Archives for July 30, 2018

Schools Out, Youth Summer Camps Combine Golf and Tennis with STEAM Academics


TGA Premier Sports is the leading after-school youth sports enrichment program specializing in the life-long sports of golf and tennis, as well as a variety of team sports. Now that school is out, TGA is preparing for over 2,500 summer golf and tennis camps nationwide, including in your community.

What makes TGA such a special program and why parents and schools love it is because of how it has incorporated academics and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) into its programs and camps using golf and tennis as the conduit.

You might ask, how does it work?

TGA has created a curriculum that includes not only learning how to play the sports, but how the physics of these sports work with the balls and equipment through STEAM. Each student receives a student handbook that includes a variety of problems and worksheets that students will perform or answer at one of the curriculum stations. Next, in depth labs tackle multiple concepts and rest on the “scientific method” to form an inquiry and conclusion using interactive activities to help express a concept.

For more information about TGA, visit

Credit: TGA Premier Sports.

Spotting Giants Web project created by UCSB researchers in collaboration with the Aquarium of the Pacific relies on citizen scientists and NASA algorithms to track endangered giant sea bass

Photo Credit: Robin Riggs.

 Capable of growing bigger than an average-sized grizzly bear, and as imperiled as the black rhino, giant sea bass are the largest bony coastal fish in California. They can live to be 75 years old and can exceed 7 feet and 500 pounds. Most importantly, their ecological contributions as an apex predator in kelp forest ecosystems likely help to shape how these underwater forests work. UC Santa Barbara and the Aquarium of the Pacific today launched a citizen science program to help these endangered behemoths.

Harmless despite their size, these curious and gentle giants can be the highlight of a SCUBA dive. A previous UCSB study found that giant sea bass are worth more alive than dead: Their value as an ecotourism attraction outweighs their value when caught and sold by gillnet fishermen. Encounters with giant sea bass, however, are rare. In fact, a recent genetic study suggests that fewer than 500 breeding individuals may exist in California.

            To effectively recover this species, which is categorized as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, marine biologists need more and better data. Enter Spotting Giant Sea Bass, a kind of Facebook for fishes, where citizen scientists upload photographs of fish and share information about where and when each individual was sighted.

“Spotting Giant Sea Bass is an example of how we can leverage the power of technology to help solve problems in the oceans,” said Douglas McCauley, an associate professor in UCSB’s Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology and director of the Benioff Ocean Initiative, which funded and designed the Spotting Giant Sea Bass website.

During the launch event, attendees were able to see giant sea bass that have lived at the Aquarium of the Pacific since it opened over 20 years ago and observe a demonstration scan of those fish into the database. As part of its conservation initiatives, the Aquarium of the Pacific was the first aquarium to be able to successfully breed giant sea bass in 2016. “We are pleased to partner with UCSB on this program to help this important and iconic local species,” said Dr. Sandy Trautwein, Aquarium of the Pacific vice president of animal husbandry. “The photos citizen scientists collect and share with UCSB will help us to better understand giant sea bass and to aid in conservation research.”

Photo: Courtesy of The Aquarium of the Pacific.

            The idea for the project was born when two UCSB undergraduates, Conner Jainese and Katelin Seeto, discovered that each giant sea bass carries its own unique spot pattern that can be read like a barcode to identify individuals. The Spotting Giant Sea Bass website makes matches by using pattern recognition algorithms first developed by astrophysicists to spot patterns in star constellations and later used by NASA on the Hubble Space Telescope.

            Giant sea bass spots form a miniature “constellation” on their flanks. The program leverages the unique spot pattern of each giant sea bass recorded to match up fish sighted on different days and in different places. For example, a giant sea bass named Nimrod was first photographed at a popular dive site off Catalina and then a year later was recorded at the exact same location.

In website testing prior to launch, more than 100 individuals ranging from the Northern Channel Islands to San Diego have been recorded on the website. Some observations have occurred within four different marine protected areas.

“By matching the unique spot patterns of individual giant sea bass in images submitted to the website we can begin to answer critically important research questions,” said ichthyologist Milton Love, a research biologist with UCSB’s Marine Science Institute. Data collected from the project help marine biologists better track the ups and downs of the giant sea bass population, determine whether they are using marine protected areas, identify their spawning grounds, calculate how far these fish move, and identify the threats they encounter on their travels.

            With California divers logging more than 1 million dives annually, Spotting Giant Sea Bass serves as a portal for citizen scientists to get involved in marine research and create data that could help with the recovery of an endangered species. Reporting data also gives citizen scientists a vested interest in giant sea bass conservation. Divers who upload a photo of a giant sea bass can receive notifications when “their” fish is spotted by another diver. As these fish can live to at least 75 years old, the architects of the Spotting Giant Sea Bass project hope many interesting stories will unfold.

