Smooth sailing from here on out

Our intrepid sailors have forged on in the unfamiliar seas of the Atlantic Ocean. After avoiding the tsunami outside of Haiti, we set a course towards Puerto Rico, lucky us. During this time the Red band started an investigation on whales. Beginning with the largest species, the blue whale, we studied its statistics then looked to Jeff Corwin to help us understand the human relationship being forged with these animals to better understand them and protect them. While reading about Humphrey the Lost Whale we learned about the migratory patterns of whales and the human impact of noise pollution that can interfere with their journey, or in Humphrey’s case help save them. Our quest to conquer the seas continued as we set sail through the Bermuda triangle, everyone can go ahead and exhale, we made it through unscathed all the way to Georgia.

Calvin guides us through the Bermuda Triangle

During this time, our projects were being fueled by our collective desires to pretend we were at sea with our tugboat and crow’s nest builds. I do not want to spoil the surprise too much for you so I will share that¬†the crow’s nest has been tested and is being reinforced and there is¬†at least one skipper on¬†the tugboat each day. Our hard work got a midway boost when we took a trip over the bridge to Spaulding Boatworks. On this misty morning we made our way over to the marina for a tour of the facilities, tools, and Freda, the oldest wooden sailing boat on the west coast.

All hands on deck aboard Freda at Spaulding Boatworks


Following last year’s sex-ed success, the whole school geared up for another round this year. Humans happen to be my most favorite creatures and the topics covered in the Red Band are essential to all humans. We reached¬†from the parts of the body to how bodies are made, feelings and emotions, senses, and relationships.

Red watches Just Breathe

One of the most wonderful abilities bestowed a collaborator is magic-maker. During one of our last goal setting sessions, the Red Band shared they wanted to return to the aquarium so ta-da with some parent-magic off we went to the Cal Academy to visit all of our favorite friends: the penguins, the octopus, seahorses, all the Nemos and Dorys, and urchins and starfish.

Nemo, Dory, Nemo, Dory

All of this excitement carried us through the completion of our tugboat, crow’s nest, finishing touches to the constellation, and the Hive flag. This was a wild ride. We marked the Hive’s¬†first year¬†in the books and was celebrated with the beginnings of tradition as we headed to Stow Lake for the second year to celebrate our hard work. Thank you to everyone and anyone who stopped by to see what we were up to, who came to work with the kids, who said a hello, and made new friends.

Kindness and love hugs.

See you next year!

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¬†revealed 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!

By Sea: Expression, In Full Swing

For the past few¬†weeks, Orange Band students have put their time, energy, and hearts into Expression projects for the Movement of Things By Sea Arc. This, our third and final arc, definitely has a culminating feel to it. Projects¬†truly seem to build off¬†the year’s experiences–not just the Exploration work of this arc, but the previous arc’s project work, as well. And, so, without further ado, please enjoy the By Sea Arc Projects of the Orange Band!

Fur the seals

By Charlotte

My project is a podcast about northern fur seals, I chose it because I like fur seals and it relates to the by sea arc because northern fur seals live in the sea! They travel by sea around a quarter of the world!

Fun fact: They are the second most furriest animal on earth! They have 300,000 hairs per square inch. The males live to be 10 years old then they die, whereas the females live to be 20-27! Females are much smaller compared to males: females get to be 4 feet long and males get to be 6 feet long and longer!

My goal for this project is to teach people about northern fur seals and inspire them to help them rebuild their population. I want to help people understand the importance of just one animal, because it can change other animals that we depend on! We need to help fur seals, and other animals that can depend on animals that are crucial to humans.

P.S. My project will cost… about… maybe $999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999.99 plus tax and other things like that.

P.P.S. Nah… it is worth more than that. Maybe $999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999.99 uhhh that does include tax but it doesn’t include getting a special box for it. And maybe an extra large car… no… truck. And you’ll need two… no… three. Anyway, it is TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!!!

P.P.P.S. Oh and you can get it on eBay. It costs more on eBay. But you know, it is TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!!!!!!!!

