High school kids armed with rolls of toilet paper usually mean there’s going to be a mess on someone’s lawn. A group of Massachusetts students, who had amassed a stockpile of more than 10 miles of toilet paper, could have been the terror of the neighborhood—had they not put their arsenal towards a more cerebral purpose: folding it 13 times. Folding toilet paper hardly sounds like an accomplishment, particularly to those of us who are long since potty trained, but try folding a spare sheet (of any paper) and see how many folds you can manage; until recently, folding paper more than seven times was thought to be mathematically impossible.
But these high schoolers (and their enthusiastic math teacher) crunched the numbers and got to folding, nearly doubling the long-assumed limit and surpassing the 2002 record of 12 folds. The resulting structure stood two-and-a-half feet tall and was made of 8192 layers of toilet tissue. Just in case 2-ply wasn’t enough.
[via New Scientist]
One more reason to dust off that bike: in a study of Spanish high schoolers, girls who biked to class scored better on school tests than those who commuted in a car or bus.
About 65 percent of the teens participating in the study (1,700) said they rode a bike or walked to school. When the researchers looked at the girls’ performance on tests of cognitive ability, they saw that active commuters averaged 53 points, about 4 points higher than girls who came by motor vehicle. And the longer their commute, the better the correlation, explains Reuters:
Girls whose active commute lasted longer than 15 minutes did better on the tests than girls who walked or biked for less than 15 minutes on their way to school—a sign the relationship between active commutes and test performance is real, [lead researcher Francois] Trudeau said. Indeed, the effect persisted even after the researchers accounted for age, body weight, social and economic status, and activities outside school.
Researchers think this might be because these active commuters are getting more exercise, though it is also possible that those who have active commutes are more alert by the time they start school, which could affect how well they learn when they do make it to school, the researchers told Reuters:
Trudeau added that walking or biking to school often takes longer than a car or bus ride, which may provide time to reflect and mentally prepare for the day, giving them an edge. “It may be a good period to start thinking about the school day.”
The authors also couldn’t rule out the possibility that active commutes and higher test scores were not directly connected, but instead were linked by some other attribute—some personality trait that would both incline girls to bike and make them do better on tests.
For some reason the correlation didn’t hold up in boys. The researchers aren’t sure why this is, but they have some ideas. It is possible that the extra bit of exercise isn’t as important for boys, if boys are generally more active anyway. And the difference could be due to some brain difference between girls and boys, the authors suggest.
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