By Susan

In this class, we were doing activities that train our imagination. The first activity we did was to sit down and close our eyes, listen to an adventure-like story that Mr. Redman provides, and imagine that I’m the one who has the story’s experience. What could I see? What could I hear? What could I feel? The second activity was to imagine that I’m a watch-maker, and I need to act the movements of the character when trying to fix a watch.

I feel my imagination was being the strongest in the start of the first activity and at the end of the first activity. At the start, when Mr. Redman’s reading out the story, I was trying to make myself to be in that scene. I imagined to be floating on top of water by referencing the feeling I had when swimming back-stroke, and I recalled the memory of relaxing in thermal spring in order to actually portray the whole scene of the start of the story. I imagined to be floating in a comfortable way for some time, until my hands were quickly going over the sharp edges and the smooth faces of rocks, and the slimy sand. I felt I was carried on the beach by the gentle waves, (this is one of the 2 parts that I really feel my imagination is simulating the scene quite real) and I felt my cloth were becoming warm, hard and dusty because it’s dried out by the sunshine! Then, when I started to go around the beach, I felt my imagination wasn’t as real, it’s like my mind is telling myself to imagine what instead of imagining the scenes in a reasonable way. I think this is one of the challenges I had faced: sometimes I imagine things in a stiff way, making the imagination not as real, and making myself to become easily interrupted and pulled out by the environment.

Another time that I really felt my imagination was at a high percentage (I won’t say 100%, because I think I never had), was at the end of the imagination journey of the first activity. That’s when I was imagining to feel a cold, hard and sharp thing touching the skin at the back of my neck. Then, ‘myself’ in the imagination was feeling really sleepy and dizzy until my legs have no more strength to support my body, and my eyes were closed. But I can still hear small voices around me, I can still feel a little bit of the movement of my body. But generally, I felt I was dreaming. In fact, when I opened my eyes, the story of the journey was being really clear to me, as if I just had a dream about it.

Another great challenge I experienced was when imagining to fix a watch. I felt this is harder than the first activity because it’s easy to imagine objects when my eyes are closed instead of eyes opened. So, I wasn’t actually believed into the lie of “I’m a watcher”, even though I’m trying to make myself to believe it.

So, how does imagination helps an actor? I think imagination is one of the most important things for an actor. Because I always believe that the only way to make the acting real is to actually imagine and fully believes in that I’m the one that I play. The only way to demonstrate a character perfectly is to actually become the character. So, by using imagination, it would be much easier for an actor to believe that he/she is the character.

Konstantin Stanislavski

Konstantin Stanislavski, god father of naturalism, passed out in 1924.

Melodrama – behaving over the top

Konstantin Stanislavski thought there’s something more than copying others’ moves in acting.

So, he developed ” The System” (The Stanislavsky system of actor training):

1.Technical control of body and voice

2.Concentration and Focus

3.A state of ‘relaxation’ on stage

4.The creative state of mind


Stanislavsky addressed the three common problems of most actors:

1.The fear of being watched by an audience

2.The difficulty of ‘believing a lie’

3.Keeping a character or part “FRESH” over many performances, avoid being stereotype

My Short Monologue

I was just wondering if you slept with that woman. I meant uh, tonight. On the roof… You have a girlfriend. I know, I mean that’s what I was thinking. We’re so happy, you know. What would be his reason? But then I thought, geez, if you did do it, you’d at least look guilty. And you don’t. You look, you look totally relaxed. You look more relaxed than before the party started. But you’re a womanizer. You were a womanizer. And what is that, exactly? What is that… that’s a guy who sleeps with a lot of women and is really good at lying about it.

9 Effective Ensemble Member Qualities

1.Risk Taker

2.Positive and Energetic

3.Aware and in Control


5.Active Listeners

6.Cooperative and Collaborative


8.Leaders (and Followers)

9.Positively Critical and able to act on that criticism

In this semester, I would like to work on the ensemble member quality–risk taker. That’s because I’m a somewhat conservative person, for most of the times when making choices, I may not choose the one with too much challenge. I think my characteristic limits my development in theatre, so in this semester, I would like to take more risks in acting.

