Disclaimer: Thoughts and ideas portrayed in these posts do not necessarily reflect the positions of the instructor or the CREST program as a whole.
It is not by accident that I have refrained from touching this website for so many weeks, although the word "refrain" makes it sound as though it was difficult, which I can assure you, dear reader, it was not. As I am writing this, it is the dusk before the dawn of my senior year at Paradise Valley High School. Naturally, I am hunched over a computer at the moment trying to squeak out the last of my summer homework whilst I simultaneously hold back the wave of nervousness and excitement at what is to come.
There is something to be sad about how liberating it feels to know that I will soon be continuing my journey through the CREST Program on my own terms, doing what it is that I think is beneficial to my development discovering my niche in the world (Niche is a somewhat poor word here, as I by no means intend to confine myself or make myself fit into something less than me). I plan to intern at the mayor's office in the parks and rec department, which believe me, is more than a lot of other students can say for themselves presently. Until things are officially organized, however, I will be spending my free fifth block doing whatever I must to float my high school career along while also preparing for my departure into college life, which in my brain, is quite close.
It's easy to say all of these things before the school year has even started, but I didn't tuck my tail in and run away from junior year, and there is no way it's happening senior year. Here's to the final chapter at PV. Don't expect to hear much from me in the future, but I do promise to provide one last update before this site is shut down.
Gee, where has the time gone? It has been nearly a month since I've updated, so I suppose i'm due for quite a heavy post. Things are very different now from what they were like when I last blogged, so let me waste no more time in filling you in. For starters, the semester research project is finally dead. Watching the project progress over the semester was sort of like watching a bleeding animal die. Slowly but surely, it was drained of all substance. But how did this come about?
The majority of the class had been grumbling about the semester research project throughout the semester as I had both vocally and in these blog posts. After a while, a few of my classmates and I began to ask why we were continually whining about the project without actually trying to fix the problem. We were approaching the subject with a totally problems oriented mindset, and nothing was changing as a result. So we decided to send out an email to our classmates and inquire as to what they were thinking of the project, and the response was encouraging. Some felt as though there was a disconnect between teacher and student, and others felt that the research projects simply weren't as interesting as they were supposed to be, but the general consensus was that nothing that could be produced in the remainder of the semester would be worth anyone's time. So, like anyone looking to instigate change, we kept talking about things and decided to present our grievances to the man in charge.
The following day, we presented to Mr. B. our new idea for semester research: Turn it into a year long research project. This would allow us more time to work, and we could be truly happy with what we accomplished. Naturally, however, this did not entirely go our way, but Mr. B. did make a fair proposal. We couldn't do year long research because that would leave a hole in the grade books where our final would normally go. In addition, Mr. B. had intended to have us sign up for a special competition he following semester. He proposed that we use our remaining time in the semester to complete a full-class group project with the goal of effecting change in the district or on campus. So here we were with a new project in our lap, a major time constraint, and virtually no ideas...
So we got to work. We began some major brainstorming and decided that whatever product we produced, we would present it to the school governing board at their next meeting in an attempt to effect actual change. We all decided that this would be something we could really proud of. I think one of the primary downfalls to prior semester research projects was that they felt useless. It was clear that we all wanted something that actually mattered and made a real difference. At first, we toyed around with possible ways to make PVHS more energy efficient. To do so, we set out around campus and made observations about energy consumption on campus. While it was very interesting to make these observations, we had trouble targeting a specific behavior that we saw and attempting to explore it. It was suggested that we investigate implementing an energy efficient HVAC system, but we soon found out that our school already uses one. We also researched past sustainable initiatives in the district in order to strengthen any case that we finally decided to present to the board. It was this research within the district that led us to our final project idea (which was decided upon about one and a half weeks before our poster deadline).
It essentially worked like this: 1. The district has already taken a lot of sustainable initiatives in the past. 2. Sustainability is perceived as an attractive label when it comes to educational institutions. 3. It would therefore be in the district's best interest to label and advertise said initiatives as "sustainable." From here, we set out to conduct interviews of staff and board members in order to make sure that we best understood the perspective of the district on the topic. After this, we began compiling our research and preparing it for a poster. We discussed things like the staff opinion, benefits of sustainable labeling, and especially the methods in which the district could best communicate the benefits of the initiatives. We were particularly drawn to the concept of having a website whose sole purpose would be advertising sustainable initiatives. This website could be linked to the district main website, and visitors could explore and be educated on sustainability and the ways in which the district was implementing it. The anticipated benefits of this were improved reputation of the district as well as potential increased enrollment, which would mean more government funds allocated to the district.
The poster is now finally complete, so the only goal from here is to write up a research paper and bask in the prospect of a job well done. Given the horrible time crunch that we were all working under combined with the huge potential that this project has compared to any of our previous projects, I am immensely proud of what we have accomplished, and it makes me very excited to see what the next semester will hold with competitions and such.
