Stock Market Project

In Language Arts class, while we were reading The Westing Game, there was a character named Turtle, who was a middle school girl that was interested in the stock market, and who was extremely good at “playing” the stock market. In honor of her, we were given 20,000 “dollars” to invest in up to 6 stocks. I only chose five, which you can see above. We didn’t have to hit exactly $20,000 spent, we just had to get close. I thought that T-Mobile would be good to invest in because so many people use it, but in the end I lost $42.72 from it. After that, I just invested in fairly expensive stocks that were green on the app. After this, I learned that just because a stock starts green, that doesn’t mean it will stay green. In the end of this project I lost $68.2. If this were real though, I would probably keep those stocks because just like green won’t stay green, red won’t stay red.

My TED-like Talk

At the end of the school year in Language Arts, we had to create our own TED talk. We chose our own topic, made our own slides, and wrote what we were going to say. At first I was a little freaked out. I mean, that’s a lot of stuff to do. And it’s at the end of the school year! But once I picked my topic – 6 Good Books to Read in 6th Grade – it got a bit easier. I compiled a list of random books that I read and have liked, and put them together on slides. It was hard finding copyright free book cover images, but I managed.

Our teacher gave us a list of tips from someone that had done TED talks before, and those tricks came in handy. Some examples of the tips were stuff like, “If you have more than one image on the screen the background should be black” and “Think simplicity and contrast.” There were a lot more helpful tips that I tried to use. Once I had put together the slides, the real challenge came-what I would say. The hard part wasn’t what to say, it was how long it took. I had my talk memorized without ever writing it down, but the problem was that it was way too long. We had 5 minutes to give our TED Talk, and my talk… was 9 ½ minutes. My friend helped me write it down so that I could see what to cut. She said, and I quote: “write the summary of the summary”. And you know what? It worked!

This whole process took a while, especially with the fact that I procrastinated in the beginning. Because of that, I was the 2nd-to-last person in the class to go. When I got up to present, I was pretty nervous. What if I blank? What if no one laughs at my jokes? What if I take too long? What if? What if? But once I got up there and started speaking, I did it! I knew what I was going to say and it felt pretty good. And let me tell you something. It feels GOOD to be done with that. When you start it’s annoying and looms over you, then as you get closer to a deadline you start to panic and work on it nonstop. Then you are done! I would highly recommend trying this, even if it’s just with friends and family.

The Last Cuentista and My Ideal World Process.

This year, in Language Arts class at the beginning of the year, we read a book called The Last Cuentista. The main message of the book is that stories matter. If we don’t have mistakes to learn from, we’re just going to make them again. If we erase our history, what makes humans human, is the stories. Whether it’s a simple story about your parents as kids, or a life changing event, or even a kids fairy tale, those stories or what they are based on can change people’s lives.


After reading The Last Cuentista we had to write about our own “ideal world”. When I started to write mine I was writing about an ideal world, but as I continued to write, I got lost in the story, and started it to make it a real place, and not just some story, not just something ideal, but real. I thought it was really interesting how some people reacted to this challenge. Some sent their planet into the past, some into the future, and some just started from scratch. Everybody has a different version of “ideal” but so many people had the same basic things in common. You can see my ideal world story in a previous post.

After we wrote our ideal world stories, we started to turn them into books. We did this with the help of local artist Peg Gignoux. First we used a special ink and some leaves to print cool designs and colors onto pages. Then we took a huge piece of paper and folded it up into a book with a pop-out section. Then we took the leaf prints and cut them up and pasted them in the pop-up section. We used more leaf prints to do the outside of the pop-out in a scene, from our ideal world. Then we cut out part of the book so that we could see the inside scene of the pop-up. Even after all of that, we still had more to do.  We glued on painted cardboard sheets as covers, and then printed out our story and put it inside. It was really fun! 

In the end, I thought it was a really cool, fun, and enjoyable project. The Last Cuentista was a great book that actually makes you think about what makes humans human, and why stories aren’t just for bedtime.  It was also really enjoyable to do art in Language Arts. I also enjoyed how we used nature for the prints to help us create something totally different. All in all, it was an awesome experience.

Heat Shield Experiment

This year in science we did a heat shield project. The project went like this: your job was to create an effective heat shield to protect an egg from a blowtorch for three minutes. You got a certain amount of ‘credits’ which was imaginary money, and you had to stay under budget. Each material cost a certain amount of credits. You also had to stay under a thickness limit of 3 cm.

Everybody was placed into random groups of three. Then each of us were assigned one of three jobs; Materials Master, All Star Analyst, and Challenge Captain. Once that was divided, we made our test heat shields. Everybody tried lots of different ideas. Some worked, most didn’t. In the end, my group had two successful prototypes. To test, we used a heat gun instead of a blowtorch and instead of an egg, we just took temperatures.

