The journey to Angel Island

The week before spring break took us on a journey to Angel Island and through the lives of the Chinese immigrants of the late 1800s and early 1900s. On Monday, the Teal and Violet bands studied historical documents pertaining to the Chinese living in San Francisco’s Chinatown and the rest of the US, such as the Cubic Air Ordinance and the Chinese Exclusion Act. We also examined a number of historical photographs of Chinatown, observing the traditional clothing and hairstyles, as well as the lack of women. Exploring these documents and photos, the two bands began to piece together what it was like to be a Chinese immigrant at this time and all the various ways in which the white government was working to make their lives increasingly difficult in hopes of driving them out of San Francisco and the United States altogether.

Using historical documents and photos, the Teal and Violet Bands uncovered the history of the Chinese immigrants in San Francisco.

To continue building our math skills needed to calculate density, we took an afternoon to review long division with decimals in the quotient (that’s the answer to a division problem for those that it’s been too long to remember.) It’s entertaining to see how much everyone dreads long division and worksheets until that moment when it all clicks and they can’t wait to solve the next problem. That feeling of success and accomplishment is pretty amazing.

Sometimes a worksheet is necessary.

After finishing The Dragon’s Child, we walked through the story of Gim Yep. Written very much like a diary of sorts, we recalled the people, places, and events he wrote of, along with the emotions he experienced throughout. This conversation built perspective around his life and experiences. It allowed the bands to put themselves in Gim’s shoes and the shoes of others he encountered. It began to lay the foundation for the historical diaries they are currently working on.

Talking through the events, emotions, and characters of The Dragon’s Child.

On Thursday, we took the ferry to Angel Island to visit the Immigration Station. It was incredibly powerful to see the detention barracks in person after reading about the experiences of the immigrants in The Dragon’s Child and in the historical documents. We saw firsthand the tight quarters they were forced to stay in, the small outdoor spaces they were allowed to walk in once a week, and the stories carved in the walls in the form of poetry. Many observations were made about the number of people forced to sleep in one room and the poor quality of the bedding they were supplied with. Being in the space created a real sense of empathy and perspective, and started a number of conversations around the historical diaries they were beginning to plan. It is a big leap for them to put themselves so solidly in someone else’s shoes, but it is something they are ready to challenge themselves to do.

Seeing the bunks and the belongs in the detention barracks really began to put the immigrants’ experiences into perspective.

The Angel Island Immigration Station detention barracks and dock.

The stories of the immigrants are right there on the walls in poetry.

 

Yellow Band: By Sea, Weeks 3 & 4

All hands on deck!

The constellation team rotating the nightbox onto its side so that we can attach the top.

We’ve got a few fantastic field trips under our belts, and we’re starting to get our sea legs. Last Friday evening, the Yellow Band took an after hours field trip up to Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland for their weekly stargazing. Every Friday and Saturday night, weather permitting, the museum opens up their telescopes for folks to come take a look for free. AND, apparently they also host a telescope making workshop on Friday nights! So, not only did we get to look through their historic telescopes, we got to hangout with some super nice people who are working on making telescopes of their own!

On the right is Katie. She’s been working on grinding her mirror for 15 weeks, and she thinks she has 15 more weeks to go–wow, talk about perseverance!!!

Last week, she was using 220 grit to smooth out the surface of her mirror. As her mirror gets smoother and smoother, she’ll use finer and finer grit.

She even let us try our hands at grinding the mirror. Thank you so much Katie!

Now, all of this was because of building the constellation, which itself is because of studying a bit about celestial navigation. So, last week and this week we worked both on writing numbers like Babylonians and using a simple sextant, called a mariner’s quadrant to both locate our latitude and determine height of a few very tall things around our bandspace.

Working in other bases (besides base 10 that is) really forces you to think about how our number system works. During our work in base 60, Emilio taught us all a great trick: when working in base 10, a ‘silent alarm’ goes off in your head when you get to 10 that tells you to write a zero in the ones place, and add one to the number in the tens place. So, when doing math like Babylonians, we started sounding the alarm at 60!

