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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Quest for the Liberty Bell

This December I had the honor of participating in the "Quest for the Liberty Bell" through the National Parks Service at Independence Hall. They ran a professional development program where teachers could get a "backstage tour" of the home of the Liberty Bell, and even climb up the bell tower (that's off-limits to the public during normal tours). Knowing my love of history and Philadelphia, you know just how excited I was to attend this event!

Next year as my students take United States History I, I encourage them to come back to this post, or to come back to ask me about some of the resources that was provided to me. In the meantime, this historic building holds much more relevancy than just for USI  history students. I awaited posting about this quest until we were in the flames of the Enlightenment in our World History Curriculum. Remember some of the themes we are learning about:
  1. Although Enlightenment ideas began in France,  the United States was the first country to seriously  implement these ideas.
  2. That unless Enlightenment ideas are used to influence political power, then it is just "fluff"- it's the application to power and politics that made the Enlightenment "a thing".
  3. The significance of various themes of modern history-  living to one's full potential, the search for truth , and the value of being a "polymath", or well rounded individual.
  4. The significance of symbolism and how they reinforce these and other ideas
  5.  How history does not exist in subjects- how science, engineering, history, the arts (and the humanities in general) coexist in every element of society

Okay, back to the quest:

The first part of the day was in the building  where the Liberty Bell is housed. We learned some amazing history about the bell (you can learn some of this in my "Storify" below.) Jeff Collins of the NPS was our tour guide and his knowledge and passion was simply amazing! 

Next, the eight of us paired up and gave presentations on how the Liberty Bell was utilized as a symbol for various civil rights movements throughout our nation's history. There was a large timeline to show what was going on in the "life" of the bell, along with other historic events. (We all know how history teachers love timelines!)  Note below the connection to the bell and slavery: we've discussed this year the role of the global slave trade, and the hypocrisy of its existence during "Enlightened politics."

Now I'm sure you can imagine what came next: we saw the Liberty Bell! 

Media preview

" This is a worthless piece of metal, it's your belief in what it symbolizes that makes it worth something."  - Jeffrey Collins, NPS

Next, we went across the street to Independence Hall. My students know that I have been there several times. Heck, we even have a pretend "sun chair" in our classroom! Yet this tour was to be a first for me: we were to climb up the many levels of the bell tower and witness its many wonders!

As a nifty bonus, I received a packet of educational materials, many of which I will share with you throughout the year. However, as you take part in your own quest for the Liberty Bell, I encourage you to check out website for Independence Hall from the National Parks Service:

To see my tweets of the tour, full of facts and pictures (and before my students comment), please view my Storify about the day: 

Students: In the comments section, please explain how this quest combined the arts/humanities with science/engineering. I mentioned some ideas above, but please be more specific in your answer. It is essential to view the Storify above in order to complete your response. "A contract" students should mention specific tweets (they are time stamped, so refer to the time.) For an effective answer, this should lead you to conduct some additional research. Look to the NPS website and tweets for inspiration. Feel free to reply on others comments for elaboration (you may discover something about, for example, a clock, that they did not mention!) Please be original in your comments.

In the meantime, I hope this post inspired you to visit this National Park, as well as others. It is my desire that it leads you on your own "Quest For the Liberty Bell," and your own understanding of what it represents.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Journey to Mars from a Classroom Without Walls- A Journey in More Ways Than One!

Journey to Mars:

Last March, I had the amazing opportunity to witness the first test-firing of the SLS- the rocket booster that will someday propel humans to Mars and Seep Space.  On a scientific level, witnessing this "first" was amazing: it was bright, it was loud, and it produced 3.6 million pounds of thrust!

From a humanities perspective, it was equalling as amazing.  I was watching a first! History was in the making! It was in many ways, a dawn of a new era of human exploration.  Even more, my humanities based question at the press conference received the longest response! (Watch it below).

I spent the day tweeting and skyping with my classes from the test grounds, which seemed to be a movement in education as well. Why should our learning be confined to our classroom walls? Let's participate in the future instead of just containing ourselves to classroom experiences?

We also were able to interact with so many people who were part of this ground-breaking experience: lead engineers, scientists, and even astronauts (with a special session with astronaut Dr. Stan Love)!

Below is a collection of resources from the day. I included the NASA briefing, my footage, the NASA website on the event, and my many events (sorry it's not via Storify  this time). 

