TALON Talk: GMOs, For the better or the worse?

My inquiry question was “what is the relationship between how GM crops are made and how they affect us, and can we positively apply GM crops to our lives?” I talk about what a GMO is, how they are made, how they affect us, and explain if they can be positive. I did quite a bit of research on this topic, and trying to make this as concise as possible was quite a challenge. Also, I focused on the science behind GM crops, and tried to avoid any political viewpoints to remain impartial. I hope you enjoy and learn something from clicking the link below!

TED Talk


Image sources are below the images.

Socials Studies Blog Post #8: Independent Investigation #2

Here’s another different video for my Independent Investigation, a bit fancier than my last one.
















Primary Source:


Ecological Footprint

The Plan:

Initially, I had not expected my ecological footprint to be as big as it turned out. I calculated 8.35 hectares. My footprint seemed to be average, however, as compared to Kevin’s ecological footprint of 7.05 hectares, Kimi’s ecological footprint of 12.45 hectares, and Yoonha’s ecological footprint of 7.35 hectares, my footprint fell in near the middle of the range. From calculating my footprint, I was also able to see which actions increased my footprint the most. The top ten actions are as follows.

  1. Buying brand new clothes
  2. Using a shoe box’s worth of garbage everyday
  3. Eating imported, non-local food
  4. Eating non-organic food
  5. Eating a lot of meat every week
  6. Taking the car everyday
  7. Using warm/hot water
  8. Eating factory-raised chicken
  9. Not composting all my fruit and veggies
  10. Watering the garden every week

Some of these actions can be changed for a bit of inconvenience, and the ones I plan to change are as follows.

  1. Using less garbage. Currently my daily garbage fits into a shoe box, but I could easily fit my garbage into something much smaller, such as a cup, or have no garbage at all. I can use less garbage by buying less packaged foods, and by trying to buy food that isn’t packed in plastic. I can also use paper bags instead of plastic bags when shopping. Paper bags are compostable and using them will allow me to use less plastic.
  2. Eating local food. Since I seem to buy a lot of non-local produce, I could try to buy  more local BC produce, such as apples, pears, and peaches. While they might be a bit more expensive, buying local will allow me to lower my ecological footprint substantially. I could also grow some of my food, such as lettuce, corn, and peppers, as there happens to be a plot of land in my backyard.
  3. Walking. Although I walk home most days, it has almost become a morning routine for me to take the car in the morning. With my house only being a 20-25 minute walk away from school, I can definitely try to get up a bit earlier and walk to school. School isn’t the only place to walk to. I can also walk to libraries and grocery stores. While I may lose a few minutes of sleep, walking will allow me to burn less fossil fuels and might even prove to be physically beneficial.
  4. Not using warm/hot water. I will only use cold water for showering, brushing my teeth, washing my hands, washing my face, and washing my clothes. Using less water and using colder water is not very difficult to do, as I can just turn the tap the other direction and the water magically turns cold, so this will be easy to do as long as I stick to the plan.
  5. Eating more organic food. Factory raised food and certain methods of agriculture aren’t very sustainable, and organic farming is relatively sustainable. This would be a pretty easy thing for me to change, as most major grocery stores carry organic produce and I could easily substitute my non-organic veggies for organic veggies. Also, with organic produce becoming more and more affordable, buying organic won’t make a really significant difference in my family.

The Reflection:

After a week of following the plan to the best of my ability, I can say that the experience has had it’s share of ups and downs. First off, the good news. Using cold water proved to be a success. When washing my hands, I’m usually too lazy to turn both taps, so using cold water to wash my hands was very easy. Showering on the other hand was not as easy. The first few days were relatively brutish, as my body was not used to the ice cold water, which was a sharp contrast with the warm, soothing water that relaxed and embraced me every night. The temptation to slightly turn the hot water tap was great and bracing myself to voluntarily be rained on by bullets of cold water proved to be mentally difficult. Eventually, I managed to endure it, and with the weather getting warmer, I found that a cold shower was pretty refreshing. Also, having a cold shower also drastically lowered my shower time to about two minutes, which was a pleasant surprise. I also found using less garbage to be easy, as I was able to buy less goods packaged in plastic. I managed to purchase pasta, rice, and cereal packed in cardboard boxes or paper bags, instead of those packaged in plastic bags, which really decreased my garbage, as I could simply compost the paper bags and the cardboard boxes could be recycled. Some of my changes, however, were only partially successful and were a bit challenging. Waking up early and walking to school was a bit harder than I had initially expected. With extracurricular activities running late into the night and AprilMayJune sinking in, I found that waking up with less than seven hours of sleep was quite difficult. I only managed to walk in the morning to school a few times, but I did walk to grocery stores and libraries instead of taking the car. Eating local and eating organic was a bit difficult, as being an ardent consumer of fruit, I found out that while I was buying more local apples and pears, I was still buying imported tropical fruits that didn’t grow in B.C. Organic milk, tofu and veggies were easy, but the rest, such as meat and tropical fruits were still not organic. The main obstacle to this was availability. Certain meats and tropical fruits, such as starfruit or dragon fruit, were not available organically, and organic food turned out to be a lot pricier than I had initially expected. Since the food was meant for the entire family, buying everything organically for the entire family was financially not possible. To conclude, I managed to accomplish all my goals, either partially or completely, but faced obstacles, such as mentally waking up with little sleep and financial obstacles.

