Full Experience


Just about every winter break I’ve gone to New York to see my family and I just love the culture of the city. There are so many different types of people that people watching is fun anywhere you go, plus there are so many different art installations, and amazing restaurants!

One of my favorite parts is having the ability to walk outside and get places so easily. When I’m there I’m given a key and a metro card and the freedom to explore the city. However, growing up in Atlanta without good public transportation, I’m still not really use to this freedom, so I don’t go far yet.

IMG_6390.JPGThis trip was full of adventures because I got the joy of having my best friend come to the city with us for her first time ever, so we had to give her the full experience.

We ate my favorite egg bagels fresh in the morning and pizza the size of your face for second dinner almost daily. We saw amazing shows such as Black Angels Over Tuskegee, The Color Purple, Chicago, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and Avenue Q. We went to the botanical garden and saw a train exhibit made entirely of natural material. We heard my mom yelling at stupid cab drivers in Time Square. We sprinted down street blocks to img_6427catch subways on time for events. We went to my favorite museum: an interactive math museum. We played Disney Cranium with the conductor for the Book of Mormon. We rushed between shows to see the Statue of Liberty from a distance. And we finished the trip by spending New Year’s Eve on the roof of my aunt’s best friend.  

It was a great and non stop adventure, and I think we really captured the full New York experience.

IMG_4793.JPGIt’s amazing what you can accomplish in just a few days when you have the ability to travel so accessible. Whether it’s a bus, subway, train, ferry, or feet, New York has so many ways to get around and it’s the biggest thing I always miss about the city.


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ID and the d.School

Happy Pi Day!!!!  12814732_1506744409355007_4470129584779643494_n-1.jpg

It’s been a busy few weeks.  Since I last posted I’ve been working at the Stanford d.School, wondering the city of San Francisco, at a Disney hotel, exploring Universal, sick in bed, discovering new facts at interactive museums, catching up on reading, and in general having fun with family and friends relaxing and trying not to worry about school. I’ve dropped the ball on blogging for various reasons, but that is irrelevant right now because inspiration hit me and I’ve finally reached a point where I simply must write.

While in San Fran (though really I was in Palo Alto most of the time…) I did write some posts, but due to internet issues at the time they never made there way online yet.

Rather than multiple posts I shall put the summaries here of our work on the design challenge “HMW establish friendships and build community at Stanford?”

San Fran Day 1

CcWIqrQWIAAwCux.jpgToday was our first day in San Francisco and I’m so excited to be back here again! The city is so much fun! All the bright colors, interesting street people, and pretty scenery just makes me so happy.

Today was our “chill day “ since we only just got into the city and everyone is still adjusting to the time difference. We did a lot of exploring today. We started out just doing a lot of walking to our hotel and then to the pier to visit the Exploritorium. We came to this same interactive museum last year as well and it’s really cool to get to play with all of the science, math, and psychology interactive exhibits.
CcU_AhQUUAAse33.jpg(Small tangent, this place also has one of the biggest Pi Day celebrations in the country at least, and there is free admission and a bunch of pi activities to do. One year I would love to be in San Fran for Pi Day just to see this supposedly epic event. This year is actually the 28th time they are celebrating apparently.)

One thing at the museum that I didn’t notice last year is that they have a moving sign up front that is constantly changing what it says. At one point in time, it read, “You can’t fail a museum.” I really liked this because it showed how the Exploritorium is really meant to be a place to wander and wonder and simple have fun learning about new things. There is no number or letter attached to anything. TherCcVjr92UUAAmzLY.jpge is no sense of “failure” because no matter what you do at a station, you will either learn what works or 10,000 ways that don’t (just like Thomas Jefferson inventing the lightbulb.)

 I wonder what schools could learn from the design of the Exploritorium. I know we need to have some form of feedback at school, which is not present at the Exploritorium, but what if we had a section of school that was more like a museum with various interactive exhibits set up. A place where you could wander in everyday and learn something new. Learning without the stress of grades is great.

San Fran Day 2

IDEO and d.School all in one day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Today was fantastic so many great ideas in such a short amount of time! CcZkU3SXIAEP3TT.jpg

We talked about everything from a bathroom note board, to a hackathon bike race, to how to build trust between high schoolers and college reps.

