Q & A with Grade 9 Student, Sophie, of 604.EATS

Check out Sophie’s foodie adventures on Instagram at @604.eats and at 604eats.com.

Q: How did 604.EATS come about?
A: As a Chinese-Canadian, food has always played a key role in my identity and understanding of who I am. I am fortunate to have grown up around a ton of good food from a young age- Singaporean hawker stalls from my dad’s side and Cantonese restaurants from my mom’s. My family has brought me a deep appreciation for food, and with 604.EATS, I am looking to share that passion with the community! 

The idea came up while I was eating, funnily enough, with a few friends back in early 2019. Because we loved visiting new restaurants together so much, we had the idea of documenting what we ate. Never would I have guessed for 604.EATS to become a part of such a vast, lovely online community.

I was able to get that initial push of growing the account by introducing myself to other food bloggers on Instagram, who would soon become close friends, and after that, I let it grow naturally.

Q: How do you decide what restaurants to feature?
A: I love to highlight foods of diverse backgrounds and the people behind the scenes, and ultimately, my goal is to expand my understanding of food from more perspectives than merely my own. Being genuine in my reviews is essential to me, but if I enjoyed my experience, I am especially keen on sharing those places!

Local businesses often reach out to me for sponsorships, and I love to help them out if I find value in their messages or work. For example, about a year ago, I worked with a start-up in Vancouver selling kaya, a coconut jam familiar to Southeast Asians! Kaya is made with pandan (a tropical plant and a favourite flavour of mine) and is often used for Kaya toast consisting of butter, kaya spread, and sweet Asian toasted bread, a common breakfast item in Singapore and Malaysia. Visiting Singapore growing up, I would always have a kaya toast in one hand and iced milk tea in the other, so with this sweet memory in mind, I had a fantastic time showcasing his products!

The owner and I developed a close connection as business partners as the two of us shared these fond memories of Singapore. As he was very grateful for my help, I was equally thankful for his generosity and kindness.

Forging these beautiful relationships with Vancouver’s local businesses and featuring their stories along the way is my precisely favourite part of my work.

Q: Your blog and Instagram also feature your own cooking. What kind of recipes do you like to try?
A: Recently, I have been learning the food recipes that I grew up eating—for example, char siu bao, a Cantonese barbecue pork bun. Char siu bao is one of those dishes I grew up with, but I have never made myself. My grandmother never got the chance to cook the food from her heritage growing up, so neither did my mother or I. Yet, the more I see Asian faces on social media cooking these same dishes that I know from my childhood, the more I want to learn to cook my food!

So for the first time, I made a char siu bao with my mom. We made its fluffy dough from scratch, cooked the sauce and the filling, rolled the dough, and learned to pinch the edges together to make a little bao. It definitely looked like two clueless amateurs made them, but I had a lot of fun preparing them, and the final taste was perfect and so familiar! I am so proud of these dishes and where they come from, and opening up this blog has only brought me more appreciation for this food. Cooking has also been a way for me to reconnect with my family members.

Sophie's homemade char siu bao, a Cantonese barbecue pork bun.
Sophie’s homemade char siu bao, a Cantonese barbecue pork bun.

Q: How did 604.EATS become an ADST project?
A: I opened up the account on Instagram over three years ago now and was looking to reach a larger audience. I then came up with the idea of creating a website in my ADST class. Building a website has always been an interest of mine, and knowing that Mr. Lee and Mr. Reimer both have experience with website design, this felt like the perfect opportunity to start it! Although my website builder was quite adaptable, everything about making it is new to me. There are challenges everywhere, including technical language, formatting and navigating the builder itself.

Q: What do your family and friends think about your venture?
A: My family and friends are incredibly supportive and proud of this food blog because they know that food is a natural passion of mine, and they understand the amount of work that I pour into 604.EATS. I am always appreciative when someone tells me that they love my photo, video, or enjoy reading my captions. Still, the highest compliment I can receive is when someone tells me they visited a local restaurant because they saw it on my blog. It absolutely makes my day and means that my blog has resonated with others so much that they discover these eats themselves.

Q: What are your next steps with 604.EATS?
A: Through 604.EATS, I have and continue to understand the marketing business, food photography, and personal style. On the business side, I have learned social media management– what it takes to grab the eye of any user–content value and even down to the little things like writing proper business emails. Additionally, this food blog has given me an outlet to be creative with photography, styling, editing, and writing.

I absolutely see value in this work–what I have learned about myself and the relationships forged with businesses and the “foodie” community. Still, at the moment, I would love to keep 604.EATS as a hobby, perhaps a part-time job, but never full-time. Instead, I would love to apply the skills that I have learned through the start-up to other full-time work in the future.

