by Brian Tomasik
Written 1999-2000; uploaded 8 Jul. 2017

This page collects some written homework assignments from when I was in 7th grade. Needless to say, I don't now agree with all of these statements.

English

Letter about Myself

9 Sep. 1999

I, Brian Tomasik, am twelve years old and I enjoy making movies with my video camera. I also like to fish, watch TV, swim, play Nintendo, read, and pet my sister’s cat[...].

In the past year, I started making a few movies. One is a stop-motion movie of clay figures. ( A stop motion movie is where you move something a little bit, then take a quick shot and then move them again so it looks like they’re moving on their own). Another movie I made was with puppets, and a movie called If You Ever Thought You Had A Bad Morning #2, where a Pringles monster chases a person who didn’t read the warning label on the can. [...]

I don’t like school or homework but there are a few classes that are okay such as German, Art, and sometimes Math and Science. I hope I have a great year in your class.

Science

Energy Sources

1. Scientists are trying to develop new energy sources because fossil fuels are nonrenewable resources so once we’ve used them all up, there won’t be any left. This would mean that we would have to find new sources of energy.

2. There are lots of energy alternatives besides fossil fuels. One of these is solar energy which is energy from the sun. Another source of energy is from water when it’s passed through a hydroelectric plant. Windmills are built in places where there is usually lots of wind which can be converted into energy. Geothermal energy is energy that comes from the heat made by the earth. When water contacts heated rocks, it creates steam. People can drill wells into sources of steam that are under ground, and feed the steam into electric power plants. Another energy source is nuclear fission where uranium atoms are split to release energy which creates steam to power a turbine. A sixth way to create energy is nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion works by combining hydrogen atoms together to produce energy.

3. The three major types of fossil fuels have different states of matter. Petroleum or oil is a liquid, natural gas is a gas, and coal is a solid fossil fuel.

4. There are lots of problems associated with nuclear fission. One is that radioactive materials are given off and people haven’t discovered a way to safely dispose of these harmful wastes. A second is that nuclear fission costs lots of money. A third is when there are accidents at nuclear power plants, harmful radioactive materials are released into the atmosphere.

5. I think that nuclear fusion will be the most common energy source in fifty years because it doesn’t seem too hard to create energy with this method, the materials needed to do it are abundant, and it doesn’t release harmful radioactive wastes. The article also said that these power plants are a dream now but they may become a reality in the twenty-first century.

Extinction

1. A reason that a species becomes extinct, is when humans destroy a species’ habitat by building farms, communities, or cities. Another is when humans hunt an animal species too much. A third is when the climate changes too quickly for animals and plants to adapt, so they become extinct.

2. The extinction of plants is a threat to humans for a couple of reasons. One is that people rely on plants for food and if wild plants are destroyed, we won’t be able to find as many new food resources. Another reason is that many medicines and other useful chemicals are made from plants. If we destroy plants, we won’t be able to discover as many more kinds of plants that can be used for medicine.

3. A good way to preserve endangered species is to save their habitats. Many countries have parks and preserves which can’t be developed. Another way is to not use too many plants and animals, so there are enough to reproduce. A third way is to teach people about the importance of conserving animals and plants.

4. If one species goes extinct, it may affect another species. The species that is affected, depended on the extinct species for survival in a way such as it ate the extinct species. If this happened, the species that depended on the extinct species, might not be able to survive either.

Pollution

1. Two major sources of air pollution are the exhaust from cars and trucks and smoke that comes out of factory smoke stacks.

2. A temperature inversion makes air pollution worse. Normally, the warm air near the ground rises and carries pollutants higher into the atmosphere but sometimes cold air gets trapped under the warm air. If this happens, the cool air won’t rise and the pollutants in the cold air stay near the ground.

3. When acid rain falls, it can have many harmful effects. It can damage buildings, statues, soil, and plant life. If acid rain falls into ponds or lakes, it can destroy plants and animals living there.

4. A way that people could reduce the amount of air pollution caused by automobiles would be to find a new source of energy, besides gasoline, to fuel their cars. Many people have already thought of quite a few ideas such as electric cars and solar cars.

Renewable Resources

15 Nov. 1999

1. A renewable resource is something people use that can be replaced by nature. An example of a renewable resource is water. A nonrenewable resource can’t be replaced by nature. Some examples of nonrenewable resources are coal, natural gas, and oil.

2. Conservation is using resources wisely so that they won’t be used up too quickly and then gone forever. Nonrenewable resources cannot be replaced. Renewable resources can be replaced but they too must be used wisely.

