As of Thursday, In-Depth 2019 has been going great. I met quickly with Ms. Krueger to discuss a time commitment but I figured out that she is very busy and won’t be able to meet on a regular basis. We didn’t actually get around to discussing any robotics as she needed to be somewhere else. This was a downer as I really wanted an engaged mentor this year, although, on Thursday (Feb. 14), my luck changed. I got an email back from someone who I mentioned in my last post, saying that he is interested in my project and wants to help. We then scheduled a phone call and discussed how we are going to meet. My new mentor is a student at UBC on a Co-op program, so he is really busy, but he says he can meet at least every two weeks. I will probably go to him at UBC for our visits since he has access to robotics labs and CNC machinery. He may also be able to get me electronic parts for the robot that I would normally be buying myself. I then did some research over the weekend on what robot I want to create; I then emailed him about it. The robot I want to build will be an advanced robotic arm, with at least 3-DOF (degrees of freedom), and will use stepper motors instead of servos. I also want the robot to have an exchangeable tip, so I can design it to use a claw, and maybe have another tip to hold a pencil. I also want it to have sensors, I don’t know much about sensors, but I’m pondering having it be able to track a face, to act like it’s looking at you. I don’t have a finalized design yet but I will start working with OnShape (an online 3d modelling program) to create a design. I’m not sure how much I will be able to 3d print and how much I will create with CNC metal. I will have to design it first then figure that out. I am excited to work with CNC though. I will forward our thread of emails and I will get my mentor to complete a criminal record check soon. I’m really excited to continue working with my new mentor! Although, I will still try and meet with Ms. Krueger because I believe she can still teach me some interesting concepts.
In-depth 2019 has been going smoothly so far, but I do not have a mentor yet. I have been sending out emails to two people, but they have not responded yet. I want to get replies from these two people before I start contacting other people that I do not know. The first person I contacted this year is Ms. Smith (I won’t disclose her real name until I get her permission). Ms. Smith was my last year’s mentor and she helped me learn a lot about robotics. I emailed her back in early January, but she didn’t respond. I followed up with her a few days ago and still no response, but hopefully, she will respond soon, if not, I will start sending emails to other people. The other person I am trying to get in touch with is someone named Adam McDonald (I won’t disclose his real name until I get his permission). Earlier this school year, I had a phone interview with Adam and he taught me lots about robotics careers. He also gave me some tips for me next robotics project. One of these tips was to download something called Linux, and then download something called ROS.
What is Linux?
Linux, from what I can understand, is a computer OS, or, Operating System. Most computers, run off of Mac OS, or a Windows OS, like Windows 10. The OS is responsible for almost everything on a computer, and Linux is a special kind of operating system, often used by programmers.
I ended up installing a Mac OS, Windows OS and a Linux OS all on my laptop at the same time using a process called dual-boot. I could restart my computer in either one, but as I was trying to fix something on my Linux OS, my computer ran into some problems and all three of my operating systems got corrupted, basically meaning my computer didn’t know how to operate itself. I ended up re-installing Linux on my computer and now I have one working OS on my computer, Linux Ubuntu. Great start to In-Depth 2019! From there, I went on to installing ROS.
What is ROS?
ROS stands for Robot Operating System and it is the world’s standard program for creating robots. ROS is open source software that has hundreds of files added by the public, available for download. ROS is only available on Linux operating systems. ROS works in an unusual way but is very powerful, it can even run simulations of robots. I could download a simulated robot, and code it in my own way. Here is an example of something I can do with ROS, involving turtles.
I will continue to search for a mentor, but for now, this post will have to do. I will continue to learn about ROS, and soon, I will attempt to re-program my In-Depth 2018 robot using ROS.
What makes a good short story? I’ve always liked to write, my favourite part being that I can create my own stories, and tell them the way I want to. I favorite short stories because of their length. How they can hold so many ideas and not take a week to read or a year to write. My question is still the same as it was at the start of the project. This question properly resembles short story writing, and I have had no need to change it since I didn’t change my topic.
