English Literacy Round 3 – College Essay

The theme for English round three is identity. Because we are at the age to start planning our future and thinking about college, the aim of literacy this round is to start understanding more about ourselves and or course start writing college essays. In total, everyone wrote three essays, but choose only one that they think is the best and would get them into a college if they were to apply. The essay below is about my relationship with science. Enjoy reading!

Driving Force

Science has opened realms of understanding for humans ever since it came into existence. It is a way to explain concepts with proof and reasoning. But for me, it is beyond that. For me, science is more than a subject at school or a topic to discuss to sound nerdy. Science is part of me, that I still have yet to learn about. I am intrigued by science and especially intrigued by how it influences me.


In Cambodia, opinions of a child are seen as less important than the elder’s’. But science taught me to break that cultural barrier and have my voice be heard when I refused to drink honey with energy drink as replacement for a vaccine of a newly discovered hazardous disease that didn’t even affect Cambodia. Back then, even though I didn’t fully understand how vaccines work, I was able to piece information together and be an advocate for what I believe in.


Science taught me to make better choices in my life. That does not limit to only my choice of diet and lifestyle since it taught me to be a critical thinker. I’ve learned to ask questions and explore more than one side of a story or topic before picking my stance. I’ve become a critique of my own thought in choices and decisions making.


Science helps me cope with mortality and sometimes other personal matter. It explains death and the cycle of life in a way that is soothing and complete. It helps me stay calm and not freak out over physical symptoms that others may take as signs of lethal consequences. It helps me understand what healthy is and not diet to fulfil the beauty standard by the unspoken messages of  society.


To name a few, these are only some ways science help shape my everyday life. Soon, it will too, shape my future. Science will help me to unlock doors to knowledge that will enable me to save lives of people who need medical care and empower science in my home country just like it has empowered me.

Khmer Literacy | Unit 2

In this unit, we focus on introductory to in-depth Khmer grammar. In doing so, we studied two Khmer novel, one of which called Tum Teav about love between two people of different class, and the other is called Melea Doun Chet which is about love between two people of different race and class. These two novels have a very different setting and plots but they all communicate the same thing: class and social status don’t matter in a love relationship.


Back in time, parents in Cambodia usually arrange a marriage for their children to someone of the same class. Love relationships between classes were forbidden because they do not want their children to be involved with someone from a family that is inferior to them. But of course, attraction and love can’t be stopped. At some point in history, young adults start to revel against their guardian to live with someone they truly love, but the result never ends well.


Seeing this problem, a writer of that time wrote a novel called Tum Teav. Tum is the name of the male character, while Teave is the name of the female character. They were deeply in love even though they weren’t supposed to. When the first met Tum was a monk, a religious figure who is to not date or want anything thing more than what they need t to survive. Because of his strong attraction, Tum decided to quit being a monk to reunite and prosper with his girlfriend.


By then, he was almost too late. Teav’s mom had decided to offer her as the mistress of the king of the is wealthy and powerful. Luckily for him, he was there to declare his love relationship with his girlfriend. Awed by his bravery, the king gifted the coupled with a marriage. They were all happy, except for Teav’s mother. She wanted her daughter to marry someone wealthy, so she devises a plan to trick her own daughter to leave her husband and marry someone else by lying to her that she is sick and really want to see her daughter.


Teav did not know about her mother’s plan, went home immediately to see her mom but was captured and forced to marry the next day. To her luck, someone offered to pass this information t her husband who rushes to her home as soon as he receives the letter. When he got there, things did turn as expected, and so the couple ends up dying under their love tree.


The novel ends here to leave space for readers who guardian to reflect and they story and think about what they would do as a parent through considering they rather having their kid being dead by forcing them into a marriage. Not surprisingly, many people who have read this novel which is written in a poem associate it to Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, because they both have a similar story and communicate the same idea.

English Literacy Unit 2 | Communication Unit

This second unit of our literacy class, our main focus is communication. We learn not only to communicate through spoken but also written words. One of the topics covered was active listening. Through this topic, we realized that we mostly listen to speak, listen so we can interject our ideas, and not listen to listen. Active listening is really skill important to have because, in a complex problem or conflict, it requires us to open our mind and hear what others have to say. Active listening also shows a person speaking respect, for an example if they are speaking about a topic that sensitive, it is best to give them all the space they need, and not distract their thought and speaking process.


To practice this skill we now learn to be very important, we spent one hour of our class time just talking to classmate whom we are not so close with. We were to pick a partner and share something about ourselves that matter to us or speak about something that we are passionate about. I paired up with another girl in my literacy class who also share many other classes with me but never interact often enough to considered close to me. We found a comfortable room and sat in a chair face to face making eye contact as one person talk and the other listens.


With that, something miraculous happened. We allowed ourselves to be vulnerable and share stories we don’t often do about ourselves: stories we don’t feel comfortable talking about. Through this, we able to connect to one another very closely, as we soon realized that we have so many things in common. I felt as though, I learn and get to know her better in this one hour than I had in six years we had been in a boarding academy together.


