Head Injury Prevention in Ice Skating

Introduction

Physical activity is an essential part of being healthy. In children, activity helps build strong bones and muscles, decreases the likelihood of developing obesity, and promotes positive mental health. Children are recommended to have 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily.

In the United States, more than 30 million children and teens participate in sports. Of that number, approximately 3.5 million children and adolescents ages fourteen and under are hurt annually while participating in recreational activities. In 2002, The National Safe Kids Campaign estimated that 13,700 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for ice skating related injuries. Many of these are preventable head injuries if protective equipment, such as helmets or halos, is used.

Gliding across the ice, with the cool wind whipping across a skater’s face is an exhilarating feeling. One push can propel a skater far down the glistening, snowy surface. Worrying about a head injury is often far from a skater’s mind, as many participants are not aware of the possibility of head injury from ice skating. The goals of this article are to raise awareness about potential head injury from ice skating and to promote the use of helmets in skating, similar to what is required in cycling, skiing, and ice hockey.

Review of Injury Statistics

A concussion is a mild form of head injury, usually due to a blow to the head, which may cause disorientation, memory loss, or unconsciousness. Repeated concussions and loss of consciousness can result in traumatic brain injury or TBI.

An estimated 10% of all head and spinal cord injuries are due to sports related activities. Socially, athletes can feel undue pressure from family, coaches, and teammates to return to play quickly after a head injury. These influences can prevent an athlete from receiving the medical care he or she requires. In particular, parents and coaches can push their children too hard in an attempt to fulfill their own athletic aspirations. Athletes who return to play too soon or who suffer repeated injury to the head can develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, whose symptoms can include slowed speech, confusion, tremors, and mental deterioration. Most recently, CTE gained media attention when a settlement was reached with the National Football League, or NFL and thousands of players and families. The case, which involved more than 4,500 plaintiffs, calls for the NFL to pay for medical exams, compensation, and research related to head injuries sustained while playing professional football. Plaintiffs are committed to making the game safer at all levels and to educate the public; including parents of the four million children who play youth and high school football. Plaintiffs are committed to helping the focus on player safety trickle down to the youth level.

Awareness and education are key factors in injury prevention and return to play decisions. When an athlete suffers a head injury, a sideline assessment using the Standardized Assessment of Concussion should be completed by a medical professional. If a physician is not available, the coach can complete a basic assessment, until medical attention is available. The assessment includes tests of eye response, verbal response, and motor response. Telling a child to “shake it off” could have a grave impact on the child’s long term health.

Research concluded that safety measures in organized sports should include helmet requirements. There are approximately 230,000 cases of hospitalization due to traumatic brain injury annually of which 80,000 suffer long term disability and 50,000 result in fatalities. Five to twenty percent of these injuries are incurred during sports and recreational activities. Organized team sports, in particular football, soccer and ice hockey, have high instances of concussion annually in addition to recreational sports such as skating and bicycling. Helmets that are properly fitted and worn by participants of these activities can help reduce the risk of head injury among participants.

Sports and Helmet Rules

Cycling

In March 2003, professional cyclist Andrey Kivilev collided with two other riders during the Paris Nice ride. Kivilev was not wearing a helmet and catapulted head first off his bicycle. He fell immediately into a coma and was diagnosed with a serious skull fracture. Kivilev underwent surgery, but died shortly thereafter due to the severity of the head injury. He was 29 years old and the leader of the Cofidis cycling team. His death triggered the International Cycling Union, or UCI to implement compulsory wearing of helmets in all endorsed races.

Helmets protect the head by reducing the rate at which the skull and the brain are accelerated and decelerated during an impact effectively acting as a shock absorber between the force of the impact and the brain. Upon impact, the polystyrene liner of the helmet crushes thereby dissipating energy over a wider area. Instituting mandatory helmet policies in sports proves to be a divisive and controversial issue. Although research has demonstrated that helmets reduce injury in low speed crashes, helmet evidence is not conclusive with respect to high speed crashes. Kivilev’s accident occurred at approximately 35 kilometers per hour or about 22 miles per hour which is considered relatively low speed. At the time, he was ranked among the top 100 racers in the world.

