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Physics: A Rube Goldberg Machine

By Maddy Bean, III Form

Physics: A Rube Goldberg Machine


Rationalization and Belief Systems

By Suha Choi, V Form

Rationalization and Belief Systems

“Post-truth,” defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief,” was selected as Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2016 (Oxford Dictionaries, 2016). This definition of the term presents an interesting point of discussion: If we are living in this so-called “post-truth era” in which “belief” has a more significant impact and “appeal” to society than truth, how will it affect mankind? To help answer this question, psychologists have investigated how we construct belief systems to understand the world and behave. After examining various cognitive process models that explain how such belief systems are formed on the individual level, I realized that rationalization is integral: we rationalize all the time to understand the behaviors of ourselves and others better. As Cushman (2020) pointed out, rationalization is indeed one of the most exhaustively documented in psychological investigation: cognitive dissonance (Festinger 1962) and self-perception (Nisbett & Wilson 1977); both have rationalization at their heart. This essay, however, will focus on the process of rationalization on the collective level than on the individual level because we are “deeply social animals” and our ecological success significantly depends on “our capacity to exchange and aggregate information” (Henrich, 2015; Richerson & Boyd, 2008) and form beliefs on the collective level. Graham (2020) poignantly pointed out, “when groups collectively rationalize their actions, entire networks of beliefs and desires can be created and maintained in the form of shared moral narratives and system-justifying ideologies.” At times, however, these cases of collective rationalization come “at the expense of the truth” and can therefore result in ethical consequences in society. Borrowing Cushman’s representational exchange concept to explain individuals’ mental processes that produce beliefs, I will first point out that our tendency to believe what is useful over true is inextricably linked to social learning. While this tendency originates from the fact that humans are social beings, I argue that we can ultimately utilize this sociability to externalize the socially learned psychological processes which have previously been left implicit in our mind. Doing so will increase human flourishing; cooperative communication with our social partners can correct our existing beliefs as well as reduce the possibility of forming inaccurate inferences about the world in the future.


Remote Student: An Emulation of Kincaid’s “Girl”

By Yolanda Zhou, III Form

Remote Student: An Emulation of Kincaid’s “Girl”

Editor’s Note: In Writing Workshop, III Form students read and analyzed Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl.” They then composed their own emulations of the story to capture life as a St. Mark’s boarding, day, or remote student while employing the style of Kincaid’s writing. This piece describes Yolanda’s experience as a remote student during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wake up at nine or ten in the morning, do your morning routine: brush your teeth, wash your face, eat breakfast, and then do your homework; make good use of the time zone difference: assignments due 12am there is next day’s 1pm your time, so be sure to sort out which ones you’re doing first; don’t leave your stuff till those three to four hours because you’ll be sleeping late at night and won’t get much time to do them; but do use this time effectively if you feel overwhelmed; use the “Modules” function and “Week Overview” in each course on Canvas to sort out every assignment in the week using the academic planner; it shows you everything that’s due this week so you don’t have to waste time or miss assignments; color-code your planner: use red for unfinished homework and black for completed ones; don’t procrastinate, it does no good to you; focus on one assignment at a time; eliminate outside distractions; get everything done as quickly as possible so you have some free time for sports, instrument practice, or relax; How am I supposed to balance all these things with so much homework?; you’ll have plenty of time to do so if you listen to and follow instructions; don’t miss your classes, don’t forget to do your homework; email your teacher and explain if missed your class; create alarms on your phone and calendar if necessary; make sure your Wi-Fi connection at home is stable for your online class; install Zoom and log in with your St. Mark’s email address and password, that is where you go to all your classes; install multiple VPNs on your phone and computer before school starts so you’ll know which ones work and which ones don’t; set up everything your teachers ask you to set up in the beginning of the school year; use passwords and accounts that are easy to memorize, you don’t want to forget your login information the first day of school; this is how you interpret your schedule; this is how you deal with internet issues; this is what an asynchronous class look like; this is how you find the links to the synchronous sessions; this is how to find the replays after classes; this is how you explain to your teacher if you missed your class; this is how you write an email if you submitted your homework late; this is how you should reach out to your advisor; go to bed immediately after class, your classes will end early in the morning; don’t do your homework after your last class, you won’t be able to wake up the next day; do your homework earlier, don’t save them till 1 o’clock in the morning; play sports and work out every day, it helps alleviate pressure and keeps you in shape; look for something to motivate you if you feel bored, like watching Formula 1; treat your homework seriously; don’t submit things later than they should be; But what if I submitted an assignment only a few minutes late?; you think anyone is in the mood of caring whether you’re late for a minute or an hour?; late is late, don’t find excuses for yourself; there’s no guarantee that submitting things late will leave bad impressions to your teacher or if they’ll deduct points in your work, so you’d better get them in on time; maintain high quality and efficiency when you’re working; take a 5-minute break for every hour of work; push yourself so you can learn; balance it with relaxation and exercises so you don’t go crazy; reach out for help whenever you need them to whoever can help you; good luck in your time at St. Mark’s!


Spontaneity and Bread: A Remote Chapel Talk

By Nick Haugen, VI Form

Spontaneity and Bread: A Remote Chapel Talk

View Nick’s Chapel Talk on YouTube

Historical Pottery: Cultural Unity Vessels

Featuring Work From: Tate Fredrick, Austin Hunt, Jasmine James, James Kral, Sarah Mattson, and Maisie Pierce

Historical Pottery: Cultural Unity Vessels

Instructor’s Note from Ms. Aggie Belt: Studying pottery from around the world teaches us about cultures far and near. Using the hand-building technique of coiling, students build a 10 inch tall vessel influenced from two specific cultures. From one culture they chose a form to reproduce, and from the other culture they chose a surface design to reproduce. Uniting these two cultures makes a unique vase. The Posters summarize their research and vases that informed their Unity Vase.

Sarah Mattson, III Form:


La Plage: A French Poem

By Abby Griffin, V Form

La Plage: A French Poem

Instructor Note from Dr. Downing Kress: As a class we read “Le Pont Mirabeau” by Guillaume Apollinaire. In this poem, the poet visits the Mirabeau bridge in Paris and, as he watches the Seine river flow by underneath the bridge, he is reminded of the passage of time and reflects on a love that is no more. I then asked the students to write their own poem about a special place that is significant to them – one that evokes emotion, memory, sensations, etc. Abby decided to write her poem about the beach in the form of a “calligramme,” a form of poetry often used by Apollinaire. The shape/spatial arrangement made by the poem’s text reflects the subject of the poem and plays a role in its meaning. 

Click the above image to view a larger version of Abby’s poem

Together: A Community Mural

By Members of the Community Art Club: Emma Lu, Cathy Shi, Grace Li, Grace Lee, Ingrid Yeung, Lily Luo, Sua Yoo, Taylor Zhou, Julie He, and Yolanda Fan. 

Together: A Community Mural

Introduction: The community art club is a recently formed club where multiple passionate artists bring together aspects of community and acts of service to our artwork. Our recent project was a community mural where each person drew one part of a larger image, which were later combined to make this piece. The mural is meant to represent that the individual qualities that each person brings to St. Mark’s is what builds the community as a whole. Without one piece of the drawing, it may not even look like three complete lions! Each artist drew their part of the picture with a different style and color scheme, which shows the diversity that each person’s creativity brings to our community.

Getting to Know Atoms: A Chemistry Infographic

By Keyao (Coco) Xia, III Form

Getting to Know Atoms: A Chemistry Infographic

Click the above image to view Coco’s infographic in more detail