1. Wall E^3: Exploring the Eras of Energy

    March 2, 2024 by Sigurd R. and Sarfo A.

    Driving Question:

    How might we understand the relationship between humans and energy in the past, present, and future of Japan?

    Module Summary:

    The module “Wall-EEE: Exploring the Eras of Energy” investigated the relationship between humans and energy in Japan, focusing on past, present, and future perspectives. Students learned about energy management, use, and production from cultural, spiritual, and scientific viewpoints. The module included guest speakers: one discussed Shinto Buddhism, another from the Japanese government, and a historian/scientist on atomic bomb survivors.

    Their investigations involved exploring Hiroshima’s energy systems, experimenting with renewable energy models, and visiting various sites. These included a Shinto Buddhist temple, Disneyland, museums, a nuclear power plant, and Mazda’s factory, to understand different aspects of energy use and management.

    The module culminated in creating a model and theoretical framework for an energy system in Hiroshima, addressing existing gaps. They employed human-centered design principles, inspired by insights from Disney and Mazda, to ensure user-friendly and efficient designs. They concluded by inviting attendees to see their demonstrations and final products.

    For their final product, Sigurd R. and Sarfo A. developed an automated circuit designed to store and utilize the limited power generated by solar panels for Hiroshima’s tram system. Their aim was to eventually take tram stations off the grid with an effective battery management system. During their survey of Hiroshima, they noticed tram stops that provided shelter to passengers. Inspired by this, they proposed installing solar panels at these stops to harness energy.

    In Hiroshima, trams are much more prolific there than in most other cities, which typically have metro systems without above-ground stations and therefore cannot utilize solar energy. Additionally, the tram system of Hiroshima was one of the first infrastructures rebuilt after the bomb, symbolizing hope and reconstruction after the war.

  2. Over/Under: Air, Water & Physics 

    December 4, 2023 by Rianon T.

    Driving Question:

    How might we understand the relationship between physics and human performance in aerial and aquatic environments?

    Module Summary:

    The module Over/Under: Air, Water & Physics explored the relationship between physics and human performance in aerial and aquatic environments. Their project involved taking trapeze classes for five weeks, where they learned and practiced various tricks, reflecting on the physics involved in their movements. They focused on understanding forces, pendulums, and the transformation of kinetic and potential energy.

    Midway through the term, they participated in a workshop in Cairns, where they learned additional aerial arts and tight roping, and completed a water safety diving course. This course included pool training in breath-holding techniques, streamlining, and basic swimming skills, which they later applied in a lake, encountering real-world aquatic conditions, such as swimming with a crocodile. They also visited the Great Barrier Reef, where they swam with turtles and saw sharks.

    The educational components of their module emphasized the physics of trapeze, such as gravitational, centripetal, and air resistance forces, as well as pendulum motion and energy transformation. In diving, they focused on swimming strength, equalizing pressure, rescue techniques, and efficient breathing.

    Rianon T.’s final product is a physical scrapbook titled “A Physicist’s Guide to Trapezing and Free Diving!”. This scrapbook serves as an educational and informative overview of the physics involved in trapezing and free diving. Throughout the module, she focused on developing the 21st-century skill of adaptability and managing complexity. This was exemplified through various activities, including trapezing, creating physics experiments, building a car, launching a baking soda rocket, experimenting with pendulums, learning to free dive, and adapting to new challenges constantly.

    She found this module particularly engaging and enjoyable, especially the trapezing aspect. The open-ended nature of the summative assessment allowed her to creatively interpret your learning, resulting in a fulfilling and engaging final product.

  3. STEMPact

    August 1, 2023 by David O.

    Driving Question:

    How can I create an engaging and educational virtual event that empowers young people to explore and pursue their interests in STEM fields?

    Project Summary:

    David O. created a project called “STEMpact” aimed at engaging young people in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. The project is designed to transform students from mere spectators to active participants in technological advancements. David, passionate about cognitive science and mathematics, recognized the challenges young people face in choosing specific STEM careers and sought to address this through immersive experiences.

    STEMpact featured a series of workshops, each focusing on different STEM fields such as marine biology, quantum computing, and biotechnology. These sessions included guest speakers who shared their experiences and advised participants on preparing for careers in these fields. The project successfully attracted participants from nine different countries, with an overwhelming majority finding the workshops helpful.

    David highlighted the personal growth and skills he developed through the project, including adaptability, networking, and leadership. He emphasized the importance of managing unexpected challenges, building professional connections, and coordinating various aspects of the event. The project’s success, reflected in positive feedback and growing participation, underscores its impact in igniting interest and passion for STEM among young learners. David concludes by encouraging others to forge new connections, innovate, and use their personal stories to address societal challenges.

  4. Why Plastics?

    July 1, 2023 by Sigurd R.

