Post AP Exam Extravaganza

By: Mitch Hughes

The second week of AP exams is coming to a close. This means instruction in most AP classes has ended, because AP classes are designed so that students have completed the entire curriculum before the exam. For many schools, including our own, regular classes don’t end for another couple of weeks after AP exams.

Unless teachers have other activities planned for the free time after exams, students will likely find themselves rather bored unless they find something entertaining to pass the time. The list of good time passing activities is endless, but some things are certainly more entertaining, easier to do, and less disruptive than others. Here’s just a few of the things you can do to make the time between AP exams and the end of the school year fly by.

Cards:

No matter what your class does after AP exams, you shouldn’t be without a deck of cards. Card games are not very disruptive, easy to setup, easy to learn (for the most part), and a great time. It helps to have to know a few games ahead of time, because you never know what everyone will want to play. One deck of cards is very versatile in the number of possible games and players. Card games that you ought to have in your repertoire include, but are not limited to: Crazy 8’s, Slapjack, Spoons, Kemps, Capitalism, BS, Euchre, and Egyptian Rat Screw.

Board Games:

Board games are great because of how self contained they are. Everything you need from cards and pieces to rules and instructions are all included in the box, so it’s easy for everyone to learn. Though some board games are time consuming and limit the number of players, their uniqueness makes them quite engaging and most definitely worth the time. A few fun board games include: Monopoly, Sorry, Sequence, Risk, Jenga, Taboo, Connect 4, Blokus, and many more.

Strategy games:

Strategy games are usually limited to two players, but they are very mentally engaging and fun nonetheless. Some strategy games that can really hold their own include: Chess, Checkers, Mastermind, Othello, Abalone, and dominoes.

Of course you can do more than just play games, there’s always reading a good book or doing homework for other classes or more fun options; yo-yo’s, hacky sack, juggling, and other things of that nature to name a few. Technology can also be an asset to your entertainment. For instance, your class could agree upon a movie to watch, or you could play computer games (coolmath4kids.com isn’t just for children). No matter what you do, it is important not to disrupt other classes that are still working, and check with your teacher before doing anything.

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Ted Cruz “Suspends” Bid for Candidacy

By: Mitch Hughes

The GOP field of presidential candidates that once had 17 people throwing their hats in the ring has now narrowed itself down to just 2. Ted Cruz has suspended his campaign following his defeat in the state of Indiana, which he claimed to be his “firewall state.” In his suspension announcement, Cruz stated, “From the beginning I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory. Tonight, I’m sorry to say, it appears that path has been foreclosed.” The Texas Senator has been consistently ranked 2nd in national GOP polls and in the number of candidates for the Republican nomination.

This may not seem surprising to some as Cruz’s chances for winning enough delegates to secure the nomination outright were shattered following primary losses in the key Northeastern States: Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, and Connecticut. However, Cruz stated shortly after these losses that he was still intent on preventing Trump from getting enough delegates and taking the race to a contested Republican Convention that would take place in July, where he would still have a chance to become the party’s nominee if he were to be nominated by members of the Republican National Committee.

Now that Cruz has ended his attempt to prevent Trump from winning the nomination outright, the Republican Party is forced to face the reality that Donald Trump is coming closer and closer to becoming their nominee for president. John Kasich is still going all in, but he too cannot secure enough delegates to win the nomination outright, so he is counting on his composed temperament to help him if the race were to come to a contested convention.

High 5! How to Prepare for Success on Your AP Exams

By: Mitch Hughes

It’s early April, and for students taking AP classes, that can only mean one thing: it’s time to start preparing for AP exams. Just under a month remains until the infamous “AP Week,” which is actually the first two weeks of May, where AP exams are administered two classes per day. These two weeks and the days prior can be the most stressful time of the year for students hoping to earn college credit for the Advanced Placement classes they have been taking all year, because these exams determine whether or not they will receive any credit.

AP exams are scored on a scale from 1 to 5, with scores 3 and above passing. What credit you receive for your score, if any, is determined by the college you plan on attending. Most public schools will grant credit for 3’s and above, depending on the class. More prestigious universities will only accept 4’s or higher, sometimes only 5’s. Knowing what score you need to receive credit for the exam you are taking is important for preparation, but you always want to get the highest score possible.

