"I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious" - Albert Einstein

Making Music: Define and Inquire and Develop and Plan

Pause my Life:

The first song that I made for this Ignite Week was “Pause my Life.” I made it by first coming up with a melody, then adding to the melody in my head; I started doing this a couple of months ago. After I thought of the melody, I decided that the song should have lyrics to it, which meant that the song would need to be about something, and I thought the song could be about how many people are so busy with life that they don’t actually have time to enjoy it. I thought of this because I never had the time to finish the song, until I had a break. After defining the problem, I made the lyrics for the song. By the first day of Ignite Week, I had already finished the song, so all I needed to do on Monday was record the instruments and the vocals. While thinking of the melody, I think I was influenced by the music I was listening to very often during the time, which were funk songs with catchy bass lines, so I tried to imitate some of the songs. However, originally the melody for the chorus sounded very medieval and reminded me of a choir, so I tried to incorporate many harmonies and drones and a funky style of music into one song. I did this by using GarageBand; I recorded the harmonies and used the drums and the bass.

Difficult Life:

This song was about a person leaving a place with people that did not really like them, and the person did not really like the people either. However, they still felt a bit of regret not being friends with the each other. In addition, the chorus is about their expectations for this new place. This song was a duet between the people and the person. I decided this would be what the song was about because I wanted to make some sort of duet, but I didn’t want it to be about love, because there are already many songs about love. Before thinking about the problem that the song is about, I first thought of a fingerpicking pattern for the guitar and it first sounded very happy, but then I realised that it would be good if it was actually two people agreeing that the other should leave. This song also was an excuse to practice harmonies and echoes, because I found those very interesting around the time I made this song. Before recording the song, I first made the guitar part using GarageBand because I didn’t have access to a guitar yet, and I made the melody and harmonies on the piano just in case I forgot what they sounded like. Then, I made the lyrics and recorded the singing at home.

To Success:

I actually made most of this song in my head before Ignite Week and I had already written the lyrics, so all I had to do was record the instruments and vocals. However, I think the lyrics were a bit too cheesy and could have been better. I made the ukulele part of this song while playing around on the ukulele; I switched between playing the chords Gsus4 and G major, and then I switched between playing the chords Am7 and C major having my fingers in the same position. Then I made up a melody in my head to go with the chords. After that I made the lyrics. Making the lyrics was a bit difficult because I didn’t know what to make the song about, so then I chose a topic that most people might be able to relate to; wanting to be successful in life. I didn’t really need to record the melody on the piano first because I had the tune stuck in my head for a while before Ignite Week.

How I Made an Essay and Call to Action About Synthetic Sunscreen

Phase I of my Capstone project was choosing a topic, creating a compelling question and curating resources. I chose my topic, toxic chemicals in synthetic sunscreen, by browsing the internet for ideas and looking at different problems that relate to the environment, society and the economy. I ended up finding a video called “The Story of Microbeads” by the Story of Stuff, and that led me to the idea of having my topic about cosmetics. Therefore, I researched about different Chinese companies that sell cosmetics and found different sections: skincare, makeup and SPF products. Also, as I was searching for sources related to cosmetics, I found several websites about sunscreen and I became interested in the ingredients that were used, so I decided that my topic would be about toxic chemicals in sunscreen. When creating my compelling question, I first made a question that was really globally connected. However, it needed to be locally connected as well, so I decided that the problem would be about Chinese sunscreen in China; if I decided that it would be about Chinese sunscreen in Beijing or another city, it would be too specific. My final compelling question was, “How might we persuade producers in China to stop using toxic ingredients in the production of sunscreen?” Instead of searching for resources online to get information about sunscreen, I also surveyed people who lived in the Hutong. I found out that people who have more money tend to use cosmetics and sunscreen more often than people with less money.

The second part of my Capstone project was about creating an essay to answer the compelling question. During this part of the project, I learnt about formal language, counterclaims and rebuttals, and MLA citations. I also had to make a model to summarise the claims and evidence in my essay. Learning about formal language was useful for my essay because it made my essay sound professional and strong; learning about formal language made me choose strong words such as “must” and phrases such as “the evidence shows…” The ability to make counterclaims and rebuttals was an important part of my essay as well, because in order to meet the standard for the essay I had to make at least one counterclaim and rebuttal. I also think this skill will be useful in other situations such as a debate. MLA citations was also an important skill I learnt about because the bibliography had to be in MLA format. I also think using MLA citations would be useful for the future because it is a commonly used format for bibliographies.

