Homework Help Prototype App

February 24, 2014 in Math & Science, User Experience Design (UXD)

We are trying to equip students with a tool that will allow them to excel in school. This tool, or App, will give students the ability to easily create a schedule to keep track of homework assignments. The current problem facing students is that they are sometimes unable to keep track of all their homework assignments, and have trouble staying on track or keeping a strict schedule. This App gives them the tools necessary to achieve their academic goals by allowing them to track homework due dates and adjust how much of an assignment has been completed on the fly. After talking with teenaged students, we found that 90% of them would use an App that could help them to keep track of their homework. 80% of students currently keep track of their homework in a tangible notebook. We envision switching away from the tangible notebook as a way to keep track of homework to homework tracking in a digital environment, where students can remotely access their homework assignments and share what is due with their peers.


Lily B, Junior at GCE Chicago

Bio: Lily almost always completes her homework on time, and on the off chance that she does not, it is due to a communication breakdown in terms of what the teacher assigned and what she writes down. She currently looks at all her homework assignments online, but would be willing to using an App to help track her homework if it was significantly better, easier and made doing homework more organized.

Goals: Lily would like to never miss another homework assignment due to miscommunication. She currently spends around two hours a night on homework, but thinks she could reduce that time if she had a stricter, more organized schedule.

Frustrations: Lily is frustrated with her inability to plan ahead and create a schedule. Currently, all of her homework assignments are written down in an online notepad, which does not allow her to plan ahead or put assignments or schedules into a calendar. Lily would like to have a structured schedule so she can find time to do her homework in her busy daily life.

Design Principles

-Organize homework assignments
-Simple to use
-Easy Contact with teachers with questions about homework


-List homework and due date in a spreadsheet format
-Prioritize assignments with rankings with 1-5 stars
-Show progress with percentages
-Give details of each assignment
– Ability to E-mail teachers quickly and efficiently

Usability Test
The users liked the App a lot. Darrion, Abdul and Mateo tested our prototype, and thought this app would be very useful. They were a bit upset that it wasn’t actually an app. These students typically forget some of their homework assignments that is why I tested this prototype on them. They said it was easy, straight to the point and had very good features. The only thing they would add was the ability to connect with teachers more easily, so we added that feature to our prototype.

This App solves our problem by allowing teachers to place their homework into it through the computer. They log into the app and place homework into the calendar. When a student signs in, they can see their class schedule with their current homework assignments. The teachers can add due dates, details and other vital information about the assignments. The student can click on the assignment, and can see everything the teacher has posted. Finally, students can e-mail their teachers from the assignment details page if communication is necessary.

This is our app

99 Boxes of Coffee Creamer on the Wall…

February 24, 2014 in English & History, Journalism

For my third Action Project in Journalism, I was tasked with creating a Spot Story. A spot story is a journalistic approach to covering an event and, more than most other stories or narratives, a spot story focuses on the eight News Values[link to news vals]. I went to the Lakeview Food pantry and took a rather abnormal journalistic approach by also participating in the event, not only watching like most stories nowadays are. By taking on this role of going out and writing a spot story I was able to much better learn the process journalists go through, and it has given me a deeper meaning for what journalism is. I learned about the huge amount of planning that goes into creating a story, as well as the amount of research that goes in afterwards,in order to give a good amount of background info about the event. 
If you’d like to read my spot story, check it out below!

Lakeview Food Pantry

A cold Tuesday afternoon in Chicago I find myself at 1414 W. Oakdale standing outside of the Lakeview Food Pantry. More specifically it’s 4:45 and after a quick five minute introduction and walk around I find myself standing in front of a 18-wheeler semi truck being told it’s time to work on unloading donations. If I had any common sense I would have started running right then. The only thing scarier than the semi truck itself were the contents. Two full pallets of Coffee Creamer from Walmart.