“Staring eye to eye with a fish that is twice as old as you are and is big enough to swallow small sharks is a powerful experience,” McCauley says. “We are really excited about how Spotting Giant Sea Bass can help connect people around that experience and democratize the process of doing research that can help protect the future of this amazing species.”

            Additional support for the Spotting Giant Sea Bass project was provided by the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Santa Barbara Channel Marine Biodiversity Observation Network. The Aquarium of the Pacific’s dive team also participates in the program.

Credit: University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Mission: Impossible – Fallout: Full of Adrenaline-Pumping Action. Best MI Film Yet!

Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions. Arms dealer John Lark and a group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for a simultaneous nuclear attack on the Vatican, Jerusalem and Mecca, Saudi Arabia. When the weapons go missing, Ethan and his crew find themselves in a desperate race against time to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ryan R. comments, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout is … full of adrenaline-pumping action! I believe that this is the best summer action/adventure film of the year and the best Mission Impossible film to date.” Talia J. adds, “Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the most action-packed films of the year, and perhaps of the entire Mission: Impossible franchise. The legendary Tom Cruise never fails in making cutting edge films and surely he has not let his fans down in this one.” See their full reviews below.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

By Ryan Rivera, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 14

So far, this summer’s action and adventure films have been very boring. However, Mission: Impossible – Fallout is far from boring. It’s full of adrenaline-pumping action! I believe that this is the best summer action/adventure film of the year and the best Mission Impossible film to date.

In this film, we see Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he receives a mission he chooses to accept, but fails to complete, because of an ambush. As a result, Ethan and his IMF team must work together with the CIA and other familiar allies to stop Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), John Lark (Henry) and his group, known as the Apostles, from trying to execute a nuclear threat to the world.

What I really enjoyed about this film are the sound designs, stunts, plot, cast and all the mind-blowing illusions IMF uses to trick the bad guys. I must say, the sound design is fantastic. The audio for explosions and gunshots sound authentic. It sounds so real that I felt as if I was in the scene. The stunts are intense because, if you don’t already know, Tom Cruise does all of his stunts. When he performs them, it is hard to watch since he jumps off of many things such as planes and buildings. I felt so nervous that these stunts are real. The stunts are so nerve-racking because most of the movie isn’t made with CGI’s, so most of the stunts are done exactly how the movie shows it. The story is very interesting. I like that you really don’t need to see the other films to understand what goes on in this one.

The cast overall is superb. Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames are excellent as the IMF, since every delivery is spot on. I like that Benji is the most nervous character and you feel what he feels when a dangerous event happens. Also, I enjoyed the performance of Sean Harris, who really brings in the mystery of this character, since he doesn’t speak a lot until the end of the film.  Rebecca Ferguson, as Ilsa Faust, makes a great curious assassin, since she always goes the opposite way of the IMF and always finds something different and important, which helps the IMF. Also, Angela Bassett and Alec Baldwin’s performances as Erica and Alan are fantastic. I like how their relationship is shown as contradictors, because they both argue their own points. It is a shame we don’t get to see more of this in the film. Henry Cavill, as August Walker, is also fantastic. I like how Ethan and August have different ideas about what they should do in the missions and they both try to incorporate their ideas, but those ideas come at a cost.

I really like how each scene feels more intense than the last scene. At one point, I thought that the movie was going to end a certain way and I was so nervous about what was going to happen that I almost fell out of my seat. Finally, what I extremely like about this movie is the tricks the IMF use to trick the bad guys. In certain scenes I was surprised that it was an illusion. My favorite illusion is the masked one where Benxi wears a mask that allows him to look like anyone.

This movie had a lot of great things going for it. The only thing I did not like about it is that it shows way too much in its trailer. However, it is fantastic. I give it 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it to people who like action/adventure and thriller movies. I recommend it for ages 13 to 18, as well as adults. Make sure to see Mission: Impossible – Fallout when it opens July 27, 2018.

Mission: Impossible – Fallout

By Talia Jacnuk, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 15

Mission: Impossible – Fallout is one of the most action-packed films of the year, and perhaps of the entire Mission: Impossible franchise. The legendary Tom Cruise never fails in making cutting edge films and surely he has not let his fans down in this one.

This film is a continuation of Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. The story follows the agent Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) as he embarks on another dangerous mission with his fellow teammates, Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickle (Ving Rhames) to stop a catastrophic event from taking place.

