This Might Get Graph-ic – Linear Equations Unit

Everyone would want the power to predict the future. Just imagine, you could calculate the exact amount of money you need for that dream house you’ve always thought about, find a place that will be the perfect temperature for a vacation in 20 years from now, or even predict and help avert disasters. Surprisingly, you actually can do this in real life, and no, you don’t need magic or a radioactive accident. All you need, is a small but powerful equation, and a graph. Want to learn more? Then read on about our latest Scimatics Unit, Flow Like Water.

What is a Linear Equation?

A linear equation is pretty much self explanatory. It is an equation, which through the use of two variables, can connect and predict the future of linear trends. We learned a little about them last year, but what made this time different, was we dove a lot more in depth into the concept of functions:

Functions can be something such as the rate of money you earn per hour, where each time that an hour (the independent X variable) is put into the function, money (the dependent Y variable) is put out. This rate of change will stay consistent no matter how high the variables get, until something new occurs with the trend, such as in the example of hours = money, a raise. When a change occurs, you will need to create a new function to model it. Now you may be wondering, well what happens if there is other data in the equation, such as going back to the previous example, a Christmas bonus? Well, if you want to include data that does not alter a function, or are planning to plot your findings on a graph, you need to use…

Slope Intercept Form

Slope Intercept Form is an equation which uses the slope of a line (M), the Y intercept (B) and the independent variable to determine the dependent Y value. It is drawn out as you can see below:

Using the slope intercept form can also help you locate points on a graph, which is shown in the example graph for the rate of a glacier melting vs time below:

Our Project

Now that we understood the tools of predicting the future, it was time to actually get onto doing it. Our project for this unit was to research a body of water around the world that is experiencing a linear trend of change (increasing, decreasing, heating up, cooling down, etc), and then graph it to find a point of no return where the damage would cause a significant downfall. My partner Alivia and I chose to do the Canadian Great Lakes for our water body, and the results we found were shocking:

Keep in mind that this linear rate of change will most likely shift in the future due to global weather patterns and the extent of the damage from climate change.

Reflection

Science, math, or something in between; all projects teach us something valuable. During this brief unit, our project work and what we learned from our worksheets has been quite valuable in the sense of utilizing curricular competences, and developing new skills. Here are the four main mathematical curricular competencies I feel I have demonstrated most during this project:

Explore, analyze, and apply mathematical ideas using reason, technology, and other tools.

From day one to the time of our presentation, Alivia and I utilized, explored, and analyzed mathematical concepts in a variety of ways. Starting off with the research segment of our project, I used the tool of checking diverse sources to make sure our graph’s data was accurate. We recorded data from six total sources, along with checking each other’s previous work to make sure we understood the material. Next, when we had our data, we used the tool of keynote to create mock graphs (graphs with only 2 rough data points) to help us analyze and predict the potential impact of the rising water. This then lead us to creating our final graphs in Desmos, where we ran into some problems finding that most of the lakes did not have specific elevations points listed online. To fix this issue, we looked at the general elevation from the shore to a few KM inwards, and applied logic and an online map tool to best predict the elevation of our locations.

Apply Flexible and Strategic Approaches to Solve Problems

During this project, my partner and I solved problems both inside and outside of the felid of mathematics, and in our own workspace. When we first began searching for a body of water, we quickly realized that there were limited articles that could be found by looking up “bodies of water with rapid rate of change”. To solve this, we decided to think flexibly and change our approach, looking up general water data instead, and drawing our own conclusions about rates of change. At one point, I was also confused by the term function and how it related to the slope intercept form equation, which caused some issues in my overall grasp of the unit. However, looking back to the point I had made in my PGP about learning by doing, I decided to try once again thinking flexibly by conceptualizing what a function is with concrete examples (such as thinking about hours = amount of money), and this helped wonderfully. Finally, as the due date approached and I realized that I would not have time to complete our project’s original vision, I used the competency once more by thinking strategical about what the point of the project was, and focusing only on the most important aspects.

Represent Mathematical Ideas in Concrete, Pictorial, and Symbolic Forms

Our project showcased numerous examples of mathematical concepts depicted in a variety of ways. For one, we used a variety of graphs to model a variety of slope intercept form equations (1 for each of the lakes). We also demonstrated how a function worked with a pictorial example of X values producing Y values, which then supported our later example of our slope intercept form equation. Throughout our presentation, we also represented our mathematical data through pictures of it’s effect, such as the picture of the flood damaged town of Bridgman which was effected by the rising water levels demonstrated on our graphs.

Engage in Problem Solving experiences connected with place, story, cultural practices, and perspectives relevant to local First Peoples communities…

What I feel made our project stand out was the connections it made to the local environment, communities, and First Peoples of Canada. Instead of just listing the rate of change of a body of water, we explained in great detail the harm that this change will cause, and gave examples of where the damage is already occurring. We also used this to problem solve, and came up with examples of ways that we in Vancouver can help to prevent similar issues. Throughout our presentation, we made connections to the First Peoples of the Great Lakes area as well, stating how the lakes are an important part of their travelling history, and that changes to them may result in a loss of these historic routes.

Here is my Unit End Mind Map, which outlines my overall journey of learning for this unit:

Taking action about Reaction – A Chemistry Project

Although they can happen on a scale so small we sometimes can’t see them, chemical reactions can have big consequences. In our latest unit, we learned all about different chemical reactions, how they work, and what the consequences of their occurrence may be.


What is a Chemical Reaction? – What we Learned

A chemical reaction is when the molecules in a compound (either Covalent or Ionic), are rearranged and create new new compounds or elements. They occur when enough activation energy is provided to reactive substances (substances that want to become more stable) and can produce a variety of products such as heat, light, water, or gas just to name a few. There are 6 different types:

Chemical reactions can be displayed in something known as a chemical equation. To write one, you start off with a skeleton equation:

This particular one is for Methane Combustion, which is an exothermic reaction. This means that more energy is released from the reactants than is stored in the products. If it were the opposite way around, it would be known as a endothermic reaction. This skeleton equation is a great place to start, but it does not represent the conservation of mass, or the law that:

The law of the conservation of mass means that in a closed system (a system that mass cannot escape from, but energy can) the mass must stay constant throughout the reaction, and must be represented in the chemical equation. To fix this, we must balance the chemical equation by writing it as:


Our Project – Chemical Reactions in our World

Chemical reactions don’t just occur in the lab; they are happening all around us. Plants use the endothermic process of photosynthesis in which they absorb the sun’s light to create sugar, and animals use the exothermic process of cellular respiration to turn this stored energy into heat and fuel. There are also many man made chemical reactions that we see on a daily basis, such as the combustion reactions used to fuel vehicles and create electricity. Unfortunately, these reactions create the harmful product of greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming. Our project aimed to answer the question of:

You can watch our presentation video below:


The Experiment

In our video, we outline that the main way we came to our conclusion was through an experiment in which we simulated the greenhouse effect in a controlled environment. We got this idea from the Myth Busters episode below:

In our video, we go into greater detail about the process of our experiment, but I have outlined the basic scientific method we went through to conduct it:


Reflection

Our project included many of the curricular competencies, but focused around these main four (click the tabs to read more):


Our project was centred around the question of how is humanities' use of combustion reactions effecting our natural world, and we continuously returned to it during our presentation as we discovered more and more evidence. We also came up with some more questions as we were researching our main one, such as why didn't the fossil fuels which we use today combust during the millions of years they were in the ground? Many of these questions we ended up addressing and answering in our project, even though we had never intended to consider them before hand.
Personally, this was also an area of improvement for me in this unit in general, as I put a lot of thought into the concepts we were learning, and found a lot of fascinating questions. I feel this didn't only make the unit a lot more interesting as there was always more to learn, but opened up some inquiry topics for future projects such as what happens in a nuclear reaction.


The first part of our driving question is focused around the concept of the methods in which humans create fuel causing environmental issues. We start off by looking at the dangers of these methods, and then delve into how these methods work in the first place. We also didn't just assume that these environmental issues were associated with these methods, but worked to provide sufficient evidence that this was actually true
.
To not repeat what has already been mentioned about the other competencies, I'm going to focus more on the inquiry aspect of this one. Our project is set up like an investigation, which means that we do not just give a definitive answer and talk about it, but rather use an inquiry process to discover evidence that could lead to a conclusion. We demonstrate this by posing our hypothesis, and then examining what we already know about chemistry and reactions. We then ask how this relates to the burning of fossil fuels, and investigate further into that. We final use all of our knowledge to not come to a set in stone conclusion, but show which hypothesis is the most plausible based on our evidence.

