By Emily Corona
On October 31st, seven members of the Science Academy Debate Club took on their first Tri-County Forensics League (TCFL) Novice Speech Tournament with great success. The Debate Club consists of the high school students at the Science Academy, sponsored by Mr. Brooker, who have had prior experience with debate in their English classes. Now, these students have taken the initiative, using their skills developed from intramural debate, and dove into the competitive sphere against other school teams. The students participating hailed from a myriad of schools across the district, and were assigned number scores to determine their overall placements. The tournament itself, held over Zoom, consisted of thirteen different categories, two of which the team participated in on Saturday morning.
The team did incredibly well, with three participants from the Science Academy ranking in the top five in Spontaneous Argumentation. The argumentation was impromptu, and the students had no prior knowledge of the topics given. In this form of debate, participants are given one minute to prepare after the topic is presented, and after must argue their given stance. Some of the featured topics given included TikTok and its potential threat to national security, teachers sharing political views in classrooms, and sports teams and political slogans, according to Sarah Lane. Based on their argumentation and overall performance in comparison to other students in their breakout room, participants were awarded points. Sarah, an 11th grader and Debate Club historian, proudly placed first in the Spontaneous Argumentation event, netting over 289 total points. Leila Muney, tenth grader and Debate Club vice president, placed second and earned over 282 points for her performance. Mary Sarukhanyan, a 10th grader and current president of Speech and Debate Club, placed a close fourth in the event, as well, gaining 280 points.
One of the team members also placed in the top three in the Original Oratory event. Gregory Kislik, an 11th grader, placed third for his speech about misinformation, scoring an impressive 272 points. Greg was kind enough to provide portions of his oratory, which was to be prewritten and prerecorded for judging at the tournament. Greg’s speech, “An Untrue Truth”, talks about the need to be correct and how reliable sources can be subject to bias, as well as how misinformation has even permeated the scientific community:
“Researcher bias and error is a factor which can mislead the public because of the researcher’s perceived authority over a certain subject. Errors such as publication bias, in which publishing is based on outcome, reporting bias, which is the reporting of only positive outcomes (and neglecting negative ones), as well as spin (how the data is framed) are commonplace throughout research.”
Greg’s speech is an insightful look into the realm of misinformation, and how it affects everyone down to the sources thought to be unquestionably credible. The witty humor, coupled with the informational sources, provide an interesting take on something we often pay no mind to in the scientific community. It’s easy to see why he received such a high placement.
Overall, the team performed exceptionally well for their first official Speech and Debate tournament. Taking the majority of the top five of spontaneous argumentation, and securing a spot in the top three of the original oratory, club president and representative Mary Sarukhanyan is proud of her team. Mary commented on the team’s performance and experience going into their first tournament with the TCFL, saying:
“Everyone on the team was really nervous going into it, being our first time and over Zoom too. But we made a splash with our standings and even received comments from the co-president of our circuit. The team is thrilled with what we achieved and we’re preparing to kill it at our next event.”
It’s safe to say the Science Academy community is incredibly proud of how the team did in their tournament, and excitedly awaits the next one!Read More
by Ava-Ray Pributsky, Mariia Grigoreva and Desmond Devine
As we prepare to celebrate the holidays, it’s wonderful to recognize the diversity of winter celebrations: Hanukkah, Advent, Las Posadas, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, the New Year, Epiphany/Three Kings Day. So many ways to celebrate and honor traditions and cultures from around the world and through a large expanse of history. Here are a few of the ways some of these holidays are celebrated by our Journalism Club students.
Mariia’s Holiday Traditions:
Very soon, more than 2 billion people will be celebrating Christmas. Some honor it as a religious holiday, while many more will celebrate it even if they are not Christian. Here are my family’s holiday traditions:
In most families in Russia, Christmas is actually celebrated on January 7th, because this is the date considered to be Christmas by Orthodox Christians, who use the Julian calendar, which predates the modern Gregorian calendar. However many families, including mine, combine it with the New Year holiday and celebrate them both on one day, December 31st.
Around 3 weeks before Christmas, we decorate the Christmas tree. We put many candies on the tree as decorations and every day before Christmas, we can eat one. If not all of them are gone, we eat what’s left on New Year’s Eve night.
In my family, we like to change the menu, but there are two common salads that we always eat on New Year and Christmas: “Olivie Salad” and “Herring under a Fur Coat”
Olivie Salad Recipe:
2 medium carrot
1 chicken breast
1 can of peas
5 salted cucumbers
Bake the chicken (30min on 350 degrees), Cook and cut eggs, carrots and potatoes into large dice. After the chicken has cooled somewhat, cut into large chunks. Chop up the rest of the ingredients and mix all together. Add mayo and your perfect salad is ready to eat.
Note: usually served cold, so put in the fridge before you eat it.
While my sister, my mother, and I prepare food, we usually have 2 very old movies playing, which we watch every single year: The Irony of Fate and Ivan Vasilievich: Back to the Future.
On the 31st of December, while the clock is striking 12 am, the adults make a wish. They write it on paper, burn it into a glass with champagne, and drink. Some just make a wish and drink, but everything has to be done while the clock is striking midnight. That is an important part of the tradition.
After everyone eats, we call all our relatives and give our best wishes for the New Year. Afterwards, we open the presents and listen to Christmas/New Year songs. In my family, we don’t wait until morning and open our presents around 1am.
Ava-Ray’s Holiday Traditions:
Decorate the House:
In my family, we celebrate Hanukkah, but we also put up a winter tree with lights and ornaments. Many of the ornaments are handmade. Each year we make a new ornament to represent the year. What should it be for this year? Maybe a mask or a vaccine syringe?
Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows:
A mashed sweet potato with butter and maple syrup topped with melted marshmallows. This is what my Grandmother and her mother made during Thanksgiving and the winter holidays every year. It reminds me of sitting with my family at the table, being together and eating wonderful food. This dish is very sweet and is often served as dessert in my household. A sweet dish to remind me of sweet memories.
Lighting the Menorah:
Every year in my family, we light the Menorah and say the prayers of Hanukkah. My dad tells the story of how the Jewish people did not have enough oil to light their temple lights because the temple had been raided and ransacked. They found only a small amount of oil in the rubble. They thought it would only last for a day or two, but it lasted 8 full nights. That is the Hanukkah miracle, that there was light during the darkness, during the pain. We have latkes and corned beef sandwiches and then we get our Hanukkah gifts. The holiday is about comfort, good food, and games. We each try and think of our reasons to be thankful and how we have made it to this Hanukkah.
Latkes and Applesauce:
Savory potato pancakes (almost like hash browns) with sweet apple sauce on top. When I was really little, my favorite part of Hanukkah was the latkes. Savory, buttery, potato goodness with sweet applesauce for dinner? Yum! My family would gobble down 3 latkes each at the very least. I would stuff my face with yummy food until I could not eat any more and then sit down on the couch and fall asleep.
Baba’s Latke Recipe:
6 large potatoes, grated
1 large onion, grated
2 eggs, well beaten
2 tablespoons of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
A pinch of pepper
4 tablespoons of oil
Peel the potatoes and onions. Grate potatoes and onions or use a Cuisinart and drain the extra juice. Add eggs, flour, salt, and pepper. Mix well. Heat oil in a large skillet and drop the batter in by spoonful. Fry to a deep brown on both sides. Serve with applesauce, sour cream, or vanilla yogurt. Geschmack! (Yiddish for licking the plate goodness!)
Prayer on the first night of Hanukkah: Praised are you, our God, ruler of the universe, who has given us life and sustained us and enabled us to reach this season. I am so thankful to be with my family on this Hanukkah. I know there are many people across the country and around the world, including in my own family, who have not made it to this Hanukkah. I think about them and say a prayer for them.
Have you ever wondered why our calendar is the way it is? Why certain holidays are recognized on specific days? Sure, Christmas was the day Jesus was said to have been born and the 4th of July is the day America declared its independence, but what about the other ones? Is there any deeper reason why holidays are celebrated at a certain time in the year other than “tradition”? Let’s consider the celebration of the New Year and my proposal for a more scientific and seasonally accurate date for the holiday.
Our calendar, along with many other aspects of our culture, stems from Roman civilization. On December 31st, Romans would have a feast and celebrate Janus, the god of new beginnings. He was said to have two faces, one looking to the past and the other towards the future. This evolved into our New Year celebration today, but to be honest it doesn’t make much rational sense and feels a bit arbitrary as a date to start the year. A more practical celebration would be on Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, since this is when our days start to become longer again and the seasonal cycle of Earth resets. Recognizing Winter Solstice as New Year’s Day would give the holiday an astronomical purpose and might make us more mindful towards the cyclical nature of our solar system.
[Roman God Janus]
Whichever holidays you and your family celebrate and however you celebrate them, we are all so happy for our health, our family’s health, making it through the 2020 Fall semester of The Science Academy, and the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccines. We wish good health and happiness to all, and look forward to a very happy, hopeful, and healthy New Year!Read More
by Milan Riley
Options for LAUSD Learning Models under COVID-19:
It’s been about 8 months since Los Angeles Unified schools shut down in-person instruction because of COVID-19, and currently, the effects of the Coronavirus are still on-going. One effect is state guidelines that say schools cannot reopen at this time due to the risk of infection. Even though most officials believe no change can occur to this policy until after the winter flu season, they are still preparing for what’s to come once schools begin to re-open, especially in light of the upcoming vaccines. Therefore, LAUSD has come up with two learning models that will be put to use once it is safe enough to return to some in-person instruction days on campus. The Hybrid model is one of the systems LAUSD has prepared that allows students to have some in-person instruction days amongst some fully remote instruction days. The other system is the Online Only model, which allows students to keep on receiving fully remote instruction for school like they are now. Recently, LAUSD and the individual schools have sent out information about these two models and are allowing families to choose which model they would rather participate in once it is safe for schools to reopen.
If experiencing the Hybrid Model, students will have in-person instruction some days with a fewer number of fellow students then there used to be on campus before Covid-19. Students will also have some fully remote instruction days within the 5 days a week of school. The same group of students will learn together each in-person instruction day, and students will stay in the same classroom for each class. Daily meals will continue to be provided for families. What times students are on campus is determined by their grade; families can choose to switch from Hybrid learning to Online Only learning anytime throughout the year.
Online Only Model:
Online Only learning would have students remain in remote learning classes, giving students a mix of live teaching through technology and independent time to work. Families experiencing Online Only teaching will still have access to provided daily meals through Grab & Go by the school. Students can only switch from Online Only to Hybrid at designated points throughout the school’s schedule, which has not been determined yet.
For elementary school, students may be introduced to “Virtual Academy” and taught by teachers by neighboring schools alongside students from that school. This might be necessary based on how many families choose to learn virtually. However, LAUSD will try their best to keep students with their current teachers.