In the future, I plan to improve on these five changes. Walking, eating smarter, and eating local are all things that can gradually be adapted into my lifestyle, and I hope that by doing so, I will be able to decrease my ecological footprint. After improving on these five changes, I plan to start changing the other five actions that increased my ecological footprint.



Social Studies Blog Post #7: Stay Alive

“Stay Alive” starts with the Schuyler sisters and an ensemble of women wishing for Hamilton to “stay alive”. The song then immediately moves into the Valley Forge encampment. Hamilton explains the unfavourable conditions of the encampment, supplies are low and the men have been pushed to dire measures, such as eating their own horses. Morale is also low. Washington is despondent and many have deserted the Continental army. Despite the unfavourable conditions, however, Congress’ orders are to “attack the British forces”. This leads Washington to turn to guerrilla tactics, relying on stealth and strategy than on brute force. The death toll is high, and Lafayette, Laurens, and Hamilton each work on different tasks with the war still going on. Lafayette continues to request French aid, while Laurens and Hamilton get busy publishing “essays against slavery”. Although previous songs, such as “My Shot”, touched on Laurens’ abolitionist ideas, it was during the war that Laurens started to really turn his ideas into actions.

Hamilton persistently asks Washington to give him command but is constantly refused by Washington. Hamilton’s desire to rise above his station is so great that later he threatens Washington with resignation if he doesn’t get put in command. Charles Lee is promoted, but his command is soon revoked when Lee orders a retreat during Washington’s advance at the Battle of Monmouth. Instead of Hamilton, however, Lafayette is put in command. “A thousand men collapse in hundred degree heat”, but the Continental Army emerges victorious. Infuriated at Washington, Lee proceeds to question and mock Washington, much to the vexation of Laurens and Hamilton. Washington sees the bigger picture, however, and argues that they “have a war to fight”. Hamilton refuses to accept this but is unable to duel Lee because he is under orders from Washington to not duel Lee, so Laurens offers to duel it out on his steed.

Although the Schuyler Sisters and Hercules Mulligan play minor roles in the song, the main cast for this song is Hamilton, Washington, Lafayette, Laurens, and Lee. Hamilton, at this point, is in a relatively low position of power. His want to rise above his station has been prevalent in previous songs, and “Stay Alive” is no exception with Hamilton asking Washington to “entrust him with command (..) ev’ry day”. As commander-in-chief of the Continental army, Washington faces multiple challenges with the dire conditions at Valley Forge and constant attempts by Congress to remove him from power. He wants Congress to send money and reinforcements to back up the troops at Valley Forge. Lafayette, a French aristocrat, plays a large role in Valley Forge as second in command during the latter half of the Battle of Monmouth. He fears that the colonies may be defeated without reinforcements, which leads to him wanting France to send troops to the colonies. Laurens comes from a relatively powerful background with his father being a member of Congress. He wants to abolish slavery, but fears opposition from the south will deter his plans. “Stay Alive” is also the first appearance of Charles Lee. Previously a soldier for the British Army, he decided to help the revolutionaries when war broke out, expecting to be named commander-in-chief due to his seniority. Instead, Washington was given command, much to Lee’s displeasure, and Lee continues to resent and fear Washington’s decisions, even ordering a retreat against Washington’s orders.

