All posts by Mollie Adamson-Hope

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How to Beat Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is bullying that happens online.

It’s not just a problem for under 18s, adults suffer from bullying online too. Cyberbullying takes lots of forms, such as making threats, spreading untrue rumours, blackmailing, making nasty comments or opening an account in someone’s name and pretending to be them. It’s anything that scares or upsets you or makes you feel uncomfortable.

Don’t let these bullies make you unhappy. If you can’t talk to parents or teachers, there are a number of websites that can give you information, like the Bully Zero website.

If you are being bullied you can block the messages, unfriend the bully or report it. All social media sites take a stance against bullying if it is reported, and the bullies can lose their right to have a social media page.

Cyberbullying

To report bullying just read the following to find out what to do:

Twitter

To unfollow someone on Twitter, go into their profile and click the ‘Follow’ box, which then becomes ‘Unfollow’. To block messages again go into the person’s profile and next to the ‘Follow’ box is a settings icon, click on it and scroll down the list until you reach ‘Block or Report’ – click on this.  If you want to read the advice set out by Twitter, read the Online Abuse page in their Help Centre section.

Facebook

 You can ‘Unfriend’ a person on Facebook by going into their profile and clicking on the ‘Friends’ box and scrolling down to ‘Unfriend’. If you want to report bullying, click on the box with the three dots inside – this is next to the message box on the top right hand side. You can also block messages from here.

You Tube

You can’t put anything that’s graphically violent, contains nudity or has hate content. If you want to report a video because you think it’s inappropriate, click on the three dots and the word ‘More’ underneath the video’s title and click ‘Report’. Have a look at their ‘Help’ page in the Reporting Centre for more information.

Myspace

 If you want to report abuse on your Myspace account, go into the person’s profile and click on the ‘Report Abuse’ link. All reports are personally reviewed by a member of staff.

If you are being bullied online, don’t rise to the bait and reply to the bully. Block, unfriend or report them immediately, so you can continue to enjoy social media, without becoming afraid or upset.

Let’s beat cyberbullying together! Why not share this article with your friends on Facebook or Twitter?

Source(s): Bully Zero, Bullying UK

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Impressive Achievements By Under 18s

There are lots of restrictions for under 18s. However, being under 18 does not restrict you from being amazing!

In fact, people are often far more impressed when young people do amazing things than when older people do them. Read on to be inspired by these 8 young people and their impressive achievements.

1. Brian Zimmerman

In 1983, an 11-year-old Brian Zimmerman acquired a small amount of power through his work, he campaigned to be mayor of a small town in Texas called Crabb, which had a population of 225 at the time. Throughout his campaign he used slogans like “The mayor isn’t there to sit about, keeping his job, he’s there to do what’s best for his people.” His campaign won round 23 out of the 30 voters and he was successfully elected as mayor.

Zimmerman became famous nationwide and his story was adapted into a movie called The Lone Star Kid. Even though he was a mayor he didn’t enjoy the publicity and declined an appearance on Good Morning America. Sadly Brian Zimmerman passed away at the age of 24 from a heart attack.

2. Saugat Bista

Saugat Bista released his debut movie Love You Baba (Father) in December 2014, at just 7 years old, making him the youngest ever to direct a professionally made and distributed feature-length, movie according to Guinness World Records.

The synopsis explains that the movie is a drama about a single father raising his daughter. It seems unusual that a 7-year-old would be interested in the premise of this story let alone want to direct a 2-hour movie about it. But Saugat was obviously very passionate about documenting interesting stories from the get-go.

Directed by a child shot on 35mm film, which costs tens of thousands of dollars for a movie this length, the film was heavily promoted pre-release. This garnered a big pay off with a positive reception from critics who said the film gave them “weepy eyes”.

3. Thomas Gregory

The first person to swim the English channel was Captain Matthew Webb in 1875. Swimming the 21 mile length is a high profile way to prove athleticism and endurance, but there is also a big risk factor involved. Among the people who have attempted, six have died during the swim, even while accompanied by safety personnel.

In 1988 in the UK, Thomas Gregory left France to swim to Shakespeare beach at the age of 11 years old. Just two weeks prior a 20-year-old professional swimmer died during his attempt. After 11.75 hours Gregory became the youngest to swim the channel. He also beat the previous record holders time by around 3 hours and his age by almost 3 months. Upon arriving at Dover, the first thing he said was that he wanted to sleep for two days. We do not blame him.

4. Kieron Williamson

In 2009 a 7-year-old Williamson was selling his paintings at £900 a piece. By 2014 he was selling out art exhibitions in minutes ,with pieces costing nearer to £400,000 and he had over 10,000 followers of his newsletter.

His subjects include quaint, rustic rural settings featuring sail boats, geese or houses surrounded by trees changing season. They’re soft and look like the work of a veteran professional.