Due to his high profile in the global cycling community, Kivilev’s death elevated the helmet debate into the media spotlight. Following this seminal UCI rule change, USA Cycling also revised their helmet policy to provide that in order to host an event sanctioned by USA Cycling, all participants are required to wear helmets.

In recreational cycling in the United States, bicycle helmet laws can vary widely. Currently, only twenty one states and the District of Columbia have instituted helmet laws for bicyclists below a certain age, which is generally 16 years-old. California requires helmets for riders 18 years and younger and only the Virgin Islands requires helmets for all riders. Twenty nine states have no bicycle helmet laws currently in place.

Researchers conducted a study which demonstrates helmet usage. This study directly observed 841 children in Texas who participated in bicycle riding, in line skating, skateboarding, and scooter riding over an eight week period. Whereas helmet rules vary county to county within Texas, most counties require helmets for riders age 16 years-old and younger. This study employed a randomly selected sample of children engaging in such activities from communities with populations equal to or greater than 1000. Children under 6 years-old, females and those riding on specified bike paths were found to wear helmets more frequently than other children.

Several factors often contribute to children not wearing helmets. During warmer months, children complain about high temperatures and accordingly are less inclined or willing to wear their helmets as riders feel they do not have proper ventilation inside the helmet. Parental knowledge and awareness is another contributing factor. Parents are often unfamiliar with applicable helmet laws nor are they informed of the potential risks of injury resulting from the failure to wear proper safety equipment. In a study examining data from1990 2005, there were in excess of 6,000,000 cases of children age 18 years-old and younger treated in emergency rooms for bicycle related injuries.

Skiing

In March 2009, actress Natasha Richardson sustained a head injury while taking a routine, beginner ski lesson. Initially she refused medical attention, however seven hours later, she was admitted to the hospital suffering from an epidural hematoma, a type of traumatic brain injury. She succumbed to her injuries and died the following day. Michael Kennedy, son of Robert F. Kennedy, died in 1997 following a skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado. A week later, Sonny Bono, television star and politician, died on the slopes of South Lake Tahoe. Richardson, Kennedy, and Bono were not wearing helmets.

Researchers studied injury rates at the three largest ski areas in Scotland during three winter seasons. The study found that first day participants are at an increased risk of injury due in part to low skill levels amongst the beginners. They concluded that first day participants should be targeted in educational programs about gear selection and protective equipment.

A study of skiers and snowboarders was conducted in Colorado where approximately 10 fatalities occur annually. Among the fatally injured, head injury proved the cause of death in 87.5% of the cases and none were wearing helmets. Of the 400 skiers and snowboarders admitted to the hospital with traumatic brain injuries, only five were wearing helmets. In the most serious case, the patient ascended off a 40 foot cliff, landed on his head, cracking his helmet in half. Whereas he sustained a severe concussion with unconsciousness, the computed topography, or CT scan proved negative and with inpatient rehabilitation, the patient has made a full recovery and is attending college.

In 2011, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law requiring all skiers and snowboarders under 18 years to wear helmets with the intent to reduce head injuries on the slopes. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a similar bill in 2010 however the measure was nullified following his veto of a companion bill that would have required California ski resorts to submit safety plans and reports to state officials. At the professional levels, the governing body of skiing, the Federation Internationale de Ski, requires a helmet as mandatory equipment for all downhill and Super G events.

Ice Hockey

In 1968, Bill Masterson of the Minnesota North Stars landed headfirst on the ice after being checked by two players from the Oakland Seals. He was not wearing a helmet and as a direct result died due to the severity of his head injury. Prior to this incident, the helmets use had been stigmatized which contributed to a lack of widespread use. However, as a consequence of this incident, the stigma surrounding the use of helmets began to diminish and ultimately in 1979, the National Hockey League, or NHL instituted a mandatory helmet policy. The policy did not apply uniformly at the outset as certain veteran players were grandfathered out of the new requirement. Such players elected to continue playing without helmets alongside new players who were subject the policy. Initially, the NHL and the players themselves faced harsh criticism from fans and the media. Despite the clear evidence of risks associated without helmets, some believed the policy harmed the integrity of the game and diminished the players’ masculinity.

