Time flies when you’re having fun

Welcome back to the Red band blog! Our second arc began with an exploration with movement around our community. The Red band covers quite a bit of land and water each day during their journey to school. Some of us take cars, BART, or our two feet to get to school each day and we all walk up and down our block to spend time in both the Hive and Orchard. In order to track this movement we began our by-land study with mail. We asked how many days it would take to send a letter from 1920 Bryant to 1960 Bryant Street. We measured from our door to the post office and back and the distance between our two doors. Our 20 minute walk took three days by mail. If we are so close, how could it take so long? We mapped our experience then added our homes to the map. Creating a scale with our hands we found who lives closest and furthest to school and everyone in between before we sent ourselves a letter home. Based on our predictions we expected this to take anywhere from two to seven days for our letters to reach us.

Quinn uses his hand to measure the distances from BWX to our homes

Letters home going in with the stamped letters

November also brought National Novel Writing Month to us. I don’t know if you’ve picked up on this but the Red band loves animals and some of our favorites happen to travel by land: banana slugs, foxes, wolves, hedgehogs, zebras, cows, coyotes, and reindeer. Writing a novel is a pretty tall order when you’re learning to write so the band took a new approach, we would write a play starring our motley crew of animals. The kids set out to write a puppet show filled with animal journeys and encounters, then created another new entry for themselves filled with masks, stuffies, and costumes. To help our story building we went to the Cal Academy to visit two reindeer, Velvet and Tinsel, the farthest traveling land animals. These two particular reindeer, we learned, travel via horse trailer to spend some time in San Francisco. While our play transformed into the movement of tiny humans building a kid-sized puppet theater for themselves, complete with gold curtains and a hidden door, we will mark it as a success and continue to unfold the animals’ story.

Khalilah creates a Fennec fox

Sylvester and Dash help sew up their costume and puppet

The movement of mail inspired us to take a closer look at the vehicles that help move people and their things. We started by continuing the mail route via trains. We studied the movement of trains by dissecting their parts. Our attempt to create our own train cart ended with a disassembled engineer box, but led us to the Railway Museum searching for answers on how these are constructed and what powers them. Then a lesson on combustion came with a visit from Rich, a model engine, and a big flame.

Rich explains the necessary elements for firing a combustion engine

We learned about the evolution of street cars in SF and why the 38 is such an important bus line today

The Hive has been buzzing with projects all year; by-land has given us the opportunity to explore simple machines and pulleys, car and bus washes, topographical maps, and fences. Up next we have a covered wagon and Lego-hauling gondola – so stay tuned.

We’ll see you at Expo Night!

Approved and Off Running

It’s celebration time! All the of Teal Band project declarations were approved by the start of this week and they are all off running with their project work. To begin the celebration, here are all their wonderful “school photos” from this year.

Teal Band 2016/2017 – You can’t miss how special and unique they all are.

A few of them quickly found out how important it is to check on shipping times of products. When you want a product at a price that fits your budget, sometimes it’s coming from the other side of the planet and won’t arrive until the week of presentations. This realization was a great eye opener in regards to planning and being proactive in general. Huxley used this challenge as a way to re-evaluate his design in a way that pricier parts could be used, but fewer would be needed. Patrick and Jared continued to check in with their expert, Jack, to look for alternatives and find ways to save money in other places.

When you need to re-evaluate your design, Gever is an excellent expert.

Selina, Aurora, and Nora would be happy to work around the clock on their project if they were allowed to. While their project might be on ancient civilizations, they are certainly learning about a lot more than just that. They are learning to work successfully in a group with good friends, learning to hold one another accountable for her piece of the project, and how to write formulas in Google Sheets to track all their “resources.”

Piper experienced her first Expression Phase moment of “YESSSSS!” this past week while looking at a Google Maps driving route from Slide Ranch to her home. She figured out how she wants to present this portion of her project and it most certainly screams Piper. It’s moments like this that make all the stresses of a project completely worth it.

Sometimes it just takes looking at something in a new way to get your best idea yet.

Just like naturalists working to track down the story of the urban coyote migration to San Francisco and it’s surrounding areas, Freddie is working to track down her experts to get a piece of the story. We talked early on in the Expression Phase as a band about the importance of making initial contact with experts during declaration writing. Freddie did just that, but as is with many “experts,” they are just so busy with their everyday job responsibilities that they take quite some time to respond to the questions of a student. She is learning to adjust her schedule to work with the schedules of others while still being productive. A skill that will benefit her for a lifetime to come.

