In the Middle of the Desert at 5am

One thing I don’t think people talk about enough is the fact that there is a huge cultural difference between the different parts of the United States of America. It’s not that surprising, but actually experiencing it is a whole other thing. Before this trip, I had only been to the west coast of the United States, which is similar enough with culture to Canada’s west coast. This trip was something truly different.

First of all, I had no idea where New Mexico is. No idea. I knew it was kinda south, but I definitely couldn’t have pointed it out on a map.

 

The trip was the destination for this project, but before we went, we had to learn about where we were going. I can honestly tell you this is the most informed I’ve ever been on a trip.

This project kicked off in the middle of summer vacation, I kid you not. We were assigned summer readings. Our class had one book to read, and I quickly made the connection between the book and the New Mexico Field School. Knowing this, I was enticed to read the book, to get a head start on the new school year. It was difficult at times, because the book, Age of Radiance by Craig Nelson, had some very scientific knowledge that I did not have. At times it was hard to follow, but making notes helped a lot.

Reading the book, though confusing at times, was hugely helpful in understanding what we were going to be doing on the trip, and in the learning before hand. I had that insiders knowledge, and I think that made the trip, and the project, the success that it was. If I were to go back and do it again, I think I would try and do more research while I was reading the book, and have a better understanding of each thing they talked about.

The next ‘milestone’-ey thing that I thought was really helpful, or interesting, was the Manhattan Project Character Card. This is something that the teachers had very strict guidelines for. They were also not present while we were doing this milestone, which made things, well, interesting.

Us, as a class, had to pick the 16 most significant people to the Manhattan project, and each person in the class was assigned one of these people to make a ‘character card’. Except it wasn’t make, it was fill in a very restrictive template. Some people fought this more than others. I thought having a template pre-made would make things easier, but it didn’t. The template had a very small area for us to explain who the person was, what they did, and why they were significant. It’s that word again. Significant. This is what the entire project was on.

How did the development of the atomic bomb change the world in a historically significant way?

This milestone helped us have a better understanding of the driving question, stated above. Why were these people significant, and why were they more significant than someone else. My person, Klaus Fuchs, had a very interesting story, which you can read all about on the card!

Now, we come to the final product for the trip, our books. In grade 8, and grade 9, for field schools, our teachers made book templates in book creator for us to fill out during the trip. They had photos, videos, audio clips and text. Our job was to make a book that answers the driving question, using the trip to gather evidence.

At first, I thought I had a good idea. I was going to follow a theme inspired by —. It seemed like a good plan, and was commended by the teachers. Once I did it though, I was not pleased. I had all the content I wanted, the information was, I thought, pretty solid. I just HATED how it looked. It was awful.

It took me a while, but with help from my friends, I scrapped that entire theme and started again. I kept the content, which took a while to collect and I was very proud of, but I changed everything else. Also remember, this was during the trip, at the airport. I have a post all about how I used efficiently, but that’s not the point. I realized that I could do another theme, which I am very pleased with.

I’m very happy with my book. If I were to go back, I would definitely have done the newspaper theme the first go around, but it worked out just the same. I think the time I put into it really shows. Something about this really sparked my interest, so I wanted to do a good job. There were maybe more opportunities for long and well edited videos, but I did my best to capture everything I needed, and was flexible with my ideas.

And now, drumroll please,

This was probably the coolest field school I’ve ever been on. We had long days, jam packed with learning and other things, but it was amazing. I also got a lot of patches, which is some good I collect and am really happy about!

As I said, this trip was packed full of crazy stuff. So I’m just going to talk about a couple places we went to, the ones that I think best describe our trip.

Los Alamos Historic Sites Walking Tour

This was the first stop on our trip. And honestly? It really was a great first introduction to New Mexico, and The Manhattan Project. Our guide, Aimee Slaughter, was amazingly knowledgeable about, not just the Manhattan Project, but of the history of the area. She told us about the Pueblo people, the First Nations who lived in Los Alamos before the Manhattan project, and how they all tied together. She told us a really cool story about someone who lived on the land before, worked in the town, and has relatives there today. That story is in my book.

