Archive for the ‘Guest Posts’ Category

Today’s short guest-post comes from Tim McMann, a video-game blogger on t’Internet. For another great article on video game culture, Tim recommends visiting www.fearlessgamer.com. Enjoy! 

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Video games and the gamers that play them often have a bad rap when it comes to the educational value, or lack thereof, that video games are thought to offer. There are actually many compelling reasons though that contradict the negative aspects of video gaming and actually show how video games can make you smarter, increase your cognitive abilities and help your overall problem solving abilities. Check out the list below of the seven ways that video games can make you smarter in order to arm yourself the next time that mom tells you it is time to turn off the console and hit your homework!

1. Video Games Force You to Problem Solve

One of video games’ primary tasks typically involves using your intellect in order to solve a problem that is placed in front of you. Whether that means you need to take out an entire army’s enemy brigade with your one well-armed solider or you need to score a touchdown on the vaunted Carolina Panthers’ defense, video games force you to think and come up with creative solutions to master the game.

2. Video Games Teach History

When you play a video game, you are often drawn back into a period of time that you may have known next to nothing about prior to picking up the controller. Sometimes a video game will have you playing alongside knights in The Crusades and other times they can place you in the trenches of World War II. Even the staunchest history buff cannot argue that there is some educational value from participating in an interactive history lesson!

3. Video Games Teach Teamwork

Ever since we are little, we have been taught the importance of teamwork and video games can reinforce this concept almost as well as sports. When you and your three closest friends are online taking on a level of your favorite game, there is strategy involved and roles are often assigned to ensure that all flanks are covered. If one team member does not pull their weight, the value of teamwork is quickly discovered and a valuable lesson is learned.

4. Video Games Are Great for Hand-Eye Coordination

Think fast and hit that 95 mile per hour fastball! Fast-paced and action-packed games enhance peoples’ ability to act without even looking at their hands. This is important in many real life situations.

5. Video Games Force Quick Action

Need to make a decision in a hurry and you are not sure how to act? If so, you are most likely dead in your game since you have to think on your feet. Video games are a great help for improvisation skills.

6. Video Games Require Communication

With the advent of online, multi-player action, gamers must interact with each other much more than was previously required. This increase in communication makes you more conversant and is a clear educational benefit.

7. Video Games Keep You Focused

When you play video games, you are able to focus your thoughts and actions onto a single task. This skill can carry over to educational activities that require this focused energy and singular attention to specific details to master a skill or concept.

Remember that gaming is not only fun, but educational when you stop and think about all that it can teach!

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So now you don’t have to feel guilty about spending hours and hours striving to get 100% completion on all those games you got for Christmas (those Riddler datapacks will be the death of me…)! I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and I look forward to writing some new (and sometimes exciting) blog posts as we hit 2014!

Tom

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Here’s another guest post about one of the most famous superheroes on the planet. No, it’s not me, it’s….Superman! Today’s article was written by Samuel Rutherford – a TV and movie blogger. Enjoy!

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Superman has had a long history of appearing on TV and in movies ever since he left the realm of comic books. The DC Comics superhero has been the subject of many different big and small screen adaptations, leaving an impression on popular culture over the decades. Here, we take a look at the Man of Steel’s Hollywood and televisual history, both good and bad. The hero from the planet Krypton has starred in a huge list of media, but here are some of the highlights.

The Adventures of Superman (1951-58)

George Reeves' 1950's Superman

Superman’s first television show was titled ‘The Adventures of Superman’ and first aired in America in 1951. It was based on the comic book which had first appeared in 1938, created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. George Reeves played the role of Clark Kent/Superman and the show was initially filmed in black and white, although the series upgraded to colour in 1954. Episodes followed a similar plotline, whereby criminals and gangsters would cause trouble and only Superman would be able to save the day. The show started off quite gritty and violent, but eventually mellowed to become more comic fantasy. By today’s standards it seems very dated and camp.

Superman Movies (1978-87)

Christopher Reeve as Superman in the original movie quadrilogy

The first full length Superman movie debuted in 1978 and told the origin story of the famous hero on the big screen. Superman: The Movie was a box office smash and featured what would now be considered primitive special effects, but at the time it was pretty ground breaking. Christopher Reeve played Clark Kent in this adaptation. The first Superman movie was so popular with audiences that three sequels were made, also starring Reeve. Although the quality declined in the later movies, the films have had a great impact on popular culture, with many shows such as Family Guy having parodied iconic scenes and characters from them. The Superman movies were also the first superhero films to hit the cinemas, even before Batman.

