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Astronomy Horrors

Astronomy Horrors

By Cathy Wang (age 10, SIS, KYP Intermediate Creative Writing Class)

“Get in!” a gruff voice answered my knock. I stepped in. I was now in the observatory!

“Wow,” I breathed. It was amazing! Stars dotted the sky like streaks of white paint.

“Can yer shut up!” the annoying voice interrupted my thoughts.

Opps, I thought, “Um, ok”

Before I even finished my sentence, I was interrupted again by a shill, plain evil, “Mwa Haa Ha Ha Ha! Mwa Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!”

I recoiled in shock, thinking that my teacher had finally gone insane. He waved his hands around as if signaling someone.

I started to feel uneasy, and my heart was skipping a beat. What on Earth…I turned around and ran for the door.

Locked.

I tried for the windows.

Locked.

I tried to jump off from the balcony.

It had turned into solid glass.

I looked at Mr Whata. His eyeballs were bulging out. His face was turning whiter and more…decomposed. His hand was reduced into a skeletal structure. He stood there, as if nothing happened, staring out of the window, waiting for something.

I couldn’t suppress my scream. It scared the birds out of the trees, but no one came running.

“I was waiting for that.” My insane Astronomy teacher flashed me a crooked smile, giving me an unpleasant look of his empty, disgusting eye sockets.

My legs wanted to collapse as he waved his hands. This time, the ground shook, and everything changed.

Trees grew around us.

Rocks grew out of the Earth.

The rocks became…headstones.

A mist appeared around us.

I could see the rotting flesh.

“She’s here! Zombies!” Mr. Whata cried.

“Um…Mr. Whata?” I wanted to puke, my greatest fear was in front of my eyes! No, I couldn’t scream, can’t scream, I warned myself.

“It’s not Whata, it’s Thawa!”

Thawa! It struck a match in my brain. The leader of the DPRES! The Dead People Revenge-Easy Society! He tried to kill me a year ago, when, I, accidently killed him! Now, he was impossible to kill.

“Mmmm…Bell,” he cackled. “I can finally kill you now.”

I screamed. Dead people, decomposed body parts, and rotting flesh climbed out of their graves.

“Uh huh, so you see, this is my army! They all want you to die, just like them,” he explained.

I froze. My phobia! I began to tremble.

Blood began to trickle slowly down the graves. It took me a moment to realise that it was my blood!

Something overhead caught my attention. The stars.

“Ah, I see you’ve noticed. Well, that’s your Astronomy lesson!” Whata grinned.

I stared up in horror as the stars moved to make a picture. It was a skull!

I couldn’t take it anymore. At that second, I turned into a tornado. I mean literally.

The zombie screamed like babies and girls and ran out of the way.

I was shocked. This never happened before!

Using my will power, I steered myself towards my dorm.

But, they don’t let me go easily. The mist around me turned into fresh blood. They pierced me like acid rain. Leaves from trees dropped off, as if they were knives!

I ran into my room. And slammed the door. I would never have Astronomy class ever again.

Officer Dog and Officer Moose

Officer Dog and Officer Moose

By Charlotte Fung, 9 years old, Singapore International School, KYP Beginners Critical Reasoning

“Ready, set, go!” Commander Lion yelled.

It was raining cats and dogs the day before, making the ground mushy and some tress fall down; the perfect setting for a morning training exercise. This was a training that all new officers had to do, in order for them to prove they are worthy of protecting the forest.

Officer Dog was partners with Officer Moose. They met when they were in Wood Academy where they studied planning and combat for ten years. They both wanted to become generals, so they signed up for officer training.

The first obstacle was fearsome Scorpion Lake. The officers had to avoid the poisonous scorpions that live near the lake and get across. Officer Dog ran as fast as he could and Officer Moose followed along.

“Poison them! Poison them!” Officer Dog heard the scorpions chant.

Since they knew each other so well, Officer Dog and Officer Moose could communicate just by looking at each other. Suddenly, Officer Moose got stung by a scorpion! Still, he did not give up. With sheer grit and determination he carried Officer Dog across the lake. Together they avoided dangerous predators and fatal attacks.

At last they reached the end of the training exercise. Officer Moose got carried to Herbal Goodness Hospital and Officer Dog helped take care of him just as his father, who was Queen Mother Nature’s private doctor, had taught him.

