Saturday, May 15, 2021

School

World For All

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This Image is taken from the official website of World For All.

By Aahana Khemani

In Mumbai, there are thousands of stray dogs. What happens to these poor and virtuous dogs? Many are unfortunate and just live their precious lives’ on the roads while others die due to car accidents etc… Although, there are also plenty of organizations that help them find a soul-guardian and some just take care of them for very long. One of these organizations is named ‘World For All.’ They take care of not only stray dogs but stray cats too! Ms. Leslie and a few MYP students volunteered to help WFA this semester, and began their service in February. WFA’s goal is to reduce animal overpopulation, rehabilitate animals, and change the Indian perception of stray animals. Let’s take a look at how they work, what is the feel of WFA’s campus and, how you can help!

The campus is super welcoming and playful, describe our fellow MYP service ninja students. They have around a hundred dogs. It is also just super exciting and attractive. It makes you want to come again. Seeing the innocent little puppy eyes, the cute little smiles, tails wagging… It’s splendid and a lot of fun, say many of the students who helped out. “My favorite part of the World For All centre,” remarks Ms. Leslie, “is that it’s situated on a huge movie studio campus in Jogeshwari! It’s like you’re in a rural village in Mumbai, but they’re really just hollowed out sets! One day we got to watch a movie being filmed and they even scolded us for being too loud and excited!”

How does World For All help? Well, the organization has ambulances that help them retrieve all the cats and dogs that are injured or not in a stable condition. They help the injured animals by teaming them with vets. They also help the future stray dogs and cats (in case there will be any) by recruiting and educating students from schools.World For All works to teach the students how to co-exist, so that the coming human generation treats stray animals respectfully and well, not just their over-bred counterparts, such as the unfortunate huskies seen in Mumbai. Finally, they help the stray animals find their perfect parent by having a long-form the might-be-guardian has to fill out. If WFA thinks that the guardian will take good care of the dog/cat, then the dog/cat is theirs!

These innocent and hopelessly hopeful animals need you! Let’s talk about how you can help them. You can start by following them on Instagram. Next, you can always volunteer to help them accomplish their mission. Additionally, you have that good feeling of helping others, be it human or aliens. Another thing you could do is adopt them, or foster during this isolated time! I’m sure they’d really appreciate having a nice companion and you could get entertained too! Tarana from Grade 6 adopted a dog. She said “When we decided to get Choco, we needed to plan this whole thing. My mom and dad went to pick him up halfway from the shelter. When he came, he was a small puppy, and you could feel his ribs when you touched him. We fed him and soon he was playing around, and being a naughty frisky puppy. I think it’s good to get a dog during the quarantine. Vets and pet shops are essential services, and it will bring you more happiness than ever. We got Choco from WFA. World for All is doing all they can to help and feed dogs, and because of quarantine, the dogs are getting abandoned more than usual” Last but not least, you could donate! These stray animals need now, more than ever, to be fed while their normal feeders are staying inside. Check out their website in order to get the details. You can contact them via the website too! In case you’d like to donate via Pay TM, scan the QR code attached below! Please fill in the form if you have donated! It is just to keep track of how much money Ascend has raised. We would really like you to fill it, but if you cannot or don’t feel comfortable it’s okay! 

After some superior interviewing and investigation, we have come to the conclusion that WFA is a very friendly organization. They hope for nothing but the best for all of their four-legged friends! It would be extremely considerate and generous if you could donate, volunteer, etc… For any further assistance please contact Ms. Leslie and fellow WFA volunteers from our school! Just wanted to let you guys know, we are super proud of you for helping these lovely cats & dogs! @MsLeslie @Tarana @Xai @Arvid @Aahana @Meera 

Covid 19’s Effect on Different School Boards

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The Ascent Claims no Ownership over this image.

By Tara Hebbar

Covid-19 has had a large and lasting impact on every walk of life. Though we are lucky enough to be able to continue to learn and grow every day, some have no access to school in such unpredictable and unprecedented times. We use technology not only for our online learning curriculum but also for our schooling in more regular and normal circumstances hence making our transition to online school a quick, smooth, and efficient one. What we need to realize is that we need to count our blessings because not everyone has the same privileges as we do. In this article, I will be outlining the similarities and mainly differences — and comparing the IB and State boards — in how the pandemic has affected the education of their students respectively.

Let’s start with the International Baccalaureate (IB) learning system. As I had stated above, it is already designed in a way that makes the shift to online school, not a colossal task. Nevertheless, teachers and school administrators have had to work tirelessly to design a comprehensive and collaborative classroom so that students can learn and grow even through a screen. Classrooms in these systems have been optimized in such a way that even a subject as practical as math can be taught over a google meet or zoom call. With this setup, not only are students gaining knowledge, but they are also developing new skills and adjusting to change because of the challenges this lockdown and pandemic have brought to us. 

In Ascend International School, teachers have discovered new sites that are so engaging that they might be used even when things do return to their usual ways such as Padlet, MURAL, and several others. Our students have adapted to this way of learning so well that apart from the social interactions in school, we aren’t missing much. If we go to the further critique of this system, of course, many problems can be found, but as we complain about things such as “too much screen time” or “too much homework”, there are people who are dying to get their promised education but can’t afford it.

These people may go to school but as this pandemic continues to wreak havoc, many of their parents are not only losing their jobs but their entire livelihoods. Moreover, with school shifting online, they cannot afford a device to have their kids continue learning in times like this. Though governments and schools respectively are trying their best to lessen the load by introducing systems such as one that breaks school into two parts, with students having the option to attend either one so that siblings can share the same device. Even with all this, many people cannot attend school. Needless to say, there is also a bright side to this story, where there are tons of people and organizations that are supplying people with electronics, and even sponsoring entire educations.

