Poetry Explorations: Scientific Topics | Resha Parajuli | Skillshare

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Poetry Explorations: Scientific Topics

teacher avatar Resha Parajuli, Interdisciplinary Artist, STEM educator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (36m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Poetry is a process

    • 3. Professor of the 5 senses

    • 4. Discarded Stories

    • 5. Exploring the Abstract

    • 6. Embracing the Unexpected

    • 7. The Human Condition

    • 8. Tinkering with Words

    • 9. Constraints

    • 10. DNA

    • 11. Final Project

    • 12. Closing Thoughts

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About This Class

In this class, you will discover ways to explore the physical and natural world by means of poetry. You will use observation, creative play, and iterative building, along with the constraints of forms, and the flexibility of free verse to represent scientific knowledge as poetic works of art. This is a beginner's class. You do not need to know about poetic forms, or be well versed in any branch of science. Just bring a curious mind!


Meet Your Teacher

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Resha Parajuli

Interdisciplinary Artist, STEM educator


I am a lifelong learner, interdisciplinary artist, writer and STEM educator. I create at the intersection of art, science and poetry. I design dynamic learning experiences for people of all ages, and collaborate with experts from diverse backgrounds to create a culture of learning by making, storytelling, and connecting across disciplinary silos. 

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1. Introduction: Hi, everyone. My name is Ray Sha, and I'm bringing to you my first ever skill share class poetry explorations signed to fake themes In this class, you're going to write your own poem about a scientific topic. But first, let me share a little bit about myself. I'm an interdisciplinary artist, writer and stem educator, and I created the intersection of art, science and poetry. My educational background is in physics. I have a masters and astrophysics, and I'm working on another one and innovation design. And I'm really passionate about integrating science, technology, art and design and writing and storytelling and really all of them together into people's everyday experiences and making science exciting for everyone. I've worked as a science museum professional, creating dynamic learning programs, and I'm currently developing curriculum that help students learn by engaging in creative problem solving. So in my work, I often view art and science with the same inquiry based, curiosity based lens. I started writing poetry about science and college when I was the only physics student in my creative writing class, and I just naturally gravitated towards topics like black holes and the speed of light to write about during critique. Sometimes my classmates would say that, you know, from the perspective of the poem, I was able to view something that I thought of this as this dry physics topic, like a black hole that no one really knows about as something really interesting. And for me, I think I found a whole new set of audience that I could tap into and spread my love of science using poetry. So whether you're a scientist and a poetry enthusiasts or a poet and a science enthusiast, or completing you to either of those, I think you'll find value in this class. Also, don't worry if you don't know the basics of poetry or science, Aiken said. Its inquiry based and curiosity based you will discover ways to explore the physical and natural world by means of poetry. You will use observation, creative play and it rate of building, along with the constraints of forms and the flexibility of free verse to represent scientific knowledge as poetic works of art. I will give you tips and tricks along the way, and sometimes it actually helps to start with a beginner's mindset without any preconceived ideas on what poetry should be like. So let's get started 2. Poetry is a process: a blackness. Adamant, voracious seals a space contorts into a chasm of point mass wisdom. It bends the wind, the matter, the mind indestructible, an abyss. Gracious, deep and thought convoluted and concentration Amid a roaring percussion of energy energy, it bends the light, the will, the site it defies the known searching the soul, insurmountable hope. In this lesson, I'm going to introduce poetry as a tool to understand the natural and physical world. When you get into the realms of particle physics or quantum or astrophysics, things could get really counterintuitive in Messi and really, really bizarre, and I think that poetry is really able to capture the central city of it all. So let's consider a poetry as a vessel to really break down and grasp some of these concepts. Poetry is also about the process and not just the end result. You know, oftentimes, when we re forms or really look at any friend finished project, we only see the well crafted and result. We don't necessarily see the process and the changes in the iterations that went through to get there. So next time you see a famous beautiful painting, try to zoom in really close and try to observe every brush stroke when you break it down like that, that one brush stroke seems very achievable, even if the entire painting looks a bit daunting. And that's true for any