On top of their “By Land” projects, the Teal Band is still trying to complete their bridge project. This week they finished measuring and cutting the fabric and began the sewing portion. Huxley and Jared got lessons on sewing from Piper and Lindsay while the rest of the band worked to finish cutting the panels.

It takes a team to get all the measurements and cutting taken care of.

Jared gets a lesson on sewing from Lindsay.

And on top of all their hard work, the Teal Band still knows how to make one another laugh and smile….and me as well….with a silly morning welcome 🙂


It’s Time to Declare Those Projects

The week leading up to winter break and this first week back have been spent preparing for the Expression Phase of the By Land Arc. We spent time brainstorming project ideas and the routes to take to complete them. We worked together to create a declaration for our ‘Brightworks on a Bus’ (BOAB) band project. We talked about how the declaration is just as important as the final product.

Our By Land brainstorm included types of projects that could be completed, as well as ideas for the project.

We worked together to write up a declaration for our Brightworks on a Bus project.

We talked about how important it is to plan ahead and make time for multiple iterations.

For the next five weeks, the Teal Band will be working on an incredible collection of projects. Here is a sneak peek into what they will be working on.

Selina, Aurora, and Nora’s project introduction:

We find it really interesting how ancient civilizations, with their limited supplies and technology, managed to create their own modes of travel and use them to trade and thrive. Even today, people are thinking of new ways of transportation, because without transportation, we couldn’t trade or expand our cities and civilizations. Transportation allows growth, and in ancient times, it was a necessity. For our project, we want to each create our own civilization in three very different terrains, and experiment with different forms of transportation that would best suit our different landscapes. After we come up with a few different forms of transportation, we want to design them in GoogleSketchUpp and create to-scale models. While we are doing this, we will make maps of our civilizations and the civilizations we created will be trading with each other. We will also research what sort of resources there are in our landscapes, and build our civilization off of those. Every day each civilization will gain a certain amount of resources that they can use or trade. Our final product will be to-scale models of three different forms of transportation and maps of our civilizations.

Patrick and Jared’s proposed project introduction:

We are hoping to build an RC car. Now, the real question is will you let us?  Jared wanted to build a remote control car and Patrick wanted to help him through the first real project arc of the year. We decided to build an RC car first because we thought that we should take baby steps until we make a bigger version which you could ride in. Also, it would help both of us learn multiple things and become better friends along the way.


Piper’s proposed project introduction:

How does Slide Ranch get yarn to us? I would make a map to show how it would travel from being on a sheep to nice yarn that can be used and sold. I want to do this project because I love using yarn, and I want to know how it gets to me.

Freddie’s project introduction:

I, Fredrica Lipsett would like to propose my by land arc project where I study the migration patterns of urban coyotes and create a map showing their general locations. We have many urban coyotes in the Bay Area and I have always wondered, “How did they get here?” So, for my project I would like to learn why they have migrated here over the last number of years. I would also like learn about their habitat and how people track them. I’m interested because at Bernal Hill (where I live) there is a coyote living there and I am intrigued about how it got there. We have 70 Coyotes in San Francisco but no one knows if they came as a pack or if they came from different places in California and beyond.

Huxley’s proposed project introduction:

Dispelling fear of Maglev technology/electrodynamic suspension.

A Maglev is a high-speed train that uses repelling magnetic fields to levitate. The lack of friction allows Maglevs to achieve speeds of 603 km/h, while using only around half the energy a normal bullet train needs.

The Maglev is far more efficient, less polluting, and much faster than any other type of train, so why aren’t we seeing them everywhere?

Because most humans are afraid of the unknown, and therefore afraid of change. Protests have been set up because some people believe that they will be bombarded with harmful radioactivity from the Maglev. No scientific research supports this, and yet the protesters still believe, because they are afraid of the unknown, and new emerging technologies are classified as unknown. The same scenario is happening with self-driving cars, and has happened with smartphones.

In order for Maglev to become a reality, we need to dispel this fear. To do this, I propose that we make an RC toy, using Maglev technology.

How it works:

If a spinning magnetic field is placed on top of a conductive non-magnetic material, such as copper in the form of sheet metal, It will create eddy currents in the metal. Following Lenz’s law,

The direction of current induced in a conductor by a changing magnetic field due to faraday’s law of induction will be such that it will create a field that opposes the change that produced it.
The eddy currents will create a magnetic field that opposes the magnetic field that created it. A series of electromagnets in a ring, pulsing at specific times, could create this spinning magnetic field. If provided enough energy, this should keep a small vehicle aloft. Other rings of electromagnets on the sides of the vehicle could be pulsed in order to steer.



