LO7 – Recognize and consider the ethics of choices and actions

With scouts, we always had to consider the ethical issues when planning for camps and outings. Through the numerous activities that I have planned, I realized that is it not easy to make ethical decisions under the influence and opinions of all the people around us. Sometimes, when planning activities, I would not recognize my own plan because it has changed too much from what other people have said. Hence, part of making ethical decisions is to believe in yourself and believe in what is right to you.

When we go to outings, we would always adopt our “Leave No Trace” policy, because we are considerate of the environment around us. It is the right and responsible thing to do because people rarely clean up the trails, and storms and rains can bring the trash elsewhere and cause possible pollution and damage to other areas, such as the sea.

In my CAS week trip to Hong Kong Maker, I have experienced how a little action could lead to a big difference in the lives of others. Through this week, we have been transforming old bicycles into a generator that can power electrical devices. Not only have I learned a lot about building, welding, and cutting, but I was also able to experience the feeling of success and enjoyment by helping others with the materials and skills we have.

LO5 – Demonstrate the skills and recognize the benefits of working collaboratively

The predominant roles i have taken up are being the co-section leader of symphonic winds low brass section, the director of the photography/media team in grade 11, the secretary of the Venturer company in scouts and the team representative in the Cross Country team. Taking up these roles in my different activities, I have realized the benefits and challenges of collaboration, because usually these roles involve a lot of communication with teammates.

Photography:

As the director of the photography/media team in grade 11, I was able to work on my communication and teamwork skills while organizing events for the team throughout the year. We would keep constant communication through our facebook group, but also meet up face to face once in a while to reflect and update each other on the progress that our team has made throughout the year. I found out that it is extremely important for everyone in the executive team to be updated with the team’s progress in order to effectively proceed onwards.

However, apart from leading and helping organize events, it is equally important to be taking photos as part of the event. Hence, as the director I have also been always take photos for events such as Winter Concert and CDNIS Got Talent. On one hand, I can practice my own photography skills. On the other hand, I can help out the newer members with their hands on experience with photography.

Dragon Boating

Teamwork is very important, especially in Dragon Boating. Through dragon boating, I also learnt that collaboration does not have to be verbal. By being silent, focusing on the front 2 paddlers to ensure that strokes are on time, we can be very powerful as a dragon boating team. It was astounding to me how powerful teamwork could be when everyone has the same goal in mind. In fact, our coach tells us not to listen to the drummer, because a dragon boating race is always very chaotic, which will make it very hard to listen to the drummer.

LO6 – Demonstrate engagement with issues of global significance

Recently in our geography class, we studied the human effects on soil, or how desertification, the process of soil losing its nutrients and habitats becoming deserts, has been happening rapidly due to human causes such as overgrazing and deforestation. My friends and I are quite alarmed with this issue, and we decided to enter the Clean Tech Competition, where students like me will be able to use STEM related concepts to develop new technological ideas. The idea that we came up with was a design that could generate soil quickly, from breaking down rocks to enriching them with food and human waste compost to not only speed up the process, but produce soil in a controlled environment to prevent any issues caused from the nutrients in the soil, such as algae blooms. Even though our design did not make it through to the final round of competition, through the process of researching into this issue of global significance and attempting to create an innovative solution to address is has been a rewarding experience for me.

Joining the Amnesty Club in grade 12, I have been attending their meetings, which we have discussed problems about minority groups in society. There was one meeting where we discussed the rights of domestic helpers in Hong Kong, and it was shocking to me how restrictive the Hong Kong laws were towards these helpers that they had to put their abandoned baby in a public bathroom in order to avoid maternity leave and keep their job. I have also participated in their annual “Vow of Silence” to show my support and advocate for the people whose voices are unheard by people in power.

Apart from this, I have been attending MUN conferences such as the UWCMUN conference In October 2016. I was part of the Disarmament and International Security (DISEC) committee, and we engaged ourselves into creating and debating resolutions to address global problems such as money laundry, human trafficking, drug trafficking and terrorism.

Apart from having fun in role-modeling for another country’s stance on global problems, I felt that I have become more aware of global problems that do not necessarily happen around us.

LO4 – Show commitment to and perseverance in CAS experiences

Through grade 11 and grade 12, I have found my strengths and areas of growth not only in academics but also through the range of extracurricular activities that I take part in. I thought that one of my strengths is being a balanced individual. I am involved in a range of activities, from sports to music to photography. In the past 2 years, I have been an athlete of the school’s cross country, trail running, track & field, dragon boating and ball hockey team. I am part of the CDNIS Stage (Jazz) Band and Symphonic Winds (concert band). I am also a member, and currently an executive of the photography/media team. Lastly, I am a committed venturer who now helps train younger scouts in planning and executing outings and camps.

Because I have developed these activities beginning from a younger grade, I have also developed a long-term interest in them, and that is why I have taken more major roles, such as being the co-section leader of Symphonic Winds low brass section and the director of the photography team in grade 11.

Another important part of scouts is contributing to the community around us. With scouts, I have been helping out the school community with the scouts’ obstacle course in Family Fun Fair. With scouts, we have also raised the flag and laid poppies on the graves of soldiers in the annual Canadian Commemorative Service in Hong Kong.

With the photography and the media team, I have also been helping to contribute to the school community by helping capture the memorable moments of our school history.

I am involved in the CAS project. See this blog post for more details.

LO2 – Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills

Ball Hockey

As I am not an experienced hockey player, joining Ball Hockey was a challenge for me. To cope with this challenge of playing a relatively new sport, I attended most of the practice sessions to practice my coordination with the team, but I also practiced outside of class with my brother to build up the basic skills of passing, dribbling and shooting in a local park near my home.

Leadership

Leadership has always been a challenge for me (and everyone), and this was especially true as I took up more predominant roles in my different activities, such as being the co-section leader of symphonic winds low brass section, the director of the photography/media team in grade 11, the secretary of the Venturer company in scouts and the team representative in the Cross Country team.

Through taking up these roles, I have realized the difficulty of trying to keep a team organized and ensuring that everyone feels included in the team. For example, in the media team, it was a tough task to try keeping up with the request from the school to cover different events while encouraging (not forcing) members help take photos. But I quickly found a way to effectively overcome this challenge, and that is to be passionate about the activities I do.

Scouts

In March 2017, we challenged ourselves with a lightweight hiking camp (carrying a backpack less than 8kg that included items such as shelter and food). Because our group was so focused on packing light, we forgot to bring tent poles. Though it didn’t rain, we needed the tent to shelter us from the wind.

Assessing our problem and limited available materials, we thought the most logical solution was to find branches as a substitute for flexible tent poles. But, the branches that could bend, or had a curved shape, were all thin and fragile. Even though we could reconstruct a similar tent shelter structure with a teepee, we realized it was dangerous because the logs could easily fall into the middle of the tent.

Trying out different types of structures, we built an A-tent structure (which did not require any flexible tent poles but the least string and pegs to stabilize them) using 5 branches with the width of a wrist. Borrowing string from other campers, we were lucky to have enough to secure the poles.

Apart from learning to always check your equipment, the more important lesson that I took away was learning the art of forgiveness and the power of teamwork. Thinking back, I was surprised that none of us blamed the teammate for forgetting the tent poles, but instead recognized that we had a common problem which required a solution as a team. The power of teamwork!

LO1 – Identify own strengths and develop areas for growth

Through grade 11 and grade 12, I have found my strengths and areas of growth not only in academics but also through the range of extracurricular activities that I take part in. I thought that one of my strengths is being a balanced individual. I am involved in a range of activities, from sports to music to photography. In the past 2 years, I have been an athlete of the school’s cross country, trail running, track & field, dragon boating and ball hockey team. I am part of the CDNIS Stage (Jazz) Band and Symphonic Winds (concert band). I am also a member and currently an executive of the photography/media team. Lastly, I am a committed venturer who now helps train younger scouts in planning and executing outings and camps.

An area of growth that I am still working on right now is my confidence in public speaking. This is why I joined MUN since grade 8. Through MUN, I had a lot of fun role-modeling as delegates of countries and solving global issues, but I was also able to practice my public speaking skills through the for and against speeches we have to give in front of our committee (around 50 people).

Through participating in these activities, I have realized that I have barely scratched the surface with the skills in these activities. Running in cross country, I practice and aim to run at the speeds of the fastest runners in the race, and I hope to at least run at a pace of 3.5 minutes per kilometer. I also realized that I can keep growing in my low brass instrument playing range by listening to more experienced players, and I hope to play 3 octaves comfortably on my euphonium and trombone for both Symphonic Winds and Stage Band.

LO3 – Demonstrate how to initiate and plan a CAS experience (My CAS Project)

Since grade 7, I have joined the photography team continued to develop my passion for photography. Through my role as the director of the photography team in grade 11, I have become a stronger person, which is also what a CAS project aims to do: develop skills, initiative, and perseverance in a person. The CAS project also involves collaboration between a group of students or with members of the wider community.

Investigating + Planning

I was the director of the team at the end of the previous school year, therefore I had the opportunity throughout the summer to plan out and prepare the team for the start of the school year. One of the questions that I asked myself over the summer, and still ask myself today is: “What is the role of the director?”

One of the questions that I asked myself over the summer, and still ask myself today is: “What is the role of the director?” Tim, the founder of the team, said that the director’s job is to lead, while the executives’ role is to manage. I didn’t really get it at first because leading and managing are quite similar terms. But it was throughout the year when I actually started leading the team in the next school year when I truly understood what Tim meant (see Reflection).

At the end of the summer, I figured out some of the tasks that I should be doing as a director:

  • making sure the team is running well (including making sure that the executives are doing their job)
  • looking ahead and thinking of the future of the team
  • maintaining communication with my supervisor and major stakeholders, such as the yearbook department, school communications department

To prepare the team for next year, I started compiling the folders and documents that our team would use to store and share photos with our stakeholders next year. I also started communicating with my execs (which I have also elected before the end of the previous school year) about my own visions of the team and their expectations.

In the beginning of the school year, with the executives, I met with all the major stakeholders to get a sense of the major events that they would be happening in the school year and what the actions our team should take to accommodate to them. To plan for the year, the executives and I also met as a team to make a list of events for the year.

Action

As the director and an executive, I often had to take charge of events. There were multiple steps to making sure an event runs smoothly.

