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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The last few weeks have been busy. We’ve explored the stories of the Chinese immigrants in Chinatown, researched sea creatures, made paper mache models, prepared declarations, and even made lunch for the entire school. Now it’s time to fully launch into projects. This time around we have a wonderful collection of projects that truly speak to each Teal Bander and their interests. Below is their proposed project introduction from their declarations.
Selina: I am proposing to do a series of experiments on algae:
- It turns out that the limiting factor of algae growth is the amount of iron in the water. In combination with researching how much oxygen algae produces per square inch and calculate the amount of algae that would need to be grown to counter the carbon footprint produced by the average family, I would like to try increasing the amount of iron in the water to figure out how much iron would need to be dumped into the ocean to counter the family’s carbon footprint production. This could be used in huge quantities to stop, or at least slow down, global warming.
- Growing algae in different solutions such as different salinities and pHs to observe possible variation in growth rate.
- Growing algae in polluted environments to observe what effect global warming/pollution will have on algae growth in the future.
- Try growing Euglena gracilis, a type of algae, under a heat lamp. Euglena gracilis is a type of algae that, when grown in temperature from 31 to 35 c, loses it’s color and turns white.
Along with my experiments, I want to write a small research paper on sea anemones, specifically the giant green anemone, and their symbiotic relationship with algae.
Piper: For my project, I am proposing to learn about the ways people and organizations help to save sea turtles. I will write a research paper on sea turtles and the reasons they need saving and the ways people work to save them. I will also find an organization to support. I will make sea creature stuffed animals to sell and raise money for the organization. I will include a little “bio” about each type of sea creature with them.
Patrick: I want to write an online fiction on the hosting site RoyalRoadL.
I found it a while back in January and have been hooked on it ever since with about 24 open fictions that I am keeping up on. I’ve wanted to write one of my own for about two weeks now and believe my project time will be well spent doing something I’m passionate about. My fiction will connect with the By Sea Arc because I will be incorporating research around hydraulics, fire pistons, and sailing cultures such as the Vikings. I won’t really need anything for this project, just time, wi-fi, a computer and my imagination. Overall, I think this would teach me to be prepared for deadlines and how to focus better on what I’m supposed to be doing.
Nora: For my project, I will be trying to figure out why sargassum is suddenly coming to the shore in mounds and mounds making it impossible to swim. I will also write a paper on sargassum, along with making a detailed model that would explain all of the different parts (e.g. the purpose of the grape-like balls filled with air so they will float on the surface of the water.)
Jonah: For my project, I am proposing to build a mini hydropower plant. This hydropower plant will use water to power a light bulb. Water will travel through a canal and over a waterwheel to create the power. As this is my first project, I want to take on something that won’t be too difficult, but is still fun, so I can take my time learning about the project phase. Huxley is helping me with the understanding of the energy flow. I think the hardest part about my project will be getting power from the generator to light the light bulb. I will also be researching hydropower, such as the positives and negatives of its use and creation.
Jared: My proposed project is on dolphin communication and echolocation. Dolphins are seen as highly intelligent and appear to have a language of their own that consists of whistles and clicks. I am interested in researching more about how they communicate with one another and their communication process in general, both through sounds and body language. Along with communicating, they use their clicks to help them echolocate. I will be writing a research paper and creating a short documentary on dolphin communication and echolocation.
Huxley: Instantly inflatable devices for drowning prevention have been released out into the market, however, their compressed CO2 system does not allow them to be larger scale than a personal device such as a bracelet that inflates to the size of a small balloon. Super-corroding alloys are made by combining a noble metal and a highly corrosive metal. When in contact with water, the noble metal forces the corrosive metal to corrode at an extremely accelerated rate, forming corrosive metal hydroxide or oxide, and a gigantic amount of H2. I want to create a instantly inflatable flotation device using supercoroding alloys, as proof of concept that this process would be able to produce a larger scale flotation device.
Freddie: I, Fredrica Lipsett would like to propose my By Sea arc project where I study the natural history and evolution of barnacles. I would like to:
- write a research paper,
- make a major evolutionary family tree poster
- do a dissection of both barnacle species
- anatomical drawings and draw diagrams of barnacles.