Williamson is a more accomplished painter than most adults. According to an interview he wants to buy land to raise cows on, just so he can paint them. Now that’s what we call dedication!

5. Willie Johnson

War is horrible there’s no doubt, but it’s even worse when children are involved. During the US Civil War it was standard procedure to use children as drummer boys. The courage these children showed earned many of them the Medal of Honour which is the highest distinction in American military.

The youngest of the group was 11-year-old Willie Johnson of the 3rd Vermont Division. During the 1862 Seven Days Battle in Virginia, his division were being pushed back by confederates. Johnson stayed calm and drummed the beat for a retreat, his division was the last to leave. President Abraham Lincoln personally gave him the Medal of Honour, he was one of 48 soldiers under the age of 18 who received it.

Thankfully child soldiers were banned in the 20th century. During that century the youngest to receive the honour was 17-year-old Jack Lucas who shielded others in the battle of Iwo Jima.

6. Victor de Leon III

In 2005, a 7-year-old Victor de Leon from New York became the youngest signed professional gamer; he attracted so much attention a documentary was made about him. That year he made enough money to pay for future college fees.

His family thought it was inevitable, since he had been playing video games since 2 years of age. When he was 4 years old, he participated in various tournaments and competitions and won them. Gaming success runs in his family. In 2005 in a Chicago tournament with over 550 contestants, he came second to his own uncle.

7. Jake Marcionette

Christopher Paolini’s finished the first of the book series Eragon when he was just 17 years old. Jake Marcionette hasn’t matched Paolini’s success or sales just yet, but he still has plenty of time.

In 2012, 12-year-old Jake decided to get an agent because he wanted to become a writer. By 2013 he had an agent and a publication deal with Penguin Young Readers group. Fast forward to 2014 and his first book is ready to be published. Just Jake is a comic, semi-autobiographical novel with illustrations. It made its way onto the New York Times best-seller list.

8. Marjorie Gestring

In 2008 controversy surrounded the Chinese gymnastics team over whether they were under too much pressure at too young an age, one of their team was just 14 years old! But back at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the US team included a 13 years old, Marjorie Gestring.

Gestring was up to the task, her springboard diving show made her the youngest person to win an Olympic gold medal – this was just the beginning of her career which lasted for decades. She won the American Athletic Union eight times but was unable to qualify for the US Olympic team a second time.

Surprisingly, she wasn’t the youngest to win a medal at the 1936 Olympics. That honour goes to Inge Sorenson, a swimmer from Denmark who was only 12. However, she only won a bronze medal.

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Why Is Your Brain in Your Head?

We all know that our brain is in our head – that much is a given. But have you ever wondered why?

It all started about 550 million years ago, back when animals didn’t have brains or heads or anything really going for them. These were known as radial animals and were slightly two-dimensional looking (a bit like a star fish).

As animals evolved they began to have a new dimension to play with – a front and rear to the body (or a head and tail to you and me). These newly evolved animals were known as bilateral animals and all used the same set of genes to control how the body was organised in this new way. These genes are known as hox genes and clustered on the chromosome (a structure of all living cells, FYI) in the same order as the parts of the body they organised.

Bilateral animals continued to evolve with their senses and as such they began to develop eyes and noses. As these sense receptors became increasingly powerful so did the brains that processed this information. As a result of this they began to protect these brains by wrapping them in hardened skulls – and as we evolved from animals this form of protection remained.

The video below explains the evolution of the brain in much more detail and after watching it you’ll be blowing your science teachers own brains with your knowledge on the subject!

Bizarre and brilliant facts about the brain

• Your brain keeps developing until you’re in your late forties.

• Your brain uses up 20% of the oxygen and blood in your body.

• When you’re awake your brain produces enough electricity to power a small light bulb.

• A grand total of 60% of your brain is fat, and dieting could force your brain to eat itself.

• Long-term use of your mobile phone increases the risk of brain tumours.

• Half of your brain could be removed and there would be no apparent effect to your personality or memory.

(Facts from http://www.factslides.com/s-Brain#)

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What if I Fail?

“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K.Rowling

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You probably read this and wonder what J.K.Rowling, the woman who wrote the infamously successful Harry Potter books, knows about failure? But did you know that 12 publishers rejected the first manuscript of Harry Potter before Bloomsbury finally picked it up? J.K. Rowling must have felt as though she had failed with each rejection. Chances are, those 12 publishers probably felt like failures after the Harry Potter series went on to sell 450 million copies worldwide!

It is becoming harder not to feel like a failure. Thanks to social media and the perfect images people publish of themselves, our expectations are raised of our daily lives and the way that we look. A friend’s Facebook status update, announcing the A* they received in the test, when you only just scraped a pass in the same one, could make you feel like a failure. However, there is usually someone comparing themselves to you in exactly the same way and feeling like a failure as a result. It is a vicious cycle.

