IB In one picture

We were tasked to find one image to express our feelings about the past year, so here is mine:

IB_in_one_picture

Let me explain why this is the perfect image…

First, lets start with the fire and destruction. The village that is now one fire represents the overall life quality of an individual. Remember how nice and calm it was? Plenty of green everywhere, everyone was living peacefully, every Sunday you had more free time than you knew what to do with, and all these nice things… THEN A MASSIVE SPACESHIP WITH LASER CANONS AND BIG MASSIVE JET ENGINES SHOWED UP AND SET EVERYTHING ON FIRE. That is what IB does. Say goodbye to that nice green village of free time, it is now filled with the fire of deadlines, IAs, Extended Essay, and HL Maths.

But there are positive aspects to the spaceship showing up as well. You learn a lot. Before, you were stuck in a nice green village, and everything was peaceful. But since the spaceship showed up, it opened your eyes. Now you realise it is possible to fly, you learn about those laser guns and all that technology, and you learn how to use it to fight the fire. Not to mention you learn how to cope with the fire itself… You see a deadline coming up, a lightly flame. Better extinguish before it turns into a massive bonfire. Better yet, the fire also gives you the opportunity to help other people and learn about yourself, through CAS.

What I like about the image even more, however, is that behind the village on fire, you have these deep mountains full with forests and vegetation. I like to think of these as the back story of every student in IB. Everyone comes from a different background, and there is a lot of wealth there. You have the chance to get to know that wealth (if you manage the fire that is…)

All joking aside, IB is hard. And it will most probably get harder in the second year. The workload now is higher than the workload in the first year of university; that makes it great preparation.

Overall, IB can give you so much, if you know how to get the most out of it. And it’s kind of cool (just like the spaceship)…

 

CAS Update (2016.4.6)

I have recently read a blog post about Graphic Cards, and their massive benefits for computing. The blog post – which you can find here – talks about AI, and how graphics cards allowed computers to analyse larger amounts of data. The interesting thing is that I read this blog post after I have decided to spend the rest of my CAS budget on a graphics card.

However fair the price was, it was a lot of money despite the fact that it is not a top of the line unit, and is considered “OK”. We could have spend the money on other things for sure; but I was convinced it was the right decision. So when I came back from Bali on Monday evening, I went to sleep, and went to school bright and early the next day to a) prepare our CAS room for renovations and b) to take the graphics card home.

Frankenstein's monster...

Frankenstein’s monster…

I had to take two computers apart to salvage things I would need to work on the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) at home. Once I got home, I set about building the computer and making some adjustments to the setup. After tinkering with it for a whole day, and setting things up (I even had to take my laptop apart to get some things from it to make the computer to work), I ended up with a computer that is reminiscent of Frankenstein’s monster. However, I am pleased to say; I made the right decision to purchase the GPU!

I came to this conclusion after testing and benchmarking the GPU. First I opted to do a so-called “stress-test”; this allowed me to monitor the GPU and the rest of the system when it is put under EXTREME load. I saw how the load affected temperatures, voltages and power consumption, and I made sure that the system is stable and I was able to do some hard work on it.

This is how I stress tested the PC, and made sure it is safe to work with.

This is how I stress tested the PC, and made sure it is safe to work with.

At this point, I started doing some calculations; I wanted to know just how much extra horsepower I have got by adding the GPU. According to my calculations, the processor by itself is able to achieve 69 Giga FLOPS (with FLOPS being a measurement of raw performance based upon the number of calculations done in a set time frame) whilst the graphics card is able to achieve 1573 Giga FLOPS! To be absolutely honest, I expected this jump; that is why I purchased the GPU. The reason for this is that processors can do everything but they are very slow whilst doing it. Graphics cards can’t do most things, but the things they can do; they ace.

This contains more brute strength than 19 other computers.

This contains more brute strength than 19 other computers.

