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STEPHEN HAWKING: January 8, 1942 to March 14, 2018

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Article by Greg Mercer

Hawking’s significant star power raised the international profile of the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

In research visits and partnerships, he endorsed their missions and collaborated with their brightest minds.

When Perimeter opened the Stephen Hawking Centre, the only building in the world to bear his name, the renowned physicist said Waterloo Region was gathering the ingredients for historic scientific breakthroughs.

“The importance of special places and special times, where magical progress can happen, cannot be overstated. I am hoping, and expecting, great things will happen here,” the wheelchair-bound scientist said at the time.

Hawking, who was a distinguished visiting research chair at Perimeter, celebrated the local institute as a “grand experiment in theoretical physics” exploring the questions that were closest to his heart.

“He was an incredible scientist who has changed the way we think about the universe. His work will continue to inspire scientists all over the world, and generations for years to come,” said Raymond Laflamme, the former director of the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC).

Hawking was a close collaborator and friend with Perimeter director Neil Turok, who like Laflamme once worked with him at the University of Cambridge.


March Break University Open Houses 2018

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It is highly recommended that students tour the universities during the March Break. Walking the campuses and speaking with students and professors can be enlightening:


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SHAD is a registered Canadian charity that empowers exceptional high school students – at a pivotal point in their education – to recognize their own capabilities and envision their extraordinary potential as tomorrow’s leaders and change makers. Each year, SHAD provides the opportunity for 900 students from across Canada and internationally to attend a month-long summer program, in-residence at one of our Canadian host universities, focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts & math). There are currently more than 16,300 SHAD alumni including 32 Rhodes Scholars, Top 40 Under 40 & Top 20 Under 20 award recipients, and many other accomplished professionals, all sharing the transformational SHAD experience and able to leverage their SHAD network for life. Founded in 1980, SHAD is based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Students selected through the rigorous, competitive process for places in the summer program are top performers who are also well-rounded emerging leaders demonstrating initiative, creativity and flair. They are leaders in their schools, volunteers in their communities, and are often gifted musicians, artists and athletes.

Preventing Teen Suicide

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What the evidence shows:  Don’t hide it, don’t sensationalize it, or normalize it, put away smartphone, let kids socialize in person

For the full article:

Teens are avid consumers of news online, research suggests

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Last year, teens’ desire for news was part of what prompted Snapchat, the onetime fave app of sexters everywhere, to launch partnerships with dozens of respected content providers, including VICE, The New York Times and Vogue, for its Discover feature. (In the United States, 22 per cent of Snapchat’s daily active users are 13 to 17, and an additional 36 per cent are 18 to 24.) The curated approach of Discover helps ensure fake news can’t get a toehold on Snapchat.

Still, kids’ ease with technology doesn’t automatically mean they’re media literate.

“On an anecdotal level, the kids are highly informed of what’s going on,” notes Shannon Howson, a geography teacher at Ursula Franklin Academy in the West End of Toronto whose lessons frequently deal with current events. “They’re often keeping me abreast on issues.” Still, she said, she has to remind students to think “about the validity of sources, knowing the bias and the skew of your sources and knowing if they’re reputable. The kids have no concept of that.”


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About the Series

An innovative series of portraits pairing Canada’s most distinguished writers with great Canadians who have shaped our thinking. Based on Penguin Canada’sExtraordinary Canadians collection, the series provides deeply personal takes on the lives of eminent Canadians from the perspective of celebrated contemporary writers.

Unique among television biography series, Extraordinary Canadians captures the relationship between writer and subject, and probes the distinctive link between the two. As each writer chronicles the life of a Canadian from whom they have drawn inspiration, we are treated to insights into the lives of both biographer and subject.


Handwriting With A Pen Positively Affects Your Brain

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Scientists are discovering that learning cursive is an important tool for cognitive development, particularly in training the brain to learn “functional specialization”—that is, the capacity for optimal efficiency. In the case of learning cursive writing, the brain develops functional specialization that integrates both sensation, movement control, and thinking. Brain imaging studies reveal that multiple areas of brain become co-activated during the learning of cursive writing of pseudo-letters, as opposed to typing or just visual practice.

There is a spill-over benefit for thinking skills used in reading and writing. To write legible cursive, fine motor control is needed over the fingers. You have to pay attention and think about what and how you are doing it. You have to practice. Brain imaging studies show that cursive activates areas of the brain that do not participate in keyboarding.

1. Handwriting increases neural activity in certain sections of the brain, similar to meditation. According to a study performed at the Indiana University, the mere action of writing by hand unleashes creativity not easily accessed in any other way. And high-tech magnetic resonance imaging has indeed shown that low-tech writing by hand increases neural activity in certain sections of the brain, much like meditation.

2. Handwriting sharpens the brain and helps us learn. Writing is good for keeping one’s gray matter sharp and may even influence how we think, as in “more positively,” studies show. Apparently sequential hand movements, like those used in handwriting, activate large regions of the brain responsible for thinking, language, healing and working memory.

3. Handwriting forces us to slow down and smell the ink. Another often-overlooked benefit of writing by hand is that it just plain forces us to slow down and enjoy the moment — a novelty in today’s world where immediacy reigns. Mindful writing rests the brain, potentially sparking creativity, according to neuroscientist Dr. Claudia Aguirre.