LAUSD has made guidelines of the many safety precautions each school will have to follow. One safety precaution is that the District is releasing a digital application called the Daily Pass. It is a required daily health check-in for anyone entering a campus or office. The health check monitors safe behaviors, physical wellness, and potential exposure to the Coronavirus. If someone can’t get the digital version, health checks are also available at schools or office entrances. Individuals who successfully complete the health check can get a Daily Pass to enter schools and offices.
Another safety precaution is the saliva tests and nasal swabs that will be used to test individuals for Covid-19 at certain times throughout the year; in addition, you will be able to make appointments for this online. All tests are free and show results within 10 minutes. These results will be strictly confidential. All schools will have temperature checks, physical distancing, constant disinfecting, and upgraded ventilation systems as safety precautions as well.
LAUSD has also kept programs for gifted/talented students, students with disabilities, early education students, and students learning English or standard English included with the new learning systems. Not only that, but transportation services to school will be available to Hybrid learning students if they apply for that on the form.
If a student needs extended supervision when not receiving in-person instruction, options will be available for that on campus as well.
LAUSD can be contacted by anyone with questions or concerns via LAUSD’s Helpdesk Hotline at (213) 443-1300. In addition, parents, guardians and students can contact their school for additional support or guidance. For more information on LAUSD’s Covid-19 testing program, you can visit https://achieve.lausd.net/covidtesting.
Each family is responsible for choosing which model they want their student to be in by filling out a form, they can complete their form at https://reopening.lausd.net/familyselection or fill out a hard copy that is requestable at their school. This form gives brief information on the future learning system, and has multiple sections asking questions or giving additional information. Some sections are transportation, resources, satisfaction, communication and support, but there are many more questions/sections as well.
One thing essential for completing this form is the student’s ID, though that has proven to be quite challenging to find sometimes. Therefore, families can see their student’s ID in Parent Portal (https://parentportalapp.lausd.net/parentaccess) if they are registered, or ask for this information from their school. Families may also call the Helpdesk hotline at (213) 443 – 1300 to find this information.
Families can look at all the information about the new learning system on the family guide at https://reopening.lausd.net/familyguide to decide which learning model they want, which will also be mailed as a printed copy to everyone. This form is available in multiple languages and is due by December 6th, 2020; if no form is filled out for a student, they will automatically be placed in the Hybrid learning model. In the form it is noted to families that things may also change in the future. Here’s a example of the beginning of the survey:
by Allen Choi and Payton Suh
Although the Coronavirus has brought shutdown to many parts of the world, many things, both good and bad, have happened to our Earth due to a decrease in human activity. Ever since we have been in lockdown, the Earth has been changing slowly in many ways. From CO2 emissions to the ozone layer, quarantine may be bringing a positive effect on the environment.
The Los Angeles Air Quality
The Coronavirus has brought many surprises, such as the sudden decrease in pollution in Los Angeles. From mid-March to early April 2020, one of the most polluted municipalities in the world had a sudden streak in good air quality. Studies show that Los Angeles air quality hasn’t been so good since 1980, over 40 years ago. The average bad air quality in Los Angeles was cut down by 20%. Researchers also found a drop of 40% in PM 2.5, which is a group of microscopic pollutants that can cause serious issues with respiratory and cardiovascular functions. PM 2.5 gets into the air through many sources; in Los Angeles, this mainly happens because of vehicle traffic. Since quarantine has encouraged people to stay at home, traffic has been reduced, which is why PM 2.5 levels have decreased.
The decreased pollution in Los Angeles gave the city some beautiful views. But unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Soon after the decrease in air pollution, Los Angeles’s good air quality streak has slowly gone back to normal. Some people claimed that Coronavirus had got rid of smog. Is this true? Not really. Even though being in quarantine contributed to decreasing pollution, being stuck inside our houses was not fully responsible for the clean and fresh air. Air quality experts say that stormy spring weather was another main contributor to why the Los Angeles sky was so clear. Another study shows that the good air streak came to an end because of a recent heatwave, which created unhealthy smog levels again. We do have to remember that the Los Angeles basin traps both water vapor via our regional marine layer, particulate matter, and emissions, creating smog. Health officials suspect worse air quality as we head into the hotter summer months. So, did quarantine cause the air in Los Angeles to become more clear? Not exactly, but being in lockdown surely did make a good impact on our air quality. Perhaps we can maintain some of the improvements if we continue to reduce our driving and industrial emissions.
The Arctic Ozone Layer
Recently, there have been reports from NASA about changes in the ozone layer over the Arctic. The ozone layer sits in the stratosphere and is very important to the planet. Ozone consists of three oxygen atoms, and ozone molecules are highly reactive. Although just three oxygen atoms, these atoms block ultraviolet radiation. The ozone level should be well-maintained because ultraviolet radiation can cause skin cancer, eye cataracts, genetic, and immune problems. Oftentimes, Dobson units are used to measure ozone levels. Unfortunately in the Arctic, the ozone layer in the stratosphere has been damaged quite a lot. In recent years, it’s become worse due to global warming. However, the ozone levels in March were at around 205 Dobson. This is low compared to last year’s ozone levels at this time. Seasonally, an Arctic “hole” appears in our protective ozone layer. Chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons have been destroying the ozone layer in the Arctic for the past century, eventually causing the famous hole that formed in Antarctica in the 1980s. In 1987, over 175 countries agreed to stop using these chemicals.
Astonishingly, in the last days of April, scientists announced that the Arctic “hole” had healed, according to Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. Experts say that this “healing” is most probably due to reduced industrial activity as well as reduced travel via cars and planes, although there is still not enough information to make an accurate claim.