Surveying, Writing, Busing, Planning, Voting, Outlining, and As Always…Eating

These last two weeks have been quite an adventure for the Teal Band and the US. To start out, the Teal Band took a look at the results of their “Getting to School” questionnaire they had received so far. It was exciting to look at the data collected about the parents’ journeys to school, as well as where they were living at their child’s age. They noticed how many more parents traveled to school on their own or with friends, compared to the students of Brightworks, where the majority of the kids are arriving by car. They also began brainstorming new ways to use the data, such as planning car and walkpools to minimize the carbon footprint of getting to Brightworks.

Looking at where the parents who completed the questionnaire lived as kids and brainstorming what information and provocations can come about from the results.

Looking at where the parents who completed the questionnaire lived as kids and brainstorming what information and provocations can come about from the results.

Looking at some of the numbers associated with the

Looking at some of the numbers associated with the “Getting to School” questionnaire.

We saw the official launch of NaNoWriMo on November 1st and celebrated this by walking to Maxfield’s Cafe to write among the other adults there on their computers. While being incredibly productive, everyone enjoyed the treats they bought to eat and were excited when they saw a woman in there wearing her “2015 NaNoWriMo Winner” t-shirt.

Lauching NaNoWriMo writing in a cafe.

Lauching NaNoWriMo writing in a cafe.

As part of our exploration around the movement of education by land, we began looking into the busing that swept the US in the 60s and 70s, attempting to desegregate schools. Teal Band listed why they like being in Teal Band and why they are comfortable being where they are. Soon the band was being “bused” off to new schools, the Amber and Indigo Bands. Their initial reactions were largely that of excitement and wonder. Once they returned to the Teal Band, their reactions had flipped and many said they felt a lack of belonging and confusion. We discussed how something that was intended to “make things better” could have such a different outcome.

What happens when you love your school and community but are forced to leave it? A lot of feelings.

What happens when you love your school and community but are forced to leave it? A lot of feelings.

Our new

Our new “schools” we were bused to, a.k.a. the Amber and Indigo bands.

With Election Day on November 8th, we spent a full day reviewing 13 of the California propositions. They asked all the hard questions to get to the heart of each proposition. Where is this money coming from? What other group(s) will be losing out as a result? Who is backing this? Who is opposing it? It was amazing to hear from all the families how much their child helped them look deeper at their vote as a result of our conversations.

The results of our research and votes on a number of California's propositions.

The results of our research and votes on a number of California’s propositions.

They were tasked with finding our way around the city to our field trip destinations. Many wanted to jump right onto Google Maps, but quickly found out that they were going to start by using a Muni map and schedule. After coming up with a few different routes, we did use Google Maps to compare our results. We did a fairly good job planning our route using the map and schedule, but we also learned a number of tricks using Google Maps and reflected on what was most important to us regarding our travels, such as cost, time, and method of travel. As a result of all this work, we spent the next morning working on NaNoWriMo back at Maxfield’s and the afternoon at Little Skillet, where we also enjoyed some chicken, waffles and grits (because we have GRIT!)

Teal Band was tasked with finding our way for our field trip using the Muni map and schedule.

Teal Band was tasked with finding our way for our field trip using the Muni map and schedule.

A new spot to work on NaNoWriMo also includes grits and fried chicken.

A new spot to work on NaNoWriMo also includes grits and fried chicken.

After listening to a podcast entitled, “Why Busing Didn’t End Segregation,” on the Boston busing program, we also watched a video on why we live where we live in an attempt to see how urban geography creates segregation. We saw how particular groups of people end up in certain areas as the result of transportation and the layout of cities and suburbs. We discussed how it was this sort of “natural segregation” that led to busing programs in parts of the country where segregation was not originally law.

On Friday, we spent some time looking at how we can use outlines to help us organize our thoughts before writing and used these skills to reflect on the discussion we had the day before on busing and segregation. We will continue to work on outlining to organize our thoughts, notes and writing.

Using outlines help us in so many ways.

Using outlines help us in so many ways.

Using our outlining skills to share what we learned about

Using our outlining skills to share what we learned about “What Busing Didn’t End Segregation.”