This competency if reflected in the second part our driving question as we ask how we can help limit the damage from this issue. We start off with examining the problem and learning about how chemistry relates to the release of greenhouse gases. We then explore how humanity is utilizing this chemistry and how this is only making the problem worse, but then also examine what exactly it is we are doing that is causing the damage. Then finally, with all of the information we pitch some ideas that people even in our own community can start working on to help reduce the damage.

My Project End Mind Map 

Due to a reset of MindNode, I no longer have access to my unit start Mind Map, but I have summarized my learning in the Unit End Mind Map below:

My Personal Learning

I’m always talking about how PLP projects provide such good learning experiences, but I really mean it with this one. Like I said earlier, chemistry isn’t always intuitive, which can be a challenge for me. I typically learn by going off and figuring stuff out on my own, and sure that works in humanities and other classes, but I can’t do that as much in science. I need to accept help, and not just in answers to the questions I ask, but in things that I may not always reach out about. I now realize that this project was a good opportunity for me to improve upon this because the labs forced me to consider the methods of others. I needed to bring my learning to a more interdependent level, and I actually did better at this as the project went on. I didn’t realize it at the time, but by doing this I was also improving upon the competency of Collaboratively and individually planning selecting and using appropriate investigation methods, including lab experiments.

Between the labs, the explosions, and the fascinating research, I have to say this has been one of the funnest science units I’ve ever done, and I can’t wait to see what we are doing next.

 

 

World War 2 in Canada – Yesterday’s History, Today’s Legacy

What do you think of when someone mentions World War 2 today? Do you think of a time long ago, when the world was full of uncivilized, war mongering people? Do you admire the relics in museums and read stories in history books without much thought? Do you think of it as a conflict that only impacted far away countries? These were some of the ways that I perceived WWII for a long time, in the same way that people look upon most events that haven’t directly impacted them – with interest, but without a true grasp of their importance. I feel this is the case with many historical events we are taught about in school, as we are just too distant from them to understand what really happened.

I now realize this is a dangerous thing, because if we stay distant from our ancestors mistakes, we may end up repeating them. World War II happened over 70 years ago, and yes technology and world power has shifted, but that doesn’t mean we are now above conflict. It is not like the people from that time were any different on a base level then we are today. How do I know this? Well, it’s because through our latest PLP unit and a program known as the Memory Project, I got to meet actual veterans from WWII. These men and women, although now elderly, were once teenagers like us, and I didn’t fully realize this until I got to meet them in person. My mind was blown from of the stories they told me; some of them sounded like something out of a movie. But it was all real, long ago, and through these veterans, I now know that these events still matter today. In this post, I am going to share with you my experiences during the our PLP World War II Unit, meeting these veterans, recording their stories, and answering our driving question of:

What is the Legacy of WWII in Canada?


Canada’s Naval Legacy – My First Podcast 

Recording the answers to our driving question is just as important as discovering it. We need to make sure that the incredible interviews we conducted with the veterans don’t go to waste, and that others can learn from their stories as well. Now we could have made a video to do this, but visuals can be distracting and limit individual interpretation, so we decided to make podcasts instead. This was my first time making an all audio product, and let me say, it was a blast. Who knew that you can create a more meaningful product with less to work with? Anyways, you can check out my podcast, or if you’d like, my classmates podcasts below:

PLP Podcast Series


WWII – The Domino Effect

World War II was fought by 21 countries, and overall contained 100 separate battles over the course of six years. If you also look at all of the events without combat, smaller battles, government jobs outside the war… yeah, it’s a pretty long timeline. It’s also confusing, because countries like Germany would be fighting on three fronts at once, so trying to connect every little detail is almost impossible. Luckily, we got to learn about the biggest events during our unit, which I have made a timeline of below. Notice how every event plays into the next… maybe that domino effect is still going on today?

Click the tabs below to read more about these events

The event that started it all. After Hitler's secret military had grown strong enough under the guise of building "tractors" and "sports facilities" (which were really military camps and tanks), he invaded Poland alongside of Russia on September 1st, 1939, and quickly conquered the country. This was the event that forced France and Britain to join the war; they now realized that it couldn't be avoided.
The Conquering of Belgium and France In order for Hitler to take over Europe, he needed to control two of the most influential forces of the western front; Britain and France. His plan was as follows; to invade France, and then believed that Britain would surrender when they fell. To do this, he needed to draw the allied defences out of France, so on May 10th, 1940 he invaded Belgium. Then, with the allies now occupied in this conflict, Hitler was able to launch a powerful Blitzkrieg attack into France, and take the country.
The allied forced were now surrounded on the Belgian beach of Dunkirk. The German army had far superior air, naval, and tank technology, so there was no hope of fighting them back. In fact, it looked like the 300,000 something men were going to die there, which very well could have been the end of the allies military strength. However, in a daring rescue on May 27th, 1940, allied military and civilian ships rushed to their aid and saved many of the men.
Hitler's campaign seemed to be going according to plan up to this point, but to his dismay, Britain did not surrender after the invasion of France. This was a problem, as there was no way he could reach his ultimate goal with Britain still running independently. To stop this, the German Luftwaffe (airforce) launched a ten month bombing campaign on civilian and military targets. They thought it would be a swift victory, as Britain was almost out of resources, but on October 31st, 1940, the Germans were actually pushed back. Many consider this a significant allied turning point.
A few years of small campaigns passed after the battle of Britain, and Hitler was growing impatient. His goal of gaining enough Lebensraum, or living space for the Ayran population was becoming more out of reach each day, so he decided to take the drastic action of invading the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Although invading Russia had always been part of Hitler's plan, it was never meant to happen this soon. It wasn't properly thought out, and before the German troops could capture Moscow, the Russian winter forced them to retreat. This was the beginning of the end for the Axis advantage.
The Axis was not just Germany, it also included Italy and Japan. All of these countries had the aim of expanding and taking more land, but each did it in a different way. Japan had found success in a fast and harsh style of invasion which resembled the German's Blitzkrieg, and used it to invade China and taking part of Russia. However, it put them in a bad situation when they bombed the U.S at pearl harbour on December 7th, 1941. This would later lead to a devastating bombing from the US which ended in their defeat. Italy also became a warring nation in hopes of gaining more land, but found little success throughout the entire war. This ended up with their surrender on July 24, 1943, as many Italians didn't see the benefit in continuing the fight.
America wasn't interested in joining the war for a while; there was no reason to. However, this all changed when the sudden attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbour struck fear into the nation, and it was decided that action needed to be taken. America joined the war hours after the attack, and this lead to a wrench being thrown into the delicate power dynamic that gave the Axis their edge. Britain wasn't alone anymore, and now they had an ally who was itching to fight back. This lead to the campaign against Italy, which ended up being semi-successful, and then soon after the real offensive began. On Tuesday June 6th, 1944 America, Britain, and Canada sent in massive amount of Naval, Air, and Army forces to the beaches of Normandy in an operation appropriately named D-Day. There was a large loss of life, but this event lead to the liberation of France, and soon the rest of Europe.
With the allies closing in from all fronts, the German Reich quickly collapsed and surrender quickly followed. The surrender of Japan came soon after, when two atomic bombs where launched on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These lead to devastating consequences for the country, and hopefully these weapons will never be used again. Although this meant the war was officially over, this was not a time of celebration. Over 70 million had perished, soldier and civilian, in those six years, and people on all sides were impacted. This is why I believe that although the fighting stopped on September 2, 1945, our remembrance should never cease no matter how many years pass.

Some helpful resources from our unit, and from my personal experience:

WWII In Colour

A stunning look into what famous historical footage such as Nazi speeches and the battles of Normandy looked like when they actually happened.

WWII Oversimplified

For those not interested in the little details, WWII in colour gives a concise and comedic look into this conflict with a world wide perspective.

The Fallen of WWII

WWII was the most deadly conflict in human history. How deadly? This video will blow your mind with the true casualty statistics.

