Conceptual War

The end of grade 11. We have just finished another year of high school. I can’t really believe it’s over and that summer is here already.

To finish off our year, we were tasked with yet another end of the year exhibition. And this one was like no other one we’ve done before.

Let me tell you all about it.

To start off this unit we took a trip to an art museum. The Vancouver Art Gallery, to be more specific. This was just an afternoon excursion, we were only there for no more than 2 hours. But those two hours were actually very helpful for me. We saw things like this, hanging from the ceiling:

We were expected to accept that it’s art, even though they suspiciously look like giant blue testicles. Art like this was all over the museum we were visiting, and I really saw how the visual element of the art did not have to be related to the idea that was behind it at all. This is the greatest impact left on me after going to the museum. And it really got me thinking.

The next part of the final project was to learn as much as we could about the Vietnam war. And to do this, our teachers prepared us with really deep, content-packed packages documenting different aspects of the war. The information was split up into themes, and was filled with questions, thinking prompts, and video. We would work through it for a full two weeks while our teachers were away, and when they got back, they tested our knowledge with a test. Half multiple choice, half open ended written questions. I definitely feel I could’ve tried to retain a bit more information, which then I could’ve used to deepen my understanding on my questions responses. But I was already thinking about my art piece.

We had to start with a thesis. I knew I wanted to focus on a certain ideal that I discovered while researching. It’s called “American Exceptionalism.” When I read about it, I was a little baffled because I didn’t know this was an actual thing. I knew Americans thought they were great but I mean, I didn’t know it was a full on accepted ideology. Now I just had to relate this to conceptual art.

After looking at more examples of conceptual art like the ones above, I started getting ideas. At first, they were pretty bad. Boring and way too literal. I knew I really didn’t want my piece to be really literal, where people could figure it out on their own. I wanted them to be confused, and then blow their minds when I explained it. My ideas were getting better and better, but before I knew it, the exhibition was 3 days away. I planned on making a tape man, a life size soldier filled with fake American dollars and little green army men, symbolizing how the idea of American Exceptionalism was filled with billions of Americans dollars and thousands of Americans lives. But, then I walked into school on Monday and saw that Robert Gary Wharton had beaten me to the tape man idea.

So I just needed to represent American Exceptionalism another way. And then I struck gold. This is what I found:

And that’s what brought me to my final product, which is below:

The Explanation

Now I’m sure you’re probably wondering what the heck that wooden bow-tie looking thing has to do with the word hubris, and the Vietnam war of course. Well, let me enlighten you. The brown object on the pedestal are wings, and as a whole they represent American Exceptionalism (AE), the idea that America was the greatest country ever, with a duty to protect freedom anywhere on the globe. They are wings because of the second definition of hubris, relating to Greek mythology. They are the wings of Icarus, who was too confident in his wax wings and flew too close to the sun, just before plummeting to his death. The burn marks on the wings represent how the idea of AE was taking damage during the Vietnam war, since the guerrilla fighters were winning. The American money was patching those holes representing how the American government poured billions of dollars into the war just to keep the idea of AE “flying,” even when they knew they couldn’t win. The newspaper wrapped on the stand signify how the American government was twisting the truth on the war progress, telling the public that the war was going in their favour through media, when in reality, their idea of AE had flown too close to the sun. And lastly, the backpack straps and handles represent how this idea could be picked up and worn by anyone, and could result in dangerous consequences if not worn carefully.

Phew, that was a lot to take in.

This project started out not too exciting for me, but as it went on, I realized how much learning I had done. I learned way more about the Vietnam war than I had thought, through our research package and just my own curiosity. I also learned a lot about conceptual art, something I knew incredibly little about, but it opened my eyes to the minimal limits of art. It also taught me how to connect detailed and specific ideas I had based on creativity, understanding, and research. I’m really glad we did this unit and I was really proud of my final product.


Thats all,


see you


A Carousel Of Communism

Welcome back everyone, today is my first post of 2019, a brand new year for a brand new post.

But what I’ll be telling you happened on December 20th, 2018. It was our PLP Winter Exhibiton. And was it ever something.

It started way back when we began this unit watching one episode of an old TV show you may know of, called “Leave it to Beaver”. It was an American sitcom show, and it idealized the perfect suburban family of the 1950s in America. After watching this video we realized in a small sense how life as an American after WW2 really was.