Since the policy was first instituted more than three decades ago, significant research supporting the value and need for helmets has been documented. The hockey community has become supportive of the rule change particularly as a significant number of current hockey enthusiasts have never experienced the sport in which helmets were not employed and required. As with many elements of professional sports, the helmet policy was then instituted within youth hockey. The youth hockey governing board, USA Hockey, not only requires all players to wear helmets, they have mandated that all helmets employed by the players must be approved by the Hockey Equipment Certification Council, or HECC. Additionally, beginning in 2006, USA Hockey extended the helmet requirement to coaches who must wear helmets during on ice practice. The requirement for coaches provides the dual benefit of increased safety for all on ice participants as well as an opportunity for the authority figure to model appropriate safety practices. This continues to reinforce the value and importance of the use of safety equipment and in turn minimizes any residual stigma associated with wearing helmets on the ice.

In order to meet the requirements of the HECC, all helmets must undergo rigorous testing procedures including, without limitation, verifying the sufficiency of the coverage area, the quality of the protective material, and the degree of shock absorption. Aside from the specifications, the age, amount of use and type of each helmet all serve to impact the helmet’s effectiveness. The use of helmets with facial protection has proven effective in order to significantly decrease player injury at the amateur level. Whereas ice hockey is by nature a contact sport and checking is a significant cause of injury, the potential for injury is heightened further due to speed and surface tension. A study was conducted a study of 192 high schools in which 7,257 sports related injuries from 20 different sports were reported. From this total sample, 1,056, or 14.6% of injuries were concussions, 24% of which were sustained during boys’ ice hockey.

Ice Skating

In 1999, United Skates Pairs figure skaters, J. Paul Binnebose and Laura Handy were on track to make the 2002 Olympic team. While training at the University of Delaware, with Coach Ron Luddington, Binnebose fell on the ice, fracturing his skull. He suffered seizures, his heart stopped twice, and he was in a coma. Doctors removed a piece of his skull, allowing his brain to swell without pressure and heal. He was given a 10% chance of survival. Against the odds, he recovered.

Although the media widely publicizes celebrity sports related accidents, J. Paul Binnebose was not a well known star around the world. His story did not receive international media attention, but it is well known within the figure skating world. He and his coach have been working toward a helmet rule in skating for over a decade. They contend that many of the skating related injuries could be prevented or minimized with the use of a helmet.

Research suggests this notion is correct. An examination of pediatric skating related injuries was conducted in the years 1993-2003. The researchers sampled 1,235,467 children from emergency rooms with skating related injuries. Non random, purposeful sampling was used in this study. The data was collected from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, or NEISS, and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, known as CPSC.

The NEISS system has consumer product codes for each type of activity. Injuries were identified as ice skating, roller skating, or in line skating related, and coded accordingly. Ice hockey, roller hockey, and skateboarding were excluded from the study. Variables included the child’s gender and age, site of the injury, type of skating activity, mechanism of injury, use of protective equipment, and the injury diagnosis. Further, the injuries were categorized into 5 regions of the body.

The Centers for Disease Control report during the years 2001-2005, more than 200,000 emergency room visits for concussions and other traumatic brain injuries were recorded annually in the United States. Of those, 65% were found to be children ages 5 18 years-old who were participating in a sport or recreational activity. Children are at a greater risk for traumatic brain injuries with increased severity and a prolonged recovery. Thirty categories of sports and recreation head injuries were examined. Most of the sports demonstrated 2 7% annual emergency room visits for concussions and traumatic brain injuries. However, horseback riding, all terrain vehicle riding, and ice skating reported the highest instances of emergency room visits for traumatic brain injuries, with ice skating at 11.4%. Horseback riding and all terrain vehicle riding are activities where a secondary force carries the participant at a potentially high rate of speed; ice skating is a self propelled activity.

