Spring 2017 Assignments

Blog Post 13

Reflection on the semester.

Write a one page reflection the year (300 words minimum) focused on showing your readiness to move to 10th or 11th grade. How did you grow in science, math, Spanish, and humanities? How about growth outside of school during the semester? Where are your strengths? Where do you need to improve? What are your goals for the coming years? Use evidence in the form of work from class to show the growth.

Focus on reflection. Summarization is not reflection.  This one pager will help form the basis for your tPOL – a 7 – 10 minute reflection in front of your teachers and a peer panel on the growth you experienced this year and why you are ready for the next grade level.

Blog Post 12

For blog post twelve, please post your final products. See the list below:

  • When you have completed your page(s) for the book, and it is ready for publishing (approved by Brian/Adam with page number, etc), upload the page onto your blog. Include a brief comment on what you learned from creating a publishable piece.
  • Choose your best photo from the past semester. Process it to bring out detail, contrast, composition. Save the file as a 300 dpi, 13″x9″ jpg or psd. You have to use the original file that has not been emailed or put on social media, etc. You want the largest possible file for the best detail. We will begin printing these next week. Include a brief description of how you captured the shot, what equipment you’ve used, settings (etc)
  • We are going out on May 23rd for an evening astronomy class. Post the processed image of the solar object you and your partner(s) imaged. Include a reflection on what you learned camping and looking at the stars.

Blog Post 11

This weeks blog post will be a little different than usual. In the link below is a series of questions for you to answer about the article you’ve read. Your response to these questions will be the first part of your blog post this week.

ARE Description

What struck you about the June and Cassini missions to Jupiter and Saturn, respectively? What does it mean for humanity that we have managed to send a probes to observe Saturn’s moons and rings as well as look at the clues of Jupiter’s origin? What questions does it raise for you?

Juno Mission 

Cassini Mission

Blog Post 10, Only three or four more to go before the end of the semester! Woohoooo! This week post the following:

  • For the three objects you plan to image during our May 23rd astronomy night, post the following:
    • The name, Messier number of NGC number of the object
    • The magnitude (brightness)
    • The size in arcminutes
    • The constellation it’s located in
    • The time it rises
    • Who your partner is for this imaging endeavor
  • Post what struck you about Alan Watt’s Secret to Life video. Remember you wrote this in class and shared it.
  • After reading the article, Elon Musk is Really Boring, post your thoughts on his claim that tunnels are going to be the solution to future traffic congestion in urban environments. Keep the following questions in mind when answering:
    • What dangers might be present in using tunnels to solve traffic?
    • What are the positives in using tunnels?
    • Do you think more roads, tunnels, or flying vehicles are the long term solution? Is there some other solution to urban traffic that you think would work better?
    • What solution would be best for the San Diego community we have been visiting over the past semester?
  • Post at least three beautiful photos of animals from our zoo trip on Friday.

Post the following for post 9

  • An image of the Ideal City Problem Set (Brian has those if you need your copy) along with a written description of the image.
  • Choose one of the segments of Planet Earth II Cities – languars in Jodhpur, peregrines in NYC, leopards in Mumbai, birds building homes, hyenas in Kenya, catfish eating pigeons, etc – and write about how that piece struck you. What analogies do you see between the animal behavior and human behavior? What surprised you? What questions do you have?
  • What struck you about the scales of the universe website? What questions does it raise for you?
  • What are your thoughts on the size of the solar system? Where should humans focus future exploration?
  • Post 6 photos (three from downtown and three from Barrio Logan). If you missed either get out and do photography. Post pics!

Post for following by Friday, end of day for your 8th post:

  • Three pictures from the OB field day. Post your best pictures from last week.
  • At least three pictures from the Barrio Logan field day.
    • label all of your photos and put a note on what your thinking is behind the work.
  • Problem Set: Energy Usage
  • Read the article on San Diego Energy Use. Watch the video on thermal energy generation. Also watch the video on renewable energy generation.
    • What are your thoughts on your own energy use in San Diego?
    • What would you like to see San Diego do to develop energy supply in the future? Why?
    • What is the relation between all types of energy harnessed on earth and the sun? Why is that significant?
    • What questions do you have about energy generation?
  • An update of honors work from the past few weeks. What have you accomplished on your honors project so far? What is your timeline for further completion of work? How do you plan to get that done?