And there stood Carrie and I, standing outside on a Cold Chicago Tuesday, staring at a huge semi truck which somehow managed to fit into the small church parking lot. Out comes two men who quickly come over to say hello, and quickly follow that up with asking if we have a Pallet carrier. Looking rather confused Carrie (head of operations) responds saying no, of course. The two men look at each other, then open the back of the semi truck and leave us in awe, staring at two pallets of Coffee Creamer. These wouldn’t fit in the huge refrigerator the Pantry owned, even if we took everything else out. The more important question was, who is about to move a couple thousand pounds of coffee creamer.

Lakeview Food Pantry hands out food to 30 people 3-4 times a week, giving as much as 50 pounds of food to each person. This food consists of non-perishables, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, and meats. This little operation, ran out of the basement of a church ran by two full time employees and on average ten volunteers hands out as much as 4500 pounds of food a week! While sorting produce, Carrie  told us that, while deciding whether or not food is good, think “would I eat it?” we often lower our standards in these situations but Carrie made it a point to make sure the clients receive as much respect as possible.

Lakeview Food Pantries serve more than 12,000 individuals (located in the Lakeview neighborhood) with bi-weekly food supplies as well as weekly fresh bread and produce. They have only 10 full-time staff and have more than 800 dedicated volunteers. They have only two locations and serve 1.5 millions pounds a year, but this wouldn’t be possible without some of their major partners: Greater Chicago Food Depository, Green City Market, Jewel, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods.

You’d be amazed by how much could get done at this little cramped location in the basement of an old church. A lot of time is spend weighing the food so that they can track how much they get from each of their partners, next, the most difficult part: sorting. A lot of the fresh produce is past its sell-by date; not all of it has gone bad, but we had to make sure to go through to make sure all of the food was high quality and was something we would eat. I spent a solid twenty minutes looking through crate, after crate, after crate of bananas sorting them into good, and trash. Taking part in handing out food to the clients can be extremely rewarding, and even though you may be exhausted after spending a couple hours running around your feet, you’ll go home knowing you made a difference in Chicago tonight.

Helping Students Do Homework

February 12, 2014 in Math & Science, User Experience Design (UXD)

For my second Action Project in UXD (User Experience Design), we were tasked with improving something that teens often have trouble with. We conducted ten interview on teens in relation to homework, a major problem among teens. We had an overwhelming response around how difficult it is to track and stay on top of their homework loads. For this project we researched multiple other homework apps to figure out what features are most used to be able to incorporate all of those into a single app. We made a total of five designs and through our process we narrowed down what features were absolutely necessary and ended up with a great final design. If you would like to view the presentation we made, keep on reading below!

by JH

Holy Cow! — A Voice of the 20th Century

February 10, 2014 in English & History, Journalism by JH

For my second Action Project in my Journalism (an integrated english and history course) class, our goal was to create the Story of a Voice through creating a podcast inspired by the famous podcast series, This American Life. We were supposed to portray a popular voice of the 20th century and explain their importance and who they are/were. I chose to share the life and career of Harry Caray, baseball announcer for the Cubs along with a few other teams. I researched into how he had an impact on Chicago, the game of baseball, and the United States as a whole. He is known famously for being extremely enthusiastic and having a personality bigger than life itself. In the process of creating a podcast I quickly learned the importance of having good questions. Previously in this unit about Journalism and Podcasts we worked on forming good questions which is a really useful skill to have. If you’re interested in learning more about Harry Caray and his role in the game of baseball, read my podcast below!

See the transcription here.

by JH

The answer to life is…

January 24, 2014 in Journalism by JH

For my first Action Project in Journalism we were tasked with figuring out what the meaning of life is. A huge topic, no single answer is correct, so I decided to interview one of my grandparents, someone who has lived a long life and might have a better understanding. It was great to hear stories about growing up in a whole different society. It was really hard coming up with interview questions to try to find out what the meaning of life is, because it’s not just as easy as saying “whats the meaning of life?” as you might imagine. If you would like to read my story, keep reading below! 

