Application of Knowledge

I first learned to calculate energy consumption in Physics, and then a day later, I learned to calculate the cost of energy usage in AP Environmental Science. This kind of cross-learning is what I love about taking two science courses at the same time; being able to apply knowledge learned from one classroom to a concept in another class.

However, education system at my school actually encourages separation of these classes; most students only take one science at a time instead of taking a combination of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Environmental Science at the same time, even though they all correlate. While we have the ability to choose our classes, what we take is pretty much dictated prior to us choosing. When I signed up to take two sciences, I was first turned away and to come back if there are additional spots in the classes. High schools have to satisfy colleges by meeting the class requirements for a high school student, so they cannot guarantee double science or math classes until all students had satisfied the requirements.

Teachers expect us to hold on to what we learned from previous years, but come on, let’s be honest here. I hardly remember anything from Biology, my science class from freshman year, besides the basic photosynthesis/ respiration process and body systems, so it’s quite difficult to apply my dusty knowledge from that class to what I am learning now. By taking classes that overlap, it further cements the concepts into our minds, turning knowledge into wisdom, or application of knowledge. This is difficult to do so when you cannot remember what you learned years ago, or when you have not yet taken the class that teaches the information. Therefore, our school districts should consider investing in providing more classes so that students can choose to take a wider variety of classes at the same time.

All is for the Best

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In October and November, my hopes were high. Or rather, my confidence was high. People around me were always complimenting me and reassuring me that I will “for sure get into the school of my choice,” and I eagerly swallowed their words and became full of hubris, impatiently waiting for my acceptance letters.

When March finally arrived, the first two letters I opened were acceptance letters. Upon their arrivals, I was convinced that more were on the way, so I did not give much thought to them as they were from my “safety schools.” With such inflated expectation, opening the following three mail and emails that began with something along the lines of “After a thorough review of your application for admission, I am sorry to inform you that …” and “After careful consideration of your application, the Admissions Committee has decided to place you on our wait list…” quickly left me deflated and in disbelief.

All throughout my high school years, I had pushed myself in doing my best so that I could get into a prestigious college and don a hoodie with the prestigious college’s name smack in the center without feeling pretentious. However, these three emails and mails made me realize that perhaps my efforts in maintaining an almost straight-A GPA, staying up late doing homework, choosing studying over going out, and so much more, had all been futile.

Yet while I was researching one of my “safety” schools, my sadness and distraught were somewhat lifted. I had been accepted to the school’s top major, Chemical Engineering, which is ranked 8th in the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings. I had been completely unaware of this, as I had done no prior research before applying. I had decided to apply to that school five minutes before turning in my application and had chosen Chemical Engineering only because Undecided Engineering was not an option, and in the end, my last-minute indecisiveness got me into a pretty good place. Although I do not know if I will enroll at this school yet, this “discovery” helped me realize that all will eventually work out, no matter where I end up at, as all is for the best.

Simplification of Language

SUP. HBD. TY. YW. GTG. TTYL.

We can now hold conversations with these abbreviations, shortened for convenience, but are they stifling expression and limiting the exchange of thoughts, ideas, and opinions as Newspeak does? Newspeak, the new language developed by the totalitarian government in 1984 written by George Orwell, is not the only parallel between the fiction and real worlds; the Urban dictionary is the Newspeak dictionary; Siri and other devices that transform our words into text is speakwrite.

So, what is keeping our world from completely transforming into that from 1984? For one, here in the land of the free and home of the brave, our freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment. Of course there are limitations to what the First Amendment protects, but we do not have to worry about the death penalty for keeping a diary, or watch what we say when we are in front of the TV screen. We should be using our rights to the fullest extent, conversing in much more complex dialogue, making it more difficult for a totalitarian rule to take over.

「ずっと忘れない」: “Never Forget”

Imagine this: One day you’re just minding your business when you hear the sirens warning you of a tsunami. You quickly climb up to the top of a building, waiting for the tsunami. The tsunami doesn’t come instantly; from the building, you see the ocean slowly rising up over the 15-meter barrage and into the streets and your house, removing your house from its base. All of your personal belongings and some of your family members and friends were swept away by the powerful Mother Nature, leaving only your sorrow behind.

That was just a Sparknotes version of the tsunami that occurred in Japan three years ago on March 11th, 2011. Lives were lost, buildings destroyed, hopes and dreams crushed. In my Japanese class, my teacher showed us the promotional video that announced that it would donate a penny every time someone searched “3.11”  on Yahoo.com (see video below). The line that stood out to me was「ずっと忘れない」, or never forget.

The past is what makes the present, and the present is what makes the future. As learned from 1984 by George Orwell, “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” We are the ones who control what we remember about the past. Time heals, but the tsunami is a scar that we want to remain after the bleeding has stopped to commemorate the lives lost and remind ourselves to treasure everything that we have, for all could be lost within minutes.

4 Reasons Why Students Should Watch Movies in Language Class

For the past three years, it was a tradition in Japanese class to watch movies like “Howl’s Moving Castle” and TV shows like “Marumo No Okite” on Friday, and then write a reflection over the weekend about what we had watched in class. Now on Fridays, however, in AP Japanese 4, we take quizzes on vocabulary, take notes on grammar, and fill out worksheets on new proverbs and onomatopoeia. The goal of those assignments is to learn Japanese, yet that can also be achieved by watching movies and writing a reflection afterwards. Continue reading 4 Reasons Why Students Should Watch Movies in Language Class

Do’s and Don’ts of a Presentation

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“Your presentation MUST be memorable.” That one sentence with the bolded “must” was from the instructions for the Frankenstein project for the 1st semester English final, and it was the first thing my eyes zeroed on.

Usually in an AP class, students go out of their way to impress the teachers, going beyond the requirements of the assignment. However, when the instruction requires you to make your presentation memorable, how do you achieve past that? Continue reading Do’s and Don’ts of a Presentation

Learning Outside the Classroom

Five days a week, seven hours a day, I am confined in a classroom and fed with information regurgitated by teachers. The same setting is quite discouraging, and it does not motivate me to pay attention. However, I was able to escape from the learning cage on the occasional field study trips for AP Environmental Science.

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Continue reading Learning Outside the Classroom

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