Of course, the purpose of all of this was to ground our understanding of degrees. So, then we started to do some application, making mariner’s quadrants and beginning to tinker with the readings the quadrants gave us at different distances from an object.

So, when the sun came out on Thursday we were able to go outside and approximate our latitude! *It was almost noon, just a few days after the equinox, and also we were using very rudimentary sextants, so our measurements were in the ballpark.

Meanwhile, the Red Band has been trying to make little submarines–aka crafts with neutral buoyancy, that won’t sink or float, but rather hangout just under the surface. So, on Tuesday we went to the USS Pampanito! And the Aquarium of the Bay after of course! Our day was full of:

Awesome doorways.

Lots of tiny beds.
*Ask Sylvester about the Captain’s Quarters.

Torpedo/tables.

Smashed pennies.

Rough things to touch.

Slimy things to touch.

BIG FISH.

And SOSO much…

to look at!

Have a great break everybody!

MagAmberGo Overnight on the USS Pampanito

Magenta, Amber, and Indigo (MagAmberGo) spent 17 hours on a World War II Balao class Fleet submarine, the USS Pampanito, to get up close to WWII submarine technology. We built batteries, practiced active sonar listening, simulated buoyancy, made periscopes, and deciphered patrol orders to plot our course.  After our tasks, we had dinner as a crew, and took turns on night watch. The next morning, the group reflected on their stay to consider if they could make it the full 75 days that most submariners would have been asked to do.

If you were asked to stay on the USS Pampanito for 75 days, would you?

“Yeah. I mean, because it’s a submarine, and it’s awesome. I’d rather go jump out of an airplane in the airborne, but I could do it. If it was a more modern submarine I could do it.”—Declan

“I would jump off. Sleep would be the hardest part, especially if there’s snoring.”—Khalia

“I would not because it is so hard to sleep. The beds are super uncomfortable, like plastic.”—Norabelle

“Absolutely not. I hate being on the water for more than five days. The beds were super uncomfortable.”—Elijah

“No. Because they don’t shower, it’s really small, we all have to sleep together in the same room, really cramped together. If I were the captain maybe I would be able to do it.”—Ella

 

“No, I wouldn’t want to be cut off from the world for 75 days at a time. If I were on the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, that would be cool. There’s a library and a museum! Nemo’s got a whole room to himself on the Nautilus.”—Audrey

“No way. I felt seasick the whole time.”—Felix

“If it was out, attached to ropes, and there were other people out there with me, then I would do it. I would not want to be submerged though.”—Rhone

“I think it would be fun. No war, but I could do it for a long time. I really like confined spaces.”—Oscar

“Well, I don’t know, it depends on if we were going to be at war with a lot of other ships or if we were just going to be patrolling another area to observe another enemy. I don’t think I would want to be engaged in combat because we could potentially die. If we were just there observing the area, or just defending our area then, yeah, I think I would in that situation.”—Morgan

“I wouldn’t do it on an old submarine. I would want a new one that is less sketchy, and probably work better. The Pampanito doesn’t work anymore. I hate airplanes, but for some reason it doesn’t scare me to go under water.”—Dash

“No. I almost didn’t do this trip because I have a big fear of submarines. Well, I kind of just wanted to see how I felt on a submarine because I had never been on one, but just whenever I think about them it kind of freaks me out. During the audio tour I was kind of feeling claustrophobic. Then once we got our bunks I was really freaking out because I was on the floor, but I was able to trade it up to a higher bunk. I don’t ever want to see a submarine again.” —Clem

“I wouuuld, but it would depend on how much I got paid. I would probably do it, as long as the crew didn’t snore. I would do it if I got paid a reasonable wage, and I could sleep.”—Kaia

“Nope, I feel like I would be extremely stressed. This is a really unfamiliar space, and I don’t have a good time with that.”—Corin

