Eighth Grade Capstone

Capstone: Translating Passion into Purpose

A hallmark of the middle school experience, the Eighth-Grade Capstone provides students with a yearlong, intensive opportunity to research a topic of local and global significance and ultimately present their findings to the Woodland community. Past projects have focused on immigration, agriculture and environmental dam and river restoration. The Capstone is designed to encourage students’ greater understanding of the wide-ranging impact of their subject, both in their local communities and on a global scale.

2019 Capstone Projects

Parkinson's Disease - An App to Aid Families

Hi, my name is Zain and I am presenting on Parkinson's disease. Over the course of several months, I have gone through numerous revisions of my app and website, and after some assistance from my experts, I was able to make an impactful change for the families of people who have Parkinson's. Researching Parkinson's disease has been very enlightening because I was able to learn more about Parkinson's Disease such as the tremors that appear in your brain, how deep brain stimulation helps with the symptoms in PD, and how much support groups can help with easing the stages of Parkinson's disease. Throughout the capstone process, I talked to a family member who had something similar to this disease, and through these conversations, I figured out what to base my app around. I settled on basing the app around the patient's families because, when I wanted to know about my family members results, I was very anxious in knowing what the results were. I wanted to create something that would ease the anxiety these families were experiencing. I decided on this idea because usually when you want to know about your family member's results you either have to call the doctor's office or you have to wait for them to email you, but this way you can have all the info you obtain on one platform. This platform is, Parkinson's, Parkinson's is an app that holds all the information you receive from the doctor. It contains MRI's, data from healthcare providers, a 3d brain image, and information on how to deal with symptoms of PD. My project was very successful as I was able to not only think about one part of PD but all the people who are affected by this disastrous condition. My app will be sustainable because for no matter how many patients there are this app will be able to hold all the info you obtain from your doctor.

A Better Way to Find Coping Mechanisms for Children with ADHD

My name is Anish, and my project was adolescent learning differences in the United States. More specifically ADHD. ADHD is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Children with ADHD find it unusually difficult to concentrate on tasks, to pay attention, to sit still, and to control impulsive behavior. ADHD is a chronic condition marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and sometimes impulsivity.

Currently, about 8% of the US adolescent population has ADHD. Now that may not sound like a large percentage, but that translates to about 13 million kids age 3 to 8 that have been diagnosed with this disorder. That number is just in the United States. ADHD is the second most diagnosed learning disorder ever after dyslexia. So in my project, my goal was to find better ways to find coping mechanisms for ADHD kids.

A coping mechanism is something which is quite literally a mechanism which helps you cope with something but in this case it is meant to be something like a tool.

For example something like a post it, google calendar, or something which is not necessarily a tool but something which is a change in your routine which can change your life to accommodate your learning disorder.

This topic is personal to me as I have ADHD and had to get thru the journey of accommodations to support me better with my academics and day to day life. This is why I wanted to make it easier for other kids who are going to start this long and rough journey now.

I created a website which is a means to teach others about ADHD and its setbacks and advantages.

  • It shows others that it is not all bad.

  • Teaching others about coping mechanisms and how they can enable to you take charge of your ADHD.

  • On my website, you will find an ADHD coping mechanism template that I designed. Using this template, you can keep track of what coping mechanisms you have tried and which ones work for you. I also want to thank the two amazing friends that helped me with testing this template.

  • Issues with executive functioning in your brain and how that can hold you back.

Plastic Straw Pollution

Did you know that Americans alone use roughly 500 million drinking straws every day? All those straws used by Americans would fill over 125 school buses with straws every day. That’s 46,400 school buses every year! My name is Ophelia, and my capstone project is about plastic straws polluting our oceans. This is a critical problem since the plastic in the ocean is not only harmful to wildlife but it’s also harmful to us. Lead, mercury, and toxins that are directly linked to cancers and birth defects can be found in plastic, and when they are broken down and put in the ocean, it becomes even worse.

The sad fact is, plastic straws don’t get recycled. Plastic straws are too small and fall through the machinery that sorts through our recycling, so most of the used plastic straws end up in landfills, where they take up to 200 years to degrade.

In addition to my research on this topic, I also did an action piece. For my action, I placed cylinder tubing around the Ladera Shopping Center (mainly outside of restaurants) as well as putting up signs to try to get people to put used plastic straws in them. Next, I got a square glass container and filled it with the over 500 plastic straws that I collected and installed it as a temporary art piece. While installing the art piece, I even got a chance to talk with some of the shoppers about the matter. Art piece in hand, I also contacted an organization/company called Final Straw. Final Straw is a company that has made the worlds first collapsable metal straw. It is a great alternative to plastic straws as it is also very convenient because of the case it comes in. I asked Final Straw if they could possibly make a post about my project to get more people aware. I am still waiting for a response, but I’m hopeful. 

Sustained Civic Engagement - Increasing voter turnout

Every child's dream is to become president. Though, as we get older, we seem to shy away from that dream and politics in general. Take this statistic, for example. Less than 38% of people aged 18 to 29 voted in the 2012 election. Over time, things have improved slightly. For example, 50% of youth voted in the 2016 election between Trump and Clinton. Nonetheless, things have not improved at a quick enough pace. On average, people aged 30 to 44 have voted 10-20 percentage points higher than people aged 18 to 29 for the past 30 years! These statistics are very alarming, and are why I chose youth voting to be my Capstone project.

