Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Aug 22, 2017 in Stuff You Should Know

New Options in Education

Do you have a plan for what you want to do when you finish high school? In West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the nation, 17 percent of young adults are neither in school nor working. That’s the second-highest rate of “disconnectedness” in the country. Now, West Virginia is trying to address the issue by focusing on vocational education over traditional college prep tracks, to better prepare students to enter the workforce.

In West Virginia, 37 percent of students completed a career and technical track last year. This is much higher than the national average, which is 6 percent. The United States trails far behind other developed nations in terms of offering career and technical programs to students. In Germany, for example, 57 percent of students are enrolled in vocational programs, and in the Netherlands, it’s 67 percent.

President Trump’s support for such programs has been mixed. A week before the election, he announced his plan to jump-start vocational education. Since then, however, the opposite has proven true. The president’s budget cut $166 million, or 15 percent, of federal funding to technical education programs.

These cuts have larger implications outside of just West Virginia. Across the nation, as the job market changes, fewer and fewer students are finding their needs met by traditional college-track programs. In 2015, less than half of 25- to 34-year-olds had earned a bachelor’s or even an associate’s degree. Many career and technical programs still require students to take traditional academic courses such as math and physics, but with the added benefit of providing them with real-world job skills.

West Virginia legislators believe that promoting career and technical programs in high schools and colleges will help the state as a whole, by creating a skilled and motivated workforce that will attract potential employers to the area.

What Do You Think? Why do you think the United States trails so far behind other developed nations in terms of offering career and technical education programs to high school and college students?

Exercise versus Appetite

We all know that exercise is good for us, right? But does exercise automatically help us lose weight? Not necessarily.

After exercising, people may feel hungrier. They then might wind up eating more calories than they burned during their workout. When this happens, people accidentally wind up gaining weight instead of losing it.

Athletic group of Latin American people at the gym exercising on ellipiticals

Is all exercise going to help you lose weight? Credit: andresr/E+/Getty Images

Scientists at Loughborough University in Britain have studied the effects of exercise on peoples’ appetites. Your appetite is regulated by a hormone called acylated ghrelin. In general, the higher the levels of acylated ghrelin in your blood, the hungrier you feel. Interestingly, the scientists found that exercise actually lowered their subjects’ levels of acylated ghrelin. This was especially true when their subjects had exercised more strenuously, and for longer periods of time. The group of men who ran at a high speed for 90 minutes still had low acylated ghrelin levels more than an hour after they finished exercising.

This means that the more you exercise, the less hungry you feel, right? Not necessarily. The scientists also asked the subjects about their subjective appetite levels: that is, how hungry they felt. What the researchers discovered was that the subjects who exercised intensely and for a long period of time did indeed feel less hungry, even an hour and a half after their workout. But the group that exercised less strenuously, and for a short period of time, actually reported feeling hungrier than the group that just sat in the lab and did nothing at all.

Although findings from this study are mixed, it gives us a general truth that if you want to lose weight, the key is to exercise longer and harder, while also being mindful of your calorie intake. But regardless of whether or not our workouts cut inches from our waistlines, exercise is still a crucial part of a healthy body and lifestyle.

What Do You Think? Exercise not only helps keep our weight under control, but it benefits every system of our bodies. How much exercise would you guess you get in an average week? What are three ways that you can introduce more physical activity into your lifestyle?

Vegetarian Money?

Are you or someone close to you a vegetarian or vegan? We all know that this lifestyle choice means that you don’t consume meat or other animal products. But what if it also meant that you couldn’t use money?

That may sound crazy, but it’s exactly what’s happening in Britain. Last year, the Bank of England introduced new bank notes (cash) that are printed on polymer. They are harder to forge and more durable than the old cash, which was printed on cotton-based paper. Have you ever left cash in your pocket by accident, only to have it be destroyed when you put your pants through the washing machine? With the new British currency, those forgotten bills would come out of the wash just fine.

But there is a problem. Polymer uses tallow, and tallow comes from rendered meat.

Despite widespread protest, the Bank of England has announced that it will continue printing the polymer money. They argue that it is more durable and better for the environment, and that new security measures can be used with it. Plus, the amount of animal product in the bills is less than 0.05%. Switching to a different form of currency would have cost the country about 16.5 million pounds over the next decade.

Which means that for now, vegans, vegetarians, and animal rights activists are out of luck.

What Do You Think? Over 135,000 people signed an online petition protesting the use of animal products in the new British bank notes. Pretend that you are a British citizen. Write a letter to the editor voicing your support or criticism of the new cash. Be sure to give reasons to support your point of view.