Today, the youngest band presented their new identity: the Hummingbirds! They made costumes and told us a few interesting facts about these quick little birds, as well as why they had chosen the name – an inspiration from the dead hummingbird they’d found in their bandspace on the first day of school.

The Hummingbirds have been doing a lot of explorations of measurement through looking at animals in the last few weeks. Last Wednesday, they took a trip to the California Academy of Sciences to learn more about orca whales, turtles and tortoises, and hummingbirds and other pollinators.


During their day at the Academy, Shawna encouraged the kids to document their experience and take notes on what they saw. Some took to the task, like Sadie, who found that the length of an orca whale is 18 feet and dutifully wrote the number on her paper, but others needed encouragement. She writes, “I became a more obvious note-taker myself, “thinking out loud” about what I was doing and what questions I had, and modeling what it looks like to become engrossed with an observation and sketch. For example, I slowly and deliberately sketched the whale’s skull and wondered aloud if a bone I had just drawn was the collar bone. My modeling effectively prompted the children’s documentations.”


“Lucy found a unique note-taking approach: since she was interested in listening to the audio of orca sounds, she visually represented the squeaks and calls she was hearing, bouncing her pencil on her page with short, quick, squiggly strokes.


For our turtle information, we launched a full turtle hunt of the Academy, visiting areas the children chose (the rainforest, aquarium, alligator swamp) and adding the evolution/Galapagos exhibit and Naturalist Center to our list as well.


Almost everyone took a guess (or prediction) as to how many turtles we’d see. For the rest of our adventure, finding a turtle elicited the excitement of discovered treasure!


Ramses chose to continue recording tails, which he started at the orca station. He drew the alligator’s tail on his observation sheet. When I reminded him of our turtle goal, he explained that alligators and turtles are the same. I replied that indeed, both animals are reptiles and have a lot in common. He continued his tail recording throughout our researches.


Aurora used pictures, words and numbers to record details of her research. While I was keeping a tally of each turtle we found, she was writing down the count on her notepad as well. She and I were curious to figure out how many ladybugs were on display in an array. She made an estimate of 5,000, then she helped me count the outer column and row of one box, then watched me as I used the calculator to multiply the two quantities. We then multiplied the product of one box by four and were astounded to find that a total of 7,144 ladybugs of one species were displayed, and no two were alike!”


The Hummingbirds visited the Naturalist Center to learn more about the differences between species of turtles, and ventured to the roof to hear a presentation about pollinators, including their namesake, and got to see the presenter’s bee specimens.


Earlier this week, the Hummingbirds used their knowledge gained at the Academy to discover that two orca whales can fit on a smaller MUNI trolley bus, and that three can fit on the longer trolley bus. This comparison of the familiar to the unfamiliar always makes things more comprehensible, especially when both big things are so big!