Vision Of The Graduate Pt. 1

I have had a lot of growth in this skill throughout the year. I am almost towards ‘mastery’ but I am not exactly at the ‘mastery’ level yet. Some ways that I have grown as a student is by speaking in groups of people and being less nervous when I am speaking in front of a group of people presenting something, whether it is a project or simply stating my opinion on something.  Usually, when I am nervous in class or in big groups of people, I do not speak or communicate effectively. My voice tends to become a bit shaky, and I sometimes lose my breath. Some reasons as to why I have not yet illustrated the mastery of this skill is because, sometimes when I am stuck on something that I don’t understand, I don’t particularly know how to ask the question or ask for help without feeling really angry that everyone else understands it and I don’t. Other times,while trying to speak effectively,  I become so emotional and then I feel like I should just give up. Allowing myself to ‘give up’ and not ask for help and try to get things done on my own sometimes led me to failure and becoming even more lost in my work and assignments. Maybe one action that I could take to practice this skill, and to not become far behind in work during the process is to go to the teacher after school or before class more for extra help. 

Another action that I could try is to see if I could listen to music while I’m stuck on a homework assignment. Or If I need to focus on my work, I could listen to study music so that I don’t have to communicate that much, and ask many questions to lessen my chance of putting myself in a nervous position.

Some things that I might have to do, to improve myself to achieve this goal, is to become less aware of how other people see me. I shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not someone else understands something more than I do, that just simply means that it’s their skill, and everyone is good at different things. Like some people may be good at every subject, and I am only good at two, but that’s okay. That doesn’t mean we are any different, it just means that I may have to get more extra help and be okay with myself getting more extra help without feeling less than anyone else.

Collaborate With Others to Produce a Unified Work and or/heightened Understanding.

Throughout the year, I have gotten better and better with collaborating with different people while trying to produce a unified work. This, ‘working with others’ more in group, project and class assignments came a little new and different to me since I usually like to work by myself and that’s what the regular teachers would always have us do.

One project that I had done this past school year, that relates to this capacity on the vision of the graduate paper, is the NHD project. The national history day project is not required for you to work in a group (since you can choose to work by yourself), but I decided to work in a group with three of my other friends. In this project, you have to know how to work with others and you have to be able to collaborate with others as well as talk about different ideas and produce unified work without arguments. I know that my group and I struggled a bit with getting along and working together because we were friends, and sometimes while we were trying to get work done we ended up fooling around and talking about things that did not relate to our project. Another way we struggled with collaborating was creating good set times and dates to meet for practice. I ended up becoming very busy and I needed a set schedule for certain things and there were certain times during the day where I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it to certain meetings. The other members in my group were very much ‘morning people’ and wanted to meet on the weekend most times at 10 am or 11 am but on weekends that’s when I choose to get the sleep that I missed during the weekdays. Also a lot during the NHD process, we tended to practice a lot for the Regionals and the State Contest. Sometimes a little too much…

Another issue my group and I had during the process of the National History Day project was agreeing with each other’s ideas and accepting each of our ideas. This is an important trait of collaborating with others and I think it’s important to accept other people’s creative thoughts and point of views. Everyone in our group had different ideas and I feel like sometimes we only just stuck to one person’s ideas and didn’t listen to everyone else’s. Also in the group, I feel as if we didn’t collaborate that much as a group or listened to each other and respected one another as much as I had hoped we would. We were all good friends but we didn’t treat each other respectfully as friends. I know that sometimes we all become aggravated with each other and angry sometimes, but I feel as if the rest of the group believed that I was the stupid and dumb one, the one that didn’t care about the project as much as they did, and the one that didn’t put enough effort or any effort into the project. This feeling did make me feel less interested in the project. When we were preparing for the State’s contest and met almost every day after school I didn’t want to meet. I ended up losing interest in the project, because I was losing interest in working with the people I was working with, and I felt as if they didn’t want me to be a part of the group anymore or that they wished I wasn’t a part of it. But, this feeling did begin to die down. After more space between the project and my school work we all began to settle on taking a break of working on the project for a few weeks. Now we are currently preparing for the NHD competition that is currently in three weeks!

