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The Man With the Fish Tank Idea

Sarrah M

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Some teachers just do the basics. They teach from books, provide visuals, use a computer and meet the minimum requirements for their classes. The kids produce the same; they regurgitate the terms, memorize the rules, and spit out the formulas. But other teachers go the extra mile and incorporate experience into the classroom. And when that happens, their students embrace their learning far more, and go much farther on average in life as a result. That’s the case with James Jubran.

James Jubran is a teacher at Alief Elsik High School in Texas. And where he’s located, there’s not a lot of water nearby. In fact, the school has no exposure to lakes, rivers or even the ocean within short distance. So, all the biology context James wanted to provide was only going to be possible through books and concepts; he had no real outdoor example to draw upon for reinforcing lessons.

For a teacher who grew up in Florida surrounded by coastline and water, Texas was an opposite shock at first. Not only was the distance to water a geographic barrier, James’ high school didn’t have the money for field trips or travel substitutes. So, rather than giving up or struggling on pennies, James started using his other skill, writing. He began applying for education grants. In 2016, James submitted his first major grant proposal to State Farm Insurance through the company’s Neighborhood Assist Program. The request was straightforward; James wanted to build a sizable aquarium so that his students to realize in person the magic of aquatic biology in their classroom.

James had a lot of competition. He was able to make the first cut being part of the first 2,000 proposals accepted for review. Above that, folks were rejected by the first cut. Then, the second wave cut the review down to 10 percent, or 200 proposals. From there one needed to make the top 40 proposals to receive substantial funding of $25,000 each. James achieved an almost impossible grant achievement. His proposal scored rank 8. The funds suddenly made a crazy idea a real possibility for his classroom.

Even with the grant funds, James still pulled in more help and resources. It took a number of months to finish the construction as well. Once completed, the classroom aquarium measured 9 feet tall by 12 feet long and a yard wide. It contains a whopping 1,100 gallons of water, and each gallon weight at least 8 lbs. in weight. James also added some amazing touches to the actual ecosystem built. The tank was planned out to be a tropical environment, becoming home to an amazing array of tropical fish. And it was a process to complete the collection as well. Fish were added slowly to help the tank system adapt to so many residents as well as to prevent the fish from fighting with each other. By the time the tank was complete, 14 different types of fish were moving around inside it.

There were some adjustments as well. Given the size of the tank, it was going to be far too big for a single classroom, and James wanted all the students to enjoy the aquatic biology exposure. So, it was relocated to the cafeteria during construction due to more space and a better educational benefit. Where’s the proof it works? Believe it or not, the one effect James isn’t fond of is the objective metric showing how amazingly educational the tank is – all the fingerprints from the kids getting up close to look and learn.

Is James done? Of course not. Now he’s aiming to achieve a $100,000 second grant so the school can have a larger saltwater tank in another part of the school. The idea makes sense, it provides a tangible educational effect, and the companies providing the grants see real results. So, there’s a very good chance James’ school tank idea can work again. More importantly, James’ initiative shows how powerful just one person’s effort can be in educational change. What could happen with multiple people working towards the same goal? It’s worth asking at every school who wants to do more for its students.

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A Soldier’s Dog Proves Canine Memory is Strong

Liz L

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There’s a well-known saying that a dog is man’s best friend. This sentiment is assumed to go back ages to the very early beginnings of man, when dogs were domesticated and trained to live with humans versus attack them or be hunted by them. In modern times, we see them as pets at a distance, but up close to dog owners, they become more than animals. They become our best friends and partners. And the feeling is reciprocated as any dog owner with a bond knows. That was the case for Lt. Dylan Cox.

Like all military personnel these days, Lt. Cox was called for duty and had to work overseas. Unfortunately, South Korea where he was based was a half world away from his 2-year old dog, Bentley. The golden retriever had just had barely two years to bond with his owner before Cox had to ship out. Instead, the dog was left behind, and stayed with Lt. Cox’s wife, Amelia, and waited. Most would think that a dog doesn’t have the ability to remember, but that was the case for Bentley. The canine clearly proved not only did he remember Lt. Cox after an extended absence, the dog really missed his absent owner as well.

Lt. Cox, however, was worried. Throughout the whole trip back to the U.S. he kept wondering if Bentley would still have a connection with him. Generally, dogs seem to act in the moment, and Bentley never behaved different from that stereotype. So, would the dog act weird when Lt. Cox finally got home and came in the door? He wasn’t sure, and the closer he got to home, the more the soldier’s anxiety grew inside him.

