Technology 7: Current Events

Recently, our country has been in turmoil. There is chaos in our streets, in our homes, in the media, and in the offices of our politicians. However, I think that some solutions that have been suggested are also ridiculous. Some people are proposing getting rid of the police entirely! That’s ridiculous! While some members of the police force have done bad things, not all police are evil! Honestly, I think that this problem is mostly the result of the fact that America is deeply divided, politically. Many people get their news from one media channel, but all media channels have their bias. They keep some facts and ignore others. For example, many media channels that usually portray a more Democratic opinion go on and on about how great protesters are, what President Trump is doing wrong, and how we should completely get rid of the police because they all of them are murderers. They completely ignore the fact that there are some rioters who kill police, destroy property, and basically commit criminal acts and instead depict all these protests to be peaceful parades that have been overrun by the police. They also ignore that while some police have done terrible, unforgivable things, not all police are like that. Some police are aiding and marching with the rioters, and honestly, many of them retaliate at crowds because those crowds are throwing bricks or bags of urine at them. How can you be expected not to retaliate if your life is in danger? But, from reading articles by CNN, one would think that police are murdering all protesters regardless of what they are doing. On the flip side, media channels that usually portray a more Republican opinion talk about how incredible Trump is, how police are killed or injured everyday during riots, and how all protesters are thugs that should be locked up for life. They don’t care that many protesters are peaceful and are simply trying to fight for what they believe in, they just want to focus on the damage that riots have created. In these articles, one could find pages and pages filled with the problems that riots have caused and how much abuse police have taken, but there isn’t a word about the damage that some police officers have caused. These channels aren’t addressing the fact that in this country, people who aren’t part of the majority are often suppressed or given fewer opportunities, they simply make all protesters seem like terrorists and say that the President is a genius who will save this country, even when he makes misogynistic and racist comments. This is why, from reading articles by Fox news, one would think that all protesters are criminals who have destroyed this country. Now, if two people with no background knowledge of what’s happening right now went into a room and each read an article, one person read one by CNN and the other read one by Fox, they would come out with very different opinions about what is happening in this country. While, one can expect bias in the media, when people get all their knowledge from one source and blindly believe it, they only learn about one side of the story, and this is a large reason why chaos is so present in our country right now.

Technology 7: Recycling

In many towns, people throw away plastics because their recycling facility won’t take them. However, other towns might take these materials. If I were throwing away plastics because my town didn’t take them but then learned that other towns accepted those plastics, I honestly don’t know if I would go to those towns to recycle the plastics. On one hand, it would take a lot of effort to go to drive to another town every week or so. That would take a great deal of time, which I usually don’t have a lot of to spare. It would also mean that I would have to constantly set aside some of my plastic and remember where it was, which would be hard since I’m forgetful. On the other hand, I would feel super guilty if I didn’t do it, and it would probably bother me when I went to sleep. That’s a big incentive, because I like to sleep and have a hard time doing it when there is something on my mind. Additionally, I do want to help reduce the amount of plastic we produce, and if I didn’t recycle, I would definitely feel like I was contributing to the problem, which I would be.

After weighing these options, I think that I would probably try to recycle the plastic, but not on a regular basis. I would wait until the plastic gathered and I would only go to the recycling facility in the other town if I was planning on doing something there first. That means that I wouldn’t go every week and I wouldn’t drive all the way to another town just to recycle. I would wait until I had another reason to go to that town, like for a violin lesson or to go fruit shopping, and only then would I drive there. Then, I would stop by the facility on my way and drop off the plastic. Also, I might not always drop off the plastic and some weeks, I might just throw it out. Still, I would make an effort to go to the other town at least every once in a while and I would try to save my plastic in a box somewhere so that i wouldn’t forget where it was. This would allow me to help the planet and save my conscience, without me having to take on too much extra work.

Technology 7: Plastic

While plastic is very common in our world, not all types of plastic are used in the same manner, nor in the same amount. In the photos that I took of the plastic in my material box, I had about 8 pieces of plastic that belonged to the fifth group, 6 pieces that belonged to group 1, and then one piece for groups 2, 3, 4, 6, and unlabeled. I didn’t find any plastic that was marked with the number 7. This means that mainly, in my material box, there was polyethylene terephthalate(PETE) and polypropylene(PP).