process, including making a poem. It's also a complete myth that creativity just comes to you at a park bench like a brilliant stroke of lightning. I believe that creativity is a skill that can be learned and polished, So I'm going to give you another art analogy. When I took an art class, I thought that they would teach us, have a draw better, like smooth lines and perfect circles on brushstroke techniques. You know, none of that happened every day we exercised observing, we looked so intently at an object that we started to notice really, my new details. We had to draw without lifting, and I off the object without even looking at the paper and also with their eyes closed. Years later, I took a class on design and tech innovation, and again I thought that they were gonna teach us how to invent things. But none of that happened. We began the process by observing and empathizing What are people saying and doing. But also what are they not saying and not doing? You know, there are so many perspectives on what is poetry. Let's focus on one for now. Who ITRI is observation not just with your eyes but with all of your senses. As a student of poetry, there's one thing that has really stuck with me that a point is a professor of the five senses, and that is the foundation of how I write. You can do the same by observing and noticing the small things and making meaningful it, sometimes really unexpected connections during those deep observations. So let's put ourselves to work, and the first thing we want to start doing is observing. I mean, really, really looking in the next lesson, we're going to practice that. 3. Professor of the 5 senses: think about how young kids learn about the world around them. They learn by seeing hearing adults talk and by touching, feeling, licking things. But what if we could use this sensory approach for a lifetime of learning? In this lesson? Let's put some of what we've learned so far to practice so far, we've set that poetry is a process. Poetry is observation. Poetry's empathetic on poetry is a sensory experience. Pick and object. It could be something that's lying in front of you. Try picking something that's really every day in seemingly mundane or something that you like. Or, if you want to start a little complex, pick an animal. If you're having trouble thinking of an object and you're completely blanking out, I've made a list of some eclectic choices that you can pick from. Simply pause your video and picker word. Now write down these side wards. See here, touch or feel, smell and taste. Write down everything you see in that object. Seeing is the easy one. Well, what is an oh shoot taste like? Could you describe it without actually looking the shoe? Could you relate it to a T's that you know off What does that make you think of or what does? The thing that it makes you think off? Look, sound, feel, taste and smell like notice how some of these topics air really specific. And even if they are more general, you can put them in a specific context. A light bulb is pretty general, but it broken one is more specific and tells a story. I'm gonna walk you through my own list. So I picked the stock room at a trip store. Sometimes it actually helps to go there. But we collect experiences throughout our lives and put them in our experience bank. And we can always draw from them even in imaginary situations. I didn't really go to a thrift store, but from my past experiences of being in one, I was able to create a detailed picture. So what did I see? I see piles of socks who donates socks, a VHS tape, yellow stains, a box of neatly folded napkins, memories, photo album. That was an accident. Here I hear rustling. I hear people milling about in the storefront for you. I feel sticky. I feel all the different textures of quotes like Will denim quickly sweaters and itchy tags on an occasional silk or cashmere. I feel a knock. Did I really feel a knock or did I hear it? I smell coconut oil, the breeze, musty air, an envelope that smells of old paper and expensive perfume. Taste. I taste regrets, baking soda and grits, and I think silk scarves tastes like seaweed. So there we go. That's my list. It's your turn now. Let's do a mini project. Write down all of your sensations, scratch it on a piece of paper, type it up in different colors, make a slide or at a picture, and then added to your project page. You don't have to write a poem from a just yet. Just write down as many sensations as you can think of. 4. Discarded Stories: Welcome back, everyone. So while you were gone working on your many project, I decided to give myself a challenge. I always write science forms, right, But with this information, could I write a love poem instead? Remember, my topic was the stockroom at a local thrift store. So this is what I came up with. Discarded stories in the back room of the Goodwill at 17 Street, where love stories, air found buried under dog ears of old Hemingway novels. An old envelope, Historic yellow just by breathing for too long. The lingering smell of cologne only adds to the paradox of the photograph found inside, like the one soldiers carried in their breast pockets, something to hold on to for dear life, who donate a photograph. Let go of a memory. Do they know it's missing? Perhaps there wasn't a mistake after all. Perhaps it was the envelopes breast pocket afraid, fibers holding on to its one true love because the stamp outside says forever 