Is This The Real World? Is This Just Fantasy?

October 1, 2017 at 7:01 pm (News) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Being in my new role is borderline surreal, and if it is don’t pinch me.  It’s given me this immense feeling of fulfillment and yet a desire to achieve more.  If you vision a dad and his son riding in a truck down a country road, doing what fathers and sons do, talking about things one day to come.  The dad looks at his son, tells him one day he’ll be a grown man and when the day comes to find a job that makes him happy.  The conversation is much the same as the years pass and the boy becomes a young man. Through it all the son watches his parents hold down multiple jobs to provide for the family, he hears the parent’s frustration and watches them endure to make sure their kids have lives better than their own.  Through the full time jobs, the moonlighting, and the third income the parents somehow created time to hold; through the time they took the kids to bitty ball, summer camps, the factory on strike;  through beginning their own business, and then selling it, to entering real estate and flipping of houses the son holds the phrase. Now on his drives to work the son hears the words his dad once told him so long ago as he passes the Croatan Forest, and drives over the waterways.  A smile spreads.  The goal he worked toward for the past ten years arrived as opportunity presented itself.  For the first time waking up to go to work doesn’t seem to feel like work.  He’s found the secret so many search for.  To enjoy what you do.  He’s also smart enough to know that this is the beginning, not the end.  To maintain this, he’ll need to invest more time and resources to ensure this new role develops into something greater.

With that mentioned . . . Dear readers, I present some of the Vantaztic Learning Experiences

 

Let’s peek in with 5th grade as these students are learning about properties of matter.  Their unit began by studying something all around us, water.  Students travelled through the water cycle transforming from the three states (solids, liquids, and gases) in a dice game created by Project WET.  Some found themselves flowing from rivers to being absorbed by plants or animals, then perhaps travelling into groundwater or becoming a glacier.  Many found they became trapped between the cloud and ocean stations while others might have been lucky to escape to a lake.  Students tallied their travels, analyzed the data, and shared individual results.  Then we collectively shared all results and wouldn’t you know the data was common amongst all four 5th grade classes with the dominate group being liquid.

After introducing the states of matter and these physical changes, we focused on the changes that occur chemically.  First the scientists listed properties of the penny including detailed illustrations.  Students removed the coverings of oxidized pennies using an acid base (vinegar) and an abrasive (salt) and then recorded the changes observed and jotting down properties of the penny after the experiment.  Following this students created carbon dioxide (a gas) by combining baking soda and vinegar.  They trapped the CO2 in a container and used syringes to measure the amount of gas produced.  Then students hypothesized how much more/less gas would be produced by changing one of the variables, meaning the amount of baking soda or the amount of vinegar.  Let the retesting begin.

As a follow-up to CO2 theme, the kids conducted hypotheses  on which type of soda would produce the greatest amount of CO2 release.  They compared soda to diet soda, lemon-lime, to diet lemon-lime, cherry to it’s diet counterpart, and Dr. P vs diet Dr.  In this activity students dropped a roll of Mentos into each 2 liter of pop.  Once the nucleation (bubbling experience) occurred, students poured the remaining soda from the 2 liter bottles into graduated cylinders to measure and record how many mL where blow out.  Results varied because one variable that was tricky for some was getting all the Mentos in the 2 Liter.  Some spilled, some got stuck in the paper made funnel, and some kids were jumpy.  Regardless all Mentos were placed in the container to make it as fair as a test as possible, but classes did receive different results (as expected in most experiments).

Below are 4th graders exploring traits.  Each tool represents a bird’s beak and on the surrounding tables are types of food that match a certain style or trait of beak.  The 4th graders researched hummingbird and woodpecker beaks to build up on their content knowledge, then made predictions as to which tool would be best suited to “eat” that given food source.  Tools (beaks): strainers, droplets, tongs, chopsticks, tweezers, scoop cup, nut crackers, scissors.  What would you use to suck nectar from a flower (graduated cylinder)?  If tearing meat from a bone (playdough off of a tube), would tweezers, scissors, or tongs be the best trait to have?  What style of beak would you need to peck at insects in tree limbs?

