, the students saw more local creatures such as as lobster and largemouth bass. In the Rainbow Reef, students learned about more tropical fish originating from the Indo-Pacific region.  There was even an exhibit called “Planet Jellies”! I bet you can guess what creatures were there! Tons of beautiful jelly fish and information on their fascinating life cycle! The fun, however, did not stop at that — students were also able to interact with the aquatic life! They were able to touch some aquatic life at the Horseshoe Crab Touch Pool, and pet stingrays in the touch tanks, as well as watch divers feed stingrays from their very own hands.

Overall, it was a very exciting and informative day for our Middle School students. Now they are all off to enjoy a relaxing long weekend, which I hope you do as well, dear Reader.

Till next week!

Theoretical Thursday: Reliable New Method of Detecting Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children

Theoretical Thursday: Reliable New Method of Detecting Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children

Middle School The Study Academy Report

Hello Readers,

And welcome to another Theoretical Thursday! As most of you may already know, every Thursday I try to bring you the most recent  and exciting research and theories on Education, Psychology and Neuroscience. This week’s post will be no exception as we delve into the research done on Autism and how this could help future students.

Functional Connectivity in ASD relative to control Neuroscientists from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (http://casemed.case.edu/) and University of Toronto’s own Luis Garcia Dominguez Ph.D (http://www.mehri.ca/People.html#Luis) and Jose Luis Perez Velazquez Ph.D  (http://www.neuroscience.utoronto.ca/faculty/ list/perezvelazquez.htm) have developed an efficient and reliable new method of detecting Autism Spectrum disorders (ASD) in children. They have discovered a way to distinguish an ASD brain from a non-ASD brain by simply looking at the   neural activity inside it!

How you ask? Well, of course I’m going to tell you, my loyal Readers. They have recorded and analyzed patterns of brain activity using magnetoencephalography (MEG). Essentially this device records the natural occurring magnetic fields that occur in our brains that results from electrical currents. These electrical currents are like the communication pathway that connect the different parts of our brain. In the study with 19 children, nine with ASD, had 141 sensors attached to each child’s cortex. Don’t worry, its painless! With this device they were able to determine the brain’s overall functional connectivity in both the control and ASD group.

functional connectivity ASD compared to control

The results were impressive!So, allow me to summarize a bit of what they found in this fascinating study. They found stronger connections between rear and frontal areas of the brain in ASD group. However there was an asymmetrical flow of information to the frontal region, an area designated for such things as planning, attention and motivation. Results from spatial maps of inputs from the brain also showed less complexity and structure in the ASD group.

This discovery really opens some doors.For instance, this discovery  can serve as a new tool that may complement existing diagnostic behavioral tests for ASD. Also by helping to identify anatomical differences in those with ASD, imagine the future treatments that can be developed that are tailored around neuroscientific fact. Even if you aren’t a scientist, one must admit this is very exciting, and for students too. To be able to have new doors opened in diagnosis and future treatments can help a student develop and succeed in their own learning environment.

 If you would like to read them in detail you can find them published on the online journal, PLOS ONE, athttp://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0061493

Welcome to The Study Academy Blog!

Welcome to The Study Academy Blog!

Middle School

Welcome Readers,

And allow me to introduce to you the new weekly blog post, “Theoretical Thursdays”. Every Thursday, I, your humble blogger, shall be writing on the most recent trends in Neuroscience, Psychology and Education to keep you informed. I will provide short reviews of recent results as well as discuss the relevance it has to our educational system.

We are going to put aside the standard deviations, means and binomial distributions, and understand how Science and Education can mutually interact with one another in a beneficial way.

The scientific interest in a child’s education has had already a long standing history.Therefore, do not be surprised that there has been an ever growing  collaboration between neuroscience, psychology and education that embrace an understanding from each perspective.

So, welcome once again and I hope you drop by next Thursday when we discuss what science has to say about your child’s study habits. Also stay tuned for my other new blog series, “The Study Academy Repot” coming this Tuesday March 12th. Don’t you want to stay informed?