Just to put it into perspective, the graphics card alone makes 262 Giga Flops more than all of our computers combined! I immediately signed the computer up for a BOINC project called PrimeGrid – the project that recently found the new largest prime number. And the results are as expected; overnight, it gained as much points as all of our computers together after a day and a half. It’s an absolute beast.

This new progress, alongside getting our room painted and getting the door replaced, definitely allows us to approach our goal; to set up a hub for community driver scientific research. However, I don’t want to stop with one graphics card. After we get the room sorted, I will work on presenting the results of having a graphics card to finance committee, and hopefully we will be able to expand our fleet of these workhorses, and gain more and more points. We’ll see how it goes.

 

On the subject of Faith…

Today in CORE, we had an interesting discussion. We talked about faith as a concept and as a way of knowing. We were then tasked by Mr. Paterson to write a blog post showing why faith is a good way of knowing and why the IBO decided to add faith into the list of ways of knowing.

So here it goes:

faith

That is the definition of Faith. But I immediately begin to question; where does the ‘knowing’ part come in?

We are meant to defend the idea of Faith as a Way of Knowing, yet it in no way contributes to knowledge. Sure, Faith is the ‘trust’ and a ‘belief’ in a particular concept or an idea or a thing; but just because you believe something is true doesn’t make it true.

Knowledge is the facts, information and skills acquired by a person through experience or education and the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. How does Faith achieve the expansion of knowledge? It doesn’t. As an example, I will give you my CAS project. When I presented the idea of my CAS project, BOINC@BSJ, to Mr. Thirkell on January 4th, I was unsure about how he would take it. But I had a certain amount of faith that he would be very supportive. But I didn’t know that he will be supportive. How can ‘Faith‘ be classified as a way of knowing when it doesn’t contribute to knowledge?

To be absolutely fair, Faith is not the only way of knowing that I have problems with. Until the Autumn of 2014 there were four ways of knowing: Sense Perception, Reason, Emotion and Language. And that is fine. Each of these ways of knowing has the direct effect of teaching you something new; they make you know.

However, that Autumn, the IBO decided to add Intuition, Imagination, Faith and Memory to that list. However, I would argue that all of these ‘new’ ways of knowing (with the exception of memory) have no ability to make you know something. For example, Intuition is in no way helpful in gaining and aggregating facts and information.

The current ways of knowing, as decided by the IBO.

The current ways of knowing, as decided by the IBO.

Could this be because Intuition is just an extension of Emotion? So you can say “My intuition is telling me that that isn’t a good idea”; you don’t know that it isn’t a good idea, but you are sure about how you feel. You are certain about your emotions. Similarly, you could say that you have faith in something; you don’t know anything new, but you know how you feel. You know your emotions.

From this we can safely deduce that Faith and Intuition are just extensions of Emotion; an actual way of knowing. There is no reason for them to be classified as separate ways of knowing; they are part of emotion.

Imagination is a more complicated case. I would argue that Imagination is based upon Sense Perception, Emotion and Memory. This is because of the following; try to imagine something new. Something absolutely amazingly brand new. Not something that you have made out of things and experiences that you have previously gathered; but something that contains no part of any experience you have had in your life. Something that contains no parts of what you perceived with sense perception. It isn’t really possible, is it? Good grief! How do you use something that modifies your experiences to gain or check knowledge!? A simplification of imagination is ‘making up stuff’; but that goes against the definition of knowledge!

One might argue that it is imagination that makes us come up with new things; but I would argue that the idea of something doesn’t equal to the actual thing. Say, when Mr. Bell had the idea of a telephone, no new knowledge was created. It was only when he drew up the plans and built the phone that knowledge was created.

BUT!

I want to make it very clear that I do not, and can not, doubt the importance of faith, imagination and intuition. As Jasmine said earlier today when I was talking with her about this; to an extent, it is the faith in gaining new knowledge that makes us want to explore further. As I said earlier, imagination is the foundation of invention. However, they aren’t things to create or preserve knowledge. They aren’t ways of knowing. They are essential to us, but they aren’t ways of knowing.

