Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Top 5 National Math Competitions for Students

Math competitions are a great way to foster an enthusiasm for critical thinking as well as begin building an academic resume that looks great for colleges! Some of the contests even offer cash prizes and scholarships to the winners. Check out these links to the top 5 math competitions and find out if a school or institution near you can help you register!

1. Math Olympiads

2. Math League

3. The M3 Challenge

4. Continental Mathematics League

5. American Mathematics Competitions

Some SpiderSmart Learning Centers are registered to host these exams, so connect with your local center today to get started!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Top 5 Reasons to Homeschool Your Child

 Have you considered alternatives to public and private school systems? Homeschooling is a growing trend that may benefit your children more than traditional education because every family's needs are different. Here are the top 5 reasons to homeschool:

1. Develop students' passions.
Your child might engage more with assignments if they can be modified to reflect special interests. Follow a science-centered curriculum if that's what she is most interested in. Let your artist draw some of his history assignments instead of writing. Homeschooling allows for more flexibility when it comes to achieving your learning goals.

2. Explore the world.
A sterile classroom with strict rules is not an ideal learning environment for all students. "Do school" in the backyard or in the woods. Visit museums or national parks. Learning can take place anywhere!

3. Set the pace.
Some students get bored in traditional schools, and yet others can't keep up at times. Maybe you have a student that does both! With homeschooling, you have total control over the flow of the curricula. Go as slowly or as quickly as your student needs to.

4. Cut the fluff.
Every day in a traditional classroom includes activities that some children need, but they may be redundant for others. You can spend extra time on building basic skills if that is what your student needs, or move them ahead to the next topic if they are already showing proficiency.

5. Build family ties.
Your family will all be under one roof for a limited time. Before kids leave to pursue higher education, jobs, or other endeavors, you may want to maximize the amount of quality time spent with your children. Homeschooling can be a wonderful way to strengthen family bonds for a lifetime.

For more information, check out www.homeschool.com!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Top 5 Ways to Improve on Your Next SAT

Did you take the October SAT, but you feel like you didn't do your best? Most students take the test two or three times, so learn how to reflect on your scores and make the most of your next round! Here are the top 5 ways to improve on your next SAT:

1. Change your attitude.
One of the biggest hindrances to scoring high on the SAT is the attitude with which many students approach the test. Often, after receiving a score they hadn't quite expected, they become irrevocably discouraged, and begin to negatively self-talk. “I'm not good at Algebra, and I hate math.” SAT questions are completely unlike most of the questions you can find on a normal school test, and is designed to be that way. Since the SAT measures lateral thinking, rather than progressive thinking, it can often stump even the most diligent of students in the beginning!

2. Analyze your results.
Once you have mentally re-focused yourself and you're ready to be objective about your scores, log into www.CollegeBoard.com and look over the detailed scoring guide. You'll get information about what types of questions you're missing. Look for trends in your performance. Did you get a high percentage of questions correct at the beginning of each section and then start missing some towards the middle and end? You may need to build stamina and start taking timed practice sections. Figure out what areas you need to target in order to increase your next score.

3. Create a focused study plan.
Plenty of SAT preparation material is available in stores and online. make sure you choose material that right for you. If you need to practice with timed tests, then the Kaplan or Barron's books, which contain only practice material and no focused sections, might be for you. If you know there are certain content areas that need polishing, then McGraw-Hill or IvyPrep might be for you. There are different types of resources out there that can give you the practice you need.

4. Maintain the finesse.
If you're not seeing a general trend in your weak areas that allows you to created a precise list of topics to study, then perhaps you're missing questions because you aren't applying your test-taking skills thoroughly. Active reading, annotation, process of elimination, and other skills must be systematically applied to each and every question on the test. It's easy to use your test-taking skills on the first 10 or 15 questions. However, as time goes on, you may start to stray a bit from your regimen. Make sure you're working out every single problem with the same attention to detail that you give to the very first question.