National Museum of Nuclear Science and History

One thing about learning about radiation is that it’s kinda scary. It’s this awesome power that can blow up cities, but it’s also everywhere. We did an amazing workshop with David Gibson about radioactivity. We got to use geiger counters and everything. I thought it was cool to know that radiation is everywhere, because atoms are constantly decaying and letting off radiation, but that doesn’t hurt you. It’s called background radiation!

Meow Wolf

There are no words for this. It’s like a trip of hallucinogenic drugs, but you are definitely not on drugs. There are secret passageways, slides through washing machines, portals with doors that open with hand prints, like honestly, you kinda have to go there. You could spend hours exploring that place.

Trinity

On July 16th, 1945, the first ever atomic bomb was dropped in the middle of the New Mexico desert. This one event completely changed the world, ushering in a new age of science, technology, warfare, and so much more. We got to go there. Where it all happened. It was so cool. Jesse and I spent a while conducting interviews of people, just regular people, to see why they were there. Everyone had their own reasons, but the core message was the same. This is where it happened. This is where the course of the war changed. This is where the world changed.

This was an amazing trip. We’re not that far away, and yet, there are so many differences between our culture, and the New Mexico culture. Though we have different food, and different ideas, there’s one thing we can all agree on. There was a time before the bomb was dropped, and a time after.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

PLP 11. Wow, I’m old. Since coming to this program in grade 8, I’ve learned so much about thinking flexibly, and on the recent Albuquerque, New Mexico trip, I did just that. It was 6 days of waking up ridiculously early, learning about bombs of all things, and collecting evidence.

For the Albuquerque trip instead of, as many of our field schools are, just collecting everything you can on the trip without knowing what the final product was, we did actually know what we needed. It was still a race to get information, but we knew specifically what we needed. See, for this project, we were making a book. I talk more about it in the Albuquerque trip post, but basically we had to use this book to prove that the atomic bomb was a kind of turning point for the world, that there was a time before the bomb was dropped, and a time after. Which it really is. The world has never been the same. But more on that in the other post.

For the trip, I knew a moderately vague outline of what I needed for my project. I had what goes where, all that, but I wanted to collect as much as possible so I would have it when making the book. The first thing I decided was to ask Emily if I could use her mic. PLP has lapel mic’s, but Emily’s you can just hook up to your phone, and record holding it. At first when I asked, she said she wouldn’t have room, but I said I could pack it. And I am so glad I brought it. It didn’t only help me, either. We did a lot of media sharing on this trip, between classmates. I think that decision was a huge help in all of our projects. Maybe if you didn’t get exactly what you needed, someone else did, and you could share.

Another thing that I think was a bit of a risk was talking to strangers. When we were actually at the Trinity Site, Jesse and I went around to people who had come to the site and ask them why they came. It was a risk because we didn’t know exactly how those interviews would work out. Originally, I was going to ask people about their opinions on nuclear power, but some people might not have answers. I had to adapt my book to what happened, and boy, did it pan out. I got some amazing interviews with people who came to the site. Most people wanted to come here because it changed the world, and that’s exactly what our books are about. How this one event changed the world forever.

Another thing that I did on the trip was to take advantage of time. The first draft of my book had the content I wanted, but the theme looked like literal garbage. I knew that due to the early mornings, I wouldn’t have tons of time at night to edit, because we needed as much sleep as we could get. So while driving, and even on the plane, I edited. I used the extra time, so I wouldn’t have as much work to do on the trip. Also, but constantly adding things to my book and editing it, I knew what I still needed to collect from the sites.

Overall, this was an amazing experience. Talking to so many people, it was amazing to hear how this still impacts people today. I learned so much, so much of it that I wouldn’t have been able to learn in a classroom.

What a Wild Ride

Grade 10. What a year. I’ve learned so much. The biggest highlight of the year was probably the Circle BC trip. 

