Navigatio – A New Way to Explore China

Over the past month, our group has been creating this magazine to introduce the variety of ethnic minorities scattered around China. After researching the cultures and histories of the Manchu, Mongol, Dai, and Tibet minorities, we compiled our information into an informative section in this magazine. Along with that, we also traveled to the magnificent ancient city of Pingyao, where we looked into the diverse religions, amazing architecture, culture, and even the history of banking in China. Creating this magazine, we expanded our knowledge of layout and design, especially while creating the compare/contrast infographics.

Polymer Project: Journal Entry #4

Throughout this project, our group has gone through the engineering design cycle. We had to define ideas, develop solutions, and optimize our prototypes. Initially, we were given a goal to meet with our polymer: Design a polymer to prevent things from breaking. Our group sat down and spent some time brainstorming ideas on what we could stop from breaking using a polymer that we could create. It would need to be something useful that most, if not all, people could use in their lives. In the end, we settled on a phone case, and began designing it.

Using the notes we had taken on the four previous polymers we had experience with, we singled out the properties that we wanted our polymer to have. We also used a chart detailing what each material (borax, guar gum, PVA, etc.) would do to our polymer. Each member of the group worked on their own individual prototypes, based on what combinations we thought would work well to create a final product close to what we had in mind. For my first few prototypes, I mainly worked with borax solution, PVA solution, and liquid starch. These prototypes ended up being too slimy and fragile for my liking. For my next few prototypes, I tried something slightly different. By altering the amount of each material I used, I managed to get closer to the product I was looking for. I used less borax solution and a lot more PVA and liquid starch to change the consistency and properties. I also decided to add guar gum.

The process of adding guar gum was definitely a good example of learning through failures. With my first prototype, I tried adding guar gum to turn the slimy consistency into something rubberier. First, I tried pouring guar gum dissolved in hot water into the mixture. However, while dissolving it, we didn’t do something correctly and the guar gum ended up being extremely chunky, so trying to add it to the polymer became a challenge as it didn’t dissolve evenly. With the next prototype that used guar gum, I learned from my mistakes and tried something different. This time, I tried splitting the 1.7g of solid guar gum into smaller parts and sprinkling it into the polymer while kneading it in.

We tested our solutions based on a number of things, like how bouncy it was and how long it would take to flatten when placed on the table. We also continued some tests based on the polymer after it hardened, which is when it would actually be used. After going through the data, we ended up choosing Julie’s final prototype as our final product, as it met most of the criteria we were looking for.

On the day of the presentations, I learned a number of things. I learned that your final product for anything you make will almost always never match what you originally had in mind, especially after seeing other groups’ polymers and hearing their ideas. I also learned that with better time management and a more systematic process for making the polymers, there would be a big chance that we could’ve improved our polymer even further.

Suspenseful Sides of a Story



In Lying With Strangers by James Grippando, the author manages to use two perspectives to tell his story, leading to more suspense and thrill in his mystery novel. I tried showing this through an animated GIF, using black and white to contrast the two characters, Peyton and Rudy, and show their points of view in the story through different quotes. The author reveals more information about the story through these two different perspectives, leading to uncertainty about what may happen about the mystery, thus creating suspense. For this post, I used GIMP to create frames for a simple GIF.

Polymer Project: Journal Entry #3

Prototype 1 (Left) and Prototype 2 (Right) before drying

Prototype 1 (Left) and Prototype 2 (Right) before drying

Prototype 1 (left) and Prototype 2 (right) after drying

Prototype 1 (left) and Prototype 2 (right) after drying

Throughout the course of three classes, I made four different prototypes; however, only one of these came close to what our group wanted from our polymer. Even then, we used Julie’s final prototype instead. Actually managing to get our desired product was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be, and it required tons of experimentation and trial and error.

My first prototype was far from what I expected it to be. I poured 9ml of borax solution into a small beaker. Then, I measure 3ml of PVA solution and added it to 3ml of liquid starch in a larger beaker. After adding red food coloring and mixing it, I added 9ml of borax solution. There was a lot of leftover borax, so I just took what I had of the actual polymer. It was very sticky, however, it wasn’t as elastic as I wanted it to be, and it felt too slimy and fragile for my liking. This first prototype could stick to things very well, which is part of what we wanted, but it would lose form too quickly and it could break too easily, which were both what we didn’t want in our polymer.

The second prototype was the exact same as the first, except I tried adding guar gum to increase its elastic properties. We mixed 2.5g of hot water with 2.5g of guar gum, but it didn’t dissolve correctly and ended up forming many little clumps. I used 3g of the mixture, which didn’t help much with improving the elasticity of the polymer. After drying, both the first and second prototypes were stuck to the paper plate, but they were extremely brittle and could be broken without applying much force.