Researchers studied 419 children with injuries from ice skating, skateboarding, roller skating, and in line skating with the focus on head injury. Most injuries were to the face; 23 of 60 cases, 38.3%; and 12 additional injuries were to the head; 20%. Adult supervision was reported in 98.2% of the cases, and 78% reported no protective equipment use. The proportion of head injuries among ice skaters was greater than the participants in other types of skating, for which helmet use is recommended or required. Currently, there are no formal guidelines regarding the use of protective equipment in ice skating; however, studies show helmet use should be mandated for children.

A study of 80 patients who visited the Accident Service at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for ice skating related injuries found that 56% were beginner skaters, defined as having skated less than 10 times. Eighty two and a half percent of the patients were 11 to 25 years-old. The study suggests that children who are beginner skaters are more likely to sustain injury than experienced skaters. Other research studies show similar results. In a study of 43 patients admitted to the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital with ice skating related injuries, 65% were first time skaters. The study found need for increased public awareness about the risk of potential injury from ice skating and for preventative measures to improve safety.

Insurance companies strongly urge skating facilities to post a warning potential of risks at the entrance of the buildings, which releases the facilities from general liability. However, people visiting ice skating rinks are not well informed about the potential risks of the activity before arrival. Often they do not read posted placards. If provided with the background knowledge, ahead of their visit to the ice skating rink, many guests would have the opportunity to bring safety equipment from home. A need exists for a public awareness campaign.

Positive Effect of Sports Involvement

An ice skating rink is a place for children to visit on a regular basis, during their out of school time, to engage in positive, fun exercise. The key to helping the child enjoy their experience, and continue to return to the ice skating rink, is to make sure they have a positive first experience. This may not mean becoming an expert skater, but becoming competent on the ice that he/she can have a positive social experience and be “ice safe.” In order for this to happen, the participants must learn to skate with the proper safety equipment, including helmets. Once they learn the skill, he/she will continue to return to the facility with their friends. Having a positive place to go during out of school time will help the children avoid risky behaviors.

Conclusion

Cycling, skiing, and hockey have made changes in their safety guidelines based on the trends and statistics of head injuries in the sport. As the governing body for skating, the International Skating Union, known as the ISU has to take action to require worldwide helmet use for skaters. Once the ISU takes the first step, member countries can incorporate helmet rules into basic training programs and begin a public awareness campaign. Reducing the incidents of head injury will improve the overall safety of the sport. As safety improves, more people will continue participating in the sport of ice skating.

Chinese Education: Students, Teachers, and Methodology

With my interest and background in education, my teaching in China placed me in a unique position to do firsthand observation of Chinese education at all levels, which was one of the primary purposes of my original sabbatical request and my subsequent trips there. My wife and I visited a number of elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as several community colleges; in addition, I had the opportunity of teaching at all university grade levels. I came to find out that education has very different, much more deterministic consequences for Chinese students than it does for American students.

Look at it this way. With a population of over 1.3 billion people, China has one-fifth of the world’s population: one in every five people on Earth is Chinese. Further complicating the problems of that massive populace is the distribution of the people. China has roughly the same land mass as the United States. However, a good portion of that area is uninhabitable or sparsely populated: the Gobi Desert is non-arable and the Himalayas and the Himalayan plateau regions have proven to be largely useless; the eastern half of the nation is where the majority of the people are clustered, with a good deal of the population concentrated in and around the large cities located in that part of the country’s land mass. In addition, seventy-five to eighty percent of the people are still agrarian. Such disparate distribution and density of the population certainly makes feeding, housing, caring for, and educating the citizens an ongoing challenge, with education being a key focus.

Every school day in China, over 300 million students study in Chinese classrooms… more than the entire population of America. Indeed, one of my Chinese colleagues once related to me an enlightening analogy. Education in China, he illustrated, can be compared to a wide, packed highway leading to a narrow bridge. The farther along the road one goes, the narrower it gets. Many students get forced out into endless side streets all along the way. And at the end of that crowded road lies a very narrow bridge called “post secondary study.” If one does not cross that bridge, full participation and success in the Chinese economy is extremely limited. And because very few people can ever cross that bridge successfully, entry into post-secondary study is extremely competitive.

