This tech subscription box can rewire your brain for the better
Ready to become a tech wizard? Creation Crate's electronic projects are delivered to your door with everything you need to start building and learning.
- Creation Crate is a tech subscription box that sends monthly projects, with all the components, right to your door.
- Each project in the curriculum teaches new lessons in electronics and C++ programming. The projects get more challenging as you learn.
- Working with your hands changes your brain's neurochemistry to reduce stress and increase learning. It's also a great way to prepare kids for a STEM future.
With the subscription box market on the rise, just about anything you could possibly need can be delivered to your home monthly. Thanks to Creation Crate, that list now includes fun and educational hands-on projects. Creation Crate's subscription sends you all the components you will need plus access to online courses that include instructions, step-by-step videos, and exercises to challenge your new skills. The curriculum is designed to take your skills from beginner to tech wizard. Unlike other subscription boxes, Creation Crate doesn't send you a random project every month. Each project becomes progressively more challenging as you learn new components and commands (C++ language). For as little as $29.99/month, subscribers ages 12 and up can learn about coding and electronics and have fun doing it.
Creation Crate's Bluetooth Speaker (Challenger Project)Photo: Creation Crate
Focusing on STEM
By now you're probably familiar with STEM. Learning institutions, students, and parents around the world are being educated about the ways that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics can enrich the lives of young people and better prepare them for the future. In addition to hitting all four of those key academic principles, Creation Crate projects are prime hands-on learning tools that, neurologically speaking, come with many added benefits. The curriculum has a 15x higher retention rate than passive learning techniques and has a 3x higher course completion rate than e-learning platforms without hands-on projects.
Before exploring a few of the neuroperks, let's take a peek at some of the cool electronic projects that Creation Crate subscribers can look forward to.
The first project to arrive teaches about microcontrollers and basic C++ coding. Users have the opportunity to write code in the Arduino language that changes the mood of the lamp by changing the color of the LEDs. Lessons learned from this kit set the foundation for future months and future projects.
A bit further along on the curriculum in the Project 8 slot is an audio visualizer with smart LEDs that react to the volume of music. The kit introduces specialized components and goes slightly beyond the basic Arduino IDE experience with the use of downloaded external libraries.
Creation Crate's audio visualizer project arrives in week 8 of the curriculum.Credit: Creation Crate
Once you learn the curriculum basics, you'll be ready to take on one of the Challenger projects! Learn how to build and program an obstacle-avoiding rover bot.
To learn more about the curriculum, head over to the Creation Crate website.
The neuroscience of working with your hands
Part of Creation Crate's mission statement is to "inspire your curiosity and help you realize your potential, as you solve real world problems with hands-on projects. Whether you're an adult interested in learning something new, a parent preparing your child for the jobs of tomorrow, or a teacher engaging your students with hands-on experiences—Creation Crate is the perfect challenge." While the actual projects are designed to be educational and challenging, the act of completing them is also an important part of the package.
"In many situations, when we allow our bodies to become part of the learning process, we understand better," says Professor Sian Beilock. "Reading about a concept in a textbook or even seeing a demonstration in class is not the same as physically experiencing what you are learning about."
When it comes to working and building with your hands, research shows that the benefits extend much further than our fingertips. According to University of Richmond neuroscientist Kelly Lambert, it can affect the brain the same way that some drugs can. Lambert coined the term " behavior-ceuticals" to refer to the way that hand-related tasks can alter the neurochemistry of the brain. Referencing 19th-century medicine, she told CBS News that doctors used to prescribe knitting to women as a cure for their anxiety. "They sensed that it calmed them down some," she said, adding that the repetitive physical motion was relaxing because of the neurochemicals it increased.
Hands-on work reduces stress. Just ask these car-driving rats.
Photos: Crawford et al / University of Richmond.
recent study, Lambert and her colleagues trained two groups of rats to drive tiny cars with their front paws. They found that rats housed in "enriched environments" with ladders, toys, and balls were better at driving in pursuit of a sweet reward than rats who were housed in standard cages without the added stimuli.
The study also found that both groups of rats secreted higher levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and corticosterone, hormones that control stress responses. By learning to use their rat hands to solve a problem (in this case: finding a reward), the subjects were able to chemically boost their emotional toughness. "It is likely that driving gives the rats a sense of control over their environment," Lambert said. "In humans, we would say that it enhances a sense of agency or self-efficacy." Rat brains and human brains are similar in many ways, which is why the increased emotional resilience is important and promising for mental health studies. "Anything that reduces stress can build resilience against the onset of mental illness," Lambert added.
Flexing those motor skills
Maybe the most obvious benefit of a hands-on approach to learning is that it can improve motor skills, but that's only part of the story. Researchers at the University of Basel's Biozentrum recently discovered that even relatively simple tasks, like grasping, change how certain neurons in the red nucleus section of the midbrain connect.
"When learning new fine motor skills, the coordination of this specific movement is optimized and stored in the brain as a code," explained the head of the research group, Professor Kelly R. Tan. As the motion is practiced and performed over and over, the connection between the neurons becomes stronger. The next step, according to Tan's team, is to see how that connection holds up when the learned motor skill is not practiced. The assumption seems to be that when the grasping stops, those connections will weaken.