The last part of my Capstone project was creating a call to action about the problem that my Capstone project is about. I did this by building empathy, creating a storyboard and watching other short films to get inspiration. Building empathy is important in creating a call to action because people have to be interested and hooked when they’re watching a call to action. I built empathy in my film by sharing a story of a 15 year old girl; some people will be able to relate to the story. Creating a story board was also important in creating a call to action because I had to follow a plan in order to manage my time well and create a call to action that meets the standard. I also watched other short films to get inspiration on the music and the type of call to action I should make. I ended up making a story/narrative.

This is my call to action:

Define and Inquire

In Humans of ISB, the final product is a charcoal drawing, a quote and a photograph of a person in ISB. However, in order to make the final product, I had to plan who I was going to talk to, why I wanted to talk to them and what I was going to ask them. On the first day of Ignite Week, I had to think of six different types of people I was going to interview and I chose to interview a Sodexo worker, a teacher of about 50-60 years old, a teacher of about 30-40 years old, an elementary student, a middle school student and a high school student.  I chose to interview these people because they were all of different ages, and I also chose to interview a Sodexo worker because their faces are usually covered up and not many people talk to them. For making the questions, everyone made different questions, but in the end we decided to have the same questions so we could compare the different answers from different people. The questions were: “What was the happiest moment in your life?” and “What are you worried about right now?” We tried to ask deep questions, but also questions that are not too heavy because it may make the person uncomfortable; the people we were talking to are people who we are not familiar with as well. In order to actually find people, interview them and take their pictures, I walked around school until I found people that matched the characteristics of the people I had in mind. However, I didn’t end up interviewing a high school student and instead interviewed two middle school students. When I interviewed them I recorded most of what they said so that I could get a direct quote, and after that I took their picture.

For the charcoal drawing, we had a lesson with Mr. Northcott where we learned how to make a value scale in charcoal. After I took portraits of the people I interviewed, I chose the best one, made it black and white and sent it to Mr. T, who then sent it to Mr. Northcott so that he could start the charcoal drawing by outlining important parts of the portrait. I started drawing the next day.

Develop and Plan

These are the people I took pictures of and interviewed:

I ended up drawing this person:


Create and Improve

After I took a picture of the person I was going to draw, it was sent to Mr. Northcott who outlined the key features of the picture. The next day, I started drawing the person and I used blocks of black and white charcoal, and also used the charcoal pencils. I used the blocks to colour big spaces such as the forehead and used the pencils to draw the little details such as the eyes. To help me draw a portrait of this person, I taped my picture which was black and white, a value scale and a past student’s portrait next to the paper I was going to draw on. It was difficult to start drawing the portrait, because I didn’t know where to start, so I started drawing different parts of the person’s face, and then I started drawing the teeth. After I drew the teeth, I went back to the forehead, but then realised I should start drawing the hair, so I did that. Then, I drew the lips, eyes and nose, and left the face, because the lips, eyes and nose were some of the most important parts of the portrait. Lastly, I finished drawing the face, neck and shirt, then added some little details after most of it was done. I also made the background a bit more dirtier because it adds feeling to the portrait. The process took around five blocks (six hours and 40 minutes).

This is the finished portrait:

End of Project Space Race

In Project Space Race, my group and I had to pitch an idea about sending a rover to an exoplanet to a number of investors. In order to have a well designed rover, we needed to do some research about the exoplanet we were travelling to; Trappist-1e. This research allowed us to improve our design of the rover, because we realised in order for our rover to be able to withstand Trappist-1e’s characteristics, we would have to make some changes to it. What also sparked innovation for our rover was that we were competing against others; we had to think of new and different ideas so that we could stand out and have investors choose us over other companies.