I believe that PETE is commonly used because it is light yet strong and can be produced at a low-cost. The reasons for why people use PP are probably quite similar, and PP is probably common because it is cheap, heat resistant, light, tough, and easy to manufacture. This means that both these plastics are economical. Also, they probably just fit the needs of what many objects require. For example, PETE is used in water bottles because plastic water bottles need to be cheap but don’t need to be all that strong. Additionally, there has recently been a push for people to use materials that are recyclable so many probably insist to use plastic that can be recycled, allowing themselves to feel like they’re doing a good job saving the environment, even if they drive a gas guzzling SUV to work everyday without carpooling and constantly leave all the lights on in their house, even when they’re not home*. Both PETE and PP are recyclable, which is another reason for why they may be so readily used. However, while reusing PP is encouraged, because it is strong and serves as a barrier against moisture, grease and chemicals, reusing PETE is usually a bad idea, because that increases the risk of leaching and bacterial growth. These are a few reasons for why PETE and PP may be commonly used.

But honestly, while people are told to reuse and recycle, I think reusing got lost somewhere along the way and now, people recycle like crazy. This makes sense because when you recycle something, you don’t have to think about it anything and you get a good feeling because you feel like you’re saving the world. Reusing the item takes more work for the user because you have to clean the object multiple times, and truthfully, most people just aren’t willing to put up with that kind of work. I recently watched this podcast which talked about where our recycling was going these days, and recycling objects is only done if it’s financially smart. So, is all the plastic we recycle really being recycled, or is it just kept in a storage unit somewhere? That’s what I wonder.

Note: I tried to upload the photos that I had taken of my plastic, but apparently the format wasn’t supported so I couldn’t do that.

* I know I’m probably ranting here, but I’m in a really bad mood today and I really don’t like people who preach about saving the environment and whatnot and then waste energy. For example, there are some celebrities who give speeches about how we need to stop global warming and then, after the speech, they hop into their private jet which uses enough energy to light up a small country for a month. These people think that just by talking, they can solve everything. Talking does nothing if you don’t take action. Hypocrites are probably my least favorite type of people. They drive me nuts. While I understand that these people may be trying to make a difference, I think they should look at themselves first before criticizing everyone else.

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Technology 7: Types of Wood

Wood surrounds us. It is everywhere, from the instruments we play to the furniture which we sit on. These items are usually made of three main types of wood; Softwoods, Hardwoods, and Engineered Woods.

Softwoods are made from conifer trees, or trees which bear cones and needles. Some common softwood trees are Spruce, Fir, Pine, and Redwood. While soft woods can be found in furniture or around a house, this species is mostly used in construction, specifically when building roof trusses or utility style structures like electricity poles. As many Softwoods are able to resist insects and rot, they are often used outside.

Hardwoods come from any tree which produces leaves and seeds in the place of needles or cones. These trees are most commonly are known as deciduous trees, or trees that loose their leaves. Common hardwood species include oak, maple, cherry, mahogany, and walnut. Many hardwood species are well known for their distinctive and exquisite wood grain patterns. Due to this, Hardwoods are often used in walls, floors, bowls, furniture, or for other decorative purposes. Certain species of trees, like bamboo, have similar qualities to those of other Hardwood species, so while they are not deciduous, they are often considered to be part of the Hardwood family.

While ‘Hardwood’ does have ‘hard’ in it and ‘Softwood’ contains the word ‘soft,’ the distinction between Hardwoods and Softwoods depends more on the type of tree used to manufacture a certain piece of wood rather than its strength. The variations of strength in both groups is enormous and many Hardwood species, like balsa wood, are far worker than certain Softwood species. Some other differences between Softwoods and Hardwoods are the fact that Hardwoods are more expensive than Softwoods. Additionally, Hardwoods take a longer time to grow when compared to Softwoods.