  1. Knowing the details by communicating with the club/committee in charge: Even though we did meet with major stakeholders in the beginning of the year, such as the athletics department and the performing arts department, we still need to reach them time to time to get the specific details for the event, including the number of photographers needed. This is important as we want to have sufficient information for the photographers helping out with the event to avoid any confusion.
  2. Getting enough photographers to sign up for events: We have a google sign-up sheet where members can sign up for events. Even though it is a first come first served basis, often times we do need photographers, especially after school events. Executives would have to ask members directly for photographers to cover events, and as the director, I would need to ensure that the executives have no problem getting enough photographers. There are often times when we have problems getting enough photographers, especially when we are informed about events with only a few days notice, therefore this really tested my communication skills to make sure we could get members to cover the event and they know the details of the event.
  3. Getting the equipment: It is also the executives’ responsibility to get the equipment needed for the event beforehand, as most of our members do not have their own camera, and would need to borrow from the school. It is quite a demanding process with so many events happening and only a limited amount of cameras. Sometimes problems could happen when multiple events need the same equipment at the same time. Sometimes these problems could be solved by the executives, but as the director, I occasionally have to step in and help delegate the equipment fairly. In these situations, we could only distribute fewer cameras to each event, and in the worse scenarios, we would have members sharing cameras.
  4. Shooting the event:  This is my favorite part of the event: taking the actual photos. However, as the executive in charge it is not only our job to take photos, but also to guide the newer members in gaining the experience of taking photos. We usually go over to the photographers once a while to check over their photos and suggests some areas for them to focus on to guide them in the right direction, but we have to do so in a way that would be comfortable for both of us. Sometimes, photographers would not show up, therefore if possible we would ask members on the spot if they could help cover. If not, then executives would have to fill in some of the missing spots and cover the event.
  5. Editing and selecting photos:  Editing photos can be quite a time-consuming process, especially in the beginning of the year when we have newer members, who might not have learned how to edit photos yet, and it would be the executive in charge’s responsibility to edit those photos as well. The more senior members do edit their own photos, therefore the executive’s job to make sure the senior members would upload their photos by a certain time. Some problems that we would encounter during this stage is not having enough good quality photos, which in this case we could only choose the best ones and communicate that to our stakeholders.
  6. Publishing photos onto our facebook page: After collecting all the edited photos, the executive in charge would still have to select a few of the best photos in the pool of edited photos to be uploaded to facebook. As a director, it is also my role to make sure the executives upload their pictures on facebook in time.

 

Reflection

This year, leading the team was a very different experience for me because as a passionate member in the years before, I was really engaged in taking photos for the event. But I learned that as director, I had to sometimes step back and let the younger members have the opportunity to take photos; I should not be the one doing all the work and should distribute it evenly. Yet, I believe that this would be a question that I would probably be asking throughout my whole life: how to be a leader to others.

Through this experience, I did feel my communication skills grow, and I have learned to communicate with people that I don’t usually speak to. Yet, the most important skill I have learned was communication inside the team, and this was one area I would identify as an area for improvement. I was able to keep track of executives and guide them on doing what they love to do, however sometimes they would ask me about other events that are happening on the team, and it would be then I realize that for some events not only does the executive in charge need to know about it but also the rest of the team.

Even though I have learned the importance of planning ahead, this is an area that I think I would still have to improve in, especially when working with others and asking them to get things done. I should place concrete deadlines for each stage of the process on individual events or tasks I am planning to make sure tasks are accomplished on time, and perhaps be less flexible with others.

Most importantly, this role challenged and built my time management skills. With so much time spent on organizing and overseeing lots of individual events, editing photos, and keeping the general team in shape, I really needed to balance this with the time I spend on my extracurricular activities and academics. As I am in grade 11, I would also have to emphasize on that as well. When I had too many tasks on my hands, I would ask my friends if they could temporarily help me (something I did not really do in the past), and it lead me to realize how much help I could get from the people around me.

Demonstration and Celebration

Through being in the photography team this year, we have been extremely fortunate to have some of our photos posted on the school magazine, but also the Tatler magazine. We had been able to take photos for major events such as South East Asia Student Activities Conference (SEASAC) Rugby.

The photos that we took of each would be published in the school’s yearbook that goes to every student at the end of the year. Apart from the yearbook, our team also post photos of major events on our facebook page, where we could share our moments not only with the school community but to anybody outside of our it as well, therefore we are also helping to publicize our school’s student engagement and initiative.

 

Reflection on a Profound Experience

Camping is part of the life of a Venturer scout. In March 2017, we challenged ourselves with a lightweight hiking camp (carrying a backpack less than 8kg that included items such as shelter and food). Because our group was so focused on packing light, we forgot to bring tent poles. Though it didn’t rain, we needed the tent to shelter us from the wind.

Assessing our problem and limited available materials, we thought the most logical solution was to find branches as a substitute for flexible tent poles. But, the branches that could bend, or had a curved shape, were all thin and fragile. Even though we could reconstruct a similar tent shelter structure with a teepee, we realized it was dangerous because the logs could easily fall into the middle of the tent.

Trying out different types of structures, we built an A-tent structure (which did not require any flexible tent poles but the least string and pegs to stabilize them) using 5 branches with the width of a wrist. Borrowing string from other campers, we were lucky to have enough to secure the poles.

Apart from learning to always check your equipment, the more important lesson that I took away was learning the art of forgiveness and the power of teamwork. Thinking back, I was surprised that none of us blamed the teammate for forgetting the tent poles, but instead recognized that we had a common problem which required a solution as a team. The power of teamwork!

Human Science: Methodology

In TOK class, we conducted a small-scale survey to investigate the strengths and limitations of collecting data in the human sciences. My partner and I chose to conduct a survey on how the weight of a student’s bag affect the hours of sleep he or she gets?

We conducted surveys on 14 people in grade 11 through random or volunteering sampling. The two questions we asked was (More details of the experiment could be found here):

  1. How much sleep do you get on average per day in a week?
  2. How heavy does your school bag feel on a scale of 1 – 10?

Through our research, we found out that there was a quadratic relationship between the hours of sleep and how heavy one’s bag feels. We came up with the conclusion that people with less sleep feel that their bags are heavier because, with less sleep, they are tired. With less energy, they would feel like their bag is heavier. People with more sleep would also have heavier bags as they will have heavy bags that drains more energy from them throughout the day.

Factors that contribute or take away the reliability and certainty of the experiment
Yet, there is a lot of room for improvement in our survey. The main problem in our survey is the ambiguity of the question and the lack fo control or consideration of other possible factors that could have affected the hours of sleep one gets.

Firstly, our sample was not widespread and large enough. We only surveyed grade 11s, and by using this data set to answer our question, we have ignored the grade 7,8,9,10,12 sample population in our data, making the assumption that all the grades will yield the same data. Furthermore, we only interviewed 14 people in our survey. With the school population of 1800, we should have interviewed a minimum of 50 people to even be certain about a possible conclusion.

Secondly, there is a lot of ambiguity with the way that question 2 is phrased. The word “heavy” in the question implies that a student’s school bag would be heavy, therefore the respondents could unconsciously overreport their heaviness of the bag. Then, there is also the question of “heaviness” itself, where the meaning of the word could be different with each individual. One bag could feel heavy to one person while it could be light to another. It is hard to get valid data when it is interpreted differently by each person, and this is one of the problems with using scales as a questioning method in samples.

While looking at other people’s research methods, these were several limitations that we came across:

  • Causation ≠ correlation: A lot of conclusions were drawn with the statement that one variable affects the other because the graphs show that. However, the graph merely shows a correlation between the two variables but does not state that one causes the other. In Human Sciences especially, because there are so many variables that we can’t control out in the field, it is hard to determine which ones causes something to happen and which ones merely correlate with it. With our example, another factor could have been how long people carried their bags, because even if one person said their bag was super heavy, they might not even need to use as much as effort as a person with a light bag if he or she does not carry it around often.
  • Observer effect: The fact that the interviewer is present could cause the interviewee to be uncomfortable in speaking the truth, leading to problems such as over-reporting and under-reporting. One method that could minimize the observer effect is sending the survey through email, where respondents can answer more confidently with no one watching. However, they could still be a bit uncomfortable because, at the end, they still know that the data they input would be read and interpreted by someone. Another limitation of sending it through email is that people might not answer the survey.

How could Human Scientists increase their reliability?

 

Firstly, a clear hypothesis or research question should be made to avoid any ambiguity of the start of the experiment. With the problem of controlling multiple variables and determining causation ≠ correlation in the experiment, one could measure multiple factors at once, such as creating composite indicators, or

With the observer effect, a possible solution is to ask face to face if the person could fill in a survey, and instead of asking the question, we could hand them the survey and ask them to fill it on the side without the interviewers watching to relieve some of the uncomfortableness.

A way to decrease the ambiguity in questions is to define ambiguous terms, quantifying them at first to try to minimize the ambiguity or ask the question in a different way. For example, instead of asking for how “heavy” a person’s bag is, we could ask how long they could carry their bag before putting it down.

With question 2, a scale was ineffective as it could be interpreted differently by each person. Therefore, a better question would have been to ask the respondents to weight their bag on a balance scale.

A random stratified sample should be conducted. With our experiment, we should have interviewed at least 10 random people from each grade to take into account the variable of age and make sure our data is representable.

The larger the sample size, the more ideal the experiment would be, but there are issues with money and feasibility as sample size increases. As stated above, with a school population of 1800, we should have at least interviewed 50 people, as it is feasible and allows for more accurate data.

Math: Axioms and Conjectures

Why do we sometimes feel that mathematical truths are objective facts about the world rather than something constructed by human beings?

In math, axioms are truths that we accept, mostly without proof. Every knowledge in math is built on top of axioms with conjectures and theorems, where the final proof for theorems always end up with one of our axioms.

Mathematical knowledge can be all said to be constructed by human beings, as axioms are truths that humans have made and accept without any proof. Even though math is statements constructed by us, the reason mathematical truths are objective facts of the world is because axioms are objective facts about the world. Axioms are constructed based on patterns we observe in the world.

For example, we accept that the fact that 1+1 is 2, not because we made up random variables and assigned them to each other, but in our world, adding 1 chair to the other results in 2 chairs. It is these kinds of daily observations that guard our axioms for math.

Furthermore, the fact that mathematical truths are objective facts rather than something constructed by humans raises the question of the purpose of knowledge. According to me, the purpose of knowledge is information that increases our understanding of the world and us as humans. Therefore, if math were to be an area of knowledge, they should be objective facts about the world instead of some random variable and numbers that we made out of fun.