While pitching our idea to investors during the exhibition, some important things they took away was the similarity between Trappist-1e and Earth’s characteristics and how Trappist-1e was at least 50% water. Some people were confused as to how we were going to make our rover waterproof, how it was going to move in the water and how it was going to go back up to the surface, but we were able to answer their questions. We said that all coding related objects, such as wires, are going to be sealed inside the rover and the material withstanding the water will be carbon fibre. In addition, the rover was going to move through the water using its propeller, and was going to come back up to the surface of the water using automatic flotation devices. During the exhibition, I noticed that some students didn’t seem to be interested in our idea, so I decided to show them the coding, which was probably the most exciting part of our pitch. This is because they were able to see that our wheels could move and could actually help make them stop moving by putting their hand in front of the ultrasonic sensor. For my next iteration, I would try to organise my time more effectively so the amount of unfinished work doesn’t pile up near the end of the project and remember to take notes in learning new skills that I may need for the project.

During Project Space Race, some interesting things I learned about are: the Space Race, Cold War and New Space companies, which helped me understand how competition makes new ideas be created and improved. For example, during the Space Race, America kept being one step behind the Soviet Union because they were doing the same things that the Soviet Union were doing. They then realised that in order to be ahead of the Soviet Union, they had to think of a completely new mission; going to the Moon. In other words, the competition between the Soviet Union and America caused America to think of a new and innovative idea. In addition, the driving question impacts me or my community because in order to be successful people have to be creative and persuasive, and to be able to continue innovating, some people may need to earn money from an investor. For example, if one group of people had a very creative idea about a project, but the second group was more presentable and confident, and both are pitching an idea to an investor, then it would be difficult for the investor to choose who to invest. Looking back on this Project Space Race, I realise that some important things about this project were collaboration and competition. For example, New Space companies had to think of new and creative ideas to earn money, but they also had to work together to achieve their goal. However, a big question I still have is: Is it possible to keep innovating forever? What if the amount of resources on Earth run out?  


End of Project Consume Reflection

Final product

During Project Consume, I learned about the extraction, production, distribution, consumption and disposal of single-use plastic, and the effects it has on the world. I learned that it had mainly negative effects on society and the environment, but positive effects on the economy. However, the process of making the single-use plastic and consuming it is not sustainable, which means that one day the economy won’t be gaining anymore money from it. I had to use this information to answer the following two questions:

  • What is the relationship between consumption and sustainability?
  • How can we make a sustainable change?

The main ideas that people took away from my video was that plastic kills animals and people, and harms the environment. They also learned that bioplastic can be an alternative to single-use plastic because it is biodegradable and is made of cornstarch; some children were surprised by this, because they didn’t know that cornstarch could be made into bioplastic. Some suggestions people gave me was to make the inspiration that my video was supposed to give stronger, but I still changed some people’s opinions on consuming plastic. Many children didn’t like the fact that animals and people were dying because of the disposal of plastic, and some people saw my product (Vinda Classic Blue toilet paper) and was very angry that my product was wrapped in plastic, but then wrapped in another piece of plastic. Overall I think my video affected most people and changed their thoughts on consuming plastic, but if I could do this project again I would focus on making the inspiration stronger.

Based on my research, the relationship between consumption and sustainability includes the supply and demand of a product. If the demand for a product is high, then the supply of a product will need to increase, which means there will need to be more extraction of resources, production, distribution, consumption and disposal. Single-use plastic can be used as an example. During the extraction of oil, oil spills could occur which harms the society by causing illnesses to happen. The environment also gets harmed because oil, which is a toxic liquid, could be exposed to wildlife on both land and sea, which could severely injure them or kill them. During the production of single-use plastic, great amounts of carbon dioxide is released into the air, which contributes to global warming. Based on this evidence only, I can observe that this process is not sustainable for the earth. Therefore, to make it sustainable, the demand for single-use plastic will need to lessen, so that the supply for single-use plastic will also decrease.

In order for the demand of single-use plastic to decrease, society will have to start buying products that don’t include single-use plastic. However, because most products are either wrapped in single-use plastic or are actually single-use plastic, some companies will need to start using alternatives to it, such as bioplastic, a type of plastic that is biodegradable and can be made out of materials such as cornstarch. Hopefully, as the demand for single-use plastic lessens, more and more companies will start using bioplastic or even paper, which is also biodegradable, to sell their products.

My New Avatar

My avatar represents me because the avatar has small ears (I found out I had quite small ears after my microphone fell off several times during drama), a smile that could mean I’m either happy or going to do something mischievous, and a rectangle around the eye that represents my glasses. I used Picasso Head to create my avatar.

