Elephant Rescued After Being Swept to Sea

Did you know that elephants enjoy swimming? Despite being large, they are buoyant in the water and swim fully submerged. They use their trunks as a snorkel as they wade around. Elephants are considered the best swimmers of any land mammal- perhaps excluding trained human swimmers.

But the other day an elephant got swept out to sea in Sri Lanka after trying to wade across what was supposed to be a safe lagoon in his sanctuary. Thankfully, the navy saw him struggling during their routine patrol. The elephant appeared to be tired and lost. It took twelve hours, but the navy officials were able to successfully guide the elephant back to the shore and to safety.

While elephants can swim for fairly long periods of time, they will tire if not able to rest. Navy officials intervened, claiming the swimming would have caused the elephant to burn too much energy to survive and the prolonged exposure to salt water could have damaged the elephant’s skin. What could have been disastrous, was thankfully avoided.

Asian elephants are classified as endangered and have faced significant threats from logging and loss of habitat. Most males and females in this species lack noticeable tusks, which may decrease poaching, but they are still hunted for their meat and leather. Currently, elephants are protected under Sri Lanka law, where killing one results in steep penalties.

Be sure to check out the video of the rescue above. Let me know what you think about this story. Do you like elephants? Do you like learning about animals? I love animals as you will see throughout this blog.

Amelia Earhart may have survived

Last week, a team of investigators uncovered a photo that might be Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan. The photo is of them in the Marshall Islands under Japanese custody after they made an emergency landing while flying over the Pacific Ocean in 1937. Up until this discovery, the story was that Earhart and Noonan crashed over the Pacific on their around-the-world flight and didn’t survive, as their bodies and the plane were never found. But this new development suggests that may not have been the case.

The History Channel had a documentary that debuted a few days ago “Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence” in which experts explain how they identified what is very likely Earhart and Noonan in the fuzzy photo that’s never been seen before. For Noonan, it’s the sharp, receding hairline, nose and teeth; for Earhart, it’s the tomboyish haircut and the fact that she’s wearing pants. We have her unconventional, menswear-inspired style to thank for making it more clear that it may be her in the photo.

A photo found in the National Archives that historians believe shows Amelia Earhart (sitting on the dock, center) and Fred Noonan (standing at left) in the Marshall Islands after their plane crashed nearby in the Pacific Ocean in 1937.
Photo: Courtesy of Les Kinney/U.S. National Archives

Clothes played a major role in Earhart’s life and career: she designed the jumpsuits she wore in the cockpit and had her own label, Amelia Earhart Fashions, which financed her flight expeditions and consisted of practical, affordable, aviation-inspired dresses, suits, trench coats, and separates. The clothes were sold at Macy’s and Marshall Field’s and may have contributed to the beginning of “athleisure.”

You can see some of her signature looks below. In 1934, the Fashion Designers of America named her one of the country’s best-dressed women. What do you think of her fashion? Revolutionary? Would you wear clothes like this? They say all fashion trends come back, and we’re seeing similar styles at the recent couture shows.

I wonder if this will help us finally bury the life of Earhart. Likely not since her life was so unique and interesting.


Science of Exercise

A recent study has shown how exercise benefits the body on a cellular level. What’s even cooler is that it found what type of exercise that’s best for boosting cell health. Have you heard of High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT)? If you have, you likely know that it’s one of the best ways to train. Now with recent research, we know it has even more benefits on the cellular level.

Published in Cell Metabolism (2017; 25[3], 581-92), the study included 36 men and 36 women categorized as “young” (18 to 30 years old) or “older” (65 to 80 years old). Each participant was assigned to one of three training programs for 12 weeks: HIIT on an indoor bike; strength training with weights; or a combination of both. Scientists took muscle biopsies from the volunteers (plucked some samples) and then compared the results with those from a sedentary control group.


Data showed that the exercise groups experienced improvements in cellular function and in the ability of mitochondria to generate energy. This adds to the evidence that exercise slows the aging process at a cellular level. Muscle mass and insulin sensitivity improved with all three training protocols, but outcomes did vary. “HIIT revealed a more robust increase in gene transcripts than other exercise modalities, particularly in older adults,” according to the authors. HIIT increased mitochondrial capacity by 49% in the young group and 69% in the older group.

“HIIT reversed many age-related differences in the proteome, particularly of mitochondrial proteins in concert with increased mitochondrial protein synthesis.”

For best benefit though, a combination of HIIT and strength training is still recommended since HIIT alone doesn’t increase strength and muscle mass like the strength training protocol does.