For every success story there will be about a dozen stories of failed projects before it. The only way to truly fail is to let the fear of failure or the failure itself defeat you. Going back to the example of a school exam, if you consider your grade a failure, then in order to turn that fail into success you must pull yourself together and study even harder for the next exam. By learning from your own mistakes and putting in the effort you will reach your full potential.

In many cultures the act of failure is actually considered to be a gesture of politeness. By allowing yourself to be imperfect you are showing an act of courtesy to your fellow human beings. To be hugely successful would be considered rude as you would be inspiring feelings of envy and jealously in others. And who really wants to be responsible for that?

Think about some of your favourite celebrities and TV characters, who are the personalities you’re most drawn towards, is it Mr Burns in his mansion of accomplishments and lack of human empathy? Or do you prefer Homer Simpson who often fails but never gives up? When it comes to surrounding yourself with friends wouldn’t you rather be around people who know what it’s like to fail and will be able to help you when you do? By having failed you become more empathetic towards your friends when they fail.

Failure is nothing to be afraid of and it is important to think about the benefits we have mentioned rather than feeling defeated. Time to stop asking yourself ‘what if I fail?’ and start thinking ‘how will I deal with my failure?’

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What Is The Placebo Effect?

The placebo effect is a bizarre scientific phenomenon where dummy medicines – ones which are known to have no actual medical benefits – help people recover from illnesses.

Nobody knows quite how the placebo effect works, but the results can be astounding. Patients taking placebo drugs have reported massive reductions in pain and improvements to conditions, such as migraines and stomach ulcers.

How do placebos work?

Exactly how placebos work remains a bit of a mystery, but scientists now think that actual biological changes happen in our bodies when we take them. Previously, people put the effectiveness of placebos down to ‘mind over matter’, but this is no longer the case.

In a study testing the effect of placebos on Parkinson’s disease, it was found that a pill made only of sugar caused patients to produce the chemical dopamine, which helped their condition. Placebos can also cause your brain to produce its own natural painkillers after operations.

So even though we aren’t totally sure why placebos work, we know that they can have very strong medical benefits.

Strange things that affect how placebos work

One particularly remarkable thing about the placebo effect is the way that the appearances of fake medicines change how well they work in making people feel better.

In trials using placebo drugs, larger pills were found to have a stronger impact. The colour of the pills also made a difference – red pills had the biggest impact in reducing pain and green pills were best for treating anxiety. Most effective of all was a false injection of a completely harmless solution rather than a tablet.

The person giving the so-called drug also made a big difference. If the person was not a medical professional then the outcome was less noticeable. If the doctor giving the placebo was more caring and spent a lot of time with a patient, this improved the outcome further.

What if you know the medicine isn’t real?

Weirdly enough, placebos can have an effect even if people know that they are placebos! Studies have found that improvements occur when patients are told they’re being given placebo pills for their illnesses. It is thought that perhaps the act of visiting a doctor and receiving medical advice is enough to make a difference.

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How Does Your Brain Make a Memory?

How do memories work?

In the film Inside Out, Riley’s core memories come from super important moments in her life and power aspects of her personality islands. These are maintained by Joy and the gang. However, as much as we’d like to believe that we have little emotional people roaming around our brains looking after our memories, sadly that isn’t actually how it works. Your memory isn’t really one solid thing – it’s a term that refers to the process of remembering. Experts also believe that memory isn’t actually located in one part of your brain, but instead is a brain-wide process. Here’s how that all works. Short-term memory When we talk about short-term memory we often refer to things that happened to us in the last day or so, but in reality our short-term memory only lasts between 15 and 30 seconds! Anything that can be remembered after that length of time is actually a long-term memory. A good way to think of your short-term memory is like a computer RAM, as it works with information you are currently using or thinking about. This can be brand new information or old information we have recovered from our long-term memory. Long-term memory Your long-term memory is like a computer hard drive – it stores pretty much everything! What’s even cooler is that these memories actually have a physical presence in your brain because the neurons make physical connections with each other. These connections last regardless of whether or not they’re being used. Your long-term memory can also be split into two separate forms of memory – explicit and implicit.  Explicit Memory – These are memories we’re consciously aware of and actually want to remember (a bit like the information you absorb when you’re trying to study for a test). If you have an explicit memory that is of an event that has happened to you then you would call this an episodic memory, but if your explicit memory is more general knowledge based then you would call this a semantic memory. Implicit Memory – This includes habits and skills that you can automatically do, like riding a bike and tying your shoelaces. How Do We Actually Form Memories? Before we do anything we need to encode the information by sending it to the hippocampus (a part of the brain where new memories are formed). Here all the important information is prioritised and linked together to form a new memory. Of course, all of this is useless if the memory doesn’t have a home to go to.  Your new memory is able to chill out in the hippocampus for a bit, but as more memories are formed things start to become a bit crammed. The neurons that make up a specific memory therefore move further into your cortex – and as a result your memories end up being stored throughout your brain! Watch the video below for even more on the magic of memory.