“Stay Alive” details the historical encampment of Valley Forge. Conditions during the encampment were terrible. The Continental army struggled to maintain a disastrous supply line while facing a deluge of British Forces at the same time. Malnutrition and disease killed up to two thousand soldiers, and many “resorted to eating [their] own horses”, which wasn’t even the worst part, as some soldiers had been forced to kill their dogs and eat old shoes to fight off starvation. The lack of supplies wasn’t the only burden to the Continental army. During the Battle of Monmouth, “a thousand soldiers died in a hundred degree heat”. While this is a bit of an exaggeration, as less than a thousand soldiers were wounded or killed, temperatures did rarely drop below a hundred degrees Fahrenheit, and more soldiers were said to have died from heat stroke than from musket fire. With the rage of war still ongoing, Laurens and Hamilton simultaneously work on publishing essays on the first black battalion, where slaves could serve in the Continental army in exchange for their freedom. Despite getting a proposal approved by Congress through Lauren’s father, the Southern colonies’ strong opposition to the abolitionist movement leads to their idea being dismissed. This gives us insight about the colonies’ perspectives and values, as unlike modern-day America, the colonies still consider slaves to be property and have little value for the slaves’ wants and consider them to be economically valuable to the colonies.

The big idea, “the physical environment influences the nature of political, social, and economic change”, really defines this song. George Washington was given the position of command-in-chief over Charles Lee, as the colonies were reluctant to entrust a position of high power to someone who was born in Britain and had previously served in the British Army. Had Charles Lee been in an environment without a negative perspective towards Britain, he might have been chosen over Washington for his seniority and experience. Additionally, Laurens and Hamilton’s ideas for a black battalion might have become a reality in a different environment where the south didn’t have such a strong support for slavery. Social change wouldn’t have been delayed and the first black battalion might have even been formed during the early stages of the war.

Personally, I find this song to be really interesting, as it has a very different atmosphere from previous songs. Unlike the upbeat and happy tone of former songs, “Stay Alive” has a tense beat to it that takes on a darker atmosphere. Although Hamilton’s want to rise above his station is clearly portrayed in the song, Washington refuses to give him command, calling Hamilton only to tell him to have Lafayette take the lead. Additionally, the song shows the dark side of the revolution, the starvation, death, and the dire measures of the soldiers, such as “eating [their] own horses”, which is a sharp contrast from the glory and honour of revolution that the musical portrays early on.

“The cavalry’s not coming.” On the surface, the line might only be taken for its literal meaning, which basically means that reinforcements are not coming from Congress and that the Continental army will need to depend on foreign intervention or do without reinforcements. To me, however, it also shows the perseverance of the revolutionaries and how they are unwilling to give up even when knowing that backup is never coming. They are willing to fight for their beliefs even if it means death and is united through a single, common belief.

“Don’t do a thing, history will prove him wrong.” Washington stops Laurens and Hamilton from acting out and challenging Lee. Rather than retaliating, Washington calmly dismisses Lee’s irate comments, showing his ability to keep his cool. Additionally, by saying “history will prove him wrong”, Washington corroborates the idea that history only shows the victor’s thoughts and what actually happened, rather than what someone said was going to happen.

“We have a war to fight, let’s move on.” Once more, we are shown Washington’s competence as a leader and his ability to see the bigger picture. While Laurens and Hamilton are squabbling over small insults (which might ultimately lead to their deaths), Washington sees the bigger picture, the war, and is willing to let it go and continue with what’s important, winning the war.

The predominant theme of the song is ambition. The revolutionaries continued to persevere through the catastrophic conditions of the Valley Forge encampment, even while knowing that reinforcements were not going to arrive. This is also seen with Hamilton and Laurens. Despite knowing the southern colonies’ strong opposition to any kind of abolitionist movement, the two men carried out their plans and presented their ideas to Congress, fully aware that there was a high chance that they were going to be rejected.


In Depth Blog Post #6: Almost there!

For the last few weeks, In-Depth has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. Bad news first. My mentor and I discussed the possibility of making a survival game for In-Depth night, and we decided that with the limited time, making it would be impossible. With the game design skills I had built on, I could either choose between a survival shooter or a survival game. The latter was obviously not going to be possible, but I did not want my game to be just a simple survival shooter either. I decided that I would create a survival shooter with a survival aspect to it (eating food to maintain hunger). I have also realized that as more and more variables are added to my game, the game has more console errors, crashes, and bugs. These can be very time-consuming and mess up my schedule, as I can set aside time to work on my In-Depth, only for my game to crash, and then I have to spend hours trying to find a solution. Challenges aside, the fruits of my labor are finally coming together, as my game’s map has been successful in being both aesthetically pleasing and challenging for the player. The health and hunger variables and bars are also working successfully. With the addition of a script that makes the health drop rapidly once the hunger reaches 0, the player is no longer able to stay in one place and has to search a dense forest for small bushes and potentially poisonous mushrooms.


