The Austin Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. is Hosting the 24th Biennial Beautillion Ball

The Austin Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. is hosting the 24th Biennial Beautillion Ball. Please add the following information to your Events on your website and radio stations.

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The 24th Biennial Beautillion Ball culminates an intensive, seven-month program that provides mentoring, education, and social enrichment for college bound African-American males from the Greater Austin area.The purpose of the Beautillion Ball is to showcase the achievements of these young men and to reward them with scholarships and a technology package. These distinguished “Beaux” pay tribute to the community and to their mothers with a breathtaking waltz. The night is made even more enchanting by the lovely “Belle” who escorts each “Beaux”.

The entire Greater Austin community is invited to support these young men and their families! 
Proceeds from the Beautillion Ball support local and national 501(c)(3) charitable organizations in the Greater Austin community.

The Austin Chapter of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. was chartered in June 1953. Throughout its fifty plus years, the Austin Chapter has worked to fulfill its service mission to the community through group activities as well as chapter projects. The Beautillion Ball, begun in 1972 and presented biennially, has become our signature event in the Austin community. It is also our main fundraiser that has, over the past 35 years, raised funds for the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the George Washington Carver Library & Museum, the Austin Children’s Museum, and the Jack & Jill Foundation.

You can support the Beautillion by purchasing tickets to the event and/or by purchasing advertising in the program book.

Ball tickets cost $85.00 each. Ball tickets cost $85.00 each. Tickets can be purchased from this page ($6.79 processing fee will be added) or may be purchased by check or money order, payable to “Austin Chapter, Jack and Jill of America, Inc.” and mailed to P. O. Box 6059, Austin, TX 78762-6059. Tickets purchased by check do not include a processing fee. All ball tickets must be purchased by May 31, 2018.

To learn more about the Beautillion or to become a corporate sponsor go to our website at https://jackandjillofaustin.org/.​​Sat, June 16, 2018
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM CDT

​​Austin Hilton, Governor’s Ballroom, Fourth Floor

4 Ways Parents, Teachers and Students Can Reduce Standardized-Test Stress

 Written and Contributed By Dr. Raj Gupta

Dr. Raj Gupta

Dr. Raj Gupta

Standardized testing has drawn its share of criticism from teachers, students and parents. One of the most common complaints is the stress that all three groups feel – from preparation through performance.

From a young age, students take these timed tests that measure academic competency and, ultimately, whether they’re college material. Countless articles on standardized testing in the U.S. point out the pressure on students to score well; that teachers are often evaluated by how their students fare on the tests; and that parents get anxiety hoping their children score high.

Amid all this stress comes the basic but difficult-to-answer question: How to deal with it?

“There is a tremendous amount of controversy about standardized testing, and no matter which side of the argument you are on, teachers have no choice,” says Dr. Raj Gupta (www.drrajgupta.com), founder of Soul Focus Wellness Center and author of Wellness Center Solution: How Physicians Can Transform Their Practices, Their Income and Their Lives.

“So teachers, students and parents must deal with it the best way they can. And finding consistently healthy habits to counter these stress inducers is so important. In fact, taking the stress out of the test process can carry over to every aspect of their life. The scores aren’t as important as the quality of life they give themselves in what is a results-oriented world, often to a fault.”

Gupta offers four tips that teachers, students and parents can use to better deal with test-related stress:

•    Diet. Poor eating habits contribute to stress. “I see this every day with my three girls,” Gupta says. “Grandma will feed them tons of sugar, and then I come home to find the girls either bouncing off the walls or miserably cranky after crashing from their sugar high. Good wholesome foods that are not processed or refined and are free from trans fats prevent our energy levels from peaking and crashing throughout the day.”

•    Rest. Getting enough sleep helps keep your body and mind in top shape, making you better equipped to deal with any negative stressors. “Most of your healing and repair takes place when you are sleeping,” Dr. Gupta says. “This is when the body recharges the battery. If you continue to deprive your body of sleep, your immune system breaks down and you get sick.”

