Final Written Reflection ~ Genius Hour

Pt I: Description of your Genius Hour-  
What?
My genius hour was the study of Dissociative Identity Disorder. I looked into many different aspects of the disorder including the history of the disorder, why/ who suffers from the disorder, the diagnostic process, symptoms and treatment of the disorder, what is happening inside the brain when someone is in a dissociative state, what the alters are like and why they exist, myths surrounding the disorder, and the differences between D.I.D. and other disorders.
Where?
The bulk of my project took place in class. All of my research was done in class and all of my poster materials were cut out and glued onto colored paper at school. The only thing that I really did at home was my brochure, the powerpoint, and typing up all of my research.
When?
I worked on my project during class and also during AP Lit because I was doing the same topic for both classes.
Why?
I had been reading about D.I.D. and other psychiatric disorders and D.I.D. just seemed to be the craziest to me. I find everything involving the brain super interesting and D.I.D. really did not make sense to me, so I wanted to learn how the disorder worked.
Who?
My genius hour was pretty much done by myself. I think it will benefit a lot of my classmates and it will help crush the belief that D.I.D. is the same as Schizophrenia and will bring more awareness to the disorder as well as providing some more validity.
How?
I accomplished my genius hour by researching a lot, watching a lot of interview videos, and reading a lot of people’s stories. There is not much scientific information regarding the disease, so it took quite a bit of digging.
Pt II: Challenges-
  • My biggest challenge in this project was keeping all of my information organized and in one place. There were so many different pieces to my project, so it would have been very easy to lose pieces of my presentation. I also had a lot of trouble finding scientific studies that analyzed D.I.D. because there is no way to really do so.  
  • In order to keep my information organized, I separated my presentation into nine major parts and wrote all of my notes on index cards and separated them by color. I really had to dig deep to find scientific studies regarding the disorder. If I were to do the study again, I would skip writing my notes on index cards and just go straight to typing them in a google doc. It would be easier for me to color code things and all of my information would be in one place and nothing could get lost. If I had more time, I would probably try to reach out to medical professionals to see what real life situation they had dealt with involving this disorder.
  • My initial question was how does the disorder affect daily life of the people and I was able to answer that question very easily.
Pt III: Successes-
  • I think my biggest success actually came after I had done the project. I was very worried about my presentation and that people would not believe that the disorder was legitimate. I spent the vast majority of my time researching focusing on why people do not believe the disorder is real and trying to see and understand both sides of the story. There are so many skeptics, and I was really trying to avoid creating more skeptics within the walls of our classroom. I tried to present both sides of the story in a clear way and let the audience make their own decision. After my presentation, there were a lot of questions asked by my classmates, but none of them involved whether or not the disorder was real. The overall goal of my project was to bring awareness to the disorder and see how it affected daily lives and I felt like I did a good job drawing awareness to the disorder and not creating skeptics.
  • It made me feel very good when nobody asked any questions regarding the idea that the disease was not legitimate. It made me excited that my audience could tell that I understood my material and that made me feel really good. It was nice to see that all of my hard work was being recognized and it was also nice to see that I accomplished my overall goal of bringing awareness to the disorder. It felt like I did my part to help get the people that suffer from the disorder, a little bit more support in their battle against the disorder. My classmates were asking me questions about how the victims of the disorder deal with the disorder and how the alters worked instead of the typical “How is that even possible. I do not believe it is true.”
Pt IV: Learning Curve-
  • One of the most interesting things that I learned while doing genius hour was that the alters have their own special ways of communicating with each other. The most bizarre thing to me is that the alters can get upset with each other for the choices that one has made. It makes more sense when you think about each different alter as a separate person and that all of the different “people” are stuck inside one human body. It would be super interesting to study each individual personality in great detail and analyze almost every difference between the alters. You could see if heart rates changed depending on the personality or blood pressure. This is something that the patient could not control, so it would help to prove the skeptics wrong. I also thought it was very interesting that each personality was developed to serve a different purpose in protecting the birth personality and the personalities take on traits of people that they have been around, but I am not sure if that is always what happens. It would be an interesting study to look at where each personality came from and really analyzing the entire life of the patient instead of just their dissociative episodes.
  • I would love to continue studying what I have learned in genius hour. Next year I will be studying Neuroscience at school and in the future, I am not 100% sure what I would like to do for my career, but becoming involved in behavioral analysis sounds incredibly interesting to me. I would like to spend some time working with therapists and psychiatrists to see not only how D.I.D. patients act, but also how the professionals deal with the disorder. It would be interesting to simply interact with a D.I.D. patient and ask them some questions.
Pt V: Reflection on Independent Learning:

  • I really liked having this project wide open so I was able to choose exactly what I wanted to learn about. It is much easier to do a project when you are interested in the topic and you actually care about it. I also liked being able to hear what other people had learned about in their genius hour projects. It was very cool to see what other people were interested in and what mattered to them.
  • I found it pretty easy to stay motivated doing this project because it was so interesting to me. My friends were probably super excited when I was done with my project because I was finally talking about something other than D.I.D. In AP Lit, we also had checkpoints that we had to meet for our research, so I had some loose due dates that I had to follow. If I was not able to choose the topic I wanted to, I think it would have been much more difficult to stay motivated on the task. I also had a much easier time staying focused and motivated on my genius hour presentation compared to science fair either of the years that I did it.
  • I learned that you need to be interested in what you are doing in order to do the job well, but it is also important to do a project well even if you are not interested in the topic. Setting due dates for myself would also be helpful for me to keep myself on track to avoid cramming everything into the night before. The night before my presentation was not stressful at all for this project because my whole presentation was done and I just needed to practice what I was going to say. This was definitely the right way to do a project!
  • I definitely do not feel like I am ready to be set out in the real world, but I think this project taught me some important lessons that could help make my college life a little bit less stressful and could help me get higher grades on project with due dates that are pretty far away.

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