I think what I enjoyed most about today was giving feedback to grad students on their prototypes for trying to figure out how to relieve stress from students trying to go to college.

It’s cool to see ideas that other people have about education transformation and I was making sure to take notes on ideas that connect to ours.

I’ve noticed that most ID members have gotten a lot more comfortable with giving feedback which was very evident today. Everyone was “in the zone” so to say; we seemed comfortable and confident with what we were talking about and how we were explaining our thoughts.

It seems like we gave valuable feedback, but I wish we could have gotten to hear their team’s meeting about what they thought after our feedback. I would like to know if our feedback was actually valuable to them rather than just basing it off of our own observations.

CclIt1oWwAEADMZ.jpgWe also did some quick interviews with people today around campus. That was particularly interesting because we don’t often get to experience what it’s like to go out into the “real world” and just ask strangers questions to try to empathize better with our users. Usually it’s someone we know that we’ve been emailing with for a while and then finally get one 30 minute conversation with. There was no real planning on our part with these interviews though (the facilitators at the d.School had talked with the dorm leaders who had talked to the student, but we personally had not connected with any of the students before). We talked less and did more and it was fun, informative, and got us moving further faster I think.

Overall day 2 was fantastic!

San Fran Day 3

Wow today was a full day.

We were talking with college students, doing fun team building dances, unpacking interviews and working a lot on trying to find insights.

We saw David Kelley!

It was tiring.

While there is a lot I could talk about tonight, what I’d like to dive in on is how I realized how important it is to have breaks in our day.

When we’re always working non-stop, then it can be hard to really process everything, and your energy level slowly dies down. We’ve had some long days this week so far, and while I’ve appreciated the amount of time we’ve had to work, I wonder if we will have more moments this week where we break out from working. Times to just do weird fun stuff as a team.

We did a dance exercise today, which I can only describe as a leadership exercise that forced us to be goofy and follow each other anyway. We were working with our teams and changing up who was the leader to lead our team in dance moves. This was so much fun and I think we got to know our mini teams better, but I hope we get to have similar experiences with all of the ID family. I think every group can always grow with their understanding and comfort level with each other.

Now I didn’t keep up with blogging after day 3, so I’ll just do a quick recap of my overall thoughts.

To be completely honest (as I like to be), I had many points of frustration. I think this is natural, I’d be lying to say that everything was good and dandy 100% of the time with anything I do. I think the hardest part was being in a place where not everyone sees the same potential in a group of high schoolers as our facilitators and teachers at MVPS do. We are given so much respect at MVPS that it’s hard to leave that environment and remember that not all of the rest of the world thinks of high schoolers as active and involved members of a community. This struggle personally came up for me a few times along with the normal working on a team struggles.

Paper plate awards for everyone! (I got the “mathlete” award cus I was memorizing pi all week, but also playing some intense ultimate frisbee; which I learned at nerd camp!) 

However, these were all minor things compared to the over all experience and everything we gained from it.

The theme of the week was “fail forward” which reminded me of a MVPS phrase we like to say, “fail up”; they essentially mean the same thing, which is a reminder that you have to learn from failures, in order to achieve success. So don’t shut down when you fail, instead lean in and like a clown at a circus, even when you fall you get up and say “ta-da!” I thought it was really neat to hear someone else talk about a mindset that we also have as a norm when doing work.

Some other big take aways were how we learned a lot of new helpful tools and coaching prompts for going through the design process. Another big success was that a lot of ID members seemed to take on new roles while we were at Stanford, and really come out of their comfort zones in positive ways; several people also had “aha” moments where they maybe understood a part of the design process better than they once did. I also think a huge take away was just the number of great ideas generated while we were there. I hope some of these ideas will maybe be adapted a little and implemented at MVPS.

I could tell that all of these take aways helped bring our ID family closer together, and I

We got official d.School pins as well as our own awesome mustaches as inspired by David Kelley. 

hope to see some of these take aways help inspire our work as we continue this year and beyond.