I have expanded on my english writing skills and creativity. This Zip project has gotten me to write, and the more I write, the better I get at writing. The research I conducted taught me valuable concepts to short story writing, and writing in general. I also spent an hour just coming up with ideas for my story, which worked on my originality and improved my creativity. These creativity skills will help come up with original ideas and original opinions, while the writing skills will help me express my creativity and opinions.
I narrowed my research and my answer to my inquiry question to 3 main points
For a short story, concision is key, every source I looked at, including “9 Simple Steps to Writing a Short Story Your Reader Never Forgets.” by Jerry Jenkins, had concision as one of their ideas for what makes a good short story. Short stories have to be short, so leave the length for novels.
The characters of a short short story are important. These characters have to be simple, it takes too much explaining to have a complex character with a deep backstory. Novel characters can be complex and hold a backstory but short stories have to rely on the plot to tell the story, not the characters.
This is the most important part of short stories. The plot needs to be created in advance, or the story will feel repetitive. The plot also needs to be short, and can’t have too much explaining, or the story will feel confusing. The plot also needs to start as close as possible to the climax of the story. The best part of any story is the climax, so, with short stories, you have to spend less time leading up to the climax and more time on the climax.
My artifact, being my short story, will answer my inquiry question well by demonstrating good concision, characters and plot. Transform ideas and information to create original texts. I will demonstrate my learning for this competency with the setting of my story. I think my story takes place in a rather unusual environment, the moon. This makes for some interesting sentences: I put on my spacesuit and depressurize the airlock to my habitat. I think I created a story which is unusual and original to me.
“Short Story Tips: 10 Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing.” Jerz’s Literacy Weblog, Jerz’s Literacy Weblog, jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/creative1/shortstory/.
This helped get me started, it taught me many basic steps to short story writing, and also went in detail with examples to explain concepts.
“How to Write a Short Story from Start to Finish.” The Write Practice, 6 Feb. 2018, thewritepractice.com/how-to-write-a-short-story/.
This site helped me plan my story. It taught me the steps required and how much time I need to spend on each step to plan and write a short story.
Jenkins, Jerry B. “9 Simple Steps to Writing a Short Story Your Reader Never Forgets.” Jerry Jenkins | Proven Writing Tips, Jerry Jenkins, 4 Jan. 2019, jerryjenkins.com/how-to-write-short-stories/.
This site went a little more in-depth on a concept I was struggling with. It taught me how to be original, which is the backbone of creativity.
I also used the books we read in class to create my own opinion of what makes a good short story. I believe my opinion is important because english writing, in general, is subjective.
Another question I have is What makes a good micro fiction story? A micro fiction story is only 5-350 words long, but quite an interesting idea. For sale: baby shoes. Never worn is an example of micro fiction by Ernest Hemingway. Micro fiction intrigues me because the actual story is all up to the reader, this brings me to another question. How can we make a story that is written by the reader? I think this would be a cool topic to pursue since it’s based off of the reader’s inferences.
Describe the ups and downs you have encountered to date in your inquiry. Specifically, when you were frustrated or struggling in your inquiry, what did you do to address the situation?
So far, I have had to overcome some obstacles during my project, but the largest obstacle I had to overcome is bias in my research. Story writing is subjective, some authors may agree with certain concepts, others may not. This makes my research a little bit challenging. For example, I came across a writer’s blog stating that all short stories must leave out as much detail as possible, only novels can afford to have excessive detail. I don’t quite agree with this, especially the example:
“The spotted puppy frolicked around the flowered field, hopping and jumping over fallen trees and rocks.”
Compared to: “The dog ran around, jumping over logs.”