3. One resource that I use everyday is food. This is a renewable resource because it‘s made from living things which can be regrown. When I ride in a car, it runs on gasoline. Gasoline is a nonrenewable resource because there is only a certain amount of it. Paper is another resource that I use everyday. Paper is made from trees which is a renewable resource.

Social Studies persuasive essays

My Social Studies class subscribed to Teen Newsweek. That magazine included short descriptions of public-policy issues based on which I wrote the following essays or essay outlines.

Cloning

24 Jan. 2000 issue; written 7 Feb. 2000

Cloning is new and expensive; it has many uses and can do many things; still, opinions differ as to whether cloning is a good idea.

Cloning has the potential to do many things and benefit lots of people which is why cloning experiments should be continued. There are many diseases that scientists are trying to find cures for. Cloning could speed up experiments. If a cloned animal is used for an experiment such as testing a new drug, the only manipulated variable should be the use of the drug because the clones are genetically identical. Not only that, but by cloning certain human cells new tissues or organs can be produced to repair or replace old damaged ones. This could create new skin for burn victims, new spinal cord cells for quadriplegics and paraplegics, new brain cells for people with brain damage, new lungs, new kidneys, new livers, new hearts, and, of course, many other organs and cells.

With just a few of the reasons listed, you can clearly see that cloning will dramatically benefit mankind in many ways.

Convert to Metric System

18 Oct. 1999 issue; written 23 Oct. 1999

Should the United States Change to the Metric System?

Yes

  • Stupid errors such as what happened to the Mars Orbiter wouldn’t happen nearly as much.
  • It’s estimated that 20,000 fewer U.S. jobs are created for every billion lost in overseas sales because of not using the metric system.
  • Other countries will tighten trade restrictions by not trading with countries that don’t use the metric system.

No

  • Some people would rather keep the system they know.
  • To make the change would cost millions of dollars for new books, roadsigns, etc.
  • Everyone would have to be re-trained to learn the new system.

Electric Chair

8 Nov. 1999 issue; written 15 Nov. 1999

Is electrocution by the electric chair constitutional?

Yes

  • The Florida Supreme Court said that the electric chair doesn’t violate the U.S. Constitution.
  • Some people believe that people on death row are there for a reason and deserve the punishment.
  • Some people also believe that the electric chair has to involve fear and some pain to keep people a little bit more afraid of committing serious crimes.

No

  • Many people think it’s barbaric to execute someone using the electric chair.
  • In some electric chair executions, things that aren’t supposed to happen can happen such as prisoners’ heads catch on fire.
  • Some people think that the electric chair is unconstitutional because it’s “cruel and unusual punishment”.

Gun Buyback Programs

15 Nov. 1999 issue; written 20 Nov. 1999

I. Do gun buy-back programs work?

A. Gun buy-back programs take in guns that people own and give money or other things of value in return.
B. In September, the government used $15 million planning to buy 300,000 firearms nationwide.
C. People have different opinions about whether these programs work.
D. Gun buy-back programs should be continued.

II. The number of guns owned by the public is down

A. Many programs are getting better results than ever before.
B. In August, Washington D.C. collected 2,200 guns.
C. The largest single gun turn-in in the country was 5,347 guns in a three-weekend buy-back program.

III. Fewer guns means fewer crimes

A. The crime rate is down.
B. The murder rate went down seven percent last year partially caused by a drop in the number of people killed by guns.
C. Fewer guns are now used in robberies.

IV. Gun buy-back programs seem to be working

A. Do gun buy-back programs work?
B. The programs are getting better results than ever before and with fewer guns there are less crimes.
C. For these reasons, gun buy-back programs should be continued.

Life in 2057

20 Dec. 1999 issue; written 31 Dec. 1999

In 2057, life will be very different. No one is really sure what will happen, but we can guess. The following sections include a few of my predictions for the future.

Space:
People may have landed on Mars by the year 2057. If we do, we will probably bring back samples, look for water, and look for life. It’s likely that NASA will discover many new stars, planets, and galaxies. NASA will probably also continue sending satellites to different planets in our solar system and perhaps farther. Scientists might be planning to have people live their entire life in space (probably in a space station) by the year 2057. They would then be able to see how the people are affected by it and see if it’s possible to live in space.

War and Peace:
Disputes over land and precious resources might become worse in the twenty-first century. If the population greatly increases, (which is a possibility) than there won’t be as much room to live and some resources may be uses up. With technology improving, it’s very likely that people will create weapons for war that are even more powerful than they are now. We can hope that if they’re invented, they won't be used very often.