Even though it might seem that some math problems are not related to the world in any way, but looks like random numbers and rules that we created as humans, they do have an implicit connection. In math, the knowledge and truths are not much about the world, but guidelines that justify why things happen in the world. For example, in physics, the knowledge is directly applied or about how things work in the world, like Force = mass x acceleration, where it is saying all forces applied in our world is only impacted by these 2 factors. However, in math, it seems like 1+1=2 has nothing to do with how our world works. Yet, this statement governs the logistics and the ways our lives work, and the application is usually linked to another AOK. With 1+1=2, it can be applied to the real world through determining how much more flour we need to mix into the recipe, how much water can a person fill in a water bottle before it overflows, or even in the concept of time, where people could use the simple rules of addition to find the amount of time they need to spend on a certain task.

Maths: Conjectures and Theorems

1. What is the difference between a conjecture and a theorem?

A conjecture is equivalent to a hypothesis in natural sciences: it is an educated guess by mathematicians on a subject in math, and is open to debate. Conjectures can be disproven by others. Conjectures are not proven: once they are proven, they become theorems.

A theorem is a further step to a conjecture. It is a conjecture that is demonstrated and proven. In math, once something is proven, it is forever true. For example, the Pythagoras theorem, where the square of two sides of a right-angled triangle will always equal the square of the hypotenuse, will always be true no matter what is happening to the world. 

2. In the video Eduardo Saenz de Cabezon uses the example of people being surprised that folding a normal piece of paper 50 times, will reach a thickness as high as the sun. He challenges us to ‘do the math’ and see that he is correct. What do you think meant when he said that Maths dominates intuition and tames creativity? Do you agree with this?

What Eduardo Saenz de Cabezon was saying is that Mathematical logic can sometimes bring us really far to places that people have never dreamed of, especially when it draws us away from all other factors in reality that might contradict with a mathematical idea.

Implicitly, Cabezon is saying that our intuition is limited by reality, and this is quite true, because intuition is mostly based on one’s experience and extending it further with ideas. Math is extending reality: except unlike intuition, it brings our daily problems away from the context of reality and puts it in a field purely based on reason. Unlike intuition, the experiences supporting knowledge in Math is conscious. In the example, math takes our observation of folding paper and extends it by asking us what happens when we fold it 50 times?

But can it be said that the maths dominate intuition? Even though maths can be proven true, and that truth stays eternal, but math is confined to mainly its own area of knowledge. However, intuition is a way of knowing: it can be used in any area of knowledge. We might even find a new area of knowledge through intuition in the future!

Furthermore, there are parts of math that require intuition, so intuition might dominate math as some parts of math might not exist without it. This occurs especially in pattern recognition, where it just naturally comes to you.

3. Saenz de Cabezon claims that the truths in maths are eternal. Do you think this gives maths a privileged position in TOK?

This question basically aims to answer the question do eternal truths have a privileged position in TOK? In a way, this does make math have a privileged position as math is the only area of knowledge where truths are eternal. It is a special characteristic of knowledge that I believe should be regarded higher than knowledge in other AOKs.

Yet, there is the other side of the argument that math is only 1 area of knowledge out of the other 8. It cannot fully represent other AOKs. Even though the AOKs overlap, such as maths playing a huge role in the foundation of physics, but for example, math cannot explain the concept of why gravity exists. Math can be used to determine the magnitude of gravity on an object or explain how the magnitude got its number, but math cannot explain why there is the gravitational force between two objects: that knowledge rests in physics, or the natural science AOK.

4. List any of the knowledge questions related to maths that came out of your discussion in class.

  • What makes math the area of knowledge where something holds true forever once it is proven?
  • Was math invented or discovered?
  • How can one be sure that knowledge in math holds true forever?
  • Why is 1 + 1 = 2?
  • Can theorems be disproven?

Should Arts be Considered an AOK?

In TOK, we learned that there are different areas of knowledge (AOK), where one of them is art. However, art is the AOK that is always debated on whether it should be considered an AOK by itself. The reason that art is always being debated is because it always incorporates another AOK into it, thus it raises the question whether art itself is a separate AOK since by expressing knowledge from all the other 7 AOKs, it is very diverse. A lot of times art is associated with history because history is largely linked with the context of production in the artwork, where the context of production largely shapes the purpose of the artist in creating the artwork.

To me, apart from thinking of art as an area of knowledge, I think of art as a form of expression, a way of knowing (WOK) for scientific, historical, ethical knowledge.As mentioned above, arts are always linked to other AOKs. For example, we can say that scientific knowledge can be published in essays, conveyed through presentations, or in infographics and models. One could argue that infographics and models are a form of art, and if they are, isn’t art a way of communicating knowledge, or a way of knowing? The knowledge in the infographic depends on the subject, therefore technically art should not be an AOK. Again, this leads back to the questions about what is art, and because art itself is also hard to define, this acts a contributing factor to why people ask if art is an AOK or not.

With art, there could also be multiple interpretations of the same piece of art. If we say that art is an AOK, but the content of the art piece is based on other AOKs, then it could be said that the knowledge of the art AOK is knowledge about how different people interpret art? In this case, one could also argue that people have different ethical and moral beliefs, so is there a difference between art and ethics? Also, the 8 types of WOKs can be interpreted differently by each person. For example, perception is subjective because every person can see and hear things differently, and in intuition, people come to conclusions with their own experiences and beliefs. Since reception of art is also based on the audience’s own experiences, is art an AOK or WOK?

Possible Global Issues

The global issue I will engage with is about the environment. I have always been interested in environmental issues, especially energy generation and the alarming issue of non-renewable sources because I believe that our world is being threatened with greenhouse gas emissions from non-renewable sources, and it is our duty to clean up our earth and ensure our next generation can live with a better earth. I have always wanted to learn more about how renewable sources work, therefore, one of my projects I would like to do is generate ideas for new ways of generating renewable energy or build on current ones, and potentially putting those ideas into effect. 

Recently in our geography class, we studied the human effects on soil, or how desertification, the process of soil losing its nutrients and habitats becoming deserts, has been happening rapidly due to human causes such as overgrazing and deforestation. My friends and I are quite alarmed with this issue, and we decided to enter the Clean Tech Competition, where students like me will be able to use STEM related concepts to develop new technological ideas. The idea that we came up with was a design that could generate soil quickly, from breaking down rocks to enriching them with food and human waste compost to not only speed up the process, but produce soil in a controlled environment to prevent any issues caused from the nutrients in the soil, such as algae blooms.

All these projects will look into the Environment Area of Inquiry.

How will I Challenge Myself?

Currently, I am challenging myself through both academics and activity clubs. I have been challenging myself musically by joining Stage Band and Symphonic Winds to continue improving my skills in playing the trombone and euphonium. I have been challenging myself physically by joining cross country, track & field, ball hockey and dragon boating. Other activities that challenge my leadership skills are being part of scouts and an executive of the photography team, where I constantly take up responsibilities in leading an activity or project. These are activities I wish to keep on challenging myself in and strive for better skills and achievements.

For example, I wish to be able to hit the high b-flat note solidly in my trombone and euphonium by grade 12. Currently, I can barely reach the high a-flat, and I believe this will be a suitably challenging goal. I will have to practice more over the summer, ideally at least once every day.

In my running career (cross country and track & field), I want to improve my time for 5k down to  19 minutes and 3k down to 11 minutes. I need to start running more consistently in the weekend (meaning 3 times per week) and consistently run over the summer.

In ball hockey, I want to improve my ball handling skills , at least to the point where I won’t lose control of the ball without pressure. I also want to perfect my aim, to the degree where I can shoot at the goal accurately from half court.

However, apart from challenging in what I am currently doing, I hope to challenge myself further through engaging myself in a global issue that I am passionate about and doing more service to the local community. Through these new challenges, I especially wish to work on my collaboration and communication skills.

Another challenge that I aim to accomplish is related to my Queen Venturer’s project, which aims to address one of the local issues in Hong Kong. As a scout group, we have realized that some hiking trails have not been that well maintained, and that information about biking, hiking trails, and campsites are limited and not informative. Therefore, as a group, we were thinking of taking photos of the different trails and campsites to gather more information for hikers, bikers, and campers in Hong Kong to have access to. Another part of the project is to also maintain broken trails or unpaved trails, which will be a challenge as it is something I have not done before.

This challenge is part of a bigger challenge that I hope to achieve, and that is to earn the Queen Venturer’s Award by the end of 2017 (equivalent to Duke of Edinburgh Gold). To do that, not only do I have to successfully plan, execute and review the project above, but also earn 24 outdoor activity stages, have 60 service hours, and pass the St. Johns First Aid course.

Art and Truth

What is art? Some say that art is a general form of expression. Others say it is a form of entertainment. But what does that mean? This has been a question that I have been thinking since the start of the unit, and it really has puzzled me what determines something as art and not art.

Generally, we interpret art as music, literature, theater, visual arts, etc. But what about other types of art out there, such as the martial arts? Currently, I think of art as a skillful way of expressing one’s ideas or emotions, where the audience will use emotion as a primary way of knowing, or in other words appealing to the audience’s feelings.

So one might ask what is the purpose of art? Is it for entertainment? For one to express themselves? Others say that the arts are a way or the only way in showing the truth. This then lead me to the question: what is truth? If truth is valid statement or fact, then arts is not such a good way to express this. The sciences or history would seem like a better area of knowledge in expressing “truth”.

But yet, are valid statements or facts all there is in truth? In the two articles we read in class, one discusses how arts can portray truth in the emotional extent, for example, Pablo Picasso’s famous mural Guernica, where it could represent the truth of the extent of horror and pain in the Spanish war that history would find hard to prove with only words. The other article was more skeptical in this view, where it believes that it is not necessary that we need to find a truth in art, and that we are diminishing art to a series of truth statements.

What I believe is that art is important in providing truth through giving you the visuals and experiences. With facts and statements, it is hard as a reader to understand emotionally the situation. However, with visuals and metaphors, it is much easier to allow the reader to experience the truth because art uses a lot of imagery: it paints a picture in your mind that naturally triggers your emotions and allows you to feel a certain way, or the truth in the emotional extent. Therefore, I disagree with the second article, where it mentions that finding a truth in art diminishes it because the truth will naturally come to you; you do not have to give the effort to search for it. However, one could say that our interpretations of art are highly influenced by our personal experiences and that these different interpretations could hinder the truth.

However, one could say that our interpretations of art are highly influenced by our personal experiences and that these different interpretations could hinder the truth. This is a valid statement to say because as time changes, people could have different experiences or beliefs, and therefore I think that it is also important to take into account of the context of production and reception when viewing art to ensure we could find the “truth” in a piece of art. Yet, even though art is based a lot on personal knowledge, there are some areas of shared knowledge, like the common understanding that using blue could express sadness or loneliness. One could say that artists do use these common conceptions to deliver their knowledge and meaning in art.

 

 

TOK: Natural Sciences

What distinguishes the natural sciences from other AOKs?