I apologize for posting such a long winded story. I just felt that this was the best way to bring everyone up to date with what has been going on in sustainability during the absence of my already scarce blog posts. Yay, you've reached the end! Please enjoy the following video. :)
Yeah. I'm long overdue for yet another one. Nothing new though. Junior year has been kicking my behind, but I have been throwing back my fair share of kicks. I feel like no matter what class I go to, I have a ginormous research project staring me in the face. In history, I have one, in english, I have one, in sustainability, I have one, and in STEM, I obviously have one. I have certainly been enjoying the year, though. Marching season has just ended. PV band would have been at the superstate competition today , but we didn't qualify. In order to do so, we would have had to place tenth or higher at the last competition. Naturally, we received 11th place, but hey, at least we're first among the losers. We did take three captions at state, which is something PV band hasn't accomplished since 2007, so there's something to be proud of. And we get to start concert band soon, which will be another new experience for me, but I'm really excited for it. I might even try out the tenor saxophone instead of the alto. Who knows.
In academic news, as I mentioned above, things are as taxing as ever. I'm getting really sick of the English/APUSH research project that we have been doing. The actual paper made plenty of sense and was mildly enjoyable. The presentation portion, or the so called "creative" portion of the project on the other hand, is the epitome of pointless. The quintessence of totally useless busy work that furthers no one's education in any way whatsoever. And that is not exaggeration. I don't understand why it hasn't been thrown out in past years. It is apparently somewhat of a tradition, which is a mystery to me. I don't really want to talk about the sustainability research project either. The STEM Collaborative project, however, is going smooth as butter. Everything has clear direction, and our data collection should be finished by the close of this week. I wish every project could go so smoothly, but I suppose this course has done a good job of prepping me for experiments gone afoul (no hard feelings, B).
Well, it's time for some catching up once again. I hope that anyone reading this had an excellent weekend as I did. Like many of my weekends recently, it was very full but also very rewarding. On Friday evening, PV football bumped up their record to 5-2, and PV band gave what was probably its best half time performance of the season. On Saturday, the band attended our first competition, and we received second place in our division as well as a caption for best general effect. Our performance was not nearly as good as Friday night, but to rank where we did was a great feeling, although I was absolutely dead by the time I got home. Sunday was more of a recuperation day than anything else.
But down to the nitty gritty. We have been doing a lot of hands on stuff in Energy lately, including playing with solar panels and, as of recently, constructed our own prototypes for harvesting hydropower. The latter culminated in a face off between two groups of the class, each of which with their own designs. While both prototypes turned out to be rather lousy, my group's in particular showed a lot of unique potential. It incorporated a spiral, drill like design that one of my partners suggested, and was constructed from soda cans and used lab equipment.
I intend to do some follow up on the nuclear energy debate as soon as Mr. B gives us the results, but it may be a while until that is accomplished. Now that I have had some time to cool down, however, I'm sure I will not be nearly as grumpy if my team loses. As a closing note, I would like to let you know that John Williams Radio and Walt Disney Radio on Pandora are wonderful things.
Why, hello there. How about we have a little chat? I have been doing a lot of work lately. Last week was only a two day school week, and for the most part, I have been enjoying my time off. Friday was a particularly full day, as I had a four hour morning rehearsal for band and a football game that evening. The football game went really well, and Paradise Valley beat Washington by a good amount of points, leaving our record at 4-2, which is the best that I have ever seen our football team do since I began here my freshman year. Although I am only a band member, I still get a great feeling of pride just talking about it. Today, however, is not a day for relaxation. I have been hard at work doing all of the weekend homework that I have put off for the past four days, and I must say that as I reach the end of it all, I feel very accomplished and caught up, which is a feeling that one learns to never take for granted, especially when you're in the CREST Sustainability program and multiple AP classes in which you almost never feel caught up. All week I have been dreading today because I knew it was going to be a load of work, but it has been worth it.
In Sustainability, I have been making sure that my partner and I are caught up in our semester research project, and in STEM, I have been editing and making last minute touches to our research proposal rough draft. STEM has been going very interestingly lately. I feel like no matter how much I apply myself, there is still always more work to be done and more things to improve upon. This has its encouragements and drawbacks. In one way, I feel urged to push and expand on the way in which I think about my research, and I can refine everything to the level that I want it at. At the same time, I almost never feel done, and to me, hard work is only worth when you can sit back and bask in the benefits and relish in the fact that it is over, which isn't nearly as often as I'd like in this class.
I feel a similar problem is present with the Energy semester research project, although it is not quite as bad. I feel as though my partner and I are really caught up and on top of things, especially compared to many other groups in the class. I just need to build my literature reviews over the next week. I'm even getting back on track with my blogs, and for the first time in a while (and possibly for a while) I feel like I've got things under control.
I just took a nap, and it felt amazing. I thought you'd like to know that. Just brightened up your day, didn't I? That's why I do these things. Now, whatever you do, don't read the first sentence of my previous post. I told you not to, but that's ok. It's time I checked in again, so let's have a nice little chat. Where to start? Things have been better for me before, but I suppose they've been worse. I usually end up mentioning marching band in my posts these days, but I won't drone on about that this time around. I will say that I am still immensely enjoying it, and that it makes me very happy. In academic news, well, there isn't much news. APUSH is as riveting as ever (I never thought I'd ever say those words about a class), and English has been average. The STEM Collaborative Project has reached a very critical point. We are now working towards finalizing our research methods and budget proposals. It is a rigorous process, even for those of us who are doing the semi prescribed SHArK Project. I am very excited to see just where this project takes us. The implications of successful results are absolutely huge, and it blows my mind to think about the big picture here. I could go off on an epic tangent about my thoughts there, but I believe that I have already done so to a certain extent on my research page.
And now we come to the Energy course. Things were going well (and I suppose they still are) while we were sticking to the traditional note-taking lesson format. It was easy to get real comfy with the way things were working, but as of recently, this format has been undone once again, and we are all back to ourselves again. Recently, we have been doing a three part research series on nuclear power consisting of physical diagrams portraying processes involved, proposals regarding important topics of discussion in nuclear power, and case studies involving public controversy and nuclear hazards. This culminated in a class debate held today over the pros and cons of nuclear power. As in our last debate (over dams during the Water course), we were in fixed For and Against sides. This was about as frustrating as last time as well. Once again, I felt as thought the odds were stacked entirely in favor of the For side. The fact that nuclear power isn't more prevalent seems more of a political issue than a matter of actual fact, much like climate change. The debate itself went a little more smoothly than I expected, and I was much less tense afterward than I expected, which is likely due to the fact that i haven't been told that I've lost just yet. I'll hope for the best, however. There will definitely be a follow up to this when the results are in.
I thought this picture looked cool. Thought I'd share
it with you. Made your day, didn't it?
I promised myself that I'd be consistent with these things. Certainly easier said than done, but let's get down to business. I've experienced my first few weeks of junior year, and I must say, it hasn't been quite as terrifying as I expected. Some classes are definitely better than others. In particular, I really like the way that things are playing out in my Sustainable Energy and AP U.S. History courses. Those classes really do put a smile on my face because I feel as though I learn a lot from them, but it doesn't feel like an information overload. I feel as though I'm actually absorbing the material.
Marching band is also loads of fun. Last week, PVHS had its first home game against Saguaro High School, the defending state champions. If you recall from an earlier post of mine, I went to watch my older cousin play his last game of football against Saguaro at the state championship. Saguaro won, and most of the Cactus High School fans smelled a rat as far as refereeing was concerned. In any case, Saguaro already had a bit of a reputation, so it was quite a disappointment to see them win. However, redemption was on the horizon. With 18 seconds left in the fourth quarter of the SHS v. PVHS game, PV pulled through and won it. I cannot even begin to describe the emotion I felt while playing our schools fight song with the rest of the band after that last touchdown. Victory is sweet.
You know, there was a small part of me that thought I might continue blogging through the summer vacation. And I do stress the word small. More like microscopic. In any case, it is evident that I certainly did not continue blogging over the summer vacation. Speaking of which, let's talk about my summer. As you (whoever "you" is) may know from my previous posts, I, as of fairly recently, am in a relationship, and I must say, I like it. I could go on about how slow and uneventful my summer was, but I spent most of it with that special someone, so that would be silly.
My summer was actually very eventful. What I'm most excited about was my first time out of the country. In early July, my family and I rented a beach home in Rocky Pointe, Mexico. We stayed for five days, and it was such a blast, although on the third day of our stay, I tore a little bit of the muscle in my right shoulder during a banana boating accident...yeah, don't ask. It's funny how was you've been exposed to the wholistic thought process behind sustainable thinking, you can't help but examine everything through that lense. This was especially true during this trip. I got to analyze the socio economic status of the area and how tourism really was its backbone. That was always my favorite part about sustainability. I like seeing how the people get by, and how various factors affect their ability to do so. Perhaps this hints at the type of career I should pursue.
I also came into the classroom a few times to help out my instructor. It was really cool to be a part of basically helping pave the way for the futureof this track in the program. I can tell that junior year is going to really strain my sanity. I mean, it's supposed to do that anyway, but with CREST, band, and AP classes involved....wow. That's all I can say. Don't get me wrong, it's gonna be one heck of a ride, and I'm really glad to back. Let's get stuff done.
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