The Complete History of WWII

WWII is an event we should all know a little about, but if you are interested in the full story, then this documentary is for you.


What was Canada’s Role in the War?

Canada may have entered the war due to it’s Commonwealth ties, but their role extended much farther then a mere British Force. Canada first joined the war on September 6th, 1939, a week after Britain in a response to Germany’s invasion of Poland. It was a reluctant decision to say the least, as the last war had put an incredible strain on Canada’s economy and unity. It started with a single division being sent oversees, but the fall of France made Prime Minister William Lyon Mckenzie King realize that more had to be done. The government decided to start a massive Military, Naval, and Airforce expansion, the likes of which would end up costing them billions. Canada’s role may not have been as much on the front line as in WWI, but their contributions were crucial none the less.

Royal Canadian Airforce/Navy 
One way King saw to help that wouldn't involve risking lives was to set up an airforce training program for aspiring allied pilots. He deemed it the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, and it ended up training over 130,000 pilots, flight engineers, navigators, and other staff. These efforts also sent 48 Royal Canadian Airforce squadrons oversees by the end of the war, and played a large role in the sinking of German U-Boats and bombing raids. Canada's support also came from the sea, as their Naval forces acted as protectors for British Convoys (the veteran I spoke with, Svend Hansen, was coder for the Royal Canadian Navy. Learn about his story below). It was a powerful tactic for the Germans to cut off British supply vessels, as they could defeat their enemy without sparring troops, and they made this one of their main Naval tasks. Luckily, brave Canadian men, and even women, came to their aid and helped escort supply convoys across.
 

Canada saw their largest action however, during the allied invasion of Normandy during D-Day. This was the final push needed to knock Germany off their throne, and Canadians were prepared to give it all they got. 14,000 Canadian paratroopers landed at their assigned beach code named "Juno" in early morning on June 6th, 1944. They also sent in over 100 RCN ships in which were crewed with over 10,000 sailors, and the RCAF aided in bombing raids. These efforts were the worst of what the Canadian troops had to endure in the war, but made the push through the rest of France possible. Canada's Secondary role in all of these events may seem small next to the role of Britain or the U.S, but their services were invaluable.

Who Were the Canadians at War? 

Many things could be considered a once in a life time opportunity. Getting your dream job, going to an exotic place, witnessing a natural marvel; those would all be pretty incredible. However, getting to do something like meet a living, breathing World War 2 veteran takes the idea of once in a life time to a whole new level. In our PLP class, we got to meet with two of them; one was a former German soldier named Helmut Lemke, and another (who was different depending on your group) was the Navy Coder I spoke of earlier named Svend Hansen. To think that this experience is one that kids 10 years from now will not get to have is honestly mind blowing. You can read a little about their stories below:

Svend Hansen

Svend Hansen is a former Navy Coder who was enlisted in the Royal Canadian Volunteer Reserve in 1942. He had lived in Calgary for most of his youth, and when his friends started signing up for the services after they graduated, he decided he would as well. One in particular had joined the Navy, so Svend decided to move to Saint-Hyacinthe’s Quebec to train in the Navy Signalling school. He soon completed his training as a Navy Coder, or the personnel who would decode allied messages and send them to officials, and boarded the HCMS Hepatica in Halifax. The ship then made many trips to Europe and the United States in a mission to protect supply convoys from German u-boats. He served until the end of the war in 1945, and did not experience much action in terms of combat. If he hadn’t gone on leave however, he would have assumed a role in the deadly conflict that was the Battle of the Pacific.

Helmut Lemke

Helmut Lemke is a former German Solider and member of the Hitler Youth, who came to Canada to escape the war and prosecution. Young Helmut joined the Hitler Youth before war broke out in 1939 as many young Germans at the time did. He described it more of a Boy Scouts Program than having a military related agenda, and found himself succeeding academically and living a comfortable life during this time. However, all this changed when WWII started and he was forced into conscription, despite his Mennonite faith, and was separated from his mother and siblings. During his time in Germany, he traveled across Europe and Russia in search of his mother, and eventually moved to North America to pursue a degree in architecture.

My podcast explains the duty of Svend in more detail, but I would highly recommend also listening the rest of helmut’s story in some of my classmates podcasts.


Success in the City – A Crazy Trip to Seattle

Amazon, Microsoft, Starbucks. These are all companies that no matter where you go, people will know their names. This is because they are not only some of the most financially successful businesses in the world, but are also some of the most influential. The reason that most people today have personal computers, are able to shop online with ease, and have other conveniences that impact their day to day lives are because of them. Something that is interesting to think about however, is why exactly have they been able to create such a massive impact? What separates a company such as Apple from your everyday store? Most people might say it’s money, or being at the right place in the right time, or just having luck. While these answers are true, they miss a crucial detail, something that is in almost every success story.

This detail, is a level of craziness

All throughout November and December, our class researched the idea of craziness leading to success. It didn’t quite make sense at first; how could the most competent people and businesses on our planet be crazy? It was a confusing topic, and the teachers realized that in order for us to truly understand it, we would need to experience the world of innovation for ourselves. So in early December, we went on a trip to one of North America’s innovation hubs, Seattle, Washington. Home to the headquarters of numerous businesses and massive complexes by Apple, Boeing, Tesla, and more, this was a perfect place for us to explore. So what did I learn in those four days? What sort of craziness ensued? And why did this craziness turn out to be something great? Read on to find out.

Our Crazy Unit

As I went over what we did during this unit in greater detail during my exhibition post (linked here), I will keep this brief. Basically, following the driving question of “Why does it take a crazy person to change the world?”, our class completed 2 projects along with multiple mini assignments. We created a Pecha Kucha presentation, along with a Synthesis Essay stating what we thought personally thought craziness meant. Our biggest task however, was something that we prepared for in class, but would be completing in Seattle. This was our Seattle Unit Videos, which were short films we would be creating in groups using footage from the trip. Due to the sheer coordination needed for it, the video turned our to be one of the most challenging tasks we have tackled so far in PLP. You can see our final video draft below:

https://youtu.be/oSJhAw3SrsI

Personally, I thought this was such a challenge to create due to a lack of clarity and communication within our group. We failed to talk in person about what people were taking on, and as a result the different pieces of the project everyone was supposed to work on just didn’t fit together. I’ll give it to our group though that our determination to keep going, even when everything fell to disarray was impressive, and was something that I feel learned a lot from. Like I have mentioned before, I don’t handle changes in a plan well and it can sometimes lead to me freezing up. Opportunities like this are helping to learn to think on my feet however, and slowly but surely I am improving in this department. The video wasn’t all bad though; filming it was a lot of fun. If you want to know more about that, click the tabs below.

Lucas Filming our Video

Before the sun had even begun to rise, our class packed our bags into the Seycove van and set off for Seattle. The ride was pretty nice, except for the fact we didn’t have an aux cord and had to listen to Christmas songs the entire way. Around 10:00 am, we reached out first destination, the Microsoft Visitor Centre. This facility is located just outside of Seattle in the town of Redmond, and is part of the massive 80 building Microsoft campus. Inside is what you’d except in a public centre; highlights from Microsoft’s technological journey and lots of modern products on display. It was cool, but what was even cooler was the place we went afterwards.

Inside the Microsoft Visitor Centre

Our second destination on the Microsoft Campus was known as The Garage. Unlike the Visitor Centre, The Garage is a private access facility only, and this is because it’s an actual workspace for Microsoft employees. It’s something of a dream factory for Microsoft, where people with good ideas can come and take the first steps to making them a reality. It gives the everyday person the tools to create whatever they’d like, sometimes marking the beginning of a hit product. It was really quite a unique experience to be in an active working space like this and see real people developing potential new technologies. It was also interesting to see how similar it felt to our Maker spaces at Seycove, and reminded me of the importance of going through the creative process. It is something we do a lot in class, and it can feel tedious at times, but seeing a company like Microsoft utilizing tools such as idea generation sessions and goal setting charts showed me just how effective this process can be.

