Rhinoceros Poaching

1,338 of these iconic animals were killed for their horns in Africa last year. Since 2008, as many as 5,940 rhinos have been killed for people’s desire for their horns. The illegal trade of their horns are the main reason why there are around 29,000 rhinos left in the wild, according to statistics provided by Save The Rhino.This number has changed from 70,000 rhinos in 1970. So, as you can see rhino poaching has escalated over the years. One reason for this is the belief by many that grinding down the rhinoceros horns and mixing it with water or alcohol will make a medication, called powdered horn. Powdered horn is used in traditional Asian medicine as a supposed cure for a range of illnesses from hangovers to fevers and even cancer.But the current rage has been driven by demand for rhino horns in Vietnam. As well as its use in medicine, rhino horns are bought and consumed purely as a symbol of wealth. Rhinos horns are worth 60,000 per kilo with some even being worth 100,000 per kilo. Higher priced horns are often engraved with precise designs and sometimes have gold jewelry implanted within the horn.

With only 3 northern white rhinos left, I feel the poaching needs to stop. Rhinos once roamed many places throughout Eurasia and Africa. They were widespread across Africa’s savannas and Asia’s tropical forests. Today very few rhinos survive outside national parks and reserves. Two species of rhino are Critically Endangered. Rhinos are going against extinction. Only with our help, to stop the killings of  the rhinos will they have a chance of survival.


Give When You’re Gone

Colby Salerno has been talked about on the news, in the newspapers, by word of mouth, and online. He has become famous from his story and his blog “Tales From The Tenth Floor.”

Who is Colby Salerno? You may be asking. Well, Colby is a 24 year old Cheshire resident with an inspiring story and a kind heart. He had a rare heart disease and needed a heart transplant as soon as he possibly could get one. He was on the “Transplant Waiting List” since he was 12 years old. The Transplant Waiting List is a list of people who need organ transplants, and Colby was #1 on it for many years. More and more people are added to the Transplant Waiting List each year, and around 100 people are already added each day! While this number is increasing, the number of Organ Donors is decreasing. This is not good news for people like Colby, and other people who need lifesaving transplants.

Since Colby was 12 years old, he was not like other kids. He couldn’t play sports too much, run, or have a normal life in general. Now, everything is turning around for him. A little less than a year ago, Colby was slowly dying in the Hartford Hospital, waiting for a heart transplant that nobody was ever sure he would get. Colby was the youngest man in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) waiting for a transplant at the time. He made friends with 2 older men that were also waiting for a heart transplant. What they needed were organ donations. An organ donation is something people decide when they get their drivers license and is when people donate their organs to people who desperately need them when you pass away. Saving a life and being an organ donor is extremely important!! If you can’t live your life anymore, why not donate to save a life?

I have already decided that I am going to be an organ donor when I’m older. My goal is to spread the word about organ donations so other people will do the same. I met Colby when I was 5 years old and he was just a teenager working at a summer day camp. He made an impact on me immediately with his personality and once I learned his story, he made even more of an impact. He showed me that organ donations are a very important thing to do because they save lives. They saved his life. Would you be willing to donate the organs you don’t need anymore after you pass away to save someones life?  If it’s easy, helpful and makes sense, then why don’t more people do it? That’s the thing I always wonder about. “Life is bittersweet at best,” Colby said in one of his blog posts. This is what I think of when I think about organ donations. It’s bitter because a loved one was lost, but it’s sweet because you get the proud feeling that you saved one or more peoples lives. If anything in this blog stuck with you, I hope it is that Colby Salerno is an inspiring role model and that organ donations are incredibly important, so you should be one when you get asked that question later on in life!

~Krista Sbordone

Delving into DNA Discoveries

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One week ago, if you asked a scientist how our DNA works, they might’ve said that 98% of it is inactive, or “junk.” The other 2% contains our genomes, which contain the blueprints of who we are. This past Wednesday, however, some 500 scientists published new research indicating that at least 80% of our DNA is active; a startling contrast that is already rewriting textbooks everywhere.