Part of the fear had to do with how young Bentley was when the Lieutenant left for duty. A dog with a good number of years had a higher probability of retaining memory of an owner, but a puppy was another story. So, Lt. Cox and his wife tried to be creative about reminding the dog even while the soldier was overseas. Using digital video, Amelia and Lt. Cox gave Bentley the ability to “see” and “hear” his owner despite the distance. And the trick seemed to work. Bentley would act like he recognized Dylan and tried to look at the soldier on the Facetime screen directly when Lt. Cox talked.

Finally, after spending a long six months in South Korea, Lt. Cox was allowed to return home in the U.S. again. Dylan shipped back to Austin, Texas, and arrived at his own house doorstep. Normally, someone comes in a door, a dog inside is the first to see who’s coming in, moving far faster than the resident human. Bentley was no exception. However, instead of growling or barking, Bentley immediately perked up in full excitement when he heard Dylan announce himself coming in. The dog literally went bonkers as well.

Bentley was so freaked out about Lt. Cox being physically present instead of on a video screen, the dog was shaking. Amelia was worried Bentley was going to have an accident at the rate he was going. AS Dylan came into the kitchen Bentley jumped onto Lt. Cox, practically bringing the soldier down to the floor. The dog was so excited his tail was smacking anything within close proximity over.

Amelia just smiled and took in the sight. She was never worried that Bentley would forget Dylan. Instead, she made sure to have a camera ready and filmed the whole thing so they would all have it for posterity years later. And Bentley made it crystal clear that dogs remember extremely well regardless of time.

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Understanding the Power of Love Languages

Sarrah M

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What is a love language? The classicists would think of the fictional Cyrano de Bergerac and his love for Roxanne. Modernists might look in a dictionary to search for a definition. However, in reality a true love language is a combination of words, actions, behavior and omissions. It is a sense of purpose and being that culminates in bringing two people closer together with each other. And it evolves over time. What starts as a love of the moment and infatuation transforms eventually to a love of the mind and a fundamental bond one is willing to sacrifice for, even one’s life if necessary.

Simplifying the Concept a Bit

But to make it easier to understand and apply, a love language falls into five common categories people practice all the time. They can be acted on independently or, more likely, together and in different combinations at different times. The key point to remember is that regardless of which one is chosen to act on, it’s about communicating love from one to another. The act itself is simply a tool of that messaging. Gary Chapman defined these categories in a concise approach in his book, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts.

Specifically, the five main love languages include the following:

  • Acts of service
  • Gifts
  • Physical touch
  • Quality time, and
  • Words of affirmation

The category names might sound a bit ambiguous but, in detail, they are very straightforward. For example, speaking in affirmation means literally just that, giving words of affection, compliments and praising your partner on a regular basis. It’s extremely easy to do and has a powerful effect on the recipient. Gifts are pretty obvious as well, but they don’t need to be bank-busters. A small candy, or a treat in one’s lunch gets noticed just as much. Contact is absolutely an essential love language. One can’t feel close without it. And dedicated time giving one attention makes them realize they are the focus of your love versus just alone and generic like anyone else.

Practice Makes Perfect, So Practice a Lot

Keep in mind, just as there are different love language categories, people favor some over others too. Some folks really like to express themselves with physical touch and physical gifts. Others are verbal-oriented and may seem reserved but a few words can convey powerful love messages. Still others like to bounce back and forth irregularly. The point that they all have in common, however, is that each type of person using a love language uses it repeatedly and a lot. And they shake things up too. They don’t just keep doing the same thing over and over again, like a broken record. They incorporate surprise and randomness frequently to maintain that in the moment alive feeling that makes a love language so emotional versus logical.

Finally, love languages are not a one-way street. You and your partner evolve and change constantly over time. So will your love language. Learn each other’s style and build on it. Share ideas from outside the relationship and play with variety to find a better understanding of what really works for your own communication and expression. Gary Chapman’s book and categories are just tools to get the conversation going. The actual love language that works for you will be what you put into action and make happen again and again with your partner.

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Saying Thank You For Saving His Dog

Danielle S

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Veterinarians are normally seen at one of two different situations: when an animal needs medical care, or when a pet needs to be put down. They provide just as much an impact as a regular human doctor, being able to guide people on their pet’s diet, health and maintenance as well keeping them happy and content. However, again, because they don’t treat humans, veterinarians frequently don’t receive the connection to our entire lives as other roles in society. Their care is to our pets, not us, so it’s a service once removed, so to speak.