The question is, what plausible solution could we enact that would have a sustainable impact on youth? One avenue through which we can do this is education. My action piece is a series of four lessons (with supporting materials) that teachers can use in order to educate their students about politics. My action piece promotes sustained civic engagement because teaching kids at a young age about politics has been shown to peak their interests about it, leading them to become regular voters. Since December, I have been working on these lessons, and I am now sharing them out to other teachers through TeachersPayTeachers. I am also sharing my lesson out amongst teachers I know to gain more traction.

My lesson plans provide basic, essential civic information such as what the three branches of government are and their purpose, with basic law being covered as well; though, I also cover more complicated topics such as the Supreme and federal court systems, as well as the different types of elections and debates. Because my lessons have just been shared, I have yet to observe the impact of my lesson plan, though I expect to have results in the foreseeable future.

Anxiety in Teenagers

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that eighty percent of teenagers suffer from anxiety, and sixty percent of them are not getting treated. When teenagers don’t express their feelings or thoughts regarding this issue, it can lead to major consequences on their health. Hello, my name is Ashna and my topic focuses on Anxiety in Teenagers. For starters, my interest for this topic sparked mainly for the reason of how I somewhat related to it. This gave me a deeper understanding of what problems teenagers face. In addition to my connection with this topic, I was also intrigued by my research which was to find main causes of stress so that I could provide methods based on them. After a short while, I discovered that digital pressure, peer pressure, trauma at home, and sleep deprivation all contribute to acquiring anxiety. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, eighty-seven percent of American high school students are chronically sleep deprived. My aim for this project wasn’t to exactly “cure” a teenager’s anxiety, but instead help with managing it. Based off this information, I created an action piece that involved a five minute online video workshop showing techniques given by Psychologist Dr. Cindy Sholes. By presenting effective solutions to teenagers, it would allow them cope with their anxiety. I created a website that contained the workshop video as well as types of anxiety that people have. To spread awareness, I contacted libraries and learning centers to place pamphlets inside these locations.

Unconscious Bias

My name is Nyla, and my capstone project was based on unconscious bias in the hiring process. Unconscious bias is when someone doesn’t explicitly say something but they disregard you as a candidate because of your race, gender, or any other physical traits.

I have always been interested in bias. An interesting idea I learned is that unconscious bias is a direct reflection of how our society has put these subconscious biases in people's minds. Due to this bias, qualified applicants might not get a job that they are qualified for.

One of the direct effects of unconscious bias is when people end up underemployed. We all know what unemployment is, it’s when you don’t have a job, so you don’t have a steady source of income. But underemployment is when you have a job, but it is undesirable and/or doesn’t pay enough for you to support yourself and any family. It is having the title of a job, but not the benefits. Maybe you can’t work full-time hours, so you don’t get paid nearly enough. Or maybe you have a long commute and because of that, things like gas prices eat up your already low income.

One of the main parts of bias is sexism. Did you know that there is a scientific reason behind it? Early female hominids were smaller than the males for biological reasons. The only difference is that in those times, we have no evidence of the females being looked down on. Another part with women is that there is a stereotype of women staying home and looking after children. The main surge of women entering the workforce wasn’t until the 60’s, and that's mainly because the majority of their husbands were at war. Basically, people won’t hire women as much as men because of prior stereotypes they may have.

For my action piece, I created two informational visuals. First, I created a presentation describing this bias and ways to prevent it, and I have shared this presentation with several people, such as the hiring committee at Woodland and other schools.

Second, I have created what I like to call an “ideal hiring process.” This process does its best to eliminate any kind of bias and leave you with the best candidate. I have also shared this process. It includes steps that have several people evaluating one candidate so that no one person’s bias will affect the decision. One of the most important stages in this process was the very first step, advertising. If you only advertise on one website or location, then you don’t open the job opportunity to all qualified candidates. These were both successful, but I would have liked to share them with more people and more committees.

Increasing Awareness of MECP2 Duplication

My name is Aashna and I’m here to talk to you all about MECP2 Duplication Syndrome. My inspiration for this project came from my brother, Rohan. I’ve grown up with a brother who has MECP2 and I’ve always wanted to help him and the boys affected by MECP2. My hope for this project was to make a website that informed people what MECP2 is and to be a place where they can donate to a research fund. This would then interest people to make a video message for a boy with MECP2. I focused a lot on social interaction for boys with MECP2 since they don’t get much due to their physical and mental circumstances.    

Something I learned about MECP2 Duplication is that social interaction is essential for all boys with the disorder. They don’t experience much of it. Most of us take it for granted because we don’t have difficulties interacting with people. I also learned that boys with MECP2 have different cases of the disorder. When I was talking to Dr. Houda Zohgbi she told me “I have seen some [boys with MECP2] that still walk. Many of them cannot walk after the age, say, ten typically, or twelve. So, although most of them don’t walk, we do see some of them who do walk in their twenties. Many of them have seizures, not all of them. Some only say a few words, they may lose the words, some may never speak, so speech is a problem."

Dance and Economically Challenged Communities

My name is Charlotte, and my Project is called Dance and Economically Challenged Communities. My action piece statement is: Young aspiring dancers in economically challenged communities don’t get the chance to dance because they can’t afford the clothes, classes, or the cost of performances. As a result, it’s difficult for children in these communities to be exposed or participate in the arts.

