Archive for the ‘Beach’ Category

Neglected Blog

     I’m back to my long neglected blog.    On another blog I read, Julie blogged about Living, not Blogging – I have a similar excuse.   It has been a busy summer with trips to visit family or drop off kids every weekend until this one when I actually find myself home on both Saturday AND Sunday – time to blog.    I have been to the Adirondacks for camp pickups and dropoffs, Ohio for a family reunion, Vermont for my niece’s graduation party, and camping on Cape Cod for a family beach vacation.  [Links to pictures]

     Ostensibly, this blog is about teaching.  I miss being in the classroom and am still hopeful about a job but also dealing with the reality that I may be substitute teaching this fall.   It’s not a good job market even for science teachers.   I am knee deep in my masters portfolio and although it’s a bit tedious, it feels good to be thinking about teaching and learning full time again.  After 14 months of intense grad school including student teaching, it was odd to not be immersed in it full time this summer.   On the other hand, I didn’t get to take any of those trips last summer.

     Another adventure got me thinking about how difficult it is to teach something you know instinctively.    The picture above includes the front of my canoe as I solo paddled on a recent canoe trip with my kids, some friends, and their kids.   I have canoed for most of my life – more than a few decades.   I didn’t know that my friends were novices – the kids all know how to paddle from various camps;  we no sooner pushed off when my friends asked how to steer.  I gave them the standard sailor response about moving the rudder in the direction you want to go.  They were going in circles as I came to realize that canoeing is almost completely backwards from that and they had no idea how to use a paddle as a rudder and were focused on paddling only.   We laughed hysterically while I picked the process apart and then taught them how to steer a canoe. 

     Fortunately, when I teach my students, I know that I need to prepare and break things down.    This was just another reminder of how difficult it is to teach something that is instinctive – chem lab procedures are like that for me but fortunately, in my professional experience, writing procedures for others including programs for computers was part of the job.


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… all three wonderful weeks of it.   It was short but fun.

[Note:  I wrote this post a few weeks ago but it need pics and that was broken for a while]

Highlight #1 – Fossil hunting with the kids at the Penn-Dixie site near Buffalo. I found several species of brachiopods, crinoids, a possible cephalopod, plus some pyritized fossils – these have gold flecks from iron.  I was aided by an amazing article I found in the University Library about this site – I met the author of the article while I was there. My kids love digging and breaking rocks but start reciting the facts to avoid the questions as soon as we get in the car – “Mom, we know it was tropical because it used to be below the equator and yes, we know that they are about 400 million years old, and …”


Highlight #2 – Taking my mother-in-law to dinner overlooking a marina on Long Island Sound – fresh seafood, yum!


Highlight #3 – Camping at a beach in Southern MA with bike trails along the dunes, campfires under the stars, and the sound of surf to lull me to sleep. It was so dark and clear that I learned a few new constellations, saw shooting stars, and showed the kids the Milky Way – rarely seen in their light polluted lives.


Other highlights included a retirement party for someone retiring after 37 years of teaching, time to read fiction, teaching 7 water exercise classes, visiting family, filling the freezer with meals for the upcoming semester, and relaxing.

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     Today, Team Thunder had an awesome day at the beach.    Our plan worked really well and the scholars were engaged and enthusiastic.     The above picture is our Turbidity Team who did water current and secchi disk measurements at nearshore and offshore locations along the beach.

     We started the morning by reviewing yesterday including the cultured bacteria from our equipment stations yesterday.    We decided to break up into small groups so that we were sure that everybody understood the concept of a model and testable questions.   Then we got back together as a large group and reviewed the concept map of our model from yesterday, brainstormed our equipment list, and reviewed our questions.    Many questions would have required time travel to go back and record data in the past so we discarded those.  

     Of the questions that were left, we expanded on them to create three testable questions about a) air and water temperature offshore, nearshore, and in the water, b) turbidity levels and current – they noted the waves were much bigger today, and c) bacteria levels at the bottom of the swimming area.   We divided into groups again based on who was interested in what question and each group planned their investigation.   The groups presented their individual plans to the whole group which decided that if we all tested our questions at the same locations, we could combine the results.   The afternoon was spent collecting data and blogging.   The students are excited to review the data tomorrow.

    The best thing about today was that we had a lot of fun together.   The kids were more relaxed with us and vice versa.   The team member who was not there yesterday was integrated easily into our group.    We worked on a team cheer and are trying to teach Andrea the clapping rhythm for the “Good Job” cheer.    

     I feel like I learned something interesting about each of the kids – Ridge is a talented artist, Jalen likes to make predictions, Yasmine really enjoyed science today despite being our most reluctant scholar yesterday, Fallon has a great smile and keeps it light while seriously working, Frank worked well with the rest of the group despite missing yesterday, Gabi likes making connections and was a great sport when a large wave splashed her, Yolanda can be quiet but asks amazing questions about factor interactions, and Lavalle stayed focused today and seemed to enjoy himself without causing trouble today.

