2019 HOPS Teacher Institute WOW!! What I Experienced!

I signed up for a two day Hand on Plants Workshop at the National Botanical Gardens. What a great experience it was!! I am grateful for having been a part of it. The workshop was sponsored by the Friends of the U.S. Botanical Gardens.

Outdoors in the Botanical Gardens

The history is fascinating , the HOPS lessons awesome in scope and sequence.

HISTORY

I am late posting about it because I have been reading about , the U.S. Exploring Expedition(also known as the Ex. Ex. or the Wilkes Expedition) would explore and map the Pacific, Antarctica, and the northwest coast of the United States. A tremendous feat of navigation, the expedition broadened knowledge of uncharted areas of the world and helped expand American commerce, industry, and scientific knowledge. I am late posting about it because I have been reading all of the books I can about this voyage.

Some of the plants in the National Botanical Garden are in the collection. I wondered why there is no movie or much of a mention to this voyage which rivals Captain Cook’s voyage. As I read I guess there was strife, and some unhappy headlines. But, it is a part of history.

You need to know about it. I am still reading about it.

I was fascinated by the huge map and the resources. What an encyclopedic story map it could be,

by Nathaniel Philbrick

They called it the U.S. Ex. Ex., or simply the Ex. Ex., shorthand for the United States South Seas Exploring Expedition of 1838-1842. It was an unprecedented naval operation, especially for a nation with a navy that was less than half the size of Great Britian’s. For the young republic of the United States, it was a bold, some said foolhardy undertaking, consisting of six sailing vessels and 346 men, including a team of nine scientists and artists, making it one of the largest voyages of discovery in the history of Western exploration. Here is the map.

Some scholars have talked to me about literary references that profile this journey. I would love to create lesson plans for it, ESRI style, I love the geography of this voyage.

With the U.S. Ex. Ex., America hoped to plant its flag in the world. Literally broadening the nation’s horizons, the Expedition’s ships would cover the Pacific Ocean from top to bottom and bring the United States international renown for its scientific endeavors as well as its bravado. European expeditions-most notably the three voyages of the legendary navigator James Cook in the eighteenth century-had served both the cause of science and empire, providing new lands with which to augment their countries’ already far-flung possessions around the world.

The United States, on the other hand, had more than enough unexplored territory within its own borders. Commerce, not colonies, was what the U.S. was after. Besides establishing a stronger diplomatic presence throughout the Pacific, the Expedition sought to provide much-needed charts to American whalers, sealers, and China traders. Decades before America surveyed and mapped its own interior, this government-sponsored voyage of discovery would enable a new, determined nation to take its first tentative steps toward becoming an economic world power.

But there was yet another reason for America to launch an expedition. Although most of the oceans of the world had already been thoroughly explored, there remained a region that had so far resisted scientific inquiry: the ice-studded mystery at the bottom of the world. Cook had ventured below the Antarctic Circle and found nothing but snow and ice. Given the dangerous conditions and the slender prospect of significant results, further exploration hardly seemed warranted. But by 1838 there was renewed interest in the high southern latitudes. What had once been regarded as a forbidding wasteland was now one of the few places left where a discovery of Cook-like proportions might still be possible. With the U.S. Ex. Ex., America belatedly joined an international rivalry to discover and explore the last unknown portions of the planet.


The Expedition was to attempt two forays south-one from Cape Horn, the other from Sydney, Australia, during the relatively warm months of January, February, and March. The time in between was to be spent surveying the islands of the South Pacific-particularly the little-known Fiji Group. The Expedition’s other priority was the Pacific Northwest. In the years since Lewis and Clark had ventured to the mouth of the Columbia River, the British and their Hudson’s Bay Company had come to dominate what was known as the Oregon territory. In hopes of laying the basis for the government’s future claim to the region, the Ex. Ex. was to complete the first American survey of the Columbia and would continue down the coast to California’s San Francisco Bay, then still a part of Mexico. By the conclusion of the voyage-after stops at Manila, Singapore, and the Cape of Good Hope-the Expedition would become the last all-sail naval squadron to circumnavigate the world.