Visiting the Garage

It’s interesting though to think of the purpose of the Microsoft Garage. It’s a multimillion dollar facility home to some of the most advanced technology of our time, but doesn’t generate any direct revenue. Yes it helps with general product development, but investing this much time, space, and manpower into something that isn’t bringing in measurable profit seems unrealistic. However, this is a perfect example of a level of craziness that leads to success, as it’s Microsoft’s dedication to their ideas and progress focused mindset that has pushed them to the top. After our exploration of Microsoft, our class (mainly Mr. Hughes) was getting hungry, so we went to the restaurant Din Tai Fung. Famous for their incredible soup dumplings, this was the perfect place to recharge before hitting the road again. Our next stop was University Village, a strip mall styled pavilion of progressive stores ranging from one of Amazon’s first brick and mortar shops to the tech showcase store B&TA. This was a great place to capture footage, but it posed a challenge. This place was huge, and our group would have to have to communicate well if we were going to get all the shots we needed. So, instead of doing our usual run off and see what happens, I prepared a sheet of shots we should get in this location and made sure my group understood it. This lead to a much more efficient use of time, along with better quality and more specific shots.

That night, we checked into our hotel and took a brief look around the Amazon BioSpheres (more on that later), and then headed out for dinner. We went the burger chain Shake Shack, which is another culinary highlight of the city. They specialize in gourmet burgers and shakes, great customer service, and still manage to be a wide spread successful fast food chain on top of it. The idea for this restaurant originated from the mind of restauranteur Danny Meyer, who wanted to open up a convenient restaurant that still kept the values of helping people and quality. He placed this balance above all else, once even keeping a restaurant that wasn’t making profit open just to keep his employees jobs. Some might consider this unique style of business foolish as it doesn’t put a big focus on profit, but it’s this quality about Shake Shack that has lead to it becoming such a success.

Inside Shake Shack 

After a night at our hotel, we were ready to rise bright and early to explore all of what the inner city of Seattle had to offer. Due to an error on our hotel’s behalf we didn’t get breakfast that morning, but it didn’t matter too much as our first stop was the Starbucks SoDo Reserve. Located in the southern half of Seattle, the SoDo Reserve has quite the incredible architecture. The outside resembles something of a government building with large brick walls and towers rising from the top, but the inside feels more like an upscale New York Roastery. Everything is built to cater to Starbuck’s unique customer focused atmosphere, which makes the building function well as both a workspace and a eatery.

The SoDo Reserve

It’s also Starbuck’s Headquarters, and takes a lot of man power and money to run. In my opinion, this is another example of the craziness found in successful businesses because although any company headquarters takes a lot of resources to run, no one puts as much detail into their atmosphere as Starbucks. From the moment you walk through the door to when you leave, you feel like you have entered a completely new world. Starbucks invests millions into this atmosphere, and there is really no reason for them to do this because there is no way to measure the profitability of atmosphere. Starbucks however, is willing to invest this money and time into it anyways, and this is part of the reason why they are a world renowned company.

Inside the Reserve

When we were done at the reserve, we headed off to the place that I was most excited to visit. This was Century Link Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks. This place was not only incredible to visit, but lending itself well to our video because of the incredible shot opportunities. Not only did we get to venture to the highest place in the stadium, but also go on the field itself and into the locker rooms. The challenge here was to record shots that truly captured the scope and size of the stadium without becoming to overwhelming. We solved this problem with panoramas, slow pans from different angels and heights, and starting closeups that slowly focused onto farther locations.

On top of Century Link Field

I wasn’t expected this stadium to be a place where we would find anything relating to craziness, but I turned out to be wrong. We were given a tour of the place by a retired Seahawks staff member named Dale, who brought up a key factor in the Seahawks success being their head coach, Pete Carroll. Despite being the oldest coach in the entire league, Carroll is full of energy and hope, sometimes getting more excited then the fans. He is constantly encouraging his players to have fun and be themselves which is a practice that isn’t common with major league coaches. He was thought of as weird for many years, even being fired from two separate NFL teams because of his unique approach. If this happened to the average person, they would probably give up coaching and find a new career, but not Carroll. He stuck with it, despite people thinking he was crazy, and eventually it landed him his current spot with the Seahawks, a position that has lead them to victory in multiple occasions.

Mural of Seahawks Under Pete Carroll’s Leadership

After lunch at a teriyaki restaurant, we set out to visit the Museum of Living Computers. Home to some of the most advanced technology of our day, along with some of the first computers to ever be built, this was truly a great place for our class to explore. Using some of my coding knowledge from the SBC Challange and Grade 8, I opportunity to program a robot and even build a small moving machine. I also got the opportunity to get a great interview for our video, in which the unedited version of can be seen below:

https://youtu.be/iuZDvZ3BK3c

Video Interview

It was starting to get dark when we left the museum, but this wasn’t a problem as our next location was better to visit at night. Being one of the pinnacles of oddities in Seattle, it made perfect sense that we would be taking a trip down to the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Founded by glass blower and designer Dale Chihuly, this half indoor, half outdoor facility holds over 100 of his most incredible and exotic exhibits. Chihuly’s glass art is known for being one of a kind, and I could really see why when looking at it in person. It looks surreal, like an alien liquid somehow suspended in mid air, but also finds a way to blend perfectly with it’s environment. Before he began working with this medium, the world of glass blowing and sculpting was mainly a work of function, with any artists in the field typically creating small, practical objects such as bowls, bottles, and tables. Chihuly however, out of nothing more than a vision, decided that he was going to show the world a new perspective on the functions of glass, and began working with the crazy idea of making a career out of his strange art. It may have seemed like an odd choice at the beginning, but there is no doubt now that following through was a good choice as it allowed him to make a truly unique contribution to the world of art.

Chihuly’s Incredible Art

Now settled into our hotels, we rose on the third day to a spectacular buffet breakfast overlooking the inner streets of Seattle. After this, we head off to our first activity of the day, the Amazon Walking Tour. Using Amazon’s audio tour app of Audible, our class was able to work our way through their city headquarters and explore some of the things that have allowed them to become today’s #1 most valuable business. Part of this I could tell, similar to Starbucks, is their incredible attention to detail along with their focus on helping the people. Instead of buying cheaper land out in the suburbs to build their facilities, Amazon keeps all their buildings in the heart of Seattle so they can live and grow with the city. They also give back to the community through initiatives such as their banana cart program (read more about that here) and by donating some of their buildings to local charities.

In the Heart of the Amazon Campus

Every place we visited on the Amazon campus was full of life and creativity, something that so many workspaces lack. Probably the best example of this is their Biosphere Facility, which is a collection of massive glass domes that house an open, tropical environment inside of them. What is there purpose? To be a welcoming and relaxing place for employees to complete their daily tasks. This may seem like an odd thing to create, especially since they aren’t made to generate profit, but it’s a great example of Amazon’s crazy quality that has helped them get so far. The care that they put into making their employees, along with the community feel welcome and supported is incredible, and is one of the main reasons that Amazon is so widely used.

The BioSpheres

After Amazon, we walked to a quieter area of the city where our next location was. This place could arguably be the epitome of our unit focus of crazy people changing the world, as the reason it was created is something truly one of a kind. I am talking about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundatio. Created by Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, this organization has goals that many would consider out of this world, such as eradicating malaria and leading the world to a path out of poverty. What is even crazier though, is the way that they to achieve them. In the words of Bill Gates himself: “Once you’ve taken care of yourself and your children, the best use of extra wealth is to give it back to soceity". By time they’ve retired, the couple aims to have given away every cent of their multi-billion dollar fortune, all in the name of making our world a better place. No matter how noble this goal is, it’s still an insane thing to do. These efforts will not only take all of their money, but most of their time too. There will need to be extensive research, experimentation, and perseverance in the face of failure, but Bill and Melinda Gates are willing to go all of these insane lengths to reach their goals. It shows just how powerful the combination of passion, resources, and dreaming big can be.

