Sunday, June 19, 2011

Turning memories on and off

I read an article in the paper last week about a new discovery scientists have made about how memory works.  They were working with rats to determine how the hippocampus is involved in the development of long-term memory from short-term memory.  As part of the process, they used certain drugs to block the impulses from one section to another and found that they could turn on or turn off the processes involved in memory production.  It's exciting to think that this might lead to therapies to help people recover memories - those with brain injuries, Alzheimer's disease, and other conditions that impair memory.  Conversely, it could also be used to help those with traumatic memories to "turn off" those terrible memories that can incapacitate a person.

Of course, it would be nice to be able to have a "switch" that could turn on student's brains to help them remember what goes on in class.  Think how great their test scores would be!  Unfortunately, we don't have anything like that available to us at the present time.  Students have to learn methods to "turn on" their own memories by actually paying attention in class and studying for tests and to "turn off" distractors such as Facebook and TV and iPods.  Maybe someday there will be a way to flip a switch to help remember.  But for now, you'll have to depend on the "old fashioned" type of switch - the one that turns off the devices that distract you, in order to turn on your capacity to remember material more than one day at a time!

Friday, May 20, 2011

I can't believe I waited so long . . .

I can't believe I've gone the entire semester without posting to this blog! It doesn't seem like it's been 5 months, but I guess it has been. I do remember blogging, but now that I think about it, I posted to my OTHER blog rather than this one! Oh, well - better late than never!

It's been an okay school year. The students (for the most part) have been pretty good - no major problems - and not having to float after the first month was so much better than I could have expected at the beginning of the school year. Most everyone is doing either well or okay in class - only 1 or 2 that I'm really worried about passing. It's been a long year but we've all made it through.

I'm excited about getting ready for next year. Yes, it may be rough - larger classes, fewer teachers, less money, more stress over new testing - but it's a new year and a new start, a chance to improve the things I was less than successful at, to do a better job of inspiring my students, trying to excite them about biology. I'm excited to be moving to a bigger, better lab, much more appropriate for biology than this computer lab I've been in this year. I'm excited to be teaching the same courses in a new way, with a colleague I love teaching with, in a school I really love. It may be my last year at this school - who knows whether I'll still be here or will go to the new school that opens in 2012 - but I'm really looking forward to the new school year.

So to A&M Consolidated's class of 2015 biology students, welcome - I wish you a great and exciting freshman year. I hope you're ready to learn about LIFE!!