Capstones are our senior projects at Science Leadership Academy. The capstone is meant to reflect the interest of the student and make a meaningful impact to a community that matters to said student. I’ve always been very interested in the health of marine ecology. For my capstone I collaborated with Drexel Student Fellows to write and publish a short research paper and presentation about urban involvement in marine pollution. I drew from many scholarly sources and came to the conclusion that urban contribution to aquatic pollution is significant and becoming more important as marine environments become more unstable.
In english, we have been studying violence and militarism. I found this unit to be inspiring. The essay below is about how violence changes life around us and creates an endless cycle. Unlike the past advanced essays, this one is very factual. I feel like this essay should demonstrates a skill for analysis and critical thinking.
Violence has a long standing history in society. Violence is ingrained in human nature in many ways. An understanding of violence now plays a key role in many of our social interactions. Some people have even evolved to be more aggressive because as as a society we reward aggression.
One known genetic activity that predisposes people to physical aggression is a low activity form of monoamine oxidase. Monoamine oxidase is an enzyme that deconstructs key neurotransmitters. According to Brown university this is much more common in countries with a history of war. Even though Darwinism isn’t easily applicable to the modern man because of the complexities of human attractions, The fact that this gene can still be found suggest that there is some benefit to aggression in the modern day. And there is. For whatever reason people find aggression to be dominating and it’s often confused for assertive. Although a society such as ours could never condone outright violence between it’s members, a functional type of aggression is encouraged. We see this on Wall Street, where aggression, greed , and a type of barbarism are thought of as the essential qualities of a good stock broker. We see this type of aggression in radical groups, where it’s often confused for passion.
Behavioral evidence of how are sour social interactions have been altered by violence can be seen in the way we treat the natural phenomenon fight or flight.Most people are familiar with the fight or flight instinct. It’s what compels you to either flee from danger or address it head on. We often reward and cherish the instinct to fight while we shame those who follow the flight instinct. This illustrated in the book “The Things We Carry” by TIm O’Brien. In the book he states that the primary motivation for fighting in the Vietnam War for many soldiers was, they would be embarrassed not to. They feared being called cowards by their contemporaries. This is profound because of what it says violence in America. Circumstances aside, many of the characters believe pacifism is weakness and something to be ashamed of. This severe and negative connotation seem inherently wrong. Pacifism is objectively beneficial. All major religions agree that pacifism is a virtue. This fear of non-violence is abnormal, but strong in our society. During World War I, a man named Evan Thomas refused to fight because he thought it was immoral. He was court martialed and prosecuted. During his prosecution, a debate about cowardice verse pacifism arose. The prosecutor is quoted as saying “The very foundation of every civilized government from the first beginning of history down to the present time has been based absolutely upon force of arms… Gentlemen, if we don’t punish these cowards who appear in this land like the sore spots on our bodies to the fullest limit of the law, this government cannot survive.”
The image above shows two little boys playing. One is pinned to the wall by the other. The one pinned to the wall has a fake gun pressed to his brow. Both boys are smiling vigorously, but the one on the wall appears to be on the edge of laughter. The image as a whole is a disturbing look at how violence changes social normalities. American culture is saturated in violence. Violence is so present that even children have an intimate relationship with the concept. They grow numb to the sight of gore. Acts of violence become casual or even humorous. The negative effects of childhood exposure to violence are well documented. Children who are exposed to this violence learn at an early age that some forms of violence are an acceptable way to solve problems.
Intervention with behaviors that model this mentality in their children fail to suffocate these ideas in the long term. Data from the Department of Justice states that those who are exposed to violence at a young age have an increased risk of falling into criminal activity. Specifically violent crime, which demonstrates a lack of awareness of acceptable social interactions. These people have permanently altered views on social norms which stand to protect us against such violences as rape, petty murder, and assault.
In conclusion, Violence alters social normalities, which in turn allows for more violence. This creates a positive feedback loop that has the potential to alter human societies in such a way that it affects us on even the most obscure and unexpected ways. We’ve seen it affect us on both a genetic and philosophical level.