I chose this topic because: Dance is my passion, and I have been dancing since I was 3 ½ years old. I have been fortunate enough my family could afford the classes, clothing, pointe shoes, summer intensives and performances. I personally know how it has benefited me, and I really want to open this art form up to more children so they can have the same opportunities. I talked to my dance school about what we do to assist children from disadvantaged communities. I learned we give tickets to our performances to non-profits, collect new or gently used dance clothes for donation, provide classes at the Kroc Center in the Tenderloin, and have The City Ballet Foundation solicits families and corporate sponsors to donate funds for scholarships for low income students to dance. I was allowed to put out 2 boxes in City Ballet, and started collecting dance clothes and dance shoes.

The clothes are donated to a local recreation center, that helps low income communities, run by the Salvation Army, called the Kroc Center. City Ballet pairs with them, and sends a teacher from our school to teach at the Kroc Center. They’re one of the nonprofits we give tickets to our performances. One of their favorite performances is the Nutcracker.

Two facts learned while researching this topic- there are multiple people working on this problem, but none have made a sustainable change to the issue. I also learned that Ballet, like painting and music, is an art form that can enrich our lives by seeing the world through a bigger lens, which ultimately allows us to communicate globally. The arts allow us to express ourselves and we need to make them more accessible to all children.

A Kevelar Blind for Classroom Protection in School Shootings

Since the Parkland shooting, there have been at least 31 incidents at K-12 schools in the United States in which someone was shot, which averages out to be one shooting every 11.8 days.

Hi, my name is Ryan, and let me introduce you to my capstone topic which is about school shootings and creating a solution for it. I chose this topic after seeing all these school shootings pop up. Not knowing when I might get hurt is not what I want or what anyone wants, especially at school. I wanted to feel safe at school. There was also a video of this 12-year-old girl creating solutions to protect students. This inspired me to try and create something. I hope to impact the community to make students and teachers feel safer.

Let's talk about my action piece. I created an RFP for a school shooting solution. It is a blind made out of kevlar panels for a window so students are safe from bullets being shot from the window. Kevlar saturated with resin, squeezed and baked can make a bullet-resistant panel. A kevlar panel just ¼ inch thick can stop 9mm bullets from passing through. You can add more for the higher the caliber. Student and teachers can look outside the window, but if there was a shooter, teachers or students can roll the blind down, protecting students and preventing the shooter from being able to look inside. After I created the RFP, I sent it to SSI Guardian to see if they would use it as a possible solution for the school to use. Unfortunately, the companies never replied. 

Additional Extension for the YADEJ Legislation

“Prison is a second-by-second assault on the soul, a day-to-day degradation of the self, an oppressive steel and brick umbrella that transforms seconds into hours and hours into days” -Mumia Abu-Jamal

When you think of our children what do you see? Do you see the next CEO of Apple? Maybe you see your child becoming the president? Or do you see them ending up in prison because of a small mistake they made as a teenager? Hi, my name is Myles and my capstone project was to change that. I think that people deserve a second chance and that we should not define young adults for making stupid decisions at an early time in their life. They should not be incarcerated, they should be out in the world making the next big thing. So I researched a bill to make this possible.

For the past year, I have committed myself to work diligently on this project. Through my research, I discovered the YADEJ Legislation and an exceptional group of experts who consulted on my project. The Young Adults Deferred Entry of Judgement or the YADEJ Legislation allows people from the ages 18-21 to be offered probation if the crime they committed falls under the legislation. So, I decided that I would make an extension of the legislation and add both carjacking and residential burglary. Thanks to my wonderful team of people (Code name: Team Myles) I was able to fill out the template to make my bill to send to the Senate. As of April 24, 2019, that email was sent to Senator Jerry Hill. 

Illegal Logging in South America

Hi, my name is Emmett and my project is Illegal Logging in South America. This problem has proven to be extremely detrimental to the welfare and the prosperity of the world. An example of this is that illegal logging accounts for 17% of all man-made carbon emissions. Illegal logging also costs the world 2-5 trillion USD per year. However, there is a solution.

There is an organization called rainforest connections that uses used cell phones to create listening devices. These devices are placed high up in the trees to remain camouflaged and to get sunlight because they are solar powered. They listen for the sounds that are affiliated with illegal logging such as chainsaws, trucks or other heavy machinery. The devices then automatically send an email to the local forest rangers who are then dispatched to stop the operation. Also, bonus points for being solar powered.

Connecting Low-Income Schools to High-Income Schools

Albert Einstein once said, "Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death". My name is Audrey and here is my capstone project. Education was thought of a great equalizer in life, by giving everyone a similar start. Although public high school graduation rates are improving, large gaps persist related to race and income. I dove into the issue of low-income education. Coming from a low-income community, many students’ education suffers from poor nutrition, mental and physical health, effort, and internalization. I live near a school where many people face the issue of coming from a low-income household and driving past the school every day made me curious about the problems they faced as a school. Doing more research I found that in 2013, 51 percent of the students across the nation’s public schools were from low-income families. Furthermore, more than one-third of low-income students begin kindergarten not ready for school, and by the time they reach fourth grade, 50 percent will not be at grade level in reading. Lastly, 16 to 24-years-old students who come from low income families are seven times more likely to drop out of school than those from families with higher incomes.

