Tag Archives: Science

Sunday morning, November 8th

If you had told me that I would be sitting outside writing a blog post on the second Sunday morning in November, I am not sure if I would have believed you.

But I am. The sun has shifted in the sky from where it is in the summer. I can feel the sun on my temple, and I can see my shadow in the laptop screen in front of me. Like many summer mornings when I have written a blog post outdoors on the deck at home or by the lake, I am wearing a pair of shorts and a sweatshirt. The temperature is 67F or almost 20C , there is a gentle breeze, and the sun is shining. It is a beautiful morning.

Yesterday morning, the puppies and I, sat outside and I enjoyed my morning coffee instead of inside on the couch. They sat side by side staring into the backyard, seemingly on watch for the critters they long to catch. The two puppies are really dogs, but they behave like puppies do full of curiosity and eagerness to run, jump, and play. Ivy, the older one, will be 11 years old in a few months and Fern, the younger one, is a little more than a year and a half.

 

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looking for squirrels and I am watching the leaves fall – yesterday the deck was clear… #fallleaves #raking #fallchores

A post shared by Clay Watkins (@makingthedayscount) on

We are repeating yesterday morning’s unusual opportunity – sitting outside in early November. Continue reading Sunday morning, November 8th

hidden

It is a glorious day. The sun is brightly shining through a cloudless sky.

I’ve been up since six this morning. I have been awake since before five this morning when I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. I gave up trying to sleep after almost an hour of tossing and turning in bed.

Through my bedroom window I could see the faint outline of the trees as earth came back to life early this morning. I remembered reading that three planets: Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars were aligned and visible in the early morning. So, I climbed out of bed, dressed, and started the coffee.

deep blue lake, predawn

The lake was still, and the lake was shrouded in a deep blue hue in the pre-dawn light. Along the southeastern I could see one planet with the naked eye and could faintly make out the other two. I quickly snapped a shot and then used an iPhone app – Skyview Light – to visualize the early morning sky.  What my eye could see, my phone could not – not enough light.

But the three planets were there – hidden in the light.

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.” Henri Bergson

Continue reading hidden

Asynchronous

I love complex words. I am teacher and a learner or a learner and a teacher. The two go hand in hand. Learning never ends.

I began blogging at MakingtheDaysCount dot org almost ten years ago when I was teaching 7th grade English Language Arts. Really 7th grade ELA was my teaching assignment and I was really teaching kids. Teaching 7th grade ELA sharpened my curiosity and honed my knowledge of words and word parts……

chron means time, -ous means full of, syn- means with or together, a means without or not

asynchronous – without any particular time or timing or as Merriam and Webster defines it, not simultaneous or concurrent in time

A few years after my first blog post, I was reassigned and moved to science and a new grade level. I embraced the change because that’s who I am – curious, positive, passionate, resilient, flexible, and determined.

 

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Yesterday’s walk in the woods – fresh air and sunshine – good for the heart and mind #makeitaGREATday

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Last week I learned I was moving again, this time to 6th grade. I’ll will be teaching science (and social studies) but most importantly I’ll be teaching kids. Continue reading Asynchronous

W^2 Home of the Brave

A nest of paper wasps has made a home at the corner of the garage under the eaves up north at the lake. The wasps aren’t bothering any humans so the humans will leave them be, so they can do their job in the environment.

Making the Days Count, one day at a time, letting nature do its job.

What have you observed in the natural world lately?

It’s not magic, it’s science

It’s been raining since early this morning. The rain is welcome as late August, all of September, and the first week of October have been dry, very dry. I awoke this morning to Ivy wanting to climb into bed with me, rather than lie at my feet as she usually does. This morning she was up by my head, then my chest, leaping off the bed and running downstairs, then racing back up, before I finally relented and got out of bed and began my Saturday morning. Long before the sun rose.

The rain has been heavy with thunder and lightning, which is what spooks Ivy.

I had a few appointments in the morning before I was able to get back to writing and thinking or thinking and writing. It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post. Last weekend was a three-day weekend and I started writing a post, but didn’t finish, so it’ll be one of those blogpost topics which flickered, but didn’t light. I haven’t forgotten kindness, but just been focused on school and home, and of course the long season.

The long season is winding down. The Astros, my team, have made it to the postseason and they’ve advanced to the American League Championship Series, they need 2 more wins to advance to the World Series. I am watching and rooting, though sometimes it’s easier just to listen or learn the score after the game, but that takes the fun out of the game.

