Yeet the Ball

From this activity, I learned how to apply various equations to real life situations. The particular equation we used was the quadratic equation: y=ax^2+bx+c. Our group threw the ball accurately, and we also managed our time very well. Because of that, we finished quickly and had a good final product. We had a few problems with LoggerPro’s equation, especially the “c”. The “c” was negative, which was problematic. Because it is the initial value, it would be where the thrower started to throw the ball, which should be above ground, which should be positive. Another challenge we faced was not dividing the work evenly enough for all group members, so one person ended up doing most of the work. Our collaboration skills could be improved. If we could do it differently, we would assign certain roles to each group member at the very beginning so we know what we need to do.

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The Leaders of Tomorrow

You’ve probably heard it a million times before: the children of today are the leaders of tomorrow. But the reason that phrase is so overused is because it is true. In order for those children to become strong, benevolent, and good leaders, they need to be properly educated. Millions of migrant children in China are forced to attend either no school or ones of very poor quality. The vast majority of children have big dreams. Some want to build environmentally-friendly cars to help our Earth, some what to be doctors to save people. Who knows, maybe some will grow up to be the ones that cure cancer! But because of their poor education, that may never happen. Not only do migrant children deserve the access to a school of good quality, China also needs more educated individuals in order to become a better country itself. That is why the quality of migrant schools in China need to improve.

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Issue 22 of Indianapolis News

The protagonist of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a cancer-ridden 16-year-old girl named Hazel Grace Lancaster. Canonically, she does not pass away at the end of the book (spoiler alert- her lover Augustus does, though). But because she is still diagnosed with severe cancer and she is not immortal, Hazel has to pass away sometime. I gave her a year, making her 17 when she left this world. I chose the format of a newspaper because not only could it communicate what people close to Hazel thought of her, it also adds additional information about the setting- Indianapolis. Hazel’s character is very complex. She is a loving, self-conscious, and kind. With the quotes incorporated in the newspaper, we can see what her family and Augustus thought of her, as well as her own feelings. There are inaccuracies in this fictional newspaper. Indianapolis News posted its final issue on October 1, 1999, which means it is discontinued now. John Green also stated that the cancer-combating drug Phalanxifor is made-up and does not exist.

Images Cited

  • Lancaster, Hazel Grace. “Hazel Grace Lancaster (@hazlancaster1).” Twitter, Twitter, 14 Apr. 2018,
  • “‘The Drug Was Phalanxifor, This Molecule Designed to Attach Itself to Cancer Cells and Slow Their Growth…… | How and Why My Lungs Suck at Being Lungs | Nerd Problems, Tfios, The Fault in Our Stars.” Pinterest,

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Someday You’ll Learn

School has been the most constant part of every student’s daily routine for their entire life. It stresses them out. It makes them worry. But it is a necessity. Children have to be educated in order to be a powerful part of this generation, yet too many of them are forced to attend either no school or one of poor quality. Therefore, the facilities and faculty of migrant schools in China must be improved. The vast majority of migrant parents have low incomes, and do not earn nearly enough to pay the tuition of prestigious schools. Additionally, certain schools even discriminate against migrant children in admission tests. Treatment towards migrant children is extremely unjust, and they deserve as good an education as any city student. A quality school needs quality facilities to aid students throughout their learning, and an experienced faculty is even more important for the ideas being taught. Even though the amount of children attending migrant schools has dropped significantly over the past years, the existing students still deserve the highest level education possible. In order to reach that level of education, the school needs to have good amenities and experienced teachers.

The facilities are the most imperative part of any establishment, especially schools. Books, whiteboards, outdoor exercise areas and more are all crucial for a good education. This is because learning is never simply listening to a teacher drone on and on; there should be various hands-on experiences in order to further develop the concepts taught. Without quality facilities, this cannot be possible. A migrant school in Shunyi had barely decent equipment and are in need of more. It had a poor outdoor recreation area where injuries could easily happen, consisting of a concrete floor, a few table tennis tables, and a broken basketball hoop. In addition to that, the restrooms also had an unpleasant smell and lacked toilet paper, which was very unsanitary. The principal stated in an interview (Xiao, 2019) that it would be helpful if the school had more books and sports equipment.

Faculty, especially teachers are another important part of any school. During an interview (Xiao, 2019), the principal of the same school stated that there was one teacher in every class of 40 students. With such an unbalanced ratio, there will be significant difficulty in finding the time to thoroughly help every student who needs it.  The qualifications of certain teachers should also be improved. Good teachers need many qualities in order to be fit to educate children. For starters, they must be patient and understanding with concepts the students find difficult. More importantly, they also need to understand and comprehend the material extremely well to teach the students. A study in 2013 of over 300 migrant schools in Beijing and the same amount of rural schools in Shanxi showed that the rural schools had twice as many qualified teachers (Borgen, 2018).