Engineered, or manufactured, wood does not occur naturally in the environment and is instead manipulated through chemical processes to have certain qualities that are hard to come by in nature, like extra strength or size. Also known as composite wood, Engineered woods are often made from the waste wood of sawmills. Popular examples of engineered woods include Plywood, Oriented Strand Board, Medium Density Fiber Board, and Composite Board. Engineered woods are used for everything, ranging from furniture to decorations.

Technology 7: Land Uses

Open forest...mountain... : Photos, Diagrams & Topos ...

Forest land can be used for many things. Harvesting trees and manufacturing them for lumber is only one of the possible uses. These days, open land is in a lot of demand. Everyone likes to go on a hike or bike ride in the open air. People also enjoy hunting or fishing outside. Since there aren’t as many open plots of land as there were a few decades ago, the existing ones would be very popular for outdoor activities. If a few hiking, biking, and running trails were set up and there were some nice views for picnic areas, I’m sure someone could make a lot of money by charging people to enter and enjoy the scenery. Additionally, one could use a plot of land as a community space. A few years ago, there was a Little House Movement, in which people build miniature houses. If a land owner could afford it, he, she, or they could build houses on their land and rent it out to homeless people at low or no cost. If it became big enough, this could also become a tourist attraction since everyone enjoys seeing people doing good things. It could also turn into a STEM program, with field trips from schools or summer camps coming to look at the architecture or design of a miniature house. Another way to use the open land would be to turn it into a gardening area. If there are some plots of land that are relatively clear, a land owner could employ people from a nearby neighborhood to come and farm the area. Then, every spring, a farmer’s market could be set up where the fresh fruits and vegetables would be sold. This would be another way to get money and profit off of others. In addition, one could set up a sports camp in which people could enjoy nature and learn about animals for a price. With some good teachers, that would be a big deal, especially if the plot of forest was really pretty.

If I were given a plot of forest land, I think I would do a mixture of all of the things I listen above. I would put trails for people to hike, run, or bike on and definitely charge them a lot of money for entering. Picnic areas would also be there and I would put some cabins in which I could employ rangers to teach children about the wilderness. I would also build some miniature houses in another part of the land. Maybe I could employ the people who lived in these houses in my plot of land so that they could make some money and move out after a while. I would also put an area of my plot aside for gardening. The people who lived in my miniature houses would probably be employed over there and every spring, we would make a killing by selling our fruits and vegetables at ridiculous prices to the people who live nearby. After all this is in place, I would invite schools over for field trips(Of course, they would have to pay me to go) to see my gardens, plots of land, and houses. They could learn about botany, engineering, dendrology, plant taxonomy, and biology. Every summer, I would start a summer camp where young children could learn these things as well and be outside for hours every day, hiking, biking, and running. All my profits would be poured back into my company so that I could expand further and utilize forest plots all over the nation. By doing this, I think I could become a valued part of a community and make a ton of money while I’m at it!

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Technology 7: Differences in Communication Between Genders

While it is interesting that more boys speak up in Zoom classes when they have questions and more girls ask questions or share comments through email, I don’t particularly think that this is something that is influenced by the gender. For example, in some of my other classes, a ton of girls are speaking in class and many of the boys stay quiet. Most likely, this is influenced by personalities or the mood of a person on a given day. Some of the girls who are attending tech class zoom may be more reserved than the boys because they just don’t like speaking on camera, or some of them may only think of questions later, after the Tech zooms are over. I know that I don’t really like speaking on Zooms because I get nervous when I think of the whole class hearing me and I am more comfortable drafting an email, where I can rewrite and revise my thoughts multiple times before having them shared. I also know that other girls hate having to write emails because they take too long and they just want to get things over with and share their thoughts on a whim. To me, that’s quite disturbing, but that’s just my opinion. Additionally, I know some boys who don’t really feel comfortable talking through Zooms because everyone is watching and catching every word you say, which I can relate to, because I don’t really like that either. Due to this, I don’t really think that the differences in communication is dependent on the gender of a student and relies more on how comfortable the feel speaking in class.

Technology 7: What is it like to build something?