Undoubtedly, faith itself is tremendously important. It might have been faith that made you push on that little bit harder when you are about to give up; the faith in achieving your goal. It might be faith that makes you smile on that sad day; faith in things becoming better. It might have been faith that made you believe in that one person after they have failed a few times; and it was this faith of yours that kept them going.

In conclusion, I am sorry to say that I was unable to accomplish the task of proving why faith is an important way of knowing; because it just isn’t a way of knowing. However, I hope I have at least shown why it is important. 

faith

 

 

 

 

 

Core Assessment 2: Communication

Communication; the pillar of modern society.

The purpose of this blog post is to demonstrate how exactly I have applied, or even improved, my communication skills in my IB subjects. So let’s get started.


Communication is a broad term. To complete the task of assessing my skills successfully, we must first look at what we define to be communication; with a quick Bing search (I’m just joking, I used Google), I discover that communication (noun) has more than one meaning:

  1. The imparting or exchanging of information or news.
  2. The means of connection between people or places, in particular.

I also discovered it comes from Latin, French and old English, and that its use has increased from the year 1950 by around 100%; but that is all beside the point.

Now, since I am supposed to talk about how ‘successful’ I was in improving communication, I had a look at what success is; how can we empirically measure it? I came to the conclusion that we can look at different issues and problems that occur with day to day communication, and see if I had overcome them. So;

Problem number 1:

The biggest communication problem is that we don’t listen to understand; we listen to reply.

Now, why is that a problem? Well, because as we agreed in CORE, communication is the exchange of knowledge; and I hardly think that a one way stream of knowledge can be labeled as ‘exchange’. So have I overcome the problem?

I think so. I’ll let you be the judge of that. Firstly, there is Economics. We had to submit a proposal for our Internal Assignment. This required us to have a look on the Internet and find articles no more than a year old about market failure and write 750 words about how the government could intervene to prevent that from happening. We first had to submit the article, and Mr. Oldfield had to agree to us using it. Some people submitted one, maybe two; I submitted six. I started with one; it wasn’t that good. I submitted a second one which I thought was much better; still no good. It went like this for 4 submissions. I was then fed up, and asked Mr. Oldfield to explain. He had done so, and my next to articles were accepted.

At first, I just wanted to get it out off my way and focus on other things. But after actually listening to Mr. Oldfield and taking his advice, I got a perfect article (I would also like to point out it was written 353 days before my submission – I only just got into the one year time frame). Hence, I have listened to understand.

Problem Number 2:

Before you speak; think. Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it kind? Will it hurt anyone? Will it improve on the silence?

Knowing what to say and when to say it is arguably one of the most important aspects of effective communication. Have I successfully tackled this problem? Yes, I think I did.

I like computers; a lot. I find them fascinating. Do you realize that there are electrons (which are the size of a fraction of the size of an atom, of which there are a couple of billion in the following full stop.), and they interact with each other trough logic gates which are able to do basic mathematical operations, and SOMEHOW all this translates into me writing this blog post? It’s nuts.

Logically, as a person who is interested in such things, I try to find out as much about them as I possibly can. This is why I use Linux. Without going into too many details, it is an operating system which is similar to OS X on your Apple device, in the fact that is it build on the same starting block – Unix. But it does not obscure ANY information. With simple commands using only the keyboard, one is able to look at the Kernel, also know as the very very very core of the operating system. The kernel makes everything work and tells everything what to do.

I take pride in using Linux, but sometimes I am met with disagreement from my classmates; there are those that don’t care (and that’s fine), there are those that find it cool (which leads to some interesting discussions – Marcus asked me to install it for him and show him around!) and then there are those that find me using Linux stupid (*cough* Prannay *cough*). He would always ask me why I use the inferior system and why don’t I just use something good; and at the start I didn’t blame him. Many people don’t know about Linux (despite the fact 60% of the world’s computers use it – all the servers and super computers, all the phones, etc.). And I explained it to him. And then I did again.

Everything I have said failed to convince Prannay. I understand there are different systems for different users, and everyone has their own preference; but I know that he will not change his opinion. I am sure of it.

