How to Debate

Recently my sister and I went to a debate camp. At first we thought it would be boring, but it turned out to be great because of the counselors and people there. We learned so much about debate, including the format of a debate, and how to win.

Format of a debate:

  1. team 1 case
  2. team 2 case
  3. cross examination
  4. team 1 rebuttals
  5. team 2 rebuttals
  6. cross x
  7. team 1 summary
  8. team 2 summary
  9. grand cross x
  10. team 1 final focus
  11. team 2 final focus

First, each team gives their case. You start with a small intro and move on to your points. Each argument you have is called a contention. In each contention you make a paragraph of information and you can put your sources at the top of the section in case your opponent asks for them. In each contention, you should state the impact, which is why it matters.

An impact has 6 parts to it. An acronym for them is STMPRR.

Scope: how widespread is it?

Timeframe: when will it happen?

Magnitude: how bad/good is it?

Probability: how likely it will happen

Reversibility: how easy it is to reverse effects

Root Cause: your impact causes the opponent's impact, therefore yours is more important


After each team gives their case, it is time for cross examination. During cross examination(cross x for short) each team asks the other questions about their case. They do this for many reasons: to clarify information, to get sources and see if they are reliable, to get exact numbers for information, etc. Unless one team runs out of questions, both sides go back and forth asking questions one at a time. If your opponent tries to ask a second question in a row, you can say, "It is my turn to ask questions now," if you have an important question. One should try to be short and concise in answering, but it is good to give a solid, assuring answer.

Then, it is time for each team's rebuttals. In this time, teams will state why the other's argument is wrong. Try to go through each of their contentions, pointing out problems and holes in their reasoning.

After rebuttals, there is another cross examination.

Following this is the summary. In the summary, one restates their main points more concisely. Then they move on to say why the other team's rebuttals are wrong. A team should try to say as much as possible in their summary.

Now is grand cross x. This is the last cross examination in the debate. Here, you ask about anything from your opponents entire argument, because in the other cross x's you want to focus more on their most recent speech. Also, during this time you can ask about things you forgot to ask before.

Lastly, final focus. In this time you convince the judges that you won. You can state some flaws in your opponents arguments and throw some facts in there. You don't want to spend most of your time destroying your opponents argument, though. And this is why you want to say as much as you can in your summary.


All throughout the debate, both teams do something called, "flowing". Flowing is when you take notes of your opponents case, rebuttals, summary, and final focus. You can record new information given in cross x and write down what you are going to say for your rebuttal, summary, and final focus. One should be concise, yet include numbers and details in their notes. A typical flowing paper consists of 7 columns. The columns from left to right: your case, their rebuttal against your case, your summary, their summary, your rebuttal, and their case. I put the cases in the correct places, but most of the time I put notes in the wrong columns. But this is ok, just as long as you take good notes and can make sense of things on your paper. While listening to the opponent, it is very important to pay attention to details. Small things that don't seem very significant may actually help you a lot in debunking your opponent's argument. In addition, while you are researching, it always helps to learn a little extra about the topic you are going to debate. This could help you later on. It is good to know your opponents' side of the argument, so you can prepare responses and rebuttals against them. With that information you can also make things called "blocks". These are prewritten rebuttals against possible arguments the opponent may use. You can also prepare responses for your opponent's rebuttals, to state why their rebuttal is wrong.

When It is your turn to speak, make sure to stand in a strong looking position. Have your legs over your shoulders and keep your feet planted. If you are moving your legs around while you are debating, you will look weak. In addition, make sure you have your flowing paper and case papers with you while you are speaking. It is helpful to look back at them. Hold these firmly with your hands on both sides of the paper. Talk in a loud, clear, articulate voice. Don't talk quietly without feeling. Put emphasis on important points and facts. Believe that you will win and that your opponent doesn't know what they're talking about.

Incredible Toast

One boring day, I decided to make something amazing. Outstanding. Unique. Epic. Incredible. And that something… was… Incredible Toast.

My family eats toast a lot as a snack or for breakfast, with the typical peanut butter and marmalade, and we never thought of changing things up a bit… until one day… I came up with Incredible Toast.

Why Speed Solving the Rubik's Cube is Good For Your Brain and Your Body

Speed solving the Rubik's Cube is good for your brain and your body.

For your brain, it helps exercise skills like: •memorization •pattern recognition •3D spacial awareness

It also teaches good problem solving skills that are: •reframing the problem •breaking things down into steps •optimization

Lastly, speed solving the Rubik's Cube has physical benefits. It helps improve your: •reflexes •hand-eye coordination •finger dexterity & agility

Speed solving the Rubik's Cube is good for your brain and your body.


Instant Homemade Microwave Popcorn!