What is DNA? DNA, or Deoxyribonucleic acid, is the road map for our bodies. It’s kind of like a control board, similar to a long series of switches flicking on and off. DNA consists of 4 chemical bases; adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). The order of the series of 3,000,000 units of these 4 chemicals is what sets us apart from the rest of the animal kingdom, or simply the person next to you. Every cell in your body contains the same strand of DNA, usually located in the nucleus of each cell.

Personally, I think this is a remarkable discovery. Part of what was discovered through this research was how disease works and what’s going on to cause it. Now, I’m not talking about the common cold or a virus. I’m talking about some of the leading killers in our country; heart disease, diabetes, even cancer. While no one is sure when this new information will turn into treatments and even cures, one thing everyone is sure of is that this is a remarkable discovery in the world of science everywhere.

~Claire Stover

Surgery by Microchip?

Imagine if having surgery was simple and painless?  Well, in a few years it may be just that. Currently a team of Stanford engineers is working on a surgical invention in the form of a tiny microchip.  The process would entail inserting the microchip into a person’s blood stream and like tiny surgeons; it would begin fixing the ailments while the person goes about their business.  This amazing invention was unveiled at the International Solid-States Circuits last February.   The tiny microchip is 3 millimeters wide and 4 millimeters long. It is wirelessly powered in addition to being self-propelling.  Once the doctor has inserted the chip, it will move through fluid or human blood in a controlled motion delivering medicine to exact areas for faster treatment. Expectations are set high for this tiny microchip as it will also be able to perform surgeries such as zapping blood clots or clearing blockage from blood arteries.

However, what is most amazing about the invention is that it does not require a big heavy battery to operate.  The engineering team has created two kinds of wireless energy transfer mechanisms that are used to control and move the chip. One mechanism  drives the current directly through the blood and propels it and the other switches the current back and forth creating a swishing motion. This technology far surpasses anything that has come to the medical market thus far. But even though this invention could prove to be groundbreaking for the medical community there is still much work to be done before it goes to market.

~ Devin Hick

Mr. Peanut Can’t Kill Me Anymore

I was diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy when I was 2.  Eating the smallest traces of peanuts would cause me to get hives, throw up and struggle to breathe.  For my whole life I’ve avoided peanuts.  I’ve missed out on a lot of candy, cookies, donuts and other kinds of food.  It made Halloween, which is my favorite holiday, very difficult because I couldn’t eat most of the candy I collected.  I always had to be very cautious about reading ingredients and staying away from peanuts.  One time I had to go the hospital in an ambulance because I accidentally ate candy that had peanuts.  I NEVER want to do that again as it was scary and I had to get stabbed with an Epipen needle which was painful and awful.

In the spring of 2011 I joined a peanut desensitization study.  I went to the New England Food Allergy Treatment Center where a doctor and nurse would give me small doses of peanut flour.  The nurse would mix the peanut flour in applesauce then I would have to eat it.  I would be watched for 2 hours to make sure I didn’t have any kind of reaction.  Then I would go home and eat that dose every day for two weeks.  After the two weeks was up, I would go back to the clinic and the doctor would increase the amount of peanut flour I ate.  I started at .8 mg which is less than one spec of peanut flour which was really hard to see.  I made it all the way to the last increase which was 383mg of peanut flour.  383mg of peanut flour is equal to 3 peanuts.  Here I was eating the very food that could make me sick or kill me and I wasn’t reacting, it was crazy.

The best part about the study is that I now am in the maintenance part which means my daily medicine is 3 peanut M&Ms.  If I eat the 3 peanut M&Ms every day I am safe to eat other foods that have traces of peanuts or manufactured on equipment that also processes peanuts.  Candy for medicine is awesome and tastes so much better than the peanut flour mixed in with applesauce.  So far I’ve had a couple of Dairy Queen Blizzards, eaten donuts from Dunkin Donuts and had KitKat bars. It’s a whole new world of delicious foods.  Most importantly I know that I won’t be sick or die from accidentally eating peanuts which is a big relief for me and my family.

~Sean Fitzgerald