Working on my Final Project – Capstone #6

For our final project, we had a choice of doing a TED Talk or an Ignite (we could also do a movie but that was only if we REALLY REALLY REALLY didn’t want to do anything else). Let me explain what they are. A TED Talk is basically just a talk, while an Ignite is a talk that lasts for 5 mins (only professional ones are 5 mins, our Ignites were only 3 mins) and it automatically advances every 15 secs, which means there are 20 slides for a 5 min Ignite.

I chose to do a TED Talk, because of two reasons. First, the format was easier, because in an Ignite you have to make sure every slide is 15 sec long and you can only have a certain amount of slides, but with a TED Talk, you have way more freedom, and if you stumble on an Ignite then it might automatically advance without you, making you rush. Second, I had a lot of information on my topic, and Ignites are shorter, which would mean if I did an Ignite I would have to cram everything in 3 mins.

After choosing the type of talk, I started my script. I started a table and put my script in it. I basically used my essay‘s examples in my script. Then I went over and over and over again to revise and edit my script.

Finally after finishing my script, I started my slideshow. I think this step was probably one of the hardest. I had to find the right pictures to match my slides, and many of the pictures that I really liked had watermarks on them, and that made me frustrated. It took a lot of going through the slideshow again and again and again to make it good. And even then, it still could be better.

After that, I had to memorize all my lines. I thought it was unfair that index cards were not recommended, and if you do use them, then each one could only have like 2 or 3 words on it. I thought it especially unfair when I found out other classes got to have index cards and each one had like 20 words on it!!!! Anyway, because I had to memorize it, I had to practice, Practice, PRACTICE! I was half surprised that I basically knew my lines from the start, but that was because I went through my script so much when revising and editing that I knew it pretty well.

After looking at other people’s presentations and getting feedback, I had to change some more things in my slideshow (I added pictures and words, deleted some). Also, when presenting, everyone said that I talked too fast, but I thought it was really hard to talk s l o w. I wanted to tell them, I’m not a natural speaker, you know! And I don’t like speaking in front of an audience, so I speak fast to get it over with! (but I didn’t because I guess they had a point: I did go too fast and I could get better with a lot of practice)

Finally, I think I can say that my slideshow is done! Well, I really hope (fingers crossed). But as Capstone sharing days are coming nearer and nearer (and nearer), I really do hope that my slideshow is done, and that I speak loud and s l o w enough without stumbling on my lines…

Answering My Main Inquiry Question – Capstone #5

Answering my main inquiry question took several weeks of research, a site visit, and two interviews (one with a neuroscientist in training, and the other with the Director of Research at Common Sense Media). I answered my question in a form of an essay. I used all my research to write my basic essay, and after that, I revised, refined, and edited, and then repeated the process until my essay was the best possible. It was a lot of hard work, but in the end, I think it turned out great, and I’m kind of proud of my essay. Well, I’m running out of things to say, so let’s jump right in!

Video Games and Your Brain

A world without video games? I can’t imagine it. There are so many great pros for video games. They can help you learn, they help transfer knowledge or skills to the real world, and they help maintain your health. Who would want to say goodbye to video games forever? Well, video games can have negative consequences with as many cons as pros, if not more. They can cause addiction, isolation, psychological stress, and violence, and they can interfere with the decision making process. So, how can people minimize the negative effects from video games? First, you should limit the time spent on video games, second, you should make sure the game you play is appropriate for your age, and lastly, you could just pick an educational video game rather than a violent one. So really, how does playing video games affect the brain, and how can you minimize the negative effects?

Video games can have many positive effects on people. Well-designed video games are like natural teachers. They provide immediate feedback during game play, which reinforces positive skills and allows timely adjustment. Video games make you repeat actions, which can help strengthen brain cell connections. They also help you learn at different rates. Video games can train you in a way that helps you transfer knowledge or skills to the real world. For example, computer simulations are widely used in fields such as aviation. Candidate pilots practice flying airplanes for many hours in simulated cockpits before they are allowed to fly real airplanes. Video games give you limited time to complete an array of tasks, requiring you to make quick decisions under stress. This requires high level of concentration and determination which are useful skills in the real world. Video games make you see small details, sharpening your visual ability. Moreover, video games can enhance our brain flexibility. Plus, according to Marc Palaus, a neuroscientist in training based in Spain, video games can help your brain recover from strokes and slow the degenerative process in Alzheimer’s disease.