Natural Sciences is one out of the 8 total areas of knowledge that explores how the world works around us in a physical sense. It is the AOK where reasoning is the major way of knowing, because in natural sciences there is always a demand for proof, or other words observations and empirical data that has been generated, for the claims that we make. This is similar to history as both AOKs make claims based on evidence. In a way, we can say that natural science as history can also include the history in the research of natural sciences, however the difference is the focus of the research. History is focused on creating knowledge from past experiences, while natural science is mainly focusing on discovering how the natural world works around us.

Even though there are ethics and rights in scientific experimentations, they have a major difference. The main purpose of ethics is determining if something is morally right or not, while science is about finding the facts to get closer to the “truth” about the natural world.

A major difference between natural sciences and mathematics is proof and evidence. Natural sciences use evidence, or empirical data to support their claims and hypothesis. In math, we use proof to support our claims in a logical manner, moving step by step to prove a larger idea through smaller ones.

Through the above comparisons of natural sciences with some of the other areas of knowledge, we can see that a lot of them overlap, but there are still a set of characteristics that differ one from another, therefore it means that knowledge is transdisciplinary: it can belong to multiple areas at once.

Knowledge Claim: The difference between science and pseudoscience is that science can provide us with the truth.   Evaluate this claim.

Pseudoscience and science has been a greatly discussed topic over time, but firstly we must know what the two terms mean to evaluate if science provides us the truth and pseudoscience doesn’t. If we look at it this way, this could be true: A characteristic of pseudoscience is that counterarguments are usually treated as a sign of hostility, whereas challenges in science are widely accepted and encouraged to get closer to the truth.

Another way to look at the two topics is that science is built on the continuous expansion of knowledge, while pseudoscience never evolves and their research is just to prove their current belief. While one can say that the expansion of knowledge in science can get us closer to the truth, but is that the only way? By using research to prove on their current beliefs, can pseudoscience be also contributing to the truth by generating more evidence to support their claim?

Nonetheless, what exactly separates the science from pseudoscience? Pseudoscience is what some people call “fake” science, or in other words where claims were based on experiments that were not carefully or thoughtfully controlled. But is there an obvious boundary where we can define experiments as carefully controlled? Or are there any experiments that are totally controlled? Human beings are known not to be perfect and making mistakes, and no matter how hard we try to control variables in our experiment, there is always the slightest of error.

Take timing to an example. The average timing human error is about 0.3s. Given experiments where timing is the dependent variable, Is it ever possible to achieve the “true” time? Does this mean that all experiments that have a timing element to it pseudoscience? In this case, what is the difference in what we call “science” and pseudoscience?

Another way to look at this is that scientists are never certain with their results. If we can’t be 100% certain of the results, how do we know if they are the truth? What will the truth be?

TOK: Language

The vagueness and ambiguity of language always limit the production of knowledge. What does this mean? Explicitly, it means that vagueness in language hinders clarity, but it also suggests that we can only advance in knowledge only if the language is specific, and that language is not as effective in knowledge because there is always some degree of vagueness and ambiguity to what we say.

In history, vagueness and ambiguity both limit the production of knowledge. In history, we always strive for the specific facts and dates, and we do need that clear knowledge as vagueness can limit our ability to reach them. However, vagueness and ambiguity can also help produce knowledge sometimes because it allows historians to question

In art, vagueness and ambiguity is a key part in conveying meaning. Because art is made so that it can impact each and every one of us differently, it is purposely made to be vague and ambiguous so that there is still a connection to the piece, but most of the meaning and knowledge is generated out of our own experiences and interpretations.

Questions that came up as I thought through the question:

  • What determines “vagueness and ambiguity”?
  • Is all language vague and ambiguous?
  • How does vagueness and ambiguity of language hinder our production of knowledge?
  • Are there other ways in language that limit the production of knowledge?
  • Do vagueness and ambiguity only limit the production of knowledge?
  • What other areas of knowledge can we use to improve ambiguity of language?
  • Does the production of knowledge always require language?

TOK: Reasoning

There are two types of ways humans use logic: deductive and inductive logic. Induction is developing general rules based on observations. In a way, it is similar to informal knowledge because induction is mainly based on your own experiences. For example, a type of induction proof is all the pens that I have used have ink in them, therefore all pens have ink in them. However, it does not prove certainty because induction could be limited by the experience you have. Perhaps you have not used a pen that ran out of ink before. Induction also assumes that the world is a predictable place, and there is no change, therefore everything will be the same. But this is not true in our world.

Deductive logic is using a certain statement to prove specific things are true. For example, one can say a . But again, how a person comes to creating the certain statement can be questionable as well, and similar to induction, we make conclusions based on the certain statement. But if the “certain” statement can be questionable, then the conclusion isn’t valid. Even if the statement is valid, we can’t be sure if the conclusion is certain.

There are ways to overcome some of these problems, such as making more observations to ensure that our conclusions are more valid, and also making observations in a wide range to try and get closer to the truth.

Rabindranath Tagore said that ‘A mind all logic is like a knife all blade – it cuts the hand that uses it’… What I think it means is that logic has its strengths and weaknesses. Logic can interfere with our emotions, and even though our decisions will be logical, emotions are one way that defines us as humans, therefore being 100% logical could make us “inhumane”. However, we canot also live with only emotion and no logic, as this would cause us to make some unethical decisions.

IB Retreat

What worse way to start off an IB retreat with amber rain and thunderstorm? People usually say the the weather reflects your current mood, and that was what we first felt. But that soon changed…

Stepping off the bus, we were welcomed by the grand open space of the 5 star hotel lobby. We first started off the day with a motivational speech from Mr Holroyd. He left us with only one word for the coming activities: sublimation. Be open-minded and try new activities.

We went through 3 rounds of short workshops. The first ones were TOK related, and made us think critically about certainty. The second round were sessions where we explore ourselves by discovering our passions and challenging us to our extremes. The third round were a variety of fun workshops where we both needed to think critically and creatively. Out of all the activities, the one that I remembered the most was the improvisation session with Mr. Smeed, which was an active activity where we learnt how to relax through having fun with others, and also building confidence and teamwork by stepping up and interacting with others during the session. We also had to be creative and instinctive as improv required us to think on the spot.

Apart from having delicious popcorn and enjoying the night as we watched the movie “12 Angry Men”. we thought critically and again switched to our TOK mode to analyze the different types of reasoning people use. It really struck me about how illogical some of the reasoning methods can be, and made me realize how common we can pick out these types of reasoning in our daily lives.

The next day was what I found to be the highlight of the whole retreat, and that was participating in the Crossroads Poverty simulation. During the session, we learnt about the life of poor people. With only less than 1 US dollar per day for a family of 7 people, they lived in slums without convenient access to proper sanitation, therefore people usually pee inside their houses. They made paper bags for a living, around 200 bags per day, but can only earn less than a US dollar for every 22 paper bags made.

During the simulation, we dived into the experience and gathered in “families” of 8-9 people, and we had to make as many paper bags (in this case newspaper bags with flour and water as glue) as possible in 10 minutes, which represented a day. By the end of 10 minutes, we were required to earn 280 dollars: 180 for rent, 100 for food and water, and 30 dollars option if we wanted access to proper toilet. On the plus side, we could access a charity during a certain point in the 10 minutes that could help us. It sounded easy at first, but I was wrong. Everything was chaotic. Families were struggling trying to make paper bags and earn money. We all started working without thinking that everyone worked from themselves instead of working together as a group. At the end, most groups did not manage to earn the 280 dollars.

In total, we did 3 rounds of the simulation. But the conditions progressively got worse. The rent increased, and more problems were introduced. Luckily we went to charity, because for those who didn’t go had two family members sick, and they could not work for the first 3 minutes plus the family had an extra burden of paying $100 of medical fee. Then, for those who did not use the extra 30 dollars to access public toilet had 6 families members with diarrhea, and we could only watch the rest of the group work for 2 minutes while we stood there doing nothing. Luckily we did not need to pay a medical fee this time.

There was so much to take away from this activity. In these 30 minutes, everyone was already feeling stressed out and tired. Even though we only did this activity for 30 minutes, there are other people today who depend on this to survive, and this is their life: it is not 30 minutes for them but every minute and every day of their life. The conditions in this simulation were also more generous that the real life: we got to trade our own personal belongings, such as our phones, watches to compensate for the money we didn’t earn to pay for the rent. However, those poor families had nothing to start with. They would be kicked out of the house, and mothers would most likely had to sacrifice their own bodies, or even their daughters to pay off the rent. They had no choice.

Even though it was a short 2 days, I gained a lot of experience out of it and we had so much fun!

TOK: Emotion

Claim: A good historian strives to be as unemotional as possible, this is the only way to write accurate history.

  • In history, there is always the element of bias, therefore to recount an event accurately we cannot let our emotions be swayed and only convey a certain part of the story.
  • All historical events have the positive and negative sides, we can’t let our personal judgement hide one of the sides when recounting an event.
  • Ex. When recounting US prohibition, we must discuss the event as a whole, which means talking about both the civilian’s unhappiness of towards the ban of alcohol, but also the reasons why prohibition happened in the first place. People won’t be able to tell the whole story if they involved emotions and stood on the side of the civilians about having their freedom to drink taken away.

Counterclaim: A good history will need to use his/her emotions to fully understand the historical event.

  • To understand perspectives, one will have to understand the feelings and beliefs of a group or individual, which requires emotion from the history to fully dive into the experience.
  • Ex. During the formation of unions in the industrial revolution, understanding that the workers feel like their rights were oppressed is not enough. Historians should consider being in their positions and the types of feelings the workers associated with the oppression, such as anger, unfairness will let historians understand better of their decisions.

Decide what your view is (come to terms between the two competing claims)

I think we need to use emotion, but we have to be critical in when and how we use it. We cannot use emotion to cloud our judgement and prevent us from knowing the whole event, but to understand and experience the different perspectives of an event we have to use our emotions to understand the beliefs of the group with a certain perspective.

TOK: Perception

Perception is a way of knowing, and every way of knowing has it’s strengths and weaknesses. While through our senses we can gather knowledge consciously and subconsciously, they do hinder us from receiving information by these two areas: reliability and subjectivity. Sometimes because of our biological , our senses do not perceive knowledge correctly, and that could be especially seen through images like the ones below. Subjectivity is the way we perceive based on previous knowledge. Because everyone has their own experiences, they see, smell, feel, taste and listen to things differently.

Our senses are not always reliable, but we should always trust our own judgements if we can know about the limitations of our senses. There are ways to validate your judgements to make them more trustworthy such as using technology, checking with other people to make sure, or just using your senses multiple times to make sure they are working.