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4th graders also explored estuaries and how important these are to our community in terms of cleaning the ecosystem as well as in commercial fishing.  A snacking card game provided by the NC Coastal Reserve is always a hit.  Have a healthy estuary?  Add fish crackers to your estuary.  Draw a polluted card?  Eat the fish.

Third grade is honed in on the solar system.  These astronomers are developing an understanding of how gravity and inertia (something that can rest will rest; something that can move will continue to move) keep our planet in orbit as well as the other planets and moons.  The demonstration below was an easy one for the to comprehend.  They understood that gravity holds us on earth and if I poured the cup of water the water would spill out.  We tested that and their conceptualization was true.  So then, if I use gravity and inertia together I can keep the water in the cup while turning it upside down.  They were hesitant, so we had to take the experiment  outdoors to attempt.  Check the picks of the kids swinging the cup in circles, keeping the water intact thanks to the combo.

Our current project is converting the distances from kilometers to meters and centimeters of each planet from the sum.  Students are in process of measuring these distances with tape and meter wheels and cutting string to serve as a model distance.  We will then convert the planet sizes into metric for the circumference of planet models to attach to the string.

Second grade is deep into operating weather tools.  We’re calibrating anemometers, and reading thermometers.  They’re creating hypotheses on which would hold the temperature of water the longest (foam or plastic) and keeping track of their data, then interpreting the results.

First grade is tracking the movement of shadows throughout the day to recognize patterns and movement of objects throughout the day.  Check out our friends modeling with flashlights and tracing the shadow patterns made.

And my kindergarten friends (no pics yet) are improving their coding skills using directional terms as turn, forward, stop, etc.  They helped Mr. V get from point A to Point B using these terms with a number set.  I did get a bit dizzy when the direction was turn and I kept turning in place, or if they said go forward and I’d walk across the room.  We’re working on adding the number of steps and turns, so perhaps next time when we add arrows, numbers and directional word cards it will get us where we need to be.  Footage will be taken next time.  So much good to come.

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I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

September 22, 2017 at 2:25 pm (News) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

 

A bit behind with updates in the lab.  The pvc pipe will hold plastic bags which will be used for campus clean ups.  We’ll separate the litter, then tally what we’ve found using CMAST’s beach sweep data sheets.  From there the information the kids collect will be sent to our friends at CMAST for them to add to their study on marine debris.  Our school will be a data point for the debris collection as well as upcoming weather tracking.  That lovely pesticide cabinet is our storage unit for chemicals, which at the elementary level consist of materials such as baking soda, vinegar, borax, veggie oil, salt, etc.  My good friend and proprietor of ENC Creations made some support cleats for the cabinet to rest upon and secure from above with lag bolts.  The back of the cabinet was then secured to the wall with ten masonry screws.  AND . . .  finally those beautiful cabinets came in.  Look at all of that storage.  Teacher’s dream.  A purchase order is in the works to purchase the wall mounted projector.  This will project onto our dry erase board and has touchscreen capabilities without the screen.  The next project is to add more storage rails under the cabinets, and install a few more pieces of pegboard.  Once that is complete, it will be time to build the L-bench and order materials for the recording studio.

Someone call the A-Team.

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch- Changes

August 15, 2017 at 8:39 pm (News) (, , , , , , , , , )

For anyone that bought a start-up home thinking, “This could be a nice place with a few changes and upgrades”, but then two days into pulling the carpet up to see those original hardwoods they hoped for they’re faced with stained laminate from twenty years prior, .  . . well this post is for you.  I’ve been there too for in my elementary to high school years my parents would buy a home once a summer to fix and rent or sell, and then I faced this once again after returning home from college graduation to rent a home (built in 1912) from my folks.

“I’m just going to repaint the living room.  Well I need to tear the existing forty seven layers of wallpaper first.  Suppose I should remove this drop ceiling to open up the room.  Looks like the plaster is coming off with the wall paper.  Should probably take off the original crown molding to sand and repaint.  So I need to hang drywall now and stamp the ceiling.”

You see, one thing leads to the next.  It is easier to build than work around and that in essence is the renovation process to the STEAM lab.  Not that I didn’t take that into consideration.  I knew there would be those days of “What was I thinking?” and “Seriously!”, but you roll with the punches and punishment.