Technology:
Computers are likely to be smaller and faster and have more memory than they do now. The Internet will probably be where people get almost all of their information. Many ordinary day-to-day things might be mechanical and we may begin to program robots that can do many useful jobs.

Politics:
I think that women will have a bigger role in politics in the future. It’s likely that the first woman president will be elected by 2057. There’s also a chance that one or more amendments will be added to the U.S. Constitution and a few changes might be made to the government.

Natural Disasters:
One of the biggest natural problems that might get worse is global warming caused by air pollution. This could cause flooding from the melting ice caps. Global warming also affects El Nino which has a big effect on weather all over the world.

Violence and Grief:
In the future, laws may be passed to make it harder for kids to get weapons. This could prevent kids killing themselves, by accident or on purpose, and incidents such as the one in Littleton, Colorado. With the possibility of more people going into space, the climate changing, and new weapons being invented, many deaths are bound to occur.

Sports:
By 2057, we may invent a few new sports, some of which could become professional sports. There probably will be many new teams. A few records are also likely to be broken such as the home run record by Mark McGwire in 1998. During now and 2057, many sports heroes will probably retire and die, but there will be many new ones waiting for their chance to become famous.

One hundred years ago, most people probably had no idea of what life would be like now. Today we have computers, phones, airplanes, and other things that most people never imagined. As we go into the next hundred years, we’ll see things that we didn’t think were possible.

Living Wage

22 Nov. 1999 issue; written 4 Dec. 1999

I. Should the minimum wage be a living wage?

A. Minimum wage is the lowest amount of money that an employer can pay a worker.
B. The current minimum wage is $5.15 an hour.
C. It’s estimated that 11 million U.S. workers earn minimum wage.
D. A living wage is the minimum amount of money needed to support a family of four at the poverty line.
E. The minimum wage should not be a living wage.

II. Labor costs money

A. If the price of labor goes up, employers try to have less of it.
B. Employers may hire less full time workers which would mean fewer jobs.
C. Cities with living wage laws will lose jobs because some businesses will move to places where they don’t have living wage laws.

III. Not all workers are supporting families

A. Half of all workers earning minimum wage are young people in entry-level jobs.
B. If these people aren’t supporting families, they don’t need as much money.

IV. Should the minimum wage be a living wage?

A. Labor costs money and not all workers support families.
B. For these reasons, the minimum wage shouldn’t be a living wage.

School Uniforms

4 Oct. 1999 issue; written 11 Oct. 1999

Statement: Requiring school uniforms is a good idea.

Yes

  • Some schools have reported a drop in crime since they started school uniforms.
  • It takes pressure off students to have to buy what clothes are in style.
  • Some people belie that uniforms affect the attitudes of students toward schoolwork.

No

  • Critics say that uniforms don’t really improve security.
  • Many students hate the idea of uniforms.
  • Students won’t be able to choose what they want to wear.

Technology current events

For technology class, we sometimes had to find a news article about technology in a magazine or online and write about it.

Laser Eye Surgery

1 Mar. 2000

1. Source: Popular Science: February 2000

2. Summary: More and more people are choosing to get laser eye surgery. It’s used to correct people’s eyes who are nearsighted, farsighted, and astigmatic. On average, it works 93 percent of the time. Small side effects that may occur are “halos” around direct light, and it may decrease night vision.

To perform the surgery, someone drops an anesthetic on the eye to numb it before a microkeratome cuts the outer cornea creating a flap. A computer guides a laser beam to correct the eye problem by removing tissue. Then the cornea flap is replaced. The whole operation only takes about 15 minutes.

3. Opinion: I think that this is a wonderful invention. People who are nearsighted, farsighted, or astigmatic can have the surgery done instead of having to wear glasses or contact lenses. Most of the time the surgery is successful, and within about six months, patients can see 20/40 vision or better. It’s probably quite expensive now, but as it becomes more common, the price will probably go down.

Seeing-Eye Dog

10 Feb. 2000

1. Source: Discover: January, 2000

2. Summary: Gerard Lacey is a computer engineer who works at Trinity College, Dublin. He has invented a robot that acts as a seeing-eye dog. It’s called Personal Adaptive Mobility Aid (PAM-AID). For many elderly people, it’s too hard to have a seeing-eye dog and this is a good alternative. It has laser range finders and sonar to prevent it from running into things. The robot can also “talk” to the person using it to help them know what it’s going to do next.

3. Opinion: I think that this is a great invention that will help many people. As it said, many elderly people have a hard time keeping a dog. It seems to work just as well as a dog but also warns the user of what it’s going to do next. This is something that seeing-eye dogs can’t do. It looks expensive, but as more people start using it, the price will probably go down and it’ll be available to many people.