Post the following for Blog Post 7

  • Read this text on water use in cities and begin this week’s blog post by answering these questions:
    • Estimate how much water you use per week (estimator)
    • How might you be able to cut back?
    • What struck you about the article?
    • What are other ways cities might save on water usage in the future? What plans should we pursue?
  • What strikes you about “The Most Astounding Fact”?
  • What was the most profound thought you gained from watching Chris Emdin’s keynote, We Got It From Here, Thank You For Your Service?
  • After looking at where San Diego gets its water and future population projections what do you think are ideas for how we manage water here?

Post the following for this week’s blog post. Post 6:

  • Take a quote out of the text we read on water. Write the quote down. Add a brief comment as to why you chose that quote. What is significant about it? What questions do you have as a result of this text?
  • Watch the following brief video on the polar nature of water. What is interesting about how water behaves relative to other substances? What questions do you have about water after watching this?
  • What strikes you about the pale blue dot speech in light of the current state of the world? Are Sagan’s comments still relevant? Why or why not?
  • Three photos from our Little Italy field day that have been processed in PhotoShop or Light Room. What did you learn about processing photos this week?
  • A link to the second draft of your piece for the Urban Field Guide.

Post the following for Blog Post 5

  • We discussed the phrase “science is a way of thinking, a way of skeptically interrogating the universe” from Sagan’s final interview.  Write a paragraph on why is this phrase significant? Write a second paragraph on how it differs or is similar to previous definitions of science you’ve heard?
  • What are your thoughts on the James Webb Space Telescope and the search for first light? Is it a worthwhile venture to spend $10 billion dollars to see back into deep time?
  • Post a link to your notes and/or the beginning of your rough draft for your piece that will go in the field guide.
  • Post at least two photos from Balboa Park with a note on what you are working on photographically.

Blog Post 4

  • Problem set 2: Optics
  • Refer to the articles on lighting in photography along with the videos we watched in class. What did you learn about lighting in photography? What techniques do you hope to practice this week? What challenges do you foresee?
  • Post one picture from your first studio session and one picture for your second studio session. Pick photos that best illustrate each session in your mind’s eye. Write about what you learned from each session.
  • Sunset Cliffs Page. Post images and a your writing piece that will go into your Sunset Cliffs page for this week.
  • Honors or Open Architecture work. Write a brief synopsis of what you plan to do for you Honors or Open Architecture work. What else do you hope to learn?
  • Spend some time playing with lenses and prisms. What do each do? Write about the power of optics in our modern world? What strikes you? What questions do you still have?

Blog Post 3

  • Waves Problem Set
  • Pick two ideas that struck you from the in-class articles on photographic technique. Answer the following questions for both. What about this technique strikes you? How do you plan to incorporate this photographic technique into your work?
  • Read about the history of of the Old Town Mission prior to our trip there tomorrow.
  • Practice photography. Post at least three photos from your photographs today and/or during our field work which demonstrate a technique you read about this week. Write about what you were trying to capture.
  • Post a link to your second page on Old Town. The page should be saved as a PhotoShop file.


Read the following in order to brush up on photography basics:

When you are finished reading about basics, look through these examples of narrative photography and urban photography. Think about the techniques that are being used. What style would you like to emulate? How can you capture that feeling?

Blog Post 2

  • An image of your second and final map of our Field Guide area.
    • Along with the image write a reflection about teamwork. What did you personally do to complete the map? What did your partner do? How did you decide roles? How did it work out? What did you learn from the experience that you can apply to your future work?
  • Use the in class text we read on light, write about the significance and mystery of light. Use at least two ideas from the text that were new to you. What do you find most fascinating about the nature of light? What questions do you have as a result?
  • Post a link to the page (~300 words) of text you and your partner write about Liberty Station.
  • Post your three best photos from our Field work that we do at Liberty Station.