It deserves its own movie. There were deaths.

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Indeed, the ethnographic collection of the U.S. Ex. Ex.-including war clubs from Fiji, feathered baskets from California, exquisitely carved rattles from Oregon, fishhooks from Samoa, and flax baskets from New Zealand-is now thought to be, according to Smithsonian anthropologist Adrienne Kaeppler, the largest ever made by a single sailing expedition. 

I learned about it at the National Botanical Gardens, but wait, there is more.

About the Expedition.

The Pacific Northwest. An 1841 Map of Oregon Territory

“Andes near Alparmarca, Peru: Sketched from an Elevation of 16,000 Feet”. The Wilkes Expedition played a major role in the development of 19th-century science, particularly in the growth of the American scientific establishment. Many of the species and other items found by the expedition helped form the basis of collections at the new Smithsonian Institution[28] With the help of the expedition’s scientists, derisively called “clam diggers” and “bug catchers” by navy crew members, 280 islands, mostly in the Pacific, were explored, and over 800 miles of Oregonwere mapped. Of no less importance, over 60,000 plant and bird specimens were collected. A staggering amount of data and specimens were collected during the expedition, including the seeds of 648 species, which were later traded, planted, and sent throughout the country. Dried specimens were sent to the National Herbarium, now a part of the Smithsonian Institution. There were also 254 live plants, which mostly came from the home stretch of the journey, that were placed in a newly constructed greenhouse in 1850, which later became the United States Botanic Garden.

The National Botanical Gardens are the legacy piece of the exploration.

We teachers were treated to lessons and resources.

I will feature some of the workshop photos….

This was a life changing experience. I know about plants, I thought. Also funny, I generally go to the Botanical Gardens in DC well, at Christmas or when there is an orchid show. But I was curious about the program as it was advertised for a summer professional development event. I thought I knew a lot. SIGH .

Well, it’s ok to find out that there is much more to learn. I was taking this course to be able to knowledgeably guide students through my favorite place in DC. I found that I did not even know the grounds. I knew the inside of the building well and the various collections but hang on and I will share what I learned after I introduce it to you. I just wanted to be able to guide students passively through it for field trips and anchor learning.

The gorgeous U.S. Botanic Garden conservatory presents botanical variety, from the desert to the tropics, along a series of calm and gently meandering paths. A particular waterfall and garden display the flora of the dinosaur age. Seasonal displays include Christmas greens and poinsettias in December and January, chrysanthemums in autumn and blooming flowers at Easter. A part of the United States Botanic Garden (USBG), the National Garden, was opened in October 2006 and includes the carefully-designed Butterfly Garden.

2019 HOPS Teacher Institute

Fifteen teachers were selected to attend the 2019 HOPS Teacher Institute. Teachers immersed ourselves themselves in the National Garden and experienced the study of 16 modules over the course of two days.

All of us, we teachers successfully completed the Institute ,and received a HOPS box which contains the equipment to carry out these hands-on experiments back in our classrooms 14 professional learning units.

The training occured outdoors.

Outdoors?At the National Botanical Gardens. I had never done anything outdoors there,nor had I any idea that there was a network of gardens to learn in and to observe.It was a treat to see the outdoor part of the garden.

We chose different paths to do our research. Such a beautiful place to learn.

We spread out in the garden and worked to get our results.

On Day One we covered 8 modules. We learned all about water, its importance to plants and plants’ importance to water, the importance of water to all life and the current health of our local bodies of water.

We used microscopes,and tested water for temperature.Outside are gardens and pathways and a bubbling stream where we worked to learn using our tools. What a beautiful setting.

Our Testing tools.

Outside there are rose gardens and walking paths and a stream.



We tested for PH and dissolved oxygen.

learned about watersheds, and build a watershed and water filter.

In the afternoon we learned all about how plants work and photosynthesis.

Participants will perform plant cuttings and see how oxygen leaves the plant and how plants take in our carbon dioxide, learn that sugar really does happen in the leaf using refractometers, create art using the power of the sun and make seed balls.

