Archive: December 2020

Social Initiatives

This trait is an invaluable aspect of our society. Bringing touches of colour to the mundane and imagination to the bleak, creativity is a great skill to have. We dove into what creativity is, in addition to how you can foster it daily. With artist Mia Bekic, we explore the  creative depths of  the art scene and how you can become more creative as a person.

With the holiday season upon us, there is a cause for celebration, especially when we take into account how long this year has felt. The world has so much to offer at this time of year. Looking past our immediate communities and traditions, we open ourselves to a whole new level of consciousness. The holidays can look very different across different cultures and regions, and we’ve taken it upon ourselves to help you delve into them. Additionally, COVID-19 has dampened many holidays already, and for most places, the holidays of the winter season will be no exception to this. We’ve also included a look into how the pandemic has altered these varying traditions.

The days are getting shorter, the snow is falling harder, and it feels like the light at the end of the tunnel is disappearing. Despite the headlines promising vaccines, the COVID-19 pandemic will not loosen its grip during this icy winter. Quarantine fatigue paired with seasonal depression will make these dark months seem darker. Returning to their diaries are Cara, Max, Marie, and Advik, four fictional Canadian students whose stories reflect all youth's sentiment. As winter break approaches, bringing on its own form of quarantine, all kids grapple with different circumstances and emotions. Through these stories, we hope that their voices—the voices of all youth—aren't blown away in the biting wind.

This year has been a difficult one for many, especially during the holiday season. Parents may be struggling to afford special meals or presents for their children, and the isolation can bring an overwhelming sense of loneliness. However, those of us who have been fortunate enough during this pandemic can help others by doing a variety of donations which we have explained in this article. For example, we can donate gifts to children to brighten their holiday experience and bring joy to the children’s and their parents’ lives. We can also donate to enable families to have filling, delicious meals that they may not be able to afford during this time. There are so many more ways to help out struggling families, and this article is a perfect place to find organizations that allow us to do so.

We hear it time and time again: “We are all in this together” and “These are challenging times.” On and on, we hear the message that COVID-19 has rattled our world, but we can and will get back up again. But how is the pandemic affecting the students of today, who are growing up estranged from society and preparing for a rapidly changing future through a Zoom screen? How has the pandemic changed their lives and futures? This article contains four fictional diary entries from the perspective of school-age students. Through their words, get an idea of how the students of today are learning, developing, and finding their feet during a global pandemic. Dear Diary… 

Amidst the pandemic, the struggle of small businesses to maintain their revenue has become apparent. Despite their size, however, they are defined by their spirit and their dauntless and resilient founders. Nani’s Gelato is one of these businesses which requires our support. 

One of the most significant features is that the shop changes its flavours every Monday, rotating through more than 100 flavours a year. The gelato is also freshly made daily from scratch to ensure premium quality.

 

Scientific News

Epigenetics is the study of how your behaviours and environment changes the way your genes function. Every cell in our body contains the same genetic code, but each cell has a different structure and function; so, epigenetics concerns the study of how different structures arise from the same gene sequence. Scientists have been studying epigenetic changes in relation to a wide variety of diseases to better understand how to treat them.

Living through a major historical event is quite the ordeal; stress, anxiety, and confusion are most likely how everyone has been feeling. Luckily, the most significant figureheads in the pandemic-related field, healthcare professionals,  are providing us with daily updates and advancements in regards to the virus. But what happens when some folks don’t take this information seriously? What happens when a pandemic becomes more about politics than anything else?

It has almost been a year since the pandemic began globally, which means by now we are all but too familiar with the term social distancing and its connotations: keeping at least two metres away from anyone outside your immediate social bubble and limiting the number of people you come into contact with all to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus. Alas, setting such social boundaries is not a ritual the human race is accustomed to. For the most part, we are used to crowded public places, greeting each other with handshakes, hugs, high-fives, barbecues, birthday parties, and going to the movies, sitting with our friends during class sharing snacks during lunch break. We never had to constantly beware of what we touched when out in public, and masks were the furthest thing from our minds. But the world is a different place now; new behaviours have been normalized. How has this affected our daily lives? With social interaction and physical contact previously being so common in our society, the impacts on peoples' mental health and wellness have proven to be exuberant.

Aurora, also known as polar lights, northern lights, or southern lights, is a natural light display in the night sky commodiously observed in high-latitude regions. Aurora's beauty is remarkably a result of a collision between charged particles released by the sun and gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere. When charged particles from the sun collide with atoms in the Earth's atmosphere, they induce electrons to move to a higher energy state. After the electrons drop back to a lower energy state, they release a photon: light.