What’s really blowing my mind still is that we had this opportunity. Ya we are a bunch of high schoolers, but we are a bunch of high schoolers that just spent a week with Stanford students thinking up big ideas to problems that are affecting real people. Too bad this wasn’t school all of the time.

Big Events Take Planning

You know it’s crunch time when you have 9 desktops open on your computer, and 5 of them are for one subject (#APLang showcase this Thursday after school!)… Good thing the Christmas Arts Showcase went so well tonight, otherwise I’d probably be regretting being at school after hours from 3-9 right about now. Big events, take big amounts of planning…

What Will Happen?


So I know I only lived in New York until I was 3, but I still go up to the North all of the time and my family lives there, so I’ve heard my share of bad snow stories. Atlanta’s 2 inches don’t compare.

I understand that the city just isn’t prepared for it, and the ice freezing the roads is the bigger problem, but this has happened every year for the past several years where a little snow shuts down the city. You would think we would have learned. Apparently not though since everyone is already freaking out about what may or may not happen tonight/tomorrow with the weather.

Now while I think Atlanta over reacts a little, I still don’t particularly want to go to school in freezing weather. I wouldn’t mind an extra day at home. I kind of love those days when everyone is forced to stay at the house which is one of the reasons I love going to the North for winter time.

What I really don’t like is when we are given busy work because we are missing school. As of now I still have school tomorrow, but it is a delayed start. However, last year when we had a week off we were given a bunch of work to do while we weren’t at school. I don’t mind work, but I do mind meaningless busy work which was a good portion of what we were given. Teachers were told they had to give us work so we were getting assignments from teachers that they typically never would have given us, but they had to come up with some work for us to do.

Then we had google hangouts with some teachers, and yet there were several students having problems because they had teachers giving them at the same time. Some teachers even gave them early in the morning still so we didn’t really get to sleep in while not going to school.

My friends and I joke (but kind of seriously) that the only thing we remember learning over the snow week that was actually useful was learning how to use google hangouts. (Which we then started to use a lot after the snow week.)

I wish we could have been given more meaningful work, or at least less work so we could have enjoyed our time away from school. I hated that week because it was cold, still had to wake up early, had a ton of work I didn’t enjoy or find meaningful, and didn’t get to play in the snow at all.

I’d like to think we as a school have grown since then and wouldn’t do that again (that way at least), but thinking of the possibilities of what could happen when it snows in Atlanta makes me recall these annoying times and makes me not particularly want to miss school.

While most people today keep getting mad at me for saying this: missing tomorrow entirely would really mess stuff up for Thursday (due to no school Wednesday for conferences), so I’m hesitant to say I don’t want school tomorrow. There are really only 3 reasons I want to go to school: 2nd, 7th, and theater.

Our show Welcome to Nightvale opens in a week, and we need all of the rehearsal time we can get, so missing a day the week before is a huge problem.

For 7th (ID) we are suppose to be doing our practice pitch internal Thursday, and since we don’t have school Wednesday for conferences, we really need as much time as we can get to finish the physical prototype and everything else for the pitch.

For 2nd there is a double reason:
1. Mathematical battles start this week and I’m really looking forward to them, and missing a day of math this week would mean that the battles wouldn’t really work; after the amount of times I’ve suggested this idea (I originally played at Nerd Camp) I don’t want them to not work the one time it finally is happened.

2. While I can’t go to band, the rest of the high school band would really benefit from having more practice time before the concert Thursday, so I want them to be able to have their 2nd period.

Who knows what will happen this time around with the weather? I just hope everyone stays safe; the rest will work itself out eventually.

Ok, disclaimer time from the day after: 
I reread post a few days later occasionally, and I realized this one sounded a little more “ranty” then I meant it to be.

I get why we did the work that we did last year during the storm. It was a chaotic time and we had to make quick decisions and didn’t want to get too behind on school work. I didn’t particularly enjoy our first solution, but hey “fail-up”. What I didn’t focus on as much as I was originally trying to was the fact that a lot has happened in one year. When I said “I’d like to think we as a school have grown since then”, I meant that knowing MVPS, I know that we learn from what does and doesn’t work and improve on it for the future. I know I’m not the only one that was a little frustrated during that week last, and teachers were too, and I guess all of the chaos people kept having on social media last night was making me a little annoyed. But when I think about it, it wasn’t like teachers had any time to prepare what they were going to give us to do really. I mean the storm came, we reacted. Cause and effect.