Anyways, Some actions I have taken to improve my skills of the ‘Vision of the Graduate’ is to work efficiently with my group members and to not have many arguments. I also want to try and get my homework done earlier in the day so that I had a good night’s sleep. This only worked for a short amount of time because I ended up finding myself still tired after going to sleep early (8pm – 9pm the latest).  Since this action didn’t exactly work I found myself trying to negotiate with my group members, saying that if they create a day to meet one day at 11 am I’ll come at 12 pm. This was a bit difficult though because on Saturday’s my mom usually has work and my dad, like me, sleeps late on the weekend because of the lack of sleep we get during the weekdays. I also tried to collaborate with my group more without causing any fights and tried to talk out more of our problems and issues, except every time that I tried to talk about our issues and problems about meeting way too much after school they brought up the fact that NHD is important and that they care about it and kept asking me if I cared about NHD or not. I did, but I started to not be interested in it anymore after I felt a bit of a disconnection between me and the rest of the group.

I guess what I’m trying to say (putting the whole top in a summarized matter) is that the beginning of the National History Day project was great we knew where we were going with the project and we knew the directions to reach success, but we didn’t know how difficult it was going to become in the long run. Since it’s such a long group project we have to learn how to grow the project to make it better every competition and grow together and make sure that the sun doesn’t just grow three flowers and not leave one to die. That’s kind of how I felt. I kind of felt like I was that one flower stuck in the shade, being left to die with no sunlight and no happiness about the project while the three others were in the sun and got along better with each other.

Other than National History Day, I also was in a group project with three other people in my Humanities class. It was the Children’s book project. In this Children’s book project, I was working with one of my friends and two other people I don’t know that well. Working with the two other people I don’t know well helped me not only get to know them better but to help me to see if they will collaborate any differently than my NHD group. One person who was in NHD group was also in my Children’s Book group which was alright because I knew her but I got to see one way she works with people in groups that I’ve never seen before. Everyone in groups collaborate differently. Sometimes they create roles for themselves in the group or they are every role. All I know is that that one girl was a little bit bossy and stubborn, which I didn’t like much about her. This caused me to become very aggravated as well and not like the project that much.

I think collaborating with people in groups can sometimes be hard. You have to learn to get along with different kinds of people who work differently and set plans differently. It’s a skill everyone should learn because when you get a job and if you have to collaborate with other people you will have to learn how to work with people that sometimes you might not like, but that’s just life, and it’s a skill that you will have to learn. It’s also important to know this skill incase you are put into a different atmosphere like in college where everything is new and different. Learning to collaborate with others can also save yourself in some ways because if you don’t agree with some people and cause arguments, you can begin to lose friendships or people may begin to not like you so sometimes if you don’t like the way they are in groups and how they work it’s better to not say anything and just deal with it.

A way that I improved this skill, in collaborating with people I don’t like that much or collaborating with people that I don’t like the way they work in groups, I sort of just told myself to do what they said without causing any problems. It did make me feel like I was sort of like a slave having no say in the project and my opinions didn’t really mean anything when it came to that one person but I decided that if I just did what she said and tried my best I would be okay. And some times I did. At Least just trying to do the work, made her less angry when I didn’t try. But sometimes when I did try to do the work, and came back the next day, she said that my drawings for the Children’s book wasn’t good enough or looked bad so I was forced to do it again. I know that I am not a perfectionist and whenever I do something I try to do my work and have it the best way possible so that I get a good grade but I do not try to make my work ‘perfect’. I do what I can and try my best. But I know that she was a perfectionist and I know that most people who even get a B+ on something gets so paranoid saying that “they should’ve tried harder” or they get angry but I would do anything to just simply get a B+ on any project that I do because I believe if you worked hard for what you did, even if it’s not perfect, a B+ or a even a C+ is still good. As long as you feel like you deserve that grade and that the grade is what reflects your work.



The Road To Success

Just  a month ago in Innovation Lab, on April 3rd 2016, we were introduced with a new Project called “Eureka! It’s battery power!”. We were told that we could do anything, anything that we wanted and anything that our hearts desired. The only requirement  was to create something that involved a battery or something that helped us learn the understanding of how batteries work. Once I chose a group, we decided that we wanted to create a solar panel backpack to charge electronics like our cell-phones.

