Monday, February 13, 2017

My Science Midyear Benchmark

Last week, we took a benchmark test in Science class.  I scored an 88 on the benchmark.

Here's my item analysis:



What I noticed about the questions that I got wrong is that two out of the three of them are about the layers of the earth.  I'm not totally surprised that I missed those:  We studied the layers of the earth a long time ago.  But it does mean that I need to go back and check that content out again.  That's worth reviewing for sure.  

I think I'm most disappointed in myself for missing question 25.  It asked why the inner core of the earth is a solid ball of iron.  I answered that it was because of extreme temperature.  I should have realized that when I want something -- think snow or sand -- to be "more solid," I don't add heat to it.  Instead, I add pressure to it.  I think that's a question that I could have gotten right if I had thought a little more carefully.

What I'm proud of, though, is that I made mastery on almost all of my other objectives.  What I do the best is ecosystems stuff.  Food chains and food webs are easy for me -- and I'm also good at biotic and abiotic factors.

I think what I enjoy the most is talking about how humans impact the environment.  That stuff is really interesting to me simply because I know that humans are having an impact and if we think about our choices, we can make sure that our impact is a positive one instead of a negative one.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Flyboys

One of the things that I've gotten interested in is the role that American pilots played during World War II.  That was really the first war where pilots played a major role in fighting against enemies.  I learned a lot of what I know by reading Flyboys this year.

What was interesting to me was that the Japanese HATED American pilots.

The reason was that up until that point, Japan thought that they COULDN'T be attacked because they were an island nation that remained isolated for centuries.  They also believed that spirits would protect them by sending huge storms to eliminate any enemies who dared to attack.

That changed when the US --  who had invested millions of dollars in developing an Air Force during World War II -- started bombing the Japanese from the air.  People's confidence was shaken in their government and in the protection they thought they'd always had.

That hatred also came because American bombing missions at the time weren't designed to target JUST military bases.  Instead, their bombing missions were designed to break Japan's will to fight.  So bombing runs could kill innocent people and destroy entire cities.

Here are some things I'm wondering right now:

  • Did American pilots ever feel guilty about bombing missions that didn't target military sites?
  • Are planes and pilots still the most important military tool that we have for protection and attack?
  • How have military weapons and tactics changed over time?
  • Does anything good ever come out of war?



Saturday, February 11, 2017

Aced My Calculating Percentages Test!

One of the things that I’m currently proud of is the 95 that I earned on my Calculating Percentages test.  

This is a pretty important accomplishment for me mostly because I wasn’t all that sure that calculating percentages mattered, so I wasn’t putting a whole lot of effort into learning how to do it.  But when I was out at dinner with my dad, I saw him calculating percentages so he could figure out how much of a tip to leave for our waiter.  

That made me interested and I started practicing with calculating percentages everywhere that I go.  


What I’m proudest of is that I actually know why multiplying by a decimal makes sense when calculating percentages.  That means that not only can I answer questions about the process of calculating percentages, I know WHY that process works.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Standing Up to Injustice Doesn't Seem Easy.

Today in social studies, we were talking about the Holocaust.  

One of my classmates made a big speech about how anyone who was alive during the Holocaust that didn’t speak up against what the Germans were doing to minority groups was a chicken.  His point was that anytime that you see something bad happening, you HAVE to speak up -- and that if you don’t, you aren’t a good person.  




I’m not sure that I agree with him.  While I agree that we SHOULD speak up when we see something bad happening -- especially something as bad as the Holocaust -- I don’t think it is always that easy.  

Take living in Germany for example:  I bet that all of your neighbors and friends in school would either agree with Hitler’s decisions or be afraid of the consequences of disagreeing in front of everyone else.  I know that’s how I feel when I see friends making bad choices.  Even though I know the choices are bad, I don’t always speak up because I don’t want to make enemies.  

I want to find some interviews to read of people who were alive during tough times like the Holocaust to see if they ever felt bad about what was happening -- and to see what (if anything) they did about it.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Calculating Percentages

One of the things that I learned how to do this year in math class was to calculate the percentage of something.

I made a video using the calculator on my phone today to see if I could prove that I know what I am doing when it comes to calculating percentages:




So did I do it right?  

