Sunday, June 8, 2014

30 Projects in One Post 25 - Final Post

     So this is it.  The school year is finally concluding and it is time to reflect upon my 20 Time experience.  Mr. Provenzano has given us a set of five questions to address in this final post, so that is what I will be talking about.
     The first question to address is what my opinion on 20 Time is.  I did not really enjoy the experience overall.  In theory, it's a good idea and should allow kids to express themselves and do something that they like throughout the school year and break away from traditional schooling.  But in reality, all it did was bog me down with work to do and dissuade me from actually wanting to build stuff.  Sure, I like to build things.  However, when it becomes my assignment to build things in addition to all of the regularly assigned work in school, it becomes a chore.  If I had willingly signed up for a course specifically designed for this, it would have been a whole other story.  Instead, in my English class, I had to do more work throughout the entire year on this single project than in some of my other classes, and I find that a bit absurd.  Theoretically, I should enjoy 20 Time, but then again, we don't live in a dream world.
     The second question we have been asked is what should be adjusted for next year.  Simply, I think students shouldn't have to give a Ted Talk at the end of it.  First of all, I never signed up for a class on giving speeches, and secondly, I didn't really learn anything amazing from my project because I basically just built things.  Even though you can say that I learned how to persevere through my troubles and how to be creative, I disagree.  You can't teach someone to be creative, and I have learned perseverance and seen examples of it plenty of times before.  Just because we did something for a year doesn't necessarily mean that we learned something profound or have something extremely worthy of sharing.  Sure, you can try to find some deeper meaning by looking at things upside down and reading every third word backwards, but I prefer a much simpler approach to things.  To wrap this question up, I just think that giving a speech on the project was something that was not needed in some cases.  For some, they may have taken something extremely valuable away from this, and that's great.  However, for me, I just built a bunch of things because I liked building things, and that was that.
     The next question asked was what were some aspects that should not be changed for next year.  I think that the blog posts should be every week like in the beginning of the year.  Once they were changed to every other week, I became lazy and would put off a project until the next week, thinking I had more time.  However, that only worked for one week at a time because the next week would arrive and I would have a blog post due.  Having the weekly schedule helped me keep on track, so I think that should stay the same.
     The fourth question asked to address was if more students should be doing 20 Time in school.  This leads me in the direction that Mr. Provenzano was suggesting in school a couple of weeks ago.  He brought up the idea of having a separate class specifically for 20 Time.  I think this would be the best option for this project, as kids would know what they were getting into.  I do not think kids should have to do 20 Time inside of their English class, as it was a lot of additional work.  Every weekend it would take at least two hours to complete my project and then additional time to complete my blog posts, and even before that it took time to find something to build and go get the needed materials.  In addition, I was on the track and cross country team and play baseball.  If students willingly signed up to do this project as a class however, it would be a whole new story.  It wouldn't be something in addition to their English class, but a separate class, so the workload would be dispersed.  Also, kids could then be taught how to give a speech in the class, instead of this year's case where we just had to write and give a speech on our own.
     The final question asked was what advice we had for 20 Time students next year.  If it is continued in an English class, then all I have to say is to not choose something that is extremely time consuming and to choose something that you enjoy doing.  I like to make things, as I have previously said, and if I had only made around 15 projects, things may have been easier.  However, I made about 25 projects, each averaging probably 3 hours, so that is over three entire days of making things nonstop at a bare minimum.
     To wrap everything up, I have just a few things to say.  One is that the idea of 20 Time is a nice one, where kids are allowed to express themselves and pursue something new or something they are passionate about.  However, even the best plans are flawed and nothing ever works out the way it should on paper.  At the beginning of the year, everyone was anxious and excited about the idea of getting to do what they want for 20% of their English class for the whole year, but once all the school work and extracurricular activities piled up, the classic lazy-teenager mentality set in and a lot of people didn't want to work on their projects.  I enjoyed creating things in the beginning of the year, but it dragged on a bit too long near the end and I got to a point where everything was made just so that I could write about something that I made, so that I could get credit for my blog post.  This is just my honest opinion, and it may be different from others', but you can take it or leave it how it is.