Some may argue that the number of migrant children has decreased significantly over the past few years, and the time and money used for improvement could be put in better use in schools with larger student bodies. This is not untrue. The principal of a migrant school in Shunyi even informed the people through an interview (Xiao, 2019) that the student body started off with 900 children but decreased to around 450 over the course of six years since the school was established. However, the Chinese Ministry of Education states that every child needs to have nine years of education. These children have every right to the best education possible. If used correctly, there will be enough money to go around and we have to help as many students as possible.

There are currently a lot of problems in the world—global warming, violence, overuse of plastic, and much more. They must be solved by the next generation, the children, the leaders of tomorrow. In order to become a strong leader and come up with solutions, those children must be educated. A seventh of the entire world’s population resides in China, which is 1.4 billion. Almost 36 million of those are migrant children taken to the city by their parents. They are in desperate need of quality education, and that can only be achieved by improving the state of their current facilities and qualification of faculty. Privileged schools can also donate excess school supplies and even sports equipment to the migrant schools that need them. In order to aid the world and become a stronger nation itself, the facilities and faculty of China’s migrant schools need to improve.

Works Cited

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Love, Death, and the Void

My thoughts are stars

I cannot fathom into constellations.


I first read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green at the age of eight. Obviously, at that time I read it for the predominant reason of showing off long words and pretending like I was a much more sophisticated reader than I actually was. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t really get it. But over the years, as I reread it over and over again until the pages were yellowed, I realized just how powerful a message it delivered. The Fault in Our Stars tells the story of Hazel Grace Lancaster, an astute and cautious and 16-year-old girl diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. The cautiousness to let people into her life fades away when she meets Augustus Waters, and a whirlwind romance ensues. The book has exceptionally worthwhile themes, which include examples of many different yet equally powerful forms of love, how death is not something to fear but not to be easily accepted either, and the inevitability of oblivion.

There are many different yet equally powerful forms of love. The protagonist, Hazel Grace Lancaster, experiences and gives three forms. They include the love for family, romantic love, and the love for a friend. “You are amazing. You can’t know, sweetie, because you’ve never had a baby become a brilliant young reader with a side interest in horrible television shows, but the joy you bring us is so much greater than the sadness we feel about your illness.” (Green, 103) The first form of love is that from a family member, and is possibly also the most possible. Cancer—or any serious disease, really—doesn’t affect the patient alone. It also impacts their loved ones, sometimes even more. Hazel’s parents love her a lot, so naturally they are scared of what will happen when she is gone. However, their strong love allows them to power through the sadness the sickness brings and instead focus on the bright side: their daughter. “As he read, I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.” (125) Another form is love is romantic love. Hazel first meets Augustus at Support Group, where other cancer-stricken teens gather and share their thoughts, and it really is almost ironic how such a beautiful romance can bloom from such an unhappy place. “When the scientists of the future show up at my house with robot eyes and they tell me to try them on, I will tell the scientists to screw off, because I do not want to see a world without him.” (258) The final kind of love is platonic love, between close friends. This heartbreaking line is spoken by Isaac at his best friend Augustus’s funeral. While cancer took Augustus’s right leg (and eventually his life), it robbed Isaac of his sight. The two form a very close bond because of this, and understand each other in a way even lovers and family never could. I recently completed a book called I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, and it coincidentally had themes very similar to The Fault in Our Stars. The theme of family love is the most prominent, with the protagonists being twins. Noah and Jude have both small feuds and large conflicts, but they eventually figure it out at the end. Being siblings, especially ones identical in age, they both feel like their parents have favorites. Jude envies her mother’s favor for her brother and Noah envies her father’s favor for his sister. Their sorrow is even furthered when their mother passes away due to a car accident, and Noah especially is overwhelmed with grief. But things change as the years pass, and the twins learn to forgive each other and share their father’s love. Romantic love is also a somewhat prominent theme, with Jude and Oscar’s relationship and Noah and Brian’s short-lasting one. There is also friendship between Jude and her sculptor mentor Guillermo.

