Marco Polo had recently returned from the great land of Asia with untold riches. The Venetians were the main point between Asia and Europe with control over almost all trade. The desire for wealth and curiosity drove men to pilot their ships to and around the Cape of Good Hope. The trip there was long and hard, but the rewards were deemed worthy of the effort. One man, Christopher Columbus, decided that he would find an easier and more profitable way to Asia. He wanted to sail all the way around the world, by crossing the Atlantic.
After years of negotiations, Columbus was sponsored by Spain to sail his famous voyage; with the ships the Pinta, Nina, and Santa Maria. Columbus obviously ran into the Americas, but he did not know that. Instead he thought he had reached Asia, and that the never before seen plants and animals of the Americas were just part of the Asian wonder. Needless to say, the new plants and animals were the beneficiary portion of the exchange. Unfortunately, there was also a negative effect: Diseases from Europe were brought to the Americas and proved devastating to the Native Americans, who had not evolved a general immunity. The Colombian Exchange changed the world forever, and while there were negative effects, they were balanced out in the end.
This Tuesday, the seventh grade of my school went to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. We all went around to many stations, along with trying to find an animal we researched in a smaller group of three or four. My favorite station was the dinosaur station. At that station, the group was actually accomplishing something, instead of solving random math formulas for elephant weight. The dinosaur station involved trying to excavate a whole skeletal replica of a tyrannosaurus rex. The group made some progress, and we uncover some vertebrae, leg bones, and teeth.
Another interesting station which may have tied for favorite was the Sea Lion Cove station. At that station, we tried to determine which was more insulating: a plastic bag, fur in a plastic bag, or blubber in that same plastic bag. The insulators were tested against frigid ice water. The blubber insulated the best against the cold, but when coupled with the fur, it was even better. The whole point of that exercise was to demonstrate why sea mammals have blubber and fur.
The Incas and Aztecs had an end that was very much the same. First of all, they were both conquered by the Spanish. The Spanish captured the leaders of the civilizations to try and subdue the people both times. Both times they used some form of trickery to set up their attack, and their ultimate goal was gold and silver. In the actual battle, both the Aztecs and Incas were at a disadvantage to the guns and horses, and had been weakened by foreign diseases. This similarity most likely had to do with the similarity of their cultures.
The Aztecs and Incas both were ruled by a monarchy and had a well-defined high class. The Aztecs and Incas had a ruling royal, high priests, and professional warriors that were considered above the lower class of farmers and peasants, and of course, the slaves. The most prominent difference between the two cultures besides their location and language was the inclusion of merchants and traders in the Aztec culture. Unlike the Aztecs, the Incas had no trading system. Instead, they had a tax system of labor. The peasants paid a "labor tax" by farming, weaving, or manufacturing for the government. The goods were distributed all over the empire and the leftovers were added to an emergency stockpile. Both civilizations were remarkable, and alike in many ways, but they still fell to the same Spanish invasion methods.
Seventh grade at Computech was full of many great moments for me. Many of them were in extra-curricular activities. It was always fun to go up and do an improvisation activity in drama. Then later we all enjoyed the culminating point of our practice: a spoof on the classic Cinderella. Science Bowl was another great activity. From winning the regional competitions, to spending hours perfecting our car and designs and seeing them place first and third, respectively, in the nationals, Science Bowl was amazing. Other competitions, like Math Counts, Destination Imagination, and chess club only added to a great year. The water polo and swim team also was great. I even played in Computech's band and was first chair bassoon in the FMCMEA Intermediate Orchestra.
In addition to all of the enjoyable extra-curricular activities, classes were fun too. Group projects, class discussions, among other things, helped time pass and make everything more enjoyable. In addition to my electives French I and Advanced Band, I enjoyed my standard classes: Algebra I, Science, Computers, the English/History combo of CORE, and Aquatics PE. Everything about my year was enjoyable, especially the people (sorry, no names). Computech is amazing and I'm looking forward to eighth grade.
The main reason for the collapse of the Mayan Classic Age was over-farming. Over-farming is proven to weaken soil's ability to sustain crops, and it is even a problem today. Many farmers grow the same, favorite crops over and over again. The same crops take and the same types of nutrients to the soil. If the pattern continues, the soil soon becomes lacking in the nutrients necessary to grow the same crops, and an excess of the "waste nutrients" from the crops. The pattern can be avoided by rotating crops and adding a crop that thrives in "waste nutrient" rich soil and adds nutrients necessary for other crops. The Mayans most likely did not known this, and thus destroyed their soil's farming value.
The Mayan civilization was separated into a number of city-states, basically small countries. The city-states were always fighting each other, and Mayan warfare was excessively violent. When over-farming led to the start of a famine, the city-states fought even more for food. The violent nature of the warfare destroyed even more food and led to the crumble of the civilization. However, the Mayan people did not disappear with the loss of their Classic Age. Instead they lived separately and more primitively among themselves.