5. Understand how the test is scored.
Unlike the way most school tests are scored, wrong answers on the SAT do not lead to point deductions. This means that there is no benefit to leaving questions blank. However, there IS a benefit to skipping the hardest questions and coming back to them later. Even though there are no deductions for wrong answers, you can only accumulate points with RIGHT answers, so if you find you are taking too long to answer a question, SKIP IT! Come back to it later, or guess if you have minimal time remaining. Also, colleges look at your super score. So, only your highest-rated sections, no matter what test date they're from, will be shown to the schools.

There's plenty of time to make a change before the next test. Follow these steps to maximize your study time.
Keep your chins up and keep studying for that November test date! Good luck!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Top 5 Reasons Why Learning Science is Important

Learning Science in your school years is a crucial part of your development. Each of the various branches of Science gives you unique and essential tools that will help you succeed in school, your career, and life. Not only that, but learning the foundational principles of Science will make you more aware of the world around you and expand your horizons as a global citizen. Here are the top five reasons to start your Science learning journey today!

  1. Develops problem-solving skills.
    Science helps you grow in logical thinking as you implement the Scientific Method, practice experimentation, and learn scientific concepts. This in turn helps increase your ability to solve problems. Communications, medicine, transportation, and a whole host of other fields are mainly present in our world because innovative individuals have used their scientific knowledge to create real-life applications. 

  2. Reinforces other subjects.
    Science is also cross-disciplinary. The fundamentals you learn in Science can be applied to tackling the learning of other subjects. For example, almost every Physics problem involves Math, so when you work on your Physics homework, you're flexing both your Science and Math mental muscles! 

  3. Creates awareness about technology.
    Many inventions were created as as an answer to a scientific question. Advances in medicine and infrastructure, for example, are being constantly updated to solve problems more efficiently. The use of technology, such as telescopes and microscopes, for scientific investigations introduces kids to the idea that tools can help identify problems and fix the world around us. Also, having a basic understanding of how these tools work might help them invent something of their own!

  4. Teaches how to conserve natural resources.
    Wildlife and environmental studies introduce students to the dangers that our world faces and shows them that it's up to us to change things for the better. Learning about how the Earth's different systems interact can inspire children to waste less, recycle, and protect plants and animals. By highlighting the importance of conservation and showing students how to implement conservation techniques, we are teaching the next generation to take care of our planet and encouraging them to create a better and more sustainable future for themselves and others.

  5. Instills survival skills.
    There are many choices that we all make each day. Have you every stopped to think that the majority of the decisions you make rely on using a knowledge of Science? For example, the study of weather, Meteorology, makes you aware of various weather conditions, and helps you distinguish between normal and dangerous weather. Recognizing a natural disaster early on and taking appropriate precautionary actions could very well save your life! Botany, the study of plants, is another important example. Readily identifying poisonous plants while trying to rustle up some grub on a camping trip could mean the difference between a fun vacation and a trip to the Emergency Room!

Come explore the wonders of science at our Chemistry workshop on Saturday, October 8th at SpiderSmart of Ashburn! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Top 5 Winners of SpiderSmart's Summer Writing Contest

We had a LOT of fantastic submissions this year!  GREAT WRITING, KIDS!

We will share our Top 5 in the other categories next week, but for now here are glimpses of the judges' comments for our winners in the following five genres:

1. Descriptive Essay Winner:  "In the Deep Ocean" by Kaylyn Li from SpiderSmart of Sugarland

Kaylyn's was the strongest of the stack because of all that had to be imagined. It was chock full of description and further beautified with details and specifics. Additionally, every line was descriptive and evocative so the reading was very pleasurable. There were many original moments of true sensory reflection that made it our winner.

2. Fan Fiction Winner: "Crossing Field" by Jung-Won Hwang from SpiderSmart of Rockville

With fan fiction pieces, there has to be a strong rhythm and gathering momentum to get the reader from chapter to chapter with a strong sense of anticipation.  We really like what she accomplishes in that regard.  Jung-Won's masterful piece kept our interest building and building, never lapsing into slower parts. The suspense was memorable!  Additionally, we love fan fiction pieces the most when the kids put themselves in the story within whatever fan-world elements they've chosen.  I think we have the best choice with "Crossing Field."