Death is not something to fear, but never fully accept it either. Being a victim of fatal cancer, the thought of death has crossed Hazel’s mind very many times. “But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really).” (3) A relatively pessimistic way to view death is something unescapable, which is true. For that reason, death is nothing to be afraid of. It is certain to happen to everyone and everything, and you have no say at all in the matter. “It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.” (20) This quote should not be taken in the literal sense that you can prevent death, because you cannot. What you can do is diminish its power. Don’t spend your last days in a state of sadness and fear; live them, really live them with your loved ones and once death finally gets you, you’ll go with no regrets. “People talk about the courage of cancer patients, and I do not deny that courage. I have been poked and stabbed and poisoned for years, and still I trod on.” (106) Total acceptance of death can be mirrored with surrender. People call cancer a “fight”, a “battle”, because strong patients will always try their hardest to find a way to overcome this impossible war. Countless forms of media have themes of mortality, loss, et cetra. I even made a podcast earlier on They Both Die at the End about, no surprise, the inevitability of death. One quote on death from Doctor Strange was particularly insightful to me— “Death is what gives life meaning. To know your days are numbered. Your time is short.”, spoken by the Ancient One. It’s a good quote, but I don’t entirely agree with it. Death does sort of give life meaning, to make your days count because you know they won’t last forever. But it most certainly is not the only factor. I believe what you do in the time you are given is far more important. The memories you make and the changes you create are what people will remember you by after you’re long gone.

Oblivion is inevitable. Everyone will one day be forgotten. As decades turn into millennia, the great people of our past will be lost in history as well. “I fear oblivion. I fear it like the proverbial blind man who’s afraid of the dark.” (12) When asked his greatest fear, this is how Augustus replies. After actually learning the meaning of oblivion, I realized I feared it immensely as well. Being forgotten is a scary thing. Waking up one day and finding everyone you ever loved not remember your name would be terrifying. “There will come a time when all of us are dead. All of us. There will come a time when there are no human beings remaining to remember that anyone ever existed or that our species ever did anything…And if the inevitability of human oblivion worries you, I encourage you to ignore it. God knows that’s what everyone else does.” (13) I do not expect my future to be one of fame and renown, and I do not think there will be a time where millions would know my name. But I have my family, and I do not want my future generations to ever forget me. However, just as I don’t even know my great-great-grandmother’s name, there is no way they will all remember me. The day will come when our name is spoken for the final time, and we all have no choice but to accept that. “I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.” (153) One day, the world will end. We probably will be long gone by then, but that does not mean you should not make the life you have count. Your life may be a tiny increment in the timeline of the universe, but to you, your family, your friends, and your lovers, it is everything. Make your shout into the void count.

The young adult novel genre is currently chock-filled with books like The Fault in Our Stars, mostly referred to as ‘sick-lit’. A book in that subgenre usually consists either one or both characters being sick with some kind of terminal illness and subsequently falling in love each other. The ending’s usually sad. I have read quite a few of those books, including Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and others. They were undoubtedly good, but none of them have quite made me feel as strongly as The Fault in Our Stars. Perhaps it was the characters, with exceedingly well-developed and lovable personalities, or maybe it was the themes, the lessons of the book that will echo in my heart forever. It taught me to appreciate all the differing yet valuable loves in my life; allowed me to no longer regard death and oblivion with fear. These lessons and this book are both timeless, and everyone should read it at least once in their lives.

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Pingyao 2019

The Spring trip to Pingyao was the most memorable part of my final year of middle school. The train ride there was a very long four hours, and during that time I learned that some trains had seats that could turn around. I also learned about the countryside beyond the window and that I had overestimated my snack appetite.

By the end of the trip, I learned that the people of Pingyao, Shanxi, really enjoyed flour. It was mostly used in noodles, and had an entire 90-minute long live show dedicated to it. I also learned more about the culture of Pingyao, and that vinegar was also a specialty.

The Pingyao Challenge, or the Amazing Race, was my favorite part of the trip. It was actually quite successful because we managed to get all the items and places on the list with ten minutes or so to spare. We also learned to collaborate with each other, despite being from different homerooms.

Because excessive walking tired most of our group members out, we paid for an electric cart to drive us to our final destination. The driver seemed to be driving for a long time, even longer than it would take us to walk. We thought we were being kidnapped for a second, but he then explained he had to drive around the main roads for pedestrian safety. After getting over our initial fear, it was a pretty funny moment of the trip.

The most challenging part of the trip was, by far, the extreme amounts of walking. I have never been a particularly sporty person at all, and even walking for a long time really exhausts me. But I still powered through it (mostly), and the high rankings or WeRun were almost worth it.