So what have been some of the obstacles?  Knowing the depth of the cinder block.  If electrical lines where run through or behind them.  Where the lines were.  Cutting out steel pegboard to expose the outlets.  Finding potable and gray water lines as not to sink into them while running hanging rails.  Climbing ladders and hanging in contorted positions while on them is a skill I think I can sell as a new crossfit method.

So what has been accomplished?

The bathrooms are no more.  The toilets were officially taken out last week, and these past four days have been committed to turning one of those into a storage closet.  The rails are hung with six inch spacing between them.  You never know what you’ll use/keep as a teacher and the railing allows for shelves to unsnap and move up or down accordingly.  Suppose you can never have enough space to store items.  Here is the evolution of this room.

Added rails to each pop-out column dividing the walls, assists in utilizing a “take it” basket set-up.  Again, the vertical track has multiple slots to adjust where and how close to snap the baskets.  I spent today (8/15/17) filling these up with makerspace materials, puzzles and shells, math manipulatives, and robotics.  There is more to hang, but that will come after the cabinet install.

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Then there is pegboard run along the bottom of two of the dry erase boards.  I suppose another frustration is the shopping, because some things are not as they appear in the spec sections.  The pegboard was advertised as 32″w x 96″h and 32″w x 48″h.  I needed two of each, but when the delivery came all pieces were 32″ x 16″.  It worked out, but I was hoping for larger pieces to make cutting around the electrical outlets easier, while also avoiding placing screws so close to them.  C’est la vie.

The ceiling tiles are looking outstanding and I’m placing them in order based on the periodic table, with a few exceptions due to restraints on length of the room and/or working around light fixtures and HVAC.  I thought spinning them in different directions would be a fun twist for the squirrels that will be occupying this lab.

So, what is left?  Much.  The cabinets mentioned earlier will be placed on either side of the windows and three foot depth counter with shelves and space for terrariums and aquariums will run under the windows.  I have 10″ diameter pvc pipe coupled with two 45 degree elbows that will hold repurposed grocery sacks for campus clean-ups/trash data tracking.  This will be mounted near the exit door.  I have enough pvc left over to create a debris container for the outdoor science shelter, same as what you would see on the beach to collect fishing line.  The orbiting moon model will for sure be a time consuming project.  We will be using curtain railing, like that from a hospital/hospice room.  The issue is the railing cannot be hung from the tiles, but must go up into the ceiling joists.  The moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circular pattern, but more of an oblong egg.  But, a few weekends into the school year and I should have a solid layout for the path.  The recording studio will be the coup de gras (grace), the hanging of the door will be the most difficult part and one I will need assistance from maintenance.  Yet, hanging the foam sound diffusers and building a bench will not be a difficult task to manage.  If you have thoughts on bedding and/or upholstery for the bench, please comment below.  It will be an L style to host multiple students or just one to lounge while recording their audio/video projects.

First things last.  Let’s get the counter/cabinets installed to house items and clean up a bit.  I have more than 20 stem project boxes that were delivered to the room and need to find a place for them.  This is a good problem to have.  Also, other teachers are invading the school and everyone wants to drop off their “science” stuff.  So like prior mention, you can never have enough storage.

 

What else?  Well . . . I won’t go into too grave detail, but will leave you with two words.  Touch tank.

David, hit it.

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Full STEAM Ahead

June 10, 2017 at 6:57 pm (MATH, News, Science)

Full STEAM Ahead

Thank You Lowes

The idea behind project Full STEAM Ahead is to renovate an existing classroom into a full functioning lab encompassing areas of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM). The STEAM lab will serve as a hub for all elementary grade levels offering students an opportunity to create, explore through hands-on experiences, and develop critical thinking skills. The lab will be a meeting point for science clubs (robotics, environmental stewards, marine biologists, and horticulturalists). This lab will provide professional development for staff allowing homeroom teachers, specialized educators, and the STEAM facilitator to blend teaching styles and correlate on the development of lessons and activities related to the elementary curriculum-standards, as well as create cross-curricular strands allowing grade levels to intermingle on similar topics and provide a greater depth of learning. The STEAM lab will provide educators the opportunity to co-teach and students alternative methods to learn from one another. One of the STEAM lab’s objectives will fulfill multiple facets of learning. This being that all students have access to various forms of technology in which they can voice their findings and discoveries on social media platforms, learn to code and operate robotics, track and record data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) Program, while also being able to explore by means of interactive digital labs, and supplementing as a resource for research. Another objective is for our students to increase their understanding in science and mathematics and become proficient learners in these areas. Overall the goal of this renovation project is to have each student increase their appetite for one of the many fields science has to offer, and peak those interests by supplying these young inquisitive minds with an environment that engages and stimulates.

