New York Overnight

This past week, PRIED went on an overnight expeditionary learning trip to New York City. New York is one of my personal favorite places to visit so this was probably the most fun I’ve had on any field trip this year. Thursday started with a visit to the New York State Supreme Court. There, we learned the exact steps that everyone involved in a criminal trial goes through. We even got to witness a real-life trial as it was happening. I, for one, had no idea there were so many specific rules for what lawyers could and could not say/do. For example, when the prosecutor or defense lawyer is questioning a witness, they may only ask questions. They can’t make any statements, and if they say something without putting it in the form of a question, the other lawyer can object, and the judge will ask them to ask it in a question. There are so many things about our judicial system that I didn’t know so I loved getting to experience it all first hand.

That night we went to see the off-broadway production of STOMP. STOMP was absolutely incredible!!!! I can’t believe the musical and physical abilities of the performers. I also could not believe the amount of different sounds you can create with everyday objects. It looked like so much fun to be up there making an awesome soundtrack out of brooms, trash cans, lighters and so much more. I would have tried it myself at home if I didn’t fear hearing loss (I have a feeling my version would be very loud and off key). I think I’m speaking for everyone in that audience when I say WOW! I was pretty much speechless. Now I’m so pumped to start the next unit in music which will be about street music like STOMP.

The next day we woke up just in time for brunch at Ellen’s Stardust Diner. Ellen’s Stardust Diner is your average diner… Broadway style! All the staff are aspiring or professional broadway actors hoping to further their knowledge of their art. Each will perform a show-tune every few minutes singing and dancing on and around the tables. Every hour or so they take tips. The only catch about the tips is that they have to use them towards singing, dancing, or acting lessons (only things that will get them closer to their broadway dream). I thought this was a really cool idea, and I think everyone sitting at my table donated some.

As for our last adventure, we went to visit the infamous NBC Studios for a tour of several sets and a chance to create a clip from our own TV show. We started off by checking out the set of Nightly News with Lester Holt. Something I found really interesting about this set in particular was that it is what the hipster people of NBC call a “hot set.” This means that at any time that there is breaking news, this set can get up and operating within minutes. I can’t imagine the amount of staff they must have on-call at any given time just to make sure the set is always ready to go live. The next set we saw was surely my favorite set. The real set of SNL! I actually can’t believe I was standing within 60 feet of the backdrop for the cold open! Not to mention the lighting… if you want to talk about a lot (and I mean, like, millions) of lights! There was a copious amount of varied sized spotlights just hanging from the ceiling. I couldn’t help but think about how many hours it took to install them let alone all the people working behind the scenes operating them so the lighting is always just right. Our last set at NBC was the set of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. After checking it out, we were to create a clip from our own version of a late night talk show. We played the host, guest, announcer, band and some of us even got to be in the backstage crew! I was on audio which was sooo much fun! I felt like a professional, even if my work can’t back that up, it was a blast anyway.

Did I say that was the last adventure? Well, I lied. I think getting to our bus home in the rain in New York rush hour traffic was one of the biggest adventures of all. But what is a field trip without a transportation mishap and a near-heart attack? Boring. Well that sums it up. Another trip that didn’t disappoint.

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Religion Study

This week at PRIED we started a new unit of civics; Religion. I find religion a fascinating topic, and I’m so proud that the U.S. is a country of which everyone is free to practice whatever religion they choose or no religion at all. I know that it is such a privilege to have this right. This choice. I am so glad that we can be equals and yet choose to be different. We aren’t forced to follow a practice we don’t believe in, and we are allowed to share our beliefs without being judged or punished. During this unit, we will be given a religion to research and then create a presentation to share with the class explaining its differences and similarities to other religions, where it is currently practiced, where it originated and so much more. So as an introduction to this project we did an activity about our rights to religion in this country. We looked closer at the details of our rights, and then we were given some scenarios to see how these rights might be applied. We had to decide as a group whether each scenario followed the Constitution or not. We had a few disagreements about this, and I think this helped us to realize why so many people have struggled with these issues and why religion is such a hard thing to deal with in legal situations. I think there are certain things we still haven’t come to an agreement on, but it also helped us realize how important it is to have freedom of religion since many of the situations we looked at exampled outrageous amounts of unfairness to one religion over another. I don’t know that any of us could imagine being forced to practice a religion we don’t understand or be punished and possibly killed if we did not follow orders. I personally loved this exercise and generally love exercises like this because it challenges you to think deeper about our rights as citizens and some of the imperfections of even our amazing country, The United States of America. It also forces you to imagine what it would have been like if we grew up somewhere else or if our founding fathers hadn’t done such a good job because we could be living in a very different world if they weren’t who they were and they didn’t found America the way they did. In the next few weeks we will be working hard on our research about a religion of our choice and present it to our class. I’m very excited to make a creative project and learn about new religions!

