STAEB – Polymer Project Journal #4

staeb logo with motto

As me and my partner decided a plan to film our infomercial, we slowly went to the prototypes basket to search for our product. Then, a horrible truth was discovered. Our polymer melted. After all this long way we came, it melted under the intense heat that the sunlight has brought to it. Luckily, the final product was just a bigger version of one of our prototypes so we can still use the prototype to demonstrate how it feels to the Dream On team.

From choosing a specific design goal to adjusting amounts of each material we put into the polymer, I learnt a lot through this engineering process. We were given a really broad goal at the start, very simple goal, to make a sound insulator. Deciding the purpose for our sound insulator was our first step to the process of engineering. Fail to plan, plan to fail. Planning was what we did next as we study the different properties that a material can give. Learning from failure was a huge part that we learnt from this project as we failed the first two prototypes. As we studied the reasons we failed and developed a solution to solve our problem. Our plan wasn’t as good so we failed as we didn’t think too much about how our plan may fail from the start. We changed our idea from a super slime like polymer to a booger-like polymer and created a perfect sound insulating polymer that would stick on earbuds.

Having our polymer melted, we used a prototype that was basically the same to the final product during the Dream On presentation day. Since the prototype was barely the size of a small eraser, everybody thought it wouldn’t work as an actual sound insulator and people tried it and it still failed due to its size. Keeping the final product safe and ready for a presentation was an important lesson I learnt from this project.

The polymer project has taught me and my partner more than just chemistry and science, but teamwork and collaboration.


Billions and billions of humans and animals live on earth. Most of our lives might seem boring and ordinary, nothing so interesting. Like Eddie in ‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven’ by Mitch Albom. Eddie is just an ordinary old man who works as a maintenance person at Ruby Pier and has served his country during WWII. What is the meaning of life? Was just fixing the rides at an amusement park all that Eddie was born for?

This book expressed the idea that heaven, is the place for truly understanding the meaning of your past life at earth. From reading the story of what might seem a really ordinary man, you realize that every life on earth is meaningful. Viewing Eddie’s life from different perspectives has helped us understand different parts of his life and how unknown lives are all connected to each other.

Many events happened throughout the 83 birthdays that Eddie had. After each chapter, there’s a section about his birthday which showed us the growth of his life after understanding him from the perspective of the people he meets in heaven.

Many of the five people Edward meets in heaven are strangers that he has never known of, but they affected his life and so did he affect their life. The first person Eddie meets is The Blue Man. A Polish immigrant who died because of a heart attack caused by Eddie almost running into his car. The part of the story that The Blue Man shows him made him understand his life as a child. ‘”Strangers,” the Blue Man said, “are just family you have yet to come to know.”‘(Albom, 49) His lesson from The Blue Man was ‘”That there are no random acts. That we are all connected. That you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.”‘(Albom, 48)

War, has changed Eddie completely. The second person he meets is The Captain. ‘”War is no game. If there’s a shot to be made, you make it, you hear? No guilt. No hesitation. You fire and you fire and you don’t think about who you’re shootin’ or killin’ or why, y’hear me? You want to come home again, you just fire, you don’t think.” He squeezed even harder. “It’s the thinking that gets you killed.”‘(Albom, 60) Under all the harsh conditions of war, Eddie truly understood what happened to his Captain that had been leading him after he was sent home due to his injuries. The lesson Eddie learnt from The Captain was about sacrifice. The Captain sacrificed himself and he saved his soldiers after getting blown up in a minefield. While Eddie was angry over his own sacrifice. ‘”You didn’t get it. Sacrifice is a part of life. It’s supposed to be. It’s not something to regret. It’s something to aspire to. Little sacrifices. Big sacrifices. A mother works so her son can go to school. A daughter moves home to take care of her sick father. “A man goes to war….”‘(Albom, 93) Eddie learnt that sacrifices are necessary for others to keep on living.

