Saturday, July 26, 2014

Info Session, Church, and Thai Food

Dani invited us to go to church with her today and I decided to take her up on her offer. Before we went to church, we attended an info session here at UChicago. The info session started at 9 AM at the Rosenwald Hall. We had to figure out where we were supposed to go and I thought that I knew but I didn't and, as usual, Jimmy had to get us there. 

Eric from our UChicago alumni dinner showed us where to go after he gave us our information folders. The part that I found most helpful from the information session was the portion on the uncommon UChicago essays. Our presenter gave us advice and some examples of past prompts. My favorite one is, "Why are odd numbers odd." I like this because on one hand, you could go into a completely mathematical explanation and on the other, you could go all artistic and see something that other people don't see. A piece of advice that was given to us is that we shouldn't reiterate all of our accomplishments in the uncommon essay prompt but we should be creative with it.

After the info session, Dani, Alexa, and I went to church. Dani's sister's boyfriend attends the church and the name of it is Shilo. When we arrived at the church, we were immediately welcomed by everyone there even though it was the first time that we were there. We got a quick tour of the entire church before the service started. I really enjoyed the service today because the preacher was really captivating and it was easy to follow along. After church was over, we made our way back to campus because we had a lot of work to do. We had missed the lunch time for the dining commons so we decided to order Thai food. This was the first time that I ever had Thai food and I was afraid that I wouldn't like it. That wasn't necessary because I ended up liking it a lot.
Dani, Me, and Alexa
After we ate I spent the rest of my evening working on my project for Monday. I have to look at a country and answer questions about its sustainability practices through a PowerPoint. Me and my partner, Barbara, are both taking two different countries and we are going to compare them. I'm doing South Africa while she is doing Mexico. Tomorrow, we plan on bringing our two information together to make our PowerPoint for Monday.

Seventh Day Adventist Church & Thai Food

 Today we had plans in the morning. We were going to attend an information session at University of Chicago at 9 AM. The information session basically touched on what he had been told when we first arrived. My RA, Christian also told us a lot about the college experience. They touched on how the academic calendar is structured, how common curriculum is such a big part of the University of Chicago experience. They also talked about the application process. People can submit their applications as early action, but it is not binding, so they can still choose to attend another school. After the information session, we took a minute to talk to Teddy and Eric who we met at the Chicago dinner, which were in the admissions office. 

We had to hurry back to the dorms where Oyin, Dani, and I were going to be picked up to go to church. Dani's sister's boyfriend Casey picked us up and the church was only about ten minutes away. Dani's church is called Seventh Day Adventists. The service was not like one I had ever attended before. There was much more singing and the congregation was very engaged in the service. The service started at about 11:00, and ended at 1:30. 

The Stained Glass Windows in the Church

We were very hungry by that point, but the dining halls had closed for lunch. We went the dorms and ordered Thai food. We had pad Thai and chicken satay with peanut sauce, which was delicious. It was nice to eat food that was not out of the dining hall. After we ate, we worked a little on our classwork, and then I went to the gym for about an hour and a half. Later I came back to the South campus to have dinner with Dani, Oyin, and Esin. After dinner we studied a little more. 

Tomorrow I have class because that is when participants are available. Because we have to come in on Sunday, we are going to get Monday off. I am excited to be able to interact with more children tomorrow for the study.

Poetry Class

Today I woke up happy because it’s Friday. My leg was getting better; it wasn't hurting as much no more.  After three days that I haven’t eaten breakfast, I finally ate breakfast this morning. We were not going to have a class lesson today, so I was happy for that too. Achy was not going to come today, she didn't tell us why. She only told us that we were going to have a poetry workshop with a teacher name Britteney. That Kemi was going to come in the morning, but Britteney was going to be charge of the class.

I went down to the Dining Hall, happy that finally I was going to eat. When I entered the Dining Hall Alexa and Oyin were coming out. We said hi and bye to each other. When I was done eating, I walked to my class. I arrived to my class and I started working on my personal story. Then Kemi stepped into the room, she told us to start working on our journal.  I was writing about the first time I went to Disneyland with my family. 

