Music

In music, our pop projects having now been finished, we have moved on to musical theatre.  This unit and project are short, as we only have two more music classes left before our final concert.  In the end, we will write a short paragraph about ballets, operas, or Broadway musicals.  Currently, we are covering one subject a week, by watching a clip from an example of the subject then filling out a paper about it.  It’s a pretty cool project, as we get to learn more about ballet, opera and the musical, all things that I don’t know that much about.

Also, we are, of course, preparing our chorus pieces.  Kusimama is our current project, and we added in the stomps and are fine-tuning it.  This coming week, we will review Kyrie Canon and Be a Candle of Hope.  Overall, I am really excited for our performance!

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Museum of the Moving Image

This past Thursday, we went to an awesome museum in New York City: the Museum of the Moving Image!  We had a tour scheduled for 12:00.  We ate lunch on the way.  When we finally arrived, our tour guide, Sarah, was ready for us.  We started with going to an exhibit about the visual part of a movie.  When we got there, we entered a room with a flashing light.  In front of us, there appeared to be this moving sculpture.  At first, I wasn’t sure that it was actually there at all.  However, a steady light replaced the flashing one and we realized that it was a rapidly-rotating sculpture showing a continuous chain of events.  It was far harder to understand without the flashing light, which led Sarah to explain to us the need for the blank frame in between action frames.  We left the room to go to an optical illusions area.

Here were, essentially, the very first moving pictures.  What we went to first was a token-like thing on a string.  The strings were attached to poles on either side.  On one side of the token was the picture of an empty cage, on the other side, a red bird.  Sarah twisted it and untwisted it using the strings, and it appeared that the bird was in the cage.  Then, we moved on to a cylinder, with only the top open.  On the sides, there were periodical slits cut into the material.  On the inside, opposite the slits, there were different frames of a man running.  Spinning the cylinder then looking in through the slits would make it appear as if the man were running forward (he was also a very good backwards runner–he didn’t trip once!).

Then, we moved on to audio.  We watched a clip from a movie without any music, then had to decide, from the options, which song fit best.  It was interesting, and it really showed how much the music affects the mood of a scene.

We did a lot more, but we finished up by watching a movie.  This movie was a silent movie, featuring Charlie Chaplin.  It was called, “The Immigrant.”  It was funny and a great end to the visit.  Two interesting things I learned there were that the pianists would generally be playing live and just be improvising and that the streaks and such on old films were caused by actual dirt and scratches on the film itself.  Overall, I thought that it was a really engaging museum, full of interesting information.

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Pop Project – Music

This past week, we finally finished up and turned in our pop projects.  I think I blogged about these before, but I’ll tell you about them again.  Basically, our project was to choose a classic story, such as Little Red Riding Hood, and turn it into a music video, with the only dialogue being pop music.  It was so much fun to videotape, act, come up with the songs and how we were going to portray them, and get costumes.  My story was the story of King Midas and the Golden Touch.  My classmates’ stories were Little Red Riding Hood, the Tortoise and the Hare, and the Ugly Duckling.  We are going to present our projects this week, and I am really excited!

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The Boston Tea Party – Boat and Museum

Most of the last week was spent in Boston, a three-day trip which we all really enjoyed.  We flew up early on Tuesday morning and flew back late on Thursday.  On Wednesday, one of the first places we went was to the Boston Tea Party Boats and Museum.  There, we started off with the tour.  It began with a man, Josiah Bradlee, that called us all to rebel against the British taxation without representation!  We entered another room, each of us given a feather as as “disguise.”  Not only that, but we were each given a card with a “new identity” on it. One of my classmates got Sarah Bradlee Fulton, who, as we learned, was called the mother of the revolution.  She was Josiah’s sister and came up with the way to disguise the men. Another one of my classmates got Nathaniel Bradlee, Josiah’s younger brother.  I got Thomas Melville, who was the grandfather of the famous Herman Melville.

