2007-2008: Week 20 Reflections

January 11, 2008 (Day 89)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we prepared for our attendance at the John McCain rally by exploring his candidacy further.  We have been studying all of the candidates this year, and we read a NY Times article about how his candidacy was undercut here in 2000 by shocking rumor-mongering.  Mr. Kreutner also showed us the Intrade website, and it provides a stock-market-style look at economic and political events.  We saw the current “price” for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain to win their respective party’s nominations for president.  Mr. Kreutner also gave us a quick lesson in marketing and advertising by showing us the Arby’s children’s meal toy that his daughter received earlier this week (interconnecting plastic toy rings in the shape of the Arby’s logo).  The company is seeking to brand consumers at a young age to create life-long loyalty.  The practice is effective and tends to “fly under the radar.”  In Math, our focus remained on fractions and fraction measurements.  In Spanish, we took a dictation and then corrected it.  We also reviewed the homework and talked about use of the verb “gustar” (to like).  In Humanities, we maintained our study and creation of persuasive paragraphs. We also discussed our upcoming short stories inspired by The Scarlet Letter or topics we have explored in colonial America.  We also reflected upon the presidential primaries and talked about our expectations for today’s John McCain rally being held just down Coleman Boulevard.  After Humanities, we walked and ate our lunch on the way to the rally at Alex’s Restaurant.  There were over 100 people there when we arrived, and we heard brief speeches from State Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell and Charleston County GOP leader Mark Hartley.  Hartley kept the crowd warmed up by leading chants, and two of us were given “home-made” signs to wave for the cameras.  This was certainly an interesting lesson in how rallies are manufactured to create a positive atmosphere for the press.  McCain was running late, and it was around 12:45 when his Straight Talk Express bus pulled into the parking lot.  We heard brief remarks and introductions from Mt. Pleasant Mayor Harry Hallman, Harrell, South Carolina U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, and S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster.  Others in attendance included former SC Attorney General Charlie Condon and former Indiana U.S. Senator Dan Coats.  McCain spoke briefly about Iraq, improved care for U.S. veterans, his personal integrity, and restoring fiscal discipline to Washington, D.C.  He did pointedly walk away from a question about illegal immigration as he shook hands and signed autographs after completing his speech.  We felt he was energetic and forceful, and we enjoyed the feeling of the campaign event.  Ultimately, we gauged that there were 300 people in attendance, and several of us were able to shake his hand (and two were able to get signed McCain posters from him).  We then walked back to campus and talked about what we saw, and Mentor Zach Thames met us there.  In Science, we analyzed the data obtained from yesterday’s lab, and we began compiling the data into MS Excel.  We identified the two independent variables and the dependent variables of this experiment and described the type of graph that would be appropriate to use for this type of data.  Mrs. Ewing then gave us the format for this lab report (I. Purpose, II. Hypothesis/Design, III. Data (Graphs), IV. Analysis (Questions), V. Conclusion).

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– prepare for Monday’s guest speaker (Imam Melhem) from the Charleston Mosque by learning more at the website. Prepare at least three questions.

Math
– p. 281 #s 3-16 and 23-24

Spanish
– complete the worksheets and write your weekly email to Mrs. Rowland if you have not done so already

Humanities
– extra credit opportunity – bring in five ads from any magazines

Science
– lab report for Thursday’s lab is due on Wednesday, 1/16

January 10, 2008 (Day 88)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we reviewed the on-line essay assignment pertaining to the story about the vanishing rural population in the American plains-states.  We also watched CNN Student news, and the main story explored world reaction to the unfolding presidential nomination process.  It was startling to see the attention devoted to our elections when it is not really reciprocated here in America.  However, we are striving to learn and to understand our community and the greater world, and this is an ongoing and lifelong effort.  The second story explained President Bush’s first trip to Israel and Palestine this week, and we talked about the desire of end-of-term presidents to make a strong impact in the final months, but this is made difficult by the nation’s and Congress’ look to the possible next president. In Math, we continued our work on multiplying fractions and we began our study of dividing fractions.  This entailed analyzing and completing standard written fractions and word problems.  In Spanish, we learned the different ways to use infinitives (the basic form of a verb – to sleep, to write).  We then took, reviewed, and corrected an in-class assessment using our homework.  We also practiced using the sports-related vocabulary that we have studied this week.  In Humanities, we channeled our efforts into two separate activities today.  First, we discussed the Puritan revolution, the Civil War, and the collapse of the monarchy in England.  We also practiced constructing arguments and composing written arguments.  In Science, we conducted a solubility lab today.  First, we made predictions about the solubility of several items in a container of water and in a container of alcohol.  We then conducted the experiments to check our hypotheses.

