Friday, July 10, 2015

Week 2, How Do You Do?

Our second week of expanded learning in Starksboro didn't miss a beat! We came off the holiday weekend and started to make this place our own. One of the first things was deciding that, instead of throwing away food from breakfast, lunch, and snacks, we are going to collect it for Devin to take to his family's farm every day to feed the pigs. It's this kind of thoughtful stuff that makes summer special. But wait, there's more!

Last week, the students in Nancy's science workshops were exploring the water cycle and imagining the life of a rain drop. They drew maps tracing the journey of a rain drop from the roof of the outdoor pavilion, down the bank, into the parking lot, and all the way into the storm drain. After looking into the storm drain, students decided that they were curious about what comes next. In the blink of an email to Town Clerk Mrs. Cheryl Estey, we were scheduling a visit from Road Foreman Mr. Tom Estey to help us understand the drainage of water around our school. Mr. Estey visited us first thing Monday morning to teach us about the two water cycle systems that are happening every day on the grounds of Robinson School!

Mr. Estey explained the mound system and leech field that are key parts of the school's sewer and septic systems. The students learned about all of the filtering that is going on right under their feet in addition to the water cycle that picks up once the water has been filtered and dispersed through the septic system. Students used maps of the area to learn where the water goes once it has landed in the drain inlet in the parking lot. From the pipe, the water makes its way to Lewis Creek by way of smaller brooks. From Lewis Creek, the next stop are the broad waters of Lake Champlain. On hot, sunny days like the ones that started our week, the water evaporates from the lake and the whole cycle starts again. The photos to the left are of Mr. Estey explaining how rocks and ditching protect the health of our dirt roads here in Starksboro. We learned that water is an incredibly powerful force, with the ability to crush six-foot culverts, move massive boulders, and make a lot of hard work for Mr. Estey and his road crew! The science behind it all is fascinating!

Our Bookwagon visit on Tuesday featured another special community guest. Starksboro firefighter Jennifer Turner came to school to share stories of her adventures helping families in Starksboro during very hard times. In fact, Jennifer has even responded to calls to help the families of a couple members of our ELP community! She had a lot of interesting stories to tell about her work and we are so fortunate that we were able to meet her and learn more about the life of a firefighter. Next week, our Bookwagon guest will be puppeteer Chris Runcie. We're surely looking forward to that!

Also on Tuesday, our Wellness and Science gurus Isaac and Nancy teamed up to present another project driven by student interest but guided by our Five Towns theme: The Science and History of (Maple!) Ice Cream. The students made ice cream using two methods and learned about ice cream's storied roots going back thousands of years to China and also more recently as a treat for the super rich and powerful like our own Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who once ate $200 worth of the stuff (that's around $3,000 in today's money!). Our older students collected data about the preferred ice cream flavors and styles of the group. Unfortunately, we didn't have the resources for one of Vermont's (un)official favorite creemee flavors (black raspberry) and Five Towns favorite Blue Goo!

Our Special this week was nature journaling and it was a HUGE hit! Thanks to Hilary Redman for providing quiet time reflecting outside and a fantastic hook for getting kids more mindful about their surroundings. On Monday, students made nature journals and found a "special spot" on school grounds. Everyone spent a lot of quiet, peaceful time outside every day and you could definitely tell that it made a difference on people's moods! While looking for special spots, Lux and Megan found a patch of wild blackberries and raspberries and they made a wonderful, sweet-tart addition to the homemade yogurt that the groups all made with Isaac as part of Wellness this week. Wellness class also took full advantage of the sunshine to get outside, starting off the week with games in the woods and revisiting their yoga sequence. Students got to see the corn, beans, and squash that they planted last week sprout and grow, and continued perfecting gaga skills.

Are we groovy or what?!

What's on tap for next week? Well, we are continuing to let student voice and choice drive our theme and are looking locally for ways that our ELP crew can make a difference at Robinson and learn more about Starksboro. There are some good ideas already in the hopper... you'll just have to wait and see!

Our slideshow for the week is here: (We'll work on getting it embedded... Had some technical difficulties with the program.)

Here is the recipe we used for the "old fashioned way" of making ice cream in bags. We also used Hilary's crank machines, which made the process a bit simpler for everyone, but wasn't nearly as messy, er, fun.

"Shake It" Ice Cream
Ingredients are per-person amounts
  • 1/2 c. cream
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1 qt. freezer bag
  • 1 gal. freezer bag
  • 2 c. crushed ice
  • 1/4 c, kosher or rock salt
Ingredients must be cold! Put edible ingredients (minus salt) into the quart freezer bag. Put ice and salt into gallon bag. Put small bag containing ingredients into large bag containing salt and ice. Make sure both bags are sealed tightly and shake it!

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