•    Exercise. A study conducted by California State University found that a 10-minute walk is enough to increase energy, alter mood, and provide a positive outlook for up to two hours. Exercise also assists in quality sleep. “Exercise is the greatest stress buster,” Gupta says. “Regular exercise can change your life.”

•    Mental attitude. “Stress is like a snowball: If you let it roll, it will gain speed, momentum and weight, and you are over-reacting, making even small difficulties seem like major crises,” Gupta says. He suggests countering a stressful situation with a calming action. Example: when rush-hour traffic is irritating, listen to a self-improvement audio. “Some things we can’t control, but we can control our response to them,” Gupta says.

“Stress can cause all sorts of health problems,” Gupta says. “It affects all ages, as seen with the implementation of standardized testing. But it can be dealt with on a daily basis, and by doing so consistently, it can help us pass any and all stress tests in the future..”

About Dr. Raj Gupta

Dr. Raj Gupta (www.drrajgupta.com), who has more than 20 years experience as a chiropractor, is the founder of Soul Focus Wellness Center. He also is author of Wellness Center Solution: How Physicians Can Transform Their Practices, Their Income and Their Lives. He has been featured in US News and World Report Health, Woman’s World Magazine and New York Daily News. He has a doctorate in chiropractic from Life University.

St. Gabriel’s Catholic School Hosts Annual Fundraising Gala

Parents and Austin community leaders gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Austin on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, for St. Gabriel’s Catholic School’s 19th annual fundraising gala. The gala celebrates the school’s continuing advancement of educational and spiritual programs.

Beth and Frank Stabile (St. Gabriel's Catholic School Board Vice Chair, retired from Dell)

Beth and Frank Stabile (St. Gabriel’s Catholic School Board Vice Chair, retired from Dell)

Danette and Steve Koebele (founder of TexCounsel)

Danette and Steve Koebele (Founder of TexCounsel)

“We are extremely thankful for the support and generosity of our St. Gabriel’s families, as well as our exceptional staff and educators,” Dan McKenna, head of school at St. Gabriel’s Catholic School, said. “In addition to allowing us to recognize the school’s achievements, this gala enables us to continue to provide the most advanced curriculum for our students.”

Jannell and Scott Brown (President and Chief Creative Officer at Texas Monthly)

Jannell and Scott Brown (President and Chief Creative Officer at Texas Monthly)

Kathy and Dan Roy (St. Gabriel's Catholic School Board Chair)

Kathy and Dan Roy (St. Gabriel’s Catholic School Board Chair)

The “Roaring Twenties” themed gala included a sit-down dinner, as well as a silent and live auction. Entertainment was provided by DJ Dave Garza, and the after-party included a “Speakeasy” and a “Casino.” Auction prizes included an African safari, tickets to Super Bowl LII, and passes to a backstage meet-and-greet with country music star Kenny Chesney in Chicago.

Laura and Tim Keyes (Past Chair of St. Gabriel's Board)

Laura and Tim Keyes (Past Chair of St. Gabriel’s Board)

Maureen Staloch (of RedBird) and Ted Staloch (Co-Founder of Aspyr Media)

Maureen Staloch (of RedBird) and Ted Staloch (Co-Founder of Aspyr Media)

Proceeds raised from the gala will go toward furthering the school’s efforts to employ the best practices in teaching and learning, empowering students to reach their full potential.

Melissa Cason (Sales Exec. at Texas National Title) and Brandon Cason (Founder, Waterloo Sparkling water)

Melissa Cason (Sales Exec. at Texas National Title) and Brandon Cason (Founder, Waterloo Sparkling water)

St. Gabriel’s Catholic School

St. Gabriel’s Catholic School is a private Catholic PreK-8 institution in Austin that emphasizes excellence in leadership, service and community among its students and families. The school is committed to providing a faith-based education through its innovative curriculum that includes STEAM programs, small classes, and a faculty focused on inspiring young hearts and minds of all faiths. St. Gabriel’s has been recognized as the Favorite Private School by the Austin Family Magazine Reader’s Poll in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. For more information, please visit sgs-austin.org.

 

More Students are Going to Grad School: How are They Paying for It?