What does this all mean for you? The take home message is for aging adults that supervised HIIT is best since it confers the most benefits both metabolically and at the molecular level. This is all according to K. Sreekumaran Nair, MD, PhD from the study linked above.

Do you partake in HIIT training? What about strength training? Do you notice benefits from it? While you may not feel your cells changing, they are the building blocks to living things. And once again: do you even science, bro? 🙂


This past week was the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2017 which was held in sunny San Antonio, TX. Among the trending topics at the conference was coding in the classroom. There’s a movement called Girls Who Code led by Reshma Saujani, who was one of the keynote speakers this past week. Tech jobs are among the fastest growing ion the country, yet girls are being left behind. Girls Who Code’s mission is to help close the gender gap in technology.

Another cool note to mention is that Chicagoland’s very own Jennie Magiera was one of the other keynote speakers. She is the chief innovation officer at Des Plaines Public Schools in Chicago and the author of Courageous EdventuresShe believes that despite the many challenges facing schools today, every classroom can be a place for what she calls “edventures:” student-centered, passion-based experiential learning. With this in mind, Magiera’s work centers on acknowledging problems and finding innovative ways to navigate them, freeing up teachers and students to dive into classroom edventures.

Overall, a successful conference. The future of education and technology is exciting as always. What was your favorite part of this past week? Were you following the talks on twitter like I was? #ISTE17 in case you didn’t catch it. Do you work in the field of education? If so, do you feel like things are changing for the better or worse?

Committing to yourself

The other day was the longest day of the year (June 21st) and it was also World Giraffe Day. Something about long necks and long days making sense and therefore there’s a holiday for that. You’re welcome.

I saw many posts regarding not only giraffes but also that people had no excuse to not exercise and put themselves first on the longest day of the year. With the prolonged daylight, there was ample time to get outside and get moving. This prompted something in my mind and heart, though. People need to commit to themselves and to their well-being.

Most of the time when you hear commitment you think relationship or marriage. I challenge you to think of yourself first. Yes, your significant other or spouse is important, but so are you. Don’t let anyone else determine your happiness and health. My newest student isn’t a typical one. While she is studying to take the ACT, she is far from a High School student. She is in her 40’s and has a Master’s degree, but needs a certain ACT score to further her career in the education field. While she’s not typical, she is an inspiration to me and everyone around her. It’s never too late to pursue your dreams and your career goals. I love how committed she is to her dream job.

Who are you committed to? What are you committed to? Are you happy? Do you rely on yourself for your happiness?

And while you’re here, here are some love locks seen in Oak Park. From the committed relationships. I wonder how many of these are still holding strong?

Exercise and creativity

Physically active people can improve their self-expression, self-confidence and social interaction compared with more sedentary people. Exercise leads to better brain health, less obesity and less stress. This applies to people of all ages, including children and young adults. Regular exercise for children and young adults is important as that is when people start habits, good or bad. While I am a tutor, I do recommend my students exercise as it can help them study for their exams and perform better on test day.


While exercise is physical, it affects overall health and well being more than just the physical gains. Artists facing roadblocks in their creative process can be benefited by exercise. Exercise can help them open their minds and see their art from a different perspective or mindset. And what’s even better than just exercising? Exercising outside. Science supports the idea of human’s innate desire to connect with nature. Several studies have shown a correlation between being outside and feeling emotionally, mentally and physically better.

Being outside almost provides a distraction from everything else going on. Exercising outside can definitely lead to great things. Do you exercise outside? If so, what’s your favorite type of exercise to do outside?

Nature’s Fastest Marathon Runner

Some animals are good at running, us humans being one of them. But most animals while they can run fast they often don’t run far. Or if they run far, they don’t run fast. One exception outside of humans is the ostrich. The ostrich can run up to 43 mph at their fastest. When they run further than 20 miles, their average speed drops to 30 mph. The average stride of an ostrich is 10 to 16 feet, one of the longest of any bird not to mention animal.

The African ostrich is the fastest, clocking speeds between 60 to 70 km per hour which allows this species to finish a full marathon in about 40 minutes rather than the two plus hours needed by a human. So how do ostriches compare to humans?


When compared to humans, ostriches have the majority of their musculature located very high on the thigh bone and hip, whereas the lower swinging elements of their legs are moved by long, mass-reducing tendons. Tendons are very light and aid in long steps along with increased step frequency. Just don’t think that tendons make these birds tender. They tend to run when they feel threatened, but are known to attack when needed especially when there’s an egg involved. (largest egg = tastiest egg)

Random Jen fact: I did an entire school project on ostriches in 3rd grade and absolutely loved it. What’s your favorite animal? What’s your favorite running animal? Did you even consider the ostrich a runner before this post?

