Up, Up and Away

If you are the parent of a Blue Bander you might have heard something about balloons this week.  Yes, we are studying the history of the first human flight, yes, we’ve been looking at balloons through the lens of geometry and yes, our literature study book is Twenty-One Balloons by DuBois, but there is a bigger story here.  To make something truly amazing (like an enormous balloon that can take our stuffed animal aeronauts into the sky) you have to work together with other people.  What this week has really been about is teamwork and collaboration.  You know what? It’s actually incredibly hard!  

Our group has been presented with challenges big and small this week and asked to reflect on how best to collaborate and communicate.  We’ve done all sorts of team building games like the marshmallow challenge where students were given dried spaghetti, tape, string and a limited amount of time, then asked to build a tower strong enough to support a marshmallow.

First week of Blue Band

Sadie, Tamasen and Lily worked on a tripod to support their marshmallow.  Sadie spearheaded several iterations.  When the team got frustrated, Tamasen chimed in with some encouraging words.

First week of Blue Band

Gita, Soleil and Ronan reached for a pencil and paper before they even started building.  They were able to conserve their materials and divide the work by making sketch first.

Here are some of the things that our students discovered about the best approach to working in a group:

  • Make a plan and listen to each other before you get building
  • Ask how you can be helpful
  • Split up responsibilities
  • Snap different ideas together
  • Be positive and give encouragement

Next week we will really put these guidelines to the test as we attempt to make two enormous balloons that will have the lifting power to take a stuffed animal into the air!

First week of Blue Band

Inspired by a documentary about the Mongolfier brothers, the band tried to make balloons from paper.  Sadie looked to the hexagons and pentagons of a soccer ball for inspiration.  The main take away from this challenge was that it is hard to make a balloon from paper.

First week of Blue Band

In Blue Band’s second attempt at building a balloon, the group created polyhedrons.  Lily wore a fashionable polyhedron made of pentagons, squares and triangles on her head!

First week of Blue Band

Gita and Tamasen have loved working together this week.  They created crown-like shapes that fit together.

First week of Blue Band

One of the Blue Band’s favorite moments this week involved testing parachute designs in the wind tunnel.  Transfixed, the group watched their creations swirl in the tunnel.

First week of Blue Band

Ramses cited the wind tunnel as his favorite moment of the week.  He tirelessly tested iteration after iteration.

First week of Blue Band

Soleil also loved the wind tunnel but instead of testing several iterations, she spent her time carefully taping together beautiful balloon-inspired curved pieces.

First week of Blue Band

This week and this year, these intrepid learners will be presented with difficult challenges. They will make mistakes and try hard.  This article that the Blue Band read is about the neuroscience of learning.  The main message is that intelligence is like a muscle: the harder you work the stronger you get.  Ronan was so inspired by the article he wrote down quotes in his journal!  This year we will be flexing our problem-solving muscles everyday!

Yellow Band: By Air, Week 1

Welcome all to the Yellow Band, and welcome to 1920 Bryant St! I’m so excited to be working in this space this year, and to get to work even more closely and collaboratively with Nicole and Nathan. This year is going to be great!

Speaking of which, we got off to a really great start this week. We set goals for ourselves, and then used those goals to guide our group agreements. We started to establish routines and protocols for life in our space. We practiced using our tools. Oh, and we made lots of new friends of course!

On Monday for tool practice, students worked in pairs to build something that both could sit on. Here, Rebecca and Reyahn work together to assemble a corner using a right angle, clamps and drills.

On Monday for tool practice, students worked in pairs to build something that both could sit on. Here, Rebecca and Reyahn work together to assemble a corner using a right angle, clamps and drills.

And Solin and Devlin quickly built a see-saw--what a neat idea!

And Solin and Devlin quickly built a see-saw–what a neat idea!

On Tuesday morning, we did a quick run through of what our schedule will look like every day. Here goes:

  • In the morning, kiddos will work independently on a ‘vitamin,’ a short, skill building activity outlined in the morning message. Then, they’ll eat a snack. After that, we’ll have a quick morning meeting discuss our work, and give any announcements for the day.
Nolan and Reyahn work on our first vitamin. They made a self-portrait using pattern blocks. Then, they tried to determine the value of their portrait, assuming that the triangle = 1. This was a great practice in equivalencies, adding multiples, and doing a proof.