Then, Britteney came in to the class and introduced herself.  She has been writing poetry since 3rd grade. She also told us that she was advanced in school and she was smarter than the others students. The others students used to made fun of her because of that. Then she decided to not speak to no one at school. Then they put her in special education, so she can be able to let her emotions out because she wouldn't speak. Then, the teachers from the special Ed class wanted her to talk. She didn't speak a word to them. She said that she didn't speak for six months. Then they gave her a paper. They told her to write down how she feels. She thought this was the opportunity to express herself to them. Then she wrote her first poem. The teachers then recognized how smart she was and started a poetry club. Then she joined the club. At age sixteen she started teaching poetry.

I decided to take a picture of the Midway
Then, Britteney read two poems about people describing their body. Then she told to write ten things to describe our body. After that, she told us to write ten thing of how you would describe your perfect partner. She also, made us write down three people with the ideal body. She gave us three options to write down a poem. First, describe your body, write down about your perfect partner, and write a letter to your ideal person. She gave us thirty minutes to work on it. I wrote about my perfect partner. Then she let us out at 12 PM to get lunch and come back at 1 PM. I went to get lunch. When I finished I went to my room and take a thirty minute nap. I put my alarm to go off at 12:45 PM. My alarm went off, I put my backpack on. I started walking to class. When I arrive at my class, when I everyone was in the class, Britteney started another workshop. She gave us a paper that had two poems one in the front and back. She said we were going to read reverse poems. Reverse poems are poetry that you can you read it from top to bottom and vice versa. I liked the first poem name, “Lost Generation,” by Jonathan Reed. I thought it was really great poem and what shocked me was that a fourteen years old kid wrote it. Our next workshop is to come up with a reverse poem. It needs to be at least six lines or more. I wrote about my community. When she told us to stop we needed to share one of our poems that we wrote. I shared my community poem. When everyone was done reading, she let us go.
The end of the Midway next to International House

I came to my room, started to work on my personal story. Then, I needed to get ready to go meet Pamela. I walked to International House, I was in a good mood because two days ago I had lost my camera case in the fifth floor. I had checked the fifth floor for two days straight, no sign of my case. Today I went up and looked for it again. My eyes couldn't believe what I was seeing my camera case was there lying down in the couch where I had left it two days ago. I got so happy because inside my case I have the charger for my camera. Finding my camera made my day.

Pamela and the beautiful water fountain.
When I arrived to International House, Pamela was waiting for me outside her office already. She asked me the same question that she asks every day, “Where you want to work today?” I always tell her outside because the yard is so beautiful in there, it has a water fountain. Today we worked on my personal essay that I had sent her in the morning by email. She marked all the errors down that I had on my essay. She told that we going to focus on my verbs ending, verb tense, comma splice, and prepositions. She went over them, but it was up to me to go back and fix it. She gave me feedback on things that I should add in the story and take out. Also, she told me where I need to be more specific, so my reader can be able to follow my story. Whenever I had a comma slice, she made me read the sentence. She also told me why it was called a comma slice. It’s when a writer put commas where it takes the job of a period. With the verbs ending she made me read the words some needed the –ed at the end, with others I needed to change the word to a past tense verb. We finished the whole story that wasn't done, but it was going to be done by tonight.

The girls playing card
I walked back to my room, left my backpack, came down to the Dining Hall to eat dinner. I met up with Alexa and Oyin, we sat down together to eat. I would have like to stay there with them but I needed to finish my story, so I went upstairs to my room. When I got to my room, I was tired; I decided to take a thirty minute nap. When I woke up from my nap I started working on my last paragraph of my story. When I was done with my story, I went down to Halperin Lounge to join the girls. They were playing cards and I joined them. Later, we started working on our blogs and when we were done with it, we’d go to sleep.

Two Classes Are Better than One

Brian Coe, CEO of SlipChip
We had a guest lecturer today—Brian Coe, CEO of SlipChip. SlipChip is a device that allows the precise concentration of biomolecules outside of labs. It’s called a SlipChip because the molecules “slip” through holes in order to be counted. I thought everything Brian (he told us to call him that. He said everyone in business is on a first-name basis) said was interesting. He told us how his father wanted him to be a doctor, though Brian found his true passion in business. He claimed to be an amateur scientist and a professional businessman. He told us that to go anywhere in life, you must have a dream that improves your and your community’s lives, otherwise classes might just seem tedious and a waste of time. He advised us to take statistics classes (he said he’s taken four of them and wishes he could’ve taken more), which he said will help us in the workplace no matter what we become.