‘ALL PARENTS DAMAGE their children.’ (Albom, 104) Edward’s father was cruel to him and his brother. Beatings and whips were a daily thing to them. His drunken father beated them in their childhood. But after years and years when Eddie finally stood up against him after he came back with injuries from the Philipines. ‘Through it all, despite it all, Eddie privately adored his old man, because sons will adore their fathers through even the worst behavior.'(Albom, 106) Just like his father, he became a maintanence man after his father’s death, a woman named Ruby explains to her the pain that the pier has brought to people of generations and generations. Ruby was the person that the Ruby Pier has been named after. Ruby shared Eddie her story about how the pier that he spent most of his life at was built. Through unknown stories about the pier and his father, Eddie finally understood what was behind his father and realised how his father truly was. The lesson from Ruby was forgiveness, he forgived his father and appreciated all the cruelty that his dad has done to him. He realised that without his father’s hard push on him, he never achieved anything. His father’s shouting drove him forward and made him pick himself up and get a job after he came home from the war.

‘”Life has to end,” she said. “Love doesn’t.”‘(Albom, 173) Being Eddie’s only love of his life, he meets his wife in heaven. His wife died at an early age of 47 because of a brain tumor in her head. Edward lived in a lonely life after that. She has always been the person which makes his life seem a bit more interesting by organising birthday parties and such. His other half of his life stayed with him for a long time as they talked. The lesson he learnt here from his wife is that the long time he spent alone, he was actually not alone. ‘”Lost love is still love, Eddie. It takes a different form, that’s all.”‘(Albom, 173)

In the Philipines, after being freed from working in an enemy coal mine, Eddie burnt down the enemy huts and he saw shadows in the middle of a fire. After he was sent home, he was troubled about the shadow the size of a child in the fire even til now. The last person he meets in heaven is a Philipino girl named Tala. ‘”You burn me. You make me fire.”‘ (Albom, 187) Never seen her but burnt her alive in fire, Eddie felt the guilt rushing up his head. A cute little asian girl was burnt alive by him, he realised all the evil he has done.'”I was sad because I didn’t do anything with my life. I was nothing. I accomplished nothing. I was lost. I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there.”‘(Albom, 191) From a conversation with Tala, Eddie realised that his life, his boring life fixing rides at Ruby Pier, his life with no accomplishment had a really great meaning. He had kept all those children safe for many and many years, he was a guardian for those children and teenagers over decades and decades working there.

‘…that each affects the other and the other affects the next, and the world is full of stories, but stories are all one.’ (Albom 196)

Sometimes you might gaze into the wall and think that your life is not successful enough, after reading this book, I realised that all lives are meaningful, no matter what your jobs are or the blankness of achievments during your life time. All lives are connected to another, and all things matter.

The 5 People

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The GIF animation I created above shows the five people Edward meets in heaven to help him understand the true meaning of his life. Since this book, ‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven’ by Mitch Albom, does not include a huge main conflict like an epic battle of centuries or the slaying of a dragon, there is, therefore, no real climax about the main conflict of the book. The main idea of heaven in this book is that heaven is a place where you meet 5 people which help you truly understand the meaning, of your past life on earth and the reason and causes of your actions and that life intersects with life so everybody is connected. ‘”Each of us was in your life for a reason. You may not have known the reason at the time, and that is what heaven is for. For understanding your life on earth.”‘(Albom, 35) Most people Eddie meets here are strangers that had crossed into his life.

The first person Eddie meets is The Blue Man. He is the representation of Eddie’s childhood. ‘”I was ashamed and agitated. I swallowed even more silver nitrate, until my skin went from gray to blue, a side effect of the poison.”‘ (Albom, 41)

The second person Eddie meets is his Captain that he met when he was sent off to the Philipines for war. He is the representation of Eddie’s adulthood.

The third person Eddie meets is Ruby, the wife of the founder of Ruby Pier. She represented and showed Eddie the true story behind his family.