Blog Post 1

  • Read this article on the use of narrative or storytelling within photography
  • Spend time capturing photos that focus on narrative, using ideas gleaned from the article
  • Post at least two of your photos. If you know post-processing, you can process. However, we will learn those techniques later in the semester so this post will focus on narrative.
  • Add a paragraph on the nature of space. What struck you in learning how the everywhere is the center of the universe?
  • Post a photo of the rough draft of your map with a brief explanation describing your map. Answer the following question: was the feedback helpful? what do you plan to change on your next iteration of the map?

Helpful resources

  1. Where is the Center of the Universe? 
  2. Vsauce: center of the universe visualized
  3. No edge: shape of the universe
  4. Everywhere stretch 

Fall Semester 2016 Assignments

Blog Post 12

  • What is entropy? How does it relate to time and the fate of the universe? What are your thoughts on the story it tells us?
  • How does consciousness play a critical role in any story of spaceship earth and our role?
  • What have you learned doing the capstone work from a science perspective?
  • Post evidence of work you have done on your capstone with a short description of the work (part 1)? This could be a processed astronomy image, an image or video of a nature excursion, an image of a rocket part or drawing, an image from the balloon.

Honors Post

  • Submit a work log for the work you do on your honors project. This log should include a write up of what you did and how long you worked on it each day. If you did nothing in a given day, write the date down and a note that you didn’t work on your honors project.
  • Problem set
    • Go to the TedEd site on the periodic table. Pick three elements off of the table and watch the short video associated with each one. Write a brief summary of what you learned from the video.
    • Look up and write down what distinguishes each group in the following list:
      • Akali Metals
      • Akali Earth Metals
      • Transition Metals
      • Other Metals
      • Rare Earth Metals
      • Noble Gases
      • Halogens
      • Non-metals

Blog Post 11

  • After watching Cosmos: These are Some of the Things Molecules Do, answer 2 of the following questions:
    • What is the significance of DNA, particularly in what it tells us about the relationship of life on earth?
    • We are currently living in the midst of the sixth major extinction event. How does that fact inform your life?
    • What struck you about Tyson’s description of the evolution of the human eye?
    • What do tardigrades and other extremophiles tell us about the potential for life in extreme environments such as Titan?
  • Read this short article on water. Watch this short video on water.
    • What are the properties of water that allow for life?
    • What strikes you about water? Why?
  • Work log of the week. What did you accomplish for your capstone this week?

Blog Post 10

Research Paper

Over the next six weeks, you must complete a research paper on one of the following questions within your capstone group. Everyone must complete a 500 – 1000 word research paper, double spaced. Use the graphic organizer from Mike’s class. The thesis of the research paper will be the main idea of your paper and you should use three to five sources which correspond to each claim box on the organizer.


  • What is entropy? Why is it significant to our understanding of the universe, time, the processes around us and the fate of the universe?
  • How do stars create light? How can we read that light for information about what’s happening in the star or nebula?
  • What is the relationship between focal length, aperture, and an object’s apparent magnitude in the night sky in order to gather data about the object?
  • What is gravity? Why has it been called the cosmic sculpture?


  • What is the ISP of a rocket fuel and why is it significant? Compare the impulse of sugar fuels, sugar grain and black powder.
  • Compare the materials used in the Phoenix 1 rocket. What are the advantages of aluminum, stainless steel, a silicon O-ring and a plastic nose-cone? Why use these materials?
  • Why is the nozzle so significant to rocket performance?

Weather Balloon Science

  • What is the atmosphere and why is it significant?
  • What is the magnetosphere and why is it significant?


  • What is DNA and why is it significant?
  • What is it about the nature of water that allows for the formation of complex molecular structures and life itself?
  • What is the ecosystem of the San Diego regions and what are the challenges we face?


  • What is light and how is it captured in film?