Ten years later, Officer Dog became a general. He never forgot what his friend Officer Moose did for him that day.

Technology’s Detrimental Influence on Society

Technology’s Detrimental Influence on Society

By Bo Wen Zhu, HKIS, 13 years old

In the past few decades, technological growth has been astronomical. The 21st century has brought a host of new gadgets onto the playing table, all fought over by different companies for profit. Seemingly every month, an innovative product is developed with limitless potential, each more powerful than the previous one. Computers hundreds of thousands of times more powerful than those that piloted the Apollo spaceships are ubiquitous in offices and schools. Even more shocking is the fact that we possess calculators whose computing power is thousands of times higher than the ones that took up entire rooms just 3 decades ago. Though the benefits of the rapidly developing technology might seem greatly beneficial to society, ubiquitous and powerful technology is greatly detrimental to society’s growth, happiness, and security. For one, the more powerful a piece of technology is, the more damage will occur if used inappropriately. Secondly, with all of our private information stored in the form of binary in huge databases around the globe, it gives hackers an advantage: the more locations and forms our private information is stored in, the more ways there are to breach their security systems and obtain them. Finally, the development of powerful technology and making it ubiquitous will also inevitably lead to their usage in warfare.

 

First of all, individuals with negative intentions have always found ways to utilize any type of technology to use against a society’s members. A prominent example is the usage of fax machines in the 1970s to send ink-consuming spam. A sender looped a piece of black construction paper in a fax machine, sending endless copies to an unfortunate victim’s machine. It will consume all of the victim’s ink in a matter of minutes, causing a lot of inconvenience. Another more commonplace example that everyone with an email account has experienced will be spam messages clogging up inboxes. Potentially, these messages contain viruses and malware that will increase inconvenience to society. Therefore, if we have a plethora of gadgets, then we will have a plethora of inconveniences to deal with.

 

Moreover, it is important to note that although the inconveniences caused by spam is a problem worth targeting, a greater, darker problem emerges from it. As technology use increases, we are storing more and more of our private information on them, and in the “information cloud”. Take, for example, our very own HKID. The small chip inside them provides a link into one of Hong Kong’s many databases, containing our address, phone number, email address, and basically every bit of information that we will feel uncomfortable giving out. These databases are equipped with high-security features to prevent hacking, but hackers are always trying to be one step ahead. The security features of a U.S database failed a matter of days ago, leaking the private information of 18 million Americans into the hacker’s hands. If technology usage increases, so will the storage of information on them, and the more vulnerable that information will be. Think about it this way: If your houses’ door has a lock, a fingerprint scanner, and a key car reader, each able to open the door on its own, doesn’t a thief have more methods of opening the door? If your same door only had a fingerprint scanner, then the thief will have only one method of gaining access to your house. The same can be said about data security: the multiple sources represent the multiple methods of gaining access to the information. We are unconsciously helping hackers by increasing our usage of technology. If hackers do succeed, isn’t both society’s privacy and security under jeopardy?

 

Finally, it is important to note that a surfeit of new and powerful technology will inevitably lead to their modification for usage in warfare. We humans, with all our fancy gadgets, think we are superior to all the other animals and different from them. However, we too are a work of nature, and as a result conflict is woven deep into our natural instinct. We will inevitably approach a piece of powerful technology, such as computers, and try to link it with methods to produce great weaponry. In this case, the powerful computers’ components evolved into drones, guiding appendages for surface-to-air missiles, GPS trackers for intercontinental ballistic missiles, self-guiding depth charges, and an overwhelming amount of weaponry capable of being compared to the U.S arsenal. This dark point is outlined perfectly in a famous quote: “You can’t say that society does not progress, for in every war they kill you in a new way.” Does this sound good to society as a whole? Absolutely not.

 

Proponents of the opposite side of the argument has pointed out that the advance in technology has led to a great increase in society’s happiness due to increased convenience. Although this argument seems solid and valid, it is a common misconception that the proponents have failed to notice is just an illusion. Michael Sandel’s award-winning book “Justice” provided an intensive study and insightful analysis of this exact claim. By gathering data, it has been revealed that the reason why the technology seems to have greatly increased happiness is because of everybody’s utilitarian attitude when it comes to assessing a society’s many aspects. In simpler words, a utilitarian seeks to find the overall amount of happiness and satisfaction within a community, glossing over the individual aspects.