In order to get your target score, it’s imperative that you put in a considerable amount time and effort into preparing for your exam.  ASSUMING THAT YOUR SUCCESS IN THE CLASS DURING THE YEAR IS ENOUGH FOR YOU TO SCORE WELL IS A BAD IDEA. There is a wide variety of resources available for each and every AP class, and it’s a great idea to familiarize yourself with several.

If you were to only use one source to prepare for your AP exam(s), it should without a doubt be apcentral.collegeboard.com. You can then click on “AP Courses” to choose the class you wish to view. Once you select a class you can then see a course overview along with other important information about the class, and more importantly go to “Exam Resources,” where you can view multiple choice and extended response questions from previous years, become familiar with the test format and procedures, view score reports to see the distribution of scores, and even take an entirely new practice exam. This is all FREE and set up through CollegeBoard, the agency that makes the AP tests.

Another reputable preparation resource is prep books from companies like Barron’s. They usually run under $20, which is a small price to pay for the college credit you might receive. In these books, you’ll find diagnostic tests to get a baseline of what you know before you start your preparation. Next you’ll find brief but helpful lessons on the course material that will be on the exam. This is very helpful because it provides all of the essential information that will be tested, some of which you may have missed. The most valuable parts of these prep books are the practice tests. They closely mimic the real AP test and have detailed and easy to follow explanations for each question in the answers section.

It is also important that you take advantage of any resources and opportunities provided you by your teacher or school. This includes review sheets of all sorts and extracurricular study sessions. The preparation resources available from your individual class are wonderful because they allow you focus on more specific topics that are fundamental to gaining a competitive edge against all of the other students taking the test nationwide. Outside of class review sessions are a fantastic way to add dimension to your preparation, because it is likely that you’ll be engaging the material in ways other than just reading and taking practice tests.

Though these resources are indispensable to success on AP exams, there are many, many more available to you in various forms. A quick Google search for “(insert class here) Ap exam prep” will find you many more dependable prep resources. The preparation you do from now until AP week can be the deciding factor in whether or not you get your desired score. No matter what score you’re aiming for, starting your studying now rather than the night before the exam will save you from a headache and a good deal of stress if nothing else.

2016 Election Update

By: Mitch Hughes

The primaries for the 2016 presidential election are nearly halfway complete, and the results so far could have never been predicted at the beginning of the campaign season. Donald Trump is leading the Republican pack with 458 delegates and Hillary Clinton is leading the Democrats with 760 delegates. To clinch the nomination  for the Republican and Democrat parties, a candidate needs 1,237 and 2,383 delegates respectively. Though the two front-runners have the lead now, things could shift greatly, as 41 states and territories have yet to decide.

On the Democrat side, Hillary Clinton has won 13 states/territories: Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, American Samoa, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Bernie Sanders has won 546 delegates and 9 states: New Hampshire, Colorado, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Vermont, Kansas, Nebraska, Maine, and Michigan.

On the Republican Side, Donald Trump has won 15 States: New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Hawaii, Michigan, and Mississippi. Ted Cruz is in second with 359 delegates and 8 states: Iowa, Alaska, Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Maine, and Idaho. Next is Marco Rubio who has won 151 delegates and two states/territories: Minnesota and Puerto Rico. Finally there is John Kasich, who has won 59 delegates but has not won a state yet, though he is projected to win his home state of Ohio. According to Fox’s latest GOP poll in Ohio, Kasich leads with 34% followed by Trump with 29%, Cruz with 19%, and Rubio with 7%.

Though Trump and Clinton have the lead in their party now, a whole lot can change in a short period of time. With 41 states and territories remaining, no candidate should get too comfortable with where they currently stand.

State and City Officials Allow Residents to be Poisoned by Lead in Water Supply

By: Mitch Hughes

Water. You may have heard of it. It is the foundation of life on earth and subsequently a daily necessity for us humans. It is recommended that each person drink at least eight cups of the stuff a day, if not more. Of course water is good for plenty of other things such as growing food, personal hygiene, generating electricity, putting out fires, and swimming pools. Water’s importance to life cannot be understated, so it makes sense that clean, usable water is should be made available to everyone, right? Well, it isn’t always so, as numerous cases of municipalities neglecting their citizens’ safety concerning public water have emerged.

