June 2020 Bobcat Blog

June 5, 2020

We are living in the 21st century and our life is surrounded by modern technology. We are using smart phones, computers, portable laptops, smart watches, instant pots for easy cooking, IRobot Roomba and IRobot Brava for cleaning, a Kindle for reading and many more devices in our daily routine. All these devices are operated by software. The software is written in high level programming languages.

Innovation is actively going on in every industry. Our mobile phone is a mini computer with a powerful CPU, a high-quality camera, and large storage capacity. The car industry is also implementing artificial intelligence and automation to make self-driving cars in which the vehicle is capable of sensing its environment and moving safely with no human effort. In the future, if self-driving cars are successfully running, then Lyft, Uber and Taxi drivers’ jobs will be at risk.

Recently, Amazon launched “Amazon Go”, a new kind of grocery store with no checkout line. It works by using the same types of technologies found in self-driving cars, such as computer vision, sensor capability, and machine learning. This technology can detect when products are taken or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in your virtual cart. If this technology is used in each and every store in future, many cashier jobs may not exist.

What is a drone? A drone is a flying robot that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously through software-controlled flight plans in their embedded systems, working in conjunction with onboard sensors and GPS navigation system. Drones could function as future delivery personnel.

As many current jobs are at a risk of being replaced by machines in the near future, these jobs will be replaced by those that help create or control machines. People who have knowledge of high-level programming, computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence will have a upper hand in the job market. Programming and Computer Science is becoming a basic skill like reading, writing, math, and science.

An important component of programming is learning how to develop skills in logical thinking, problem solving, troubleshooting, implementation and testing of programs. With the knowledge of programming languages, students will learn and understand how computing systems operate, how algorithms work and how networks drive connectivity.

At WaPrep, we teach project-based learning and implementation of each project with its requirements. Before proceeding to code, students share their problem analysis, explanation with proper examples, and usage of correct data structures.

Computer science knowledge and application abilities can provide students’ with career prospects and increase their lifetime earning potential; empowering them to support their families. These salaries flourish the economy and can even encourage tech investment into previously overlooked communities.

 

 

June 12, 2020
By Rachel MacKenna—Visual Art Instructor

In March, as students and classes adjusted to the new online teaching format, Visual Art took on a new role at WA Prep as a place for relaxation as well as art education. Our first project, completed entirely online, was a yearbook inspired gridding exercise that used the Washington Preparatory logo and Bobcat mascot as the source material. Rather than approaching the design only to transfer the image, students researched and utilized Zentangles to fill their drawings.

Zentangle coloring books, posters, and worksheets are relatively commonplace at craft stores and even grocery aisles. The idea behind them is that engaging in creativity is a form of self-care. Much like measured breathing and focus in meditation, the repetitive and intricate nature of Zentangle patterns can promote a beneficial presence. There are no rules on what a Zentangle can look like, only that it is a structured and repeating series of marks and shapes. For this project, students went a step further and utilized their knowledge of value to guide the lightness or darkness of each pattern they made.

Even though students had many challenges to fulfill with this project, it was the first of many success stories that we have had in Visual Art, which brought the classroom’s high standards to an online format. Using only the most basic of materials, each student created a grid, developed their original designs, incorporated outside inspiration, and executed a strategy for showing shifts in the pattern and color of the logo they were recreating.

Pictured clockwise: Artwork by Cameron Zajdel, Justin Lu, Juliana Seidl, and Kristian Taylor.

 

For more information on Zentangles or to get your inspiration:

https://mymodernmet.com/zentangle-art/

https://tanglepatterns.com/zentangles

 

 

Bringing IB into my Teaching Experience
By Louis Joseph Elizai “Don Sephy”

Last academic year (2018-2019) I was fortunate to work as a Spanish teacher in three different schools: our own school Washington Preparatory School in Bothell, Soundview School in Lynnwood, and Cedar River Montessori School in Renton. I will let go of the idea of writing about the most efficient way to drive around the entire Seattle area but rather I will write of how I was introduced to the International Baccalaureate Programme (IB, and yes, the spelling is in the British form), also introduced to the Montessori system (another European educational system and philosophy) and about some aspects of IB which I will bring into my teaching at a conscientious and committal level. These are reflection (T.O.K.), independent learning (learner profile), project-based learning and teaching, and the philosophy that all teachers are language teachers.

I have been teaching language acquisition since 1999, and the phrase, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” immediately began applying to me regarding IB.  WaPrep and one of the other schools are IB schools. Suddenly and immediately, my teaching routine had to begin the process of adjustment. Yes, the process, because change doesn’t come immediately, because to be a true educator means becoming involved and loving the process of learning, because my own education and teaching experience were being augmented.