The fourth person Eddie meets is his wife, Marguerite. She represented Eddie’s love life.

The last person Eddie meets is a child named Tala who was burnt alive to death by Eddie himself in the Philipines(but he didn’t know she was there) and she showed Eddie the general meaning of his life.

As I read the book, I believed that the 5 people are the 5 perspectives that the author has looked into his life from. So I included what the person helped Eddie learn in the GIF animation. I followed the book’s description of each character when I made the 8-bit pixel art.


magazine coverEddie is an ordinary 83 years old man working at Ruby Pier. In ‘The Five People You Meet in Heaven’ by Mitch Albom, Eddie dies on his birthday at the amusement park, Ruby Pier, where he had spent most of his life at. The magazine cover I created is named ‘FUN OR DUN’ which shows that you either have fun at these parks or you fall off and your life is done and shows the danger in amusement parks. The main article with a slightly larger font than the rest indicates the readers that the face that’s put on the cover is dead. The reason that I used ‘recent amusement park accidents’ is because Eddie has heard of other accidents in the book and he had been worried about an accident coming to the pier where he has been working at for years and years. ‘Although his park had been free of any major accidents, he knew the horror stories of his business. Once, in Brighton, a bold unfastened on a gondola ride and two people fell to their death. Another time, in Wonderland Park, a man had tried to walk across a roller coaster track; he fell through and got stuck beneath his armpits. He was wedged in, screaming, and the cars came racing toward him and … well, that was the worst.’ (Albom, 15) This magazine I created is based on safe places to have fun at so I added another article named ‘Top 5 Safest Amusement Parks in the USA’. ‘His work shirt had a patch on the chest that read EDDIE above the word MAINTENANCE, and sometimes they would say, “Hiya, Eddie Maintenance,” although he never thought that was funny.’ (Albom, 3) I drew Eddie in the magazine with his name tag on his work shirt and made him look old and has a lowered jaw like it said in the book. ‘His face was broad and craggy from the sun, with salty whiskers and a lower jaw that protruded slightly, making him look prouder than he felt.’ (Albom, 2)

STAEB – Polymer Project Journal #3

After planning how I’m going to make the polymer, I have put the plans into action and made 4 prototypes. The first prototype was a complete failure, it was what we planned to create but the outcome was very different from what we originally thought. The second prototype was okay and the 3rd was exactly what we wanted. From the process of making this polymer, I learnt that planning is a really important stage of experiments.

My original plan for this polymer was to put a booger(with guar gum) on the inside and super slime(with guar gum) on the outside. This plan failed. The prototype eventually ended up being a disgusting slimy garbage that nobody would be willing to put it on their earbuds.

Since it failed so badly, we just trashed it and started making our second prototype(slide 1 and 2). Super slime and booger won’t work, so I just made a super slime with more guar gum. It didn’t work out so well because it wouldn’t stay in that particular shape we wanted it to be in. Too much guar gum made it more like a rubbery slime than a sound insulator. People said it looks like salmon. So I thought we should change super slime into something else that would stay in shape and is less slimy.

Rethinking everything, I thought that we should instead make something more like a booger for my polymer. This 3rd prototype(slide 3 and 4) was based on a booger and then we mixed a small amount of each material to see what happens. During this process, too much guar gum was added and resulted in a small bouncy polymer. Other than that, the overall properties of this prototype are more like what we wanted.

The 4th prototype was great(slide 5-9). What I did was that I made a booger, then added PVA solutions, guar gum, and borax. It was easy to change in shape, a bit sticky and it was thick. Perfect for blocking sounds and staying on an earbud. The only small issue was that it became less sticky and was a bit too rubbery after we left it in a plastic sealed bag for a few days.

