Last Blog Post (6/11)

The last blog post for the quarter. I’m a bit disappointed that we never got to make anything in Technology. I was really looking forward to making a wooden box and the other projects that we never got to do. Still, I’m glad we had Technology online, and I learned a lot. I learned about the properties of different materials, how to recycle them, how to tell them apart. But I wish we could be in class and do more hands-on activities together.

Living in lockdown was something new, and a lot of things changed. Summer is going to be different too, so I hope that things go back to normal by next year.

Summer and the Future (6/4)

A lot of things have been going on lately. It is hard to travel for the summer because of the virus, and my summer vacations have been altered. Originally, my family was supposed to go to Europe for the summer. Then we changed our plans to go to Maine, but learned that visitors going there would have to self isolate for 14 days. Now, we are planning to go to upstate New York. Summer camps are also being forced to close or go online. Everything around us is being changed and updated, and while some places are reopening, others are extending quarantine.

I wonder what school will be like in September, and whether it will be able to reopen. I hope that school can return back to normal by next year, but nothing seems certain for now. Life in quarantine is becoming the new normal for me, and I can’t remember what it was like to go to school.

Recycling Plastic (5/28)

If there are places I could recycle plastics that I normally throw out, I would bring those plastics to recycle them if it wasn’t unreasonably far away. It would take extra energy to travel to another place to recycle them, but I would still do it. I would accumulate all the soft plastic bags and styrofoam, and bring those plastics to the place all at once. Although there would be energy used in bringing the plastics to that place, it would also be just as bad to throw the plastic out.

Although I would go to the places to recycle the plastics, the best thing to do is to not purchase those plastic items in the first place.

Plastic (5/21)

We use a lot of plastic in our lives. There are different categories for different plastics. The numbers on the plastic are the recycling numbers. However, not all plastics are recyclable, and not all plastics are safe for eating and drinking.

There is a lot of plastic with a #5 stamped on it in my bin. This type of plastic is polypropylene (PP). It can come in contact with food, it can be opaque or translucent, and it can be colored. It is stiff but not as brittle as some other plastics. It is heat resistant and tough, yet lightweight. These characteristics make PP a good choice for many different types of containers, such as yogurt and sour cream containers.

Polypropylene is considered to be safe for reuse. Although few people recycle it, it is becoming more accepted by recyclers today. When it is recycled, it is used to make landscaping border stripping, battery cases, brooms, bins, and trays.

Some plastics in the #7 plastic category can’t be recycled. While most plastics are recyclable, some of the recyclable plastics are not good for the environment, like styrofoam. The chemicals in styrofoam can contaminate food and drinks, and it also leaches into the environment. It is best to avoid these harmful plastics and use something reusable and more environmental-friendly, such as using a metal water bottle instead of a plastic one.

Reflection – Plastic (5/14)

We learned about different types of plastic, including thermoplastics and thermosets. While thermoplastics can be remelted and reshaped; once thermosets are formed, they can’t be returned to their original state.

Thermoplastics and thermosets can be replicated with common foods. Something like an ice cube reflects a thermoplastic: it can be melted, and refrozen again into an ice cube. An egg mirrors how a thermoset works: once you cook an egg, it cannot go back into its original form. I find it fascinating that two completely different things act similarly; just as an ice cube and an egg can replicate thermoplastics and thermosets.

It is interesting to learn that scientists and engineers continue to create new types of plastic. New innovations are constantly being discovered, and this new technology can help us do more things.

Replanting Trees – #3 (5/7)

“Oregon Forest Law requires us to replant the site within two years and it needs to meet “green-up” standards by six. By state law we are required to leave two live trees standing and two downed trees per acre of clearcut harvest. We are also required to protect small, medium, and large fish streams.”

Clear cutting is a way to remove timber from a designated area. It is the the most efficient and safest way, and it mimics natural conditions. But it has many negative effects. Once the trees are removed, there are no more trees shading nearby streams, so the temperature of the water increases. Oxygen levels decrease due to the lack of trees. Another result of clear cutting is the loss of topsoil. Once there are no more leaves that fall and provide the soil with rich nutrients, the soil decreases in quality, which can harm dirt-dwelling organisms. Animals that need the trees for their home are also negatively impacted. The forest biome, a whole balance of interwoven set of ecosystems, is disrupted by clear cutting.

However, the timber industry does take some actions to lessen the impact. After clear cutting, the removal of trees increases soil erosion, which will run into nearby streams and harm aquatic life. In order to combat this, the timber industry makes sure they have clean fresh rock to block off runoff, and they use silt fences or hay bales to filter out sediment. They are required by state law to protect small, medium, and large fish streams. 

Although the timber industry takes actions during clear cutting to protect the environment, there are still many harmful effects of clear cutting. Perhaps they could plant more than two trees per acre, because there can be hundreds of trees per acre before the trees are cut down, and planting only two trees does not seem sufficient. Planting more trees would help stop the negative effects faster, so the requirements should be changed.

Boys and Girls (4/30)

More boys speak up in live zoom classes than girls, and more girls communicate through messaging or email than boys.

