Thursday, July 15, 2010


Science could be my second favourite subject this year. Certainly, I really enjoy the subject and have learned heaps in a relatively short space of time. The speed we go at learning things is very fast but the way my teacher teaches allows everyone to understand all the new concepts. Like Social Studies, Science for me is an extension subject this year. Everyone in my class does all the mainstream subjects with me too but we must have been grouped based on our science class because we're all together.We have a lot of fun. I have discovered I love Chemistry, but it is probably Biology I will pursue in the next few years. Taking Year 11 Science in Year 10 gives me the opportunity to fill some of my Year 11 quota of 80 credits (for NCEA) a year early from science tests and suchlike.

I have a big heavy Year 11 Science Workbook which I have managed to keep very neat so far. We used it a lot in Chemistry for various exercises, which was our first topic for the year. It started with atomic structure. This made no sense at all last year but is clearer than crystal now! I can compare protons, electrons and neutrons and describe the atomic number, mass number and possible isotope of an element on the Periodic Table Of Elements. I loved it when we worked out electron configuration of an element based upon the number of protons and the element being neutral, all because it made so much sense. Also, when an element loses an electron, or gains one, (or two, or three..) to make the valence stable and to join up with another element, forming an ion, the neutral status of the element tips and it becomes either positively or negatively charged. Ions got a bit confusing but I understand all that now.

Our teacher is good at teaching using different methods. Normally we have discussions or he lectures us all the information we need. One day he brought out mini whiteboards for everybody so we could do a true or false quiz. Everyday we have a quick quiz in the back of our books as a refresher, and quite often we watch Youtube or VCR videos, conduct practical experiments, watch the teacher conduct an experiment or we view some of the BrainPop movies and quizzes. We find BrainPop a good site!

Compounds and mixtures were good things to become clear about this year too. We got up to having to balance chemical equations by adding appropriate molecules and evening out numbers of particles, and also had to remember the basic formulae. Metals and oxygen, metals and hydrogen, acids and bases... We learned how to recognize acids and bases, experimented with the Universal Indicator and Litmus papers, and the pH scale. I liked the Universal Indicator, which made our test tubes turn all the colours of the rainbow!

I understood further when we worked with salts. We separated salt from sand and learned that an acid and a base react together to produce salt and water. In the equation we wrote, the latter and first pieces of the base and acid came together to create the salt, and the remainder was H2O! OH is hydroxide and H is hydrogen. They are opposites and H atoms are from acids while OH atoms are from bases; H and OH is what makes H2O!

Biology has been a good unit too. The first part was about Micro-organisms. We studied bacteria and how they move, respire, reproduce, sense, grow, excrete and eat, using MRS GREN as a checklist. (Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, Nutrition.) We applied these life functions to Fungi as well. Through comparing we discovered the similarities and differences between fungi and bacteria.

The third microbe we looked at were viruses. These are debated over whether they're living or not, but we looked at these parasites all the same. They are excellent at reproducing, but not at the other life functions.

The second part of Biology was a little more interesting for me, on genetics. There is a wheel we drew in our books with multiple rings, divided in two at the centre, four in the next ring, then 8, and 16 and 32. Specific traits alternated all the way around their ring, and the last ring had numbers 1 to 32 clockwise around. We were able to draw the path out own bodies take and find out how different we were! At the end our teacher called out each number to see who was who. We had four in the same category at most, but nearly everyone was different. I was one of a few people to put my hand up after 16, because I am on the opposite half to may class, being left-handed. This wheel is slightly similar. Click to enlarge!

At the centre I ticked the left semicircle (left-handed) then the fourth quarter in the second ring (I have an attached earlobe.). In the third ring I selected the sixth eighth (with a shorter second toe) and then the thirteenth sixteenth in the fourth ring because I have a double jointed thumb. In the fifth ring I used the twenty-sixth piece because I cannot roll my tongue. That made me Number 26! I was the only 26 in my class :)

DNA, or DeoxyriboNucleic Acid was looked into closely by us. We copied out magnified drawings of DNA and chromosomes, DNA nucleotides, genes and then the little pictures of Adenine, Thymine, Guanine and Cytosine matches. The order of these determines alleles, or 'options' of a specific gene.

A litte further on we watched videos on, and were taught all about Mitosis and Meiosis. We compared the similarities and difference of these two processes.

I can define genotypes and phenotypes, alleles and genes, homozygote and heterozygote pairs and the differences between dominant and recessive genes. All this made up our next bit of work, involving us learning to draw Punnett Squares (to get down options of a gene for offspring based upon genes of two parents) and extracting information from Pedigree Charts to decide which allele of a gene is recessive and which is dominant.

Just before the term ended we looked at selective breeding and cloning of animals for special traits required or desired.

