The megaband has started using Instagram to document their learning every day! They are required to post one picture to their own school account, label it with the band-specific hashtag, and add a caption that describes the photo’s importance and what was happening in the photo. Here are some highlights from this week so far:

Writing reflections on responsibility!


Ian is showing a TON of focus and self-analysis! He’s really taking this seriously ;)


Learning how to use Instagram as a documentation tool to support our blogs by providing evidence of learning for every part of the day.


Consolidating the main points from details we remembered in the Daylight Savings Time video we watched. Cool fact: it’s possible to change timelines SEVEN times while driving through Arizona.


Winston shows the Band his grandfather’s pocket watch which was made around 1880!



A clock counting tick-tock tick-tock, a heartbeat beating thump-thump, thump-thump, a pendulum swinging back and forth, back and forth – regular consistent measurements that beat, tick, thump, swing through our lives, counting moments short and long. The clock is the subject of our next arc of study, and with it the perception of time, the way it moves differently at so many moments in our lives, changes according to the season or the person, and creates regularity in the way we live.


This morning Gever gave us a formal introduction of our second arc of the year in a quiet moment marked by the sound of a ticking clock that matched a heartbeat. He talked about the way time can shrink and stretch depending on where we are and what the situation is. It was a kind of ethereal introduction with the sun streaming in and a Brightworks-style log pendulum swinging back and forth as Gever poetically, through careful words and a little Alice in Wonderland, brought us into a new mindset in thinking about clocks and that elusive, human-made idea – time.


Today is the beginning of exciting times (pun intended) here at Brightworks. We like to use the first day of the arc to come together and imagine the possibilities, open the doors to new ideas, and get thoughts roiling with curiosity. With our minds tuned to time and listening closely to the ticking of clocks, we’re ready for a new phase of Exploration.


Last week Lili and her band worked with Sean to explore how the size of fish fins impacts their speed. She writes, “We thought about how to analyze data in order to understand the relationship between the surface area of different fins and a fish’s capacity for drive, lift, and stability.”






They experimented with their own ability to create the same type of drive, lift, and stability as in the fish by creating fish fin darts and launching them off the mezzanine to see how their choices affected their flight.




They went to the California Academy of Sciences to look at the fish in the aquarium and took notes and made diagrams of the fish that displayed the best of all three characteristics.







Documenter Anthony took notes on the projects continuing for today’s Community Friday:

Max and Isaac spent their morning layering vocals and mastering the levels for their song they’ve been composing. They chopped and fitted a new piano part to the existing track – Anthony reports that it sounds amazing.


Lili and her acting gang discussed the fine points of casting and debating ideas for plot turns.



Shawna and a group in the art studio took inspiration from animal pictures in magazines and books to create pictures of lions, bats, and banana slugs with water colors and sharpies. Shawna reported that the group also developed a common language for developing cultural relationships in the art studio, where artists are supportive of each other’s efforts, they consult each other for feedback, stay committed to their process, and keep the art studio clean and ready for use.



Mackenzie and Rhone spent the morning studying the various bird wings and feathers in the science lab, and discussing wing how wing shape relates to birds’ abilities in flight. They went on a short bird watching excursion as well.


The Pieworks team and I (Justine) did a first round of pie baking today. The kids chopped apples, figured out ways to roll out pie crust and line the mason jars – harder than they expected, but they handled it better than I expected them to! – and did a taste test at the end of the day.



Christie and Ellen led an embroidery and collage making workshop, working on postcards, sewn letters, and mountains of cool pictures for inspiration.



Sean, Jack, and Ian continued work on the bridge project for their band, after realizing that they couldn’t continue making the steps for the bridge until they figured out how long the platform needed to be and where the anchoring points would be. It was a beautiful morning of drilling, chopsawing, and figuring out where to best secure the walkway to allow for maximum weight bearing.



Thank you to Anthony for great notes and pictures from today!


Today, the youngest band presented their new identity: the Hummingbirds! They made costumes and told us a few interesting facts about these quick little birds, as well as why they had chosen the name – an inspiration from the dead hummingbird they’d found in their bandspace on the first day of school.

The Hummingbirds have been doing a lot of explorations of measurement through looking at animals in the last few weeks. Last Wednesday, they took a trip to the California Academy of Sciences to learn more about orca whales, turtles and tortoises, and hummingbirds and other pollinators.


During their day at the Academy, Shawna encouraged the kids to document their experience and take notes on what they saw. Some took to the task, like Sadie, who found that the length of an orca whale is 18 feet and dutifully wrote the number on her paper, but others needed encouragement. She writes, “I became a more obvious note-taker myself, “thinking out loud” about what I was doing and what questions I had, and modeling what it looks like to become engrossed with an observation and sketch. For example, I slowly and deliberately sketched the whale’s skull and wondered aloud if a bone I had just drawn was the collar bone. My modeling effectively prompted the children’s documentations.”


