Welcome!

I'm Tao Lin, and hopefully this will tell you something about me!

I was born in Worcester, and have lived here every year since. One day in June 2016, me and my friend Will were canoeing in Flax Pond, and we were like “Hey, Cliff Pond should be right over that hill. Let’s find a path between the ponds and carry our canoe there!” We weren’t wearing any shoes, mind you, but this was one of the most fun adventures I’ve had.
I play the cello.
In the summer of 2015 I went to Camp Howe in Goshen, and it was there I decided to stop homeschooling and go to school. Camp how was the first experience of being around kids my age all day long, and I actually liked it.

Roboticist

I have done robotics, STEM and computer science before I came to Mass Academy. I was homeschooled through 9th grade,
and I have participated in robotics for 6 years. I have had two successful robotics teams in my house.
The first was my First Lego League team, from when I was 8 to when I was 12. Then in 8th grade my vex team The Dreaming Robot was the New England champion,
and I participated in the Vex World competition, making it to the quarterfinals. I am now on Mass Academy's FRC team, Team 190

Athlete

I participated in team sports all three terms Sophomore year. I ran cross country and track, and played tennis. In addition, I enjoy cycling on the road as well as off road. Of all of my sports, I like tennis the most because it is very intense and personal.

Weird Dude

I can juggle, walk a tightrope, mountain bike, as well as mountain unicycle. I first started unicycling in spring 2016,
and I’ve been unicycling on harder and harder terrain ever since. One of my favorite winter activities is unicycling in the snow and ice, because it helps me improve my balance. I set up a short tightrope in my back yard with two trees
and some rock climbing rope. Oops, forgot to mention I love rock climbing too.
Fun fact! I am the only Mass Academy student who bicycles to school every day. I go at 18-19 miles per hour, and it takes
only 6-10 minutes, making my commute to school the most exciting, most dangerous, fastest and healthiest.

Volunteering

This year I participated in E-Nable, a volunteer extracurricular at Mass Academy. E-Nable is a program to manufacture 3D printed prosthetic hands for children in developing countries. We built 16 Raptor Reloaded hands, like the one pictured behind this text, which are actuated by the user’s wrist. My contribution was attaching strings to the 3D printed structure which actuate the hands, as well as tensioning and adjusting the hands. I also volunteered at BattleCry 14 and 15, breaking down the competition field after the tournament.

Student

Physics

Physics is my favorite class here at MAMS. We cover topics on the AP physics 1 exam, in addition to a few other topics that appear on the SAT and AP Physics 2 exams. We also have two tracks in our physics class, algebra and calculus, and I am in the calculus track. We often solve very difficult laboratory problems, such as analyzing the forces within a slinky, and multi-step problems called Uber problems at the end of every unit. The Uber problem uses every equation and technique we have learned in the unit, and Mr. Ellis won’t accept it unless every step is correct. One Uber problem I am proud of is the Jabberwocky problem, where you have to calculate the distance that a cart is flung off a heavy table by a chain. I solved this problem during one class period, which is a record speed for this problem.

The slinky lab was my first calculus lab, and it required us to derive an equation to model a hanging slinky. This was easily the hardest lab I’ve ever done, and the day it was due none of the 9 of us who did the lab had found the right equations.

Math

The first semester of math is mathematical modeling, which includes the 36 hour math modeling competition HiMCM. We use any math tools we know to optimize problems with numerous variables and degrees of freedom. In the second semester most students learn Precalc, but have the option to take more accelerated course that covers calculus through calc 4. Since I completed AP Calculus BC in 10th grade, I plan to take the accelerated course. In the HiMCM competition, students work in teams of 3 or 4 to solve one of two problems. This year the challenge my team chose was to assign ideal wave sizes for a triathlon. We decided that flow rate through the transition points was the most important aspect to minimize, so we came up with an equation for the flow rate through each transition point using the expected normal distribution of athletes from each wave arriving at that transition point. This was the largest equation I have ever used, and looked like Another interesting challenge we had was designing bus routes for an imaginary high school in a town with perfectly gridded streets. The problem was intentionally worded very vaguely, and my team used that to our advantage to design the quickest and most cost efficient bus plan in the school, at the expense of adding 50% onto the students’ distance from their bus stops. In addition to this we designed a layout where all students had to walk shorter distances, but this solution was ordinary and had no advantages over any other solution. I learned from this project that without good communication between the employer (problem), and worker (us), we were free to undermine the purpose of the bus program.

Computer Science

In computer science we are split into two groups, advanced track and standard track. I am in advanced track, which means that my assignment for the first two quarters was to create a software application that solves a problem. The problem I chose was giving FRC and VRC robotics competition teams more information to make better strategic decisions using statistics gathered from a year’s worth of tournament performance information. The program takes inputs in the form of csv files available online and creates a data structure from them, and calculates statistics on every team in the league based on that information.

