May 4, 2008

Prompt 9: Response to Goal 7 Presentation

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This blog is in response to the honors presentation of Millennium Development Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability. This group decided specifically to focus on improving Minneapolis slums through the implementation of sustainability. They came to this decision after finding that many of the apartments in Minneapolis are being converted to condominiums, and that the residents are not able to buy them afterwards, being left without a home.

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They also explored some green buildings and how they were beneficial. One of the buildings they looked at was the SC Johnson Co. headquarters in Wisconsin. They noted that it was cheaper to build and decreased the utility bill drastically. Another example that they looked at was the near north apartments that had a 1500 gallon rainwater collection system that used rainwater to flush toilets. After exploring these buildings, they decided to focus on water conservation and lowering energy costs for new high density, low-income housing IN the city.

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Specifically, they came up with ideas to renovate the Riverside Plaza using green technologies. These are the proposals:
1. Install water re-use systems (rainwater collection, shower sink water reuse to flush toilets)
2. Use compact fluorescent bulbs
3. Install vertical recycling chutes in all 6 towers
4. Replace old windows with high-efficiency triple-paned glass
5. Replace outside panels with new environment-friendly wooden panels
6. Repaint concrete
7. Use solar panels
8. Apply Energy Star roof coating to reduce solar absorption
9. Install new Energy Star appliances
10. Use KONE elevators which use less energy because they’re gearless

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Overall, I thought that this group’s presentation of their Millennium Development Goal was done very well. They communicated very effectively and were not too boring like some of the other groups. They had just the right amount of information on the slides and then verbalized the other important information. Their solution was very clear and I thought it was interesting because it seemed like something that could be done rather simply.

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Prompt 8: Response to Goal 8 Presentation

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This blog is in response to the honors presentation of Millennium Development Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development. Broc Blegan and Kelly Berry decided to focus their investigation and implementation of this goal in the capital city of Somalia, Mogadishu. They chose this place for two main reasons. First, it was behind the “technological curve? and was the last country to offer the internet in 1999. And second, only 10% of their population use mobile technology. Both of these statistics were very valid reasons for Broc and Kelly to choose to develop a partnership with Mogadishu.


They decided to come up with a solution that would lead to a society of mobile communications, through the internet and cell phones. In doing research, they looked to Kenya as an example for technological progress. Cell phone use increased there and it ended up helping produce record high turnouts for their last political election. Since 2000, cell phone use in Somalia has increased from 1.1% to 6.1% in 2005. Telecom, Nationlink, and Hormund are competing to provide Somalia with affordable communication options.



The two presenters decided that it was important for Somalia to leapfrog landline communications in order to catch up because wireless is both easier and cheaper than landlines. They included a quote from Dr. Sugata Mitra in which he said, “technology should be designed for education, not be adapted for it.? I felt that this was great and that it really resembled my feelings toward technology.

Another solution this team explored was the One Laptop Per Child program set up by an old professor at MIT. This charity designs cheap personal laptops (about $150) and distributes them to children in developing countries to improve their education and communication capabilities. The laptops have educational games, wireless internet, a word processor, and are very durable so that they can be implemented effectively in the third world. The only problem with this service is that they require the recipient country to have an established, stable government (something that Somalia lacks).


I think this group did an excellent job presenting their research, ideas, and goals for their Millennium Development Goal. The layout of the slide show was easy to read and not too busy. They kept the audience’s attention rather well and presented their conclusion very clearly

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April 30, 2008

Skyline Tower- Journal 7

Today will be my last entry for this journal as next week will be my last visit to Skyline Tower this year. It was another normal day in the Homework Center. Right when I got there, I saw kids ready to come in for help and we immediately sat down and got to work. The first young girl I helped was very confused by her assignment, as was I. We went over the directions multiple times and finally decided on what they were telling us to do. This was an interesting experience because it would have left children with non-English speaking parents at a disadvantage if they did not have a homework center to go to. The assignment’s directions were very unclear and difficult for me to understand, let alone a first grader. I thought about how many assignments are tough to understand unless someone is there to help another.

This made me think how beneficial the service that Skyline Tower provides is. It not only helps the children with homework, but it also helps them learn how to approach their education. The residents are very lucky to have the Homework Center. With an increasing immigrant population, more and more children in the Twin Cities area will have parents who do not speak or understand English. Homework assistants programs are going to be a necessity for many children in order for them to achieve an appropriate education.