Another aspect is the exam factor, while we base the bulk of our grade on summatives, State board schools and government schools base theirs out of exams, without which the distinction between a person passing or failing a grade is lost. Though many schools have introduced exams using tools such as forms, it is near impossible for all of them to achieve this, especially if students aren’t unable to gain access to an electronic device. Another problem that students are taught using textbooks that are grade specific and not always available online, without which learning for them is extremely difficult and inconvenient. In the early stages of the lockdown where everything was closed on a mandatory basis, these textbooks were not available to those who were in desperate need of them, making it harder to teach and learn. Another difficulty is the sheer number of students per class, in government schools, there are a large number of students in each class. It is already a burden for the teachers to control classes when they are in the school building but making sure so many students are muted, understanding, have their videos on, is a tremendously large task for teachers and doesn’t provide an environment for students to learn.

Instead of complaining about what we have, we cherish it and be grateful for where we stand and everything that we have access too. While kids aren’t able to go to school, we can have clubs, classes, and even sports right in the safety of our homes. We should also use this privilege as a means to help those who aren’t as fortunate as we are. There are multiple ways, from giving the people around you, who are facing this problem a laptop, to fundraising or donating to organizations. The COVID – 19 pandemic has already handed these people so many problems and if anything made people like me realize how thankful we should be. As every profession contributes to helping our world fight this battle, we as students and people who receive a great education should also be playing our part by helping those who don’t.

Ascend Run As One with SunFeast!

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Source - https://www.procam.in/news/procam-international-launches-sunfeast-india-run-as-one

by Diya Barmecha

This year has been a struggle in every way. Each person is fighting their own battles from finance problems to mental health problems. Since February of this year it has been estimated that over 140 million Indians have lost their jobs. Around 75% of these people were small labourers who had migrated from their village to metropolitan areas for work. This one of a kind virtual experience is being hosted in India for the first time. From anywhere in the world that you are, you can contribute!

There people are the ones who will benefit from Sunfeast’s Run As One. They plan on giving money to help them get out of financial crisis, health benefits and get a new job. Currently, people in the working class are struggling  to get a stable job and simultaneously keep their family safe. To be healthy now and earlier is a great difference. Earlier all that needed to be done is eat healthy and to exercise once in a while to be fit. However, during this pandemic you need to wear a mask constantly to sanitise and wash your hands. People working on an everyday basis also need to invest in a ppe kit to keep themselves safe. This situation has benefited people to get time to do what they want but there are some people who won’t get that time because  they are busy trying to keep themselves alive.

This initiative is powered by GiveIndia to help those in poverty. Their actions have impacted more than 7.5 million lives across India. Ashok Kumar the president of GiveIndia says. “We are super excited to be partnering with Procam International in a first-of-its-kind virtual event, encouraging individuals and organisations to participate and raise funds for an extremely pertinent cause – livelihoods.” Started on this 74th Independance day, this 30-day initiative aims to get 211,344 kms (The distance from Kashmir to Kanyakumari multiplied by the year of independence). This great distance will be achieved by the help of everyone in India and maybe beyond. They hope to get this distance and also help the livelihoods.

Our school has taken a step in the right direction and registered everyone eligible for this initiative (students from 6th grade and above). Starting from 3rd September those who want to participate, can help the Run As One campaign to get to their desired outcome. Even though people don’t participate, the school has gone to the means to educate everyone about this in the best possible way. We had a guest speaker, a former footballer and a dear friend to Ascend who was the core member of organising this event. As of 3rd September they have reached a total number of participants of 14,123 and a total number of kilometres run as 7,70,118. Just a little help on your part and their dream can be a reality. Just by pledging a certain amount of kilometres per week you can make a huge difference. From 1 kilometer to 100, you can pledge as you deem fit.

Ranging from Rs.99 – Rs.999, you can contribute in any way you can. Lets Run As One and help people get their Livelihoods back. 

For further details and to make an impact in many lives, visit the website:

https://sunfeastindiarunasone.procam.in/

The Play Date

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This article is part of The Ascent Summer Program 2020

By Arthur F. Beaugard

After the conclusion of my explosive dramatic performance, I was honored with a round of thunderous applause as I scampered off the stage.

Before I was in this play, I never considered myself to be an outrageous ham who was obsessed with fame and fortune. After the play, I had already grown accustomed to this role and now entertained pipe dreams of making a name for myself in Hollywood. 

The play, which was the culmination of a year’s worth of blood, sweat, and tears (but mostly blood) in a drama class, was something that we, as a group, had been stumbling through at regular intervals for months. I initially only signed up for the class because I possessed a strong aversion to the guitar course, to the jazz course, and to the choir course, for I am, perhaps, the most musically-challenged individual I have ever met.

In the beginning, I struggled. The plot, which featured a couple of weathered sleuths hunting down some jerk who was switching around the street signs, seemed abstruse. My character, who was a guy that didn’t commit the crime but ended up admitting to littering and jaywalking out of nervousness, had a neurotic manner which it seemed I would have some difficulty replicating. The fierce and brutal nature of his emotions was challenging to play for someone as reserved as myself.

To paraphrase Dale Carnegie, education is buffoonery—there are plenty of educated fools. Intelligence is hogwash—there are plenty of educated failures. What matters—above all else—is persistence. Without persistence, man is nothing. So although the task seemed daunting,

I persisted. Every bus ride, every shower, and every night before I slumbered, I repeated my lines. I repeated them until they were not lines on a page anymore but living, breathing bursts of emotion which I uttered automatically.

At the dress rehearsal, my performance seemed forced and dreary. Many men would have given up at that moment, but I kept practicing. On the first showing of the play, I gave a highly praised performance, and I kept improving so that during the second show, I gave a performance that defied all expectations and cemented my legend in the schoolyard. The sense of accomplishment was profound and it made me enter a dream-like sweat-drenched state of deep thought. I left that school that summer, but not without my name etched into the brains of those hapless children.