The Inspiring Mission of the Foundation Mounted on the Wall 

The foundation was a great place to see how a philanthropic effort can have a big impact, but it doesn’t always take something as direct as charity to make change. This was something that we got to see for ourselves at our next destination, the Museum of Pop Culture. After a great lunch at Grecian Corner, a restaurant that is now probably tied with my liking of Din Tai Fung, we walked northwards of Chihuly Gardens to find the giant metal sculpture that is the MoPop. Inspired by rock legend Jimi Hendrix and filled from the collections of Paul Allen (Microsoft Co-Founder), The MoPop acts as a hub for all things innovation that are part of our modern culture. Ranging from props of famous movies:

Inspired by rock legend Jimi Hendrix and filled from the collections of Paul Allen (Microsoft Co-Founder), The MoPop acts as a hub for all things innovation that are part of our modern culture. Ranging from props of famous movies:

Dorothy’s Dress From The Wizard of Oz (1939)

To Incredible Scultptures:

The Guitar Sculpture 

The great thing about this museum is that the exhibits are always changing to display the newest and most influential topics. A new instalment that was one of my favourite in the facility was the Video Game exhibition. Not only was it neat to try out some new games, but it gave me a new perspective on the value of virtual worlds. Now that pretty much anyone can create games if you have basic computer operating skills, they are a platform for people to bring forth there wildest dreams in a safe and connected environment. Ideas such as time travel, flying cars, and traveling to planets outside of our solar system may not exist yet in the real world, but video games can allow people to experience and test them. It doesn’t matter how crazy an idea is; with video games you can do anything, and maybe one day transfer these ideas to the real world.

Inside the Video Game Exhibit

That night, after a meal of Pizza, we took a break from the crazy to go to a place that is a key location to visit for the authentic Seattle Experience. I of course, am talking about the Space Needle. Over 180 meters tall, this futuristic looking skyscraper gives you a beautiful view of the city from all directions, and was a definitely a filming highlight. I got an excellent time-lapse of the city streets, along with the Space Needle spinning 360 degrees. It was also the place that we attempted to film our Video’s Intro, but the background audio prevented it from being usable. Visiting the Space Needle was the perfect way to end the day however.

The Amazing View from the Space Needle

It was surprising to wake up on day four and realize that the trip was coming to a close, as it had gone by so quickly. There was not a single moment were I felt it was dragging on, and I had had so much fun. Luckily, some of the best experiences of the trip happened on this last day so we ended on a high note. After breakfast once again at the hotel, we said good bye to Seattle and drove off down the highway. At this point, our teacher’s figured we knew how important being crazy was to success, so they decided to let us get a little crazy ourselves. Before we left the area, we pulled into a small strip mall that had a large red building near the entrance. You wouldn’t know what it was from the outside, but the inside contains something that will blow you away. Literally. This facility, known as iFly, is one of the most advanced indoor skydiving locations in America, and we got to try it out. When I first heard we were going to be free falling in a tube as tall as a house, I was a little anxious. However, once we got some instruction from a flight guide, I decided I was willing to give it a go. Let me tell you, this was a good decision. Click here to watch the video of my flight.

A Demonstration in the iFly Chamber 

Continuing on the theme of flight, our next location was the Boeing Factory and Airfield. When I heard that we were going here before the trip, I was excited, but I never could have imagined how incredible it would be to see it in person. The Boeing factory is actually the largest building in the world in terms of volume, and it showed when we went inside. It’s so big, that the massive 747 airliners inside looked miniature, and you couldn’t see all of the walls at one time. When we were given a tour of the place, it was fascinating to learn that despite all of the advanced technology that was in the facility, much of then interior and mechanical plane construction still is done by hand. It makes you think about how much human effort goes into the things we take for granted, such as a plane ride. Although we couldn’t take pictures of the inside, I still was able to get an incredible shot of a brand new Oman Airliner landing:

Reflection – How is Craziness a Good Thing?

  • Our trip to Seattle was a stunning adventure through technology, innovation, and creativity. It brought us to new heights, introduced unique perspectives, but most importantly, let us see the crazy side of things. When you’re just on the surface level of a company, such as being an Amazon customer, it’s easy to not realize just how insane these buisnesses really are. I mean, Amazon went from a online bookstore to the richest company in the world in less than 25 years, and is now working on areas such as space travel and a drone delivery service. That sounds pretty crazy, but the average person doesn’t think about that; all they see is an online store. This is why I’m so glad we got the chance to make our video project during our trip, because digging deaper into here companies and documenting their hidden sides is why I fully understand our driving question of: 

    Why does it take a crazy person to change the world? 

    If we weren’t making a video, I wouldn’t have asked for interviews with any of our tour guides, which was where I found I learned the most authentic information from. Even though we only used about 20% of our interviews in the video, I don’t regret recording any of them because they were a great source to refer back to when making my Exhibition Pecha Kucha. I also noticed that when there is a task or goal to complete, my learning and filming efforts become a lot more streamlined. I found myself constantly reading signs and brochures we came across if they related to our driving question, and I feel I have a much deeper understanding of craziness and success because of this. This also made me pay more attention to detail when capturing my shots, which caused me to notice all sorts of unique things such as how Century Link Stadium is built like a dome to echo the calls of the fans. If we hadn’t created the video, Seattle would have still been fun, but I think it was this extra direction that truly showed us just how important craziness is to changing the world.

Sources

https://www.windowscentral.com/microsoft-has-had-profound-technological-and-social-global-impact

https://www.inc.com/business-insider/amazon-google-most-valuable-brands-brand-finance-2018.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/28/amazon-seattle-office-space-13-point-6-million-square-feet.html

carroll/#34cd00c51836

https://findingmastery.net/pete-carroll/

https://www.seahawks.com/team/coaches-roster/pete-carroll

https://www.chihuly.com/life/writings/chihuly-artist-breathing-life-glass

http://fortune.com/2017/06/06/melinda-gates-microsoft-women-college-graduates-tech-jobs/

https://www.biography.com/people/melinda-gates-507408

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/13/why-bill-and-melinda-gates-give-away-billions.html

https://www.biography.com/people/jeff-bezos-9542209

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/rocketeer-jeff-bezos-winner-smithsonians-technology-ingenuity-award-180961119/

https://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/

mPols 2019 – Midterm Presentation of Learning

On the first day of Grade 10, I was confident. Confident that after how far I had come in Grade 9, the improving I would do on myself in Grade 10 would be minimal. Of course I would keep working towards my two or three main goals, strive to keep my grades up, but I was sure the heavy lifting was over. Now that I have completed a near half of the school year however, my mindset has shifted. I now realize that achieving your goals doesn’t mean you are done, it just means there are new ones to set. I can constantly improve on myself and my life.

I also now realize that achieving your dreams doesn’t just happen by chance. It happens, like most things in life, through focus, persistence, and following through with plans. With this in mind, I have reflected on all the work I’ve done this year and set three concrete goals that will help me improve as a learner, as well as have created a plan of steps I will take to achieve them.

Goal #1: To be more focused and present

A strong suit of mine is thinking to the future and coming up with new ideas, but the fact that I’m usually in my head can lead to problems in both my personal life and my academics. I notice I have trouble focusing on lectures, and distance myself from being present in group projects when I don’t want to compromise. An example of a time when this impacted me in my work is:

The Ideal Angles Project

Based around the concept of trigonometry, this project was all about defining precise measurements and creating a model to demonstrate them. Although during this assignment I did improve on my past goal of following criteria better, I did not give my full attention during many of the lessons. This lead to me missing some key ideas, which created errors in my group’s first model draft. I felt if I would have put a greater focus on the Trigonometry aspect, along with been more present with my partner, it could have saved us a lot of work.

I am taking steps to improve upon my focus by:

1. Taking Notes in Class – I notice if I have a task to do, I become a lot more engaged during lectures and readings. This will also be useful for if I forget something, I can review it later.

2. Turn my iPad off at 8:00 pm- Something that personally helps with my focus and staying in the moment is having an hour to clear my head before I go to bed. Not only am I better rested in the morning, but I notice my mind races less.

3. Giving Myself Scheduled Breaks – Relating to the “Managing Impulsivity Habit of Mind” from our PGP course, it’s hard for me to put down what I’m doing and take a break, especially if I’m working on a big project. If I schedule breaks and pay more attention to my energy levels however, I notice my focus and willingness to work improves greatly.

Goal #2: To Better Utilize Time Blocking

A skill that has been constantly pushed on us in our PGP course is something known as time blocking, which is creating a schedule where all tasks are made specific and assigned to a time. It’s a skill that seems quite simple in concept, but many people fail to utilize properly. Although recently my use of time blocking has improved as I now see the value of it, I still have a ways to go, as was seen in our:

Book Trailer Project

This was a project where we were tasked with making a cinematic adaptation of a book we read (in our group’s case The Perks of Being a Wallflower), which included important scenes but didn’t reveal major plot points. I am actually quite proud of the overall project from our group, especially because I believe it is one of my best editing jobs for any video I have made so far. It was also a good learning opportunity in the skill summarizing, which is something I’ve struggled with in the past. The reason that I have this here as an example of needing to improve at time blocking though, is due to some organization issues that came up in production. Due to the fast-paced nature of our story, our group had a lot of shots that we planned to get. Our scheduling was quite lenient however, and we ended up not having enough time to get all of them.

