My brain hurts

My brain hurts AND that is a good thing; it’s a very good thing.

School has been out for sixteen days and today is the Day 17. When I first started blogging in 2010, I numbered all of the posts – Day 1, Day 2 and so on. In 2010, Day 17 was in France and the first full day of my trip to Paris and take my dad back home. Looking back to 2010, Day 17 was June 14th and this year it falls on June 26th – the days do not line up because every summer is different. Some summers begin early and others start late, some summers are influenced by the weather and others are not. This summer is no different, we had bitter cold this winter and it cost us three days; it really cost five days when the last day of school was moved from a Thursday to Tuesday and enveloped a weekend –swallowing two additional days of summer break. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it’s too cold to go to school, too snowy, or too wet, or even too hot – we’ve had bad weather days almost every year I’ve been a teacher. It happens. This summer is no different, we’ve been on the rainy end of a wet and stormy weather pattern for almost two weeks and the area has had over 6 inches of rain in June – well over the average of 4.5 inches for the month.

The Pope issued an encyclical on climate change last week, it got a lot of coverage in the press, and then it disappeared off the radar. But, is shouldn’t have, the issue of climate and climate change should be on all of our radars. That’s one reason my brain hurts, I am thinking and wondering, but there are other reasons.

I was in class last week – material science class. It was amazing and I walked away with many ideas of how to incorporate what I learned in science class this coming year. I melted metals, bent glass, made pottery, played with polymers, and all sorts of materials. My brain hurt all week trying to soak up new ideas and meld them with old ideas to form a composite.

This week, I am in class again. This week’s topic has been water. Clean water, storm water, sewage water, stream water, ground water – all kinds of water. The class began with a trip to the Jardine Water Filtration Plant in Chicago where the water I use to drink, cook, clean, and flush begins its journey to my house. The plant processes about 400 million gallons of water a day and provides water for Chicago and several suburbs with a population of almost 4 million people served.

the quarry - not even close to being full
the quarry – not even close to being full

We visiting a large storm water facility that is an old quarry and it can hold a lot of water – something like 2.7 billion gallons of water. Which if you do the math is like letting faucet run from the Jardine plant straight to the quarry for a little less than a week. That is a lot of water and part of why my brain hurts.

We visited a sewage treatment facility where they take what we flush and run down the drain, then clean it and return it to the river system. It’s pretty amazing and smelly all at the same time.

the waste water treatment plant - it's brown for another reason - the second step in the process - biological microbes 'clean' the water
the waste water treatment plant – it’s brown for another reason – the second step in the process – biological microbes ‘clean’ the water

We toured several sites and discussed how Earth’s natural systems for cleaning water –  the wetlands – work and how human activity is changing how water flows and moves and gets cleaner, or more polluted as it moves.

Yesterday’s activities really made my brain hurt. We visited the river and several buildings that are designed to have a minimal impact on the environment – incorporating larger windows for natural light, using green roofs to manage storm rain water and reduce the need for heating and cooling, using native plants for landscaping, and several other design features that make the building more eco-friendly, or green. All I could think about the rest of the day was how I could talk to my principal and share what I learned and how we – my school – could incorporate green ideas to teach kids, be an example of thinking ahead, and SAVE money. My brain hurts from simply too much information.

Take me to the river, drop me in the water
Push me in the river, dip me in the water
Washing me down, washing me
Take me to the river – performed by the Talking Heads and written by Al Green

take me to the river, drop me in the water
take me to the river, drop me in the water

Last week’s class began with a quote about the ultimate purpose of education being to prepare our students for a world we can only imagine. That’s why my brain hurts.

Today is the last day of the water class and my brain will probably hurt some more this evening and well into the weekend. Tomorrow, we are headed north to the lake for a much needed rest and family time. Time there will go quickly and then I’ll be home and by then, I may have an idea of how to approach my principal about my ideas. Maybe.

There’s 104 days of summer vacation
Till school comes along just to end it
So the annual problem for our generation
Is finding a good way to spend it
“Today is gonna be a great day” Bowling for Soup

There aren’t 104 days of summer – just 68, this summer and 16 of them have already passed. All of them have counted in one way or another and school will be here before I know it.

This could possibly be the best day ever
And the forecast says that tomorrow will likely be
A million and six times better

So make every minute count
Jump up, jump in and seize the day
And let’s make sure that in every single possible way
Today is gonna to be a great day
Today is gonna be a great day” Bowling for Soup

So, I had better listen to the song. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, one new idea joined to an old one, changed forever, moving forward.

What makes your brain hurt?

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