Graduate School

Photography courtesy of (c) nd3000/stock.Adobe.com.

Career aspirations are driving more students to graduate school these days, and nearly two thirds believe an advanced degree is the new minimum standard level of education for any professional occupation.

According to “How America Pays for Graduate School,” the new national study from Sallie Mae and Ipsos, an independent global market research company, nearly all grad students (95 percent) said an advanced degree is necessary to enter, advance, accelerate or remain competitive in their chosen career.

Cost is less of a factor in the enrollment decision than it is at the undergraduate level, as more than eight in 10 surveyed based their enrollment decision on a school’s academic offerings, prestige, location, campus culture, or other personal consideration. However, eight in 10 grad students said they took more responsibility for paying-for-school decisions than they had for their undergraduate studies.

“It is human nature to plan for what you value, and that includes graduate school. Today’s students see graduate school as their ticket to a successful and prosperous career, and most have a plan to pay for their advanced degree before they enroll,” says Raymond J. Quinlan, chairman and CEO, Sallie Mae. “That planning pays off: the overwhelming majority are confident in the financial decisions they’ve made about how to pay for their graduate education.”

How much did they pay? Students spent an average of $24,812 on grad school in academic year 2016-17, and more than three-fourths of them (77 percent) paid for it, at least in part, by borrowing. Funds borrowed by students covered more than half of the cost (53 percent), while money students earned, including income and savings, paid for 24 percent. Grants, fellowships, scholarships, and tuition waivers accounted for 15 percent, while eight percent of grad school costs came from funds borrowed or contributed by parents or others.

The study also reveals that scholarships and grants are less available for grad students than for undergrads, accounting for just 15 percent of grad school costs. In response, Sallie Mae announced a new Bridging the Dream Scholarship for Graduate Students that will award four $20,000 scholarships in 2018. Students may apply by Feb. 14 by visiting SallieMae.com/BridgingtheDreamGrad.

To view the complete report, visit SallieMae.com/HowAmericaPaysGrad and join the conversation using #HowGradsPay.

As a graduate degree continues to become the educational norm, students will continue to plan and find creative ways to meet the cost. (StatePoint)

Texas Book Festival Presents Kids on Congress

November 4 and 5 Event Features Family Fun Activities with Children’s Authors, Games, and More

The Texas Book Festival is excited to announce Kids on Congress, an avenue at the annual Festival on November 4 and 5 packed with some of the nation’s most beloved children’s authors and picture book illustrators, family-friendly activities, and live music. Children’s book and author highlights include: Matt de la Peña, Margarita Engle, and Sarah Dessen. This year’s children’s author lineup also includes Mac Barnett, Lemony Snicket, Javaka Steptoe, Stuart Gibbs, and Ellen Oh.

On Saturday, November 4, and Sunday, November 5, at 1 p.m., there will be a live performance of the new H-E-B Buddy League Training Academy, a high-energy show with song and animation, at the H-E-B Children’s Tent on Congress Avenue. Kids can travel the Festival with their own Passport guiding them through Kids on Congress. When they collect four or more stickers at each Passport session, kids will receive a coupon for a free scoop of Amy’s Ice Cream.

Art activities, crafts, and live entertainment can be found at the Children’s Activity Tent and Entertainment Tent. Kids on Congress Tents will include the following:

The Read Me a Story Tent will feature stories read aloud every half hour by top authors, with illustrators creating picture books for younger readers. Highlighted authors include Matt de la Peña, Lesléa Newman, and Dan Santat.

The ¡Ahora Si! Tent! will feature bilingual storytimes in English and Spanish by authors Juana Martinez-Neal, Monica Brown, Cynthia Leonor Garza, and Jorge Argueta. The tent will also host a special presentation by this year’s winners of the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award: Francisco X. Stork, F. Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell, and Rafael López.

The Next Chapter Tent, brand new this year, will feature middle grade chapter book authors Andrew Clements, Margarita Engle, Gene Luen Yang, Ellen Oh, and many more talking on panels about everything from being funny on the page to dealing with family drama to being an inclusive friend, reader, and citizen.