Sontag, Susan. "Regarding The Torture Of Others." The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 May 2004. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.
"African Americans in the Vietnam War." African Americans in the Vietnam War. Illinois University, 20 Dec. 2009. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.
O'Brien, Tim. The Things They Carried: A Work of Fiction. New York: Broadway, 1998. Print.
Rose McDermott. "Some People Just Like to Fight." Political Violence a Glance. N.p., 03 Feb. 2014. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.
Thomas, Louisa. "Give Pacifism a Chance." The New York Times. The New York Times, 27 Aug. 2011. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.
"Facts about Children and Violence." Facts about Children and Violence. The Department of Justice, n.d. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.
This essay centers around how cartoons can be used as a tool for self discovery. Here I asked myself were some key factors in my development and how these same factors may play a role in the development of others. I’m very proud of the evidence used in this essay. I would like to further my analytical ability in future writing assignment.
Advanced Essay #3:
When I was ten, I loved weekends. Saturday mornings were filled with the color and noise of children’s cartoons. My Saturday nights were spent hanging out with my dad. I would pick his brain for hours on the nature of existence. On Sundays I would wake up around ten o’clock. I would do anything to fill the time. Two hours before sunset, I would open up my brick of a computer and watch anime for hours. The world seemed to be quiet and peaceful in the warmth of that orange spotlight and for brief moments it allowed for me to immerse myself in that cartoon world. I saw these strange, giant eyed, animations as very real. Intellectually I knew that they were just drawings projected in pixels on my screen, but I could empathize with them. The connection that I felt towards these characters was founded on a sense of belonging. I could identify traits in myself that also lay in these characters.
I’m now sixteen and proud to say that I am still a cartoon enthusiast. There is a broad constituency of people who find themselves engaged in cartoons. The diversity of the cartoon fan base has recently been growing. In 2006 “Cartoon Network ranked #1 among boys age 9-14 during early primetime hours” according to anime news network, but as of 2015 “Ratings among girls in January spiked more than 50% from the previous year.” according to Variety.
In American animation, cartoons are becoming more real, characters have deep seated flaws and are more like real people rather than superheroes and this has only added to the popularity of cartoons.
Take for example, one of my favorite shows, Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe. It’s about a boy named Steven who is half human and half “gem”. The gems are aliens, their bodies are projections of light that come from stones that hold their consciousness. Steven’s mother fell in love with his father and gave up her physical form to give birth to Steven. Steven’s mother was the leader of the Crystal Gems, a team of four gems who fight to protect mankind. The Crystal gems also deal with real issues that affect real people like body image and grief. One thing that makes Steven Universe so groundbreaking is that all gems identify as women and even though it's never actually said it's evident that some gems are lesbians.
This attracts a demographic that has never been targeted by the cartoon industry, the LGBT community. It allows an LGBT viewer to closely identify with these characters. By being aligned with these characters one is given the chance to embrace that piece of their identity.
“Expert after expert says that when kids see people like them positively portrayed in the media they consume, they are positively impacted, .... Especially when we’re still developing, and especially when we are still discovering and exploring our genders and sexuality” says Mey, a transgender, lesbian, writer for Autostraddle in her article “Steven Universe and the Importance of All-Ages Queer Representation”
I theorize that cartoons make it easy to explore the depths of one’s identity. When presented with a cartoon character it’s easy to find qualities that resonate with the viewer. That is because what makes the cartoon characters different from those of books or movies is their limited dimensionality. Although this could be thought of as the result of bad storytelling; often the objective of cartoons is to be simple. In this new type of American animation, characters often are limited to one dimension which makes thinking objectively easier. This mixed with the passive nature of watching television makes coming to an unconscious conclusion about one’s own character and identity seem fluid.