The argonauts waste a lot of valuable time struggling

By Lucy

The Argo on the set

My project is a stop motion of the Argo’s journey. Phoebe and I are working together to create this film. We chose to make a stop motion about the Argonauts and their journey because we both love Greek mythology and thought it would be fun to make a stop motion. Our project relates to the by sea arc because the Argo was a Greek ship that sailed across the black sea to Colchis to retrieve the golden fleece for Jason’s home town Iolcus. Our project has value because the story of the golden fleece was first told over 2,000 years ago and phoebe and I are retelling it in 2017 and it started in 200 BCE! Our  project is probably going to teach us about the Argonauts and stop motion we will learn to work well together and other stuff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Phoebe and I painting the set

Jeevan By Sea

My project is a hovercraft. I chose this project because I thought it would be a challenge to hover something over water. Water is not flat, hard, still, or smooth. My project relates to the by sea arc because it is a hovercraft that hovers over water. Water is a different surface than land. In water everything has to be even so it doesn’t tip over. You cannot make a land hover craft and put it over water. It would tip over. My project will teach me a lot about balancing airflow and air pressure. Instead of making something that goes in water, and is affected by water I am making something that goes over water, and ¬†is still affected by water. I made a land hovercraft and I put it over ¬†water and it tipped over. I tried it multiple times but nothing changed. At the beginning of the arc we went on boats. All the boats we went on had to displace their own weight in water. I wanted to make something that could go on water without displacing their own weight in water. That’s how I decided to make a hovercraft.

Project Defense

By Amiya

Me practicing filming with a green-screen

For my project, I am making a shipwreck documentary  featuring the Andrea Doria and the Titanic. I am aiming to make the video at least 15 minutes long. I chose this project because I am fascinated with accidental and mysterious shipwrecks, and I would like to know more. I also have never made a documentary before, so it will teach me some new skills about filming and editing video. Originally, It was going to be drawing animations with the Titanic, Lusitania, and Andrea Doria, but I did not get enough project time in the first two weeks. Now, even with more project time, I will have to do a few drawings, but only for the wrecks and Lego stop motion for the sinkings. 

Me drawing the wreck of the Titanic

Though part of the reason I chose this project was because I really like drawing, I am still excited about the project. The two shipwrecks that I am doing are my favorites because not only are they very famous, but there is a lot of mystery surrounding their sinkings. Even today, scientists can only guess about exactly how the Titanic sank since no one took any pictures or video of it sinking. The Andrea Doria was filmed sinking, but still there are some things that scientists do not know. This project is worthy of my time as it is something that I am very passionate about, and when I have a choice, I choose to work on my documentary. As I mentioned before, I have never made a documentary, so this is a chance to learn new skills such as editing film. This project is related to by sea because it is about ships that sank, which used to move by-sea, and are now part of the ocean.

Me meeting with my expert


By Phoebe

I love the idea of supernatural beings controlling nature. The ancient Greeks made myths¬†up so they could¬†explain natural phenomenon that they could not explain. ¬†My project is a stop motion about the Argo and its journey. Lucy is working on it with me. ¬†I chose it because I like Greek mythology it’s also ¬†one of my favorites myth and it’s by sea. ¬†I will learn what I can in a few weeks¬†deadline.¬†We are not making the full film because it would be too much work in few days.


My Cardboard Boat

By Roman

My project is building a cardboard boat. I chose this project because I wanted to have a boat, a fun time, and a cool project. This project relates to the By Sea Arc because I get to go out on the water and feel proud about accomplishing building a boat in a short amount of time. Also I will tell my family that I built a boat and make them proud. The value of this project is building a boat that doesn’t sink and getting more into boat building. I will test the boat in a pool or a river. Another value is that I can build a boat in a survival situation and I could save my life from that. I think this project is important because I will have project that connects to this arc.

Roman carefully cuts paddles out of plywood on the band saw

Band saw practice breaks up the cardboard construction


My Arc Project

By Justin

I am making a boat out of coroplast and wood for my project. The sides are made out of coroplast and the bottom is made out of wood. It is 8 feet long and 2 feet 6 in wide. It was supposed to have a motor originally but it is not going to. I am going to take it to Jenner to test it. I think that building a boat is a good by sea project because we use boats for crossing water. It is a good project because I will learn about building and waterproofing structures and I will get a boat.

Feedback from Fresh Eyes

The By Sea Arc has got us working double time on our expression projects. Each week a new iteration is due, and we’ve been taking time on Fridays to get feedback from the Brightworks¬†community. This week students shared their second iterations¬†with the band, and got feedback from someone in our community that was less familiar with their project. To encourage constructive feedback, we¬†used the prompts: I like… I wish… What if…¬†These prompts have come in handy for us before as a way to get feedback on works in progress, and it helps students to see their work from someone else’s perspective.


Oscar has been working on an underwater evolution simulation, and now has the simulator working autonomously. He gave a demo to the group to show how the creatures grow, and got some feedback to add more branches to the creatures.


Audrey has been collecting samples of ocean water, bay water, tap water, and distilled water to analyze what type of microbes might be living in it. She hopes to use that analysis to determine how that might help us understand the potential for life in the water on Mars. She’s planning to continue conducting experiments, and will consider ways¬†to display her samples together so that they can be compared side by side.