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Why Do We Cook?

Ok, so we know that we cook food to make it edible and enjoyable.

But did you know that the simple act of cooking our food is what distinguishes us from animals and is a key contributor to our evolution as human beings?

Our primate cousins (like the Gorilla) may be three times the size of us and spend a good 70% of their day eating, but the reason they’re not the superior species all comes down to the fact that they eat raw plants.

By cooking our meat and veg we’re breaking down the tough cell walls and releasing more of the nutrients that are up for grabs, which is pretty vital considering our brains use one fifth of the calories we eat! This also means we get more energy from our food and can use this to increase our general knowledge and practical skills.

That’s exactly what our ancestors did when they first started cooking their food. Because they had more energy and free time, after learning how to preserve food and crush it into more edible forms, they were able to construct new tools to cook with and also develop languages (which we now speak) and create art and literature (which we now read).

Thanks to these new tools our ancestors came up with even more ways to release all the necessary nutrients, and as such people started living longer and healthier lives. Essentially, we ate our way to becoming the stronger and superior species!

Let’s not forget the fact that back when our ancestors first started cooking their food they would have to bring it back to a central location, and in doing so started strengthening social bonds. So next time you go to Nandos with your friends, just remember, your ancestors were essentially doing the same thing thousands of years ago!

Watch the video below for even more information about why we cook!

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5 Ways To Boost Self Esteem

If you’ve ever felt low before, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of seemingly unhelpful clichés like ‘Peaks and troughs’, ‘Life is a roller-coaster’ or ‘Life is a box of chocolates’.  These clichés are actually pretty spot on. It’s true that, unfortunately, everything can’t be wonderful all the time.

There are all sorts of set backs in life which can bring us down: mean remarks, failing an exam and your phone running out of battery, just when you need it most, to name a few.These kinds of events can result in low self-esteem. We’ve put together a list of ways to remedy this, get your head out of that ‘trough’ and fast track you back towards those positive ‘peaks’…

Don’t take yourself too seriously

Pride can most definitely get the better of a lot of people. A lot of the time this stems from being reliant on external validation as opposed to internal validation. It’s our human nature to care about what other people think of us. However, it’s also important to have the confidence that our flaws can be improved upon and to remember that absolutely everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Next time someone criticises you, try not to take it too personally, they might even be trying to help you by making you aware that you are doing something incorrectly. Whether they are constructive or not, criticisms will make the compliments all the sweeter!

The power of humour

As human beings we are unfortunately pre-disposed to be very irrational when things go ‘wrong’. Small events that take place during the day, like being splashed by an oncoming car or having the wrong sandwiches in your packed lunch (who thinks plum jam and ham go together? Bleurgh!) or forgetting to brush your teeth (ew!) can really dampen a day. However, this is the stuff that fills life with experiences, that you will look back and laugh about. Why not ditch the negativity and cut right to the laughing point?

Down with shame

Research has found that shame can be intensely painful for humans – making us believe that we are unworthy and flawed. In the future unfortunate things may happen to you; you may lose your job or say something embarrassing during a presentation. However, as much as these experiences make you feel rubbish at the time, it’s counter-productive to (metaphorically) kick yourself while you’re down. The best thing you can do is learn from these mistakes, recover and be stronger for next time!

Work out those empathy muscles

The phrase ‘do to others as you would have them do unto you’ really rings true here. Seeing the world from alternative perspectives is an amazing attribute to have and will help you make great relationships with all sorts of people. The ability to socialise, work and get along with people who have led very different lives to you, and may have a different outlook on the world, is incredibly valuable. By having an open mind and being empathetic you will open a lot of doors.

Think about the future

Self-esteem isn’t automatically ingrained in anyone’s personality. It grows over time through confidence, experience and personal achievement. One day your self-esteem may be lacking, another day you may feel full of self-esteem. Things are bound to change every day depending on surrounding factors and altering events. By thinking about the bigger picture, and realising that trivial problems are nothing but tiny specs on the canvas, you will find it easier to enjoy the journey, troughs and all!

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The Future With Driverless Cars

Are you looking forward to a future of driverless cars?

Autopilot has been used to assist pilots flying air crafts for a long time. It is also used in spaceships and missiles.

Navigational technology like this is constantly evolving and we are now on the brink of developing driverless cars.

How would they work?

Driverless cars need a huge amount of complicated technology to make their journeys. Firstly they need to know where they are going. They do this by using a GPS system, just like a satnav, and analysing the options to decide on the best route from A to B.

