Tuesday, October 18, 2011

How Television Benefits Your Children


You don't see a lot of ads like this any more. While it may have sounded promising 50 years ago, the fact remains, television has gotten a bad rap for the past 30 years. Much of it is warranted.

Television itself isn't bad for kids. The programming is bad. But it doesn't have to be that way.

High Definition TV is great and quite a bit of the HD programming is awesome. The Discovery Channel has some beautiful and educational shows. A&E and PBS both have responsible programming and National Geographic is right there too.

Unfortunately, many kids are glued to shows featuring the Khardashians or cartoons that offer little educational value. I'm not knocking their entertainment value for their intended audiences, but they don't offer many "benefits" for children except for "cred" with their peers.

Sesame Street was groundbreaking when it came onto the scene and has offered educational television time for many kids. We need more shows for older kids.

TV time is decreasing for many kids as their time is now shared with texting and computers. But television is still engaging, with bigger screens and better quality visuals adding to the allure. If somebody finds a way to create "Extreme Education" and pump it across the country, maybe TV will find its way back into the "beneficial for children" slot that was promised so many years ago.

It's not that difficult to find good shows for kids to watch. The effort comes in getting them to watch the good shows.

The benefit from watching good shows? Kids will remember what they see on TV better than they will remember what they heard in class or read on a blackboard. It's more engaging, and content rich. 30 minutes of TV time can present much more information than 30 minutes in a class. Maybe we should create class instruction for television and pipe it into all the classrooms around the country. We might just have better engagement and more consistent teaching. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Candy Apples


Dads cook. Moms bake. Not always, but that's the way it plays out at our house.

I don't have a problem with that. I love being at the grill with a slab of ribs or a dozen burgers.

But it seems like moms have more fun making cookies, baking brownies, and playing with the sugary goodness. All the stuff you save room for after you've pigged out on dad's grillins.

So when my daughter asked me to help her make candy apples, I decided to take a little time off work and dig into the sugar.

Two caveats: I've never made candy apples before and I'm not endorsing hard-as-glass sugary snacks or corn syrup. Well, not every day at least. It is October, and with Halloween just around the corner, I figured now would be a good time to practice.

Making candy apples is pretty easy if you have a candy thermometer handy. What you'll need is:

 - 2 Cups Sugar

 - 1 Cup Light Corn Syrup

 - 1/2 Cup of Hot Water

 - Food coloring or 1/2 Cup of Red Hots

Prepare a baking sheet with aluminum foil, wax paper or plastic wrap. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Wash and dry the apples, remove the stems, and skewer through the center with Popsicle sticks or any sturdy wooden sticks.

Add the sugar, corn syrup, and water to a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Then, cook without stirring until the temperature reaches 250 degrees F.

At 250 degrees, add the Red Hots or food coloring. We used blue food coloring because we'd never seen blue candy apples before. Remember, this was an experiment for me.

Stir briefly to thoroughly mix the color, then stop stirring until the temp reaches 280 degrees F. Remove from heat and stir until smooth and even.

Holding the apples by the sticks, dip into the mixture to coat the entire apple. Remove from the saucepan, twirling to allow excess to fall into the pan. Place on baking sheet and allow to cool, about 20 minutes or so. Eat within 24 hours.

Our first one had too much candy coating but made for a nice effect. I'm ready to get crazy with new colors for another official run in a few weeks.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 3, 2011

How Students Pay For College - Infographic

Prices have skyrocketed since I was in college. If they continue to rise, will anybody except the rich be able to get a higher education? Below is an infographic that shows how much it costs and how students are finding ways to pay for college.

To see this in full size, visit Daily Infographic.