The Capstone Project is a trimester-long project where students choose an issue that affects China and/or the world. My choice was renewable energy, from which I learned that the problem of fossil fuels is not an easy problem to solve and why clean energy is hard to come by. This problem is one that not many know of and my opinions have certainly changed from reading various articles explaining the true danger of switching to renewable power. Many people, including me in the past, believe(d) that reducing air pollution and fossil fuel usage was as simple as using solar or wind power. However, I have found that this is not the case.

One thing I would recommend to next year’s G8 students is to find research that will actually be relevant to the topic. When writing the essay, try not to do any additional research, because it makes citing sources a lot harder. Be creative when making the video; it will make for a much more enjoyable project.

Curious Catapults

The catapult project is a creative and different way of displaying our knowledge of quadratic equations. Each team was to build a catapult that is capable of holding and shooting a table tennis ball in an arc. After the process of building, the shot of the catapult was filmed and put into Logger Pro, which gave a quadratic equation that roughly matches the arc of the table tennis ball. The purpose of this project is to solidify our understanding of quadratics and to know how quadratic equations can be applied to real-world situations.

My team (Angela and I) decided to use this catapult’s design. It is simple to build, while not requiring any wood cutting or complex structures.

One problem we had with this design was that the ball would not shoot upwards in an arc, but would shoot sideways. This caused the ball to be too low. To deal with this problem, a pencil was placed above the component that holds the ball when it is pulled back. With the pencil, the part of the catapult that launches the ball would stop before moving its maximum distance, making the ball fly at a higher angle.

I believe the hardest part of this project was evaluating whether the catapult’s design would be strong enough or if it needed modifications. Building and testing the catapult is not hard, but the planning and the modifying process may take a long time and/or be difficult because it involves a lot of trial and error.

My understanding of quadratic equations improved as I learned how quadratics are used in a real situation and how they can be used with different axes to represent different types of data (for example, height vs. time and height vs. distance are different and used in different contexts).

I believe the design process is important when doing a project like this, but the mathematical understanding of the catapults is the most important, especially in a math class. The unit of quadratics is possibly the most important of Algebra I, and there is no better way of showing understanding than in a real-life situation.

Catapult Video (download)


Polymer Journal 4 – Reflection

Prototype #1:

By mixing Super Slime and Boogers together, we made our first prototype called “Super Booger”. It was very stretchy and gel-like without being too sticky or wet. It seemed perfect for our design goal. One thing I would change was that even though it seemed simple to make with just two base polymers, it took a lot of extra materials to perfect and adjust it to how we wanted. This polymer was unique but hard to create.

Prototype #2:

Our second prototype called “Super Everything” attempted to combine Gloop, Boogers, Super Slime and Oobleck together. The result was stretchy and gel-like just like our first prototype, but it was sticky and was very wet as we had added a large amount of water for the Oobleck. In the end, it was too sticky and hard to clean to be a polymer that was meant to keep things together without damaging them.



We performed a few tests on Prototype #1 to see if it was really that strong. It was poked slowly and quickly to see if any of it would stick to a surface. The polymer only left the object wet for a few seconds and none of it was displaced. It was stretched extremely long and held in the air at the sides to see how long it could go without breaking. It stretched for over ten meters and did not collapse to pressure. It was dropped at around a one-meter height and bounced instead of splattering across the table.

Our first prototype is the most effective at performing its intended purpose. Since our goal was to create a polymer that holds things together like a piece of string or an elastic band, Prototype #1 proved to be much stronger. Both prototypes were fairly stretchy and gel-like, although the first prototype was much less slime-like and held its form better. Its non-sticky and dry properties made it superior to its alternative, due to the polymer’s ease of use and cleanliness.

If we had more time allocated for us to work on this product, I would try to find a way to make it less wet, as even though it left no stains or damage, it visibly left a mark when placed on the table.