After assigning us our identities, Josiah Bradlee ran us through the expressions we were to use.  For instance, if we like something, we should pound our feet against the benches, yell “Huzzah,” or say, “Hear, hear!”  If we dislike something, like talk about the King, we can also pound our feet against the benches, call out “Boo,” or hiss.  If we want to be rude, we make a thumbs up, plant the top of our thumb on our noses, uncurl your fingers, wave them, and call, “Fie!”  Then, Samuel Adams entered the room, to give a speech.  It was so engaging and fun!  I had lots of fun calling out “Huzzah” and “Boo!”  Finally, we got to parade to the Eleanor, which we remembered was one of the three ships that had their cargo dumped.  The other two were the Dartmouth and the Beaver.  There, we learned about the ship.  It was the only full-rigged ship of the three; the other two were smaller.  Where we stood, we were very close to the sight of the actual event.  There, they had three “carts of tea” for us to throw over.  My classmates and I all threw them over, three of us at a time.  After a short speech on the Eleanor, about the boat and the actual tea party, we continued down to the hold, where there were mock tea cartons and barrels full of “rum and molasses.”  We learned that the darker barrels carried liquids because they were painted over with a waterproof paint that made them appear black.  We also entered the captain’s cabin, where we all sent a good “fie” towards the captain’s mannikin.

Finally, we headed upstairs and off the boat, to the indoors.  The first exhibit we went to was one with a wooden box rotating in a glass case.  As it turns out, this is one of two actual boxes that remain from the Tea Party.  This one was passed down in a family, from generation to generation.  I thought that it was really amazing that we got to see an actual carton of tea from the event.  Then, we turned to portraits on the walls.  As we watched, two of the people, King George III and Samuel Adams, started speaking and moving in their frames.  They were quoting letters that they had written, but they could have also been arguing.  As for our last exhibit, we watched a short film on the early events in the war that we were able to connect with what we learned back at home.  The movie ended with a singing of God Bless America, which was our national anthem for a time.  Ironically, as we learned, God Bless America was written to the tune of God Save the King.  God Save the King was actually written to the tune of a German drinking song.  I thought that was an interesting fact!

Overall, I believe that our experience at the Boston Tea Party museum and during the tour was fantastic!  We learned so much, had an engaging experience, and were able to connect what we heard there with what we had learned at home.

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Art

This week, we had yet another fantastic art class.  First, I had to finish my tree silhouette painting.  Last art class, we had begun a painting, in watercolor, of a sky, at sunset or sunrise, when the sun was near the edge of the horizon.  I did mine in blue, just after the sun had left the sky.  It is a light blue at the bottom, then a dark, navy blue at the top, with white stars glimmering in the sky.  After painting our backgrounds, we then were to paint the silhouette of a tree.  However, in my painting, I did the whole foreground in silhouette. It is of the slope of a mountain, with a tree sprouting from in between the rocks.  I did the silhouettes in ink.  Then, we got to move on to our landscape paintings.  Last week, we had selected our reference paintings and this week, we began painting, first with a pencil sketch.  I am using one of my favorite photographs (we were required to use photographs that we had taken), taken at the beach in black and white.  I got to start painting this class and am really excited to continue on with this project!

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Valley Forge

This week, we had another field trip. This one to Valley Forge!  On Tuesday, we spent the day learning about Washington’s stay at Valley Forge, a strategic spot to spend the winter. We started with a tour that covered the general area, during which we talked about Valley Forge; why it was a strategic place, the actual state of the troops staying there, and much more!  Finally, we finished up our visit with a tour of George Washington’s Headquarters.

For our first tour, we started by walking up the main ridge in the park.  It is a part of Valley Forge’s natural defenses.  Overall, Valley Forge is like an enclosed triangle.  On one side you have the ridge, on another side you have two large hills, Mount Joy and Mount Misery, and, to close off the triangle, you have the Schuylkill River.  This is part of why it is a strategic spot for the winter.  Another reason is that Valley Forge is about 25 miles away from Philadelphia:  Close enough to monitor the British movements, but far enough to avoid a surprise attack.  This tour was a lot of fun and a great learning experience, thanks to Ranger Scott’s excellent job!

Our second tour took place at Washington’s Headquarters.  His headquarters were a guest house for the Potts family, a rich milling family.  We learned so much here as well.  For instance, the kitchen was separate from the house.  This was a statement saying “I am rich.”  This is because, in most houses of the time, the kitchen was the house’s source of heat.  If your kitchen is separate, it means that you have enough money to heat the house.  Not only this, but it also allows your guests to stay and not see your cooks.  Overall, this was another great tour!