The YA HQ Tent will include two days of panels featuring young adult authors Sarah Dessen, Erika L. Sanchez, Jeff Zentner, Tochi Onyebuchi, Maggie Stiefvater, and more discussing fantasy, real life, writing mega-bestsellers, and brand new, buzz-worthy debuts.

In addition to the tents on Congress Avenue, the Festival will welcome many other great kids’ authors at venues around the Festival grounds. The full schedule and details on each session can be found here.

  • Saturday 11-11:45 a.m. We Love You, Mac Barnett!
    • Location: Capitol Auditorium
  • Saturday 1:15-2 p.m. Raid of No Return: Nathan Hale and His Hazardous Tale!
    • Location: Capitol Auditorium
  • Saturday 12:30-1:15 p.m. Katherine Paterson and Peter Sís In Conversation
    • Location: First United Methodist Church
  • Saturday 1-1:45 p.m. The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid with Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis
    • Location: Omni Hotel Ballroom
  • Saturday 2:30-3:15 p.m. Illustrating American History with Kadir Nelson and Don Tate
    • Location: Capitol Auditorium
  • Sunday 11-11:45 a.m. Bad Moods, Be Gone! with Lemony Snicket
    • Location: House Chamber
  • Sunday 12:30-1:15 p.m. The Wonderful World of William Joyce
    • Location: Capitol Auditorium
All events at Kids on Congress are free and open to the public. The complete Texas Book Festival schedule is available at http://www.texasbookfestival.org/festival-schedule/.

The 2017 Texas Book Festival is co-presented by H-E-B and AT&T. Other major sponsors include Kirkus Reviews, Brigid Cockrum and Family, Tocker Foundation, Buena Vista Foundation, C-SPAN 2/Book TV, St. David’s HealthCare, Texas Capital Bank, Texas Monthly, Austin American-Statesman, and Pentagram.

Paving the Way to College: 4 Things Parents Need to Know

Senior year: It’s a time to finish college applications, solidify friendships and look forward to the freedom and the responsibility that come once that final bell rings. A lot of feelings surface during that final year, especially for parents. While your son or daughter might be overjoyed to finally fly the coop and live independently, you’ll probably be dealing with your own mix of emotions, and you’ll want to be sure they’re ready to begin college in the fall.

For families with a child headed to college, senior year is best thought of as a transition year. Plan ahead to make sure your family stays on track.

To help you and your child with a successful transition, here’s the essential list of landmarks on the road that will take your child from a senior in high school to a freshman in college.

1. Apply yourself in the fall

The journey to college begins early, and by the fall of senior year in high school, your child should be in full transition mode. They should be finishing campus visits and finalizing the list of colleges where they want to apply. Make sure they’ve spoken with admission counselors, thoroughly researched schools they’re interested in and have everything they need to complete their college applications.

Keep tabs on important deadlines and stay organized to avoid missing any critical due dates. For example, will they want to apply early decision or early action? If so, make sure you have weighed how this could impact your financial plan for college.

2. Focus on financial aid from the start

For many parents, one of the biggest anxieties around college is the cost. Don’t forget that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) opens on Oct. 1, and some aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. Make sure you submit the form as soon as it’s available.

Because everyone has different needs, figuring out how to finance your child’s education requires some research.

At College Ave Student Loans, you can find private loan options for parents and students. Even if you’re not ready to take a loan out yet, parents and students can try out the fast and easy pre-qualification tools to find out if their credit pre-qualifies for a loan, and what interest rates they could expect, all without impacting their credit scores. Calculators are also available to help you explore your options and see how you can customize the loan payments to fit your budget.

3. Spring time is decision time

Early in the spring, your child will start to receive their first acceptance letters. Once they’ve heard from all of the schools where they applied, they’ll have a big decision to make.

They need to do more than just decide which school to attend; they’ll also need to send in a deposit, complete their housing form and accept financial aid packages.

A crucial step in this process is comparing award letters from the colleges where your child has been accepted. In reading these letters, pay close attention to how schools list the total costs. For instance, some schools will subtract the awarded loan amount from the total cost of attendance, while others will not. This could make the net cost of some schools appear less than others when in reality they are not, so take your time reading the documents.