Pedigree charts, bacteria, viruses, cloning, selective breeding and Punnett Squares are the things I had to do in my recent Biology test, for which I got Merit. In my Chemistry test I had four long writing questions about various things. This test got me Merit too.
We've also just completed an assessment for a few credits. We had to spend two lessons researching either Copper, Titanium or Lead (basically the whole class did copper, including me) and two lessons writing a 2 to 4 A4 page report on the uses of our metal, in relation to its physical and chemical properties. I haven't got my result yet but think I did quite well with three and a bit pages full of information on how copper us used. I linked it all and reasoned it back to the properties of copper and wound up with a bibliography of every site I used. It got handed in with my research, both in my own words and copied straight from various resources, and the only thing I ran out of time for was a quick code in the margins of my report to help the teacher identify when I was comparing or analyzing etc. something. I hope I'll hear how I did (and if I got some more credits!) on Monday. Here is the research I did in preparation on Copper.


How are the chemical and physical properties of copper considered by people using the metal for specific purposes?

-> What are the chemical properties of copper?
-> What are the physical properties of copper?
-> What purposes does copper serve to people?
-> Why is copper used for the purposes it serves?

Background Information of Relevance
NCEA Level One | Science Extension | Chemistry 1.2 Resource Booklet

Copper was known in ancient times and used very long ago to make useful articles for people. Remains have been found in Asia, Europe and Egypt; copper has been found in its pure state as well. Copper has high melting and boiling points. It will only melt at 1083˙ C approximately and it boils at around 2567˙C. Like most metals, copper is quite dense, at 8.9, and has an atomic weight of 63.546. The colour of copper is a brownish red and it is very commonly used for a wide range of projects. On the Periodic Table, copper is a transition element, with an atomic number of 29, and symbol of Cu. In processing copper a lot of focus goes into taking out flaws or impurities. Copper ore is crushed and milled. Following these two steps, the metal enters a flotation chamber and fragments to be disposed of sink, while the concentration, or charge, from
the copper floats. Then comes the reverberatory furnace and the copper is made to be more pure, before the smelting stage in which unwanted gases are separated and a molten pool of
copper and iron is formed. The impure metal, the slag, at the top gets drained while the copper moves on to a converter. Molten copper is processed by further treatments. Next it is ready to be
manufactured and used, commonly for utensils or wires. Copper has good conductivity of electricity, and of heat, resists corrosion, is malleable as well as ductile, and a rather pretty colour, so is preferred for certain products over other metals. Mostly it is used for electrical devices because copper is such a good conductor. (Only silver is better at this.) Being ductile, copper can be stretched into wires as small as those with diameter of 0.025mm! These wires are extremely strong and employed for making outdoor power lines or cables, household wiring systems, electrical cords and electronic machinery like motors, generators and signalling devices.
Historically, copper has been used for coins as well, cooking utensils, vats and ornaments. At one point it was used to coat the bottoms of sailing ships too. When copper is smelted it is the ore that undergoes smelting to process molten copper. The ore is crushed, milled, concentrated
and heated and 98% pure metallic copper is the result of smelting. Some ores are composed differently, but native copper is crushed and washed before being cast in bars. The carbon reduces the oxides and carbonates in this. Important sulphide ores contain only 1-12% of copper so this is why they must be crushed and concentrated; it is the concentrated copper that is smelted in the furnace in order to obtain purer copper. The metal exists
comfortably within the furnace because of its high boiling and melting points.
Crude copper is purified further by the process electrolysis, creating copper bars with over 99.9% purity. Pure copper such as this is soft, but to make it hard, copper is worked. Far harder
and stronger than pure copper are copper alloys, which also have higher resistance. Thus, copper alloys do not work for electrical jobs. However, their resistance to corrosion is nearly as good as
that of pure copper. The metal is commonly alloyed with gold, silver and nickel. Copper forms two chemical compound series, cuprous and cupric. Cuprous compounds can be exposed to air and be oxidized to become cupric stable compounds. Hence, some copper
solutions can dissolve cellulose and sometimes copper is used in insecticides.
Copper is also mined, being the 25th most plentiful element found in the rocks. Usually it is found mixed with gold, lead or silver, in small specks of rock. However, individual masses of copper have been discovered. Some weigh as much as 420 tonnes! Different ores are found in different parts of the world, but the metal is mined often because of its usefulness to people.

Lenntech Water Treatment Solutions
~ (28/06/10)

“Copper is a reddish metal with a face-centred cubic crystalline structure. It reflects red and orange light and absorbs other frequencies in the visible spectrum, due to its band structure, so it as a nice reddish colour. It is malleable, ductile, and an extremely good conductor of both heat and electricity. It is softer than iron but harder than zinc and can be polished to a bright finish. It is found in group Ib of the periodic table, together with silver and gold. Copper has low chemical reactivity. In moist air it slowly forms a greenish surface film called patina; this coating protects the metal from further attack.”

“Most copper is used for electrical equipment (60%); construction, such as roofing and plumbing (20%); industrial machineri, such as heat exchangers (15%) and alloys (5%). The main long established copper alloys are bronze, brass (a copper-zinc alloy), copper-tin-zinc, which was strong enough to make guns and cannons, and was known as gun metal, copper and nichel, known as cupronickel, which was the preferred metal for low- denomination coins. Copper is ideal for electrical wiring because it is easily worked, can be drawn into fine wire and has a high electrical conductivity.”

