Climate Project presentation part of Environmental Week

Ileana Jones, former physics and middle school science instructor at Winsor School in Boston, MA and a member of Al Gore’s Climate Project, spoke to students and teachers about practical solution for climate change in the world. […]

Ileana Jones, former physics and middle school science instructor at Winsor School in Boston, MA and a member of Al Gore’s Climate Project, spoke to students and teachers about practical solution for climate change in the world. Jones was the head of the science department at her school for many years and when she retired, she wanted to continue her work. Training with various environmental groups, she quickly learned how to present the future issue of global warming. Jones saw Al Gores’ slideshows and movies explained further in order to get a better grasp on how to teach others about climate change. Today, she educates schools and groups about how to reduce global warming with a few simple steps. 

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Science students travel to Boston on field trip

Students in the Advanced Placement Biology class and the Authentic Science Research (ASR) class went on a field trip to Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) library and a Boston University (BU) lab and research seminar.

By Laurel Edington

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  Students in the Advanced Placement Biology class and the Authentic Science Research (ASR) class went on a field trip to Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) library and a Boston University (BU) lab and research seminar.

  According to ASR teacher Maria Burgess, “Both classes are the two upper-level science classes in the school and they have the appropriate level of thinking for the field trip.”

  After the bus arrived late because of a scheduling error, the two classes visited the MIT library.

  Students and teachers learned about MIT’s database resources. They were taught how to use MIT’s website to find other research papers and sources. Then, they toured other parts of the school, such as a library where nobody can talk and the basement that holds hundreds of research books and journals.

  Burgess said she took the ASR class to MIT in 2003. After that trip, each year the timing was wrong and other things came up, and she wasn’t able to put the trip together again until this year.

  Because the bus was late, the group could only tour one lab at BU; they had planned to visit two.

  Following the library, they went to BU, and a research student quickly showed them around a tissue-engineering lab.

  “The lab tour was my favorite. I loved learning about scientists’ work with capillary growth and seeing where it all happened,” senior ASR student Noah Prince said.

  The group walked across the street into another BU building to watch a seminar on how axons, which are the means for neural (brain) communication, are related to autism.

  According to Burgess, it was worthwhile because during the presentation, students were able to see other researchers interact.

  While ASR students read the research paper about the seminar beforehand, the AP Bio students did not.

 “I wish I understood [the seminar] better because it seemed interesting,” junior AP Bio student Daria Shnider said.

  Future classes will go on the field trip in the years to come.

  Burgess said she wants to do it every other year so every group of students can go once.

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Nicki Minaj achieves success as female rapper, releases debut album ‘Pink Friday’

Since the hip-hop/rap industry is predominantly comprised of males, success is inevitably difficult to attain for females, but phenomenon Nicki Minaj has triumphed with her debut album “Pink Friday,” reaching No. 3 for most-downloaded albums on iTunes.

By Hannah Daley

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  Since the hip-hop/rap industry is predominantly comprised of males, success is inevitably difficult to attain for females, but phenomenon Nicki Minaj has triumphed with her debut album “Pink Friday,” reaching No. 3 for most-downloaded albums on iTunes.

  The 25-year-old Trinidadian artist, whose real name is Onika Tanya Maraj, chose “Nicki Minaj” as her stage name when she entered the industry in 2004.

  She just released her new album but was already nominated for “Best New Artist” at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards in September.

  Although many of her lyrics are vulgar and aren’t meant for young kids to hear, Minaj undeniably conveys amazing musicality, wit, confidence, and range in her new album.

  Off of “Pink Friday,” songs such as “Right Thru Me,” “Roman’s Revenge,” and “Moment 4 Life” most accurately express these components.

  While “Right Thru Me” shows Minaj’s vulnerability by rapping about a frustrating relationship in which the other has “the peep hole to [her] soul,” and how she is “Tired of letting; Passive aggression; Control [her mind],” Minaj releases her anger in “Roman’s Revenge.”