A Journey to Confidence

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By Diya Barmecha

This article is part of The Ascent’s Summer Program 2020

Commitment, Confidence, Resilience, Vision, Integrity.

These are all things that a good leader has. Some things that I don’t have. A good leader can keep composure and make tough decisions, they need to be so confident in themselves that people can follow them. It is a hard job, a full-time commitment. Times when you aren’t being a leader and you just need to be alone, there are people looking. Every time you make a mistake there are people following you. However, every time you do something great there are others sharing your happiness. 

When I went into fifth grade, I was a happy child with my focus only on studying and learning more. I entered my fifth-grade classroom with a smile on my face and excited for my first year of independence and my first year of non-integrated sciences. My childish beliefs hid me from the reason everyone else was excited. This year there was going to be a captain for each house. Blue house was the house I had been in since I entered the school. That was my home. That documented all my wins, football matches, multiple chess tournaments and sports days. 

A captain meant that I had to lead the blue house and guide them. I knew that I was a good-hearted person with commitment but I didn’t have confidence. I could never believe in myself, but I did believe in others. I believed that everyone could do everything if they tried. The day of selection, you had to be nominated by a teacher and seconded by a student. I sat nervously, I wanted to get nominated but I was scared. There was no word that could describe the emotion I was feeling. The second that I heard my name being called out by a teacher and a student, I sighed and smiled. A lot of my friends and classmates looked at me and I was sure that they were thinking something along the lines of, “I thought all she cared about was studies, how can she lead?”

I put my heart into the campaign, designed a logo and a slogan. I was so excited, even if I didn’t win, I made friends with a lot of other grades and people. The hardest part of the campaign was the speech I had to give in front of the entire school. I had prepared a speech like everyone else, they all had a quote and other things that made it sound very interesting. When I went up, I shared a story, a story about who I’m not the usual person to run for and why I did. I think I inspired a lot of people.

At the start, I was nervous about talking in front of so many people but as I progressed with the story, I got a few laughs and smiles. By that time, I was very comfortable. Those people become my family.

The voting system was anonymous and each student’s vote was one point. The teacher’s vote was 10 points. The entire student body knew that I was going to get all the teacher votes because I was the ideal student, work always done on time, asked great questions, helped peers. Nobody expected me to run for the captain and so no one realised that I could win because I would get most of my points because of the teachers. In the end, I did win, I won by a big advantage. All the teachers voted for me because I was a great student and a natural leader. All the people in my class voted for me because they knew that if they broke a few rules I would let it go. All the younger grades voted for me because I believed in them and I believed that they could always become better. 

Becoming a house captain only lasted a year but my confidence in leading stayed. It made me a better person and someone that people could look up to. That year opened my eyes as I saw myself as not only someone smart but also someone who could be a leader. The people around me also noticed that and I was looked at through a whole different lens.

Society’s Perceptions of Perfect, Are They Right?

The Ascent claims no ownership over this image.

by Naina Sharma

In reality, nobody is ‘perfect’ or ‘normal’. There is no valid definition of these words. The only thing we know is society’s perception of these traits. A kind and warm personality,  a beautiful appearance and intelligence is everything a perfect person entails, as per society. What would happen to society if these perfect people were everywhere? If more people thought, acted, and looked the same way, would the world be much happier and safer? Or as every action has a consequence, what cost would we pay for such a perfect world? As I see it, there are multiple good and bad sides to this dilemma. 

People who are empathetic, kind, and generous are always in demand. Everyone wants to be around such people. But is it really good to be “good” all the time?  Perfect personalities are self critical, and indulge in self blame, instead of telling others when they’re wrong. This can lead to someone internalizing. They bottle up negative emotions, instead of being truthful about it, and at some point these emotions will burst out. Bottling up emotions can also cause depression and anxiety. When they hide their opinions, it leads to resentment. To be nice, people give up their own wishes and put others’ wishes first all the time. Instead of making themselves happy, they choose to let someone else be happy. 

Don’t get me wrong. Being a good person is never bad. The world would be a much better place if everyone had good intentions, erasing negativity, depression and crime – A Utopian society. Also, the way someone behaves builds their reputation. This affects the opportunities you get in life. Let’s use a career opportunity, for example. When a company has to hire a new employee, and if the candidates have amazing resumes, they look beyond the achievements at the references each can provide – these are always personality led and the winning candidate will not only be good at work but also a well liked person. 

An important and critical perception of perfect are looks. As per society rules, beauty is always physical. Perfect body, perfect hair, gleaming skin, typically fair, etc. The whole myth of first impressions are based on physical appearance. Your personality and your qualities don’t matter, only your looks do. The pressure to be beautiful is very high, and can lead to people being insecure about themselves. There are many negative points about society’s beauty standards. Each person was made as an individual. We were meant to be original, and not succumb to what everyone else is. Dressing, acting, and looking the way you want, shows your personality, and it’s a window into who you are. Many things affect people’s views. Television and books affect mindsets to show how someone should look and act. The people who are beautiful and smart are mostly shown as the hero, while the person who may be a genius is made to look reclusive, sloppy or unkempt. Film Stars are required to always look their best – on screen and off screen. On television, we watch fake people, see how they look, how they act, and we think that’s what reality is. Social media, portrays a certain idea of “life” and we all try and ape it. 

Being attractive can have it’s benefits. The University of Wisconsin performed a study which found that S&P 500 companies which had very attractive CEOs had a higher revenue than the companies with less attractive CEOs. The companies with CEOs who rated higher on a Facial Attractiveness Index got incredibly high stock returns immediately after a TV appearance of that CEO. When the exact same CEO was featured in a news article without images, the stock returns were much lower than before. This shows how people continue to judge the looks, and how important they are shown to be. Beauty can also give you an upper hand in politics. According to a Finnish study, both attractive male and female candidates do better at the polls than average-looking politicians. The study measured an increase of 20% in the number of votes an attractive candidate received, compared to the average-looking candidate. 