The Launch of By Land and NaNoWriMo

After an amazing week in the Mendocino Woodlands, the Teal Band had to come back to the reality that is Brightworks and the start of a new arc and the launch of NaNoWriMo. They began their week with a visit from Piper’s father Evan, who shared his process of writing children’s picture books. The story of writing his first book, shared with the band ways to look to their personal experiences for story ideas, even if the story takes you to a fantastical world where animals talk, drive trucks, and hold down jobs. During the remainder of the week, the band looked at elements of writing, character development, and plot lines. They mapped out the plot of Evan’s Giraffe Rescue Service, seeing it as a rollercoaster, with the climax of the story peaking at the top of the first hill.

Piper shares the illustrations drawn by Evan, as he reads his book 'Giraffe Rescue Service' to the Teal and Blue bands.

Piper shares the illustrations drawn by her dad, as he reads his book ‘Giraffe Rescue Service’ to the Teal and Blue bands.

Using 'Giraffe Rescue Service,' the Teal Band looked at the rollercoaster ride that is a plot line.

Using ‘Giraffe Rescue Service,’ the Teal Band looked at the rollercoaster ride that is a plot line.

Planning for NaNoWriMo is in full swing.

Planning for NaNoWriMo is in full swing.

Everyone has their own way of planning for NaNoWriMo.

Everyone has their own way of planning for NaNoWriMo.

On Tuesday afternoon, we had the opportunity to hear from a few members of the Mission District and Bernal Heights’ Hispanic communities. They shared their connection to Alex Nieto and his story in preparation for those attending Loco Bloco’s play, “On the Hill: I am Alex Nieto.” They also shared stories of others in the community, many of whom are greatly affected by the gentrification occurring in San Francisco. This is not always an easy conversation to have, but it is an important one that we will continue throughout the year and for years to come.

Hearing the stories of Alex Nieto and the gentrification of San Francisco.

Hearing the stories of Alex Nieto and the gentrification of San Francisco.

On our way to catch BART on Wednesday morning, we took a slight detour down Clarion Alley. This alley sits between Mission Street, a street that still holds on to much of its original Mission District roots, and Valencia Street, one that has seen a lot of change due to gentrification. It is home to numerous murals painted by the Clarion Alley Mural Project. We took the time to stop and look at a few that addressed struggles of San Francisco and the changes its facing as its population continues to grow.

Murals on Clarion Alley, making a statement about San Francisco.

Murals on Clarion Alley, making a statement about San Francisco.

More Clarion Alley murals getting their message across through art.

More Clarion Alley murals getting their message across through art.

On Thursday, we really began to look at the “movement of education by land,” a concept we will be focusing on this arc. We started our journey into this exploration by watching the documentary “On the Way to School” (trailer is below.) It follows four groups of children around the world on their often dangerous and long journeys to get to school. When asked to reflect on the children’s experiences, Selina wrote:

I think that a lot of children across the world have to make long journeys like this to get to school because a lot of towns don’t have enough resources to have a school. So they send their children on journeys to other bigger towns that can afford to have schools. I think that the reason that the parents want them to go to school is that they didn’t get a chance to have an education…I think that the reason that these kids want to go to school so much, even though the journey is so treacherous, is because they are all very poor, and this opportunity to learn can not only make them happier but let them get a job that can support them and their families. Even though these journeys are hard, I think that school is something that is so amazing to these children that they would do almost anything to go to school.”

While we are not passing elephants, riding horses or walking upwards of four hours, each of us makes a journey to school everyday and we will be looking into those journeys, how they affect us, and the effects they have on others and the planet.

One of the ways the Teal Band will be looking at these journeys to school is by collecting data using a school wide questionnaire. On Friday morning they brainstormed a number of questions they felt would lead to strong explorations and provocations, and created a Google Form. They are interested in comparing the journeys of the students of Brightworks to those of their parents.

Brainstorming questions for the Getting to School questionnaire.

Brainstorming questions for the Getting to School questionnaire.

We wrapped up the week with a bit more work on our bridge storage wall. They worked as a team to support one another as they constructed the frame and cut and attached the shelves. Progress is being made.

It takes teamwork to make sure the shelf frame is screwed together squarely.

It takes teamwork to make sure the shelf frame is screwed together squarely.

It also takes teamwork to make sure the shelves are just right so they will fit the frame.

It also takes teamwork to make sure the shelves are just right so they will fit the frame.