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Sunday, May 10, 2015

The pocket museum magic!!

It worked again at another one of my I'm a scientist classes!

We had planned on a young scientist walk.........but it rained and rained, so I took in some resources(tins, felt, petrified wood, ammonites, clay marbles etc), showed them some of my pocket museums, told a few stories,  and, hey, over the next two hours  the young scientists made some really good pocket museums, all dated with today's date from the NYT!

Collecting moondust from sand I collected from Cherry Creek.

This 4 year old scientist made THE pocket museum. "Can I keep it forever, John Paull scientist?"

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

See what I found today......


One worm and three slugs.........
I found three slugs this morning when I was out saving the worms from drowning in pools of rainwater.

I placed them in my compost bin and then did some research.

This is what I discovered.

§  Only 5% of the slug pop­u­la­tion is above ground at any one time. The oth­er 95% is un­der­ground di­gest­ing your seed­lings, lay­ing eggs, and feed­ing on roots and seed sprouts.
§  A slug’s blood is green.
§  Most slugs eat rot­ting ve­get­a­tion, but a few are car­ni­vor­ous.
§  Slugs do play an im­port­ant role in eco­logy by eat­ing de­com­pos­ing ve­get­a­tion.
§  A slug lays 20-100 eggs sev­er­al times a year.
§  Slug eggs can lay dormant in the soil for years and then hatch when con­di­tions are right.
§  Gast­ro­pods form the second largest class in the an­im­al king­dom, the largest be­ing the in­sects.
§  Slugs are herm­aph­rod­ite, hav­ing both male and fe­male re­pro­duct­ive or­gans.
§  Slugs have been present since the end of the last ice age.
§  A slug can live for up to 6 years.
§  A slug is ba­sic­ally a mus­cu­lar foot, and the name ‘gast­ro­pod’ lit­er­ally means stom­ach foot.
§  Un­like snails that hi­bern­ate dur­ing winter, slugs are act­ive whenev­er the tem­per­at­ure is above 5°C.
§  A slug is es­sen­tially a snail without a shell.
§  Slugs used to live in the ocean, which is why they still need to keep moist.
§  One in­di­vidu­al field slug has the po­ten­tial to pro­duce about 90,000 grand­chil­dren.
§  It’s been es­tim­ated that an acre of farm­land may sup­port over 250,000 slugs.

§  Re­search has shown that the av­er­age garden has a pop­u­la­tion of over 20,000 slugs and snails.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

And THIS is what happened on my dad's birthday.........

                               Channel 7 EVERYDAY HERO

May 1st

Around 9 this morning, a typical weekday morning, I went off to Mountain View Elementary School to talk to Ms. Laurie Rondou’s class of  2nd graders, as part of their science time. I knew they were going to be joined by students from Cherry Valley Elementary School that I visit each week. “They’re going to share their science time with each other,” I was told.

I get to Mountain View and I'm greeted and then told by Drew, the principal, that he was going to have a really busy day as he was expecting a lot of visitors. I took that to mean that I needed to do a quick session with the kids and then push off. I was ok with that, thinking that I would take a walk out in the countryside.

As I head towards the classroom, I bump into Ms. Jan francis, the teacher from Cherry Valley, and she tells me that her kids were being brought by their parents in cars -  and then redirects me to the library. “Don’t go into the classroom,’ she says, “kids are finishing off some work from yesterday.”

I do as I’m told and go into the library where I see a table full of small cakes. “Must be someone’s birthday,” I mutter to myself. I sit down, and await the larger than usual audience of students. This won't take long, anyway, I think, 'cos I know I'm just there to welcome the kids. About ten minutes later, around 9:30, in come Laurie's 2nd graders. They sit around me, full of smiles, and already wanting to show me rocks and twigs they’d collected, and, just killing time, I begin to tell them about the little mouse, caught by my tomcat, Bertie, that bit my finger yesterday when I tried to save its life.