In future tasks such as our upcoming podcast project, I am improving my time blocking to make sure I can get all of the footage I need by:

1. Doing a daily reality check – My main problem with time blocking is not that I don’t do it, but rather that I don’t do it realistically. I tend to schedule myself with way more then I can handle not considering that I need breaks and time to tend to other responsibilities. I’ve recently come up with a solution to this though, and that’s reviewing my time blocks daily to make sure they have not become unrealistic.

2. Making a priority list Another reason I commonly find myself overbooked is because I forget to prioritize. This may be because I haven’t checked Showbie for due dates in a while, or might happen if I lose sight of the big picture. Either way, I am working towards fixing this by numbering off my daily priorities at the beginning of each day, so even if my time blocks get switched around and I can’t complete everything, I can still finish what matters.

3. Anticipating the Future – I’m someone who doesn’t like to change a plan once it’s been set, but doing so is an inevitable part of life. To avoid getting myself stressed when trying to rework a plan, I am using the “Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations Habit of Mind ” from our PGP course to make a list of the busiest times of the year and prepare myself and my time blocking for potential future instability. If I know it’s a busy time of the year when unexpected turns are bound to happen, I am going to work my time blocking around that. I’m already starting to think about this for Destination Imagination.

Goal #3: To Set SMART Goals

“A goal without a plan is just a wish” states French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and I now understand just how true this statement is. For my entire life, I have set goals that have had no real direction, just a generalized idea that may have some steps attached to them. Thinking back on it now, very few of those goals did I actually achieve, and now I see why. In order to succeed at not only the goals I mentioned in this post, but every other goal in my life, I will need to make them SMART, or:

Specific

Measurable

Active

Reachable

Timed

If I would have learned to set SMART goals sooner, I feel like I could have achieved a lot more in my personal and school life, especially during projects such as our:

Seattle Video

Once again, I made quite the lengthy script for this that touched on everything I could think of relating to the topic. I went through draft after draft, trying to figure out which one I liked the most and which one explained my topic the best. I probably did the most revisions I have ever done on a single project when writing this script, and it was exhausting. If I would have set the SMART goal for my script to tell the precise story we had been tasked with doing however, I could have avoided all of this. Almost every time when I’ve had problems with understanding the project criteria, it hasn’t been just because I haven’t read the criteria well enough, but because I haven’t defined my personal criteria, what MY goals are for the project. In order to make sure that I set SMART goals for future assignments so that I don’t overwork myself, I am currently working on:

1. Creating a Purpose Sheet for all my projects – Everything I do, I want to do great at. Although this is a good quality to have, there is a difference between making a good school project and making a million dollar documentary. So, in order to remind myself that the purpose of school projects is to learn, I am creating a purpose sheet where I can outline my SMART goals for each assignment I’m given (based on the learning criteria), and understand that once I meet that I don’t have to keep going.

2. Making my SMART goals an active part of my life – Another problem I’ve had in the past with achieving goals are setting them and then forgetting them. If they are not an active part of my life, I tend to not give them much attention. In order to fix this, I am putting all of my goals, from getting an 86% or higher on my next math test to buying a house one day into my Things app so that I can see them on a daily basis. I also have gotten into the habit of reviewing all of my goals during my weekly review so I can make a plan to work towards them in the upcoming week.

3. Take my time with my goals – I would say the #1 reason that I overwork myself is because I rush into a goal too quickly without considering all the factors. I don’t always take the time to come up with a good plan, and due to impatience will try to complete every task at once. If I set my SMART goal time blocks farther apart however, realizing that some tasks may take a lot of time to complete, I can both open up a lot more personal time and do a better job succeeding at my goals in the long run.

I am constantly looking for more ways to improve as a learner, and am going to keep setting SMART goals to get there. I can’t wait for my next presentation of learning to see how far I’ve come.

A Crazy Night – PLP Winter Exhibition 2019

 

On December 20, 2018, I stood in the back of my school library. What was a normal classroom space mere hours ago had now been transformed into something that resembled a lavish New York style café. The room was bustling with parents, students, and teachers; everyone was dressed in their best attire. The energy among us was the highest it had been all year, which made sense as it was the night of our annual PLP Winter Exhibtion. Each year, students are given the chance on this date to show their best work and creativity through personalized projects. It had been the same deal since grade eight, and I felt like I was really going to have the hang of it this year. This was however, before the Grade 10s were told that we would be doing something completely different, something that had never been done before in PLP.

For our exhibition project, we would be creating a 20 slide Pecha Kucha style presentation in one week, and not only present it to a room full of strangers, but do so without notes. When the teachers pitched this to the class less than two weeks before the exhibition, I thought they had to be crazy, because only if we were crazy ourselves would we ever do something like this. Yet, when the night came, it turned out I was crazy after all. For when my name was called, I stepped out in front of the massive crowd, with nothing with me but a smile on my face. And then I began to speak:

So what happened in those two weeks that changed my mind? How were we able to pull this insane task off? And most importantly, is being crazy enough to try something like this really a bad thing? Today, let me tell you the story of 2018’s PLP Winter Exhibition.

Preface

Although the format as to how we would be presenting during our exhibition was unknown in the beginning, we developed an idea early on of what we would be presenting about. Since the start of November, our class had been laser-focused on a fascinating unit revolving around the question:

Why does it take a crazy person to change a world?

It may seem like an odd thing to ask, and believe me, it seemed that way to me too when we first began the unit. I knew it definitely took someone different to make a change, but crazy? That seemed like a stretch. We started off with pondering the question in a typical PLP fashion, and then watching some videos (such as the original Think Different commercial from Apple) and completing some readings. Once we had done a few of these, we were given the first project of the unit which was our mini Pecha Kucha Presentations.

The First Pecha Kucha

Pecha Kucha is a form of public speaking that utilizes fast moving imagery with minimal wording to keep audiences more engaged (see here). It was the perfect exercise for our class as we hadn’t had much prior public speaking experience. I personally also tend to present over the time requirements, which had been fine up until this point, but that isn’t an option with a Pecha Kucha. I had only 20 slides with 20 seconds for each one to get my point across, and this proved to be a challenge for me.

An example of the Pecha Kucha Format

My project centred around jazz legend Miles Davis, specifically how his out of the box ideas and playing styles lead to his success. I chose him from the list of people of Apple’s 1997 think different campaign, people that my teachers considered to be crazy. At the beginning of this assignment, I was not on board with this idea. A jazz musician is typically professional and conventional, not crazy. This had been my opinion for many years, but it started to change  when I began researching Miles. He was eccentric, creative, ambitious, and pretty much acted the opposite of professional his entire career. This still wasn’t enough to convince me he was crazy, but I started to see what the teachers were getting at. Click here to read my full post on my first Pecha Kucha.

My First Pecha Kucha Slide Deck

The Synthesis Essay

Of course after one assignment we were not ready to dive into the exhibition, so we were given another task soon after the first one, something that would focus on our writing skills. Similar to our Book Trailer Project, we were given the task of writing a synthesis essay, except this one we would be completing out of class. Once again, the focus was on individuals who created change through their crazy ideas, but this time it was placed more on what elements they shared that made them all crazy and successful rather than their individual stories. The people I chose to write about were Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks Head Coach) Jeff Bezos (Amazon Founder) and Bill and Melinda Gates (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), who are all current leaders in their respective fields. From what I took away during out Pecha Kucha assignment, I was expecting these individuals to all have a trait that made them “crazy” and at the same time successful. What I wasn’t expecting however, was that they would all share the same trait, the same ability that sets them apart from the crowd. What is this trait?

It’s having an unshakable drive, and commitment to their vision

A drive that will push you forward no matter the hardships that come your way, a drive that will lead you to achieve your goals no matter the risk, consequences, or effort involved. I realized as I completed my essay that this is a trait that people do typically attribute to success, but don’t realize is also something that can make people seem insane. Just imagine what you would think of someone willing to give up everything for one vision, or goal. It is at this point that the teacher’s usage of the word crazy started to make sense to me. They don’t mean these people are truly insane, but rather have qualities that are perceived as such by society. If you want to know more about my thoughts on this, click the picture below to see my full essay.