Brian showed us videos of children trying out the SlipChip. As I’m sure was the point of the video, I was impressed that those little kids were able to amplify and count single molecules on the SlipChip. He also showed us a video that shows the counting of molecules on a SlipChip using a cell phone (see here: The cell phone imaged the chip in a shoebox and sent the image to a remote server that calculated the number of molecules in the sample. From there, the results are emailed. I find it so cool how people can do these analyses in their homes.  

A SlipChip
Brian opened up a new career path of biotechnology I previously hadn’t thought about. The business aspect of biotechnology personally isn’t all that appealing to me, but it’s nice to know my options. He told us that he’s like a die-hard fan at a baseball game—he understands all the rules (of science), though he would never be one to actually go to bat (do the scientific research). 

He passed around a SlipChip. The wells are so small and it’s about the size of a credit card. Bringing the SlipChip around everywhere would definitely be doable, if people wanted to.

After Brian Coe’s lecture, we went to the lab to analyze our PTC taste receptor. The lab is three days long, so we still haven’t found out yet. Today we used our cheek cells from a previous lab to use in PCR. The whole point of this lab is to see if we’re tasters or non-tasters of the bitter chemical PTC. Apparently two scientists were working in a lab when one complained of the bitter taste of the crystals in the air. The other scientist could not taste the bitterness of the crystals. This led to the discovery of TAS2R38, which is responsible for bitter taste receptors.

Because some people in our class had to redo their cheek cell samples, the rest of us had a lot of down time and leisurely did our work while waiting for the rest of the class (they want us all to do PCR together because it’s important that the cycling process starts within 30 minutes after mixing the PCR ingredients together). We then all mixed together our primer mix and cheek DNA to our “Ready-to-Go” bead of dehydrated PCR mix (with Taq polymerase, buffer, and nucelotides).

We took a break for lunch, ate at the Dining Commons, and went back to class in time for our lab protocol quiz. It was easy! I was so proud of myself when I actually knew the answers to the quiz. The labs become easier and less nerve-racking each day. April and I feel like professionals when using our pipettes (a bit of an exaggeration, but we have gotten pretty good at pipetting).
Our gel while it was running

Our gel!
Speaking of professionals, look at our gel from today! It was a group of six of us to one gel, and our gel came out pretty well, based on what Danny and Ciara (our TAs) said. We also went to the Contagion class to literally give them some hands. Students from both classes placed a "virus" on their hand and had to walk around and shake hands with others. We placed our hands under UV lights afterwards to see if we were sick (I wasn't). This was to show us how viruses infect (there were only two people with the "virus". About 25 people were sick in about 40 people total). I think this goes to show how important hand washing is. I liked the lab; collaborating with the Contagion class, working together to figure out the two sources of the "virus", and being with Vicky and others was fun.
Disclaimer: Not my picture, though Dr. Schonbaum and Dr. Fineschi also inspected our hands like this.

Once back in our classroom, we interpreted our gel and calculated our PCR product concentration and PCR product amount, then headed to the bookstore. A lot of people from our Biotech class coincidentally ended up there! We bonded over jackets and overpriced pajama pants.

At the dorms, Kaitlyn did my and April’s nails. Finally, some down time! Never have I missed the simple acts of painting nails and watching Netflix.
Nail-painting in the dorm

Later on in the day, I researched and wrote a bit more about my book report, which will be on the ethics of cloning.

I can’t wait for tomorrow! I get to go to a church again after all these weeks. Also, Alexa and Oyin will go with me, so that should be interesting!

Moral Development

Today, even though Cassie is usually the one who teaches the class and does the lecture, Amanda the TA gave it a try. We were all very tired because it was the last day of the week. To keep us all alert and learning the lecture was very interactive. There was a lot of discussion and small writing assignments. The topic that we were learning about today was moral development. Coincidentally, the topic of my small group's study is in fact morality and rule-breaking. Our study actually started today with just one participant. Because the participant was the little cousin of one of my group mates, she just came with her cousin. She was five years old and she sat between me and her cousin, Madi. She even participated in the class a few times. 