A memorable part of the trip was definitely the show. It was tiring because we had to stand for the majority of it, but it was still had me shook. The performances were very dramatic and emotional, and at some parts even scary. But it gave a very powerful message and furthered the people of Pingyao’s love for flour and noodles. It also showed the importance of home and family.

For the first time in a few years, I don’t have a ton of recommendations for this trip. It really good rooms, activities, food, and more. I could perhaps recommend more time during the after noon or late morning to explore Pingyao, because we only got nighttime and I felt like we could enjoy more scenes during the day. Overall, it was a really fun trip and I wish I could do it all over again.

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Make Me Pretty

When you meet someone, it is likely that the first thing you notice is their face—hair length, eye color, smile, et cetra. But it is their personality, who they are on the inside, that you must become familiar with in order to maintain a relationship with that person. That is not the case in the world of Uglies by Scott Westerfield, where society values physical beauty over individuality. The book contains many riveting themes on the value of beauty and individuality. The protagonist, Tally Youngblood, lives in a world where everyone is either an Ugly or a Pretty. Once a teen reaches the age of a sixteen, an extreme cosmetic makeover transforms them, gives them high cheekbones, huge eyes—the basic definition of rudimentary beauty. However, Tally meets Shay and her views on the once perfect society of Uglyville and New Pretty Town are severely altered. Throughout the story, Tally has many conflicts with Special Circumstances and herself. Would she betray her newfound friends to become pretty? Dirty secrets about the miracle operation are revealed along the way as well.

The protagonist, Tally, has strong but impressionable beliefs. It is expected of her, as she had lived in a closed society for fifteen years with no contact to the outside world. However, she is in no way weak. Once faced with the choice of the Smoke or becoming pretty, she chooses the Smoke. Even after accidentally activating the locket, Tally still helps as many Smokies as possible and eventually decides to give up her individuality to help Maddy and other Pretties with the lesion problem. With frizzy brown hair, thin lips, a flat nose, and beady hazel eyes that are much too close together, Tally is simply your ordinary, everyday Ugly. Peris, one of her old friends who was a new Pretty looks down upon her, but Shay does not. Shay sees something more, which was why she chose Tally as a friend and trusted her so quickly. David also sees the beauty beneath her not-so-beautiful physical appearance, which causes conflict—mainly jealousy—between Shay and Tally. Overall, Tally is simply your cliché dystopian girl protagonist, much like Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, Tris from Divergent, et cetra. A strong girl who, after discovering the dark side of her society, fights to spread knowledge and overthrow the unjust leaders. There also is some sort of love triangle thrown in there somewhere.

The predominant theme in Uglies is that the ability to think for yourself far outweighs the value of physical beauty. In the beginning, Tally excitedly counted down the days to her operation. But her mindset begins to change when she first meets Shay, a girl who turns her nose up at Pretties and focusing on escaping to the Smoke instead, where she can keep her individuality. She tells Tally to come along as well. “Shay’s eyes flashed. ‘Or maybe when they do the operation—when they grind and stretch your bones to the right shape…and stick in the plastic cheekbones so you look like everybody else—maybe after going through all that you just aren’t very interesting anymore.’” (Westerfield, 49) This line makes Tally realize for the first time the dangers of the operation that turns everyone “pretty”. The task is a difficult and dangerous one, Tally did see how it changed people’s thoughts. With a newly Pretty friend Peris, a small part of Tally does believe what Shay said. “Perhaps the logical conclusion of everyone looking the same was everyone thinking the same.” (259) After spending a while in the Smoke, many terrible secrets about the operation are revealed by David’s parents. Named Maddy and Az, they were previous doctors who prepared the operation themselves. The reveal the problem with brain lesions, a result of the surgery. It often changed the minds of the new Pretties. With everyone having the same amount of physical beauty, it did make sense that your inner personality would be equalized as well.  “Your personality—the real you inside—was the price of beauty.” (388) At the end of the book, Tally realizes what really is important—not beauty, but individuality. A large part of that is the ability to think for yourself, which disappears along with your physical flaws during the surgery. Beauty is nice to have, but thinking for yourself is what differentiates you from the rest of the world. And that makes you powerful.

Our current society today mirrors the one of Uglies very strongly. In our world today, especially in social medias such as Instagram, we are shown many instances of the “ideal” body, or the most mainstream idea of beauty. Big eyes, full lips, skinny waists. Those qualities are seen so many times it’s a wonder how people are not bored of them yet, but some spend all their lives striving for that goal, to look as pretty as society’s definition. Their self-esteem is also lowered as they are fed more and more examples of “perfect” people. That may push those individuals to brink and force them to change themselves, to give up their personality and ideology for superficial beauty. Of course, there are still those who realize that what is inside is far more important, which is true. Individuality is far more more important than your body shape, and your unique ideas far outweigh the value of shallow beauty. A surgery can be invented to make everyone look equally pretty like in Uglies, but as Tally eventually realizes, the ability to think for yourself is the most important quality of a functioning human.

