As I was finishing up a biology lab, I came to a sudden halt in my conclusion and evaluation. My Group 4 IB Biology Lab had involved changing the wave-lengths of light absorbed in a mesocosm to see how the spectrum of light available to plants affected their photosynthesis. Realistically this meant that we grew radishes in bottles and changed the colors of the bottles for different conditions- clear, blue, green, and red. However, finding no red bottles available in the marketplace (c'mon Coca Cola, you really gotta get a move on), I resorted to wrapping a clear bottle with a (pink) clear wrap.
Flash foward to my sudden halt. I had assumed that pink had to be essentially red- after all, we get pink by mixing red and white, and white is just all the colors together. But someone else suggested it was closer to violet and here is where I stopped and stared into space... red and violet are on completely different sides of the light spectrum and yet we consider pink to be pretty close to both? And also now that I thought about it, red and blue yields purple but the wave-length of purple surpasses both red and blue? What's going on with the world?
Turns out there are pretty rational explanations to these questions and I was mixing up what's called additive and subtractive coloring, but that's besides the point. In asking these questions, I went far beyond what I had to do for any sort of coursework. In fact, the additional research (googling) I did will have likely no effect on my grade in any way. But this process is a perfect depiction of the real beauty of learning and its implications for the education system.
Some people make the mistake of assuming that students should love everything they are learning in school. As a result, many progressive schools are opting into 'design your own curriculum' programs where students choose what they want to study on a certain day. This sounds great, but in reality has some seriously terrible implications. If given the option of choosing whatever I wanted to study, likely I would not choose color theory- I probably wouldn't even know what that was. I can't say that the intersection of light and agriculture interests me more than anything in the world; but doing this particular lab and taking my particular biology class led me to exploring nuances of other subjects like color theory that I wouldn't have considered otherwise.
This isn't the only time that this has happened. My math class led me to cryptanalysis; my history class to economics. It is only by being exposed to a variety of disciplines at this age that I am able to really explore niche ideas and concepts that really have and keep a hold of my mind. The best part? No one knows what will fascinate me next.
- Alexandra G. Kytka
Don't forget to check out my podcast! Also, I have added and am continuing to update a "Projects" tab on the site in order to inform you of the various projects I am working on.
Most of us know on some level that playing interactive games is an important part of child development, however, most of us choose to leave that part of our childhood behind except for the occasional game night or for techniques of alcoholic consumption. I think this is a catastrophic mistake.
We tend to spend our free time in the following ways- watching films/shows, using social media, reading, or listening to podcasts (a great one is called Ergo available on iTunes and Soundcloud :)). These activities certainly have their place, especially in the process of gaining knowledge that comes through such mediums (especially podcasts; definitely check us out). However, gaining knowledge without being able to process that knowledge is a serious mistake that can make all for naught.
Playing games can be instrumental in this process. They have the potential to make you use your brain in new ways and develop your critical thinking skills in a way that consuming media cannot. The following are some games I suggest if you are interested in trying this out-
For All Intents and Purposes: Can be played independently during a commute or with other people. Based on a type of creativity IQ test, this game requires you to pick a random object and create as many uses for it as you can. Stipulation: You cannot take apart the object in any way.
Acronym Guess Who: This game needs to be played with at least one other person. Pick an acronym (I have in the past used HSBC, LDS, etc.). Then, take turns choosing adjectives for each letter to create the profile of a person and have the other person guess who it is.
The Question Game: How do you play the question game? If you respond with "Can you teach me?", you've got the right idea. During the question game, which is optimal when played between two people, you need to attempt a conversation comprising only questions that actually connect to each other's words without repeating any questions. (It's much harder than you might think.) Credit to my 8th grade Bible teacher Ms. Smith for teaching me this one.
Domestic Feline: Taken from the award-winning novel "The Help," this game involves taking a simple word/phrase (like house cat) and having another person say the same word in a more complicated, posh way (thus domestic feline). My favorite? "Salutations greetings my dear fraternal relation" as a replacement for "yo bro".
Vigenere Cipher: This last one isn't actually a game, but it is a fun engaging way to communicate or pass notes to a friend. You can look it up for better instructions online, but essentially you agree on a word or phrase to decrypt a message from a person and use a complex arithmetic sequential cipher given to you as a simple chart in order to send or receive a message.
Well, that's all I have for today. Now it's up to you to go from your consumption of this media to processing all your knowledge by playing a game! (But if you still need more media to consume, of course my podcast is still up for grabs).
- Alexandra Kytka
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