For the final test, we combined our successful prototypes and prayed like crazy it would work. One group’s shield caught on fire, and one just melted. By the time it was time for ours, we were convinced it would fail. But lo and behold, it WORKED! Our shield, (which had been named babygorral [not a typo]) had protected our egg, Kevin. (Named after Kelvin Units) So we won and got one million totally-real-and-not-fake-at-all dollars on a big check. It rocked. Plus we learned a lot about how certain materials prevent heat, and some spread it. 


My Ideal World

For a project in my Language Arts class, we had to write about an ideal world for us and this is what I came up with. Enjoy! Plus, there’s a puzzle at the end.


*begin transcript* 

Voice 1: Begin.

Voice 2:

Okay. Phew. My name is . In your language, that would be Ben. My planet’s name is .   I’m not even going to try translating that into this weird language. On my planet, things are a bit different. First off, it’s a dwarf planet. Now, I know this isn’t how things work here but where I live, the size of your planet determines part of your size. So yeah, we’re kinda dwarfs. Compared to you giants that is. Also we have contact with other civilizations in the universe. You earthlings are so undeveloped.

We have skiing on too. But it’s a bit different. We have water snow like you guys, but our snow has a natural chemical. It gives the snow a certain smell of a good food or drink. We figured out how to control it, so now you can control the (Scent) . Because of that, the ski place takes requests. Personally, I like Hot Chocolate Day.

We look different from you in other ways too. Our skin is , (blue) but varies in shade. Plus, we have bright orange horns. As I mentioned before, we’re dwarfs. We don’t have belly buttons. That might seem random, but it’s true. And our hair shows our emotions. You think you have bad hair days? Ha! We sound similar, but really we all look different.

Our currency and government are… interesting. You may call it an anarchy here, but home on , it’s just normal. There is nothing to fight about because we don’t have a currency. We either trade, do favors, or give stuff out for free. Plus, you can’t rob a bank if one doesn’t exist.

Our houses are kinda like this type of house you have in a book called The Hobo. Or was it The Hobbit? Anyways, we take small hills and dig open-air tunnels into houses. They are comfy and they have what we need.

Our planet itself seems like it’s shouting, “I am bright. I am colorful. I am beautiful. Look at me.” During the day, our planet looks pretty much like earth, except for our mountains, which are a blue-purple ombre. At night though.. that’s when things get fun. Our grass glows bioluminescent in blue and many other colors. It’s breathtaking. Our sky at night is strange. Our atmosphere bends light, so at night the sky is a sparkling black dome in the sky.

 Our technology is.. different than yours. You would classify it as low-tech, but really it’s much more advanced. You all are very insecure creatures you know. You call them books, we call them . Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Books? Sure they’re cool, but really? Naw. That’s not tech.” Your feeble human minds can’t comprehend,but that’s what makes our planet the humble empire it is today.

We don’t have cars, but what we have is even better. We have wing-rockets. On our shoes. Well, we don’t really have shoes, we have permanent blobs shaped like shoes put on our feet and we can modify their appearance. By the way, there’s a reason we cover our feet. Anyways, wing-rocket is the most common. Personally, I like hover-shield. Don’t. Ask. Trust me, it’s for the better.

Hmm, what else? Okay we have two moons, one purple, one blue. Don’t ask, (again), but it involved spray paint and a wayward earthling. Ugh. We have pets, which you would probably call cats and dogs but… you guessed it, they’re different. There’s so much that I can’t even begin to describe, so I’ll leave it to your imagination.

That’s all, Mr. CIA agent. Could you please let me go home now? I really need to feed my . Sorry, my dog. Sir? What are you do-MMMPPHHHHH!MMPH-*gasp*HELLPPP-MMMMMPH- *crickets*

Voice 1: Hmmph.

*end transcript*


By the way, the letters needed to translate the name of Ben’s planet are available. HINT: it’s backwards and it’s kind of random. You probably won’t understand it unless you go to my school.

Ben’s Home


Museum Field Trip

Last week, my grade went to the Raleigh Museum of Natural Sciences for a field trip. There were a lot of interesting things about animals to learn. There were 4 whole floors! Each floor had something new and interesting to learn about. One floor had an entire whale skeleton! There was also an exhibit on bugs, dinosaurs, gemstones, weather, and sea life. When we were in the sea exhibit, I was watching some shrimp in the corner of the tank when I saw one just fall over and die. It was pretty sad. Then the other shrimp circled around the dead one and I think they were eating it.

Up in the weather part of the exhibit, there was a little room off to the side with a bunch of cool 3D-printed stuff. There were interlocking 3D bits that moved and flexed, and there were things like never-ending puzzles. Ther was also a really cool large, multiple-piece dinosaur skull that was bright orange. All of it was really cool to look at and explore.

There were also multiple spaces where  you could watch people working at their job. I felt a little bad for them because they were constantly being watched. Among those viewing areas was an actual animal hospital where you could watch them perform surgery!