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– improve/revise your on-line essay about the National Geographic article and photo essay on North Dakota

Math
– p. 256 11-18 & p. 266 8-13

Spanish
– study the new vocabulary on pages 94-95
– complete Acts 3 &4 on pages 96-97
– dictation exercise tomorrow.

Humanities
– read and take notes on text chapter 28 (William Penn)

Science
– none

January 9, 2008 (Day 87)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student news, and the feature story examined the results from Tuesday’s New Hampshire presidential primaries.  This prompted an in-class discussion about the accuracy in the polls for the Republican primary but an unexpected Hillary Clinton victory on the Democratic side.  We decided to look at the exit polling, as we did with the Iowa caucuses, to get a better sense of the outcomes.  We then worked on organizing our binders for each course.  At 9:00, we headed downstairs and spent some time with Ms. Pat’s K5 class.  This was our first chance to work with them since the holiday break, and it was a nice time for all of us.  We then headed to the site of the day’s Learning Outside the Classroom experience – the Mount Pleasant Waterworks (MPW) Wastewater Treatment Plant on Rifle Range.

Our guide for the next three hours was Greg Hill, and he made for a great host because of his energy, sense of humor, and clear passion for his work.  Mr. Hill guided us through each step that incoming sewer water takes as it makes its way through the plant.  One of the first processes addresses the smell of the water (click here for an interactive graphic from Charleston Water).  Although 95% of the water comes from showers, baths, sinks, and washing machines, the odor is strong.  MPW spent over $700,000 on a chemical mist process that uses proprietary technology, and it drastically reduces the smell.  This is critical because of the plant’s proximity to residential neighborhoods.  The next step involves a mechanical step system that separates out large particles, and they are shunted to a container (the “salad bar”) for burial in a landfill.  The next step is a clarifier, and this results in a separation of the heavier particles.

 

The heavier particles are sent to the processing facility and the rest gets sent to the aeration pools.  These are 50-feet-high walled containers that hold 3 million gallons, and activated sludge (bacteria) break down the solid waste.  Heavier particles again sent for processing, and the rest gets sent to secondary clarifier and to be chlorinated (disinfected).  The heavy particles are pressed to eliminate water, and then they are extruded, placed in a truck, and sent to the landfill for burial.  After chlorination, the treated water (effluent) is pumped to Charleston Harbor in a pipe through the Old Village that is found 35-feet under the harbor.  The effluent is also constantly tested automatically and manually.

The facility features security cameras and doors, and the chlorine gas has several layers of protection.  MPW will be moving to ultraviolet light for sanitization in the coming years, and chlorine gas will be phased out. The coming years likely hold a move to inject the effluent back into the ground to recharge the Middendorf Aquifer and help to preserve the fresh water (which is lost when the “fresh” water is placed into the saline-environment of the Charleston Harbor). 

 

We then went to the MPW lab on Center Street, and we saw the tests that water and wastewater undergo.  This included seeing organisms that can be found in wastewater, and the mathematical/graphing algorithms that allow one to tell if and when a break has occurred in a sewer line or in the treatment process.  We then ate lunch at Alhambra Hall, and we met mentor Zach Thames upon our return to campus.  We deliberated possibilities for our Making a Difference (MAD) projects for Science, and then we looked at a webcast about a school doing similar work.

 

January 8, 2008 (Day 86)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we reviewed our homework that involved a cost estimation for a round-trip drive to Fernley, Nevada.  The big sticking points for many of us involved coming to terms with the need to sleep and how much one can drive in one day.  With a distance of over 2500 miles between Fernley and Mount Pleasant, one is looking at least seven days of driving for the round trip.  In anticipation of today’s New Hampshire voting, we talked about newspaper endorsements.  This included noting the endorsements made by the main Iowa newspaper, The Des Moines Register, for Hillary Clinton and John McCain.  We also read the anti-endorsement by the Concord (NH) Monitor about Mitt Romney, and then we saw that the Monitor had subsequently also endorsed Clinton and McCain.  We also watched CNN Student news, and the major story gave us a better sense of New Hampshire’s history, people, and culture.  We were also amazed at the other story about the protection involved for President Bush’s upcoming trip to the Middle East, and he will be under the protection of Israeli forces for part of the time and Palestinian forces for the remainder (beyond his Secret Service guards).  In Math, we started multiplying fractions.  In Spanish, we talked about the Mexican influence in the Southwest and in Texas, specifically.  We made a practice dictation, and this is in preparation for our start of digital recording and transmission (via email) of our speaking to Mrs. Rowland.  We also practiced pronouncing our new vocabulary that is related to sports.  In Humanities, the discussion in class revolved around King Philip’s War (another version of Manifest Destiny).  We continued our work with persuasive writing, and we also learned about our short story project.  In Science, one could say that the chemistry in science today was alive! With the introduction of our new unit, “water in the biosphere,” we compared and contrasted organic and inorganic molecules.  We determined the similarities of four biomolecules and highlighted the outstanding differences between proteins, lipids, carbohydrates and nucleotides.  The chemical structure of the building blocks of each biomolecule was introduced by Mrs. Ewing.  We are now identifying each biomolecule as polar or non-polar, and this knowledge is a stepping stone towards the understanding of water in the biosystems.

