Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Fibonacci's Garden

Some very bad weather almost cancelled a field trip I was leading to Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College yesterday. The hour by hour forecast said it was to clear up by 10 am, so I kept it on.


The first half hour was wetter than I wanted, but when it was time to go into the gardens to search for
Fibonacci numbers and spirals in plants the rain stopped. It was a very simple exercise, counting petals and leaf clusters, looking for spirals, but it got us thinking about plants in a different way. Most of the kids found that it was easiest to find petals with Fibonacci numbers and some adults like looking for branching patterns that followed 1,1,2,3,5,8. We shared our drawings of plants and each went on our way.

Our vanful of 2 familes stayed for lunch and a walk through the rest of the gardens. It turned into a glorious day. Although we got lost in a hike through the woods and ended up off-campus, along the way we spotted a "wild" jack-in-the-pulpit which was very cool!
100_1591.JPGErin was astounded by how many different colors of lilacs there were and we all took many sniffs to soak up the spring fragrance. I was struck by the color of this dogwood. Can you believe that pink? 100_1586.JPG

We're off for VA tomorrow for a couple of days in Williamsburg and a visit on the way back with a friend in MD, a Scottish Festival and some fossil hunting at Calvert Cliffs!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Not what is, but what if

My oldest is working on writing a story and having a hard time getting started. I thought it might provide some inspiration for her to watch an interview with a children's/young adult author. The Kennedy Center has live and archived educational web broadcasts mostly geared for grades 4 - 8. (You have to register as an educator, but it is free to access.) One of the first broadcasts was an interview in 2004 with Richard Peck. The program lasted about and hour and was very engaging. Several times during the interview he stated that books are "not about what is but what if." He talked about how he developed a story, why he writes about history and how he finds names for his characters. I hope it has encouraged her to keep pursuing her story, but the first question after it was over was
"Can we go to the library and get some of his books?"
The title that she was most interested in was Here Lies The Librarian, she thinks that one sounds really funny. It's not released til the 20th of April, however.

There are a couple of other author interviews at the Kennedy Center site and I found some shorter author interview clips at the Reading Rocket site. These are broken down into 1-2 minute clips where the author talks on a specific topic. Total time is about 15 minutes and there are links to a short biography and a list of books the author has written. Thirty-six author interviews are on the Reading Rocket site.

More internet learning today - listening to Chinese Pod, a pod-cast to learn Chinese. I guess we are jumping on the higher-tech education bandwagon.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Spring Break

This week was Spring Break for my husband's school so we took the week off from some of our usual activities. I've been working on stripping, sanding and painting doors as we have a house that is still in need of much work.

Wyomissing Creek

On Wednesday we went to the Reading Public Museum. It was a beautiful day and as the museum is situated in a park right next to a creek, we spent a good part of our time by the creek, enjoying flowers, rocks and water. I think the kids would have been happy there for the rest of the afternoon, but when reminded that the exhibit at the museum was about robots (!), they tore themselves away. (Okay, the boys tore themselves away, the girls were not as intriqued by the idea of robots.)

Robotix PlayIt was a nice little exhibit put together by Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. Sometimes those little traveling exhibits are so small they really are little more than a big textbook. This one was mostly interactive stations to show you what robots can do and also how hard it is to be a robot. Can you tie a shoe with 2 pliers instead of fingers? The boys spent almost the whole time buildling their own robots at two different tables that had motors and wires and plastic building parts.

We did take a few diversions. One was into the rooms with the Asian and Egyptian collections. We saw many things that had connections to other activities from the previous year like Japanese kimonos, Chinese snuff bottles, and cuniform tablets. The other diversion was to the third floor to see some of the Keith Haring Exhibit. We don't see a lot of modern art so this was interesting and different for the kids. The musuem did post a sign before the room with potential inappropriate images for children, which was helpful.

One more thing, yesterday on the way to ballet class there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky and for a minute actually a double rainbow. This is the first time I've ever caught a rainbow with a camera.

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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Japanese Sakura

We're going to be otherwise occupied next Sunday and won't be able to attend the big Sakura Sunday event in Fairmount Park. So, when we had the opportunity to see the Taiko drummers and dancers from Tamagawa University at Swarthmore this Sunday evening we took advantage of it.

Their show is so colorful and is full of energy. This year (picture is from last) there was quite a bit of humour as they did a piece with humourous Japanese wooden masks. They chose a young boy from the audience to participate and when his part was over snapped a polaroid to give him as a souvenir. There were only 2 pieces that may have been the same as last year's show everything else was new, including the costumes. They did two pieces with women dressed as geishas and the komonos on the other women were gorgeous. One of the dances we really enjoyed featured a kind of horse costume for 8 of the dancers. It told the story of a young foal who couldn't keep up with the bigger horses and became discouraged. Her rider (?) comes and gives her courage to try. By the end of the dance she is having a wonderful time.

The man who introduced the troupe told us that before the performance they had swept the entire auditorium. At the end of the performance they formed a receiving line at the exit of the theater. As we thanked them and congratulated them for their performance, they thanked us for coming. I think this is all part of the hospitality for which the Japanese are renowned.

On Monday morning we learned about Haiku and Erin copied her favorite into her literature notebook and illustrated it. On her own accord at the library Monday afternoon she checked out a book from the Royal Diary (historical fiction) series about a Japanese princess, Kazunomiya.

If you can't make it to a Cherry Blossom Festival you can see an archived performance from last year at the Kennedy Center or watch their performance this year live on the web on Thursday and Friday nights. There have been other Japanese music performances over the last week, click here to search for some.
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