“Humans widely use copper. For instance it is applied in the industries and in agriculture. The production of copper has lifted over the last decades and due to this copper quantities in the
environment have expanded.”

Chemical Properties
Lenntech Water Treatment Solutions
~ (28/06/10)

“Atomic number 29
Atomic mass 63.546 g.mol -1
Electronegativity according to Pauling 1.9
Density 8.9 at 20°C
Melting point 1083 °C
Boiling point 2595 °C
Vanderwaals radius 0.128 nm
Ionic radius 0.096 nm (+1) ; 0.069 nm (+3)
Isotopes 6
Electronic shell [ Ar ] 3d10 4s1
Energy of first ionisation 743.5 kJ.mol -1
Energy of second ionisation 1946 kJ.mol -1
Standard potential + 0.522 V ( Cu+/ Cu ) ; + 0.345 V (Cu2+/ Cu )”

Physical Properties
University of Nevada
~ (28/06/10)

“Copper is in column IB of the Periodic Table of the Elements, above Silver (Ag) and Gold (Au). Elements in the same column have some similar properties. Like silver and gold, copper is soft (with a Moh's hardness of 2.5 to 3, that is, harder than a fingernail, but softer than a steel pocket knife). The surface has a metallic lustre. With a specific gravity of 8.2 (based on the density of 8.2 grams per cubic centimetres, g/cm3), it is far denser than water with a specific gravity of 1, or sulfur, with a specific gravity of just over 2, or carbon in the mineral graphite (2.23). Silver, however, is below copper in column IB, and so it is denser (10.5) and gold, even lower, is far denser at 19.”

“Like gold and silver, copper is malleable. That is, it can be bent and shaped without cracking, when either hot or cold. It can be rolled into sheets as thin as 1/500 of an inch. Copper also is ductile, that is, it can be drawn out into thin wire. A copper bar 4 inches thick can be heated, rolled, then drawn into a round wire so thin that it is thinner than a human hair. This wire is
20 million times longer than the original bar! Industry valued copper for these properties. Copper is second only to silver in its ability to conduct electricity, but silver is too expensive for this sort of use. Bronze and brass, however, do not conduct electricity as well as pure copper. Besides electricity, copper also is an excellent conductor of heat, making it an important metal in cookware, refrigerators, and radiators. Copper is resistant to corrosion, that is, it will not rust. If the air around it often is damp, it will change from its usual reddish orange colour to reddish brown. Eventually, it is coated with a green film called a "patina" that stops all further corrosion.
The melting point of copper is 1083.4 degrees Centigrade. Liquid copper boils at 2567 degrees Centigrade.”

Uses of Copper
Wiki Answers
~ (28/06/10)

“This native element is used in electric cables and wires, switches, plumbing, heating, roofing and building construction, chemical and pharmaceutical machinery, alloys (brass, bronze), electroplated protective coatings and cooking utensils.”

Reasons as to Why Copper is Used
Yahoo Answers
~ (28/06/10)

“Why is copper used for electrical wiring? It's got a lower resistance than any metal other than silver. And it's a lot cheaper.”

Wiki Answers
~ (28/06/10)

“Why is copper used in plumbing? Copper is easy to use and work with. The minerals in water generally to not build up on copper as eazily as galinazed steel. After WWII copper was cheap and in great supply so the industry went to it as it standard pipe. Now copper is much more expensive and new materials are being used. Copper is also heat and cold resistant. Copper swells and contracts much less than other materials. Copper also lasts much longer than other materials as copper does not rust or perish easily making it ideal for any climate.”

We had another internal last term, a practical. For four days we were given our own equipment and I felt like a proper scientist! We had to conduct the experiment entirely by ourselves but the aim was to find out the effect of (either surface area, temperature or concentration; this experiment was on concentration) concentration of hydrochloric acid whilst trying to dissolve pieces of magnesium ribbon. I got a bit overwhelmed and finished up a few minutes behind everyone else in the first two days. I had thought out my quantity ratios of hydrochloric acid and water on the first day but soon discovered that the test tubes given to us were too small, so I had to halve all my amonts but keep the quantity the same, thus keeping the concentration the same. I had a 75% concentrated mixture, a 50% one and a 25% one. We had an hour each day so I had to make sure the reactions wouldn't take too long. I borowed extra stopwatches so that I could conduct two experiments at the same time. The quickest reaction I'd predicted (the most concentrated) I'd left until last, and the actual reaction had to be timed the following day. Fortunately it was only a couple of minutes long and I settled down quickly drawing up a graph and recording results. I wound up with an Achieved, if I remember correctly. Consolingly, so did a lot of other members of my class. I've since resubmitted the work and I will hopefully improve.

I had a two hour practice exam in September, one paper for Chemistry and one paper for Biology. I did really well in Chemistry and I'm glad I took my precious time to finish it and sacrifice the Biology, because, after a little thought, I think I'm happier with my Excellence (for Chemistry) and Achieved (for Biology) than two Merits. Chemistry was a delight to receive back! Biology didn't get finished because I had nowhere near enough time - so that is my goal for the big exam. The questions I answered scraped me a pass, but they weren't answered very well.

