TTS22 Group photo

Monday, November 4, 2013

I want to be in these classes too!

Natural Science

Science class has had a fantastic last few weeks since Cape Town as we started a new unit in Geology.  Themes covered included plate tectonics, strata,  the three rock types and their identification, geological formations, minerals and mineral identification and gems.  Many more geological topics were covered as Namibia lends itself perfectly for the study of the earth and its processes.  The Geology unit will end by tying in with the next unit through the study of soils and their importance to human ecology and land conservation.

We are now moving into the land management and conservation unit which begins with student presentations on a wide variety of topics, from specific such as fencing to broader ones such as water conservation.  All the topics will ideally use the Namibian backdrop for examples.

Students are continue to add entries to their natural history journal.  This journal aims to be the vehicle in which students can process information from individual experiences or field trips and synthesis their understanding through asking questions and/or creative expression.  Please see the newest slideshow TTS22 for a few examples of various journal pages.


Our Global Studies course has had a fantastic last few weeks.  After midterm exams, students had the unique opportunity to get to know some Cape coloured families during a five day home-stay. Many girls felt this was one of the highlights of their semester as the families welcomed them into their homes and delighted in throught provoking conversations during delicious home cooked meals. Indeed, these home-stays form an important part of our experiential curriculum in Global Studies and there is no better way to learn about South Africa than by sharing the day with a local family!  While in Cape Town the group also visited historic Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years. A tour of the University of Western Cape highlighted the unique language and ethnic needs of the diverse student body.  Many of the girls tentatively agreed they would attend this university together in the future. We also visited Grassroots Soccer and spoke with workers on their approach to HIV/AIDS education.  This visit got us thinking about the various ways we can be 'giving back' now and in the future. Recently, Global Studies class had an excellent unit on diamonds. Topics included famous diamonds and their history, mining environmental effects, how to steal a diamond, and a 'town hall meeting' to debate a mock diamond corporation coming into an indigenous village on the coast of Namibia. With the transition to our second country, classes have focused on vanishing cultures and languages as well as the cultures in Namibia. Lots of learning all around. Global Studies continues to be a foundation upon which our semester is based and is both vast in the information it covers and specific to the sites we visit!


Last week the history students went on a walking tour of the historical town of Luderitz, Namibia. After learning about German and South African colonization of the country through their readings, they were ready to begin speaking to people, gathering oral histories. “But where are all the people?” They asked. We spent hours riding in 'Big Blue' with only scrub bush, moonscape and dunes in sight. With Namibia's low population density, it was a challenge to find people to converse with. So, we visited dead people. Walking through Luderitz on a Sunday afternoon indeed the town felt deserted. After about ten minutes I asked them, “What is a causeway?” After some moments of silence they responded, “Something that connects land to an island.” “An island?!” They asked. “Shark Island!” They screamed. Indeed, we had just walked ourselves to the forgotten Shark Island, one of the earliest concentration camps used by the Germans. Leaders of indigenous guerrilla units along with women and children were brought to the island to build the railroad and foundations of the town before they were left to die. With the drone of the lighthouse in the background and the fog hanging low, students began to feel the weight of the place. They looked around at the glass-paneled mansions now standing where Nama and Herero people huddled hungry and cold. “Do the residents know what happened here?” They wondered. “How could such atrocities be forgotten?” “I had no idea that the concentration camp was inspired by the British who used it on the Boers in South Africa, who inspired the Germans to use it on the Herero in Namibia, before implementing it in Europe”. Freaking out, we walked quickly away, but the students felt more alive than ever, with a new lens on the many layers of human history.


Students are busy writing their second 'big' assignment of the semester, the dreaded college essay. With short stories, a novel, poetry, and an analytical essay under their belts, they are working hard on brainstorming topics that feel right to them. Students are passing their papers around to their peers soliciting feedback. They are re-working and crafting their essays, trying to find the right tone, get a better transition, and developing a clear point. Before diving into this project of self-reflection, we experienced 'Diamond Day', a special day dedicated to the study of natural resources and mining in the area. Each student was assigned a famous diamond and asked to write an anthropomorphic poem, taking on the personality of the stone and telling its colorful history as if it were alive. Below is (student) Sarah's  'Diamond Day' poem, intended to lighten up the mood of the day, and a different poetry assignment from Mara describing an abandoned mining town.