  Minaj said in her MTV special “My Time Now” that Roman is the name of a boy inside her who says what she is too afraid to say. Even though the track contains a lot of cussing, she aggressively raps with confidence and swagger, proving that “she will remain where the top begins.”

  Although few females achieve success in the business, Minaj sets herself apart from the small number of thriving women with her enunciation and variety of different voices.

  For example, she sings the chorus in “Right Thru Me” and then raps the next verse; she also raps in a softer voice and then with a deeper and more aggressive-sounding one, depending on her attitude toward the lyrics.

  If confidence, intriguing lyrics, and range are what you look for in a rapper, download Minaj’s debut album for $11.99 on iTunes or individually download songs for $1.29 each.

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Website offers answers to intriguing questions

Causes of brain freeze, feet falling asleep, different taste perceptions

By Hannah Daley

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

What is physically happening when we get a “brain freeze?”

  According to wisegeek.com, researchers suggest that the excruciating headache people experience while eating or drinking something cold on a warm day results from the freezing of a cluster of nerves above the palate and a sudden influx of warm blood to the brain.

  The actual nerve the food or drink affects is the sphenopalatine nerve, which is extremely sensitive to abrupt changes in temperature. When the cold substance hits the roof of the mouth, this nerve sends a warning to the other nerves in the cluster so that the brain can prepare itself to expect a “major freeze.”

  One’s brain doesn’t actually freeze; however, the blood vessels surrounding the brain shrink as a reaction to the cold stimuli.

  This then results in a pounding headache due to pain receptors, but placing the tongue on the roof of the mouth to warm the palate can reduce the duration of this sensation, which usually lasts about 30 seconds.

Why do our feet fall asleep, and what is physically happening that gives us that tingling sensation?

  Paresthesia is the sensation that occurs when one’s foot “falls asleep,” according to reference.com.

  The sensation is caused by putting pressure on sensory nerves, which reduces blood supply to the local area and cuts off communication between the brain and nerves of the limb, causing numbness in the skin.

  After feeling numbness, the uncomfortable tingling and prickling sensation will occur; however, once pressure on the limb is released, nerve communication to the brain restores, and the sensation will subside.

Why do some foods taste gross to us while they may taste delicious to others?

  According to ilovebacteria.com, the more taste buds one has, the more intensely he/she perceives the tastes, especially bitter ones.

  People who are sensitive to strong flavors are called “supertasters” and can have up to twice as many taste buds as the others.

  While 25 percent of people are supertasters, 25 percent are non-tasters and 50 percent are medium tasters.

  Although many believe that taste is only dependent on their taste buds, it also depends on smell and how the brain reads signals from the tongue.

  The ability to smell and taste relies on about 1000 genes, and scientists recently discovered that about 50 of these genes are only active in some people, causing some to like a specific food while it may make others want to vomit.

  Everyone has different genes that switch on and off; therefore, he/she has different receptors for different flavors.

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Diversity Alliance works to raise holiday awareness through toy drive

Because of increasing domestic violence in the United States, the Diversity Alliance will spend the month of December educating students about the issue and raising awareness about various religious holidays celebrated throughout the month

By Ellen Burgess

INDEPENDENT STAFF

  Because of increasing domestic violence in the United States, the Diversity Alliance will spend the month of December educating students about the issue and raising awareness about various religious holidays celebrated throughout the month.

  The first event the Diversity Alliance is hosting is the widely recognized Toys for Help for Abused Women and Children (HAWC) toy drive. According to club adviser, M’Lena Gandolfi, the purpose of this event is centered on raising awareness about domestic violence.

  Toys for HAWC is an event the Diversity Alliance has been hosting for the past 12 years, and the abundance of toys received for the program has been overwhelming and allowed the Diversity Alliance to branch out to a second program called Wellspring, Gandolfi said.

  Wellspring is a new program senior Caroline Kiley introduced and does not focus solely on women and children but incorporates men as well; it is open to any homeless person.

  “Ten percent of domestic violence is against guys,” Gandolfi said.

   “Its fundamental goal is to provide security to the people in it, as well as a ‘restart point’ that offers classes and therapy sessions that help the women get back on their feet and get ready to re-start their lives,” Kiley said.