My third prototype was definitely closest to what we were looking for. I used 15ml of PVA solution and mixed it with 15ml of liquid starch. After mixing it together to make a slime, we added 5ml of borax solution. The polymer was very sticky, but it was more pliable than the other 2 prototypes. However, it still lost form too quickly. I decided to add guar gum to add rubbery properties, but instead of dissolving it, I sprinkled 1.7g of guar gum into the polymer and kneaded it in. In the end, it was much firmer and rubbery, adding extra strength, which was definitely a plus. but it wasn’t as easy pliable as before. It also wouldn’t stick to anything, not even itself, so it would be difficult to apply to a phone. After drying overnight, it also stuck to the plate, but it was much harder and less easy to break than the other two prototypes.

I decided to completely change up the procedure for the fourth prototype. Instead of PVA solution, I ended up using 16.09g of glue, and I used 5ml of liquid starch. I decided not to use any borax. This prototype was very sticky, was a bit too stretchy and didn’t hold its form as well, so I decided to add another 2ml of liquid starch. After mixing it and leaving it to sit for a minute, the polymer became very slippery and wouldn’t stick to anything. It was also still extremely stretchy and wouldn’t mold to anything. I didn’t have enough time to fix it, so we ended up using Julie’s final prototype.

Her final prototype was made by first adding 10ml of PVA solution to 5ml of liquid starch, followed by 1.7g of solid cornstarch. After mixing it together, the polymer was very sticky and stretchy, a bit too much for what we wanted. After adding guar gum, the polymer became much more elastic while staying just as sticky as before. After drying, it was extremely hard to break, and it wouldn’t bounce. It was very close to what we wanted our final product to be.

Polymer Project: Journal Entry #2



In the past two classes, we’ve been testing out the properties and characteristics for 4 different synthetic polymers: Oobleck, Gloop, Boogers, and Super Slime. We tested it on things such as what happens when you poke it, how long it takes to flatten on a surface, how long it takes to hang, and how high it bounces.

Oobleck Super Slime Boogers Gloop
Description Doughy, crumbles and molds easily, sticky Very sticky, smooth, slimy, rubbery Extremely sticky, looks and feels shiny and smooth Rubbery, not sticky, breaks easily
Slow poke Harder to poke on outside Molds around finger, doesn’t break Sticks to finger, molds to finger, wet Very hard, molds to finger
Quick Poke Gets harder to poke in the center Breaks, molds around finger Doesn’t stick, molds to finger Doesn’t budge, nothing happens
Slow pull Liquefies Stretches 6 inches long Stretches very far, very stringy Takes a while to break
Quick pull Rips in half, no crumbles Breaks in half Breaks in half instantly
Blob test 5s. 1:58.03 0:56.65 Too long to be timed in class
Hang test (from 30 cm) 8s 0:18 0:11.88 Too long to be timed in class
Bounce test (from 30 cm) Doesn’t bounce Bounces (not very high), stays intact Bounces (not very high) Very bouncy

I think many characteristics of the Gloop would work well with our prototype, where it is rubbery, hard, and doesn’t get affected or damaged under stress. We just think being able to add the sticky characteristic of Boogers and the lack of bounce from the other polymers would make it even better. We’ll try combining the materials from Gloop that make it rubbery and less stringy with the materials from boogers that make it stringier and stickier and we’ll try to find a balance in between. To test the prototypes, we plan to add the polymers onto a weight like how we would on a phone, and add a “screen” on the front of it and test what happens to the screen after dropping it from different heights.

The Mood of a Story: From Mellow to Melancholic


Think back to all the books you’ve read in the past. They’re all different in one way or another, right? But what is it about them that makes each one unique? Sure, it could be the storyline, the characters, anything like that; however, there is one aspect of a great story that many people forget about: the mood. The mood of a story is the overall feeling that it evokes in the reader, and there are many different words you can describe the mood of a novel with. Often setting the mood of a story, the setting of a book plays a big role. To create different distinct atmospheres in his novel, Lying with Strangers, James Grippando places individual parts of the story in diverse settings.