All Chinese citizens are guaranteed a basic ninth-grade education and increased literacy in the nation is one of the primary goals of the government. However, given the enormous number of students to be educated, those aims are difficult to achieve. Average class sizes range anywhere from forty to eighty, depending on the specialization of the school, and can number even more if the circumstances demand. The better schools have smaller classes (no more than forty students) so the teacher can do a better job. However, fifty to sixty students is the norm. From kindergarten on, regimentation is the rule of the day. Students are required to listen and take notes. The teacher traditionally has supreme authority and asking questions or commenting on course content in the classroom is considered to be an affront to the teacher and is thus forbidden. Teacher aides, tutors, or parental help in the classroom are unheard of. Rote memorization remains the dominant methodology and students learn early on that silence and copious note taking are the only keys to success. The students themselves spend most of their day in the classroom-usually from eight to ten hours-and the remainder of their time is devoted to homework and any additional tutoring or other supplemental courses that the parents can afford. At all levels of schooling, test results determine the caliber and quality of school the students will be able to attend, so continual study for capstone examinations (national exams at the completion of fourth, sixth, eight, tenth, and twelfth grades) do much in determining the direction and quality of the students’ lives. Some of the college students I talked to admitted that the rigorous demands placed on them by their teachers and parents left them with little or no childhood, a condition they vowed they would never impart on their own children.

The Chinese post-secondary education system is vastly different from the America system. The semesters are twenty-one weeks long. Chinese college students often attend classes Monday through Friday as well as extra classes, tutoring, and/or study sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Entrance into Chinese colleges and universities is quite difficult and is determined by the infamous national Gaokao placement exam. Only about 10 to 20 percent of high school graduates go on to technical colleges or universities and the exam results determine not only which universities they can attend, but also what majors they can study. Once accepted by a university, the students move through their course of studies in cadres of thirty-five to forty. Each cohort takes exactly the same classes and the members share the same, gender separate dormitories, with eight people to a small, confined room. Often their shower and toilet facilities are in a separate building. One of the students from each cohort is appointed to be the class monitor, and he or she becomes tasked with assuring that all classroom and dormitory activities take place with as few problems as possible. To be selected class monitor is indeed an honor. The students within each cohort and dorm room form close bonds and work together for the good of the whole. Interesting enough, most of the students I have talked with say there is little collaborative or interactive learning that goes on in the classroom. The totality of the Chinese education system serves to severely restrict creativity and individuality in students. Just as with the public education system, the college classroom experience involves listening, memorization, and continuous preparation for entrance exams and placements tests. However, the tests college students take are cumulative and will determine the employment they will acquire after graduation, and thus their future quality of life. The competitive nature of the Chinese education system has produced students who, for the most part, are very earnest, obedient, and extremely hardworking, yet who severely lack initiative.

I taught Chinese college students from all grade levels and their abilities and eagerness to learn continually impressed me. Unlike in America, problems with attendance and preparedness never interfered with classroom instruction, which made my teaching experience most enjoyable. And nearly to a person, the students continually exuded a childlike air about them… a certain navet… a sense of innocence to the ways of the world… indeed, they lacked the hardness present in so many of the students I deal with in my American classroom. The students who I worked with were highly motivated to do their best because they almost universally felt compelled to achieve success at any cost; doing so is their duty to not only society, but more importantly to their family. Parents often sacrifice a great deal in the education of their child, who comes to feel deeply obligated to repay them for the education he or she has received. Many of my students said the same thing: “I must get a good job and make much money so I can take care of my parents. They have worked so hard and spent so much money on my education.” The Chinese still place great emphasis on family… the ancient Confucian notion of Parental Piety… and on subservience to the society as a whole… the collectivism so sharply contrary to the individualist worldview of Westerners.