As a toddler, I had a mild obsession with the Powerpuff Girls. The Powerpuff Girls are a group of girls who battle the forces of evil. Each is powerful in their own right. I easily identified the qualities of each character that I too had. As a toddler, I identified with Bubbles, the kind and gentile member of the group and Mojo-jojo, the super genius monkey. I recognized things that we had in common and wanted to cultivate those parts of myself.
Childhood is a very tender time for the development of self, where every little thing could be internalized. Cartoons are useful tools for the discovery of not only social identity but also self identity. Self discovery is a key part of growing up and giving children tools for that purpose is important.
This essay centers around the different types of literacy one can encounter in the world. Here I asked myself what does it really mean to understand a culture. I’m very proud of some of the metaphors used in this essay. I would like to further my metaphorical ability in future writing assignment.
As Americans, we are privileged to be exposed to diverse experiences. With this comes a perceived understanding of many cultures and their influences, but in fact, full cultural literacy is near impossible to achieve because the full depth of a culture is made up of many different subcultures. Culture is neither simple nor static.
My great-grandfather was born and raised in the backwoods of Mississippi during a turbulent time for African Americans. As a black man, he lived with perpetual danger. Through visits by the KKK, physical exploitation, and exploitation of black women, he has developed a much different opinion about gun ownership than I have.
My maternal great aunt, Henni, was a beautiful woman in her time. She was a tall 5’5” with long, wavy hair that rested in little curls at the ends. Her skin was a light coffee color, much like mine. Her facial features displayed an uncharacteristically delicate quality for her time. She was a nexus for all types of attention, good and bad.
When she was at the ripe age of sixteen, a man, almost twice her age, arrived on the front porch. As he knocked on the door, he crooked a sly smile, not expecting to be greeted by the stoic face of my great grandfather. My great grandmother's exact words were something like “That big old man weren’t expecting your granddaddy to open the door. His smile dropped so quick you could feel the breeze.”
I can imagine that his smile dropped for two reasons. The first would be that my great grandfather met him at the door. The second was the shotgun Granddaddy cradled in both arms, the way a pageant queen might hold a bouquet. He cocked the gun. A hard gulp was taken. "I don't want no trouble, sir. I just wanted to see Henni," the man said, though much weaker than he intended.
Granddaddy was unbelieving. "You chased my daughter through a field, tried to snatch up her up and now I’m finding you on my porch?", he said in a low aggressive tone. "Leave." I imagine him saying this part slowly, like a one liner from an action movie. In that instant the act of having a gun empowered him to defend his daughter from the advances of a white man in the Jim Crow South. Although he threatened violence in its expression, my great grandfather’s only intention was to protect his daughter, a pure and understandable sentiment.
One can see why easily see why my great-grandfather would favor access to guns. In his worldview, guns weren’t an offensive weapon, but rather a tool for defense. From my perspective, I find guns to be overwhelmingly dangerous. My grandfather and I were from the same culture but at the same time we were raised by different cultures. The culture that raised me is like a tumorous growth on the back of his, a mutated and morphed version of what was once his culture. Although are part of the same origin, different experiences yield different offspring. Both create opposing views to the other. The question about the acceptability of guns can't be answered simply. There are a thousand ways to think about this one issue, each supported by their own cultural experience.
The writer Ravi Zacharias once said "With no fact as a referent, what is normative is purely a matter of preference.” He’s saying that nothing is universally true, especially not on a cultural level. Think of sub cultures as different type of dance. Like dance, each subculture is founded in its own philosophy. Like ballet and hip hop sometimes these philosophies are diametrically opposed. This makes a superficial understanding achievable but to fully understand these philosophies one must commit to them and you can’t fully commit to two opposite ideas. One might say that commitment isn’t necessary for understanding but the great Chinese philosopher Confucius would disagree. In The Analects, the sacred text of Confucianism, he says that without life long commitment learning is impossible.
To fully understand a culture, even one of origin, in all of it's dimensions would require an real world understanding and encyclopedic knowledge of each individual subculture. Culture is too vast and ever expanding to grasp in its entirety. To put it mathematically, there are just too many variables, but this doesn’t mean that we should turn inward and deny ourselves culture in all of its forms. I purpose that we embrace this unknown. There is so much culture can provide for us.