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– Compose an essay in response to the National Geographic article and photo essay (“North Dakota, the Emptied Prairie”). This is an online essay found on Moodle, and the prompt and rubric are located there. The essay is due on Thursday, 1/10.

Math
– complete page 256 #s 11-24, 34

Spanish
– Continue writing your personal vocabulary list.
– Write the 1st email to Mrs. Rowland
– Copy/study the new vocabulary on pages 94-95.

Humanities
– Read and take notes on chapter 27 (Cromwell & Charles) in your text. We will write the persuasive paragraph in class.
– * Your written short story is due on Monday, February 11.

Science
– Due Wednesday, 1/9 – revisions to the MAD project.

January 7, 2008 (Day 85)

Reflections
In Morning Meeting, we watched CNN Student news.  The lead story examined the weekend flood in Fernley, Nevada because of a breach in an irrigation canal’s levee.  After learning about the tragedy, we paused the webcast and individually brainstormed the financial costs of the flood.  This exercise linked back to earlier work in the year on estimation, and we worked together to make an informed guess on the cost of the disaster.  While doing so, we learned valuable lessons on insurance, the price of various goods, and the responsibility for bearing the expense for various repairs and replacements of public and private assets (like roads, etc.).  We then resumed the news webcast, and the next story looked at turmoil in Kenya.  The feature allowed us to see that Kenya has been largely a success story since achieving modern independence in 1963, and we saw the fallout from charges of illegal activities in the recent presidential election (echoes to other countries we have studied this year).  Mr. Kreutner also made the connection to the number of new countries that emerged after World War II in South America, Africa, and Asia after the colonizing powers of the world shifted away from acting as owners of their former colonies.  In Math, we did the estimation explained above and took an assessment on fractions and prime numbers.  In Spanish, we practiced listening, reading, and speaking in one-on-one and group conversations.  The topics revolved around describing people in a picture and interviewing a famous person.  In Humanities, we explored the use of symbolism by Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Scarlet Letter.  There was also a vigorous discussion about tomorrow’s New Hampshire presidential primaries.  Mentor Zach Thames joined us after lunch and spent the rest of the day with us.  In Science, today was MAD in science!  We began revising proposals and fine-tuning topics with the focus and goal to actually “Make A Difference” in the Lowcountry and beyond with science.  Water is the overall topic for the project, but the subtopics include “how to clean different paints from your clothes” to
“how to clean fresh water for drinking” to “how to harness tidal energy.”   We hope to enter the project in one or two upcoming contests (Champions of the Environment, etc.).  The object of the MAD project is to become empowered with knowledge and its application in order to impact the community in a positive direction. In Flex Time, we looked at a photo essay (“The Emptied Prairie”) from this month’s National Geographic Magazine about the diminishing human presence in the rural areas of states such as Montana and North Dakota. The pictures were eerie and museum-like in depicting the impact that people once had in these challenging environments. We also learned more about on-line and independent-study courses in the various disciplines.

Assignments
Leadership & Life Skills
– Read the National Geographic Magazine story about rural North Dakota (from this month’s issue, available on-line – we looked at the accompanying photo essay at school).

Math
–  p. 246 35-38 and p. 262 1 & 7-10 (from Friday)
– You will leave the Carolina Lowcountry and pick up your family’s horse with your trailer from relatives in Fernley, Nevada. 1) How many days will the round-trip journey take? Explain. 2) How much will the round-trip journey cost. Itemize your expenses as we did in tallying the cost of the flood in Fernley.

Spanish
– Read the culture on pages 88-91 and take notes.
– Plan when you will send an email to Mrs. Rowland and make your personal vocabulary list.

Humanities
– Read and take notes on chapter 22 in your text.

Science
– Due Wednesday, 1/9 – revisions to the MAD project.

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