But simply knowing the quickest way isn’t nearly enough. Driverless cars also use radar, lasers and cameras to analyse their surrounding environment. This tells them if there are obstacles in their path, traffic jams up ahead, road signs or changes in conditions.

The cars then need to be able to use this information to make decisions, like whether to slow down or move into a different lane. This is done by a super-smart computer system that controls the steering, braking and accelerating. Perfecting this system so that it always makes the right judgement is the main challenge facing designers of these cars.

Are they safe?

Most of our main concerns about driverless cars are whether or not they are safe. One great advantage is that they would eliminate accidents caused by human error. Computers can’t drink drive or fall asleep at the wheel.

Driverless cars also have faster reaction times than humans, and are programmed to always keep safe distances between vehicles. Generally, it’s agreed that they would greatly reduce road accidents.

They’re by no means perfect though. Google has admitted that its self-driving car has been involved in some minor accidents.

What are the benefits?

Makers of driverless cars say that increased road safety is the main advantage of the technology, but there are lots of other benefits too. They are greener than standard cars, thanks to the computers’ ability to drive more efficiently. They know where traffic jams are so can avoid stopping and starting over and over, which uses unnecessary fuel.

Those who are unable to drive due to limited mobility or impaired vision will be able to get around using driverless cars. This will help the lives of thousands of people, who will no longer need to rely on others for their transportation.

What are the issues?

Many questions about driverless cars remain unanswered. One is whether they will be able to make ethical decisions. For example, if a person stepped into the road in front of one, would it swerve out of the way and endanger the lives of the passengers? What about if an animal was in the road?

There is also concern over who would be held responsible if something did go wrong. As the drivers aren’t in charge of the vehicle, accidents could be seen to be the manufacturer’s fault.

Finally, experts are worried that the cars could be hacked. As they are controlled by computers and connected to the internet, it could be possible for outsiders to break into the system.

Until these issues have been addressed, it is unlikely that self-driving cars will be taking over the roads any time soon.

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Why Are Some People Left Handed?

Around one in ten people are left handed, and scientists can’t seem to agree why some people are born with dominance on their left side.

Being a leftie can cause a few problems – think smudging your writing and struggling with scissors – but it used to be a much more serious issue. Up to the 1960s in the UK many children were forced to use their right hands to write, even if they were naturally inclined to use their left. This still happens in some parts of the world, and can cause children to struggle with writing and harm their confidence.

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In many languages, the word left is the same as the word for unusual or sinister, and the word for right is the same as the word for correct or good. This is because people used to associate left handedness with witchcraft and evil!

Now in this country, we know that being left or right handed isn’t a choice – it’s just the way you’re born. Scientists have found that it’s partly down to your genes, so kids with two left handed parents are more likely to be left handed themselves.

However no-one has been able to identify the exact gene that affects which side you happen to lean towards. The latest thinking is that there are a number of genes are work, and it’s the combination of these that decides handedness.

In day to day life, being in the left-handed majority can sometimes be a big advantage. Lefties excel in sports like cricket and baseball, and are often more artistic and creative than their right-handed cousins. Oddly enough, five out of the last seven presidents of America have been left handed.

Super-famous lefties throughout the ages

-       Barack Obama

-       Joan of Arc

-       Julius Caesar

-       Leonardo da Vinci

-       Jimi Hendrix

-       Tom Cruise

-       Marilyn Monroe

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10 Inspirational Fictional Characters

Role models are an essential part of growing up.

Having positive and influential people to look up to helps develop who you are, who you want to be and which direction you want your life to go in.

Role models can be found anywhere: parents, sports people, musicians, teachers, the list is endless. Sometimes they’re not even real. However, their impact and what we can learn from them is still just as important.

Here are 10 inspirational characters from the world of literature.

Samwise Gamgee

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Gamgee is a character created by J. R. R. Tolkien and is one of the bravest hobbits in The Lord of the Rings. Sam comes a from a small, simple community in the Shire but develops an enormous  sense of adventure and hopes to experience life beyond his traditional culture. He is smart, courageous and a loyal friend and saves Frodo’s life on a number of occasions, refusing to leave him even when it looks like the two are destined for death.

Harry Potter

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J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter is one of the most famous fictional names in the world. He is strong-willed, focused and knows the difference between right and wrong. Despite his powerful abilities and fame, Harry maintains a level of modesty and humility and always puts others’ safety before his own. Even though he never chose the path he is set upon, he never complains or tries to avoid the great responsibility that has been thrust upon him.

Jane Eyre

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The title character of Charlotte Bronté’s novel, Jane Eyre, has a tough childhood. Starved of affection, bullied and surrounded by negative people, Jane shows an inner determination and passion to better herself. She also values freedom and independence, even though she is a woman living in a very patriarchal society – admirable qualities that we can all learn a lot from.