We wanted to create something that looked like this:


This type of battery was important to us to know because it was in our solar panel, and it stores energy 4x better than any other battery when it comes to charging a phone. After finding out this information, we had to figure out why this battery can store this much energy, so that’s exactly what we did. After researching, we realized that the only time a battery can charge fast is when the current is high. This was incredibly important for us to know for us to fully understand how and why the phone was going up from 50% to 80% in 30 minutes. While testing my cell-phone and sometimes other people’s phones, we tried to charge the phone on a very sunny day and a sunny cloudy day to see the difference. Here is the data that we took:


Time Battery percentage
12:24 74%
12:26 75%
12:28 75%
12:30 74% (blockage of sun)
12:32 75%
12:34 75%
12:36 76%
12:38 76%
12:40 78%
12:42 79%
1:18 At 1:18pm from 12:42 – 1: 18 the battery percentage reached 100%. It took about 50 minutes.
Cloudy day 3/23/16
10:18 57%
10:20 57%
10:22 56%
10:24 56%
10:26 56%
10:28 51%
10:30 50%
10:32 50%
10:34 50%

To conclude our research, we found that the iPhone charged faster with it being very sunny. The more cloudy it was, the harder it was for the phone to charge. The cloudy weather caused the battery power to go farther down every time the sun was blocked.

In the beginning of the project, we were all very excited with this topic. We were so happy that we had thought of this idea and we were ready to create something spectacular. This lasted about two weeks or so, and then I started to find myself, and the group not working on anything and making excuses to not do anything. This made me a bit angry, it made me feel like the assignment wasn’t being taken seriously by my group members. So I knew what I had to do,  I either had to choose between staying with them, or leaving the group and creating my own project. So, I decided to do, what I thought was best and leave. Leaving the group doesn’t make me a bad person. I wanted to create something, learn something, and be able to feel successful and be successful with the outcome of my project and the grade that I receive. I didn’t want to be a part of something that I felt wasn’t going to get anywhere. So I became my own leader and created my own thing.

Working on my own allowed me to think for myself and create what I wanted to create. Working on my own allowed me to learn more about myself and how I plan things. Working by yourself requires a lot of planning. And I mean A LOT. You have to set schedules and to do lists for yourself and make sure that you have things done by specific due dates. A lot of people don’t like working by themselves in group projects because of the stress it’s put on them and all of the responsibility but I believe that it can help you, and it’s always good to try something different for a change.

So what I decided to do was create something called a Mason Jar. A mason jar, named after John Landis Mason who first invented and patented it in 1858, is a molded glass jar that preferably is used for home canning to preserve food. But, if you have a creative mind like me, you could create anything with a Mason Jar. Even possibly a jar that glows. A mason jar with a solar light! So that’s what I did, or tried to at least.

Before I even started my jar I decided to begin experiments with my math teacher Mr. Walach. Together we created circuits with old Christmas lights and 9 volt batteries. While experimenting we found that 6 Christmas lights that connected to each other by the copper wire, created a circuit and stayed lit up for about 2 hours. While creating my own circuit I not only learned about how to create the circuit but I also learned about how to use a wire cutter (which is extremely hard) and I learned about why circuits work the way that they do.

Here is the circuit that I had created and the wire cutter that I had to use:

With six lights I put electrical tape to hold the copper wire to the battery to create a connected circuit and make sure that each piece of copper wire connected with each other. I then began the circuit at 11:16 am on April 19th and then I connected a lab quest to see how long the lights would last before burning out. Unfortunately, the lab quest that I used disappeared and had been tampered with. At the end, I did not get to fully know for sure all of the data, but I did get to know that it lasted for about 2 hours due to my teacher’s supervision.

After creating the circuit I had to do an extensive amount of research about how circuits actually work and I had found out that there are actually two types of circuits. A series circuit and a parallel circuit. The difference between a series circuit and a parallel circuit is that in a series circuit, the current through each of the components is the same, and the voltage across the circuit is the sum of the voltage across each component. A series circuit consists of nodes and current flow. A node is an electrical junction between two or more components.