Hence, I have reached the point where I realize that no matter what I say, it will not improve on the silence, and hence I say nothing – we would get nowhere. It is important to realize the different opinions people have, and respect those opinions.

This also relates to the different programming languages in Computer Science.

I started programming with Python, and have a soft spot for it – every time I see it on the board after the year 11 are done with their lesson, I get a warm feeling. Too bad we learn Java. Or that is what I thought at the start, but after getting used to it, I see the beauty of Java too. But there are people that didn’t see the beauty of it: Josh is the ‘CSS master’ and Marcus knows his HTML. I don’t really see the appeal of any of these languages, but I realize they are all important. The internet wouldn’t work without them the way it does now. This comes back to respecting the different opinions, and understanding different preferences – an important part of communication.

Problem Number 3:

One of the most pressing problems regarding communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

Going back to Computer Science and BERTHA, we need a web page. Marcus has volunteered to make us one for his Computer Science project, and he is using HTML. However, to design it, he must know exactly what is it we want. As BERTHA was starting, I didn’t really have the time to tell him all of that, and just asked him to brainstorm ideas. I thought he would get building a web page and then we would tell him what to change. But that piece of information wasn’t communicated well; or at all.

A week later, we got together, and spent around 30 minutes having a look at possible designs. Only then, when we were both aware of what it was we were communicating about and we were both ready to have that exchange of information, have we truly understood each other; he is working on the web page now!

Problem Number 4:

If you communicate, you can get by. If you communicate skillfully, you can work miracles.

This goes back to my CAS project and BERTHA. As I was starting this project, I really wasn’t sure where it would go. I really wasn’t sure I’d get any support at all! But I was determined to at least give it my best shot. I started sending out emails, first to Mr. Thirkell and then to Mr. McClure; that was alright as Mr. McClure is my teacher and Mr. Thirkell is very involved with my other CAS projects. But as the project developed, I started sending email higher and higher in the school hierarchy. First Mr. Martindale, then Mrs. Edwards and Mrs. Smith, then Mr. Harris and possibly Mr. Denis in a few days!

And I think I communicated effectively. I doubted I would get a separate room, and check us out now! I am getting computers, T-Shirts, planning assemblies, getting a budget, etc! I think if I have communicated, I’d get somewhere. But I feel like I did a good job at communicating, and I can see the outcomes.

I am not saying I am a perfect communicator – not at all. I do admit that I can be slightly (only slightly) stubborn. But I have improved, and I can see the results.


I could go on and on, but when I consult the Economic theory, I find that the Supply is equal to the Demand at the equilibrium point, and failing to achieve this equilibrium point is a market failure. And I don’t want to end this blog post with a failure; you have demanded and I have supplied.

This concluded my second core assessment. I will shortly write another blog post, especially after the residential and getting the budget.

So long,

Lukas

 

BERTHA!!! (2016.1.21)

The time has come, once again, for an update on the BOINC@BSJ CAS Project!!!

Plenty of new things have happened, and I am pretty sure many more things are still about to happen. Regardless, let me tell you all about it.

Firstly, we are calling the supercomputer BERTHA: BSJ External Research and Theory Hatching Array (it took a while to come up with that).

11140068_1683251551951541_4448189003749302819_nSecondly, we finally have a room!!! It is the old and mostly unused storage room by the English classrooms. Last week Sunday, Raven (who is the new member of the BOINC@BSJ team) and I have spent the entire morning cleaning the room out; we took all the furniture out, we vacuumed the room ceiling to floor (because everyone knows that one starts at the ceiling when cleaning), and then mopped the floors. We threw the curtains out, and attempted to touch them as little as possible. As we took them out, we noticed that we created a little echo in the room, as the curtains absorbed a lot of noise; but they also absorbed everything else: dust, dirt, and probably deadly diseases. We then cleaned the furniture, and rearranged it in such a way it would provide a nice workspace and be future proof.

Since that Sunday, we spend every free time we have had in that room; either we set up computers or we set up computers, we even set up computers!