Then, the library door opens and in come the Cherry Valley children accompanied  by their parents, and they join the kids seated around me. Then, before I can say more than 7 words, I’m surprised to see another class, 5th graders from North East School, appear, led by Jeannine, my wife. What’s going on? I wonder.

Suddenly I’m very aware that all eyes are on me and that I have a library full of kids and teachers and other adults. Wow! Didn’t expect this, I thought. Hey, hey, ne’er mind. Get going.

I tell everyone that it’s Arthur Charles, my dad, 103rd birthday. To celebrate, I take a large wishing rock from my bag and ask the kids to help me send a special wish to my long departed father. I hold it, I stroke it, and ask the kids to close their eyes. 

In absolute silence we  send Arthur Charles the BIGGEST wish, we me thinking, if only he would walk through the door………..

Holding a bottle quarter filled with water, I tell the boys and girls that I want to capture the young scientist atmosphere for ever. Laurie kindly brings me a small dish and holds it under the dish……I turn the bottle upside down and take off the lid………..and, wouldn't you know, flippin' 'eck, the water splashes all over Laurie’s blouse…………so sorry, Laurie, I mumble…..I quickly put back the lid, telling my audience that I have captured the air, the excitement,  and their brain power in the jar, FOREVER!

Hey, hey. That done, I pull a pocket museum from my bag, and, slowly, open it. It’s an old OXO tin my dad had buried in our garden way back in 1949 – one that I dug up again in 1996 when I knew I was moving to the States.

As I show the kids what’s inside, (pennies, a fossil, a seashell, one of my grandfather’s clay marbles, and a chicken wishbone)  in walks a smartly dressed fella wearing a shirt and tie, and I think to myself, hey,  he must be one of Drew’s important visitors. I wonder why the all-dressed-up gentleman sits to my right as I continue talking to the kids. Wish I knew who he was.

Then, then, surprise, surprise, in comes a cameraman………………….with Drew. My brain goes into overdrive. I continue telling a story, thinking that there was some filming project going on about the school…….hope I’m not in the way……….but the cameraman, sets up his camera and, and……………starts filming me!

The man in the white shirt comes over and introduces himself. He’s from Channel 7, and he’s making a film for a series called, Everyday Hero, and the program is about……….me!!

He presents me with a beautiful framed Everyday Hero certificate.

Crikey………my mind is a whirl…………I sit down again and look at the kids. They smile broadly and give me a heart-touching loud clap. They KNEW all the time!!

One of them asks if I will tell the tale of Radjel the fox………………I’m flustered, and I stumble through the story, telling it really, really badly……..hey, hey. Well, ok, c’mon, it ain’t every day you have a TV camera and a hundred pairs of eyes staring at you.

Drew, bless his cotton socks,  saves my bacon. When the story comes to an end, he steps forward and thanks everyone for coming…….

I look up and receive a big hug from Jeannie, Jeannine's principal, and then I see neighbors Kim and Carol! THEY knew about it, too? Uh.........! :)

An hour later, I'm interviewed by the fella in the smart shirt and tie, then Drew, the principal, Jan, and a few kids are interviewed, and I’m told that the program will be shown at these times:

Sunday May 17th at 10:00 p.m.
Monday May 18th at 11 a.m.
Saturday May 23rd at 5 p.m.
Sunday May 24th at 7:00 a.m.
Thursday May 28th at 11 a.m.

And will be on the Channel 7 website for about a month, starting May 19th.

IF you have nothing better to do, you might want to take a look!!!!!!!!! 

I might……………

But, my question: HOW did so many people, adults and children, keep such a secret for such along time?

Hey, hey…………..Flippin' 'eck, life’s never dull, is it?


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Coming - May 1st, my dad's 103rd birthday......

Bless his cotton socks!! 103.....crikey, just imagine.

Walking back from Ding Dong Tin Mine, 1969, I think..........
He knew his stuff when out and about..........most of what he knew was acquired from first-hand observation, years and years of hunting, trapping and catching rabbits, duck and fish.

Tell you what, though, I wouldn't mind a walk with him today.
 He'd love where I live and its access to the open, wild countryside.