Here are some instructions I wrote up for making instant homemade microwave popcorn! Most credit goes to Grant Thompson ("Grant Thompson - The King Of Random" on youtube). Our version is the healthy version with no sugar.



What you need:

•salt - 1/2 tsp

•olive oil - 1 tsp

•sugar (optional, for kettle corn) - 1 tbsp

•kernels (like the ones you find in the grocery store) - 1/3 cup

•paper lunch bag


1. Pour the olive oil over the kernels.

2. Let it soak in for a couple of seconds.

3. Dump the kernels, oil, [sugar] and salt into the paper lunch bag.

4. Fold the top over 2 times and give it a crease.

5. Place the bag on a paper towel in a microwave.

6. Microwave it for about 2 minutes and 30 seconds, but that's just what works best in my microwave, so find out what time works best for you. You could also just wait until the time between pops slow to about 2-3 seconds.

7. Take the bag out and pour it into a big bowl.

8. Enjoy!

Panda Club 2014

    What is black, white, and cuddly all over?

Pandas of course! Pandas are cute and funny ... at least I think so. Pandas are more than that though . They are also an endangered species.

  The Panda Club is raising money to help save pandas. All the money will go to helping pandas. We can't make that money out of thin air, after all, we aren't magicians . 

                                          That's where you come in

  We need your help to raise money for pandas. You can donate or buy some things to help raise money. We will sell a big range of things, so if you don't like something, just keep looking.

              We hope you will buy our things, not for us, for pandas !!!

I <3 Beautiful Puerto Rico - A Diary to A Fun Vacation Part No. 1 Beach Power !

        I'm P.K.'s guest blogger on the Back to Shanghai blog. . . You might have read some of my blog posts there . I have my personal blog here now . I enjoy blogging , because it is a chance to write down my thoughts . I'm 8 years old , and at the moment , in Puerto Rico for a gymnastics meet . Yes , I am a gymnast . I will tell you what I love about Beautiful Puerto Rico .

        First off , I favor the beach . Wanna here what I like about it and some experiences I had ? Well , what are you waiting for ? Read on !

        Sometimes I just feel like sitting on the deck of our hotel and looking at the beach . We don't have a great view , so most of what we can see are buildings . Luckily , we have a little bit of beach from the deck . It's relaxing to sit on the deck with a cool breeze brushing my face gently , warm nice weather , and the wonderful beach to enjoy . 


          Now that was only the looks of the beach . Let's move on to the physical part . Which do you prefer me to start with ? Land or water ? I choose . . . hmm . How about the water ? Okay . Here we go !


          Belly surfing !  That always stands out to me whenever I think about water on the beach . In case you don't know , I'll try to teach you in words how to belly surf my version . 


         RIPPLE : Turn around and let yourself bob .


         SMALL WAVE : Wait until the wave is about half a foot in front of you . Jump up and twirl 180 degrees .                                                                                            


         MEDIUM WAVE : Do the same as you would do for a small wave . 


         BIG WAVE : Squat down and wait for the wave . When it hits you , push off horizontally .


      Do not get scared . The first time I belly surfed , I went under water and came up safely at least 5 times . Water might get up your nose and trust me , it won't feel good . But 'ya have to tough it out . Some waves can get up to 10 feet tall .


      Enough of belly surfing . What was I going to do now ? . . . Oh . Right ! I was going to tell you about the other part . Land - sand castles ! My friends , my brother , and I love love LOVE to build sand castles . My brother usually helps me , and my dad wrote a blog about called The Boy and His Sand Castle . This is what we would do . First part is the hardest . Castle defenses .


            Fort : We would rush to build the fort . the point was to keep as much of the water as we can out . Over and over and over water would crash over the top and drag the fort apart . We would not give up . Over and over and over we would try . ' Yipeeeeeeeeeeeee ! ' We would cry out with joy when we got it to stay . It had to be pretty thick , tall and wide .


           Moat : Every castle need a moat . Correct ? Defiantly yes in my opinion .

  • First , dig a trench on the side of the moat where the water is closest . this will keep it away from you a bit when you are working on the actual moat .
  • Second , dig a deep hole on one side . It does not have to be all the way across the fort . I scoop up the grainy sand and pack it tightly onto the fort .
  • Third , continue the second step along the fort .
  • Fourth , make sure the moat tips sideways so it can drain out . 
  • Fifth , to make sure it drains , you have to smooth the moat out to move down the beach . Now it can drain out !
  • Finally . . . the fun part ! Castle building !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woo-hoo ! Be creative and shape the castle differently . Add fun decorations and find some seashells or sea glass to put on top .