I’m clearly joking, we are doing other things as well (like setting up computers).

We also received 3 computers from Mr.McClure, and it took us around one day to set them up and get them working. We took a bit longer to set them up so they work conveniently as well as more efficiently. Since then, they have been crunching like crazy, and managed to double the amount of points our team generated overnight! We have also contacted the IT Office, and managed to receive a 48-port Ethernet switch from them that retails at around 1,700$! We also received the permission to use 300 meters of high speed Ethernet cable we found.

12510273_1684556618487701_2470356394264684694_n

Marcus is the first volunteer!

Mr.Thirkell also set up a white-board in front of BERTHA for community interaction: a place for people to ask us questions. We have also set up a sign for people to talk to us about the project, and possibly donate their old laptops and desktop PCs: we have teacher volunteers, and a couple of students. It’s pretty amazing: we are working in the room, and every couple of minutes someone drops in and asks us what exactly it is we are doing and how they can help.

12573190_1683603431916353_4558219975008859283_n

The first three nodes of BERTHA, currently nicknamed Bob, Geoff and Jerry (top to bottom).

Now, to eliminate us doing this for every single person in the school, we are planning an assembly; this will probably take place on the 9th of February. We will talk about the project, ask for help, and then there is the surprise. To be honest, I am already pretty sure what we are going to talk about, as I gave a similar presentation to a group of FOBISEA teachers that came over to the school, and then Raven and I presented our project to the representative of the Round Square association. I am pleased to say we received very positive and encouraging feedback from both of these events!

I would also like take the time to thank the volunteers that gave us their laptops, but especially Mr. McClure and Mr.Thirkell who were both extremely supportive and helpful at getting this project off the ground.

 

 

 

Do you BOINC? (2016.1.18)

Hi! I wish you a pleasant Friday evening…

What a busy week behind us indeed! A new school term has begun, the parent-teacher consultations took place on Thursday and everyone is already busy with studying for tests. But this isn’t a blog post about that; this will be about my CAS.

Some time ago, I wrote about BOINC (all about that here – from this point onwards, I assume you have read that blog post, as it is essential for what I am going to talk about), and an idea I have for a CAS project. I presented this to Mr. Thirkell, and asked if it would be a good idea; it turns out it would be a great one! With Mr. Thirkell’s blessing, I immediately set off to work.

This is why I have had no spare time this week. First off, I needed to create an action plan, and get a basic time line set up. According to that time line, the first thing I needed to do was to contact the head of the BOINC project, and ask him to create a team for our school. In the meantime I contacted Mr. McClure and Mr. Harris and told them about the project. I also scheduled a meeting with Mr. McClure and asked for his opinion about this project and requested any unused computers he might spare. He was also very excited, and told me that I will get as many computers as he can manage in around 2 weeks from now. That might seem like a long time, but there is a lot to do!

Next, I started to slowly raise awareness about this project among the students; and I already have a few volunteers. But a few is NOT enough! This is why I am currently working on a T-Shirt design, so we can get them printed and get as many people to join as possible.

I am trying to utilize every single device I can get my hands on!

I am trying to utilize every single device I can get my hands on!

In the meantime, I got a response from the head of BOINC, informing me that he has created a team for us called ‘British School of Jakarta’. I was very happy to hear this, and immediately signed up the volunteers for this team; however, it will take a few days for the team to be recognized as fully official. Some of these volunteers also expressed the interest of being more involved with the project; and I am aware that as the project develops, I will be unable to take care of everything myself. I have therefore started to introduce some of them to the basics of BOINC, and how it works on the more basic level to act as administrators and helpers for other volunteers.

I have also scheduled a meeting with Mr. Martindale, the head of IT, to let him know of this project, and assure him of the absolutely minimal load on the school IT infrastructure. I will also ask him to create an email address for this project with the school URL so that there is an official point of contact for any inquiries anyone might have. I will also ask for his permission to use the storage room by the English classrooms for the storage of the computers. However, before the computers are put in there, I will need to check that the room is suitable, and clean it out; dust and computers don’t go together.

