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Winged Post Monday, January 27, 2014



2 Marijuana legalization 6 Redesign reveal 9 Harker Podcast Series 12 Chinese New Year 14 Posture advice 17 Sochi 2014 Preview 19 School WiFi issues 20 Kicks Against Cancer


Digging online data mine in the

allison sun & catherine huang

Aquila features editor & reporter

your name here San Jose, CA Class of 2016 243 mutual friends 377 photos DOB 5/14/1998

STANDARDIZED TESTING elisabeth siegel copy editor

The Upper School recently ranked second in the nation for standardized testing scores, based on a study that ran from 2012 to 2014 from a school analysis site called Niche. According to an article on Business Insider, Niche took around 909 public and private schools into account and ranked them by average SAT and ACT scores. Students self-reported their scores, and there were over 75,834 entrants for the study. “I think standardized tests probably reflect one’s ability to think objectively, think fast, and perhaps think logically,” said Upper School English teacher Alexandra Rosenboom. “But I would be more curious about a student’s essay from the SAT, for instance, which is going to be a way in which to gauge their ability to be creative.” The role that the SAT and ACT play in determining the brainpower of a student remains a controversial topic for many students and teachers.

San Jose, CA Class of 2016 142 mutual friends 402 photos last visited London

2013. Enter the world of data mining, where sparse tidbits of information shared online, such as likes on Facebook or photos on Google+, can turn a profile into a public digital persona. In a study of students conducted by The Winged Post in December, reporters were given 30 minutes to search for as much information as possible on a randomly selected student volunteer participant. 16 Upper School students volunteered for the study, and the reporters were only allowed to use the participant’s name and the fact that they attended the Upper School. As they searched, each of the reporters struck gold, finding an average of 1.5 social media accounts and three online mentions for each of the volunteers in the study. They also dug up an average of four specific personal interests for each volunteer based on his or her “likes” on Facebook. For 38 percent of the volunteers, reporters were able to determine the volunteer’s date of birth; for 19 percent, reporters found the subject’s home address solely based on the participant’s name.

With temperatures reaching the high 60s and low 70s this month and still no rainfall, California is facing its driest year on record. Though it is normal for California to experience droughts occasionally, none have ever been this severe. On Jan. 17, Governor Jerry Brown officially declared a statewide drought emergency, asking Californians to consume 20 percent less water. Though Brown has not yet mandated water rationing, he indicated that the state government may implement them in the future. One of California’s more recent dry periods occurred during Brown’s previous tenure as Governor, in 1976 and 1977. That drought prompted many water-saving trends, including citizens installing low-flush toilets, purchasing recyclable shower heads, and replacing lawns with local shrubs that require less water. Effects of this winter’s low rainfall have included lower levels of snowpacks, increased risk of wildfires, and worsened air quality. A high-pressure system off the coast has blocked storms for the past year, and scientists worry that it will never leave. Environmental science teacher Dr. Kate Schafer has been closely following news of the drought and is conserving water by landscaping plants around the house to minimize their water needs. “I recently read in The New York Times that they have determined 2013 is the driest year in California by two inches,” she said. “We’re facing the driest year we’ve ever had along with the hottest temperatures day after day. That combination is a concern.” Freshman Winnie Li has also considered the effects of the drought in her daily life. “I would think of ways to conserve as much water as possible and move to another place,” she said. While some people have already felt the impacts of the water shortage, others are not as concerned.

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San Jose, CA 110 followers following 102 550 photos visited Europe last summer

The Harker School 256 followers following 296 Democrat interested in debate

vivek bharadwaj asst. sports editor


few weeks after she attended a debate tournament, Shreya Sunkara (10) did not expect to be contacted online by another debater she met in passing at the competition. “[A month after] the competition, he Facebook-chatted me and had a bunch of messages,” said Shreya. “I just didn’t reply. It was a really creepy and uncomfortable experience.” According to her, the debater used her name to look up her Facebook profile and make contact with her. Studies from the Pew Research Center indicate that 55 percent of teenagers with Internet access have online social networking profiles, and 72 percent of adult Internet users use social networking websites as of May