TOK: Personal and Shared Knowledge

1)Write a definition of personal knowledge and shared knowledge in your own words

Personal Knowledge: Knowledge that is unique and only understood by the individual. There is a bond between the individual and personal knowledge, and it usually takes form in skills, own experiences, beliefs and values.

Shared Knowledge: Knowledge that is shared by a community that can reflect a group academically and culturally. It is usually very specific facts that have been testified in the past that most people understand, such as the fact that 1+1=2.

2. What ‘sacred cows’ – ie. beliefs you are not supposed to question – exist in your society? Should we be willing to question everything, or are some things ‘beyond question’?

Beliefs are everywhere in this world, but as critical thinkers people should learn to question everything and find out scientific proof to back up or disprove the beliefs. However, we should take caution in facing the consequences of realizing the truth behind some beliefs. One example is the big question: is there god? People should question and try to find the truth to this statement, but we still need to be careful about the truth. There are a lot of events that science can’t explain, and people would use religion as a reason for why the event happened to make them feel safer, therefore questioning if god exists could make some people feel uncomfortable.

3) Copy and paste the exc that you did for Part A – Number 1 into your ifolioa

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Personal Knowledge (Area of Knowledge: History)

Experimental: Relatively High: Most of my own experience can be shared with others, especially experiences that I gained as a group with other people.

Academic: Medium:  I was only exposed to a small scope of all of the history in the world in my Grade 10 History class.

Informal: Relatively Low: Only my history of Hong Kong, because this is where I live, therefore I am familiar with its history.
Secret: Relatively Low: There isn’t much of my history that I will not be willing to share.

Incommunicable: Relatively Low: Usually this category talks about self experiences that is deeply attached to me and changed my life drastically. I don’t have much of that experience.

MYP Service as Action

Throughout the 4 years of MYP, I have participated in different service activities. As a scout of the 1st Hong Kong Canadian Scout Group, I have been conducting service annually such as helping out host the Scouts booth for the Family Fun Fair, and also placing poppies at the Sai Wan War Cemetery.  These are some other service opportunities I have been in:

  • Reading books at Fresh Fish Traders’ School in Grade 8
  • Crossroads Grade 8
  • Preparing and serving lunch to underprivileged in Shum Shui Po
  • Planning a Beach Clean Up Activity at Sandy Bay Beach

1. How did you become more aware of your own strengths and areas for growth? How did you grow through this service? What areas do you need to work on?

As I went on through the years, I became more aware of some different strengths I have. For example, I am a person who can quickly develop a passion of things that I have done, and I was able to apply that into the service work. Even though sometimes it can feel tiring, but I would constantly remind myself to have this positive attitude and that this is for the greater good of everyone. The satisfying feeling I get motivates me even more and the group of people

A weakness I think I have is developing relationships with other people that I don’t know, and it is often quite hard to break that barrier. However, throughout the 4 years I have gotten better and I am able to communicate better with people I don’t know. The experience of meeting a lot of other people from service activities has given me a lot of chances to develop my communication skills and I am able to open myself better, which helps the other person open themselves better as well and developing a relationship quicker.

2. How did you undertake challenges that developed new skills?What did you do for service that challenged you and pushed you to acquire a new skill?What does that evidence look like?

One out of the many challenges that I have face in my service opportunities was during the Family Fun Fair. I was in charge of the table maze booth for the scouts obstacle course, and the maze was covered with black cloth, therefore the insides were really dark. We let a little child, probably around 5 years old into the maze, and the child was crying halfway through because he was scared.

It was a difficult situation to resolve as the parents were outside, therefore they don’t know what was happening. Therefore we immediately notified the scouter, who suggested that one of us needs to be in the maze and lead the child to one of the checkpoints, where we can take them out of the maze.

I eventually found the child and brought him out, but first I had to calm him down. Firstly I said, “It’s okay. Just follow me, and we can get back out, alright?” After seeing the child nod in the brim light, I lead him to the checkpoint. We got him out of the maze, and I handed the child to the Scouter, who took him to his parents. He was still scared when he was out of the maze, therefore I comforted him again and said, “It’s okay. Mommy and daddy are right outside. You will be okay!”

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1-IMG_15673. How did you discuss, evaluate and plan student-initiated activities?How did you get your service action started? How did you establish a communication group to plan your activity?How did you plan your service action? How do you know that it worked?

Recently, I planned a beach clean up activity with Adrian and Kenneth for the scout group. It was for an award in scouts, but we still put a lot of effort in and did our best to make the activity meaningful. We found it quite difficult at first because there are a lot of beaches in Hong Kong, and we were not sure which ones are suitable for a beach clean up. We researched online, looking into NGO websites that specialize in beach clean up such as Plastic Free Seas, but our group did come up with a conclusion that these beaches probably be taken care of by the NGOs and there are other beaches worth considering. Each of us visited some beaches, and we found the Sandy Bay beach with quite a lot of trash that should be cleaned up.

The most important part of this activity was serving the community by making Hong Kong a more environmental place, therefore at the end of the activity, we asked the Scouts to reflect on why we did this activity and how it contributes to making Hong Kong a better place.

4. How did you persevere in action?How do you manage to keep working on your service action when things became difficult? Who helped you? What did you do to make it work out?

One of the difficult moments that I came across was when volunteering in the Sai Wan War Cemetery. In one of the years I was near the stage, because I was also responsible for delivering a french speech. Standing near the stage as a scout, I was the person to hand reefs to the honorable veterans and figures to place on the graves.

But it wasn’t as simple as getting the reef and handing it to the people. Because I was a scout, I was in alert position and I had to tuck in my hands and turn on the balls of my foot while turning instead walking and turning. Even though it was December, it was a very sunny day, it was very hot, and I was standing and turning for the whole hour. Physically I started feeling tired and I wanted to run back into the shade and drink some water. All the other scouts were in the shade because they were in charge of laying the poppies, which was only part of the ceremony.

But I knew I could not do this, as I was representing the scout group and I have to behave like a scout. I constantly went back to this reminder, and put my focus away from myself to distract myself away from all the physical screams.

5. How did you work collaboratively with others?The nature of service means working with other people. How did you plan things and arrange things with others to achieve your service goal?What does evidence of this look like?

For most of my service activities we had to work as a group. In the crossroads trip in grade 8, I was put into a group was to fold donated clothes into boxes, which will be sent out into different places around the world where people need them.

There were around 5 people in our group, and somehow we were all boys, so none of us were really good at folding clothes. It was quite a problem in the beginning as no one wanted to be the ones folding the clothes. Luckily the staff there were experienced, and they very passionate and friendly in teaching us how to fold clothes nicely. After a while of discussion, we agreed that we would take turns for each role.

6. How did you develop international-mindedness through global engagement, multilingualism and intercultural understanding?Did you have communicate with speakers of other languages or from different cultures?How did you solve communication challenges?How did this change the way you think about the world?

In the visit to the Fresh Fish Traders’ School, we helped teach small children (around grade 1) how to read english, as that was a local school that had cantonese as a main language. The way we help them learn english was exposing them to english books, in a similar way to reading buddies. However, this was different from reading buddies as these children from the school barely know any english at all.

Through this activity, I then learnt how to communicate without a common language. When I was reading, I always referred back to the pictures and point to the objects that match with the word. It felt really satisfying when they learnt a new word. They would point back at it and repeat the word, which was how I interpreted as them recognising the meaning of the word. It was challenging but it felt really rewarding.

I realize that I was a very lucky child to be born in an environment with a richer background than other children, and that I was able to be exposed to both english and cantonese at a young age, therefore being quite fluent in both of these languages. This has definitely allowed me to reflect on how I was lucky to be exposed to already a lot of opportunities. For example, being in an international school gave me the opportunity to global engagement and being exposed to different parts of the world, not only through class but also CAS trips. However, these children probably have never been out of Hong Kong, and only have rich knowledge of their own community.

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7. How did you consider the ethical implications of your actions?How did your service influence your target group for the better?Have you helped a group become independent of support or more reliant on outside help?Have you used a community to make yourself look good?

There is one service activity that I have really considered my ethical implications on, and that was the visit to Shum Shui Po, where we helped clean the windows of a home for the less privileged, but also prepare and serve food to the unprivileged people.

Wealth disparity is a growing issue globally, and even though the world is wealthier overall, the rich and poor gap instead has opened up even further. Through this service activity in Shum Shui Po, I have experienced the poor side, the other side of the rich city of Hong Kong. And even though the actions I have done through this service activity was only a small act in the global scale, it has made the locals in Shum Shui Po feel more privileged. Through this service opportunity the locals feel happier as they still know that there are people who care for them and are concerned about this issue. It would be less likely for them to give up on themselves and strive to support themselves and the community. This service activity has also made me feel better as I helped make the community a better place.

Music Composition: The Awakened Sky

My Composition is named “The Awakened Sky”, and it is inspired by the Northern Sky. The music describes the process of the Northern lights appearing in the clear sky. I wanted my music to convey the rich and thick texture of the Northern Lights, and allow the listeners to feel the powerful presence of the Aurora, the way it dominates the quiet night sky with light and bringing it to life.

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Section A: The Quiet Night Sky when everything is peaceful and still.

  • No. of Bars: 8

Section B: The brief time when the Northern Lights are emerging into the sky.

  • No. of Bars: 13

Section C: Northern Lights fully out and bringing the sky to life.

  • No. of Bars: 18

7  bars of transition in total.

I chose this structure because I based my composition on a night in the Arctic with the Northern Lights. The first and last part, both Section A was about the quiet night sky. It is not that long because it wasn’t the main part, and served to only provide the setting of the piece. The texture here was thin to bring out the calm and peaceful mood of a starry night.

Section B was a bit longer as it is when the Northern Lights start to emerge. There are more instruments added, making the texture thicker. The phrases are 4 bars with a lot of pauses to show that the lights are still developing and not up to their full potential yet.

Section C was the longest because it was when the Northern Lights are fully out and moving with an inner power, which can be shown through the thick texture and a range of different melodies and harmonies. The phrases are 8 bars long as a build-up from phrases in Section B to show that the lights are fully moving and developed.

Key: C Major Throughout

I chose C major because I find that c major is the most passive and calm of all the keys. F major tends to bring a bit of sadness. For section A (the quiet night sky part), there wasn’t a type of emotion that I particularly want the readers to feel. For section B and C, I constantly changed chords to show the movements of the Northern Lights. The C major and E minor chords sound more passive and calm, while the F and G major chords sound more strong and powerful, and changing them shows moments of the Northern Lights that make it brighter and more powerful in some moments than others.

