Hey guys. This year, while my overarching goal for the next six months is to ace the Leaving Cert, I've created some monthly projects for myself. I have three aims with these projects:
(a) explore topics that interest me tangentially
(b) become more knowledgeable and interesting as a person
(c) keep myself focused, occupied and productive
Because I like having something to work towards.
I'm designing little self-assessments for the end of each month to show what I've learned, so those will be interesting. Obviously these are all big topics in themselves that you can't cover in a month, but I hope to get a good taster of them. I'm going to publish my reading lists for the relevant topics at some point so you can see what I'm learning if you're so inclined.
These are the monthly projects as I've planned them so far. Nothing is completely set in stone, and some projects will bleed into longer time periods (which is actually a good thing, because it means I'm developing lasting interests!), but here's an idea of what I'll be up to.
January: Build a Website
January is over, and so the website is built. It's called tigertunity.com and it's an online directory of opportunities, competitions and work experience for Irish people of all ages and interests. It has a bit of work to be done before I launch it properly as such, but I'm pretty proud of it. I'll do a full post on what I'm doing/have done with that and what I've learned next week.
Assessment: Website up and running online with a decent amount of content, ready to start being promoted in February. Twitter created for it @tigertunity
February: Experimental Design
This is something I've been interested in and dying to research for a while now. I'm going to look at the principles of experimental design, stuff like choosing good variables, controlling for errors and statistical analysis. I'll do some case studies of good/famous experiments like Millikan's Oil Drop experiment and other experiments that led to important discoveries and analyse what their good and bad features were.
Assessment: Analysis of case studies, design of my own experiment or series of experiments (possibly for Scifest research)
March: Scifest Research
This one might change because it's heavily dependent on whether or not I do Scifest. Obviously. It might conflict with my Leaving Cert French or Irish orals which would be tragic, but anyway we'll see.
Assessment: Project on its way to completion.
I'm going to study some cool physics topics including magnetism in some depth to get a better understanding of them. That'll be fun.
Assessment: Make and present PowerPoint on the subject(s).
May: Study butt off for LC
While I will of course be doing this the whole time, I have left this month free of projects so I can focus solely on the Leaving. Probably a good idea, y'know?
Assessment: You know this one.
I'll have loads of time in June because I'll be doing exams so won't have homework (barring an internship or job or something). So I'm going to dive into a topic I love but haven't gotten the chance to explore in depth before: space!
Assessment: Make and present/share presentation on some aspect of space/astrophysics I find interesting.
Artificial Intelligence is something I've found interesting since I read about the technological singularity years ago (where the intelligence of robots outpaces that of humans) and especially since I read the posts on my favourite blog, Wait But Why, about it. I plan to look at the path towards job obsolescence, attempts at making ethical AI, how close AI is to actually happening and the interaction of AI with other factors like increased human longevity and climate change.
Assessment: Write short (10 pages or so) thesis sort of thing on my conclusions and what I've learned.
August: Vaccination/Disease Diagnosis/Medicine
This month will have a focus on medicinal chemistry, particularly vaccine development and disease diagnosis, because those are two fields of medicine I'm really interested in. I'm going to study one or two case studies of each topic, then try to apply what I've learned to another disease.
Assessment: analysis of case studies, design brief for tool to diagnose x disease
I hope to do a quick crash course in psychology during September with help from friends who studied Behavioural Psych, Cyber Psych and/or Social Psych at CTYI. Obviously it's a big field, so I'll pick branches that seem interesting to me when I get there. At the moment, I'm quite interested in the psychology of intelligence and child development, autism spectrum disorders and mental illnesses like depression and anxiety disorders.
Assessment: one PowerPoint presentation and one short thesis-thing on two different aspects of psychology I've looked at.
This one will be very book-heavy. I'll probably be sticking with fairly pop economics books and not get too deep into theory, but I would like to study Marx and other foundational economic/political philosophers.
Assessment: Short thesis either comparing two schools of thought/economic opinions or discussing an aspect of x economist's work. I'll figure it out when I get there.
November: Quantum Physics
I just know this one is going to frustrate me. I probably won't be ready for the real mathsy stuff but I'll have a go at understanding what the heck is going on. Even if I don't understand it, at least I'll be pretty knowledgeable about it for when I give out about how little sense some of it makes. Also: the wave-particle duality of light annoys me a lot. As I said on a panel in November 2015, in my life "I want to make physics make sense." That'd be cool. I'll do some case studies on relevant experiments, like the ones providing evidence for light showing both particle and wave properties.
Assessment: Powerpoint on these experiments ... or anything else relevant that occurs to me between now and the end of November.
Again, obviously I'm just going to have to take a shallow look at a branch of Philosophy (although we did cover quite a lot in three weeks in July 2015 at CTYI ... ) I'm considering studying political philosophy or empiricism. The problem of induction has bothered me ever since I heard it, since it's so very crippling to the scientific method.
Assessment: Short thesis-thing on what I've learned.
Phew. That's it. So yeah. That's what I plan to be doing for the next year - I haven't made them too demanding so I should still have time to do cool things.
Look out for my January review and my blog post about tigertunity, coming up soon!