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See You on the Other Side of the War

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Stand Up and Stand Strong

It’s 1775, and the colonists are enraged over Britain’s unfair taxation. The book Give Me Liberty—a quote by Patrick Henry that sparked the American Revolution—by L.M. Elliott writes from the view of thirteen-year-old Nathaniel Dunn, who lives a difficult life as an indentured servant living in colonial Virginia. He is originally bought by a cruel blacksmith, but in a twist of fate including a runaway horse, he meets Basil. Nathaniel then begins work under Basil, who also teaches him about music and books. Whether to fight for liberty or stay low and stay safe is a difficult choice for such a young person. Nathaniel also meets new friends, including Ben, who teaches him more about liberty for the colonists. However, his old friend, Moses, is fighting for the British. As a runaway slave, his beliefs are obviously very different from Nathaniel. But at the end, Nathaniel finally learns to stand up for what he believes in, for it is the only way to achieve his dreams.

A constant theme throughout the novel is that the only way to achieve your dreams is to stand up for what you believe in. “‘Come with me?’ Ben’s voice was uncharacteristically vulnerable. ‘We could use a good man like you. Please?’ Asked like that, Nathaniel could not refuse. He couldn’t sleep anyway. Plus, he suddenly had a new interest in the colonists’ demand for liberty.” (Elliott, 246) Liberty was introduced to Nathaniel first by Ben. He, along with John and other boys, work for Edan Maguire, a slightly unstable and strict man. Ben and Nathaniel become fast friends. “The choice was simple. ‘I am going with you, then,’ Nathaniel said stoutly. ‘I want to get back at the British for Ben, too,’. He almost, almost confessed that he could bear the thought of losing Basil.” (258) Another very important person in Nathaniel’s life is Basil, his master and teacher. He cares about the old man dearly, and goes off to fight against the British not only for liberty and independence, not only for Ben, but also to look after Basil. “‘No, Moses. It’s not like that. I’m free now. I choose to fight.’ Moses crossed his arms in disgust. ‘You going to fight for people who whine for their own liberty and keep me in chains?’” (323) Nearing the end of the book, Nathaniel finally learns what he believes in and what his dreams are. Moses was an old friend of his, whom he has known for longer than Ben and Basil. But when faced with the difficult choice of choosing between his friend and his own dreams, Nathaniel ultimately selects what he believes in. It never is easy, but sometimes you do need to let go of the old to make room for the new. Saying goodbye to Moses was difficult, but Nathaniel knew it was what he needed to do. The only way Nathaniel could achieve his dreams was to stand up for what he truly believed in—liberty.

Another character whose story shared the same thing is Steve Rogers, also known as Captain America. As a scrawny kid who got beat up a good half dozen times a day, it would make sense to just stay down. But Steve never did that. The one thing he wanted was to become a soldier and fight for America in World War II, but he couldn’t due to to his asthma and various other health problems. Nonetheless, he still stood up every time he got knocked down and never gave up in what he believed in—doing the right thing. He eventually takes a super-soldier serum that makes him physically much stronger. People think that the serum was the only thing that made him strong, but that is not correct. The serum simply amplifies the what is within the taker—good becomes great, bad becomes worse. What made Captain America so strong is his sense of righteousness. Like Nathaniel, Steve also had an older, wiser person in his life that taught him many important lessons—Dr. Abraham Erksine. The person in Steve’s life closest to the role of Ben or Moses would be Bucky Barnes, his childhood best friend and who fought alongside him in the war. Like Nathaniel Dunn, Steve Rogers stood up for what he believed in. That is an important lesson to everyone.

“Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say ‘No, you move’.”

-Sharon Carter quoting Peggy Carter in Captain America: Civil War

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The World Turned Upside Down

The American Revolution was the first instance in history where a country broke free from its ruler. The idea of independence came from the people, who realized that a tiny island across the sea should not be able to rule their entire country. The Boston Massacre of 1770 was what mainly sparked the revolution. The colonist patriots saw how ruthless and cruel the British were (from their perspectives, at least), and began to demand change. It ended with the Battle of Yorktown, 1781. Over the course of a long seven years, America finally broke away from Britain and could call themselves their own country. This video explains five turning points of the American Revolution.

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