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.