Every once and a while, one is given an epiphany, a moment of insight, if you will, that provides more information than volumes of books ever can. The first of my educational moments of enlightenment came when we visited several classrooms at a middle school. After the last class of the school day, I noticed many of the students were busy cleaning the windows in the classrooms, washing the blackboards, mopping the floors, and even cleaning the bathrooms. I asked the teacher giving us the tour of the school about this and her reply was, “These activities are part of the students’ education.” Schools have no janitorial force; all of the cleanup work is delegated to the students. “If the students are responsible for the condition of the classrooms and the school,” she continued, “they will put much more effort into and value upon their education. This is very much a part of our Socialist tradition… of Chairman Mao’s ideas of loving labor.”

The second insight came during the second month I was at Northeastern University. On a cold Sunday evening in February a sudden snow storm dropped several inches of snow on Shenyang. Very early the next morning, as I left our apartment building and began to make my way to my first class, I noticed students all over the campus-by the thousands-industriously shoveling snow off of the sidewalks and streets and chipping away at the patches of ice that had formed near door stoops and on steps. They had apparently been at their tasks since daybreak. I could only look on, perplexed, not sure of what I was experiencing. When I met my first class, which coincidentally was a cross-cultural communications course, I took several minutes to explain my curiosity about their activities. They were more than happy to explain the mechanics and the purpose of the activity.

“It is our duty!” explained Albert proudly (Chinese students learning English usually assume an English name).

“Shoveling snow is part of our education.”

“Yes, no one should slip on the ice and become injured,” chimed in Tiffany, whose muffler remained just below her lips in the cold classroom.

“How is the work determined?” I asked, still trying to keep the conversation going.

“Each class is given an assigned area. If the area is not done satisfactorily, the responsible class will be punished,” answered Gerald.

“What happens if someone is lazy and doesn’t want to go out into the cold and sleeps in?” I continued.

“That person will be scorned and even ridiculed by his fellow classmates… will be considered as a person who is unreliable… who can’t be trusted,” said Gail.

Intrigued by the ingenuousness of their answers, I tried to get as much information as I could. “And I saw the girls shoveling and chipping just as hard as the boys. Why is this?”

Connie, who was always timid in class, finally found her voice. “Chairman Mao did much for establishing the equality of women to men. He maintained that women need to stand with men in society, not behind them.”

Perhaps with a little chagrin, I concluded the conversation with a joke about what my students would probably tell me to do with the shovel if I commanded them to go out and remove snow from our college’s sidewalks… a joke no one really understood. But I had found a “teachable moment”… or rather a “learnable moment”… an instance in which the students and I were able to look beyond ourselves and jointly comment on the world around us. And not only had I found out more information about my environment, I was beginning to find those rare moments of teaching when I learned much more than I could ever impart.

I had two such other sudden leaps of understanding just this past year when I went to Shenyang. In my several trips there I had never had the occasion to go in the fall, so because we went during September and October on that visit I was able to observe two very remarkable occurrences. The first was on September 10th, which I did not realize was National Day of the Teacher, a nationwide holiday in which students around the country show their appreciation for their teachers by presenting them with gifts of cards and flowers. We knew the day was a holiday for teachers, but we were incredibly surprised when two of our students appeared at our door with two large arrangements of flowers… a token they said of the gratitude all of our students had for us being their teachers. Traditionally, the relationship of the teacher to the student has almost mirrored that of the one between parent and child, a concept that comes from the time of Confucius (Kongfuzi).

This insight was followed up shortly thereafter with yet another, when I was visiting the Foreign Studies College at Northeastern University, just after the beginning of the semester in September. From several blocks away I heard a chorus of hundreds of voices singing a martial anthem. As I walked onto the large concrete square in front of the twelve-story Administration Building, I saw arrayed there at least two thousand students dressed in the drab green of military uniforms. Some were marching, some were standing in large cadres on the building steps, and other were engaged in military hand-to-hand combat tactics, all under the direction of regular Chinese Army instructors. Later I came to find out that all college freshmen, at every college and university around the country, are required to receive a full three weeks of military training before they even begin their classes. Some of the teachers I talked to explained how that requirement was purposeful in helping the students prepare for the rigors of college life and studies; others said it had come out of the Tiananmen Square incident and had been implemented to prevent university students from engaging in anti-government organizing and activities. Again, the differences between the students of China and those of America are often stark.