For the 9th blog post, post the following

  • What strikes you about the size of the universe and our solar system? (See: Scale of the Solar System, If the Moon were a pixel)
  • What is light? What distinguishes it from other phenomena in the universe? Why is it significant?
  • How do digital cameras function to capture the light traveling through the universe and turn them into an image? (See: How Charge Coupled Devices Work)
  • What did you do this week for your capstone project? What are you excited about? What fears do you have?

Post the following for Blog Post 8

  • Watch this video on the EM spectrum and study this graphic. Pick one idea that is new to you and discuss why it is significant to our understanding of the universe
  • In class reading. Reflect on one aspect of the fundamental nature of light: its speed, its particle-wave nature, the spectrum, its ability to carry information, etc. why is light and our understanding of it significant?
  • Problem set – EM Waves
  • Spend 20 minutes researching the science behind your capstone idea. What did you find? What questions does it raise for you?

Blog Post 7: Rocketry Reflection

  • Post the two minute film you and your partner(s) made on rocketry (or a link to the video)
  • Answer the following reflection questions
    • In thinking about the balsa and kit rocket experience, post what you learned about rocketry? How did it inform your understanding of motion, Newton’s Laws, Gravity, Chemistry and electromagnetism?
    • What specific work were you proud of? Why?
    • What could you improve on if you built another rocket? How can you apply this knowledge to future projects?
    • How has the rocket project informed you on what you would like to do with your capstone experience?

Blog Post 6: Fundamental Forces

  • Read the article on gravitational waves – the final confirmation of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity – and the article on black holes. How is gravity distinct from the other fundamental forces of nature?
  • Post an image of the motor thrust curve for the rocket motor you plan to use in your rocket. Explain why you went with this motor choice.
  • Post an image of your final rocket prior to launch.
  • Make sure you are continuing to put up your photos and video for the short movie you are makin

For Blog Post 5: Kit Rockets, please answer the following questions

  • A link to your media folder for your group
  • Problem Set 2: Stoichiometry
  • Given the challenges of sending humans to Mars, is it a valuable use of resources? Why or why not? (Video Text 1: Space X on Mars, Supplemental Text)
  • Nature of Matter Text: Write a short paragraph. What strikes you about the text? Why is it significant? What questions does it raise for you?
  • Reflection: Write about what you have specifically contributed to your group’s work this week. What is going well with your partnerships? What is challenging? What do you hope to improve on over the final week or two of this project?

Post title: Blog Post 4: Motion

Post the following:

  • Thinking of Feynman’s definition of science from the video we watched, what role does revision play in the fields of science and engineering? How has it impacted your work so far this year?
  • Two photographs from the week with a short caption for a photographic technique.
  • A short reflection on the impact of Isaac Newton to the modern world.
  • Design for your next rocket build.
  • Motion worksheet

Resources Week 4: Newton, Newton’s Principia

Blog Post 3: Balsa Wood Rocket Part 2

  • A minute long video showing the process of building the rocket and the motor finishing with at least one launch video (each partnership can use the same video)
  • A post answering the following questions
    • What have you leaned about rocketry in the past two weeks?
    • What questions do you still have about rocketry?
    • What was your initial hypothesis (personal theory) for combustion? In your own words, what is the scientific explanation (theory) for combustion? What did you learn about combustion? How is combustion significant in rocketry? What questions do you still have?

Resources for Post 3: NASA Quest Article on Combustion , NOVA Hunting the Elements []

Blog Post 2: Balsa Wood Rocket Part 1

  • A photo of your balsa wood rocket
  • A video of the launch
  • A short reflection answering these questions
    • What did you learn about rocketry from your first balsa wood rocket?
    • What will you do different on your next build?

Blog Post 1: Physics Blog Introduction

Post the following:

  • A photo of your choosing
  • A sentence or two about the science you are most interested in
  • Send Brian the link to your blog (

Fall 2013 work.

  1. unit conversion
  2. kin&potential energy
  3. kin&pot challenge
  4. transcendent man questions
  5. heat transfer
  6. density & pressure
  7. gravity
  8. motion
  9. position time graph
  10. momentum
  11. newton’s laws

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