August 20, 2019

The Innovation and Agility-Curriculum & Career Education (CCE) office is excited to announce the first cohort of AP Capstone diploma recipients from the Class of 2019.  We are so proud of the hard work and passion showed by these students. Learn more about each student’s project below. 

We would also like to thank Lucy Filppu and Andrea Struve for pioneering this program at Paly!

Eric Aboytes  - Amazon’s Impact on Gentrification in East Palo Alto 

“I chose this research project because, as an East Palo Alto resident, gentrification is something that has affected the city and the residents around me. Rent has increased, houses are being remodeled, and as a result, many families are being displaced. There hasn’t been much research conducted on gentrification in East Palo Alto, so I hoped to fill this gap or at least make a small contribution with my research.”

Claire Chen - Social Conformity to Rap Music

“My project allowed me to explore social conformity with a group of peers, who are quite familiar to me. As most of my friends frequently listen to rap music, I was curious to see whether they listened to it because they truly liked it or because all their other peers do. Through AP Research, I found a way to further explore this curiosity by applying diligence and skills I learned in the class.”

Gerzain Gutierrez - A Fence Around DACA: Palo Alto High School’s Perception 

 “I was interested in this topic because it is very personal to me. One of my cousins is protected by DACA, and DACA mostly protects people who are Latino, like I am.”

Kristina Im - The Role of Mentors in the Lives of Palo Alto High School SJP3 Students 

“Mentors are an invaluable source of support in my life, but I read a study mentioning that many youth lack mentorship. Noticing how limited past investigations of mentoring on youth in the Bay Area have been, I wanted to learn more about the role that mentors play in this unique area in order to understand and draw conclusions that would be helpful to the school. Through AP Research, I have been able to independently develop a process of inquiry that will address my question and hopefully result in a conclusion that can help make the world a better place.”

Rachel Loewy - Transition from Gas-Powered to Electric Powered Leaf Blowers: Impacts from the Perspective of the Lincoln High School Custodial Staff  

“My interest in air quality issues first began a few summers ago, when I spent two weeks backpacking through Yosemite National Park. That summer, wildfires spread throughout Northern California, and the smoke quickly engulfed Yosemite. The smoke was omnipresent; I woke up each morning to the coughing of my fellow backpackers and to soot coating my sleeping bag. For the first time in my life, I was breathing poor quality—and dangerous—air. After returning home, I started researching air quality and learned that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 91% of the world’s population reside in areas where the air quality violates WHO guidelines and that air pollution ultimately causes one in nine deaths worldwide, with impacts most pronounced in low-income areas. Accordingly, the purpose of my study was to ascertain the implications of switching from gas-powered leaf blowers to electric powered leaf blowers from the perspective of the Lincoln High School custodial staff.”

Francis Peng  - Music Perception Based on Tastes and Preferences 

“My project was first prompted by my experience in music as someone with perfect pitch. This made me wonder if different people perceive the same music differently and what factors affect that perception. Music has been a big part of my life since I was little, but I never explored my music in a more academic setting. Music generally has two methods of study: performance and musicology, which includes things like music theory, history, composition, etc. My project was an opportunity for me to study the musicology side of the issue.”

Allison Salinas  - The Experiences of Latino Immigrants 

“The reason I chose to look at the experiences of Latino immigrants in regard to obstacles created by the U.S. government is because my own parents are Latino immigrants. I have seen them struggle through just surviving in this country, and I have never seen them receive any assistance in doing so, nor have the obstacles been lessened for them. I wanted to look more closely at the experiences of Latino immigrants in order to record the way they cope with obstacles and the consequences they face. My hope is that, by archiving their experiences and difficulties, my project can help inform those who want to change immigration laws and policies.”

Andrew Shih - Climate Change Education at Palo Alto High School  

“My project was spurred by my interest in climate change. Although it is a topic that I am very interested in, I had never deeply explored this topic academically. AP Research gave me the opportunity to apply the newfound research skills I had developed to a professional research setting where I could delve deeper into a passion that I have.”

Annette Tsui - Differences in Utilization of Creativity in Theatre Students and Non-Theatre Students

“I have participated in the performing arts for a long time, and I have always wanted to take it a step further by performing my own research and advocating for theatre. To me, it seemed that the most convenient way to do this was through AP Research. By contributing to research in both creativity and the theatre field, I was able to accomplish a personal goal and find a more meaningful way to use my interest in theatre.”

Maurice Wang - Overcoming the Barrier to Entry for Argumentation: Evaluating Collaborative Map-Based Argumentation Against Competitive Debate Argumentation  

“I’ve always liked to argue or listen to other people argue, but I always saw a discrepancy in speaking ability that directly impacted how the arguments were received, regardless of how well-constructed the argument were. I saw this barrier to entry into argumentation as detrimental to problem-solving, which is the purpose of argumentation, so I sought to validate a new method of argumentation that didn’t rely on the argumentation ability of the arguers in the form of a collaborative map-based method of argumentation. Through AP Research, I was able to better appreciate and understand how human knowledge is advanced through research by being a part of the research process. I look forward to doing a senior thesis in college as a result of taking this class.”

Neil Yeung - Deep Reinforcement Learning: An Empirical Analysis of DQN Architecture vs DDQN Architecture 

“I chose this project because I was interested in examining the technologies that had produced interesting projects such as AlphaGo. AlphaGo, an artificial intelligence agent designed by Google-owned research company DeepMind, beat a 9-dan Korean grandmaster at Go. This was shocking to me because the grandmaster had spent over 20 years learning Go, a game that has 1000 times more possible moves than chess. I wanted to understand reinforcement learning, the driving force behind this feat.”