For my ILP, I still help my dad around his office. This consists of me cleaning, shredding, and organizing files for my dad. I enjoy it very much because I can sit with my dad and talk to him also by working for him which is great. I am learning a lot about the working process and my experiences are going well so far. Can't wait for what I a doing new in the next 2-3 months!

ILP #3

In my ILP we have been learning about how to measure the amount of energy a room requires when it is being used by the public. We also took a trip to the Filmer to learn about renovating and what the benefits of renovating is. We also learned about the challenges of doing a large renovation and how to control the price and make sure it doesn't get out of hand. We also finalized what we want out building we are renovating to be. We have decided on making a theater for bands and such to perform. 

ILP Post #3

Since my last post, I have changed my ILP. I used to work at Greenfield with the 8th grade math class, and I truly value that experience and I am glad I had that opportunity. Currently I take a law class taught by law students that takes place at SLA after school on Thurdays, and I am loving it. We do different things every week. Sometimes we have a mock trial based on an actual case, or sometimes we go over an amendment of the constitution or something like that and talk about what that means and how it applies to real life. I'm learning a lot and it has actually made me consider a career as a lawyer later in life.

ILP- March

My ILP has been incredibly fun. The people who work there are honestly so incredibly. They are really funny, open and, they don treat me different because I'm younger. Also, there is a guy there who goes to Mastery who is doing an internship as well. He's really nice and we are the same age and in the same grade. I really enjoy because it's like working in a real retail store getting experience. I get to hang, tag, and organize clothing. This will be really beneficial when I'm trying to get a job. The only thing is that it is a little bit far so it's so tiring getting back home.

ILP Update

My internship with Project 440 has been productive. I have been working on a list of All-City Orchestra alumni and have contacted a variety of people to learn about their experiences. I have helped organize the seminars for this year's All-City students and have created reports reflecting on the seminar survey results. Overall, my experience with Project 440 has been interesting and inspiring to see these people devoting themselves to their work for music.

Kopf ILP

I am working with Nat on creating a design club at SLA where people can learn about various fields of design. We are currently trying to set up the structure and content of the club and who we can bring in. We have been talking to other people in the school and in Philadelphia who have experience in design to see if they have suggestions for the club or availability to teach. So far we have been working out the schedule and trying to make sure everything flows smoothly. Recently, we talked to Leo Levi, as senior at SLA, about how he could help teach the club about programs like Illustrator and possibly Photoshop. We have also been planning activities to teach to the students about how to think about the world through a design lens and how design is present throughout our daily life. My homework is to watch the Helvetica documentary and see how we could use it for the club.


My new ILP is with a photographer on Saturdays. I go out on his shoots with and he teaches me the different skills with the camera. I decided to switch from my old ILP because I feel like will really benefit from this one more. I would be interested in pursuing a career in photography and these skills will really be useful. 

Nat's ILP

Kate and I are starting up a design club, which has been moving comfortably. We recently met with a fellow student named Leo to see if he could teach any classes on Photoshop or illustrator. We came up with a list of helpful meeting ideas ranging from movie watching to introductory design lessons. We are currently working on a way to build up design skills at a steady pace, we don't want the participants to feel flustered or anxious at the speed of information. I am also trying to meet with C.H.A.D. to learn more about their design club, I left several voicemail with my contact information.

Let's Get Wise

Wisdom teeth are the last set of molars in your mouth and they usually erupt between the ages of 17-25. Anthropologists believe that these teeth were for the grinding of roots and meat that were in our ancestors’ diets. Because of the modern diet and silverware, we don’t need the teeth anymore and dentists recommend getting them removed between the ages of 15-17. If they aren’t removed and they erupt, they can cause problems like overcrowding and bacterial infection. Even if the teeth don’t erupt, they can cause cysts and tumors in the gums. These problems are because our mouthes and jaws have become smaller because of evolution. 
In wisdom teeth that are pulled, scientists can extract the dental pulp that is inside the tooth which contains stem cells. Stem cells are important because they are cells that can be turned into other cells to help cure diseases or problems. The stem cells that are in the teeth can help with curing bone and cartilage diseases, type 1 diabetes, and neurological diseases. An important way that these stem cells can help someone are by being used in corneal transplant. Corneal transplants are needed when the cornea of the eye is cloudy, resulting in vision problems and blindness. In a corneal transplant, the cornea is removed and replaced with one from a donor. While this works for the most part, there are cases where the eye rejects the transplant or there isn’t a donor cornea. Scientists have found that the stem cells in the teeth can be made into corneal stromal cells also called keratocytes and that these cells can be used instead of a donor cornea. The scientists tried this procedure out on mice and it worked without rejection.
These findings are very useful because this can prevent people from freaking out about stem cell research with embryos because now there is an alternative. This is also good because it provides a solution for the lack of cornea donors and it can result in more people with better eyesight. Since almost everyone gets their wisdom teeth taken out, there isn't a lack of supply of stem cells and the procedure isn't as controversial.

Debate Returns to the National Championships!