“If I were 18, during the Great Depression, then yes. Because money. It’s the Great Depression, and I’m 18. There aren’t a lot of jobs. Lack of space and sunlight would be difficult.”—Aidan

“I don’t think any amount of money could convince me to spend a prolonged period of time on there. I think just lack of sunlight, being in a confined space, all of that would be so draining emotionally, I don’t think it would be worth it.”—Zoe

“I feel like possibly if I was, let’s say, in college, and I had nowhere to live. Having free rent would be nice. Especially since Pampanito, or a ship similar size to that, is much larger than most apartments people have in California.”—Max Mayman

“I would not stay on any boat for 75 days. Maybe a kayak, and if I was able to get off to go camping. I would not be on a boat for 75 days straight.”—Liem

 

“You’re pretty much in a black box. The lives on board are either resting in your hands or someone else’s hands. We have a ¼ chance of dying out here. That’s awful! That’s something I don’t want to risk.”—Josh

“I probably wouldn’t, but it wouldn’t be a nightmare. Of course, that’s assuming that there’s no chance of death, no war.”—Cory

“Yes, I made my mind up a long time ago that I was going to do some stint in the armed services. Once Trump got elected I also said to myself that I’m not going to enlist until he’s out of office because I don’t want to fight a war that we have no business fighting. Under the right leadership I would. Also, there is a part of me that is drawn to small confined spaces on long voyages. We took a lot of long car trips in a very small car as a family. I think it partially originates from that. I’ve always had thoughts about building a small boat and sailing it around the world.”—Jack

 

In the By Sea Percolators

The Orange Band has had the luxury of so many by-sea experiences during Exploration. While there are still a few trips and outings left in the weeks after Spring Break, we took some time this week to read about the aquatic topics that the kiddos found interesting and intriguing. Enjoy the Orange Band’s recent research!


Coral Reef Damage

By Amiya

Record temperatures in 2015 and 2016 have caused significant damage to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It is the biggest living organism in the world and can be seen from outer space. The reef stretches 1,400 miles off the coast of Queensland, in the Coral Sea. Coral are typically brightly colored, but when water temperatures get too hot, they become white. This is called bleaching, and it occurs when coral get rid of the algae which they use for food.

Bleached coral are more likely to get diseases, and they can take multiple decades to recover from bleaching. The Great Barrier reef has experienced significant bleaching before, in 1998 and 2002, but it only affected about 60 percent of the reef during both of those incidents. Currently, 90 percent of the reef is affected, and it is still experiencing bleaching in 2017.

Terry Hughes is a scientist in Australia. He helped to lead a study which showed the effect of global warming on coral. He has been observing, from above and underwater, the Great Barrier Reef’s bleaching. As summer comes to an end in the southern hemisphere, Hughes is hoping that the weather cools down in the next few weeks, and that it won’t be as warm next summer. “It broke my heart to see so many corals dying on northern reefs on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016,” he said. The world’s nations met in Paris in 2015 to discuss climate change, and they have agreed to try to limit the average warming to 3.6 degrees fahrenheit per year.


Polar Bear Research

By Lucy

Did you know that Polar bears are going into villages in Alaska to look for food? According to an article, Melting sea ice brings polar bears and humans closer together, the reason is the sea ice polar bears hunt on is staying melted for longer, so they are going to villages and getting into their food supply.

As the article states, “the more humans and bears interact, the greater chance there is that someone or some bear will get hurt.” For example if a human came to close to the polar bear and the polar bear felt threatened they might attack. Or if a polar bear came on to a person’s property or near their house people might try to scare the polar bear away or get rid of them and end up hurting the bear in the process.

Native Alaskans have ice cellars that they have been using for over 100 years to store whale meat called  muktuk. But recently polar bears have been getting into them and eating their food supply. A nonprofit group called Defenders of Wildlife gave the Alaskans special stainless steel food containers and so far they have been successful, but polar bears are still lingering longer than usual.