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The Delaware Art Museum

This past Wednesday, we went on another field trip!  This time, we headed over to the Delaware Art Museum (DAM) for an exhibit called, “Our America.”  Our America is an exhibit about how Latin Americans viewed America.  There was so much interesting artwork there!  One of the pieces that stood out to me was a movie that played on loop.  The artist was Native American and Latin American and had taken the film of a Western movie about cowboys and Indians and chopped it up with a tomahawk.  Then, he put the pieces back together, not caring whether they were backwards, upside-down or out of order.  In the movie, Native Americans were portrayed as savages, as they were in many movies like that from the time.  He wanted to make the movie chaotic, posing a question to us:  Is this really what these people were like?  Overall, I found our whole experience at the DAM an engaging and fun field trip!

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History

A couple weeks ago, we started two new history projects.  One is for an American Revolution “Hall of Fame.”  The second is for a debate/trial.  They are both cool projects that I am excited to work on!

Our Revolutionary War Hall of Fame is a project in which we each choose two people to induct into our class Hall of Fame.  We are going to create a poster for each, write a biography, research them, etc..  My two inductees are Abigail Adams and John Hancock.  I really like what I’ve learned so far about them and am really excited to finish up my biographies.  Abigail Adams sounds like, especially, a really amazing person.

Our second project, the debate, is where we partnered up randomly then drew one of three people:  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Paine.  Each team is trying to prove that their person is the best.  One person from each team will be like a lawyer, giving an opening statement, asking questions and cross-examining, and giving a closing statement.  They will call two witnesses to the stand to answer questions about their person (one can be the person).  The person who is not the lawyer will be the witnesses.  This project is certainly one I am really excited to work on!  My team has Thomas Paine.

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Pop Music Project

This past week, I thought that, overall, our new music project really stands out.  Today, we finished and presented our past music project, the jazz timeline.  It turned out well!  Everyone’s section is really great, and I learned so much about the other eras of jazz!  Now, we are moving on to pop music, with an amazing project that will be really fun!

Heather started by showing us a video, “The Wizard of Ahhhs,” a succinct performance of the Wizard of Oz, but all performed in song, by Pentatonix.  I thought that what they did was really cool!  Then, we discussed the project:  Each of us will choose a fairytale or story (mine is the Golden Touch, or the story of King Midas) then write out the major plot points.  Then, we will choose a pop song that fits with each point.  Eventually, we’ll create a music video for each story, told through pop songs!

I am really, really excited for this amazing project to start!

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Maryland Science Center

On Thursday, we had another field trip!  This time, we were headed to the Maryland Science Center, about an hour and a half away.  While there, we got to watch a movie and go to the planetarium for “The Universe Live.”  However, our adventures there started with us visiting the exhibition “Newton’s Alley.”  Everything in it was related to physics.  I learned so much, even just there!  For instance, I learned that the reason pulleys work is because they reduce the friction of the rope.  So, having multiple pulleys makes an action easier.  Soon, the time came for us to go to the show “Tornado Alley,” watched in IMAX 3D.  I thought that was really amazing.  It was a dual story, one side about a mission called Vortex 2, the other about Sean Casey, who was hoping to catch the first footage from inside a tornado.

Currently, in areas hard hit with tornados, families will only get, at most, a 5-minute warning.  Vortex 2 set out to change this.  With eleven trucks, each with complex radar and data collection tools, and pods, smaller data collection devices that could be placed closer to the actual tornado, they chased storms, hoping to find out why some storms made tornados and others didn’t.  Over the whole tornado season, they collected data from many storms.  It may take years to analyze the much-needed data, but they have succeeded in the hardest part of their mission.

The other side of the story, with Sean Casey, started out in a garage.  There, he was making a home-made tank, built for heavy-duty protection and filming.  He called it the Tornado Intercept Vehicle, or simply TIV.  His goal was clear:  to get the first footage of entering a tornado.  Despite the danger, they had no fear.  With panelling that lowered to the ground and spikes that drove 40 inches into the earth, they had no reason to be.  Instead, they fearlessly chased storms, setting out as soon as TIV was ready.  Their first few storms were failures; some never created a tornado and others created tornados that never crossed a road that TIV could reach.  However, in the end, they found their perfect storm.  They set down and began filming the awesome power of the wind.  Even though it took years of work to get to this, it was over in a moment.  TIV had succeeded in their mission!

Overall, I thought that our trip to the Science Center was a great field trip, one that I’d love to do again!

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