Category Archives: Education

An introduction to human vision: How do we see? – Andy

Vision is a prominent part of our sensations. A world that nobody can see will no doubt be chaotic. In fact, visions have been one of the most direct emotional drives in daily life. So how does Nature put everything together so that human beings can see?


First, we can envision objects because there are “lights.” The general mechanism behind is that the starlight (including sunlight) is emitted and reflected by different objects on Earth. And lights, in general, are believed to consist of beads of photons that each contains energy.  Such reflected light (beams of photons) is then captured by our eyes and processed by our brain to form images on our minds. The different wavelength of light will show different colors.


(A possible image of the Photons)


Everyone knows that we see through our eyes. But eyes are complicated organs that are made up of different tissues and parts. Each of those biological segments is crucial for a satisfying visual experience like most of us have today.

The first tissues of our visual system that outside light touches are the cornea. The cornea is made of well-organized fibers and hence transparent. The rich transparent nerves that the cornea contains allow us to close our ours eyes. The transparency is critical here: it guarantees that the outside light can go through the cornea easily with few photons reflected or absorbed. Then, the photons go through a pool of transparent liquid called aqueous humor that biologically facilitates the maintenance for the cornea.

The next stop for the lights would be the pupil, a hole in the muscular structure called Iris. Through a simple stretching mechanism, Iris controls the amount of light that gets into our eyes. When the pupils are enlarged, more lights are allowed in and vice versa. An interesting implication is that people have their pupils enlarged when they face fear. That is because our brains naturally want more pieces of visual information (photons) in to obtain a better image of dangerous situations.

After Pupil, there is an ocean of vitreous humor (much larger volume compared to the aqueous humor) that takes up to 3/4 of the volume of our eyes. Those liquids are close to transparent, and their fibers function to refract the entered light accurately on the retina layer. Hopefully, through all the tissues, we could have the light focused at the retina. In fact, only half of the light begins at the cornea ends up at the retina. The lost lights are usually dissipated through refraction or absorbed by impurities.

Last but not least, the retina ” ‘tells the brain about aspects of light that are related to objects in the world’ ” (Wolfe 28-29). Not until the light reaches the retina would such light turns into the image we see considering all the lost photons on its way.


(Eye structure)

Images are crazily dense information-wise, and hence we have developed cells that can work on different segments of the pieces. Those cells are called the photoreceptors. 

There are two critical photoreceptors on the retina layer that play crucial roles in processing the photons in the first place: the Rods and the Cones, both consist of segments (outer and inner segments that are responsible for filtering specific wavelengths of absorbed lights) and terminals that transmit visual information to the brain via different neurotransmitters. So in a way, the photoreceptors work as bridges between our eyes and our minds.

Fun fact: rods work better at night and cones work better during the day. Most nocturnal animals have developed robust rods network on their retinas. 

The major vision processor of the brain is the primary visual cortex (V1), sometimes referred to the striate cortex. It locates at the back of the brain: that is why damaging the back our heads might cause serious issues with visions. At V1, more complicated structures will start to process and develop the orientation of visual information since the image we see are naturally opposite of what are real (our left eyes see the objects on the right, and our right eyes see the objects on the left). Then, there are detectors at V1 that handle edges and stripes of the forming image, working in a reception-stimulus mechanism.

V1 pathways.jpg

(Pathways to V1)

In a sense, there are different types of visual information that each of those little cells are waiting for. Once they find what they want, they will shout it out to the brain and forms the image collaboratively. For instance, a cell is waiting (responsible) for chairs; it would remain silent when we see no chair, and once we see some chairs, the cells will become active and deliver the signal to the brain. What they usually process, however, are lines and black dots due to their limited size; so it may require thousands of those cells to recognize a chair as each of them recognize a dot or a line segment.

There are more intriguing details about our vision pathways in our brain. If you want to learn more about that (how those visual information gets to V1), I have found a great video that could help you visualize the pathways.

Beauty is one of the significant incentives for us to have visions. I have found a great Ted talk on this topic, and here is a leak of what I would elaborate on my next post: how your brain decides what is beautiful




Bermúdez, J. L. (2014). Cognitive science: An introduction to the science of the mind (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The eye – Blue Cone Monochromacy [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

JFC. (n.d.). What exactly is a photon? Definition, properties, facts [Image]. Retrieved from

KoreaMed Synapse [Image]. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Wolfe, J. M. (2006). Sensation & perception. Sunderland, Mass.: Sinauer Associates.

Cognitive Science: An Introduction – Andy

Hello there! My name is Andy Chen, a current Senior at Westtown school. This semester, I plan to take an independent science course to furthers my interests in Cognitive Science. Let’s get started!

So first, what is Cognitive Science?

When Cognitive Science first emerged in the late 1900s, scientists were unsure about its domain: was it “Cognitive Psychology under a new name,” or “an offshoot of artificial intelligence?” (Estes, 1991, p. 282). Continue reading

Abstract Algebra: A NEW Start – Baiting

Retrieved from

In this blog, I would like to briefly review my Fall semester and share my plan for the Spring.