Another expectation of a “perfect person”, is a high level of knowledge. In populous countries like India, there is a lot of competition in everything, so having a higher IQ gives you an upper hand. 

Being intelligent is never a bad thing, it can however affect you in certain ways. People that are extremely intelligent, tend to think instead of feel. They are ‘factual’ and they analyze how they feel, instead of just feeling. Intelligent people often express their thoughts factually rather than emotional person, who may react first, and think later. They might scream, cry, kick, punch, displaying strong reactions. Logical people tend to overthink things, spending hours contemplating and analyzing even the smallest moments. At the same time, solutions come faster to people with a higher IQ than to an average person. This could lead to the smarter person becoming arrogant and discounting the other person’s hard work and perseverance.

Having a high IQ is extremely useful in many areas of life. In school, children with a  higher IQ are able to process and absorb knowledge faster, giving them a stronger chance of being successful. Intelligence also helps you develop good judgment. By having the ability to gather information, weigh it out, and consider its consequences, shows your judgment skills. Intelligence also gives you the ability to plan and solve problems, think logically, and understand unfamiliar ideas. These are important abilities in both personal and professional lives. People with these abilities are more successful in life. 

Interestingly, I took a survey of 20 students in Ascend International School, asking them three questions. “Would you opt to make everyone beautiful?” To this, 84.2% of people said no, and 15.8% of people were unsure. “Would you make everyone extremely smart?” To this 94.8% of people said no, and the remaining 5.3% had a mixed opinion. “Would you make everyone’s personalities perfect?” To this, 73.7% of people said no, 15.8% said yes, and 10.5% had a mixed opinion. To draw a conclusion from these facts, the people think that individual personalities are more important than being carbon copies of each other. 

In my opinion, having all of these things would be amazing, but with limits. A nice personality is good only till you are not true to yourself. Being beautiful is great, until you lose what makes you original. Being intelligent is important, until you lose touch with your emotional side. To me, the importance of being perfect all the time, as opposed to the pressure of improving oneself is different. Perfection means there is no need for improvement, no need for growth or learning. If so how will new ideas, learnings, inventions and new heights of science be conquered? We need to be constantly evolving and growing, making mistakes and learning from them. Humans are flawed – but that is what makes us perfect.  

Psychology and Celebrities

The Ascent Claims no ownership over this image.

by Anika Mahansaria

Why is it  that people with a higher social status say different from what ‘normal people’ say? Why is it that often we believe these higher class people more than we believe normal people, even if their claims a) have very little proof or are b) very far-fetched. An expert could be anyone who claims to be very knowledgeable in a particular field. It could be an actor, a celebrity, a scientist or a politician. There are many small differences between an authoritative figure and a celebrity. One of these is that a celebrity is very well known even though they may not have earned it (eg, the Kardashian – Jenner children). An authority figure or expert, on the other hand, earns their fame, though many times they aren’t famous, and their opinion on a certain topic would be valued and respected.  But our focus today is on famous people. How is it that these people with higher social statuses can change our thinking and what we like and dislike? Today, I have examined exactly that and am going to show you about how outside influences can change our thoughts and actions. 

So to start, why did I pick this topic when I could have picked anything else? I thought that this would be an interesting topic to cover. I thought this when I was reading a post about someone who said that they were a coronavirus expert. For me, this seemed really far-fetched as when I had read the post, the virus had been there for only about a month, and didn’t have the  media attention, many cases and many people knowing what it was. At that time, I felt that it was ridiculous for people to make that claim when hardly anything about it was revealed, and how could they say that they knew the symptoms? Another reason was that, once I read it, I was left wondering whether people with fame like celebrities misuse their platforms and influence us. 

This made my research very interesting and fun. While talking to people about what I am doing for my project, many people brought up the ‘appeal to authority’ fallacy.  This fallacy talks about people believing in something because of an authority. It could be a book written by an expert in a certain field, or maybe an actor supporting a particular sports brand and making people see why they should buy sporting goods only from there. This may not be true, but people would do it as an authority figure has said to. The questions that I aim to answer talk about is this very fallacy. Let’s see how different people react to different situations presented by their favourite famous person. 

To start off, the 4 people I picked were Joaquin Phoenix, Ryan Reynolds, Jenifer Lawerence, and Ranbir Kapoor. The stars who have made the claim aren’t experts in the field of their claims but these are some of their controversial views. I also didn’t use expert claims it would be quite similar to the Milgram experiment, which is testing obedience (see below for more details), and wouldn’t have the effect I was looking for. The claims made by each star were as follows: 

  • Joaquin Phoenix: Teaching people what is right and wrong isn’t the job of entertainers such as film directors. Anyone can tell what is right and wrong. You can misinterpret stuff from not just movies but also songs, books etc. 
  • Ryan Reynolds: The claim made by Ryan Reynolds wasn’t directly to do with him but rather the ad about Peloton cycles, fad diets, and extreme workouts, which caused a lot of outrage on twitter. This ad was about a woman receiving a Peloton cycle for Christmas from her husband. The ad then continues to show a series of her workouts through the course of the year, the ad ending with the line, “A year ago, I didn’t realise how much this would change me”. This ad has been the center of controversies regarding sexism (as people felt that the man gave his wife the bike for her to lose weight). 
  • Jenifer Lawrence: While most of the times, she supports the LGBTQ+ community, but she has been known to make a few offensive remarks and use offensive terminology, such as ‘dyke’ when referring to transgender people. 
  • Ranbir Kapoor: The controversy that I picked, was about the movie ‘Jagga Jasoos’, where he was co-producer. In this controversy, he had allegedly removed Govinda’s role. This is controversial as Govinda is also a famous actor. At the time of shooting his scenes, Govinda was slightly sick, and hence the producers removed his role. This upset Govinda a lot, as he had put in a lot of work, and he felt annoyed that Ranbir Kapoor (who at the time was suspected of firing his role), would fire him. 