 

The vision of this renovation will host a recording studio for students to express themselves artistically by way of digital medium.  Students will have the ability to podcast, create digital content such as videos, or design augmented reality aurasmas. A dark room will be constructed for vermiculture study. An interactive whiteboard and projector will be allow for students to research while simultaneously manipulate digital labs.  Storage will be added to house robotics, manipulatives for math activities, along with science equipment.  Pegboard walls and removable crates will be wall mounted to aid in the utilization of maximum space for storing equipment and tools.  A chemical storage cabinet will be wall mounted to keep non consumable materials safely secure and out of reach when not in use.  A recessed wall mounted pull down eye rinse will be included as an added safety measure.  A display section will be created to bear experiments and projects, as well as hold ecosystems such as terrariums and aquariums (salt and fresh water) for observation.  A magnetic wall will be installed for exploratory learners, and a track will be fixed to the ceiling operating a moon model as it travels on the orbital path.  The ceiling tiles will each be painted to match the periodic table along with examples of how each element is used as a human resource.  PVC pipe will be mounted and run along the lab for students to explore auditory senses and manipulate sound energy.  For shelving of science related books, we will have a builtin tree shaped bookcase.  To maintain debris awareness, an acrylic container will be fixed to a wall.

Timeline

June 7th, 2017 Lowe’s Home Improvement (Cape Carteret Branch) presented the $50, 852.21 grant to begin renovation of our classroom into a functional STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) lab.  News footage is below.

WNCT Channel 9

Carteret Time News Article

June 13th, 2017 Lowe’s Volunteers come to prime and paint the classroom Sonic Blue.  The before . . .

The during . . .

Lowe’s volunteers Liz and Lisa primed the walls covering the once purple, eggshell white, and dark blue cinder blocks.  I scraped liquid nail that once held the bulletin board (which will be moved to the opposite side of the classroom)  and removed the bathroom railings and dispensers (these were sent back to Central Office HQ).  Also on this day our friend Al Sirkin from ENC Creations (ENC-Creations via instagram and twitter) stopped in to measure the section where the magnetic wall will hang.  The plans for the magnetic wall will be to bend the metal around corner of the wall to the storage room (see pic of Lisa priming blue wall below), paint it black, punch out spots for the door stop and air control box, and cut terms; magnetic, attract, repel, iron, ore, and +, – symbols at the top of the wall.  There will also be a rubber edge run along the side of the metal to prevent kiddos from cutting themselves.  Lowe’s  customized a tree bookcase which is in the first stages of development.

 

 

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Erosion Engineering

January 29, 2017 at 9:00 am (News, Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Alright stop!   Collaborate and listen.  The Little V’s are back with a brand new invention.  Vantaztic Learning has some mad skills on the mic, but even I can’t touch the brilliance that came from these young problem-solvers.  Your mind will be blown back to the 90’s to when we thought this track was solid,

Image result for vanilla ice 90s

as you listen to these clever devils collaborate.  See the thought process unfold for yourself as the scientists explain how their prototypes will slow beach erosion.

Makerspaces Engineering Erosion Project

Some background info for our readers:  The kids spent a day to design a blueprint of how their idea would look and created a write up of how it works.

Makerspaces Engineering

Day two (this day) was focused on creation of their sketch.  Next week they will test their project to see if it does in fact work, and if for some reason not, back to the drawing board.  For our fourth event day, we’ve invited a couple of professionals from our local community with background knowledge and first hand experience in beach renourishment to visit and listen to the students as they present their ideas, discuss the successes and drawbacks of the pretesting, and share their improvements.  Suppose we’ll have to wait to add more until testing and discussion take place, so for now . . . hit the hi-hat.  Word to your mother.