As there are over 1,400 different species of barnacles, I have decided to do my research on two specific barnacles. The first is the Acorn Barnacle which is the most common and the second is the Buoy Barnacles.
Aurora: For my project I am interested in researching the transportation of goods by sea. This project would include a number of parts:
- Tracking an object from where it was made to Brightworks.
- Interviewing experts in manufacturing and shipping to understand the manufacturing and delivery process.
- Research how goods are packaged, how efficient it is to ship them from point A to point B by cargo ship, as well as how truck and train transportation affects the cost, monetarily and environmentally.
- Make a model of a shipping container that, in an emergency, will float so that there will not be so many shipping containers at the bottom of the ocean where they scrape the hulls of boats and hurt the ecosystems.
These next seven weeks will be another wonderful adventure through the Expression Phase.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
And I shall leave you with the reason I love visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium…the jellyfish.
The Teal Band launched right into The Movement of Things By Sea Arc this week. We began the week with a mind map of where the exploration phase of this arc will take us. Our large topics of study will include Immigration Stories, especially those who came through Angel Island in the first half of the 1900s, Marine Biology and Ecology, Density and Buoyancy (I expect they will all be able to spell buoyancy by the end of the arc,) Sailing, and Sailing Cultures.
We began reading The Dragon’s Child by local author Laurence Yep. The story is a fictionalized biography of Yep’s grandfather’s and father’s emigration from China to the United States via Angel Island when his father was only nine years old. Through this story and the stories of many others who came through Angel Island on their journey to America, the Teal Band (along with the Violet Band) will build empathy and understanding of their immigration experiences. In a couple of weeks, we will visit the Angel Island Immigration Station with the Violet Band, where these people were detained for weeks, months or even years at a time before being allowed into the country, and write our own historical diaries from the experiences we’ve read and heard stories of.
Much of our exploration will be done alongside the Violet Band this arc and we launched that partnership with an exploration into the relationships of mass, volume and density. Working together in teams, they found the mass of five different items, ceramic tiles, steel nuts, pvc pipes, wood and water, as well as their volumes using displacement. After finding and recording this data, they graphed the volume and mass (whoops! didn’t get a picture of the finished graph,) discovering they found the density of each item. They concluded that those objects that float had a density lower than water and therefore a slope less than that of water (which they found to have a 1:1 ratio of mass:volume.) This discovery allowed them to hypothesize where other objects and liquids, such as oil, would fit on our graph.
After reading about the immigration tests required of the Chinese and Japanese looking to enter America through Angel Island, the Teal Band asked to be tested for entrance into the band space. They took time to interview one another, asking questions about siblings, favorite colors, and favorite animals. They also took note of the bandspace, particularly the number of specific objects in the space. When given the test on Wednesday morning, even our visitor looking to join us at Brightworks next year wanted in it.
Question: Would you have been able to remember exactly what your teacher was wearing the previous day when you were eleven years old?
On Thursday, the Teal Band took their exploration to Ocean Beach. We talked about how incredibly fortunate we are to live so close to this amazing body of water. We brainstormed data we could collect over the day, such as types of water vessels seen, times they were spotted and if they were headed inbound or outbound from the Golden Gate. We also took time to listen to the stories of those that crossed that vast ocean on boats, looking to start a new life on “Gold Mountain,” aka America.
As always, the Teal Band had to build a fire and have a fire naming ceremony. Thanks to Freddie’s bacon fat fire starters, the fire was named Porky. After story time and fire chants, the Teal Band took a walk down the beach where they found another body of water up on the beach. They wondered if it has always been there or was a result of the recent rains. They also wondered about how deep it is. Luckily, they stayed dry and no one found out the answer to that question.
We wrapped up the week with a day on the field. We had been explicit all week about the importance of kindness, both towards others and yourself. Friday morning, we joined Jay, Nathan and Evan on the field to play a few team building games. They had to work together to strategize and support one another in order to be successful. Some Teal Banders found their voices as leaders, while others were happy to sit back some and support the team. It was wonderful to hear them cheer one another on and listen to everyone’s ideas.
Just a heads up! We have a number of exciting field trips ahead of this month to truly explore The Movement of Things By Sea.