Congratulations to Nashay Day, Anna Sugrue, Kia DaSilva, and Eva Karlen on qualifying for the NCFL Grand National Tournament in Public Forum Debate. Last year, SLA became the first Philly school to send a debate team to the national tournament. This year, we are sending two teams in only our second year as part of the league! They will compete for the national championship in Sacramento, California over Memorial Day weekend. Wish them luck!
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Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 8.21.05 AM

Prenatal Diagnosis

The science behind prenatal diagnosis

Prenatal diagnosis is the screening or testing for genetic diseases or other conditions before a child is born. Although there are many different techniques and tests, I will focus on a few:

  • Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD): During an IVF cycle, cells from the developing embryo can be genetically analyzed for chromosomal abnormalities - usually trisomy 21 (Down Syndrome), trisomy 13 and trisomy 18. The parents can then determine which embryos, if any, to transfer into the uterus. It is also possible to determine the sex of the embryo.

  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to “look” at a fetus as it develops in the uterus. Since sound waves reflect off of tissues differently depending on the density of the tissue, the sonographer can create images of the fetus’ external and internal anatomy. Ultrasound can be used to measure an embryo or fetus in order to predict the due date, detect twins, diagnose heart and other growth defects, measure heart rate, look for signs associated with Down Syndrome, and determine the sex of the fetus.

  • Chorionic villus sampling: The chorionic villi are a part of the placenta that arises directly from the embryo (as opposed to the mother). They are, therefore, genetically identical to the developing embryo. Chorionic villi can be removed from the placenta and genetically analyzed to detect Down Syndrome and other genetic disorders. CVS has a slight risk (.5-1%) of miscarriage, and can also lead to amniotic fluid leakage and/or infection.

  • Amniocentesis: A fetus develops in the amniotic sac, which is full of amniotic fluid. The amniotic fluid contains fetal cells that have naturally sloughed off. The doctor, using an ultrasound image as a guide, inserts a needle through the mother’s skin, abdominal wall, uterine wall, and into the amniotic sac, away from the fetus. Amniotic fluid is then collected, and the fetal cells contained in the fluid can be analyzed for genetic conditions such as Down Syndrome. Amniocentesis has similar risks as CVS, although CVS can be done earlier.

  • Maternal Blood Testing: A relatively recently developed technique can detect fetal DNA in the mother’s blood stream. Thus, with a simple blood draw, the fetus’ sex can be determined, and it can be screened for a variety of genetic disorders.

Societal Impacts

While the above techniques may sound like wonderful advances in medicine, they also have their downsides. First, there’s a difference between screening and testing. A prenatal genetic screen - like maternal blood testing - only gives the level of risk of a condition, but it can not with 100% certainty diagnose a condition. Prenatal genetic tests - like amniocentesis and CVS - are more diagnostic, but also have higher risks for the pregnancy. And if a non-invasive screen detects a high risk for Down Syndrome, for example, the parents are then faced with the decision of whether or not to do a more invasive, high risk test in order to more accurately determine whether Down Syndrome is present. If the results of a CVS or amniocentesis indicate a genetic disorder, then the couple could be faced with the decision to terminate the pregnancy. At the very least, these weeks of testing and waiting for results can be draining and extremely stressful. Pregnancy can already be a stressful time, and these prenatal screens and test can add to that anxiety.

On the other hand, some parents feel that they’d like to know the risks, regardless of the outcome of a test. If a screening test comes back positive for a genetic disorder, then the parents at least won’t be surprised at the birth. They’ll have time to prepare, educate themselves, and possibly arrange for special care that might be needed for their newborn.

Some people opt out of the screens and tests altogether. They might argue that what’s meant to be is meant to be, and they’d rather spare themselves the stress and anxiety surrounding these tests and their results.

And finally, with PGD it is possible to choose the sex of your child. This is illegal in some countries, including Canada - but not the US. Given that IVF and PGD could cost $15000-$20000, the opportunity to screen embryos for genetic conditions and possibly select the sex would not be affordable for everyone. Is this fair? Should people be allowed to choose the sex of their children?

Personal opinions

As someone who loves science, I’m fascinated by these medical advances, and support further research into tests and screens like these. It’s exciting when new, improved tests come out that can help people get answers to their pregnancy concerns, and hopefully allay some of their fears. However, it’s easy for me to support these tests in a general, abstract way. It becomes more complicated when we’re talking about real pregnancies in my personal life. I’ve gone through some of these discussions and decisions, and sometimes there is no easy answer. I can see why people would be in the “no testing” camp - the screenings and testing definitely can raise anxiety and stress levels during pregnancy, which can already be pretty stressful. Still, I’m glad the tests are available, and I think they should continue to be offered to pregnant women. Key to this though, is that they need to be able to make informed decisions. Through discussions with their doctor and a knowledgeable genetic counselor, the parents-to-be can weigh the pros and cons for themselves, and then decide how they want to handle the conundrum of prenatal genetic diagnosis.


Nierneberg, C. (2014). Prenatal Genetic Screening Tests: Benefits & Risks. Retrieved February 24, 2016, from

Sidhu, J. (n.d.). Women Are Paying Huge Sums To Have a Daughter Rather Than a Son. Retrieved February 24, 2016, from

I wish I hadn't known: The ups and downs of prenatal testing. (n.d.). Retrieved February 24, 2016, from