Makerspaces Engineering
Makerspaces Engineering

 

Makerspaces Engineering

We’re back and ready to share what worked and what needed modifications.  Our guest shall be here at the end of the month.  Enjoy, we’ll back after this paid programming announcement.

Erosion Wave Model

 

Engineering a Way to Slow Erosion
Wave Erosion Testing

2/23/17 Mr. Rudolph, “Rudi”, stopped in to listen to the young minds share their ideas and models to prevent beach erosion.  Mr. Rudi works for the Carteret County Shoreline Protection in Emerald Isle, NC.  He shared how to combat the erosion issue with the method Carteret County uses, dredging sand onto the beaches.  Fun Fact:  Sand is classified as sand if it is between 1/16-2 mm in size, any larger and it is mud, and then gravel.  Fun Fact:  An average of 1 million cubic yards are pumped onto the beach for a given project.  Fun Fact:  If sand is the erosion problem, then the solution is sand, putting it back to where it belongs.  The kids were engaged and developed terrific questions such as, “Would my hurt the environment?”, “How much sand is used to dredge back onto the beach?”, “How do you know when too much erosion is happening?”, and “What is your favorite part of your job?”.  Super way to end the week.  We are definitely spoiled to have so many resources at our fingertips.

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Whale Look What We’ve Got Here

November 3, 2016 at 4:10 pm (Science)

Vantaztic Learning is back after a hiatus of conferences, workshops, spartan races, and finalizing grades.  So much has happened since last we blogged, and this post is going to go in so many different directions, but we’ll eventually get back to one point.  Get the GPS handy to follow this one . . .

The Little V’s have extensively researched population changes and different species of whales, as well as how people impact the population of these large mammals.  We learned that right whales are slow and unattentive swimmers.  Sounds like people that drive while operating their phones (oh, did I just call you out?).  Due to their obliviousness and sloth like speed, these whales are easy targets for boat propellers.

This steered the learning machine into the area of what people are doing to cause this change in population.  Some thought slowing the boats down would help, while others argued that this would cause problems for businesses and they’d lose money due to time constraints with shipping items.

Now we steer in another direction: leading us to how and why populations change.  We’re still reading passages via Discovery Ed, checking out video streams, and completing interactive labs.  Huge thanks to Dr. Seuss, as we streamed the Lorax to find the benefits and negative effects of the Oncler’s invention of thneeds which everyone, everyone, everyone needs, as well as the result of population increase/decrease in the forest and baby booming community.  Dr. Seuss such an intuitive individual, saw issues long before they were $5.00 buzz words or a debatable topic for presidential crooks, I mean candidates.

Image result for once ler cartoon

(credited illustration of Dr. Seuss)

So, a group of young minds had to decide what to do when an invasive species is let loose in the school.  How would they handle this situation you might ask?  What was their plan?  Well, you can read about our student’s point of view via our kidblog link here.

Back to whaling:  The kiddos put their  compare and contrast skills to the test by exploring two life sized baleen whales and reading facts about them (sperm whales and narwhals).

compare-whale

We also had a visitor from our good friend Dr. Thayer of the NC Central Coast Marine Mammal Stranding Network, CMAST, & Division of Marine Fisheries.  She had the kids brainstorm what items they would take with them to rescue a whale, then shared the gear to perform the rescue.  Below is a picture of the kids holding a piece of baleen that came from a baby right whale off of our NC coast.  The baleen from this baby is close to six feet in length.

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So what is next . . .?  We’ve completed writing about our invented birds and will begin to type those out.  It is possible that you will be able to read these once we’ve created QR codes and an aurasma overlay for video presentations.  If you didn’t understand a word I just typed I promise these are real terms and not from Dr. Seuss.  You’ll soon see.

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Oysters: Nature’s Natural Britta Filter

September 24, 2016 at 9:00 am (Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Busy week for the Little V’s.  We’ve engulfed the concept of adapting and how certain traits allow living things to survive depending on the conditions they live in.  By doing this the young scientists created their own fictional bird, incorporating a style of beak, wings, feet, legs, and color that would suite the needs of their environment.  The outline and artwork is complete and will be displayed in the class.  We’re going to tie in some augmented reality tech to this project (which is like virtual reality).  Maybe we could have a gallery night, let me look into that.