For my action piece, I decided to connect high-income schools to low-income schools in the Bay Area. This would allow for the high-income school to learn more about self- awareness while helping raise funds for the low-income school. In particular, I wanted to connect Woodland School with Willow Oaks school, but since Woodland School is a non-profit, the school itself could not donate money. Therefore I changed my plan and went to Kepler's book store to try and get a deal, such as for every book bought in their store they would donate 25 cents to Willow Oaks science program. Willow Oaks needs about 1000 dollars to help get books for their growing science program. This plan is currently in the works and I will continue to move towards my final goal. As another part of my action piece, I created a website to send out to many schools in the bay area. This website explained what I was doing to the schools and let them decide whether they would want to connect with schools around them, creating a more sustainable change to the Bay Area school system.

Raising Awareness - Hunger in India

My name is Shawn and my topic is Hunger in India. Absolute poverty-stricken children in Delhi, India need healthy meals, because 3,000 kids die everyday of starvation. Roughly 199 million people in India are malnourished. This is a problem I have seen first hand when I visited family in India. When you see someone on the street, begging for food and money, they are not just a number or a statistic, they are a person just like us.  The hopeful part about this is that it can be fixed, One-third of food gets lost or wasted in India every year. Just by raising awareness of this fact can lead to change.

One way hunger is a still a prevalent issue is, the caste system. The Caste system is a social system which has separated Indians into different castes or rankings. Approximately 180 to 220 million Indians are considered in the lower caste. The lower caste tends to be mistreated and limits the food they receive.

With such an astronomical amount of people suffering from hunger in India, I have decided to use social media to raise awareness about the issues of hunger, including the caste system. Social media can be considered harmful or hurtful. While this is true, it can be used as a platform for change and social justice. Social media immediately connects people all around the world, and everyone has equal ground and voice. Some of the issues I have encountered is the difficulty of communication through social media. I tried to connect with entrepreneurs and celebrities, I even got one response but it ended up not panning out. At times, getting my profiles and pages publicized was also difficult.  Social media campaigns for social justice work when awareness is paired with response (this gives it the sustainability aspect). For example when you post, you're including a website of a charity for others to donate to and get involved. For more information, please follow my Twitter and Instagram @solvinghungerca.

Preventing Childhood Eating Disorders through Parent Education

According to the National Eating Disorder Association, up to thirty million people suffer from an eating disorder each year and every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a result of this illness. Hello, my name is Kellyn and for my capstone project I researched how parents could positively influence and practice purposeful behaviors to prevent their child from developing an eating disorder. One of my interests is teenage health, and as I looked deeper into this issue, I saw how many teenagers were suffering from this psychological disorder. A leading factor was that parents didn’t know enough about an eating disorder. From my research, I discovered many ways for parents to prevent their children from developing an eating disorder. To advise parents about solutions to prevent the disorder I created an informational video and a pamphlet. The video was a way for many people to learn simple ways to prevent a life threatening sickness in 1 minute. Beyond the video, I made a pamphlet that was approved by my expert Marcia Herrin who is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics. The topic of dieting was a main point that I wanted to get across to the community in the pamphlet, because dieting has increased the rate of eating disorders which has enlarged the death rate percentage. Worldwide, about 81% of teenagers say that they are afraid of becoming overweight. Furthermore, people that are already genetically predisposed to an eating disorder can create obsessions with dieting which can lead to dangerous eating behaviors and weight loss. If parents take the initial steps to watch out for dieting in the household, they will give their child a better chance to live. Throughout this process, I have learned that eating disorders are difficult and can hurt teenagers but if parents begin to prevent the disorder, the number of eating disorders diagnosed will decrease.

Providing Cell Phones to Homeless People

My name is Chase and I did my project on homelessness and phones in San Francisco. I found that because technology is progressing so quickly, many things are becoming dependent on phones, laptops, or basically anything that allows communication and browsing. Job opportunities, insurance, shelter, and housing opportunities are becoming dependent on phones as well.

The reason I chose this topic because the number of homeless people has been going up and not down throughout recent years. In 2017 the approximated homeless count was 7.5 thousand in San Francisco alone. Also, this was more than in 2015, 2013, and 2011. Only 36% of these people have smartphones, and to go even further, 94% of the ones who do have phones use temporary, free phones also known as Lifeline Phones.

There are some notable limitations to the Lifeline Phones such as: only getting 250 minutes of talking on the phone and 250 text messages each month since there is a monthly reset, the phone number changes at the end of the month as well. This can lead to lost opportunities because if someone is on the list for shelter then the person may be calling a dead number if it changed in that time.

For my Capstone piece, I contacted people in my area to see if they will not use their current phones anymore so I can donate them. I am also collecting chargers because charging is another big problem. So far, I have received numerous emails with people willing to contribute.

Carts for Care Campaign

My name is Katie and my capstone project is titled the “Carts for Care Campaign.” My project addresses the problem of homelessness specifically in San Francisco and their need for basic items such as socks, toothbrushes, deodorant, and much more. I chose to focus on this topic because it is very relevant in the Bay Area. Some interesting facts I found while researching this is that it can take up to 90 days to get off of a waitlist for a homeless shelter, from 2015 to 2017 there were only approximately 40 people who became housed, and one of the most important items a homeless individual can receive is a pair of socks. My action piece is called Carts for Care. Carts for Care is a social media page that has instructions for implementing a collection system for basic items in grocery stores. Shoppers can take a “Scavenger Hunt List” buy the items on the list, and drop them into a bin on their way out of the store. After this is implemented, the bin can be brought to a local homeless shelter or organization. This system is sustainable and impactful because it can be easily implemented by anyone, anywhere around the world by following a few steps on my page. In the future, I am working on promoting the campaign and even implementing one in a local grocery store.