Hands-on education makes learning science easier
Photo: Creation Crate
We can now physically see what hands-on activities do to the brain. For a University of Chicago-led study published in 2015 in the journal
Psychological Science, physics students were made to participate in momentum experiments involving spinning wheels and laser pointers. One group of students participated by observing while the other group led the experiments. In a test given afterwards, the observers scored lower than the students who got to interact with the objects.
The researchers also took MRI scans of the students to see which sections of their brains were activated while they looked at spinning wheel animations and thought about angular momentum and torque. "When students have a physical experience moving the wheels, they are more likely to activate sensory and motor areas of the brain when they are later thinking about the science concepts they learned about," said study co-author Professor Sian Beilock. "These sensory and motor-related brain areas are known to be important for our ability to make sense of forces, angles and trajectories."
For Beilock, the study reinforced the idea that, especially when it comes to STEM subjects,
hand-on is better. "In many situations, when we allow our bodies to become part of the learning process, we understand better," she said. "Reading about a concept in a textbook or even seeing a demonstration in class is not the same as physically experiencing what you are learning about. We need to rethink how we are teaching math and science because our actions matter for how and what we learn."
The main bioactive compound in catnip seems to protect cats from mosquitoes. It might protect humans, too.
- For centuries, humans have observed that cats exhibit strange behaviors when exposed to catnip and silver vine.
- A new study examined how the main bioactive compound in these plants affects cats' opioid systems and protects them against mosquito bites.
- The findings suggest that the compound nepetalactol could be used to develop new mosquito repellents for humans.
Nepeta cataria, commonly known as catnip
Johann Georg Sturm (Painter: Jacob Sturm) via WikiPedia/Public Domain<p>In the study, researchers from Iwate University in Japan exposed nepetalactol-laced paper to different types of felids, including domestic and feral cats, a leopard, two jaguars and two lynx. The team also exposed nepetalactol to dogs and mice, but only the cats elicited the expected behavioral response.</p><p>To find out why cats react uniquely to nepetalactol, the researchers measured the animals' endorphin levels before and after they were exposed to the substance. The results showed that nepetalactol raised endorphin levels in cats.</p><p>But when cats were given drugs that blocked opioid receptors, their endorphin levels didn't rise, and their behavior didn't change. This suggests that cats' "μ-opioid system is stimulated by an increase in endogenous β-endorphin secretion when olfactory neurons are activated by these iridoids," the team wrote.</p>
Nepetalactol as a mosquito repellent<p>To test the efficacy of nepetalactol as a mosquito repellant, the researchers anesthetized two groups of cats. For one group, the researchers applied nepetalactol to the cats' heads. The other group was left untreated to serve as a control. The researchers then exposed the cats to Asian tiger mosquitos and counted the number of times the insects bit each group.</p><p>The results showed that the group treated with nepetalactol was much less likely to get bitten, sometimes by as much as 50 percent. The same proved true in a "more natural" experiment, in which cats were allowed to rub their faces on the plants themselves.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"This is convincing evidence that the characteristic rubbing and rolling response functions to transfer plant chemicals that provide mosquito repellency to cats," the team wrote.</p>
The world's deadliest animal<p>While the researchers don't fully understand why nepetalactol activates the μ-opioid system in cats, they think the compound could help humans avoid mosquito bites. After all, some of the study contributors have applied for a patent covering the use of nepetalactol as an insect repellent. Gizmodo <a href="https://gizmodo.com/cats-love-catnip-because-it-protects-them-from-mosquito-1846092518" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reports</a> that the researchers even tried applying the compound to their arms, which seemed to prevent mosquito bites.</p><p>For thousands of years, humans have aimed to protect themselves from mosquitos. The Egyptian queen Cleopatra was said to sleep surrounded by a mosquito net. The Romans used vinegar mixtures. And Mississippians turned to the American beautyberry plant. </p><p>Today, DEET is the most widely used mosquito repellent, but it's slightly toxic and can cause side effects, including seizures, though rarely. Developing better mosquito repellents could save many lives. The World Mosquito Program <a href="https://www.worldmosquitoprogram.org/en/learn/mosquito-borne-diseases#:~:text=Nearly%20700%20million%20people%20contract,more%20than%20one%20million%20deaths." target="_blank">reports</a> that mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria and yellow fever affect more than 700 million annually and kill approximately one million. </p>
A unique exoplanet without clouds or haze was found by astrophysicists from Harvard and Smithsonian.
- Astronomers from Harvard and Smithsonian find a very rare "hot Jupiter" exoplanet without clouds or haze.
- Such planets were formed differently from others and offer unique research opportunities.
- Only one other such exoplanet was found previously.
Munazza Alam – a graduate student at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian.
Credit: Jackie Faherty
Jupiter's Colorful Cloud Bands Studied by Spacecraft<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8a72dfe5b407b584cf867852c36211dc"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/GzUzCesfVuw?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
People often make a killing in stocks, but what else do people buy in hopes of selling for a fortune?