I just wanted to thank all of the staff at Skyline Tower for allowing me to come and experience the great time they have there. I really learned a lot about the kids, their cultures, and service in general. Thank you all again.

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Skyline Tower- Journal 6

This past week at Skyline Tower the children came and went as usual. A few of them stayed around after they finished their work and this was nice because I got to know them a little bit. I think I only helped a handful of kids or so but I really enjoyed it because I was able to spend time helping them on specific problems and could go at a pace they understood because there weren’t a lot of other kids to make noise. When they finished, most of them left and went home or went outside to play.

A few of the children wanted to stay and play board games, and the supervisor approved so they got out Mancala, Connect Four, and chess. I played a couple of young girls in Mancala and I was not successful at all; both of the games were blowouts. As I played the second game I remembered some of the strategy from the days when I played, but by that time, it was too late.

A little bit later, another girl had finished her homework and wanted to play chess. This was the same girl from the week before who told me that she was on her school’s chess team. I was helping another young boy with his reading homework so I told her to play with someone else. A few minutes later when I had finished helping the boy with his homework, I noticed that she had taught another student how to play. I was very impressed that she knew the game well enough to teach it to someone else. I had always thought of chess as a game played by wise, older people, and I was intrigued by this young girl’s interest in the game.

This past week was the last week for tax help in Skyline Towers so many of the children had to be back home before that service started. I’m really looking forward to next week when they will get to stay later because I think that the Homework Center will be a little bit busier.

April 29, 2008

Skyline Tower- Journal 5

Two weeks ago, the Homework Center at Skyline Towers was very similar to the previous few weeks. It was pretty slow at times due to the tax service they offered for the parents (many parents want their kids home before they go to the tax service). Also, as the weather got nicer outside, fewer and fewer students seemed to come; however, there were still a few of rushes when kids filled the Homework Center. The kids who were there were those who had been there consistently all semester. Most of their questions were math related dealing with a variety of subjects like long division or multiplication of fractions. Most of them finished quickly and either went outside to play, or stayed around and played board games.

Chess was one of the favorites this past week and I was surprised that kids that young knew how to play. I played with one girl who was in second grade and was on her school’s chess team. She knew how to play and did rather well for her age. I talked with one of the other volunteers and we began thinking what a great idea it is to teach young students chess. It involves strategy, thinking ahead, and a player must be aware of multiple threats during the course of a game.

April 15, 2008

Skyline Tower- Journal 4


This past week was different from any other this year. The sun was finally out and it was beautiful outside. As a result of the nice weather, the students in the homework center had a tough time focusing on homework. We decided to motivate them to finish quickly so when they were done with their work, they could go outside and play on the playground.

I did not go outside with the kids, but as I stayed in the homework center, I noticed how productive they were when they had something to work for. A simple incentive for finishing work quickly really accelerated their pace. I do not know if the warm weather rejuvenated these students or whether they just wanted to play outside, but either way, I saw what they were capable of.

Another thing I was able to do this week was help one boy with homework on the computer. He had a research project to do for his science class on water. I sat there and just helped him with web addresses and print out pages. I thought he would just use these pages to take notes but when we got back to the table, I noticed he just glued the sheets directly onto his cardboard display.

I asked him about this and he said that he had done this the past few projects as well and that he received ‘A’s’ on them. Another volunteer and I, astonished at this, suggested he read the material and make his own ideas from the information; but he proceeded to finish his project. After seeing this, I realized the impact the internet has on education. It can be an incredible tool when used correctly, however, when teachers fail to teach their students how to do research, it can produce awful habits and eventually, consequences.

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April 1, 2008

Prompt 7: Cover Pages

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March 13, 2008

Skyline Tower- Journal 3

This past week I went back to the homework center at Skyline Tower in St. Paul. It felt slightly different than most days in the past in that two of the girls that I usually have a problem getting to work efficiently or focusing, were great. Both of them worked hard until they finished, asking some questions along the way when they needed help. I’m not sure if they had a different attitude about their homework that day, or if they had a different attitude about me helping them.

Usually these girls prefer to work with a volunteer who has been there for a long time every day of the week, or women. Every time in the past that I have helped them, they seem to be less focused and more concerned about the situation than their homework. This time, however, they disregarded the fact that I was helping them, and focused on the more important issue, their homework. Each girl seemed more comfortable around me and I feel like this may be because I’m becoming more familiar to them.