The sea ice is melting faster because of our use of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, and gas, as well as deforestation. Not only does this affect the polar bears but it affects us too. I think we should avoid using these as much because it is endangering many species including humans. Not just because of global warming but as I stated before it is causing animals and humans to come closer together and the outcome is not always good.       


What dolphins have been going through since humans started paying attention to them

By: Charlotte Jewell

Getting close to dolphins was a bad thing, but feeding them is a bigger problem than we think! The core of the problem was (and still is!) is tourists. Tourists probably don’t know or if they do know, they don’t care don’t care.

First of all feeding them is a federal offense, it can also change the dolphins behavior. Feeding them tells them that they can go close to boats, it also shows their offspring to beg instead of hunting. According to Amber Kuehn, who works for the Coastal Discovery Museum and also leads dolphin research excursions, “Dolphins don’t taste their food,They swallow it whole; they’re lazy like people are.” Dolphins are creatures that eat live food, they don’t usually eat canned food, like sardines. They usually eat herring or mackerel, without human bacteria on it. According to a Kuehn, “Fish are their source of fresh water so dolphins that eat human food can become dehydrated and eventually die.”

Dolphins may seem cute and cuddly but their have been several incidents where people have gotten hurt just by trying to feed dolphins! According to Wayne Mcfee, research wildlife biologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Charleston, “We’ve had numerous instances of people being bitten by them, and these animals have anywhere from 80 to 100 sharp, conical teeth.” Another problem is Sea World in San Diego. Sea World has been basically  torturing dolphins and other sea life! Humans have pretty much taken over the world. seriously. Dolphins are related to humans, why should we torture them when we don’t like being tortured! Dolphins have their own life! We shouldn’t disturb their lives! They are living creatures!!!


DEAD SEA

By Roman Stadler

Some of the most important texts in history are the dead sea scrolls. Some goat herders found a cave in the desert called Judean in Israel. There were some teenagers who found bottles sorted into rows and that had some text in it. The text had a series of paper the jars that the found it in. According to the Washington Post, they were so old that some of the writing was not there and disintegrated. “They found the oldest writing known to humans.” The Arab explorers found the 12th scroll and it was written in hebrew and a few were written in greek and Aramaic.

The scrolls were 2,000 years old. Some of the scrolls were broken up into small bits and even though they were small the can be sold for a lot of money. People found the scrolls with some of the torah in it and the Ten Commandments. The torah is a scroll in judaism and it is all in Hebrew. It is the book that Jewish people read on shabbat.  And also one of the most important archeological discoveries of the 20th centuries.   In 60 years we’ll have a new first cave. Some of the caves had arrowheads and knives and different artifacts in the caves. Israel antiquities authorities told the archaeologists to go to the Qumran cave and protect the scrolls from the looters. It is a race as more looters are looking for more pieces of the paper. According to the Washington Post, “Finds of huge importance are still waiting to be discovered.”


What causes the tide in the ocean

By Jeevan

Tides happen when the moon’s gravitational pull pulls up the water onto the shore. Why does the tide come and go?  When the earth rotates the moon’s gravitational pull pulls on part of the earth then when the earth rotates it pulls on the other part of the earth. Are the tide’s the same everywhere? No if the earth was perfectly round and all water  the tides would be the same.
There is still a lot to learn about tides.   


Greeks By Sea

By Phoebe

“Poseidon at Sea”

Hello, have you ever wondered about Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea? Poseidon has two brothers, Zeus and Hades. Zeus rules the sky while Hades rules the underworld, and Poseidon rules the sea.

Poseidon’s symbols of power are  the trident and the horse. He married a  nayade, a girl whose life source depends on the ocean named Ameritrade. Poseidon is the second most powerful Greek god. The Greeks believed that to cross the Mediterranean, a sea in the Greek area, you would need to make a sacrifice to Poseidon unless you wanted for your boat  to sink and you to drown. Poseidon liked white bulls most of all. The Greeks also believed that Poseidon could make earthquakes  with his trident.  This is very common for Greek gods to act selfish and picky. As the article, Myths and Legends, explains, “Like the sea he can be calm and quiet at times, and then raging and violent.” This basically sums up Poseidon’s  natcher.