I had, during the exam, left the last question in the Chemistry paper so as to give me a further couple of minutes for Biology, as time was running out, but I'm glad I returned to it and did the second part of it, as that whole piece was worth an Achieved, and many of my classmates very-nearly failed because of leaving that question.

Now we have moved on to Physics and I started hating it, but this last week I have completed homework (at home!) and I've started to understand acceleration, Physics terms, how very much like straight-line graphs (in Maths) this is (and hopefully I'll do well because of that), speed-time graphs and distance-time graphs, and how equations do the working out in Physics. The problem is that I can't quite get my head around the m.s-2 and m.s-1 thing, yet. I guess I will next term, however, and then I will make sure to 'ace' my exam!


My absolute favourite subject this year, Visual Art, was one of my two options. My best friend took it too, we had the funniest teacher who was really good-natured and didn't mind us all chatting away as we worked. I was glad I had Art everyday for the whole of the first semester. Now, I've finished the subject until next year (I plan to study it until Year 13 so I can be an Interior Designer) but over these holidays I have been able to take some supplies home! My teacher was all for me taking home a huge slab of clay and so I've had a good time messing around with it. Next term I'll take it back to use the school's kiln. In comparison to last year's Art Diary (my A4 spiral bind full of my work), this year's was more frequently updated by me and I made sure to keep it very neat. Even so, both diaries got me Excellence. This year marking was done in more detail, hence my individual Excellences for drawing, understanding tone, painting, sculpture, my woodcut and my bookwork!

We progressed very rapidly through units on tone, tint and shade, shadow, clay vessels, clay impression and Mayan woodcuts. For the most part I was hugely behind the rest of he class with my slow yet careful pace, but my teacher said at Parent Interviews he didn't mind at all because my work was always finished eventually at an outstanding level! :)
Towards the end of Term 2 I sped up a little. Even now, in the holidays not all the projects got finished (though I finished all I started, just didn't get around to starting everything!) but my plan is to complete it all eventually because it was such a good curriculum. I loved every project we did and tried more new skills than I thought I would. Some I got the hang of straightaway, and some... will come in time!

~ Tone is a word used in Music, Art and Language to describe the strength or quality of a sound or note, a colour or shade, or a word or expression. In Art, tone refers to the degree of lightness or darkness of an area. Tone varies from bright white through to shades of grey, to deep black shadows. Tone is also used to describe the quality of a colour, often in comparison to an emotion, a temperature or a place. ~

~ A shadow is an area where direct light form a light source cannot reach due to an obstruction by an object. It occupies all of the space behind an opaque object with the light in front of it. ~

~ In colour theory, a tint is the mixture of a colour with white, which increases lightness. A shade is the mixture of a colour with black which reduces its lightness. ~

~ Woodcut printing is the oldest form of printing. Relief printing has its origins in China. The first form of printing arrived in Europe in the 15th Century. The first book printed in Europe was the Bible in 1458. ~

~ Glaze is silica in suspension in water. Glaze is a coating of liquid gas on the surface of a ceramic object. Glaze is coloured by adding oxide. It is fired to over 1100˙C in the kiln. ~

my art diary cover page

drawings of spirals and shadows

ROYGEBIV rainbow

element painting: fire and earth

re-creation of 2D shadow photograph

slab pot made after course conclusion at home

pinch pot to be a vase

pinch pot clay head - Mrs

pinch pot clay head - Mr


This year, as a Year 10, I only take Social Studies in Semester 2, the second half of the year. Currently I begin the course next week, having now dropped Visual Art for the more mundane, yet compulsory studies of our world. I do not know what we will learn about yet but I am looking forward to seeing who is in my class. Already I know a few which will make learning more fun and interesting.
I was chosen to be in an extension class for Social Studies, and the other students in my class and I will do Social Studies for Year 11 students. I think I'll cope just fine; this also means I will sit an NCEA exam at the end of the year for this subject and have the opportunity to obtain some credits here, a year early, which will help in my required quota of 80 next year.

I've had two weeks in my Social Studies class and was glad I knew everybody except for four people. We have a nice teacher who is so much like my teacher in Year 8. Our first study is about Terrorism. We've looked at what terrorism is, writing definitions so that we can conclude what acts were and what ones weren't terrorism.

- terrorism
the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

Of course we have looked at the 9/11 bombings and what makes a fundamentalist. From here we moved on to a study of the Islam religion, including their 5 Pillars and beliefs of Muhammed and the prophets. It has helped me understand a lot! I'm finding it very interesting.

The Islam religion cropped up again when we looked at The Crusades, the series of wars for mutual Holy Land around 1096 AD. Crusaders were Christians fighting Muslims for possession of lands such as Nazareth, Jerusalem and Bethlehem - places in which Jesus lived.

Today we watched a video of interviewed Muslims and the differences between everyday life for them, following Islam, and the extremists who used violence and terrorism to evangelize.