But the restlessness and impatience of youth is universal. In China the imposition of Western influences, brought about by the rise of capitalism and the driving force of commercialism and advertising, movies and videos, the Internet and other glimpses of outside cultures, have generated a rising sense of not dissent, but perhaps discontent… maybe uneasiness with the status quo. The Chinese youth of today are not the same as that of twenty or even ten years ago, and this groundswell is probably most noticeable in education. Though still hard-working and conscientious, contemporary students are progressively coming to expect more than just a passive exchange of information and knowledge during the course of their learning; they are, I think, gradually asking for a more participatory role in their education, which might, in the end, spill over into the broader social and political realms.

This need for change in educational methodology is exerting growing pressure on the teaching profession in China to change. The Chinese teachers and professors I worked with were equally industrious and eager to help and learn. And though the teacher remains the center of authority in the classroom, they are continually asked for much and given little in return; they for the most part are underpaid, making a fraction of their American counterparts, while doing more with less. And they sense the limitations of their traditional methods of teaching… those that have been ingrained into the culture since the time of Kongfuzi. With the new generation of students coming into their classrooms, the old methods prove to not be working so well. The twenty-first century is requiring people who can do more tha just memorize; instead, abstract thinkers are going to be needed and the teachers and professors are looking to the West, strangely enough, to provide them with the teaching tools to accomplish this goal. And just as with their students, when exposed to new and different ways of teaching, such as collaborative learning and independent thought, Chinese teachers are slowly finding out that melding innovation with tradition brings success.

At the risk of over generalization, I can say that the students, and certainly the faculty members, are extremely different from those I have grown accustomed to in America. Because education is not a right, but rather a privilege in China, both groups for the most part take their studies, educational mission, and teaching responsibilities quite seriously. As a result, I submit that both the American and Chinese cultures and educational systems can learn a great deal from each other.

Note: The above article has been excerpted from a photo narrative entitled An American Academic in Li Bai’s Court: China Photos and Reflection, created and written by John H. Paddison. Copyright 2010, Paddison-Orvik Publishing.

Copyright 2011 Paddison-Orvik Publishing.

The Mathematics of Earth’s Magnetic Properties – What Will Change As Arctic Ice Melts?

Why do our kids today in high school and college need to learn about math and science? Well, in the future we will need these skills to helps us solve our most pressing challenges. Without a good basis and understanding in math, our young adults don’t have a chance in the sciences. Okay so let’s talk about math, mathematical modeling, computer simulation, Earth sciences, and cosmetology for a moment if we might?

Why should we study other planets, moons, and celestial bodies in our solar system? Because we can learn a lot about their systems and thus, have greater understanding of our own, how life has evolved and how it all works. Let me give you a for instance because not long ago, I was speaking to an individual that said we should be spending more money helping the downtrodden and homeless around the world and indeed in our own country and spending less on space exploration and NASA. I guess you figured out I completely disagree.

You see, what we learn in science today will help us to feed the over 7 billion people in the world, help us build better habitats, materials, and establish better health care strategies, not to mention energy, transportation and educational exploits. Now then for an example, something we’ve learned elsewhere and how this might help us with climate science here at home, and help us better understand through quantitative analysis of empirical data to build better modeling and computer simulation as to what is and will happen in the future here on Earth.

Europa has a rather strong magnetic signature, meaning it probably has a salt water ocean underneath all that water ice. When NASA sent a probe to fly by they had some interesting other readings and now scientists believe that Europa has 50-miles of ice, and underneath it all, a giant ocean; 3-times as much water as in on Earth. Wow, that’s impressive isn’t it?

Now then, the magnetic signature gave us clues to much of what we assume today as to the geological make-up of the moon, which is rather interesting, and it also should make us wonder how might the magnetic signature of Earth change when all that ice melts at the North Pole here due to our natural climate cycle changes over time?