Nolan and Reyahn work on our first vitamin. They made a self-portrait using pattern blocks. Then, they tried to determine the value of their portrait, assuming that the triangle = 1. This was a great practice in equivalencies, adding multiples, and doing a proof.

Emilio's self-portrait is of his whole body!

Emilio’s self-portrait is of his whole body!

  • After morning meeting, we’re going to move toward having workshop time for the rest of our morning until park time. Kiddos will work from a Menu that outlines things they must work on during the week. They can choose the order to work on these tasks, and how long to spend on each one. And, they must get certain things done each week. We haven’t started this yet, so no picture!
  • After park and lunch, we’ll have a half hour of quiet time. This is basically choice time for calm, quiet activities like reading, building with blocks, drawing.
Need I say more?

Need I say more?

  • Most afternoons we’ll have group project time. Two collaborators will lead projects, and kiddos can choose which one they’d like to join for the afternoon.
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Nathan and the Planter Boxes group figure out what they want to make sure to include in their planter box design–because we’ll have these for a long time!

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Nicole and the Bench group went on a walk to research different bench designs. They noticed that this bench is partially made out of something that’s not wood or metal–and has a planter box!

Since our bands will be spending so much time together, Nicole, Nathan and I thought it was super important to set goals and make group agreements as a group. While this was sometimes challenging as a whole group, we worked hard to read the needs of the kids and break out into smaller groups whenever possible. By doing this, we came up with a great list of group agreements that each kiddo signed today. Setting these types of norms really helps the kids understand how we’ll live together in our little space.

Solin and Sakira discuss the importance of listening, and the idea of 'one voice at a time.' We used a small candle during our discussion to show whose turn to talk it was.

Solin and Sakira discuss the importance of listening, and the idea of ‘one voice at a time.’ We used a small candle during our discussion to show whose turn to talk it was.

Have a restful weekend, and see y’all on Monday!

Orange Band: Human, Week 15

We had an awesome week: Expo Night, Stow Lake field trip with the Red Band, Beach Day, and SFMOMA this morning. The copy you’ll read below is the letter I wrote each Orange Bander to close our Class Meeting Journal.

Dear Emilio, Gita, Isaac, Oscar, Ramses, Sadie and Tesla,

One last group photo as we left the MOMA this morning.

One last group photo as we left the MOMA this morning.

We Made it! We’ve had so much fun working hard and learning together.

Tesla and Sadie were our posting putting up team! While some kiddos finished typing the captions for their posters and Gita worked on her skull, those two helped everyone out by putting on brown paper backing and using a mallet and thumbtacks to hang their bandmates posters for Expo Night.

Tesla and Sadie were our posting putting up team! While some kiddos finished typing the captions for their posters and Gita worked on her skull, those two helped everyone out by putting on brown paper backing and using a mallet and thumbtacks to hang their bandmates posters for Expo Night.

We’ve laughed, cried, broken, fixed, played and worked our way through 37 weeks of school–wowee!

Gita had her work cut out for her on Monday afternoon. Since her second clay skull dried inside the cast, it cracked as we tried to remove the plaster. Amanda Simons came down to help take the cast off and get her started fitting the puzzle pieces back together. After about an hour and a half of piecing them together, and trying to glue them together, we decided it would be quicker to tape the cast back together and make another skull.

Gita had her work cut out for her on Monday afternoon. Since her second clay skull dried inside the cast, it cracked as we tried to remove the plaster. Amanda Simons came down to help take the cast off and get her started fitting the puzzle pieces back together. After about an hour and a half of piecing them together, and trying to glue them together, we decided it would be quicker to tape the cast back together and make another skull.

Throughout, y’all have come to our class meetings with honesty, sincerity and vulnerability.

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Emilio yelled, “This way!” to lead his bandmates toward the bridge over Huntington Falls at Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park.

Isaac and Reyahn climbing a tangle of tree trunks on our field trip to Stow Lake.

Isaac and Reyahn climbing a tangle of tree trunks on our field trip to Stow Lake.

Because of your caring nature and willingness to take emotional risks, we’ve grown so much as friends.

Oscar and Emilio hung out all day for Beach Day. Because they really like each other.

Oscar and Emilio hung out all day for Beach Day. Because they really like each other.