Another great exhibit was the exhibit on race. It had a lot of different posters explaining and showing how and why race was made up, and ways the race affects people’s life. It was really interesting and fun to learn about and I greatly appreciated the experience.

Window and Mirror Books

A book that I read recently that I enjoyed was the book Vanishing Act, by Laura Martin. It was the sequel to a very good book known as Float. Vanishing Act was a reread, but it was even better the second time around. I think this book is a bit of both for me, a window and a mirror. A window book is a window into something that’s unfamiliar. A mirror is a book that’s like your life already. Like the protagonist in the story, Hank, I enjoy being “seen”. But unlike Hank, I don’t need to be seen all the time. I think that this book is more of a mirror though in some obvious ways. For one, I’m not a boy. Two, I don’t have a RISK factor, which is a huge part of the story. A RISK factor is like an uncontrollable, often potentially dangerous superpower. I often choose window books rather than mirror  books because I like going into new worlds, but I also often choose mirrors.

The Wooden Sword

In Language Arts, we had to read and re-create in the form of a comic, an animation, and in other ways a story from the book Wisdom Tales.  I did my project as a Scratch Project. For mine, I chose a story called The Wooden Sword. It derives from Afghanistan. The challenging part about using Scratch for such a long story is that It was incredibly difficult to code, but in the end, it was worth it.


In the tale, there is a king that worries a lot. He wants to know if others worry as much as him. He disguises himself as a beggar. He finds a poor cobbler, and the cobbler shares his meal with the king. When asked how he will afford his next meal, he responds, “Day by day, all will be well.” The king decides to test the man’s faith. 


The next day, an announcement from the king states that you are not allowed to get shoes repaired, instead you must buy new ones. The king returns, expecting to see the man without food. Instead, the man shares an even finer meal. When asked how he paid, he said he helped carry water. The king asked what he would do if there was no water to be carried. Again the man said, “Day by day, all will be well.” 


The next day, there was another announcement. It said that one must carry their own water. Again the king returned thinking that surely this time the man would have no food. Again, he was greeted by an even finer meal. When asked how, he said he became a woodcutter. Again the king asked, “What if no one needs their wood cut?”

The cobbler once again replied “Day by day, all will be well.” 


The day after that, all the woodcutters were rounded up to become soldiers. At the end of a long day, he asked the general for his pay. The general told him they only got paid once a month. On his way home, he decided to sell the royal blade. He planned to buy it back at the end of the month with his pay. Before dinner, he carved a wooden blade to put into his sheath. 


When the king returned, he was shocked. He knew that there was no way the man could have afforded the meal. When asked how, the man told him of his plan. The king advised, “That is not wise. What if you need your blade tomorrow? Or the day after that?” But the man shrugged it off. “Day by day, all will be well.” 


The next day, the general, a man, and a mob burst in. The thief pleaded innocence while the general ordered the former cobbler to chop his head. The man knew if he drew his blade, he would be arrested, so he thought fast and came up with an idea. He said, “If this man is guilty, let me do the king’s command. If he is innocent, let the blade of my sword turn to wood.” When he drew his wooden sword, the crowd gasped.  


Later, the king, who had seen what had happened, came down to the man and asked, “Do you recognize me?” The man said, “Of course, you are the king.” “No,” the king replied, “I am the beggar you fed each night.” As he spoke, the man recognized him by his worry lines. And from that day on, the former cobbler became the man’s trusted advisor.


The Wooden Sword

My Dog, Coco

My dog Coco is 4 years old. His birthday is October 18. He is a mutt. He is 25% Russian Svetna Balonka, 25% Chihuahua, and 50% mini poodle. The way we got him is a long story…

My family got him on New Year’s Eve. That morning, my sister and I walked downstairs together to see my dad at the table on his phone. My dad looked up at us and said “hey, do you guys want to go see this dog?” He asked, holding up his phone with an image on it from Craigslist. “YES!” Anna and I exclaimed.

We got dressed and had breakfast then got into the car. We drove to Food Lion and parked in the parking lot. We went up to a white truck with a couple and a small, small dog. While dad talked about details, Anna and I snuggled. We talked about what we would name him if we got him. Anna said he looked like a toasted coconut. I said he looked like hot chocolate with too many toasted marshmallows. We finally agreed on Coco.

Meanwhile, dad sent the photo to mom and asked if she’d be okay with getting him. Now, just about one year ago, our old dog Sevo died. Since then, we’d been dead set against another dog because we didn’t want to replace him. Because of that, mom said that if we wanted him, we could get him. She also said he looked like a toasted coconut.

We went into Food Lion and asked for an old box to put him in. They gave us an orange box. We put him in the box with a blanket. We went to the pet store and got him food, tags, a leash, a collar, and toys. On the way home, he threw up. Twice. So, we learned he got carsick. That night, mom was surprised, but still happy. We all cuddled together as the ball dropped and we started a new year.