 As we sit at home on a lazy Sunday morning, watching TV, we quickly kick up conversation about how school is going. I begin to explain my two classes and, as I start to explain my current course, Journalism, she exclaims how she loves journalism. I explain my current assignment to her, how I’m supposed to talk with someone about the meaning with life, and she says “Okay”. I sit there for a moment wondering what just happened. She didn’t know that I was actually going to interview my grandpa the next day, but who am I to pass down a cool conversation about life?

        So, I awkwardly go to my room to grab my notebook and pen, and I can feel the excitement she has to start talking about the topic as I re-enter the room. Before I asked a question, she began telling stories, which I soon realized she had a lot of. She talks about growing up in a small town in Iowa; more importantly, how she moved to Chicago to go to nursing school. She spoke about her first experience in a big city: without her extremely conservative parents, she had no leash, no boundaries. Later she started to explain what gives her meaning in life, and she touched on how new opportunities and new sections of her life have really continuously changed what life means to her.

        The word travel is something she quickly begins to focus on. “Being able to see something unlike anything you’ve ever seen before at my age is an extraordinary opportunity”. She talks about how she doesn’t make big purchases, and how she still works to make money to go on trips and experience new things in her life. I begin to ask her about how her family had an affect on her life and, after another moment of silence, I finally get the answer I was looking for, her meaning of life. Upon the question of what life is, she breaks it down into the good, the bad, and the ugly. We go back and forth through these transitional periods in life. Life is constantly changing for us, and it’s how we adapt and live through these changes, is where we find meaning in our life.

        Towards the end of the conversation I notice how I still haven’t taken a photo that I’m happy with. That’s not to say I haven’t take one; I had about fifteen others to pick from, but none seemed right. It was when she stood up to grab something from the kitchen that I recognized a good moment to take a photo. If there were one thing you would be able to tell upon having a conversation with my grandma, it would be that she couldn’t stop moving or doing things. Even years after retirement, she still babysits, and gets out of the house to take the bus to a friends house, or goes to do her antique shopping in which she buys things, cleans/makes them better, then sells them for more. She’s always looking for experiences and opportunities in life. That is the person I see when I took this photo.

        In the background of this photo, you see the sunlight shining through our windows in the living room. If you notice what she’s wearing, you might question why she has a vest on, even though she is inside. That’s because even on a lazy Sunday morning she had already been out to run errands, went out for breakfast, and got back by the time I made it to the living room.

The aperture is wide, and the shutter speed is a little slow as you can see a little bit of blur as my grandma is moving. The photo does not focus on anything specific, but you are naturally drawn to the light coming from the window. I tried to capture the photo to show that she was on the move by capturing a majority of what was behind her. I did not expect the light to come through on the photo, but I think it really adds to the quality of the photo. This photo does a great job of summing up the personality of my grandma, on the move and active.


by JH

Woes of the College Banking Experience

January 23, 2014 in User Experience Design (UXD) by JH

For my first Action Project in User Experience Design (UXD), a class about thinking about the user while developing products. We were tasked with finding a solution to a problem in the college banking experience. My group created a powerpoint on how to streamline the process behind budgeting and tracking spending. I’ve learned a lot about how to create a product or tool for a specific audience and have gotten a brief overview of what the steps are that go into creating something. The most difficult part of this project was having to go out and interview random college students on the street. Myself and my group members ended up getting around 30 interviews and were able to come to a clear conclusion about what we wanted to do. If you would like to see our final product, don’t hesitate to check out our issuu down below!

by JH

Habitat for Humanity Alaska

December 19, 2013 in Community Service by JH

In the summer over my Junior Year, I knew I wanted to do community service.  I wasn’t sure where, and I wasn’t sure how, but I knew in my heart that it was necessary. I began looking for programs abroad with groups like Road Less Traveled, and Experience GLA, but I quickly found that all of the trips were going to be too expensive for me. Another factor was that a lot of these trips didn’t actually do much of the service I was looking for, many were a month long but only spend two or three weeks serving the community they were staying in. That’s when I found Habitat for Humanity and was instantly sold. They focused on service and team work, were reasonably priced, and had trips going everywhere in the world. 