Poseidon is said to have an army of cyclopes and a war chariot pulled by hippocampi, fish tailed horses.  Once, Olympus was attacked by giants and Poseidon fought and killed a giant named Polybotes.  Poseidon can be helpful like when he helped Zeus send the evil Titan lord Kronos  to Tartarus. Poseidon does not enjoy the company of his brother, Zeus. One time he, Athena, and Hera wanted to take over and make the Olympian council to make fair.   These three Greek gods had the idea of not just Zeus ruling but all the Olympian gods ruling with equal power. In the end they were not successful. Poseidon wanted everything to be fair but being the second most powerful Greek god  he did not always get fair. Now that you see that Poseidon is fantastic you should make a sacrifice to Poseidon next time you go on the water.


Animals in Strange Places

By Justin

Several million years ago the Isthmus of Panama (a thin strip of land in between North America and South America) formed causing the Great American Biotic Interchange, when land animals could cross from North America to South America.

The Isthmus of Panama

Some experts think something similar is happening in the arctic. A team of experts led by Seabird Mckinnon wrote a paper that explores what they call faunal exchange. Faunal exchange is when animals from multiple different places are able to travel to other places and become invasive species. The paper looks at the increase of animals found in the wrong ocean recently and says that the reason for this is global warming in the arctic. Is says that normally animals can’t swim through the arctic because of sea ice. This is the same for birds, except they can fly over the ice, but the paper says that because of the sea ice, they can’t dive for food. But the paper says that global warming is melting the sea ice, making paths for animals to follow. This could have dramatic effects to the environment including changes to the food chain.

But some people don’t like the paper. “Some people might feel that this paper is not loaded down with evidence – they’re basically talking about 10 or 20 species that have been seen out of their geographic range – but they make a good point,” said Larry Crowder, science director for Stanford University’s Center for Ocean Solutions. (He was not involved with the paper). “If there hasn’t been a gray whale in the Atlantic in 200 years and now there is one, that’s a change,” hHe added. Kristin Laidre, a principal scientist at the University of Washington’s Polar Science Center said that the ideas in the paper aren’t new to the scientific community. “I think in the kind of ecological studies that consider the consequences of ice loss, the idea that species in the Pacific may become more connected with species in the Atlantic [or vice versa] isn’t really a new idea.” Kristin Laidre was the head author of a paper that was about arctic marine mammals and how they are dealing with climate change. The paper also realizes the likelihood that arctic animals will move towards oceans that they aren’t supposed to be in. A good number of the animals mentioned in Kristin Laidre paper are also mentioned in Seabird Mckinnon’s paper. Pacific auks and Atlantic northern gannets have both been spotted in the wrong ocean along with a gray whale spotted off the coast of Israel. These sightings have increased in recent years, and I am looking forward to see what would happen if polar bears showed up in New York for example. I want to see if they would change color or not, and if they would all be put in the zoo.

Casting Off

Cardboard Boats

Today saw the fruition of an ambitious project! The blue band went to Stow Lake to test the boats they built from cardboard and plastic.  The beauty of this project is that even though both boats ended up as piles of card board slush, everyone came out of the experience feeling like they had done something great.

Cardboard Boats

My goal as an educator isn’t to prepare the next generation of boat builders but rather to foster the skills that will help these kids turn their aspirations into reality.  In this project we were breaking down and reflecting on the qualities of good teamwork and leadership.

 

Cardboard Boats

We started this project with a couple of team building challenges.  The blue band had to work together to crack the code of this matrix.  They discovered that the missteps they made were important information.  They had to work together to track and convey the proper order of steps to unlock the puzzle. In another team building challenge the students had to stand in a tight circle and pick up pieces of paper far out of their reach.  They discovered that to be successful they had to physically counter balance each other and use their words to communicate.