Adding Oysters

Filtering Plankton

Oyster

 

This week we also learned about how rough it is to be a sea turtle and the measures they must take to survive.  Students role played in this game of tag as land and sea predators were out to get those selected as the sea turtles.  Turtles had to complete three rounds in the obstacle course, grabbing a food/life token each time.  However, due to the effects humans play on the environment some of those tokens (unbeknownst to the turtles) were microplastics.  When turtles consume these they either choke or disrupt their buoyancy making it difficult if not impossible to dive for food or away from predators.

Sea Turtle Survival

 

Estuaries: Detritus Feeders

Then we revisited how estuaries play a vital role in our ecosystem and local communities.  The Aquaculture Technology Department at the Carteret Community College was more than radical to allow us to borrow some tanks, a few gallons of salt water, filters, plankton, and oysters to demo how these mother earth britta’s filter.  Science fact: one oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day.  And I thought I drank alot (of water.  Water folks.  I drink alot of water).  This was definitely a hit.  We loaded one tank with ten oysters, the other with fifty five, poured in the plankton and sat back to observe.  It was amazing to see how fast they cleared the tanks of the murky plankton paste.  Above are the scientists pantomiming detritus predators.  Can you guess which one is a fiddler crab, egret, raccoon, or red drum?

Oyster Filtration

These young minds had indepth observational insight in their journaling today.  Impressed with their outlook on today’s activity.  So what’s next?  Tons.  Literally.  We’ll be “swimming” with whales by the end of October.  Stay tuned.

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Expectations on Effort: What You Can Expect & What Is Expected From You

August 24, 2016 at 9:07 am (School Supplies) (, , , , , , , , )

Students:  Please read this with a relative, or guardian.

 As a 4th grade student, know that you will be expected to give full effort each and every minute while you are in this class.   You can expect the same from your teacher, Mr. V.  He will give you his best each day.

So what does effort mean Mr. V?  

FIRST:  In this class effort means when it comes time to complete an assignment or activity, then your full attention is on that project.  If you stay focused on your responsibilities, you will be a successful learner.  We will have many activities that are completed as partners, teams, or with Mr. V, and that’s when you’ll need to talk to each other.  There will be activities that you’ll complete by yourself, these are times when you will have to ignore someone that wants whisper or talk to you.  No matter if you work alone or with someone else, you’ll need to complete the activity on time and correctly as stated in the directions given.

SECOND: This means you will have to redo an assignment if it is not done the right way.  I know what you’re already thinking . . . UGGHH!  This will be tough for some of you, I know.  Mr. V has made (and still makes) errors all the time.  I don’t know about any of you little V’s, but when I cannot figure something out I get flushed (feel red and hot inside).  At times I feel like the world’s dumbest person, and sometimes it breaks my confidence. That’s when I know it is time to clear my head because one thing I NEVER feel like doing is quitting.  That my friends, is known as perseverance (per-sa-ver-ance).  Like Cena says, “Never Give Up”.

Sometimes we need to take a breath to clear our head, or stretch, or take a few minutes to think.  You will never be allowed to quit, Mr. V will never quit on you.  Yet instead of sulking or giving up, we’ll have to go about solving the problem another way.  This isn’t always easy, but it will be done.  Remember, Mr. V is always here to help you, but not until after you have made attempts to solving the problem yourself.

That’s one expectation, we’re going to pause for the cause and continue with more expectations in the days to come.

If you are a student or parent that visited the Meet & Greet and you have an “I wonder . . . ” moment, please leave comment below.

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The Difference Between Winning & Losing

June 8, 2016 at 9:00 am (News) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Growing up in Southern Indiana you’re bound to know, play against, or run into someone, that at one time or another was, or is on their way to becoming a basketball legend.  From 1976-1995 I grew up in Mitchell, In, home of astronaut Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom.   Yet being an astronaut ranked third on the list of things little Jason wanted to be, right behind Superman and (yep) a basketball player.  After all, during the 80’s I watched the greatest man I’ve ever known step onto a court, usually on a week night, making no look behind the back passes and fake up and under lay-ups.  My dad.  When he wasn’t playing he had the tube tuned in on the weekend to watch one of the greatest basketball players that has ever come from my part of the world.  Larry Bird.