 

Putting this into an example might aid comprehension of this complicated claim. After the invention of the television, economical benefits skyrocketed and families rejoiced at a new method of entertainment, satisfying even the most critical utilitarian analyst. How, you might ask? Well, a utilitarian looks at a society with this common question: How well can this society be utilized to work? In other words, is the current situation of the society enabling it to provide benefits to make further improvements. However, to carry out the changes, the society’s overall satisfaction and happiness of its workers are needed, which ensure an appropriate working attitude.

 

However, the problem is that everyone is looking at a society through utilitarian lenses when assessing the impact of technology on it. After all, doesn’t everyone want to improve the society they themselves live in? Due to this, individual happiness and satisfaction is overlooked. Did utilitarians consider the many obese individuals who gained ten too many pounds being a couch potato? No. Did utilitarian consider the academic time wasted by a child because his favorite show was in a rerun? No. Did the utilitarian consider what all this will lead to? No! In fact, this will lead to their worst nightmare: a decrease in society’s usefulness. Why then, did they fail to notice such a glaring problem? That is because of, alas, their habit of analyzing communities as a whole and disregarding individual circumstances. However, those circumstances still have weight, and will add up eventually. Thus, although the technology seems to have incurred a great sense of convenience and happiness in a society, the individual cases of inconveniences will balance out, if not overcome, the conveniences that lead to a world utilitarians dream about.

 

In conclusion, a flourishing society need not a plethora of high-tech computers, sophisticated communication systems, and highly intricate machinery. If any of them fall into control of the wrong hands, then they will cause as much, if not more, inconvenience as they provide convenience. Furthermore, it is important to consider data security as an important aspect, as hackers will have multiple sources to target because of an increased usage in data-storing technology. Finally, the most detrimental to society both individually and as a whole, is the evolution of technology onto the battlefield. Society can benefit greatly from an amazing piece of technology, but at what expense? What if the very technology the smartphones we use today will be used to take the lives of unfortunate individuals on a battlefield in the form of tracer bullets? Technology is required for progression of society, but at what cost? What if the evolution of technology will make them so powerful that someday it will take over your job?

Why Standardized Testing is Bad for Society

Why Standardized Testing is Bad for Society

By Sze Mai Ng, age 12, Diocesan Girls’ School

I disagree with the form of a standardized test.  It is a test that is mainly composed of multiple choice questions, with an optional essay which only takes up a small percentage of the total mark.  There is only one right answer for each question.  Everyone in each grade gets the same test, and this test is given to students in many different schools.

 

Firstly, on a standardized test, it is hard for students to express their creativity, because there are no open-ended questions, and each question has only one model answer.  However, the ability to express creativity is vital in many jobs when students grow up.  If students are not trained to be creative from when they are young, and only train for these standardized tests, it will be hard for them to survive in companies when they grow up.

 

The above is one of the biggest problems about standardized test, but there are more.  How well students of a particular class, or school, do in a standardized test, may affect the teachers’ income.  If students do too badly, teachers may even be kicked out of school!  This is what causes teachers to “teach to the test” – they only teach students how to do multiple choice tests, which, in turn, buries their creativity and their other analytical skills.  This is not good for the students themselves in the long term, and can even harm them.

 

Next is the problem of guessing.  The standardized test consists of multiple choice questions, which enables students to guess the right answer, and have at least 25% of getting the correct answer.  Thus, students who have developed effective strategies for guessing answers, mostly those who are trained by teachers for multiple choice tests, may get a fairly high score without really having the knowledge or intelligence to deserve such a high score.  On the other hand, students who love to express creativity but cannot master the ‘art’ of guessing may get a low score on such standardized tests, as this test doesn’t give students the chance of expressing their creativity.

 

This brings up another problem – the standardized test is a high stake test.  If a student does well in the test, he or she may successfully enter a top college, while he or she may not actually meet the standards of the university, as high scores might be the result of guessing.  However, students who have great creativity but are not familiar with the format of standardized tests may not even have the chance of stepping through the doors of university.  Ultimately, this isn’t fair for the students, and cannot benefit the society either, because young people who don’t really have the talents may get into reputable companies because of their high test scores.  This may cause big problems for companies.