Superman: The Animated Series (1996-2000)

Superman From The 90's Animated Series

Although there have been dozens of cartoon series of Superman, this late 90’s adaptation has been one of the most critically acclaimed. Following the success of Batman’s cartoon revival in Batman: The Animated Series, a Superman series soon followed, which aired for 4 seasons. The show was highly praised for its mature, adult orientated interpretation of the Superman comics that was faithful to the source material and pleased fans of all ages. Today it is still revered as one of the best Superman cartoons of all time.

Smallville (2001-2011)

Tom Welling as Clark Kent in Smallville

This spin-off TV series has come to be one of the longest running and popular adaptations of Superman, airing for 10 seasons and consisting of over 200 episodes. Based on a young Clark Kent (played by Tom Welling), before he has become Superman, it follows his time as a young man growing up in the country town of Smallville. The show’s initial premise was to focus on the teen drama of a young man growing up with extraordinary powers but in a humble setting. Over the course of the show, events led up to Kent eventually moving to Metropolis and later seasons were based around his early career at The Daily Planet before becoming Superman. Smallville was consistently popular, particularly with a teen audience, but audiences declined towards the latter seasons. Its ten year run on air meant it has become the longest running Superhero TV show ever made.

Man of Steel (2013)

Latest Superman Film, Man of Steel

With his Batman trilogy wrapped up, Christopher Nolan set his sights on Superman next for another gritty reboot of a popular superhero. Man of Steel was produced by Nolan but the director’s seat belonged to Zack Snyder, and the aim was to bring back credibility to the Superman brand after the lacklustre 2006 film, Superman Returns. Henry Cavill stars as Superman in this film, which is notably darker than previous big screen adaptations of the hero and focuses more on his alien origins. The movie has received mixed reviews from critics, however, with the expectations that Man of Steel would be as well-loved as the new Batman trilogy not quite being met. It has still been a box office smash in terms of ticket sales though.

These are just a few examples of Superman’s appearance in movies and on TV over the years, with plenty of other movies, cartoons and shows to explore. Superman has a had a mixed reception on our screens and a tougher time being loved outside of his comic book universe than Batman, but its still interesting to see how producers have interpreted his iconic tale.

As Halloween is right around the corner, here’s a guest post to get you in the mood. Today’s contribution comes from Rachael Largent who is a content creator that enjoys writing about Halloween decorations and clever crafts. Enjoy!

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Trying to make your own Halloween decorations? Trying to decorate your house for the upcoming holiday without going over budget? It can be done and it can be done well. You can have fabulously spooky and scary Halloween decorations and stay on your budget.

Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Haunted Library Books
    Using simple colored paper, pens, markers, Sharpies, and crayons you can create haunted Halloween based library books. Write the words “Spooky,” “Scary,” “Haunted,” and “Hocus Pocus” on the spines then try to add fun little pictures of bats, pumpkins, spider webs, black cauldrons, and witches.
  • Pumpkin Flower Vase
    Use hollowed out pumpkins as Halloween vases to place orange, red, and yellow fake, or real, flowers. They work great because they serve as a vase and as a Halloween decoration.
  • Spooky Halloween Lantern Jugs Create fun Halloween lanterns using milk jugs. Simply save and clean out a couple of milk jugs, then get a black marker, a craft knife, and a string of holiday lights. Draw mouths and eyes using the black marker and on the back of the jug cut a hole to stuff the lights into. Make a strand of these fun spooky Halloween lanterns.
  • Scary Skeleton
    Scary skeletons can also be made with plastic milk jugs and pipes. These materials might seem cheap but the results are astonishing. They make a larger-than-life skeleton that can be easily positioned inside or outside. It’s ideal for those terrified trick-or-treaters at the front door and is also a fun project to do with kids. The steps are simple and the skeleton is designed to be taken apart for easy storing. It also recycles old milk jugs.

 Skeleton Instructions

Eight things you’ll need: 7 Clean and Dry Gallon Milk Jugs, Wax Pencil or Crayon, Craft Snips or Scissors, String or Fishing Line for Hanging, Approx. 40, Yards of String or Yard to Ties all the parts together, Glow in the Dark Paint, Paint Brush, and a Hole Punch.

Eight Easy Steps:

First, save seven milk jugs and make sure to clean them out thoroughly. Second, take four jugs and cut out the hands and feet, make sure to use the hole punch at the top of the feet and hand jugs; or towards the area where you know you will connect the jugs with string. Third, two jugs then need heir handles cut out to make the shoulder of the skeleton. Punch a hole at the jug side (this will connect to head) and then two more holes on the other side. (This will likely be on the side that will connect to the body). Fourth, grab one plastic jug and draw a face on it that you will be able to cut out ­later. Once that is completed punch two holes at the milk jug tip…Or otherwise the skeleton’s neck.