5. Exploring the Abstract: I hope you have fun doing the last exercise. Now let's practice this one more time. This time, pick an abstract idea, specifically a scientific word. It's going to be a lot harder to take an abstract idea and attach sensory experiences to it . You can start with any natural phenomena, such as lightning or a volcano, to make it harder. Pick words like relativity, friction, kinetic energy again if you're lost. Picking a word here is a list simply positive video and pick any word. I encourage you to pick something that you've never heard off or know very little about. If you've picked a word that you don't know much about, go ahead and do some basic Internet research. You can look for news articles or videos, and even a basic Wikipedia article has a lot of information. Once again, write down the words see, hear, touch or feel, smell and taste and try writing all the sensory inputs you associate with your topic. You might find it difficult to relate, or you may find many connections with experiences that you can relate to. Remember, there is no right answer. It is solely based on your perceptions 6. Embracing the Unexpected: I hope you've come up with interesting analogies and connections as you have opened your sensory receptors. But the problem is human senses are so limited. The electromagnetic spectrum is so large there are microwaves and radio waves and gamma rays that we don't even see. Humans are only able to see a small fraction that's visible light. It's the same with sound. While some animals can hear in wider range is, humans can only hear sound frequencies between 20 hertz and 20,000 hearts. We're limited by space. We have no concept of more than three dimensions, and we only perceive one direction of time. So how do we get around that? Well, we use our instruments are inventions to expand our senses. We have telescopes that see far, far away, that see in ultraviolet and gamma rays and radio waves. We have microscopes that are able to see things way too small for US electron microscopes that are able to see in the nano scale ultrasonic sensors, thermal imaging cameras and really all kinds of sensors and instruments that detect the tiniest changes in our environment. Now, while we cannot really see the X rays with our eyes, through our instruments, we have been ableto workout visualizations, so let's use that to expand our poetry's sensory observations. Pick something that you cannot directly sense, like a bacteria or a virus. He could only sense it's painful effects or X rays emitted by a fast spinning star or two Galaxies colliding nano sized particles of dust research instruments that are able to see or since these objects or phenomena. Then you could write down the sensations based on that second hand knowledge you have acquired. When you do this, let's add a twist. You will have a lot of freedom to mix up your senses. For example, what would a star going supernova smell like or feel like? And that's a really off thing to think about. Well, first, you'll have to do some research about what is a supernova. What causes it. How do we detected what happens after and so on? Like I said, some basic Internet research and that's when you can fly free and say things like the stars world is shaking. I can smell fear like fire that inward lurch like you've swallowed something awful, like a secret that you cannot hold for much longer, and then an outburst of energy flaring bright and fizzing away, reduced to nothing but a hazy cloud of remnant catharsis that tugs space itself like a twisted trampoline. And perhaps, if you listen very quietly, you can feel the gravitational ripples radiating outward calmly for millions of years, reminding us of that fateful battle. Now this is not a poem just yet, but it's just a string of rambling thoughts that I could craft into a point. I'm simply jotting down what would an abstract far out there phenomena like a supernova might smell like and feel like in a way that's relatable to humans. Notice how that unexpected connection happened for me when I try to relate to the star undergoing supernova. First, I had to learn how it works, that when a star cannot sustain itself, the core collapses into itself before ejecting all its mass outward in a massive flare. And I thought maybe, just maybe that would feel like holding a secret. And when the truth coming out it's so inevitable you feel alert like your stomachs dropping . A little implosion happens inside you before you let go of it. I just want you to catch those strains of thought. So as the research your own topic, try to catch similar trains of thought. It's time for another mini project. Compile all of your sensory explorations of this abstract topic that you have been exploring right down the five words. See, hear, touch or feel. Smell and taste include the second hand observations modern scientists acquired through instruments, sensors and detectors. Feel free to mix up senses, jot down any trains of thought, scratch it on a piece of paper, type it up, add visual elements and posted to your class project. 