Acting: Day1

By Susan

In the first class of acting, after Mr. Redman introduced himself while playing a powerpoint, we stood in a circle and did some warm-up. Then, we did an activity which is to randomly walk(heads up, chest straight) around the classroom, while Mr. Redman give us simple instructions to follow, and our challenge was to do the instructions in unison as a class. For example, ‘speed up’, ‘slow down’, ‘jump up’, ‘clap’, ‘stop’, ‘jump up when I say clap’, ‘keep going when I say stop’… The second activity we did after this was to find partners in an ‘interesting’ way. We still walk randomly in the classroom until Mr. Redman said a simple command, and then we needed to find a classmate closest to ourselves to be the specific partner, and accomplish the command with that partner. Some examples of the commands included: ‘shake hands’, ‘touch toes’, ‘touch back to back’… We did a mirror game after this part of the activity. In which we needed to find our ‘touch toes’ partner, one person will lead on to do whatever motions, and the other person needed to copy the first person’s movements as accurately as possible, imitating the effect of a mirror. The last activity we did in the class was about acting simple behaviors. A person start by mimicking a behavior(for example playing tennis), then the second person came out to ask what the first person’s doing. The first person must lie to gave a different answer, and then the second person needed to mimic the behavior of what the first person had told him, and the cycle just run on like this for people afterwards.

Generally, I felt what we did was quite interesting, but maybe because that was only the first class, we didn’t do much acting. I really enjoyed the mimicking game at the end of class. That’s because I thought it was the most interesting (and funniest?) activity we did on that day.

I’m actually really looking forward for the class, because I really want to do actings and challenge to play different characters. But I’m just a little afraid that if we’re going to do drama dancings/singings, because I think those king of performing didn’t involve much character-demonstrating acting, and I’m not as interested.

Education Distinction, My Capstone of the Year

As a result of the capstone project, I learned a lot about the education issue in China. After researching and interviewing, I found that there are huge distinctions between different social classes today. For example, the migrant children don’t have the Hukou in Beijing, which can only attend poor quality schools in the rural areas. While the urban students face immense pressure and competition to enter the ‘key’ schools in their region. But it’s not just the education resources creating the difference, the parents’ education expectancy also increased the gap between the different income levels. As my interview results showed, some parents don’t even aim college for their child. All those new knowledge had fresh my views.

In this project, I contributed the community by writing information article and creating a documentary to inform the others about the current education issue in China today. These actions can raise awareness about education distinction in China, and inspire my community to help the students who need better education resources. I had also changed my opinions about the education distinction in China after this project. I found that ‘financially disadvantaged’ migrant students is the social group that needs the most help in improving their education status, and that most of the students in other regions of China also received good quality education. In this project, I had also greatly improved my interview skills. By interacting a lot of different people inside and outside of ISB, I gained lots of experience and techniques in interviewing.

If I could do this project again, I would like to go to schools outside of Beijing and interview students/parents there. Maybe I can receive much more surprises by investigate outside of Beijing. I want to tell the next year 8th graders, the Capstone project is a really great opportunity for you to gain more knowledge in a specific topic you’re interested in, and practice your interview/video editing skills!

Fire! The Catapult Project

By Susan

In this project, each group are supposed to develop a catapult that can fire Ping Pong balls consistently onto different targets. We’re also supposed to develop functions to analyse the projectile of the ball fired by our catapult.

In this project, I learned some basic structures of catapult, and how to plan and develop a catapult as a team. I also learned how to use LoggerPro to analyse parabolas and develop functions for my catapult’s projectile. The different targets we needed to hit in our project also helped me learn to change the variables in my function in order to complete the task.

Next time, I would change a design structure for our catapult. That’s because our product today has an advantage of firing really far, but it also has a disadvantage of not firing really consistent. We can change the distance of the projectile by changing the strength of pulling the rubber band, so we can’t ensure to pull the same strength every time. I’ll try to find a design structure with a better firing consistency next time.

This project helped me in understanding the quadratic functions by letting me to change the form of the projectile’s function. The challenges on Desmoz that let me to change the constant/coefficient really helped me in understanding all the variables of the function, and made me get more familiar with quadratics.

