Riding a fire truck to school was our final recorded experience during our journey. This experience was won during a silent auction at our elementary school and was well worth it. Eagerly anticipating the adventure, the gals waited out front and smiled large when the ladder truck approached the house.
The gals received a tour of the truck and all of its equipment and learned about how prepared the firemen are as they arrive at an emergency in essentially a rolling toolbox. We also learned that each fireman has a role in an emergency and that the role is determined by their seat on the truck.
After the tour, we climbed aboard and enjoyed the ride to school. Grace sat up front and was able to sound the horn as Mom, Dad and Kate sat in the back.
Arriving at school, the gals were greeted by several friends as well as the school administration which made for a fun arrival.
The “Seven-Foot Knoll Lighthouse” in downtown Baltimore was a fascinating look at the life of a light-house keeper. We learned:
– The lighthouse was manned by keepers of the “US Lighthouse Service” (and eventually the U.S. Coast Guard)
– Because it was in an isolated location, the lighthouse was designed for 3 keepers
– Each night at sundown the “beacon lamp” was lit and had to remain lit until sunrise
– Each morning the “beacon lens” had to be thoroughly cleaned and prepared for the next evening
– During dense fog, a fog bell was sounded
– A cistern was used to collect rain water to provided water for the keepers
We visited the World Trade Center in Baltimore for experience 50 of 52. Besides the view, we learned several other interesting facts:
– Johns Hopkins was the first medical school in the country to admit women
– The first battle of the Civil War was fought in Maryland when Union soldiers traveling south were attacked as they switched rail cars in Camden Station
– The WTC is the tallest pentagon shaped building in the world
The WTC contains a 9/11 remembrance memorial for the 68 men, women and children from Maryland who died on 9/11.
The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival at the Howard County Fairgrounds went beyond our expectations. Thinking we’d stop by to see and learn about sheep, we were quite surprised at the sheer number of people attending the event. The event featured vendors selling their wool and woolen goods as well as shepherds entering their sheep into contests. There were more than a 1000 sheep participating in the event.
We walked the grounds window shopping the homemade wares. We stopped by the Just a Mere Tree Farm booth that was selling maple syrup and the owner was kind enough to discuss the process of making it. We learned:
– It can take up to 50 gallons of sap to create 1 gallon of maple syrup
– The sap is collected into a large vat
– The sap is sent to an “evaporator” where the excess water is boiled off
– The point in the season when a tree is “tapped” can affect the color and taste of the syrup
To enhance our understanding of the Civil War, experience 48 was spent observing a Civil War reenactment at the local Farm Museum. During this experience, we meandered through a mock Civil War encampment and watched a small reenactment of a civil war battle.
We also learned that “hoop rolling” and the “Game of Graces” were popular activities for young girls during the Civil War period. The purpose of the “Game of Graces” was to make young girls more graceful.
The Walter’s Art Museum is one of our favorite local places to visit. Although we’d visited many times, this was the first during our 52 week journey. As it was near Easter, we made our way to visit the icons and religious symbols exhibit.
We learned that a “miter” is a headdress worn by bishops during the liturgy. An example one we say was made in 1724 and depicts the story of Jesus’ resurrection.
We also reviewed the “Icon with the Crucifixion” and discussed the meaning of Easter in Christianity.
Geppi’s Entertainment Museum displays a timeline of popular culture artifacts. From comics to collectibles, the museum introduced the gals to the history of pop culture.
The favorite exhibits were the Star Wars characters, the “old fashioned” telephone and the “I Love Lucy” episodes that were playing on the antique television. Kate was very disappointed in Princess Leia and her skimpy dress and couldn’t understand why someone would dress that way. I hope that thought continues.
Not surprisingly, our favorite activity was hands-on creating masterpieces using Colorforms. We learned that Colorforms were the first plastic-based creative toy that was advertised on television.
The museum provided a trivia-based scavenger hunt that led the girls through the museum and, after completion, the girls were rewarded with a comic book of their own. This was a nice touch and added some purpose the museum tour.
Although interesting, in my opinion, the museum was a bit overpriced. If there was something we learned it was that commercialism has reigned supreme for centuries.
Rather than try my amateur hand at writing up this event, it’s best described as written in the Carroll County Times coverage of the event (and notice the pictures of Grace and Kate in the article :))
“At the Eldersburg library, guest presenter Bonnie Meinke, an astronomer with the Space Telescope Science Institute on the campus of Johns Hopkins University, said the program seeks to interest young girls in the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and math.
“We incorporate the whole family into our program. It’s a proven practice that involving kids in a collaborative environment with hands-on activities encourages learning,” Meinke said.
While topics in space science can seem as vast as the universe itself, Meinke and fellow institute employee Holly Ryer narrowed down the subject matter to the use of color and light as a method of space exploration, in order to fit the lesson into the 90-minute time frame. Hands-on experiences were provided that allowed the children to use the same processes astronomers use when studying outer space.
A simple experiment with flashlights using red, green and blue lights introduced the children to the concept that by combining and filtering various color combinations from each flashlight, new colors can be created — including white, the color of stars as seen by the naked eye. Similarly, Meinke explained, scientists use various color filters on telescopes to identify the chemical makeup and composition of a star, planet or nebula, as different chemicals are different colors.
Each participant was given a pair of red and blue color-filtering glasses, which look similar to glasses used for 3-D movies, as well as a pair of radial-refracting glasses that give a kaleidoscope effect to light. Through several hands-on exercises, the youths used their special glasses to filter colors to see hidden messages and pictures around the room, on a light board and on transparencies. Then they created a group project by layering transparency film and using different colored markers. The end product showed varying images, depending on which color-blocking glasses were worn.”
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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raspberry_Pi
Scratch Programming: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scratch_(programming_language)
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.