10 Ways of Looking at Kolmanskop:

300 years of feet
tracking sand into the house

The morning after a
party: blank stares and angry men

A clandestine meeting in
the desert between gluttony
and desolation

Cold and warm fronts
conspiring against women's

A bath in bubbles;
20 liters of water, ½ a block of ice

A man
and his fence

Survival protocol:
Alcohol content: 36%

A grain of sand sticks,
beetle slows to rest in
and abandoned shoe – home

who wants to be a billionaire?

A grain-sized piece
of Namibia's

BY: SARAH, Gap Year, New Mexico


The Regent Diamond

I am a diamond and I have seen
the Indian slave who found me with his eye so keen

Thomas Pitt bought me for 20,400 in 1702
yes, the Pitt that named Pittsburg, as
I think you knew

I am one of the most brilliant with only
one small imperfection but hey, that's
alright cause I weigh a ton
410 carats and it's all part of the fun

Next, sold to the Duke of Orleans,
Regent of France
which is where I got my name,
Regent, in the city of romance

Louis 15th wore me at his coronation
where I was displayed in front of the whole French nation

Later Marie Antionette who was married
to the 16th Louis decided she wanted
to wear me in her jewelry
1792, early in the French revolution, the
French crown jewels were stolen

There was a period of 15 months, where my
whereabouts were unknown. I felt lost. A
little bit like a TTS girl without a phone

I traveled far and wide, from Berlin to
the Netherlands but I was along
for the ride

I was later set in the sword of
Napoleon Bonaparte. This made his
sword practically a piece of art

After his exile to Elba in 1804, I was
returned to the French Crown Jewels
cause I'm a diamond worth fighting for

Now I'm on display to lay in the
Louvre to this day

I am a diamond who puts off a breathtaking glean

I am a diamond and this is what I have seen

BY: Mara, Junior, Illinois

Precalculus Update:

Following strong performances on midterm exams, precalculus students extended their knowledge of polynomials to study the behavior of rational functions. The girls used their graphing calculators to investigate graphs of rational functions and discover the conditions that cause vertical, horizontal, and slant asymptotes. Hannah interpreted vertical asymptotes in the context of air pollution removal. Anne applied horizontal asymptotes to understand an equation relating the concentration of a drug in the bloodstream over time. Students then transferred their knowledge of asymptotes and previous work with functions and transformations to understand the graphs of exponential and logarithmic functions. They made connections between properties of exponents and logarithms and then applied these properties to solve exponential and logarithmic equations. We began to look at modeling real-world data using exponential, logarithmic, and logistic growth. Natalie gave examples of exponential growth and Mara recalled examples of logistic growth from science. In the spookiest precalculus class yet, the girls led a Halloween zombie infestation simulation, tracked the spread of zombies through the TTS group, and modeled the data with a logistic curve.

Algebra 2 Update: 

In the second half of the semester, algebra 2 students built upon their previous knowledge of solving linear systems of equations. Girls learned use matrices to represent and solve systems of linear equations using inverse matrices and Cramer’s rule. They interpreted results including situations with zero or infinite solutions, continuing the theme of connecting graphs and solutions. Katherine particularly enjoyed an additional matrix application where girls learned to use inverse matrices to encrypt and decrypt secret messages.  The class as a whole excelled in this chapter, and Bird and Molly earned the weekly academic award for their achievement on the chapter 4 test. Following our work with matrices, we moved away from linear equations to study quadratics. Megan made connections to previous work with functions and transformations to understand the behavior of graphs of parabolas. Emilee contributed clever insights to help us use the process of completing the square to transform equations between standard and vertex form. Juliana is working hard to practice factoring as girls add the techniques of square roots and completing the square to their mathematical toolboxes.

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