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New York Trip

This past Monday we visited NYC to take a tour of Wall Street and visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum. It started off as a windy cold day when we got on the bus, just the kind of day that screamed at you “It’s freezing in New York!”, but we ventured on anyway and had a great time! First, we visited the 9/11 Memorial Museum and got to take a look at a lot of the artwork created to remember the tragic 9/11. First, we saw photographs. This photography showed  volunteers, firemen, and police just starting to clean up the rubble at ground zero. You could tell from every single photo that they were overwhelmed and didn’t even know where to start. Just trying to imagine what it must have been like for them is hard. I feel for all the firemen who went into the burning building risking their lives for so many people trapped inside, those who witnessed it in New York, and families whose loved ones were lost in this event. It really was one of the darkest days in American history, but perhaps we remember it because of the day after, September 12th. This day, all of America came together and came together stronger than they were on September 10th. Volunteers all the way from California flew in just to lend a hand in the cleanup process. It’s really incredible to hear that people came so far to help their fellow Americans. The second artifact we saw was a piece of art called  “Trying To Remember the Color of the Sky on That September Morning”. This piece was made of one square for each of the victims that died. These squares were each painted in a different shade of blue that represents the blue color of the sky that day. It also represents each individual victim’s own uniqueness since each square is a slightly different shade of blue. I thought this was a simple, but beautiful, way to represent the victims. The next stop was an artifact that people had turned into a memorial by adhering pictures, flowers, and all the things you would see at a cemetery to it. A lot of people felt they had to do this because many didn’t have a cemetery to go to since many human remains were never found. The last piece was a small collection of art from people from all across the world. They painted their thoughts and feelings, they painted what happened, and they painted the hope for the future. They were all beautiful and very different from each other, but yet they were all about the same thing, which is the part that was so incredible to me. After we were finished, we each got to make our own blue square with a small drawing on it to remember 9/11 in our own way. Overall, I loved this museum, and I would love to go back! Afterwards, we took a tour of Wall Street. We didn’t actually get to into the building where people trade stocks, but we got to see the building, talk about what goes on inside, and go to other historic financial monuments including Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler graves! This was probably my favorite part. It was crazy to imagine that George Washington and Alexander Hamilton actually lived in New York at some point in their lives. Also being a huge fan of Hamilton the musial made it all that much better! At the end of the day we headed back to our bus on the metro and rode a Greyhound bus all the way back to Delaware. I think this was a great field trip. I’ve always loved New York, and I love every opportunity I get to visit this huge city.

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World Music

This week was our second week of our world music projects. Our world music projects are just one of the projects we will be doing in music this year. These projects give us an opportunity to research music from all around the world and share what we find with our classmates. Two weeks ago we each researched a different instrument from a different country in Africa. When I think of African music, I think of that very distinct sound that typically focusses on percussion instruments, and the fun up beat sound of the striking, shaking and scaping of instruments. However, when researching my country, I was surprised to find a wide variety of string instruments as well. My country was Ethiopia, and the music there is so beautiful, fun, and interesting. It’s really got a spectacular sound. Everything from their unique instruments, to their bouncy (at least I would describe them as bouncy) vocal techniques are great. They’re music is just so fun. Anyhow, the specific instrument I researched was the masenqo which is indeed a string instrument. The masenqo is basically the Ethiopian version of a violin or fiddle, but it only has one string! My mind was completely blown by this, considering the fact that the people who play it can create so many different notes. The skill it must take to play this instrument must be incredibly difficult to master, but the outcome is wonderful.

This past week we researched a new region; Oceania. This includes New Guinea, Australia, Fiji, and many more including my country, Samoa. Samoa is a very small island somewhere between Australia and Hawaii. But, being smaller than most U.S. states doesn’t stop Samoa from having a big personality in their music. They include loads of percussion, strings, and strong vocals. The instument I researched for Samoa was the pate. This instrument is in the slit drum family because it is hollow with a slit down the side which makes for a hollow and woody sound. It can also have engravings that add a little texture to the sound. Although it was hard to find many resources for Oceanian music, it was fascinating to learn about a completely different culture that you don’t typically hear about in a textbook. The most interesting part to me was how they used their surroundings to create new types of music. For example, some countries have water music which is literally just slapping the water in a specific way to a specific beat to turn the ocean into your drumset. It’s so incredible to see how the techniques they use actually make water sound like precision. Overall, I think the world music projects are a great way for us to get a taste of other cultures through one of the most unique, diverse, and uniting arts around; music. And who knows, maybe I’ll be adding some Ethiopian, or Samoan, or Indian, or European or even Asian and South American music to my playlist sometime soon!