7. The Human Condition: In the last lesson, we learned to expand our sensory horizons and make some unexpected connections, such as a star undergoing supernova explosion and a person holding a secret. We have looked at a couple of ways to describe what is poetry, that poetry's of process. Poetry's observation. Who trees making connections? I'm going to add in another one. Poetry is ultimately about the human condition. It helps ground these abstract out there ideas to something relatable, and we can learn something about ourselves. Curiosity is a fundamental human capacity. The ability to observe and synthesize information is unique to us, and the ability to create something like a poem is simply another manifestation of human nature. So if you can wrap your scientific exploration about ideas that are difficult to relate to and ground them with exploration about the human condition, I think you will have created a solid poem 8. Tinkering with Words: in this lesson. Let's cover the actual construction of poetry. Now, this is not really just a portrait class, so we're not gonna talk about all the forms and styles of poetry, but a few tips and tricks that you can easily use with what you already know. Rice. Sometimes it's easy to get wrapped up in cheesy rhymes because they sound fun. Are great tools were using in the classroom? Is no Monix always to remember information, But only rhyming words at the end of a sentence doesn't always make the best poise. For example, if I go back to my supernova topic and if I would write something like for a start to massively burst and to quench its nuclear thirst, it must be really heavy. In Mass. The China Shaker limit it must surpass, and the core collapses into itself. Fast, bright flares for several. Daschle Last a new star will be noticed in a new story until it vanishes quietly and the remnants of its glory, so that that makes me a little queasy Now, while there are a couple of workable, complex sentences in there, maybe overall, it tells you more than shows you and While something like this can be used in a classroom, I would suggest a way from styles like these, first of all, trying to show, not tell. Send the reader to that place and let them figure it out. You is a writer. Just have to shove the reader in the middle of the scenario, not give them a secondhand account of what happened. So show don't tell. Try using slant rhymes, slant rhymes or almost rhymes are worth that sort of rhyme. But not really. They create conflict in the point, and that's a good thing, because that creates interest dry using rhymes other than at the end of the line. For example, para warded the end of the line with the second word on the next time or rhyme words in the middle of lines. I'm gonna show and read a poem to you. Notice where the sand crimes and middle of sentences rhymes appear. They're all highlighted in different colors. This basic particle is like a nimble fox. It marks the way we get all cross side and clutched her hands and empty air as if to tear the atmosphere in a desperate attempt to hold on to it. It whizzes like a fly by hiding from the beady eyes of people that write papers about electrons and pursue the strict game of mapping its coordinates, Y Z index. They strike a photon at it jumps like a vigilant insect to a different nook. Tired. They go back to their storybooks with no pictures. They just haven't drawn one yet. And all they know is just how fast it went. This basic particle is like you and I, who keep our secrets in the hands of Werner Heisenberg. The distance we've covered times. Our momentum is always greater than or equal to, ah plan key number divided by two and caught and the slippery inequality are our tangled wills glue on glue. So in the end, there we had to to glue and glue, which was kind of the only true rhyme at this point, and everything else was slammed. Grimes almost rhymes rhymes that happened in the middle of sentences. Rhythm use a little rations. It helps with rhythm and flow. Alliteration are like rhymes that they repeat similar sounds, usually at the beginning of words such as a radioactive river of rampant rioters. You don't want to overdo it, though you can also makes in repetitively sounds like Oz and herbs, such as a garbling blurb of gurgling water use words that sound like what they're describing. For example, I'm writing about a dream, and, you know, sometimes you try to scream in a dream, but you can't. So your words sound like a garbling blurb of gurgling water. When someone reads this allowed, they can actually feel the discomfort. These words bring in their throat and metaphorically provide a sensation of choking on your own words. Break some rules and make some new ones. Break the rules and make your own. A thought does not have to end at the end of a line line. Breaks do not have to appear at all. You can write poetry is pros. Play with imagery and how you write them and maybe even imagine a different structure entirely, You know, especially when you write about mathematics and nature. Geometry can have a huge influence on your subject. I was really inspired by EMC Esther's drawing of Mobius Strip, and I wrote a part of my poem Mobius Strip in the same format. How convenient and dull. It is to never have to stoop or struggle around allege, and often to find themselves repeating the stretch. The actual poem is on a Moebius strip, which is a geometric form that sort of twists around on itself and has only one rial side. So it kind of gets difficult to read it. You have to manipulate the physical form of the point to be able to read it and notice that even the basic written format has no punctuation because, like the Mobius strip, there are no signs or ledges. It just sort of rules on and on. There are a lot more