Picasso Head: http://www.picassohead.com/create.html

Make It: Final Presentation

The final trip on Thursday was behind schedule, mainly because a great number of people missed the subway at the first station (China International Exhibition Center), but after our group reformed we moved quickly and responsibly, and didn’t split up on purpose. The only time we purposely split up into different groups was when the subway was slightly packed, so the groups were spread out to ensure that not only one area was really crowded with people.

This is our schedule:

  1. Bus Drive: ISB to China International Exhibition Center – 9:00 am on subway
  2. Line 15: China International Exhibition Center to Olympic Green (Bird’s Nest). 5 RMB – Arrive at 9:30 am
  3. Line 8: Olympic Green to Olympic Sports Center (Tennis). 3 RMB – Arrive at 10:00 am
  4. Line 8: Olympic Sports Center to GuLouDaJie. Change to Line 2: GuLouDaJie to YongHeGong (Lama Temple). 4 RMB – Arrive at 10:30 am
  5. Line 2: YongHeGong to DongSiShiTiao (Football). 3 RMB – Arrive at 10:50 am
  6. Line 2: DongSiShiTiao to ChaoYangMen. Change to Line 6: ChaoYangMen to QingNianLu (Joy City). 4 RMB – Arrive at 12:20 pm
  7. Line 6: QingNianLu to JinTaiLu. Change to Line 14: JinTaiLu to WangJing. Change to Line 15: WangJing to China International Exhibition Center. 6 RMB – Arrive at 1:10 pm
  8. Bus Drive: China International Exhibition Center to ISB – 1:10 pm on bus

This is the map of the route we intended to take.

Inside the subway during rush hour.

A challenge we encountered was reforming our group, because of the incident at the China International Exhibition Center. My group decided we would stop at the next station, SunHe, to meet up with the people who were left behind. However, it was then that we read the WeChat messages of the rest of our group saying that we should meet up at Olympic Green, so we got back on the next subway that came to SunHe and went straight to Olympic Green. Another challenge we encountered was time management. Since we were falling behind schedule, and couldn’t get back on schedule at Olympic Green or the Olympic Sports Center, we had to take going to DongSiShiTiao (the football place) off our schedule so that we wouldn’t be late for the bus. Time management is also a skill I developed.

While on the subway going to YongHeGong Lama Temple, I recorded the amount of time it took to get to the next stop and how long it took for people to get on before the doors closed. I recorded around 1 minute and 30 seconds for the time it took to get to the next stop, and around 30 seconds for the amount of time it took for people to get on the subway. While we were waiting for people to get food and drinks around a few minutes before 2:00 pm, in Joy City, I counted the amount of stops and intersections we had to get to the China International Exhibition Center from QingNianLu. I counted 12 stops and two intersections, and because one stop would be around two minutes, and an intersection would be about five minutes, I realised it would take around 34 minutes to get to the China International Exhibition Center from QingNianLu, without organising tickets or getting on the bus. Since organising tickets takes around 10 minutes, I suggested we leave at 2:00 pm at the latest to give us extra time just in case someone gets left behind or some other incident happens. However, we ended up leaving Joy City a few minutes after 2:00 pm, and got on the bus a few minutes after 3:00 pm. This is how I realised how I could manage my time on subways, or in real life.

The amount of time it takes to get to one stop to another: 1:30 seconds

The amount of time for people to get on the subway: 30 seconds

1:30 and 30 seconds makes 2 minutes

One stop: 2 minutes

During this trip, I enjoyed seeing all the places we visited (especially the attractions) and facing the challenge of sticking together as a group on one of the busiest subway systems in the world, while following a schedule. I also enjoyed developing my skills for time management, and experiencing what it is like on the subway during rush hours.

Make It: Develop & Plan

I hope to be able to use estimation skills to develop my time management skills. I can use my watch to record the amount of time for one stop to be able to estimate how long it will take to get somewhere, and my phone to write down the time I will record. I can tell if my estimation was accurate by timing the how long it took to actually get to the place we wanted to go. If we are falling behind schedule, this skill will be helpful because we have to get back to the bus at 3:00 pm, and if we are too late it will cause some problems with after school activities or getting home.

Watch for timer

Phone for taking notes

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