Tempo:

Beginning and End: Andante (80BPM)

Middle Sections: Andante Moderato (90BPM)

The Northern Lights isn’t something that moves fast in the sky, that is why the middle sections have the tempo of 90BPM. It is slightly faster than Section A as the Northern Lights do bring the sky to life, which has the tempo of 80BPM. I didn’t lower the tempo even more to 60BPM because I find it too slow, and I don’t want to fit more notes in a measure to not make it look simple, which helps show the Northern Lights as something simple but powerful.

Time: 

Beginning and End: 4/4 time

Middle Sections: 3/4 time

I chose to use 4/4 time for the beginning and end based on the inspiration from the “Stillness of Remembering”, which also used 4/4 time in its opening. I used 3/4 time because 3/4 time is usually associated with waltzing, and I feel like the Northern Lights moves in a similar way, with the lights dimming and glaring.

Instrumentation:

Flute: I chose the flute for the thin and hollow sound that plays part of the melody in Section A to aid the piano chords. It has that soothing sound with absolutely no harshness that brings out mood of the quiet night sky for part A.

Clarinet: The clarinet serves as a supporting instrument in the quiet night sky section. It has a warm and mellow sound, but not having such a thick sound as the bass clarinet and the low brass instruments, meaning it can keep the peacefulness but still support the melody in Section A. In the higher register, the sound is sharper and can serve the same function as the flute.

Bass Clarinet: The Bass Clarinet has an edgy and harsh sound, but it is a little bit different from the trombone, which has a sharper sound. The Bass Clarinet can really contribute to the thick texture as it has the mellow sound of the Euphonium, but also blend part of the sound the trombone makes to show the hidden power of the Northern Lights.

Trombone: Like the Bass Clarinet, it has a sharp and harsh sound that really makes one feel powerful. Blending the trombone with the Euphonium, Tuba and Timpani, it can really bring out the strength, driving the impression of the Northern Lights being simple but powerful.

Euphonium: The Euphonium is a mellow instrument with the large bell, and this is one of the key instruments to expressing the Northern Lights as something that has the power coming from the inside. The Euphonium plays some of the counter-melody and really brings out the inner power of the Aurora through the piece.

Tuba: The Tuba is a mellow and strong instrument. It plays in a really low register that definitely supports the whole piece, and it is like the source of the Northern Light’s power. It helps contribute to the thick texture to the piece overall, which also creates the image of the Northern Lights as something big with potential, but not in a threatening way.

Timpani: The timpani is a percussion instrument, and can perform rolls that the brass and woodwinds can’t make nicely. It is a percussion instrument that can perform rolls on a certain note, which is really helpful because the rolls can build up the dynamics and move the piece along to the next phrase.

Chimes: The sound the chimes produce really relate to nature, and certainly can bring out the quietness of a starry night. This is why I used chimes for only Section A.

Piano: The piano has the ability to play chords to make the melody sound full, but not make the piece sound thick, which helps with section A so I can added chords to paint the picture of a quiet night sky and preserving the calm and peaceful mood. In the middle sections it can also help with both the melody and the foundation of the piece.

Reflecting

My Own Composition:

What I thought I did really well in this piece was the choice of instruments because they really build up the thick texture during the middle sections. Using the flute, clarinet and piano also really bring out the calm and peacefulness in section A as the instruments has the hollowness in their timbres that allowed the composition to have simultaneous notes played at once but still make the overall sound quite thin. The piece also represents my inspiration well because it really creates the characteristics of the northern lights with sound.

One improvement is that I should add more specific articulation apart from putting legato in the beginning of the composition to make specific parts of the composition bring out the movement of the Northern Lights better, such as the end of phrases. I also found bar 13 to 14 not really linked well with each other and sounds more like two distinct melodies rather than connected phrases. Another improvement is to have a smoother transition between bar 8 and 9, because it sounds quite sudden and abrupt.

Reflection on Nick Choi’s Composition:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 3.47.24 pm

 

 

 

Reflection on Leanne’s Composition:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 4.12.39 pm

 

 

 

 

Reflection on Chris’ Composition (couldn’t get a screenshot, so here’s the text below):

Very awesome piece, especially with 169 bars on a full concert band score! I really like the different sections there are, with some parts where the music was all lively and energetic to parts where it has a bit of a sad but calm tone to the music. The instrument choice in that particular section was great, the woodwinds really brought out the mood. I also liked how your melody goes from instrument to instrument, and that there was a lot of repetition of motifs that made the music stick to my brain.

The low brass section does produce quite a loud sound, perhaps that is something you could consider? The title is an interesting choice as well, because I didn’t really get the connection until around halfway through the piece (I never imagined Dawn being so energetic). The ending is also quite abrupt. I’m not sure if that was on purpose, but I was a little confused around when the song ended.

But anyway, it’s a fantastic piece! I can tell it must be a lot of day’s worth of work!

Creating Tempo Markings + Niente Marking

I found that finale does not have all the tempo and expression markings that I want. However, I found a way to add my own markings by duplicating an existing marking and editing it. I did some research and was able to change the tempo or dynamics by using the playback setting for expression designer.

Tempo was quite straightforward because the “set to value” was the standard BPM, but for the dynamics, which had the type name “Key Velocity”, there is not really a scale for a certain degree of loudness. Nonetheless, it didn’t really matter to me because I wanted to create a Niente marking, which meant no sound, therefore I put 0 for the “set to value”. Creating Tempo Markings

Changing Ending to Suit the Form and Time Signature

Once again, when I was listening to the songs, more ideas popped up to my head: if both the beginning and end represent the quiet sky, they should be the same, except a slight difference at the end of the section.

So, I changed the ending, and brought the last note straight up to a “g” (preserving my old ending as well) instead of bringing it to an “e”, “g” then to a “b” (as I did in the beginning).Changing the Ending to Suit form

 

 

 

 

 

Finished Ending 2Then I spotted another improvement: the way I shaped my beginning and ending were like the phrases in “Stillness of Remembering”, but why did I put it in 3/4 when the “Stillness of Remembering” puts it in 4/4?

Therefore, I put 4/4 in the beginning and the ending, but left the middle sections in 3/4.

Changing from 3:4 to 4:4

Title

Choosing a title for the piece was always a daunting task, because it should relate to the music in a way, but it should also be creative and not too obvious such as “The Northern Lights”.

So firstly, I went to the thesaurus to search for words that are usually associated with Northern Lights, and somehow my mind popped up the word “enlighten”. I felt that could be a word for my title, but didn’t find it powerful enough.

So, I went to the thesaurus again to find words related to enlighten, but I found no luck there. Enlighten sounds too normal: it is expected as the Northern Lights, it would light up the sky. I was looking for something more abstract and more abnormal.

After staring at the list of words in the thesaurus, my eyes somehow drifted to the word “aware” and my mind shifted to “awaken”! That was the word I was looking for, it was powerful and it made sense because the Northern Lights do make bring the night sky to life with all the brilliant colors.

Title

Using Layers for Piano + Stem Directions

After composing all the other parts, I went to the Piano for the middle sections. I wasn’t sure how to start it, because I knew that the piano must at least play the melody (supporting chords are just too boring for the piano part for the whole song).

However, I thought that with only the melody, and including the timbre of the Piano, the notes will sound really hollow and won’t match the texture and my intention for that part of the music. Therefore, I chose to use layers for the piano: the first layer being the supporting chords and note (for the right hand), and the second layer being the melody for the right hand.stem direction

 

 

Then I came across another problem, and that was slurs and stem marks overlapping each other. To fix this, I changed the stem directions of the notes by using the letter L (credits to Mr. Dacho for teaching this shortcut): layer 1 with stems facing down (mostly) and layer 2 with stems facing up.

 

 

Counter Melody

My main melody is quite simple with straight quarter and half notes because I want to give an impression that the Northern Lights have a powerful presence. The simple melody shows the Northern Lights is only a slowly moving light that does not get it’s presence from active and violent movements.

But having only straight quarter and half notes at 80BPM can be quite boring. Therefore, I added counter melodies in the piece that are slightly more complicated, which can also hint the source of the powerful presence of Northern Lights, suggesting that the lights are actually a complicated mystery.

For part B, where the Northern Lights are still coming out in the sky, the texture wasn’t that complicated and there were less counter melodies. But in part C, when the Northern Lights fully come out to the sky, the texture is much more thick and there are a lot more counter melody and enharmonics to bring out the hidden power and glory of the aurora.

However, to prevent the audience from being confused about which is the main melody, I purposefully put the main melody in more instruments to make it more audible over the others.adding counter melodies

Changing Endings + How to Compose

The method which I am using to compose this song is to first compose the beginning and end, then go back to the middle. The reason I composed the beginning and end first was because they both are similar, and are the parts where the night is quiet and peaceful. I chose to leave the middle to compose after because then I can slowly piece different instruments together to produce the rich and deep sound to represent the Northern Lights.

I was finished with the ending, and played it once through finale when I realised I didn’t really like it. That was because I though in bar 61, the melody sounds as if it would expect all the instruments to come in again for a grand finale type ending, however that was not my intention because it would spoil the mood of a quiet night sky.

changed endingTherefore, I changed it to this ending because I thought with the note g, it sounds more hollow and will give less impression of a grand finale type of ending.

 

Adding Instruments

Composing the opening was not a large problem after giving it some thought, but when I reached part B of my composition, for 2 weeks I wasn’t satisfied with the sound that was produced. I wanted to create that warm, rich and full sound that resemble the richness of the lights appearing in the northern sky, but I was unable to achieve that effect.

I constantly went back to the Stillness of Remembering, which was the piece that provided as an inspiration to the texture of my composition, with all the rich sounds and timbres in the parts of the music.

It was 2 weeks that I realized that I probably need more instruments to create that rich timbre, so I went to experiment with the texture of sound in an empty concert band template. I tried different combinations, and there I got the kind of texture I wanted.

Then, I went back into my composition and added the instruments bass clarinet, trombone and the timpani. Even though the timbre of the bass clarinet and trombone is a bit harsher compared to the flute, clarinet, euphonium and tuba, it still sounds good in my composition and helps me achieve that rich sound.

 

Recomposing the Opening

After hearing the composition a few times, I didn’t like the flute opening because it sounds to subtle and brings out a lonely and sad feeling instead of portraying a quiet night sky.

Therefore, I went back to my original inspiration, the “Stillness of Remembering”. I was inspired by that song for the chords that echo, but sound hollow and not rich. Therefore, I added the piano and used it as the beginning of the opening, like the “Stillness of Remembering” , to produce the hollow chords. And introduced the flute and clarinet later on in the opening, where they played simple notes to show that the quiet sky was simple and there wasn’t much movement to it. I also put some dissonance for the two instruments so the music doesn’t sound too plain, but still conveys the feeling of the quiet sky.