Springs Valley Hawks

#42 Uncle Doug & that Larry Bird kid holding the ball

Many a trip was made to French Lick (West Baden aka Springs Valley) from my driveway 19 miles away to either visit the Conrad’s (second cousins) or to play against Valley in junior high and high school games.  Travel 15 miles north and you could watch Damon Bailey (1986-1990) tear up every high school squad in the state.

bnl

Then during the summers as a kid you were kicked to some basketball camp.  It’s Indiana, so toss a coin on the map and that’s the camp you went to.  I spent at least one week a summer for three to four summers 160 miles north east of home at Taylor University.  Taylor’s a private Christian college in Upland, Indiana that has as of late been getting alot of press time each year on ESPN because of their “Silent Night” game.

I was sent to Taylor, not so much for the school’s religious practices or the camp’s reputation but more because my Aunt Jane was a professor there and could/would keep an eye on me, making sure I didn’t destroy the place.  Looking back – I realize now not comprehending the enormity of Rick Mount pulling me to the side for one on one shooting technique.  That’s not an everyday occurrence.  Although at that point in my life I really didn’t grasp the significance of who Mount was. It would be like J.J. Redick stopping by to shoot hoops with your kids.

Rick Mount Lebannon, Indiana - The Brightest Star of High School BasketBall<br /> February 14, 1966<br /> X 11361<br /> credit: Robert Huntzinger - assign

Rick Mount The Rocket

Research him if you’re scratching your head.  The Rocket dropped 61 points on Iowa.

Like I said, you’re bound to run into someone basketball related.  Which brings me 160 miles out of the way to the point of this post.  Coach John Wooden.  A man I knew little about other than he was the coach at UCLA when they won 10,000 national titles.  Not until I was out of college did I become more familiar with him, not from the stand point of basketball, but more so with his philosophy and outlook on life.  I was drawn to it as a moth is to flame.  It resonated with me because it was familiar upbringing that I had heard and watched as a kid from those near and dear.  I later pieced together the similar paths, both born and raised in southern Indiana – obvious.  We both played basketball at Purdue (he representing the college, I the intramural leagues).  He taught while coaching at Indiana State University, while I transferred there to earn my degree in education.  The interest in poetry and writing.

I reference basketball in part because of the role it played in my life and view of this topic of success.  The love and despair the sport brought me.  The hard work and dedication pouring into a goal that was all for not in some eyes.  I know what it is to fail at something you love, or at the very most, the perception of failure as it was at the time.

Here’s some context for the readers: (feel free to skip this bio to the last paragraph)

I was a B-squad player from 6th-8th grade.  In fact I was cut by my 7th grade coach, but he allowed me back on the team after the high school coach (friend of my dad) asked him to keep me around and work with me.  I rode pine every season, but managed a few minutes here and there.  I made the most of the time given by doing the dirty work, chasing and diving for loose balls, playing defense, and grabbing boards (rebounds).   I became a decent defensive player making my mark stealing and deflecting passes.

I worked on my overall game the day after the last game of every season ended.  I played pick up games against older guys at every park in our town and the surrounding towns I could bike and eventually drive to.  Summers were dedicated to a.m. weight training and agility drills, afternoons to shooting, evenings to open gym, nights to more pick up games.  I ate, breathed, slept, and defecated basketball.

Freshmen year provided a break out opportunity.  Many of the guys who played before me were cut and two of the best players were moved up to junior varsity.  A door opens, but with a price.  My father was the coach (which is a whole post in itself).  Let’s just say that year made me stronger mentally and forced me to develop an offense.  I took the criticism from others, “You’re only on the team because of your dad.  You’re only playing or starting because your dad is the coach.”  When truly all his talent had been picked, and the guys that used to play . . .

a.) weren’t that good and were cut.

b.) were five foot three because they hit their growth spurt in 6th grade.

c.) he didn’t have any other options.