Rhone’s¬†second iteration¬†is building off of¬†the¬†24-hour boat kit he designed for his first iteration. Now he’s trying to figure out how one might survive for up to a week with just those items. So far, Rhone has designed a DIY water still out of the water bottles in the boat¬†kit. His still removes the salt from seawater by collecting evaporated fresh water in the top bottle. Unfortunately, the process is VERY slow, and won’t make enough water in time for anyone to survive off of it for a week. Rhone got some feedback to think about harnessing¬†heat to speed up the process, and to start thinking about solutions for sourcing food.


Norabelle has been working on seascape paintings, learning new painting techniques, and experimenting with various media. Seeing all the works side by side, the group was able to see the different styles she’s been inspired by. For her final iteration, she’s considering¬†some feedback from the group to work bigger.


Declan has been charting out the plans to sail the boats we worked on earlier in the arc. He’s had some roadblocks around where, when, and how we can sail these boats. In spite of those roadblocks, he’s come up with a plan for how we might sail to Angel Island. He got some feedback to add specifics to the chart about when we’ll be sailing the boats, and how long we’ll be out on the water.


Felix has been working on an underwater music video. He got to share the unedited footage with the group on Friday. The group was mystified and delighted by the world he’s created for this underwater shoot. Since neither Rhone nor Felix can hold their breath underwater for the full five minute music video, his next steps will be to stitch the shots together and edit in the audio.


Khalia is working on a scale model of one of the rooms at the Angel Island Immigration Station. Khalia got feedback to share the scale ratio somewhere in her display so that people looking at the diorama could get a sense for the size of the actual room.


Earlier this week Elijah got some feedback that he would need to build more riggings to support the mast. After talking with a few experts though, he realized that the mast was actually quite strong with the foot in place. He demonstrated the strength of the mast by getting the boat on its side just by pulling on the mast.


Ella missed our feedback session on Friday, but she did get a chance to get some great advice on her podcast project from none other than Sarah Koenig! This photo was captured from behind the glass door of the music room where Ella was using some audio equipment to record the feedback from Sarah. Ella learned she’ll need to orient people right away to the story behind her podcast, to make it personal¬†and intriguing.


Of course, each student will get to choose which feedback they want to incorporate, if they want to incorporate it, and how they want to do it. Students are¬†using the guiding questions they came up with to stay focused on what they had originally set out to explore in their project. They’ll have one week to incorporate feedback, and come up with¬†their final iteration. The arc is flying by, and it’s so exciting to see these expression projects take shape!

Expressing Themselves By Sea

Already three weeks into the Expression Phase, the Teal Band is full steam ahead on their projects. We’ve experienced chemical reactions, learned research techniques, discovered how helpful handwritten notecards are on a day when the internet is down, crafted, experimented and done a lot of writing.

Piper: So far I have made things–sea themed stuffed animals and soaps with little turtles in them– to sell to raise money for sea turtles. And handed out flyers so people know about it.¬† I have worked on making a book that’s going to talk about sea turtles and what they do. I hope that everyone will come to my craft fair at Umpqua Bank (24th St – Noe Valley)¬†this Saturday. The banker is buying enough ice cream for 200 people, and says he’ll run out and get more if we need it!

Piper’s stuffie sea creatures for her sea turtle rescue fundraiser.

Nora: This morning, I was going over my paper and was disappointed to find it was way too short and I did not have enough information on the fish that lives in sargassum (if you want to learn about that you can read my research paper on expo night,) So, Melissa found some information on it which I looked over and we figured out the Sargassum fish is related to the angler fish (which i am kind of obsessed with I did a blog post, a model and a Prezi on earlier in the year) so I was very excited about that turns out I really like that kind of fish.

Nora’s sargassum seaweed models in clay and felt.

Huxley: I have done the chemistry and figured out that my super-corroding alloy has (in terms of the hydrogen it can produce) an energy density 13 times than that of a non-rechargeable lithium-ion battery! I have also created a design to implode hydrogen safely.

Huxley’s hydrogen measuring system. He’s gone through loads of vinegar.

Selina: My algae seem to be growing according to my expectations. I had a jar of plain seawater that I put a little fertilizer in. I checked on it today and it there was algae growing. This proves that if we were to dump iron ore into the ocean, as I am theorizing, algae would grow.

Setting up Selina’s algae experiment.

Jonah: I have been working on connecting my smaller gear to my big gear. The gearing is so that I can make it so that when the big gear that is connected to the water wheel spins enough to make the smaller wheel that is connected to the generator. I am going to work on the second iteration of the water wheel today.

