It wasn't all bad
June 4, 2020

Using a remote sensing method, scientists working in southern Mexico found an ancient structure that has a total volume exceeding Egypt's Great Pyramid of Giza.

The discovery in Aguada Fénix is the largest and oldest-known structure built by the Maya civilization, Reuters reports. A rectangular elevated platform made of clay and earth, it was built between 1000 and 800 BC, is nearly a quarter-mile wide and nine-tenths of a mile long, and stood 33 to 50 feet high.

Researchers used Light Detection and Ranging, or Lidar, to find the structure. Lidar is a remote sensing method used to examine the surface of the Earth and measure ranges. This technique uses laser light and other data recorded by an aerial system to generate three-dimensional information about the surface.

University of Arizona archeologist Takeshi Inomata led the research, published Wednesday in Nature, and told Reuters the structure is "so large horizontally, if you walk on it, it just looks like natural landscape." Researches believe it was used "for special occasions, possibly tied to calendrical cycles. The rituals probably involved processions along the causeways and within the rectangular plaza. The people also deposited symbolic objects such as jade axes in the center of the plateau." Catherine Garcia

June 3, 2020

Stephen Wamukota's ingenuity has earned him a presidential award.

Wamukota, 9, lives in western Kenya, and received the honor after creating a wooden hand-washing machine that uses a foot pedal to dispense water so people can avoid touching surfaces amid the coronavirus pandemic. He started working on his invention after watching a television show about the virus, and has already made two hand-washing stations.

His dad, James Wamukota, told BBC News he had purchased pieces of wood to make a window frame, "but when I came back home after work one day, I found that Stephen had made the machine. The concept was his and I helped tighten the machine. I'm very proud."

On Monday, Wamukota and 67 other Kenyans received inaugural Presidential Order of Service, Uzalendo (Patriotic) Awards, with Wamukota the youngest winner. This made him "very happy," he told BBC News. His dream is to become an engineer, and his county's governor has already promised to give Wamukota a scholarship. Catherine Garcia

June 2, 2020

Twin sisters Valerie and Vanessa Gonzalez have done almost everything together, including finishing high school at the top of their class.

The 17-year-olds are set to graduate from Pacific High School in San Bernardino, California, this month. Valerie is valedictorian, completing her senior year with a 4.62 GPA, and Vanessa is right behind her — she has a GPA of 4.61, and will serve as salutatorian. "We definitely relied on each other," Vanessa told the San Bernardino Sun. "We would help each other on essays on how to explain main points. We studied together for tests."

Combined, Valerie and Vanessa took 18 Advanced Placement classes, but also found time to participate in extracurricular activities. Their principal, Natalie Raymundo, told the Sun the sisters are "great examples of exactly what we hope for our students. They're well-rounded, have a lot of experience, and do their work with flair, with humility and integrity. They make us proud."

The twins will take separate paths this fall, with Valerie studying environmental science at the University of California Riverside and Vanessa heading to UCLA to major in biochemistry. Catherine Garcia

June 2, 2020

Ty Stephenson found that the best way to explore his hometown was by using his own two feet.

Stephenson, a 19-year-old college student, lives in Blacksburg, Virginia. Last July, he became inspired by a man who ran on every public street in San Francisco, and decided to do the same in Blacksburg. Stephenson picked up a map from the city, and found that there were 492 roads he could run. Late last summer, he hit the pavement, first running streets near his parents' house before moving on to other parts of town.

He has always loved exploring and being outside, and was in no rush to check off every street — Stephenson told The Roanoke Times he won't live in Blacksburg forever, and wanted to savor his runs. He discovered beautiful views at the top of hills and a meadow that he never knew existed. Sometimes he was joined by friends, and at the end of the every run, he would grab a yellow highlighter and mark the streets on his map.