4. Tie up everything in the summer

Before they head to campus, you and your children should create a budget to keep tabs on college bills. This will help you to stay on track financially and set the right expectations about how they need to manage their money.

You can help your soon-to-be freshman by working with them to outline a monthly budget that will take into account expected and unexpected expenses. Take a look at their financial aid packages and any income they might be earning and block out the monthly mandatory expenses. Then decide how much money they can spend on things like entertainment.

If you find that scholarships, grants and federal aid don’t cover everything, private loans could be one solution for some college-bound students.

For parents and students, senior year is an exciting period. Knowing what steps to take and staying ahead of financial matters with useful tools like the ones at College Ave Student Loans can help make the transition easier for everyone. (BPT)

Texas Teen Book Festival Announces 2017 Schedule

Young Adult Book Festival to Feature All-Star Author Sessions, Panels, Workshops, Book Signings, Interactive Space, Costume Contest, and More
 
The Texas Teen Book Festival announced recently the full schedule for the 2017 edition, taking place on Saturday, October 7 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at St. Edward’s University. This year’s Festival features an exciting program with opening keynote speaker Marie Lu and closing keynote speaker Jason Reynolds; panels and sessions by award-winning authors, including Lizzie Velásquez, Tillie Walden, Jennifer Mathieu, I. W. Gregorio, Mackenzi Lee, and Julie Murphy; plus book signings, educational workshops, a costume contest sponsored by Epic Reads, and the first-ever iTent.“It is finally time to announce the 2017 Texas Teen Book Festival schedule and we can stop struggling to keep secrets!” says TTBF Festival Director Shawn Mauser. “We are so excited to announce this program that has been in the works since January. We hope to see everyone out for a celebration of reading, authors, and the teens who love them!”The jam-packed festival day will begin at 8 a.m. and features panels, keynotes, and events, including:

  • 8 a.m. – TTBF Bookstore Opens, Alumni Gym
  • 8:30 a.m. – Early Bird Signings
    • Featuring: Marie Lu, Jason Reynolds, E. Lockhart, and Stephanie Perkins
  • 10 a.m. – Official Welcome and Opening Keynote at RCC Gym
    • Featuring: Marie Lu
  • 11:15 a.m. – Panel: To Thine Own Self Be True, at RCC Gym
    • Featuring Jason Reynolds, Zac Brewer, Tillie Walden, Renée Watson, and Corrie Wang
  • 11:15 a.m. – Panel: Me + You = Fate at Mabee Ballroom
    • Featuring Kathryn Ormsbee, Mackenzi Lee, Julie Murphy, Adam Silvera, and Jenna Evans Welch
  • 11:15 a.m. – Panel: The Ties That Blind at Jones Auditorium
    • Featuring Sandhya Menon, Amy Tintera, Jessica Taylor, Peter Bognanni, and Andrew Shvarts
  • 11:15 a.m. – Badgerdog Poetry Workshop 1 at Fleck Hall, Room 314
  • 11:15 a.m. – Barrio Writers Workshop at the Library, Room 141
  • 11:15 a. m. – Book Signings
  • 12:30 p.m. – Panel: Where I Belong: Stories of Immigration, Resilience, and Hope at RCC Gym
    • Featuring Mitali Perkins, Adi Alsaid, Francisco X. Stork, and Diana J. Noble
  • 1:30 p.m. – Special Speaker at RCC Gym
    • Featuring Lizzie Velásquez
  • 2:30 p.m. – Panel: Smart is the New Black at Mabee
    • Featuring Marie Lu, Ashley Poston, Kerri Maniscalco, and Ryan Graudin
  • 2:30 p.m. – Panel: Fierce Reads at Jones Auditorium
    • Featuring Mitali Perkins, Caleb Roehrig, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Jennifer Mathieu
  • 2:30 p.m. – WNDB Educator Workshop at Library, Room 142
  • 2:30 p.m. – Book Signings
  • 3:15 p.m. – Epic Reads Costume Contest Judging at RCC Gym
  • 3:30 p.m. – Panel: Of Myth & Mystery at Mabee Ballroom
    • Featuring E. Lockhart, Stephanie Perkins, Julie Buxbaum, David Bowles, and Cory Putman Oakes
  • 3:30 p.m. – Panel: It’s Time to Save the World… Again at Jones Auditorium
    • Featuring Cindy Pon, Aditi Khorana, Erin Bowman, Lisa Maxwell, and S.J. Kincaid
  • 3:30 p.m. – Badgerdog Workshop 2 at Fleck Hall, Room 314
  • 3:30 p.m. – Educator Workshop 2: AISD Educator Book Club with Adi Alsaid at the Library, Room 142
  • 3:30 p.m. – Book Signings
  • 4:15 p.m. – Opening to Closing Note: Essay Presentation at RCC Gym
  • 4:30 p.m. – Closing Note Speaker Jason Reynolds at RCC Gym
  • 5:30 p. m. – Final Group Signing
In addition to panels and workshops throughout the day, the Festival will feature:
  • Writing workshops hosted by Badgerdog and Barrio Writers at 11:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Badgerdog is a writing program of the Austin Public Library Foundation for writers of all ages and skill levels, and Barrio Writers is a creative writing program that provides free college level writing workshops to teenagers in underserved communities.
  • A We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) workshop led by Dhonielle Clayton, COO of WNDB, to discuss using diverse books in the classroom at 2:30pm. This workshop is specifically programmed for educators, who will also hear about WNDB’s new app, “Our Story,” a useful book-finding tool for teachers, librarians, and students. “Our Story” offers cool content from authors as well as WNDB-themed curriculum and material perks. This event is for pre-registered attendees only, and reservations are available via the Texas Teen Book Festival website.
  • An Austin ISD Adult Book Club and an Educator Book Club Discussion with Adi Alsaid at 3:30pm. This kick-off meeting will give adult readers the opportunity to meet Alsaid and discuss his latest novel, North of Happy.
  • Additionally, this will be the first year for the iTent. This interactive space is designed to bring YA fans closer to their favorite authors and will offer opportunities to learn, create, and share. Book Talks, Zine Making, and Ask Me Anything sessions will all take place in the iTent. Full iTent schedule to be announced closer to the Festival.
TTBF is presented in collaboration with the Texas Book Festival, BookPeople, a dedicated team of librarians, and venue sponsor St. Edward’s University. The program is made possible in part by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.TTBF remains free and open to the public thanks to generous donors, sponsors, and dozens of committed volunteers. For more information, please visit www.texasteenbookfestival.org and keep up with announcements at Facebook.com/TexasTeenBookFestival, and on Twitter and Instagram @TXTeenBookFest.

3 Easy DIY STEM Projects for Kids

Looking for hands-on activities to engage your kids? It’s never too early to introduce them to important STEM subjects at home.

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. These subjects are critical for all students to learn because they are required for so many careers in the future. In fact, STEM jobs are growing faster than any other U.S. sector, according to Wired magazine.

If you’re looking for fun, hands-on STEM projects to do with your child, 4-H is a tremendous resource! 4-H utilizes exciting topics like robotics, rocketry, computer science and even electrical engineering to teach youth problem solving, creative and critical thinking, and build excitement for technology and STEM careers. To reach more youth with STEM programs, the National 4-H Council has partnered with HughesNet, America’s #1 choice for satellite Internet, to help introduce youth to hands-on, community-based STEM learning. HughesNet is a national sponsor of 4-H National Youth Science Day (4-H NYSD), the world’s largest youth-led STEM challenge. 4-H NYSD projects can be used by local clubs, families, homeschoolers and teachers to give youth a fun way to learn about STEM.

Here are three exciting NYSD STEM projects that are so much fun, your child will think it’s playtime, not work time.

Project 1: Incredible Wearables

The FitBit and Apple Watch craze have inspired “Incredible Wearables” — the 2017 NYSD experiment. Designed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, this project teaches students how circuits, sensors and health data can be blended with fashion to create a wearable tech product.