Check out what I put together and respond below:

"There is an unbelievable sense of teamwork in what we do...it transcends culture and some of our individual pieces."
"I think the thing that history will teach us is how these big challenges forced us to work together as a globe."- Bill Gerstenmaier

NASA test firing link  - Check this out for great specific and results!

  1. These are the tweets from the SLS test firing in Utah.  
  2. OrbitalAtk employee : what can we improve? Us: you nailed it! Him: ok, can you tweet that?
  3. When on a space mission, everyday is the most important day of your life -astronaut Stan Love
  4. An astronaut's advice to students: study math and science , don't give up, be flexible
  5. Without inspiration, life is less - astronaut Stan Love
  6. Eventually we will be hit by an asteroid that can destroy our civilization... I'm not losing sleep over it- Stan Love
  7. The asteroids we can go to are invisible, not meaningful to ppl the way the moon is, not in our poetry and songs, it's cultural
  8. Space X has super smart young people - Stan Love
  9. Stan Love lost 8 pounds in 14 days in Space ? Take that Weight Watchers! Oh, it was leg muscle...
  10. " that's why I risked my life on the shuttle mission, human exploration is important " Stan Love
  11. One day of Mars Rover equals one minute for geologist on Mars
  12. Mars crew will prolly be six
  13. Deep space means communication delays, no live conversations, just voice mail or e-mail
  14. Where do they simulate deep space? The desert, Alaska, and under water
  15. are the conditions in Mars capable of living for the people going there?
  16. : Is this rocket using any materials that have not been used in previous rockets?
  17. if the test is successful, when is the actual launch?
  18. How awesome was that !!??!!
  19. So exciting !!! One minute !
  20. It was fun skyping with class! Watch it on nasa tv!
  21. " you don't want ear plugs!" After comparing it to the thrust of 1000 NASCARs
  22. We don't do sound suppression ( crowd roars)
  23. Advice to students : really get engrossed in math,science, robotics & electronics, kids absorb knowledge
  24. The glass that will be formed after will be hot!!! Need to replace a window?
  25. What could stop test fire ? Wind blowing towards population
  26. I'll be following the discussion! Wish I could be there too!
  27. RT : Charlie- the country is hungry for the US to show tecnological leadership in space
  28. Altitude? Fred- rocket knows no difference but engineers do, so they will take that into consideration when they look at data
  29. Alex- the number of skills it takes to pull this off us incredible, all types of engineers: thermal, chemical, electrical, etc
  30. Booster will be come artificial reefs, helping environment in that perspective
  31. Mike- these launch plataforms can move u oro down ten feet. Its about being adaptable and flexible moving forward
  32. Charlie- 1100 data channels on Orion and we just released a 90 day report but still learning things
  33. We want you to be with us on our - Bill
  34. We r gonna do a better job at letting public getting involved w/ these oportunities, this is a unique chance to see this - Bill
  35. Charlie - search for knowledge is what we are all abt here
  36. What's kinda cool- in 2 days we see and ppl return from -Bill
  37. Bill- part of the beauty is calling earth home
  38. Bill- this mission transcends culture, big challenges force us to cooperate and work together
  39. When enough changes occur overtime, you like to go back and make appropriate tests - Bill G
  40. 25% more propellant ! That's what will get ppl to Mars!
  41. ": Bill- this is a tremendous time, savor it "
  42. Collecting 700 channels of Data! Wow!
  43. Plume is headed into hillside to make harmless dust when it returns to surface of the earth
  44. What would a bad test look like? Charlie- you can have a delay, we work hard to keep failure modes from cropping up
  45. Want to know more about by ? Follow & for updates in real time while they attend !
  46. Just saw the robotics that clean the mixing bowls. I could use that 4 tomato sauce in my corningware
  47. Just saw the propellent mixing bowls, those are NOT your Martha Stewart mixers!
  48. Why cover in A Global Studies Class? This is a human, global endeavor.
  49. Three weeks away! Can't wait to follow whoever is going!!
  50. alright class, just applied for the event 2c event in Utah.Let's hope this can share some more w/u!

My question to you:
Explain what type of Journey this Journey to Mars is. Pay special attention to the response given to me by  Bill Gerstenmaier.  Focus on any part of these resources (tweets, video, etc) and focus on any feature that makes it a "journey".  Don't be limited to ideas we have discussed such as exploration and pioneering. Feel free to connect to other disciplines. Please, only one response per idea: keep these original! 
A contracts- some outside research may be necessary (bios on people in this blog post, information on any of the technologies mentioned, etc.)
B contracts- you can respond solely from the info. in this blog
All responses: Please show you reviewed the resources I provided !