Circle BC was a 12 day road trip to some of the coolest places BC has to offer. From Vancouver, up to Prince George, over to Prince Rupert, with a 22 hour ferry ride back down the coast. This trip was also the inspiration for our Exhibition this year. As such, this post will talk about it all.

Circle BC

This trip was definitely the best PLP trip I’ve done so far. It was amazing to explore our province, and to see what it has to offer. As this was a 12 day trip, I’m only going to be talking about the highlights for me, but check out some of the other PLP 10 circle bc posts to learn some more!

Learning

The place that I learned the most at was Barkerville. We spent 2 full days exploring the heritage site, full with costumes and interpreters. We did a bunch of cool school-group things, like a court room session where Kai was on trial, and a school house lesson where all the girls had to wear bonnets! It was interesting to see BC’s past in this way. I was most interested in the gender roles, and how their were so many rules for women and what they had to wear. Learning by experiencing was why I wanted to join PLP, and this stop was full of that!

Reflected on Canada

This was a big one. There were many places that made me do a lot of this, including many of the First Nations focused stops. The biggest one, though, was probably the Port of Prince Rupert Interpretive Centre. It was there I realized just how much Canada’s exports mean to BC, and how many jobs this market creates. It also made me think about what we are doing to protect the environment with this, or really how little. Some of the technologies that you think would be so much more advanced, like devices to record sound pollution, are only just being installed now. The stuff that the ports are doing, while benefiting Canada and many Canadians, could be really screwing up our environment.

Place I’d Go Back To

Onto a happier note, the place is like to go back to is probably the Nass Valley. I learned so much up there, and there is still more to experience! One thing I definitely want to go back and do is the 3 km hike to see the crater. We didn’t do it in the trip due to time restrictions, but I think it would be so cool. After the hike, I’d want to go back to the Aiyansh Hot Springs, a natural hot springs. I’ve always really liked natural hot springs, so this was super cool. 

Most Fun

The most fun I had on the trip was definitely on the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Tour. First of all, it was on my birthday, so that was pretty great. Also, I learned I really like boats. It was a seven hour tour, where the boat took us to near the edge of the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear sanctuary, where grizzly bears live completely untouched by humans. On the boat we were near, but not right at the reserve. We saw like 9 Grizzly bears, it was amazing! I’m really glad we were on the boat, though. Grizzly bears are huge. I had such a cool time hanging out with friends on the outside deck and looking for wildlife. 

On the way back to Prince Rupert, we saw 2 whales! It was awesome! We also saw seals, sea lions, and a whole bunch of eagles. That is a 16th birthday I will never forget! Oh, also, the teachers bought me a cake, so that was pretty cool too!

Exhibition

Now that I’ve rambled along about the trip, it’s time to get to the Exhibition. But first, here’s a podcast to introduce you to the idea. 

This podcast was done during the actual Circle BC trip. The first draft was actually due on the ferry from Nanaimo to Vancouver. So a lot of us, me included, did the editing and everything on the 22 hour ferry ride. Due to this, on our first drafts the audio quality kinda sucked. Luckily, though, I had been recording tons of audio from the trip, and was able to work that into the first draft. That made it better, in my opinion. This podcast was definitely something, man.

For the actual exhibition, as you may know, we have to have an artifact. So I had this idea, about First Nations Oral Traditions, but I didn’t know how to present this. I spent many hours trying to come up with ideas, and then finally, it hit me. 

I couldn’t tell the stories myself, because I don’t know the stories, and I didn’t want to mess something up, or have them be culturally appropriated. So instead, I decided to create something where people can find out where to learn about First Nations oral traditions. It’s actually on this very blog! 

I created a separate page, called First Nations Oral Histories Resources. On this page, which you can visit yourself, holds as much knowledge as I can find. Each nation has a labeled image, and when you click on it, it takes you to a post where you can find books and websites with First Nations traditional stories. 

Some of these were very hard to find. I did find at least one thing for each nation, but it was very difficult. I think this is because most First Nations stories are told orally, and many are specific to families. Because of this, many aren’t written down. 