I actually was rather pleased with just having a late start this time because it meant I still got that little “break” and it gave room in case there was ice, but I was also able to be at school for those things that really had to be done today, and now we won’t be seriously behind in anything (hopefully, we did take out two classes today)!

In fact today was really fun! Mathematical battles started and we got to work on some challenging proofs. The coVenture team made awesome progress on the prototype and the room design is just about completely modeled physically!!!! Drama made great strides on the production. And I helped with an interview for new ID applicants and they all seemed pretty great! So I was glad we had school today after all. 🙂

New Year, New Adventures


HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Today was quite an adventure for me. I was traveling to New York, but first I had a layover in Charlotte. This blog post comes in multiple parts due to this layover.

Part 1: The Hypothetical Conversation 

So on my first flight I debated reading, but it was such a short flight, I didn’t want to deal with it. Instead, I revisited some of my thoughts about things that I’ve already blogged about with the first few chapters of The Falconer. To do this, I had a conversation with my self imagining what it would be like if I was reading and the person next to me started asking questions. This was my conversation:

What are you reading?

It’s called “The Falconer” by Grant Lichtman. It’s about everything you wish you would have learned in school. I really strongly believe that school should be about more than answering questions on test and quizzes that any one could easily answer by looking it up online or in a textbook. I know there is more out there in what we call the “real world” and I want to do that meaningful work now.

That sounds interesting. What have you learned so far?

Well the book is about what skills you need for life, skills that you typically wouldn’t learn while in school. The redesign in education is something I’m really passionate about so I’ve grown accustom to some of these skills, but I enjoy new perspectives that make me think about the skills in different ways.

One skill that I think is the most important is the art of asking a good question.

What does that mean?

Well, you could ask me, “How does an airplane fly?” And I would answer to the best of my knowledge, that it has something to do with the shape of the wings on an airplane that allow for the greatest amount of air to be pushed under the wings allowing it to take flight and flow with the wind. While you may think that this a good open ended question, this questions just makes me try to recall information I have heard or read before. You could just as easily have looked it up once you got off of the plane, correct?

Yes, I suppose I could look up a question like this.

Exactly, you may still look it up just because you want to have a more in-depth answer. And what you’ll be doing is looking up the answer to a question someone else has already asked and solved.

In school we tend learn that questions often start with “what, where, when, why, or how”. We later learn that it is best to ask “why” questions because they lead to a more detailed answer. But all of these question starters, even “why”, will still give us questions that could be  answered as easily as our airplane question.

Now not to discourage these other question starters, because we still need them to gain information, but my favorite question starter is “what if”.

When you start a question with “what if” it makes a person actually think rather than just recall. For example, take our airplane question, now if you would have asked me “what if people could fly?” I could say a lot of different things.

I might say that people would have to be shaped differently and our arms would be more like wings, or maybe we just have wings to and our arms would have to stay by our side or out in front when we fly. I could also say that man may have not invented airplanes at all because there wasn’t a need for them, so birds would have less air traffic and there would be less air battles with big machinery because people would have to carry the weapons themselves.

I would still have to know about how an airplane flies to be able to answer your question, but I would also need to know and think more.

How does changing the shape of an airplane change its flight? How do birds fly differently than planes? Do birds actually have a problem with airplanes flying around? Has there been any change in the population of birds since the invention of the airplane? When did air battles really become such a big thing? How much weight can humans hold at one time? How heavy are weapons of war?

This one “what if” question lead to a myriad of other questions, and if you take the time to learn more about each of these you will end knowing much more than you would have learned if you were only asked “how does a airplane fly?” And you would have gotten the opportunity to use your creative mind.

Wow that’s really interesting.

(Then my plane landed and I got off in Charlotte. This is when chaos started…)

Part 2: The Chaos and The  Realization 

My flight to New York was canceled, and I was traveling alone so I had to go walking around in circles, calling back and forth between my parents and grandma, and talking to a bunch of different air port people. It was stressful.

