Design,Home Sweet Home!,MYP

My Educational Board Game

12 Sep , 2017  

I am going to be creating an educational board game that will help students from grade 7-8 to thoroughly understand chemistry terms and apply those concepts in real-life situations.

I have done secondary research and looked at how to transform my unorganized ideas for my board game and turning it into an actual board game with the game mechanics. According to Evato Tuts+, I should base it off of the main topic, which is Grade 7-8 Chemistry. Then I should think of myself as a player of my game and visualize how or what my game should look like. Another approach could be adding or removing game elements from the games I analyzed, so I could think and play from another perspective, helping me identify certain needs and requirements (it would highlight the more important game elements) for my own game. The next step would be to flesh out my ideas, which is to make further connections with real-life events or situations (it could possibly be the theme of my board game) and writing it all down to make all my ideas clear. For example, if the board game topic is somehow related to California, a connection with Hollywood in Los Angeles might be made. The theme and the background story could then relate to actors or the entertainment industry. Lastly, I would need to go through the “content development” stage before drafting out my ideas/making prototypes. Here, I would be thinking of the components (cards, tokens, dice, etc) that I would include in my game. I have also done research on features that I could add to my board game to make it fun and compiled a list of chemistry related real-life scenarios that I could use on my board game. Fun features that I could add include more hands-on features (physical interaction between players and the game itself) such as spinners as well as multiple twists and turns to the plot/story which would build tension and excitement for the players. This could be a new storyline that the players can choose or “stop grids” that forces players to stop for a round.  The research would allow me to be more prepared for the next few steps of the creation process to ensure that I know what I am going to do.

The most important aspect that I took away from the research was the client consultations (primary research). I now understand the learning styles of the selected group of clients (they generally prefer lots of visuals, hands-on tasks, and getting to move around a little) that I interviewed. I asked about their learning needs (specific “special learning” requirements), which have included topics from grade 7 and 8 science that students struggle with. They thought that the hardest topics were separation techniques, diffusion and osmosis and parts of cells/cellular functions (not chemistry related, just for reference for real-life situations). Finally, I asked the student’s opinion on different features that I could possibly include in my board game. My board game is going to be made targeted to these students, so it is important to know what they lack, their preferences and their expectations for the game so I can create a high-quality educational board game.

Home Sweet Home!,Music

16 Bar Melody Progression Summative

6 Apr , 2017  

Final Composition- A Bundle of Joy Sheet Music (PDF)

The piece above is a short composition that I created. The main focus for this year’s composition unit was phrasing. Making the phrases connect with each other and to use chords or rhythm to support the phrasing. We started off by creating our own rhythm, then gradually progressing and creating an 8 bar long melody, then finally transforming it into a complete 16 bar piece. The way the melody was taken slowly made it more enjoyable and less stressful to complete. We had sufficient time to enjoy the process of composition, instead of rushing it through, which makes the experience more remarkable and helps with the creativity.

 

Speaking of the composition process, I will continue by talking about the some of the choices I made when creating this piece. My original intention was to create a formal, classical piece, but my idea changed because I just wanted to keep things simple. Therefore, I went back to look at the 8 bar melody task that I have done previously and gained some inspiration from there. At last, I decided to create a piece that is fun and enjoyable, so I also changed the title of the song from ‘Pleasing Classic’ to ‘A Bundle of Joy’.  The title change also makes the music much more interesting. A cheerful atmosphere reminds me of children jumping around. A majority of the notes that I used were either one beat or shorter, which creates a distinct and clear sound along with a“skipping” effect. Articulation, specifically staccatos, were used in the downbeat (the second beat of some bars), which are relatively weaker beats. The staccatos help to emphasize the weak beats to create more presence for the weaker notes. However, I did not add staccatos in every bar because it will be too repetitive and boring, so it will be more predictable or even somewhat unpleasing to the ears. Additionally, the unbalanced use of staccatos can strengthen the “skipping” feeling that I am trying to create. 

 

There were not a lot of surprises for the dynamics. For the dynamics, I connected two phrases at a time to create the soft and loud sounds, so the first two phrases were together and the last two phrases were together separately. For example, for the first two phrases, it began with piano (soft) and I it gradually got louder in the middle of the first segment (crescendo). Then from the middle to the end, I used a decrescendo to signify that the first half of the song (two phrases, 8 bars) are over along with the use of the half note which is one of the notes with a longer beat value. I also chose to lower the pitch of the notes in the second half of the first segment along with the decrescendo. Even though that it is not necessarily true that lower notes are more quite, but when I incorporate the downwards movement with the decrescendo, it helps create the feeling that it is near the end of the first segment. The second phrase was more random in terms of the last bar because of the unexpectedness that I wanted to create, which is ultimately how people feel when they are happy since they are often surprised at the first place.