To get started, visit https://shop4-h.org/ to order an affordable kit that provides everything needed for up to eight kids to make their very own wearable fitness devices. These wearables can track heart rate, steps and more! Best yet, the kits are reusable so they can have fun building, designing and testing their tracker time and time again.

Project 2: Drone Discovery

For children excited by aeronautics and design, Drone Discovery enables youth to explore how drone engineering and remote sensing can be used to solve real-world problems, such as helping a community develop climate change resiliency and energy sustainability. To succeed in this challenge, youth need to think like an engineer as they design, build and test drones. There are many different kinds of engineers and different ways to approach a challenge. What kind of engineer do you think you’ll need to be to master drone technology? The engineering design process has three basic steps: define, design and optimize.

Project 3: Rockets to the Rescue

Rockets to the Rescue is a competitive project, enabling youth to design and build a rocket that could be used to transport food and deliver supplies to disaster victims. This project, which is incredibly timely with major storms hitting the United States, teaches engineering concepts, math skills, nutrition and how to help solve a relevant, global issue.

The possibilities are endless

From simple building blocks to tackling science kits and constructing robots, there are plenty of STEM projects guaranteed to pique your child’s interest. Not only are you spending quality time with them having fun, but you’re also helping them learn critical STEM skills that will positively impact their future. To learn about other fun STEM activities, visit www.hughesnet.com/4h and www.4h.org.

Try This Science-backed Way to Learn in Your Sleep

The brain never rests. If you’ve shared a room with a sleep-talker or woken from an intense dream, it’s pretty clear the brain is always active, even during sleep.

If we better understand what is happening up there while we rest, perhaps we can direct that activity into something meaningful that improves our lives. Did you know that, for example, sleeping can help you learn a new language? Recent research has shown that while we sleep our brains are solidifying memory, and that has implications for our language skills.

Despite what we’ve seen in science fiction, it turns out that learning in your sleep does not happen by osmosis. You still have to learn the words while you’re awake.

To use an example on how to do this, take the word “tulo.” Before you go to bed tonight, repeat to yourself, “Tulo means sleep.” That’s what it means in the language of Chichewa, which is spoken in the countries of Zambia and Malawi. When you lie down and close your eyes, say it a few more times. “Tulo means sleep.”

What does the brain do while we’re sleeping?

In order to understand how you can use sleep to help you commit the word “tulo” to memory, it’s important to understand something about sleep and brain science.

When you think about it, sleep doesn’t make a lot of sense from an evolutionary standpoint. We hate to lose all that productivity, not to mention that sleep makes animals in the wild vulnerable to predators. We still don’t fully understand why we sleep, but as scientists study sleep in humans and animals, its benefits keep emerging and unfolding. For example, scientists have discovered that sleep flushes toxins from our brains, and dreaming helps us process emotional events.

In 2014, scientists from the Swiss National Science Foundation published study results in the journal “Cerebral Cortex” that could help your “tulo” game. Here, 60 German-speaking students were asked to memorize some Dutch words before 10 p.m., words that were unfamiliar to them. Half the students were then allowed to sleep. As they slept, recordings of the words were played for them. Meanwhile, the other half stayed awake, listening to the recordings.

At 2 a.m., scientists tested the knowledge of the two groups. (The first group was awakened and the second group was still awake.) The group that had slept recalled more Dutch words than the group that stayed awake.

Another finding lends startling insight as to why the sleeping minds might have had better recall. Brain scans taken from the sleeping subjects indicate that their brains responded to the spoken words, helping them solidify a meaningful connection with the words.

Tips for learning in your sleep

Before you leap into your language study, give it a test run with “tulo.” Follow these three steps to see if the insights from the brain and sleep studies help you commit the word to your memory.

Prime the mind: Again, this learning does not happen by osmosis. Before you sleep, it’s important to spend some time with the word “tulo.” Write it down, say it to yourself in a sentence, and tell others about it. “Tulo means sleep.” That alone may or may not be enough to help you remember what you need to know, but at the very least, you are creating the conditions.

