Senior Projects an Opportunity to Explore Unknown

The fact that graduation is just over the horizon along with increasingly warm weather usually causes a disease known as senioritis among the upperclassmen on campus. But seniors are unable to relax as the dreaded senior project is fast approaching. Here is a look at what a few seniors have decided to do for their final research paper.

Dorsa Amir – Lucid Dreaming
Ever wonder what it would be like to control your dreams? Senior Dorsa Amir has. This question has led her down the path toward investigating lucid dreaming for her senior project.

Lucid dreaming occurs when a person realizes that they are in a dream and is able to control it. As it would to most people, the idea of controlling one’s dreams seemed absurd to Dorsa at first.

“I had heard about it a couple years ago and I wrote it off as some psychobabble,” Dorsa said. “But the senior project gave me the opportunity to delve deeper into it and I figured out it’s pretty legit.”

So far, Dorsa has found that lucid dreaming is used to help people come to terms with their fears, and can be mastered in just a few weeks. Various methods include “dream-recalling,” which involves splitting the standard sleep cycle in half. Dorsa has actually tried this technique herself—with successful results. So far, she has had around 10 controlled dreams and she remembers some interesting experiences.

“The most exciting [dream] involved flying and one with Fernando Torres,” Dorsa said.

She has had a lot of fun trying to control her dreams, and she encourages others to look into it. Because once the art of lucid dreaming is learned, “the sky’s the limit.”

Josh Wallach – Autism
A lot of students volunteer their time for specific causes, and senior Josh Wallach is no exception. This semester, he has given up his free fourth period on Wednesday to go to Covington Elementary School and help out with a Special Education class that focuses on assisting autistic children.

A brain disorder that impairs communication and social interaction, autism often begins affecting individuals from a young age.

Josh heard about Covington’s program from his father, and after reading about the disorder’s effects in a magazine, he knew he had found the perfect senior project.

“I read an article about the increasing incidences in Silicon Valley,” Josh said. “I thought it would be interesting.”

So far the experience has been rewarding.

“It’s been fun, it’s difficult,” Josh said. “It’s definitely a good experience.”

Alex Treiger – Isolation
It is human nature for people to talk and interact with other humans, and Alex is known to be quite the social person. Thus, there is no better topic for such a person to explore than human isolation.

Alex though of the idea while watching the film “Castaway,” and he wanted to know “why some people like to be reclusive while others thrive in a more social environment.” For his project, Alex has looked at ultra-distance runner sand the effects of solitary confinement.

Recently, he decided to go backpacking by himself for three days in the Ventana Wilderness, one of the most remote national parks in the country, located in the Santa Lucia Mountains.

Alex brought a bag of bagels for food, a sleeping bag and tent to sleep in and only his thoughts and imagination to pass the time.

“I saw no one for three days,” Alex said. “I learned a few things.”

Alex found that he went through three phases during his time in the wilderness: first being scared and vulnerable; second, feeling a sense of freedom; and finally, an intense need for conversation and overall crazed feeling due to the isolation.

While Alex did not reach any major realizations during his time of isolation, he now appreciates the world around him more, and he hopes that the experience will be a one-time deal.

“There is no way that I want to go back into the wilderness at all,” Alex said.