  According to Kiley, Wellspring involves various programs including the Holiday Store, a Soup Kitchen, and a Teen Mentor program, all of which help participants, both men and women, get back on their feet.

  Diversity Alliance is also sponsoring celebrations of holidays around the world. These holidays are related to either religion or culture. According to Gandolfi, in many schools, the focus of winter holidays is always centered on Christmas. Because of this, the club’s goal is to raise awareness of other holidays celebrated during December.

  “The overall goal of these events is to open kids’ eyes and raise awareness,” senior Hannah Beardsley said.

  “We want to try to create a tolerance for all differences that exist in so many venues,” Gandolfi said.

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HS students study for midterm exams

As the middle of the school year comes, the stress of midterms is in the air. Teachers are trying to squeeze in final second quarter grades while preparing for the upcoming exams. On top of studying all the material for each class, students are working to keep up their grades to end second quarter on a high note.

Students say time management plays a key role in trying to juggle all of the work given. The different studying techniques that students use help make the most of a person’s time. Sophomore Ellie Mortillaro says, “I write down the information over and over again or I use flashcards to memorize vocabulary and other information,” as her two main studying techniques. Other techniques consist of simply reading the information off of an outline or filling out a study guide given by a teacher. Teachers leave the decision up to the students as to how each person should study.

Whether the student chooses to study or not, midterms are here and the student body is scrambling to absorb as much information as possible.

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Art students visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

On January 11, thirty-eight MERHS students and four chaperones traveled to the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. 

Students were taken on specially designed tour of the newly opened Wing of the Americas.  Tours highlighted  ceramics and  works from the Cape Ann area, as well as other key highlights of the new galleries.  

MFA Tour guide Joseph DiFranco  summarized  students saying, “I enjoyed your group a lot.  They were both enthusiastic and insightful.”

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Nicholas Seafood and Grille mixes tradition, American cuisine with seafood

Nicholas Seafood and Grille, a new restaurant recently opened in Manchester at 40 Beach Street, has hopes of sticking around longer than previous businesses in the same location.

By Piper Browne

INDEPENDENT STAFF 

  Nicholas Seafood and Grille, a new restaurant recently opened in Manchester at 40 Beach Street, has hopes of sticking around longer than previous businesses in the same location.

  The restaurant has a tasty mix of seafood and other American cuisine, offering soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, beef, seafood, and dessert. The wide variety of foods, great atmosphere, and friendly staff all prove to be very promising for the new restaurant.

  Nicholas’ has moderate prices and is able to compete with other restaurants in town such as The Landing and Cala’s. One can get a soup or a salad for $5 to $8 and a burger, sandwich, or other entrée for under $20.

  The swordfish entrée was flavorful and crisp while the delicious key lime pie was tangy and light. The clam chowder was a perfect blend of clams and potatoes, and the haddock special was unique with tomato and basil surrounding it.

  The restaurant has a commodious location near the train, harbor, beach, and shopping area and should attract many tourists in the summer with outside seating. It has ample parking, including handicap parking spaces, and is wheelchair accessible.   

  Nicholas Seafood and Grille offers a warm and inviting atmosphere with a Christmas tree up for the holidays, lights surrounding the room, and comfortable table and chairs. It’s perfect for families because of the wide variety of foods and the additional kids menu. The bar and restaurant are separated enough so neither are intrusive of the other, but both are easily accessible.

  Although not technically family-owned, the staff are mostly family. Marcia O’Brian owns the restaurant. Her brother-in-law brings the fresh lobsters, and her nephew supplies the fresh clams. Both of her sisters work on the staff, and the new head chef, Manny Marques, is O’Brian’s cousin.

  Prior to working at Nicholas’, Marques spent 15 years working for the popular restaurant The Gull in Gloucester. He then spent five years at the Gloucester House and eight to nine years at Woodman’s, according to O’Brian.

  While The Landing and Cala’s have recently been taken over by their bars, Nicholas’ still remains a family restaurant, enticing for all ages. One can enjoy a quality and well-priced meal while being entertained by their full bar and wonderful staff.

