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I-Search: What I learned

Nolan Williamson
May 10, 2010
Research Question 1
My first research question was, “What happens to soldiers that come home in need of a prosthetic limb?”. Through my research and interviews, I attained several answers. Once they are back on US soil, soldiers are sent to one of the many military hospitals. Soldiers usually end up going to medical centers in Washington DC; San Antonio, TX; or San Diego, CA. While there, soldiers receive their necessary rehab, and fitted with their prosthetic limb. These soldiers can actually receive any prosthetic device they desire, even if it is not yet on the market, or still in research and development. The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs fund all of the medical care, and prosthetic devices these soldiers need, as well as anything needed in the future. After that, when the soldiers have been declared ready, they are sent home. They often are able to return to the life they they once had, return to playing sports, and do almost everything they did before they had a prosthetic limb. I found this particularly interesting because I did not think that prosthetic devices would be functional enough to keep up, and stay useful during sports and other activities. The whole process of receiving a military prosthetic, from inciting indecent to returning to normal life turned out to be far more intriguing than I had originally thought that it might.

Research Question 2
My other research question was, “What options do soldiers have for prosthetic Devices?”. Soldiers have quite a few options in the way of prosthetics, but it most easily boils down into two groups. One of these groups is the high tech devices. These devices could be anything from being microprocessor controlled, pneumatically assisted, motor driven, or even a hybrid bionic limb that is controlled by the remaining intact nerve clusters in a person’s arm. These devices are almost always in the tens of thousands of dollars though. The other broad category is the simpler devices. These devices are usually not very functional if at all, and have no electronics. Often these devices are used purely for aesthetic purposes, and do not assist in daily life. The advantage of these is that they are often user serviceable, much longer lasting, waterproof, and stronger. These devices can take a beating, and work underwater because they are usually little more than some cables and pulleys. All of these devices are incredibly interesting, and I have actually found a considerable amount of enjoyment researching them.

What I Did Well In This Research Project

Over all, I thought I did quite well with this project. The websites were fun to design, and added an interesting aspect to this project that is not available in many other places, and especially not any other project. I felt that I kept up with the updates on the websites quite well, and I can’t think of anything that I posted late. I also feel that I did a pretty good job in making the sites visually appealing, while still keeping the focus on prosthetics and the military. One of my favorite parts of the whole project was by far the interview process. Although it was slightly stressful at times, it was a very good experience that I am glad I had. The complications that arose were unavoidable, and were there simply because of timing, and other things out of everyone’s control. I ended up with three interviews via two different mediums, and all ended up pact with information, and I am quite proud of them. The third element of the project, the Slide deck, has and always will be one of my favorite parts of any project. I have learned so much this year about oral presentations, and the presentation zen elements are always fun. I very much enjoy art of all kinds, and I look at the presentation more like a work of visual art than a project. The actual oral presentation of the project is fun, because it helps me further improve my speaking skills.

If I could do this project again, there are only a few things that I would do differently. I have said it several times before, but one of my mistakes was not having anything to fall back on. I had no back up plans. One of my elements did incur some complications, and almost suffered because of it. Thank God, everything turned out okay, as the complications were out of human control, and in the end I ended up with more than I had needed, which benefited me greatly. Another mistake I made toward the begging was that I was putting things off and procrastinating. I did turn in, and post everything on time, but had there been any complications, there were several times where I would not have fared so well. Had I done things earlier, I could have possibly improved the end product even more, although I am quite satisfied with it. One thing I would change about the actual project itself would be the interviews. I enjoyed them so much, I would recommend that a second interview be needed. possibly one from an opposing viewpoint, or a student studying in the field. I believe that it would allow for the student to greater master the subject matter, and come out with a far more solid end product.

Reflection and Assessment
I am confident that I did very well in this project. I would give myself an A, if I had to grade myself. When working, I did not do a whole lot of heavy work in school, I did a lot of it at home. This is simply because I much prefer my home work environment, and because I am able to access more resources and use more programs, and do it all faster from home. I felt that I did well in my Lit Circle, as I kept up with the reading, heavily participated in the actual circle, and put serious thought into all of my entries. I know that I invested myself into this project quite well, and I know I was successful in almost all of the elements. The greatest improvement that I alone made over the similar project that I did in December, was that I greatly improved my research skills, had exponentially more curiosity in the subject matter, and most importantly, pushed myself to do my best.