I also took on the role as player and not son.  I received his criticism more than others and I understood why and never referred to him as anything other than coach.  He had to prove there wasn’t favoritism and I wanted to show I belonged.  Some nights were just silent rides home after a game or practice.  Silence, that’s how you know he was upset.  We didn’t speak when we got home, and regrettably we didn’t speak much until I was out of high school.  His disappointment in the play of the team stewed in me and escalted my own disappointment. I’m looking at the situation as one proving himself among peers, coach, and dad.  My dad was incredible on the court, and I don’t say that because he is my dad, but because I saw what he could do against others on the court.  Frustration arose from multiple facets.  Being 14-15 years old and working on coordination, applying new skills in games, trying to become someone that could lead a team, and taking coach’s criticism no matter how positive it might have been, I wasn’t hearing it.  Just seeing red.  A whole post in itself.  I learned from that year, became stronger, more developed, relied on my defense, and lived in the gym working on offense.  I made gains,had incredible leap for someone my height (which I was truly proud of), and developed a shot, and  surpassed many ahead of me.  By the end of it all, there were four of us seniors that made it through 1st grade to twelfth playing every year, with one crawling up from zero talent to a respected level.

So you get your moment after making gains and then this.  During my junior year I broke left ankle the day before the sectional game playing pick-up games at the park. My senior year I broke my right ankle in practice on my coaches foot the day before the sectional game.  Two sectionals passed me by.  I’m not going to tell you I was the savior of the team.  Not so.  I do, however know I could and would have contributed to the win.  The game itself was everything.  I was left as a bystander sitting front row only watch as we lost in the first round each year and not a thing you can do but weep when that fluttering dream floats away like ash from a fire.  The last memory of the last game ends with my face buried in a towel when the dwindling few seconds ran off the clock.  I remained buried in that towel until the stands were empty and my teammates were leaving the locker room to board the bus.  That memory will always haunt me.

A younger me had tunnel vision, thinking success meant making it to play at a collegiate level.  Chasing after some ghost.  You can give your life to something, put hours in the gym doing drills, lifting weights, and playing against stronger and taller competition, but life (and injury) have a way of humbling you.  Playing for a college wasn’t in the tarot reading.  We may not always reach our true potential or the goals we set for ourselves. Does that mean we are unsuccessful?  That perception of failure from the one and first true thing I devoted myself to, metastasized within me.  It helped me learn to cope with disappointment.  It guides my focus in other avenues of my life and the drive to reach them.  It pushes me to get back up when I fall.

Coach Wooden’s ideology applies on many levels.  I hope you enjoy listening to his calm demeanor in this TED presentation.  I buy-in to it, at least a few groups of ten views belonging to my IP address.  I thought this post and his presentation would give readers a better understanding of my mindset of where success lies, the way I value determination as well as education, and a microscopic view of how I live my life.  What is success and how do we measure it?  Maybe we share some commonalities here, then again perhaps not.

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Coastal Connections: Science in the Field to the Classroom

June 4, 2016 at 9:00 am (Science) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Below is a thinglink I have concocted to sum up the outreach events and partnering of local organizations relating to the field of science in which the students from the tail end of last year to the current roster have been a part of.  The roster of students of 2015-2016 have had been exposed to so many incredible resources that make our community.  It is uncommon for such a small place to have the vast amount of people working in related fields of environmental, biological, and physical sciences as it does.  These children have had more interaction with scientists throughout the school year than the peers from any region, making them stewards for our community and hopefully sparking a curiosity to pursue a career in a related science field.  In this case, it is good to be spoiled.

None of this could have been possible if it were not for a.) my colleague Lauren Daniel whispering in my ear to join her in this quest with the COHORT and b.) also the Center for Marine Science and Technology (CMAST) to put me in contact with groups such as the Coastal Reserve, Coastal Federation, NOAA, and Duke Lab (to name a few).  This thinglink will serve as my introduction to the National Marine Educators Association in Orlando, FL this summer.  I think the viewers will be impressed with what these young minds have experienced and created because of those experiences.  Please leave comments below if you feel the thinglink lacks explanation.  Just keep in mind these are only captions and I’ll be explaining the activities in depth.  I can always do the same in the comment section.  Thank you and enjoy.

 

 

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