All posts by Alona

Hi! My name is Alona, and I am 11 years old. I have a dog, and one sister. My favorite book series is Warrior Cats, by Erin Hunter. I love to read, I also love to draw, write books, and role-play online.

West African Drumming

(I’m writing this blog post on Monday instead of Friday because I didn’t have time on Friday or during the weekend.)

Last week I participated in a West African drumming class taught by Living Rhythms. We learned a lot of things! The biggest thing was how to play the djembe (pronounced jim-BAY). The djembe is a drum played by one person. We played rhythms, intros, and outros on our djembes.

Our teacher (and later his wife who’s name escapes me) Brother Greg also played the dunun for us. The dunun is incorporated of three different drums. The smallest is the kenkini, the medium is the sangban, and the largest is the dununba. The smaller the drum, the higher the sound is.

One of the rhythms that we played was called the Kuku. The Kuku rhythm was/is played to honor the fisherwomen in a specific West African community. One of the really cool things about the djembe and the djembe rhythms is that the djembes were created by women, as well as the rhythms. For a long time people thought that only men were supposed to play them, but it turns out that women are the reason they exist!

Before anything starts, you need to be sitting in your “don’t squish the baby position”. This basically means that you’re sitting on the edge of your chair with your back straight, your shoulders back, your chin up, your legs hip width apart, and your hands on your knees. Once the teacher nods, you put your hands in the “clean hands position”. This is where you put your hands up with your palms facing forward and your hands on either side of your head.

The Kuku consists of a few different sections.

  • The break.
  • The intro.
  • The rhythm.
  • The song.
  • The rhythm again.
  • The outro.

The break is something played by the lead djembe player. It sounds different than the rest of the rhythm so you can tell the difference even when you’re playing the rhythm yourself. The Kuku intro is a series of beats (always in the middle of the drum and loud) in a certain order. The Kuku intro is this: 2 2 5 5 6

But it isn’t constant. It doesn’t sound anything like 20 beats in a row. In between every number, there is kind of a mini break that the lead djembe plays. So it’s more like this:

BREAK (the break here sounds kind of like the drum is saying BLIP BLO BLIP BLO BLIP BALABA)











And then you go into the rhythm. And to add to that, the six is broken into two. The first four are slow, then the last two are fast.

Now, for the rhythm. The rhythm with Kuku was pretty simple. It’s 2 slow in the center of the drum (also known as base) and then 4 quick on the rim of the drum. To keep all of us on time during our performance, Brother Greg’s wife whispered “base base” for the first two times we hit the drum.

After doing the rhythm for some time, we would see Brother Greg’s hand go up in a fist. This means that the next break he played would mean for you to keep playing the rhythm, just very quietly. We would keep playing the rhythm at the same volume during the break, but as soon as it was over we would start the rhythm very quietly.

Now it was time for the song. Brother Greg sang the verse, and we sang the chorus. The chorus was Mee Mala Jonculia. So we would play the rhythm (base base quick quick quick quick) very quietly while singing. After about four choruses the lead djembe plays the break again and the rhythm goes back to the original volume (AKA hard enough so that your hands hurt by the end).

After playing the rhythm for a little while, it was time for the end. Brother Greg would swing his arm around (not unlike how you would imagine lassoing without a rope) and that meant that after the next break we would play the outro.

The outro goes like this: 8 4 8 4 7









take a break the length of a quick breath (no mini break)


This one is a bit more complicated. Let’s pretend that _ is hitting the drum and that – is not hitting the drum.

8: _ _ _ _ – _ _ _ _ There’s a quick break in between the 2 sets of (quick) 4. It sounds kind of like thunder.

4: _-_-_-_ This was more even. Just 4 evenly spaced out beats that weren’t quick at all.

8: repeats

4: repeats

shout AND (no mini break here)

7: _-_-_-_-_- _ _ 5 evenly spaced and then two quick. Take a breath in between the 5th and 6th.

Now you know the Kuku!

Here are some youtube links to Kuku. I hope you learned something!

Kuku, but with more parts. -you may or may not be able to find what we did in this video. Mamady Keita, the man in this video,  taught Brother Greg to play!

Kuku along with the dance to go with it. The drums have to stay on beat because if they don’t, they’ll mess up the dancers.


Punnet Squares

Today I’m going to be teaching you about punnet squares! Punnet squares are a simple way to find the odds of a person having certain traits such as eye color, nail shape, or genetic disorders. Of course, genetics is a really complicated subject, but punnet squares are a simple way to understand how traits are passed down through generations. Before we begin, here are some things to know:

  • Capital letters stand for a dominant trait, while lower case letters stand for recessive traits. Dominant traits override the recessive ones.
  • Alleles are what hold the certain traits. For a parent to pass a trait to their child, they actually pass down that allele (which is on a gene, which are segments of DNA, which are on chromosomes). Generally, each trait has two alleles.

