Social Studies Blog Post #2: Sourcing a Significant Object

Inquiry Question: What is the story of my family’s stamp book?

My significant object is a stamp book that has been passed down for three generations, starting from my grandfather. After the Korean war, my grandfather caught on to the stamp collecting craze and became an avid hobbyist himself, buying a stamp book and collecting the various stamps that were available to him in the newly formed South Korea. This stamp book is a primary source as the stamps were collected directly by my grandfather, and it was created when the stamps were being issued.

When my grandfather started collecting stamps, it was right after the Korean War, and the country was undergoing a lot of economic development. Poverty was widespread since the war had cost the country billions, and my grandfather was unable to afford stamps from overseas and was probably only able to afford local Korean stamps, as seen in the first few pages of the stamp book. A few pages later, I saw the first stamp about the inauguration of the 9th president of South Korea. Under the 9th president, Korea was able to grow economically, allowing a higher salary for everyone. This meant that my grandfather could start buying stamps from overseas, such as stamps from Hong Kong, the Philippines, or America. Later, when the stamp book was passed on to my father, the stamps started to change from mostly Korean stamps to newer Canadian stamps. After our immigration, Canadian stamps became more accessible to my father, so the number of Korean stamps decreased, and the number of Canadian stamps increased.

The stamp book is interesting because it quite literally tells a story of the lives of my grandfather and father in stamps. The choice of stamps, the specific events written on them, such as the inauguration of certain presidents, tell me what events my predecessors had to live through and shows how they went from being poverty stricken agrarian workers, to a middle-class family that could afford the luxury of stamps from overseas. I can’t explain how long it took to gather all the different stamps or why exactly my grandfather even created the stamp book to begin with. While I can make inferences, I will never know for sure.

Just from looking at the stamps, anyone can reason that whoever owned the stamp book was of Korean ethnicity, as hanja, Korean characters, are written on most of the stamps. I can also infer that my grandfather belonged to the middle class, as he was able to afford the luxury of collecting stamps and could even afford better stamps later. My grandfather probably created the stamp book so that he would be able to pass on the heritage and values of the family to future generations. Through collecting stamps that show snippets of the family’s home country and culture, he would be able to preserve the culture and history of his country in the minds of future generations. He valued his country’s culture and wanted to pass that on, so he picked stamps that showed the history of his nation, such as stamps with pictures of Korean traditional clothing and the inauguration of different presidents.

From examining this source, I learned the story of my predecessors and the events that went through to reach the place they are today. I now know the story of the stamp book and the significance of the stamps in the book, so I would say that I answered my inquiry question, but I am still unable to find the exact reason why my grandfather created the stamp book in the first place.

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Social Studies Blog Post #1: Historical Thinking

How do we decide what is important to learn about the past?

There is a plethora of events that happened in the past, but only a few are deemed significant enough to learn. One of the characteristics of a significant event is that the event results in change and causes consequences for masses of people for a long period of time. For example, there have been countless numbers of disease outbreaks in the world, but only a few have been significant enough to be discussed, such as the Black Death. The Black Death caused significant changes to over two hundred million people, half of the world’s population at that time, killing at least seventy million of them and starting the Renaissance in Europe. Since the Black Death had such drastic effects for many people for a long time, it is considered significant.

Additionally, events that reveal issues, such as racism, discrimination, or lack of proper safety, are significant as they shed light on undesirable events, so that we are not condemned to repeat them again, such as the lack of safety in the Triangle Fires, which resulted in the death of over one hundred workers.

Historical significance also depends on whether the event fits within the narrative of the past. As the name suggests, history is a “story” of the past, and for a story to make sense, the story has to be within some kind of constructive order. The transitions between one event to another have to make sense so that the reader can use past context to make sense of what is happening in the current event and make logical predictions of what might come next. Like the chapters in a book, the sequence of events has to build up to one another and help construct the never-ending story.

With all that said, however, historical significance really depends on the historian, or the one who is recording history. Many historians of the past were not impartial and usually had some bias towards events which interfered with their personal thoughts and beliefs. This is why many Ancient Greek accounts of the Battle of Thermopylae tend to be glorified, with Ancient Greek historians claiming that five thousand Greeks held off over two million Persians, while modern estimates predict that the number was significantly lower at about one hundred fifty thousand. The historian, or the people recording the event, might change certain details of the event to make it match their views, or just choose to not write about it at all if they believe that it wasn’t significant, as they wouldn’t want future generations to know anything that makes the historians’ beliefs look foolish. Mostly, the definition of a significant event depends on the historian’s thoughts and feelings towards that event.

In-Depth Blog Post #3: Week 5

It’s been five weeks into In-Depth, and so far, I have learned a lot. Rafael and I have moved on to new C# scripts, and he guided me through the various assets that were already pre-installed in Unity. This was awfully convenient for me, as this meant that I didn’t have to write all the assets from scratch but could simply attach the pre-written assets right to my game objects. I have also finally decided on what type of game I will be focusing on, a first-person maze game. Anyway, here are some questions and answers on my progress so far.