Almost as soon as the book begins, the reader is met with quite a tense mood. Getting into a freak car accident, Peyton becomes trapped inside her car in a pond, until a “pounding noise startled her… out of the corner of her eye, she could see someone behind her. He was standing waist deep in the frigid water, pulling hard at the twisted car door” (Grippando 26). To influence the atmosphere of the scene, the author describes the setting and situation using specific words and phrases. The mention of a sudden pounding noise and the phrase “she could see someone behind her” places the reader in a more anxious and intense setting. Arousing these feelings in the reader leads to the tense mood of the scene. This isn’t the only mood present in the story, though. A new character is introduced farther in the book with a scene of him waking up: “Half-opened Venetian blinds cut the moonlight into slats on the opposite wall… another slat of light streamed from beneath the closed closet door… The tile floor was cold beneath his bare feet” (52). The description of a dark room with just a few rays of light coming in give the reader a sense of loneliness and desolation. The floor tiles being described as “cold” further adds to the atmosphere, resulting in a gloomy and borderline melancholic mood. These two feelings are, among others, the two most obvious moods that occur in the entire book.

Most people don’t ever pay too much attention to the setting; it’s just where the story takes place. So what? Little did they know, just a simple description of where a story takes place could change their emotions when reading. Next time you read a book or any kind of story, just pay a little more attention to the setting and appreciate its importance.

Polymer Project: Journal Entry #1


The goal of our polymer is to prevent phones from being cracked, dented, or damaged any other way when dropped. Our target market audience is anybody who owns a phone and wants extra protection, though it may be of more use to teenagers or children as they usually aren’t as careful with their devices as adults. There are many characteristics of the polymer we want to create. For one, it should be lightweight but still durable at the same time. It should also be relatively small in size. It shouldn’t be able to bounce very high, and it has to be able to mold into a shape and hold it when left alone. The polymer should also be able to dry in a few hours. It should be able to absorb large amounts of shock but not get damaged in any way, making it reusable. It shouldn’t lose strength or other properties when it comes in contact with water or any other liquid, either.

Yes, Even Juggling Has to Do With Math

No matter where you go in the world, there’s always math around you. It could be something unbelievably complicated, or it could be something as simple as a polygon. With this project, I focused on the quadratics side of things. A quadratic equation is an equation with a degree of two. If you graph one of these equations, you’ll find that they all make a variation of a certain shape. This shape is called a parabola. You can find parabolas everywhere in the world. When someone throws a ball, the flight path of the ball is a parabola. It moves up, reaches a highest point, and starts falling back down again. Another example would be someone diving off a board into a pool. After they jump, they begin moving up, they reach a point, and they start falling towards the water. Of course, a parabola doesn’t need to have a highest point. An example of a real-world parabola with a lowest point could be something like a child swinging on a swing. The swing falls from a certain point, reaches a lowest point, and begins moving back up again. These parabolas can all be graphed and turned into equations; however, we need to cut off these graphs at certain points to make sure they actually make sense. These are called restricted graphs. If we were to graph one of these real-world parabolas, we would need to cut it off at some points if we didn’t want the parabola extending forever. We use domains and ranges to restrict these graphs. Domains are the values the x-coordinates of a parabola is allowed to be, and ranges are the values the y-coordinate is allowed to be. By giving the minimum and maximum values of the x or y-values, we can cut off the parabola, since the x or y-coordinate can’t exceed or go below a certain value. A domain could be something like time, since a parabola only takes a certain amount of time to complete, and time can’t go negative. Range could be height, since the parabola never goes above a certain height or below the surface. Pay attention to the world around you. Can you spot any parabolas?

Seen Through the Eyes of a Rebel

My name is Ebenezer Arnold, and I’m 21 years old. Eight years ago, my parents moved to Massachusetts, one one of the colonies in America, with my two elder brothers, Asa and Levi. We used to live in Great Britain. Searching for a better life, Mother and Father were eager to move here; however, Asa and Levi were a different story. They were extremely reluctant, but Mother managed to convince them to come. Once we arrived, Mother and Father quickly became used to the new lifestyle. Asa and Levi gradually began to complain less, but it was obvious they would rather be living in England. I’ve never really had an opinion. I’m fine with anything, to be honest, but I don’t know if that will change.

After two decades of war, I sometimes just sit down and take some time to think about what has changed and what has stayed constant. We’ve formed a new system of government, one where the citizens have the freedom to vote for their own leader. George Washington is a rightful first president. We now have religious freedom; I’m glad people are able to choose what they believe in, it was what Mother and Father sought out for in the first place. We’ve also developed social classes: the rich, the people in the middle, and the poor. Biggest of all, we proved such an underdog nation could fight against a superpower like the British and win. We’ve established peace and gained land in the process. The colonies are now states, and despite all these changes, the Continental Congress still meets to make decisions. Of course, not everything can change. The women of our country still don’t have as many rights, and the blacks still work as our slaves. Not everyone has a voice, but I understand that. I wonder how this country will collapse if everyone did.

Made with PowerPoint, posted with SlideSnack.