The blog states that the second example is the correct way to write in short stories. I believe that the second sentence is lacking meaning. The first sentence is a little long, but sets a mood for the story. The problem is that I don’t have enough experience in short story writing to be confident that the first sentence is how short stories are meant to be written. To deal with this I go back and read short stories that we have read in class. If I don’t fully agree with a concept, I try to find it in short stories. I haven’t found any examples of the concision concept I stated above in any of our short stories. I have found concision, but each sentence always has some detail to add meaning and set the mood for the story. An example from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.’s “Harrison Bergeron”: It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor. The detail in this sentence, specifically the double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun, adds realism to the story. Vonnegut could have written ‘gun’ instead but double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun is a real, powerful weapon, one that reflects Diana Moon Glampers. Other than having to check my research with other short stories, ZIP 2019 is going along smoothly.
For this years In-Depth, I will pursue robotics again. Last year, I learnt a lot about robotics, but I only grazed the surface of the topic. This year I hope to expand on my learning and go further into the world of robotics.
First of all, I love robots. I love making them, programming them and using them. I want to learn more about them so that in the future, I will have experience if I want to pursue robotics as an occupation. Also, I love programming, I love the problem solving and all the different tasks I can accomplish with it. Robotics is an interesting blend of machine coding, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering. This year, I’m hitting the ground running. I already have some potential mentors, background knowledge, and a working 3d printer which was a large component of last year that took a week to build. I hope to use this to my advantage and knock In-Depth 2019 out of the park. The more I explore and understand robotics, the more I realize how little I know. I’m understanding that robotics is a complex skill to master and a wide range of uses. Robotics plays a big role in our modern civilization, and is a founder of the future. I believe robotics could definitely be my future as well.
Hopefully, this year will be a lot easier to secure a mentor, because last year was quite challenging to get a mentor. I have two potential mentors and have sent emails to both. I am waiting on the reply but I am positive that one of them will become my mentor. The first person who I reached out to was my mentor last year, and they taught me a lot about robotics. This person is really busy, but does love teaching me. The other person I sent an email to is someone who I have already had a phone call with. Last year I contacted them to understand what a robotics occupation is like. This person was very helpful and told me to reach out if I ever needed help with robotics.
Reflect on your inquiry question and how your understanding is changing, becoming more focused, or is perhaps being reaffirmed by your research. What do you now know that you didn’t know when you started this inquiry.
What makes a good short story? I have finished my research on this question and the question hasn’t changed, but my understanding has. I have found out quite a bit about short story writing, here is a list of some key points I’ve synthesised from multiple :
Start with a hook
Make sure every sentence advances the plot, or gives backstory
Create the plot before you write
Create meaningful characters
Leave out unnecessary details
Choose a ‘mood’/emotion for your story and stick with it
I found the last point to be the most interesting. The stories I have read usually only have one mood, and multiple websites have stated that short stories should only have one mood, because this mood can add detail to your story, without adding length. Having only one mood with your story will let readers infer and imagine the scenes, and the writer doesn’t have to add any more detail. Also, having more than one mood will defeat the purpose of the mood. Having multiple moods will confuse the reader and the story will need more details to make sense.
What is a specific source of information that you have found valuable in answering your inquiry questions? How has it proved viable? Explain.
A specific source of information I used for my research in the last two classes was a website called Jerz’s Literacy Weblog. Here I found an article on Short Story Tips: 10 Ways to Improve Your Creative Writing. This helped me get started on my research, the article taught me a few fundamental concepts I must keep in mind. One of these concepts is Start as close to the climax as possible, everything else is irrelevant. This concept is important because it keeps a short story concise, it keeps the story a short story and prevents it from turning into a novel. Another concept I researched from the same site is: Make your first paragraph catchy. This concept deals mostly with the first sentence. The site has multiple examples that demonstrates a different type of hook for the story. The different types of hooks are the unusual, the unexpected, an action, or a conflict. For my short story, I want my hook to consist of the unusual and the unexpected, something that will surprise the reader and also intrigue them to learn more about my story’s setting. I have a rough first sentence, We’ve done it. We’ve colonized the moon. Well, about 20 years ago is when the general public came here to start new lives. This definitely needs some fixing up, but I’m ready to write a story around this hook. Over the next work blocks I’ll continue writing my story.