However, video games can have many negative effects. You can easily get addicted to video games (about 8.5% of youth from the ages of 8 to 18 get addicted to video games according to Douglas Gentile, a research psychologist from Iowa State University). If you do get addicted, you might always sit at one place staring at a screen. This won’t allow you maintain your other daily activities such as studying, physical exercise, time with family and friends, and this impacts in your daily tasks. Kimberly Young, PsyD, clinical director of the Center for On-Line Addiction and author of Caught in the Net: How to Recognize the Signs of Internet Addiction — and a Winning Strategy for Recovery, says she has seen severe withdrawal symptoms in game addicts. “They become angry, violent, or depressed. If [parents] take away the computer, their child sits in the corner and cries, refuses to eat, sleep, or do anything.” After staring at a screen for a long period of time, video games can also cause blurred vision, headaches, and if frequent breaks aren’t taken to relax your eyes, it can even cause nearsightedness. Moreover, video games also isolates people from their family and friends. For example, parents playing hours upon hours will find themselves losing touch with their children, and children playing for long periods of time will find themselves at odds with their parents. Video games can also cause psychological stress. For example, you may suffer from low self-esteem, have social anxieties, or even suffer from depression. Excessive gaming can cause feelings of guilt and shame, and uncontrolled gaming can enhance the signs and symptoms of other mental disorders that may be pre-existing. Violent video games are especially damaging for children and young adults. For example, according to a CNN report, an 18 years old gunman killed nine people in Germany and he was a fan of first-person shooter video game. Violent video games also played a factor in many of the recent high school shootings. Playing such type of video games may distort youth’s minds towards violence. And even though video games can improve the decision-making process, they can also deteriorate them. For example, kids and college students who spend too much time playing video games struggle to keep their grades up, since they may procrastinate on their studying, rush through their homework, or simply ignore a deadline in favor of playing their favorite game.

Well, is there any way to minimize the negative effects from video games? Research has shown that there are some ways to minimize the negative effects. The main way is to control your time spent on video games, if you aren’t fully addicted. Limit the time to about a maximum of an hour per day, which will allow you to do other activities, especially physical activities. However, if your addiction is a serious problem, and you stop maintaining your daily tasks, isolate your friends and family, and you play video games for the majority of your day, then therapy would be a better option, and there are places that specialize in video game addiction. Also, you should always make sure the game you’re is playing is harmless. For example, you can check the ESRB rating to better understand what type of content a video game has. If you’re a parent, you can also play video games with your children to better understand the content, and how children react. And finally, what I think is the most obvious way to minimize the negative effects, you should just choose an educational video game that will help you learn, rather than a violent video game (but don’t forget that you should limit the time spent on video games).

The pros and cons of video games showed me that there can be great benefits and devastating consequences, but you can minimize the negative effects. If you would only learn one thing from this essay, I hope you will learn that as with everything we do, moderation is key. Video games are designed to be fun, but they are also designed to be addicting, so spend your free time wisely, and don’t let video games control you.

Interview 2 – Capstone #3b

After my site visit and interview, I was less nervous about my second interview, but I was still pretty nervous. The week I had my first interview, my mom went on Common Sense Media, and she got in contact with Michael Robb, the Director of Research, and they agreed to do an interview on Tuesday, May 22. However, we realized later on that we had to move it because of my Ellis Island Field Trip, so we moved the interveiw one day later (I was kind of happy about that because I think if he interview was on Tuesday, I wouldn’t have been ready for it)

I met with Mrs. Edwards on Wednesday at school, and we got my questions ready. I came up with 10 questions with the help of my mom and Mrs. Edwards. Here they are:

  1. What attracted you to your line of work?
  2. What are your responsibilities at Common Sense Media?
  3. What are the pros and cons of playing video games?
  4. What makes video games so addictive and how is an addition to video games the same and/or different from an addiction to drugs?
  5. What’s your company doing to help alleviate the problem of addiction?
  6. How can you minimize the negative effects from playing video games?
  7. What role does age play when talking about the effects of video game playing on the brain?
  8. What trends have you observed in kids and their electronic usage?
  9. What percentage of kids are mostly affected?
  10. What can we (parents, teachers, educators) do to help kids to be less addicted?

At 4:00 after school, my mom and I called Michael Robb using Skype. My mom voice recorded the whole thing, and she helped type up the information while I wrote it down.

Afterward, I really think I learned a lot, like the main problems with video games, and how Common Sense Media addresses those problems. I realized there wasn’t really anything to be nervous of.

Site Visit – Capstone #4

Finding a site visit was harder than finding an interview, at least for me. After Mrs. Edwards and I found an interview, we started to look for a site visit. There wasn’t a lot of places to go to that were nearby. After a lot of looking around, Mrs. Edwards looked at an email from my mom that listed two possible interview people, and under one of the people’s names Mrs. Edwards clicked on a link to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Mrs. Edwards said that the laboratory could be my site visit after checking it out, and I was VERY happy that I found a site visit, because I was a little scared that I wouldn’t find one.

My mom and I scheduled a site visit on Saturday, May 19, to visit the laboratory.

Saturday was a rainy and wet day, which was too bad because Cold Spring Harbor was probably a pretty place when it wasn’t raining. I took some pictures of it anyway:

My mom and I went to the laboratory and met up with Z. Josh Huang, who showed us around. First he showed us his office, then we went into different labs, and after that we went into a really cold room to get slides. After we retrieved the slides, we then went into a lab with different microscopes in it, and I got to see a rat’s brain cell through the microscope that was on one of the slides. I tried to take some pictures of it, but it was kind of hard so my pictures aren’t that great.

Here are some of my pictures:

Me with Z. Josh Huang

Rat experiments

Microscope with slides on it

Rat’s brain cell through microscope (genetically colored red making it easy to see)

I think it was a really cool experience overall, and my favorite part was when I saw the brain cell through the microscope.