I chose to go to Alaska. I’m not really quite sure why Alaska stuck out, but I’m glad that’s where I ended up going, as it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. While flying there, I started worrying, because I really didn’t know what to expect, and I had talked to my group leader; she said that the group was mostly adults with only a few minors (this is normal for Habitat trips).  Upon landing in Alaska, all of my worries quickly vanished while looking at the breathtaking scenery around me. When I met my Global Village Team (GV), all of my worries went away as I quickly realized how nice and sincere they all were. We spend the first full day together in a car with everyone going on a scenic tour around Anchorage, and it was amazing. Our next day we were briefed on the safety regulations and then got to work on building houses. It was a truly amazing experience getting to build these houses alongside the families living in them. The families were so open to talk about their lives and family history and why they wanted the houses, it was a humbling experience as, I got pretty close with one family in specific during the two weeks I was there. This whole experience has been life changing, and has given me a newfound love in community service, and I hope to do another trip with Habitat for Humanity over my senior break, and to continue doing service in college.

If you’d like to see the PhotoBlog I made when I got back from Alaska, click here — It consists of all of the pictures myself, and my GV Team took on the trip!


by JH

The Best NBA Team Ever

December 19, 2013 in 82, Elective by JH

For our third action project in 82, we focused on the best basketball teams in history and had to find out which one was truly the best through debate. I chose the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls, which is in my mind, the best team in the history of the NBA. It was a blast being able to look back in time at sports players and compare statistics.  Although, it ended up being extremely difficult to find high quality photos, and some newer-age statistics that weren’t tracked by the NBA fifteen years ago. I think my final product turned out excellent, and if you’d like to see it please check it out below!

by JH

You Are Beautiful Installation

December 13, 2013 in Art, You Are Beautiful by JH

For my Final Action Project in my Art Class, You Are Beautiful (Inspired by Matthew Hoffman) we created a video documenting our artwork this term. It’s about the artwork we’ve created and the impact of public art in society, or in communities. It’s been amazing to be able to work with Matthew Hoffman (of the You Are Beautiful project) and put my own piece of art in the city. It’s been a long and fun process and the final product is amazing, watch my video below.

by JH

The Value of a Franchise

December 6, 2013 in 82, Elective by JH

For my second Action Project in 82, an integrated basketball, history, and statistics class we created our own Infographic. The task was to answer the question Should this Franchise stay, or move. To do this, we needed to dive deep and spend a lot of time researching.  Our goal was to find interesting information that can’t be found with just a simple Google search. The team I chose to research was the Milwaukee Bucks, I’ve found out a lot about how the economy of a city ties into the well-being of a sports team from this project.  The most difficult part for me was, after I did all my research, deciding what was important enough to go on my infographic.  If you are interested in seeing my infographic, check it out below, and my report below that!

Through this project I have taken a deep dive into Milwaukee, and specifically the Milwaukee Bucks. Through this process I’ve noticed a downward trend in the value and popularity of The Bucks. Their attendance has continually lowered over time, as well as the value of their franchise.  They are currently the least valuable franchise, and that isn’t going to change if they continue down their current path. The Bucks have tried to lower ticket prices and sign stars, but nothing has worked. The current fan base in Milwaukee is not interested in The Bucks because they have constantly had losing seasons and underperform every year. In order for a team to gain popularity in the NBA they need to gain a new good player so that they can have hope. The current problem with the Milwaukee Bucks is the lack of money they have as a franchise. The Owner, Senator Herb Kohl was once one of the richest Senators, and now is among the poorest. This is directly related to his involvement and investment in The Bucks. Additionally, in the upcoming years The Bucks will need a new updated and remodeled stadium because their current stadium will not be able to get updated with the newest technology needed to have an NBA team. NBA stadiums cost hundreds of millions of dollars, something The Bucks definitely cannot afford. As a franchise it would make no sense to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into The Bucks staying in Milwaukee if they are barely profiting year to year. The only viable option for The Bucks seems to be the moving to a new city, with a new stadium. When the New Jersey Nets moved to Brooklyn the value of them went up more than $150M. This outcome has been true for many failing franchises who have moved to a new location to try and gain a new fan base. Other recent franchises such as the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Charlotte Hornets rose in value after moving to a new city. If The Bucks move to a new city they will rise in value and bring an immense amount of money to a new city.

by JH

STOP, Hammertime!