Biking Safety

Out of the many topics of which I could have chosen, I decided to choose the topic of bike safety and direct my efforts toward making riding a bicycle safer. I determined that this was the topic I wanted to pursue because I have always loved riding bicycles I even remember the first time I rode without training wheels. I still remember that moment many years ago not because it was a cliche big moment in a child’s life, but because I crashed into a rock and scraped my knee after riding for 20 feet. Ever since then I always wondered how to make the enjoyable experience of riding a bicycle safer. When I started my research, I found that people don't always listen to their parents like I do and don't always wear their helmets. According to Bicycle Universe, a bicycle enthusiast website, Approximately 18% of adults on average wear their helmet when they go out for a ride. They also said that a whopping 54% of people in fatal bike accidents were not wearing helmet, while the remaining percentage either wore one or helmet use was unknown. This was when I clearly realized that the problem lay with the frequency of which people wear a helmet. So, for my action piece, I decided to go right to the source and publicly advertise the safety of wearing a helmet directly towards bicyclists. I decided to advertise along one of the busiest biking locations I know. My own neighborhood. The action piece was successful and sustainable; I created 24 inch by 18 inch signs planted into the ground all along my neighborhood in clear sight of bike paths. Bicyclists will see the signs, and remember to never forget their helmets when they go out for a stroll. And I will go to sleep knowing that just maybe, I will have reminded someone to wear their helmet.

Decreasing Microbead Use

My name is Navarre, and for my Capstone project, I have been investigating microbead pollution. I chose this topic because when I had initially learned about it, I was shocked and appalled. I wanted to see what I could do about it. Microbeads are tiny pieces of plastic which are found in personal care products, such as toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, and makeup. These are a huge problem for the environment. These microbeads are so small that they go down the drain, and most water filtration systems don’t catch them. When you take one shower, you are sending approximately one-hundred thousand microbeads down the drain. As a result, they make their way into the ocean, and wreak havoc upon the marine environment. Microbeads absorb pollutants like pesticides and flame retardants, making them one million times more toxic than the ocean around them. Fish can mistake these for food, and eat them. This may ultimately cause the death of the animal or end up on our plates as they travel up the food chain. If one were to eat six oysters, it is likely that they have ingested 50 microbeads. My expert told me that companies put microbeads in their products because it makes them cheaper. In some cases, microbeads are used as a filler in these products. This means there is less of the product, because part of it is filled with plastic. The companies then earn money, at the expense of the environment. My action piece was to raise awareness through social media. I asked people to start using an app called Beat The Microbead. It allows consumers to scan the barcodes of personal care products, and it’ll show them if it contains microbeads. This will allow them to make the decision not to buy it, and find an alternative. It is available for free on the App Store and the Google Play Store. I created accounts on Facebook and Instagram, with weekly informational posts, talking about products with microbeads, alternatives, news about the subject, and products sent in by followers which they found surprising. I utilized my parents’ accounts on social media platforms to draw as much attention as possible. Although, I think I could have done better. I only have 59 followers on my project’s instagram account. My goal is to reach larger audiences so this truly has an impact. I urge you all to follow my account at Navarre_VS_Microbeads, and download the app.

Recruiting Bone Marrow Donors

“You have to realize that every well person is a miracle. It takes billions of cells to make a well person. And all it takes is one cell to be bad to destroy a whole person.'' This was said by Barbara Bush in an interview after she lost her daughter to leukemia. Leukemia is a grave issue, more substantial than most people realize. Every four minutes, a person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer. After my relative nearly died from leukemia, I became really invested in helping patients; I decided to make an impact on the world.

One of the widely used treatments which is a potential cure for leukemia is bone marrow transplantation. For a patient to have a transplant, their human leukocyte antigens, or HLAs must match the antigens of a potential donor on the registry. And while medicine has progressed a lot throughout the years, it is difficult to find a bone marrow match between a potential donor on the registry, and the leukemia patient. In fact, only 1 in 420 people on the registry are matched with a patient. So for my capstone project, I decided to concentrate on recruiting potential donors.

I partnered with a company called Be the Match which specializes in finding donors for patients with blood cancers. Gilbert Martinez, who unfortunately could not make it today, is an official representative of the company in the western region. Initially, I planned a drive at the South San Francisco library with the help of Gilbert, and later, in order to recruit more people to join the registry, I participated in a donor-recipient meeting in Stanford University. As part of this meeting, I was able to help multiple volunteers become potential bone marrow donors.

There is one significant limitation: only people between the ages of 18 and 44 can sign up. Donating organs is the best way to help cancer patients; it gives them hope and a second chance at life.

Hemophilia Logging App

“My blood doesn’t have muscles.” This is how hemophilia was explained to me when I was just a kid. Therefore, this topic is near and dear to my heart since I have Hemophilia.

Hemophilia is a genetic blood disorder where a deficiency in clotting proteins causes blood to clot at a slower rate. If untreated, hemophilia can lead to chronic health problems.  