    Our group was having a hard time coming up with arrows at the end of the day!

Pluses and Arrows:

+ Our investigative plan came together really well despite the fact that it seemed like we were behind yesterday.

+ It required less scaffolding than I feared but a bit more than I hoped so perhaps it was a good balance.

+ We had fun!!!!

->  Keep working on group dynamics.

->  Make sure we have a good plan for tomorrow.   We’ve got a lot of work to get done in the next three days.

->  Keep everybody busy, moving, and involved in as many of the activities as possible.

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      I am going to try really hard to keep this to a strictly reporting format.    My sense of humor seems to be lost on some people even though I’ve tried hard to leave really big clues like the book being parodied and giving up a girl card sooooo… here goes an attempt at a serious, reporting, assignment-type blog post.  [OK a little humor slipped in there.]

      Today was our first day at camp and, overall, it went really well.   We did not get as much done as we planned but we were close and have high hopes for tomorrow.   At the beginning of the day, the kids were very negative about being at the beach and about science but I feel like that turned around by the middle of the day.   After they grabbed some beach muck and waded into the water to use the equipment, they were much happier about the whole idea of being there and doing science.    Lunch was a nice break after a busy morning although some of the kids were mystified by the raisins in the tuna salad (me too – yuck!) and the “chocolate bread” but everybody found something to eat;   some had mentioned being hungry well before lunch so we’ll modify that for tomorrow and possibly have snacks mid-morning.    We spent the afternoon talking about connections and building a model – either they were tired or it was post-lunch naptime, but this didn’t go quite as well as we hoped.

      Pluses and Arrows:

+  Some kids who were negative about the beach and/or science were more positive relatively early in the process.

+  The kids did great with the muck and the boots and getting in and out of the water.

+  I really liked being with the kids and tuning into their insights and wonderings.

->  We need to make this more fun for them.    The one girl who was actually positive about science seemed very bored by the end of the day.  The others were more positive about it.

->  Our group needs to work better as a team, see Thomas’ blog post for details.    We also need to get the group dynamics for all of – scholars and Warner students – on track.

->  We need to have a question and a plan early tomorrow morning because it’s our last day at the beach.    This may require more scaffolding than I had hoped.

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      I’m so excited that camp is almost here – at last. I have to go load some boxes of hip waders back into my car and I’ll be just about ready to go.   I’m looking forward to meeting our group of scholars and starting the inquiry process with them.

::: waving hello to Andrea :::    Happy almost birthday!   We’ll celebrate tomorrow.


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I Loathe Shopping

     OK I realize that this means I have to give up a girl card or something like that.   Perhaps, it’s the reason I became a scientist but….    I loathe shopping.


     On Friday, we were told that we had to wear specific color shirts to camp on Monday.     No matter that they actually have camp t-shirts locked in a closet somewhere, we have to come up with matching shirts for Monday and Tuesday.    I have gone through the basement, the dressers, the attics, and called my friends.    Nothing.   My 11yo has a plethora of red Red Sox shirts but I look like a sausage in them because he is smaller than me.


     So today, I went shopping.    I loathe shopping.   I would rather have a root canal than go shopping.   In the third store, I finally found a royal blue shirt that fit and wasn’t hideous – think spaghetti straps and you don’t want me going there.    I was excited because I thought I was set for Monday, but noooooooooooo Monday is red shirt day.  I will be back in the stores tomorrow.   Some of my classmates offered to bring me a shirt which was generous but how do I know it will fit?   why would I want to have somebody else pick my clothes?


      I get the concept.   I’ve always had to wear a shirt for camps I’ve done to be identified as a person to talk to about problems.  I’ve done a camp for kids and usually something like outdoor education every year.      BUT….   the camps have always provided the shirt.    I know it’s a tight budget.   I know there were grant problems.   The kids will be eating Lorraine’s Lunch Basket food and I’ll be having PB&J but the shirt thing drives me nuts!!    If I had had notice, yeah fancy that — something before the last minute, the UPS man could have brought me something …. but tomorrow, I get to go shopping again.   


     Have I mentioned that I loathe shopping?

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A Day at the Beach

Ontario Beach   

      Yesterday, we had class at Ontario Beach.    Our group –  Andrea, Tom, and I – walked the beach while we were waiting for our scheduled appointment with the instructors.    The algae was a thick mat with piles up to a foot deep in the swash zone.    The far northwest portion of the swimming area was the only part that was open.     Interestingly, the area immediately adjacent to the pier had much less algae than the area shown in this picture.

      It was a rough day yesterday.   I liked working with my group and lunch at the LDR Char Pit was delicious as always.     I didn’t like the condition of the beach and being there reminded me of my favorite beaches at the very tip of Cape Cod.    I won’t be able to visit them this summer but I have a new appreciation for tides to clean the beach, salt for purification, and larger volumes of water in less populated areas.

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