Science midterm point! From Sylvia
Oh yes, these students are remarkable for the amount they have learned in the first half of the semester! I am truly impressed with their interest level and determination to understand both the theoretical and the practical side of science. Of course, naturally the more active the exercise the more interesting, but that's no problem for me as I also love the hands-on, practical and experiential side to teaching science. These ladies are engaged in their learning and have remarkable insights into both natural history and environmental issues topics. My course concentrates on four main areas under the heading of "Honors Natural Science: Population Ecology and Conservation." The four units within the class are roughly divided into the following themes:
A. Population Ecology -
The major theories and topics under this heading have been taught but as these concepts are naturally all-encompassing and widely applicable, these topics will be revisited and reincorporated into lessons as the synthesis of this information in various site and issue-specific teachings is critical.
B. Geology -
Today's class was the official start to this unit. The unit covers plate tectonics, geological time scales, geological landscapes in the countries we visit, volcanoes, diamonds, Eolian landforms, etc. Today we had class next to the Orange River and started this unit on the micro level and students drew the evident rock/cliff stata. This is a second time we examined strata (Drakensberg was the first) and we will continue to look at various geological strata whenever the opportunity presents itself. Today we also examined rocks, after learning the difference between a rock and a mineral naturally, we studied the processes that give us igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. For homework, students focused on keying out "their" rock using the classifying and identifying worksheet. Students said they had a lot of fun looking at rocks on the beaches of the Orange River....I wonder, was it the beach or the rocks?
C. Land Management and Conservation-
Though we have discussed township access to resources and other major poverty and ecology issues, these themes are principal to our objectives here at The Traveling School. All conservation has to be founded on good science. Conversation and science studies cannot be separated and thus this theme is ongoing. In our world of rapid environmental destruction, I believe it is my obligation as a teacher to empower the students to be agents of change. There are methods that work based on good science and people and projects doing good work. These examples are covered in the final section.
D. Current Events-
Regardless whether we are talking, teaching, learning, discussing, observing, practicing, applying or simply reading, our curriculum brings in real life, place-based opportunities whenever possible such as the ongoing debate on Rhino conservation. In our mock debate, some of the students debated in favor of poisoning each horn, others argued rhinos should be farmed for their horns and yet others argued for stricter trade laws and regulations. Each group referenced readings, observations and interviews to create a richly stimulating debate. Current events and place-specific opportunities are indeed the strength of our TTS curriculum.
Math Concepts - Sylvia and Brenna
Our small class setting allows us to give each student individual financial strategies to succeed in her next step. The simulation game, "The Game of Life", recently ended and students handled financial twists and turns with finesse. For example, Sarah's character was a working mother with three kids, one of whom broke her leg while studying in Germany. The unexpected medical emergency expenses compounded her enormous debt already acquired from her home remodel. Sarah had to negotiate the consequences of all her character's actions and choices and never knew what next week would bring. Other students faced financial curveballs: Megan's character had to deal with the absent father of her child who disappeared after racking up an great deal of debt which became her character's debt. Maeve's character was a big earning surgeon who alternated between high rolling nights out at the clubs and spontaneous five star vacations, on one of which she bought an expensive dog. Lindsay's ski guide lifestyle made long term financial planning difficult because clients would come and go. She also sustained a foot injury and received workmen's compensation. Ariela's character was a hard working single mom until she found the love of her life and got married. The wedding was five times more expensive than originally planned. Everyone learned how bad choices are not necessarily correlated with income levels.
For the midterm exam, students created individual guides to "Flying the Coop!". In these guides students reviewed all the financial instruments we studied and the terminology learned, along with the associated pros and cons inherent in daily life. This guide will be useful when the students become independent, and perhaps the lessons will be a relief to their parents. These projects were beautifully put together and demonstrated the depth of their understanding and their joy in applying their knowledge!
Please stay tuned for more class updates!