          Well , that was all I can tell you about the beach . Have fun and try out these ideas . Change them too ! Tell me if you have any improvements . There is always room for improvement no matter what . For me & for you . I hope you enjoyed this blog . Tell me if you like these blogs and suggest some topics . Keep tuned .

                                                      Good Bye My Friends ! ! !

A Bit About Braces

    Hi, you guys wanna learn about braces? Well I can tell you a bit about my time with them. I am currently 9. Your probably thinking "Whoa! Why is he getting braces so early?". It's because of my crowded teeth. This post will be about what I've felt and experienced in my 2 years of braces.

   Before Getting Braces

    "Wait. You have to get an appointment before you get braces? Oh gosh." Well, yes, you do. During my appointment, they took pictures of the inside of my mouth. First they hooked something like a really wide, rounded, double sided, hook on my cheek, and another one on my other cheek (trying to give the best description possible). Thanks to orthodontists, they invent the best, most convenient, tools. So they put that hook-like thing in my mouth and I held the other end so that the tool would pull my cheeks out of the way. The hook didn't hurt, only the stretching of my cheeks hurt. Once they were done taking pictures of the front of my teeth, they needed to take pictures of the back of my teeth, or the inside of my mouth. I still had to pull that hook thing on my cheek but the only difference was that they were going to use a mirror. It was a flat, curved on the corners, mirror with a handle the orthodontist photographer would hold. They took a picture of the reflection on the mirror of my mouth. I can't explain it in exact detail, but I'm sure that there are some videos that show the process. Finally, they were done taking all of the pictures. Later, we went to watch some videos about cleaning and flossing my teeth with my orthodontist. It looked easy and quick on the videos, but it is a lot harder and time consuming. "He should get braces in about 6 months," My orthodontist told me and my mom. Not a big deal, I thought. 6 months is a long time. I'll have quite a long time of happiness until I have to get braces--- but 6 months go by very quickly...

   1st Days With Braces On

    The braces did not hurt when my orthodontist put them on. Actually, I didn't even feel them (they put a bendable "blocker?" in your mouth so your cheeks wouldn't touch your teeth while they put the braces on, but they took it off when they were done)! Wow! I have really good orthodontists! I went to school, feeling quite odd, though, trying to get used to my braces. They felt pretty big in my mouth, probably because I wasn't used to them. At school there was quite a welcoming, everyone was asking, "Do they hurt?" and "How do they feel?". I answered, "They don't hurt, they just feel weird." The "don't hurt" part was true until 5:00. I had taken a nap and when I woke up my incisors started hurting. It's because my teeth were moving and getting closer together. Hurting is usual on the first few days, though, so don't worry. Later, you'll get used to them. However, I had never really had pain in my teeth so that night at dinner I started crying. I also was crying for another reason. Since the dentist said "No hard foods", I had thought that I couldn't have hard foods like almonds for 2 YEARS. Don't worry either because once you get used to braces, you can eat more foods. 

    The next day, the back of my cheek was getting irritated. Later, I found out that the bottom of my back molar brace was rubbing against my cheek. My cheeks are very sensitive. You shouldn't worry if this happens to you because it happens sometimes. It should go away in about a week. "If it really bothers him," my orthodontist said, "just put a little wax on the brace and take the wax off when he's eating. If it doesn't bother him that much then he shouldn't put the wax on. Just wait and his cheek will callus. You want it to callus so it won't bother him." I chose to tough it through and let my cheek callus. Soon enough my cheek felt like it never got annoyed. Later that day, for lunch, my mom made one of the best dishes for my new braces: Avocados and hard boiled egg with soy sauce. The mushy avocado and delicate eggs make the dish easy to devour within seconds. The soy sauce also adds some flavor. Bananas are also nice and soft. Also, if you really like cereal, but now that you have braces you can't eat it, I'd recommend Rice Crispies.

The Boy and his Sand Castle

It was told that, on any given day, locals and tourists walking along the sandy beach at Condado, San Juan will find the little boy and his sand castle. Each afternoon he would first build a small dam to keep out the waves. Then he would build a sand castle, with towers and moats, keeps and stairs. Each day he will find a new technique, or refine a feature that he created the day before. Each night the castle is washed away. Each day it is rebuilt. The joy is in the doing, in the building.

Bank Savings Account for Kids


It is time to open a savings account for the kids (8 and 9 years old). I went to the Lexington main branch of Bank of America. I needed to bring IDs for the kids that prove their birth dates. I brought their passports. Birth certificates will also do. I also need to have their SSN ready. Then I need an ID and my bank card to identify myself. In less than 30 minutes both kids walked away with their own savings account. 


What do I look for in setting up their savings account?

  • No fees
  • Full feature - a banking experience that is educational for the kids
  • I have access and control to the accounts

The Bank of America setup fits all of these requirements.