    Driving Question:

    How can I further understand the past, present and future of plastic through scientific tests, research, and inquiry, including and relating to the chemistry behind plastics?

    Project Summary:

    Sigurd R.’s project challenges the commonly negative perception of plastics by highlighting both their detrimental and beneficial aspects. He begins by acknowledging the environmental harm caused by single-use plastics, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the danger to sea life. However, he shifts the focus to the often-overlooked positive uses of plastics, particularly in the medical field where they are essential for procedures like open-heart surgery due to their sterility, versatility, and low cost.

    Sigurd also explores the historical use of plastics, noting that early forms of plastic-like materials, such as rubber, were used by the Mesoamericans as early as 1600 BCE. This historical context sets the stage for a broader discussion on the definition and perception of plastics. He argues that plastics are diverse and not well-defined, encompassing a wide range of materials beyond the common single-use items.

    He emphasizes the versatility, durability, and affordability of plastics, which make them invaluable in numerous industries, including automotive and food transportation. Sigurd acknowledges the environmental issues associated with plastics but argues for a balanced perspective that recognizes their essential role in modern society.

    Lastly, Sigurd touches on the future potential of plastics, mentioning innovative uses like conductive polymers. He cautions against a blanket rejection of all plastics, suggesting that doing so could hinder technological and scientific progress. His ultimate message is to encourage a nuanced understanding of plastics, recognizing both their benefits and their environmental impacts.

  5. AgeWise

    June 13, 2023 by Gabriel T.

    Driving Question:

    How can virtual assistant technologies be utilized to design a safe smart home for the elderly and dependent individuals?

    Project Summary:

    Gabriel T., one of our seniors from Ecuador, has undertaken a project to address the challenges faced by elderly and dependent individuals through the integration of virtual assistant technology into their homes. Motivated by the struggles his grandparents faced with dementia and limited mobility, Gabriel sought to enhance their daily lives while lightening the load on their caregivers. This project was driven by the belief that technology could significantly increase independence and quality of life for the elderly and dependent, while also supporting caregivers in their essential roles.

    The heart of Gabriel’s project lies in the strategic deployment of Amazon Alexa devices throughout his grandparents’ home. These devices were carefully placed to address specific needs: improving communication, enhancing organization, and providing entertainment. For instance, Alexa enabled his grandparents to communicate more effectively with their caregivers, despite challenges such as a weak voice. It also helped caregivers stay organized by reminding them of tasks that are easily overlooked in the busyness of daily routines, like adding items to the shopping list or remembering to administer medication.

    One of the most impactful aspects of Gabriel’s project was the introduction of routines and entertainment options through Alexa. His grandparents now had access to audiobooks, music, and routines that provided structure to their day. For instance, Gabriel programmed an alarm system that alerted caregivers if something was wrong, providing immediate assistance when needed. These enhancements not only improved the quality of life for his grandparents but also provided them with a greater sense of security and independence.

    The initiative also highlighted the broader potential of technology to support elderly and dependent individuals across different households. By documenting and sharing his approach, Gabriel aimed to create a replicable model that could be implemented in other households facing similar challenges. This approach not only illustrated the transformative power of technology but also emphasized the importance of compassion and human touch in caregiving.

    In conclusion, Gabriel T.’s project represents a significant step forward in leveraging technology to support vulnerable members of society. It demonstrated how digital solutions can be integrated into daily life to enhance independence, improve quality of care, and provide peace of mind to both caregivers and their charges. Through his efforts, Gabriel has shown that with thoughtful design and implementation, technology can play a pivotal role in promoting dignity, security, and happiness in the lives of elderly and dependent individuals.

  6. Brain Anatomy

    January 28, 2022 by EffieLing H.

    When starting this project I was extremely passionate about psychology and mental health. I wanted to expand on the knowledge that I had gained in AP psychology, and the next natural step for me was to focus on the brain. I wanted to understand its different components, what everything was responsible for, and what would happen if certain parts got damaged.

    -Class of 2022 Student Effie H.

    For her personal project, Class of 2022 Student Effie H. focused on the driving question: How might I expand my knowledge of the brain and discover what makes it so unique?

    Effie’s project on brain anatomy focused on the intricacies of the brain and what allows us all to be individuals. Her project highlighted the emotional and memory functions of the brain and how without them, we would all essentially be a vegetable.

    Her final work consisted of diagrams showing different parts and functions of the brain. Her goal was to help people see that the brain isn’t scary and that it’s fascinating to learn about — the concept doesn’t need to be a scary one, and can easily be broken down into more palatable sections.

  7. Engineering Bridges Module

    March 11, 2021 by Marily M. and Diego M.

    Driving Question: How can I engineer the strongest bridge with the most efficient use of the specified material?

    Module Overview: Bridges are perhaps the most challenging and fascinating feats of engineering. 