3. Persuasive Essay Winner: "The Slaughter of Wolves" by Esther Zhang from SpiderSmart of Cupertino

We really like how Esther summarizes and synthesizes all the research in this piece; it seems the perfect fusion of research and original, persuasive thought. She is compelling in her urging, as well as in her outlining of the issue at hand. While the other essays accomplished this in moments, her piece had an evenhanded way of presenting the research plus the personal persuasive elements. The surveying of her fellow classmates, in particular, made the piece very entertaining!

4. Short Story Winner:  "Four-Leaf Clover" by Valerie Huang from SpiderSmart of Sugarland

Valerie's narrative drive and instincts are incredibly strong, and her voice is super confident for her age.  The chapter titles made us laugh, and she just has a tone and fun style that totally stood out for us. Her unique, non-device-like details were particularly interesting. Her piece is funny without being randomly goofy, which was probably our favorite part!

5. Personal Narrative Winner:  "Personal Fishing Experience" by Alice Zhong from SpiderSmart of Sugarland

This piece has a lot of poise and memorable qualities.  Not only is it well-written, but it is fine-tuned.  We love the lingering feel, sound, and sentiment behind every inclusion of onomatopoeia!  There were many lines that resonated with us, and we loved its plaintive feel.  There was a sense of observation and original discovery that made Alice's piece our winning selection.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Top 5 Reasons to Solve a Rubik's Cube

1. Solving a Rubik's cube exercises mental reflexes. 

Working on solving a Rubik's cube is great cognitive training! There are no tricks or cheat codes- all you have is the cube in front of you – so you cannot be lazy when trying to solve the puzzle. There are multiple ways to solve the cube; you will never arrive at the solution the same way. Having to try multiple methods to find a solution keeps your mind active and sharp. The mental acuity gained through working on a Rubik's cube will transfer over to your schoolwork and tasks in the workplace.

2. Solving a Rubik's cube helps you develop a wider perception to the process of problem-solving.

Learn to think outside the cube by practicing your Rubik's strategies in all areas. Learning to shift gears, gain a new perspective, and attack a problem are all skills that help unravel different types challenges. Carry these traits over to your career to be a one-of-a-kind problem-solver!  

3. Solving a Rubik's cube develops hand-eye coordination. 

Strong hand-eye coordination is a valuable skill that translates to several areas of life, such as sports, cooking, and many career fields. The more you practice solving the cube, the better your hand-eye coordination will be! You can also time how long it takes you to solve the cube. Continuously working hard to beat your best puzzle-solving time is a challenge that will enhance your hand-eye coordination in no time!

4. Solving a Rubik's cube improves short-term memory.

A healthy short-term memory is vital for success in school, personal pursuits, and socially. Research shows that this “working memory” helps develop thinking, planning, imagination and play, and basic literacy skills.

5. Solving a Rubik's cube increases spatial intelligence. 

Spatial intelligence is the ability to imagine real world spaces in your mind. The Rubik's cube is a mechanical three-dimensional puzzle that helps you work on your spatial intelligence, because it not only helps you visualize things in your head, but it also improves certain abstract abilities. Some of these abilities include recognizing images and relating them to other objects in your surroundings, and the ability to analyze situations from every angle, which leads to quicker problem-solving.

Don't miss the Rubik's Cube Workshop at SpiderSmart of Ashburn this Saturday from 4:30 - 6:30! Kids will work with expert cubers to gain speed, skills, and learn new techniques!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Top 5 Most Creative School Lunches

 Nothing perks your kids up more than a fun midday meal at school. Check out these creative ways to spice up lunchtime!

1. Put everything in a jar.
Use your leftovers to layer up visual excitement in a mason jar!

2. Make it a muffin.

Mac and cheese muffins sound great hot or cold!

3. Skewer some quick kabobs.

Put your sandwich on a stick, or check out some of these dippable delights!

4. It's a wrap!

Make it gluten free with a corn tortilla!

5. Break out your bento box.

Add variety with perfect portions of provisions!

Any of these simple and quick recipes will provide a pick-me-up that helps your child remain focused for the rest of the school day. Try adding a note to let them know you're thinking of them and you hope they always try their best. Together, you can make it another great school year!