An official T-Shirt design. Ours will be more personal!

An official T-Shirt design. Ours will be more personal!

Other than that, I’m currently in the process of general administrative work, and doing all sorts of little things to make this project a success. I also have plenty of ideas, such as getting stickers for everyone who participates, so they can stick them on their laptop. But the main focus right now is to get the main computers up and running. To quote Dune by Frank Herbert: “A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.” This project has a long way to go, and could develop into something really really big; but for that to happen, we must be careful and get everything just right. I have the confidence that we are perfectly capable of doing just that.

More on this project as it develops. In the meantime: Do you BOINC?

 

BOINC. BURP. YOYO. (2015.12.17)

Good day!

‘Tis the holiday season, and I wish you a happy one!

I like Christmas; winter is my favorite. But, to be frank, I find Christmas unnecessarily hectic. Everyone rushing around, trying to get set up, finding presents for their loves ones, decorating the house…… You might argue that it’s all part of the deal, but I would argue that it doesn’t sound much like a holiday to me.

So, having said that, how would you feel if, on top of all that, I would ask you for a favor?

Really, you’d gladly do it? Cool!

Well, since one of the major things about Christmas is gift giving, I would like to ask you to give someone a present as well, albeit with a little twist on it. What I am talking about is BOINC; the Berkley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing. Sounds complicated? It is. But only when you dive way deep into it. Let me explain:

Berkley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

Berkley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

The entire initiative started with SETI; The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. Basically, it’s a scientific research project where computers checked millions of radio wave signals received by massive antennas from the night sky and looked for patterns, which might indicate the presence of aliens. As you might imagine, this takes some proper processing power; and seeing as this project started in the late 90’s when computers weren’t as powerful as they’re now, it took a heck of a long time. But personal computers began to be a large portion of the market, and more and more people owned a PC. The scientists recognized the unused potential of the combined processing power of all these computers. With their hunger for more results, and the idea of meeting aliens, they were fueled to use all those computers. Hence SETI@home was born. This project required volunteers to download a piece of software on their computers that would receive data from the official SETI laboratory and work on it, usually when the computer wasn’t used. This increased their computing power many times over.

Other scientists also saw this opportunity, and the SETI@home project quickly developed into BOINC. This is a network of projects similar to SETI in the fact that they require large processing power; all the way from unfolding enzymes to help with Alzheimer’s disease, through looking for prime numbers, to unlocking the secrets of the universe with calculations done for CERN and looking for Pulsars in distant galaxies. Needless to say (as a bit of a geek), I proudly take part in these projects.

My current wallpaper. It could be yours too!

My current wallpaper. It could be yours too!

When I am not using my computer, it is happily chugging away and crunching numbers. The projects I take part in are Rosetta@home (unfolding proteins to fight diseases), Asteroids@home (looking for paths of asteroids that might crash into the earth – by the Charles’s University in Prague!), EDGeS@home (computing for research projects done by the EU), and World Community Grid (which gives the computing power to scientists that wouldn’t normally get access to it, and is all-purpose). And to explain the title, YOYO and BURP are BOINC projects. YOYO tries to implement more projects into BOINC itself, and BURP is used for image rendering and 3D animation! There is even a CAS@home, but it isn’t our CAS. To quote the project: “The objective of CAS@home is to encourage and assist scientists in China to adopt the technologies of volunteer computing and volunteer thinking for their research.”

If you are not convinced, consider this. The fastest computer on the planet can run at a sustained 2.5 petaflops (a petaflop is a thousand trillion floating point operations per second). That means, it can operate 24/7 at such speed. It has 186,368 cores and 229,376 GB of RAM. That’s incredible! Now, yesterday’s combined average for the processing power of BOINC was 9.151 petaflops, and the day before that 11.874 petaflops! That is more than 4 times the speed of the Tianhe-1A (the fastest computer on the planet)! I believe I have convinced you. There are around 3.5 million BOINC users worldwide; why not be one of them?