Jonah’s first iteration hydropower plan.

Aurora: Moving forward¬†in my project, I’m¬†learning¬†about the challenges¬†of building¬†shipping container homes. I would also like to learn about the different shapes of shipping container homes. Lastly, I would like to learn about how different architects are getting around the challenges of using shipping containers as homes.

Aurora has begun laying out her shipping container home.

Jared: I have done a lot of research and I have started to receiving emails from my experts. So far, besides doing research, I have begun working on my mini-documentary using iMovie.  Melissa has helped me organize my notes and helped me a lot.

Jared has been doing a lot of research on dolphin communication.

Patrick: ¬†These last weeks before expo are always the hardest because you always like “Oh, this project is horrible compared to everyone’s projects.” I think I did well, for something that I’m not good at focusing on. I still need to do 1/3 of my project in a week. So, this should be fun.

Patrick is up to 13 followers following his fiction on RoyalRoadL.

Freddie:¬†I feel and little stressed but I am finishing up¬†my research paper. I am going to have a talk with Willow to start to help me with my drawings as I have already sketched them out. I’m ready to be done but my research¬†paper needs a¬†little more work and I feel like I am having writer’s block right now but hopefully I get it done in time.

Freddie is researching, writing and drawing about buoy and acorn barnacles.

As a little break from all their project work, the Teal Band enjoyed a lesson on dyeing natural fibers (silk) using natural dyes. They boiled cabbage and fig leaves to create their dyes. Exploring a bit of chemistry and pH, they played with their colors by dipping their dyed silks in different acids and bases.

Learning to dye silk with natural dyes from cabbage and fig leaves…with a bit of math and chemistry added in. Thanks Sierra.

Writing away and posing for pics with Mr. Manatee for the yearbook.

Yellow Band: by Sea, Weeks 9 & 10

This week, let’s check out some of the work we’ve been doing on our projects! Two of our bigger, group projects this arc have been a tugboat and a crow’s nest. Because BOATS.

Reyahn, Quinn and Calvin all work hard on mounting the top of the level of the bow.

Nicole and a group of Red and Yellow Banders get ready to cut their big circular deck for the crow’s nest.

Nathan started this arc with a big interest in tugboats because of the way that they are ‘helper boats’ in a harbor. These busy little boats are the experts of a port or harbor, tugging bigger boats in and out, and directing traffic through sometimes busy waterways.¬†Which obviously goes perfectly with one of our favorite sayings over here in the Hive, “How can I help?”

Nolan drives in some screws to attach the bow to the hull of the tugboat.

Working sometimes meant squeezing into some tight places! Here, Reyahn helps attach the bow to the hull.

One morning, Emilio and Quinn headed over to the Orchard to cut a trapezoidal piece of plywood for the deck of the bow.

It was really important to the Red and Yellow Banders that they be able to go into their tugboat, and that it looked like it was above the water, like in real life. This meant that they would need to build a super strong frame to support a floor for a few people to stand on at once. And that meant they would need to use lots and lots of flat brackets. And they really really did it! Even though about 2 weeks of work consisted of just installing these brackets, they really stuck with it.

Khalilah cuts open a big cardboard box to use as the skin of the tugboat.

And now it looks like a boat!

The folks in the Red Band have spent some time learning about the international flag signal code, so Nicole was interested in building a mast of a boat to hang a flag from. And if we’re building a mast, we should probably just build the platform to stand on so that we can spot storms, other ships and even land from far away. Ya know, a crow’s nest! As we worked out our design, we knew we would need to use something in our space as an anchor, otherwise the crow’s nest would need too big of a footprint in order to be stable. One day, paging through the David Macaulay book¬†Underground, I realized that one of the big columns in our space would be perfect. They go down into the basement, making them just like the mast on a ship! This, plus a few tips from Gever (compress anchor beams to the column using ratchet straps, just like when building a treehouse!), and we were ready to turn our ideas into reality.

May and Ronin work together on assembling the wooden beams that we’ll anchor to the column in our space.

After doing some initial work on the wooden beams, we were ready to hold them up and compress them into place!

Then, we got to work on a rope ladder so that we can get up into the crow’s nest. Here, Oscar cuts a branch into 14″ sections to use as the rungs of the ladder.

After struggling with a few other knots, Sylvester decided we should try the constrictor hitch to tie together the rungs of the rope ladder. And he was right! This knot works great with the tree branch we found to use for the rungs.

These two projects are so close to being done we can almost taste it! Kiddos are already asking if the crow’s nest can be a permanent part of our landscape, and I think it may be so well built that maybe we can say yes!