I believe we did fairly well in these steps of the design process; however, two prototypes may not be enough. If we had more time to create more than two different types of polymers, we would have had a more complete and finalized product. Our prototypes should have also been tested and observed more, to see the strengths and weaknesses of each design.

Here are the steps to create our polymer, “Untangled Slime”:

  1. Measure 55g of glue in a cup.
  2. Measure 40mL of PVA solution in a graduated cylinder and pour into a separate cup.
  3. Measure 40mL of laundry starch in a graduated cylinder.
  4. Measure 8mL of borax solution in another graduated cylinder.
  5. Pour the borax into the cup with the PVA solution and stir for a few minutes while mixing the laundry starch with the glue, stirring both simultaneously.
  6. Combine the two polymers together in a large beaker, adding around 5mL of borax to the mixture if necessary to help the two polymers mix.
  7. Pick up the mixture and mold it until the two polymers have visually combined into one.

Polymer Journal 3 – How Will We Make It?

What will the polymer be like?

Physical properties of our polymer include:

  • Elasticity

The polymer should not break very easily when stretched very wide or pressed down with a moderate amount of force. Otherwise, it would not be useful to hold anything together.

  • Not sticky and not wet

No one likes an incredibly sticky or wet slime. It gets everywhere – on clothing, on desks, on the skin – and is hard to get off. A sticky polymer would not be useful for our design either.

  • Bouncy

A bouncy polymer will feel less slimy and will stick to fewer surfaces. It will also be less likely to break when dropped. All of these characteristics are ideal for a moldable rope-like design that we are going for.

  • Aesthetically pleasing

Who doesn’t like something that looks good?


How are we going to build our prototypes?

Created using draw.io

How will the polymer be tested?

After the creating stage is completed, the polymer will be stuck to surfaces, wrapped around small objects, pushed on, poked, molded, and stretched into a long, thin strand. It will also be left out overnight to dry. These tests are to ensure that the polymer fulfills (or does not fulfill) the desired physical properties. A good prototype should be maintaining these properties.

Polymer Journal 2 – What is it For?

The polymer that I (we) want to design is for a very specific situation but could potentially be helpful.

It will be similar to this design, protecting the wire from being broken and also holding it together to prevent the earbuds from tangling. The targeted audience is, if not obvious enough, people who use earbuds, namely people who experience the problem of untangling earbuds that have unfortunately been coiled together several times in their pockets.

This polymer will hold earbuds in a neat position, making them a lot easier to unravel.

The relative lack of stickiness in Gloop makes any polymer with this characteristic ideal for attaching to items. I also liked the simplicity of Super Slime, which consists of only two materials. Adding more of one material would make the substance more watery and less solid, adding more of the other would make it thicker and drip less liquid.

Polymer Journal 1 – Natural vs. Synthetic Materials


Lazonby, John. “Ethene (Ethylene).” The Essential Chemical Industry Online, www.essentialchemicalindustry.org/chemicals/ethene.html.

“How Is Nylon Made?” OpenLearn, The Open University, 26 Sept. 2005, www.open.edu/openlearn/science-maths-technology/science/chemistry/how-nylon-made.

“Natural vs. Synthetic Polymers.” Gelfand Center – Carnegie Mellon University, www.cmu.edu/gelfand/education/k12-teachers/polymers/natural-synthetic-polymers/.

“Polyester.” How Products Are Made, www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Polyester.html.








Who Will Solve the Problem of Depleting Natural Resources?

I would like to focus on the problems relating to renewable energy. I do not have any social perceptions or beliefs with this topic but (the lack of) renewable energy is a global problem that has to be addressed. The use of non-renewable energy and its problems may vary, becoming increasingly worse the more natural resources a country uses, but these problems have a good chance of affecting its surrounding nations and permanently damage the world.

What are some problems affecting the efficiency and quality of renewable energy such as solar and wind power?

What might be some factors that compel company owners to expend non-renewable and environmentally damaging resources (e.g. coal, oil, natural gas) for production?