We had also read through the entire play called “The Crucible” as you may know from my last posts, and this will tie into our main project as well. This would be another form of historical perspective we would use in our end product.

Project Brief

Our class would be working as one big team to create an interactive and immersive experience for an audience. The audience would be anyone who came to our Exhibiton, and the location was our schools gym. We would design and write a script that had an acting role for everyone in the class, and it would tell a story about life in America during the 1950’s. There would be about 6 different stations/scenes that would continue the story from the last scene until there is full 40 minute experience. We would plan and execute the entire project on our own as a class, without help from our teachers.

So, we got right to it.

First we started brainstorming as a class, with our teachers there to point us in the right direction, and we wrote down multiple ideas we had for the actual story of the Exhibiton. After that class, we would come back and put our ideas into action. Unfortunately, I was away for the two classes where our class chose an idea, planned out the 6 scenes, listed all the acting roles, and drew out a basic floor plan for the gym. When I came back, I was extremely surprised to see how much they had done, and I realized just how motivated our class. I thought that I needed to get up to speed real quick.

The next stage was to write out a script and get it approved by our teachers so we could move ahead with memorizing our lines, and building our props and sets. So, we split the class into the 6 scenes and wrote out a script for each scene. Once we were all done, we compiled them all together, and our main script writers looked it over. We then presented it to our teachers, who overall really liked it but made a few changes for us. We then moved ahead.

The next thing we did was decide who got which part for the “Carousel Of Communism”, which we did by asking if anyone wanted specific parts. Another big part of the story is that we would have 4 “guides” who would take groups of 15 audience members from station to station, and also play a character throughout the story. These people would need to be able to think on their feet, and be prepared to have lots of lines. And I did something I didn’t feel super comfortable doing, I signed up for a guide. I did it because I knew it would be a challenge and I knew I would be proud if I did do it well. So that was my role, and the other three guides were Adam, Claire and Sofia. And rather uneventfully, everyone else got assigned a role and we moved onto building all our props and designing detailed floor plans.

We worked hard for the remainder of our time, about a week and a half, to design and build each and every set and prop. I was really proud of our class as everyone communicated really well and was always on task. Overall it was a lot of fun to work with people who were motivated and good at what they were doing. I really enjoyed this stage of the project, as it was fun, and I realized the full potential of  our class.

Then, the time came. It was the day of the Exhibiton, and every grade of PLP was working furiously to get the final details ready for the Exhibiton. Then it was time for us to bring all our stuff into the gym, and so we did. There was one thing we couldn’t build, and it was something everyone was relying on. It was the gigantic mechanical wall that comes across the gym in the center, and we were planning on using it for separating our scenes. But, of course, it would not move no matter how many times we tried. So we had to improvise, and we hung some super heavy choir curtains from some rope Alex brought, and it looked… great.

Other than that setback, the entire gym looked amazing. Everyone was in their costumes, the sets looked exactly how we wanted them to look, and everyone had some nervous excitement.

During the exhibition, we worked as a team to read cues from each other when we needed to improvise, and act off our script in our character to strengthen our story, and I thought we did this really well. It made me happy to see improvisation by any of my classmates because it showed that we were comfortable in our roles, and having fun as well. As a guide I was doing a lot of this, and more specifically, one time I totally forgot what I was supposed to say in our Hollywood scene, and since I was supposed to be acting in a movie, I stalled, and told the cameraman, Parker, that we should cut here because I forgot my line. To the audience, it looked like it was part of the script, but in reality I legitimately forgot my line and had to think on the spot.

Overall, this was my favourite project in my entire PLP career. From working together as an entire class, to learning the actual material, I found it both interesting, entertaining, and extremely rewarding. After the whole night was over and I had slept for 12 hours straight, I felt really proud of the work we had done, and feel I learned a lot about the 1950’s and the ties it has to today. This is because we also tied the Crucible to the 1950’s, and to today with Donald Trump. We related the “witch hunt” aspect from an actual witch hunt in the Crucible, to the McCarthy trials, and to Donald Trump crying witch hunt all the time about political issues today. All this was shown in our 20 minute interactive experience. Here it is below for you to watch:

I think I speak for my whole class when I say I’m really proud of what we accomplished and I went home satisfied with what we did as a PLP team.