Over the past decade, annual CO2 emissions have increased by 1% (excluding 2019). CO2 is important for the carbon cycle, especially to green plants. Green plants use CO2 to create glucose, which plants need for survival. But CO2 is also a greenhouse gas, this means that it contributes to global warming. When cars use fossil fuels to run them, CO2 or carbon dioxide, is released into the atmosphere. Even the slightest increase in CO2 causes the Earth to get warmer.
Since being told to stay in our homes, fewer cars roam the streets. Because of this, there has been a decline in CO2 emissions, which is beneficial to the environment in the sense that it helps fight against global warming. Recently, daily global CO2 emissions have fallen by an average of 17%, compared to the Spring of 2019.
Wild Animals Take Over
In some major cities, as people stay in their homes, animals have begun to explore areas that they were once too afraid to venture into. In some cities, wild animals have been seen on the streets. In Nara, Japan, about 100 deer were spotted walking in the city. Mountain goats were found walking on the streets in Llandudno, Wales because of the lack of people. There are also many other animals that are walking into the road such as boars, coyotes, alligators, hippos, and, in Chile, even pumas. Sadly, some animals who live in or near cities have grown dependent on humans as sources of food handouts. Fox News reported that hungry monkeys have been sighted fighting for food in the cities of Thailand and India. Hopefully, as lockdown restrictions begin to be eased, animals and humans can find away to peacefully co-exist in high population areas again.
We hope this article gives you good information on some of the recent changes in the environment. – Payton Suh and Allen Choi
Sources UsedRead More
by Suren Grigorian
Following the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus resulting in an increasing number of infected people, we are entering a new era filled with fearful projections of the future. A large majority of that fear appears to originate from fear of the unknown, specifically from the fact that among the individuals representing the statistical majority of the public, a small quantity possess actual knowledge of the scientific mechanisms responsible for the dissemination of the virus or what may remain attempted to halt the aforementioned spread. The fact that the mechanisms of the virus, to the general public, remain an opaque novelty is particularly dangerous, as ignorance fosters misinformation and misconceptions; thus, this article shall attempt to elucidate the fundamental principles behind the outbreak in a manner which, the author hopes, shall relieve a small quantity of the anxiety associated with this event, an event which has effected great change upon the lives of us and our relatives.
For an individual to understand the fundamentals of the outbreak, it first remains necessary to understand the virus itself. The virus, currently designated as the Severe Acute Respiratory Disease Coronavirus 2 or SARS-CoV-2 via scientists, primarily remains classified as a member of the family Coronaviridae; generally named for their appearance, similar to a crown beneath an electron microscope. Coronaviruses remain associated with numerous mild illnesses affecting the upper respiratory tract, including the common cold, a small fraction of which remains attributed to them. However, 3 viruses within this family, with the inclusion of SARS-CoV-2, remain attributed to severe respiratory diseases. The origins of the current virus remain slightly obscure, though the development of the virus allows for the delineation of its development. According to current scientific research, the genetic composition of the virus resembles the genetic composition of coronaviruses prevalent among bat species; however, additional evidence links the proteins upon the surface of the virus (discussed in additional detail further onwards) to pangolins, with the former remaining a particularly plausible explanation. Though the origins of the virus do not remain certain, a recent scientific statement within The Lancet regarding the danger of virus conspiracy theories cites papers analysing its genetic composition. One such paper concludes that the coronavirus possesses an approximate 88% similarity to 2 bat coronaviruses, providing general evidence that the virus remains of natural origin.
With a generalised scientific outline of the taxonomy and epidemiological history of the virus established, one can proceed to the biological components of the virus within its generality. To establish the fundamental biology of the virus, one must begin with its typology. The novel coronavirus remains classified as a positive-sense single-stranded RNA virus; the virus itself possesses an approximate width of 90 nanometres, while 4 varying proteins remain contained within the virus, in addition to the previously referenced genetic material. The virion primarily remains distinguished as a mammalian virus due to its external phospholipid membrane; such a membrane, primarily constructed from the external plasma membrane of the cells which the virus infects, assists within entry. The genetic material of the virus primarily contains approximately 29,900 nucleotides, a miniscule quantity in comparison to the gene sizes known to us today, but massive for the large majority of RNA viruses. The internal components of the genetic material of the virus determine the process of infection. 20,000 RNA bases, 20 kilobases within the virus, remain devoted to replicase genes, responsible for the construction of polyproteins, which remain divided into non-structural proteins. An additional 10 kilobases remain devoted to essential and accessory proteins, including the spike, envelope, nucleocapsid and membrane proteins. However, the large majority of scientific discussion concerns the membrane of the virus; here, the key to entry within a cell remains located.
ACE2, scientifically known as Angiotensin I Converting Enzyme 2, remains established as a protein receptor upon the surface of human cells responsible for regulation of cardiovascular and renal metabolism. However, it serves as a binding protein receptor to the spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2, forming a primary and crucial component of the entry of the virus into a healthy cell. An additional factor responsible for assisting the entry of the virus into the archetypal cell remains the serine protease TMPRSS2, responsible for assisting within S protein priming. The function of this remains the splicing of the aforementioned spike protein, producing a fusion peptide and allowing finalisation of entry. The surface of the virus additionally possesses such receptors as hemagglutinin esterase; however, this does not remain particularly applicable to the mechanisms via which the virus remains responsible for infecting human cells.