The experiment was me asking the 4 people mentioned whether they agree with the statements that the above mentioned stars made. I asked for each claim to take a moment and think carefully before answering. Each person was required to tell me whether they agreed with the statements, and their reasoning. Some things that I noticed when people were answering was: 

  • Everyone was reluctant to answer 
  • People hesitated after the first person gave their answer 
  • People generally answered that their opinion of their favourite star wouldn’t change, in terms of acting based on these claims, but rather that they would reduce their liking of the person’s personality, but their acting skills would still keep the famous person as their favourite actor. 
  • There is a line after which people don’t necessarily believe in what their favourite celebrity was saying. 

This experiment isn’t very uncommon. The base of this experiment was found in the Milgram experiment. The purpose of the experiment is to show ‘obedience’. This was started in the second world war, to test the fact that many people were claiming that they were just following orders from their superiors. Milgram wanted to test whether Germans were very obedient to authority figures. He devised a test to see if the Germans would be obedient even when another person’s life was at risk. In order to perform the experiment, one needed to know whether they would be the ‘teacher’ or the ‘student’. The teacher is required to shock the student every time they give an incorrect answer. At the end of the experiment, about 65% of the teachers had reached the highest voltage which was 450 volts. Milgram continued on to test this in 18 different situations, where each time the situation was changed to test obedience. This goes to show that people listen to authority figures. Authority figures are like celebrities in their fields. For example, if a teacher doesn’t understand a part of the topic she is supposed to cover, she would ask the head of her department to help her explain that part. They are people that one would go to when they have an issue or want expert advice.  

Social media is a way for people to appeal to authority even more. Many famous people have social media, and often YouTubers post pictures or videos of extreme pranks and dares which could often end up injuring another person. While it is done in good fun, and I’m sure that the people involved know the risk, if younger audiences (most likely people who are 7 and below, since they have more impressionable minds), view the videos, this could lead to them unknowingly harming their friends. 

But this was just the bad, there are many good sides too such as getting inspired by these people and working hard to achieve your goals. We just need to be careful with what we believe.

What’s going on up there?

The Ascent Claims no Ownership over this image

The Brain and Technology

by Siya Aggarwal

The first thing that we do when we wake up in the morning would be to open the never-ending list of notifications on their phone. Before we get out of bed we’re already checking if that special someone has texted us back, if our Facebook post got enough comments, if  Charli D’amelio has posted her latest Tik Tok, or if our streaks on Snapchat are still intact. We may not realize it but they are almost always tethered to some form of technology, whether it’s the latest iPhone in our pocket, computer in our bag, or smartwatch around our wrist. 

We sleep, eat, log onto social media and repeat, and how can we not? Technology is a must-have in the twenty-first century, a vital tool necessary to navigate life. If it’s not mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest, we are studying for our upcoming test using the variety of platforms technology has to offer, definitely nothing wrong with that. Apart from superficial trends and meaningless shenanigans that the youth of this generation participates in, there are numerous advantages for all age groups,with the introduction of technology in modern society. The most prominent of which is the immense range of information available at our fingertips. Alas, that which glitters is not always gold. 

All parents want their children to be safe while utilizing technology, some have tried to achieve this safety by completely disconnecting their children whereas others have tried methods of monitoring their online presence and activity. Parents eventually realize that none of this works and the adolescent populations’ dependency and addiction to technology is much more deep-rooted than seen on a surface level. However, in the 21st century, this may not be only applicable to teenagers. Platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook, and even Instagram have become more and more appealing for adults. Now that technology is being utilized by both teenagers and adults, it’s important for both parties to be aware of the risks that come with doing so. You may know of some infamous hazardous use of technology such as catfishing, cyberbullying and risky apps, but what you may not be informed of is the effects that technology has upon our brains. Since technology still is most used by younger generations, whose minds are easier to mold, technology’s effect on the brain has some devastating impacts, but this impact is still relevant with older generations. By comprehending all aspects of technology’s impacts and gaining a profound recognition of the true downfalls, a holistic understanding of all aspects of technology can be gained. 

Neuroplasticity. It is a phenomenon wherein the brain changes its behavioral traits due to new experiences. Like when a loved one dies or when they move to a different country, it changes you. New experiences in the context are referring to the vast range of knowledge available to them via technology. Therefore, their usage of technology has altered not only thinking but even makes them feel differently. To understand how to reach out to them it is important to know what these changes are and how technology plays a role in it.  The following are some examples of Neuroplasticity, how technology affects the brain:

FOMO: You used to spend Friday evenings at home, curled up with the latest Rocky movie, possibly having minuscule amounts of guilt for not painting the city red, partying it up with your friends. With the introduction of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram into our livelihoods, that microscopic response has intensified. Mostly, for the young generation but also has increasingly become applicable to adults. The constant notifications of  friends blasting music, partying and snapping their mouth-watering meals on their stories have created that twinge in your stomach making you think and feel like you should be there with your friends, getting tagged in all the pictures and stories- that is the phenomena of FOMO. For the people who are especially codependent and social media addicts, this mild exclusion causes them to question self-worth, get anxiety etc. 

Phantom vibration syndrome: is a modern-day occurrence is a perception that one’s phone is ringing or vibrating when, in actuality, it is not. According to Robert Rosenberger, PhD in the impact of technology on behavior, “some of us are concerned about missing a call or text that we’ve become extra aware of the sensations that mean one is incoming.” Researchers found that 90% of people that they conducted the experiment with, have experienced this. PVS is a bodily habit that rewires the brain so that basic physical urges for example scratching “may now be misinterpreted by our brains as a vibrating phone.” 