Also, I had a chance to see the great work that this organization does. Through the simple example I talked about above, I can tell that Skyline Tower is doing more than just helping with math and reading. Through this homework center, the children are learning about the acceptance of others and exploring the ‘unknown’. It is probably much more comfortable for some of these kids to ask for help from those who have been around the organization daily for the past couple of years or so, but as more kids show up, they are forced to work with volunteers who are new to them. It may be uncomfortable for them at first, but as I mentioned above, they begin to grow together and accept the new person. The uncomfortable becomes comfortable and unknown becomes familiar. These children are being taught lifelong lessons in addition to math, reading, and science skills.

March 11, 2008

Prompt 6: Presentation Styles

There are many different types of presentation/ documentation styles including both 3-dimensional and 2-dimensional ones.


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These are a great tool to present/ document information that has to do with movement, or connectivity around the world or region. Specific maps, such as this one, can highlight certain areas to make clear what is being presented.


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These are some of the best ways to compare information. A simple graphic, as shown above, can display complex information in a manner that more people can understand.

Written Documentation:

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These are very effective ways to document information that is very developed and difficult to present. They allow one to include images, text, graphs, tables, etc. all in one source. This is probably the most common way to present information. This method can be disastrous though, if one is not careful about its design and layout. Too much text or too many pictures can ruin great research. When thought about properly however, this is one of the best ways to document works.

PDF’s & Powerpoints:

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These tools are also very efficient in presenting and documenting information. Like books, it gives the designer versatility in terms of layout of the presentation. One can include text, charts, photographs, or graphs to document information. PDF’s and Powerpoints are just like books and other written works, except that they are digital and allow for more options such as videos or animation which cannot be displayed in printed works.


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Photography is also used to present information to people. It is very useful and fulfills a specific purpose. Photographs, like above, can present a 3-D object in a 2-D form (explaining what an apple looks like when it is shot would not be as effective as showing someone). When photographs are combined with simple text, presentation is enhanced and in my opinion, the most effective.



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These are mostly used for designers to better represent 3-D spaces to an audience. They help both the designer and others discover what something will actually look like, and the possible effects a structure could have on its surroundings or users.

All of these types of documentation/ presentation are used to exhibit information and research to others. I don’t think any one of these methods is a universal solution to all presentations of research, but rather, each situation calls for a specific type of documentation. Also, when two or more of the above methods are combined, the presentation is more effective and really enhances the research or information being documented.

March 4, 2008

Prompt 5: Overcoming Climate

I am only a thing. I take up little space in comparison to the planet we live on. It would seem to be a simple concept if I were not constantly in relation with other ‘things’. The things around me take up little amounts of space, but when we’re all added together, we occupy much of the land available to us. We are arranged all over the place. My current arrangement is the Twin Cities area. Things such as buildings take up space high into the air while others such as the tunnel system occupy those areas underneath the Earth’s surface. Wherever I look, I am encountered with things. All of things around me are in constant interaction, creating a framework around me. My current framework is complex, involving numerous things and places, however, it is rather pathetic as most are related academically through the U.

It is important to see how I am connected to the world around me. I understand that things are connected within frameworks, frameworks connected within clockworks, and clockworks connected within phenomena, but I just don’t necessarily analyze my life in this fashion. I am more interested in the oppositions I face with my surroundings, and those other oppositions that we face in our lives. Maybe it’s just my desire to overcome the impossible or that I just like a challenge, but intertwined things are disinteresting to me until the oppositions are mentioned.

The opposition that I’d like to elaborate on is that of climate and enclosure. I’ve loved the cold my whole life. Summer is nice, but there are always the days that you cannot escape. I guess that extreme climates are always uncomfortable, but they really interest me. The reason I am so interested in this opposition is because it is all around me. After an extremely hot, humid summer where I constantly wanted to be indoors, I found myself to be uncomfortable and frostbite-prone standing in the same place I was 6 months earlier. In both extremes, I wanted to be indoors, in an environment controlled by the systems (things, frameworks, clockworks, etc.) created and built by humans (the built environment).