“Lucy found a unique note-taking approach: since she was interested in listening to the audio of orca sounds, she visually represented the squeaks and calls she was hearing, bouncing her pencil on her page with short, quick, squiggly strokes.


For our turtle information, we launched a full turtle hunt of the Academy, visiting areas the children chose (the rainforest, aquarium, alligator swamp) and adding the evolution/Galapagos exhibit and Naturalist Center to our list as well.


Almost everyone took a guess (or prediction) as to how many turtles we’d see. For the rest of our adventure, finding a turtle elicited the excitement of discovered treasure!


Ramses chose to continue recording tails, which he started at the orca station. He drew the alligator’s tail on his observation sheet. When I reminded him of our turtle goal, he explained that alligators and turtles are the same. I replied that indeed, both animals are reptiles and have a lot in common. He continued his tail recording throughout our researches.


Aurora used pictures, words and numbers to record details of her research. While I was keeping a tally of each turtle we found, she was writing down the count on her notepad as well. She and I were curious to figure out how many ladybugs were on display in an array. She made an estimate of 5,000, then she helped me count the outer column and row of one box, then watched me as I used the calculator to multiply the two quantities. We then multiplied the product of one box by four and were astounded to find that a total of 7,144 ladybugs of one species were displayed, and no two were alike!”


The Hummingbirds visited the Naturalist Center to learn more about the differences between species of turtles, and ventured to the roof to hear a presentation about pollinators, including their namesake, and got to see the presenter’s bee specimens.


Earlier this week, the Hummingbirds used their knowledge gained at the Academy to discover that two orca whales can fit on a smaller MUNI trolley bus, and that three can fit on the longer trolley bus. This comparison of the familiar to the unfamiliar always makes things more comprehensible, especially when both big things are so big!

friday magic

Today was another blast of a community Friday! We celebrated Harry’s birthday and had amazing tacos provided by Oscar and Lukas’s parents – yum!


The playwrights – Quinn, Josh, Audrey, Lucy, Theo, Frances, and Largo – met again with Lili and Phillip today to discuss costumes and establish the storylines for their play. It’s the story of a ship exploring the coast of California during the 1600s that runs into a deadly group of sirens. Quinn questioned the historical accuracy of such a scenario, but the group decided that it was more of a fantasy. They agreed that one of the tenants of creating this play is that they will all commit to acting and participating every Community Friday to get results!



Isaac and Max worked together in the quiet room to record a song that Isaac has been composing for the last three days. They were incredibly, crazily excited about the fact that it was actual music with real instruments, not just synthesizers and sounds from Garage Band.


Anthony and I (Justine) held the inaugural meeting of a pieshop idea that Gever and I thought of this summer: Pieworks! The idea is to bake mini pies in Mason jars and sell them in the community as a fundraiser. We were thrilled to see so many kids excited about the project this morning: Madison, Rhone, Alicia, Aurora, Bruno, and Natasha. Anthony and I discussed a couple of the things we have to figure out: the types of pies we’ll make, the number we can bake, and where we’ll sell them. Next week, we plan to do a test run of apple.



Ellen bought and borrowed typewriters for an improv poetry and creative writing project in the dining room. The click-clacking and note writing filled the space! Lola composed stream-of-consciousness “hipster” poetry and did performance art. Norabelle and Aurora pretended to be secretaries and wrote memos. Bruno composed requests for newspaper articles, Alicia and Natasha used stamps to write their names and notices for others, and Madison fiddled around to make the non-working typewriters function better.





Christie, Nicky, Rhone, and Ian explored the extraterrestrial and the scale of the universe, both the large and the small, and wondered where aliens exist in the grand system.

Knife Throwing Club went off without a hitch again today, with reminders of the safety rules (no entering throwing zone, audio cues for readiness, silence while throwing happens) and more practice with wood blocks. So far, no one has made it to the big blade throw, but all are concentrating and working hard to get there. “I got up to untaped blades,” Ben told Mackenzie. “I must have a lot of earwax.” “Earwax?” Mackenzie asked. He said, “Because you make more earwax when you are afraid.”




In the art studio, Lukas, Oscar, and Jacob were busy making a games. Jacob was working on a role playing game where you choose your clan and the Dunes attack. Characters can take a portal from Jacob’s game board to perhaps a more safe environment on Lukas’s board.



Sadie and Ramses made a hummingbird sign with Shawna. “My hands are awesome, my chocolate hands are awesome!” Ramses said when he had paint on his hands. Sadie wondered how many colors you can make with three paints you already have.



Thanks so much to our picture taker, note maker, documentarian for the day: Mackenzie!