Thats all for now.


See you

The Last Time We Will See A Blue Sky

Well then.

You’re back.

So let’s get right into another blog post.

I’m pretty sure everyone in the greater Vancouver area has heard of a place called Deep Cove. I’m lucky enough to live near there, and go to school directly in the Cove. It’s a small village like area nestled in a small bay in the Indian Arm. It has multiple tourist attractions like Quarry Rock, Deep Cove Kayak Shop, and many really cool shops and restaurants. The tourism can get pretty crazy in the summer as it’s a small area with a lot of people. But what does this have to do with anything?

In my high school Seycove Secondary, located in Deep Cove, the PLP cohorts of the school all join forces at the end of each year to make a large scale exhibition showing off our projects. We call it Blue Sky, and it takes off an idea from Apple that let’s its employees spend a little time a week on a project of their own idea. I have done two other Blue Sky exhibitions, and they are quite interesting. But I’ll tell you about the one we just had, on June 14, 2018.

Something all the PLP students know about is something called the Launch Cycle. It is an process created by John Spencer that makes it easier for people to use design thinking and come up with project ideas and products. We have used it every year in our Blue Sky projects.

But before I explain how the launch cycle integrates with my project, I need to tell you about a major aspect of the exhibition this year. It’s something called the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Essentially, they are 17 different goals with varying aspects that are aiming for creating a fully sustainable Earth for all. Each goal zeros in on a different problem in our world and is trying to help people become engaged in solving those goals in big or small ways. For our Blue Sky, we divided up our projects by the different goal categories.

First, we chose which goal we wanted to work under. I was in a group with Kyle, Reid, Alex and Calum and we would be working on Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure. The main statement for this goal was:

“Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”

So our projects had to help solve this problem in some way. So our team got to work thinking of ideas. We could choose if we wanted to be individual, in twos or all together, but it would depend on the project. We got to work and thought of a few ideas, but Ms. Willemse was helping us think reasonably and guiding us down the right path because those ideas either were out of reach in two weeks, or not under our category. The project we settled on was an Audio Tour Of Deep Cove.

This was considered under infrastructure as it dealt with the major tourism problems in deep cover at the moment. And so, our LAUNCH Cycle began.

L – Look, Listen and Learn

This phase focused on having an awareness. In our case, it was an awareness of a problem. Like I said at the beginning, the tourism in deep cove was getting very busy. We were aware of this because in deep cove, there is the idea to restrict the number of people on Quarry Rock that might be put into place. Another extremely evident example is that it’s almost always impossible to find parking in the Cove, showing the extreme cause of tourism. We became aware of that problem and were looking to solve it.

A – Ask Tons Of Questions

In the second phase, we decided to ask people we knew that either lived in Deep Cove, or worked there some questions about their opinion on the problem we identified. We talked to two staff members at the Deep Cove Kayak shop, and they told us they were constantly being asked where Quarry Rock is and how to get there. They also told us that the kayak shop is often overloaded on hot summer days because of all the people coming to rent kayaks. Kyle and Reid, two of our group members who also live in the Cove said that they have less privacy due to all the people parking on their streets. Reid even said people tried to camp on his front lawn. This example is something we wanted to help solve in our project.

U – Understand The Process or Problem

Now that we have heard from people who have had real life experiences with the problem we identified, we need to understand what they are saying. We needed to find out more information on what is going on in Deep Cove. We then conducted more research online about the major points of interest in the Cove, and what people thought of them. We also just looked at reviews people have left about deep cove. Click the image below to read an article we found about Deep Cove.

N – Navigate Ideas

In this phase we were to combine, edit and exchange ideas about our solution. Since we knew we were aiming to create an Audio Tour, we needed to decide how to actually create and format it as a product. We all put our heads together and decided we wanted to create three different routes, with three different Tour playlists. We would have each tour go to 5-6 points of interest along each route and explain a little facts, history and what you can do there while keeping it short and informative. First we chose our routes and selected our points of interest we would highlight in our playlists.

This was our main idea, and we would experiment with formatting when we moved onto the next phase.