I THINK I did.  What I always try to remind myself is that I'm multiplying by a two digit decimal number.  So if I want seven percent of something, I multiply by .07.  That makes sense because percent means "a part of 100," and two digit decimals represent "hundredths."


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

What Artifacts Will they Use to Learn About Us?

In social studies class, we've been studying the role that artifacts play in helping us to learn more about ancient cultures.  That's been really interesting to me simply because I always wondered how we know what we know about civilizations that existed hundreds -- even thousands -- of years ago.

But the question rolling through my mind right now is what artifacts will they use to learn more about today's civilization?  Or better yet, will they need to use artifacts at all?

After all, so much of our lives are lived online that most of the time, you can just Google somebody and learn a ton about them.  You can watch entire television shows on the web, see interviews with people, and explore thousands and thousands of pictures.

If I understand the web right, those kinds of images and pictures will never go away -- and if they don't, that means people should be able to learn about our civilization without ever having to collect solid artifacts.

Here's what I'm wondering:

  • Is it a good thing that people won't need to look for physical artifacts to learn about our culture?
  • Can you really know everything about a person and/or a civilization from the content that you can learn about them on the web?
  • Will digital artifacts last as long as physical artifacts -- or are physical artifacts longer lasting than digital ones?

Monday, February 6, 2017

New Poem - Forgetting to Live

In Language Arts, we've been working on poetry recently.  We are supposed to be using alliteration and personification in any of the poems that we write.

I decided to write a poem about this picture:

barn blues

You can listen to the poem that I wrote here:

Forgetting to Live Audio Recording

In this particular poem, I use one example of personification:  "Goosebumps, gifts to skinny dippers from the cow pond down in the pasture.”  I love the idea that the cow pond is giving goosebumps as gifts to swimmers.  

But here’s the thing:  It seems like I’m really good at using personification in poems, but I’m not using it in any of the other styles of writing that we are learning.  I’ve never used personification in a summary of a book that I am reading or in a report that I have to do for one of my other core classes.  And I’m not sure that I’ve ever even seen personification in nonfiction texts -- like current events or textbook readings.  


So my next goal is to see if I can find personification in other kinds of texts.  

I’m going to check out the sports articles that I read on ESPN every morning.  Then, I’m going to try to use personification in something OTHER than a poem.  



Friday, February 3, 2017

My Cat's Hairballs

So easily the grossest thing in the world happened to me this morning.  I was walking through the kitchen before I was totally awake and I stepped in a hairball that my daughter's cat had barfed up:


That got me thinking, though:  Why do cats swallow their own hair while they are cleaning themselves?  And does throwing up hairballs cause cats any long term harm?

What we've learned in science is that every structure, function and behavior on a plant or an animal is designed to help them survive, thrive and reproduce.  If that's true, that means that barfing up hairballs is actually a good thing for a cat -- or cleaning itself with its own tongue is a good thing.

Why is that?  Why wouldn't cats come up with a better way to clean themselves?  

#thingsthatmakeyougohmmmnnn


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Donald Trump's Immigration Ban

One of the major events on the news right now is Donald Trump's decision to restrict immigration from seven Muslim countries.  

I also know that there have been lots of debate in the world about allowing refugees from the Middle East to move through Europe.  Letting immigrants and refugees in feels like the right thing to do, but many countries think it's a bad idea simply because refugees are so needy that accepting them into your country can be really expensive.  Also, there have been terrorist attacks in lots of places over the last year.  One I can remember happened in Paris.

That's super interesting to me largely because in Social Studies, we've spent the better part of the last two weeks talking about all of the different ways that immigration has helped society.  Ideas travel around the world as a result of immigration -- so shutting down immigration also means shutting down the movement of ideas.

It's also interesting to me because we've spent part of our time in Social Studies specifically studying Islam and the Muslim World.  What I've learned is that there are tons of important inventions and ideas that have come to "The Western World" from Muslim scholars and historians and experts.

What I'm wondering about right now is:

  • Has the Muslim world changed somehow?  Are today's Muslims different from yesterday's?  Does that make accepting Muslims into our country less safe than maybe it was before?
  • Will the United States be harmed by refusing to allow people and ideas from Muslim countries to come to our country?
  • Is Donald Trump's decision one that I should support or oppose?