    In this module, students became civil and structural engineers by working at the Manchego Fromage Consultancy, where they were responsible for coming up with the most efficient bridge design. 

    Students strived to creatively meet their imaginary client’s needs within budget and material constraints. The clients were the City of Rodentia, working in partnership with the Rodent Migration Travel Group. 

    In learning about bridge types, students explored the effect of tension and compressive forces, differentiated between brittle and ductile material properties, and investigated the calculations that go into designing bridges. 

    Marily M.

    I enjoyed the module so much. I love creating and building things, so I had lots of fun building some testing bridges and the final one. I faced some challenges I didn’t think would happen, but I found a way to deal with them.

    For this module, we designed and built a spaghetti bridge basing ourselves on our client’s needs from the “City of Rodentia”. I learned about bridge types, the effect of tension and compression, and the calculations that need to be considered to design a bridge. This knowledge helped me design a strong and effective bridge.

    My final product is an Open Tender, which is the proposal for our “clients.” It includes the price, design, 2D and 3D model, calculations, and other information pieces.

    Diego M.

    I learned how much I like to design things and make them physically. It was enjoyable and challenging to build a bridge with pasta because you need to consider many factors and develop techniques to build the strongest bridge.

    This project allowed me to learn about the different types of bridges and the engineering process and what it includes (different studies from the area, forces of members, strength to weight ratio, etc.)

    Based on our investigations, we had to experiment with building pasta trusses to see what works, what doesn’t work, and which type of bridge truss was stronger than the others.

    We created and proposed an open tender to the fictitious Rodent Migration Travel Group after running our experiments.

  8. Creating a Rube Goldberg Machine

    October 8, 2020 by Hanna Westphal

    Driving Question: How can I learn about physics through designing and creating a Rube Goldberg Machine?

    What was your final product?

    My final product was a functioning Rube Goldberg Machine. A RGM is a machine that preforms a function with many pointless steps to get to it. In my case, my function was to feed my dogs. 

    What are you passionate about that led you to choose this project?

    I chose to do this project because I wanted to learn about basic physics laws and how they relate to everyday actions.

    What do you hope people will get from looking at your page?

    I hope people will watch the video of my machine and try to think about what physics it took to make it happen.

    Did your project develop and change from your initial idea, if so how?

    Although I always knew I wanted to make an RBM, the process changed quite a few times. Originally I was going to make it be vertical on a board, but after hours of failed attempts to make anything stick to the board, I decided to make it on a table instead. 

    What are your big takeaway lessons from this project?

    My biggest takeaway from this project is probably patience. It was very frustrating when every time I tried to run it something different would go wrong. I really had to persevere to complete this project.

  9. Astrobiology U-explore: Creating Science Experiments for Kids

    May 20, 2020 by Amelie A.

    Driving Question: Is there life on Mars?

    My goals with this project have been to get people thinking about astrobiology and the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and work towards the general democratization of scientific thinking and knowledge. It is my belief that every member of society should have the tools and ability to conduct scientific investigations if they so wish, and to engage critically with new scientific discoveries and current events. Science isn’t something that should only be available to people who have a four year degree and a lab!

    This is why I created a kit that can be used anywhere, by anyone, and bring the study of extraterrestrial life to their own home. I designed/adapted three experiments and activities to inspire critical thinking, scientific inquiry, and knowledge building surrounding biology, astronomy, and alien life. I also took a deeper look in my capstone paper at the reasons why there is so much misinformation about aliens in the media and amongst the general public, and along the way discovered a surprising love for science communication! The conversations I had that this kit inspired are the biggest proof that I met my goal of democratizing science; maybe if we all spent a little more time talking about life outside of earth, we’d be able to make life a little better inside of earth too!

    What are you most proud of?

    I’m most proud of the fact that even in the face of hardship, and people telling me that I couldn’t make this work, I chose to listen to all of the amazing people encouraging me to keep going and try another strategy. This project started out looking very differently, but I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out. In fact, this product aligns far more with my original goals than the experiment I was planning from the start!

    It was so worth it to stay true to my original intention, and put in the extra detail work to make this something I could be really proud of leaving as my TGS legacy.

    What are the biggest lessons you learnt through the process of your mastery project?

    I learned that the two keys to a successful project are a lot more subtle than you might think: logistics, and a whole lot of feedback. The biggest mistake I made at the outset of my Mastery was not leaving enough time for certain logistical processes to take place, meaning that eventually, I didn’t get the things I needed in time to do the experiment I had planned. Preparation is really nine-tenths of it, and is an essential part of making all the fun showy stuff a possibility!

    Feedback is the other big piece of the puzzle. It’s so easy to get caught in your own little Mastery project bubble and forget that the reason you’re doing all this work is to create something other people will be able to interact with and enjoy! It’s essential to keep that factor in mind every step of the way and appreciate every pair of eyes you can get on your project whenever possible.

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