Friday, April 13, 2012

Alex's Finished Project

Song:  Never Ending Story

Artists: Limahl

This is the final phase of Alex's report on the technological 
advancements of weapons of war throughout history - for his English Class
( as described in an earlier article:  Alex's Second Solo Essay ).

Alex first worked on his outline.

He then researched the information online and typed out his report.

I reprinted his original report below:

      A History of Weapons   By Alex

  Weapons have come a long way, from prehistoric times, to modern ages. 
In this report, I will describe how various weapons have changed over time.
  Over 60,000 years ago, bows and arrows were invented and used. 
Humans also threw weapons made out of sticks and stones at each other, 
including clubs and maces. Some African cave paintings show people 
with clubs, along with tipped spears.

  Later, in the Copper Age, weapons evolved to knives, slings, and swords. 
Chariots were also used. In this era, domesticated animals were also used 
for battles (i.e. pulling chariots).

  In the Bronze Age, there were siege towers and battering rams. 
Chariots died out and were replaced by cavalry. As people were taking 
advantage of natural resources in the Earth, weapons also progressed. 
The Greeks were planning ahead of their enemy in order to fashion the 
proper weapon, and used a different style of warfare. They defeated 
the Persians, but the Macedonians emerged, and they had advanced 
weapons such as sarissas 1(long spears with iron heads), artillery,
catapults, and ballistae which were improved by generals such as 
Alexander the Great.

  The Medieval Ages spanned a large period of time, and saw great 
progress in weapon development. The Normans built castles for 
defense, longbows were used, and hand ballistas were invented. 
However, in this time period the Barbarians were invading the 
Roman Empire. They, along with other tribes, such as the Vandals, 
developed their own weapons as well. Those weapons were superior 
to Roman weapons at the time. They were weapons such as throwing 
axes, barbed lances, and double-edged axes. Later in the Medieval Ages, 
the earliest guns were invented. Handguns were also popularized during 
this time. Forts were built to both defend and attack. Indian soldiers at 
the time used tulwars, 2 or curved swords.

  During the Industrial Revolution of the 1800s, weapons evolved to 
new levels. Machine guns were invented, the revolver in 1835 eliminated 
the need for standard swords, steam engines changed war at sea, hulls 
in ships were made of iron, and explosives, such as TNT and dynamite, 
replaced gunpowder.

  Finally, in the modern times of the 20th century, the tank was 
introduced by the British, and the Zeppelin by the Germans. Dive 
bombers were used by aircraft during WWII. During that same era, 
two cities in Japan (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) got bombed with atomic 
bombs within three days of each other. The hydrogen bomb, an 
extremely powerful bomb, was invented during the 20th century 
as well. In the Gulf War of 1991, laser guided missiles were used 
to great effect.

  Nuclear weapons originated in the mid-20th century, when 
scientists started to better understand atoms. Earlier, in 1898, 
Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium, which furthered scientists’ 
understanding. The earliest nuclear weapons were atomic bombs, 
developed by the United States during WWII. After atomic bombs 
came the first thermonuclear (fusion) weapons. These weapons 
would start the process of nuclear fusion when activated. They were 
planned to have been about 1,000 times more powerful1 than regular 
atomic bombs. In the 1950s and 1960s, many nuclear tests were 
conducted. V-1 and V-2 rockets, nuclear-tipped rockets, and ballistic 
missiles were a result of these. During the Cold War, intercontinental 
ballistic missiles (ICBMs) were developed, and produced in great numbers, 
until the signing of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT). The last 
known nuclear weapon detonation was performed during a 2009 North 
Korean nuclear test. 2

  Biological and chemical weapons played a large role in warfare 
over time as well. Back in the Middle Ages, the Mongol Empire had 
armies that used a deadly disease, later known as the bubonic plague. 
They would infect besieged cities by catapulting dead, infected bodies 
over their walls. Black Death, as it was later known, spread to many 
different countries in Europe and Asia, killing about 1/3 of the European 
population at the time, and many more people of the Asian population.

  Biological weapons were also used around the 18th century. There 
is evidence of the British disseminating smallpox-infected blankets 
among the native American population to infect them. As much as 
a quarter of their population died. These diseases likely came from 
Eurasia where many people there had developed immunity.3 However, 
the American population had not, and many died as a result. Much later, 
during WWI, the German Empire placed anthrax on Russian horses. 
In WWII, the Imperial Japanese Army targeted the Chinese with disease.

