2007-2008: Week 28 Reflections

March 7, 2008 (Day 126)

In Morning Meeting, we took another section of the Stanford Achievement test.  In Math, proportions and ratios, specifically as seen through triangles, was the primary focus of our class.  In Spanish, we took a dictation and then talked about the geography and culture of Costa Rica.  We also learned new vocabulary related to school and learning.  In Humanities, after learning this week about Elizabethan theatre and in preparation for reading Romeo and Juliet, we watched a scholastic version of Shakespeare in Love.  We paused a few times throughout the film, and this gave us a chance to discuss the allusions we saw/heard and make connections to famous quotations and the stories of William Shakespeare.   During Humanities, mentors Bucky Buchanan arrived and stayed with us until Science.  Mentor Khailey Walsh also came to campus during Humanities and spent the rest of the day with us.  In Science, we reviewed and discussed this week’s labs (our pH lab and the one we did with the Preschool’s Science club) in preparation for lab reports that are due next week.   During Flex Time, we took on Mr. Kreutner in a physics challenge using the Phun software.  This involved crafting a structure that could withstand a wind and/or water assault.

March 6, 2008 (Day 125)

In Morning Meeting, we took a section of the Stanford Achievement Test.  In Math, we worked some more on ratios and proportions.  We accomplished this through several group problems, and then we tackled problems on one’s own.  In Spanish, we finished our “Asi Soy Yo” project presentations, and then we made connections between our presentations and the experience Dr. Silvestri put together for us yesterday.  It was obvious that he had planned the day well in advance – he had reserved the necessary rooms and discussed our activities in advance with the hospital staff (especially the ones who helped us).  He also had very compelling activities for us to engage in, and he clearly deliberated a lot to create the best day for us.  We then discussed revisions to our presentations in light of these realizations, and this enabled us to see how important it is to clearly and accurately convey our messages to the audience.  We also watched another installment of a Spanish-language television program.  This gave us another chance to see how well we can follow spoken Spanish by native speakers.   In Humanities, we were steeped in an introduction to Shakespeare and Elizabethan theatre, and this is in preparation for our upcoming reading of Romeo and Juliet.  In Science, we set up and then conducted a pH (acids and bases) lab with students from Hibben Preschool’s Science Club.  We guided them through the steps to determine which household products were acids and which were bases.   They were very curious and fun to work with, and we all enjoyed the lab.  In Flex Time, we watched another webcast episode of PBS’ Reconstruction: The Second Civil War series.  This episode focused on Presidential Reconstruction, and Andrew Johnson’s motivations for his plan, and the Radical Republican opposition to his ideas.  Upon its conclusion, we made comparisons between this Reconstruction and America’s experience with post-war reconstruction of Japan and Germany after World War II and our current efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

March 5, 2008 (Day 124)

Our Learning Outside the Classroom expedition was a visit to MUSC (our 2nd of the year).  We met Dr. Gerard Silvestri on the 5th floor of the Rutledge Tower to begin our day, and mentor Bucky Buchanan had already arrived to spend the day with us.  We gathered in a room for a quick preview of the day, and Dr. Silvestri also explained his background, the educational requirements for physicians, and what he does as a critical care specialist and pulmonologist. We then moved to the room where breathing tests are administered, and we met two technicians who guided us through the process.  Breathing tests are one of the tools at the disposal of doctors, and they are an efficient way to gauge lung capacity and to determine if one’s lungs are compromised.  We learned that decades ago lung capacity baselines were established for children and young adults, and these numbers were gleaned from testing thousands of people of different heights, weights, genders, and ethnicities.  Economics play a role in the equipment used: the mouthpieces are tossed out after use because it is more expensive to clean them an acceptable level than to buy new ones.  We pondered that this may change in time as the price of oil increases because they are largely plastic.  The breathing device is connected to a computer, and it plots the inhalation and exhalation in real time.  To help patients forcefully exhale, the technician launches “activities” on the computer that are synched to the patient’s effort (including pushing a bowling ball, filling a hot air balloon, or blowing out candles).  Several of us got height and weight measurements and then completed the breathing test.  We received printouts of our results, and they included the percentage above or below the predicted capacity for our height, weight, age, etc.  Mentor Bucky also did one.  As a current college swim team member, we were not too surprised when his lung capacity was over six liters.  While the tests were being conducted, we also met a visiting physician from Crete.  She is a pulmonologist in training, and she is at MUSC to do a rotation with Dr. Silvestri and the other staff pulmonologists.  Dr. Silvestri shared that American hospitals and universities host doctors from other countries regularly, and this is because our level of research and care is so high.  A collateral benefit of these programs is to allow visitors and hosts to learn more about each other and deepen the connections among the various countries of the world.  We then walked across campus to Dr. Silvestri’s bronchoscopy lab. He first made an anti-smoking presentation to us, and the statistics he cited about deaths related to smoking were shocking.  He then asked us to ask questions and order tests related to a hypothetical patient.  The detective process that a doctor follows in making a diagnosis is one of the most challenging and thrilling parts of being a physician.  As we offered our insight, we steadily ruled out certain causes and highlighted other possibilities.  We moved to ordering a CAT scan, and this gave Dr. Silvestri the chance to show us the “slices” that are possible from this technology.  He can access records from a patient, including diagnostic data, from his home.  As we have learned earlier this year, medical information can be also transmitted over the internet to be examined by doctors in other countries.  We identified parts of the body as we moved from the jaw down to the lungs, and then we saw that the source of the patient’s symptoms was a 3 centimeter tumor in his right lung.  From here, we moved to the bronchoscopy table, and this is another diagnostic tool for doctors.  With the aid of two technicians, he showed us how the bronchoscope is used – threaded down the throat, into one lung or the other, and then into different branches of each lung.  The procedure requires deft handling by the physician in collaboration with the technician, and we saw the procedure unfold on the video screen.  To get a biopsy, “jaw” move forward and grab a pinhead size sample that is sent to the lab for analysis.  As a premier teaching hospital, MUSC was one of the first hospitals to get a bronchoscope with an ultrasound feature attached, and this allows for analysis of areas that cannot be seen clearly by the camera.  The entire experience was powerful, and we appreciated the opportunity to see the innerworkings of the hospital and his practice.  We then went to the Old Charleston Museum park just below Calhoun Street, and we ate lunch and played field games until it was time to return to campus.  In Science, we tested the pH of various household chemicals using red cabbage as an indicator.  This information allows us to classify several common products as acids or bases.  This same lab can be used at home!  Tomorrow we will use this same lab as a demonstration for Hibben Preschool’s Science Club students who will come join us for a joint activity.