Health bars, score, and game over screen.


The map.

For In-Depth night, I plan to have a learning center with my game running on a laptop and printed copies of some of the scripts I used for my game. I also plan to have a visual diagram with minimal text that explains how the scripts work and what the C# on one of my scripts means. With my scripts literally being words and symbols, I plan to keep any other text to a minimum, if not none.

The journey so far has had it’s share of bugs, glitches, and crashes, but with my game nearing completion, I am looking forward to In-Depth night!

Social Studies Blog Post #6: Hamilton, Big Ideas

Big Ideas:

  • Emerging ideas and ideologies profoundly influence societies and events.

Passage: “Got a lot farther by working a lot harder By being a lot smarter By being a self-starter”

The idea that anyone with skill could climb up the social ladder and become someone significant through hard work and being smarter, influenced Hamilton’s life and the thirteen colonies. Despite Hamilton’s background and birth status as an illegitimate child, Hamilton was able to become a founding father through reading lots of books and diligently working towards his goals.

  • Disparities in power alter the balance of relationships between individuals and between societies.

Passage: “Started workin’, clerkin’ for his late mother’s landlord”

Hamilton had to work for his late mother’s landlord due to the disparities in power between him and the landlord. If he has the money to be self-sufficient, he wouldn’t have had to work for his late mother’s landlord, but because the landlord held way more power, he had to work for him. If the disparities between them hadn’t been so great, Hamilton’s relationship with the landlord wouldn’t have been the same.

  • Collective identity is constructed and can change over time.

Passage: “How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore and a Scotsman dropped in the middle of a forgotten spot in the Caribbean by providence impoverished in squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?”

Alexander Hamilton started out as a poor, illegitimate child that no one cared about. Over time, however, his collective identity as an excellent writer was constructed, and he was able to go to New York and become an influential figure.

  • The physical environment influences the nature of political, social, and economic change.

Passage: “In New York, you can be a new man”

In the Caribbean, Hamilton realized that he couldn’t achieve his goals, so he moved to a different physical environment, New York. New York, like the other colonies, had a different political, social, and economic structure from Britain, as success was also determined by merit, so even an illegitimate child like Hamilton could change his social and political standing. Someone with Hamilton’s background wouldn’t have had a chance at decent education in Britain.


Social Studies Blog Post #5: Independent Inquiry

Inquiry Question: What impact did the Hudson Bay Company have on the First Nations?

For my independent inquiry, I decided to create a video to demonstrate my learning. Click the link below to access the video.



  1. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/hudsons-bay-company/
  2. http://firstpeoplesofcanada.com/fp_furtrade/fp_furtrade3.html
  3. http://bclearningnetwork.com/LOR/media/fns12/COURSE_8730771_M/my_files/module2/section1/lesson4/topic1.html
  4. Crossroads: A Meeting of Nations (2nd Edition)
  5. Empire of the Bay 
  6. http://www.macleans.ca/society/hbcs-colonial-barbie-comes-with-some-baggage/
  7. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/hudsons-bay-company/
  8. http://owenc.talons43.ca/2018/04/03/dol-3-independent-canadian-inquiry/





In-Depth Blog Post #5: Week 11

Since my last blog post four weeks ago, I have had two sessions with my mentor. My progress has been coming along nicely, and at this stage, I am equipped with the skills needed to create basic scripts and create my map. Rather than my mentor starting the session by showing me a new skill, we discuss my progress from the last session and any difficulties I had. From there, my mentor shows me different ways to solve any technical issues and gives me suggestions on what I could add to my game.

During our sessions, we went more in-depth with the enemy scripts. My mentor showed me some examples online that I could use for inspiration. He explained how I could use the C# scripts to add all sorts of different actions at different times on my enemies by using colliders. My mentor also showed me some tools on the engine that I could use while I was creating my map. Before, I would have to drag tree by tree to create a “cartoonish-looking” forest, but Rafael showed me how I could experiment with opacity, density, and the brush tool to paint realistic forests and grass fields on my map.