This means that even though we haven’t gotten a message, we will still keep checking their phone thinking that we have. This constant unlocking of our devices can lead to us being more absent during family gatherings and social functions than they should be, again this looks like it is only appearing with teens but it’s progressively expanding to other age groups. Nevertheless, this has no proven causation for harm apart from creating a hyperactive nervous system therefore is just an inconvenience but it can be tied back to short attention spans. 

It is clear that there are risks that accompany our utilization of technology, and there is no denying it, peoples overuse and codependency magnify those risks. However, something that no one ever seems to be willing to discuss, are the rewards that come with technology. Apart from easy access to limitless knowledge and convenient communication platforms, technology offers significantly more than what meets the eye. 

Developed visual skills: Studies have found direct correlations between first-person shooting video games and an increase in visual skills as well as decision making. The fast-paced action that takes place in these games provokes people to make well thought out quick reactions based on visual prompts which translates into our real-life activities and enhances our ability to “parse details of our physical environment.” 

Technology’s impact on the brain has been lauded by some cognizance specialists while some trust it has had negative impacts. So the fundamental question is do the benefits outway the dangers? In the 21st century, it is hard to avoid massive technology exposures but do we need to do that to live healthy lifestyles? Or are we appropriately living in the hub of modern technological advancements? We may not know answers to all these questions, but what we do know is that there is no denying that technology influences all our brains, from our deduction to our thinking and feeling. The knowledge of these effects of technology on our brains may help teenagers and adults alike make sound decisions regarding their use of technology, some may want to change their habits and others may persist and continue to indulge in all that technology has to offer. 

Bibliography 

  1.  N.a. “The dangers of social media that no one likes to admit.” Gulfnews.com. 25 Feb. 2020. Web. 26 Feb. 2020. <https://gulfnews.com/opinion/op-eds/the-dangers-of-social-media-that-no-one-likes-to-admit-1.2087285
  1. Locke, Tim. “Do You Have ‘Phantom Vibration Syndrome’?.” WebMD. n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2020. <https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/news/20160111/phones-phantom-vibration
  2. Haider Khalid. “The Effect of Technology on Brain – Our Technology Planet.” Ourtechplanet.com. 2 Sept. 2017. Web. 29 Feb. 2020. <https://ourtechplanet.com/the-effect-of-technology-on-brain/>.
  3. ‌ScienceDaily. “Video games boost visual attention but reduce impulse control.” ScienceDaily. 13 Aug. 2013. Web. 29 Feb. 2020. <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130804081115.htm
  4. Digital Responsibility. “Technology and Psychological Issues — Digital Responsibility.” Digital Responsibility. n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2020. <http://www.digitalresponsibility.org/technology-and-psychological-issues
  5. Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. “How does technology affect our brains? : Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences.” Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences. 3 Aug. 2015. Web. 29 Feb. 2020. <https://mdhs.unimelb.edu.au/news-and-events/news-archive/how-does-technology-affect-our-brains
  6. Brian Resnick. “Is our constant use of digital technologies affecting our brain health? We asked 11 experts..” Vox. 28 Nov. 2018. Web. 29 Feb. 2020. <https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/11/28/18102745/cellphone-distraction-brain-health-screens-kids
  7. Locke, Tim. “Do You Have ‘Phantom Vibration Syndrome’?.” WebMD. n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2020. <https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/news/20160111/phones-phantom-vibration
  8. Advergize Staff. “10 Great Advantages of Technology for Modern Life.” Advergize. 27 Feb. 2018. Web. 29 Feb. 2020. <https://advergize.com/edu/10-advantages-technology-modern-life/
  9. N.a. “Benefits of Technology – The Digital Librarian.” Sites.google.com. 20 Feb. 2020. Web. 29 Feb. 2020. <https://sites.google.com/site/thedigitallibrarian/benefits-of-technology
  10. Pubmed Dev. “The Power of the Like in Adolescence: Effects of Peer Influence on Neural and Behavioral Responses to Social Media. – PubMed – NCBI.” Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2020. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27247125
  11. Kevin Naruse. “Painted Brain 7 WAYS SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BENEFIT MENTAL HEALTH.” Painted Brain. n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2020. <https://paintedbrain.org/editorial/7-ways-social-media-can-benefit-mental-health-2/
  12. Rebecca Hiscott. “8 Ways Tech Has Completely Rewired Our Brains.” Mashable. 14 Mar. 2014. Web. 29 Feb. 2020. <https://mashable.com/2014/03/14/tech-brains-neuroplasticity/
  13. Jay Polish. “7 Ways Social Media Literally Changes Your Brain, According To Science.” Bustle. 28 Feb. 2020. Web. 29 Feb. 2020. <https://www.bustle.com/p/7-ways-social-media-changes-your-brain-according-to-science-9211397

Bored – Here are some things you can do!