December 4, 2013 in Art, You Are Beautiful by JH


For my Art Class called You Are Beautiful (Inspired by Matthew Hoffman) we were tasked with creating stickers that we could reproduce and place over Chicago. We made these stickers by hand over the course of a week and they came out looking great. I had a great time learning how to screen print, and is definitely something I will do in the future. The most challenging part of this project was trying to recreate an outline of my sticker onto the screen itself.  I’ve learned a lot from this project and realized how difficult it really is to create your own artwork. If you would like to see my thought process behind creating my sticker, read my artist statement below!


STOP, Hammer Time!

Screen Printed on Sticker

November 20, 2013

Stop, Hammer Time! With this art piece I’ve tried to this message to help lighten everyone’s day.  I was thinking about displaying a very heartfelt message Matthew Hoffman’s You Are Beautiful, but instead decided to going with something simple, happy, and mindless. I think there is a lot of seriousness in the world- sometimes too much, and with a simple silly message such as Stop, Hammer time I hope to make someone smile, even if only for a second. I hope that by putting this in busy intersections where commuters pass by I can interrupt someone’s stressful morning with a little bit of MC Hammer!
My inspiration behind this art piece was the You Are Beautiful Project.  The project is a simple sticker that reads You Are Beautiful, a message without much thought that by looking at it might put a smile on your face- just like my art piece! I hope that by placing this positive message in the world I will be able to make someone’s day better, even if it’s just by a little bit.
Although this was not the first time I screen printed, it was the first time I tried to print on a sticker instead of a shirt, which was an interesting experience. I started off by going into photoshop and creating a simple stop sign. From here I went through different fonts in order to find one that would fit and look good with the “STOP” on the stop sign.  Once the design of the artwork was complete, it was time to put it on a screen so I could replicate the design over and over again. The first step was to use drawing fluid and trace over my design, this was so that when I put the screen filler on it wouldn’t cover up any of my design.  The next step was to wash out the drawing fluid, leaving a blank area on the screen which was my original stop design. I then printed a little more than twenty of my stickers, and you can see the finished product below.

by JH

Public Appeal of Basketball Over Time

November 11, 2013 in 82 by JH

In 82, a class about learning history, sociology, and statistics through basketball we’ve just completed our first action project.  We were tasked with looking at something that has changed over eras of basketball and how it has affected the world.  Many chose topics such as salaries, and clothing, I chose to focus on the public appeal of the NBA.  I found that there was a lot of information on the topic, although most information came to be unreliable, or too opinionated to be used.  I interviewed my grandfather, a High School basketball player and lifetime fan of the Chicago Bulls, as well as the sport as a whole. I had a great time learning about how basketball used to be and how it has changed over generations.  One of the most interesting things to learn about is what has made basketball most popular, and what brought back the popularity of the sport.   The NBA is now this booming business with no competitors, but they have done a lot to get where they are now.  If you would like to check out my presentation or my report, keep on scrolling down!

In 1968 the American Basketball Association (ABA) was founded and proved to be a big competitor with the National Basketball Association (NBA).  The ABA allowed players to be drafted directly after completing high school which lead to more up and coming players choosing to join the ABA because they could join before they would have be able to join the NBA.  This lead to a price war for NBA rookies and the multi-million dollar contracts we see today. The ABA, although having a much more high intensity play style and an (arguably) more entertaining game ended up merging with the NBA in 1976.  This lead to a boost in popularity because ABA players brought this high intensity slam-dunk game of basketball to the NBA.  Players such as Wilt Chamberlain, and Oscar Robinson helped to gain public interest into the game of basketball.