Untitled

Referencing these challenges the group built a rubric of qualities that makes up good team work.  Here is the list they came up with:

  • Communicate in a clear and kind way.
  • Listen and snap ideas together.
  • Care for each other when we make mistakes because they are important parts of learning.
  • Appreciate other people’s strengths instead of focusing on what they aren’t doing.
  • Be helpful and focused.

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Because we were working in a new medium with a dangerous tool, we sat down with a cardboard master, our very own Willow.  He gave the students techniques to cut cardboard safely and effectively with a box cutter.  Thus prepared, the blue band was split into teams and got started sketching and modeling their ideas.

Cardboard Boats

After a day of creating models the teams came together snap together their separate ideas.  First they looked for similarities in their designs and then they figured out what other features they should include.  This process of turning individual ideas into a collective vision is really difficult and requires a high level of communication, flexibility and good will.  I was impressed by the way both teams built upon each other’s ideas

Cardboard Boats

When the teams had settled on designs they got to work cutting and taping together their boats!  A mantra for those easily distracted was, “How can I help?”  For those who were trying on leadership roles, they practiced seeing people’s strengths and passions and finding jobs that leveraged those strengths.

Cardboard Boats

Ronan and Isaac applied the laws of buoyancy that we’d been discovering in order to calculate how much weight their boats could safely carry.  They calculated the volume of their boats and figured out the weight of the water it would displace.  They predicted that both of the boats would be able to carry over a thousand pounds of weight.  Theoretically, these boats could carry a couple of 9 and 10 year olds with no problem.

Cardboard Boats

Their final step was to wrap their boats in plastic to protect the cardboard from turning to slush.

Cardboard Boats

Despite the mathematical modeling that predicted the boats could carry thousands of pounds, everyone was dubious of these boat’s ability to actually float.  Before leaving for Stow Lake almost everyone predicted disaster.  The boat will flip over, the walls will cave in, they will sink!

Cardboard Boats

Because the kids had envisioned all the ways that these boats would fail, the moment when Soleil and Sadie stepped into their boat for the first time was met with shrieks of delighted disbelief.  As they pushed off into the lush green waters of Stow Lake the crowd of on lookers accumulating on the banks cheered.

The second boat was just as much a success.

Cardboard Boats

As Gita and Lily glided out onto the lake passerby’s stopped to ask the kids left on the bank what the heck was going on.  What kind of strange and amazing school is this that sends students out in homemade cardboard boats!

It was a beautiful day to paddle on the lake.

Cardboard Boats

After 15 minutes or so of leisurely paddling both boats started to take on water from tears in the plastic.  Sadie and Soleil were able to paddle back to the bank before they had taken on too much water.

Cardboard Boats

Lily and Gita, however, got stuck in some trees and weren’t able to paddle back to shore.  I had to make a rescue on my surfboard!

Cardboard Boats

Whether they felt upset or exhilarated by their experiences in the sinking boats, the sailors and their teams met the challenge with bravery and compassion.  Later, having changed into dry clothes, the band gathered over hot cocoa to appreciate each other for the contributions they made to this ambitious project.  They reflected on the part they played in their group and ways they would like to grow as a team member.  A toast to the blue band who met with challenges and didn’t lose sight of the most important thing: each other!

Cardboard Boats

 

 

 

Sailing, Squid, and Monterey Bay

The Teal and Violet Bands have been sailing full steam ahead (wow, the number of water-related puns are unbelievable) these past two weeks. We have dedicated ourselves to studying sailing and beginning to explore marine biology.

In preparation for our sailing trip on the Bay, we spent a day with the crew at The San Francisco Sailing Club. They taught use how to tie a number of important sailor’s knots, including the bowline and figure eight. By the end of the lesson, there were a number of the kids tying the bowline with their eyes closed or even behind their backs.

A lesson on knots and sailing from the crew at The San Francisco Sailing Club.

Learning to tie bowline knots.