While researching on this circuit, I had to not only write about how current flows but learn about it as well. In a series circuit, current flows from a high voltage to a lower voltage in a circuit. Some amount of current will flow through every path it can take to get to the point of lowest voltage. A series circuit tends to look a lot like this:

While a parallel circuit looks like this:

In a parallel circuit, the circuit has two or more paths for current to flow through. Voltage is the same across each component of the parallel circuit. The sum of the currents through each path is equal to the total current that flows from the source.

At the end, this is what it ended up looking like. My jar of hearts. No I mean jar of lights. I told myself that I would create a jar with a solar light in it, but instead I ended my project with a Mason jar and a couple of purple string lights. These string lights were packaged with two sets of Micro 30 LED lights which were very convenient. It included a simple button cell power and heat insulated copper wire to ensure safe usage. The string lights were favorable because of the flexibility of the lights. The type of batteries that were included in these lights were two CR2032 batteries. A CR2032 battery is a button cell lithium battery rated at 3.0 volts.

It is commonly used as a CMOS battery in computers, calculators, remote controls, scientific instruments, watches, and other small devices. The current of this battery also tends to be 10mA. 

After my first test/experiment, I decided to create another series circuit and see if I could try and collect the data one last time without anybody messing with the lab quest. After creating a circuit with six lights I then wondered if more lights that were connected would last any longer or shorter than the last circuit that I tested. After cutting a few wires and connecting them together, I decided to create a longer circuit with more lights. At first, I thought my experiment was going great until the light had turned on and then off. I looked at the lights to see if anything had malfunctioned and apparently if you use more than six lights the lights will burn out. I then decided to create another circuit with only three, and then two, and then one, and each one that I did and created, the lights all burned out. After this, I did not try again and I don’t know why. I kind of believed that maybe, possibly, all of the Christmas lights that were left were going to burn out, and that’s what made me stop creating my own circuits, negative thinking. And..

Since I did not think positively, and instead negatively, I didn’t do things in my project just as well and as good as I hoped so. I didn’t try again and again like most scientists would do and I think that was one of the problems that I had.

Many people have asked me what the point of my project was, it was one of my ‘most asked questions’.  My response to them was that I didn’t know, at the time I didn’t know, but now I do. I created something that was not what I wanted to create, in any way, but I created something that helped me learn more about myself and helped me learn more about lights and how solar lights work.

I didn’t create a solar light jar, but that is what I intended to do. Even if I didn’t originally create a solar light, I still learned a lot about them and how they work. Solar lights are made up of solar cells, a small battery, and a light bulb. The solar cells transfer and store the energy into the small battery. The battery then powers the light bulb. The result is an energy efficient light bulb with bright light. Solar power lights also require no electricity. 

These lights convert the sun’s rays into electricity power and the lights shine for hours after the sun goes down. Solar lights work because of the photovoltaic effect. The most important part of a solar light is the photovoltaic or solar cell. The solar cell is the part that converts sunlight into direct electrical current. You can clearly see the solar cell as a dark panel at the top of a solar light.

A solar cell consists of multiple layers of crystalline silicone and chemicals that create layers of negatively charged electrons and positively-charged spaces. As sunlight passes through the solar cell, it excites the negatively-charged electrons and pushes them into the positively-charged spaces.

The positively-charged spaces then transfer the electron stream as a direct current of electricity through wires embedded into the solar cell to a battery where the electricity is stored until it’s needed. The battery charges throughout the day as sunlight continues to be converted to electricity.

When evening approaches, the solar cell stops converting sunlight as it weakens and eventually disappears. A photoreceptor on the light detects when it’s dark and turns on the light, which is usually made up of several light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The battery then supplies electricity to the light throughout the night.

This process repeats on a daily cycle. During the day, sunlight is converted too electricity and stored in the battery. At night, the battery supplies the electricity to the light until it is all used up or the photoreceptor shuts off the light as daylight reappears.

Of course, adequate sunlight is necessary to charge the battery fully. During the summer, this shouldn’t be a problem as long as the light is placed where it can receive direct sunlight for most of the day. If possible, make sure no trees or bushes create shade that could affect the charging of the solar light.

During the winter, however, a solar light might not be able to receive enough sunlight to charge the battery sufficiently to stay lit all night. This occurs because in winter nights are longer and days are shorter, resulting in fewer hours of sunlight to charge the battery. In addition, wintertime often brings snow, which can block the solar cell and prevent charging during the day.