My Digital Footprint
I believe that my digital elements say that I had a quite successful and fun research process. They tell the story of my research, because there is visibly a lot of time put into them. The project has been going on for several months now, and the time stamps on the elements show an educational progression throughout the entirety of the project. By blog is particularly good at showing my investment, because of the sheer volume that I have put into that blog over this project’s time line. They help tell the story, because there are links to all of the work that I have done this semester, and there is heart in all of it. I had a lot of fun with this project, and hope that I get a chance to do more in the future.


Research Reflection 5

Nolan Williamson

5th Lit Comp.

Research Reflection 5

In the end, I contacted three experts. The first expert actually found me via his Google Reader account. I contacted this man, asked to interview him, and he agreed. I sent him the interview questions, but sadly he was too busy, and was never able to return them to me in time, so I had to find another expert. Throughout my research, there was a company that came up in many of the articles. Since they seem to be at the head of the field, I decided to contact them next. I never did receive a response from them, so I moved on to another expert. From there, I contacted a local college that has a rather large prosthetics program. Thankfully they responded quickly and got back to me, although they too were busy and would only be able to conduct a phone interview, so we arranged a time, and will soon conduct the interview.

I emailed all three experts, and went about all three from a different approach. For the first expert, I thanked him for agreeing to the interview, and thanked him for the wonderful information that he provided me with prior to the interview, and then I sent him the questions. I then waited several weeks, and was unable to get a response after that. There was only a few days left in the project, so I then contacted the next two experts. Both of them received similar emails, apologizing for the short notice, and inquired about conducting an interview so that I could learn and ask questions about the field of prosthetics with a real world expert.

Since, at this time, I have received no interview information from any of the experts, I cannot comment on what I learned from that experience. Thankfully, the first expert sent me several emails during the course of the interview that were loaded with useful information and links to resources. I am and was very grateful for this helping hand, and I was sure to thank him generously. I am excited to obtain the information from the interview, because I included sever questions that I was unable to answer from my research throughout the project that an expert might be able to answer.

I learned from this whole process that one must always be prepared for the unexpected, and always have a backup even if it is slightly less favorable. I have absolutely no regrets in the complications I had with the first expert, as he gave me copious amounts of information, and I understand the troubles of living a busy life, and I do not blame him for not being able to respond to me. In a way I am almost grateful that it happened, because it has taught me to always be prepared, and from now on I will always have something to fall back on.

The advice that I would give another upcoming student is: simply be prepared. Things will rarely go exactly how you want them to or even how you predict them to. I would recommend that the student take their time in finding an expert, as it is an important part of the process, and valid, specific information is needed to help with the process. In being prepared, I would highly recommend that the student contact more than one expert, so that he both has something to use as a secondary source, and something to use should one not work out.

*NOTE* as of 5/3/10 This post is now outdated. The first expert returned my questions, with answers at a far greater level of detail than I had expected. As predicted, the delay was due to complications far beyond his control.

Research Blog 4

Nolan Williamson

Research Blog
Thus far in my project, I have been using Troy Turner’s Google Reader account as my primary source of information. I got to the Google Reader account because Troy actually sent the link to his account to me over a WordPress comment. His reader is devoted solely to prosthetics, so I was able to find meaningful military prosthesis articles all throughout his page. His entire reader account has value to my research, because there is not a single posting in there that is unrelated to prosthesis, and or the military. Troy is a real world expert in my field of research, and as such, he clearly knows what is going on in the world of prosthesis. on top of that,most of the websites listed on the reader are from government, news, or educational websites, so I believe that they are credible coming from him. I must extend my excessive thanks to him for generously providing me with this goldmine of information, without it I could not have possibly attained all of those sources in the time frame given
I believe that over the last month, more than anything, I think I have learned better time management. Before, I would procrastinate, and put every possible thing away until the last minute. This time around, I feel that I really made a change, and used my time better. I realized that it is easier to just get a good product, and then relax, than it is to put it until the last possible second and turn in a simply acceptable work. I have used this skill in the project by getting the reading out of the way, and writing papers days before they were due, so that I had time to correct them, or on occasion scrap them completely for a separate idea. I am quite proud of this accomplishment, and hope to continue in this way of working.