The answer has to be yes, and yet, if we were to ask ourselves the ratio, and the change to be expected would we even have an accurate answer, and what might we compare our best guestimate against? More information please, but first we are going to need some very smart scientists with a hell of a lot of mathematical experience under their belts. Please consider all this and think on it.

How to Choose the Right Ice Melt System

Do you have ice damming on your roof?

Why it can be a problem

A lot of home owners experience dangerous ice and snow build up on roofs. When this happens, the ice can “crawl” up the roof, penetrating the shingles. The moisture that runs down the roof as snow continues to melt then can puddle on the ice dam as the dam is usually quite flat on top. Eventually, the ponding water makes its way under the shingles and will test the underlayment. If the underlayment isn’t comprised of a suitable bichithane (aka ice and water shield), or if the pitch is too shallow, the ponding moisture will find a way to infiltrate the eave and deteriorate the structure at best. Even if the eaves are lined with a nice layer of ice shield, moisture that is too frequently in contact with the nails will eventually rust them out and allow moisture penetration through the nail holes. It does not take much of a hole left by a partially rusted nail to let a lot of water in if there is ponding water around it! In addition, it will also likely penetrate the living space causing damage anywhere from damaged sheetrock, paint and carpet, to furniture damage. Not a comfortable situation!

Any Solutions?

Because you do not want to be bullied by water doing damage to one of the most valuable investments you will ever make – your home, it is important to know what the solutions are for ice dam problems.
Thankfully, there are two solutions:

  1. Heat Tape
  2. Heatizon Z-mesh

Heat Tape

Heat Tape is a cable that heats up to about 34 degrees. The Heat Tape runs up and down across the eave in a serpentine pattern, and then runs into the gutter and down the down spout to keep a conduit of moisture flowing. It usually goes about two to three feet up the roof and back down to the gutter. The high points of the serpentine pattern vary depending on how much snow and ice is expected to form on the eaves. The variance is somewhere between one to three feet on center.

Heat Tape is by far the most common treatment of ice dams because it is less expensive to install. Three down sides are:

  1. It is expensive to run
  2. Does not melt the snow evenly on the eave.
  3. It is also quite expensive to run even if it is a thermostatically controlled system (where it only kicks on when the temperature drops below freezing.)
  4. With some customers, the most difficult aspect to get used to is that you can see the heat tape on the eaves and it really is not very attractive on a brand new roof.
  5. The Heat Tape clips to the shingles and can affect the shingles ability to lay flat and can lead to blow offs.
  6. Do not let a roofer hook your heat tape up to electricity! A roofing contractor is not licensed nor educated on the amount of current that can run through a single breaker and therefore can overload a circuit potentially causing a house fire!

Heatizon

Do you have snow and/or ice build up? Heatizon Z-mesh has a convenient automatic activation device that allows it to sense when the temperature is cold, as well as detecting moisture in the air. Its low voltage usage, along with the automatic activation, makes this system cost effective and efficient.

Heatizon Z-mesh can be applied to most roofing systems including membrane, asphalt shingles, tile and cedar shakes. It is safe to nail and staple making the installation process easier and more proficient.
Another thing to consider is the aesthetics of the copper mesh. How will the product affect the over-all look of your home? Heatizon z-mesh is applied under the roof material leaving no unsightly cables. Your roof will look just as beautiful as it would without an installed heating system.

Other benefits of installing the heatizon z-mesh deicing system is having the peace of mind that it has been installed under the roof material preventing problems such as it shifting from the weight of the snow or being ripped off completely. This will save time and money from costly repairs or replacements.

While heatizon z-mesh does cost more than the more common method of heat tape, it is a smart choice for home owners looking for lasting deicing solutions. Not only will heatizon z-mesh keep your roof line looking its best, it will also last the life of your roof.

When installing any type of roof heating system it is important to have an electrician connect the power supply to the ice melt system. If not properly connected it can result in over-heating and possible fires.
Brady Roofing has a reputable relationship with Heatizon and will ensure the proper installation of the entire roofing system. The goal of the company is to strive for honesty while achieving complete customer satisfaction.