Monthly Archives: March 2013

Experience 44 of 52: PEEP Show

The 6th Annual PEEPshow at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster, MD presented sweet displays of whimsical, unique and humorous creations by local artists, families, businesses and community groups. Although crowded with hundreds of PEEPle admiring the creations, we admired the creativity and effort put into many of the masterpeeps which ran the gamut from simple and fun to political oriented messages. These photos are just a sampling of the many, many works of PEEP that we admired.

My personal favorites were the “Evolution of the PEEP” and the “Election of a new PEEP” 🙂


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Experience 43 of 52: Computers 101

After a visit with Pop-Pop, we usually feel pretty “caught up” on what’s new in the field of technology.  Pop-Pop’s visit this time was especially educational as he suggested to the girls that we take apart our old computer (considered to be Kate’s main computer).  The girls were intimidated at first but with a little nudge they were up for it.

As it turned out, it was not only educational but we were able to repair the computer’s sometimes wacky behavior which we chalked up to the 8 years plus worth of dust contained inside the box.  Each card was removed (by the girls taking turns) as Pop-Pop described what each card’s function is.  Then comparing which piece of hardware was plugged into the rear of the computer into that card (monitor, power cord, mouse, speakers) the girls were able to see that behind the outer shell, it all boils down to two things … electronics and engineering.  Watching the girls experience this reminded me of Dorothy’s discovery that “the man behind the curtain” was not as great and powerful as she had originally thought … AND that one drop of water could destroy all of that power in an instant.

The second part of this experience was the exposure to the Raspberry Pi computer that Pop-Pop brought for us to test out.  With Pop-Pop’s Raspberry Pi coupled with our existing hardware, we were able to boot up the computer and run Minecraft as well as the Scratch program.  Our next projects include setting up our own purchased Raspberry Pi and teach programming using Scratch (which the girls are already thrilled about learning).

Thankfully the girls have some awesome role models in the area of technology and computer exploration including cousin EJ for introducing the girls to Minecraft and Pop-Pop for introducing them to the world of the Raspberry Pi!!

Raspberry Pi:

Scratch Programming:


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Experience 42 of 52: Girl Power

The Applied Physics Laboratory hosts an annual expo to introduce girls to the possibilities that exist in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers.  Although our girls are still a few years away from choosing fields of study, and the event was geared towards middle and high school girls, we decided it was never too early to see what STEM can do for you.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?  So, prior to her last game, we left Grace’s soccer tournament to attend “Girl Power”.  Although initially disappointed in leaving the tournament, Grace quickly overcame her dismay once we arrived at the expo.

The event was packed with girls engaging in STEM activities and we will definitely be coming back each year!

The highlights included:

  • A 30 minute, engaging science show
  • Building the tallest tower possible using ~30 straws and a few inches of tape (Grace’s tower came to 85″)
  • Catching balls from the basketball shooting robot built by the Atholton High School Robotics Team
  • Exploring the science of magic
  • Learning about a spectrometer
  • Wearing a clean suit as if you were working on building a satellite
  • Completing math puzzles

The girls so enjoyed the experience that we were one of the last families to leave and we essentially had to pull the girls away from the activities!  We certainly learned that it’s never too early to see the wonders of science and to start planting seeds of awe and wonder at the possibilities that learning, questioning and experimenting open to you.

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Experience 41 of 52: Geocaching

As best described by, “GEOCACHING is a free real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using a smart phone or GPS and can then share their experiences online.”

The advent of geocaching is a pretty cool story best described here.

For this experience we used a GPS device to locate 3 different hidden treasures located in the Eldersburg area.  The first cache was magnetized and hidden in a storm drain – yes, as you can see, these caches can be hidden anywhere.   This cache included a simple log book where we signed our team name.

The second cache was hidden on a playground which made for a nice stop along our way, although it also presented 2 obstacles: other kids :).  In geocaching terms, non-cachers are called “muggles”.  You don’t want a muggle to see you finding or hiding a cache because they might find it for themselves and, not knowing what it’s for, remove it.  The girls had the wise idea of playing tag so that we appeared to be simply playing when in reality we were looking for the cache.  After locating the cache, we changed our cover story and began to play hide-and-go-seek so that one of us could stealthily spend a few minutes opening the cache.  This cache contained small toys that the girls could exchange for toys of their own.  The “give-a-toy, take-a-toy” type of cache is always fun for the girls because they come home with something new.

Our final cache of the day was located at the local public library.  This cache, hidden in a tree on the library’s property, was a bit more difficult because of the numbers of nearby muggles but we managed to sign the log and finish for the day.

This experience taught the girls about GPS, including how it works and how it helps us in our everyday lives.

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Experience 40 of 52: Antietam National Battlefield

Our visit to the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland on this beautiful early spring day brought to life the realities of war.  Kate’s recognition that she felt both sadness for the loss of life of each soldier as well as feeling proud of their heroic efforts to fight for their country was enough to validate our endeavor to expose our children to 52 cultural/life experiences.  Putting names and faces to soldiers and seeing the battlefield helps to bring some perspective to the stories we hear about the Civil War.

We began our tour of the battlefield by watching a movie in the Visitors Center.  The almost 30 minute video introduced us to the battle and the reality of war (war is not PG!) and prepared us for our tour of the battlefield.  The 2 hour, 11 stop auto tour took us through the day’s battle and included a stop at the pacifistic “Dunker Church” where portions of the battle were fought and where the confederate and union army signed a truce the following day to exchange dead and wounded soldiers.  Among other sites, we saw a tribute to Clara Barton and read about her founding of the American Red Cross.  We ended that day at “Burnside Bridge” where a small number of Confederate soldiers were able to delay Union attacks for many hours which allowed additional Confederate troop reinforcements to arrive just when the Union were beginning to have success.  The most memorable aspect of our visit was trying to comprehend the 23,000 soldiers killed, wounded or missing in a single day, which is the single largest casualty count in the history of U.S. warfare and five times the number of casualties that occurred on D-Day.

We were also amazed with the over 100 monuments to the regiments and brigades that fought at this important battle.

We ended our day with a visit to a local ice cream shop that I recommend stopping at for 2 reasons: 1) it’s a local, family owned small business and it’s great to help those small businesses and, 2) I don’t think the selection, price and portions can be beat anywhere else!  4.5 stars on Yelp and 4.5 stars on  Visit Nutter’s Ice Cream for a real treat after you visit the battlefield!

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