 

Pleasing Music Final Composition SummativeThe pitch range of this piece for the melody part is quite wide, from the B flat below middle C to high G. This was done on purpose because I wanted to have more variation. Just like speaking, I didn’t want my song to be monotone, I want it to be more vibrant and colorful since it is supposed to create a happy atmosphere, therefore I went for almost two octaves in such a short piece. The piece started with a pitch in the middle and ended with the lowest pitch so the beginning would not be too abrupt and the ending will close up, like the feeling of going back home/ back to the base. On a side note, I did not want to limit myself too much with the notes that I used, so I decided to keep the wide range.

 

I find this piece vibrant and somewhat unique, but not so attractive or memorable. It follows all the rules and guidelines of this task accordingly, but it does not have that many surprises. The notes that I used are all chord tones based on the chord that was assigned to each bar, which will definitely create a consonant melody with a pleasant sound. However, if I want to make my piece more interesting, a creative choice will be to include some non-chord tones throughout the piece. This creates a dissonant sound, which should be more unique. This song is not too difficult to play on both instruments, especially on the piano, so it is great for beginners especially for clarinet players to practice crossing the bridge and moving from low to high notes.

 

Here are screenshots of constructive feedback I’ve given to my peers throughout their creation process:

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Home Sweet Home!,Sciences

Science Oil Spill Clean Up Separation

29 Mar , 2017  

We were looking into oil spills and were tasked to separate all the materials inside this heterogeneous mixture containing sand, sea water (salt and water solution), styrofoam, iron filings, oil and other organic materials inside. We first came up with different methods on how to separate the mixture individually, then came together as a group to discuss how we were going to separate the substances (with consideration of the physical properties of the substance) and separated the mixture at last. Please take a look at the pictures bellow to see the original mixture and the different substances grouped together after being separated.

We were not extremely successful, but we had separated all the substances at the end. I must admit, this was a challenging task because we must apply all of our knowledge on separation techniques and physical properties and carry out a plan that could clean up the “mess”. Our example is just a smaller scale of what’s happening outside in the real world. After an oil spill is reported, environmental scientists must come up with an effective, feasible and efficient plan to clean up the oil spill. Meanwhile, they also want to limit the harm which will affect the environment in a long-term and on a large scale. Scientists outside are always thinking of ways and solutions to solve many of our problems. They are the group of people who are using their scientific knowledge, apply them to analyze from small daily problems we have to all the significant, life-threatening issues.  Scientists come up with solutions by using all their knowledge as well as thinking out of the box to design the plan for the solution and this is exactly what WE ALL NEED TO DO.

People, specifically students of our generation should start taking actions and build up this responsibility. If we already have sufficient resources, technology, and knowledge to help us, why can’t we “become a part of the solution”? Indeed, our understanding of chemistry carries a certain level of responsibility in our community. People who have the knowledge yet they are not doing something with it are just simply selfish and incompetent. We should somehow share our knowledge with other people by coming up with new ideas and eventually help improve the world in some way. We are the ones causing most of the problems, we are the ones to blame, but we are also the ones to get up, do something and solve the problems that we have made.

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Home Sweet Home!,Music,MYP

8 Bar Melody (Composition Formative)

15 Mar , 2017  

Building on to the 8 bar rhythm I have previously created, I developed the rhythm and turned it into a complete melody with chord progressions. We also focused on conjunct and disjunct as well as consonant and dissonant when creating this melody. Please have a listen to my melody!

Use the list below to check each guideline……….

  • Do you have a combination of conjunct and disjunct motion?

O Yes O No

  • If there are any large intervals (larger than a jump of five different letter names), have you changed direction by step?

O Yes O No O NA

  • Does the melody have an appropriate range?

O Yes O No

  • Does it start and finish on the tonic note? (The tonic note is the first note of the scale.  For example, if you choose Bb Major as your key signature, the tonic note is Bb)

O Yes O No

  • Does it sound interesting?  Is it memorable?

O Yes O No

Design,Home Sweet Home!,MYP

Waste Not, Want Not

2 Mar , 2017  

The grade 8s had Design Day recently, introducing the new design unit combining maths and design. We started the day by looking at the general constraints for this project and understanding what we’re supposed to do. Next, we started researching and investigating in groups, looking at how to make packages and how the packages work (structure and form) to fit certain purposes. We also had a chance to make our own boxes to put our snacks in.

