The past weeks in the Orange Band have been filled with adventures out in our communities, as well as journeys inward. Students have taken trips, small and large, examine what it means to work, explore, and know each other as learners and individuals. The time has flown by as we continued our community building, workshop building, and dives into the smaller things that move by air!
Our Communal Table
Orange Band’s workshop build has focused on the communal table, now in its final stages. With thoughtful determination and focus, students have added onto and strengthened our frame, as well as continued to work through with great perseverance on the trickier aspects of the plan. Often, this meant a day’s work in the shop resulted in simply realigning one particular beam. Even more often, the movable leg extension prototype or plan could not be used and it was back to the drawing board…again…for the third or fourth time! At times, it seemed as though the work was infinitesimal – or even nonexistent. And yet, in attending to the small detail of a misplaced screw, or another iteration of the leg extension, students were also practicing and honing that critical skill of grit. As psychologist and researcher Angela Duckworth writes in her book Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance, “grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it…it’s doing what you love, but not just falling in love―staying in love.” In the Orange Band, despite setbacks and frustrations, students have continued to work on our communal table with as much love as they had when they began in September.
This arc, the math focus continued to be on making sense of geometry and the math hidden in triangles, quadrilaterals, and pentagons. Orange Band students kept hands on the manipulatives as they sussed out the secrets of polygons. The prevalence of pattern blocks in the band space should not discredit the math being tackled! As Stanford professor Jo Boaler reminds us, “visual mathematics is an important part of mathematics for its own sake and new brain research tells us that visual mathematics even helps students learn numerical mathematics.” Using manipulatives can help make the more abstract mathematical properties concrete and within our grasp.
To this end, we have dug into the properties of polygons; created proofs to find the sums of interior angles; investigated the ways that shapes do – and don’t – create patterns; and used these conjectures and understandings to interrogate further what we know about geometry.
The Smallest Among Us
The exploration of the movement of things by air is a daunting one. People have been fascinated with our own flight for thousands of years, tracing back from ancient mythology to not-so-distant plans for planetary colonization; technology has only heightened the speed, distance, and ease with which we travel by air.
The Orange Band’s investigations into that which moves by air took on a much smaller scale than human travel. Students began to study a creature that rarely enters our frame of mind – unless one flies into our midst: bees! While people have been intricately intertwined with bees for centuries (the ancient Egyptians were beekeepers and honey devotees), only recently, we discovered, has the physics of bee flight – a clumsy and inefficient effort – been explained.
As we began to think more deeply about bees, it became clear that people’s interest in the tiny insect was always connected to how bee populations – the decline of them, to be specific – affect us. After digesting this stark reminder of people’s less than altruistic nature when it comes to the natural world, Orange Band students took a look at the importance of a bee and the critical first twenty-one days of a bee’s life. With colonies collapsing worldwide due to parasites, pesticides, and climate change, the plight of the simple bee has far reaching repercussions. Our research led us to a citizen science project tracking yet another honey bee parasite, Apocephalus borealis: ZomBee Watch.
The Communities Around Us
Part of our time together this arc has been spent exploring our surroundings – the immediate spaces and places we can walk to, as well as those at greater distances. Our forays in and out of the neighborhood serve to inform our understanding of how we relate to the world around us. Treks to the neighborhood community garden with the Blue Band offer a chance to take the same roads (a park at Park time somehow seems different from a park during the school day!) with new eyes – perhaps eyes that spy moss with a tardigrade lurking in it!
Our travels also give us a chance to see the breadth of our City, as we discovered on a recent trip to the Exploratorium. MUNI rides through San Francisco offer countless opportunities to see the people who live and work among us, as well as appreciate the special beauty of city landmarks peeking behind hills and around street corners. To say nothing of the fun and magic of museums like the Exploratorium, where we dove into the Sound and Light exhibits, as well as a jelly bean or two. 😉
Throughout these explorations, Orange Band students also continue to delve into sharing more and more of each other. How is it that in only a few short weeks, we seem to know so much about one another? How are we already so apt at anticipating reactions and allies in our endeavors? New friendships and old have sprung up and strengthened through this arc. Often evidenced in the quiet moments of writing and reflection time, the bus rides across San Francisco, and, of course, Friday Personal Shares.
As we gear up for a gathering at the end of this first arc, it is a marvelous thing to reflect upon how far we have come together! With this unique group of individuals setting the foundation for the arcs to come, I know I can’t wait.