Anyways, that is just one aspect of our unit. Another aspect is etiquette writing where we focus on writing professional Emails and making résumé. In this topic, we learn and practiced writing professional to someone we have never met. We pretend that we have to ask a fashion company for an internship company through Email. It was a really great exercise for us to do because we actually send the Email to someone we know who has been working on communication for longer than we have existed. We got feedback and suggestions on our Email to help us grow as communicators.


Lastly, we dive into video conferencing. In this session, we learn how to group call which can be a really difficult task to do. It is already awkward to just call someone and try to make eye contact with them by staring at out PC camera, doing it a team makes it even trickier. But through our lessons and practice, we learned to divide roles in video conferencing and group calling easier to archive. But good networking and communication skills don’t come to us naturally, so we have to always keep practicing.

Unit 2 – Yeast Respiration Lab

Yeasts are known to be used for making beer and bread, but how do they actually contribute to these products? The answer is simple: anaerobic respiration. Plants and animals need to constantly respire to sustain their lives. This means they need to respire no matter air (oxygen) supplies is available or not. This brings back to anaerobic respiration. Anaerobic respiration is when an organism has to respire without oxygen, and aerobic respiration is when the organism respire with the presence of oxygen.


Given this, it is still unclear how yeast help make bread or beer. How do they actually do this? To answer the question, let’s explore into the process of anaerobic respiration. In anaerobic respiration, organism goes through fermentation, a process to restore the materials needed for the next respiration process. Normally, organisms would not do this, but because of the lack of oxygen, they have to. In animals, they go through lactic acid fermentation. This lactic acid causes the pain that can be experienced when we exercise because through exercise, we do not get enough oxygen. Another type of fermentation is alcoholic fermentation, a process that plants including yeast (fungi) go through.


By going through anaerobic respiration, yeasts use sugar molecule to act upon and produce some energy and carbon dioxide and ethanol as their byproduct. That concludes why yeasts are used for they are used for. In making beer, the ethanol they produce is favored. In making bread, the carbon dioxide they release is favored for creating air bubbles in the dough as well as to raise the dough.


In a lab for AP biology this unit, we conducted a yeast respiration lab to observe and learn the process described above. In this lab, we immersed yeasts in different solution such as, distilled water, water and sugar, honey and water, water and Royal D and water and vanilla extract which are stored their own flask. At the rim of the flask, we attach balloons that would be inflated when yeast respire to see the variation of yeast respiration rate within our different solution. After the experiment is set, we let the flask sit for an hour before we make our observation.

To our surprise, the balloon attached to the flask that holds water and Royal D was inflated the biggest, followed by water and sugar. This means that Royal D holds materials that are favored in yeast respiration; it holds not only sugar but also vitamin and potassium. This may explain why the balloon attached to the Royal D flask was inflated bigger than sugar.  As can be seen in the photo, none of the other ballons were inflated. It is no surprise though that the balloon attached to the water and vanilla extract were not inflated because they do not have sugar which is needed in respiration. Honey, howeve,r came as a little shock, but we hypothesize that the sugar molecule it holds may be too big for the yeasts.

Math Round 2 | Pre-calculus

In this round, we start our pre-calculus class. We start with a review of functions and quadratic equations, then move to a more advanced math as we proceed in our class. Throughout our class, we do a lot of independent work to allow each and every one of the students to work through the lessons with our own pace within a time constraint. One way we archive this was using the online platform to practice math, particularly Khan Academy. On this platform, we practiced solving the following: functions, polynomials, rational relationship, exponential growth and decay, exponential and logarithmic functions, radical relationship, and trigonometry. Below are some pictures of what the exercises on Khan Academy look like.


Another way students were allowed their own space to learn is, we are given an assignment for a span of time. Within this time, students get to decide the time to do their work and the focus of their study for this class within this time.

Nevertheless, we work together a lot. When there is a challenging problem we find either in our textbook or on an online platform, we would bring it to class and look at it together. This way, we can solve the problem better and faster. From time to time, we all shine in a different way when solving the problems, because we have our strength and skills. I, for example, am really good at seeing and visioning shapes in my head, other students are good at other things, for instance, seeing relations between equations. Others are good at recalling principle and laws that we learned to apply it to problems and solve it all together. Whenever we solve a problem in class together, it is my favorite part because it feels like bringing different experts to solve a  complex math problem. On that note, we help each other learn and grow as a math student.

Pharmaceuticals Lab

During this unit three of our chemistry class, we focus on molecule and bonding types. Within this time span, we did a lab that is not really related to our focus but was a lot of fun. The lab we did was on pharmaceutical drugs, where we test for different properties that they possess such solubility, pH, and their reaction with “stomach acid” in which we used vinegar as a replacement.