On May 17, Stephenson finished his quest, after going on 60 runs and covering 314 miles. He learned that adventure can be found in your own backyard, no passport necessary. "I just think life's too short to wait for those places that are exotic or something when we have so many cool places so close to us," he told The Roanoke Times. Catherine Garcia

June 1, 2020

Dressed in his best suit and ready to dance, Curtis Rogers, 7, threw his babysitter a mini-prom that she'll never forget.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Rachel Chapman, 17, of Raleigh, North Carolina, wasn't able to experience many senior activities, including going to prom. Before the pandemic, Chapman spent most afternoons with Rogers — she would pick him up from school, help him with his homework, and take him to the playground. Rogers' mom, Elissa, told Good Morning America her son "absolutely adores" Chapman, and when he heard that her prom had been canceled, he didn't want her to miss out on the fun, and decided to plan one himself.

Rogers picked out everything, from his dapper suit to the night's menu, which was comprised of food he used to eat with Chapman, including smoothies and apples with peanut butter. During the prom, they safely kept their distance from one another, sharing a meal and dancing from afar. Chapman, who hasn't been able to babysit Rogers since March, said she was "so surprised" by his thoughtfulness. "I had no idea he was going to go all out," she added. "It was very thoughtful and sweet." Catherine Garcia

May 28, 2020

Scientists were able to capture rare audio of narwhal vocalizations as several swam through a fjord in Greenland, and they discovered that these elusive whales make some familiar sounds underwater.

Known as the unicorns of the sea, narwhals live in the Arctic waters. Evgeny Podolskiy of Japan's Hokkaido University, who studies the sounds of glaciers, realized that to get a fuller picture, he needed to understand what noises the narwhal makes. Last summer, he led a team of geophysicists to Greenland, where they worked with Inuit hunters to record the different noises of the narwhal. Their study was published Tuesday in the AGU's Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans.

The team was able to capture narwhals whistling, clicking, and buzzing. Narwhals use echolocation to find food, and the researchers found that the closer a narwhal gets to its prey, the faster it clicks, and the buzzing noise sounds like a chainsaw. When narwhals want to communicate with each other, they whistle. The researchers said the recordings have helped them better understand narwhal behavior and how they find food in the summer. Catherine Garcia

May 27, 2020

Tom Jordan is several steps closer to living his dream of being a math professor.

The 15-year-old was awarded his associate's degree in general science from Stark State College in North Canton, Ohio, on Sunday, graduating with a 3.93 GPA. On Friday, he will receive his diploma from GlenOak High School, where he finished with a GPA of 4.625.

"What really feels good for me is that it's not really about the fact that I'm here, it's about all the experience and hard work it took to get here," Jordan, the youngest student in Stark State history, told Good Morning America. "If I were to go in and I just easily breezed through, this wouldn't really mean anything to me."

Jordan first enrolled at Stark State four years ago, signing up for a pre-algebra class. Last year, he enrolled full-time for independent study classes, and was able to receive high school credit as well. When he's not studying, Jordan enjoys playing chess, and he was singing in a choir and volunteering with Toys for Tots. This fall, he will attend the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio, to study math, and hopes to earn his doctorate from either Harvard or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Catherine Garcia

May 26, 2020

With the help of a few colleagues and a lot of chalk, Kim Gaddie was able to honor the University of Oklahoma's Class of 2020.

Together, the crew wrote the names of every graduating senior in the spot where they would have lined up for commencement. With more than 4,000 graduates, the names fill the sidewalk. "It was just a small gesture that we felt like we could do for them to say, 'Hey, we're thinking about you. We care about you. We know this is important,'" Gaddie, an associate senior fellow at the university's Headington College, told The Associated Press.

Students who live nearby have offered to snap photos of the names for their classmates who had to return home out of state. One of those graduates, Dana Antinozzi of Texas, was so moved by what Gaddie and her colleagues did that she sent a thank you email. "I can only imagine what back-breaking work that must have been," she wrote. "It is clear that faculty members like you are doing all you can to make this milestone memorable and special for us." Catherine Garcia

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