While being in a controlled environment is comforting, I find it much more exciting to explore the wilderness and the vastness of the natural world. I feel as though both the built environment and the natural environment shape my life, but right now, more so the built one. This is because I am a student trapped in the Twin Cities going to school every day. I don’t have a car and the busses only go so far out of the cities. The surroundings I find myself in are those completely shaped by humankind.
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I feel as though the pinnacle of this opposition is Bear Grylls, the man from the tv show, Man vs. Wild. For those unfamiliar with this man, he overcomes the worst, deadliest environments and climates on the planet all alone. He is dropped off and left alone until he finds civilization. While he does some pretty crazy things, his interaction with his surroundings is quite impressive. His survival is dependent upon his knowledge of the region his is in. I feel that this idea is true in other instances as well; not necessarily dealing with life and death, but someone must know their surroundings, even in a city, to participate effectively in the culture. I, personally, have developed a deeper knowledge of my surroundings in the Twin Cities since this fall. The first weekend I was up here, I remember feeling lost and disconnected. Over time, I familiarized myself with places and things and developed my sense of belonging.

I have definitely deviated from the opposition of climate and enclosure, however, I feel that this is important to note. Beginning with a simple opposition, many other ideas spawned from this as I began writing. This demonstrates the framework, clockwork, and phenomena that connect climate and enclosure to weather, culture, nature, and even Bear Grylls.

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March 2, 2008

Skyline Tower- Journal 2

Skyline Towers provides incredible services to its inhabitants. I mentioned previously that they have a homework center, but they provide plenty of additional helpful services as well. For the students who live there, there is the homework center, a reading center, as well as a computer lab. All three of these services are available to them after school so they can get the most out of their education as possible. Not only do they provide help to their students academically, but they also offer other services such as Boy Scouts for the young boys, Girl Scouts for the young girls, and a teen center just to mention a few of them.

Their services do not end with just the children and teenagers; many services are provided for their adult tenants too. The computer lab is open to them so they can get help if they have any questions about programs or other computer problems. One service that really impressed me was their tax help.

The last few weeks, the hallways in the basement have been filling up with adults seeking tax help. The computer lab has been filled with volunteers to help them and the line extends out of the door. As I thought more about this, I realized what a huge service they are providing. While most of the inhabitants are immigrants, I never thought about the everyday things that could be unfamiliar to them in our society. Taxes are time-consuming and difficult for English speakers, so I can’t imagine trying to fill them out if I wasn’t fluent or completely familiar with the language. Skyline could just recommend a service to their inhabitants or send them to Target to pick up TurboTax; however, they provide a service that is only an elevator ride away.

I am not only impressed with the tax service there, but it is just one example of the extra services that I have witnessed during my time there. The homework center, which I am more familiar with, operates very efficiently as well. Every week that I go, there are people already there helping both kids and adults. From the moment I am let into the building (by a smiling face of course) to the time I leave, I experience people who are sincere and passionate about others. The volunteers are not the only people doing service. In my experience so far, the service is going both ways.

February 26, 2008

Prompt 4: Constraints Are Off!

Quite honestly, if I were released from our school program’s constraints, I would not do the same thing day to day. I have so many interests and hobbies that I would try to find a new one each day of the week.

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Mondays I would work as a doctor and help those who need medical attention (and earn the money I would need for the rest of the week). While the service is limited to a select few individuals, I would see the benefits directly in my patients. It wouldn’t matter where I worked, but it would be great to help those who really, really need it.

construction.jpg Tuesdays I would build/design houses for those who otherwise couldn’t. This would be an all-in-one experience because I love working with my hands, solving puzzles, and helping people.

Wednesdays I would help at a school (elementary or high), and coach soccer or basketball afterwards (mostly because I’m still a kid at heart).

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Thursdays, I would serve in the US Navy and do whatever was asked of me.

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Fridays and Saturdays, I would travel all around the world to see the incredible places there are. Depending upon my mood, I would visit landmarks, buildings, nature sites, or people. On Sunday, I would come home and rest because it is needed every week, and because God recommends it.

I know that this is completely unrealistic, but this would be my ideal life without the constraints of our program and profession. I would like to expand the discipline and incorporate all of my other interests into my week.

