Category Archives: Science

W^2 – restorative

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The lake has a layer of ice in the background, winter is near, Herrick Lake Forest Preserve Wheaton, IL December 11, 2021, 3:25 PM

Saturday afternoon Fern and I took a walk at our local forest preserve. It was the first time in while she and I stepped out together on a hike. I couldn’t find my gloves, it was very windy, and my fingers were cold holding the leash and my new hiking stick. Temperatures last Saturday were above freezing, but when we passed the south end of the lake, we could see a crust of ice coating the surface. I did learn one thing, don’t use a hiking stick with Fern on a leash.

It was a good walk to clear the head, move the legs, and breath some fresh air. Like so many things in life, I just to make time for them. Restorative.

There are six days, counting today, until school is out for winter. The solstice arrives in five. It’s going to be an amazing day and it’s already begun. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, working on ways to restore, refresh, and move. Peace.

Where did you go for your most recent walk? Please share.

W^2 – waxing moon

Venus and a waxing moon, DuPage Forest Preserve Headquarters, Wheaton, IL November 7, 2021, 5:26 PM

We’ve been watching the skies in my science classes this past week. We have been watching Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus in the early evening sky. It has been fun to watch the planets as well as my students when I begin class by asking,

“Did anyone go outside last night?”

Their eyes light up and some even produce photographs of the night sky they took on their phones. It’s exciting to see the wonder and enthusiasm for discovering something new. I found the video below and I was excited to learn about a partial lunar eclipse on the evening of November 18-19. You can check it out below. I will set my alarm to see partial lunar and I hope that it is a clear night. Watching and listening to my students makes me realize I am doing what I am supposed to be doing as I begin my seventh decade today. Yes, it is my birthday, and I am 60. I still feel like a young man full of curiosity and wonder. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, thinking like a young person keeps me young and full of excitement about what’s coming next.

What keeps you going?

three things for an early fall afternoon

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down to write or even craft a Wordless Wednesday post. I’ve thought about it, but also thought about all the other things that are on my plate and in line on front of writing and posting. I even had a photograph selected for the 9/15 – W^2 post, but skipped it to accomplish something more important and more urgent.

the tree and the sun line up

I’ve been overwhelmed with school and life and just haven’t made time to simply reply to the comments readers have left for me. So, this morning I made time to go back to reply and be thankful. Honestly, I am thankful that many people read what I write here at MtDC. I know that when I look at my priorities when school is in session MtDC is falls into the important, but not urgent category. Continue reading three things for an early fall afternoon

W^2 – empty nest

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Michigan State College marker, date unknow. East Lansing, MI August 28, 2021 6:10 PM

Saturday morning, we loaded our car and took off to take our youngest daughter off to college. It was a hot day and we got everything into her un-air-conditioned dorm room. We helped her unpack and put things away and then drove home. The drive home seemed so much longer than the drive there. Same distance, different circumstances, lighter load and for the first time in twenty-three and half years we are on our own again. Life begins anew. I remember my first week or so away from home and off to college, but I never thought how hard it was on my mom. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, beginning a new journey all over again.

Do you remember your first day away home?

today was O’s first day of class and I sent her greetings from my class! (notice my Alma mater on my mask – Texas A&M University) – Naperville, IL September 1, 2021 10:15 AM

W^2 – storm clouds

W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, August 25, 2021

a cumulonimbus cloud across the prairie. Springbrook Forest Preserve, Naperville, IL August 25, 2021 5:11 PM
a cumulonimbus cloud, zooming in. Springbrook Forest Preserve, Naperville, IL August 25, 2021 5:11 PM

 It’s late August and it’s hot, humid, and storms blow up in the afternoon. This magnificent thunder cell wrought heavy rains over a small area for over an hour, then dissipated and moved out over Lake Michigan and parts east. I fell asleep to flashes of lightning and rolls of thunder in the distance, but very little rain fell on my lawn. It’s Thursday, not Wednesday and I am going to make Thursday an amazing day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, day 6 follows day 5, always.

How are your late August afternoons?

Sunday and resilience


It’s Sunday morning and I am sitting at my summer office, knowing full well ‘summer’ is another nine months away. The days are numbered on the summer office with a few more days left in August. Soon it will be too cold, too wet, or both to sit outside and work. But,

I’ll make hay while the sun shines. Farmer’s wisdom

The birds are flocking to the feeders, and I watched three hummingbirds hash it out over at the hummingbird feeder. Sorry, no photo, those birds are just too quick.

School restarted Thursday with students sitting in my classroom albeit masked (all of us were masked) but sitting in my classroom; AND, happy to be there. Last fall, I created a menagerie of ‘students’ to keep me company while I taught using a camera and microphone. This year, ALL of my students are in the room. I am keeping those five students to remind me of our resilience and persistence.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor E. Frankl Austrian neurologist, Holocaust survivor

There has been a lot of talk in the media about learning loss. The pundits love to point out deficiencies in public education because it’s easy to point out what’s wrong. It’s much more challenging to find what is good and that is what Making the Days COUNT dot org is all about. Always has been. There is far more good in the world than the media is apt to share. So, that’s why I have tuned it out. The loudest sound in the room isn’t always right, it’s just loud.