Multigenre Musings

Event Recipe: Doing an event recipe on military prosthetics would be interesting. To create a powerful recipe though, I would have to keep everything as realistic as possible, but have plenty of details. Doing this would make me think throughout the entire process of getting prosthesis, from inciting incident, to daily life. I like the idea of an event recipe, because it is a very original way to portray a very rough summary of something, in an entertaining artful way.

Message in a bottle: I think that doing a message in a bottle would be an interesting experience, because I would be writing a heartfelt letter to a prosthesis patient whom I have never met, nor will I ever meet. The only downside I see to this multigenre element is that it would likely not reach an actual prosthesis patient. I think that it would have been pretty interesting if everyone in the class did a message in a bottle, and then get to see what everyone else wrote to a veteran.

Music Playlist: I am a very music oriented person, and I think that creating a playlist for this book would be fun. I am not sure if I would create it for a character, for the book, or prosthesis patients in general. There are so many different types and styles of music that I think creating an accurate playlist for any of the options listed above would be a good project.

Text message transcript: Texting is being used evermore increasingly in our society, and is becoming one of the primary ways to make casual conversation. If I were to do a text message transcript, I would do it from the perspective of a solder keeping in touch with a close high school friend. Something along the lines of a high school graduate going straight into the military, keeping in touch with his best friend back at home, who is going to college. It would be interesting to create such a transcript, because it would not surprise me if such situations are not uncommon.


Glogster: Doing a Glogster would be a cool and visually appealing project. I could create a page based on prosthesis patients, and display the most interesting prosthetic limbs and abilities. The only problem with this project is that in doing so, I would be doing little more than creating a visually appealing project, but there would be very little emotion in it, and it would be a shame to let that happen after I have put as much effort into this as I have.

Reader Response 5

                “…Then I kind of turned myself sideways so I can wiggle my left leg loose. Once I pulled my leg up I actually saw that my left foot had actually turned completely all the way around. It was facing the other direction. When I saw it I knew I had already lost that foot. It was still attached but hanging. The only reason it was still there was because my boots were laced pretty tight. I started really thinking about getting out of the vehicle… And my best friend, Sergeant Henderson, was on my left hand side and he was trying to keep me calm” (Wood 254).

                I really found this passage moving because it is little recognized how much soldiers lose in the war. Not only do soldiers like Mr. Jones lose an extremity like an arm or a leg, but they lose a part of themselves emotionally as well. Soldiers go to war being one person, but return as an often emotionless, hardened individual. Soldiers lose friends, and brothers in war. This is unacceptable. We do not often enough recognize soldiers for what they sacrifice for our country. Yes, we do have Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but those are not enough. They deserve far more for all the good that they have done. Even on a much less important, material level, soldiers do not receive enough. The pay is mediocre, and the health and education benefits could really be better, especially for those who return with life altering wounds and limitations. Beyond that, soldiers have trouble finding work once they return home. They chose to put the most important thing in their possession on the line; their life. Yet, we still do not respect them in the social and work environments. Why is this? This needs to change, now.

Netvibes Narrative

Netvibes Narrative
So far on my Netvibes page, I have added quite a few widgets. I added the RSS feed to Troy Turner’s Google reader page, as it has been incredibly helpful in my research process. Next to that, I have the GALE links widget which is the hyperlinks to three of the more popular GALE resources. I have added the RSS feed from my blog, as well as the RSS feed to the comments posted on my blog, so that if anyone is interested in my project, they have the links and correspondence from the rest of the project. Along with those, I have added the RSS to my Evernote account, and it displays the most interesting raw research I found online.
Under that, is the Lib Guides link, and RSS to the class announcements in case anyone wants to see what my peers and teachers did as well. Lastly, at the very bottom of the page I have added the Creative Commons widget so that should anyone decide to note my work, I get some credit for what I had done. I am currently working on a photos tab, and I plan on adding a video and multimedia tab.

I-Search Paper II

I-Search Paper:  What I Wanted to Find Out: Research Questions

Nolan W.