Katniss Everdeen

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The heroine of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, Katniss, is a fighter and a survivor. She’s been through numerous hardships but always stands up for what she believes in and looks to protect those closest to her as well as the vulnerable. She’s athletic, a quick thinker and is mature beyond her teenage years.

Sherlock Holmes

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A detective unlike any other, Arthur Conan Doyle’s character is a maverick problem solver, blessed with an astute and logical mind. He also has an amazing eye for detail and is supremely confident in social situations due to his intellectual expertise. Sherlock never gives up on problem-solving however difficult or enigmatic it may be. It’s his determination to ensure justice that leads to his success.

Matilda

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Roald Dahl’s Matilda is a quiet, unassuming character who grows up being ignored by her selfish and neglectful parents. They fail to notice that she happens to be highly intelligent and has incredible telekinetic powers. Matilda understands that with great power comes great responsibility and she only ever uses her extraordinary abilities to punish wrongdoers or help the people that they are taking advantage of.

Forrest Gump

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Winston Groom’s character is perhaps best known as being played by Tom Hanks in the film adaptation. Forrest is a man who looks at things, simply and truthfully. Despite having a low IQ he is full of wisdom and his positive outlook on life leads him on a series of wonderful adventures and experiences. Proof that positivity really does breed positivity.

Hermione Granger

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Another of J.K. Rowling’s creations, Hermione has an exceptional intellect and excels at all things academic. Often bullied for her achievements, she still manages to maintain a level head and not retaliate. Hermione is also compassionate and quick to help others in a similar position.

Lyra Silvertongue

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Lyra is a complex lady. She is highly intelligent and has the ability to deceive for good and think quickly under pressure from a young age. As she gets older Philip Pullman’s character begins to hone these gifts and use them to save the lives of others.

Holden Caulfield

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A true individual and the lead character in The Catcher in the Rye, Caulfield is smart, caring and respectful. He questions everything and can see beyond the falseness of people at face value. He shows the importance of challenging societal behaviour and looking beyond the obvious.

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In the Name of Science

Throughout the years, there have been many times when scientists have gone the extra mile in order to make the next epic discovery.

Some scientists have gone to a new extreme, doing some crazy things and even putting their own safety in danger for the sake of research.

Here are five barmy experiments, all done in the name of science:

Living in a cave for a month

In 1938, sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman moved into a cave 120 feet below ground in order to study human sleep patterns. He and his assistant lived there for a month in an attempt to discover whether people could adapt to a 28-hour day.

The cave was the ideal place to test this out, as there were never any changes in the light or the temperature. However, it was extremely uncomfortable, claustrophobic and swarming with rats. His assistant did manage to adapt, but Kleitman unfortunately could not, disproving his own theory.

Travelling faster than a bullet

John Paul Stapp was a flight surgeon during World War II, and wanted to investigate the effects of extreme speeds on the human body. In 1954, he rode a rocket-powered sled, which travelled faster than a bullet, and observed what happened to him afterwards.

His experiments were hugely important for later improvements in transport safety, and his research influenced the training given to astronauts.

60 years of knuckle cracking

Ever been told that cracking your knuckles will give you arthritis? Scientist Dr. Donald Unger decided to find out once and for all whether this was fact or fiction.

For 60 years, he cracked the knuckles of his left hand every day, but never cracked the knuckles of his right. In the end, he found that all that cracking had no effect on the state of his joints.

Getting 120 bee stings

Michael Smith, a student of bee behaviour, conducted an experiment to see where the most painful place to be stung by a bee was.

The experiment involved pricking himself with bee stings 120 times all over his body and recording the pain levels. The sorest spot? Right inside the nostril. Ouch.

Living underwater for 31 days

Rather than making the occasional subaquatic trip to conduct his research, scientist Fabien Cousteau spent 31 days living in a laboratory under the sea.

In the time they spent 64 feet below sea level, he and his team studied the effects that humans had on ocean life. They gathered enough research to fill ten new research papers!

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Endangered Emojis

Emojis and real animals have a lot in common – they are all very individual, colourful and entertaining.

However, one of the integral differences between the two is that, unlike real animals, emojis are not at risk of becoming extinct.

WWF have linked the two in an effort to raise awareness via social media and also raise funds.

Watch the video below and learn about all the emojis that are endangered in real life and the way that you can help them.

Have you ever wondered what the most endangered species are?

Top 10 species most at risk

  • Giant panda
  • Mexican wolf
  • Siamese crocodile
  • Brown spider monkey
  • Iberian lynx
  • Amur leopard
  • Pygmy three toed sloths
  • Hainan gibbon
  • Red river giant soft shell turtle
  • Northern white rhinoceros

Learn more by watching the video below.

What do you think is endangering these species the most and why?

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What is a Polyglot?