Getting back to school was easy. Continue reading Sunday and resilience

Summer Days: Week 10 and back to school

It’s Day 68 +2 and I am back to school. My first day back was Monday and my new students arrive tomorrow on Thursday. I am excited and nervous, and I am certain they are too.

I woke early Monday morning, much earlier than I was accustomed to over break. I sat outside listening to the birds’ chirp while sipping coffee and working through my morning routine. I realized that the sun rose after 6 AM and it was similar to the final sunset after 8 PM or later a few days ago, this was the last time until next spring that sun rise before 6 in the morning. Summer is winding down and being back in school is a sure sign that summer’s days are waning.

Yesterday we had meet and greets for a few students to come into school, meet their teachers, and find their classrooms. It was exciting to meet them and hopefully I will remember them on Thursday when they sit up front as a suggested. I made notes before I left school of whom I met. I am excited and I am sure they are, too.

games can teach us about how science works…

Monday morning, I arrived early, before the meetings began, I opened the packages that arrived last week. The contents are in the photo below – they are games I am going to use to help develop science skills – observation, classification, evidence, claims and reasoning.

“In the summer, we write life’s summary with the slow waves of love flowing over the sandy beach. The slow breeze and the warm sun write our memories.”
― Debasish Mridha

I only have 5 photos for this final summer days post and there is a decided ‘lake’ theme to four of the five. Continue reading Summer Days: Week 10 and back to school

Summer Days: Week 8

It’s Day 57 and I have a dozen days remaining in my summer break. I slept late this morning. Sleeping late is a luxury of summer or anytime when the following day comes without a schedule or place to be early in the morning. Sleeping late is a direct consequence of living without a schedule or maybe staying up late to watch the stars shine brightly in the summer sky, or return home from a family.

“Summer was our best season – everything good to eat, a thousand colors in a parched landscape.” ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Last night all three of us went to a concert by the band Chicago. B and I listened to them in our youth and the songs were part of the soundtracks of us growing up. O got a glimpse of the music her parents listened to as they figured out how to be adults. It was a fun concert, and the band finished their performance with one of their best-known songs, “25 or 6 to 4”, for their encore.

It was a late night and we got home well past midnight.

Continue reading Summer Days: Week 8

Days of Summer: a ‘sciencey’ Week 7

It’s Day 50, not sure how I got here so fast, but I am here.

“I could never in a hundred summers get tired of this.” – Susan Branch

I am back in school in 19 days, I am under 20 days to a regular schedule, a regular waking time and probably a much earlier going to bedtime, too.

a third summer office – on the deck in full view of the lake, the birds, and the world. Thanks to John at LVPhotoblog for the tip on iPhone photos

Up here at the lake the sunsets much later in the day than at home. We are almost 3 degrees further north and our position relative to the time zone line has a significant impact. Here at the lake, we are in the far western part of the US Eastern Time Zone, it is GMT – 4; and at home we are in the far eastern part of the US Central Time Zone where we are GMT – 5. The east west difference is a little more than 3 degrees longitude.

Today’s sunset will be at 9:08 PM or 21:08 EDT at 298˚ NW by the lake. And, at home it will be 8:14 PM or 20:14 CDT or 296˚ NW. That is a difference of six minutes, adjusting for the time zone change.

Yes, I am aware I went ‘sciencey’ there, but with nineteen days before school begins, I need to start thinking about teaching and making things interesting and relevant for 11–12-year-old. Full disclosure is that I had a science ZOOM call yesterday and we discussed teaching science for almost a full hour. Continue reading Days of Summer: a ‘sciencey’ Week 7

Friday morning birding on Saturday

We are up at the lake for the race, the famous canoe race. Canoe race weekend is an important time for us as a family and I have written about this weekend in past years. The canoe race is always the last full weekend of July.

The canoe race is begins in town and ends 120 miles down the Au Sable River in Oscoda, Michigan where the river empties into Lake Huron. For many, the race defines this town, but Grayling is much more.

the view from my perch at the table… I can see the lake and both feeders.. and Saturday morning’s gentle rain

The rivers have been important where trapping along the three rivers – Au Sable, Manistee, and Muskegon – which begin here in the Michigan Highlands was the first industry when Europeans arrived in the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Grayling, the town, was established as a logging town when it was settled in the late nineteenth century. Logging, forestry, and wood products are still key industries in town, but tourism – hunting, fishing, and recreation – is the industry that sustains this little town near the headwaters of the Au Sable River.

When the pandemic began last year, the cottage along the lake was my hideaway. I spent the last two months of the 2019-20 school year teaching remotely from our place on the lake up here. I felt safer away from our densely populated home region. In many ways we were safer here – there are significantly less people in the county and the reported COVID cases were significantly lower here than our suburban county.

And because there are less people wildlife thrives and is more abundant in the absence of people.

During this time by the lake shore, the beginning of the pandemic, change, real lasting deep change, began for me and my family.

We spent more time paying attention to nature and spent more time walking. I walked more last year with my wife and kids than I remember. I also stopped listening to music, podcasts, or audio books when I walked and I started listening to the birds, the trees, and nature around me.

And, I have paid more attention to nature.

For Father’s Day, my wife gave me a couple for bird feeders and shepherd’s double crook to hang the feeders for our lake house. I placed it just off the deck where we can see it when we are sitting in the front room or on the deck. Continue reading Friday morning birding on Saturday