Below is our catapult’s design and our success criteria:

We made lots of alterations to improve our product:

(Putting on a thick rubber band…)

(Then change to thinner rubber band…)

(Final Product…)


The Loss of Ember

By Susan

“We have been told to say nothing, ever again, about the world we come from.” (DuPrau 258) As the old woman who fostered the first generation of the city Ember had wrote in her journal, the transmit of any knowledge from the old world had been prohibited. In this way, the loss of lore and truth became the main factor that caused the destruction of Ember’s society.

The loss of knowledge caused the ignorance of the whole society. Probably out of guilt, people who built Ember wanted no ‘parents’ to speak about the world they came from. In this way, the dark and ashamed history had been washed out of the memories of the new human race, ‘world’ Ember. But most vital knowledge from the past generations had also lost among the city. In the text: “But one glimpse of the generator showed how foolish he was… he wondered if anyone understood how it work.” (47) When Doon wanted to have a look at the city’s only generator in order to work on a solution that would keep the city’s lights burning, he was horrified. Even though he’s really talented in mechanism, he still can’t get a thing figured out from the gigantic machine. That’s because the knowledge is loss. Knowledge is an accumulation of ideas and experiences, being one of the most important tools for human’s survival, it’s not something that could be investigated and gained in a short period of time. In this way, the erase of the ancestors’ wisdom created great leaks in the mechanism of the society. This ignorance in the whole society influences the entire city’s operating system and governmental system, making everything seemed simple and easy. For example, people’s jobs are ‘easily’ determined by drawing paper from a box by luck. Which people might go to jobs that they really dislike, and leads to a consequence that the person is not going to put much care and effort into his work.

“Our job is just to keep it from breaking down.” (48) As the evidence had shown, even the most important and technical job – generator fixer works really simple: put on a new part when an old part breaks, oil a part when it freezes up. Another example is the job pipe works laborer, what they do is just patching up pipes that would leak and break again in a few days. All this ‘simplicity’ is caused by people’s ignorance in knowledge, and the lack of knowledge made them cannot even solve a problem at its’ root. As days passed, more and more problems are only fixed on surface, so bigger problems are assembled much deeper under the appearance. This framework of the city limits everyone’s ability and potential. Most jobs like supply depot clerks, messengers, even the pipe works laborers are like low-tech jobs that should be done by machines if they inherited the ancestors’ knowledge. In this way, the society is really hard to advance because people don’t even have enough background knowledge to develop better plans for improvement.

The society was collapsing because people in Ember have no idea about the truth of their existence. Because they don’t know the true meaning of the city Ember, the seventh mayor couldn’t see the significance of the box, so he didn’t understand that it actually means the survival of the whole city. Because of the loss of truth, when resources were running out, the mass was too scared and couldn’t even collaborate to do something to save everyone. At this critical point, human nature took the control. For example: “The mayor has a secret treasure room in the Pipeworks” (158) Even the head of the city tried to grab as much resources as possible before the lights ran out, how would others react? At this crucial moment, all the darkness could cover up the only lights of justice. When Lina and Doon told the guards about the mayor’s crime, the guards decided to share the benefits with the mayor instead of presiding the fair. Lina and Doon were even advertised as criminals to arrest. We could see that at this vital period for the city, greed drove people away from collaborating and protecting the community, but toward the direction to absorb resources as parasites. This human nature would only speed up the destruction of the society because no improvement could be made, so no hope would be brought.

This scenario actually connects with the book “Animal Farm”. In “Animal Farm”, most animals were also kept away from knowing the truths in their farm. They don’t know how the pigs are lying toward them and utilizing them to attend their goals. In this way, when food is limited, when their quality for living is deteriorating, they have no capacity to stand up to help themselves, they could only wait for fate to bring their limited fortune for them. This is like most citizens in Ember: when resources are running out, and when catastrophe is closing in, they don’t make any choices that would save the city. That’s because they have too limited amount of knowledge to help themselves, and they are kept away from the truths.