Wonder Woman

I saw Wonder Woman last night and it was amazing. It went beyond my expectations and I can now finally say there is a good female superhero movie in the comic-book movie world. While her costume may have become more brassy, her character stayed on cue with maybe a little more feminine power and strength added.

Gal Gadot did a wonderful job portraying Wonder Woman. She was more than just a sexy woman in a skimpy outfit. I liked how she wasn’t fully aware of her gender and therefore didn’t let it hold her back. She was stubborn in what she wanted to accomplish and never gave up on her dreams and desires no matter how bleak the outlook was. The movie had funny moments and slow moments, but overall was well directed by Patty Jenkins. I’m hoping the DC and Marvel Universes take note that a woman directed the first good female superhero movie.

Have you seen Wonder Woman yet? If not, I highly recommend it. It is a great movie, especially for the younger female audience. It is rated PG-13, so the entire family can see it! Well, teenagers and older I suppose. Who’s your favorite superhero? What’s your favorite superhero movie? Let me know what you thought of the movie in the comments!

Panda Planner

It’s been just about a month since I bought and started using my Panda Planner and I have noticed quite a few differences in my life. When I chose to order the planner, I was feeling a little stuck in life. Also, I noticed that while I was getting a lot done, I was forgetting little things on my to-do list, like call the power company before they turn the power off on me. Details..

While having a to-do list that isn’t just in my head likely would have helped, I chose to take a giant leap and purchase a life planner not only for my to-do list but also to keep track of my projects and life goals. After much review and a few suggestions, I settled on the Panda planner and went with the standard version to give it a try. At first I wasn’t even sure what to write in this thing, but after watching the Youtube videos and messing around a bit, I found the planner to be very helpful to my life.

The planner is broken down into three sections: Monthly, Weekly, and Daily sections. The monthly section is more of an overall month by month planner, nice to put in big events or other things you need to note.

The weekly section helps you summarize the previous week and plan for the upcoming week. I try to do this every Sunday, but sometimes don’t get to it until Monday since my weekends tend to get busy. Even so, it helps give me perspective on how much I’m doing and how I can improve. I like reflecting and seeing the progress I’m making in multiple areas of my life. Sometimes the progress is slow-moving but that only helps fuel me to work harder and focus more on those areas.

Then my favorite section is the daily section since that is where I get to write the most. I only fill these out on weekdays, so Mondays through Fridays. Weekends I tend to split my time between work and fun (plus exercise of course) so I don’t really write my daily plan for Saturdays and Sundays. This way I don’t get overwhelmed with my to-do list and goals. I think it’s healthy to have goals, but sometimes I can go overboard with the goals and start ignoring the less serious side of life. While I enjoy adulting, I also enjoy acting like a kid from time to time. And once in awhile, I do actually relax.

This planner has helped catapult me into my life and propel me forward with my goals. While I’m still working on making progress in many areas of my life, I feel much more organized and successful with the planner and the ability to write and keep track of all my ideas and action items.

What do you do to stay organized? What are your goals in life and are you working towards them? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!


Bill Nye the Science Guy

I grew up watching Bill Nye the Science Guy on the Disney channel. It was a combination of this show, my middle school science teacher (Ms. Jen Baum), and my first pets (hamster & dog) that contributed to my passion for science and animals. I have fond memories of Bill Nye and his quirky ways of explaining different topics of science. Each episode added to my knowledge base. As I grew, so did my interest and intrigue in science and the way the world worked. The most interesting topics to me centralized around biology and animal science, which led me down the path to obtaining my Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science with a Chemistry minor. And eventually a Master’s degree in Biology.

And now, somehow Bill Nye has gotten even better with age. (also he looks nearly the same to me: does this guy age?) Watching and listening to him and Bernie Sanders brings hope to my heart. Hope for our future and our planet that I’ve developed a deep love for. I love listening to Bill Nye and his viewpoints since they are still just as relevant, if not more so now than they were back in the 90’s when I watched him on Disney. Another nice thing is that now he’s free to say what he really thinks, and doesn’t have to hold anything back due to his audience being children. Also, I’m older and can understand more in regards to what he’s saying.

He has a new show Bill Nye Saves the World on Netflix that I recently started watching. While I don’t know what the show will bring to me, I look forward to learning more about science, our world, and beyond. And I hope that in addition to learning, that it brings back happy memories from my childhood growing up with Bill Nye the Science Guy.

What are your thoughts on Bill Nye? Did you watch his show in the 90s? Have you seen his new show? Do you have any qualms about Bill and his opinions? Do you even science, bro?