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The Laurels

This week we visited a beautiful and healthy ecosystem called The Laurels for a science field trip. In science we’ve been talking a lot about what makes an environment, habitat or ecosystem healthy. One thing to look for is biodiversity which means a variety of species in the same ecosystem. We definitely found this. We saw plenty of plant species, bird species, and mammal species, even some fungi! We took a nice hike through the chilly woods and got a glimpse of one of the cleanest streams in the Christina River watershed. Although it was cold, it was a wonderful fall day for a hike in the woods. Afterwards, we visited a park to test a new type of ecosystem; a pond. Ponds support very different types of life than streams or forests because the still water doesn’t provide enough oxygen for the same macroinvertebrates found in a flowing gurgling stream. Because of this we found some strange and unique critters below the surface such as fish, slugs, a dragonfly nymph, and my personal favorite, the fairy shrimp. Not only does this creature have a magical name, it really is a quite magical sight. It has a rubbery texture and it’s completely transparent! If you look closely you can see the organs inside such as the heart and stomach. As for the land animals that feed off of these pond creatures, there was everything from geese to a very friendly family of ducks to blue herons to kingfishers. The birds there were absolutely beautiful, and the variety of birds was quite a surprise considering the lack of biodiversity below the surface, but a good indicator that things might start looking up for this little pond. This field trip was a nice way to get outside and explore ecosystems first hand, as well as also figuring out what indicates a healthy and unhealthy environment.

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Hamilton and Jefferson Debate

Recently we went to go see a live impersonation of a Hamilton and Jefferson debate. It was such an amazing experience for us to see history happening right in front of our eyes. In the days leading up to this event, we got to figure out our own interpretation of the Constitution, before hearing what Jefferson and Hamilton had to say about it. Did you know that it’s surprisingly difficult to interpret simple words? It’s incredible to see how people can come up with 7 different opinions on what one simple word means. That word is “necessary”. “Necessary” is used often in the Constitution and the bill of rights and yet no one really knows what they mean. Some people say that if something is necessary it is something that you simply could not physically do something without. Others interpret the term more loosely and believe that something is necessary if it makes doing something more convenient. For example, is a shovel necessary to dig a hole? Well let’s think about this. Technically you could just dig it with your hands, but it would be done so much more quickly and easily if you just use a shovel, and this is exactly where people like Jefferson and Hamilton disagree. Metaphorically, Hamilton believes the “shovel” is indeed necessary, but Jefferson believes the “shovel” is not necessary because hands can be used to dig holes. We had many group discussions on the topic of necessary, and we even talked about some of the amendments and what they could mean. At the end of the day no one really agrees, but it’s fascinating to hear the other side of things. It really makes you give thought to things you wouldn’t have given much thought to without hearing someone else’s opinion. We heard Hamilton and Jefferson debate in the same way we did, but I must say they were much more stubborn. The main portion of their debate was their arguments for different forms of government. Hamilton wanted one government that would rule over all of the much smaller state governments, but Jefferson wanted each state’s government to have more power than the central government. I think Hamilton made a good call, but it was interesting hearing about how close our government was to becoming an entirely different system. At the end there was time for questions and one question really interested me in particular, and that was “what do you think hamilton and jefferson would think about having an African American or a woman as president sometime in the future?”. They both seemed to be astounded that something like that could ever happen because of the fact that they lived in a time of slavery and discrimination against women, but Jefferson seemed very happy that that’s the way it could be for their ancestors. He wanted people living in this generation to look back at his time and think about how different it is now. He truly wanted our country to move forward for the better and never stop improving. This was a delightful surprise, considering the fact I went in as a bias Hamilton supporter, but now things don’t seem quite so black and white.Their performance was interesting, educational, and even humorous at times, and there’s no doubt it was a great way to learn about our spectacular founding fathers.

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Canoe Trip

These past few weeks at PRIED have been amazingly awesome! We’ve had all our subjects and specials and even a field trip! For our field trip we went canoeing in the Brandywine to learn about assessing the cleanliness and biodiversity of a body of water (and not to mention have fun canoeing). We used tools to test the water quality such as a square meter, which is really just a square meter yellow net that we used to collect macroinvertebrates and yogurt cups, which were surprisingly helpful in the process of keeping these creatures wet as we counted them up. We also used spoons and paint brushes to sort through the rocks and leaves and spot any macroinvertebrates hiding from us. Once the creatures were collected, we tried to identify what macroinvertebrates they were and determine if they could only live in clean water which is a huge indicator that the water quality is excellent. If they could live anywhere this is not so much of an indicator of anything. Luckily we found a wide variety of critters, many of which were great for streams. Overall, the Brandywine is an excellent body of water, flowing with copious life. Not only was it amazing quality, but amazing for spotting beautiful birds and other animals of all sorts. We saw turtles, fish, kingfishers, green herons, large spiders, even a leech, and my personal favorite, two massive great blue herons. It was a fabulous sight, and it all ended with a nice swim and a friendly canoeing race (so much fun!). We will soon be doing a follow up project on this great trip, and the project ideas seem so fun!

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