It’s all about balance, because sometimes the forces of life are beyond my control.

a balancing act, science, not magic

Last week my science students were beginning their study of forces, motion, and energy. Our focus in class has been to wonder and be curious about how things move. I’ve introduced my students to the magnetic cannon and Newton’s Cradle and last week I balanced two forks with a toothpick on the edge of glass beaker. It’s easier than you think, it’s all about finding the right balance and then trusting that apparatus (the forks with the toothpick) will balance and realizing that if they fall, I can try it again, and again until it balances. Continue reading It’s not magic, it’s science

3C’s for Sunday

It’s Sunday morning and school is in full bloom and my bucket is full, in fact it’s overflowing. Trying to rationalize how time will be spent between the ‘want to dos,’ ‘need to-dos,’ and ‘have to dos’ is the challenge to leading a balanced life. I am thankful to the time I devoted this past summer break for helping me develop a new habit of starting the day with 20 minutes devoted to thinking about what happened yesterday, what will happen today, and how it will shape tomorrow. It’s in line with my first thing…

my Sunday morning view from the deck…

Curiosity
It takes curiosity to Make the Days Count. I am naturally a curious person and according to my principal in 2014, that’s why he picked me to teach 8th grade science. This is my fourth year as a science teacher and I finally feel like I really know what I am doing. It all comes back to that trait – curiosity and wonder. Last August, in 2016, I wrote a post about the 100 most influential Americans. I promised to reveal who the nine Americans I chose for my classroom were, I never did until this post. Continue reading 3C’s for Sunday

hydrogen and helium: elemental

It’s Sunday morning by the lake. Yesterday was Saturday and tomorrow, is Monday. It’s how the week rolls, it’s elemental.

When I woke Saturday morning, it was cool and overcast. By midday, it had warmed and the sun was out. I had to install a part on the boat lift in the lake. I gathered my tools, my camera, and waded into the lake. Ivy came with me paddling and O followed. The install took only a few minutes, I took photos of the new part, then I took photos of the lake.

earth, water, and air – the ancient elements

I have taken hundreds, maybe thousands, of photos of the lake, but most of the photos I have taken are from shore or from a boat.

I focused on South Bay where a rain cell raced across the lake.

I was able to capture several of the elements of life by the lake – the lake, the hills, and the clouds at once. Of course, there are the sunsets, but that’s for another time. Continue reading hydrogen and helium: elemental

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

Forever in Blue Jeans

It’s Sunday, the day before Memorial Day, and the Indy 500 starts in less than a half hour. The pre-race is on and I wish I could watch it with my science students. It’s speed, physics, material science, and adrenaline all wrapped into 500 miles. I’ve been to the race track many times before, but this year I’ll be watching from the family room with B, W, and O. We’ll be thinking of B’s dad who was our ticket to the track. JD passed away last year after a long life of service to his country, community, and his family. He’s always in our thoughts.

JD Weaver (1926-2014), B, and my nephew - JD's grandson
JD Weaver (1926-2014), B, and my nephew – JD’s grandson

In my last post, I honored my dad, whom also is never far from my thoughts, either.

 There is irony in my last post because my dad’s birthday – 5/20/1933 – is also another birthday, of sorts: blue jeans were born, or rather patented by Levi and Strauss. Irony. I shared this with my classes and reminded them that education was the key to not wearing blue jeans as my dad believed deep in his core. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with hard, physical work – it needs to be done – but, most folks don’t aspire to it. Continue reading Forever in Blue Jeans

Salt from sand

Legend has it that when the Romans defeated the Carthaginians in the Third Punic War in 146 BC, the victorious Romans sacked Carthage plowing under the crops and sowing salt into the soil, rendering the land ruined. Probably by pouring seawater into the farmer’s fields because salt was valuable at the time. I learned this in middle school history in Mr. Burn’s class. It was a harsh punishment and the lessons of history are full of harsh penalties and punishments, of people acting with vengeance instead of reaching out and pulling up. Sadly, history repeats itself – repeatedly.

the sidewalk outside the school - it's dry but crusted with salt
the sidewalk outside the school – it’s dry but crusted with salt

Last week I was in Mississippi to visit my step-mom and I had to leave a day early because of Octavia. Octavia was the winter storm that wreaked havoc across America’s midsection at the beginning of last week. I decided I couldn’t risk being stranded in Oxford or at the Memphis airport on Monday and flew out Sunday evening. It was a good decision because all of Monday’s flights from Memphis to Chicago and the first two flights Tuesday were cancelled. I got home and it was bitter cold here but the roads were dry, in part to large doses of salt when it has snowed. The roads are coated with a white salt brine that seems to leach from the road and sidewalks until the spring rains wash it all away.

Enough of the history and the weather lesson and on to science. Continue reading Salt from sand