We deconstructed existing packages and analyzed its properties according to our restraints and Design challenge. The package that I deconstructed was the iPad Air box. The package was made from two rectangular prisms, one with larger dimensions and the other with smaller dimensions so the smaller one could fit in the larger one easily. I am guessing that the reason why whoever designed this package chose to put the package in this form because it is more sturdy and secure, especially when holding something fragile and valuable (the iPad). Depending on the object I’m going to package and its properties, I need to consider the different ways to put together the box(es) without using adhesives. For example, I can have two parts, one with longer dimensions than the other one, I can have handles for people to carry the package around or have tabs sticking out of the package.

Additionally, the iPad Air box had two layers for each rectangular prism (the base/top). The layer on the inside is made from cardboard, also the actual net that makes the form of the rectangular prism. The other layer is plastic and paper combined, which is made from thinner cardstock paper. Both have their own purposes, one is to keep a firm and sturdy form for the box to put the iPad Air (somewhat heavy) and the other is to provide the visuals: the decorations, tags and safety warnings. Even though the other layer may seem excessive and a bit unnecessary looking from the environmental perspective, but it is definitely useful because it offers protection for the cardboard layer on the inside. My goal is to try to use minimal materials to create my box, so I probably wouldn’t consider using two layers.

I’ve also done a little research on making packages for irregular shape objects and how to do so. It turns out to be easier than I thought. As long as you can all the measurements accurately, you can make a net of the package with sufficient quality. Therefore, I will try to look further into this in criterion B and my goal is to make a package that is original and creative.

Lastly, with the knowledge I have from geometry, I can create packages with the least environmental impact, reducing our carbon footprint. The total materials I use for my package can be measured with surface area. If the surface area of the materials is low, then I will not need to use a lot of materials to make the package. Fewer materials mean less waste and it decreases the carbon footprint of both the designer and people using the package.

Here are some pictures of my box for my snack that I made without using adhesives:

Photo on 28-2-2017 at 10.17 AM Photo on 28-2-2017 at 10.18 AM #2

Investigating in existing packages:

Screen Shot 2017-02-28 at 1.57.04 PM

Home Sweet Home!,Music,MYP

March Reflection

1 Mar , 2017  

1.  Explain how you believe you are progressing on your instrument so far this year.

I feel like I have passed the beginner level this year and I’m starting to develop more playing skills. The most important thing that I learned this year is “crossing the bridge” (reaching the higher notes). I am now able to reach the higher notes, playing those notes in tone and then immediately going back down to the lower notes. However, I didn’t improve as greatly as I did in the previous years since I am now a lot more familiar with my clarinet, it is harder to advance. Therefore, I need to make a greater effort to improve and move on to the next level.

2.  Explain specifically what you are currently doing to improve your level of skill.

When practicing at home (unfortunately, I only practice one to two times every week), I go back and review the songs that require more technique to play. I play songs with a mixture of high and low pitched notes, a variety of articulation markings and greater difference in dynamics. When playing the different scales in music class, I try to play the section that is higher in pitch to strengthen my newly developed skills and achieving a high tone quality for the higher notes across the bridge.

3.  How often do you practice?

To be honest, I only practice once every week on average (yes, this is something I need to work on and take initiative for reminding myself). In the first term (before Christmas), I was in Concert Band, so I practiced every other day during that time in preparation for the winter concert. Now, as the school year goes on, I find much harder to practice. It takes time for me to set up and pack up my instrument after I practice and I’m so lazy that I don’t bother to do so. Additionally, my work load increases, so it becomes harder for me to find time dedicated for practicing.

4.  Which of these are you most successful at: note accuracy, rhythm accuracy, articulation, dynamics, tone quality, breathing/phrasing?

My articulation is the best. I tongue very precisely on the staccato notes and I can hold my breath to play the slur notes to create a smooth and connected sound.

5. Which of these are you the least successful: note accuracy, rhythm accuracy, articulation, dynamics, tone quality, breathing/phrasing?

I find that I will need to improve on rhythm accuracy because

Home Sweet Home!,Music,MYP,The Write Stuff

8 Bar Rhythm (Composition Formative)

20 Feb , 2017  

 

Screen Shot 2017-02-20 at 7.18.23 AM

In this task, we need to create a rhythm that is 8 bars long with two four-bar phrases. I use two slurs to indicate each phrase and make it really obvious to identify the two phrases. To make it even more obvious to spot the two phrases, the two phrases end with a long note. The first phrase ends with a half note (longest note value in the entire rhythm) and the second phrase ends with two quarter notes tied together and a fermata on the last note. The two phrases are balanced rhythmically and they also have an equivalent amount of short notes and long notes. The first measure of both phrases is  exactly the same. Since I want more of a variety yet sill maintain balance, I switch the order of bars 2 and 3 for the second phrase and making the two phrases end slightly different visually (but still sounding the same).