BOINC is a literal example of the phrase "Strength in numbers"

BOINC is a literal example of the phrase “Strength in numbers”

It really isn’t hard; at all. You download the program from here for any operating system (and even phones), choose which project(s) you want to contribute to, and when you’re not using your computer it is crunching numbers for the bettering of our society. If you’re worried about the safety: every now and then the computer downloads an encrypted piece of data that it then does calculations on, usually for a few hours. It then sends it back. You can stop and abort at anytime; you have all the control.

BOINC has actually gotten so big that there are national competitions of who can contribute the most, with teams and individuals participating. As a country, the Czech Republic is currently 9th with the USA leading the way, and our national team is 5th! That’s an impressive accomplishment. Yesterday, I was in the top 50,000 users; out of 3.5 million!

I am also toying with the idea of starting a school BOINC team, as there are no Indonesian based teams. I have some ideas, but none of them developed enough. Possibly using the discarded computers for number crunching as well? We’ll see.

As I am  typing this, my laptop is sending data to the Charles’s University in Prague about an asteroid; its shape, its size, its orbit, its speed and anything else it could have figured from the data provided. It calculated it overnight; I wasn’t using the computer anyway. Now it’s simulating a particle accelerator. And my phone is working on prime numbers when the screen is off. Every time I’m not using it, I really have the best use for it!

If you’re interested in joining the BOINC team, or generally want more info, let me know.

 

 

 

Picking the game up a bit. (2015.12.4)

Hello!

It is great to see you again. Yes yes, I know; I haven’t blogged for a while. I was caught up between CAS work, Physics, Economics and Maths tests, community work, maths competitions, extended essay proposals and so forth. So let me tell you about it!

I am writing this as I am lying in bed, after spending the entire afternoon at the Bintaro Exchange Mall. Don’t worry, I hate shopping! I was there to help with the Brownies, who went ice skating. As Brownies is composed mainly of girls in the 6 to 10 year old range, it is needless to say not all of them knew how to ice skate. I do, however, and spend the entire afternoon helping them. Actually, it was fun!

Secondly, I participated in the UKMT Challenge (UK Mathematics Trust). Basically, this is a set of 25 questions that test your maths skills and logic. Actually, more logic than anything. Everyone in HL Maths took this challenge, and the results arrived surprisingly swiftly. And I won a silver certificate! Yes, it’s not a gold one, but it certainly is an improvement over the bronze one I got last year. Not to mention the bronze one was in the Junior category, and the silver one was in the Senior category. So yes, I was pleased!

So pleased, in fact, that I decided to voluntarily join the Canadian Maths Challenge! This happened on Thursday afternoon and went on for 2 hours; so I left school at half past 5. Compared to the UKMT Challenge, the Canadian one was more mathematics focused, rather than logic based. So I am eager to know how I did!

Alright, that’s that. What’s next? Oh, I know! CAS!

The bike building project is going along very nicely. Everything is put together, but the hardest challenge still remains; starting the engine. Needless to say, it is actually quite tricky, as the timing of the spark, the valves and the electrics has to be perfect. So it is indeed quite fiddly. Below are some photos of the progress our group has made:

We have met up 3 times since I last blogged, and made great progress. We will not meet up this weekend, however, due to the fact that Isobel, Jenny and I take part in the International Swim Meet. But we want to get the engine started before Christmas, so we will meet next week for sure.

Next up? The Extended Essay!

Yes, I am quite excited! So excited, in fact, that I have misunderstood the rules and already started working on it! Don’t worry though, it’s not a biggie. It’s all fixed now. I asked Mr. Fitzpatrick if he would be willing to supervise my extended essay in physics with the title of “How does the angle of the blades on an 8 blade motorized round top propeller affect the power and efficiency of the propeller?”. He agreed, and we started working on it. he gave me tips, and I changed and refined the question to “How does the angle of the blades on an ungeared 3 blade wind turbine affect the efficiency of the turbine?”. It was at this point, just as we were about to plan the time line, that we realized we didn’t go through the proper procedure of handing EE proposals to the Secondary Office. So instead of scrapping all the work, I submitted the refined question to the secondary office. Let’s see how it goes!