ways of thinking about form and style and rhyme and rhythm that I'm sure you will pick up as you learn more. The more you write, the more you'll start inventing your own quirks and styles as well. 9. Constraints: Now let's put what we learned into practice. But before we run wide with our ideas, that's practice writing with some constraints. Constraints are a good thing. It is sort of counterintuitive, and we may feel like we can come up with great ideas and we're not bound by any rules and that constraints in the mid our creative potential and create roadblocks. But constraints actually help us dig deep into what is really important. It can actually make you more creative. A constraint can be anything from a deadline to the number of words in the line number of lines in a form subject matter. We're already putting a constrained by specifically saying that we're writing about scientific topics. That doesn't mean that you can't write about love. You just have to find a way to connect the two. And that's when unexpected creative potential is a lot when you just have to make it work. Okay, that's good. Writing under constraints to practice by writing a haiku on a scientific topic. Ah, haiku is a three line short poem that originated in Japan. Hikers generally capture an intense feeling, a powerful message or a surprising twist in just a few lines. Ah, haiku generally presents a specific image and the sense of a moment in time, and it's normally about nature. The study of haiku can be an extensive project, but for now, without overthinking, just embraced the constraints and write a simple poem. Following these rules, you have to write in three lines. The first line will have five syllables, the second line, seven syllables and the 3rd 95 syllables. Again, you can use the topic. You chose to write down your abstract senses in your class, exercise to or think of something new once again, try to use physical and metaphoric senses and observations, and don't forget to post it to your project page. So I went back to my supernova topic, and here's an example of What I wrote is I was preparing this lesson supernova. My core collapses when I failed to hold secrets for the universe. And really, that's it. You really have to pick and choose. How can I make my entire study of this topic visible in such few lines in such few syllables and really have to dig deep and figure out what is really important? What is the one thing you want to say? 10. DNA: Hi, everyone. I'm sure you have written Interesting hiking is that I'm going to really enjoy reading. You can write as many as you like. Make sure you have added it to your project page. It is time for us to dive into our final project. I hope everything we have talked about and practices prepared to tackle this challenge and write your own science poetry before we get into the details of your class project. In this lesson, I'm going to walk you through a poem I wrote and describe my process of how I got there. If you were excited to get started on your own poem, Skip what I'm going to say next and goto lesson 10 for step by step instructions for the project. You can always come back and listen to this section after or during your own process. So if you have a loose thread spinning in your mind, go catch it. This video will be here when you return. Okay, If you're still with me and want to hear my process before you do your own or are back from your adventure, I would like to share with you DNA, a deoxyribonucleic acid has no place in a haiku. It is just too long, like the strands that twist and tangle that makes you makes me and the Children we mean six feet and frame. Is that long enough for our finite lives? Let's see what happens if we unravel the fine strands. Undo them like the broken metal zipper of your old backpack, the one that carried your dreams, the one that you carried on your shoulders. Let's put them under a microscope and examine nerve endings like the ends of yarn that's impossible to thread. Let's oil the clackety old hinges that squeak when you grind your sleep. Less jaws. Let's cut and paste or own nitrogenous bases. Let's color blood blue dance at the edge of a knife. Snip off anything that says extraordinary combinations. Let's get stuck in evolution. Let's got the whole thing short. Let's make a haiku larger than life. So there it is, noticed that I didn't use all five sensations but pick the ones that made the most impact. Also, this form has almost no rhymes, only a little bit of the end. So as I was writing high comes earlier, I realized that a lot of scientific awards are so long stuff like electromagnetism, microbiology. We use a lot of compound words in scientific terminology, and DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid really intrigued me. It wasn't just the length of the word, but how long a Deeney is almost six feet and how it fits inside a tiny living cell that's only micro meters wide. The strands on the helix structure, especially the drawings of DNA with based combinations, visually reminded me of a zipper. As I did some more research, I learned that as ourselves age, something called our telomeres get damaged. So telomeres air sequences of bases of the end of a chromosome that protect the D A kind of like the caps of a shoe lace, without which your laces would be afraid, right as you age. And even if you're just stressed out, your telomeres just get shorter and shorter, and