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Ramses, Sadie, Gita and Tesla squeezed in a quick game of Families on the stadium seating alongside Richard Serra’s Sequence at SFMOMA.

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The kiddos make their way through the sculpture. We looked back to our study of labyrinths during the Rock Arc, and forward to our study of the movement of things by Land next year. Did you know that Serra’s sculpture weighs over 200 tons?

Love,

Piper

 

Orange Band: Human, Weeks 13 & 14

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness!

Sadie takes a snuggle break with our human body model, while she, Isaac, and Tesla work on building a stand to hold up our human.

Sadie takes a snuggle break with our human body model, while she, Isaac, and Tesla work on building a stand to hold up our human.

Towards the end of expression, everything really comes together. That date on the calendar is no longer an idea of the future.

IT’S NEXT WEEK.

IT’S TOMORROW.

IT’S IN AN HOUR.

Coming back from Kid Classroom Week, the kiddos were really ready to get some adult guidance back. Huh, who woulda thought?

So, on Monday morning, we hit the ground running.

Oscar trims the lego flat board that his digestive system is built on to make it more neck and shoulder shaped.

Oscar trims the lego flat board that his digestive system is built on to make it more neck and shoulder shaped.

All week we chugged along on assembling our body parts and working on our presentations.We split into two groups: working on the stand for our body model, and working on our presentations. For our presentations, we thought about what information we should include, and the kiddos decided their presentations should touch on: their research, their process, and what they learned. I went through my documentation photos with each Orange Bander, letting them choose the pictures they’d like to include in their slides. Then, they could write either: notes on the research, process and findings, or captions for their pictures.

Gita writes notes to help her practice for her presentation. She divided her presentation speech into her research, process and mistakes she made.

Gita writes notes to help her practice for her presentation. She divided her presentation speech into her research, process and mistakes she made.

Sadie and Tesla work on adding supports to the stand that will hold up our human body model.

Sadie and Tesla work on adding supports to the stand that will hold up our human body model.

Isaac and Oscar delicately slide Oscar's digestive system into the torso of our human.

Isaac and Oscar delicately slide Oscar’s digestive system into the torso of our human.

Then, on Thursday, we couldn’t prepare anymore. It was time to present! In the caption for each photo, I included an excerpt from each kiddos’ journal entry. This week, they thought about something they particularly enjoyed this year.

Sadie! "I liked my human, because it was kind of hard and it was also fun."

Sadie! “I liked my human, because it was kind of hard and it was also fun.”

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Gita! “This year my favorite day or project was making the play because we all got to work together on one thing and I like that.”

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Oscar! “Field trips!”

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Emilio! “I like project work.”

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Isaac! “I liked Class Meeting a lot because it was a great way for us to solve problems.”

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Ramses!

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Tesla! “I really really liked the play because I liked making costumes and I like being in front of an audience. And I liked going to the Exploratorium because it was a field trip for learning.”

For weeks, on our weekly trips to the Treat Commons Garden for Class Meeting, there has been an ice cream man ringing his bell and driving the kiddos totally insane. So, I promised one Orange Bander who particularly enjoyed our time at the garden that we would do something special for our last Class Meeting. We decided to make treats, because we couldn’t count on the ice cream man being there. We looked through recipes, and Isaac decided to make horchata popsicles–yum! So, on Tuesday we soaked rice, almonds and cinnamon, then on Wednesday we blenderized them and strained the slurry through cheesecloth, poured the sweet milk into big ice cube trays. Boom, popsicles! We kept our project under wraps, and made it to the garden with a delicious surprise for everyone.

Emilio and Isaac enjoying their horchata popsicles–that Isaac and I made–on a shady bench in the garden. Yum!

With no new entries in our journal, we didn’t need to talk through any conflicts. Instead, we shared appreciations and lots of positivity for each other. We talked about why Class Meeting worked so well for us this year. Kiddos appreciated the addition of the journal, so that we could keep a record of problems and solutions, and the structure of Thich Nhat Hahn’s Flowering Waters meditation for our weekly meetings. They noticed how we approached problems when people had had a chance to cool off, so that we didn’t speak to each other with anger, and other members of the band could share advice to help solve problems. Each kiddo has even asked for a copy of the journal, as they said, to have a record of the year and resource for solving problems in the future.