HANDBOOK CHANGES maya jeyendran Aquila global editor

The student-parent handbook was updated on Jan. 21 to include minor changes about accessing vehicles, library books, and sickness. These changes include modified policies regarding students requiring prior permission from the dean’s office to access vehicles during the day, parents held responsible for overdue or damaged library books, and students not permitted to take part in school or school-sponsored activities while still able to transmit disease. “[These modifications] were designed to keep the students safe and informed on changes. One of the benefits […] of putting the handbook online instead of the hardcopy version we’ve used in the past allows us to make changes mid-year […]. It keeps [students] current with policies as they’re happening,” said Dean of Students Kevin Williamson. Students also feel the benefit of these changes, especially the modification concerning sick students not being allowed to attend school while still infected with illness. “I think [the new policy on sickness] is useful in preventing additional students getting stress, and it lets kids who need time off to recover [by] not [putting] themselves under unnecessary stress,” said sophomore Ankita Sharma. The updated student-parent handbook can be viewed online via either the Student or Parent Portals by selecting the US Resources and Reference section in the “Upper” tab.

California drought requires water usage adjustments


Senior named finalist in Intel STS Competition elisabeth siegel copy editor

Sreyas Misra (12) was named one of 40 finalists selected from the Intel Science Talent Search (STS) on Jan. 22 in an official press release on the Intel STS website. According to the press release, the Intel STS is a program of Society for Science & the Public and “encourages students to tackle challenging scientific questions and develop skills to help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.” A pool of 300 semifinalists are selected from the initial contestants, and a further 40 finalists are chosen to present their projects at Washington, D.C. from March 6-12 to compete for a total of $630,000 in prizes funded by the Intel Foundation. “At first, I thought it was a prank call or something. I didn’t believe it that much, so I was only convinced when I saw it in writing, which happened the morning after,” Sreyas said. “It was pretty surprising.” Sreyas’ project was entitled “Design and Characterization of a Novel

Single-headed and Hand-held PET Camera Using 511 keV Photon Collimation via Compton Scatter,” which involved developing a hand-held tablet for medical image scanning of relatively low expense. “CAT scanners are these really large medical machine scanners that doctors use to diagnose diseases like cancer,” he said. “The scanners are typically one room large, but the one I simulated was the size of a tablet.” Sreyas’ mentors included Dr. Craig Levin, Professor of Radiology, Physics and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, and Chris Spenner, Upper School physics and science teacher. “The only way you can do [Sreyas’ project] is by having [the scanner] detect the signal in a fundamentally different way than the ones that are currently used,” Spenner said. “There were a number of software programming challenges to overcome, and he did it by being very devoted.” For the upcoming competition in Washington, D.C., Sreyas expressed anticipation and slight anxiety. “I have to make a posterboard, and

I have to give practice speeches to the faculty, and they will give me pointers,” he said. “I haven’t [looked at] much of my research for awhile, the last time I did was in November.” In comparison from past years, Spenner didn’t see too much of a change in how the Upper School as a whole did in the contest, but he does want to reassure those students who were not chosen as semifinalists or finalists. “I think that the judging process is a little bit opaque, and it’s not necessarily the best representation of what real science values; for example, we had plenty of students who did excellent work and work that is probably worthy of being published at some point in a scientific journal,” he said. “So it’s very nice for the students who do get recognized, but then I worry that students who don’t get the recognition get the wrong message.” Spenner also praised Sreyas’ work ethic throughout the extensive process. “He communicated his work extremely well, which is very important, so his writing skills came through,”



SCANNING TECHNOLOGY Sreyas will present his project in Washington, D.C. in March. He developed a device that allows for medical image scanning at a low cost.

Spenner said. “He made good use of the resources he had available to him, but he always completely owned the project, and I think that comes through in the writing in the end.” According The Mercury News, 11 of the 40 finalists, or more than 25 percent, are from California, while 48 of the 300 semifinalists came from California. The Intel STS received 1,800 entrants this year.

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