Are some producers more harmful to the society than they are beneficial? If so, in what way?

My one fear is that although I intend to spread awareness about this topic, it may be too late by the time the people of Earth realize that they are running out of natural resources and start doing something about it. Professor Stephen Hawking has predicted that humans only have 100 years to colonize other planets before we will be wiped out by global warming, overpopulation, and disease. The use of fossil fuels, which are non-renewable resources, is destroying the planet.

The over-consumption of non-renewable resources is a problem that has been here since the beginning of industrialization. However, countries continue to burn a massive amount of coal and use a large volume of oil for their transportation and goods. At this pace, the world will either deplete itself completely of fossil fuels, or we will all die from the high concentration of carbon dioxide in the air, which also destroys our atmosphere and warms our planet. The overuse of Earth’s assets and the underdevelopment of renewable resources will soon be very hard to solve as our planet’s population continues to ignore the current situation and refuse to do anything.

Image citation:

“Renewable And Non Renewable Resources – Lessons – Tes Teach.” Tes Teach with Blendspace, www.tes.com/lessons/FlILbhUeAtRxow/renewable-and-non-renewable-resources.

The Unheard Writers of the Syrian Revolution

My name is Amer. Amer, an Arabic name, means “prosperous”, “full of life”, and “one that lives a long and prosperous life”. I was brought into this world in 1991 by a loving mother and father, who wished that my life would be long and full of good fortune like theirs. As I knelt upon their deathbeds, I promised I would continue their legacy – then war struck. This is my account of these dark times.

Seven long years have passed, yet not much has changed. People continue to fight on the battlefield, firing their guns at each other with no purpose, only to harm. Many soldiers’ jobs have become meaningless, whose tasks lead to endless killing and suffering as neither side has any intention of ending the war. Innocent civilians continue to die helplessly to airstrikes, bombs, and chemical weapons used by the ruthless government. The regime has not been reformed as the rebels would like it to be, and Assad still holds power. His stubborn defenses and unchanging ways refuse to give way.

Some significant turning points have led to some changes in the Syrian Revolution. It started as a civil uprising, with peaceful protests and no violence. However, in the span of just four months, an opposition army had been formed and insurgent soldiers began to fight back. They were no longer afraid of their ex-dictator. He no longer had full power and no one was safe. The war had reached its critical point in December of 2013 when Assad first used chemical weapons, which were prohibited by the United Nations. Our president began to oppose the world. As the years went on, the fighting had not changed much, but more and more soldiers from different origins began to take part in the conflict. Two worldwide superpowers, the United States of America and Russia, had deployed their own troops into the chaos. Although these historic times were notable in the development of the war, countless days, months, years of fighting resulted in almost nothing, only death. Without change, the conflict will go on, until someone is brave enough to do something.



“Notes On The Free Syrian Army.” IWL – FI, 4 Dec. 2016, litci.org/en/notes-on-the-free-syrian-army/.

Fisher, Max. “Straightforward Answers to Basic Questions About Syria’s War.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 18 Sept. 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/09/19/world/middleeast/syria-civil-war-bashar-al-assad-refugees-islamic-state.html.

Jan, Maria. “Q&A: Syria’s White Helmets.” News | Al Jazeera, 21 Aug. 2015, Al Jazeera, www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/08/qa-syria-white-helmets-150819142324132.html.

“Four Years since Teenage Graffiti Sparks Syrian Civil War.” World Watch Monitor, 6 Feb. 2018, www.worldwatchmonitor.org/2015/03/four-years-since-teenage-graffiti-sparks-syrian-civil-war/.

“Homepage – Free Syrian Army Platform.” FSA Platform, fsaplatform.org/.

“Syria: The Story of the Conflict.” BBC News, BBC, 11 Mar. 2016, www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-26116868.