All in all, I guess if I were released from the constraints of our school’s program, I would live in a dream world where I could learn from people every day. It would be just like having 5 different jobs without any of the pressure or stress. It seems as though I would be helping all of them, but I know that the opportunity given to me by them would be a much bigger help to me. I can see myself doing a multitude of things after I graduate, one thing that I do not want to do however, is be confined to a cubical every single day.

This dream-like weekly scenario would allow me to do all of the things that I am interested in. I would be able to help others, relax, travel, and fulfill the purpose of my life day in, and day out.

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February 20, 2008

Skyline Tower-Journal 1

Over the past five months, I’ve been able to meet many people at Skyline Tower. At first, it just seemed as though I was helping random kids learn to read or simply help them with their homework, but after a few times volunteering, I could tell much more was going on.

As I continued to come more and more, I found myself interacting with the same few kids from week to week. This made this experience more personable and it became more than just me teaching someone else. The helping and learning was going both ways. While I was helping each child with reading or math homework, they were teaching me about their culture and their schools. Also, I was learning things that help kids learn better than others.

This past Wednesday when I was at skyline, I ended up helping one boy for almost two hours, the entirety of the homework center. We had fun while doing his assignments, but we really learned a lot. I helped him better understand subtraction with big numbers, and he reminded me of how easy it is to get distracted by our surroundings.

That is not the only thing I learned from him; he helped me recall the difficulty of comprehending something new. I don’t think people ever grow out of that. The “new? always presents difficulty to us, no matter the situation. It is uncomfortable and tough to get used to. Then afterwards, it becomes second nature and we forget the tricky learning process.

February 19, 2008

Prompt 3: Service ID

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These first two images are what I most identify with as a human being. First, I am a Christian and second, I am an American. As a Christian, I am called to be Christ-like. This first image shows Jesus himself washing his disciples feet. This is an incredibly humble thing to do as feet were crazy-dirty in those days seeing as they always wore sandles. One reason that I like to serve others is because that's what I am here to do. The second image portrays the American military man serving his country. This is similar because it is a kind of service where others come first, and self is last. I identify with these two images very much and I think that they resemble what I would like to become. I would be lying if I were to say that I live like them right now and am never selfish, but they are more of a goal that I am shooting for.



These images shows my belief that all people deserve the same treatment. I am an advocate for universal rights and I feel that the resources that we have as Americans, although nice, should be used to help those less fortunate than us. I feel that everything that we have should be used to help others. This feeling comes from the fact that I believe in an eternal life that will not include worldy things. For this reason, developing relationships and helping others are the best treausres on Earth.

Below are some quotes and songs that also play into my desire to serve and help eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

"You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.?- Galatians 5:13

"A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.?- Matthew 10:24

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.?- Matthew 20:26-28

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.?- Philippians 2:5-7


If we are the body by Casting Crowns
Love them like Jesus by Casting Crowns
More by Matthew West
Changes by Tupac

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February 12, 2008

Prompt 2: Freshman 15

Why is it that the most common thing expected of freshman is gaining a “freshman fifteen?? I understand that people gain weight when they have food readily available for them, but whatever happened to exercise?

Since the first day of the fall semester, the rec has been open every single school day. All the students at the University of Minnesota have access to workout facilities and machines that cost thousands of dollars. Why, then, do some students choose to skip out on exercise?

The most probable reasons include laziness, inconvenience, and the weather. Minnesota winters are known to be brutally cold. The tunnel system around campus serves as a very effective system designed to keep students warm when walking to academic buildings. However, the rec fails to connect to these tunnels. This keeps many students from getting the daily exercise that they need in order to stay healthy.

The social-design issue that I intend to bring to everyone’s attention is that of personal fitness and exercise. Personally, I have experienced the feeling of laziness, probably every day. Once the winter weather hits, especially these past couple of weeks, I had no desire to leave my room. Venturing out into the cold to go anywhere would be way too inconvenient. Some brave and determined students still make it to the rec through the sub-zero winter, but what about those students who don’t like to exercise?

Design can be a simple solution to this question. In order to make exercising more convenient, the existing tunnel system could be expanded so students wouldn’t have to freeze when walking there. Also, housing could be built closer to, or on top of, the rec. Another alternative would be adding exercise equipment to the living spaces. These solutions all require more money which some may say is unnecessary. The choice is either to pay up to improve health, or witness freshman classes progressively fatten up as they sit and eat through the cold, icy winter.

Continue reading "Prompt 2: Freshman 15" »