 

Although I think standardized testing is bad for the society, there are still indisputable benefits of standardized tests.  One of the most significant ones is that standardized tests are easy to grade, and examiners can get the results of students efficiently.  Also, with standardized answers, the disputes that occur when students think marks are not given in a fair way can be lessened.  However, these benefits can’t compensate for the problems standardized tests cause, as they can drastically affect students in the long term, and can cause many other chain-reactions, such as hindering the graduates’ ability to do jobs well.

 

In conclusion, I think that standardized testing is bad for the society. There should be more open-ended or long-answer questions in high-stake tests, instead of only multiple choice questions.

The Importance of Lions

The Importance of Lions

By Leo Lam, age 8, Alliance Primary School

I agree that ensuring the  healthy, wild populations of lions continue to roam the savannah for generations to come is not only the job of the Africans, but the job of the whole world. Lions are sold in every country, so everyone could help us with the act. Kids can entertain the lions, the government can establish labs and zoos, and then the scientists can use the labs to know what we can do with the lions.

Hunting men who are hunting for lions will be arrested and face trial. People will having at least one lion for a pet to keep them from dying. Zoos will help protect lions from the hunting men and there will be a free service to link male and female lions to marry.

The more people take care of lions, the less taxes they will pay. Only the people whom care for lions and other endangered animals can be president. Kids and immigrants also.

Why Shopping is Not a Sport

Why Shopping is Not a Sport

By Howard L., age 15, St. Paul’s Co-Ed

Shopping is a big hobby for many people and some even see it as a necessity in their lives.  People do not simply shop for goods and search for bargains.  A lot of them even find the process itself enjoyable.  Surprisingly, the latest debate about shopping is not whether it is addictive or whether it can provide long term happiness but whether it should be counted as a sport.  Personally, I do not agree that it is a legitimate sport and I am going to prove why it is not with reference to the common characteristics of a sport.

Firstly, exercise and body movement should be the main focus of the whole activity.  Take basketball as an example.  Players need to keep moving all the time, making use of their skills and also physical abilities to win a game.  I would not say that basketball is all about physical abilities as skills are also essential but the former certainly comprises a major part of the game.  Shopping, on the other hand, does not require a lot of body movement.  Although people still have to walk around and may need to rush to grab goods, such movements are only a minor aspect of shopping.  You do not sweat simply by shopping.  Also, exercise is definitely not the focus of shopping.  People shop for goods, not to train up their body.  If you really want some exercise to maintain good health, why would you choose shopping when you have that many other efficient sport activities?

Secondly, a sport should be a competition under a clear set of rules and regulations.  Every single sport has its own fair rules in order to make the sport fun and organized at the same time.  Shopping, however, does not have a set of rules.  There may be some creative shopping games organized in the past but still there is no such thing as an official set of rules for shopping.  It would be a ridiculous thing.

Thirdly, all appropriate sports should be able to promote sportsmanship and fair competition.  This is the ultimate goal of participating in sport activities.  However, shopping is only focusing on spotting bargains and making the best use out of money.  It does not have a message or point that’s related to sportsmanship.  Shopping will only enlarge the selfishness and greed of mankind.

In conclusion, I do not think that shopping qualifies as a kind of sport.  It is a daily activity for some people and might be enjoyable.  However, based on the above reasons it is clearly not a sport.

The Mermaid Chronicles

The Mermaid Chronicles

Students were asked to write about the existence of mermaids. This passage  is a mermaid’s response to a newspaper article that denied the existence of mermaids.

Quenifer L, Age 9

“What? This can’t be!” said the king. A week later, the newspaper said that mermaids don’t exist again. The king was really angry. “This is war!” he shouted really loud. “No! humans are kind!” I shouted back. The king ignored me. I left the castle and went back to the stage. I heard some voices. They are reporters! I had no choice. I started to sing and dance. The reporters are surprised. They took pictures and recorded some videos. A few days later, the government came. This time I went with all the mermaids and the king to the stage. Now, the humans finally believe in mermaids! Soon our stage became a tourist spot. There are ten musical mermaid shows every day. The king is really happy. We can live in total peace again.

