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 17, 2018

New Year, New Learning!

Interested in learning something new or going deeper into a content area? Consider the following resources as your learning platform:
Khan Academy Online learning that allows self-paced learning in multiple subjects with lessons, practice, and acceleration.
MIT Open CourseWare MIT Open CourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.
Academic Earth A comprehensive collection of free online courses from the world's top universities. Take learning outside the classroom with thought-provoking videos.
Coursera Take free online classes from 80+ top universities and organizations. Coursera is a social entrepreneurship company partnering with Stanford University, Yale University, Princeton University and others around the world to offer free courses online for anyone everywhere.
iTunes University The world’s largest online catalog of education content from leading institutions. More than 500,000 free lectures, videos, books, and other resources on thousands of subjects.
ALCUMUS Alcumus offers students a customized learning experience, adjusting to student performance to deliver appropriate problems and lessons. Alcumus is specifically designed to provide high-performing students with a challenging curriculum appropriate to their abilities.

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!