As soon as I started the prototype of my project, I first got the jar from a good friend and then I didn’t know where to buy a small solar light to fit inside the top of the jar.  My goal at the time was to complete something to gain that great feeling of success, but I also wanted to create something that people could look at and think, “Wow! That’s really cool”.  At first, I think the reason why me working in the group didn’t work was because my group members were so invested in trying to get the grade they wanted and trying to make sure that they’re successful and their project was perfect. They didn’t care much about the content or the work in between, they simply wanted to get an A and be done with the project. They researched to write in our science journals (where we took notes and wrote out our plans) they didn’t research to learn. Just because I didn’t fully complete my experiment, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t successful.

IMG_6359 (1)

I feel that if you learned something even if you were completely successful, it still counts for something. People seem to underestimate success and believe that it all happens in a straight line

but really to try and reach success, it takes a couple twists and turns and it’s harder than it seems. It’s easy to believe that you can reach something from so far away if you plan it out and research what you’re trying to do, but sometimes it takes more than just a couple words written down as your ‘plan’. Sometimes all it takes is a few experiments to reach that spot of success that you want, even if that spot is not really where you were aiming for.

Thinking About Thinking..

Too often, In school, we are taught what to think but not how to think. Learning and using our education for real life skills cannot be used until we learn how to think about certain things rather than learning what to think about a certain thing. For example, you can tell me a story about Woodrow Wilson and how he had success in making the Democratic party a “party of reform,” and his ability to shape and mobilize public opinion. But just because I know that, and I was taught to believe that he was a great president in the year of 1913, how am I able to think on my own and create my own opinions on a person that we are taught to memorize for a test rather than taught to debate about his success? Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think. So why are we taught differently?

Innovation lab doesn’t do this. The program doesn’t teach the students to try and make us “remember” or even to remember what to think about a certain event or person in history, we make those decisions for ourselves during debates and class discussions. We use what we learn for real life skills. We create projects to show others how we think and how we use that thinking in our learning. Creative thinking is a skill that can be learned, but without that person pushing you to think outside of the box, how can you learn to create something out of understanding rather than create something out of remembering?

This is why I like being an innovation lab student and receiving the type of education Innovation Lab offers. During my first year of being an in lab student, I have had so much success. My skills in Algebra has improved and my public speaking skills as well. I remember in the beginning of the school year I wasn’t much of a talker, very quiet and very shy. Now, I have learned how to improve my speaking skills whether it’s presenting something in front of the class or simply talking to new people. Not only have I improved these speaking skills in Innovation Lab, but I also have outside of Innovation Lab. Whether I interview someone or present a play for a National History Day competition, my public speaking skills have improved by a lot and I have become more confident with speaking in front of others.

That being said, there are some things I hope to improve in the future and for the next following years as being an Innovation lab student. One goal that I have for myself to complete either next year or the year afterward is to work more with different people in my classes. Get to know more people and maybe not work with the same people when it comes to class assignments or projects. Most of the time we are allowed to work with whoever we would like which can be good but sometimes bad because you tend to talk to the same people over and over again. To complete this goal I think I could try and be more talkative and open to others who I don’t know that well. Another goal that I have for myself is to try and get more assistance from my teachers outside of school. Maybe if I am stuck on something, instead of going on khan academy or looking it up online (which is always helpful) I could meet my teachers after school and meet to go over the things I am struggling. I think you should always take advantage of that opportunity to stay after school and get extra help from your teachers if you’re stuck or don’t understand something because that’s what they’re there for, to help you.

The In lab teachers are always excited to help students when they need extra assistance on something they don’t understand. They are never not excited to help a student and they are always encouraging and helpful when it comes to education. I am glad I have such wonderful teachers because without them, without receiving that extra five minutes of help I need on the math problem I’m stuck on, or that five minutes of explaining the importance of the meaning of Isotopes, I don’t think I’d be able to fully understand what I am learning, or be able to think about what I am learning. I guess Innovation is the only way to win when it comes to education..



Technology, Engineering, Professional Skills

Over the course of many weeks and a couple months, a science project was formed. During this ‘Eureka it’s Battery Power’ project, I had worked in a group but then switched to work by myself. This allowed me to gain the skill of working by myself and becoming my own leader. I also have a skill of creating good creative ideas, and in the thought process of what I was now going to do on my own in this project, I came up with the idea of creating a Mason Jar. Which looks pretty creative to me if you don’t think.