Homoskepticism is much like homophobia. It damages families and destroys friendships.
It was the end of middle school. We had about three days left before graduation. Nikki and I had been officially dating for about two months now. Charlie, Nikki’s ex and my friend, had begrudgingly accepted defeat. As for the rumors he spread, the ones about me being the Antichrist, had done whatever damage they could. I was in math and Brian, a Caucasian, lackadaisical, stoner type, was doing that thing again. He stares at me from across the room. When I turn my head, we made eye contact. He doesn’t break it. His eyes are a turquoise green color. I usually break and try to focus on anything else, but comforted by the knowledge that I would never see him again, I decided to maintain eye contact. He leaned in, resting his head on one hand. I felt hot in the face. I was actively fighting the urge to look away. In waves I started to see him in a new light. His facial structure became striking. The unknowing dullness in his eyes looked happy and bashful. The urge to look away ceased. For the first time he broke eye contact. I should’ve felt good, successful, but I didn’t. I felt cheated. I should’ve felt victorious, but instead I was left with this feeling I can only describe as taboo.
The summer commenced, and I started my quasi experimentation. Later that year my grandfather passed. He had been suffering from Parkinson's disorder. His wife, my grandmother, had died from leukemia two years earlier.
My grandmother never knew about my sexuality. This is partially because I didn’t know until two years after her death. I suspect that she wouldn’t have accepted it if she had known and I wouldn’t blame her. She grew up in the backwoods of Mississippi. Her parents were devout catholic farmers. Even though she worked to leave her old ways behind her, some things just stuck. She wasn’t necessarily homophobic but rather a homoskeptic.
When I was a child, my grandmother would take me to church. It was one of those big TV churches with the celebrity preachers. The preacher was a handsome man with California tan skin and shiny black hair. There is one sermon that remains vivid in my memory. Obviously the topic was marriage and homosexuality. My grandmother was apathetic during his sermon. I thought back to her wedding and what that must of been like.
There’s a picture of my grandmother hanging above the staircase. In the picture she’s wearing her wedding dress, a white flowing gown with an equally white veil. The veil I s made of lace and forms flowers around the crown of her head.She stands before a decaying chicken wire fence covered in vines. A tall tree stands in the foreground, casting a magnificent shadow that gives the picture depth. Freshly cut grass covers her feet so her shoes aren’t visible. But based on her height I can Behind the chicken wire a glimpse of a sunny field can be found. The picture is originally black and white, but was eventually color tinted. Her lips are colored a baby pink, her skin a coffee creamer brown. Her smile seems painted on too. Her back is artificially arched. Her hands seemed calculated. they lie at her sides and meet between her hips where a banquet of white and pink roses is being tightly gripped. Her elbows seem dainty compared to her shoulder, broad from years of farm work . Even though her legs are covered you can tell her knees are buckled by the way she stands. The picture was taken by her young nephew, Tony.
My mother speculates that he too is gay. The rest of the family suspects the same, but chose to say nothing. They call Tony the lonely bachelor. He lives far away from the entire family, nuclear or otherwise. I’ve been told That his house is heavily populated with cats, but nothing else, no roommates or pictures even though he’s a natural photographer. Although I’ve never met the man and he doesn’t know I exist, I have some theories about him. I think he’s still in denial about his sexuality or maybe he doesn’t understand it. Growing up in Mississippi in the 60’s he was probably surrounded by homophobic and homoskeptic influences. That mixed with devout catholic influences could only result in self hatred and shame. He spent much of his time attempting to “pass”. When he met his limit he ran away.
Although I live a very different life than him, I sympathize with him. If I wasn’t taught to be proud or strong, could I be reliving his life. Yes, I could have been just like him. Skepticism can be just as harmful as hatred.