Seattle

So craziness is an important element in success, but is it something that really leads to change in our world? We could read all the textbooks, news articles, and studies we wanted about this, but to get a real answer to this we would need to venture out into the world. More than any other unit we had done this year, our driving question was one that demanded real life exploration, so the teachers announced we would be taking a four day trip to Seattle, Washington. Home to companies such as Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, and more, this was the perfect place to explore the weird, the wacky, and the wonderful things that build a business. During this trip, we also had the assignment of creating a video that used a mix of interviews, location, and personal footage to show the hidden craziness living within the companies.

  • Microsoft Garage

A Slide Deck of my Favourite Photos from the trip

Even during the earliest planning days, this video task presented a challenge to me. It was clear from the start that their would be a lot of curve balls thrown at us based on changes to the assignment along with the unpredictable nature of travel, and I am not someone who responds well to change. When I have an idea in my head, I want to stick with that idea no matter what comes up, and I realized I couldn’t really do this during this project. There were constant unexpected turns that this assignment took, and it was hard to manage. I do feel though, that now I have learned to become more flexible in my planning. I’ve learned that it’s okay if something changes, if you can’t control everything, you just do your best with what you have and look for new opportunities. This would end up being a lesson that proved crucial to me later in the unit.

News of the Exhibition

We came back from Seattle with a sigh of relief as our videos were nearing their completion phases. We had a good understanding of the question, some worldly knowledge, and three projects to prove our learning, so I was confident that the heavy lifting phase was over. This turned out not entirely to be the truth. At this point, the teachers felt that our knowledge was strong, but there was still something missing. We understood what they believed the question’s answer was, and we had a lot of real life proof to back this up, but we still didn’t know what we personally believed in. In order for us to truly complete the unit, we would have to answer why we as individuals believed it takes a crazy person to change the world, and around ten days before the exhibition, the Teacher’s announced how exactly we would be doing this. It was then we learned about our second Pecha Kucha assignment.

Preparation

Believe me, being given a task like this in the middle of school crunch time felt quite daunting. It seemed insane that we would have to write a quality speech, develop good, original images, and present this to a massive audience within a timespan of just over a week, but I was still ready to try. I started off by writing the first 3 slides of my 20 slide Pecha Kucha, and then using my notes to help me find pictures. A early barrier that came up around this time was a sense of needing to make everything perfect, which distracted me from the deadlines. I didn’t realize at the time that I had many days to revise and felt that every detail needed to be exact. This didn’t help the flow of my presentation, and it definitely didn’t get my work in on time. Remembering this in the future I feel can give me more personal time, more opportunities to reflect, and over all better products.

My First 3 Slides Draft 

When I first heard about this project I assumed the most time consuming part would be the writing. While it did take a while, I didn’t consider how much effort would also need to be put into the photos. My first draft had good photos, even some great photos, but there were some that didn’t fit quite right. They took out of the atmosphere of what otherwise was a powerful speech, and I realized that in order to achieve the vision I had, I would need to spend a lot more time on the imagery. So I got to work creating some custom images for my project. Some of them were photos from Seattle:

and some of them were natural photos taken by my camera at home:

where others employed a lot of photoshop:

It took a lot of effort, but I eventually had my slide deck images ready (see below):

Another part of preparation was writing our scripts, or rather the loose phrasing that we would be using in our presentation. I found this part of the project hard to get started on, but once I knew where I was going it became easier. This part took probably the most time of all my project aspects, but when it was done, I was proud. At this point, my understanding was I would go up at the exhibition, read off my pseudo-script, and practice a few times beforehand. I was ready. And that was when they told us;

We wouldn’t have our scripts at the exhibition

I thought it was a joke. We were roughly three days away from the exhibition; there was no way we could prepare in time. But they weren’t joking; they believed it would be the best way for us to present authentically. We would finally be able to truly speak in the way Pecha Kucha was designed for, and show the world what we really thought. This would be an incredible achievement if we could pull it off, but this task seemed impossible. We are Grade 10’s, not professional public speakers. Going up in front of an audience of strangers without a script is, well, crazy…

But it was then that I realized something. PLP students ARE crazy. We take insane risks all the time, pushing forwards even when we know the chances of success are slim. We don’t let failure hold us back, and look to the unknown as an adventure. We are crazy, and that’s what makes us great. Keeping this in mind, I pushed forward with my project and practiced my script as many times as I could. I knew that anything could happen on the night of the exhibition, but I didn’t let that stop me, and neither did my classmates. We worked hard day in and day out for those three days, and on the night of the exhibition, each one of us proved that being crazy, is something that can lead to incredible things, and maybe even one day, change the world.

The Exhibition

The great thing about the exhibition this year was that even though our presentations took more work than other years, they were only around 7 minutes in length, leaving the rest of the night for us to set up and explore the other exhibits. The preparation started 2 days before with our class brainstorming our theme. We decided on a open mic night style room which we would call the Crazy Café, and this turned out to be a great choice. The set up required little original creations, and lended itself well to the open and relaxed feel of the back of the library. After I helped move tables and clean the room, my task for the night was to create slideshows to put on the back computers in the room. I decided to use pictures from Seattle for this, along with some images of the crazy people we studied.

Setting up for the big night

After my presentation, I got to explore the rest of the exhibition which is something We normally don’t get much time to do. It was fascinating to see all of the Grade 8’s projects as this was their first exhibition, and how their learning was both similar and different to ours during that year. The Grade 9’s also had unique exhibits as they implemented PLP’s first immersive experience rooms. Focusing on the topic of the bonding of elements, each of them had a different persona that represented a certain type of atom and would act accordingly to your choices in the room. The highlight of the night for me however was to see the Grade 11’s spectacular Carousel of Communism. Similar to the World War 2 room of the previous year’s Grade 12’s, this experience in Seycove’s gym brought guests into a world of the past, showing us what it was like during the communist scare of the 1950’s. Overall, this exhibition was one of my favourite so far.

Reflection

From the first drafts of our essays to our final Pecha Kucha presentations, this entire unit has been a learning experience for me. It was full of constant surprises, crazy ideas, and unique experiences, all of which I feel have lead to new skills and abilities. For one, I’ve learned how to create flexible plans. I now understand that life is full of unexpected changes, and that having a plan that can react to that is an extremely useful tool. I’ve also learned that sometimes, you have to dig a little deeper into something to truly understand it, as it was with our unit’s driving question. I feel the most important thing I’ve learned however, is that trying things that may seem crazy or impossible at first isn’t a bad thing. Just because you are scared or don’t know what the future may hold, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do something. It’s being able to go with those crazy ideas, that allows people to do marvelous things, such as change the world.

AlgaRush – A Project Rich with Learning

It’s time to kick off the new year with my first blog post of 2019. This post is a brief reflection of our most recent Scimathics project which focused around the mathematical concept of Algebra Tiles. Similar to a project we worked on in Grade 9, this was a group assignment where we were tasked with creating a game that utilized mathematical knowledge we learned throughout our Unit as game mechanics. Check out my partner Jessie and I’s tutorial video on our game below:

Our Game

Our project is a gold rush themed board game in which algebra tiles are gems which you want to fill up your mine cart with to win. It takes the basic premise of completing an algebra tiles square and turns it into a fun and challenging competition. This project was fun to create, but also was valuable to our learning as it allowed us to expand on our curricular competency skills. Here are some of the competency’s I feel our game really emulates;

Developing thinking strategies to solve puzzles and play games

This is a pretty obvious competency to include as it’s the main focus of the unit, but it is important to mention non the less. The reason that I personally like game projects is it forces us to really test our knowledge of a subject area, because if it isn’t sound our game’s mechanics will not work. It really gets us to learn how to think in a way where we learn to not only understand the concepts, but learn to apply them to make and solve games. These thinking strategies are demonstrated in our game with the creative ways we incorporated different mathematical concepts such as prime factorization and how we found ways to work this all into the game.