This is Sharon and Mike. Sharon and Mike are expecting a baby, and they want to know what their child might look like.

Sharon has the following traits:

Black hair (B), Blue eyes (b), Freckles (F), Curly hair (C)

These are Mike’s Traits:

Red hair (r), Green eyes (g), Straight hair (s), No freckles (f)

Sharon’s traits are all dominant except for b (blue eyes), while all of Mike’s traits are recessive.

First, let’s look at the punnet square for hair texture.

This baby would have curly hair. This is because curly hair is dominant, and in every situation the baby has one curly hair allele, meaning curly hair is pretty much a definite. This baby’s alleles are heterozygous Cs.

Let’s move on to freckles.

In this situation, the baby does have freckles. This is because in every situation, Sharon gives the baby one dominant allele for freckles, and the dominant allele overpowers the recessive allele given by Mike. This baby’s alleles are heterozygous Ff.

Next is hair color.

You probably know the drill by now: Black hair is dominant, red hair is recessive, there are no situations where the baby has two recessive traits, therefore baby has black hair. This baby’s alleles are heterozygous Br.

Now for eye color!

This is where it gets fun! What do you do when the baby inherits two recessive traits from their parents? In this situation, the baby has a 100% chance of having the alleles gb (green, blue). Technically, these are both recessive traits. But, green eyes are actually dominant over blue eyes! So, even though green eyes are a recessive trait, the baby will still have green eyes. This baby’s alleles are heterozygous gb.

Now, last but not least, boy or girl? A baby’s sex is determined pretty much the same way other traits are determined. But instead of parents giving the child alleles, they each give the child a chromosome (specifically a sex determining chromosome).

Sharon is going to have two X chromosomes because she is a woman, and Mike is going to have one X and one Y because he is a man. Sharon is always going to give an X chromosome, while Mike could give either X or Y. If he gives an X the child will be a girl, and if he gives Y the child will be a boy. As you can see in the image above, the child has a 50/50 chance of being a girl or a boy.

So what does the child look like?

The baby has curly black hair, freckles, and green eyes.

He’s also a boy!

Now, what happens when the baby grows up and has a child?

His traits are pink and his wife’s are green.

And this, my friends, is how traits are passed down through generations.

Please ignore the fact that these babies have no bodies.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment and ask!

St. Augustine Wings Trip

Last weekend @michaelgadhia, @libby, @rachelmichele95, @tomis, @willmh, and @gabe went on a Wings trip to St. Augustine! This was a part of Liberty’s Wings goal, which is to become fluent in Spanish. We all left school on Friday morning and returned Sunday evening.

Here’s a little explanation of the city by Wikipedia:

“St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. Saint Augustine was founded on September 8, 1565, by Spanish admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, Florida’s first governor. He named the settlement “San Agustín“, as his ships bearing settlers, troops, and supplies from Spain had first sighted land in Florida eleven days earlier on August 28, the feast day of St. Augustine.

The city served as the capital of Spanish Florida for over 200 years, and became the capital of British East Florida when the territory briefly changed hands between Spain and Britain. Spain ceded Florida to the United States in 1819, and when the treaty was ratified in 1821, St. Augustine was designated the capital of the Florida Territory until Tallahassee was made the capital in 1824. Since the late 19th century, St. Augustine’s distinct historical character has made the city a major tourist attraction, and it is also the headquarters for the Florida National Guard.”

Here’s an overview of our weekend:

Friday – 

  • Leave school at 9:30
  • Arrive in St. Augustine around 4:30
  • Go to Kona Skate Park. I watched Gabe and Will skate.
  • Go to bed

Saturday – 

  • Leave in the morning for St. Augustine
  • Military Hospital Tour
  • Look around the Fort
  • Lunch + Dessert
  • Stroll through the city
  • Go to the beach
  • Out to dinner
  • Kona skate park

Sunday – 

  • Drive in the car all day.

Sorry about the lack of details, but I’m in a bit of a hurry.







ALC NYC Peeps Visiting

This week a facilitator (@melody), two parents, and some students (@douglasawesome, @simoneboss, @serenagermany, @thewitchqueen908, @agilesaylor, @flamewheel) from ALC NYC visited Mosaic. Serena and Nahla stayed at my house. We had a really fun time playing Uno. Unfortunately, I was sick yesterday, so I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to hang out with them at school. Here are some things I did with the visitors:

  • Balderdash
  • Do You Really Know Me
  • Blokus
  • Never Have I Ever
  • Walk to Harris Teeter

Overall, I had a really fun time with our visitors, even if it was only 2 1/2 days (they got here Tuesday at 11;30ish).