The Agent of Change
Hello, and welcome back to my you and the world blog. To see blog #1 and blog #2 click on them. For the third blog post, we set out to make a change in our issue. For my agent of change I decided to organize a small group; mainly consisting of peers from school; to clean the river banks of the schuylkill river. My agent of change created an example for passer byers; showing that keeping trash out of our oceans isn’t a difficult task in the least bit. Picking up after yourself is incredibly easy and does a significant amount of good.
The Clean up Crew
the clean up crew was a group of students that seemed to be interested in helping aquatic environments anyway they could.
The main concern about this project was that creating an example hasn’t made that much of a difference in the past; environmentalist have been trying this for years and it hasn’t seemed to have a lasting affect on people. This may make people more conscientious for a day or two but people quickly go back to their old ways. Not to say that setting an example doesn’t change anything. Many groups worldwide create examples on how to preserve aquatic environments. One of the most infamous groups set out to raise awareness is One World One ocean. This group not only fundraise but also raises awareness about the problems that are caused by climate change. This organization is amazing and has made progress in getting the public to acknowledge the situation that has resulted from our carelessness.
Even with all of these groups set out to save marine life there’s still a lot that can be done to help make a change. people are already experiencing the results of the damage done the oceans and our lack of action could be the final catalyst No more than two months ago did Philadelphia experience one of its worst floods of the millenia. The flood was a direct result of the extreme weather changes that have been taking place. The evaporations from the west coast are being moved by wind systems creating drought; these clouds are carried by the wind system to the east coast where they turn into precipitation causing flooding. The earth works like a checks and balance system, each environment needs the other remain hospitable to the life that inhabits it. When one get’s messed up the others suffer as well. When using the phrase
The bottom line is that the we all suffer for not taking care of any part of our environment and even though work is being done to preserve our environment there is always more work to be done. When all is said and done it’s the actions that we do that really count. People could have all the aspiration in the world to make a change but if they don’t do anything it doesn’t mean anything.
Welcome back! As part of You and the World, we are working to become agents of change making the world a better place. As you may remember, we are exploring the protection and pollution of aquatic environments.
We Are In A Bit of Trouble
In my last blog entry, I talked to you about our oceans, lakes, marshes, rivers and streams and how our waste was affecting them.
I was exploring if the future might be as dark as we once thought. Can we reverse the damage done to our oceans, or are has the media given us false hope by providing an incomplete picture of the damage already done?
The media is the most common source of information about climate change to the general public. What happens when we are given false hope from our sources of information; specifically the media?
The media does it's best to convey the rapidity in which the aquatic systems of the world are falling apart but it lacks to convey the urgency of the need to change our ways. I'm not implying that the media is lying to us; in fact quite the opposite. The media is giving us just the facts but a disconnect is created. They don't explain that the floods happening in Florida are directly linked with the melting ice caps. This being so they also seem to breath a false hope into the matter of climate change, as not to scare the public. I will be not be delivering any false hope
A look at media coverage on Climate change
picture provided by CSTPR
Knowledge is Power
The more we know the better off we are. Today, I want to talk to you about what I have found through my original research. Surprisingly, a survey that was administered to a peer group of twenty has shown that we may not be as naive as I may have suspected.
In Blog #1, the subject of how the by-products created by modern humans was discussed. Now we move to how much the average human knows about the damage they cause to the environment. For my research, I chose a survey because of its was a casual way to collect information with ease of administration.
To my surprise, my peers were actually much more informed about such subjects than once thought. Keep in mind that I had very low expectations. I was hoping to find holes in the information that they held and to point out where they were oblivious and where they were well-informed.
The survey results show that most of my peers are fairly aware of their footprint on aquatic environments. Most questions regarded the amount of litter they produced and where it went.
The one area in which people were particularly misinformed was about where their trash goes. Most of the answers were expected: trash cans, landfills, dumpsters. Only one respondent regarded the ocean as a recipient of trash. The rest were completely unaware of the 6,000 mile long Pacific Garbage Patch. For more information on the garbage patch, click here.