Fifth, take another milk jug and draw the rib cage on it. Then cut it out and punch two holes in each side of the opening. Sixth, now for the hips. This part is a little tricky. Take one well cleaned milk jug and cut out a big opening in it to look like a hip. To make the process easier use a marker to draw the outline of the hip. Seventh, have two jugs ready for cutting. Take one and cut out four long bones, this will be the arms of the skeleton. Now take the other jug and cut out four long bones for the legs. Lastly, punch a hole in each end of all the bones you cut out. Eighth, use sixteen pieces of string to tie all the pieces of the skeleton together.

  • Halloween Paper Chains Halloween Paper Chains are commonly used to count down to Halloween. Make the chain with fall/Halloween colors and then chop one off as it nears the night of frights. The only materials are art paper (colors of your choice), scissors, and tape or stapler. Simply cut the art paper into a total of thirty strips into approximately 2” strips. Round a strip into a circle and tape or staple the ends where the art paper comes together. Take another strip of construction paper and loop it through the other finished circle and repeat the process. Happy chaining!

 

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Well there you have it – a whole heap of ideas to turn your house into a spooktacular haunted house! Why not have a go at making some of Rachael’s creations, then posting a picture of it hanging up in your house?

TIll next time,

Tom

This is the first guest post I have featured on Twisted Fish and I hope to include many more. It was written by Justin Martin, an entertainment blogger with a passion for technology and science. For more great articles like this one, Justin recommends checking out this blog.

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Like many young people, I became fascinated with science at a very young age. My prized possessions were my rock collection, star charts, and dinosaur books. I put boogers under a little microscope whenever my mom left the room. Everything was an experiment. It all started with that baking soda and vinegar volcano in kindergarten. The world became a little more interesting that day.

I had a hard time with math in school, so my dreams of becoming a mad scientist never came to fruition. No matter how many times I watched Bill Nye , it didn’t seem like it was for me. However, at the beginning of 2008, I realized I don’t need a degree or fancy job to be a real scientist. Anyone can gain international prestige and make big bucks in the field. All you have to do is make really good meth.

This generation has forsaken Albert Einstein and Carl Sagan in favor of someone a bit more down-to-earth. Most viewers of the television show Breaking Bad have never heard of the Uncertainty Principle, but everybody knows Heisenberg. In the show, actor Bryan Cranston plays Walter White (aka Heisenberg): chemistry teacher-turned-druglord. Teaming up with a drug-dealing former student (Jesse Pinkman), Walt takes the lessons from the classroom to the streets. These two guys made history with little more than a makeshift lab, a handful of volatile chemicals, and a bit of basic knowledge. You can too!

One thing I have learned from Breaking Bad is that anyone can “do science.” It is doubtful that most makers of methamphetamine have the same type of training and experience as Walter White. It’s usually just a couple tweakers experimenting with household chemicals and allergy medicine. These guys are far from professionals, but are they not scientists? They have a searching, inquisitive spirit, and can be both resourceful and adaptive. Can’t get your hands on red phosphorus? Just crush up some match heads! No access to hydrochloric acid? Maybe mixing bleach and ammonia might work. Nope. Just killed yourself with nerve gas. Oh well. That’s science. Better luck next time!

Breaking Bad goes out of its way to get into the real science of the underworld. The producers even hired a special science adviser to maintain consistency. Professor Donna Nelson made sure every one of Walt’s chemistry rants was completely factual. The only real error on the show is the trademarked blue meth! Although the DEA censored many details of the actual synthesis process, they did help with recreating real-to-life meth labs.

I still talk occasionally with my high school chemistry teacher, and he told me that Breaking Bad has actually motivated several of his students to become more involved in class. Seeing another side of the coin was enough to break their negative opinions and open their minds to new ideas. Whether or not they plan on using this knowledge for good or evil remains to be seen. Luckily, the show does a fine job of presenting the dark side of the business. It doesn’t exactly glorify the lifestyle.

Another thing I learned is that nothing beats experience, training, and knowledge when it comes to science. You can’t just dissolve a body with hydrofluoric acid in the bathtub. You gotta think things through! Breaking Bad also shows us that it’s damn hard work to be a scientist. Either you become an under-appreciated high school teacher, or you have to get shot at, threatened, and blown up on a regular basis.

The greatest idea that Breaking Bad presents is the value of breaking boundaries. No one makes history by teaching high school science. You won’t get anywhere by following the rules. Old formulas can always be improved upon. Great risks are necessary for great rewards. We don’t condone illegal behavior, but do what you have to do to put yourself on the map. Think outside the box, and never look back. Every problem can be solved…so find your own solution.

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I’m hoping to include more guest posts in this blog (and that’s not just because I’m too lazy to write my own material…honest!), so let me know if you want to see more of them!

Tom