Advanced Academic Services is part of the Austin Independent School District. This blog provides information, activities, and events regarding advanced academics and high ability children and teens. Smart without compromise. Potential without limits.

Monday, December 10, 2018

C-SPAN's StudentCam Contest - Deadline January 20, 2019

What is C-Span's Student Cam?

StudentCam is C-SPAN's annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think critically about issues that affect our communities and our nation. 

This year students in grades 6-12 are asked to create a short (5-6 minute) video documentary on a topic related to the new 2019 competition theme, "What does it mean to be American? Choose a constitutional right, national characteristic, or historic event and explain how it defines the American experience."

With cash prizes totaling $100,000, C-SPAN awards prizes to 150 student documentaries, and over 50 teacher advisors. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Mental Fitness for Life

Mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness, and shouldn’t be ignored. Mental fitness is important to maintaining good brain health and as well as body health, especially as you age. There are many types of mental dexterity exercises, and the best part is you don’t need to go to the gym to do them. They include active ones, such as learning a new song or playing a game, or restful ones, such as relaxation and visualization exercises.
Mental fitness means keeping your brain and emotional health in good shape. It refers to a series of exercises that help you slow down, think clearly, decompress or perhaps boost a foggy memory. Thanks to decades of research, you can learn how to get your mind active and improve upon your mental fitness through practice. There are various strategies that can be used to protect and improve memory. Here are some suggested ways to obtain mental fitness:

  • Hold discussions with friends and family about a wide range of topics. This gives your brain an opportunity to explore, examine, and inquire.
  • Challenge your intellect and memory. Stretch yourself mentally by learning a new language, doing the cryptic crossword, or by playing chess. This is important for brain health and good for your social life as well.
  • Read often and read widely. Keeping an active interest in the world around you will help to exercise your brain and improve your mental fitness.
  • Take up a new hobby. Learning something new gives the ‘grey matter’ in the brain a workout and builds neural pathways in the brain.
  • Take up a manual activity or craft. Hobbies such as woodworking and sewing or skipping rope require you to move both sides of the body at the same time, in precise movements. This can help to improve your spatial awareness and increase your reaction time.
  • Exercise your brain with others. Watch, question and answer game shows and enjoy the competitive spirit. Involve the entire family in regular games to test their general knowledge.

Many think that multitasking enables them to get more things done at once, but it actually creates more problems than it solves. Studies show that focusing on one task at a time improves your concentration and helps you to be more productive.
New experiences can also set you on the path to mental fitness. You can fit new approaches into your daily life in a variety of ways such as trying new foods as you explore new cultures, invent new ways to accomplish routine tasks, travel new places virtually or physically, or try a new route to the grocery store or your work.
Games that test reasoning and other portions of your brain are fun ways to keep your mind sharp. Try crossword puzzles, board games, Sudoku, or online daily mental quizzes to increase your brain strength. 
Schedule a mental fitness break into your calendar right next to your workout schedule. Including mental dexterity exercises into your daily routine can help you reap the benefits of a sharper mind and a healthier body for years to come. Your mind and your health are worth it!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Learn Phrases in a New Language with World Nomads!

Have you ever been stuck in a country wanting to be polite, but not even knowing the word for 'please'? Or been frustrated when you couldn't ask for the most basic directions to where you're going?
The German Language Guide gives you enough phrases to keep you travelling safely and get more from your holiday.
There are many other languages available! Click HERE for more information!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Overcoming Test Anxiety


Most students experience some level of anxiety during an exam; however, when anxiety affects exam performance it has become a problem.

Test preparation to reduce anxiety:

• Approach the exam with confidence: Use whatever strategies you can to personalize success: visualization, logic, talking to yourself, practice, team work, journaling, etc. View the exam as an opportunity to show how much you've studied and to receive a reward for the studying you've done.

• Be prepared! Learn your material thoroughly and organize what materials you will need for the test. Use a checklist.