To “build” something means to create something out of an idea and give it a purpose. An item that someone builds can look like anything. It can be any size, out of any material, and for any intent. Everything in the world has been built, from the chairs we sit on to the very world we are in. I would also like to include that I believe a computer program is something that has been built because it serves a purpose and stemmed from an idea. Not everything that has been built can be held. Over the years, I have built many things with various missions in my mind, whether it was too make someone happy or to make my room cooler than my sister’s. I used to build frames and chests out of wood for holiday or birthday presents. Since I’m broke more often than not, those are usually the only presents that I can give. I’ve also built Rube Goldberg machines, many things out of Legos, and bird houses. Right now, I haven been making various computer programs and am working on building a hideout in my backyard and a diorama of a rural scene. The diorama is probably my favorite thing to work on because ever since I was young, I have wanted to build one. Their intricate details fascinate and while I have wanted to, I never really had the tools or time to create one before. Usually, I build things with a member of my family, but I do occasionally work alone. For example, the hideout that I am building is with my older sister, but the diorama I am building by myself. Most of the objects that I have built have been destroyed by my brother, but I still have a few left. For instance, I will have not and never will let my brother go near my diorama, so hopefully that will remain intact. Unfortunately, my brother has gotten into the room where I had my Legos and Rube Goldberg machine and quickly destroyed all of them, so those are gone. I enjoy building things because it allows me to think and reflect. When I was younger and I was building my Legos, I would always make a story that involved the item I was building. I still do that now. It allows me to focus and gather my thoughts. Building things are frustrating and occasionally painful, which surprisingly makes me happier. I got a soldering iron for my last birthday and I remember one time, I had the genius idea of touching the tip because I thought that the solderer was off. That was a mistake. My finger got severely burned and I wouldn’t touch the iron for a week, even though I was in the middle of a project. Afterwards though, I felt happy because if you haven’t burned yourself with a soldering iron, you are either really careful(which I am not) or you just haven’t used it enough. Additionally, when I code, sometimes, my program doesn’t run even though all my code looks perfect. Often, I seriously find myself wanting to smash my computer to bits and then jump on it for good measure. But when I look at the code really carefully, after a while, I usually find the mistake and am able to fix it. And when my program runs correctly, it feels absolutely awesome, especially if I spent hours coding for the defective lines of code.

Technology: Circuits

 

For the past few days in class, we have been working on making switches. Basically, we have to make a circuit and light up a bulb, but we have to make switches to activate the circuit. Our task was to create three switches. In the end, we would connect wires to the conductive parts of the switch and use that to light up the bulb.

My first switch was the tall one with the tinfoil circle hanging down from it. It has blue string. In this switch, you activate it by pushing up the circle. The circle is covered with tinfoil and when that tinfoil touches the tinfoil at the top, electrons can pass through them allowing the circuit to be complete. This circuit was the most challenging to make because I needed to make sure that the two strings were of equal length so the circle wouldn’t be lopsided. In the end, my circle got a little lopsided but I was able to add weight on one side to balance the circle. Another problem was that one of the materials that I wanted to use, a rubber band, had run out so I had to make best with what I could do. Luckily though, the switch works perfectly fine. This one is probably my favorite because I think it’s the most complex.

My second switch is the one that has a stick hanging down. This activator has a roof which is only held up by one side. That side is covered in tinfoil. The roof has a stick hanging down from it. This activator is activated by pushing the stick onto the side. Since both are covered in tinfoil, which is a conductor, electrons will pass through. This switch wasn’t that hard to make, but in the beginning, I messed up and glued the stick too far away from the side, so I had to fix that. This was done with relative ease.

The last switch is covered completely in tinfoil. It looks a bit like a seesaw. This switch was probably the simplest to make. To activate it, I push one side of the seesaw down onto the tinfoil covered floor. The only thing difficult about this switch was coming up with the idea. Since it was my final one, I didn’t exactly know what to do, but my friend helped me think of an idea.

These are my three switches. Soon, we’re going to play a game to see how fast I can activate them. I think my switches will work, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see what happens!

Technology: Nikola Tesla

A few days ago in class, we watched a movie about Nikola Tesla. Here  are some facts I learned about him.

Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-American engineer and physicist who lived from 1856-1943. Tesla made dozens of breakthroughs in the production, transmission and application of electric power. He also invented the first alternating current (AC) motor and developed AC generation and transmission technology, among a few things.