History + Design: Through the Lens

Our last design project of MYP! This project was creating a documentary about an event in Hong Kong history that is targeted towards CDNIS parents. Our documentary was about the social, political and cultural impacts of the Opium War on Hong Kong from 1842 onwards.

Triple L Opium War Documentary

My Contribution
We had 4 roles in the team: Director, Sound and Lighting, Videographer and Editor. Because there were 3 people in my group, I was the videographer and the sound and lighting person in this project. Throughout the project, these were the tasks I did:

  • Prepare all necessary equipment
  • With the director, decide on the types of shots that needed to be filmed
  • Helping the Director manage the scene setups and writing the script
  • Film the actual shots
  • Check over the shots to make sure they are good quality
  • Setting up the lights in the Green Screen Room
  • Setting up the microphone and recording the audio

As a member of the team, I was also in charge of researching the political impacts of the Opium War on Hong Kong.

I thought that I contributed well in writing the script and storyboard because I designed and wrote the parts of the script that I researched. I also was able to gather all equipment because I had my own camera, my own tripod and was able to borrow microphones from the LTT.

However, I thought I could have done a better job in setting up microphones and recording the audio, because I never checked the recordings after to see if they were good quality. This then lead to my team having to rerecord their own parts.

Changes
There weren’t much changes made to the documentary as our group always referred back to the treatment plan and the storyboard when making the script and filming the shots. However, there were a couple of changes made in our gantt chart due to time management.

As seen in my process journal entry #2, it states that we had to push everything back because our group members could not finish the script in time. To solve the problem, the editor can work on the footage we already had and use placeholders for the missing ones.

Another change we made was from the feedback that the class gave us. They suggested the audio needs to be fixed, therefore we needed to voiceover and green screen most of the scenes, which was different from our original plan of filming and voice recording on the actual site.

First Choice of Instruments + Opening

How should I start my composition? I don’t know, I am not even sure what instruments to choose! I just know that I wanted a thick and rich texture to bring out the northern lights, but I also need some light, crisp, breezy and hollow sound for the quiet night sky.

Therefore I chose the flute, clarinet and chimes for the melody and the quiet night sky, and the Euphonium and Tuba for the bass to provide the rich texture.

I was thinking of how to start my composition. How can I bring out the quiet night sky feeling while creating a melody? Then I went back to an inspiration piece “Earth and Sky”, where they started off with a flute solo. From there, I decided to have the flute play the melody first.

Music Performance: Swan Lake

1.  How do you think you did with your performance assessment?  Did you perform as well as you thought you would, or not? Why?

I think I did alright, but I could have played better. During the performance, I thought I did well in expressing the dynamics, articulation and rhythm accuracy the piece. However, as this is my first year playing this instrument, I still cannot play wide range easily on my instrument. When I practised I was able to play the high F with some effort, but because I was nervous in the performance, I could not play that note, and it came out forceful and unnatural. With that, it affected my breathing and phrasing as well. I originally was able to breathe every 4 bars with occasional breaths in between, but being nervous, I needed to breathe more times and that affected my phrasing.

2.  Explain your rehearsal process.

For the first few days, I practised the breathing and phrasing of the song to try make the breathing natural and smooth when I play it in the actual performance. I especially found it difficult to have enough air to play the last 8 bars when the music was at forte. Through practising my breathing techniques there I could quickly take a larger breath and have enough air to last for 4 bars.

I practised playing the piece every other day by playing it through a few times. The first time I would just play it as best as I could and see what parts I need to improve. The second time, I would focus on my articulation. The third time, I focused on my dynamics on top of the articulation. After that, I would choose and practise specific parts that I thought needed improvement, such as the crescendo in bar 9 and 13.

3.  Which of the following was the most successful: note accuracy, rhythm accuracy, articulation, dynamics, tone quality, breathing/phrasing? Can you explain why?

I thought that I was best at rhythm accuracy. Because I was nervous, it affected my breathing, which had an impact on most of the other parts such as note accuracy, dynamics, tone quality, etc. However, I still know how the song goes, and I think I got a good sense of rhythm in the song. At the end of the song, I took on the ritardando effect to slow the song down and bring it to an end.

4. Which of the following was the least successful: note accuracy, rhythm accuracy, articulation, dynamics, tone quality, breathing/phrasing?  Can you explain why?

I thought that the tone quality was something that I could work on. The Euphonium is meant to be an instrument with a warm and mellow sound, and good Euphonium players can still keep this timbre even when they play the high notes. However, I think because I was trying to play the high notes, I squeezed my lips together too much, therefore the quality of the sound came out like forceful air and sharp, more like a trombone.

5.  How can you specifically (not musicians in general) improve your level of skill in a realistic manner?

I think I really need to work on my breathing and the air I put in my instrument to improve my range. This was something that I have been doing already because I only picked up my instrument only half a year ago, and I have been practising to improve and unlock the full range every since. I thought that was something that hindered me from playing well, because if I don’t have enough air, I can’t express dynamics well, the breathing and phrasing would be unbalanced and the tone quality will definitely not sound mellow and warm as the Euphonium did.

6.  Discuss how another musician has inspired you to be more successful (this could be someone in school out in the community, or can be someone who doesn’t even play the same instrument as you).

Firstly, I thought that joining symphonic winds has inspired me to become more successful, because not only did it give me songs parts to practise on, but everyone that played similar instruments are better than me, so I am motivated to try reach their standards through practise. Through the performances I also what to do well, which also motivates me to practice and become more successful.

Secondly is David Childs, who is a professional Euphonium player. I listened to some of the pieces he played such as the Carnival of Venice, and I was amazed by how nice sounding the Euphonium can sound even in the higher notes and when playing so many notes at once. This gave me a reason to continue practising my Euphonium to get way better. I know that I cannot reach his standard through such a short time, but through his performances it tells me that a professional Euphonium player can play such nice pieces!

Music Recording: Lines 60 and 72

These are the recordings of me playing the Euphonium on Lines 60 and 72.

I practised once every 2 weekdays for 30 minutes on these two lines since the mid term break. For the first practise, I played both lines once, and jotted down some areas that I need to work on.

Line 60:

  • Range
  • Rhythm
  • Dynamics and Breathing
  • Articulation

For Line 60 I did not choose to focus a lot on fingering because it is not a fast song, and I was able to have correct fingerings for all notes.

Line 72

  • Range
  • Fingering
  • Articulation
  • Breathing

For Line 72, I did not choose to focus much on rhythm and dynamics because line 72 is a scale study, so there aren’t much changes in dynamics, and the rhythm is constant throughout the piece.

 

My practise Schedule: 

Warm up:

Lip slurs and practising my range. What I do is start on the most bottom note and trying going up to the highest in 1 breath, and then start from the highest note and come back down in another breath. I also spent some time practising hitting the high F because it occurs in both of the lines, including playing the note itself and starting on the High D and trying to move up so that I can actually get the note.

Practises:

  • Monday: After playing the lines and reflecting on what I had to improve on, I worked on the rhythm first for Line 60. It wasn’t hard to master because it came in certain phrases, and I soon got it. For line 72, I practised the fingering because that was the hardest, but also the very first part that needed to be mastered. I started off just pressing the valves without actually playing the instrument.
  • Wednesday: For Line 60, I moved on to the dynamics and breathing. I chose to breath every 2 bars, but also before the high notes that require a lot of air. I practised by playing the whole song, but directing my focus especially on the moments with dynamics and making them more obvious. For line 72 I continued practising my fingerings, but added in articulation because those 2 go well hand in hand. I practised tonguing slowly at first, then gradually increased the speed while keeping the articulation clear.
  • Friday: For line 60, I continued practising the dynamics and breathing, especially working on the low F to high F transition because I have a crescendo on the low F and then jump to a high F, which was a difficult part for me. In line 72 I continued practising my articulation, particularly on playing the normal notes so they are clearly distinguished from a staccato and a slurred note.
  • Monday: For line 60, I moved on to the articulation, paying particular attention to slurs. The slurs with the low notes aren’t a problem, but when it get to the high notes, I find myself really hard to push air to get to the higher notes (the high C range). In line 72, I worked on my breathing because I found out from Friday that when I ran out of breath, I can’t tongue properly. Therefore I made myself stop forcing onwards and breath in a 2 bar interval. However, I found that with the breathing, I focus on the amount of air I have and forget about the articulation, so I practised with my mind focusing on both the things together.
  • Wednesday: I continued working on my sluring, especially the slurs involving high notes. I also worked on 2 bars with the low F and high F transition, because apart from a quick transition in range, the notes also become staccato and I need to make sure the descending notes in bar 8 sound crisp and clear. For line 72 I focused on putting all the elements together and playing the piece better. I still found my fingering a bit messy, especially when I need to force really fast air in the second last 2 bars, which was a spot I particularly focused on.
  • Friday: On Friday, for both lines I did a final practise of the whole piece altogether and fixed some final parts before recording. In line 60 I was still struggling a bit to reach the high F in bar 8, so I focused on my range and breathing to hit that high F. In line 72, I practised the fingerings and articulation to ensure I play well in the recording.

Ending: I replayed the 2 Lines again, including everything that I have practised in the previous sessions, and evaluated if I had more problems to focus on.

 

In a Heartbeat: Design Project

For our design project, we made a heart valve model to help teach the grade 6s how a heart valve works. Below is a video about my heart valve model.

Here is a link to my process journal that you can refer to changes I have made to my…

Design:

There wasn’t much I changed to my final design compared to my prototypes. In my prototypes, I only had the 4 leaflets and not the strings that stop it from flowing the other way. During my prototype testing, I found out that only having the 4 leaflets wasn’t enough to prevent backflow (see 5.1 to 5.3 Prototypes A-C), so I decided to add the strings that stop the leaflets from flowing the other way, which was more effective in preventing backflow.

 

I also included a water flow in my final design as well to help the grade 6s understand more about how the heart works. This would also allow for more interaction for the Grade 6s because I have a balloon that simulates how blood is pumped through the valve in the heart, which is when the heart chamber compresses and forces the blood through. With the balloon, it allows for the Grade 6s to compress it to simulate the heart chamber compressing.

 

Plan:

There were a lot of changes to my plan. I wanted to finish everything early so I have a chance to look back, but I found out along the process that I allowed too little time for myself to complete each stage of the process. I thought I could finish my design by Sunday, but it turns out that even though I anticipated a whole day of Kayaking on Saturday, I also spent most of my time with my family on Sunday. Therefore I had to modify my gantt chart to suit my new timetable.