There are a few different theories on the moral development of children. The first is from Piaget. He believed that children first based their moral decisions off of authority and rules. This was how they thought of what is right and wrong. To test this, he told a short story to young children about two situations. In the first situation, a little boy opened a door with a tray behind it. On the tray there was fifteen cups so when the boy opened the door, he knocked the tray over and all of the cups broke. The second situation involved a different little boy who was trying to sneak some jam which was on a high shelf. In the process of sneaking the jam, he knocked over a cup and broke it. Interestingly, many younger children thought the little boy who broke fifteen cups was naughtier. This causes us to think that the reasoning behind their decision of who was naughtier is based off of which one would get in more trouble and suffer worse consequences. What they did not seem to take into account, however, was the intention behind the actions of the little boys. Many adults would say the second boy is naughtier because he was trying to sneak a treat, and that the first boy did what he did on accident with no bad intentions. Some think this can be compared to the phenomena where children do not understand that the amount of water is a short and wide cup is the same amount of water in a tall and thin cup. They see that the water in the second cup looks taller, so they are only thinking in terms of one dimension, height rather than width. In the same way, these young children seemed to consider consequences as the basis of morality, while not being able to take into consideration intention. Younger kids also seemed to think of rules as concrete things that cannot be changed and that are real. Piaget suggests that peer interactions are the reason for moral development, but it was later found that it was not just the number of peer interactions, but that the interactions had to do with cooperation between peers. Playing games with rulesor examples, and modifying rules, changes the way children reason about morality.


 Another important theory about moral development was the theory of Kohlberg. He believed similarly that at a very young age morality is about punishment and reward. Later it is about doing the right thing in the role one has taken. For example, if someone wants to be a "good sister", they will base their moral decisions based on that. After that, the expectations of society and the importance of doing what benefits the most people will also be taken into account. The last stage he describes is when universal morality is the basis of somebody's decisions. We tried as a class to think of a moral that applies to everyone in the world, to the young and old, and cross-culturally. We found this extremely difficult, because even something like killing another person, which we all thought was morally wrong, could be socially acceptable to some people under certain circumstances. Kohlberg also believed that very few people ever reached this stage.

We also discussed the altruistic tendencies of young children. In a study done by Tomasello, it was found that children naturally want to help others. If an adult pretends to need help reaching something, the child will get it and pass it to the adult. The altruism of young children was compared to that of adult chimpanzees. Chimpanzees were willing to pass things to people who could not reach them themselves, but when it came to sharing, there was less willingness. Also, a key difference is between the two is that children will tell each other information, even if telling the information is not beneficial for the one telling it. This is not the case chimpanzees. Cassie pointed out though, that a fault in this study was that they were comparing toddlers with adult chimpanzees instead of toddlers with very young chimpanzees.

After this we left for lunch. Before going to the dining hall, I had to stop by the library to rent out an iPad. We were going to begin our study after lunch and we needed to record it with something, so we used an iPad.

After lunch, the other groups went first and then we went. In a separate room, the participant sat with a bowl of little toys in front of her. We told her multiple times to only take one toy in case she could not read the sign. Later we gave her a short questionnaire about her favorite things, and then Meg, a class mate went in to the room as a negative peer influence. Meg took more than one toy right away. When later we came back into the room, we asked the participant how many toys she took. She said that she took two toys enthusiastically, right away, and was also quick to tell us that Meg took a lot of toys. It was a lot of fun and the results we got were interesting. While we watched the video afterwards, my group noticed that she only took one toy when she was alone, but when Meg came into the room and took way more than one toy, the participant took another toy.

 After we finished our study, we were free to return to the dorms, I took a nap until dinner, and then returned to my room to sleep again. I was really tired by the end of the week. I woke up and ten thirty, and then signed in for the night and played cards with friends.

Tomorrow we are going to an information session, and then a few of us are going to church with Dani, which should be an interesting experience for me because I do not go to church very often.