IMG_6359 (1).JPGBefore beginning this experiment I had to do an extensive amount of research. Yes, I knew I was going to create a Mason Jar, but how? That was the answer I was trying to search. The skill of being able to take good effective research was necessary for the project because if I hadn’t done all of the research that I had, I would still be at stage 1, not knowing what to do. I also think that being your own leader of your own project is good because you have the chance of creating the idea that you came up with. I think that if I had stayed in the group I was in before, I wouldn’t have gained much out of it. I would be back at stage 0, which is even worse than stage 1 because at stage 0 we didn’t even have anything done and we didn’t really know what to do.

I think these skills will be useful for me in the future because being able to research is an important thing to be able to know how to do. It can be helpful for jobs, or simply for a college research paper. The skill of creating creative ideas is important so that you’re mind isn’t all just science and math but some creativity.

How Innovation Lab Has Changed Me

Deciding to apply for Innovation Lab in the ninth grade was one of the most riskiest things I think I’ve done. When I first heard about the program I didn’t know what it was completely about, or even what is was for. After going to a couple meetings and asking more questions I finally understood. Innovation Lab is a community that faces challenges and struggles to create and learn something more than a poster for a project or read passages out of a textbook. It is a program to which the students are the leaders, the creators, and the innovators whilst the teachers are more than teachers but our mentors. They are somebody we can not only ask history questions to but somebody who can be there for us during the process of learning.

In the beginning of the year, we started Innovation lab by getting to know the other students and working on quarterly and short time projects. Quarter 1, STEM, we started off the year with the learning of some Math problems while using the online resource ‘Desmos’. This website began to become very important throughout the year and is something that we began to use every quarter. For Humanities, we started off the year with the theme of “intellect and identity”. We used this theme to better understand our learning and ourselves. A couple units in both English and History that I very much enjoyed was the learning of the Progressive era/the Jazz age and WWII history. Throughout the learning of the Progressive era we read the book The Great Gatsby. This book is a classic by F. Scott Fitzgerald and it is probably one of my most favorite books I’ve read this year. Throughout the learning of WWII History, our class was introduced with a project called National History Day where we were able to choose an event in time or a person in history that connected to theme of WWII and exploration, exchange, and encounter. This project took place in school but we had the choice of actually entering the national history day competition if we wanted to. My group and I, Nicole, Katherine H, and Flora decided we wanted to enter, so we did.

During the process of doing the project outside of school, and keeping up with school work as we began to grow extensive amounts of stress, worry, and anxiety for the regionals competition at Sacred Heart University. When the time rolled around and we arrived, we were so nervous, but our hard work paid off when we heard our names be called in placing second place. We then just recently traveled to Central Connecticut State University for the states competition. Less nervous, but a little more anxious for the performance we went through our registration and received the packet that stated our time for performance. After performing first, we watched other groups, had lunch, and then went to the award ceremony. While watching the award ceremony we had very little faith that we’d become one of the top two. There was a third place but they were not invited to nationals, so we all hoped for the chance of being in the top two. After hearing another Connecticut group performance win third place, and another group that did a fantastic job come in second place, we all began to lose a hope. Until the announcer called our names and our group performances title for first place, we were all shocked. Here is a video of the announcement:

Without being a part of Innovation Lab and hearing this competition, I don’t think I would’ve signed up to do something like this. This competition has changed me in many ways to become a better public speaker and to have more confidence in myself. The help of the Innovation Lab teachers with long time projects like this is incredible. The Innovation lab community has given me the power to take a stand in what I believe in through this project and many others, and has given me the voice to do things I never thought I could be able to do.

Innovation Lab is not just about teaching a different way to help students learn a better way and to receive better grades. It’s about letting yourself learn and pushing yourself to accomplish different tasks and challenges to reach the success you’ve been trying to find. If I had the chance to go back in time to Ninth grade, knowing what Innovation lab was and how it can have a positive impact on my learning, confidence,speaking skills, and creativity I would apply again in a heartbeat.

Here’s a picture of my group and I that was reposted by the NHD page:

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