The information kept rolling in, in lectures from our teacher, to videos recorded previously and on the 11th of September this year, to sheets and sheets of exemplars, questions, revision notes and knowledge we had to acquire. The climax was the practice exam that we had, and although we were given only two hours and are getting three in November, I just got all I wanted written down (an essay about how an event - 9/11 - changed society) finishing within the last thirty seconds. I could have written about four times as much as I did, but I think I wrote everything required or what I thought I needed, so I'm happy with my Merit + that I was awarded! Bring on the real exam!

Monday, July 12, 2010


I have a good English teacher this year. I especially enjoyed our study in Term 1 of Danse Macabre! This can be translated to mean the Dance of Death. The rules of horror fiction are to drop subtle clues to the horror throughout the story, and not all at once, to add the supernatural and to give the ending a twist.

We started with Edgar Allen Poe and his poem 'The Raven'. We analyzed it and translated it into modern English, then Twitter posts, verse by verse. It is the longest poem!

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!

A small group of us took Stanza 12 and made it into a tweet:
"Have decided to pull up a chair; am now wondering what a raven would mean by 'nevermore.' "
As in introduction we all had to research about the Yiddish Golem (magically created beings that grow rapidly and gain strength with each passing day) and gargoyles (grotesque sculptures used in fountains or to scare away evil spirits).

We studied the story of 'The Monkey's Paw', which chilled us all to the bone. A discarded severed monkey paw is rescued by a man with a wife and grown up son. His friend tells him to burn the talisman, that there are associated stories that it will grant three wishes to three people, and that the first user's third wish was for death, which occurred, and so the paw was given to this man. The family is quite skeptical of the paw's powers, but wish for just enough money to help them pay the mortgage. The monkey's paw shakes and frightens them all but nothing happens so they leave it on a shelf.
One day the housebound wife and son are interrupted by a knock at the door. The visitor breaks the news that their father and husband was mangled in machinery at work and the body ripped to shreds. As consolation he gave them some money - the exact amount they had wished for.
Stricken with grief, the wife uses the second wish to bring the husband back from the dead. She can't see sense and is too desperate for him back, so makes the wish. A loud knock at the door rattles the house and the son is suddenly terrified for his innocent mother who expects her husband at the door in one piece. Knowing better, that just a corpse will greet them, the son protests. With the knocking increasing, the mother runs to unlock the door. In the few seconds she fumbles with the bolt, the son ha enough time to utter the third wish. The front door opens and the mother screams in anguish, for whatever was knocking at the door has vanished.

We read the story as a class and watched both the old version and the adapted modern version over the internet. Then we listened to the radio play of the story, from the olden days.
Here is the modern version from Youtube:

Roald Dahl's 'The Ratcatcher' story was read to us too, and we looked at how the suspense was built.

A master of suspense, we watched some of Alfred Hitchcock's films, like 'The Rope', and enjoyed the tension of a dinner party hosted by the murderers, being eaten off a chest containing the body, and the slow, tantalizing realization on who the murderers were (and in fact, that there was a murder at all) from a suspicious close friend.

Flash fiction horrors were really hard for me to write because of the word limit, but here are the unedited drafts of stories I wrote:

"My muscles groaned in protest as I lowered my son and I deeper into a black hole of nothingness; the mine I worked in to provide income.
It was evening outside. My flickering torch was all the light we'd get.
We passed figures painted on the mine walls on the way down. Painted in animal blood, from ancient times. The figures depicted a series of events involving bloodthirsty goblins and women being murdered in cold blood while warriors fought in vain.
The drawings seemed to come alive. I could hear the cries of the dying, could feel my hair rising. Nicholas shuddered. We both heard the cry of scavenging ravens.
One sketch of a witch frightened even me. Her teeth pulled back, leering; I gazed into her cold eyes and saw them wink at me.
At once we heard her cackle. I noticed a shadow climbing up the wall from the bottom. I felt Nicholas freeze and whimper. Fumbling with the ropes, I jerked on the one that would take us up, away from the horror reaching for the platform. I jerked too hard. Nicholas toppled off.
He and the witch fell to the bottom and I? I sat and sobbed."

"At 16, Caroline was on top of the world. She had good grades and eagerly anticipated the future. The icing on the cake was a new job as apprentice chef over the summer holidays. The call had come, and the raspy chef's voice had congratulated her and officially employed her.
All this ran through her mind as Caroline got off the bus at the door to the restaurant she was to work in.
She entered the kitchen at the back of the restaurant and was greeted formally by Head Chef. She was taken on a tour of the kitchen and put to work on a bench top down the window side.
Time passed quickly. From time to time work got busy.
The cooks had temporarily disappeared when Caroline got back from the rubbish skit outside. The jug, however was boiling and the mirror above the stove had steamed up.
Caroline gasped in horror at the word that an unknown finger had traced in the foggy glass, for her. Racing over, she saw that it read: 'I'm watching! ...'"

