Friday, April 30, 2010

Oil Spill Lesson

Today, Alex and I are learning about the oil spill in the Gulf Coast. I have found a "new" blog that I follow,  Free Technology for Teachers. I have already used resources from this site several times since I found it about a week ago. Anyway, from this site I found a link to CNN Student News with a report about the oil spill. (By the way, I think we'll start watching the new report each morning. They have about a 10 minute news report and I think it'll be a great way to keep up with current events.)

 Next, we did an experiment I found at How Stuff Works.  Alex helped me write up the rest of this post:

Procedure: We took two ice cubes and put one in each ziplock bag. Then, we took two cottonballs and soaked them in oil. We put 1 oil soaked cottonball on a plate and another oil soaked cottonball on the ice cube (in the baggie).  We took 2 dry cottonballs and did the same thing.

Results: Twenty minutes later, the results were that the oil soaked cottonball on the ice cube was much colder than the cottonball that wasn't in oil.

What we learned: We learned that animals with oil on them get colder than animals without oil on them.

Some of the reasons animals die from an oil spill include:

  • poisoned by the oil

  • birds can starve to death because they can't fly to catch their food

  • their food dies

  • some freeze to death
Some ways to clean up an oil spill include:
  • use special machines to vacuum up the oil
  • use rubber barriers around the spill which isolates the oil
  • absorb the oil using sponge-like pads which act somewhat like a cottonball

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Insects in our Healthy Habitat... and a Alex Holds a Baby Opossum!

I had another amazing day walking around the Healthy Habitat on our co-op property. Here are a few of the amazing things we saw:

A horned caterpillar which will become a sphinx moth. I hope you can see the amazing textures on both the leaf and the caterpillar!

It was a lot of work getting a good photo of this katydid. But, he was very patient! And, I was again amazed at the many textures on this small creature. I hope you can enlarge it even more. It is an amazing creation!

Two solid orange ladybugs. I thought this photo came out well. When I find insects like this on our nature walks, the children tell me they are playing leap frog. So, I guess they're playing leap frog!

We found these caterpillars on a plant in the pond. They had been very busy chewing these plants. I love how you can see through their bodies!

And, one of the families found 3 baby opossums and they are rehabilitating them. They brought them to show us and they are so precious! Alex named this one Shady. It was the only girl and Alex's favorite. It was really calm and would just cling to her arm. All of them loved to be held.

Jumbo and Huck

What do Jumbo, P. T. Barnum's famous elephant, and Huck Finn, the famous character by Mark Twain, have in common? A year: 1885. That was the year that Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in the United States. And, that was the year that Jumbo was sadly hit by a train and died.

This week, one of Alex's assignments in her ancient history class was to write a news report about a certain subject, Pegasus, which must include an interview and a commercial. Her topic was Pegasus and I loved her commercial - Medusa's Hair Salon! Anyway, she is still polishing her story, but while she wrote I decided to write my own news piece.

In Alex's online American history class, we are using A History of Us series by Joy Hakim. Last week, we read about both P. T. Barnum and about Mark Twain. I decided to use those two stories for my newscast. I think this is a GREAT way for students to show what they've learned about a subject. Just another alternative to taking a multiple choice test! (And, a much better alternative in my opinion.)

I found a more detailed version of the story online. It is from the archives of the New York Times and it is titled "The Great Jumbo Killed." So, here's my store:

Mary: Hello. I’m Mary Pachyderm and today is September 16, 1885. Welcome to tonight’s edition of the 10 o’clock news on channel 7.

Mary: We start out with some very sad news. Jumbo, the famous elephant of the Barnum, Bailey & Hutchinson circus, died late last night. The circus was in Ontario, Canada for a one day performance. While the performance was still going on, the 31 elephants were being loaded onto their train cars. All had been loaded except for Jumbo and the drawf clown elephant, Tom Thumb. Jumbo’s keeper, Scotty, was walking the two pachyderms down the track to their car when he noticed a train approaching. Scotty is joining us live from Ontario.

Mary: Scotty, thank you for joining us. I know this must be really hard for you.

Scotty: Thanks, Mary. It has been a hard day for all of us at the circus. Jumbo was a wonderful elephant and he will be missed.

Mary: Scotty, could you tell us what happened?

Scotty: Yes. I was walking Jumbo and Tom Thumb down the track towards their car. We had been told that it was safe to load the elephants and that there wouldn’t be any train along for 30 minutes. All of a sudden, I saw the headlights of a locomotive coming towards us! And, I heard the engineeer whistle 3 times for breaks. He must have seen us, too.

So, I urged Jumbo to hurry up and he started running down the track. I ran alongside him, but it was no use. The train couldn’t stop and it hit Tom Thumb and then hit Jumbo. When it hit Jumbo, the train stopped and a couple of the cars came off the tracks.

Mary: How were the elephants after they were hit?

Scotty: Well, Tom Thumb was thrown into a ditch. Jumbo was stuck next to the train. He wasn’t doing very well. He seemed determined and several hundred men worked using ropes to try to get him up off the track. But, after about 15 minutes, he passed away. We were all distraught and had to continue our work to get him off the tracks.

Mary: Were you able to get him off the tracks?

Scotty: Yes. It was a lot of work, but we were able to get him off the tracks.

Mary: Thank you so much for joining us. The whole country is in mourning over the loss of Jumbo.

Scotty: Thank you.

Mary: We’ll be back after a short commercial break.

Did you follow the adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer? Have you been waiting for Mark Twain’s newest book to hit the bookshelves? Well, you don’t have to wait any longer.  Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is here! This book was first published back in February, but sold out all over the country in just 3 days. This time, the publisher has printed up over 40,000 books! And so you can get your own copy today!

In Huck Finn, Huck and Tom are now rich! But, Huck’s drunken, abusive father, Pap, shows up and takes him away to live in a cabin. Pap locks Huck up, but Huck escapes and elaborately fakes his own death. Then, he sets off down the river. Of course, this is just the beinning of Huck’s adventures. You’ll have to get your own copy to find out more.

Adventures of Hucklberry Finn. Buy it today!

Mary: We are happy to announce that Tom Thumb, the drawf elephant who was injured in the accident that claimed Jumbo’s life, is doing well. His leg was set and he is expected to make a full recovery. Also, the Smithsonian Institute is expected to arrive this evening. They will take Jumbo’s skin and skeleton to preserve it. The skin will be donated to Tufft’s College. The skeleton will be displayed at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Alcatraz (SF Trip Day 8)

On our last full day, we took the boat out to Alcatraz. Between the boat ride (only about 12 minutes) and our time on the island, we spent about 4 hours.

This is the man who greeted us on the island. He was demonstrating how one potential escapee had hoarded some medical gloves. He blew them up and put them in his prison suit for insulation against the cold water. He floated away towards freedom. The current took him to the Golden Gate Bridge... where police were waiting for him.
The island also has plenty of nature. There are flower gardens and we saw a lot of volunteers working in them. The island is also an "important nesting site for many native bird species, including the Western Gull (in photos), Black-crowned Night Heron, and Brandt's Cormorant." It was the beginning of nesting season for the gulls, so this area was closed. (I took photo from the other side of the fence.)

Here is a typical cell at Alccatraz. Can you imagine living in this tiny space? Yikes!

And, this is a cell in the infamous Cell Block D. I don't remember reading why it was bigger. Maybe because they get out less? Anyway, I think this is a little more livable. Just a little.

Here is Alex in the recreational yard. The inmates played sports like handball here. As you go down the big steps to enter the yard, you see a beautiful view of SF. I wonder how the inmates felt about this.

Inside one cell was this poster about Officer Miller who was killed during the famous 1946 escape attempt.

And, here is the son of another officer who was injured during that escape attempt. He has written a book, along with his father, titled Guarding the Rock. (I bought a copy and he is signing it in the photo.) This man, Mr. Arnie Lageson, actually spent part of his childhood on Alcatraz. Did you know that many of the families of the men who worked at Alcatraz actually lived on the island? The children took the boat into SF for school and other activities. And, they had quite a little community on the Rock. I'm not done with the book, but I'm finding it very interesting.  

I also found it interesting that some of the inmates were so well-read. There was a library where the inmates could borrow books. Also, they could use money they earned (for example, they operated a laundry) on art supplies, musical instruments, etc. So, some inmates were artists, like this one. They also had a band, though the above author said it wasn't very good. He also pointed out that, had these inmates discovered these talents/passions earlier in their life, perhaps they would have never spent time on the Rock.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Pier 39 and Musee Mecanique (SF Trip Day 7)

We spent about half of a day on Pier 39 and really enjoyed ourselves. I really didn't take very many photos as much of what we were doing was shopping. My mom and I both ended up buying jackets and we bought several t-shirts. My mom also bought Alex a charm for her charm bracelet.

We had to try these mini donuts... and they were great! So fresh, too!

From the end of the pier, you could see the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge. In this photo, you can see the contruction that is taking place on the Bay Bridge.

You can also see Alcatraz from the end of the pier.

Here is Alex in front of the famous Pier 39 sea lions. I understand that recently they disappeared and we heard conflicting reports about whether or not we would see any. So, we were happy to see them, though there were only about 40 or so.

From the sign titled "Why Are They Here?" These California sea lions "hauled out" on Pier 39's K-dock shortly after the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. The boisterous barking pinnepeds started arriving in droves, taking over the docks in January, 1990. At first they numbered from 10-50, but due to a plentiful  herring supply, the available dock space and a protected environment, the population grew to more than 300 within a couple of months. Each winter season, the sea lion population grows as high as 600. Annually, the sea lions tend to migrate to the Channel Islands 350 miles to the south during the summer months, but now a small group chooses to stay at Pier 39 throughout the year.

This was a homeless man we met and talked to for awhile. His bird is named Talks Alot. I forgot his name, but it starts with a T. He had another friend with him that had a "T", too, and he called them the "3T's." From what he told us, he actually gets enough money each month to spend the 1st 3 weeks of each month in a hotel. Then, he spends the rest of the month on the streets. He is going through dialysis and is also on blood thinners, something I can relate to. I really enjoyed talking to "T" and he asked for prayers. It sounds like he has had a rough life, though I guess you can't always tell from someone's story. He sounded sincere, though. And, it just slowed me down for awhile to think of someone else and where I am and how I have been blessed. So, I'll remember to say another prayer for the 3T's tonight. Since it is near the end of the month, I guess they are probably back on the street tonight.

That night, we had fresh seafood on one of the piers. Then, we stumbled up Musee Mecanique, "one of the world’s largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated musical instruments and antique arcade machines." We had the BEST time here! All of the old games cost either 25 or 50 cents. There were some very old games, too. Some of them were kind of like puppets that just "jumped" up and down. Can you imagine paying money for that? (Well, we did, and I guess people used to do it!) The machine Alex is looking in has 3D photos from the 1906 earthquake. I viewed it, too.

 And, her Alex is playing an old baseball game. It was just amazing to see these old games and I was surprised I hadn't read about it in any of the books or websites I'd read. There was also an amazing collection of antique player pianos with musical instruments built INSIDE of the pianos! Amazing!

International Postcard Swap

Barb at Harmony Art Mom posted about an Internaional Postcard Swap she's participating in and I just signed up, too. Basically, you'll be sending out 5 postcards between May 4th, when you receive your list, and May 10th. Then, you'll receive 5 postcards from different places around the world. You can get all the details at  Playing by the Book. What a great way to have a geography lesson!

UPDATE: I got an email from the lady hosting the exchange. They are currently very short on international swappers and have put some US residents on a wait list. So, if you're from a country besides the US, we'd love to have you! You only have to send out 5 postcards!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Dragonfly Nymph Exoskeleton

Here is another amazing "find" from my time outside at our Healthy Habitat yesterday. At first, we thought this "skin" was full, but after taking several photos, I was convinced it was empty.

It's a dragonfly nymph's exoskeleton or skin. A dragonfly actually spends most of its life underwater as a swimming, wingless nymph. Then, when it is ready to complete its metamorphosis, it will climb out of the water on a stem and emerge from its exoskeleton or skin.

After I was sure it was empty, I picked this reed and took some better photos.
Isn't it amazing? And, I'm wondering what the white thread-like tissue is that is near where the dragonfly crawled out. Anyone know?

Now I want to get a net, my microscope, and see if I can find some more nymphs! And, of course, see what other creatures we discover.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Giant Swallowtail... Laying an EGG!

We are creating a Healthy Habitat on the property where Alex does her co-op. Today, I got to see something amazing. A Giant Swallowtail Butterfly laying eggs on this plant!

Can you see the egg? It's a little left of center. I actually saw her lay this egg and another one!

And, unfortunately it is blurry, but here she is laying the egg in the first photo! How neat is that?

And, here's a little clearer photo of the butterfly. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of memory or I might have got a better shot. Anyway, we have spent a lot of time trying to identify this host plant and haven't got a positive ID. Does anyone know what it is? It has thorns all over the stems and it has a strong odor - I think it smells like pine. You might be able to see the thorns better in some of the other photos. Anyway, I'd love some help identifying it!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Buildings of San Francisco (SF Trip Day 6)

On Day 6, we started the day with a Hop On/Hop Off tour. It wasn't nearly as good as Mr. Toad's Tour, but it was quite a bit cheaper. We did see some parts of SF that we hadn't seen on our other tour. And, I enjoyed photographing some of the buildings of SF, though it is hard from a moving bus!

Detail from Chinatown's Gateway.

The Bay Bridge

We saw quite a few of these. Our guide said they show where the buildings have been retrofitted to withstand earthquakes.

I don't remember the name of this building and haven't been able to find it. Can anyone help? Thanks!

I love the lions, etc. And, I'd love to take learn more about architecture to be able to discuss this more intellectually. Anyone know of a great online site or course?

City Hall's beautiful lead and copper dome. It was modeled after St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Another detail of Chinatown's Gateway.

These 3 statues are up quite a few stories. Our guide told us that the sculpture was so upset when they heard their sculptures would be displayed up so high, that they left them faceless.

 The Transamerican Pyramid which is one of the more prominent features of the SF cityscape.

Oh, and the only time we "hopped off" the tour was in Little Italy. We had a great lunch at Tony's Pizza. Alex & I had pizza and my mom had a wonderful salad. We also had the BEST ever cream soda... and it turns out it was made in Texas! (I'll see if Alex or my mom remembers the name.) Anyway, I didn't feel very comfortable where we were dropped off and we only walked one block to Tony's and back. We were next to a park and there were about 10 people "hanging out" in a group and I wasn't very comfortable with them. Also, there just weren't many people on the streets. So, we ate lunch and waited to hop back on our bus.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lombard Street (SF Trip Day 5)

We finally finished our hike up the long, steep hill and found the cable car stop. (It wasn't easy as a sign was missing!) We planned on riding it back all the way to its last stop which was across the street from our hotel. But, the cable car stopped to let people on and off at Lombard Street - and I had to get off.

I love Lombard Street! Isn't it neat? The cable car stopped at the top of the hill and we walked down the steps to the bottom. There wasn't much traffic at the bottom of the hill, so we joined a few others in the middle of the intersection to take photos.

This is supposed to be the crookedest street in the world. But, one of our guides (I forget which tour) said it wasn't... Wall Street is actually the crookedest street in the world. Anyway... :-) Do you see the little yellow car on the right? You could rent these and Alex kept asking to. It's one of those things we didn't get to, though. It sure looks like fun! Especially for a ride down Lombard Street!

My mom mentioned she always takes photos of signs on famous streets. So, here it is: Lombard!

This is a photo from the top of Lombard Street. I took this before deciding we needed to hop off the cable car and walk down the street. You can get a pretty good idea of  how steep the hills are in SF!
And, here's just another photo I took this day. It's of Coit Tower, which I really meant to visit, but didn't.

After taking photos of Lombard Street, we decided it'd be easier to walk back to our hotel instead of walking up Lombard Street to catch the cable car. It didn't look like that far on the map, but I think it ended up being about a mile. Remember, we had already walked around Golden Gate Park, the Conservatory of Flowers, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Japanese Tea Gardens. We'd also walked through Chinatown and up the 2.5 steep blocks to meet our cable car. Now, we walked about another mile back to the hotel. Whew!!! We were tired.

I'm glad some of your are still enjoying reading about our trip. This is my 15th post about our trip, and I'm not done! Maybe I'll be done before we travel again! Really, there are only 3 days left, so I hope to finish up soon.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Chinatown (SF Trip Day 5)

After visiting Golden Gate Park, we took a taxi to Chinatown.

They still had the lanterns hanging up from Chinese New Year.

This is what one of the main streets look like. Chinatown in San Francisco has the largest population of Chinese outside of Asia!

Here's another photo of the streets. We enjoyed shopping here. There are lots of great little shops and things are pretty inexpensive. We ended up buying a rice bowl that had pandas on it and a couple of SF key chains.

I'm not sure what are in these barrels, but I loved how the shops were set up.

This is actually the first photo I took after getting out of the taxi. I love how this man is evidentally taking pride in his neighborhood and cleaning up the graffiti. Also, this is the only graffiti we saw here.

We had a DELICIOUS, not cheap dinner in Chinatown. I asked a couple of people where to eat in Chinatown. Both times they asked me what kind of food I wanted to eat. I thought that was pretty obvious (Chinese) until the asked did I want Cantonese? Chinese? Seafood? Also, I've heard there are good and not so good restaurants in Chinatown, so I'm thankful ours was so yummy!

Anyway, after Chinatown, we had to find our way back to one of the cable cars. Well, the trip was UPHILL... a BIG hill... about 2.5 LONG blocks. I'm not sure this photo does it justice, but here is Alex hiking up the long way to the cable car stop.

We are about 1.5 blocks up at this point, and you can see how far down we started. I had to keep stopping and letting my legs rest. It was hard work!

We made one more stop on this day... so I'll have one more post with "Day 5" on it. :-) (Only Day 6 & Day 7 to go after that!)
Related Posts with Thumbnails