The Ascent claims no ownership over this image.

by Aahana Khemani, Pritha Nag, Tara Hebbar, Ayanna Puri and Ishita Ambekar

Are you sitting around doing the same thing every day? Watching Netflix? We’re going to save you from “just one more episode” 

  • READ: Pick up an old book you really liked and maybe try re-reading it, if you liked it you’ll probably like it again, and it’s a great way to do so, it is productive while still having fun. You could also read a new book you haven’t thought about. 
  • BOARD GAME: Try playing a board game with your sibling or parents. (board games to play: Monopoly, Snakes and Ladder, Catan, Scrabble, Splendour and more. Online games to play: Psych, Quiz Up etc…) This is a really great way to spend more time with your family and it uses your brain in a really great way. 
  • BUCKET LIST: Make yourself a bucket list of things to do in quarantine. Execute at least one every day! Some fun things that you could add are; to your whole room, cook something awesome etc…
  • COOK OR BAKE: You could try cooking or baking, and it’s shown that cooking can be very relaxing and calming. Here is a Website where you can find things to cook. Here is a website where you can find things to bake.
  • CHORES: Help your household by doing chores! This is a great way to learn things you’re probably going to have to do when you go abroad to study or when you have a household of your own! 
  • JOURNALING: Try journaling. Whatever type of journal would work for you. Scrapbooking, an art journal, bullet journaling a thoughts journal, anything! Just try journaling somethin’, it can help take your mind off things.
  • SCHOOL WORK: Try getting on top of your schoolwork. Take a few extra steps to your schoolwork. Maybe revise, go over your notes. And, you can always reach out to teachers for help.
  • HOBBY: Have you found a hobby yet? If yes, great! Keep practising. If not, what’s a better time to find one? Sing around the house, design outfits, paint canvases, practice dribbling a basketball or kicking a football. 
  • EXERCISE: – Keep fit and healthy by exercising and challenging yourself by doing and trying new things by pushing yourself to work harder. Here is a website for exercises.
  • MASTER A SKILL: Calligraphy, photography and writing, there are so many skills that you can become a master at! Use your time to do this. You can learn from peers, family or even YouTube videos.
  • INSTRUMENT: – If you play an instrument you can use this time to practice it and become great at it. Otherwise, pick up an instrument and learn it. Who knows you may have a hidden talent!
  • ART: Do some art – I’m sure everyone has basic art supplies in their homes, pick these up and create some true masterpieces. Art is also shown to help relax and take away stress and anxiety. 
  • KEEP IN TOUCH: Talk to your friends and family – Since you can’t see them in person, catch up with friends by calling them from various platforms such as hangouts, Whatsapp, regular call, zoom, etc.
  • IMPROVE YOUR GENERAL KNOWLEDGE: Read up on the news each day, take quizzes, know all about things from capitals to phobias. Know the A-Z’s of each and every topic. Surprise your teachers by raising your hand for every question with 100% accuracy.
  • GARDEN: Try making a mini-garden in your room or terrace! Gardening is very relaxing a great way to care for something. 
  • ROOM DECOR: Who doesn’t want to decorate their room? Try making things or putting up old stuff you bought in your room. Maybe print out pictures or hang things around your room, weaver makes you feel happy.  
  • ORGANIZE: This is one thing everybody needs to do at times! Try it out!! Some things you could organise are; your cupboard, drawers, makeup, stationary etc…

In conclusion, you’re lying to yourself when you say that you don’t have anything to do. You do! Use this time well, cause chances are we probably won’t get it again. Use this time well, because you really can! Do something your future self would really appreciate.

Willpower – Will you use it?

The Ascent Claims no ownership over this image.

by Tara Hebbar

Willpower, something that we owe so much to. It’s the thing that could very possibly lead to not only our failures but our successes as well. Let’s look at it this way, you’ve probably been asked multiple times, this question,

“If you could better any of your attributes what would it be?”

Has willpower ever been the answer, or even a close contender, or even an option? When you think of it this is surprising because it could be the great cure for all our problems, it could stop us from giving up,  and in turn achieve so much more. If only people had full control over their willpower, everyone would be healthy, wealthy and wise. Every new year’s resolution would be religiously followed. In a nutshell, the world would become a better place, with people who have complete self-control. But why isn’t this the case? Why don’t we use this supposed ‘cure’ to restore the world to its original beauty, and create a world that ensures happiness, health and comfort for all its citizens? The ‘medicine’ that would remove all the toxins, such as greed, poverty and selfishness from our world? What stops us from using willpower to do all this? Is it that we don’t know how to or that we don’t have an unlimited amount of willpower to actually put to use? 

Many experiments have been conducted over time to answer these not frequently asked questions. Most of them by a social psychologist by the name of Roy Baumeister. I will be describing a few of his short experiments, I have tried to replicate one of those to conduct an experiment of my own and will be going into my findings later on too. Some hypotheses Baumeister made included, 

  • Willpower uses up real energy that our body creates in the form of glucose
  • Willpower is a limited resource that can be depleted and preserved (Like a battery that runs out of charge and gets recharged each night)

So Roy Baumeister conducted a few experiments to test these hypotheses. An experiment that tested the first one (energy usage) was one where he tried to test the effect of using willpower on the glucose levels in the body.  He did this by asking two separate groups of people to fast for three hours (to make sure the food they ate had no effect on the outcome), and asked the first do some boring and tedious tasks that included things like watching extremely disinteresting videos and having to give it their entire focus (none of these tasks were physically challenging to keep the variables controlled). On the other hand the second group was asked to do no such things. After the first group had completed their tasks both groups glucose levels were recorded. They found that the glucose of the first group (who had done metally challenging tasks), had been lower than the second group who had no reason to use their willpower like the first group had. This proved that willpower required real energy from our bodies, a connection can be made here that if willpower utilizes energy, we have a limited amount of energy hence we possibly have a limited amount of willpower. Flaws

  • Interests (Might have enjoyed the tedious tasks)
  • Fasting Time (Too less), People could’ve eaten just before, leaving energy

Now to test whether we have a limited amount of willpower that can be preserved and can run out, Baumeister conducted another experiment. This experiment again involved two groups of people. Both were asked to squeeze a hand grip exerciser for as long as they could, and the average for both groups was around 2 minutes. Both groups were then made to watch an extremely sad movie, but here’s the catch, group 1 had to watch the movie without showing any emotions while group 2 was given no such command. After the movie, both were again asked to squeeze the hand grip exercise for as long as they could, this time there was no change in group twos time and it remained at an average of 2 minutes. But group one’s average time dropped, bringing around the conclusion that they had used up all their willpower by trying to suppress their emotions during the movie.  Flaws

  • Athletic Ability – Allowed them to do the task more or less easily. 