Requirements: onomatopoeia, old people, cave setting.
"I woke to the sound of splashing, of sploshing, not unlike the leaky tap at home. I knew I couldn't be at home - my back ached and my toes were numb.
Easing myself up I looked around; peered into the shadows of the cave I found myself in. It was a deep one. Outside the light was glaring, but, as I squinted, a hunched shadow obscured the light. My eyes didn't adjust very well now, and I couldn't see my kidnapper clearly.
I did, however, see the hunting knife he held, and a sharp intake of air made him look over. His eyes were all I could see. The penetrating orbs squinted and I felt a pang of familiarity, then it was gone. Fear took hold as he moved slowly forward, taking little cautious steps. His shaking hand holding the knife, I knew my life was about to end. I prized the weapon out of his childlike grip and delivered a blow. At once, I knew I'd killed him.
Flap flap flap. I spun around and spied a grotesque cave bat. Was that what my perpetrator had been aiming for? Something occurred to me, that my husband had always been deathly afraid of bats. I gasped and dragged the corpse into the light, sweat making me all clammy and frightened.
I turned the aged body over, took his wrinkled old hands in my own, ancient, veiny ones and sobbed. It was Ernie, my husband."

Collaborated Horror, My Piece:
"There was a loud noise and I spun around, my heart hammering, my hands sweating. Sweeping my eyes around the room, I cast them upon the Victorian doorway of the house I was robbing. I swallowed nervously and turned back around slowly..."

"At two in the morning, the Cobbleton Train Station was completely deserted, all except one lone, solitary black figure waiting motionlessly at the end of the platform.
By day the station was a busy, crowded place, small children clinging desperately to their parents, buffeted by the moving mobs of hurrying businessmen, women traveling to the markets, and fat men in sandwich boards pacing the platform and calling out their ware.
By night, the echoes of bawling babies and frantic fathers reverberated off the walls of the station, fell into the tracks and resounded much further down the line of sleepers and rails, pinging quietly into the distance, at last being swallowed by the entrance to the Minsoonian Tunnel, which was, at this time of day, one, big, black nostril to the noisy dragon that rumbled and stirred every hour.
The silence wafted over the station as it met a rolling fog from the east. The two forces intertwined and became one silent, chilling mass that froze the patient passenger to his very core. He shivered and pulled his coat tighter around his freezing body, and the fog moved on..."

Horrors with a surprise ending were our next focus, and our big assessment was to write a horror story with a twist, purely our own, which was fun for me. The night before our first draft was due I sat with no ideas, but started to write anyway, and following three edits, I handed in Digging For Truth.

"Gilroy and I had a week left on the gold mine when our luck started to change, for the worst. The two of us had met in the tavern a month previously, but now it was our last Wednesday at the diggings. We were sitting in Gil’s tent as our dinners were boiling away and between us were my meagre riches. Truth be told, I hadn’t been too fortunate, but neither had Gil, which made me feel a little more appreciative.

It was probably our lack of gold that invoked us to search further afield the following day. We trekked down to the river and walked parallel to it for about ten minutes, both of us seeking an unpopulated space. We passed clusters of miners on the way, these of which grew more and more scarce as we progressed. One balding man advised us not to carry on alone, for had we not heard of Alistair’s disappearance around the area in the early hours of the morn. We hadn’t. As if to further his point, the bachelor described a haunted part of the river bank, a little way up, beyond the rapids. Gil and I looked at each other, and at once it was decided we’d try there anyway.

And so we moved on, and arrived at the rapids, which we cautiously crossed. We found ourselves at the entrance to a shallow cave, underneath a chalky, clay outcrop. I peered in and around, but no-one seemed to be present. Hands shoved in pockets, we sauntered in, stooped to half our heights, but there actually wasn’t a lot in the cave, so I turned to climb out again when my eye caught gold, shiny gold, and masses of it, wedged behind a rock.

“Gil!” I exclaimed, but I didn’t need to say anything more. In wonder we wistfully lusted for it, but, on hearing my good Christian mother’s disapproval in my mind, I backtracked and stepped back out into the glaring morning sunlight.

Gilroy’s intake of breath made me glance around, and frozen, we were able to hear a rustling in the forest behind us. Wide-eyed, I motioned for Gil to follow me back across the river and into the bushes there, where we lay in wait, our hearts pounding.

Sure enough, a few seconds later, we watched a figure approach the cave, lugging an obviously heavy mass; my eyes confirmed it was a body, and I muffled a gasp, concentrating, instead, on normalizing my heart rate, which was twice its normal speed.

For a long moment, I thought the man had heard me, because he looked around him for quite a while before dragging the body into the cave.

Gil and I breathed quietly for a while, then slowly got up and retreated. Thudding and scraping noises were coming from the cave, and I shuddered at the thought of what might be happening in there. Yet the thought of what weapons the murderer might have hidden in his lair drove me faster up the bank to the road.

Safely, a little while later, we discussed all we had seen. Gil somberly urged the two of us to go back and find out more, but I was in two minds. My train of thought was broken, however, when a familiar voice called us outside.