In the mid-to-late 1970’s the NBA had hit a new low (since before the ABA merger) due to multiple negative factors.  Firstly, many players were using cocaine before games and becoming overly aggressive and fighting during games.  This lead to one of the most famous incidents in NBA history: the Kermit Washington punch. During a fight mid-way through a game Kermit Washington, a black man player for the L.A. Lakers punched Rudy Tomjanovich, a white player for the Houston Rockets knocking him unconscious and having him end up in the hospitals with serious injuries.  This incident lead to another decline in popularity the NBA when ABC refused to renew their T.V. contract. Many white fans refused to watch their home basketball team because of a lack of white players in the NBA at the time.

Following some of the most unpopular times for the NBA in the past twenty years two players quickly became famous in hopes of revitalizing the NBA.  Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, players who had faced each other in a previous college championship quickly became rivals before ever playing each other in the NBA. This was a huge opportunity for the NBA (and the media) to market them as arch nemeses and ended up working. Ratings constantly rose during the Magic and Bird rivalry and ended up dropping in 1990 when they both retired. This quickly rose during the Jordan era, but shows the huge importance these two players had in the longevity of the NBA.  This goes to show that the need for a rivalry (or a good guy and a bad guy) is absolutely needed in society in order to gain the attention of viewers. Additionally, without a racial connection (example: a lack of white players in the NBA) fans no longer feel the need to root for a team.

by JH

We Are Beautiful

November 8, 2013 in Art, You Are Beautiful by JH

photoFor my first Action project in You Are Beautiful, an art class inspired by Matthew Hoffman, creator of the You Are Beautiful art movement. Our goal was to create the phrase You Are Beautiful.  We all split up and got a letter, I got O and quickly began photographing my friends as we were going to take a picture of someone beautiful, and put them on our letter.  The process was difficult, but the finished piece, and seeing everyone else’s completed work made it all worth it.  It’s now featured in front of our school garden!  If you would like to see my process, and get some background about the You Are Beautiful project and who inspired me, read my Artist Statement below.


JH Corrugated Plastic, wheat-paste, & Inkjet on Paper November 8, 2013 We Are Beautiful

Public Art allows everyone to view what you’ve created.  It allows your message to spread, and the more beautiful it is, the longer it tends to stay up.  Public Art and Street Art started off to be very separate things, Street Art being illegal, and typically referred to as tags, or graffiti while Public Art is something allowed to be there.  JR, a famous installation artists helps to bridge the gap between what is Street Art, and what is Public Art.  He takes photos of the people in a community, and plasters them on huge walls, roofs, billboards, etc.  He takes the beauty of the people in the neighborhood to make the neighborhood itself more aesthetically pleasing.  

The purpose of my art piece was to take this inspiration from JR, and inspiration from Matthew Hoffman (behind the You Are Beautiful Project) to create my own piece of installation art.  Everyone in my class was tasked with picking a letter from the phrase You Are Beautiful.  We were then told to take pictures of people who we think are beautiful to put on our letters.  I think that both JR and Matthew Hoffman do a great job of showing people’s inner beauty, either with a message, or with a huge art installation.  My hope was to fill the gap on these two project to tell and show people just how beautiful they are.

The process was long, arduous, and at times frustrating.  I started by selecting a letter, I picked O.  I then had to maximize the size of the letter using Photoshop (a photo editing software), and print it out so that our letter could be huge.  I then had to cut out the O to make it a stencil and after that I took pictures of people who I thought were beautiful.  We then had to maximize these and fit them so that they matched the size of the letter we were doing.  Once both the letter and picture  were cut out I put the O stencil down on Corrugated Plastic so that I could cut out the plastic to be the exact same size as my photos.  Then comes the most difficult part, I had to create and use wheat-paste to stick the printed out pictures of people who I think are difficult to the plastic.  We had to do a layer on the top side of the paper itself in order to make it weatherproof for the upcoming Chicago winter.  I then finalized my O by putting a metal pole through the bottom, and sticking it into the ground next to my other classmates letters to form the phrase You Are Beautiful.