However, an essential component of the general effect of the virus upon the human body remains the entry of a singular virus within a singular human cell. This occurs via a detailed biological process responsible for general infection. Firstly, the spike protein receptors upon the surface of the virus attach to the ACE2 receptors upon the surface of the human cell (As previously referenced, the serine protease TMPRSS2 splices the spike protein, producing a fusion peptide and allowing entry). Following this, a series of processes occur which allow for the replication of the simplified genetic material of the cell via the utilisation of replicase enzymes which exist within the cell itself; a set of pp1a and pp1b polyproteins remain produced, primarily responsible for the formation of a replicase-transcriptase complex, which manufactures replicated RNA segments. As viral proteins remain manufactured and assemble concomitantly to the proteins comprising the viral body, exocytosis occurs, releasing additional viruses into the interstitial fluid of the body and producing the incipient entrance instances of a viral infection within the body. The spike proteins which mediate these processes within viruses (including the virus responsible for the SARS outbreak within the early 2000s) and those within the coronavirus remain generally similar.
Though individual mechanisms of infection remain a component of the damage produced via the virus, its general effects upon the body and its methodology of attack remain an additional component. Analysis of this requires a general understanding of the immune system. A singular component of the mechanism utilised via the coronavirus to conduct a total bodily infection remains the offensive upon the human lungs. Following infection, virions enter the alveoli of the lungs, the primary centre for respiration and the general absorption of oxygen from atmospheric substances. With the virus inflicting severe damage upon the cells of the alveoli, leukocytes within the blood attempt to halt the damage, with the immune system producing an excessive reaction known as a cytokine storm. Within the worst instances, the walls of the alveoli collapse, producing acute respiratory distress syndrome. Acute respiratory distress syndrome remains defined as a respiratory disorder within which fluid from capillaries within the alveoli begins to leak, producing decreased quantities of oxygen within the blood stream and a condition known as hypoxemia. Following this, severe organ damage occurs, with potential sepsis resulting from immune system activity and producing a possibility of death. The final stage within the dissemination of the virus remains its spread to additional individuals. This primarily occurs via a system of release which necessitates the utilisation of masks; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus primarily remains released via infectious droplets of saliva or mucus, producing infections within additional individuals.
However, to produce a general understanding of the methodologies necessary for the development of an epidemic and an eventual pandemic, one must understand the mathematics of epidemiological dissemination; in particular, the development of the coronavirus remains reliant upon exponential growth. In particular, the general model utilised via epidemiologists remains the SIR model, additionally known as the susceptible, infected and recovered model, with the addition of exposed individuals. Utilisation of this model requires the application of Rₒ, the quantity of individuals which may remain infected as a fraction of the quantity who contact an infected individual. Following the progression of an epidemic, epidemiologists adjust this in association with variations within the progression of the pandemic, though the Rₒ of the virus remains 3. The mathematics of the development of the pandemic ultimately remain dependent upon this; the development of the epidemic, however, progresses beyond simple transmission models.
One could primarily characterise the development of the pandemic within an SIR model via a formula within which the change within the quantity of cases per day, perhaps represented as ΔC, remains equivalent to the quantity of individuals exposed each day, multiplied via the quantity of existing cases, multiplied via the probability of contracting the virus provided an instance of contact. When one utilises such a model, it remains effortless to note that at a particular point within the outbreak, all individuals within the population will remain infected and the virus will remain incapable of disseminating further. The question remains if the outbreak remains capable of infecting all individuals within the population, a definitively avoidable outcome; if this occurs, one could expect to observe exponential growth within an outbreak, decaying following a period of time. However, epidemics tend to follow, with the occurrence of restrictions, logistic growth, a mathematical methodology of growth whereby a function continues within a stage of exponential
growth for a period of time, following which, at the inflection point, the derivative of the function begins to decrease, within a bell curve pattern. Following this, the development of the epidemic remains drastically reduced, culminating within a flatline, where the quantity of additional cases remains particularly small. In fact, if one plots the derivative of the resulting function, known as the sigmoid function, the derivative intersects the Y-axis at precisely 50% of the value at which the sigmoid intersects; this indicates that the inflection point for the sigmoid function and thus, the point at which the dissemination of the disease begins to halt, occurs at the point within which the derivative attains its largest value.
Though this aspect of the outbreak possesses relevance, a particularly primary aspect remains the history of the outbreak; within weeks of its development, the entirety of the developed world screeched to a halt, industrially, commercially and governmentally. How did this occur? Beginning with the outbreak itself, one could analyse the development of the outbreak from its inception; on November 17, 2019, according to Chinese officials and the South China Morning Post, an individual, 55 years of age, became the first recorded case worldwide of the virus. During the previous year, approximately 266 individuals placed within medical surveillance remained registered; however, the extent of the outbreak became clear to Chinese Communist Party officials upon December 31, when government officials within the province of Hubei announced that several dozen individuals remained within treatment for a novel infectious virus, as of yet unknown to the scientific community. Upon January 11, the Chinese government reported the first death from the novel disease, a man of 61 years who purchased materials from the wet market where the virus remains suspected to have begun; the death occurred upon January 9, when the man, admitted to a medical facility for treatment, failed to recover and died of heart failure. Following this, the first confirmed cases were reported within external nations, as within the following days, Thailand, South Korea and Japan reported cases; upon January 21, the first case within the United States was reported, with a man of 30 years developing symptoms following his return from Wuhan.