Our final project in CS class junior year was to create an innovative Android app. My group decided to build an open sandbox game to teach chemistry to elementary and middle school children. Our game allows users to drag atoms on top of each other to create molecules, and drag those molecules together to create larger molecules. Whenever the user creates a molecule that the program recognizes, it gives a pop-up text box with information about the physical properties of that molecule. This allows children to explore chemistry on their own without any of the complex rules and laws of a chemistry class. We implemented the game using Unity, a cross-platform tool for creating video games. While the rest of my team created the graphics, images, and menu screens used in the game, I created the backend functionality. I collected data about molecules from XML files that I downloaded from PubChem, a free database, and made an object-oriented model of the molecules and atoms. I also made algorithms to perform stoichiometry, adding and subtracting chemical formulas. Although our app currently only recognizes 15 molecules, we plan on improving our app and adding more molecules to its stored memory, as well as adding a feature to lookup molecules online as the user creates them.

Humanities

Instead of taking one class for history and one class for English, at Mass Academy we have one class for both. Mr. Ludt, (pronounced like lute) quite a character, is our teacher. To start off the year in HUM class, we broke into teams of 4 and wrote, rehearsed, and performed skits based on our summer reading, Walden by Henry David Thoreau. In our skit we threw Thoreau forward in time through a portal in the bottom of Walden pond to the present, and had him encounter the modern day tourist, student, and Walden pond tour guide. Dismayed with the state of the world, he decides to dive back through the bottom of Walden pond at the risk of his own life. After he almost drowns and is saved by a scuba diver, he lives as a hobo on Walden pond once more, in the present. I played the character of Thoreau, and it was one of the best, and only, acting experiences of my life. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did acting it!

We write eight essays over the course of the year, for which we are graded very harshly and we rewrite frequently. Over the course of the year our teacher, Mr. Ludt, gives us lots of feedback and expects us to improve all aspects of our writing throughout the year. When we have the same mistakes in multiple essays in a row, he gives us worse grades for each one until we improve. My favorite essay so far is my essay on love in ancient Egypt. In this essay, I compare the authors of love poems discovered in a well near the valley of the pharos in Egypt to modern love, and found that they were very similar. It is quite uplifting for me to know that love has changed so little over that much time.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)

Our STEM class is broken up into two sections, STEM 1 and STEM 2. STEM 1 is an independent science fair project from the beginning of school to February. At MAMS we take our science fair very seriously, and we treat our STEM fair project like a masters’ degree thesis in many ways. We write 45+ page research papers about our research, which need to meet rigorous standards for professionalism and formality. For my project I am engineering a subtractive display to selectively block glare.At this time I am in the middle of the project, and I have the a presentation I gave at the start of the project to introduce my project to my advising teacher.

Junior Year we completed a STEM2 project in which we built assistive technologies for individuals with disabilities. My group chose to build an assistive watering can for wheelchair users who may have low grip strength and low mobility. Our design is meant to reduce the weight that the users have to hold, as opposed to traditional watering cans which require the user to hold 3-10 lbs of water and manipulate a heavy watering can. Our device features a water bladder on a stand that provides a constant flow of water without any water storage held by the user. The user controls the flow of water from the bladder using a lever that they hold, which requires very little force to operate.

Scientific and Technical Writing

Unlike most schools, we have an entire class devoted to scientific and technical writing. We have written two major works this year, a mock grant proposal and a13 page literature review for our STEM fair project. The mock grant proposals are sent to a contest by Engineer Girl, an organization that gives out small cash prizes for promising proposals. My proposal was about a device I thought of to protect the endangered Cross River Gorilla from poaching. In addition to providing valuable protection to my target species, I used an experimental technology to make my devices friendly to the environment as a whole. These biologically powered motion activated cameras looked very practical and thought though, which contributed to my proposal’s success as one of the few distinguished proposals in our school. This literature review is our recapitulation of two months of research on all the science and innovation leading up to the STEM project. My literature review covers the eclectic topics of my STEM project in over 10 separate headings and subheadings. In the topics I covered from LCD technology to traffic safety statistics, the number of deaths each year caused by glare was the hardest to track down. Although some scientific and popular articles cover this topic, the scientific articles have very narrow scopes, and the popular articles lack evidence. This field of study is small enough that there are no accepted facts, only a few individual studies with very different methodologies that test different things.

Intermediate Spanish Immersion

I am in Intermediate Spanish Immersion class, where we do our best to only speak in Spanish in class. We watch Spanish TV, play games in Spanish, and built a model car out of instructions written in Spanish. Everyone in our class gave a presentation on a Hispanic artist, and mine was about Salvador Dali. Unlike most of my class, I did not use a script during my presentation, and managed to perform well.

In Spanish class I also wrote an essay on a house. As per the assignment, I simply listed all the features of the house and its immediate surroundings. Because we have a few students who have never taken Spanish before, our first essay was quite simple. However, as the year progressed the skill levels in our class have evened out, so that now we can write more complex essays.

Photo Credits: Tao Lin