I was particularly interested in their knowledge about endangered animals. I wanted to know if they could name any marine animal on the endangered species list. The most common response to this question was a member of the whale family. This does say something about which marine animals are favored by the public or at least well known. This also gives insight into why the blue whale is making a population comeback. Through the research I have done, I have been given insight into how knowing really is half the battle, but I am still left with the question, where do we go from here. Knowledge isn't worth jack if not applied.
(To see survey information, click here.)
Even with the knowledge that my survey has given me, I'm still left with many questions. One is since my survey was only administered to a small group of high school students, what would my results be if I could have accessed a larger group. I personally think that the results would be much less informed but I'm a bit of a pessimist. I also wonder if by asking the questions in my survey, if I changed the way that my peers look at their impactt on the environment? I be curious to know if, after they finished the survey, any of them took the time to Google the endangered species list, or took a serious look at where trash ends up?
A Look at Endangered Species
For more information, click here.
I have an exciting way to help make a change in the condition of aquatic environment. I have decided to organize a river walk along the Schyukill River. During this walk, trash and recycling will be collected along the banks of the river and disposed of properly. We will have games & prizes that will motivate and educate participants.
I will also be doing a number of presentations on how humans affect the water around us. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, If you are interested.
protection of aquatic Animals & Environments
The water on our planet works in a cycle, and every waterway connect to another. This grants many species to migrate throughout the world, but this also makes pollution in any body of water a problem. All it takes is a single piece of trash to take a life. Animals world wide suffer from the pollution created by humans. The world is extremely fragile and we need to be at the very least aware of what we are doing to it.
It’s not only major corporations that are responsible for polluting the environment that animals need to survive in. According to the Clean Air council, “Every year, Americans use approximately 102.1 billion plastic bags, creating tons of landfill waste.” Some environments have become so polluted that it’s even hostile to humans. Even some of everyday waist can lead to a higher risk of cancer. To see a chart of contaminations and what illnesses they can lead to click here. In the United States of America and the majority of the first world; we need to understand that the phrase “Out of sight, out of mind.” doesn’t apply to this problem.
Water Pollution in Bangladesh, to see more pictures click here
There are many grants and laws set to protect pollution but some things aren’t enough. Although the Safe Drinking Water Act protects American sources, it only protects our drinking water, and not the water of the marine life. Perhaps one of the most famous aquatic environmental destroyers is BP or British Petroleum. On April 20th, 2010 high pressured methane gas poured into the gulf of Mexico, destroying an exceptional amount of wildlife. As of July 9th 2013 BP had spent $25 billion, PBS stated, but that doesn’t bring back the thousands of marine animals that died from the pollution. For more information on the BP oil spill click here. However, BP isn’t the only source responsible for marine destruction. Whaling, a common activity done in many asian countries like Japan, is another source that’s done, even when it’s opposed by the U.N. Whales are a huge part of the Marine cycle and without whales the possibility of krill rapidly arrises. Krill live off the same nutrients that many other micro-organisms need to live. This could end with many more marine animals on the endangered species list.
Wetlands are homes for almost infinite number of life, spanning from crane to small bacterial animals. Since the European settlement of the United States, 53% of wetlands in America have disappeared according to WARPT. Wetlands are destroyed to aid the growth of urban communities. On top of the destruction of wetlands, the creation of factories, farms, and towns creates a large amount of waste that potentially endangers aquatic and semi-aquatic animals. Tourist can also endanger marine environments; scuba divers and scouclers can bring humans dangerously close to marine environments that are already extremely fragile. Since the boom of gasoline, growth of technology, and the expanse of human population, we as a species have hurt our ocean more than any other species boom.
You don’t need to give money, or start a major protest, all you need to do is care. Just be an advocate for the world; when you see a piece of trash just pick it up. The world is a fragile place and it’s so easy to destroy but we can make a change. As human beings we can do amazing things when we put in effort; if everyone tried to make a difference for just one day we could reverse 25% of potential damage done to marine life. As human beings we can take the damage we have already done and fix it.