- Outside of stocks and bonds, some people make money investing in collectibles and make a fair amount on them.
- One stamp even sold for a billion times its face value.
- The extreme dependence on future collectability limits the potential of most of these opportunities.
Pokémon Cards<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hVUmTaSoB5Y" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> For those who weren't content to catch them all in a video game came a trading card game where you could collect them all. Some classic cards have gained tremendous stature among collectors and Pokéfanatics and sell for extremely high prices. </p><p> An older card featuring Charizard, a fire breathing dragon, regularly sells for thousands <a href="https://www.lifesuccessfully.com/gaming-articles/the-most-wanted-pokemon-cards-charizard#/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">online</a>. Given that the card could be purchased for a couple of dollars in 1999, this is quite the return. A particular pack of the cards, which cost $5 in 2003, now sells for $650, one hundred and thirty times the original asking <a href="https://adamrybko.medium.com/stocks-or-pokemon-cards-an-introduction-to-alternative-investing-32fe499083c4" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">price</a>. </p><p> Of course, not every card will fetch these high prices. Buying cards as an investment is tricky. You have to essentially guess at which cards will be considered highly valuable at a later date and will be unable to collect any dividend before selling them.</p><p> Furthermore, you have to presume that people will be collecting the cards years after buying them. While Pokémon has remained popular, it is a bit of an outlier in terms of enduring success.</p>
Shoes<p> People from all walks of life, from skateboarders to the First Lady of the <a href="https://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/in-depth/imelda-marcos-shoes-mixed-legacy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Philippines</a>, enjoy collecting shoes. An entire subculture exists for people interested in collecting sneakers, and some people make quite a profit in it.</p><p> The Nike SB Dunk Low Reese Forbes Denims, priced initially at $65 in 2002, are commonly valued in the thousands of dollars now. The Nike Air Jordan 1 Retro High x Off White "Chicago" shoe sold for $190 a mere four years ago, but now sells for $4000 a <a href="https://sixfiguresneakerhead.com/sneaker-model-return-alternative-investment-stock-x-reseller/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pair</a>. </p><p> A <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/sneakers-good-investment_n_5bd1f5ebe4b0d38b588143ee?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAALOu0F9zs5DBHHOIjMgHOZR6K88W3rZkyD3ftBMz2nzlHfoxD4MS2Iz1vF3H-a4_xzOWIIrsJyv76Gj6xwUXaRIRdjq7M2m7I6-lxihWIcEfs7F9PgOwnx82JXPfXmWL7-RQlNUufOyvd8V6TCzMEYrEjzMXVU77IWk9MjOEtsln" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Huffington Post</a> article points out that most of these shoes offered better returns than gold over the same period. The same article quotes YouTube personality <a href="https://www.youtube.com/user/mrFOAMERSIMPSON" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mr. Foamer Simpson</a> and his explanation of the difficulties of making money on shoes:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"> "There's a guessing game or element of unpredictability that makes it exciting for some collectors. With sneakers, you kind of never know. Sure, you know what sneakers are more limited or which ones were harder to get, but even with that, it fluctuates a lot. A sneaker that was very valuable two years ago might all of a sudden crash and no longer be valuable."</p>
Toys of all kinds<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0uYnj1i1EQw" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p> If there's one thing everybody loves, it's what they loved when they were children. That often translates into old and rare toys fetching insane prices at auction.</p><p> Beanie Babies, those little stuffed animals from the 90s, once sold at a price of thousands of dollars <a href="https://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/03/02/How-Great-Beanie-Baby-Bubble-Went-Bust" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">online</a>, not bad considering they sold for $5. Lego sets, particularly those featuring well-known franchises like Star Wars, can sell for hundreds of dollars <a href="https://finance.yahoo.com/news/20-geeky-collectibles-could-millions-201624881.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">online</a>. </p><p> As with Pokémon cards, the success stories are dependent on what people are interested in collecting long after most people forgot the toy existed.<strong> </strong>While some collectors have ideas on how to gauge what might or might not end up being valuable later, there seems to be a considerable amount of luck involved.</p>
Stamps<p> The hobby of kings has occasionally made some people as rich as one, with rare stamps and extensive collections fetching high prices at auction.</p><p> One of the famous "Inverted Jenny," stamps, a rare misprint showing an upside-down airplane, sold for $1,593,000 at <a href="https://www.linns.com/news/us-stamps-postal-history/2018/november/nov-15-jenny-invert-sale-record.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">auction</a>. The most valuable stamp in the world, the British Guiana 1c magenta, last sold for $9,480,000, a billion times its face <a href="http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/2014/magenta-n09154.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">value</a>. For those interested in a shorter-term investment, the USA Forever stamp has gained a face value of 75% since its introduction and can still be used to send a letter.</p>
Coins<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTUxNjY2Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMjUwNzk3OX0.HMBXb1mbiL0D-JbFcD7pBWNZ8TcOB4mzcJ6ri2aCNOg/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1%2C0%2C1&height=700" id="41fe2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="57f1ae74688caf29e150c4ce2f7c5b41" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
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