As an update to my school life, I have recently became the new editor-in-chief for Lucidity, our school’s STEM magazine. In fact, I had never been a member of a magazine club, but I knew the logistics of it and had several plans for it.
I thought my response to the first question in Lucidity was quite solid as below. For those who are interested, scroll down and you'll be able to see a google doc of my application.
Q. What do you think is the role of Lucidity in the school community?
“If you Google “math is,” the most relevant 10 search results are websites of organizations that display the slogan “math is fun” or something similar. But unfortunately, the slogan of a group implies their weakness. The slogan “math is fun” persists because of one simple reason: majority of the population believe that math is dull. Society continues to stigmatize and characterise STEM as nothing more than a congregation of jargons.
Besides, in the constant barraging of SATs, IGCSEs, and CVs, who would have time to relax and read an exhausting article about the string theory? The negative perceptions created by our overheated educational system-- that forces competition-- are too big for us to unconditionally wait until students begin to gain interest in STEM. Thus, I believe Lucidity’s ultimate mission is to prove that STEM is not difficult.
Especially in the context of South Korea, where STEM and humanities are separated as Moongwa and Igwa, it is evermore important to break the barrier between two areas that seem antipodal. While common perceptions treat two as the antithesis of each other, the two are closely intertwined. Books written by Einstein, Charles Darwin, or Carl Sagan, (for a more modern figure) and a myriad of other scientists ponder on not only science but human existence and humanities. Karl Popper or Bertrand Russel, both renown scientists, dispute the scientific method and its legitimacy. In a world that increasingly favors interdisciplinary aptitudes, Lucidity’s role will be to storm into the “grey area” between STEM and humanities and make it accessible. “
So what are my plans?
1. Content-wise plans: Include articles that the student body might find interesting.
These would include articles about time travel or matrices in the world of CG after an Avengers film. Or when BTS albums come out, writers could write about the power rule to analyze the behavior of BTS fans. Or perhaps an article regarding the voronoi diagram could be published to find whether the current locations of bag-drop zones in our school are mathematically in the best places. Students will indisputably be more inclined to read articles that have a personal connection to themselves. Books, movies, or animes could also be reviewed in a short review corner, by including a STEM-related analysis.
2. Target different year groups differently.
Because Lucidity is simply a congregation of individual articles, we cannot go to students and make them read it; rather, we must make the students come to us. This objective can be fulfilled by introducing curricular materials within Lucidity. Most of the writers are proficient in STEM, and thus could write about concepts that their year group is currently learning in science or maths but is quite hard to grasp. Considering that a lot of students find STEM related subjects quite difficult in upper year groups, the articles could make Lucidity evermore accessible. If Lucidity begins to become attentive to students’ curricular materials, they would have a natural incentive to read it. Furthermore, students could also write about assessment tips for students that are in lower year groups than them. For instance, I could write about assessments that a lot of year 9 or 8 find hard to cope with. Of course, such articles musn’t be more than introducing basic tips and possible extension ideas, and the editors must try their best to prevent from such articles doing everything for lower year group students.
3. Feedback and "Deep Learning"
After the articles are sent out, a small survey could be conducted. By asking the student body whether they found the articles interesting, or if they had a particular article that they favoured, Lucidity could actively hear from the student body about opinions. Small prizes for students selected randomly from those who answered the survey may incentivize them to respond to the surveys. Using this information, Lucidity could develop their magazine next term just as AI programmes conduct deep learning or statisticians render their mathematical models through experimental data.
4. Other interactions
Besides surveys, other forms of interaction with the student body are also crucial. Contests for short op-ed articles could be held, where students freely write about their opinions regarding an already-published Lucidity article. Some questions about the articles could also be attached at the back, so that students who solve the questions receive prizes.
How the articles are organized is also a crucial factor that contributes to the accessibility of Lucidity. In the table of contents and next to the titles of the articles, a caption could be included indicating their relative reading time or difficulty. Difficulty levels could be indicated in the corresponding year group level of STEM required to comprehend the article.