Upon January 23, Chinese government officials ordered the immediate placement of the city of Wuhan and the province of Hubei within lockdown, prior to the Chinese Lunar New Year. At this point, approximately 570 individuals remained infected, with approximately 17 dead. The remainder of the nation experienced increased lockdown measures, with Lunar New Year celebrations cancelled. Upon February 2, 3 days following the WHO declaration regarding the coronavirus as an emergency of international concern, China reported approximately 14,380 cases. As the nation of China remained placed within severe lockdown, precautions began within additional nations; several governments imposed testing upon all entering flights and their passengers. Several days prior, human-to-human transmission remained conclusively located, massively increasing the urgency of global preparations. Upon February 9, approximately 37,198 cases remained recorded, with noted Chinese whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang dying of the disease upon February 7.
On February 14, France became the first nation within Europe to report a death resulting from the novel virus, with Italy reporting 3 deaths upon February 23 and local government officials halting the Venice Carnival, an event which, were it to continue upon its charted schedule, could produce hundreds or perhaps thousands of additional infections. From February 24 to March 1, a wave of incipient cases occurred, with nations such as the Netherlands, Greece, Georgia, Denmark and numerous contemporaries reporting initial cases. With cases exiting the quarantined and docked Diamond Princess cruise ship, upon February 27, the United States government began to consider the implementation of the Defense Production Act, which would grant President Trump the ability to control national production facilities within emergency situations. The first death within the United States occurred upon February 29, with President Trump disrupting travel from Europe upon March 11 and declaring a national emergency upon March 13. Gathering within groups of 50 or greater was promptly chastised via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and upon March 15, the New York school system, the largest within the United States, closed. Though the European Union, facing increasing infections, restricted non-essential travel into the bloc, 2 days following the announcement, upon March 19, China reported 0 local infections, with 14 resulting from external travel and approximately 80,967 infections total; the first nation to experience an immediate halt to the continuation of the virus, China reported positive results primarily due to their brutal quarantine measures.
Upon March 30, an influx of state isolation directives remained issued within the United States, with approximately 265 million Americans placed within isolation. Earlier, upon March 13, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second largest within the United States, announced a 2-week closure, extended first to May 1 and, following the initial announcement, to the terminal end of the school year. As the outbreak continued, numerous additional events began to contribute to its dissemination, with cases surging within Russia, deaths increasing within Iran and Italy and the United States assuming the mantle of the nation with the largest recorded quantity of coronavirus cases upon the planet. `Russia now possesses approximately 300,000 cases, an issue compounded via the manipulation of statistics due to bureaucratic machinations. And thus, our story returns to today.
With this immense quantity of suffering and death, as well as economic difficulties for millions of Americans and global citizens, one would naturally wonder: does there remain a cure? Scientists, researchers and pharmaceutical specialists across the world are labouring to locate a cure; so far, 7 promising treatments remain within clinical trials, according to The Economist. A promising option, one which I am sure our readers have observed within televised media, remains remdesivir, a treatment originally developed via Gilead Sciences, a prominent American pharmaceutical corporation. As a nucleoside analogue, a treatment which mirrors the chemical structure of genetic material, the efficacy of remdesivir primarily remains attributed to its ability to prevent genetic replication. In addition to 2 trials within Asia developed via Gilead Sciences, the chemical remains authorised for emergency clinical utilisation within the United States, with supplies allocated to hospitals within multiple states. However, though promising, it does not halt the effects of the virus totally, with several researchers insisting it possesses a minor effect and a previously cited Chinese study within this article additionally supplementing this view.
If not remdesivir, then what? Trials of the clinical cocktail Lopinavir-Ritonavir, commercially known as Kaletra, remain within progress or completed. However, as within the case of a study published within the New England Journal of Medicine, they do not necessarily deliver promising results, with an additional study published within The Lancet indicating that triple antiviral therapy performed superiorly to Kaletra. Perhaps favipiravir, known as Avigan, then; this appears to remain the case, as the Russian government, in association with domestic pharmaceutical groups, indicated that a trial of the treatment remains near completion, displaying greater than 80% efficacy. Tocilizumab, known as Actemra commercially, remains an additional option; approved for utilisation within China and sparingly utilised within Italy, it prevents inflammatory responses such as the referenced cytokine storm within its standard application as an arthritis drug.
As for vaccines, numerous varying methodologies exist for the development of vaccines to combat the virus. These include live vaccines, viral vector vaccines, nucleic acid vaccines, protein-based vaccines and additional types. Within a live vaccine, a weakened or destroyed version of the virus, with spike proteins intact, remains introduced within the body, allowing for immediate recognition via the immune system and the development of immunity. The American biotechnology corporation Codagenix, within collaboration with the Serum Institute of India, currently remains within the process of developing a deactivated live vaccine. Viral vector vaccines, additionally known as recombinant vector vaccines, utilise the process of genetic modification to introduce relevant spike protein genome sections within the genomes of varying viruses, such as adenoviruses, an approach pursued via Johnson & Johnson and CanSino, the latter of which possesses a Phase II vaccine. Nucleic acid vaccines, a novel and untested development within the field, primarily remain reliant upon recent advances within genetic engineering, whereby the coronavirus spike peptide gene, in addition to a quantity of DNA, remains subjected to electroporation, developing membrane pores to increase acceptance and allowing for the production of spike proteins, triggering an immune response. This remains within Phase I trials under the guidance of Beijing Advaccine Biotechnology Inovio Pharmaceuticals as a DNA vaccine and an RNA vaccine under Moderna and CureVac, the latter of which aims to “print” such components. Protein-based vaccines primarily insert large quantities of independent antigens, triggering an individual immune response; this remains pursued via Clover Pharmaceuticals, Novovax, the notable Sanofi Pasteur and the United States military, among others. With such entities as Oxford University, the US government and Chinese state apparatus developing vaccines, there remains a slight quantity of hope. However, solutions remain within the distant intervals of several months onward.