Prosthetics in the military

March 26, 2010

Class Period 5th

I wanted to know what happened to soldiers that go home disabled with wounds and amputations that required them to have prosthesis. I wanted to know how their lives were affected, but I wanted to have a deep look into a disabled veteran’s life and have more than just a superficial understanding in what goes on. I wanted to know how the injury affected the soldiers’ lives, and know if they attempted to return to the life they once had, such as attempting to re learn how to play sports with their handicap. I wanted to see if I could figure out how the family is affected by the disability, how they are respected in daily life. I wanted to know what this disability limited or allowed the soldier to do. More than that, I wanted to see what prosthesis technology there was available to veterans, and how well received the prosthetics are. I wanted to know how far the technology has come, and how different leg, hand, arm, and other prosthetics are. Along with those things, I wanted to know what the army offers to its soldiers, and if any funding is put towards the research, or the implementation of these devices.

Research Blog 3

This week I continued to search in depth for resources and information that I could use in my Netvibes page, and continued to research into general prosthetics. This week has been particularly bountiful in terms of information, because I have found a lot of new articles, companies, and websites that relate to prosthetics research, development, and history. Sadly though, I have reached somewhat of a speed bump as there are not many particles that relate to the social and home lives of disabled veterans, so finding an in depth story on the lifestyle change that a soldier must undergo once returning from war is going to be hard.  I received a lot of information from my real world expert Troy Turner, and hopefully will be able to attain some form of interview from him. Troy provided me with several websites loaded with information, and among them he had the company he currently works for, and his very useful Google reader shared items page that is specifically dedicated to prosthetics and research. Over spring break I found out that one of my cousins is currently going to school for prosthetics, and that he is doing an internship in prosthetics, so I intend to use his knowledge in this project.  I plan to move on to working on the Presentation Zen items soon, and I am currently deciding which items I will create so that I can get an early start on those. I am thoroughly pleased with the topic I am researching, and am excited about presenting it soon.

Reader Response 4

5th period

Reader Response 4

“We were at one recovery scene and there was a piece of paper blowing around in the breeze, so we picked it up. It was a sonogram of a baby. It was dated and that poor guy never saw his kid. He had it with him, but it was blowing around in the field so we picked it up. I remember the chief warrant officer looking at me and he just couldn’t say anything at the time; I think we would’ve both lost it. He had the thing in his hand and we were looking at it and we kist looked at each other, put it in a box, and… decided to deal with it when we get back to base.” (Wood, 220)

As soon as I read this passage I immediately began to think of the scene in All Quiet On the Western Front Where Paul kills the French printer. Just like the printer, this man had a family; a wife, children, parents, and siblings. The only real difference is that the character talking in this case didn’t kill the man, but was just an acquaintance. The main character in this story found the picture of the deceased soldiers baby just like Paul found the picture of the family of the man that he killed. I am quite astounded with this story, for it is the first time in the whole book where it was noted that the dead man was more than a soldier, he had a family back home, just like ever other soldier. Every soldier that has ever died was somebody more than a fighter. They were a brother, a father, a mother, a son, a daughter, a friend, a husband, a cousin, a neighbor. It finally hit me, that there is truly a butterfly effect when that insurgent or soldier pulls the trigger. That person just stole someone. They removed a piece in the harts of countless other people. I think that military training must have to be very careful in making a soldier not realize this. If they didn’t, would anyone be able to pull that trigger, knowing of the atrocious repercussions that it will have on people that they will never know? It is a terrible thought. We have lost so many soldiers in our wars. soldiers died, and along with those soldiers the family died as well.

Research Blog 2

Research Blog 2
My research gathering has far accelerated as compared to the slow going of last week. I am very grateful for Troy, the military researcher who so graciously commented on my blog earlier this week. With any luck I should be able to receive some sort of interview from him whether it be Skype based, or an email interview. He supplied me with websites far more beneficial than those which I had been working with before, and even if they hadn’t have been, it was really cool to see, and know that a real world researcher really did care about my work. I am really excited about this project, it has been, and I can tell it will continue to be on of the most fun projects I do in my high school career. I am very much enjoying the freedom that I have received with this project, and am greatly enjoying the reading I have received from What Was Asked of Us. I am still working on my research, as I still have much to do, and I do not have it organized at the moment, but I assume that I will begin doing that soon enough. Working with Evernote has been a breeze, and a luxury, I am very grateful that we have been bestowed with the privilege of using this wonderful program. It has helped me so much with speed of information gathering, because it allows me to choose exactly what I need, and exactly what I find relevant, instead of going through pages upon pages of information that has little to no use to me.