After creating the 3rd prototype, I started creating the final product while recording specific measurements in the process(I didn’t measure how much of each substance I used). So I made a booger by pouring glue(3cm in a small cup) and liquid starch(10ml). After that, I carefully transferred my booger onto a plate and started squeezing it so it can be in shape. PVA solution can make it sticky so I added 10ml of it. 3 scoopula of guar gum is enough so I spreader my polymer out then added an equal amount of guar gum on each part of it. Then I added 5ml of borax and a huge amount of red coloring. Our final product wasn’t as perfect as the 3rd prototype but it’s still able to work as a great sound insulator for earbuds.

STAEB – Polymer Project Journal #2

Things don’t just come out of nothing, you always need something to make anything. Our polymer, staeb, should be used on earbuds to block the sound. Therefore, we need certain characteristics to make it work and stay on the earbud and also be comfortable for the user at the same time.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 3.27.44 PMDifferent materials give different characteristics to our polymer. We made some base polymers to study what material gives what characteristics. From the table above, we found a few materials that might suit our polymer. Since our polymer is for wearing, we need it to be sticky, dry and is able to change in shape easily so it can fit all kinds of ears and earbuds. Our polymer shouldn’t be too slimy too.

What we are planning to do is to make a booger for the inside and add a super slime(with guar gum added to it). Since a super slime is really slimy, we decided to add some guar gum inside it to make it able to hold still instead of just collapse like a slime. Adding boogers inside makes it block the sound since its more thick since the liquid starch inside it makes it less stringy which means that it’s more densely packed together. We will also try less borax since it decreases stretch and we want our polymer to be able to fit a lot of different earbuds so we definitely would need our polymer to stretch.

Our plans are only plans, and most of the times, plans probably don’t work out perfectly. That’s why we will be testing our plans. By decreasing or increasing the number of certain materials, we will be able to reach a point that the amount of characteristic the material is bringing to our polymer GUARis just right.DSCN3767-1


STAEB – Polymer Project Journal #1

100134622During this polymer project, my partner and I’s final target is to create a polymer that is able to insulate sound specially designed for earbuds and headphones. We found that many teenagers likes to turn their volume high when they have their earbuds or headphones on, and they find it disturbing that sometimes, people outside can hear what they are listening to because their volume is high. Our goal is to help these music lovers and gamers to trap the sound inside their earbuds so that people outside can’t hear what they are listening to. Especially for people who likes hip hop, it would be embarrassing if people next to them can hear their songs/raps lyrics. Also for gamers, their parents can hear shooting sounds from their earbuds when they are gaming. So our final goal is to make a comfortable sound trapping polymer to put on earbuds so they can listen to their music without any worries.

Our polymer should be dry, since it’s meant to be placed on earbuds and headphones so it would need to be dry so that it wont break the earbud and also stay comfortable for the user. Our polymer should also be able to stay in shape but also has an easily changeable shape(like blue tack except that we don’t want ours to be as sticky) since the user might have different earbuds so they need to be able to change the shape. To make our product better, we would also try to make the polymer waterproof. Also, to suit the flavor of teens, we would have different colors and styles for our product.

Ball Sports and Quadratics

Math, a huge subject in schools that everybody needs to learn, is all around us. The only reason that we need to learn math is because it is really useful in our daily lives. Sports, cooking, drawing, sleeping, everything is related to math. In this Real World Quadratics project, we are required to use our knowledge and concepts from class and use it in real world situations. Quadratic equations have a degree of 2 and when it is graphed, its a curve. Many things in this world have curves which mean that we can relate quadratics to a lot of real world situations. The situation me and my partner(Ethan Ma) did was about sports and the flight path of a ball.

Parabolas can be spotted easily, you can turn anything you want into a parabola. A small movement of your hand, you can graph that into a speed and time graph. A curve of a building can be represented by a quadratic equation. In many other real world situations, there are domain and range restrictions for the graph and equations to make a graph make sense. A missile launch for example, without a domain and range restriction the missile would keep on going on the graph when it’s supposed to explode on the ground.

Learning about quadratic equations is really important as I discovered how useful it is in the real world.