Monday, May 26, 2014

30 Projects in One Post 24

     I've decided to stop making projects for now, as my talk is this upcoming Thursday.  I've kicked it into high gear, finished my presentation that will go along with my talk, and am still tweaking things in regard to it.  As I began to think about what my talk should be about, I couldn't think of much.  I mean, all I really did was make things, it was pretty much as simple as that.  When I went into it, I had no overarching theme in mind or anything remotely close to that.  I just wanted to build things, so I did.  After thinking for a while however, I figured that I could talk about the process of building things or creating a product in general and the troubles and skills you will need along the way.  Also, I wanted to include the fact that if you are doing something that you like to do under your own will and desire, you will most likely get a better end product than doing something just because you have to do it.
     To go further into what I will talk about, I am going to talk about there always has to be a starting point with everything.  For me, I needed the help of the community over at to guide me along and give me ideas on what to build.  This was extremely structured and I followed all the instructions step-by-step, never straying from the guidelines.  However, this became extremely boring, as I was never able to really create something all on my own without the help of another person's Instructable.  Here and there I began using the Instructables as more of a guide or an idea, but used my own process to create the final product.  Sooner or later, I ended up coming up with ideas completely on my own and making a nice finished product.  This is where the big cliche of creativity comes into play.  It is almost the only thing anyone ever talks about nowadays, but there's a reason for it.  If you do the same thing over and over again with no freedom to do what you want to do, things will become extremely boring.  You most likely will begin to put in less and less effort, and the quality of the products will degrade significantly.  Another factor that I will be including with this creativity is that throughout the process of creating all of the different things that I made, my scrap wood pile grew and grew.  Normally, someone would just look at it as a pile of trash that couldn't be used, but if you look at it differently, you can use that wood to create something out of practically nothing.  Almost all of my later projects were actually made from my scrap pile and I didn't have to spend a dime.
     Even though this was not the entirety of what I will be talking about in my talk, it is the gist of what I want to get across to people.  The key to creating a good product is variation, creativity, and pure desire to make something.  If it's something that you like doing, you will most likely end up with something amazing.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

30 Projects in One Post 23

     Be forewarned, this week was extremely disappointing, so don't expect much out of this post.  I had a plan to get quite a lot done in terms of making things this week, but that turned out to be something that I couldn't manage.  First of all, last weekend I ran in part of a marathon to help one of my classmates, Lauren Riley (, complete her 20 Time project.  So, I didn't have much time then to accomplish anything.  Then, I had two track meets during the school week this week, so I had very little time to make anything then either.  After the busy school week, I had another track meet this Saturday.  On top of that, I have an AP test coming up, so I had to prepare for that, along with my other homework.  Finally, it's Mother's Day today, so I have family coming over, taking away from the time that I could make something.  I'm done giving excuses, so let's move onto what I did get done this time.
     I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but at the end of this year, to wrap up this whole 20 Time project, each of us will have to give a speech on what we learned from our project.  Along with this speech, we should have a presentation with pictures, quotes, and things of that sort to help get our point across.  I've been thinking about what I should talk about and have a pretty good idea.  The great thing about my project is that I've taken pictures of everything that I've made and the process behind it all, so I have a lot of support.  Also, many principles that are used in building things can be applied to life and doing almost anything.  This will really help me out in my speech.  So, what I did this week was pick and choose different pictures from my blogs and projects to use for my presentation.  Now that I have it pretty much done, I have a much better feeling about my speech that I have to give.  Two weeks from now, I hope to have my whole presentation and speech all planned out and have some more projects complete.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

30 Projects in One Post 22

     It's been three weeks since my last post due to having our school's spring break.  I really needed this break, as I'd been bogged down with test after test and assignment after assignment, so I did not really accomplish much in terms of 20 Time.  I managed to complete one project, and get a good start on another.  The first project was one that just sprung up out of nowhere one night while I was on my computer.  With my computer, I like to talk to my friends, and I don't have a built in microphone, since I built my computer.  Instead, I have a mic that you plug in via USB.  It has a clip on it that you can put on a screen or something, but I've never been too keen on doing so, and kind of wanted to get a small stand for it.  I really had no major use for one, it was mostly just me wanting something for no reason, so I never actually bought one.  Instead, I decided to make one.  I looked online for any good instructions on how to do so, but came up empty-handed.  So, I got out my scrap wood, a ruler, and a pencil to map out how I would go about doing so.  I wanted the stand to be on my desk and raise up to about head level, and then I would clip the microphone onto the stand.  So, I figured about 8 inches would be the right height, marked out a 4x4 inch base to hold the stand up, and cut everything out.  For the design, I borrowed the general layout that I used for the headphone stand that I previously made.  Once everything was cut out and glued together, I had pretty much a finished product.  However, the clip for the microphone did not stay on the stand as firmly as I would have liked, but then I remembered that the clip had a small threaded hole through it.  I then found a suitable sized bolt and matching nut, grabbed my drill, and made a matching hole through the top of the stand.  Finally, everything was done.  Here is the finished product:

     I am pretty happy with the project.  It works well for what I need it for, and didn't cost me a dime.  This is what is great about being able to work with wood.  If you have the materials and an idea, you can make almost anything to suit your needs.
     Easter was over break, and I had some relatives over.  While everyone was talking, somehow my 20 Time project came up, and one of my relatives told me about how another one of my relatives used to make things just like me.  He said that they made things like birdhouses, wood chests, and things of that sort.  That got me thinking that I could make a bird house myself.  I'd never thought of it, but it didn't seem too hard, and it fits that it is the spring, so all the birds will be reemerging.  I didn't really bother looking up how to make one, as it seemed simple enough.  Make a box and put a roof on it.  So, I once again took out my ruler, scrap wood, and a pencil to mark everything out.  Once that was done, I cut all the pieces, but something interrupted me, so I never got to put everything together.  Here is my progress, or lack thereof:

     I pretty much made a pile of wood into a pile of smaller pieces of wood, but it's a start.  Next time, I should have this finished, and hopefully something else as well.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

30 Projects in One Post 21

     This week, I made two new things.  I didn't have time last weekend to make anything due to homework, but I made up for it this week by doubling up.  The first item I made was a guitar pick for my friend Gabe.  This project was inspired by this one on Instructables:, but I used a slightly different process.  First, I cut off a small rectangle of wood from some 1/4" pine in my scrap pile.  Once this was done, I took out my belt sander and fired it up.  I then roughly sanded the rectangle into the shape of the guitar pick.  After it had taken on a pretty good shape, I had to sand the wood down a lot to thin it out.  Otherwise, you'd end up plucking two strings at once because it'd be way too thick.  Once it was down to an acceptable width, I took out my various grits of sandpaper to hand-sand the pick down to a smooth finish.  After all of this was finished, I took out the trusty Danish Oil and put a couple of coats on it.  Here is the finished product:

     The whole thing is really smooth and I think it turned out well.  After I made this, I decided to try to replicate the wooden rings found in this Instructable:  However, I did not have a lathe, so instead, I used a hand drill with a 1/2" bit to make a hole in the middle of a piece of scrap wood I had.  Then I took my Dremel to widen the hole to fit my finger.  Once this was the right size, I then took my belt sander and Dremel and sanded the outside of the ring into a thin circle surrounding the hole.  After this, I once again got out my sandpaper and sanded the ring smooth.  Lastly, I put a couple of coats of some walnut stain and a final coat of Danish Oil to seal everything off.  Here are some pictures of the final product:

     This turned out okay, but not as refined as I would have liked.  However, I think it's pretty cool overall.  So, now I have a ring that I'll never wear, but at least it looks halfway decent sitting in a drawer somewhere in my house.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

30 Projects in One Post 20

     After a very stressful weekend two weeks ago, last weekend I decided to take a break from 20 Time.  However, this week I had a bit more time to use to build something.  I was browsing Instructables for something to build and saw a few different clocks.  I was looking at the instructions and basically people just made the face of the clock in any shape they wanted, bought a clock kit from a crafts store, and then put the two together.  I then got to thinking about what relates to my life that is in the shape of a circle.  Then it hit me.  I could make it look like an archery target!  I took a quick trip to Lowe's and Joann Fabrics (very reluctantly) to pick up the supplies.  I bought a piece of 1/4 inch birch plywood and a small clock kit and everything totaled to about $20.  Not bad for a fully functional customized clock.
     I started by marking a ten inch circle on the plywood and cut it out.  I then drew smaller circles on the wood circle as the rings for different points on the target.  The targets have blue on the outer rings, red in the middle, and yellow in the center.  I then used black paint to define the edges of the rings.  After everything was dry, I drilled a 3/8 inch hole in the middle for the clock.  Once the clock was in place, I took a protractor and at 30° intervals, marked the locations for the numbers on the clock.  I then painted Roman numerals with black paint and the clock was finished.  I hung it up in my basement right above my archery rack.  Here is a picture of it hanging up:

     It's not too refined, but I think it looks good enough for me.  I will be pretty much the only one seeing it, so it doesn't matter too much.  I did like this project though, because it didn't take too much cutting or sanding and it was mostly just painting everything on.  It was quite the break from the loud power tools, scrapes, and cuts I usually get from woodworking.  Also, it was more personalized than most of my other projects.  Hopefully next blog, I will have two projects from the two weeks I'll have.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

30 Projects in One Post 19

     This week, I had the pleasure of making another box for Mr. Provenzano's Google Glass.  As you probably know, I have made a box for it in the past, however, it was too small.  Then, I took it back to my house to try to widen the walls a bit, but that did not work either.  So, I was left having to make a whole new box.  This time however, I added about an inch onto both dimensions to make sure that it would fit.  I went through the exact same process that I used for making the other box, which was just cutting the wood, gluing the base and walls together, attaching the lid with the hinges, sanding the whole thing down, and then putting the dark walnut stain on the whole thing.  It's a relatively easy process, but it was definitely time consuming.

Here is the finished product:

     Due to the feedback that Mr. Provenzano received from last week's questions, he is changing the blog post due dates from every week to every other week.  However, to reach my goal for 20 Time, I will still have to make something every week.  I will probably just put two projects in each post from here on out.  Sorry this post was shorter than normal, but I had very little time today to do it.