March 4, 2008 (Day 123)

In Morning Meeting, we explored Phun, a 2D “physics sandbox.”  We then watched CNN Student news, and the main stories touched on today’s presidential primaries, the posthumous awarding of the Medal of Honor to WWII and Korean War veteran, and Sioux Indian, Woodrow Wilson Keeble, and the tensions in South America related to Colombia’s armed incursion into Ecuador.  We also watched a brief account of race car driver Danica Patrick, and this gave us a chance to pause and discuss in class what unfair competition complaint some male drivers leveled against her – she weighs less than all of them.  The final tale looked at the conflict at sea between Japanese whalers and anti-whaling groups, and this in advance of the International Whaling Commission’s meeting later this week in London to address global whaling rules.  The State newspaper featured a story about Ian Sanchez today (“Water wisdom”). He was our guide for our Bulls Island and Shem Creek kayaking adventures, and the article detailed his efforts to share environmental education with all students in South Carolina.  He is kayaking from Greenville to the coast to raise awareness, and we read his update and watched his first webcast (including questions such as: “is there more or less dissolved oxygen in cold water upstream than downstream by the coast?”).  In Math, our focus was on proportions, and this included looking at the potential delegate outcomes for the candidates today based on the voting systems that each political party has in place.  In Spanish, we presented our “Asi Soy Yo” projects.  Using vocabulary we have learned this quarter about activities as a basis, we conveyed to our classmates and Mrs. Rowland a list of ten “likes” and “dislikes.”  We had the ability to pick our own medium, and most of used PowerPoint.  Images were used, and we included mini-paragraphs written in Spanish for explanation of our choices.  In Humanities, we read and talked about the Declaration of Independence, and we also had a discussion about the stakes in today’s elections.  In Art, we created outdoor and mountain scenes with charcoal.  In Science, we used red cabbage as a pH indicator.  To develop a standard of color we tested three known substances and recorded the color of each.  The HCl (hydrochloric acid) showed up as pink.  The H20 (water) turned purple.  The KOH (potassium hydroxide) showed up as green.  This was a surprise because the previous indicator showed HCl as red and KOH as blue.  It was interesting to see that different indicators produce a different color code for pH.  We then tested each of these standards with pH paper to get a numerical value for each color.  The pH for HCl was 1.5-2.0; water 6.5-7.0; KOH was 10.5-11.0.   The results of this lab will be used to test the unknown pH values for common household products.

March 3, 2008 (Day 122)

In Morning Meeting, we listened to a piece (“Hester Prynne: Sinner, Victim, Object, Winner“) about the lasting relevance of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s character Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter.  The audiocast was from NPR’s All Things Considered, and it originally aired on Sunday, March 2.  The opinions offered reinforced many of the ones we learned in our study of the work.  A spoken-word piece like this showcases a strength of radio, similar to the strength of the print media, and that is the ability to explore a story in depth.  This piece was twelve-minutes long!  We then watched CNN Student news, and the stories looked at Prince Harry’s return from Afghanistan, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Iraq, and the election of Dmitry Medvedev to succeed Vladimir Putin in Russia.  These led to quick discussions of the Iran-Iraq war from 1980-88 and the criticisms leveled at the election in Russia.  We also watched another webcast episode of the PBS series of Reconstruction: The Second Civil War, and today’s episode set up the story of a former Union officer, Marshall Twitchell, employed as a Freedmen’s Bureau representative in a parish in Louisiana located around the Red River.  We also spent some time with the Hibben Preschool K5 class, and the students in both classes passed around a globe and shared their favorite world spots.   We then played games and enjoyed some learning activities together.  In Math, we took an assessment on ratios.  In Spanish, we took a quick quiz on our homework notes.  The rest of our time was used for working on our “Asi Soy Yo” project, and most of us are creating PowerPoint presentations explaining our likes and dislikes.  In Humanities, we completed an evaluation of the Webquest, and then we engaged in a conversation about recent world events.  Topics included Ralph Nader and William Buckley.  We also began our examination of the Declaration of Independence.  In Science, we reviewed the pH scale, discussed the use of indicators, and selected materials to bring to class for the upcoming household products lab.  We spent time identifying the Independent and Dependent variables of our next pH lab.  On Thursday, we will be teaching the Hibben Preschool science class how to test the pH of common household products.

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