Day Two explored nature as art in the morning. Participants will have a chance to settle into the quiet of the National Garden and watercolor, use compasses to make sundials and microscopically explore the tiniest of plants.Can you say Stomata? We dissected flowers and learn how pollination works while we keep our eyes out for the many pollinators in the Garden. There were many but they seemed too busy to sting or even be curious about us.

In the afternoon is when we learned using investigations in which we explore seed dispersal,did pollen identification using microscopes, learned that nectar differs from flower to flower, and that different flowers have different pollinators, and that soil is not dirt.

We learned about pollution and runoff in our watershed.

Here are the references to programs for schools, and field trips.

They offer classroom resources here.

Here is a little video about some of our work.

Looking for more classroom resources? Contact USBG Children’s Education Specialist Lee Coykendall.

Science Achievement, Hampered by the Policies and the Test Police, and Lack of Understanding of the Joy of Learning

I can tell you about a digital and a science divide.

We throw teachers at the students most needy for science and enrichment who are not well-trained, steeped in the ways of science and who have little or no training for hands on science.  I respect those who have never taught who want to change schools but TFA can’t create the learning landscape that is needed for sustainable science education in a couple of weeks. Science requires immersion, involvement, and evaluation.Loving, caring teachers who esteem the use of science, technology materials  and engineering are needed especially in communities where the parents are not scientists… and I throw in computational thinking. In education science has gotten the short stick. Computational thinking forms habits of mind. What is that? The site to begin  is here, and then look at this.

The George Lucas Educational Foundation accepted me on their advisory board and I learned even more. Rob Semper from the Exploratorium was often there, and George Lucas is visionary. We were learning about visualization and modeling, astronomy .. every time I got depressed about how science was “supposed to be taught” the experts around the table at the Ranch would share more information and ideas with me. I think we were ahead of our times. Think Bugscope. Think University of Illinois and NCSA.

An online project that puts access to an extremely powerful electron microscope into the hands of students all over the country has been selected by the journal …www.aaas.org/news/releases/2011/0729sp_spore.shtml

I love science. I started my career as a regular classroom teacher, from a minority HBCU, but I had powerful help in emerging as a science and technology specialist. In my college, the major work at that time was to bring students up to speed so that they could be college graduates. A lot of the kids were from schools that were not so good.  But I managed to learn. I am sure that no one expected me, who first decided to be a model, to be a great science teacher.

There are groups who offer assistance and help and professional development. But most school systems opted for vendor driven professional development. There are projects now like ITEST, but I remember being mocked and made fun of for using CUSEEME. It was not so much the teaching staff, it was the Washington Post that made fun of the new uses of technology. I survived, but others who used it were run out of teaching. And what are we doing now? Technology of course . We are talking digital textbooks , bring your own device and schooling by the Internet. Who knew?

The department of Education at one time was a leader in sharing  initiatives, like the Jason Project. I particularly loved the Voyage of the Mimi , Part two, it taught us to integrate subjects , it was truly interdisciplinary and it had proper ideational scaffolding. It was archaeology, it was science and experiments, it was games, it was videos, it was awesome to be able to teach. How did we get permission, well no one would claim the project, so the Gifted and Talented Supervisor let us do it without trouble. What a wonderful example it was for us. The children personalized the learning, and parents were engaged.

I am a PAEMST awardee for the State of Virginia. I have awards in many areas in science, earth science, Earthwatch Grants, and NSTA initiatives > Did I mention Concord.org? There were always people wanting to teach me more science. That’s the great thing. The sad thing is that science seemed to be mysterious to administrators, so we had to use.There are the opportunities but the policies of NCLB and restrictive principals caused science to be thrown overboard.. Gerry Wheeler of the NSTA is my hero for saying that we teachers were blocked from teaching science in the NCLB testing frenzy. Here is the article to read. Read it well.