In conclusion, the author hopes that this analysis of the individual components of the worldwide coronavirus outbreak shall provide a sufficient quantity of comfort to those who are subjected to the jarring reality we face today. Hopefully, this virus shall be eradicated, but for now, our thoughts and hopes remain both with the relatives of those lost to the outbreak and to the researchers attempting to develop a cure.
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Making Masks At Home
By Frederick Ernst
Due to the coronavirus, it can be difficult to find masks in stores or on-line. CDC recommends the wearing of a mask when outside the home and when it’s difficult to remain 6 ft away from others in order to contain the microdroplets that can potentially carry the coronavirus. It’s important that we not buy and hoard the N95 masks that medical workers need right now. However, the City of Los Angeles has issued a requirement that all residents should wear a mask when outside the home, particularly when inside stores or other facilities. Luckily, you can create your own mask at home. Here are some various ways to do so.
One way to create a face mask is to make it out of a t-shirt. For this mask you will need a shirt made of tightly knit cotton material and 2 rubber bands or hair ties. In order to make this mask, first, cut off the bottom seven to eight inches off the t-shirt so you have a strip of material, lay it flat and turn it 90 degrees so what used to be the hem of the shirt which is usually double stitched, is facing left or right. Then, fold the top of the strip to the middle, and fold the bottom of the strip to the middle and repeat one more time. Loop one rubber band over each side (left and right) so it looks like a candy wrapper. Then fold the excess material on the right and left to the middle. Put a band over each ear, making sure the material fits snuggly on your face. Watch the tutorial here:
Another way to make a mask is to use a bandanna and a coffee filter. For this way of making a mask, you will need a bandanna, coffee filter, and 2 rubber bands. To make this mask, fold the bandanna in half. Fold the filter horizontally in half. Take the wider section of the filter and place it in the middle of the bandanna, and then fold the top and bottom of the bandanna. Repeat folding the top and bottom one more time. Loop a rubber band or a hair tie on the bandanna at the left and right side and then fold the parts of the bandanna over the rubber band that stick off over the band. Then, put one band over each ear. Watch the tutorial to see how:
One more way to create a face mask is to sew one. For this face mask, you will need 2 ten by six inch rectangles made from tightly woven cotton fabric, 2 six inch pieces of elastic or rubber bands, cloth strips, string, hair ties. You also will require a sewing machine, a needle, and thread. To assemble this mask, first, stack the two pieces of cotton fabric on top of each other, and then fold the longer 10 inch sides a quarter inch down and sew them together. Then, fold the shorter 6-inch side a half inch down and sew at the edge leaving a small space to loop the elastic in. Thread the elastic in the opening you made. Then tie the ends together. Tuck the knots into the opening. Then, gather the short sides together and sew the elastic into place, as shown below.
by Ms. Kincaid and David Tang
I’m sure there are many of us who read about what’s happening in the news and see how hard healthcare and frontline workers are working to keep us safe, and we wonder, “What can I do to help?” Well, 8th grader Zyg Ramsay went ahead and decided to do something about it. He saw the challenges that healthcare workers were having getting all the Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE, they needed. With a highly contagious virus like SARS-CoV-2, doctors, nurses and others must have not only masks and full gowns, but also face shields to prevent the microdroplets that could carry the virus from coming in contact with their faces. Zyg saw that Budmen Industries was looking for volunteers to help flatten the curve and protect healthcare workers by using their home 3D printers to print these face shields.
As he explains, “I was fiddling around on the internet and found the Budmen website that contains 3D printing files. You register to become a producer. They didn’t tell me what to do so I just printed one to see how it worked. I thought, “Once they email me to start printing stuff I will.” I got an email from Budmen saying there was an L.A. location, with somebody putting it together in the L.A. area, so I signed up for that. I didn’t have to design the file; you don’t code the printer’s movements, there’s a program that takes a 3D image and converts it into text which the printer follows.”
MS KINCAID: What material do you use to print the face shields?
ZYG: I use PLA [polylactic acid] for the face shields, which is a plastic made from corn, so it is biodegradable. My printer melts it at 200⁰ C and prints each of the 30 layers layer by layer, printing a complete face shield in 2 hours. There are two things I print for it. One is the actual shield in front of the face, and the other is the strap lock that keeps the elastic in place.
MS KINCAID: About much does it cost to make each one?
ZYG: I calculated it at one point, I think it’s around 12¢ of material for each one. I’ve printed 59 shields, so almost 3 kg of plastic.
I asked Zyg how he got into 3D printing. “About 2 years ago, I read about 3D printing in MAKE: magazine. My first printer cost around $200, but it was only able to print up to 4 cubic inches. I got a larger one for Christmas that can print up to 11 cubic inches.”
Our interview continued:
MS KINCAID: What else are you working on?
ZYG: Right now I’m working on making two drones. One is a tricopter with three propellers and servo motors to turn the propellers. From what I have read, it’s is much more stable and easier to control, but for some reason it’s less common than the quadcopter, the normal drone with a
MS KINCAID: Why do you think that the tricopter is better than the quadcopter?
ZYG: The tricopter doesn’t turn by slowing down one propeller and speeding another like the quadcopter, it turns the servo. It also doesn’t lean when it moves to the side, it stays in place, which helps people with cameras on their drones.