Something else. I’m on a 51 day streak on Duolingo! I feel like my German has really improved recently with being able to conjugate verbs. Instead of being horrible, I’m now slightly okay. 😉


The Way Of Adventure Library Selfie

A few people from Wings (@tomis, @michaelgadhia, @libby, and I) are participating in Blake Boles’ “Way Of Adventure” Course. Our first challenge out in the community was to go to our local library, ask a librarian to help us find a book, and then take a selfie with them.

I decided that I would ask for/get a book about German grammar, because that’s one of the most (if not the most) difficult things about learning German (or any other language, for that matter).

I actually found a great book with German sentences to use in any situation including

  • Shopping, home improvement, restaurants.
  • Greetings, goodbyes, introductions, and telephone calls.
  • The weather.
  • Train station, hotel, post office, airport, auto shop, and the doctor’s office.

There are so many more, but I won’t bore you any longer.

Needless to say, this should be a very helpful book to look over! I also got a book called Ein Hund fürs Leben. The translation is (I think) A Dog for Leben. I’m hoping I’ll be able to understand it!

Now, the selfie with the librarian was very awkward. I think that Liberty documented the experience beautifully in her own blog about the challenge, therefore I’ll quote her a bit on this one. Green = Liberty’s words.

We were all acting really awkward when we asked for our selfie. The librarian came around the desk for the picture and waited for probably 20 seconds while Michael was trying to figure out how to take a selfie. Then Alona finally just grabbed the phone from him. The selfie was then taken, and we thanked the librarian and hurried out. 

I have a feeling this course is going to be a real challenge, but I think we are all very excited to see what other ridiculous things we need to do in this course.

Left to right: Me, Librarian, Michael, Liberty.



Winthrop Eagles

This week, as you probably know, was the beginning of March Madness/March Mayhem/NCAA Tournament. In case you don’t know, this is a tournament between the top college men’s basketball teams in the country. There are 64 teams who play each other until there is a winner.

There is a college called Winthrop University out of Rock Hill, South Carolina. This year, Winthrop made it into the NCAA tournament for the the first time in (I believe) ten years! The reason this is exciting for me is because my family knows two of the players; Anders and Bjorn Broman, who are brothers. Because we know them, we get to go to a lot of Winthrop’s home games.

There was a Selection Sunday watch party at the Winthrop Coliseum my family went to. Winthrop was the number 13 seed and was going to play against the number 4 seed.

Thursday, March 16th the Winthrop Eagles played the Butler Bulldogs in Milwaukee. They unfortunately lost by 12 points, but it was still a really good game to watch. It wouldn’t have been such a sad loss if it wasn’t the last time I’ll see the seniors (Keon Johnson, Tevin Prescott, Josh Davenport, Hunter Sadlon, and Roderick Perkins) play.

I’ve decided to draw all of the Winthrop players and then get it autographed! I have drawn 14 of the 16 players on the team, including red-shirted players. Here’s my progress so far!


Algebraic Algorithms

This week I learned a really cool algorithm in Algebra “Class” with @nancy and @gabe. I can now figure out the slope intercept formula (y=mx+b) as well as the standard form of a line (AX + BY= C) from two points on a graph, without a graph.


So… I wrote an entire long blog post explaining how to do everything in detail, and then I realized I made a huge mistake in the very beginning that affects the entire post. Now I’ve decided just to post a picture of how I did it, and if you really want to know, google it.


The Curly Girl Method

Hi! I’ve mentioned the Curly Girl Method a few times on my blog, but not in much detail. I thought that I’d do just that.

The Curly Girl Method is for anyone who has wavy or curly hair. The basic idea is to only use conditioner, gel or mousse. No shampoo. I know, I know. No shampoo?! Trust me, my hair is very clean. Shampoo contains sulfates, which strip the hair of its natural oils. Some shampoo (and pretty much any other types of hair products) also contains silicone, which coat your hair in plastic, making it so that no moisture can get through to your hair. Ever. For your hair to be healthy, it needs moisture, and it can’t get that when it’s coated with plastic.

To start the Curly Girl Method (or CGM), you need to do a final wash. This is washing with a shampoo that has sulfates, but not silicone. You can also use diluted dish soap. The sulfates wash out the silicone so that you can start anew with non-plastic-y hair. Then, you add conditioner. The conditioner can’t contain sulfates or silicone.  It all depends on your hair with how much conditioner, which conditioner, if you leave some in or not, etc.

Personally, I leave in one HUGE handful of Suave Essentials conditioner. That’s right, I don’t wash it out. My hair loves moisture that much!