In the past four months, I worked on Differential Equations and its related topics. Through following the MIT Open Course Ware, I learned different methods to solve DEs and their implications in real life.

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Medicine in the Renaissance Era– Yuchen

Medicine in the Renaissance Era
Yuchen Cao

My initial plan for the first semester was to finish studying the timeline of medical history– from the simple but ingenious tools used by the Neanderthals to the highly advanced diagnostic and treatment technologies used in modern-day hospitals. However,    as I moved along the timeline, I found that there are many aspects intertwined with the progress of medicine: religion, culture, politics and many more. It is such a rich field of study that I am only able to reach the Renaissance period by the end of the semester. In this blog post, I will be looking at medicine during the Renaissance era in Europe, the Middle East and China, and touch upon medicine during the Early Modern Age. Next semester, I will pick up from here and move forward.  Continue reading

Medicine in the Late Middle Ages– Yuchen

Continuing from my last blog post on medicine during the High Middle Ages, this blog post still follows the similar format, covering medicine during the Late Middle Ages in Europe, the Middle East and China. While doing my research, I was surprised by the extent of which Islamic Medicine influenced Western medicine. Therefore, a significant portion of this blog post is about medicine in the Middle East. Continue reading

Medicine in the High Middle Ages– Yuchen

In this blog post, I would explore medicine during the High Middle Ages by using a similar format as that of my previous blog post, which focused on three general regions–Europe, the Middle East and China.

Medicine during the High Middle Ages


The expansion and consolidation of power of the kings of France, Spain and England gradually stabilized Europe, restoring vitality to medicine and other fields of study.   Continue reading

Why We Changed Our Name – Sabrina

I changed the name of my nonprofit from Project G.I.R.L to The Girl Narrative this previous summer 2018, and I don’t think I could have made a better decision for my business.

For the first 4 months of being Project G.I.R.L, things were going as any new business was going; we were beginning to build our foundation, our audience, and our marketing plan for the future. Later on, there were several issues that presented themselves that caused me to seriously reconsider our name.


1. Project G.I.R.L is great…but it’s generic


a. When I really got to thinking about it, When you hear the name Project G.I.R.L, you have no idea what we do, who we are, or what our goals are. It is beautiful and fantastic but is overall too generic. When you are building the foundation of your business there are two incredibly important things you need to have: consistency and clarity.  


2. There were other organizations that had similar names


a. I remember when I was interviewing Gauri Kapoor, CEO and founder of the after-school program The Girl and I (read our article about her daughter in the program here!), she got confused because she tried to look us up, but found another nonprofit organization. This was also not a one-time-incident. We were constantly confused with other organizations that sounded similar or had similar elements to Project G.I.R.L


3. Our message wasn’t clear


a. This is the biggest reason that we changed our name. Project G.I.R.L tells you nothing about what we want to achieve or why we are important. You would be able to guess that we had something to do with young female empowerment, but other than that, you would have no idea what we do.

LOGOThe Girl Narrative is unique, our own, and clearly states what we do. We TELL the Girl Narrative. We tell the stories of strong young women to inspire girls to be limitless. Now, with our new name, our partners like March Against Revenge Porn, Nonprofit Jenni, Live Girl (and more!), our audience, and our future customers (HINT! HINT!) will be able to find us, know us, and connect with us better. It doesn’t make it effortless, running a business is never effortless, but it does make things a little easier.


Sabrina Schoenborn 

CEO and Founder of

The Girl Narrative


Kapoor, Gauri. “Home.” The Girl And I,

Schoenborn, Sabrina “Mahika Chopra.” The Girl Narrative,

Juliett, Leah. “#MARCH AGAINST REVENGE PORN.” March Against Revenge Porn,

Hargrove, Jenni. “Home.” Nonprofit Jenni,

West, Sheri. “Home.” LiveGirl,

Schoenborn, Sabrina “Home.” The Girl Narrative,




Assistant Teaching- Alec B.

I have finally reached my goal of being able to sit in classes of both middle school and lower school. At the moment, it is challenging trying to balance out class time with eighth grade and lower school, but I am managing to find times to get good experience. The remainder of my month will be tough as well because I need to choose whether to focus more on eighth grade, or fifth grade.

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Assistant Teaching- Alec B.

I am getting closer to the end of my studies here, but yet it feels like I am only just beginning. If I was asked last year in the early spring if I saw myself dedicating a whole year to studying education as a class, I would have thought that couldn’t be me. I had the same ambition to be a teacher, but never thought I could start the journey this early. Here I am however, in April, and have worked in sixth, seventh, eighth, and now fifth grade.

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Assistant Teaching- Alec B.

As I sit in this eighth grade class and watch the teacher, I can’t help but picture myself in their place. The small little interactions and the seemingly simple advice to students make me think of my future. The more I see this particular class, the more it makes me reflect on my middle school years as well and how they were enhanced by the teachers.

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