eventually they can't protect a cell, and the cell stops functioning properly and everything falls apart. Here's a strange thing. Adina is long, but the captive protected is pretty short, doesn't regenerate, and that just sort of defines our mortality in a way. So I just caught that train of thought I thought of what the physical structure of a Dini reminds me of how long it is. I thought of its inability to fit into a haiku or our rules and conformity ease, yet also its ability to coil up into a tiny cell And how finite in terminal it ISS. Then I did some more research on the Human Genome Project and other new technology. It's amazing. Scientists can literally engineer genes and change outcomes, bypassed diseases. And there's a lot of conversation about how far can we should we will be go. And as we try to figure out the right genetic combinations and make things better, the wrong combinations still continued. Continue to occur no matter what. That's just how it works. There are new diseases, ray. Genetic disorders still persist, and mutations still happen. Nevertheless, we still pursue knowledge, and we develop new and better methods because humans believe. But I'm just feeling a little defiant because I'm still bothered that it doesn't fit into a haiku. So just let me sulk. And that is the gist of my thought process. I just want to say it is a privilege to be able to share my creative process with all of you because normally you never really explain your poem to anyone. You wanna have it written so that it can stand on its own. So another quick tip. Try not to add in lots of layers of hidden meanings. That idea just sort of mystifies poetry that there are layers of hidden meanings and symbolism. Oh, point wants the reader to decode. Just write what you mean. Paint a picture with imagery. Let the metaphors and symbolism hold their own ground and let the poem do its thing. 11. Final Project: you're now ready to start your own poem, you can build on the topics you have already been exploring for the many projects, or start something new at any point. Feel free to go back and replay some of the sections as you need refreshers. But here are the basic steps you need to cover. Also remember that these steps do not and most probably will not go in order. Rather than taking these steps as the 10 steps to write a guaranteed amazing poem, take them as guiding tools to build your own process. Dive in, mess up, Scratch it All right again, observed at it share. Read aloud. Start over. It's a process. One thing I can guarantee is that you will end up learning something new about a topic you were curious about or about yourself, and you'll be able to ignite that curiosity and others through your poem. If that happens, you have written a successful science poem. Good luck for your final project, right, a free verse poem on a scientific topic of your interest and upload your poem to your class project. Scribble it on paper, type it up, make a slide at a drawing or read aloud. Feel free to pick your method of delivery. Here is a recap of all the steps. Pick a topic. You can work with the topic from your previous project, or pick something new right freely on what you know about the topic. Do some preliminary research. Catch a train of thought and see where it takes you. Wonder asked why ask how dive into the nitty gritty. Write down all physical sensations. See, hear, touch or field, smell and taste. Visualize abstract ideas using your senses and adding acquired sensory information from instruments and detectors. Don't be afraid to make senses embrace unexpected connections. Every thought does not have to represent a sensation. Picked the ones that packed the most punch is add in the human condition. Tinker with rhyme and rhythm, break some rules and make some new ones make writing and researching a continuous looping process. This is not a linear activity, right? Your final version in an easy to read format, handwritten or typed or read aloud and posted to your class project 12. Closing Thoughts: in this class, we have explored writing poetry on scientific topics by diving deep into sensory experiences. I hope this approach has helped you create a poem with strong imagery, but there are several other directions you can take and several other facets to explore. I will be sharing other approaches in my upcoming classes. I will also be adding classes on visualising poetry with art, animation performance and making interactive poetry with electron ICS. So stay tuned for more. Going through this process of creating this class has helped me identify my own style of writing and articulated better. I hope you will find your own voice and style through these explorations to you know, often times we exist in our own disciplinary silos. Poets and physicists and artists and engineers may not necessarily mingle, but when we let go of those boundaries, we can learn a lot from each other's perspectives. I'm excited to create mawr and share more in my future classes. Lastly, I'm also really excited to read and listen to your work, so don't forget to post it to your project page. If you decide to share anything on social media, remember to tag skill share. Tag me at W R E S H A on Twitter or instagram and use hashtag science poetry. Please feel free to post discussions and reach out to me directly. I would love to hear feedback and your ideas on signs on Thank you so much for watching.