Some boys are more outgoing, and they express their ideas openly. When they think of something to say, they unmute themselves and open their mouth to say it. Maybe boys also tend to forget their questions, so they ask it in the moment in order not to forget it. Or perhaps they want to know the answer to a question as fast as possible.

Some girls may tend to be more shy, so they wait after class to email the teacher privately. They may not want everyone in the class listening in on their questions/comments. They also might be more conscious and thoughtful. When a question arises in their mind, they let it fully form before communicating it. Emailing the teacher would allow them to think about their questions before they actually send it. They might be wary of saying something that they will regret saying, so emailing will also allow them to revise their wording so they don’t make a mistake.

These may be some reasons why boys generally talk more in zoom classes and girls generally email more. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but I generally would email a teacher rather than talk in a zoom class.

“Build Things” (4/23)

To me, building something means to form a structure by putting different materials together and creating something new.

I wouldn’t say that I have built a big project before, but I have done some small things. Last year in Technology, we built several things, including a circuit, a person made from wire, a flashlight, switches, and an automaton.

Building the automaton was the hardest one for me. I decided to build a dog that gave the impression of walking. It was difficult to make the dog’s legs move, and the finished product wasn’t exactly how I originally pictured it to be. Constructing the automaton had certain elements that were easy, but other days it was challenging and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to finish it. Sometimes I would feel energized when finishing a component of the automaton, but other times I would feel frustrated if I couldn’t figure out how to solve a problem. The Tech teacher helped me brainstorm a new idea when my original plan wouldn’t work. After a lot of hard work, I finally finished it, and I felt accomplished.

Although I don’t have my automaton, I do have a clear memory of the building process.

Technology – Flashlight

After making our three switches, we started a unit on making a switch, but a little more complicated! We learned information about the Thai soccer team and how one day their whole team went into a cave to play to celebrate a player’s birthday. However, it was the monsoon season, and soon it started to rain and the water level in the cave was slowly rising. The water was coming from the entrance, so the team kept on walking farther into the cave. They had been missing for a while, and they were really scared. Finally, divers found them, but there was a problem of how to get them out. The divers used flashlights to see in the dark. Now it was our turn to make flashlights that they would have used.

I decided to make a flashlight tilted at a 45 degree angle. It would have two pipes connected to two caps on each end. I started with cutting my pipes. I used a ruler to measure the length and marked it with a pencil, and then cut it with a saw.

After cutting my pipes, I began to work on my switch inside my flashlight. I got two black wires and one red wire, a light, a battery, and a switch. The battery was connected to the short black wire and the red wire. The short black wire connected to the switch, which was connected to the other black wire, which was connected to the light. Then the other end of the red wire was connected to the light, completing the switch. I had to solder all of these parts together, and make sure it worked (which it did!). Then, I put my switch inside my flashlight, and was ready to decorate the flashlight.

I decided I wanted my flashlight to be like a galaxy, so I took blue, purple, and black markers and got ready to color. I was able to sort of blend the colors, and from far away I think it looks pretty cool. It took me a while to color because I had a lot of white space and it was slow to blend different colors together, but eventually I finished and am proud of my work.

However, while I was coloring, I realized I need to take the switch out of the flashlight so that I wouldn’t color on the light or switch, so I tried opening it. All of a sudden, the switch broke, and I had to re-solder it back together, which was not fun. I decided to keep the switch out of the flashlight and wait until I was done.

This caused a problem later on, when I took my switch and flashlight out and later found the switch on the ground, broken (again!). I didn’t have time to fix it, so I asked a friend to help, and she was extremely kind and agreed to help me. Without her, I don’t know where I would be, so thanks so much Sophie!

After finishing all the parts, I put it together. I think it looks great. I am very proud of what I made (with Sophie’s help)!

Technology – Switches (Part 4)

I have all my materials ready, so I am ready to hot-glue everything and finish it!

For my first switch, I need to hot-glue my pieces of cardboard together onto the base. First I hot-glue the sides on the base, and connect it with my top. I use a straw and attach it to a rubber band with hot-glue, so that the popsicle stick can have resistance. I use the breadboard to make sure it all works, and it does!

For my second switch, I just need to glue a straw to the base and glue another straw to my popsicle stick. Then I use a rubber band to attach them together, and that’s it!

For my last switch, I need to hot-glue my cardboard sides that will keep my button in place. Then I hot-glue the pom-poms to the base, and glue my push button to the pom-poms. And this (thankfully) worked!

Finally, it is the day to play the game. I didn’t get to go, but someone else at my table did, and I got to be one of the people who flips the cards. The way to play was one player attached their switches to alligator clips, which was connected to lights that would go on and off when the player used their switch. Then there would be a deck of cards split in two piles, and a card would be flipped from each pile at a time by two people. If the card on the left is red and the other is black, then the obstacle would be on the right and the player would press their switch on the right. If the card on the left is black and the other is red, then the player would do the opposite, which is press their right switch. If both cards are red, then the player presses the switch in the middle. A person would time how fast the player is able to react to the cards.

After finishing this game, we were done with our unit. Although I didn’t get to play with my switches, it was still fun interacting and participating in the game, and I learned how to make three different working switches!