Next week, we’ll have a few awesome field trips, show off our assembled human body model at Expo Night, spend a playful day at the beach with the whole school, reflect on our year, and look ahead to next year. Expect a post full of pictures for our last week of school!

Violet Band: (Second to) Last Week of School

Presentations started this week. The afternoons are full of other bands showing off their hard work. Our presentation afternoon isn’t until next Monday, so we’ve been furiously working to finish our projects and create our presentations and get the space set up (broken down?!) for next week – our last week of the school year.

Jack’s project was to build a robotic arm. He prototyped it out of foam core, and then learned computer-design through fusion360 to 3D print his final iteration. This project evolved into his end-of-year arc project, and it was awesome. To supplement his work, he also researched and wrote a paper on robotic arms and their use in space. Here’s his first prototype (with foam in the background):

Here’s his second:

For her project, Zada researched, interviewed, surveyed people and experts around the country on their understanding of altruism. Skeptical that true altruism exists, she explored the research in an unbiased, objective way in order to analyze and see if humans are truly capable of giving back and being selfless, or if the motive is still self-serving. Zada wrote a research paper to share her findings.

Cyrus’ big project was to learn Python. To do this, he worked through several smaller projects, building off of his knowledge to create the next one. Through Trinket, he started with creating different image generators, with lines, angles, and colors varying for each version. The second project was to understand circles and parabolas, drawing them through code. The final project was to create a self-sustaining conversation. Programming two different voices and randomizing their outputs – but still making the conversation make sense – was the final step on this iteration of his end-of-year arc project. Here’s a slide from part of his work:

Max’s project was to work with the city of San Francisco to help support RC pilots. Currently, the city’s policy bans all flight apparatuses in parks, but he’s trying to update that. In this project, he presented a proposal to the SF Parks and Rec department and was left with a promising, “let’s see what we can do.”

Laurel‘s doing a couple of different projects. For one, she programmed a baby arduino screen to read and mimic human facial emotions. For the other, she’s building a tesla coil. This big, beautiful copper coil that sparks lightning and makes music. She spent weeks on both projects, reaching out to various experts, balancing design and debugging, and building really awesome work. She’s still in the middle of her tesla coil – it’s huge and powerful. Here’s a diagram of how it works:

Cassandra decided to program a “RamsBot” in Trinket. Sitting to chat with her chatbot replicated a conversation with her brother, Ramses. It was perfect. Continuing her long-term project, Cassandra further developed her space-station. After finishing (and creating a model of) the algae-based air filtration system during seed arc, she switched gears and began designing all of the blueprints for her floating city in space. She even built a to-scale paper model!

Sayuri and Josh, of course, decided to do a community building project. They partnered with a local nonprofit organization, Lava Mae, to design a fundraiser. Lava Mae turns old muni buses into mobile shower stations for the homeless in SF. Eventually, Grace and Harry were also added into the project. The night of the event, the entire band helped support the Lava Mae team, and we raised over $1000 from donations alone! The even happened at the very end of the year, and served as their arc project. They’re using the week to wrap up the paperwork and the art deliveries. (See images from the night in the blog post below 🙂

For most of the arc, Harry spent time working on his skin. He went to several weeks of intensive skin treatment and therapy, and was able to come back at the end of the arc looking and feeling great. We missed him so much, but are so happy he was able to work on his “human” ! He decided to share about this journey during presentations on Monday – which is a bold and vulnerable move. I’m really proud of him.

While all of this is going on, everyone is mostly interested in making sure the “Alan Rickman Experience” – a tribute show to David Bowie and Prince – goes off without a hitch next week.

Photos from Unbelavable Night!

Photos from the Violet Band art auction to support Lava Mae yesterday during our Unbelavable Night!

We raised over $1000 in donations alone, and are so happy to give back and strengthen our community with partner (and future BWX family!) Lava Mae.

This was truly an all-hands-on-deck event – from donating art, to setting up the space, to being our guest, to bidding on the goods! We truly appreciated the support and commitment from our school in our hard work. It could not have happened without them.

The Violet Band is so happy to have had this shared experience, and grateful to give back to our community during Human Arc.

And, as an added bonus, people came in from the street and asked if we were a professional art gallery! 8)