I was coached and assisted with the writing of the IB curriculum for the MYP (Middle Years Programme) because one of the schools was already an IB school. Until this March, WaPrep was an IB candidate school. WaPrep sent me to my initial IB training in Portland which took place in November of 2018. Three of us, Qian Zhang the Mandarin Teacher, Teresa Coggins the Physical Education Teacher and Administrative Assistant and I traveled to Portland together by train. The IB training left me thinking like Socrates, “I know that I know nothing.” I was so confused with acronyms and new ways of assessment and a curriculum form that I had to do and re-do so much, and that, although similar, was not the same as the MYP form with which I received so much help and guidance. This was the DP (Diploma Programme for grades 11 and 12) curriculum form. I began to wonder if I’d ever be able to teach this way.

On January of 2019, one of the school’s had an IB inspection, I was interviewed by phone on account of the heavy snow days. The valuable lesson that I got from this interview was the philosophy that all teachers are language teachers. Well, language I know and with this I began to dive myself into learning the IB way: the theories of knowledge (TOK), the DP (Diploma Programme), reflection and assessment. Of course, there is more but I don’t want to outline every acronym in the book.

As a language teacher my experiences encompass Spanish, Hebrew, Italian and English. While my main focus presently is Spanish instruction, I have taught English to Hebrew and Spanish speakers, Italian in independent studies, and modern Hebrew to private students. Language feeds my soul. In the IB philosophy we learn everything through language. This aspect of IB has been taken in as my own personal philosophy as well.

Reflection and theories of knowledge, “how do I know what I know?” is another aspect of IB that I feel is very important for many reasons. When a person reflects, that person improves what they do. When a person reflects, that person begins to see themselves in relation to others and how their actions affect others. We need as much of this in our world as possible.

Independent learning (from IB learner profile) is by far incredibly valuable. The old saying, “Give a person a fish and she can eat a meal; teach a person to fish and she will have food for a life-time.” (I know, I fudged it a bit.) Likewise, teach a person a technique and that person knows that technique which may be good to do one specific thing. Teach a person how to learn and the whole world is theirs. Along this philosophy is the practice of project-based learning (PBL). In PBL a student begins with questions. These questions lead to research and analysis. The student is led and directed rather than instructed. A significant part of the learning is done by the student. This is an independent learner, a person with confidence and a person who asks questions, studies, analyses and concludes. Couple PBL with reflection and a person ceases to have a stagnant mind.

I embrace IB. Through IB, our school will be on par with any IB school around the globe. Because of IB the assessments that students receive are as objective as possible because the external assessments are done by teachers whom we do not know (yes, I love the correct use of who and whom). By bringing IB into my teaching I will grow as a teacher and learner. With each step of my learning process I hope to open my own mind and assist others in opening theirs.

 

 

IB Biology at WaPrep
By Paul Converse.

In biology there is a joke we pass around: the more complicated a system is, the more difficult it is to study. Biological systems are the most complicated systems humanity has yet observed, and thusly studying these systems is the most difficult science. This joke is especially fun around physicists and chemists.

Yet there is truth in this joke. Biological systems are immensely complicated and they exist under an unfathomable scale, from subcellular structures to entire ecosystems. How then do we approach this science, and how do we teach it to the people who will inherit our knowledge?

I am trained as a population geneticist and molecular ecologist. Molecular ecology is the study of how genetics is shaped by ecology (ranges, niches, etc.) or vice-versa. This field attempts to relate the big-scale (ecology) to the small-scale (genes) to see how they influence one another. Molecular ecology is the perfect bridge between the small and the large phenomena we encounter in biology.

The IB Programme is similar in its pedagogy. Seemingly disparate topics are dovetailed together and their common themes are found. The IB Programme stresses how each classroom is tied to other classes, be it through language, culture, history, or ethics. Science is no exception: science is simply a human institution, and human institutions are shaped by history, language, and philosophy.

At WaPrep, IB Biology is structured as a university-level class. Exams are difficult and focus on essays, themes and content, as opposed to simple answers. Academic rigour, thoroughness, and precise wording are stressed to truly prepare students for a university education. It is my goal that zero students from my class return home to express shock at how difficult their classes are; I intend for them to first taste this at WaPrep; I want them to hit the ground running once their university career begins.

In IB Biology, the first academic year (Bio 101) covers the “small,” starting at molecules, working through genetics and cells, and ending at physiology. The second year (Bio 102) focuses on populations and ecosystems, and relates them back to the “small,” much like molecular ecology does as a scientific discipline. WaPrep values hands-on learning and IB Biology at WaPrep follows this model. For example, in our unit over biotechnology, we will transform bacteria via conjugation to insert a jellyfish gene via the pGLO plasmid: the resulting bacterial colony glows in the dark. This is the technology that also produces modern human insulin. In the spirit of the IB Programme this lab is related back to other classes, in this case ethics. Previously, insulin was extracted from cows and pigs—how much animal suffering was reduced by this technology, but at the expense of increased costs to the consumer?

IB Biology at WaPrep focuses on bridging all fields of biology, much like the IB Programme focuses on bridging all topics. At WaPrep, this is accompanied by academic rigour and discussion in the classroom, complemented by hands-on labs that apply students’ newly acquired knowledge.

 

 

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