They explored the parts of a sailboat and the number of different sailboats there are, based on the number of masts, placement of masts, and sails. Since sailboats rely on the wind to move them forward, it is important to understand the placement of the sails in relation to the wind and the intended direction of the boat. To learn this, the crew taught the bands about points of sail.

As a sailboat relies on wind, a sailor most know the points of sail.

Following our field trip to the sailing club, the bands worked in groups to expand their understanding of the points of sail. Each group was tasked with making a simple 3D interactive model, made mainly out of cardboard, that would allow the user to position both the boat and sails depending on the wind and intended direction of the boat. It’s pretty incredible to figure out how you can use the wind to sail almost into it, but they’ll tell you, not directly, we don’t want flags for sails.

Creating models to teach the points of sail.

Points of sail models act as interactive teaching tools.

To begin our exploration into marine biology and in preparation for our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, we took a dive (yet another water pun) into the lives of those of the phylum Mollusca, specifically squid. We explored what traits all mollusks share and explored the main classes of mollusks before focusing on the anatomy of squid. We discussed adaptations (chromatophores – skin coloring) and methods of movement (jet propulsion using a siphon.)

Exploring the phylum Mollusca, specifically squid.

Feeling a bit creative, the Teal and Violet bands painted their own giant squid. Hopefully soon, we’ll have an entire sea of creatures swimming over the dining room.

Fingerpainting our own squid.

We spent Monday morning getting our hands dirty (and a bit stinky) dissecting squid. We explored the exterior and interior anatomy, locating a number of parts including the gills, beak, gonad (yup, we could differentiate the females and the males,) ink sac and pen. It was pretty incredible to dissect the eyes as well, locating and removing the spherical lens. Squid dissections are pretty exciting because they also end with a delicious treat, fried calamari. The entire school was excited to enjoy it with us.

Exploring the interior anatomy of squid.

Bonus treat from squid dissection: fried calamari.

On Tuesday, we journeyed down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for a lesson on the adaptations of a number of invertebrates that live amongst the waves. They looked at how the sand star and urchin have adapted to protect themselves in coastal areas, regularly beaten by waves, using small suction feet. They also explored how organisms such as sand crabs and anemones use the movement of the waves to their benefit of acquiring food. After our class, we got to take in all the incredible exhibits at the aquarium. Make sure to read to the bottom for a view of my favorite.

Exploring the adaptations of the sea life that live and thrive among the waves.

On Thursday, we got out on the water with the San Francisco Sailing Company. We all piled onto the 28′ Santa Maria and set sail for the Golden Gate (unfortunately, the fog kept us from making it all the way to the bridge.) As we navigated the waters, the crew would regularly quiz the bands on our point of sail. It was truly impressive how many of them really understood the concept. During our trip, we came across a square sail replica tall ship, rode the quake of a number of larger boats, and traveled under the Bay Bridge.

Sailing with the San Francisco Sailing Company.

And I shall leave you with the reason I love visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium…the jellyfish.

 

What Floats Our Boats? Exploring Density and Buoyancy

The Balclutha is a 3-masted square rigger; 301 feet long and clocking in at 1,689 tons – how in the world do such ships not simply sink to the bottom of the ocean? Much less carry cargo?

 

Just how does a massive ship, made of steel and wood, manage to stay afloat? The Orange Band began their explorations into the ideas of buoyancy and vessels at the Hyde Street San Francisco Maritime National Park Association. The kiddos had an opportunity to assist in the build of a Bevin’s skiff (a small rowboat) and take a spin in a completed skiff out on the San Francisco Bay!

Boat construction begins with drawn scaled, iterations from multiple angles – this reminded the Orange Band of their processes during project time.

The Maritime Park crew work with high school students from Downtown High to build Bevin’s skiffs. This skiff, being built over a skeleton to support and maintain the shape, is about halfway done.

Progress on the boat must be slow and methodical – here, Lucy, Charlotte, and Phoebe apply adhesive – liquid cement – to the newly attached plank.

