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.
The Teal Band has been working nonstop on their projects and even handled the news that their presentations had been moved up a day to help out another band quite well. What follows are their own words about this Expression phase.
Piper: So far to learn about sheep and wool I went to Slide Ranch and talked to the person who takes care of the goats and sheep. She told me all about how they send the wool to a place called Lompoc to get cleaned and turned into yarn. I also completed a map showing the route that you would go on if you were going to Slide Ranch.
I’m having fun. Next, I’ll work on the written part. I’m making a book with 6 page that’s like a comic book. A sheep is the main character and it’s talking about how it’s wool is getting processed into yarn.
Freddie: My project is about Urban coyotes. I wanted to learn about why they are coming to urban areas like the city. I have been able to make a map, write a research paper, and start my slideshow. One of my main problems was focus. I couldn’t really focus and my experts weren’t writing back to me, so I got some new ones and sure enough they replied. It was hard to find experts on a subject that hasn’t been a real project. Next project I will focus more.
Jared: I am working on a project with my friend Patrick. We, as our project are making a RC car. So far In my project with Patrick, I have learned many things.
- I’ve learned how to solder
- I learned how to use a glue gun and be cautious.
- And even a little bit how a RC car works!
The first thing we needed to do was to convince our educators to give us money to buy the parts, which we did both. When our parts arrived, I brought in popsicle sticks to build the frame of the car. After we made the frame of the car and showed it to our expert he said that we needed one more part and that our car frame was lopsided and that would be hard to work with, and since we’re waiting for one more part might as well make a new one. This was bad because we only had five days left till we have to finish and the frame took more than a WEEK. So the next day, we got right to work. Patrick started to work on the car frame and I worked on presentations and took some photos of him working to include in the presentation.
Patrick: Jared and I started the project half of the arc with the idea of building an RC car. We had some trouble focusing on writing our declaration, but we managed to finish it before the second week after winter break.
The two of us managed to get our declaration approved, and this is where we were like, “Ok. We’re really doing this.” We asked Jack to help us put a parts list together so we don’t order parts that don’t work together. We also asked Aiden to give us a soldering class. He taught us a few techniques for soldering and let us try to use them.
We spent about a month deciding the final parts that we would order. The parts arrived the next week and we got to work on our frame. Jared brought in a box of large Popsicle sticks that we cut then hot glued together into a chassis. We asked Aiden if he would help us solder our parts, only for him to tell us that our frame was lopsided and it would be very hard to make it work, and that we needed a new part so another part didn’t get fried. He suggested that we make a new frame while we wait for the part, and once we finished that he would help us.
We stop there, for there is the end of our story, or rather all that we have. We still have to finish our car, finish our presentation and practice it, and then build a poster board for Expo night.
Aurora: For my project, I decided to work with Nora and Selina on a project about ancient civilizations. There are three main components to the project. The first component is personal civilizations. In this part of the project, each person in the project made a Google doc where we could write about our civilizations. The second component of the project is the trade route map. This we all worked on together. We printed out a map of North America, got some plexiglass and we traced our trade routes onto the plexiglass and then laid them on top of the map and put the plexiglass and the map in a frame. The last component of the project is our models. The models were in my opinion, the hardest part. We had quite a few iterations on our models. The first one we made out of paper they looked crude and ugly. The second and third iterations were made out of card stock and the final iteration was made out of foam board.
Selina: In case you don’t know about it, I am going to quickly explain my project. I did (and am still doing) a project with Aurora and Nora. We are each designing our own civilization in very different locations. I’m in a forest, Nora’s in a prairie, and Aurora’s in an icy snowy place. We each designed our own mode of transportation that would best suit our civilizations and made scale models of them. We also made maps of our civilizations and our trade routes.
One of the things I learned through doing this is how to make a good to-scale model. This involves designing, cutting, and putting it together. To design, I decided to use SketchUp, which is an app that is used to design, well, anything. Sketchup is awesome, but it also involves learning how to use it, which is a given, I guess. Anyways, after I learned how to use SketchUp, I designed my first iteration in it. At the time, I thought it was pretty good, so I made my first paper model, then I made a to-scale paper model. I made two more paper models, but I added and changed some things. After four paper models, I decided I was ready to make my final foam board model. I got the foam board, marked it all out, cut it, then glued it together. Sort of anticlimactic. But, I did learn how to properly cut things with small Exacto blades. I also learned how to re-think my models and how to use advice from other people to improve what I built.
One challenge we faced was adding the element of randomness to our resources. We did this by using something called wheeldecide.com. This was not a very good system, but it was the only one we could find. This website worked by having you insert a list of things you would like it to choose from, then click a wheel. The wheel would spin, then it would give you the answer. The problem with this system is that it takes 5 seconds for the wheel to spin, and it needed to be spun at least 24 times. If you do the math, that means about two minutes of spinning every day, not counting recording the list and putting it into Google sheets, which takes most of the time. In total, it would take about ten minutes to get our resources, every day. But wait, there’s more! We also traded with each other and used our resources to build things, which takes about 5 minutes. That adds up to fifteen minutes of resource stuff, per day! That might not seem like much, but we had a lot of stuff to do, and sometimes we would skip resources entirely, which means double time tomorrow! Yay! Basically, it took a lot of time every day. So, we had a problem. Now the question is, how do we solve it? Unfortunately, this isn’t one of the stories where we figure out some genius solution that is super amazing and all. I asked my sister (Amelia) if she knew any solutions. She kindly answered that she could really easily code something that would give us a list of all our resources in less than a second. So, thanks to my sister, we can gain our resources and move on with our lives.
Through this project, I learned a lot, but the most important thing I learned was how to work together with my friends, how to stay focused and include everyone’s opinion. That is definitely something that is crucial in projects and friendships.
Nora, Patrick, and Huxley’s words to come soon 🙂