Create a good sleep environment: You can’t get the full benefits of sleep if you’re not getting enough of it, and that also applies when you’re trying to memorize new words. In order to capture these full benefits, make sure you set yourself up for the best possible night’s sleep. Stay away from caffeinated beverages four to six hours before bedtime, exercise regularly, and keep your bedroom dark and quiet, and at the right temperature. Make sure you’re going to bed and waking at the same time every day.

Play a recording: Make a recording of yourself saying, “Tulo means sleep,” and have it play on repeat for a few hours while you’re in dreamland. Be sure and have a sticky note posted near your bed to remind you when you wake up — “what’s that word you have to recall?” When you wake up and read it, chances are, the answer will come right out: “Tulo.” (BPT)

Best Bets for Back-to-School

School children raising their hands ready to answer the question.

School children raising their hands ready to answer the question.

Every family needs the right items on hand to ensure students are geared up to succeed in the classroom and on the playing field. These supplies and handy tools are designed to make back-to-school season easy as 1-2-3 for kids and parents alike.

A Sticky Solution

Art projects abound when a new school year begins and the perfect paper crafts require a secure bond that withstands transportation from school to home. An Elmer’s Re-Stick Glue Stick lets little hands fine-tune placement of different pieces for up to five minutes before a permanent bond forms. The sticks apply smoothly and dry clear for a mess-free appearance that is ideal for younger learners, as well as making poster presentations, crafts and more. See what ideas will stick for you at elmers.com.

Smart Sipping

Good hydration is important for overall health and keeping a water bottle by your side is one way to help ensure you’re keeping your intake steady throughout the day. The Contigo AUTOSPOUT Chug Water Bottle enables simple sipping on the go with its patented technology and high flow for quick, one-handed drinking. The vacuum-insulated stainless steel keeps beverages refreshingly cold for up to 24 hours, and a protective spout prevents leaks and helps keep out dirt and germs. Find more information at gocontigo.com.

Word-Wise

From creating spaces at home that help organize school paperwork to identifying personal items like laptops or calculators, an electric labeler makes short work of the job. The DYMO MobileLabeler offers Bluetooth connectivity for fast and easy setup, along with a voice-to-text feature and spellcheck to help save time. A free app lets you create the label via a smartphone using a wide variety of colors and font libraries then print the size you need from 1/4 inch-1 inch wide. Learn more at dymo.com.

Organize with Color

Keeping track of schedules, homework and other activities can be an exhausting chore, but a color-coded dry-erase board is one way to keep everything straight. A highly visible, low-odor ink like the one used in the EXPO Dry Erase Markers with Ink Indicator makes getting organized fun, plus the easy-to-see ink levels ensures you’ll never unknowingly run dry. The versatile chisel tip marks broad, medium and fine lines, and six bold and bright colors let you add a little creative flair to your efforts to bring order to the chaos. Check out these and other dry-erase tools at expomarkers.com.

A Cool Way to Refuel

A rigorous morning of academics calls for an energizing and nutritious lunch to power through the end of the school day. Rubbermaid BRILLIANCE Lunch containers are leak-proof with airtight latches and adjustable insert trays and dividers to create custom compartments inside. The ultra-durable material keeps the container stain-free and odor-free. They’re also BPA-free and safe for the dishwasher, microwave and freezer. Find this and other lunch solutions at rubbermaid.com.

Artwork for the Senses

Nothing sparks creativity like engaging all the senses, and an array of bold scents and vivid colors is the perfect combination for some inspired artwork. Mr. Sketch Scented Crayons come in a package of 12 and feature a twist design that means they never need sharpening. A hard plastic body reduces crayon breakage, making these instruments ideal for children as young as 3 years of age. Explore more crayons and tools to encourage creativity this school year at mrsketch.com.

A Bright Idea

Defining important text or keeping track of key calendar dates is easier with Sharpie Clear View Highlighters that feature a see-through tip that allows for precise highlighting. The versatile blade-style tip draws thick lines for highlighting or thin, defined lines for underlining, while specially formulated ink technology resists smudging of many pen and marker inks. Choose among four bright colors to make your mark and find additional answers to your highlighting needs at sharpie.com. (Family Features)