Constellations

Constellations

In Introductory Creative Writing our students were asked to write about a constellation that had run away:

Maxine Y, 8

Sagittarius, aka Saggy, is running away! He leaves because he thinks he has no talent and we have a lot of talents. He brings a bow, 20 heart diamonds and an arrow. When the other constellations wake up they jump around and move around and try to connect to Sagittarius on Starchat. Sagittarius blocked his chat on Starchat! He deleted his icon from Starchat too. Sagittarius might be hiding at the gym, the locker, in his starcar, or in the meto box. The meto box is a home of his in Paris. He has hidden in his meto box. Saggy feels happy to escape. He is happy because he wants me to see his new talents. “Why don’t you want to come home? We have all your friends waiting to meet you again” I said. “It is boring to live there again, and I found a new food called pasta!” he replied. “But you could show them your new talents!” I said. “Fine, only if you help me with something,” said Saggy.

Setting Description

Setting Description

In Introductory Creative Writing, our students were asked to describe in detail a setting of their choosing. This was a great example of successful description:

Grace L, 8

Yesterday, Ingrid went to the beach, and the sun was shining on the sand. She put down her umbrella and mat, and laid it on the soft sand. Under the sun, the sky blue sea felt warm, so she decided to swim for a while. Then, she came back up and laid on her mat and started to read a book. There were kids building a small castle, while other families were swimming. Also, some kids were playing volleyball.

Notice how Grace uses several senses to describe the setting, and includes details about how people are reacting to the setting. Great job!

Coal Shipping

Coal Shipping

Should the U.S. government allow anybody to ship coal to China?

Brandan S. 15, St. Stephen’s College

Nowadays, one of the major sources of energy and fuel is coal. Coal has been used by countries like China. Other countries like Australia, India and the United States also have coal exports as one of their main industries. Some people might oppose the coal exports to Asia because they think their options are environmentally friendly, sagacious, and morally correct. However, if we can take a closer look at reality, we will find multiple problems if the U.S. government bans the export of coal.

Firstly, even though countries like China have been developing very quickly with their advancing economy and global trades, China and other developing countries will need coal for energy supply in the future. There are still a lot of poor people in China and they cannot afford the expensive gas supply. In fact, they do not have a choice on whether they should consume coal for electricity and heat. If the U.S. government bans the coal exports to China, imagine how many people will have to use the poor quality of coal that is shipped from India or that is produced locally in China. This will seriously affect their lives.

Secondly, coal exports to China, India and south-east Asia are crucial to the U.S. economy. The U.S. stock markets will definitely tremble at even a slight slowdown in China. Why should Americans slow down their economy while other countries like Australia are getting all the business? People say coal increases the rate of global warming and therefore it should be banned. However, the truth is we cannot ban coal. Australia will be more than happy to take over the billions the Americans leave on the table if the U.S. government really bans coal exports.

Some might argue that banning coal exports can reduce its consumption and alleviate the pressure of global warming. This is wrong. Removing American coal supplies from the market will not reduce consumption; instead the prices of coal are very likely to increase. It will also encourage coal mining in less safe jurisdictions like black markets.

I agree that the environmental, health and safety impacts of coal mining are immense. However, poor countries are not oblivious to coal’s negative impact, but they still need it to improve the standard of living for their citizens. Why not provide these countries with the high quality American coal that is mined according to the tough environmental and safety guidelines, creating well-paying jobs and prosperous communities in this community?

And why not encourage them to use the latest coal burning and scrubber technologies to reduce air pollutants? Additionally, there’s this “leadership” argument that if we “take a stand” and “send a message’ that coal is bad, we make ourselves proud. coal is not just a much-loathed rock we can toss aside. It is part of the fabric of our human existence. We have “a complex relationship with coal built over a millennium.” We cannot rashly cut it out overnight. Is it right for us to impose such hardships on our fellow human beings while presenting no current practical alternatives?

In conclusion, I believe that the U.S. government should not ban the export of coal because it affects the lives of the people who rely on coal energy, slows down the U.S. economy and that banning coal exports does not solve the problem of excess consumption. In fact, it worsens the already dire situation. Therefore, coal exports should not be banned.