I’m really happy with how this project turned out. Not only did I learn so much about First Nations oral histories, I mad something that people can visit and learn about them. I feel like this made an impact, no matter how small, and I really hope this will help people in the future.

The night of the exhibition went really well. Our groups theme was education, so we didn’t really have to do tons. I’m really proud of a couple things I did for our room, though. First, we wanted to have some sort of intro at the beginning. I wrote that, with some help from Ms. Maxwell, and it went at the entrance. How many people actually read it, I don’t know. 

The other thing I’m pretty proud of is my pencils. We were the education theme, so I wanted to give people something that was kinda educational. So we got pencils, and I got a bunch of places that we went to, and made them like little flags on the pencils, so people could get a pencil and learn about some of the places we went! Again, not a lot of people took pencils, but they made me happy!

If I were to go back and do this project again, with all the time in the world, I think I would have liked to contact each of the nations, and asked them if they had oral traditions they wanted to share, or if they knew of more places to find them. Maybe also putting these contacts in the post, so people could learn about the stories right from the people. 

SLCs the Sixth: TPOLs

The end of June marks the end of another era in PLP, Grade 10. This was a remarkable year, with ups and downs, triumphs and tribulations, but we made it to the other side, mostly unscathed. So, let us reflect on what we have done, and look forward to our next great adventure.

Of your work completed this year, what are you most proud of? Why?

The project that I am probably most proud of is the WW2 podcast. I had a lot of fun with this project, which makes everything 100x better. This was one of the first podcasts we had done, so it was opening a new chapter for us. This year I’ve had a lot of fun doing podcasts, and this one was no different. The experience of going and meeting with these people was really cool, because instead of just learning about something in a textbook, we got to meet people with first hand experience. I also learned a lot when I talked to Abigail Foulds and my Grandpa, Frank Ward. I am proud of the work I have done for this project.

What piece of work done this year would you share with a class visitor? Why?

A project that I would want to show to a visitor is definitely the generator project. Not necessarily the video that went along with it, but the generator itself. In science, and especially in this project, I fell as though the product is the bigger thing, and the video secondary. This doesn’t really make sense in practical terms, since we are mostly graded on the videos, but I’m usually pro under of what we have actually created. In this project, we took a current issue, and created a project that has actual meaning in the real world. This is why I wanted to do PLP in the first place, and that’s what I would want to show visitors.

How do these projects connect to the adult world outside the classroom?

Math is kind of a constant. Sometimes it can be hard to relate math concepts to the real world. This project did a really good job of that, though. For this project, we were looking at real data that scientists and governments had collected, and we had to graph it. Taking these arbitrary numbers, and creating graphs was cool, but to actually see the impact that this could have was even cooler. Emily and I checked the levels where the water rise would start to impact us, and added this to the graphs. It really puts into perspective what is happening in our world, and brings it to us.

What problems did you encounter? How did you solves them?

Finally, we have Destination Imagination. Every year,  talk about Destination Imagination, and how I am working to be a better teammate, but his year I actually did it. Within our group, we had some pretty strong personalities, and with that, some disagreements. There was one pretty bad disagreement, and instead of getting mad or whatever, I took the time to talk to both sides of the argument, and helped them sort it out. It was sometimes frustrating, but in the end it worked out. I’m really proud of how I handled it, and am looking forward to continuing my learning!

Coast Salish

Websites

https://salishseasentinel.ca/2018/07/coast-salish-stories-loon-story/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salishan_oral_narratives

https://salishseasentinel.ca/2017/10/coast-salish-stories-swalamthut-story/

Books

Dear Canada:  Where the River takes Me: The Hudson’s Bay Diary of Jenna Sinclair, Fort Victoria By Julie Lawson

Strong Stories Coast Salish: The Great Blanket of Moss By Celestine Aleck

Strong Stories Coast Salish: The Great Trade By Celestine Aleck

Strong Stories Coast Salish: The Sun and the Moon By Celestine Aleck

Strong Stories Coast Salish: Why Ravens and Wolves Hunt Together By Celestine Aleck