Nikola Tesla was born in Smiljan, Croatia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1863, Tesla’s brother Daniel was killed in a riding accident. The shock of the loss unsettled Tesla, who reported seeing visions—the first signs of his lifelong mental illnesses.

Tesla studied math and physics at the Technical University of Graz and philosophy at the University of Prague. In 1882, he came up with the idea for a brushless AC motor and started making the first sketches of its rotating electromagnets.

Tesla arrived in New York in 1884. Soon after arriving, he was hired as an engineer at Thomas Edison’s Manhattan headquarters. Tesla worked there for a year and impressed Edison with his diligence. One day, Edison told Tesla he would pay $50,000 for an improved design for his DC dynamos. After months of experimentation, Tesla presented a solution and asked for the money. Edison demurred, saying, “Tesla, you don’t understand our American humor.” This caused Tesla to quit.

After an unsuccessful attempt to start his own Tesla Electric Light Company, Tesla found backers to support his research into alternating current. In 1888, he was invited to address the American Institute of Electrical Engineers on his work. His lecture caught the attention of George Westinghouse, the inventor who had launched the first AC power system near Boston.

Westinghouse hired Tesla, licensed the patents for his AC motor, and gave him his own lab. In the 1890s, Tesla invented electric oscillators, meters, improved lights and the high-voltage transformer known as the Tesla coil. He also experimented with X-rays, gave short-range demonstrations of radio communication, and piloted a radio-controlled boat around a pool in Madison Square Garden. Together, Tesla and Westinghouse lit the 1891 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and partnered with General Electric to install AC generators at Niagra Falls, creating the first modern power station.

In 1895, Tesla’s New York lab burned, destroying years’ worth of notes and equipment. He tried to get back up on his feet, but funds ran out. Tesla spent his last years feeding pigeons and claiming to communicate with them. Tesla died in his hotel room on January 7, 1943.

Tesla was a great engineer who created many things. The world wouldn’t be where it is today without him. Even though he may not have been recognized for his accomplishments in his time, we should definitely appreciate the things he did for us now.

Fun Fact: During the 1890s, the author Mark Twain struck up a friendship with inventor Nilola Tesla.

Technology: Self Driving Cars

For the past few days in tech, we’ve been learning about self driving cars. The cars that we have been talking about are the ones that don’t need a driver on the wheel. These cars are so advanced that they can steer themselves. Here are some facts that we learned.

Self driving cars will always follow the rules, so they’ll always follow the speed limit. That means that people won’t have to pay tickets anymore, since they won’t be breaking any rules. That could save people money. It also means that the police won’t have to waste time going around and making sure that everyone is under the speed limit, so they can do more valuable things, such as catch criminals.

Also, self-driving cars could help prevent accidents. In the beginning, when there aren’t too many of these cars on the road, the computers will have to be advanced enough to sense movement if, for example, another car swerves in front of it. But, when there are more self-driving cars, these cars could actually be able to communicate with each other so they could broadcast a message to the other cars if one crashed or if one has to do something.

Another pro for self-driving cars is that they could aid people will inabilities, such as the inability to see or hear. For people with inabilities, driving has to be really hard, but self-driving cars could change all of that. Not only would they make the roads safer, they could also help people with inabilities get around.

Sadly, no good thing comes without a con. Many people around America drive trucks or taxis for a living. In fact, in some communities, driving is the number one occupation. If self driving cars are approved for everyday use, all these people who drive to earn money will be out of jobs. The rate of people who are jobless will increase and that also means that there will be more competition for the jobs that are out there.

In addition, driver less cars will depend heavily on computers, since those will be the things that control them. This will make cars more vulnerable to hackers and other cyber threats. For example, is a self-driving car has a load of diamonds, a hacker could get in and have the car drive too a location where that hacker can steal these diamonds. Luckily though, this problem could be solved if guards were posted in these trucks. The guards could help keep people from reprogramming the car.

These are some of the things we learned in tech class about self-driving cars. Personally, I think that self-driving cars would be great for our society and I can’t wait till the future, when they’re actually on the road.