I’m also working on a minor soldering project. My mom bought a PCB for me, which is a superthin circuit board, and I solder super tiny electronic pieces onto the PCB with solder, which is just super easy-to-melt metal that conducts electricity.
MS KINCAID: Are you just experimenting to see if you can solder that small or are you actually trying to modify the board?
ZYG: I’m just trying to solder that small. Usually I solder bigger things but it has the soldering pads to attach components to it. The last project I’m working on is my MakerSpace project, which is the prosthetic hand controlled by muscle signals.
MS KINCAID: Can you tell us about that?
ZYG: Basically it works with 5 servos connected to string that attaches to each of the 3D printed fingers. When the servo turns one way, the finger closes, and when the servo turns the other way, the finger opens. I control it using muscle signals with a control board connected to a microcontroller like an Arduino. The part connected to the muscle uses EMG [electromyography] to measure difference in electricity between different points on the arm. It uses this EMG to figure out if the person is trying to flex or relax. This works because muscles use actin and myosin fibers, triggered by electrical impulses and powered by ATP.
MS KINCAID: What is your goal?
ZYG: I want to make a very cheap prosthetic hand where you can move each finger independent of each other. Right now your options are: a cheap one that closes all fingers at a time, which is bad for writing or holding circular objects, or an independent-digit expensive hand for around $10,000. Mine would be $150-200 but with independent digits. I would want to program patterns into it for set hand positions because it’s hard to program in each muscle.
MS KINCAID: If this is meant for someone without those muscles? Where would the signals come from?
ZYG: Right now, I control it via my forearm. This is designed for somebody who has no wrist, but still retains most of the forearm, so you can still use the muscles of the forearm. Closing and opening the hand uses muscles in the forearm, not the hand or wrist. Just using the forearm is a bit harder, but you can learn to do it. Studies have shown that with training, you can learn to use your brain to control a whole prosthetic arm.
MS KINCAID: That is cool! Would the stickers with wire be attached to your temples, then?
ZYG: You wouldn’t use the stickers, you would use the headset that goes over your head and measures alpha brain waves. You can’t really control an arm with that outside of the lab because you would have to get something implanted in your brain to control the arm, and you can’t do that outside of the laboratory.
MS KINCAID: So I guess that’s where we are today, and we’ll keep moving forward with the technology. Thanks Zyg, I feel like I learned a lot today!
ZYG: Thanks, you too! Bye!
As Mr. Bradfield, Zyg’s MakerSpace teacher commented, “It was inspiring to see Zyg applying the design and engineering principles he learned in class to a real-world problem.” It is inspiring to see our students take what they learn and help make the world a little bit better!
If you are interested in registering to 3D print face shields, learn more by clicking below:
WELCOME TO THIS YEAR’S
BREAKTHROUGH JUNIOR CHALLENGE
You get it. You’ve grasped an important scientific theory, concept or principle.
Now can you share your insight?
An inventive video can get across complex material that would take pages of text to communicate.
To take part in the Breakthrough Junior Challenge (the “Challenge”), create a short video (3:00 minutes max) to explain a big idea in one of these fields:
- Life Sciences
Explain a big scientific idea in Physics, Life Sciences or Mathematics with a short video.
You will have until June 25, 2020 at 11:59 PM PDT to submit your video (3:00 minutes max).
You can take part in this year’s Challenge as long as you’re:
- 13 or older by 12:01 AM PDT on April 1, 2020
- Not older than 18 (not yet 19) as of 11:59 PM PDT on October 1, 2020
Your film can take any form you like: animation, talking head, documentary, dramatic reconstruction, whatever. It’s worth keeping in mind that video is a dynamic visual medium – using diagrams, simulations, physical demonstrations etc. is a lot more effective than standing in front of a blackboard talking.
The videos will be judged according to the following criteria:
For more info, application process, and previous year’s finalists: https://breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org/
From left to right: Elliot Lopez, Ellen Kozlov, Gillian Nail, Jaden Penhaskashi, Scott Oberholtzer
Congratulations to our new 2019-2020 ASB officers!
Jaden Penhaskashi – President
Elliot Lopez – Vice President
Scott Oberholtzer – Secretary
Ellen Kozlov – Treasurer
Historian – Gillian Nail
6th Grade: Kieron Lyons and Harrison Reisner
7th Grade: Suren Grigorian and Daniel Svediani
8th Grade: Joseph Kim and Lily Louis
9th Grade: Lucas Wein and Alexander Ashrafi
10th Grade: Melissa Mouchamel and Vincent Lee
Statement from Jaden Penhaskashi:
As the new Science Academy President, many students reasonably expect a lot from me, due to the high bar our previous President, Lorelei Santa Maria, set. Although I would like to make many improvements to our already wonderful school, as the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” My first order of business will be to continue all the amazing events put into place by our previous ASB, with some additions made in order to increase both school spirit and student involvement.
I will also prioritize finding a way to get more student feedback and increase the communication between ASB members and the general student body. Last year, there was an active tutoring program where older students helped many students who needed academic support. This year, however, that program has begun to slowly fade due to conflicting schedules of high school students. I plan on working with the school administration towards a solution. Finally, as a Science Academy high schooler, I know that many people in 9th and 10th grade feel that the school is treating both high school and middle school students as being the same. I would like to discuss with the ASB different ways to give high schoolers more privileges than they have at the moment.
I look forward to working with both ASB members and my fellow students towards improving our school, one step at a time! If you currently have any concerns or ideas on how to improve our school, please email me at email@example.com. I would love to hear your feedback!