• Choose a comfortable location for taking the test with good lighting and minimal distractions. • Allow yourself plenty of time, especially to do things you need to do before the test and still get there a little early.

• Avoid thinking you need to cram just before.

• Strive for a relaxed state of concentration.

• Avoid speaking with any fellow students who have not prepared, who express negativity, who will distract your preparation.

• A program of exercise is said to sharpen the mind.

• Get a good night's sleep the night before the exam.

• Don't go to the exam with an empty stomach. Fresh fruits and vegetables are often recommended to reduce stress. Stressful foods can include processed foods, artificial sweeteners, carbonated soft drinks, chocolate, eggs, fried foods, junk foods, pork, red meat, sugar, white flour products, chips and similar snack foods, foods containing preservatives or heavy spices.

• Take a small snack, or some other nourishment to help take your mind off of your anxiety. Avoid high sugar content (candy) which may aggravate your condition. During the test:

• Read the directions carefully.

• Budget your test taking time.

• Change positions to help you relax.

• If you go blank, skip the question and go on.

• If you're taking an essay test and you go blank on the whole test, pick a question and start writing. It may trigger the answer in your mind.

• Don't panic when students start handing in their papers. There's no reward for being the first done.
Excerpted from Overcoming test anxiety. Study Guides and Strategies.

Retrieved 06/12/2009 from Permission is granted to freely copy, adapt, and distribute individual in print format in noncommercial educational settings that benefit learners.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Austin ISD Middle School Fair December 1, 2018 at Fulmore Middle School

Families of current and future middle school students are invited to Austin ISD's 2018 Middle School Fair.
Students and their families can learn about the diverse and innovative programming offered in Austin ISD, enjoy student performances, and hear from current students, families and faculty from our 19 middle schools about the amazing programs and classes open to our middle school students.
This year's fair is 9 a.m.–noon Dec. 1 at Fulmore Middle School, 201 E. Mary St. 
Reagan and Crockett Early College High Schools will be running a shuttle to and from Fulmore Middle School starting at 8 a.m., with final pickup to return to the high schools at noon.
For more information, please contact Ollie White in the Middle School Office at 512-414-4481.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Brain Health Series: Your Brain, Sleep, and Relaxation

Did you know that not getting enough sleep is not healthy for your brain? New research shows that sleeping less than seven or eight hours a night has been linked to cognitive declinememory loss, and possibly even Alzheimer's disease.

A sleep deficit can have dangerous implications for your brain, and not just because it makes you sleepy during the day. Parts of your brain are several times more active at night than during the daytime. One of them is a newly discovered drainage system called the glymphatic system. This is a bit like your city's sewage and recycling system. Its job is to clear out and recycle all toxins in the brain. One protein actively recycled during sleep is amyloid plaque. This plaque is the hallmark of Alzheimer's. Alzheimer’s disease is caused by many factors, but one of these may also be sleep deprivation.

A University of Pennsylvania study found that extended wakefulness can injure neurons essential for alertness and cognition, and that the damage to these neurons might be permanent. Other studies have led scientists to conclude that chemicals secreted during the deeper stages of sleep are crucial for repairing the body, including the brain.

One of the chemicals involved in creating memories, acetylcholine, is also developed during sleep and dreaming. Brain cells that produce acetylcholine are destroyed in people who are developing Alzheimer’s disease. So, these people do not dream as much.

Relaxation and meditation or mindfulness has been found to be very beneficial to brain and body health.  Deep relaxation and meditation, when practiced regularly not only relieve stress and anxiety but have been found to improve mood. Deep relaxation has many other potential benefits as well—it can decrease blood pressure, relieve pain, and improve your immune and cardiovascular systems

The brain requires substantial downtime to remain industrious and generate its most innovative ideas. According to Tim Kreider, of the New York Times, "Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets,"

Let’s get a good nights sleep, remember to relax, and meditate. do it all for the health of our brains and become better thinkers in the process!