Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Sep 11, 2020 in Stuff You Should Know

Fake-ation?

The COVID-19 crisis has caused many people to have to cancel some of their favorite summer activities, such as playing and attending sports events, swimming in a pool or beach, visiting family, or going on a summer vacation. Of course, this has also had a significant economic impact on the travel industry, affecting everything from hotels to airlines to local tourism bureaus. But tough times can also breed creativity. The Songshan Airport in Taipei, Taiwan took advantage of difficult times to give ninety people a pretend vacation in July.

For a fee, you  could spend a half a day taking a tour of the airport, going through pretend customs, and getting on and off a grounded airplane. It was a great way to learn more about the experience of international travel, particularly if you’ve never done it before, or just a fun activity for families with young children or people who missed flying.

Imaginary vacations are not the only way that Taiwan exhibited creativity during the coronavirus pandemic. The nation saw an incredibly low infection rate from the virus (only 443 cases and seven deaths) In fact, Taiwan developed several apps to help combat the disease and shared them freely with other countries. For example, a health management app encouraged users to monitor their own health with regular temperature checks and mask-wearing. There was also a social distancing app with Bluetooth technology to alert people if they got too close to each other.

What Do You Think? Taipei Airport took advantage of the fact that it was largely deserted to give tours to the public. What other places do you think would be fun to tour because the coronavirus has shut them down?

The Cost of At-Home School

Remote learning comes with challenges. But this isn’t just the case for teachers and their students. Often, parents and guardians must also make changes now that their students are participating in remote learning. Many students need help with assignments or reminders to stay on task. Some students have unique learning challenges that might make learning via computer difficult or impossible. Parents with young children who are learning remotely must find a way to provide supervision for them during the school day.

Not surprisingly, a recent study shows that all these changes have a negative impact on the careers of working parents. In fact, according to a Country Financial poll of 1,300 adults completed in August, 21 percent of working parents have had to change or reduce their work hours to accommodate their child’s at-home learning. Worse, an additional 7 percent have had to quit their jobs altogether. Another survey conducted by Debt.com and reported via CNBC targeted parents with children under the age of fifteen. This data revealed that 74 percent of parents plan to make major changes to their work lives, while 15percent are thinking about leaving the workforce entirely.

This is an especially concerning trend right now, when so many households are struggling with economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis. Many parents fear losing their jobs or using up sick or personal days that they might need later on if they become ill. Having children at home all day instead of at school also costs some parents and guardians more money: some  estimate that they are spending about $500 more a month on everything from groceries, to upgraded technology for their kids.

What Do You Think? Are you participating in distance learning? If so, write a paragraph about your own experience of distance learning. If you are attending school in person, write about how that experience is different during the coronavirus pandemic.

Nashville’s Feathered Tourists

When you think of the city of Nashville, Tennessee, you probably think of country music, right? Last week, however, the town known for its honky-tonks and for launching musical careers drew tourists for a different, more unusual reason: the arrival of thousands of Purple Martins.

Purple martins are migratory songbirds that are actually blackish-blue in color, though their feathers have a unique sheen that often makes them appear blue or purple. These birds are known for their speed and agility, and for their ability to perform rapid aerial dives. Their yearly migratory pattern takes them to Central and South America for the colder months, which is why they are in Nashville right now. It’s estimated that roughly 150,000 of them have stopped off for a break at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, near Nashville’s downtown tourism area–even though it’s unusual for birds to stop in urban areas as they migrate.  

While beautiful, so many birds in one place at one time can also be a nuisance, putting strain on trees and . . . well . . . pooping all over the buildings and sidewalks. Originally, the city hired a pest control company to get rid of the birds. But purple martins are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. So residents and business owners who are annoyed by the feathered visitors are out of luck. But whether you view this influx of purple martins as a beautiful surprise or a hassle–like many other human tourists, they will likely only be in Music City, USA for another week or so before moving on.

Dig Deeper What is the Migratory Bird Treaty Act? Use Internet resources to help you find out more. Write a short paragraph about what you learn.