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American Parents Are Way Too Focused on Their Kids’ Self-Esteem

For two kids who share so much of their DNA, my children couldn’t be more different in their displays of self-confidence. My 7-year-old recently got toothpaste on her dress while brushing her teeth, and in response, she burst into tears, dropped to the floor, and rolled around screaming, “I’m the worst person ever!” My 10-year-old, however, acts as though his knowledge already surpasses that of Albert Einstein. Whenever we point out that he’s wrong about something, he disagrees, as if the number of moons orbiting Jupiter is a matter of opinion. Sometimes I wonder if my daughter’s self-esteem is too low and my son’s is too high. How important is having the right amount of self-esteem? Does the right amount even exist?

Chris Barry.

America’s obsession with self-esteem makes evaluating and encouraging it difficult and messy. U.S. parents often have a hard time estimating how much self-esteem their children have. “It’s a really complex construct in our day-to-day lives,” Chris Barry, a developmental psychologist at Washington State University, told me. For instance, some American kids (and adults) with low self-esteem outwardly project confidence in an attempt to appear self-confident. On top of that, parents tend to overestimate their children’s self-esteem—perhaps both because kids are adept at hiding their issues, and because parents assume that healthy self-esteem is crucial and desperately want to believe their kids are doing fine.

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Grants fuel research energy

Thanks to a steady influx of grant funding in recent years, Washington State University’s Nuclear Science Center has acquired a raft of state-of-the-art equipment significantly expanding research capabilities.

Liane Moreau.

Liane Moreau, an assistant professor of chemistry and research scientist at WSU, said these kinds of instruments are few and far between, noting the closest SAXS is in Berkeley, Calif., so having access to them in one facility is a major advantage to researchers.

“Let’s say we generated a material using the nuclear reactor, we could then directly look at that in our instrumentation here, so it allows us to have capabilities that we don’t have anywhere else,” Moreau said of the SAXS. “To our knowledge there isn’t another instrument in the world that actually exists in the same facility as a nuclear reactor.”

Moreau said there are also major challenges to shipping and transporting radioactive material, and having access to these machines on one site in many cases eliminates the need to move the material from place to place.

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WSU faculty receive $1.4 million grant for assessment addressing truancy in schools

Several Washington State University faculty are the recipients of a $1.4 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences to refine and expand an assessment that helps address truancy in K-12 schools.

Nicholas Lovrich.
Paul Strand.

Paul Strand, WSU Tri-Cities professor of psychology, Brian French, Berry Family Distinguished professor and director of WSU’s Learning and Performance Research Center and Psychometric Laboratory, Nick Lovrich, WSU Regents professor emeritus, and Bruce Austin, research associate in educational psychology and the LPRC, have worked since 2014 to evaluate and refine WARNS. With the grant, the group is also adding the following members to their team to help refine the tool: Chad Gotch and Marcus Poppen, both WSU assistant professors in education, and Mary Roduta Roberts, an associate professor of occupational therapy at the University of Alberta.

Strand said the new grant will allow the team to update the instrument in a few ways. He said a variety of new issues have arisen that have impacted school attendance and performance in recent years. Examples, he said, include the prevalence of vaping and social media use.

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WSU Insider

Other regions have specific plans for heat waves. Experts say Seattle, Puget Sound cities need them too

In our current climate, a heat wave of similar severity could be expected, roughly, once every 1,000 years across the Pacific Northwest, according to a recent study that has yet to receive peer review. But as global warming advances, such a severe heat wave could be expected once every five to 10 years, the research suggests.

Deepti Singh.

“If you are vulnerable, or if you have vulnerable people in your household, it’s important to have cooling resources,” said Dr. Deepti Singh, a climate researcher at Washington State University – Vancouver, in the days before the heat wave hit.

The cooling sites were distributed across the city, but there were gaps in coverage. There were no sites in Georgetown or Queen Anne, and none below 95th Street in Northeast Seattle, for example, until June 28 — the third and hottest day — when the city opened one in Magnuson Park after residents in a low-income housing development raised concern.

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Seattle Times
The Sacramento Bee
The Columbian

Health equity issues the focus of new seed grants from HERC

Washington State University’s Health Equity Research Center (HERC) awarded seed grants to five research teams that will explore health equity issues with potential to draw major funding for further research.

HERC Director Paul Whitney said, “Each of the funded proposals addresses an issue critical to health equity. They all also have strong prospects for leveraging their seed grants to develop extramurally funded projects. We’ll be excited to follow their accomplishments over the next year and proud to contribute to WSU’s efforts to produce high quality scholarship that directly benefits the people of our state and beyond.”

Courtney Meehan.

The funded seed grant proposals include:

  • Human Milk and Cannabinoids
    Principal Investigator: Courtney Meehan, Department of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences

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WSU Insider