  1. What went particularly well during your mentoring sessions?

One thing that went well during our mentoring session was the amount of progress we made. Like last time, Rafael and I had already planned what I was going to learn during the mentoring session, as we had a phone call a few days before the session to plan what materials each of us should bring and what he was going to mentor me. We got through most of the FPS scripts and we even got to discussing popular games and what components were in them. We also strengthened the fundamentals, as having a good base knowledge was important when I moved on to more complicated scripts and games. Despite the meeting only being our second session, we made a lot of progress.

  1. What relationship challenges did you face?

There weren’t really any relationship challenges that my mentor and I faced. We were communicating with each other very well, Rafael made sure that I was getting the concepts and not just nodding my head, and I made sure to ask plenty of questions and paraphrase what Rafael said in case I missed a point. We were also very open and thorough. We answered each others’ questions with depth; Rafael answered my questions about assets and game objects, explaining that everything in the game was a game object, and I answered my mentor’s questions about the type of game I wanted to create and what I had planned. Additionally, I had plenty of time to ask questions and catch up on the information that was being given, as a lot (capitalized) was being covered!

  1. What learning challenges emerged?

Although the Unity engine has been easy to use, learning the various C# scripts for my game objects has been proving to be quite difficult. Using the engine is easy, as I only need to know which functions do what, and it’s just a lot of just clicking around and experimenting. The scripts, on the other hand, have been really challenging. The difficulty of digesting all the different scripts needed to create just the most rudimentary of games has been challenging, as even with questions and paraphrases, I have difficulty knowing when to use specific codes, such as void, if(), or else().

  1. What three strategies could improve the quality of your mentoring interactions?

First, I can increase the efficiency of the mentoring interaction by having everything we need for the meeting set up beforehand and making the best use of our time. Last time, I wasted a few minutes of precious time due to an unexpected accident, and considering how fast my mentoring is going, a lot could have been covered in those few minutes. Additionally, I can also ask more questions and focus on getting the fundamentals set in stone before moving on to more complicated scripts and games. Finally, I can spend more time outside of my mentoring interactions to study and comprehend the material Rafael is teaching me. My mentor has shown me an awesome Wiki where there is a list of all the different C# scripts and the functions of each one. He has also shown me different tutorials I could work on between our biweekly meetings. Doing a few more hours of studying and learning the material outside of our meetings will make sure I fully understand what my mentor taught me the previous meeting and will allow me to accelerate my learning.

Unfortunately, I was unable to add any pictures of my progress this time, as my laptop was unable to screenshot my progress for some reason, but I will add pictures the next time I post.

In Depth Blog Post #2: Week 3

Last Friday, I had the chance to meet with my mentor Rafael, a game developer currently in the midst of creating a strategy game using Unity. Since we had already discussed over e-mail how the meetings were going to be formatted, we could get right into the project. We started off by discussing the user interface and helping me locate where all the various functions were. While Unity is not as complicated as some software, it was still a bit intimidating for me to find where to start with all these fancy buttons and complicated words covering the entire screen. I also had no idea how the camera worked, frolicking with my mouse for half an hour before giving up. Rafael told me that since I was just starting out, I didn’t need to know everything in Unity, and that even he doesn’t use every single function. He answered my questions about how the camera worked and the various possible game designs I could do. I had initially expected to cover only a little bit of the software, but surprisingly, during our narrow time frame, we managed to even get into creating rigid bodies, game objects, and creating a game object that could even roll and jump! My mentor told me that rigid body was basically the physics of the object, such as gravity, speed, and mass. Later, we further discussed rigid body when the object we had created was able to infinitely jump. He explained how we had to define the number of times the object could jump in our script, as for all Unity knew, it was just jumping every time we hit the key associated with that command.

We also discussed about the various resources that I could work on between our bi-weekly meetings. He gave me some resources, such as the Unity website and various Unity tutorials on YouTube. Besides my mentor, the Internet is probably going to be a really good resource. There are hundreds of Unity tutorials and Wikis describing what all the C# scripts can do. I plan to use these resources to accelerate my learning while I’m not meeting my mentor.

The meetings are working out great so far. Since we already had a phone conversation over my background on C# and game design, Rafael already knew what level I was at. We were able to find the perfect media to start from and start almost immediately. I find the mentorship meeting to be a nice alternative from the regular school environment. Since Rafael is only mentoring me, I find that learning is much quicker than in the regular classroom, where one teacher has to tend to thirty different students with different needs.

Besides discussing about using the software, we have also talked a little about ourselves. I went to the meeting not even knowing what my mentor looked like, and I left knowing not only his appearance, but his current projects and opinions on Unity. I learnt that my mentor was currently creating his own game, a grand strategy game with a twist to it. Rafael has been working on the project for years and is planning on releasing sometime next year. He has been working on game design for a couple of years now, and he initially started because he was always interested in playing games and thought about creating his own. He started off by taking a weekly course, and then decided to take game design in university.

So far game design has been very interesting, and I am excited to see what I learn next week.

Here are some pictures of Unity and the scripts I wrote.

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