My tent neighbour, Arthur, told us gravely that another man had gone missing from the same track and no-one was advised to travel home alone, nor at night, anymore.

Upon this news, Gil and I retrieved our hidden pistols, merely for self defence, and, shoving them in our belts, we sprinted down the track to the gully. We slowed as we neared the rapids, but couldn’t hear any unnatural sounds, so peeped into the cave to check that the interior was all clear - and indeed it was. Puzzled, we set off into the forest…

... I bumped into Gil who’d stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of a human leg tucked under the shrubs. It was fresh, and my hand shot to my mouth. Grimly, Gil grabbed my arm and pulled me in deeper, both of us wary.

It was I who had the disadvantage of discovering the arm in the hollow of a tree, pale and pointing deeper into the forest, and it was Gil who spotted the torso of a headless man behind a rock. I whimpered at the gory viewing.

“If this was a trail,” I reasoned, “then the murderer…”

“Bert!!” cried Gil. I was too late to hear the warning in his cry until I spun around, pulling out the pistol as I did so, and noticed a silhouette in the sunlight that I ignorantly hadn’t seen before.

Our quarry, if we weren’t his, I realised with a jolt, sat poised on a stuffed piece of sacking, in what would appear to be a relaxed pose, if it weren’t for the little black pistol in his hand, cocked, and pointing at Gil.

“Well done for completing me treasure hunt,” the older man said. Gil made a small noise of surprise, but the man continued,

“I s’pose you’d like the loot?” On seeing our confusion, he incredulously remarked, “You didn’t think I’d forget to take the gold off me victims, did you??”

Holding his pistol, he singlehandedly reached underneath him and produced the sack, which he handed to me. It was heavy. My heart leapt into my mouth. Gold! I dropped my gun hand to peer inside the sack, the contents causing me to shout, for inside the sack was a severed head, and my eyes widened, glued to the horror in the sack. I gulped.

As my attention had been distracted, the man had raised his weapon at me, and Gil, with a bellow, had launched himself between us, his pistol pointing back at the man. I looked up in shock and a cloud passed over the sun.

On the main road, a lone miner on his way home glanced up to see the sun covered by a cloud. Then a single gunshot brought him back to reality and he galloped his horse away, fear in his heart."

This piece of creative writing scored me a 6+ and a 7-, if I can remember correctly. Take a look at the marking system we use on, in the navigator blog. All assessments so far in English this year have been 6 - 7s! The above Digging For Truth got me an Excellence.

The main study in Danse Macabre was on the book Skeleton Creek, which I enjoyed a lot. The chapters go hand in hand with a website, the book being Ryan's journal and the website (with passwords inside the book for access) of video diaries, being Sarah's. Despite their parents forbidding the two to be together after a serious accident that happened with Ryan, through emails and technology (and Sarah digging around the town for answers) they uncover the mystery of their spooky town, Skeleton Creek. Strange things go on deep in the forest and Sarah eventually helps bedridden Ryan to sneak out when she thinks she has the information she needs, out at night to the woods. They make it all seem rather dramatic, so Sarah wires her video camera up so that all that happens is recorded, just in case. The story leaves you at the crucial points with a password which must be entered on to find out more. Though there is a sequel I have not yet read, the first book ends with the last video showing a phantom locking Ryan and Sarah in a haunted house on their night out.

For quicker buffering I watched the videos via Youtube. We all love the second one:

We have two assessments per unit this year, although I think that our first essay was quite unrelated. Given a few choices of what to write about, I chose to do the one about e-learning in schools! It was, afterall, something I knew lots about and had some ideas and opinions on. Year 9 students at our school (starting only THIS year!) may bring a laptop to school and take some sort of class to support digital learning. It all started this year, and things really are changing. The essay I wrote at the beginning of the year also got me Excellence.

We have just completed our second unit for the term, called Wrong Side Of The Tracks, all about teenage crime and those who fall off the rails with modern day negative stereotypes against them. We looked at short stories 'The Last Spin' and 'On The Sidewalk Bleeding' which were disturbing! In 'The Last Spin', opposing gang members Danny and Tigo have agreed for their gangs to play Russian Roulettes with the kind of gun that had a bullet in one of six compartments. In turn they shot themselves in the head, all the while talking and coming to realize how stupid they were being. They discovered they were quite similar, and both had girlfriends which they agreed to double date with the following weekend. Wanting nothing but friendship they decided to just stop playing after the next shot each, which had had more bullets put in since. Danny took the last spin but this time it was fatal and it destroyed Danny; destroyed Tigo emotionally too.

'On the Sidewalk Bleeding' is written through the thoughts of gang member Andy, who had just been stabbed by a rival and was dying unaware of this. He thought of his girlfriend Laura at the party they had just been at and missed her more than anything. Calling to a drunk man he mustered all his strength, but the man thought drunkenly that he was sleeping. He called to an old lady, but she was deaf and didn't hear. Finally, he was found by a member and their girlfriend of another rival gang, but the boy preferred not to risk his status in the gang by helping out a rival gang member. Rival in New York, fellow in the human race; Andy died, but a second previously just managed to free himself of his fancy jacket, throwing it a little away. He'd wanted to die Andy, not a 'Royal'.