Another one of his experiments was called the chocolate and radish experiment. This was the experiment I replicated. In this experiment he kept 67 participants in the same room as chocolate confectionery and freshly baked cookies whose smell wafted through the air.  Some of the subjects were allowed to indulge in the sweet treats while others were asked to eat radishes. It was recorded that the subjects eating the radish displayed a strong interest in the deserts. All the subjects (including the people who indulged in their sweet tooth) were asked to attempt some puzzles that tested persistence. The radish eaters devoted less energy and effort into solving these than the chocolate eaters who were up for a challenge. The conclusion was that willpower can be depleted and that it is a limited resource. 

I based my experiment off of this one but for many reasons and constraints there were changes and a difference in the results. Due to the epidemic we are part of I had to compromise on many things and therefore couldn’t exactly replicate the experiment. I asked 4 people (Diya, Arnav, Vir and Anika)  to join a zoom call, with a sweet treat and a vegetable that they aren’t fond of at hand. I had previously picked out a few riddles for the end.  I then asked them to either eat the chocolate or the vegetable/dry fruit, with the goal being to eat the vegetable. 2 of the subjects (Anika and Arnav) chose to eat the chocolate while 2 (Diya and Vir) chose to eat the vegetable. Then I asked the 4 subject 4 separate riddles. 2 participants got all 3 right while the other 2 got all 3 wrong. But the result wasn’t the same as Baumeisters, the 2 participants on each side were a mix of vegetable and chocolate eaters. There are many factors that caused this experiment to fail (get a different result), some including – 

  • The riddles were common ones that could have been heard of before
  • The subjects interest and ability at riddles
  • There was no consequence – Here is where the biggest problem occurs, there was no consequence of eating the chocolate, even though they were told not to, the 2 participants who chose to eat the chocolate had no consequence to think of. Whereas the two participants who ate the vegetable didn’t have too much of a problem eating it, hence didn’t use much of their willpower. 
  • The sample size (Number of people) – It was less, leaving no room for mistakes

Because of all these holes in the experiment the results obviously aren’t reliable hence I stick to believing Baumeister’s findings. The final conclusions include

  • We have a limited amount of willpower 
  • Willpower  uses real energy in the form of glucose

If what he has discovered is true then I’m sure you would like to know some ways in which willpower can be preserved and your supposed battery can be charged to its full capacity as often as possible. Here are somethings you can do to have a more efficient system of using your willpower,

  • Sleep well and get a good amount of sleep – You can suppose that your willpower recharges at nighttime while you’re asleep and if you don’t sleep your willpower doesn’t recharge. There are people who don’t sleep much and if you notice they aren’t the most productive.
  • Don’t be hungry –  It was established that there is correlation between glucose (energy) and willpower. It’s always good to have a high amount of glucose, i.e a high amount of willpower at all times!  The best foods are protein giving and healthy foods such as poultry/fish, eggs, lentils, yogurt, berries etc. Though processed and sugary foods do increase your glucose, they have a short term effect and have other bad side effects so it’s better to stick to healthy foods.
  • You can strengthen your willpower by using it more often in things you want to do. For example if you want to be fit, workout more often and eat less junk food. Here you are using your willpower but for something that you want! Like Roy Baumeister said, “Willpower looked like much more than a metaphor. It seemed to be like a muscle that could be fatigued through use.” By comparing willpower to a muscle not only does it indicate that it can be fatigued and overused but also that it can be strengthened with regular exercise. For example, if you want to be fit, you can start by doing 100 crunches everyday, the first few days your body will get sore but overtime it will become a habit, that will require less effort. This is just like willpower, once you make something a habit, it will require a smaller amount of willpower each time. Just like this you can inculcate so many good habits into your life.

Lastly, I would also like to establish the difference between self control and willpower. I wanted this to come to me without using any external sources hence took a bit of thought, here what I came up with. While you use your willpower to complete tasks or achieve something while self control is trying to stop yourself or controlling yourself from doing something. You need willpower for self control and vice versa.

Now that we all know the what’s, why’s and who’s of willpower, I leave you with one question, if a genie comes and asks for 3 wishes, will unlimited willpower be on the list?

Sources- 

American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, www.apa.org/helpcenter/willpower.

Dan, Teacher, director. Baumeister Experiments. Baumeister Experiments, Teacher Dan’s Videos, 29 Jan. 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9wYSq3DHEA.

“Willpower by Roy Baumeister (Animated Book Summary) – How to Have More Self Control.” Willpower by Roy Baumeister (Animated Book Summary) – How to Have More Self Control, Better than Yesterday, 21 Sept. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0e6KA8iD0k.

Villarica, Hans. “The Chocolate-and-Radish Experiment That Birthed the Modern Conception of Willpower.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 11 Apr. 2012, www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/04/the-chocolate-and-radish-experiment-that-birthed-the-modern-conception-of-willpower/255544/.

Kanwal, Sarah. “77self-Control Quotes from Willpower:Rediscovering Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister.” 77self-Control Quotes from Willpower:Rediscovering Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister, Blogger, 27 Aug. 2018, bestbookquotes.blogspot.com/2018/07/77-self-control-quotes-from.html.

Robertson, Colin. “The 10 Best Foods For Long-Lasting Willpower.” Willpowered, Willpowered, 24 Aug. 2015, www.willpowered.co/learn/best-foods-for-willpower.

Pennington, Molly. “25 Of the Toughest Riddles Ever. Can You Solve Them?” Reader’s Digest, Reader’s Digest, 2 Dec. 2019, www.rd.com/funny-stuff/challenging-riddles/.

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