C – Create a Prototype

As our first prototype, we decided to just create one of our three playlists, and then get feedback and revise so we could apply that new knowledge to all three tours. We selected the Main Street route to do our first prototype on. After researching about each location, writing our script, and then me recording my voiceover for the tour, we were ready to put it into a playlist. We put it into SoundCloud as we were all familiar and it was free. We then took photos of each location and added the photo to the corresponding audio clip. This was our first prototype.

H – Highlight and Fix

In this phase we looked over what we have created and figure out what is working and what is not. We made some revisions in the quality of the audio, and some minor changes with the scripts of the tour. We also changed a bit of the formatting and created a whole new SoundCloud account just for the audio tours. Overall though, we were happy with our first prototype and moved onto completing the other two. And that’s just what we did. And then, we were ready.

Final Product

Here you can see our three finished audio tour playlists. We have one of Panorama Park and Quarry Rock, one of Main Street (Gallant Ave), and one of Deep Cove’s waterfront. This is what we were going to present at the Exhibiton. We would have our iPads with the playlists ready, connected to a speaker that we could play for people who were interested. We also took 360 photos of some point of interests, and had them showcased at our table via Calum’s iPad.


We can also call this stage the Blue Sky Exhibition.  Since the grade 8s and 9s were also under the same Sustainable Goals as us, we teamed up with the other students that had projects fitting the Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure Idea.

Us all working to brainstorm ideas

To enhance the experience of the exhibition, our now massive group worked together to theme one area of the school to make it look like an Industrial Area. We worked for a few hours after school thinking and creating props and decorations that would add to our area’s aesthetic. I really think our group did well considering it was difficult to theme an area that would scream “Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure”… We also had a sort of awkward corner of the hallway to set up in.

Another aspect of the exhibition was to bring food, and we brought skittles, and crazy flavoured chips. The different coloured skittles and flavours of chips represent new ideas and innovation. We also had to include an interactive game, which was where you pull a piece of paper out of a hat and you needed to use the supplies in front of you to make it. You had one minute to make something like a bird out of pipe cleaners, tooth picks, elastics and foam balls for example. It was to represent building and design.

After the Exhibiton

Overall I feel that the exhibition went really smoothly. It was never really busy or not busy enough. We were still constantly talking to people, and a lot of them told us that we had a really awesome idea that could be easily implemented. We told them of our plans to post some QR codes in Deep Cove that people could scan and it would take them to our playlists. I think that our project could definetly help disperse the amount of tourists in Deep Cove to the major points of interest and other places to reduce the busyness. I enjoyed this project a lot, as it was something I dealt with 5 days a week and impacts my life. Everyone in my group contributed equally and we all worked well together. I think that this project felt a little to easy though. I think that is some way we could have pushed ourselves a little more. I don’t know what that would be, but we definitely could have been more creative in our problem solving and maybe add to our solution even more. If I was to do this project again I would start off the project with more interviews and researching to really get a feel for our problem, and THEN building a solution. In conclusion, it was a great exhibition and I’m proud of the high quality work we produced as a group and it shows all the many skills we’ve learned in PLP in one project. We learned storytelling, keeping the audience engaged, podcasting, and researching all in PLP before and we’ve used that in our project firsthand. I have learned a lot and out a lot of good skills I had to the test, and am happy with our product once again.


Thats all,

See you

Tell Me A Story

Back before the Christmas break, our PLP 10 class was extremely busy. We had our Vancouver Sins of the City project to work on, and then we were given another massive project. We knew that the project was coming, but we didn’t know what was coming.

If you are familiar with the PLP program, you’d know that every December there is an exhibition where all the PLP grades showcase a big piece of work, and it usually has a theme. For example, this year, the grade 8’s and 9’s had Star Wars as their theme, just like my grade did in Grade 8. But this year, us and the grade 12’s were trying something different.

Since we have been working on podcasts this year, and working on our interview skills, our teachers thought that they should combine the two. We began this unit thinking about how to be a great interviewer, and how to get great answers. We turned to an organization called StoryCorps. They know all about interviewing, as that is what their buisness is all about. They made this video with basic interview tips:

But one of the main topics we were focusing on, and I mean really focusing on, was storytelling. And our theme for this project:

“Everyone has a story.”

Since back in grade 8 we have been  breaking down stories, from the hero’s journey, to our frankenstuffies, to our Disneyworld videos, and now to podcasts. We were learning about what made a good story, and how to apply it to our writing, videos, and now audio.