Some interesting facts I learned while researching hemophilia were:

  1. Hemophilia is more common in males than females because it is inherited in an X-linked recessive pattern. I have a diagram here that explains how hemophilia is inherited.

  2. There are about 20,000 people in the US with hemophilia, and about 400,000 worldwide.

  3. The main medication to treat hemophilia is factor replacement therapy which is developed in a lab using DNA technology.

An important part of managing hemophilia is keeping a record of when and why the medicine was administered. A treatment log helps the doctor to keep track of the patient’s bleeding pattern, and to prescribe a specialized treatment plan for the patient.

However, I discovered during my research that “more than 50% (of hemophilia patients) do not log their medicine.” And a key reason for this is the hassle and time taken to keep a treatment log.

So, I decided that as my capstone action piece, I would design and create HemLog, a mobile app to simplify recording hemophilia treatment. My idea is that the user will only have to scan the QR code on the medication, and have all the information about the medication automatically download into the treatment log, together with the date and the reason for treatment.

However, even though I self-taught myself coding, I found that my lack of coding experience was a key obstacle to creating the app. Still, I intend to continue to learn coding, and to try to develop HemLog. My goal is to make HemLog available to the hemophilia community in the future.

Educating the Hearing Community on the Deaf

My name is Tristyn. In 6th grade, I took an elective on American Sign Language and I have wanted to continue to learn more about the language and those who speak it. My Capstone topic is concerning the Deaf Community.  Due to the lack of understanding, the Deaf suffer and struggle to live in a hearing world. Consequently, the educational opportunities for deaf students decrease. This can all lead to psychological, behavioral, and occupational effects on the deaf.

  • For example, research shows that the general population of American adults have reading levels around a 7th or 8th grade level, whereas the average reading level of deaf adults is around the 3rd or 4th grade level.

  • Given that only 2% in the US of deaf students are taught in sign language, research shows that deaf students may feel incapable or inferior to their peers.

  • Deaf individuals continue to face higher unemployment rates and many rely on social services for basic survival.

  • Through raising awareness, educating, and offering platforms to deaf people, hopefully, we can soon see a shift in the educational system that better supports those who are deaf.

Using this idea, I centered my action piece around educating the hearing community on the deaf. Through my action piece, hearing students at Woodland will be able to understand more about the community and their language, which makes it sustainable. I have made other attempts at bringing my school closer to the deaf community previously. For example, I both learn Sign Language as well as teach our preschoolers Sign Language. I hope to extend this education about the deaf community at my school by officially installing a Sign Language elective that will both teach the language as well as educate students on the culture of the Deaf community.

The Deaf community is one that is often overlooked, and I hope that through my action piece, it will be more understood and accepted in my own community.

A Song to Stop People From Littering

I’m Grant. I have always loved animals and been fascinated by the sea. So when I caught wind of marine wildlife being killed by plastic in the ocean, my heart broke. A garbage truck’s amount of trash gets dumped into the ocean every minute. The garbage has congregated in large patches twice the size of Texas, but the name “garbage patch” is a bit misleading. The plastic is floating in pieces the size of an eraser on a pencil. However, these minuscule pieces of plastic are found in the digestion systems of various marine wildlife and coastal birds. Plastic pollution not only devastates marine wildlife population but also taints our seafood supply. The biggest problem is the constant input. The only way to stop the source is to raise awareness and get people to stop littering on land. This will stop the runoff from the garbage on land from entering the ocean. However, getting billions of people to stop littering is extremely difficult. In addition, some people just don’t care. It's proven that people remember pneumonic devices. So, I decided to write a song about ocean pollution from a fish’s perspective. This leads to some quirky and odd lyrics, but in the end, I think the song gets the message across. This song becomes a sustainable solution because most people that remember the song will remember not to litter on land because it affects the animals in the ocean. I hope this song entertains all listeners, raises awareness about ocean pollution to those not familiar with the current situation, and changes the minds of those who don’t consider ocean pollution as a serious issue.
Listen to Grant's Song!

 

Increasing Cooking Among Youth and Teens

Home economics class participation for high school has diminished by 38% in the last 10 years. When it comes to their finances, only 17% of teens claim they know a lot about how to manage money. There could be a scenario where by 2030 most meals currently cooked at home are instead ordered online and delivered from either restaurants or central kitchens. These scenarios are frightening, and very real. My name is Lena, and for my capstone project, I decided to research the causes of why adolescents from the ages of 10-19 are cooking less often, and help solve those issues with helpful brochures and a website.

I’m passionate about this topic because I love to cook and the sense of accomplishment and responsibility that comes with it. My action piece was making a website and brochures that have tips and tricks about cooking, easy-to-follow videos, what cooking tools are used for, the best ingredients for you, and much more. While I was making my action piece, I realized, “teens don’t cook because they don’t know how to cook to begin with!” One of my favorite quotes that my expert, Wendy Sterling said, “If foods are easy to make, they will be more appealing to teens. All they want is something quick and easy.” That is why I decided to give tips about ingredients and tools instead of recipes, and each section of my website had a different thing to focus on, such as tools, ingredients, and tips.

I posted the brochures in local libraries and grocery stores because those places are the easiest for teens to find them, and those brochures lead people to my website. The brochures had a sample recipe, the top 10 tips cooking experts would give, why I got interested, and more. The website had more information in detail. Finally, in my capstone paper, I focused on the major issues of price, time, lack of experience, and availability, and how those reasons prevent teens from cooking.