However, for one fellow, veterinarians are the reason his best friend, a gold retriever, got a new lease on life. The fact is, his dog was dying. David MacNeil’s seven-year-old friend was dying from cancer. However, David was typical dog-owner; he is the CEO of an amazingly successful company, WeatherTech. So, when his furry best friend suddenly fall down and couldn’t get back up on a warm summer day in 2019, David wasn’t just going to accept the situation after the cancer diagnosis.

The challenge wasn’t easy by any means, even for someone with means like MacNeil. That was because his dog, Scout, was given one month to survive; the dog was well in advanced stages of cancer. The dog had a generic 1 percent chance of reversing the situation. But that was enough for David to keep fighting anyways. It was an easy decision for MacNeil, even when despite the animal’s condition, he looked up at David and Scout just kept wagging his tail in the clinic. So, David got a second opinion, specifically from the Veterinary Medicine program at the University of Wisconsin. With the latest technology the tumor was identified, the dog was given chemotherapy as well as radiation treatment, and everything seemed to unbelievably work.

Months after the fact Scout’s tumor hasn’t manifested again. And, like a patient who just keeps quietly fighting on, the dog dealt with all the tests and treatment without anxiety or aggression. That seemed to go just right with everything else that seemed to be working in Scout’s favor, including the tumor’s positive response to the treatment provided.

In response to the literal miracle work the University’s staff provided for David and Scout, MacNeil has expressed an amazing thank you in the form of a $6 million commercial during the NFL’s Super Bowl game. The marketing spot provides a simple but powerful message; donate to the University’s program so that their veterinarians can help other pet owners as well. Dubbed “Lucky Dog,” the commercial is designed to highlight the capability of the University in animal medicine as well as increasing awareness on the latest vet technology now available.

The University is quite pleased with the attention. It’s a huge market awareness booster for the Veterinary Medicine program as well as highlight how significant the work of a veterinarian can be to a pet as well as the pet owner’s life. It also shatters the myth that the only time one sees the vet with their dog is when bad things are unfortunately going to occur. Yes, it was expensive, but for David the cost pales compared to how much love he has for being able to have more time with Scout versus being cut short prematurely. Scout’s cancer fundamentally rocked MacNeil’s world. And he had to respond to it to save Scout, or at least try as much as possible. Interestingly, for a fully recovered patient Scout is pretty modest about the whole affair, still just panting and wagging his tail at the sight of David.

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Say Hello to the Ultimate Palindrome Baby, Born 02/02/2020 at 20:02

Danielle S

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People are always looking for signs. They are looking for evidence of a higher power because this provides them with comfort that someone more intelligent is in control of the crazy thing we called life. Perhaps no greater sign is present in the world than that of a baby. A baby is a blessing. People work hard to have babies. Some people try and try, yet never give birth to a healthy child. For those who have a baby following a miscarriage, this is an even greater blessing. 

Miscarriages are tough and they are not discussed often enough. They get lost somewhere between the discussions of healthy births and the loss of loved ones. Miscarriages make people feel broken. They often feel that their body somehow wasn’t good enough. They think that this is a message that they just aren’t meant to have children. This is sad and depressing; however, this is often how people feel. In reality, there are lots of reasons why someone might suffer a miscarriage. Having a new, healthy baby does a lot to ease the pain. The term used to describe this is typically a rainbow baby. A rainbow baby is a child that is born to parents who had a miscarriage or infant loss in the past. A rainbow is universally seen as a sign of happiness. That is why the term is appropriate.

For one couple, they gave birth to a baby that was much more than a rainbow baby. In reality, it was a palindrome baby. For those who might not know, a palindrome is typically a term that is used to describe a word that looks the same both forward and backward. In this case, the term is applied to the baby’s birthday. This child was born on Feb 2, 2020, at 20:02 (8:02 PM). 

 The family was clued into what was happening. They took a picture of the clock, hoping that there was a way that the clock would sync up to make this happen. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. 