This task is quick and easy, but I have to make sure that this rhythm works before I transform these 8 bars into a melody, which is the next task that we need to do. One thing I might change is bars 4 and bars 8. These two bars are the endings of phrase one and two and they are quite different. I do not want phrase one and phrase two to be exactly the same, so I decide to change up the rhythm. However, I am unsure if I should change the rhythm up in the middle of each phrase and if either way will result in a complete sound.

Home Sweet Home!,MYP,Service and Action

Service as Learning (Student Advisory)

11 Nov , 2016  

This year, I am going to try to balance service within our school and service outside of school. I have joined the Reading Tree and the photography team. I can volunteer and actively participate in the events relating to these 2 clubs. I can extend the club activities outside of school where I can read to the less fortunate or take photographs of the poor and raise awareness. Last year during service day, I participated in a food drive event where we had collected and organized the food brought in by students, parents, and staffs and delivered it to Feeding Hong Kong. I want to do something similar again this year because the entire CDNIS community can contribute easily and help out. Additionally, I want to participate in walkathons and beach clean ups for more service participation around the Hong Kong community.

Home Sweet Home!,Language and Literature,MYP,Uncategorized

Poetry Unit Reflecion

26 May , 2016  

In the previous English unit, we were learning about poetry. First, we learned about different poetic devices, then we identified poetic devices in works of poetry. Next, we analyzed poems and discussed the effect of the poetic devices used on the readers. Explaining how the poetic devices affected the reader’s feelings is one of the main focus of this unit.

The students had a chance to explore many famous and unique pieces. We also got to write a couple of poems as an individual and a group throughout this unit. My favorite poem that I read was Ode to Tomatoes by Pablo Neruda. There was a range of poetic devices used in the poem, such as oxymoron, enjambment, personification, and hyperbole. The topic about tomatoes was interesting and unexpected as well. For me, the most challenging part about reading poetry is understanding the symbolisms,  metaphors, similes and personifications. They are usually indirect and you often have to use the clues from the poem to help you figure out what they mean. I also find that after reading the poem a couple more times, everything becomes clearer. Writing poems were especially challenging for me in this unit because we had to use certain poetic devices in our different poems. In my opinion, poetry can inspire people differently. Of course, reading poetry can happen as an entertainment as well. The purpose of writing poems is to express feelings and tell a story. Reading poems can be an entertainment or enjoyment. A poem only uses short phrases (for most times) and poetic devices to help convey the message. Other works of literature can also express the author’s feelings, visual artworks also bring a mood or atmosphere when viewed.

Chinese,Home Sweet Home!,Music,MYP,The Write Stuff

Blues Solo Composition Reflection

24 Mar , 2016  

In this unit, we inquired into blues music and learnt basic music composition techniques as part of the theory of our unit. We started off looking into endings, then progressing into composing simple, 8 bar melodies.  We then looked at transposing instruments and the Concert F blues scale. Lastly, we looked at blues chord progressions and incorporating the major triads and the b7 tones  for composing our solos. For our summative assessment of this unit, we composed our own 12 bar blues solo. I thought it was going to be an easy task, but it actually involved some thinking and reflection as well. I made the first draft and received feedback from my peers on my music composition (see the previous post). I read through all the feedback from my peers and have made quite a few changes to my blues solo composition:

Firstly, I had to make my composition sound bluesier. In measures 1, 3, 5, 7,9 and 11, I added the major third tones. Mr. Taitoko, our guest musician has talked to us about including the major thirds in our composition to enhance the “bluesiness” and have a better sounding melody. I have also replaced some eighth notes by adding rests, also have enhanced the blues feeling of my piece.

Secondly, I added performance directions in my piece, like the different dynamic, tempo and articulation markings. Not only have I added some dynamic markings such as p, pp, ff, etc, I’ve also added a few crescendo and decrescendo to enrich the volume and sound of my piece. Tempo markings were also used. I chose to use moderato because I wanted a steady and moderate beat for my composition. By adding articulation markings, I have also worked on another criticism from my friends: choppy transitions. Without smooth transition, the song would sound awkward and it wouldn’t flow very well as a whole. That’s why I have added articulation markings to try to connect the different parts together.

There is certainly room for improvement. I think I could fix the articulation markings. After listening to my solo a couple of times, I found that some slurs and staccatos are either unnecessary or placed in the wrong place. Furthermore, to produce a blues composition with high quality involves a strong melodic and rhythmic balance.

I feel like my blues solo is substantially convincing, it still doesn’t sound very bluesy to me. The feedback from my peers has greatly improved my composition. Nevertheless, I’ve tried my best and made a great achievement, as I have never composed any melodies before. I have further expanded my knowledge in this unit. Many new understandings such as the chord progression of composition and the system of transposing instruments have developed. I had loads of fun and I am looking forward to my next music composition!

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