So, before the exhibition, we worked on creating two different podcasts. These podcasts would be in an interview format, where we interview different people. For the first one, me and Michael (from grade 10) teamed up and interviewed our grade 12 partner, Cashel, and interviewed him about his experiences in Seycove. Here is the podcast I made:

Before sitting down and recording this podcast, me and Michael brainstormed about 12 questions to ask Cashel.  We wanted to ask questions that wouldn’t get a yes or no answer, since we wanted him to share stories. To do this, you want to ask questions that begin with “What…” This would then force them to explain more of an answer. Once we got the go-ahead from our teachers on our questions, Michael and I interviewed Cashel. I thought that the interview went well, we got good answers from Cashel and it didnt take long. I think that this is because he already knew exactly what we were doing, and what he should say.

The next podcast we had to make was with a family member. We needed to interview someone that we consider family, so it could be an aunt, grandparent, younger or older sibling, someone who had been a part of your life for a long time. But, since most of my family lives in Edmonton I decided to interview my two parents. I asked them both the same questions, but separately, and I got some interesting answers. You can definitely tell my mom is more detailed than my dad…

In this podcast, my parents had less of an idea of what I was doing, and what they should say. My mom was a lot more detailed, and she responded to my questions with stories from her childhood. She had a more serious tone, while my dad had a more laid back and humourous attitude. I found it quite interesting tp see how my parents responded differently to the same questions. Maybe that just me because they’re my parents and I know them really well.

And then we had only one more thing to do. After creating two 4-7 minute podcasts in a week and a half, I was ready to be done with podcasts. But, as it usually is in PLP, you always have a bit more than you think.

The final task: Record an interview with a random person during the PLP winter exhibition.

At first, all of us were confused how this would work. But then once it was explained more thoroughly, we all kind of understood. Here’s the run down:

While the grade 8’s and 9’s were presenting their projects in the library and PLP room, us grade 10’s would have the 7-8 classrooms down the hall. In our assigned classroom groups, about 5 people per room, we needed to bring in items from our house that would make our classroom look more like a comfortable seating area, for two or three people. I would be in the textiles room with Michael, Cashel, Lucas, and his grade 12 partner. Our classroom is where we would conduct our interviews, one a time. Here was our final set up:

So, to get our interviews, the grade 12’s would be wandering around throughout the rest of the exhibition, where the grade 8’s and 9’s would be presenting their projects, and they would find and bring us people to interview. The goal was to have three interviews recorded for each grade 10 student, and we could choose the best one for the final project – our podcast.

Once we sat down with the interviewee, we would ask them our meticulously planned out questions, while the whole conversation is recording in an app called Ferrite, which I really like for podcasting. The app lest you record and edit in one place, which makes it really easy.


That’s a lot of work to be done. But, we managed to pull it off, and I think it went rather smoothly.

I enjoyed myself during the entire event, as it was fun to see everyone’s rooms, and exciting to talk with new people. I felt that we had just enough time to set up after school, all of our room decorations looked really good, and we all had fun. Setting up wasn’t too hard, we figured out how to use our rooms to the best of their abilities quickly, and clean up was even shorter. The only complaint I have is that there was a lot of talking in the halls outside of the recording rooms, and you could hear it on our recordings. If I could do this again, I’d focus more on the wording and order of my interview questions, since sometimes I wasn’t getting the answers I wanted.

But since we had about 3 interviews recorded, the next step was to choose the one that I think has the best potential to make a good podcast, and make a good podcast out of it.

I had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Jack van Laethem, who lives here in North Vancouver and is a dentist. This podcast was also edited in Ferrite, and it did not take me long at all to create. Here is my final project, where you can hear more about him:

A big part of any grade of PLP is critique and revision. So, as I finished, I sent it to my grade 12 partner Cashel, and he gave me this critique:

So far in our year, that was the most amount of work we’d done in only a few weeks, and I’m very happy its all over. But I’m sure that we will bump that time down to second place when we get closer to our California trip.


