Category Archives: Science

One small step….

Last night was a full moon and the skies were clear. B, O, and I were headed to dinner and the moon was up, yes it was late. The sun sets after 9 PM at this time of the year and we were working and playing late. Dinner was late, but its summer and we’re on a different schedule.

the moon between the trees, rising.
the moon between the trees, rising.

I stopped the car in the lane, climbed out, and captured the moon with my camera. The I got back in the car and pointed out that 47 years ago, man walked on the moon.

Except, I was wrong. The anniversary is today – July 20.

“One small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” Neil Armstrong July 20, 1969.

I recall the day forty-seven years ago clearly, or rather the evening. We were in Venezuela and it was a late summer night. My dad had taken a job working for Creole, an American Oil Company and we had moved to Venezuela in June 1969.

I was seven years old and had finished first grade. It was summer. Continue reading One small step….

This I believe

O leaves for camp in a few hours and then, B and I will have the cottage by the lake to ourselves for the first time in almost twenty years, maybe longer.

I hadn’t realized that until a moment ago.

What will we do?

I am here until Sunday at the latest, I had originally planned to return home this afternoon or Thursday morning, but my plans changed and I decided to stay later. O’s camp runs through Sunday, which is why I’ll need to return Sunday.

What to do – relax, talk, boat, swim, chores, relax? Probably all of them and some at the same time.

I’ve written about the cottage many times – almost every time I am here. It’s a gift, rather a legacy from Grandpa and Grandma and I think of them each time I visit.

the lake changes constantly - rain is forecast for the day..
the lake changes constantly – rain is forecast for the day..

Continue reading This I believe

Three for Thursday

It’s Thursday morning and it is the twenty-seventh day of summer break, almost two-thirds remain. There is a myth which persists that teachers don’t work a full year. It’s not true, it is nowhere close to being true and the myth misrepresents what educators do to be ready for the coming year.

Class starts in an hour.

that's y foot and W's old parking spot
that’s my foot and W’s old parking spot

This summer I am taking a professional development class, in fact the last several summers I have taken PD classes. Classes are taught by fellow educators and are filled with rich curricula and new methods to help students grow and learn.  This summer I am taking a two-week long class at the local high school. The class is offered through Fermilab Education and W’s freshman biology teacher is the instructor, he was also one of W’s wrestling coaches. It has been an interesting eight days of being transported back to being fifteen again, and then morphing back to my real age. It’s been forty years since that high school freshman year, I’d mostly forgotten that very awkward time.

Continue reading Three for Thursday

a frigid Monday morning

It’s cold outside, that’s why I am inside sitting at my desk in the basement. Yesterday, O, my favorite daughter, and I braved the elements and took off for the big city. She wanted to take the train in and I opted for the car. It was a good choice.

chicago_selfie2
a Chicago selfie – it’s colder than it looks, the lake is frozen along the shoreline

Saturday morning, she came downstairs to the basement and plopped down in the chair beside my desk proclaiming she an adventure and trip to the city. She wanted to visit the Shedd Aquarium and after listening to her plea, I decided Saturday wasn’t the day to go – I had too much to do and she didn’t ask until almost noon, too late to drive into the city. So instead, we planned and plotted for a trip Sunday.

Sunday was a beautiful sunny day even if temperatures hovered near zero.

a Revolutionary War hero - Polish born Tadeusz Kościuszko
a Revolutionary War hero – Polish born Tadeusz Kościuszko

This morning it’s -1 F, or -17C; yesterday it was a five degrees warmer when we drove in to the city. It was still cold. The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill weather advisory for today because it feels like -21 F, or -30 C, and that is fine with me it’s safer and easier to stay inside and take care of business. I still have a lot to do.

Traffic was light on the expressway and the biggest hurdle was finding a parking spot close to the aquarium. We arrived just as another family was leaving and we took their spot.

It was a short walk to the aquarium but the cold and the wind in our faces made it seem longer than it was. The return trip seemed shorter a few hours later.

The Caribbean Reef exhibit
The Caribbean Reef exhibit

We had a good time. We both took pictures and took in the exhibits. O surprised me with her patience as she read about the exhibits as she passed them. We started with the Caribbean Reef and watched the diver feed the fish. The Caribbean Reef is in the center of the aquarium and in the rotunda with rooms shooting off like spokes of a wheel. Several years ago when we were in Florida, O and I visited the Turtle Hospital in Marathon. It was there we learned about the dangers sea turtles face as the human world intersects with the natural world. One of the biggest dangers to turtles are boat strikes. The boat strike isn’t always fatal, but it renders the turtle unable to dive as it creates an air bubble between the shell and turtle’ body. O and I watched as ‘Nickel,’ the Shedd’s green turtle, paddle around the aquarium with her rear pointing to the surface. O remembered our visit.

waiting for the aquatic show - lake Michigan and the Adler Planetarium in the background
waiting for the aquatic show – lake Michigan and the Adler Planetarium in the background

We took in several more exhibits and watched the aquatic show in the main aquarium facing Lake Michigan. Continue reading a frigid Monday morning

quiet Saturday mornings….

I love Saturday mornings. I usually get up early and it’s quiet. I brew coffee, bond with Ivy, read the newspaper, or scan e-mails, and say a quick prayer for the day.

my messy desk - needs a makeover and I need to do it.
my messy desk – needs a makeover and I need to do it.