My people and I have been traveling through many moons. We ventured across a strip of land surrounded by ice and emerged into a place never before seen. The game we followed here continues movement to the south and has led us on a long and difficult journey. Eventually, we have come here, to a warm valley with many delicious plants. We expect there we be game here as well, the luscious vegetation here could not go unnoticed. Everyone enjoys it here, but many people are unsure if everything will last. I am undecided and decide to explore to clear my head.
I wander through a field of grasses, when at the edge, I see a vibrant, green stem and walk closer; I have never seen such a grass before. I dig it up to look at it closer and am shocked. This "grass" is growing out of a seed! I rush back and show our leader, but he is unsure as to what it means. I am confident and explain it to him. This must mean that all plants grow from seeds. If we can fetch the seeds ourselves, we can plant and protect them in the location of our choosing. If we are careful, we will never run out of food. Our clan decides to stay in the valley and we grow the seeds of favor, varying with the years. We perfect our process and call it... farming.
My favorite book this year was not a book, but a series. The series is the Adventurers Wanted series, and it is one of my favorites out of all of the books that I've ever read. I could read it again and again with less than a week between, and have. I think what makes it one of my favorites is that it is similar to many of the books that I have read and enjoyed, such as the Eragon series, or Harry Potter, but it is shorter and much easier to read. Eragon is composed of four books, each hundreds of pages long. Harry Potter is made of seven books, the first three being moderate, but the last four as sizable as the Eragon books.
However, Adventurers Wanted is so far composed of three moderate books, and best of all, still continuing. Adventurers Wanted contains some life in our modern world, but is mainly set in the magical "known lands." The series is a truly excellent one, and I hope that it continues for a long time.
The Scientific Revolution was important for many reasons. It followed the Renaissance, which was a period of "rebirth." Also, during the Renaissance, Greek philosophers were viewed as the ultimate source of authority, next to the Church, of course. The logical thinking of many ancient Greeks helped the Scientific Revolution on its way, but they also hindered it. Some of the new ideas that came through the Renaissance was that individuals were important. From that came the concept that people shouldn't just believe what they were told, but see things for themselves. That was what one scientist, Galileo Galilei did. Aristotle said that a heavier object would fall faster that a lighter one. Galileo tested it, but was shocked. Both objects fell at the same speed. Aristotle was wrong.
This upset many people. Aristotle was accepted by the Church, and to go against Aristotle and the other Greeks was to go against the church. However, much resistance was met, this still was a very important place in history. The Greeks had been challenged, and proved wrong by individual experimentation, even if the notions weren't widely accepted yet. But this wasn't even the first time. The Polish scientist Nicolas Copernicus studied the skies. He found that Ptomely was wrong in his assumption that the Earth was the center of the Solar System. The planets' motion would have to be exceedingly sporadic, so he cam up with his own theory; that the planets circled the Sun, not Earth. This type of thinking of and correcting was a major part of the Scientific Revolution, along with the disproving of incorrect old ideas.
My first thesis is about homework lab. While homework lab is a good incentive for students to do their homework, many good students are sent to homework lab, just because they had a memory lapse. Therefore, I think that all students should be able to use one or two "Get Out of Homework Lab Free" passes to use throughout the course of the year. Of course, the passes should be monitored electronically, so no swapping is possible. My second thesis is to make sure all of the correct programs and software is installed on the school computers, so students do not have to waste class time uploading the said programs and software.
My third thesis corresponds with my second thesis. There should be a list in the technology lab or library that students can sign programs they want added to the school computers on. My fourth thesis is to have the drama club and music groups perform for students in an assembly as well as a night performance. (It's done for the rallies, why not music and drama?) My fifth and final thesis is to add more encouragement to Spirit Friday. Even if students don't have Computech t-shirts or sweat shirts, they should be encouraged to wear Computech colors every Friday. Something along the lines of a first period class competition, or a raffle, or maybe even a non-standard of dress day for students who wear spirit clothes a number of times. Those are my theses and I hope that they are put into effect.
Over Spring Break, my family and I are going to France. We are going to fly to Toronto in Canada from LAX, the first Tuesday of the break. From there we will go to Quebec, and then to Paris. While we're in Paris, we will see the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, the Catacombs, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur and many other sights. We are even going to take a drive out to Normandy, and also take the train to some other sights in the countryside.
We will fly back at the end of Spring Break. Also, the first Saturday of Spring Break, I am meeting with the rest of the Science Bowl team to prepare for the national competition. We are going to work from 8 am to 4 pm, and I'm looking forward to it.