The most widely known case as of late is in Flint, Michigan. The issue began when the city council decided to save money in Flint by drawing water from the polluted Flint River instead of Lake Huron where they usually derived the city’s water. The water from the Flint River is very high in corrosive iron. As if the brown water wasn’t bad enough, the corrosive water from the Flint River caused lead from the city’s transport pipes to seep into the public water supply. Citizens of Flint were unaware of the situation for over eighteen months. This could have been mitigated by putting an anti-corrosive agent into the water, but such action was never taken. Because of the negligence of state and city officials, blood lead levels in toddlers were more than twice normal levels. This is especially concerning because according to the World Health Organization, “Lead interferes with the metabolism of calcium and Vitamin D. High blood lead levels in children can cause consequences which may be irreversible including learning disabilities, behavioral problems, and mental retardation. At very high levels, lead can cause convulsions, coma and death.”

It’s bad enough that an incident like that in Flint happens singularly, but another has already emerged, this time in Sebring, Ohio. In Sebring, over 8000 water customers are at risk by lead water levels that exceed the action level according to the Ohio EPA. Though Sebring residents haven’t been exposed to the lead leached water for as long as those in Flint, city officials failed to inform their residents of the first occurrence in November, 2015.

The common thread between the two instances of lead contaminated water is complete negligence by officials on the city and state levels. People are suffering lead poisoning and children are facing a vast array of complications in the development of their brains because it was too inconvenient for an elected official to simply tell people the truth about what is going on with the water that they depend on. One can only hope that municipalities facing similar issues will learn from the mistakes of Flint and Sebring and inform their residents of the problem and actually take legitimate measures to solve it.

Who Wants to be a Billionaire?

By: Mitch Hughes

People are lining up in gas stations and other local retailers all over the country to have their shot at winning an astonishing estimated 1.4 billion dollars. The current Powerball jackpot is at a record high, doubling the previous record of $656 million,  because nobody has won the jackpot since it opened up at $40 million on November 4, 2015. Players will have their next shot at the jackpot on Wednesday, January 13. UPDATE: Three ticket holders with a claim on a record $1.6 billion Powerball jackpot were lying low on Thursday, their identities still a mystery even as lottery officials revealed the retailers in California, Florida and Tennessee that sold them the lucky tickets (Reuters).

There is certainly a reason nobody has won the jackpot in so long. The odds of winning the Powerball jackpot, which involves matching all five numbers along with the Powerball number to a set of numbers randomly selected every Wednesday and Saturday night, is approximately 1 in 292 million. A few jokes about the shocking statistic have been floating around such as: one is more likely to be struck by lightning while drowning and the odds are equivalent to flipping a quarter and landing heads 28 times in a row. These daunting odds surely aren’t keeping swarms of people from heading to their local lottery sales place to purchase any number of the two dollar tickets.

Despite the near-impossible odds, it’s hard not imagine what one would do with all of that money. After paying for college, buying a house and car, and donating to every charity there is, you’d still have more money than you know what to do with. Even after state and federal taxes, one would still be left an extreme lump sum. There are also multiple ways to receive the money. There is the cash option which results in immediate payout with less money, or there is an installment plan in which you receive the whole sum of your winnings over the course of 30 years.

 

Exciting Big 12 Showdown in Kansas

By: Mitch Hughes

On January 4, 2016, college basketball fans witnessed what may be one of the greatest games played in the past few years. The second-ranked Oklahoma Sooners traveled to Kansas to take on the first ranked Jayhawks. The Jayhawks triumphed over the Sooners 109-106 after the third overtime. This high-scoring display of two very talented teams will be remembered for some time and is already one of the most talked about games of the 2015-2016 season.

This game was an especially rare treat because it was just the fifth time since 2000 that the first- and second-ranked teams played each other in the regular season. As if that wasn’t enough, there will be a rematch in Oklahoma on February 13.

There was a lot of talent on the floor, but none stood out quite like Buddy Hield of Oklahoma who had an impressive 46 points. Hield was a commanding presence on the floor for the Sooners, playing in 54 of the 55 minutes of game time. Despite OU’s tough loss, Buddy Hield received a powerful standing ovation at the end of the game from Jayhawk and Sooner fans alike. The game’s intensity is sure to be remembered for years to come and there will most definitely be a great deal of hype leading into their next meeting.