Like a “what’s in my backpack” post, this time the items typically in my backpack have moved onto my desk as high school is still online for me. Nevertheless, there are still many important school supplies that I use on a daily basis so read on to find out some of the most important items I have on my desk for online learning as a high school student and aspiring biomedical scientist!
Of course, online learning can’t be possible without a trusty computer. I recently bought a desktop computer after my mom kept nagging me about small screens, so the computer I have on my desk right now is a HP All-in-One computer. It’s decently fast and gets the job done, while also dealing with me and my 100+ tabs, so overall I would say it’s a pretty good computer.
In addition to my desktop computer, I also have a 2017 Macbook Pro, which I have to say is a great laptop considering its size and everything I put it through. I used this laptop for most of my independent research project, which meant that I had at least four windows and 60 tabs open on each window at any given time, and my Macbook was able to handle all of that. As you can tell, I have a problem with opening way too many tabs. Also, in my opinion, I personally prefer glossy computer screens rather than matte screens, so I think my blog looks much better on my Macbook because glossy screens typically allow for more vibrant colors.
Fun Fact: You can group your tabs by right clicking on a tab and clicking “Add tab to group”! It makes the window look a lot less crowded with the tabs grouped together, since you can open specific groups of tabs when you need them, while closing the rest. I typically have three groups on my computer: Research, School, and Blogging.
Google Home Mini
A couple years ago on Christmas, my mom noticed a great deal on Google Home Minis at Target, and she decided to buy one. Since then, (nearly) every corner of our house has at least one Google Home Mini, collected over the years as they often go on sale during Black Friday or holiday season. I have one on my desk, and I often use it for listening to music, podcasts, and recording down million-dollar ideas that I think of in the middle of the night.
My favorite podcast that I listen to before falling asleep is Talking Biotech with Dr. Kevin Folta, which aims to improve scientific education through weekly podcast episodes about biotechnology, especially in agriculture. Dr. Kevin Folta is a professor of horticultural sciences at the University of Florida, and I think the topics he discusses on his podcast are absolutely fascinating, in particular, “The Ethics of Gene Editing” and “Rapid Detection of Bloodborne Pathogens.”
As for the Google Home Mini in the kitchen, we most often use it as a timer and a boombox for a kitchen dance party, although everyone in my family has vastly different music tastes, so we end up switching the music many times. Our Google Home Mini is also great at telling jokes, and one of my favorite jokes is asking Google “What happens when you die?,” to which Google responds with “Hopefully you plug me back in.”
If you’re an avid reader of my blog, first of all, thank you so much for reading my blog, it means a lot to me! But secondly, you might have noticed that I mention that having a planner is crucial for staying organized in high school. That’s definitely true for me, and this year, I have a rose gold spiral bound planner that I got from Target for less than $10. I use my planner to write down all events, due dates, and notes for myself so I don’t forget. At the end of the day, I like reviewing my planner so I can prepare for the next day and make sure that I don’t accidentally forget an event. It’s also satisfactory to look at my planner filled up with everything I’ve accomplished that week.
While school has moved online, reducing the need for notebooks, I still keep physical notebooks for a couple of my classes. Namely, math, French, and English class. For math class, it’s much easier to write down example problems and equations by hand than typing out symbols, and my math teacher also gives us assignments to do in our notebook. For French class, I typically take notes using Microsoft OneNote, since my school gives me a free subscription to Microsoft Office. However, I still do my homework assignments in my notebook, since my teacher prefers that we write down our homework rather than type it. For English class, we usually don’t have to take notes, but I find that sometimes I write better when I’m writing it in a journal rather than just typing, so I keep a notebook in case I want to clear my head by writing instead of typing.
But outside of my school notebook, I also have a research notebook on my desk. This notebook is specifically for me to take notes on scientific papers and note down my ideas as I conduct my independent research project on antibiotic resistance. The notebook is quite messy with so many unanswered questions and scattered ideas, but having a research notebook is incredibly helpful in tracking the progression of my thoughts and information I gather along the way.
This year, I took out my pencil case to use on a daily basis even though I have a pencil holder on my desk. I have my better pencils in my pencil case, including many pencils I bought during my trip to Japan a couple years ago. I don’t have many items in my pencil case since it’s quite small, but here’s what I have in it!
- Mechanical pencils
- Paper Mate Flair pens
- Pencil lead
- Mildliner highlighters
- Multicolored pen
- Pen-style scissors
- Macaron tape dispenser
There are so many cool stationary items in Japan. In fact, I bought my pen-style scissors in Japan, and my friends are always so impressed with how compact it is, along with my macaron tape dispenser, which allows you to expand into a tape dispenser when you need it, and fold it back into a macaron to store. I also absolutely love the Paper Mate Flair pens for outlining, since pens and Sharpies usually don’t do the trick. As for my Mildliner highlighters, I jumped on the trend when they were popular at my school, and so far I think they’re decent highlighters, nothing too special, although the pastel colors are very pretty. Another pastel highlighter I have are the Pilot FriXion Erasable Highlighters, and while I’ve noticed that the colors fade with age, I like being able to erase my highlights.
Another item that I’ve taken from my backpack is my small pouch of essential items, which are all in a small makeup bag I found at Daiso. In this pouch, I have…
- Hair ties and a scrunchie
- Lip balm
- Compact Mirror
When I first began high school, I saw so many videos on having a “high school survival kit,” and I’ve realized, yes, it actually is important. Hair ties come in handy in science class when you need to tie up your hair to participate, or when classmates ask for extra hair ties. I also hate when I have a runny nose but I can’t find the tissues, so it’s great to have a small pack of tissues on hand. Some people like to pack medications or small snacks, but I don’t really find those necessary for me. While I don’t use this pouch as much since school became online, it’s helpful to have a school survival kit.
In high school math, graphing calculators are almost always required. However, because it’s almost always required, so many students end up buying a hundred dollar calculator and then end up not using them after high school, which is why I bought my calculator online second-hand. My calculator is the TI-nspire Silver Edition graphing calculator with a TI-84 Plus keypad, and while it’s a fancier calculator, it’s so much cheaper than buying a brand new TI-84 calculator. Some other alternatives to buying a graphing calculator include using websites and apps, such as Desmos, which is a free online software that allows you to graph, or apps that you can download on your phone. For iPhones, “GraphNCalc83” is a great option, while for Android, there’s an app called “Graphing calculator plus 84 graph emulator free 83” that works great.
Alright, I don’t use my backpack for online school, since after all, what am I supposed to do carrying a backpack around my house? But anyway, for the sake of a “what’s in my backpack” post, I have an arctic blue Trans by Jansport backpack, which I actually found on sale for $10 after back-to-school season had ended. I think it’s a decent backpack, I’ve had really similar backpacks all through elementary to high school, so I really can’t compare it with others. Something I’ve learned from experience is to never carry a bunch of textbooks and heavy items in your backpack that will make it weigh 17-pounds. It’s not pleasant to lug that around all day, especially since my school doesn’t have lockers.