Instead, this morning I slept late, I needed to sleep late. It was a late night and the outcome of this week’s football game was not good. We were on the road. We had a couple of injuries and the Tigers didn’t play well, coming up on the short side of the score, 13-17. It’s a long season and we have seven more games, at least. W and the players who didn’t get in last night, will play this morning at home.

It was a good week at school. I know 97% of my students on sight Continue reading quiet Saturday mornings….

Today is the day

It’s Thursday morning and I am the only soul awake. Even Ivy sleeps. She woke when I did, went outside, and came back to the screen door and I let her inside. She is curled up in a ball on the footstool, grandma’s footstool. It’s Ivy’s perch, so to speak. The footstool comes with grandma’s chair, it’s grandma’s morning perch when she is here, too. There’s a marked depression where she lays and it’s now part of the cottage. Last summer, when grandma was up north, Ivy came over to the footstool, put her head on grandma’s leg and looked up, pleading. Grandma held her ground and Ivy retreated to her pad by the door. This morning Ivy jumped up on the stool without asking, though sometimes she does ask but this morning she didn’t.  I did not protest, as I often do, or almost always, she warmed my legs while I sipped my coffee and gazed out across the lake as early morning slipped into day and the lake slowly returned to light.

Ivy and the footstool
Ivy and the footstool

Yesterday was windy and it wasn’t a good day for boating, Tuesday was windy, as well, and taking the kayak out was a struggle, but I did it anyway. Today looks like it will windy and the lake will be choppy for another day. Nevertheless, I have other tasks to do; there is always something to do, to keep busy, some important task that needs to be accomplished. Continue reading Today is the day

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.

Continue reading My brain hurts

Learning Never Ends: It’s a Fair Trade

This week I am taking a professional development class at a local college. It’s a week-long seminar and I am blessed to be a part of it. The class, or camp, is sponsored by the American Society of Metals and the organization promotes awareness of the use of materials and careers in material science. I vaguely remember taking Material Science at Texas A&M, but yesterday I had a flashback to thermal expansion problems and coefficients of thermal expansion.  That’s about as ‘sciency’ as I’ll get this morning. But, one of the more interesting activities we did was to melt tin, cast a tin bar, and do splatter tests for tin. It was very fun and I am looking for ways to do it with my own students in the coming year – they would have a blast. Watch as a tin pellet melts before your eyes.

Also, summer is in full bloom and I can read and write more than I am able during the school year. Woohoo. I was asked by Eli over at Coach Daddy blog to write a guest post, so I did. Our paths like many bloggers he found me and I found him and despite a distance of 500 miles we follow each other and live parallel lives. Eli is a blogger and has kids about my kid’s age. We are both football fans and enjoy sport and the life lessons sport teaches us about hard work, toughness, perseverance, and teamwork. I am proud to call him one of my friends. Take a look at the Coach Daddy blog – read today’s post about how Learning Never Ends and poke around a bit while you are there.

 

Continue reading Learning Never Ends: It’s a Fair Trade

Day 3: The Transition

It’s Friday morning. It’s quiet, it’s gently raining, and I’m listening to “Stormy Weather” and going back in time. I went back a year ago and skimmed posts from last summer while I was doing research for an upcoming post and new page.

mydesk

Summer so far has been feeling like a LONG weekend, so far. I wrote the Superstition post before moving on to other tasks Wednesday and helped B and O pack for Ohio Thursday. They left yesterday and will be gone all weekend long. That leaves W and I to our own devices for a couple of days. W has been up and out of the house before 6 AM all week long – since Tuesday. He has wrestling camp followed by football camp until noon. Then, he’ll come home and sleep. He’s busy all weekend with scout event this evening and more football on Saturday.

A  teacher’s summer isn’t what many folks think. It’s full. The first couple of days are always like recovering from a hangover or a hard workout – rest, relaxation, and recovery. I hardly drink any longer, so it’s been a while since a hangover and I haven’t exercised that strenuously for a while, either. But, I remember how it feels. The transition to summer is like changing jobs – I’ve only changed twice, but I remember the awkwardness of feeling change. One day, I’ll step into retirement and permanent summer. I had better have a plan. Continue reading Day 3: The Transition

Vivid: memories, colors, and flowers

poppy5
the poppy is a brilliant, vivid orange and yes, that is my foot

It’s Saturday morning and I am finishing a few school tasks before heading out to do some yard work. There is one more day, really two – but only one with kids. It’s been a good year and I had my end of year meeting with my principal Wednesday afternoon, sort of an exit interview – but I’m not leaving. He was new this year and his approach is different from previous administrators. He asked the questions you want to hear, but do not want to answer – but I did anyway. He asked what was good, bad, and ugly. I have many vivid memories of all of them – the whole gamut. In the coming weeks, I’ll be reminded that the good outweighs the bad and the ugly. It was a tough year full of learning and growing for me, and my students. I am not certain who learned more; regardless it’s always a fair trade.

Last week, I posted photos of the peonies along the fence in our backyard. We had rain last weekend and the peonies that had bloomed are beginning to fade and shred. They continue to bloom and provide glimpses of vivid brilliant color from the kitchen window and almost everywhere in the backyard. Earlier this week, the poppies began to bloom. The poppies bright orange bloom is in sharp contrast to the pink and white peony blooms. Continue reading Vivid: memories, colors, and flowers