I also wanted to write a blog post about this great tool for organizing one’s sources, but that will have to wait; this is not a blog post about that.

So, since all the main tests are behind me, I will have more time to blog, and I will pick up the game a bit.

Until next time. Take care!

 

 

Reflecting upon the past week. (2015.11.21)

As you may know, the past week in school has been somewhat ‘different’. Not only was most of the school gone on residentials, but the other half that wasn’t gone had mock exams! Apart of Year 12 and Year 10, that is. Thus, Year 12 had 3 days of workshops; ranging in topic all the way from talking about the Extended Essay, through some CAS work on Wednesday, to organising our own workshops regarding the ATLs on Friday.

I am already pretty set on my topic for the Extended Essay. My main topic is going to be the investigation of gear ratios, and if it is possible to have an irrational gear ratio. The CAS also went quite well, and I stayed at Isobel’s house working on the bike from 12:45 to around 7 pm (I’m going over again today to finish it!).

But the most important bit was the workshops. We were assigned pairs, and 2 ATLs to make a workshop about. Me and Sunny got assigned with ‘Communication’ and ‘Research’. I took charge of Communication, and Sunny did Research. We each made detailed schedules with different activities and their descriptions; but we knew we wouldn’t follow them minute by minute. Our workshops had to be flexible and dynamic.

In my workshop, I proved through some exercises that Communication isn’t only about sharing information, and passing on an idea. It is also about listening and receiving feedback. The activities were as follows:

Firstly, I gave everyone an identical piece of A4 paper, and told them to hold it under their desk. I told them they can’t look at it or look at their friends. Then I gave all of them vague instructions (fold the paper in half, rip a corner off, etc.), and after around 15 steps, I told them to compare papers. No one had the same fold lines, which proved my point. Feedback, listening, cross checking, and everyone’s identity and experiences play a massive role in communication.

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After we have done this, I let them communicate amongst each other to make 2 identical teams. Each team needed a ‘looker’, 2 ‘messengers’ and 1 ‘drawer’. Basically, I showed each looker a picture made out of different colours, shapes and patters, and they had to pass the drawing instructions to the messengers who passed it amongst themselves until it reached the drawer, who drew the shapes according to the instructions. No one was allowed to refer to a real life object, eg. It looks like a house. The two teams then compared the final product, and through communication, had to defend their work and prove they won the exercise.

This exercise was supposed to teach them the ideas of efficient communication. Some did better, some did worse; but it was fun! I then awarded everyone in my workshop a digital badge, because all in all, they all did a really great job! Me and Sunny then organised a Research workshop, but I’m sure he will tell you on his blog how this went.

I then participated in other workshops; such as Self Management by Chris and Anesu. Basically, the point of their workshop was to get us to a point of rage and anger with a range of infuriating exercises and then control our anger and emotions effectively. Luckily, I managed to keep a cold head and finished all the exercises; it sure was helpful!

Photo by Mr. Brown. He tried the exercises too!

Photo by Mr. Brown. He tried the exercises too!

I then attended a spectacular workshop by Marcus. An insane amount of work was put into it. It was a workshop about Thinking Skills, and was done in the form of a murder mystery. We were given clues, and riddles. We had to figure out what happened to the turtle named Mr. Hardy Shell (giggle giggle) and find a password for his computer to help us with this. Basically, all the details were spot on, and it surely made me think! Chris’s and Anesu’s workshop helped me with it; I kept a cold head all the way through.

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Marcus’s Workshop: The Disappearance of Mr. Hardy Shell.

Overall, it was an enjoyable day, and a great experience to be had. Improvisation, teamwork, self-management, communication; these are only few of the skills I learned. Next week, normal lessons start again, and as much fun as these 3 days were, I am glad school will be back to normal. I can’t wait to put these newly learned skills into action!