Friday, April 29, 2016

Message in a Bottle

On our "Water for Flint" delivery day, Chris' Third and Fourth Graders began loading the buses bright and early with the assistance of Karl's 7/8th graders! We filled up two of our school buses and even had to store water on and under the seats!

Kindergartners (with lunches in tow, just in case) enthusiastically loaded themselves on the buses soon after.

Upon our arrival at the International Academy of Flint (IAF), we were warmly greeted by the school's delightful Director of School and Community Relations, Mr. Art Wenzlaff and a handful of strong and willing older students.  These young men got right to work and quickly unloaded our precious cargo with us.

Malik (far right) and another gentlemen even carried some cases two at a time!)  

IAF's adorable and awesome Kindergartners met up with us to say Thank you and gave each of us a high five (and some tens) for our efforts.

Mrs. Shepp, the school's (AQC) Academic Quality Controller ( I referred to her as the "Awesome Quality Coordinator") and Mrs. Janie Brown from Detroit, our Missions Coordinator who located this school site for our donation oversaw the delivery of our 1000+ bottles of water.

International Academy of Flint Young Ladies chatted about attending their school's formal dance then graciously lead us on an impressive tour of the building that included many students (5 sections of Kindergarten!) several computer labs, a formal library, gymnasium, a serenity garden and cafeteria!

One student, cozied up to a book during D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) and actually fell asleep before and during our visit.  I wished I could have joined her!

Still other IAF students created and posted motivational posters throughout the school to encourage each other during their standardized testing activities. Although our school does not participate in those kinds of tests, those words are helpful to us as well!

We visited Ms. Weinberg's amazing Third Graders and were able to ask (as well as answer) many questions of each other.  One of our favorite questions was, "Do you have a best friend in your class?"  Many IAFers and SKers responded to that inquiry!

Kindergartners then participated in buddy reading while the 3/4th graders conducted interviews regarding the impact the water crisis had on IAF 3rd graders and their families.

Ms. Weinberg also mentioned that prior to our arrival, she asked her class  if they would be willing to come to the aid of Ann Arbor if we had a problem.  The children stated that they would!

During Monday Morning Meeting back at SK, several students asked questions and expressed their concerns about the waste that would obviously be generated by all of the empty water bottles.  We were happy to learn that Flint Michigan has a successful recycling program and that IAF has convenient receptacles right in the classroom and around the building.

The Third Graders took time out of their otherwise busy schedule to strike a beautiful pose!

During our tour through the hallways we found many similarities in our two schools.   And, although we have cubby hooks instead of lockers, both of our students have studied Wassily Kandinsky in Art class this year! 

Just when I thought that this school couldn't get any better with it's amenities, Mr. Wenzlaff asked if we had seen the school's pool.  He immediately disappeared  around the corner of the building and returned with . . .what else? a wading pool like the one in the quiet corner of our Kindergarten class.

Kindergartners enjoyed their sack lunches in the serenity garden before our departure. Mr. Wenzlaff also informed us that the school housed a fleet of lawn mowers that IAF students used on weekends to service lawns in the school's surrounding neighborhood. They also prepare a large Thanksgiving dinner for the community each year.

Right before boarding our bus to return to Ann Arbor, we were honored with an introduction to International Academy of Flint's Gates Scholar Zakeria Nelson and her family.

Shared experiences, like our visit today, enrich us, inform us and hopefully teach us how to go through adversity with strength, integrity, and resiliency like the students at International Academy of Flint.  We were honored to be there!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Testing the Waters

Kindergartners were visited by Thomas' Mom Trinh, a Molecular Biologist,  who led us through several tests for pH levels of various common household products.  She explained how in places like Africa and Korea, some native people have to climb mountains or travel long distances to other remote areas to find clean, drinking water.  She told us that the presence of chemicals like lead, chromium, and cadmium can affect the water life, for instance, it can cause some species of fish not to be able to reproduce.  Trinh gave examples of acid rain, car exhaust, and decomposing leaves in water as some causes of acidity.  She also explained that because lead was discovered to be such a sturdy, strong, and long lasting material, it has been used for many things like lead pipes for water distribution to homes. She further explained that one way lead was discovered to be dangerous was when small children would consume it by eating paint chips off of their bedroom walls.  This resulted in sickness and learning struggles later on.

The pH test, which required us to dip our paper strips into various solutions, measured for acidic, neutral or base content.  Litmus paper was used in solutions of vinegar, the water from our art sink faucet,  and baking soda.  We compared the color of our strips to the legend on the casing. We were pleased to know that our SK water tested at the ideal 7 (neutral) on the pH scale.

Later, Kindergartners were each given a very small unassuming disk that is typically attached to drinking water bottles in places like various villages in Africa.  This tiny but powerful device is effective for purifying otherwise very contaminated drinking water, Trinh stated.  It is, however, not effective for removing lead. 

Ks practiced filtering water out of actual syringes and found that it was not as easy as it looked.  We were eventually successful with a little help and practice. 

A different kind of straining device was demonstrated to filter larger particles like sand.