The next time you wash your hair, instead of shampoo or dish soap, just use your CG (Curly Girl Method Safe) conditioner to wash your hair. Put some on your dry scalp (and, if you want, dry hair) and scrub your scalp. Don’t use your nails, though. Scrub until you feel like your arms are falling off, then get into the shower. Scrub some more so that all of the conditioner is out of your hair and off of your scalp. Put some more conditioner in your hair and let it sit like you would with normal conditioner, and shower as normal. Once your shower is over, rinse all of the conditioner out while combing through your hair with your fingers or a wide tooth comb. Now, add some more conditioner in your hair. It should feel like wet seaweed and your fingers should be able to go through it effortlessly. I suggest doing this with your head upside down; it’s easier on the arms. I then add another handful of conditioner and work it into my hair. This is too much for some people, and not enough for others, so you just have to figure out what’s best for you!

Once you’ve finished with that, put some gel in your hair. Remember, the gel can’t contain silicone or sulfates! I like to scrunch my gel in, but it’s up to you. You don’t need to use gel, but that works best for most people.

It’s normal for your hair to need to transition. For some people, their hair looks good right away. For others it takes up to 3 months. During the transition period the hair is usually limp, possibly greasy looking, and overall unappealing. But once you get past that stage, your hair will probably look so much better! I know mine did. Here are some pictures:

My hair when I was little.
Before the CGM. I wore my hair in a ponytail 24/7.

This is after my first time doing the CGM. I didn’t know about the final wash, so I didn’t actually do one.
Right after my first DevaCut. My hair was cut dry so that she could see how my hair naturally fell.
My 13th Birthday! A couple weeks after my DevaCut.


A few months after my first DevaCut.

Over time, my hair got curlier and curlier. Now, a year after my first DevaCut, my hair is pretty curly.

My 14th birthday! This was yesterday 🙂 (March 1st, 2017)

If you have any questions about the Curly Girl Method, comment, and I’ll do my best to answer them!

I hope you’ll give it a try 🙂


Valentine’s Dance

It was toats tubuler with all the moosic in the r0oom and all the ddace of people and their felling i was queen of prom and nate was ming of prom nit was toats tubular and fabu now gtg sleep on couch

I sincerely apologize that you had to read that. My little sister ( @animalfreak9 ) insisted on blogging for me.

This week was, in fact, the Valentine’s Day Dance. It lasted less than an hour, but it was still fun. I danced with Tessa for a few minutes. I was one of the “prom” queens with Nate, my “prom” king. In the end we had chocolate covered strawberries.

Sorry my blog is so short, but I had a really hard time coming up with anything to write about.


The Mystery of Loberg Lake

Hi! This week with Gamed Academy I learned about Loberg Lake, which is a lake in Alaska. This lake had two types of 3 Spined Stickleback fish. The fully armored  has multiple large spines (even though it is technically a THREE Spined Stickleback…) on its back and stomach as well as “armor” on its sides. The low armored variety has only three smaller spines on its back, and no armor on its side. Which fish would you rather be? I’ll bet you would rather be the fully armored one. We’ll see later if you’re correct!

Let’s get a few more facts before I begin with the story.

  • Fully Armored Stickleback like saltwater better, so they live in the sea and come back to the lake to breed. They get there through rivers and streams coming from the ocean. Only some stay behind in the lake, though, so there are far fewer of these than the Low Armored at Loberg.
  • Low Armored Stickleback like freshwater and can’t live in the ocean (as far as I know), so they stay in Loberg Lake and don’t leave like the Fully Armored fish do.

Now, let’s get on with the story,

It’s 1984 and the population of Loberg Lake is large. There are lots of Low Armored Sticklebacks and quite a few Fully Armored Sticklebacks. Then, some people decide to poison the lake to start over. They want to put Salmon and Tuna in the river and want nothing to do with the Sticklebacks.

Over the years, the Stickleback start to reappear. The Fully Armored Stickleback came from the ocean every year, and the Low Armored Sticklebacks came from somewhere (I’m not sure where they came from… I just know they came back). Now, there are more Fully Armored Sticklebacks than the Low Armored Sticklebacks.

Over some more years, the population starts to shift. There are now more Low Armored Sticklebacks than Fully Armored Sticklebacks! What happened?! Don’t worry, it’ll all make perfect sense in a moment.

Have you ever seen a baby dragon fly hunt? It doesn’t sound that terrifying, I know, but trust me. It is. Google it if you don’t believe me.

The issue with being a fully armored Stickleback is that they grow slower, meaning that the dragonflies have more time to hunt them. The low armored Sticklebacks, on the other hand grow relatively quickly, meaning that they are less likely to be hunted by the babies.

And that’s why it’s better to be a Low Armored Stickleback, and not a Fully Armored Stickleback.