School Projects

In school, Wednesday is my project day.  I spend nearly four hours in the same laboratory, the first two with six students from 204 (Juniors) and the last two with seven classmates from my homeroom 104 (Sophomores).

Both groups are full of the smartest of both classes, yet we were hindered by lack of resources and direction. The only computers we could use were at the school library, a two minute walk across the high schools campus. We had to think of an idea to pursue, use a lab notebook that wasn’t checked by the teachers, and use materials that we bought ourselves or spend class time going to nearby shops to buy them.

The teachers helped to varying degrees.

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When you can’t afford Christmas lights you make your own.

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We used this hot needle (right) and a “high quality solder” (left) to connect the LED legs to the insulated wire.

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Homemade Christmas lights that don’t work very well.

 

204’s teacher basically ran the entire show. He designed an aquaponics setup that got more and more complex as the weeks went on. It’s a layer of pebbles with probably ten seedlings planted on each level.

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Behold the magical machine! (The teacher put a bottle of his own urine into the system to add ammonia. I found out after moving around pebbles for five minutes and scrubbed my hands and forearms very thoroughly.)

So the 204 teacher plans the project and we do the dirty work.

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Digging worms in the compost heaps behind the school building.

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Of course we are using chopsticks here to dig out plants.

 

 

 

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The teacher comes out to help us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The one piece of fancy equipment we used was a microscope.


 

104’s project was even worse because the teacher let us do everything.

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So yeah… We are dripping shampoo on sloped surfaces (now on balloons inflated to varying tensions) to observe Kaye’s effect.

My high school in the U.S. did not do science projects. For me, science fairs are events straight out of elementary school. In the U.S., I participated in a summer camp that paired me with a university professor for four weeks. I worked in the professor’s lab doing what an undergrad researcher would do. At the end, I made a printed poster and had a poster session. It was much more professional and more directed. I followed the professor and learned about real areas of science through hands-on experience. In Taiwan, we are struggling to get by with few supplies and little to no direction from the teachers.

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