Interview 1 – Capstone #3a

For my interview, I met with Mrs. Edwards, and we went through different articles and contacted two people from the articles.

One of the people we contacted replied, and said we could interview him! His name was Marc Palaus, and he was a neuroscientist. I was SO happy that one of them replied!

I researched more about Marc Palaus, and I found this* (scroll down to the end to read more).

Mrs. Edwards and I came up with 10 interview questions to ask Marc Palaus.

  1. Why did you choose to be a neuroscientist?
  2. What made you interested in studying video games’ and how they affect the brain?
  3. What are the cons of playing video games?
  4. What makes video game playing addictive?
  5. What role does age play in the effects of video game playing on the brain?
  6. How can you minimize the negative effects from video games?
  7. Based on your research, what recommendations do you have for children playing video games?
  8. Based on your research, what recommendations do you have for older people playing video games?
  9. Based on your research, how can video games possibly be used for people with diminished brain functioning like someone who has had a stroke or someone who has Alzheimer’s?
  10. How can parents help with their kids’ addiction?

 

I wrote an outline to help me.

Mrs. Edwards helped me print everything out and get it ready for Tuesday, May 15, the day I interviewed Marc Palaus.

When Tuesday finally came, I was VERY nervous. I had a lot of thoughts going inside my head. What if I mess up? What if he never answers when we call him? What if he changes his mind and doesn’t want to interview me?

At 8:40, I shakily walked down to the computer lab. Mr. Casal helped me get everything ready for my interview. Then, he called Marc Palaus through Google Hangouts, and my interview started.

When I first started, I was VERY nervous, but the more I got into the interview, the more relaxed I got.

There was only one thing that didn’t go too smoothly. During the interview, there was a screen recorder that was recording the whole thing, so if I missed something I could go back and look at it. However, the screen recorder stopped recording. Luckily I noticed it before it was too late. Other than that, though, the rest of the interview went smoothly.

I learned a lot. Now I know that controlling your time spent on video games is very important.

After the interview, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest.

 

*click on it, it’s about an article Marc Palaus helped contribute to, but if you’re too lazy to go back up, click on this (it’s the same link)

Choosing a Main Inquiry Question and Choosing Sub Questions – Capstone #2

Now, if you read my first post, I wrote that my topic was on alcohol and marijuana and how they affect the brain. However, I changed my topic.

In my first post, I also said how I came across the idea on video games and how they affect the brain. Well, I reconsidered that idea, and I decided to use it. Why? Partly because it’s more of a topic on kids (not teens), and partly because I think it might be more interesting and easier.

I revised my question, though. At first when I revised it, I made it about how watching videos and playing video games affect the brain, so it was not just about video games. However, when I was thinking about the topic, I wasn’t sure if I could get enough information on the part about watching videos. On the other hand, if I compared both, then my main inquiry question would be a level 4, and even though I could get a level 4 on just video games, it would be harder to find that type of question. There are 4 levels of types of questions, level 4 being the best.

I think for my Capstone project, I’m going to make my question about how video games affect the brain, because I’m not sure there’s enough information on watching videos to last me 2 months. My final question is: How does playing video games affect the brain, and how can you make minimize the negative effects?

After I came up with a main inquiry question, it was time to come up with sub questions. Sub questions are littler questions to help answer the main inquiry question. I already started on my sub questions, so it was just a matter of revising and editing them. I came up with six of them, but I combined two together.  My final sub questions are: What are the pros of playing video games? What are the cons of playing video games? What makes video games so addicting? How can you minimize the negative effects on the brain from video games? What role does age play in the effects of video game playing on the brain?

I don’t have a ton of information and I’m not really ahead, but I’m also not lagging behind. I think I’m doing okay so far, but that could change real quick…

Choosing a Topic – Capstone #1

Way back in 3rd grade, I learned about Capstone, since my brother was in 5th grade at the time. I tried to think about it, but couldn’t come up with a good idea. Somewhere around the middle of 5th grade, I decided I thought I wanted to do my topic on the Bermuda Triangle, but when I learned that each student has to do a site visit, I decided maybe the Bermuda Triangle wasn’t the right topic.

My mom and I discussed it, and pretty quickly, I decided I wanted to do something related to the brain, like how memory works.

But after doing some research, I changed my mind (again). I was searching up something about the brain, and an article showed up. It was something about how drugs affect the brain.

I thought it was very interesting, so I did more research on it, and eventually I liked it better than my other topic on how memory works, so I crossed my other topic off my list.

Soon, however, I realized I needed to narrow my topic down. Did I want to do marijuana’s affects on the brain and compare the affects of different ages? Or did I want to talk about alcohol’s affects of different ages? Or maybe compare both: Does marijuana have worse effects on the brain, or does alcohol?

I was having a really hard time deciding, and while I was, I crashed into yet another topic: How does video games affect the brain? It really didn’t help.

I felt surrounded by different topics, it took me a long time to decide which topic to pick. I picked my topic on marijuana vs. alcohol: which one is worse for the brain? I finally decided this because at the middle school there was going to be an exhibit about how drugs affect the brain, so if I went, it could really help me learn more about my topic.