Finally I was able to get on a flight to JFK (which was a different airport which was about 45 minutes further away from my grandma’s house), and I finally got confirmation that my bag would be switched so that it would arrive at JFK when I did.

By the time I was actually on the next flight, I also had a thought about things school doesn’t prepare us for.

We always talk about how we need to actually talk to people in the “real world” (usually meaning adults). But when we do talk to adults outside of school, or even in school I guess, we are always agreeing with them. We talk to people asking about their opinions or asking for feedback on our stuff.

What we don’t learn is what do with adults that don’t agree with us. Half of the time they don’t even take us seriously. We may debate in school some times, but I want to learn win debates with adults that aren’t arguing because of a predesigned packet they have to go through and follow steps out of.

I was just thinking about how my mom kept saying I should try and get something compensated. But truthfully, I was more concentrated on trying to get on a flight and making sure my bag was going to get to me somehow. So I accomplished my initial goal, but I wasn’t really able to argue my way into getting anything comped.

As my coach Lih-Sia says with acro, “the first time is to make sure you don’t die, then you can go all out on the next try”.

And when I thought more about it, I realized that I haven’t ever argued against an adult (furthermore a stranger) before and I didn’t feel like he took me seriously anyway, but now that I have, I’m annoyed and want to do a better job next time.

So that’s now what I want to learn: how to win an argument with an adult I don’t know. Some of its natural talent with persuasion, but some of it’s practice. So I want to practice.

Anyway, I finally arrived safely in NYC and got to eat chinese food at one of my favorite restaurants before watching the ball drop, so alls well that ends well!

Happy New Years again and may 2015 bring you new exciting adventures full of fun discoveries!



I had tried to blog last night, but we were driving to Panama City, and then when we got here we couldn’t get the internet to work on my computer last night. So I will share the post I would have liked to post last night now and then I will have another post later tonight. 🙂

Traditionally, you would spend Christmas day at your house playing with presents and preparing for a home cooked dinner. My family went with an untraditional Christmas day. The girls slept in while the boys went wondering around in the car for an hour or two saying hi to friends and getting some things done. Then we woke up and after stockings and breakfast, we opened presents around noon. (I got a lot of Pi stuff in preparation for Pi-A-Palooza!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Then it was time to pack up the car to drive to Florida!

My family has started to become more known for our last minute trips, and the decision to go to Florida was no exception. I hadn’t known for sure if I was going until that morning really. It took us a while to get out of the house, but then we only stopped once on the way to Panama City where my grandparents have a condo.

Since we were on the road, we had to have Chinese food for dinner because it is the only thing open on Christmas day to eat. This is definitely not your traditional Christmas day dinner, but it was pretty good until we got home and our stomachs didn’t agree.

Sometimes we need a little bit of “untraditional” in our lives just to mix it up and have an adventure! It can make for some great stories.

A Merry Christmas to All!


Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year. Not because of the presents, but because of the time we spend as a family playing games, cooking, and staying warm inside.

My favorite Christmas activity has always been making cookies for Santa. I love baking cookies, and I always have.


Every year since I can remember I would help make the cookies, and now that I’m older I’ve been making them by myself. I might have not know back when I started this tradition, but it has been a growing up moment for me. Slowly I have been able to contribute more to the family Christmas. I think it’s important to notice these moments.

Now the Santa cookies are ready, and the children are in bed



The Old and the New


Today was the last performance of A Christmas Carol for 2014 for me, and it was a really fun night/(matinee really). For the past 4 years two of my best friends had been running tech for Mr. Taylor (my director at school/star of the show). However, now they are in college, so it was time for two new people to step up for the position, which is how I became the new lights person.

Today was a cool day because the old techies were back in town for the holidays and spent the afternoon coming to see the show for the first time without being a part of it. They kept coming back to the booth to talk to us before and during intermission though. After the show they said it was weird to watch knowing that they had no control what so ever over the show.

They even helped stay afterwards to clean up everything, then they all came to my house afterwards to play video games and hang out.