Spoiled Food

14 Mar. 2000

1. Source: Popular Science: April 2000

2. Summary: A company in California designed a device called the Cyrano Science’s Nose Chip. It can “smell” if food is spoiled. A polymer matrix inside of it expands when it “smells” a particular odor. The device “smells” any spoiled food by its electronic “fingerprint.” The device may soon be used in new refrigerators.

3. Opinion: I think that this is a great device. It will warn you if any of your food is spoiled to prevent the risk of someone getting sick from it. As people get older, their smell isn’t as good. This device could help the elderly to pick out spoiled food. The manufacturing price is about $1 apiece so the selling price probably won’t be too high.

Virtual Reality

20 Apr. 2000

1. Source: Muse: April 2000

2. Summary: Scientists at England’s University of Surrey are working on a technology that would allow computer game players to see themselves in the game. Pictures of the player would be taken of them facing front, back, and both ways sideways. The computer uses the pictures as an outline and then molds the rest of their body into the outline to create a 3-D animated figure. This is called avatar technology after the Hindu word for gods who walk in human form. After fixing a few mistakes made by the computer, scientists believe that it’s close to being ready.

3. Opinion: I think that this is an interesting idea. I don’t think I would care that much if I played a game and saw myself playing it, but I think many other people would really enjoy it. Right now, this will just be used to put virtual people into games, but a few scientists believe that this could be used as a form of identification on the Internet in the future.

Vasco da Gama questions

I think the content here is factually accurate, at least according to the sources I used to write it. I can't remember if there are some fictional embellishments.

4 Mar. 2000

I, Vasco da Gama, am from Sines, Portugal.

I sailed for Portugal.

King Manuel told me to find a water route to India by sailing around the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa.

I followed the discovery of another sailor from Portugal. His name was Bartolomew Dias. A few years before my voyage he had discovered the Cape of Good Hope.

Once Bartolomew Dias had been around the Cape of Good Hope, we knew it was possible to reach India that way. I was put in charge of the mission to reach India. Dias also helped with the construction of four ships for my voyage (Sao Gabriel, Sao Rafael, the Berrio, and a store ship called Sao Maria). Dias also gave me sailing advice.

As you already know, I sailed to India. On the morning of July 8, 1497, I set sail from Lisbon, Portugal, with about 150 men. I traveled down the west coast of Africa until I was a little below the equator. Then I had the boats go farther into the ocean towards South America. This let us take advantage of the good winds in that area. Finally on November 7, we saw land again. We sailed around the Cape of Good Hope and up the east coast of Africa. Finally we reached Calicut, India on May 20, 1498.

The main challenge that I faced on my journey was disease. As we were traveling up the eastern coast of Africa, we stopped by the Quelimane River for awhile, but many of my men became sick with scurvy because they didn’t have enough vitamin C. On the journey back to Portugal many of my men became sick with diseases such as scurvy. Only 55 of the original crew of 150 men survived the journey back. Another challenge was attacks from the natives at places that we stopped along Africa. Sometimes they were friendly, and sometimes they weren’t. Sometimes the natives hated us because we were Christians.

The entire journey took a long time. We stopped at many islands and places along the African coast. Sometimes we stopped to get supplies, food, and water and to repair the
ships because they became worn out or leaky. When we went around the Cape of Good Hope, the violent waves shook the boats. One of the stops that we made on the east coast of Africa was by the Quelimane River and we met the two chiefs of the natives. One of them wore silk and the other satin. This let us know that India wasn’t too far. At Malindi, the last stop before India, the natives sent someone who had lived with them to come with us. He helped guide the ships the rest of the way to India.

When I first arrived in Calicut, India, the Indians there were nice to me and my men and gave us gifts. Soon after, though, the Arabs told the king to force us to leave India because they didn’t want us to interfere with their trade. The king then had his men guard us for a few days before we could leave. Soon after that, the king changed his mind again and let us stay and trade. Again the Arabs convinced the king to make us leave so he took some of my men hostage. I held some of his men hostage as well so we both agreed to let each other’s hostages go. We then headed back to Portugal. Some Indian ships tried to stop us but couldn’t.

When we arrived in India, the weather was warm and tropical. It was the hot season and the temperatures were from 85-90 degrees. Cyclones were common also.

In the 1500’s, Portuguese forts were set up on India’s west coast.

The forts were set up to control the trade between Europe and India. The forts and Portugal became wealthy from controlling this.