Because "temperature affects the growth rate of bacteria," Thomas' Mom further explained that some water "has to be boiled."  Trinh showed us how to read a thermometer like the very large one she uses in her lab and brought in other scientific materials like a glass beaker and an Erlenmeyer's flask.  We felt very much like the real scientists that we are!  (Please forgive any errors in scientific info. Their teacher is obviously not a scientist but I do accept blog corrects, however;)

The book A Drop of Water: A book of Science and Wonder by Walter Wick took us through a pictorial journey of a single drop of water over the time span of an hour.

Kindergartners will be accompanying Chris' 3/4th graders to Flint, Michigan this coming Monday morning to spend time with the students of the International Academy of Flint and to deliver over 1000 bottles of water collected since the unfortunate "Flint Water Crisis"   A very special THANK YOU to our partners and coordinators Bishop P.A.Brooks and Missionary Janie Brown (Detroit), International Academy of Flint School Director Kendra Giles and her Assistant Connie (Flint) and all of the SK Family and Friends who assisted us and participated in this effort!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Gone with the Zafir

The Kindergartners, along with Chris' and Spencer's 3/4 grade classes attended the University Musical Society's (UMS) School Day Performance of "Zafir: Musical Winds from Northern Africa to Andalucia" at the Michigan Theater today.  It was a beautiful breezy performance filled with both traditional and contemporary Arab and North African music.  

Palestinian American violin virtuoso Simon Shaheen, described as being "a gifted writer, composer and performer" accompanied by several other very talented performers, familiarized us with some of the instruments that were being used namely the piano, guitar, and cello.  He also introduced us to some instruments commonly used across Northern Africa and Spain.  He referred to one as an "Arabic violin." Another instrument he called an "Oud" had a pear (or avocado according to Mila) shaped frame. Mr. Shaheen also talked about the harp-like zephyr, and several percussion instruments. We were able to hear individual samplings of each instrument and also how they sounded collectively during an improvisational portion of one of the songs.  The concert was further enhanced by an amazing flamenco dancer and the beautiful voice of a singer.  

Later, The Ks and I discussed  how all of the performers today, Mr. Shaheen and his musicians, the dancer and the singer were all communicating in their own way.  The Kindergartners had a few things to say about their concert experience and what they felt that the performers were trying to convey:

"I think that the Flamenco dancer was (feeling) in between. . . a little bit mad and sad put together.  I think that the singer felt good. . . happy... 'deejay'.  That means 'fly' in Spanish."-Lila

"I think that the Flamenco dancer was saying, 'What a wonderful job I did.' She felt happy.  I think that the singer was singing about how she's a great star."-Sophia

"She (the Flamenco dancer) communicated with her arms.  She felt maybe. . . angry. Her arms were kind of in an angry snake motion."-Mila

"He (Shaheen) feels good probably.  He feels that he is going to have to sell discs so other people have to pay lots of money." -Alex 

In what ways did the concert communicate zafir (wind)?

"The Flamenco dancer used her body to communicate 'Hi. . . I'm happy. I'm dancing.'  She twirled her scarf like the wind. . . the wind blows and the scarf blows." -Lexi

"Her dress (the singer) was almost like the wind when it was blowing and the dancer when she was spinning.  It sounded windy when the two girls came up.  It needed to be both of them to sound windy." -Alex

The music . .  . the different kinds of instruments, like the cello, the guitar and the violin...and the piano made the sounds like the wind.  And it's soft and the wind is soft sometimes." -Thomas  

Music enrichment is calming, soothing, stirring, enlightening, expressive, thought provoking and invigorating. Music (along with other Arts) that includes live performances, especially when it is in the exquisite Michigan Theater,  allows us to hear sound bounced off of gold-gilded walls in pure classic style and form as if we have stepped back in time.  Being "the audience" at a concert gives us an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate the accomplishments of others and to dream. 

At Circle Time this morning, we read a very charming and heartwarming story called Flora's Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall and illustrated by Matt Phelan.   We discussed why we would be reading a story like this today and problem solved and used the book for clues to find our what "zafir" or zephyr meant.

 Like the characters in the story, We were swept away by the Zafir: Musical Winds concert, the gorgeous weather,  and the rest of our beautiful day.  Have a great weekend!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April Dates at Glance!

This Month's Theme:  Innovations

Friday, April 1st            No School!  Spring Break!
Mon.-Fri. April 4th-8th  No School!  Spring Break!
Tuesday, April 12th       Mandarin Class Sampling 10-11 A.M.
                                French Class Sampling 3:10-3:30
                                Yoga with Dom, 2 P.M. (also Tuesday, April 26th)
Friday, April 15th         UMS Zafir:Musical Winds" 11A.M., Michigan Theater
                                Every Friday is Waste Free Lunch Day!
Saturday, April 16th     Eudaimonia SKs Annual Fundraiser 7-10 P.M. (Adults only)
Tuesday, April 19th      Water Testing activity with Thomas' Mom, 9-10 A.M.
Friday, April 22nd        Earth Day activities! 
Monday, April 25th      Flint Trip for a visit & Bottled Water Donation! 9:00 A.M.
Wednesday, April 27    Exploratory Blocks (EBs) 2-3:00 P.M. (also Mondays 5/2, 5/9, 5/16) and Wednesdays 5/4 and 5/11 12:30-1:30 P.M.
Friday, April 29th        "Randomness Exercise" with Ed Feng during Math, 9:00 A.M.