Senior School Fall Maker Faire

The Senior School Maker Faire was held on November 30 and December 1 and featured over 40 projects from our Engineering 11, and our ADST 8 and 9 classes. 

At the start of the school year, our Engineering 11 students decided they would like to explore robotics as their primary area of focus. Many of the ADST 8 and 9 students also chose to use their independent projects to learn more about working with circuits and motors. Each project responded in a unique way to a challenge or a need selected by the student. In this interactive experience, you can see each of the student’s projects on display. Select the individual blue buttons to take you to a description of the project, learn about the design decision the students’ made, and what stage they are at in the design process.

The Maker Faire was a wonderful way to showcase the students’ creative thinking, problem solving, resilience, and hard work. We can’t wait to see how these projects progress over the remainder of the year. 

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Engineering 11
Our Engineering 11 students explored problems that could be solved using robotics. During each class, they document their progress by taking pictures and writing in their journals

Coco, Grade 11, started her exploration of robotics by building a prototype robot called “T-VEX”. She built it to learn about sensors and coding, specifically how to create an autonomous robot that can navigate a space without being controlled by a human. It is now the class pet. Coco has now taken what she has learned and is applying it to another robot, called “Megalodon”, that will tackle the problem of long voting lines. Coco, who is originally from Arizona, saw that there was a problem in Arizona with long voter wait times. She has begun programming a robot (using both the Vex robotics and Arduino systems) that will provide water and information in both English and Spanish to voters waiting in line. 

Grade 10 students Tania and Keisha are working on a motorized backpack to solve the problem of heavy student backpacks. They are designing a robot that carries books and school supplies and follows the user as they walk. Keisha is working on learning to code with sensors in Vex, while Tania has been working on designing and assembling the structure of the robot. 

Grade 10 students Joyce and Jasmine are looking for ways to combat student stress by designing a wearable heart rate monitor and “stress” app. Jasmine is working on the wristband that will read the user’s heart rate and send the data to the app. Joyce has been working on the app which will display alerts from the heart monitor. The app will also use data from an in-app survey to offer suggestions on how the student might cope with their stress, such as guided meditation or breathing exercises. They are currently at the prototyping stage and are working on sending the data from the heart monitor to the app.

Andrea, Grade 11, has come up with the concept for an “Insomnia Mattress”, which she plans to feature a built-in music player/Bluetooth speaker, a breathable hemp-infused top layer, and possibly deliver electrotherapy to help reduce pain. Like many of the students in the class, she is programming an Arudino board, a microcontroller that stores data.

Madeleine, Grade 10, is tackling the issue of drinking and driving with her breathalyzer/key lockbox concept. She envisions that this device would be used at gatherings where alcohol is served (she is targeting young adults). Attendees would drop their car keys into a box upon arrival, and would only be able to retrieve the keys if the attached breathalyzer gave the appropriate BAC reading (blood alcohol concentration). The device has two components. The first part is the breathalyzer with an alcohol sensor that sends data to an Arduino. This component needs to work with the key lockbox which has a “servo” motor that will rotate 90 degrees to open the box once a sensor is triggered. Madeleine is currently working with the Arduino microcontroller to use the data from the sensor to rotate the servo motor.  

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Grade 9 students Olivia, Rosi, and Hannah are working on “The Grand Gravy Express”. The wheels, motor, and battery pack for the “train” were taken from a remote control car, and is designed to make the passing of gravy at the dinner table a whole lot easier.

Kelly and Helena have designed a cat shelter/house that includes a motorized fan to help keep the cat cool. Liv and Lucy have designed a moving cat food dish with pieces of a remote control car that will help keep a cat active as they “work” for their food. 

Natalie, Skylar, and Emily have designed a motion-activated Halloween prop by repurposing the circuit and parts of an old toy car. The doll has an ultrasonic sensor that triggers the eyes to light up. Potential next steps in the design process would be adding sound effects or making the doll’s head turn.

Emily and Georgia built an automatic squirrel feeder working. The parts from the remote control car did not meet their needs, so they learned to use an Arduino with a servo that opens the slot for the squirrel food to come out.

Other Grade 9 projects include a customized chess set, jewelry box, headphone stand, egg cracker tool, convertible couch sleeve/laptop stand, massage roller, a lamp, and measuring cube.

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Our Grade 8 ADST students have been working on projects such as a paintbrush/pencil holder, laser cut combination lock, flute stand, LED book light, light-up chess piece, and a gumball machine.

See these projects and more in this interactive experience.

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