Let me say that kids who love school, will work , work, learn and then some. The NASA resources that we used were so powerful. There was a time when teachers could build their curriculum using NASA modules and ideas. I will never forget being with 10 of my students at the White House. We worked hard for that. We were Young Astronauts, Challenger Center students and Goddard Astronomers. I am a geographer at heart. Lookhere to  see my perspective and this is  citizen science. Danny Edelson of the National Geographic says” Citizen science is the name for scientific research projects that engage members of the public in some aspect of their research. There have been some high-profile citizen science projects recently in which members of the public have conducted image analysis and solved protein-folding problems, but the overwhelming majority of citizen science projects involve crowdsourced data collection.”

The last time I was able to share my craft in science was in a Smithsonian Summer Camp. I was not sure that it would work with rising first graders, but they loved every bit of the science and two of the children signed up for the next camp.

I was the teacher that principals loved to hate, except one or two. I had rocks, bones, skeletons, probes, kits of all kind. I blame it on Wendell Mohling a friend of mine. He was on a plane to a science conference that I was attending ( I was going  without permission)

So here was the President of the NSTA who was also going without permission. I heard him say that and I went up and introduced myself. We started working to broaden engagement and make science known to lots of students.

Teaching Science

I loved October, I would get out my disarticulated skeletons, minks, rabbits, cat and a few articulated ones and some sample bones that I had and the kids would try to figure out how to make the skeleton. It took lots of time. I did have some surprises with the owl pellets as one child created a perfect example of a skeleton of some animal the Owl had consumed. So I had as a wonderful place to take kids the Naturalist Center at the Smithsonian . Hal Banks helped me learn to teach kids science and there were plenty of collections for teachers who did not have access to the resources, skeletons, rocks, and coral. I got in trouble once for taking the rocks, un-gluing them from the boxes. I just wondered what the fuss was all about as there were about 45 boxes of rocks in the science closet that no one ever used or looked at. There are probably enough iron filings in science closets in the US to build a battleship. But I digress.

I loved spring, we would hatch chickens, raise frogs and butterflies, start a worm farm and plant a garden. It was hard work. There was parents who loved my work and teachers who blocked me at every stop of the way. Finally I gave up. Pushing both technology and science became difficult. I had an ally in Marc Prensky who understood how sharing resources with people in the field or in the know , worked. An example is COSEE on line work with NOAA. It is outstanding pioneering work

Shirley Malcom and the AAAS gave us tools and connections to the curriculum on-line with interactive links and programs. But the administrators were not interested. It was sad to try to push the needed work, when tests were all that mattered. Here is my work with teachers and sadly, there was some pushback within certain communitiesto teachers learning supercomputing and computational thinking. Bob Panoff and Scott Lathrop helped us bring teacher communities to supercomputing thinking.

My friend Mano works in areas of need in rural Virginia. There are lots of us who have the aptitude to teach students. Permission is something else.

We were into rocks and charts. We grew our own crystals, and we sliced some geodes, and polished some other rocks. Parents helped me, and we wrote grants. In ESS Rocks and Charts you learn to test rocks for various properties. I loved watching the kids figure it out. I had taken that course at Marymount. There was a STEM initiative to help us transform our learning and make science real for the children. Fairfax county used to built these hands on kits for teachers in the system. Some teachers built their own kids nation wide.

THE FIRST SOCIAL NETWORKS WERE ABOUT SCIENCE

Because I was interested in science, when the National Geographic did the first Kidsnetwork, in which a real scientist reported to kids and helped them to create a project around a topic I was able to explore Acid Rain, Water, Trash and Pets. These kinds of projects exist today at the National Geographic and are available as citizen science for classes, communities and those who want to learn. The National Geographic has lots of projects on the education site and a network of alliances to help teachers in each state.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, the Smithsonian Estuary Center, all of these were available to the students, parents and I. We had an Eat a Crab Lab, we dissected fish, we went out on the pier and did salinity studies, surveyed the wind and tides, did microscopic studies, and looked for the various stages of the crab.  Look here. I could share so many things about science teaching, but they are in my previous blogs. Here is a set of pictures from my Facebook page on a great subject. We studied through NASA and learned in the museums.