Progress wise, I would say I am on track. I know all the C# scripts I need as of now, but that will change as new ideas pop up. I am also starting to create the map for the game, adding trees, sound effects, and all kinds of assets from the asset store. Getting the right texture and getting the aesthetics nailed down will be challenging with only free assets, as they are very limited in selection and quality, but by experimenting with different brush sizes, opacity, and assets, I can find different ways to create my map.

1. What kinds of learning opportunities does the mentor provide to expose you to new learning?

During our last meeting, my mentor showed me various websites where I could download sound effects for my game, such as Sound cloud. He showed me how I could listen to the sounds that I might want for my game and download them. From there, it is just a matter of picking the ones that work best and pressing the import button on the Unity engine. My mentor encouraged me to find new sound effects, such as a forest sound effect for the forest.

2. What kinds of learning opportunities exist to reinforce new learning?

Since Unity is an IT skill, it has the support of the World Wide Web, allowing millions of other game design enthusiasts to help me out on the internet. If I have a question or want to learn more about what a special function does, I can usually find it on a search engine in a few seconds. By using the learning opportunities available on the internet, I can reinforce the concepts my mentor discusses in our sessions.

3. What kinds of opportunities exist that might accelerate learning?

Having my mentor guide me and helping me out when the internet fails, might accelerate my learning. The internet is a great resource, but since there isn’t always just one answer to solving a problem in Unity, answers from 2006 and 2011 may not help me with working with the current version of Unity. Searching for answers on the internet can be time-consuming sometimes, and by having my mentor to answer any questions I have, I can move on to other concepts instead of spending hours on single concepts.

4. When you get together what do you talk about?

My mentor and I talked about his career and his game. I learned more about what type of game he was creating and his experience with game design. I was surprised to learn that it was his first game, but considering how much time it took an indie game developer to create a game, it was understandable. By the end of the conversation, I felt I had a better idea of who my mentor was and what kind of games he was interested in.

5. What is going particularly well in your mentoring relationship right now?

Our communication is working well. We listen to each other’s thoughts and ideas, and Rafael is always willing to answer my questions. I am open to Rafael’s constructive criticism, not taking a defensive stance when he critiques my work, but instead trying to find out why and improve from there. Additionally, I find our conversations to be more fluid and natural as we get to know more about each other through the weeks.

6. What are you learning about one another?

We have learned each other’s interests, such as our preferences in video games and what genres we prefer. Rafael has learned what games I prefer and why, while learned that my mentor enjoyed survival and strategy games, but didn’t have too much of a taste for FPS shooters. He has also shared with me some details of his game that he plans to release soon, but only small details, as he plans to keep most of the game a secret until the release.




Social Studies Blog Post #4: 17th Century Letter

January 12, 1679 

Dear Mother, 

I do apologize for not writing to you for a while, finding time and scraping up a penny to

send you this letter has been very difficult. After losing my job at the plantation, I have

been wandering the streets of London, searching for any job. Competition is high, and

jobs are scarce. For a common laborer like me, finding a job in the city is a

barely attainable feat, if not impossible. Alas, it appears that I have resorted to a life of

crime, stealing bread and beer from the local market stalls. Oh, how I would love to sink

my teeth into a juicy piece of meat; the stale bread and bitter beer is not up to my

palate. So far, my punishments have not been so severe. While I do not get caught very

often, I still get the odd whipping here and there. The whippings leave bruises and

gashes on my back, making my back very sore, but compared to the broken bones of

poor Henry down the corner, I would say that I was let off easy. It’s astonishing to think

that the middle and upper class think that we are being lazy. Do they think that we

chose this lifestyle? Seriously, mother, do these people not have even the slightest bit of

pity on us? It’s not our fault that we are condemned to a life of poverty and have to

resort to crime just to live by. Witch hunts are becoming more and more common, and a

man by the name Hopkins has been trialing witches everyday. Apparently, they were the

ones responsible for us losing the war and the plague breaking out. I do feel pity for

these women, but only heaven knows if they are truly witches or scapegoats for

the upper class. I fear that staying here in London might endanger my life. Who knows

who they’ll blame next? I have decided to travel north to a plantation nine miles yonder.

Hopefully there will be work there. I would love to write more, but the cost of mailing

more than one page is a luxury I cannot afford, so I shall have to conclude abruptly.