  Finally, there are chemical weapons. These weapons were used 
millennia ago, as poisoned arrows and spears. It was during the 
Renaissance, though, when chemical weapon usage was at its peak. 
In the late 15th century, the Taino people created smoke screens 
with peppers and ashes before attacking. Spanish conquistadors 
found this out in their travels. In the 17th century, armies started 
fires by launching incendiary artillery at their enemy. During WWI 
and WWII, Chlorine and Phosgene gases were used, despite the 
Hague Declaration of 1899 prohibiting “the use of poison or 
poisonous weapons” 4.

  Weapons have come a long way, from primitive clubs, maces, 
sticks, and stones, to guns, missiles, and bombs. They have 
changed, from simple sticks and stones used mainly to hunt, to 
the most advanced, dangerous, and feared weapons of warfare. 
As time passed, humans developed more, and better, strategies 
against such weapons. Even though weapons have undergone 
a very long history, and many modifications, there is one thing 
in common all weapons have: for man to kill man.

Alex completing his assignment with a computer program illustration presentation
of the above report.

Alex on my wife's computer.

Alex had to also complete an equivalent to a PowerPoint presentation of his report
in addition to his fully typed one
 (we used Apple's Keynote software - similar to PowerPoint - except in price...
Keynote costs but $20.00 - PowerPoint costs $140.00).

My wife downloaded the software...
showed Alex the basics...
and he took off and completed it in short order.

Alex set the fonts and uploaded appropriate illustrations for each era 
of major technological advancement in weaponry.  

Alex's school - Coral Academy Of Science - is very organized.

Students may complete such assignments and E-mail their video presentations
directly to the teacher.

Alex will be starting his next project tomorrow - for another class - Social Science.

He will be doing the same as the above...
except he will also have to present his Keynote presentation to his class.

The topic will be Ancient Japanese Civilization.

Although he still has a few weeks to complete both of his projects...
we always have him complete his projects as soon as possible.

As it is still Alex's Spring Break at school...
he is completing all of his projects now.

Since it is vacation for him...
he only studies 5 - 6 hours a day...
the rest of the time is free for him to enjoy.

We usually reserve his weekends for his projects...
but Spring Break allowed us to get way ahead of the game.

Yesterday, Alex studied 5 - 6 hours of Math.
He loves solving higher levels of his math in Alcumus.
He just successfully solved a level 22 problem in Geometry 
( level 25 being the highest).

He, and my wife, raced to see who could solve it first...
Alex won (again  :)

He enjoys, so much, making his Alcumus 
ranking and mastery levels go up
(Alcumus is a competitive math web site
from the Art Of Problem Solving).

Although Alex is still in the 6th Grade...

as I had explained to him...
the ability to...

Organize and Present information
in an efficient and effective manner...
is a never ending story...
one in which he will be tasked to do ever more...
the higher he goes in education...
and, most likely, in his future employment.

What he is learning now...
will serve him well in life.

The key to doing well...
in really anything...
is to find a way to thoroughly enjoy what you do.

Taking great pride in one's work...
by being creative...
is an outlook that engenders passion.

It is the fool who does the necessary begrudgingly.

The intelligent person finds a way to make it enjoyable.

As the words of a great philosopher so grandly illustrates...

Just...a...spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down...
the medicine go doooown...the medicine go down...  :)

(Mary Poppins)


  1. Learning to do presentations is a valuable skill. And actually presenting to his class will also help him gain confidence in public speaking. I don't think I had to do much of that until I took a speech class in college. It will serve Alex well.

    I like the idea of always trying to find a way to enjoy what you do. Not always easy, but I wholeheartedly agree that it is much better than doing something begrudgingly.

  2. I remember having to go to the public library to do research. Computers, and the Internet, have given children such a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. Learning is accelerated greatly for anyone but wishing to learn.

    We now live in such a great era. Alex's school incorporates technology in learning and in the delivery of that knowledge.

  3. Very interesting. You create a wonderful study environment for your son. Is he using both Mac and PC? Desk top seems Mac but lap top seems windows.
    PowerPoint is a little expensive, by the way. It's same as Japan.

    Keep doing the good job!

  4. Yes, Alex has a PC laptop. My wife and I have iMacs. Alex uses both types. PowerPoint is unjustifiably expensive. I used to have PC computers. We switched to Apple more than a year ago...the platform is far more stable. We love our iMacs. Alex only uses a PC because most schools use them. We have to ensure compatibility of programs.

    Thanks for stopping in!


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