It’s always nice to see old friends, and I just have a thing for those moments of growing up where you have the old and the new together. It brings back great memories and dreams for the future (which is especially ironic considering it was A Christmas Carol).

It’s moments like these that remind me how important it is to be involved in things in high school and life in general, because when you look back on those years of your life, it is the experiences you had, the people you had them with, and the memories you made with them that stand out most of all.

And as Tiny Tim observed, “God bless us, everyone!” 

4 Picture Story-time

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 2.27.09 PMIMG_3137IMG_3149IMG_3180

(Surprise surprise that most of the pictures I choose were also things I blogged about. On the top is a picture of a skill from my first acro showcase with this trio. Then a picture of an awesome apple peeler, slicer, and corer that use to belong to my great grandma which we used to make apple crisp that was fantastic! Then is a picture of my 3 youngest 2nd cousins who I met for the first time on this trip, and the youngest shares my birthday. Then the last picture is of over half of my family up at 12:30 playing the original Nintendo.)

Oh how I love a good story!

One of my many ventures right now is about the art of storytelling and today I made some interesting observations about it. Over the break ID decided we were each going to take pictures of what we did, then today we picked 4, and only 4, pictures to tell our story.

It was so much fun to watch everyone get all excited about telling their story, and everyone was excited too; no one made it seem like they hated the “assignment” and that’s because it didn’t really take any extra time.

I noticed how the limited amount of pictures made people really think hard about what events were important enough for them to want to share which made the stories much more thought out which was nice. As a generalization most people talked about family, friends, travel, and passions. More specifically I noticed that, while not everyone has shared yet, the things that people usually talked about happened to relate to their iVentures and supported the “fail up” mindset even if they didn’t know it.

Some of the passions/iVentures discussed were acro, horses, health and exercise, animals, photography, cooking, helping and teaching others, nature, and discovering history. Some fail-up moments were: cooking mishaps, practice being needed to better preform, parents not knowing how to play video games, having weather cause problems with ideas, not getting to do as much as they would have liked to, and discovering how people have failed and improved from failures in the past too.

The more people that presented, the more connections I found to personal experiences over my break and also connections between what others were doing. I went second and after watching others, I realized that I left out so much. I also practiced the flute and played for my family, and the awesome apple peeler got messed up when I used it which was funny to everyone, and I watched a cool TEDTalk about an inventor trying to create life with plastic bottles and beaches. I realized just how much happens in a week that can be really eventful and make me excited.

By telling stories we learned about what our teammates really care about and also we realized everything that we learned too. No one had to say “I learned…” because it was just implied. After telling a story we discovered the learning that we do everyday; the learning that we do when no one is looking because we just love it that much.

Stories tell us so much when we take the time to listen.

Happy Thanksgiving!


(My mom was taking a bunch of pictures on her big fancy camera, but I just have a few that are of my youngest cousins so here is a picture of them today.)

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!

Such a great day with so many things to be thankful for; family, friends, life, learning, and delicious food!

We have almost all of my grandpa’s side of the family staying at my great aunts house in Virginia. (Everyone but my 3 aunts which totals to 22.5 people. The point 5 is due to one baby boy on the way.) Let’s just say it is a big house, and I’m thankful that it is big enough so we can do something like this where we all stay together comfortably. It is the first time all of us have been together in 10 years, so there are a few of my younger cousins (technically my 2nd cousins) that I had never even met before, and even some of the older ones I only met when I was really little so I didn’t really remember them. The great thing about family is that even if you barely know each other, you get along right away.

Sleeping in, cooking, having a camp fire, and playing games with family, that is a pretty awesome way to spend the holidays. And being me, I also worked on my essay and some math today until I was told to “stop being responsible and come hang out with the cousins,” which I agreed with for today.

It makes me a little upset sometimes when school work and family time have to be so isolated. My grandpa and I were watching TEDTalks and talking about math today as usual, and that was just for fun. My math for school keeps me further away from family while this type of learning brought us together along with other family members too that listened in and talked here and there. HMW bridge the gap between school and family?

(Assuming these equations are the wanted outcomes)




so shouldn’t school=family?

Anyway, today was great for me, and I hope you had a happy holidays too!