A polyglot is someone who knows and can use lots of different languages – a handy skill, indeed.

Although learning a new language is no easy feat, given that you’re required to use all of your many memory systems, the mental workout is one of the best brain training exercises you can endure. Nowadays, you can also learn languages online, making it that little bit easier!

Here are a few of the perks to being a polyglot:

Your self-confidence will increase

Taking on and mastering a new language will boost your self-confidence. The more languages you master, the more confident you’re likely to become.

You’ll gain a wider understanding of the world

When you learn a new language you also learn the behaviours and traits of another culture. By trying to understand a language and the history that goes with it you’ll not only discover more about that heritage but also how you view the world and its many cultures. You may even gain a new sense of appreciation for your own culture!

You’ll boost your brain and have a keener mind

Studies have shown that polyglots have very alert and keen minds – and are quick to spot anything irrelevant or misleading. You’ll also boost your reading, negotiation and problem-solving skills, as your brain will be forced to recognise a new language structure.

If you’re still in two minds about the perks of being a polyglot then Alex Rawlings, who was voted Britain’s Most Multilingual Student in 2012, may just change your mind in the video above.

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Learn a Language Online

Did you know that roughly 6,500 languages are spoken in the world?

That’s a lot of options to choose from. Knowing more than one language not only opens up a whole host of career choices but looks good to future employers. It will help you make friends if you ever decide to go travelling. Learning a new language also increases your brainpower.

Thanks to the internet, it’s now easier than ever to learn a new language. Here are 5 awesome sites that will help.

Duolingo

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If you choose to learn a language through Duolingo then you may become addicted to learning, as these bite size lessons are taught through games! When you get an answer correct you earn points to move up a level – but be warned, you will lose a life if you make a mistake. You can even download an app to your phone and learn on the move!

https://www.duolingo.com/

Lingvist

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After just 200 hours (that’s only 8 days!) of studying with Lingvist you’ll be able to read texts, watch movies and have casual conversations in another language – how cool is that? The more you use the website as you learn then the faster you’ll pick up the language, don’t just take our word for it though!

https://www.lingvist.io

Busuu

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Busuu has ingeniously combined learning a language online with social networking in order to help you practice your new language with someone who speaks it natively! Over 50 million users are already using the website to learn up to 12 languages, so why not join them?

https://www.busuu.com/enc/

Livemocha

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Similar to Busuu, Livemocha is an online community of native speakers or language fanatics, such as teachers and experts, who come together to help one another learn. Users help each other out by leaving feedback, creating online exercises or lessons and even via video or audio chats!

http://livemocha.com/

BBC Languages

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Crikey, first the BBC treats us to BBC Bitesize and now they’re helping us expand our linguistics with their language-learning programme! With BBC languages you can take part in online video and audio courses and tests and even watch the soaps that are popular in the country you’re learning!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/

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The Story of “She Sells Seashells”

How many of you can say you have heard of Mary Anning?

There are very few people who haven’t attempted to master the tongue-twister, “She Sells Seashells on the Sea Shore”, until they are blue in the face.

Mary is the namesake and muse of Terry Sullivan’s infamous 1908 tongue twister. She earned the honour through her hard work and determination.

Lyme Regis is where the legend hails – a popular seaside resort teeming with visitors holidaying in the summer. Lyme Regis has a huge biological significance, offering a wealth of Jurassic fossils in its coastal cliffs, part of a geological formation known as the Blue Lias.

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Mary’s father had earned his living and supported his family by selling objects known as curios, which he found whilst mining the coastal cliffs of the Blue Lias. These curios were incredibly old fossils of many varieties of ancient reptiles. Unfortunately, he passed away when Mary was just 11 years old.

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It was not long before Mary stepped up and assumed his place as the main breadwinner of the family. With her passion for palaeontology already fervently ignited, she followed in her father’s footsteps and set up her own stall. Aside from supporting her loved ones, she also made some incredibly significant discoveries along the way.

The profession was not without its risks. Landslides tested her dedication and even took the life of her dog. However, this never kept Mary from her passion. Mary discovered several whole skeletons of ancient species. In 1823, she found the Plesiosaurus, pictured below; in 1828, she found a Pterosaurus; and, in 1829, the Squaloraja.

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Even though Mary had grown up in a modest household with little to no education, she studied often and re-wrote scientific papers. Her work has since been praised by palaeontologists for its accuracy.

Mary managed to open her own shop called “Anning’s Fossil Depot”, which became a destination shop for geologists and palaeontologists around the country. During the course of her career, she promoted the concept of extinction through her discovery of fossils, proving this existence of ancient reptiles that were no longer living.

In 1847, Mary sadly died from breast cancer. Members of the Geological Society contributed a stain glass window in her memory with an inscription, part of which read: “In commemoration of her usefulness in furthering the science of geology…also of her benevolence of heart and integrity of life”.