The story of this baby is even more interesting. This child’s birth comes on the back of what happened to the child’s sister. The birth was happening during the halftime show of the super bowl. This is a game that typically brings a tremendous amount of joy to people all over the world. Sadly, this isn’t what happened during the halftime show two years ago. In 2017, this new child’s sister was killed during a terrible car accident. This car accident took place during the super bowl halftime show. Typically, most people look at the halftime show as something to look forward to. Now, the halftime show is a reminder to this family of what happened to their child. Now, the halftime show is going to be even sweeter. Finally, the halftime show will be remembered for the birth of a child. Even the name of this child is an homage to ancestry. This child’s name is a blend of family members who passed away.

A palindrome baby is unique. It does not happen very often. A palindrome is even easy to remember. It is happened in the past, so many people think that having a baby in this manner is a sign of good luck. Regardless, this baby is still a blessing to a family that certainly needed one. It is nice that this child has family members who love and care for her. It will be exciting to see what other heartwarming stories develop this year.

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Police Dogs Have Been Used For Centuries To Protect Citizens

Liz L

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Police Dog History

Law enforcement has trained Dogs, since the Middle Ages, financially supported by tithes from villages to provide for parish constable’s bloodhounds to find criminal suspects, described as outlaws.  Bloodhounds were employed throughout Europe. France used Police Dogs in the 14th Century, England.  Dogs on a wide scale were used in Continental Europe, which caused Paris Police use of dogs against prowling criminal gangs at night.  Ghent, Belgium police department in 1899, organized the first police dog service program. Sir Charles Warren, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police of London, because of vilification from the press, was forced to use Police Dogs in 1889, because Jack the Ripper was able to escape apprehension. As a result, two bloodhounds were trained, despite one of them biting the commissionaire, in the 1880s.  Police Dogs have a widespread use even in the private sector where night watchman employs dogs. 

Dog Training and Breed

The dog handlers must take police academy training, which takes one to two years, including patrol experience. At that point, the canine and handler will transfer to a canine unit.  For a dog to enter training, it must be successful in a basic obedience training course.  Handler commands must be obeyed be without any faltering.  The officer must have control over the dog to not injure a suspect. The dog’s training includes maintaining Public Order, anti-drug, anti-explosive, to take down suspects, find corpses, and search and rescue.  The dogs can be trained to be a single purpose or dual-purpose dogs.  The single-purpose dog is backup and is trained for personal protection and tracking.  The dual-purpose dog is trained to do both single-purpose and also detect either explosives or narcotics. The dog must distinguish different types of drugs by scent.  If the handler suspects that the dog has identified a narcotic, this is considered reasonable suspicion of a crime, and in the United States the suspect’s belongings and a car can be searched without a warrant,

K9 officer’s training centers around knowing how to care for the dogs and learn their abilities, which includes command cues and competent working with the dog as a team and a partner.  It is not unusual for Police dogs to be sworn in as officers, and they receive their badges and ID numbers, 

Any dog that has natural skills for hunting retrieving and detection assistance can be trained as Police dogs. German Shepherds are a common K9 breed but other breeds such as the Dutch Shepherd,  Bloodhound, Rottweiler, Labrador, Belgian Malinois, Beagle, and the and Retriever breeds have been successfully trained. Intentional injuring or killing a police dog is a criminal offense in many countries.

Caring For An Injured Police Dog

It’s a big deal for Greenwood Village Colorado’s Police Department to have a K-9 unit with a SWAT trained K-9 Team consisting of an officer/handler and one police dog.  The K-9 team offers important services to Greenwood Village’s almost 16,000 residents.  To support the k-9 team, fundraisers are important. The police department is proud of its K-9 unit and encourages children to meet and understand the function of the police dog.  This support of the K-9 team is similar to how Middle Age villages financially supported police dog activities to fight crime. The K-9 team is SWAT trained and is a vital component of the department’s Emergency Response Team. The K-9 unit, at the request of the local schools, performs proactive searches of the school children’s lockers, sniffing for narcotics.

A Greenwood Village K-9 officer Miner, a German Shepard, was seriously injured and needed extensive surgery because he ate a toy that caused an internal blockage, requiring major surgery.  Miner is a significant emotional and financial investment.  He needed to return to service, but the police department did not have the funds to treat the serious injury.  Funds were sought, and Back the Blue K-9 Force, a charitable organization, volunteered to seek the funds for this medical emergency.   As it turns out, the Back the Blue K-9 Force decided that it could pay for the entire cost of the medical bills.  This organization is committed to the K-9 Team, as seen by its name, has also sought funds to purchase protective vests for the K-9’s and to purchase dogs for K-9 training.

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