Yellow Band: by Sea, weeks 11 & 12

The last few weeks have been so much fun! As the crow’s nest and tugboat started to wrap up, we didn’t quite have enough time to start some new projects from scratch. But, we started an exploration that we hadn’t gotten to yet–lighthouses and shipwrecks. Because why not?

As long as people have been traveling and transporting, boats have been wrecking along rocky shorelines and invisible reefs and in bad weather with low visibility. And, as long as boats have been wrecking, people have been trying to figure out different ways to protect sailors and mariners from unseen dangers. With lighthouses, bells, foghorns, and even fires burning from beaches humans have tried to light the way toward safety. And, the Bay area is a great place to explore some of these physical structures and research their successes and failures.

At Pt. Bonita light in the Marin Headlands. Most recommend!

At Lands End, where we could see the wreck of the Frank Buck, Lyman Stewart and Mile Rock, where the SS City of Rio de Janeiro all wrecked.

One piece of this exploration was light itself: how does it work, and how can we magnify it to light the way on dark nights? We spent some time playing with lenses and color in order to explore some of the properties of light.

We tried to separate black ink into it’s component colors, but it turned out our black markers were actually very dark blue.

Then, we made spinners with each color of the rainbow. We observed that if we could spin them fast enough, the colors would blend together to look white, like light!

And of course we took a few lenses outside to experiment with focusing light.

Another piece of this exploration was architectural: how can we build a tall tower that is also strong enough to stand up to pounding waves, unrelenting wind and rain?

Oscar thought he’d simulate a tall cliff by the ocean by building his lighthouse tower on a stool. This also gave us a great way to test and see how strong his structure was!

Sakira quickly realized that she’d need to add layers of blocks to her structure in order to make it stand up to the wind (aka her hand).

Solin carefully drew the tower that she and Reyahn built together in her journal.

Oscar then enlisted Emilio and Devlin to help him reinforce his initial simple designs with layers and layers of blocks. They also decided to keep their tower short, because it was already on top of a tall rock.

After our trip to Pt. Bonita, we realized the sheer magnitude of the number of shipwrecks around the Golden Gate (around 300!). Some quick internet research┬árevealed that we could get pretty close to a few of these wrecks by taking a trip out to Lands End. So that’s just what we did!

We got there right on time for low tide! In this photo, you can see all that remains of the Frank Buck–its steam engines–poking out of the water.

We hurried down to Mile Rock Beach, to get as close to a few wrecks as we could.

Countless ships have met their fate along these rocks, and the stretch from Seal Rock to Fort Point has been especially deadly.

And we climbed around a lot too! We couldn’t have asked for better weather!

Oh, and we stopped by for a quick walk through the labyrinth before heading back to the bus.

This week, we focused on researching and experimenting with a particularly damaging type of shipwrecks: when oil tankers wreck and leak crude oil into marine environments. We started to learn a bit about the wreck of the Exxon Valdez in 1989, which left a lasting impression for many. The entire school has been talking about how to be more responsible with our waste–from being mindful that we put our trash into the proper bin, to ways we can minimize waste–so this turn in the exploration fit right in. Plus, some of the chemistry experiments we got to do were really messy and fun!

Devlin and Reyahn work on making a boom to contain some ‘crude oil’ in their tin tray.

Oh no! The oil was able to sneak across Emilio’s boom!

Cleaning up oil spills is hard! Emilio tried to make a boom float on the water, but although the cardboard could soak up oil, it didn’t keep the oil from sneaking across to the ‘clean’ water.

And now we’re already getting ready for Expo! Stay tuned!