The inscription was a testament befitting the sentiment. However; we think that Terry Sullivan’s tongue twister has preserved the memory of Mary Anning forever by using the most powerful thing of all, language.

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Writing Tips from Roald Dahl

One of our favourite writers offers some tips to budding writers.

No childhood would be complete without a literary trip to the fantastic world of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, or a journey to New York with James and co inside the giant peach.

Obviously we are talking about the marvellous works of Roald Dahl, who wrote those and many other literary classics.

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a wordsmith, or a budding journalist, or even if you just like writing for the sake of writing, put down that pen of yours a second and check out these tips.

Check out these seven invaluable writing tips from one of everyone’s favourite authors.

“You should have a lively imagination”

“You should be able to write well. By that I mean you should be able to make a scene come alive in the reader’s mind. Not everybody has this ability…”

“You must have stamina. In other words, you must be able to stick to what you are doing and never give up, for hour after hour, day after day, week after week and month after month.”

“You must be a perfectionist. That means you must never be satisfied with what you have written until you have rewritten it again and again, making it as good as you possibly can.”

“You must have strong self-discipline. You are working alone. No one is employing you. No one is around to give you the sack if you don’t turn up for work, or to tick you off if you start slacking.”

“It helps a lot if you have a keen sense of humour. This is not essential when writing for grown-ups, but for children, it’s vital.”

“You must have a degree of humility. The writer who thinks that his work is marvellous is heading for trouble.”

Source(s): RoaldDahl.com

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First Jobs of Tech Giants

They run the world’s biggest technology companies, but what were their first jobs?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that all the tech industry’s biggest players leapt straight into high-powered jobs at the start of their careers. On the contrary, plenty started off with unglamorous jobs before soaring up through the ranks.

Tim Cook – CEO of Apple

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Now the CEO of the company responsible for the iPad, iPhone, Mac and Apple Watch, Tim Cook started his career delivering newspapers in Alabama as a teenager.

He then worked in a paper mill and an aluminium plant before joining the world of tech.

Marissa Mayer – President and CEO of Yahoo!

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She’s worth an estimated $380 million dollars and boasts a $42 million salary, but the president and CEO of Yahoo! took her first ever job working at a grocery shop.

Her next stop was a degree at Stanford, followed by a stint working for Google. In 2012 she was poached by Yahoo! and is now one of America’s highest paid CEOs.

Jeff Bezos – CEO of Amazon

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Jeff Bezos’s very first job was flipping burgers at McDonald’s, a far cry from his current gig as Amazon’s top dog.

However, it didn’t take him long to discover his business skills. After McDonald’s, he set up a summer camp for kids.

Jan Koum – Co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp

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In January 2015, WhatsApp became the world’s number one messaging app. In 2014, the app was purchased by Facebook for a whopping $19 billion.

Its co-founder and CEO Jan Koum was born in a small village in Ukraine, before moving to America at 16. There, he started out sweeping the floors of a grocery shop to help his mother with household expenses.

Soon he discovered an aptitude for technology, working for many years at Yahoo!, before spotting a gap in the market and founding the popular app.

Tell us what your ideal job would be and why?

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Is Chess Cool?

The game of kings is making a comeback.

Before you say no, consider the fact that, if Ron Weasley wasn’t such a pro at Wizard chess, Harry Potter never would have stopped Voldemort from getting his hands on the philosopher’s stone and the wizarding world would have been doomed.

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Ron isn’t the only chess champion out there either. Over 650 million people play chess in over 160 countries these day. In the United States chess is becoming an increasingly trendy hobby – with chess clubs popping up all over the place. The video below shows how and why chess is becoming New York’s latest trend.

Still not convinced? Chess isn’t known as the game of kings for nothing! Here are a few perks you could take advantage of when you reach for those Kings, Queens and Knights:

It can raise your IQ

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Contrary to popular opinion – you don’t have to be brainy to play chess. A study of over 4000 students who played chess found that their IQ scores increased significantly after just four months of playing!

It can help prevent Alzheimer’s

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You may or may not know that your brain works like a muscle – and like all muscles it needs to be exercised in order to be healthy. Recent studies have found that people who are over the age of 75 and engage in brain-stimulating activities (like chess) are less likely to develop dementia. Nothing wrong with getting a head start though, is there?

Your creativity and memory will improve

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The right hand side of our brains are our creativity banks – so the more we stimulate this then the more creative we become! Unsurprisingly chess also helps improve your memory, as it’s a game of tactics. In order to be a good player and beat your opponent, you need to remember how they played in the past and any signature moves they may have hidden up their sleeves. Almost 60% of chess players also believe the games make them better negotiators – so if you play chess then you’re more likely to get your own way…sounds good to us!

Who fancies a game of chess then?