After our many tests and data collection, we write an analysis of why we think the drug was made to have the specific properties they have, and why the solubility of the drug is important.

Through this lab, we were able to practice our lab-conducting skills and critical thinking skills. I really like a random lab in a unit like this, because it opens a span of view of how fun chemistry can be.


AP Biology-Unit Two | “Cell” Yourself

In the second unit of AP biology, the subject content focuses on the cell. So far, we learned about the different types of cell and the basics of the evolution of eukaryotic cell. Because we will mainly learn, about eukaryotic cells, we did a fun project called “cell yourself” to help us understand cell in an amusing way. In this project, each student in the class was assigned an organelle or part of a cell that they would have to do research on. After the research, we would have to be creative and pretend to be our assigned organelle going for a job interview. This means that we dressed in a costume that represents our assigned item and act like our organelle for the day of our “job interview”.

I was assigned the plasma membrane which act as the bound between the cell and its environment. In addition, it also act as a gate that let material in and out of the cell, a structure for the cytoskeleton to attach to which gives the cell its shape, and communicator for the cell (when they bond with adjacent cell to form tissues).

To represent my part of the cell, I wore camo clothing to depict myself as a protector of the cell  since soldiers (a protector of a country) wear camo clothes. I wear my hand -made earing composed of a bead and two pieces of trailing yarn to represent the phospholipid bilayer that make up the plasma membrane. I wore a cork necklace to represent the carbohydrate present on the plasma and lets bodily cell recognize each other. Lastly, I name myself  Plasmano Elsie Membriano.

During my “job interview” I talked about how vital I am to the “company” (the plant and animal cell), and was at last employed after persuasive speech of “celling” myself.

English Literacy-Round One | American History Focused

During this first round of literacy unit, our class focus mainly on reading passages that are about the American history to help us better prepare for the upcoming SAT test. So far, we’ve read about the liberty of America, slavery and their civil war, the meat packing industry, their shifting views on immigration, the great depression, and their involvement in World War II. We learned how the result of these past events still influence America today through our students-facilitated discussion and our independent response to the article we’ve read. Doing this has really helped me; it gives me more context of understanding when I have to read the history passages of  the SAT where the narrator allude to historical events. On the other hand, it also help me build up my vocabulary. After reading every passage, we would have to identify, the words we don’t already know or words we don’t feel comfortable using then find its definition and write some sentences for them in a document which we call it the Vocabulary exploration.

An Example of my vocabulary Exploration.



Math Round One | SAT Pratice

Just like English literacy class this round, our math class is also dedicated to preparing for the SAT. In class, we spend our time independently practicing math through Khanacademy or questions from past SAT tests posted on College Board website. However, when any of us (students) encounter a challenging question, we would discuss it with our facilitator, Jeff, or with the whole class if we feel like everyone will benefit from it. Up until now, we had been sharing short-cuts around questions to help us save time in solving the problems, and reviewing concepts that we vividly remember. Those concept review includes: unit circle, circle theorems,  circle equation, special triangles, functions, quadratic equation, and polynomials.

An example of what an exercise on khan Academy look like.

Khmer Literacy | Round One

In this class, we focused on grammar. For the first few weeks, we worked binding our research and poems (that we wrote last year) into a Khmer poetry book. Because Khmer poems follow a specific structure (we call it the poem foundation), we had to do research on their origin, purpose of use, their rhymes, and ways they can be sang or read out. One of of the poem foundations that I researched is  called “chan-der meas” or simply translate to “golden stairs”. This poem, I believe got its name from its structure because each line in each a stanza increases by one syllable, but due to the limited information on this poem foundation, I was not able to confirm this. Despites the lack of information, I was glad to find just the right amount of information to write about this poem foundation. Below is an diagram I made showing the rhyme pattern in this poem. Note that the lines indicate that the syllables rhyme.  

Now, the tedious work pays off, we finally finish this book and have some copies printed; some were used to present at the Khmer Literature Festival held in Battambag province. As of  now, we are planning to apply for a grant or raise money in some way and use it to publish more copies of our book—Garden of Poems—and distribute them to publics schools in Cambodia to provide students a source of information about Khmer poems that is now losing its popularity.

Beside this poem book project, we learned about Khmer grammar, specifically diacritical marks which are used to indicate the way a word should be read. It was really interesting to learn that some diacritical marks used on Khmer words reveal their origin. For an example words that are adapted from Bali or Sanskrit have special marks) on them to indicate that the sound of an alphabet should not be taken account into pronouncing the word. This is because, when words are adapted from a foreign language to Khmer, we spelled the Khmer version of the borrowed word in a way that alphabets and vowels used represent the all the alphabet and vowels used in the borrowed word. For an example, in spelling the word “post” in Khmer, we have alphabets and vowels that make the “P, O, S and T” sound, but because we do not have ending sound, we use a special diacritical mark to indicate that “T” should not have a sound in the word.