That’s all for now,

See you

Blue Sky 2017

Hey there,

Welcome back to my blog, and in this post I’ll be talking about the biggest project of the year. Blue Sky. We do a mini-version in the winter before Christmas break, but really that’s just getting us ready for this one. This one we work on for about a full month, maybe a little more. This year is a bit different than last years Blue Sky, because this year our project has to solve a problem that appeals to a specific age group. The age groups were, babies, toddlers, Tweens, seniors, and pets. Between the grade 8s and 9s, there were about the same number of PLP students per age group. Anyways, as it does every Blue Sky, it took me about a week longer than everyone else to think up an idea to do my project on. Seriously though, I don’t know what it is, but I can never just have an idea off the top of my head! After thinking for a bit, the idea I came up with was this:

Age group: Tweens

Problem: Tweens can’t drive themselves to a mountain bike trail

Solution: A multi-use mountain bike skills trainer that Tweens can use in their own driveway

After this basic idea, I needed to think of how to actually build it. In all of my Blue Sky projects, I have always built something, which I prefer and love to do rather than presenting an idea. Back to the planning. I drew up a rough beginning of my first piece of my project:

This would be a two piece ramp, that splits in half by a hinge to make a skinny. By the way, I LOVE mountian biking so this project is going to be fun. The next step was to design the second half of my project, the bump sections.  I wanted something a beginning mountain biker can use to jump off of, and practice bumpier sections. So I designed this mini-staircase to go with my ramp, and how the whole project would fit together:

The next part was to build my first prototype. We were encouraged to have three different prototypes of our projects, but since I had limited materials available for free, I only had enough for one, and that’s all I needed. My first prototype looked like this:

After I built it, I needed to test it. So I got out my mountain bike and rode over it. Here is me testing it:

This didn’t go as I planned, the ramp was too steep of an angle, and the top board was too short, so it didn’t feel smooth at all. It didn’t work as a ramp, and felt very awkward to ride over. So, then I built my next draft of my ramp:

This one I liked a lot better. It felt more smooth and more jump-y. This was good. So I then built another one exactly the same, and attached two hinges to them at the front, so they would swing on a hinge. Here’s me demonstrating the hinge mechanism:

The next step was to build the staircase part. So I designed quickly, and found some wood around my yard that would be perfect. Then I started building:

It actually turned out great on the first try. I was happy with how it performed, after I tested it out of course:

Then I built the second one. This one I had some problems with… I accidentally sawed my base piece in half thinking it was unused wood so I could use it for the steps… then I quickly realized I didn’t have a base anymore and where the step pieces came from…

So then I had to support the base piece with some ugly-looking side pieces (I was running low on wood) in order to hold it straight. This worked, and once I put it together it held strong. But, since I sawed the base piece to fit to my step pieces, the base on this staircase was an inch shorter than the other, so they aren’t the same, sadly. But, then once it was ready I tested everything together:

It all worked perfectly! I spent some time, and had a lot of fun “testing” my pieces…

But then I got back to work and painted everything I made, black and grey.

I even found some plastic siding from our old closets that fit on the ramp and stair pieces to make them look even better. In the end they all looked like this:

Now it was time to get ready to present in the exhibition on June 15. The first thing I did was to take all the time lapses I took of my creative process and combine them into a 4 minute or so video explaining my process. I presented this video with my project at the exhibition. In fact, here it is:

I’m very happy with how this video looks. It’s very to the point I thought, and doesn’t bore the viewer, which is something we all learn how to do in PLP. But, as usual in PLP, that’s not all. I also made a poster board with my creative process (I know, the creative process is a big deal) on it to visually show my project off and attract more visitors on exhibition day. I wrote out four of the main steps to my project and briefly described what happened in each stage. Overall, when exhibition day rolled around, my table looked like this:

(Ignore the stuff on the right side of the table, it’s my friend Simon and his project, same with the A&W food…)

The main idea or use that I wanted my project to be used for was:

A really easy to use multi-use skill trainer, I wanted people to be able to use this product wherever they want in whatever shape they want. They could even use obstacles in their yard and add this project into it, like the ramp at the bottom of a step, or the ramp going up the steps, but I wanted it to be anything they want.

I’m quite pleased with how my project turned out, and I thought it suited me and my abilities. I enjoyed the construction of my product, as I said earlier I love to build, and also the presentation of the whole thing. I found it relieving and satisfying to show it off. Overall, it was super fun and I am happy with the whole thing.