Preventing Homophobia

I decided to focus my project on the topic of homophobia, specifically in the U.S. My goal with this project was to find out why homophobia happens and what I (and you) can do to help stop it. From my research, I have concluded that the main causes for homophobia are misinformation or stereotypes and the community that one grows up in. To specify, I’ve learned that if someone grows up in a community that’s more accepting and builds up positivity while pushing down negativity, that person is then more likely to be a bit more accepting, both towards themselves and others. I also learned that education makes a big difference as well, especially with younger children. People tend to be more tolerant if they know more about certain communities. Once they get to know that community, they learn that they may have more in common with those people than they had originally thought. Next, how LGBT characters are represented in media also has a huge impact on how society sees the rest of the community. For example, today, we have so many gay stereotypes because that’s how TV and the media usually choose to represent them. But, what does all this matter if we can’t help stop discrimination? That’s why for my action piece, I made a 2D animation video for children, to better educate them on what it really means to be gay and how society sees the LGBT community. My belief is that I (and others as well) can really make an impact if we simply educate our children earlier, so they know what to expect when they get older. In conclusion, I hope I can still continue to make an impact with this topic, even after I graduate to high school, and maybe even college.

Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment

My name is Anna, and my capstone project is on Gender discrimination and sexual harassment. Ever since last year, I have been inspired to choose gender discrimination and sexual harassment because of the strong and powerful women we can look up who have shared their stories The purpose of my capstone project was to look at the research about sexual harassment and gender discrimination, the differences between the two, and its causes in hopes of finding ways to make a difference and prevent those effects that happened in past generations from happening in future generations. I researched three main topics: the statistics of both gender discrimination and sexual harassment and why a man might harass a woman. Here is what I found about sexual harassment on the street:

According to Stop Street Harassment, “The survey found that 65% of all women had experienced street harassment. Among all women, 23% had been sexually touched, 20% had been followed, and 9% had been forced to do something sexual”

Here is what I found on gender discrimination at work:

“About four-in-ten working women in the United States say they have faced discrimination on the job because of their gender. Among employed adults, women are about twice as likely as men to say they have experienced at least one of eight specific forms of gender discrimination at work”

And finally, this is what I found about predators:

“For women in fields like the military, tech or politics, men often perform such inappropriate behavior in an effort to ‘protect their occupational territory’”  “the behavior goes so unchecked by leaders of an organization that it becomes a workplace norm”

After learning this you may be wondering how to solve such a large issue. I decided to uplift girls in a time where they might feel venerable or weak by creating a guide on ways to battle this issue. I created “5 ways to end the gender discrimination days” to help girls in society today feel more confident facing this topic. A culmination of my research and recommendations can be found in a very brief pamphlet for you to take and read at your own time.

Accessibility to Healthy Foods in Redwood City

My name is Sam and my Capstone topic is about the accessibility to healthy foods in Redwood City.  I choose this topic because accessibility to healthy food is a big issue in this world and I wanted to dig deep and make an impact in my community. When doing my preliminary research, my father introduced me to a place where my neighbor works called St. Anthony’s. It is neighborhood church that offers food and clothing services to the nearby community. There, I met one of my experts, Arturo Jimenez. He helps run a soup kitchen that produces over 500 lunches per day.  Based on my conversation with him, I discovered:

  1. They can always use more healthy options like fresh fruit and vegetables

  2. They do not have enough volunteers

  3. Many people in need of food are not mobile and don’t have the transportation

After giving our conversation some thought, I thought that a great way to help was building a mini garden where we could grow fresh fruits and vegetables year-round for their soup kitchen.

While they do get donations, they never have too many fresh fruit and vegetables most of the time.

So, I took this information and reached out to another expert Tom Cronin. My intention was to identify: 1)  the cost of building a vegetable garden and 2) the manpower it would require to build as well as maintain the garden going forward. After my discussion with him, I was convinced I could do the fundraising to build a garden as well as find the resources to build the garden.

Armed with this information, I decided to go talk to Father Fabio who was the ultimate decision-maker at St. Anthony’s. While they wanted to have a garden, reluctantly they just did not have the manpower to look after and tend to it. I also asked Garfield School located next door, about the same thing but they gave the same response. They just did not have the people to do it. Because of this, I started looking for other ways to help out. I have created a website that will be a resource for all sorts of local places that are either:

  1. food delivery services

  2. soup kitchens

  3. garden resources

  4. or places where you can donate food

This idea was based on my original conversation with Arturo where he said often times people did not know where to go to get information on food services.

Nutritional Awareness

My name is Zachary and I am presenting about my topic: Nutritional Awareness. Nutritional awareness is something that affects us all. If you have ever checked the food labels of cereal, you will notice that even the most seemingly wholesome cereals contain heaps of sugar.

Not only are lots of people not checking these labels, but even if you are it is very difficult to compare them as they use many different serving sizes. Finding a cereal that you like, yet does not have heaps of sugar is a challenge because you have to normalize the serving sizes and the average person does not have that kind of time.

This challenge is what ultimately led me to choose this topic. When choosing foods, come many other problems and my action piece aims to simplify this process.