When the police and Laura found Andy, the policeman started to take notes. 'A Royal' he wrote, despite Laura insisting that he was Andy.

The stories conjured up so many lessons about stereotypes and not judging people by looks. We compared the stories and compared the characters, and apart from being written by the same author, the stories and the messages are very similar indeed. A comparative essay was our assessment; I got Excellence.

It introduced us well into our novel study, 'The Outsiders' by S.E Hinton. Having heard it praised immensely last year by my English teacher then, I read it a few weeks before this, out of curiosity. I skimmed it while my class read it and were moved too. It is a strongly recommended book and I back this up. Ponyboy is the dreamiest member of a Greaser gang, who make up the lower-class society and are rivals of the upper-class Socs. He is also the younger brother of Soda and Darry, but they mean he's in the gang at a mere 14 years of age. The seven boys are like family, especially as Darry, Soda and Pony are orphans and timid Johnny is abused at home. At the Drive In one night, Johnny and Pony meet some lovely Soc girls and become friends. Life goes on, but Pony is not happy at home. 20 year old Darry struggles with two jobs and being a solo parent to his brothers, and takes it out on Pony. Trouble starts when he slaps Pony in a rage and Pony grabs Johnny to run away with him. They get chased by a Soc gang though, and to save Pony who is being drowned in the park's fountain by a Soc, Johnny murders a Soc. Everyone flees, Johnny and Pony to rough friend Dally, who provides them with an escape route to the country. They take it and stowaway on the train to the countryside, which changes the boys, and makes them realize what more there is to life than the violence they've grown up in. They stay in a church, which on their return one day is on fire with a few kids playing inside. They become newspaper heroes because they save the children but Johnny is still badly hurt when Pony is released from hospital.

Meanwhile the Socs and Greasers have been organizing a huge rumble that Johnny won't be able to make, but is holding on to life in order to know if Greasers will gain the respect of the Socs. Ponyboy fights, as do all the Greasers; they wind up with a victory. Dally rushes Pony to the hospital to tell Johnny. They get escorted by police because they pretend that Pony's blood nose is their reason for speeding towards the hospital. Pony tells Johnny the good news and he is pleased but so near death. When he breathes his final breath, tough unemotional Dally is overcome with grief and runs off to burgle a shop. Pony goes into shock and more so when Dally calls the gang up to help him hide from the police. They arrive to see Dally pull out a fake gun he told them about earlier and try to defend himself against the cops. The police shoot ... and the gang loses their second friend to suicide, because it had all been planned.

Ponyboy writes the very story when the book ends with him starting his homework assignment, and trying to commemorate Johnny Cade.

Again I wrote an essay on 'The Outsiders' and described the recurring theme of the countryside. I discovered a them of gold, a colour connotated with heaven or purity, and wrote about all the times this theme appeared, then identifying how the author emphasized the theme in those fragments of text. I got Excellence!

Speeches were to come next but half the class voted for speeches and half to watch and analyze the movie 'Grease'. In the end, as preparation for our upcoming speech assessments, our teacher mixed the two topics and we're doing a new kind of assessment. In threes we are researching an issue that we then branch into three fields. We give individual speeches on this. My group is looking at Religion. More specifically, media's influence into religion and religious oppression; I am covering the whole subject of cults, religious diversity and the freedom of certain religions. It's the holidays and I should be writing my speech for next term!

- Luckily our presentation went very well, as did my speech, and I received back a 6-!

A couple of weeks ago we watched the documentary 'Growing Up Online' which was quite interesting and all about the overuse of computers by teenagers. Then we saw 'A Class Divided' about a third grade teacher, who, in order to teach the children about racism, split the blue-eyed children and the brown-eyed children into upper and lower class citizens for the day, then swapped them the next day. Half the class was not allowed to play on the playground, had to wear a collar around their necks, missed out on some recess and were treated unfairly. A couple of decades on, the documentary filmed their reunion as adults and they all discussed how that lesson had stuck with them. This lady tried her experiment on a couple of groups of adults after this to teach the same lesson. She's tried it with kids and adults, and my class was divided as to whether it was a worthy method or not. I'm still undecided!

Three credits were recently offered to Year 10 English students for a research task and essay report. I am a little ashamed to say I procrastinated too much and am waiting for my Not Achieved. Fortunately, if I do a little these holidays, I'll be ready for the re-submisson and I'll redeem myself here too. I don't normally work like this, but I hope I can pull away with the credits within a couple more weeks.

At the same time we worked in groups to write individual poems and put them in an anthology. I'm ecstatic that we got our Excellence. Here is my poem (which had to be related to a culture of some sort and identified with my group's anthology because of the 'summer' theme). Click on the poem and have a read.

Aside from that, the Year 10 English Exam will soon be coming and I will hopefully do well. After the exam has passed, we won't have very much left to study at all, and I'll become a Year 11 English student!