Antimicrobial resistance occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites change and no longer respond to medicines they responded to in the past - this renders the antimicrobial medicines ineffective. This increases the difficulties in treating an illness, causing the disease to spread easily and have negative, and sometimes lethal, effects on people. Antibiotics are becoming less and less effective, increasing the demand for new medicines to treat carbapenem-resistant gram-negative bacterial infections. This is due to the manner in which many people incorrectly use antibiotics such as overuse, or incorrectly following the prescribed schedule.

Upon the recent distribution of the Pfizer vaccine for use across North America, the Government of Canada has suggested that individuals allergic to ingredients in the vaccine should not take it. This much seems obvious, but how will those individuals protect themselves from COVID-19? What about children under 16, those with underlying health conditions, or pregnant individuals? Due to their inability to get vaccinated, how can we ensure the community is protected from outbreaks? This is where healthy individuals enter the picture. In this article, read about the importance of getting vaccinated if you are able to do so, and how this helps protect yourself and your community through herd immunity. If you can, be sure to play a role in protecting your community by getting vaccinated. Every single person counts!

Have you ever wondered how scientists and researchers have identified the different taxonomic categories of species? We know this due to the comprehensive field of study known as comparative genomics. Comparative genomics is an expansive branch of biological research in which the genome sequences of different organisms are compared and contrasted. Comparative genomics caters as an incredible tool for investigating and understanding evolution. Scientists can comprehensively interpret how the character, demeanour, and biology of living things have changed over time by analyzing the evolutionary conjunctions between species and the reciprocal discrepancies in their DNA. Analyzing DNA sequences that have been preserved in many different organisms for over millennia is a crucial step towards understanding the genome itself. It distinguishes genes that are fundamental for life and highlights genomic signals that command genes across many species, helping research scientists further understand what genes correlate with various biological systems, which may translate into ingenious approaches for treating human disease and enhancing human health.

Currently, the long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 are not fully understood. However, we know that those who suffer serious illnesses who contract COVID-19 have significant mortality and morbidity as a short to medium-term effect. Still, many may suffer from physical and psychological difficulties long term. The full effects of COVID-19 are hard to gauge because many numbers around the pandemic focus on deaths, so many cases that do not require hospitalization (e.g., asymptomatic) are not followed upon and death as criteria of COVID severity undermines and overshadows "mild" cases.

 

Vaccine Updates

Pfizer (pronounced FI-ZER) is one of the largest drug companies in the United States which, along with other pharmaceutical companies, makes up a ‘Big Pharma’. In these past couple of weeks, Pfizer released critical information about their new vaccine for the coronavirus. The Pfizer vaccine, called BNT162b2, is unique in using mRNA technology to introduce the virus’ RNA into the body, use the body’s cellular machinery to translate the corresponding protein/antigen, and thus induce an immune response. Phase 3 of the vaccine’s clinical trial showed promising results. Could this mean an end to the pandemic? Read more as we debunk the speculation surrounding the Pfizer vaccine and whether we may see an end to the pandemic in the near future.

In this article, we had the chance to meet with Thomas Lingelbach, CEO of the international biotech company Valneva, to discuss current advancements in COVID-19 vaccine development. In contrast to the new mRNA vaccines, Valneva is currently developing a more traditional vaccine—similar to how flu vaccines work. During the interview,  we discuss everything from characteristics of the vaccine to clinical trial safety, as well as the current progress and future plans for Valneva.

As of May 30, 2020, three major organizations led the race to a vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 virus: Moderna, Pfizer, and Oxford University. Pfizer, an American-based pharmaceutical company, took over the news last month upon the announcement of the success of its BNT162b2 vaccine. Pfizer reported a 95% efficacy rate from its Phase 3 study of the vaccine, involving over 43,000 participants. After receiving Pfizer’s submission on October 9, 2020, Health Canada authorized its vaccine on December 9, 2020. Canada has ordered approximately 200,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine for arrival by next week. Canada could also order up to 168,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine by the end of December if it is approved. Seniors and healthcare workers are some of the first demographics to be receiving the vaccine. The long-term immune response of both vaccines is still unknown. Whether the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine can prevent the person from transmitting the virus or not is still unknown. It is very important that people take the same precautions even after vaccines roll out: social distancing, wearing masks, gathering in smaller numbers, and more. 

 

Advice/Tips

Although the media has created a specific stereotype of coders ー a hooded figure dimly lit by a computer screen ー coding is actually used in so many different ways in our world. Programmers using different coding languages are hired to do things from developing artificial intelligences, to making games, to programming machines. Thus, people specialized in coding are in high demand, which is one of the main benefits of learning to code. There are many career pathways that come from an ability to code, including those of software application developers, computer systems engineers, and software quality assurance (QA) engineers. However, there are actually many other benefits of learning programming, including improving your problem-solving skills, learning more about how technology works, and even helping you to pursue passion projects. 