Connecting mathematical concepts with each other, other areas, and personal interests

My partner and I both have an interest in geology so the mining theme we based our game around was a great choice. We found ways to make mathematical ideas such as factors into physical game pieces that not only connected with each other to make the game playable, but also worked with our theme (such as algebra tiles being gems).

Visualize to explore and illustrate mathematical concepts and relationships

The entire concept of algebra tiles works around this idea, and in our game we made sure put a major focus on this element. You can see this in the fact that each algebra tile has a distinct shape, size, and name which illustrates their value (such as a big, bright diamond being the factor of the highest worth). We also used ideas such as our algebra square being a mine cart to illustrate the concept of filling up your square in a way that would make sense to people not familiar with algebra tiles. Our cards, bounty board, and video animations are also an example of this.

Represent mathematical ideas in concrete, pictorial, and symbolic forms

Relating to the last competency, our game puts a major focus on representing algebra tiles in a symbolic, concrete, user friendly way. The idea of factors being equal to theoretical tiles is quite the abstract concept, but when turn them into physical pieces, understanding becomes a lot easier. It also makes more sense to people when a concept such as this is presented in a symbolic way that they are familiar with, such as the idea of mining gems with different worth’s to fill up a mine cart. You also see a pictorial form of our game in our video animations. Mechanics such as these that we included in our project we found make algebra tiles a lot more understandable and concrete.

This unit was probably one that I will remember for a long time as the concepts we learned during it are truly fundamental parts of mathematics. The extra diagrams and concrete models we were able to create really helped my understanding of algebra, along with the fun premise of creating a game that encouraged me to explore more in the realms of project and video making. Below is my reflection of the unit in it’s entirety:

Want to know more about our game, or how you could make it yourself? Feel free to comment below

Student Blogging Challenge – An Amazing Experience

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For the past 7 weeks, our PLP Maker 10 class has been participating in what I can only say has been one of the most unique experiences of the year. I’m talking about 2018’s Student Blogging Challenge; an event that incorporates research, writing, and personal aspects in to blogging, along with allowing bloggers to connect with others around the world.

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I would be interested in the challenge as I’ve never been much of a blogger when it comes to personal topics. However, once I got to do some tasks such as week fours’s Emoji Event and the Free Choice week, I became invested in it. I love that it has given me the opportunity to write more personalized posts, because I don’t think I would have learned how to do it otherwise. It’s also helped me find my blogging voice, which I hope I can use more of in my school posts.

✨My Favourite Posts✨

 Free Choice Challnge – Trumpets

Sharing Musical Tastes

Emoji Art

Another reason I liked this challenge was because of the chance I was given to meet so many amazing people. I have had conversations with other people from Canada, people from the United States, and even over seas. I also got to see some incredible blogs that inspired me to add to my own. SBC has also showed me some cool ways to spice up my blog with things such as my visitor tracker, and HTML animated text. I hope I’m given the chance to do this challenge again next year, and can’t wait to read some of the other reflection posts.

✨Highlights✨

 

My Emoji Art 

My Two Kinds of People Graphic 

Playing “Five Star Funk” 

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€0D!NG – The Launguage of the Internet


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It’s true, anyone can code in the modern age. What used to take months, or sometimes years to complete can now be done with a simple search of the Internet. Don’t believe me? When I first heard about this week’s challenge, I was afraid I wouldn’t know where to begin as I haven’t used much HTML before. However, with a few simple tutorials and help from code generating websites, I was able to program the HTML animation seen above. It only took a few minutes, and taught me that coding was a lot easier then it’s made out to be. No longer is it a format that only the highly mathematically trained can use; it’s now more of a language that people of any age, location, or education level can speak alike. Here are some cool things you can do with HTML :

Make COLOURFUL text

Make words BOLD, ITALICIZED, UNDERLINED, or ALL THREE

Use  🙂 to express your 😆

Want to make some of these easy codes yourself? Click the computer below (I would love to see some comments using one of these codes): 

Or check out my favourite coding apps;

Swift Playgrounds

Hopscotch

🖥 An Hour of Code 🖥

Code isn’t only a function of a computer, but the information that makes up all of it’s digital components. It kind of works like your DNA, deciding certain traits and allowing you to properly function. There is so much you can do with code, and a fun place to start is exploring how you can use it in video games. You may not realize it, but every time you install a modification or resource pack to a game, you are editing the code. Even changing the settings on the game is activating pre-programmed coding functions.

Coding with Hour Of Code – Minecraft Challenge 

One of the tasks I tried this week that explored code in video games was the Hour of Code Minecraft Challenge. You are given the task of searching underwater ruins for a buried treasure using coding functions to walk, turn, build, and more. The puzzles start out simple with only a small string on code needed to complete them and slowly become more challenging. Through this activity, I realized that coding isn’t innately challenging; it’s just a type of writing. What makes it hard is the time and patience it takes to complete a task, for even with pre-programmed help there is a lot of manual work. I found it fun however because there is never just one way to complete a puzzle. If you are interested in the basics of coding or looking for a fun challenge, I would highly recommend the Hour of Code challenges. Click here to access the website.

🗣 Coding Connections 👤

Computer programming is a great career for meeting new people as it is not limited to any specific group/location. With the internet giving us the means to talk to people half way across the world in seconds, people in careers that involve digital work find themselves connecting with all sorts of people around the globe. This also applies to students who use technology, an example of this being the opportunity the SBC challenge gave us to talk to a computer programmer from the United States named Alex. Alex is visually imapred, but didn’t let that hinder him in reaching his goals. He is now working with WordPress to help make websites more accessible for those with disability. This story inspired me, and I left a comment asking him about what a young coder can do if they want to pursue a career in computer programming.



What do you use code for? What are your favourite HTML functions? Let me know in the comments below.

Festive Fun – Holiday Traditions

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Most people on earth celebrate holidays around the winter season. Whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or something else, it’s a time when families can come together and enjoy gifts and prosperity. Today, I’m going to talk a little about my own familie’s winter and holiday traditions, along with an original craft that can spice up your holiday season.

For me, winter starts around December first or on the first snowfall; whatever comes first. This is when we turn on our Christmas lights and begin putting up decorations around our house. Some of these include a sleigh napkin holder, holly garlands, a Christmas village, and of course our Christmas tree. As for food, our family commonly has egg nog and hot chocolate around the house. My favourite though, is when we make gingerbread houses which we can eat a little of each day.

As Christmas approaches, we start to decorate our Christmas tree with a large collection of ornaments we have gathered over the years. This is probably one of my favourite parts of the holiday season for a couple of reasons. One is because if you look hard enough, they tell a story. Some of these ornaments have been in my family since I was very young, such as the ornament which my family got to celebrate the coming of year 2000, three years before I was born.

They represent happiness, important dates, and family. Others were made by me and my sister as we were growing up, and some are from family members who passed away, but who’s memory lives when I put  up their ornaments. One day when I’m older, I hope to pass some of my favourite ornaments down to my children so the story can continue on.

Snow always brings a smile to people’s faces, and my family has some traditions for this as well. The first days of mountain snow mark the time me and my family go skiing. If it snows at my house, my sister and neighbourhood friends go to the park to go sledding. The best part though, is sitting near the fire at night and watching snow fall.

On Christmas Eve, we open the last squares of our advent calendars and the whole family goes to bed early. This is because we usually head the next day to Winnipeg, Manitoba to see my grandparents and relatives. Christmas is filled with reunion, presents, food, and joy, and a large Christmas dinner. This is soon followed up by New Years, where we order in pizza and sushi and have a big party. These are some of the reasons that the holiday season is my favourite time of year.

If you celebrate Christmas, but don’t like waiting for it, here is a fun and festive game to pass the time!

🎄Toca Hair Salon – Christmas Edition🎄

Santa’s big night is coming up; can you help him look his best? Toca Hair Salon – Christmas Edition is a hilariously captivating game where you can cut, grow, colour, and decorate the hair of both Santa and an anthropomorphic Christmas Tree. Although there are only a handful of tools you can use, each ones can be explored in multiple different ways to create new and wacky looks. Personally, the hair growing feature is my favourite because it allows you to make the top, beard, and even eyebrow hair grow to insane lengths. My only suggestion is to add more characters and tools as this would open up even more possibilities to what you could do.

My Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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What holidays do you celebrate? Do you have any fun holiday games I should check out? Let me know in the comments below.