I have been a very big fan of the Mission Impossible films for many years. I have watched them all and enjoy them very much. That being said, this film feels very different from the others. This storyline is very intricate and complex so, if you miss a piece of dialogue, it’s very easy to get lost. It has always been easy to grasp what’s happening in the other films in the franchise, but this one is quite overwhelming. There are a couple of new characters introduced including the spy August Walker (Henry Cavill) and they bring back characters from past films. If someone missed the last film, it will be almost impossible to keep up with the story line. I highly recommend rewatching the previous film, just to jog your memory.

One thing that makes this film different from past ones is the deep emotional connection Ethan Hunt faces in this film. It really goes deep into Ethan Hunt’s mind and shares his greatest fears with the viewer. I enjoy that this film gets more personal and cuts deeper into who Ethan Hunt really is as an individual and not just as an agent.

The action scenes are absolutely insane. There are car chases, motorcycle races, jumping off roofs, mountain climbing and way too many more for me to begin to describe. It’s a very big cliché, but I was actually on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film. The fighting scenes are very climactic and interesting. The scene I looked forward to watching most is the scene where Tom Cruise actually injured himself performing a stunt. Yes, he broke his ankle performing a stunt! And, the best part is, they kept that scene in the film. Tom Cruise has shown time and time again how he is devoted to this franchise. He is an extremely talented actor and makes the films jaw dropping. He brings much-needed humor and intensity to this film.

This film is one to definitely go see. It is entertaining with its captivating fight sequences, goes deeper into Ethan Hunt’s psyche, and still keeps the story light and fun to watch. I recommend it to ages 14 to 18, as well as adults. You should know that there is lots of rough fighting and bloody shots that are inappropriate for younger children. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars. It opens in theaters July 27, 2018 so put it on your watch list.




Summertime Must-Have for Families! Protect your family this summer with Dynatrap!

Have a problem with pesky mosquitoes this Summer?

Summer vacation is here and that means staying outside later! The only problem is that with hot summer days and standing water in pools means pesky mosquitoes!

Protect your family this summer with Dynatrap! It is an effective insect trap that is chemical and pesticide free.  I like that it is also an affordable, easy to maintain, environmentally friendly effective insect trap. I recently received the Dynatrap DT600 and was quite impressed with how well it works! It is super easy to set up and most importantly really does work!

You can find it (and other products) at

Self Disclosure: I received a free sample to facilitate this post. The image was also provided.

Big Fish & Begonia – An Emotional Masterpiece. Artistically Magical and Though Provoking

It is a world within our world, yet unseen by any human, and the beings here control time and tide and the changing of the seasons. On the day Chun turns sixteen, she is transformed into a dolphin to explore the human world. She is rescued from a vortex by a human boy at the cost of his own life. Chun is so moved by the boy’s kindness and courage that she decides to give him life again. But to do this, she must protect the boy’s soul, a tiny fish, and nurture it to grow. Through adventure and sacrifice, love grows, yet now she must release him back to the sea, back to life in the human world. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Sahiba K. comments, “An emotional masterpiece, Big Fish & Begonia is an artistically magical and thought provoking piece of anime. The animation is beautiful. I felt as if I was watching a classic painting come to life.” See her full review below.

Big Fish & Begonia

By Sahiba K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 16

An emotional masterpiece, Big Fish & Begonia is an artistically magical and thought provoking piece of anime. The animation is beautiful. I felt as if I was watching a classic painting come to life. The story is unforgettable. Each scene left my heart yearning for the characters to succeed.

The story follows a humble, brave girl name Chun who dedicates her life to help a kind boy, Kun, who gives his life to save hers after she travels from her magical to his human world. She goes to great lengths to bring him back and gives him all her love and care. However, when a variety of obstacles threaten Kun’s survival, Chun risks everything to save him.

The animation is mystical and brings Chun’s fantastical land to life. The characters from Chun’s world are unique and their strange characteristics bring a special quality that is unlike other films. Many characters have a quirky addition such as antlers or a completely other-worldly face with multiple eyes. These subtle additions enhance the fresh and original elements the film specializes in. The backgrounds and scenery take the animation to the next level. The water and ocean play a huge role in the film and the animation transforms the water, displaying its beauty and importance. At night the ocean reflects the sky, its stars and the sublime hues present; while during the day it is almost invisible and many objects look like they are floating through the air. One of the most notable animation feats is the scenery. In many favorite parts, we see Chun running across landscapes and the camera captures her world in the most artistic way.

The emotions of this film left me in awe, showing the friendship and love these characters are capable of. In every scene, I was either smiling or in tears because of the sacrifices they make for each other and for each others’ happiness. The music enhances the mood of these scenes with a mysterious and peaceful quality.

The messages of Big Fish and Begonia are: 1. If your conscience is clear, it doesn’t matter what others think and 2. Follow your heart. I give this film 5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 to 18. Check out Big Fish and Begonia on DVD August 7, 2018.