Another such problem would be interpreting additives. This is very hard to do as additives can have many names. For example, MSG, more than 40 forms of this additive can be found in grocery aisles, making it difficult to figure out what you are eating. All this information is on the food label; however, it is difficult to interpret.

However, people in general don't tend to read food labels and my action piece also aims to make more people nutritionally aware.

In fact, only a third of people in the US check food labels regularly and 67% of those who don't check food labels feel that they are not relevant to them. This shows that there is a lack of nutritional awareness because there are many reasons why you would want to read a food label.

That is why I have set out to help people become more nutritionally aware by creating an application.

This application is not fully complete, but I have been working on it for some time and hopefully it will see beta testers relatively soon.

My application aims to do many things, but its biggest goal is to help people choose foods when at a grocery store. This is an arduous process as I have already discussed and my app can simplify this by allowing comparison by barcode. All foods use a UPC barcode and it uses that barcode to query to a database and retrieve information about the food item. This information can then be compared and the serving sizes can be normalized showing you a diagram of what each food contains and what has less of something and more of another thing while providing definitions for additives and giving alerts for harmful additives. This way people can gather this information at a quick glance.

Protecting Dogs from Ear Infections

My name is Kaitlyn, and for my Capstone project, I address the problem of ear infections in dogs due to water. I used to have a beagle named Copper, and he would sometimes get ear infections when we gave him a bath. For comparison, when a dog has an ear infection, it smells, is expensive, and takes a lot of work. This made this topic important to me, and I hope to minimize this issue. Research shows there are many causes for ear infections in dogs, such as bacteria, fungus, and moisture. There are three different types of ear infections, which are otitis externa, media, and internal, each more difficult to treat than the last.

Surprisingly, vets estimate that about 20% of dogs get an ear infection during their life, and since there are about 89.7 million pet dogs in the world, 18 million dogs are expected to get infections. Dogs are also more prone to getting infections because the structure of the ear canal is more of an “L” shape, so it tends to hold in fluid.

To tackle this issue, I made a prototype of water-proof headphones, based off of hearing protection headphones. I started by thinking of a way to make the headphones waterproof and found a foam sealant to put on the gaps to prevent any water from seeping in. I then used collars and attached them to the top and sides of the headphone. They all connect at a hook, which attaches to the collar of the dog, securing the headphone in place. My solution is sustainable in that the product is not a one-time use, however, it’s not currently capable of distribution, limiting its impact.

Helping Increase Oral Hygiene in Mexico

I have always been conscious about how much privilege I have compared to a lot of people in the rest of the world, and I never got the chance to act on my thoughts. Until capstone came in eighth grade. This is the first time I really looked into how terrible it actually was for the people in some of the worst places in the world. Through my research, I found that over 95% of people living in rural Mexico have dental caries (cavities, tooth decay, etc.). This was the statistic that hooked me to the topic of oral hygiene in Mexico. Researching further into the subject, I found that even children were hit by dental problems - nearly a quarter of Mexican children under 3 YEARS OLD have dental caries. In addition to this, only half of Mexican children brush their teeth because they either don’t know the consequences of not brushing or they simply don’t have the necessary supplies.

I knew a church in my area that did a yearly mission trip to Mexico. I contacted Danny Bowers, one of the trip leaders, and talked to him about a collection that they could do at their church for toiletries. I alone collected around 20 kits (consisting of a toothbrush, floss, and toothpaste) to send along on the trip. In addition, I sent them a pamphlet written in Spanish that outlined basic everyday hygiene procedures.

I hit a few roadblocks in my journey, the main one being finding the right topic. I spent months searching the web for a topic I could realistically make a change in before realizing that nothing was going to be easy if I wanted something to actually happen.

Proper Disposal of Medication

Can anybody here tell me what to do with those pill bottles in your cabinets that have been sitting there for ages?

Do you throw them away? No, there’s a high likelihood that someone will get ahold of the drugs and either abuse them or redistribute them (both of these are illegal, by the way).

Do you flush them down the toilet? No, they will eventually find their ways into various bodies of water such as reservoirs, rivers, and lakes, contaminating the life that relies on these sources.

Fish and other aquatic wildlife have been strongly affected by these improper disposals for the past decades. Recently, though, it’s been harming them more than ever; according to recent studies of fish in 19 different national parks, 60 to 100 percent of them had female egg cells growing in their testes.

So, you can’t flush them, and you can’t throw them away, so what do you do?

Of course, you go to your best friend, Google. While searching what to do, you’ll come across two different types of information.

The first thing you’ll find is incorrect data. A ton of it. This information will be something along the lines of chopping up your meds, throwing them in a bag with something unsavory, and tossing it. While this will drastically reduce chances of them being redistributed, the meds will still most likely harm the environment in some way or another.

The second thing you’ll find is information about medication take back programs. At some pharmacies and doctor’s offices, you’ll be able to give them your meds so that they can be safely disposed of. There is also a annual Medication take back day in the U.S. Although this is a solution, it’s a flawed solution. What if you’re out of the country on the Take Back Day? What if there’s no take back programs in your area? What if you are unable to drive?

This is why I constructed my product, which is called RedMed as my action piece. Unfortunately, due to my lack of funding, I have been unable to launch this product. I’m still looking for sponsors though, so if you’re interested in funding me, you can come talk to me after I’m done speaking. This is an ongoing project, and it will continue to be ongoing until this problem is solved, which it may never be.