Take a moment to reflect on your inquiry plan (calendar). Do you need to make any revisions to your original plan? If so, why? If you haven’t made any changes to your original plan, why do you feel you have been so successful in sticking to it?
I feel like I haven’t quite stuck to my plan, but I am still within the timeline. I have solely reserved my in class time for research this week, and I definitely will be able to start writing on Friday, maybe Thursday. The only problem is that I haven’t had time to do any ZIP work at home since I’ve been so busy with other homework, and all this stress is making it harder to focus in in class, but I still believe I’ve been productive the last couple of classes. In fact, I am actually ahead of schedule with my research. I am ahead in my research because I have found some great websites that have given me more information than expected. With every bit of information I research, I get more excited to start writing, and due to my excitement, I think of new ideas for my story. All in all, I won’t have to make any revisions to my original plan and I will continue to follow my original schedule.
For this year’s ZIP, I want to pursue the world of storytelling. I have always loved all the different ways to tell a story, weather it a movie, book, or even a video game. Although short stories are one of my favourite ways to tell a story. I favourite them because of their length. How they can hold so many ideas and not take a week to read or a year to write. My favourite part of writing a story is coming up with the main idea that the story revolves around, but in novels, there are hundreds of pages that only have one main idea. This can take months, even years to write but one can only come up with one main idea. In short stories, however, there will still only be one main idea, but you can finish the short story in a week and move onto the next idea. That is why I want to find out what makes a good short story and create my own short story to go along with my research.
I don’t know all that much about short stories, but I know enough to get me started. I’ve been working on my grammar and writing skills for my whole life and I’ve been told that I’m somewhat creative. I want to work on my writing, I want to be able to write a story without unnecessary information, and work on my concision (which is hard when I write about something I’m passionate in). I hope it will be easy to find people who will help me with this project. Definitely the first people I will go to are my classmates. There are a select few TALONS who are quite passionate in story writing, like Michelle who I’m sure would help me if I asked.
Last year, I read a lot of interactive stories as my main resource for research. This year I hope to do the same. By reading lots of stories, I can decide what works and what does not work, then I can incorporate what works into my own writing. I’ll demonstrate my learning in a short story, unless I decide to change this slightly as my research progresses. Maybe I’ll add my outlines, character profiles and other planning I do.
Here is my schedule:
|January 7-12||———————————————————————————————————||Research, all in class
work on other homework at home
|Research, all class, some out of class depending on other homework||Same as Tuesday||Research in class
Plan story at home
|Break from ZIP, save the homework for the weekend||Plan story|
|13-19||Start writing||write||write||write||edit||Another Break from all homework, I may be away this day||Edit, ready for presentation
And this day
|20-27||Edit if needed/behind on schedule
||Work on In-Depth||Work on In-Depth||Work on In-Depth
Review story again with fresh mind
|Work on In-Depth||Work on In-Depth||Review story again with fresh mind|
Adding extra details to our language can help us make a story more an experience and the readers the experiencers.
Ursula Le Guin’s writing style is descriptive but not always concise. She will sometimes waste time explaining unnecessary details. Although, the details do make you feel more connected to the story. This does add some importance to the details and is shown by the sentence, “He sat still while his aunt bound back her uncombed hair, and knotted the belt of her dress, and again sat cross-legged throwing handfuls of leaves into the fire pit, so that a smoke spread and filled the darkness of the hut,”(5). For only one sentence, that has many details, and does a fantastic job at placing you into the scene. Without the unnecessary details, the sentence would be more like, He sat still while his aunt threw leaves into the fire, so that smoke filled the hut. This sentence is a lot shorter, and still explains the same story, but lacks the ‘expanded moment’ tool that Ursula Le Guin masters. I’m reading the shorter sentence, but experiencing the original. These descripted expanded moments are shown all through the first and second chapter of Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea.