November 29, 2007 (Day 69) & November 30, 2007 (Day 70)
In Math, we discussed the importance of process for solving equations. We then worked on solving equations that involve addition, subtraction and multiplication. We also started our examination of two step equations. In Spanish, we took an assessment on making and answering questions, and then we went over it as a class. We also used a variety of learning methods to gain a better sense of how questions are formulated in Spanish. In Humanities, we discussed the Puritans in America, with reasons why they came here and the ironic lack of religious tolerance they evinced after arriving. We also talked about the Puritan idea of an angry, vengeful God, the role of women in Puritan society, the Elect and predeterminism, work ethic, etc. All of these topics have tied in nicely with The Scarlet Letter, and we are able to see in fiction the attitudes we have studied in the history. We have read several chapters, and Hester Prynne is the only character that has emerged thus far, although we did meet the Rev. Dimmesdale briefly, contrasting his mealy-mouthed attempt to get Hester to confess the father of her child, and Hester’s steely refusal to name the man. We have been able to detect the hypocrisy of the townspeople who attend Hester’s public punishment: they seem to dislike her more for her beauty and self-possession than any sin she may have committed. In Science, we conducted a laboratory investigation that demonstrated the importance of standardizing scientific techniques. We compared the class data before and after standardizing techniques. To summarize our findings, we began work on a bar graph of the data using a spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel) spreadsheet. Mentor Zach Thames on arrived after lunch on Thursday and spent the rest of the day with us.
November 28, 2007 (Day 68)
In Morning Meeting, we reviewed the day ahead of us, and then we made a “big picture” connection between our tour of a Mount Pleasant Waterworks facility and the global community. This entailed examining the United Nations Human Development Report 2007/2008 – Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World. The report was issued in conjunction with the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia (December 3-14). The report is available in its entirety on the internet, and we looked at the summary together. We then explored individually several on-line tools that are available to the public. They mainly involved graphic presentations of several ways to look at and compare carbon footprint emissions of all of the countries in the world. We were also able to see each country’s Human Development Index, and USA is ranked 12th (Iceland is 1st). The information used to create the scores came from demographic, health, literacy, education, economic, energy, emissions, gender, and human rights data. This exploration synched clearly with our ongoing study of world events and our earlier analysis of the CIA World Factbook and its reports on the countries of the world. After reflecting on what we learned and discovered, we headed to Mount Pleasant Waterworks’ Reverse Osmosis Plant located just across Coleman Boulevard in the Old Village.
We met MPW employees Danny Correll and Jim Ouellet, and they gave us a guided tour of the facility. We learned about the reverse osmosis process (water forced through membranes for filtration) and the source of the water MPW filters (Middendorf Aquifer, located 1800 feet underground).
The reverse osmosis process also yields “dirty water” containing contaminants blocked by the membranes. This water is sent into a pipe that carries it to Charleston Harbor. The water from the Middendorf Aquifer is 98 degrees, and this provides for a nice environment for algae growth (seen here) on the pipe to Charleston Harbor. A clear link to the utility of geothermal heating for homes is seen here.
Strains on the Middendorf Aquifer from excessive drawdowns led to a policy change in the past few years. The aquifer’s water level drop was creating a depression in the aquifer, and this threatened the integrity of the water source. You can see the US Geological Survey report on this development here. MPW now purchases around half of Mount Pleasant’s water from Charleston Water, and this is surface water from the Bushy Park Reservoir and the Edisto River. This change has stabilized the aquifer’s water level. We also saw the connection here to what we had learned earlier about levels of demand for water. MPW’s storage tanks refill overnight and are tapped steadily beginning at 6:15 AM.
Technological advances now allow for remote access to any facility in the MPW network using the internet, and engineers can respond to developments from home or another MPW plant.
We then headed to Alhambra Hall for our school pictures, and it was a beautiful, if cool, day for this experience. Lunch followed on the green near Charleston Harbor, and then Mrs. Ewing led us through the trail by the marsh for an examination of native species.
We saw a stormwater drain tucked in the marsh, and we brought several fallen plant samples back to campus. Here we looked at several of them under a microscope, and we marveled at the barbed (Velcro-like) end of the Astor flower that allows it to catch pollen. Mentor Chris Marsh joined us when we returned to campus and spent the rest of the day with us.
November 27, 2007 (Day 67)
In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student news. The main story involved tensions between China and America, and a recap of the denial of access to U.S. naval ships to Hong Kong over the Thanksgiving holiday was presented. Although there has been an effort to strengthen military ties recently, there is growing anxiety about espionage and cyberwarfare attacks from China. Another story looked at the Writers Guild of America strike, and differences were noted in the stances of Republican and Democratic presidential candidates. Several of the Democrats have supported the strikers, and John Edwards has shown the most solidarity by joining strikers for part of a day. The last story looked at San Francisco’s ban on plastic bags at grocery stores, and the economics and environmental impact of these bags and this decision were examined.
In Math, we increased our skill and understanding of expressions and equations. In Spanish, we reviewed our homework and the quiz we took today, and this served as the starting point for understanding our recent studies. We then spent the rest of our time discussing how to form questions. In Humanities, we jumped fully into The Scarlet Letter, and we spent our entire class getting a sense of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s writing style and becoming acclimated to this period of history and the story. In Art, Mrs. Johnson brought models and pictures of native wildlife. We sketched samples for the first part of class, and then we shifted to the use of charcoal. Mentor Zach Thames arrived at the end of Art and spent the rest of the day with us. In Science, we went through a presentation on groundwater depletion and surface water overdrafts. Mrs. Ewing then guided us through a group discussion on the consequences of these actions.
Leadership & Life Skills
– On-line course (Moodle) assignment (MS Excel worksheet) due Wednesday
– complete #s 11-25 on page 159
– study “questions” on p. 58
– complete Acts 20 & 21 on p. 59
– for Thursday, read and take notes on chapter 15 in history text and the essay on page 62
– for Friday, chapter 3 of The Scarlet Letter
– MAD review article #3 due Wednesday
November 26, 2007 (Day 66)
In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student news. The first story looked at the upcoming Mideast peace summit that begins tomorrow in Maryland, and it gave a brief overview of the roots of the conflict since the creation of Israel in 1947. We paused for a bit to talk about the connection to the Holocaust. This accelerated the desire to create a homeland for the Jewish people, and this process had been ongoing since the early-20th century. The historic and real claims of the Palestinians and the Jewish people to the land that comprises Israel makes a solution difficult and explains the conflicts that have erupted in the area since 1947. As we have learned in our study of consensus-building, perhaps a compromise solution can be forged that the different groups can all agree upon. The other stories involved the cruise ship rescue in Antarctica and an update on the new wildfires in California. In Math, we combined several of our aspects of our work so far this year with our studies in Science (especially water) and this week’s Learning Outside the Classroom exploration of Mount Pleasant Waterworks facilities. This involved using our on-line classroom to examine web-based resources from Mount Pleasant Waterworks, Charleston Water System, City of Charleston Public Service Department, and US Geological Survey. We looked at the history and processes involved in the distinct areas of stormwater management, wastewater treatment, and water treatment. It was startling to learn that the comprehensive wastewater program used today has only been in place since the late-1960s (before wastewater was gathered and pumped directly into a body of water without treatment). The impetus for this across the country was the federal government, and that means that a lot of the infrastructure was created around the same time. Concrete used for pipes in wastewater treatment has a life span of around 40-50 years, and projections show the cost will be around $500 billion to make these infrastructure repairs/replacements. We also had the opportunity to collaboratively list and discuss the areas that involved math proficiency. These included budgeting, forecasting capacity, monitoring usage, determining chemical applications for treatment, and gauging water pressure. We also discussed the link to weather and storms (and periods of peak usage), and this allowed us to see that plans are in place for coping with excessive demand or excessive strain (including pumping wastewater directly to the harbor). Class ended as we began thinking about using MS Excel to create a comparison chart of features and data, and we will do this for tomorrow. This will also include looking at and comparing MPW and Charleston Water to Thames Water (serving London and SE England) for an international perspective. In Spanish, we reviewed “ser” and the adjectives we have been studying. We then practiced oral conversations among ourselves, and our topics included health, where from, likes, friends, etc. In Humanities, we examined the circumstances surrounding the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth colony. As part of this exploration, we read and discussed an excerpt from Of Plymouth Plantation (a reflection by William Bradford, one of the leaders of this group of settlers). Mrs. Logan also introduced The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and it is our next major reading piece. It connects strongly to our current period of study, and it is set in 17th century Puritan New England. In Science, we reviewed water properties and discussed our MAD topics as a class, and then we formed partnerships for the MAD projects and worked on researching the topics.
Leadership & Life Skills
– joint Math on-line course (Moodle) assignment due tomorrow – create MS Excel worksheet comparing MPW & Charleston Water to England’s Thames Water utility
– see L&L Skills for joint assignment
– study pages 48-57
– complete worksheet as a quiz
– chapters 1 and 2 of Scarlet Letter
– Lab investigation #2 due Tuesday
– MAD review article #3 due Wednesday