Friday, February 26, 2016


G and I went to the campus bookstore to buy a soda and I found this on a shelf. It is my second book, being used for students preparing electronic portfolios in our senior capstone class.  (Love the cover, but the content needs to be updated already.)  Still, it was cool to be there with G and have her see it, even if I don't think that she was particularly impressed. :-)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pond Biology Class #3

Essential questions for class:
– – Are really replicating a pond with the algae bins? What other lifeforms would we find?
– – How are protists related to animals and plants? What does the family tree look like?

All detail below from our extraordinary teacher; more photos at the class blog.
Plan: We are going to make student “ponds” (using small restaurant bins with tops) to observe over time. We’ll start with sand/gravel, adding some algae water from the class bins, and some water plants.

Report on class:
Draft for third week of pond biology class

We started with what might seem like a detour, but evolution and natural selection is a cornerstone of modern biology. When studying pond biology and the world of protists, fungi, plants and animals (the 4 main categories of eukaryotes), it is important to understand how these life forms evolved over time to  what they are today.

And before we can even start with evolution, we need to think about classification. All I mean by classification is the system we use to look at life forms on earth in a way that shows how they are related and connected to each other. For example, would we put fish into the same category as birds?  It seems obvious that fish and birds aren't very related, but are fish and birds more related than fish and bacteria? Hmm. This is pretty complicated.

To give the kids a taste of what a huge job this is, we started class with a quick 20 Questions game: I told them that I was thinking of a machine. We then brainstormed all the different kinds of machines we could think of: washing machines, cars, computers. We consolidated some of the ideas into one category, but quickly realized that splitting up the category of "machine" is tough. Many things are in more than one category, and it is hard to come up with a simple system of classification.

20 Questions is when someone thinks of an item (usually no clues), and then you ask questions to give you clues in order to guess before you run out. Someone asked

Answer: a CD player

I highly recommend playing 20 Questions in general, it is an excellent logic game, and if you do life forms, you play with some of these classification and evolution ideas in a fun way. Try it and see.

Back to class: the first scientist to even attempt the classification of life on Earth was Carl Linnaeus. We could do an entire class on Linnaeus and the eventual classification system we now use every day in biology, but here are some learning links to get you started:

Short and sweet overview of Carl Linnaeus:

A little dense with information, but good for parents and those really interested:

Really interesting (but again, dense) post about how classification of life forms (usually called taxonomy by biologists) is still a controversial and still not settled topic in biology today:

Taxonomy is complex and difficult.

After our quick introduction on taxonomy and classification(more next week), we started in on evolution. Someone asked "what is evolution?", and what a good question that is. I didn't use this in class, but the official definition is "descent with modification", but that is pretty useless unless you are already know your evolution!

Descent = passing traits or genetic information (our DNA) from parent to child. It is a one word description of the numerous generations that have happened for all species of life on earth.

Modification = change in genetic information. Change happens on Earth all the time that has nothing to do with evolution (leaves falling from tree, geologic changes in a mountain range over millennia), but it is that change being incorporated in the DNA of a species that is the foundation of evolution.

What did we talk about in class? We talked about evolution being change in a species over time. As an example, we talked for a little bit about how dogs have evolved from the Grey wolf. This is an example of artificial selection (or man-driven evolution), but it does illustrate the important components of evolution. Here's a great video about how dogs evolved:

Monday, February 22, 2016

First Aid Training

We joined friends for a first aid class, taught by two local EMTs.  Informative afternoon!

Learning outcomes:
  • Explain how you would obtain emergency medical assistance from your home, on a wilderness camping trip, and during an activity on open water.
  • Explain the term triage. Explain the steps necessary to access and handle a medical emergency until help arrives.
  • Explain the standard precautions as applied to bloodborne pathogens.
  • Prepare a first aid kit for your home. Display and discuss its contents.
  • Explain what action you should take for someone who shows signals of shock, for someone who shows signals of a heart attack, and for someone who shows signals of stroke.
  • Identify the conditions that must exist before performing CPR on a person. Then demonstrate proper technique in performing CPR using a training device approved by your counselor.
  • Explain the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED).
  • Show the steps that need to be taken for someone suffering from a severe cut on the leg and on the wrist. Tell the dangers in the use of a tourniquet and the conditions under which its use is justified.
  • Explain when a bee sting could be life threatening and what action should be taken for prevention and for first aid.
  • Explain the symptoms of heatstroke and what action needs to be taken for first aid and for prevention.
  • Describe the signals of a broken bone. Show first aid procedures for handling fractures (broken bones), including open (compound) fractures of the forearm, wrist, upper leg, and lower leg using improvised materials.
  • Describe the symptoms and possible complications and demonstrate proper procedures for treating suspected injuries to the head, neck, and back. Explain what measures should be taken to reduce the possibility of further complicating these injuries.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

More Spring Classes: Shakespeare, Latin, and Art

Summary of this weeks' learning outcomes:

Shakespeare (K and G)

- Warmed up with vocal and physical exercises.

- Reviewed opening group speech with gestures.

- Reviewed memorized speech and auditioned on stage.

- Choreographed new part of dance. 

- Learned rules of stage fighting; choreographed first part of broad sword fighting scene. 

- Received scripts and assigned roles.

Latin (K; G is studying Latin on her own).

- Learned names of family members and started creating family tree. 

- Discussed Roman family life and learned new vocabulary for life at home.

- Discussed differences of Roman food from our own.  

- Listened to story in Latin of Grumio in the kitchen and discussed plot.

Art (K)

- Watched demonstration of shading. 

- Discussed Picasso’s use of color to express emotion. 

- Discussed which colors expressed which emotion. 

- Used colored pencils or chalk pastels to shade composition of shapes from previous week. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Pond Biology Class #2

Plan: to continue looking at samples of our pond water under the microscopes, plus learning about paramecium, hydra and ameoebas in depth to begin our study of protists. We’ll also try and start exploring the family tree of the Kingdom Protista, as well as discussing what makes something alive, the importance of cells, and some vocabulary words (to make reading about protists a little easier).

What we did at our meeting:
– – We spent a few minutes talking about the building block of life: the cell. There’s a picture from the previous class of an algae species with green “boxes” that we looked at to show a perfect example of cells (I think this algae is in the Ulothrix family, click here for link to page of images). The cells are attached but are not working as a unit together, but rather are forming what is called a colonial unit of cells: attached together but each working as its own little organism.
– – We also talked briefly about atoms (the smallest unit of a pure element that can still exhibit the characteristics of that element), and someone mentioned molecules. Molecules are the smallest unit of a compound, which is 2 or more elements bonded together to make a new chemical.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Mythology Class

Making a family tree - her own - while the class makes one that shows the Greek and Roman gods and their children.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Morning Hike

Trying to get healthy, both mentally and physically. Fortunately, the weather cooperates and Puck is glad to be part of the plan! We got lost and ended up scrambling along a muddy half-track. But I like being lost, so this works as part of the getting healthy plan...