2007.03.21 Packing on the pounds is a real science

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

There’s a real shortage of math and science teachers in this country and a shortage of kids eager to go into math and science related professions. I don’t know why that it is. Math and science have such practical applications in the real world. Take that business about energy. You know how we learned in high school that it’s neither created or destroyed? Or is it matter they were talking about? Both? Whatever. You see examples of that law of physics all the time.

Weight loss is a prime example. People all around me are losing weight like crazy. And where do you think all those pounds go? That’s right, on my hips, thighs and stomach. I found them there again, wrapped around my abdomen in abundance, when I was trying on clothes at a resale shop this weekend.

It’s a closed system, weight loss—whenever someone loses pounds, someone gains. I don’t know what the practical applications are of that bit of physics, but I’m thinking I might have to seek out new friends and maybe even change my job given the rate of gain going on around my girth.

I suppose you can guess I wasn’t much of a physics student. I learned enough to do well on tests, but then all those facts flew out the window of my brain soon after passing the New York State Regents Exam. Science was just something to muddle through when I was in school, but now it’s getting pretty lucrative. High schoolers should wise up and get excited about math and science—there will be a payoff as early as the college years. The federal government is so worried about the shortage of students in those fields, it’s offering National SMART grants.

SMART (Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent) is a new program for junior and senior college students and it pays up to $4,000 a year for each of the third and fourth academic years. So students would have to first slug through those horrible introductory courses that turned this budding soil scientist into a social science major. The catch of course is that students have to pursue a major in physical, life, or computer sciences, engineering, technology, mathematics or a critical-need foreign language.

I don’t know what languages they’re talking about—Chinese would be among them, I’d wager—but a kid would be pretty smart to consider heading into one of those math and science fields. Just think, if there were lots of science-oriented kids studying the brain, they might be able to figure out how to get people to curtail eating and increase exercise when they see the pounds adding up on the scale and the inches on the tape measure tell them their pants aren’t going to fit today. Mathematicians could figure out how many pounds are lost and how to make sure they are gained elsewhere—across the world even—by people who could stand to use a few more pounds.

For this undisciplined lover of food, it’s going to take an educational revolution to impact my eating habits—or maybe even the powers of a magician. If science and magic combined forces, maybe they could figure out a way to make fattening food disappear when you think about eating it. I suspect it will entail employing that other law of physics called “now you see it, now you don’t.”

     March 21. 2007

 

  • Front.rest
    TAKE A BREAK—Last Wednesday’s session of Stair District Library’s Summer Reading Program ended with a quiet period in a class presented by yoga instructor Melany Gladieux of Toledo. Children learned a variety of yoga poses in the main room at the library, then finished off the session relaxing. Additional photos are on page 7. Area children are invited to visit the library today when the Michigan Science Center presents a flight program at 11 a.m. and roller coasters at 1 p.m.
  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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