Friday, April 24, 2015

From the NYT: Beyond education wars, Nicholas Kristof.

NYT Thursday April 23rd.

For the last dozen years, waves of idealistic Americans have campaigned to reform and improve K-12 education.
Armies of college graduates joined Teach for America. Zillionaires invested in charter schools. Liberals and conservatives, holding their noses and agreeing on nothing else, cooperated to proclaim education the civil rights issue of our time.
Yet I wonder if the education reform movement hasn’t peaked.
The zillionaires are bruised. The idealists are dispirited. The number of young people applying for Teach for America, after 15 years of growth, has dropped for the last two years. The Common Core curriculum is now an orphan, with politicians vigorously denying paternity.
K-12 education is an exhausted, bloodsoaked battlefield. It’s Agincourt, the day after. So a suggestion: Refocus some reformist passions on early childhood.      
I say that for three reasons. First, there is mounting evidence that early childhood is a crucial period when the brain is most malleable, when interventions are most cost-effective for at-risk kids.
Researchers are finding that poverty can harm the brains of small children, perhaps because their brains are subjected to excessive cortisol (a stress hormone) and exposed less to conversation and reading. One study just published in Nature Neuroscience found that children in low-income families had a brain surface area on average 6 percent smaller than that of children in high-income families.
“Neuroscience tells us we’re missing a critical, time-sensitive opportunity to help the most disadvantaged kids,” notes Dr. Jack Shonkoff, an early childhood expert at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Growing evidence suggests what does work to break the poverty cycle: Start early in life, and coach parents to stimulate their children. Randomized controlled trials, the gold standard of evidence, have shown this with programs like Nurse-Family PartnershipReach Out and Read, and high-quality preschool. These kinds of interventions typically produce cognitive gains that last a few years and then fade — but, more important, alsoproduce better life outcomes, such as less crime, fewer teenage pregnancies, higher high school graduation rates, and higher incomes.
The second reason to focus on early interventions is that the low-hanging fruit has already been picked in the K-12 world. Charter schools like KIPP showed that even in high-poverty environments, students can excel. In New York City, which under Michael Bloomberg became a center for education reform, high school graduation rates rose to 66 percent in 2013 from 47 percent in 2005.
I support education reform. Yet the brawls have left everyone battered and bloodied, from reformers to teachers unions. I’m not advising surrender. Education inequity is America’s original sin. A majority of American children in public schools are eligible for free or reduced price lunches, and they often get second-rate teachers in second-rate schools — even as privileged kids get superb teachers. This perpetuates class and racial inequity and arises in part from a failed system of local school financing.
But fixing K-12 education will be a long slog, so let’s redirect some energy to children aged 0 to 5 (including prenatal interventions, such as discouraging alcohol and drug use among pregnant women).
That leads to my third reason: Early education is where we have the greatest chance of progress because it’s not politically polarized. New York City liberals have embraced preschool, but so have Oklahoma conservatives. Teacher unions will flinch at some of what I say, but they have been great advocates for early education. Congress can’t agree on much, but Republicans and Democrats just approved new funding for home visitation for low-income toddlers.
My perspective is shaped by what I’ve seen. Helping teenagers and adults is tough when they’ve dropped out of school, had babies, joined gangs, compiled arrest records or self-medicated.
But in Oklahoma, I once met two little girls, ages 3 and 4, whose great-grandmother had her first child at 13, whose grandmother had her first at 15, whose mom had her first at 13 and now has four children by three fathers. These two little girls will break that cycle, I’m betting, because they (along with the relative caring for them) are getting help from an outstanding early childhood program called Educare. Those two little girls have a shot at opportunity.
Even within early education, there will be battles. Some advocates emphasize the first three years of life, while others focus on 4-year-olds. Some seek to target the most at-risk children, while others emphasize universal programs.
But early childhood is not a toxic space, the way K-12 education is now. So let’s redeploy some of our education passions, on all sides, to an area where we just may be able to find common ground: providing a foundation for young children aged 0 to 5.