Seasons Eatings! With the Holidays right around the corner, what’s better to get you in the spirit than some holiday baking? Baking can relieve stress, provide time to reflect on life and find some joy and excitement. Holiday baking is a great way to take time for yourself and spend time with family. Read on to find recipes you can complete with family at home or with friends virtually.

Christmas isn’t all about gifts, but presents are nice surprises to give to the people you appreciate.

This is an extended version of one of our previous articles, Holiday Gift-Giving Ideas, for even more ideas to give to the people you appreciate during the merry season. This article follows three sections of gifts: Entertainment Gifts, Technology Gifts, and some Classic Gifts that everyone will like. When giving others gifts, ensure that you follow health protocols, like shipping them, or leaving the gifts in front of people's houses after disinfecting them.

Scientists have discovered that gut microbes are a factor to consider when it comes to our health. Each person has microbes that live inside their guts that make up the digestive tract’s microbiome. These bacteria help the body further break down food and turn nutrients into smaller building blocks the body can use. They also keep the “bad” bacteria in check by multiplying so they have no space to grow, maintaining equilibrium. Scientists have over the years have shown that gut health is another key to understanding nutrition.

As university application deadlines approach for many of us seniors, we’ll be sharing our insights for all high school students on application writing—as well as important advice regarding high school and leadership skills that can help YOU stand out. Learn from R2AC members from their knowledge on how you can succeed. From leadership, courage and confidence, Highschool is a great time to learn about yourself and grow into an amazing person.

Many things have been uncertain this year, but one thing is for sure: this Christmas will be unlike anything seen before. Despite social distancing regulations and public health measures, there are still tons of ways you and your family can cherish this time of the year. From making sweet treats to watching classic Christmas movies, we’ve put together a long list of activities for you to explore and enjoy.

It has been over 8 months since the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus a pandemic. After this announcement, which came on March 12, 2020, countries across the world began implementing quarantine and lockdown measures, confining people to their households and limiting outside interactions. Now, people are starting to feel a unique time of tiredness called “COVID Fatigue”. What is this fatigue, and how can you combat it?

With the stresses and endless work that has come with the pandemic for many, we can begin to put healthy eating on the backlog,  particularly the first meal of the day ー breakfast. Having a filling, healthy breakfast has many benefits, including feeling more awake, and even having fewer cravings, leading to smaller daily calorie consumption.  In this article, we explain more of such benefits of eating a good breakfast, particular foods that are proven to be great breakfast foods, and quick recipe ideas you can make from home. Never forget to always prioritize an excellent breakfast in the morning!

 
 

Other News

Christmas is known for many things, one of which being festive movies! And this definitely is something that we can still enjoy, even in our crazy circumstances. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of some Christmas movies from various genres that you can watch this holiday season to get into a merry mood. Some examples include famous classics, like Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, but also some lesser-known, but just as great movies, like The Princess Switch. Whichever you choose, we wish you a wonderful holiday season this year!

The fashion industry, like many things, has taken many hits during the pandemic. Many department stores around the world have closed, and major retailers and brands have had to send employees in their facilities to furlough and file for bankruptcy. Also, fashion events and shows have been put off indefinitely such as the Met Gala. After experiencing all of these losses, fashion experts have had to adapt to changes, and modify the way they operate.

Apart from the popular role in an even more popular video game, the term ‘imposter’ is associated with a type of intellectual strife that countless students unfortunately experience. What is imposter syndrome, really? While not DSM recognized, it is acknowledged as a deeply harmful form of self-doubt, that disproportionately affects minority and low-income students. We’ve gone through what the strife really looks like, as well as what you can do about it.

Although not scientifically proven, zodiac signs may reveal a lot about an individual’s personality and behaviour. Astrology is the study of the influence that distant cosmic objects, usually stars and planets, have on human lives. The position of the sun, stars, moon, and planets at the time of a person’s birth is said to shape their personality, affect their social relationships, and predict their future successes. Whether you believe in astrology or not, it’s something that benefits those who follow it. It helps improve their lives for the better and improve their relationships with those around them.

Space exploration has progressed a lot since the first person stepped foot on the moon. But what is space exploration? According to Britannica, space exploration is “the investigation, by means of crewed and uncrewed spacecraft, of the reaches of the universe beyond Earth’s atmosphere and the use of the information so gained to increase knowledge of the cosmos and benefit humanity.”  With the development of technology in the past century, it has become possible to send people and animals to space, take pictures of the galaxy, rovers to roam on different terrain, prove scientific theories, and more.