Features and Fees

Because they are minor, their savings account has to be a co-owned account with an adult — me. I am already a Bank of America customer. So we open two additional shared accounts under the kids and my name. Because I have a premier level account already, the kids get to have a money market savings account, with slightly higher interest rates. They also gets their own ATM cards with their own PIN. Because they are minor, the accounts carry no fees. Because they are under 13, they cannot have web access to their accounts. However since the accounts are jointly owned by me, I can see their accounts under my web access. In fact, the minute the accounts are opened, I can see their balances on the BofA mobile app on my iPhone.

The very helpful bank rep (thanks Wayne D.) also reminded me that, since they now have a bank account, it is easy for me to give them their allowances via a bank transfer. For their initial deposit, the rep helped them filled in their own deposit slips, and a very friendly teller congratulated them while taking on their first deposits, even when our slightly height challenged M can barely reached the counter!

Best Computer for Children

A friend asked me, with a budget of $600, what type of computer(s) should she buy for used by her children. She has children aged from older elementary school down. This is actually a difficult decision because that budget is right in the middle of a whole range of possible choices. For her oldest, she has already done a lot of writing in MS Word, as well as use many educational websites for math and spelling drills. For the youngest, she is still at the playing stage. What computing devices are good?

Windows PC

First I want to rule out any Windows PC or laptop. Why? The budget certainly can buy the "deal of the month" from Staples or Microcenter or even costco -- whatever laptop or desktop they offer. Unless you are a Windows power user already, windows based computers are just too complicated to support. Apple's hardware certainly are more expensive on the surface, and never discounted by much, their products are really better -- easier to maintain. The last thing one needs at home is to constantly trying to fix software or hardware problem on the family computer.


For ourselves, our main kids computer is an old iMac that I bought from Apple refurb site a few years ago. I like the physical design of the iMac because it is a simple one piece design. Nothing to go under the desk, takes up little desk top space. Both of our kids use it for browsing, Scratch programming, and drawing when they were younger. Because we are a Mac household, I can easily share their screen and see what they are doing. It is cute that, for now, when they are doing something cool, they actually want me to share their screen to see what they are doing. I am sure that will change in a few years.

Best place to buy an iMac is either at the Apple refurb store. Especially older models are (relatively) deeply discounted. However the cheapest reburb iMac are usually still around $1000 or more, beyond the $600 budget.



iPad is an interesting alternative. Ignoring word processing for the moment, the iPad is the perfect children computing device. It has a lot of great educational apps as well as games. It is rugged (when placed inside a good case) enough for everyday use. It is portable for trips. Using a good stylus (I recommend the cosmonaut) it has great drawing apps, that can easily shared onto Facebook or email to grandma. Even for writing, first children today are actually used to or can quickly learn to use the virtual keyboard. Otherwise a Amazon generic branded bluetooth keyboard will turn the iPad into a good writing machine. It is actually good to not have too many formatting options, so that the writer can focus on writing. Another benefits of the iPad is that if you set it up to do iCloud backup, the documents are always automatically backed up.

(See iPad apps list at the end of this article.)

One small negative with the iPad though is that it is really designed as a single user device. There are no user login, and everyone can see everything on the iPad. So if it is used by multiple children to create media, they have to learn to share and make sure they do not mind accessing each other's documents.

The $600 budget certainly covers a baseline iPad -- either the latest model, or even the now two generation old iPad 2. I myself use an iPad 2 and find it more than adequate. A base model refurb iPad 2 goes for $319 these days. (Remember as of Nov 2012 the iPad line is really confusing, there is the iPad 2, the older new iPad, the the just announced new new iPad. i.e. there are two "new" iPad models, the "3rd generation iPad" is actually not the newest.)

Mac Mini

The Mac mini is an often overlooked choice. The cheapest new Mac mini is $599. It is basically an iMac without any peripherals. If you happen to have an unused USB keyboard, mouse, and monitor available, the Mac mini is a great choice. You can also buy a non Apple USB keyboard cheaper than the nice Apple one. You should try to find a monitor that has HDMI or DVI input and has 1920x1080 resolution to do the Mac justice. Therefore, depending on how much you want to spend on monitor, keyboard and mouse, a fully functioning Mac can be built around the mini for anything from $600 to about $1000.


I know this may sound a bit unconventional, but especially for younger kids I recommend getting an iPad instead of any laptops. Why?

  • It is cheaper than an iMac
  • There are a lot of good educational apps out there
  • It is maintenance free, hardware and software (setup iCloud backup, you will not loose data)
  • Support Drawing
  • and it is definitely a Fun device!

Just make sure the entire family learn to share, and make sure no private/personal document and contents are on it.


Useful Apps

These are the apps that I use myself