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Stories this week at WFU

By Jacob McConnico
336.758.5237
June 21, 2006

WAKE FOREST, STATE DEPARTMENT ESTABLISH NEW PROGRAM TO FOSTER FUTURE DIPLOMACY — This week, President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will work on diplomatic relations with Europe at the annual U.S.-European Union summit in Vienna, Austria. Beginning July 1, Wake Forest University will be the first and only university in the nation to host a new, three-week long program aimed at strengthening future U.S.-European diplomacy. Named in honor of America's first diplomat, the "Benjamin Franklin Transatlantic Fellows Initiative: Summer Institute for Youth" (BFTF) is the first youth-oriented program focusing on U.S.-European relations to be funded by the U.S. Department of State. Approximately 35 high school age students from 29 European and Eurasian countries and 10 American students from across the nation will come to Wake Forest to learn about U.S. and European cultures and politics. The students will live together in a residence hall, take classes addressing topics related to diplomacy, spend a day at the European Studies Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, participate in a community service project, stay for a weekend with host families and take field trips to Williamsburg, Va., Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. Allan Louden, associate professor of communication and director of debate at Wake Forest, is director of the BFTF.

Contact: Maggie Barrett, barretmb@wfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

SIMPLE CHANGES FAMILIES CAN MAKE TO BE HEALTHIER — The new television show "Honey, We're Killing the Kids" takes a dramatic, intervention-style approach to combating childhood obesity. According to Patricia Nixon, associate professor of health and exercise science at Wake Forest, families need not go to such dramatic lengths in order to change. "The most important thing is, parents need to be good role models," Nixon said. "If the parents don't exercise or eat healthy foods, why should they expect their children to adopt those habits?" Nixon said parents can initiate simple changes to encourage healthier habits. "Setting time limits on sedentary activities, such as watching television, can help children and parents become more active," Nixon said. Nixon acknowledged that certain situations, such as limited time and financial resources, can stand in the way of a family's best intentions, but that a little creativity can help eliminate obstacles. "Exercise doesn't have to cost anything, or be continuous activity for an extended period of time," Nixon said. "It can be as simple as walking around the neighborhood or the nearest mall, or putting on some music and dancing around the house for 10 to 15 minutes." Nixon was one of 13 panelists to recommend that children and teenagers need 60 minutes of daily, moderate to vigorous activity. The recommendations were published in the June 2005 issue of The Journal of Pediatrics.

Contact: Maggie Barrett, barretmb@wfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

TRACKING TEENS: WHAT WORKS? — Keeping track of what teenagers are up to without being too intrusive can be a challenge for parents. According to Wake Forest University psychology professor Christy Buchanan, adolescents do best when they feel both "trusted and watched" by parents. "Adolescents want to know their parents are looking out for them, but they don't want to feel like every detail of their lives is being monitored," Buchanan said.

Contact: Cheryl Walker, walkercv@wfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

MAJOR INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE CONFERENCE HITS WFU — The process used to illuminate a television or computer screen or the technology behind elaborate optical fiber telecommunications systems might not be of much concern to the average person, but when a display breaks down or looks outdated or communications fail, it becomes a big issue for even the most non-scientific minds. A desire to understand, improve and further manipulate the science of converting light to excited electrons and the conversion of excited electrons back to light in various materials is the reason more than 115 researchers from at least 18 different countries will converge at Wake Forest for the 7th International Conference on Excitonic Processes in Condensed Matter June 26-30. "This international scientific gathering places Wake Forest among an elite list of institutions and cities around the world that have hosted this conference," said Richard Williams, Reynolds Professor of Physics at Wake Forest and conference chairman. "Though excitons may not be a familiar term to many, they really affect us every day in important ways for economics and living." Excitons produce the light in light emitting diodes (LEDs) and in laser diodes found in CD players, grocery store scanners and laser pointers. They may also play a role in future quantum computer technologies.

Contact: Jake McConnico, mcconnjn@wfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

RISING HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS STUDY SCIENCE, MATH AT WFU — More than 50 rising high school students from the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school system are taking part in the SciMax Student Enrichment Institute at Wake Forest June 19-30. During the program, students will carry out fun science and math experiments and hear from locals working in science and math related fields. SciMax, a program funded by the National Science Foundation and organized in partnership by Wake Forest and the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, brings rising high school students, who have been nominated by their middle school teachers, to Wake Forest in an effort to prepare them for the rigors of high school science and math courses, while also increasing their enjoyment of science and math. "The students get excited about the activities they do, while they are learning the principles behind the activities and they are gaining academic skills that will serve them in all of their classes in high school," said Angela King, senior lecturer in chemistry at Wake Forest and director of SciMax. This year's experiments include dissection of fetal pigs, simulating population growth by using a bag of Skittles candy, and applying math principles to construct a catapult for launching Gummi Bears.

Contact: Jake McConnico, mcconnjn@wfu.edu or 336-758-5237.

PRESCHOOLERS SLOW TO CALL PEOPLE 'MEAN' — Young children are reluctant to describe someone as mean, according to new research by Wake Forest University psychologist Janet Boseovski. The study, published in the May issue of Developmental Psychology, evaluated how much information preschoolers need before they assign a negative or positive characteristic to someone. Boseovski and co-researcher Kang Lee of the University of California at San Diego found that young children, ages 3 to 6, were willing to generalize that a person is good or nice or kind because they were nice one time. "The children give the benefit of the doubt and attribute niceness, but not meanness, based on a single behavior," Boseovski said. "Knowing how young children judge other people is important for the design and implementation of street-proofing programs. While it is adaptive for young children to see the world in a positive way, because it encourages them to try new things and also fosters the formation of social relationships, it is also a concern in that they may be too trusting of strangers and acquaintances."

Contact: Cheryl Walker, walkercv@wfu.edu or 336-758-5237.


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