Lucy is just the right size to fill in holes with the cement adhesive from the inside of the support frame.

Meanwhile, Justin, Roman, Amiya, and Jeevan pushed off for a trip around Aquatic Park in the Bevin’s skiff, learning the commands for rowing a small boat.

Maneuvering in the water took coordination (with the rower in front or behind you AND at your side) and good listening skills. Glenn, our captain in the skiff, called out directions to keep the rowers and swimmers in the water safe.

Lucy holds her oar, waiting for Captain Glenn’s next direction.

It was a gorgeous day on the Bay – we had spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge as the fog began to roll in over the city.

AND got to experience the thrill of sea-life in the wold: sea lions playing in the Bay!

It only takes a bit of imagination to see the SF Bay at the height of its shipping era; just a little squint and the right light and it is teeming with boats of all sizes, once again!

*Meanwhile, Back at the (Brightworks) Ranch*

The Orange Band was raring to get out on the water again – or at least begin boat construction of their own designs. But we had to take a giant step back before setting sail. Before we could jump into building boats in our shop, we needed to become familiar with the science behind what allows any substance float on water.

So, the kiddos were presented with a series of items: ceramic, wood, steel, and plastic. Their task was to measure the volume and mass of each set of items, graph the data, and then compare that to water.

Finding the volume of irregularly shaped (or non-rectangular) objects is tricky – unless you use the water displacement method, credited to the Greek mathematician, Archimedes.

Jeevan works to carefully measure the volume of wood blocks – first in displaced milliliters – and NOT include the tip of his pencil in his data collection.

Justin uses the scale to calculate the mass of the steel in his bag. A big takeaway from this activity was clarifying the difference between mass (how much matter an object is made up of – a constant) and weight (a measurement of the force of gravity on an object)

Phoebe measures the mass of the ceramic tile pieces multiple times to ensure an accurate reading. Good practices for data collection!

Lucy and Charlotte divide the work in finding the volume of multiple items.

Once our measurements had been double and triple checked, kiddos graphed the data and observed four lines with very different slopes. Then the Orange Band measured and graphed the volume and mass of various amounts of water. With little deviation, the data collection revealed that water’s volume and mass are equal in value!

This information, graphed, gave a clear picture of which items would float (wood, with a line slope smaller than water’s) and which would not (any item with a line slope steeper than water’s). The work gave the students an opportunity to see WHY we graph – and brought to light the formula for density (density = mass/volume) and its relationship to buoyancy. Next up? (Small) Boat Building!

Next, kiddos were given a challenge: build a boat out of  a 12″ x 12″ piece of aluminum foil that holds the MOST mass. While the constrictions of the challenge were met with some resistance (Couldn’t we just add toothpicks? Or use some tape?), they provided an opportunity to work within controlled conditions and compare their results!

Charlotte and Phoebe discuss their options for the foil boat challenge.

Like the more complicated Bevin’s skiff, Orange Band’s foil boats began with a sketch!

Roman works on his second iteration of the boat hull. It was a challenge to ONLY use a single sheet of foil for each boat.

How high should the sides of the hull be? What is the best shape for the bottom?

The pinched, oval-shaped hull was a popular choice. Kiddos discussed the need to make their boats “water-dynamic,” able to cut through the water with ease.

 

Amiya and Jeevan’s crafts were able to hold the most mass (over 300 g) – in addition to the shape of their hulls, they paid careful consideration to how they filled the boat, balancing the washers inside their craft as they added more.

These forays into how vessels carry mass that is greater than the crafts, themselves, set the stage for the Orange Band’s next explorations: What are the factors that affect the success of such crafts?

Next on the docket: deeper dives into density and shape of hulls and ships.

The Orange Band still has some more work to do in understanding the “how” and “why” of by-sea movement – at least before we take our designs out to the big blue waters…

Lest we encounter such dire catastrophes at sea, as Amiya envisions!