MAY 5, 2010

A special visitor and other adventures

A special visitor and other adventures

From Master’s in Teaching candidate Lisa Cabias.

How does one know that, for them, a career as an educator is more than just a job? Internal cartwheels, a.k.a. thrill over the day’s events is one sign.

Onekawa School children pursued some fascinating learning adventures last week. Among them, a beach trip, a tour of the local landfill and a very special visitor to the school.

The Rocky Shore!
The Rocky Shore!

The topic focus among the second through fourth year children of the school is the Rocky Shore. Inquiry- based learning is a major part of this topic and my experiences as an outdoor educator have allowed me to scuttle, slither and swim through a lot of fun questions and information. The highlight of my instruction experience last week has to have been teaching the song “My Barnacle Lives Under the Ocean” (sung to the tune of  “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean”) to 100 wiggly children at the syndicate assembly.

Another grand part of learning about the Rocky Shore is, of course, visiting it (nudge nudge, wink wink). Our children took a fantastic trip to the beach to engage their senses, satisfy their scientific curiosities and generally frolic. I found a use for my surf  booties other than surfing, venturing into knee-deep water to retrieve fist-sized sea slugs for the children to study.

The following day, we had a very special visitor. Onion (that’s right, Onion) the little Blue penguin came to school. This experience felt all the richer to me by virtue of the fact that my previous two months in an American first-grade classroom were spent doing an integrated unit ALL about penguins. We all have a familiarity with the cuteness of penguins. They waddle, have adorable fuzzy babies and tap dance (well, maybe only on Happy Feet). This reputation for extreme cuteness is well-deserved, aside from the stench of fish that surrounded Onion. I was lucky enough to have a chance to pet this 18” tall fish gobbler and was surprised by how soft she was!

landfill
Outing to the landfill! Seriously, we had a blast!

A trip to a local landfill does not sound like a rollicking good time. Visions of piles of tires, plastic bags blustering around in the hot and stinky breeze and flies come to mind. The Omarunui Road landfill has all of this and so much more. Luckily, our visit took place largely on a hillside overlooking the dumping site. As careful listeners, we soon learned that this hillside was once a valley 12 stories deep and is the previous dumping site for the landfill. Yes, we were standing on a hill of garbage. For the science enthusiast, there is a great deal to be learned. For example, the City Council will look into transforming captured methane gas produced within the hill into electric power for city homes. Cool! At this point in time, the gas is burned on-site in a tower that heats to 700 degrees Celsius, or 1292 degrees Fahrenheit! We escaped without getting too up close and personal with tires, flies or trash but with an undeniable confidence in the power of methane.


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