Because I need more time to finish making the heart valve, everything else had to be pushed back by 2 days: getting feedback, making the video about the model and this blog post (see 6.2 Process Journal Entry 2).

Grade 10 Design Day Term 1

Today the Grade 10s had the first design day! For this design project, it is incorporated with science, and we have to make a model. I thought that today’s design day was really informative and helpful for the following design project because we learnt about what we really needed to focus on during the project later.

This year in design, I will continue doing my best and follow the steps to success the design teacher gave us. The steps to success is to participate regularly in class and in the course, have good time management and keep the iFolio up to date, be open minded and always check over the rubrics. Most importantly, Mr. Metz told us to be brave and don’t be afraid to seek support.

We had a rapid prototype session today and tried different models for a heart valve. But before that, we had to brainstorm what we knew about heart valves (shown in the concept map below). IMG_3611

 

This is one technique I learnt that I found really useful in design day.

Then, it was really fun exploring and trying different prototypes that could work or not. Our groups explored ideas such as a movable bottom cover, and we tried out a balloon valve at the end (see picture below). We really got to try out the design thinking method: quick prototyping and testing and repeating the process for a lot of different ideas.

IMG_3610

Our group did two trials with the balloon valve prototype and from the first one, we found out that the balloon idea worked. We cut of the end so it looked like the oboe reed, and the opening closes unless water is poured in it the other way. But we found out that if there is too much water going in the other way, the balloon can turn back into itself and open up. Therefore in our second try, we attached a paper clip to the end of the balloon so that it can go back into itself, making it a one way valve.

 

History Timeline

In History, the first assignment we did was looking at major events of the 20th century. My group chose 10 to put in our timeline that we created (which is shown below).

After making the timeline and sharing it with my other classmates, I decided that the two most significant events in the 20th century was WW2 and First Landing on the Moon. World War 2 lead to the creation of the United Nations, and that helped kept most of the world peaceful for the last 70 years. The first landing on the moon marks a major accomplishment of space exploration in mankind and has lead the world to explore further out into space.

Civics: Democracy Quotes

In class today, we explored ten different quotes about Democracy. The one I want to talk about today is Abraham Lincoln’s quote “The ballot is stronger than the gun.”

I think that this is an interesting quote because it was a short quote but it created a strong feeling inside me in a short time. This quote also first off made me question the meaning of it. As this quote allowed me to question it’s meaning and try to dig around it to find the true meaning, I thought that it was a good quote and that is why I chose to talk about it today.

But what does this all mean? The way I first interpreted it is that a ballot, or the right to vote is a really important and powerful, even more powerful than the gun. But after interpreting it a little more, I thought that it meant that a vote is so powerful that even a gun cannot silence it. It basically means that “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

Why did Abraham Lincoln create this quote? We have to learn a little bit of his history first. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of United States, and during his time when he was president, there was the American Civil War. Therefore the reason he created his quote is because he saw the power of guns in war, but also saw the power of peace and voting, so he created the quote “The ballot is stronger than the gun”.

Math Design Day!

Today was yet another design day, and this time, we combined design and math together to create a statistical report of anything we like. Creating a statistical report, it means that we have to conduct a survey and collect data, analyse it and graph it in a professional way! I’ll find it fun creating the graphs and the report with fantastic digital tools (Adobe Illustrator and Indesign).

I learnt quite a lot of things today: Using different tools in Adobe Indesign, for example creating a page count, designing our own master and placing images in our document. I also learnt that we create good-looking professional print designs with Adobe Indesign, and good-looking graphs with Adobe Illustrator. Apart from that, I also gained inspiration from looking at other professional print designs that the most important element to make our design professional is make it neat and organized, therefore using justify alignment and making sure that everything is aligned well.

Say it with Style: Graphic Novel for Cellist of Sarajevo

In our class, each person was in charge of a moment in the cellist of sarajevo, and created a graphic novel sequence of the moment with a minimum of 6 moments.

Even though this task was really time consuming and quite annoying, I did learn a lot of useful skills by completing this project, such as communication, planning and technical skills of using adobe illustrator. For criterion D, we had to collect feedback on our graphic novel surveys. As not everybody fills in the survey when we send the link to them, we have to chase them down and ask them to fill in our survey, sometimes even asking them to do it face to face. In this project, we had lots of small tasks to do, and we have to organise them in terms of time management.

Throughout this task, I found out that visuals convey meaning better than text because when reading text, one has to form an image from the text and that method isn’t always effective, as sometimes readers will interpret the text differently. But in this case of the book “The Cellist of Sarajevo”, the author has a particular message to convey: the negative effects of war and stopping them, therefore it needs to be straightforward. Visualising that is straightforward as we directly put a picture in their mind and that forces them to interpret the scene in only one way: they way the creator of the graphic novel wants them to (in this case the negative impacts of war and stopping them). Perspectives might change with visuals instead of text, but that only depends on what your original perspective is when reading the text.

Some challenges I faced were time. I did not organise my time well, therefore having to spend 3 hours in the weekend to finish off my inking. I also found it hard to start making the graphic novel because even with the preparations of the story board, character drawing and picking the key moments, it seemed like a big gap to start drawing. The way that I start solving is that I took some time to think about it,  build my courage and went on with it.

If I were to do this project again, I will try out adobe illustrator before actually using it to ink my graphic novel sequence. During the inking process, the reason I took a long time to finish that was because I wasn’t familiar with illustrator and sometimes struggled with what to do. Therefore, I think next time I can just try inking one panel to see what issues I might face during the real inking process, which will increase my efficiency of inking my graphic novel sequence.

Graphic Novel

Natural Acting

Throughout this unit, we did Stanislavski exercises to create an honest and believable character in our performances. Here’s our final product!

Note: The volume’s quite soft, so you might want to turn it to maximum volume.

Introduction to Static Electricity

Today in class, we had a introduction lab activity about static electricity.

In the lab, we had different stations. One of the stations was a Van de Graaff Generator, another was a different material rods with electroscope, a Tesla coil and the last one was a Wimshurst’s machine.

Van de Graaff Generator

The Van de Graaff is a electricity generator through friction generated from a fast moving belt. As our Van de Graaff wasn’t that strong, we only put fur on the Van de Graaff and we could make the fur follow our fingers as we hover them over the fur, and when we dropped bits of paper on top, they bounced off the Van de Graaff Generator.

What I think is happening is that it has something to do with friction, and that the charge comes from the energy generated from the friction created from the moving belt. After learning a little bit about charges in class, I found out that this is because of charges from friction, and that electrons are transformed from the belt to the hollow sphere.

I wonder how fast the belt has to move in order to create the effect we see with the Van de Graaff generator, because that will be a cool fact to find out about charges by friction.

Wimshurst’s Machine

If we turn the handle fast enough on the machine, and put the two electrodes close together, we can see electricity going through the two electrodes, which I found quite interesting.

I am not really sure how it works, but I think is that the electricity is generated by spinning the wheel, and the two electrodes that have opposite charges from each other attract, so we can see electricity passing through.

I wonder what is the maximum distance we can separate the two electrodes till they don’t conduct electricity, and does the speed when turning the handle affect the maximum distance?

Different Material Rods with electroscope

We had different rods such as ebonite rods and glass rods and also had different material such as fur, plastic, fabric and cloth. We tried rubbing different material rods against each other and found that when you rub certain materials together, such as ebonite with fur, they repel paper, and I thought it was magic when I first found out! We also tried seeing what will happen when rubbing two rods and putting them together, and we found out that the same rods repel from each other, but different rods attract each other.

The logic behind this is also charging through friction, and the electrons from the fur or cloth transfers to the ebonite rods, giving the ebonite rods a negative charge, whereas when rubbing plastic with glass rods, the electrons from the glass rod transfer to the plastic, giving the glass rods a positive charge. As glass rods have positive charge, and ebonite rods have negative charge, they attract each other, but they each repel themselves.

I wonder will charging by friction work if we rub two different types of rods together, because they are still different materials, aren’t they?

Tesla Coil

The tesla coil is another cool thing I find. When powered, I can see electricity passing through from the tesla coil to metals.

I think that this lab activity is testing the electrical conductivity of different substances, and I came up with the conclusion that metals are conductive materials.

One question I have that I will probably further investigate is what makes metals conductive? Is it somehow related to where it is on the periodic table?

Grade 9 Design Day: Overall

Today was our first design day of Grade 9. During this design day, we got prepared for the design project that is coming up. We familiarized ourselves with  the tools that we will use for the design project such as using the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator and creating a Gantt chart.

I thought that today’s Design day was effective. We can explore around new tools so that we know how to use them when we start on our project. Even though it is a good idea to get started on our Criterion A on design to save some time, but did not feel like starting on my design project till next week, so I thought that the part when we did our Criterion A could be spent on something else.

I also really liked the Gantt Chart because it is similar to the action plan, but there are more graphics and it looks more colorful. Using the Gantt chart, I can also easily see the distribution of the tasks if there is too much work on one day or there are times when I can add some work in them.

End of Year French Reflection

1. Comment qualifies-tu tes efforts et ta participation dans le cours de français? (How would you consider your effort and participation in french class?)

Je pense que j’ai des bien efforts et participation parce-que je fais mes travail avec beaucoup des efforts. Aussi, après la voyage en France, j’ai parlé de français plus souvent dans la classe et j’ai plus participé dans la classe.

I think that I have good effort and participation because I give my best effort in my work. Also, after the trip to France, I spoke french more often in class and I participated more in class.

2. Est-ce que tu as réussi de accomplir des deux aspects que tu as fait dans la dernier réflexion? (Did you succeed in accomplishing the 2 goals you made in the last reflection.)

a) Je veux parler plus bien de français et je dois parler suivant dans la classe pour améliorer ma compétence de parlant. (I will speak better in french by speaking and participating more in class.)

Oui, parce que j’ai plus participé dans la classe. Maintenant, je lire souvent des text dans la classe, reponds souvent de questions. Mais un chose que je peux améliorer est poser des questions.

Yes, because I participated more in class. Now, I often read texts in class and respond to questions. But one thing I can improve is asking questions.

b) Je veux connaît plus de mots en français et je dois regarder des textes/livres français. (I will know more words in french by reading french texts/books.)

Oui, parce que je n’ai pas regardé des livres français, mais on a regardé des textes dans la classe. J’ai pratiqué aussi mon vocabulaire de français dans la sites d’internet.

Yes, because even though I did not look at french books, but we read french texts in class. I also practised my french vocabulary in websites.