As the text described in the book: “Nothing about this endeavor is certain.” (2) The discard of the ‘dirty’ history – what the Builders thought could create a world of paradise, was actually the source of Ember’s problem. The loss of knowledge and truth would be a big obstacle for a society to improve. This would also trigger the darkness of human nature to suck up the only ‘nutrition’ of a society, and cause the true destruction of the city Ember.

Polymer Journal #4

Our group created 3 prototypes in total. The first prototype is a typical super slime. It can collect pieces of trash without letting them fall off, while the polymer also won’t get stuck onto the table. But the weakness for this prototype is that it breaks to small chunks easily when it’s been rolled. For our second prototype, we decided to add lots of guar gum in order to make the polymer stronger in keeping as a whole. But the weakness is that the guar gum decreased the stickiness of the polymer. In our third prototype, we put less guar gum. For strength, it has the right stickiness. It can keep as a whole stronger than prototype #1, but it’s not as strong as prototype #2.

Prototype #3, called Super Roller Cleaner, is the most effective product for meeting our group’s goal. That’s because we need the polymer to have the right stickiness that can collect trash without letting them fall off. We test the three prototypes by putting scraps of tissue papers on the table, and used the polymers to contact the tissues. Prototype #1 and #3 both collected the tissues successfully and stuck them strongly to themselves, but prototype #2 hardly collected the tissue and fell it off easily. The other characteristic we need our product to have is the sturdiness of keeping itself together. That’s because the cleaner would be rolled and it needs to bear pressure. We tested this by rolling both prototypes. Prototype #1 broke to pieces, while prototype #2 was kept as a whole. In this way, prototype #3 is the most effective one for meeting our cleaner’s goal.

This is our process for developing the final design:

1.Place 100ml of PVA solution into a clean plastic cup.

2.Add 40ml of Borax and 5.4 grams of guar gum at the same time to the cup and mix the solution quickly.

3.Add more Borax solution or PVA to balance the slime.

4.Cover the polymer onto the rolling part of a roller brush’s surface evenly.

5.Test the effectiveness of the product and repeat steps 1~4 until feeling content.

The future recommendation I have for my final product is to mix the guar gum more evenly with borax and PVA. In this way, all the parts in the product can have the equal sturdiness and stickiness. The parts can also keep as a whole stronger because all the parts would get the even amount of guar gum.

The part I felt interesting in our design process was how we compared the characteristics of each polymers and used our new knowledge to create products by ourselves. The part challenging for me was to find the proportion of each ingredient in making the polymer. It was hard to actually control the amount to make the exact right sturdiness as a whole and with the right stickiness. In this way, I learned the importance of testing in a design process because it actually determines the quality of our work. I also learned that we need the cycle of ‘improving’ and ‘planning’ to go on for lots of times in order to reach the goal.

Infomercial Video:

Polymer Journal #3

We are making a cleaner that can stick onto dirt and small pieces of trash just by rolling the polymer. The cleaner is shaped as a roller brush and the polymer is on the rolling part. In this way, the polymer needs to be sticky enough to collect trash, but not too sticky or else it would be stuck onto the floor. It also needs to be dense enough to keep as a whole in order to stay on the brush.

So, our plan to develop the prototype is:

1.Place 40ml of PVA solution into a clean plastic cup.

2.Add 8ml of Borax solution to the cup and stir the solution.

3.Add more Borax solution or PVA to balance the slime in order to not making it too watery.

4.Test the effectiveness of the product.

5.Repeat steps 1~4 until feeling content, add guar gum to create density to the polymer.

To view the effectiveness of our product, we developed methods for testing. One method is to tear tissue papers into smaller pieces and place it onto the table. Then quickly wipe the polymer on top of the tissues to see if it sticks onto the pieces. This test the stickiness of the polymer to see if it can perform the function of ‘cleaning’. The second method is to wipe the polymer on a floor to see if it stuck onto the surface. This experiment can ensure that the polymer won’t be too sticky that would adhere onto anything it contacts with. The third method we developed for testing is to roll the polymer around and around firmly onto a surface to see if it would crack into smaller pieces, which test if the polymer can keep as a whole steadily under pressure.

Tree Planting Infographic by Susan