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Seasonal change, activities revive eco-friendly methods

Going green is a movement where the success is based off of small efforts by individuals. According to www.epa.gov these different techniques change as the seasons change, and certain methods apply solely to wintertime.

 By Rebecca Lynch

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

 Going green is a movement where the success is based off of small efforts by individuals. According to www.epa.gov these different techniques change as the seasons change, and certain methods apply solely to wintertime.

  As the weather grows colder, people need to use more heat in their households. A leak connecting the interior to the harsh cold air decreases the temperature of the house. Examine windows and doors from leaks and use either plastic or weather stripping to fill it in. Leaks can also be found in electrical sockets and light switches. Those can be mended with an electrical socket insulator.

  Small fixes can make a huge difference in the temperature in the house. A small leak multiplied by multiple windows generates enough cold air to severely impact a room’s temperature. If the leaks are eliminated, people will not need to raise the thermostat. This will lower the heating bill while saving energy.

  Fireplaces are also a source for heat. Ashes can be mixed with compost to help gardens in the spring. Newspaper can be recycled into fireplace logs. Wrap paper around a piece of wood and soak it in water. After drying, the newspaper will function as a log.

  With winter comes snow, and the many existing snow removal methods are not eco-friendly.

  Snow must be wiped from the roads, but some substances are damaging to the environment.

  Non-toxic de-icing substances are more environmentally friendly and safer for plants and pets. Electronic snow removal products or snow shovels are preferable over gasoline-powered ones.

  Hordes of holiday shoppers can also adapt their habits to help the environment.

  Holiday festivities provide opportunities to reduce waste. Bring a reusable bag while shopping. If using store-provided bags, do not take one when purchasing small items.

  More energy-efficient products are tagged with an “Energy Star” label. Replacing home or office products with these updated ones will lower the energy bill.

   For a Christmas tree, check with the local waste department to see if there is an option to turn in and recycle the tree. Other options include using the trunks and branches as garden mulch. Tree needles can be used to make potpourri. A more creative use is transforming the tree into a bird feeder. Place the tree outside and scatter seeds and orange slices over the branches.

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Physics teacher brings new approach to robotics class

In addition to teaching physics, Steve Cogger teaches the robotics class.

By Molly Friedman

INDEPENDENT EDITOR

  In addition to teaching physics, Steve Cogger teaches the robotics class.  

  Beginning the year using NXT LEGOs, students learned the basic ways to program and design their own robots. Cogger said the LNX LEGOs teach the students the basic ways to move a robot from a starting point to an ending point and how to set it to respond to the specific surrounding environment.

  Cogger assigned several projects to accustom the students to the robot designing process in order to move on to the next step.

  “Whether it was having the robot follow a line of black tape or having it drive between a maze and hit a button at the end, students were constantly being tested on their ability to design a robot,” he said.

  As the class progressed, he added new projects to the curriculum that were not part of last year’s course.

  After writing a proposal over the summer and receiving a grant, Cogger received money from the Lab Research Interest Group, which allowed him to obtain certain materials to use for future projects.

 With the money, Cogger set up seven different robot platforms that allow each student to focus on his or her main point of interest with a group.  The students then get together to build their own robot using the provided materials.

  Cogger said students are constantly being tested and graded on their progress.   He believes the best way to grade a student is to get an accurate idea of how the student works over time.

  Freshman Josh Brewster chose to work with the Tetrix and NXT group where he uses the LEGOs to create his robot.

   “I chose to work with these materials in order to see how they work together,” Brewster said.

    Junior Julien Gilbert chose to work on how a wireless PS2 controller can control an Arduino-powered car. An Arduino is a programmable mock brain that is able to attach to any object and be programmed to do anything. 

  Gilbert is also a member of the Robotics Club that meets after school and differs from the robotics class. The club is able to enter competitions and is not counted as fulfilling a science requirement. .

  “I’ve always had an interest in science, especially technology, and taking this class would give me an advance over the other kids in the club,” Gilbert said.

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