A World-Changing Conflict of the Present: The Syrian Civil War

What comes to your mind when you think of civil war? One may think of the Civil War of the United States and how the North defeated the South with their justice. However, even the “honorable” and “noble” freedom fighters committed horrible crimes during the period of war. War will change people, and the Syrian war is no different.

Wars have not happened just in Syria. The Arab Spring is a revolutionary wave that influenced the Middle East and North Africa. Some of the more major events have happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Sudan, and Bahrain. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, and some are still on the battlefield fighting for change.

The biggest and most significant battlefield is without a doubt Syria. In this once-peaceful country, an ongoing 7-year conflict has claimed the lives of over 400,000 people; some soldiers, many innocents. The fifteen boys that had been arrested on the 6th of March did not expect such a catastrophic uprising against their own government. Although they knew their regime was brutal, they did not know that it would be so unforgiving, and they certainly did not know that their own people would be as remorseless as their leaders.

This conflict may end as soon as tomorrow, or as late as in 200 years. The number of different fighters of the war with different beliefs and different objectives has made the struggle hard to resolve, with outside countries complicating the situation even further by taking their own sides. A large number of people around the world know of this situation, but few have any idea to put an end to the war. All I have to say is that we must do something before it is too late.

Are Cadavers a “Dead” Topic?

An old graveyard. Perfect target for body-snatching.

Cadavers are an unusual topic. Don’t let the scientific name deceive you; it is just a formal term for “dead body”. These objects are rarely seen as items of use; after all, they are just the inanimate remains of a human who has long left this world. Are cadavers really used for more than just memorials of a deceased being? Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers has the answers. The use of multiple viewpoints throughout this book keeps the subject engaging while simultaneously being informational.

The eccentric author Mary Roach is intrigued and fascinated by cadavers. Even though she may be judged for her unique interest, she has a reason: “We knew Mary was quirky, but now we’re wondering if she’s, you know, okay… I’ll tell you now. I’m a curious person. Like all journalists, I’m a voyeur. I write about what I find fascinating” (Roach 14). Cadavers are not a subject commonly spoken of in everyday life, so when the topic is brought up, it is seen as “abnormal” and “strange”. There does not seem to be much to learn about these objects, but Roach, being the journalist that she is, is the only one daring enough to find out.

While Roach is quite an enthusiast about learning and researching topics that she finds interesting, some people are not as eager to look at dead bodies: the people working with cadavers. Roach shows her curiosity of professionals who deal with cadavers daily: “I wanted to know how–scientifically and emotionally–a person does this job” (114). Yvonne, a woman whose job is to cut heads off of human cadavers, has a way of reimagining cadavers: “‘What I do is, I think of them as wax’” (21). Although Roach finds the topic of dead bodies very fascinating, some cadaver “apprentices” did not enjoy much of their studies: “‘…there were… a lot of days, when coming up here and spending two hours felt like a huge waste of time’” (55). People working with cadavers as a job see dead bodies every day. They come as no surprise and appear merely as a burden or something to work through. These professionals show no interest in what they do or what else they are used for. They use bizarre objects in an average job, making cadavers look rather dull. Although conflicting with her own, Roach seeks these viewpoints as she has to obtain information from different people and keep an objective approach to the subject.

The author’s engaging, amusing and enthusiastic text shows that her point of view is that cadavers, although peculiar, are an interesting topic and even educational in a way. Of course, there will be some who disagree; her viewpoint contrasts with the cadaver “workers”, who believe that these objects are just workplace tools to help them fulfill their role. Roach’s use of statistics, language, and even humor help her to strongly convey her viewpoint. Although bias may show up throughout the book, different quotes and people are introduced to include multiple perspectives and maintain an informal yet educational style of writing. With her writing prowess, Mary Roach convincingly shows that cadavers are less useless than one may think.

Image Citation: Hanratty, Carol. “Old Graveyard Photograph.” Fine Art America, 20 Jan. 2011, fineartamerica.com/featured/old-graveyard-carol-hanratty.html.