Introduction to PLP & Albuquerque Trip

I didn’t know what to expect coming into PLP in grade 11, but I was pleasantly surprised.  These past two months have been a serious learning curve for me because of the independent learning style and the use of technology, but I feel that I am improving.  Using iPad’s has been harder than I anticipated, with having to learn new programs and apps.  On the first week we had to make a video explaining a specific thing/event’s historical significance, and it was a great challenge.  This project started the year off well as I really enjoyed researching it, and making the video.  Then we started working on the Manhattan Project2.

I’ve always felt that I didn’t know enough about the war and the atomic bomb, so this project sparked lots of interest for me.  I loved the style of teaching that Mr. Hughes brought to the classroom, and I now really feel that I have a strong grasp on what historical significance means, and why the Manhattan Project deserves that title.  Our project on this subject, made on book creator, was a big learning curve for me.  The style and setup of the project was like nothing I’ve ever done before.  Having to research, plan, design, write the book, conduct interviews, film videos, and take photographs was an exciting change of pace.

I feel in this project that I was at a slight disadvantage because of all the years of PLP learning I’ve missed, but it was an enjoyable challenge and I now feel more prepared for future projects involving design and this kind of management.  One of the main lessons I’ve learned this year so far is how much planning and time control goes into creating a product that you feel confidence in, in PLP.  There’s no time for slacking off and the work follows you home.  There’s no time that you couldn’t be spending on your project because it’s right there on your iPad.

Of course, next came the trip to Albuquerque.  One of the main things that the teachers impressed upon us was how important it was to do as much work as possible before we left on the trip.  That way, there wasn’t as much worry when we were there. I did the main design of the book, and most of the research beforehand, meaning that on the trip, I could enjoy myself, and focus more of my attention to learning new things.

DAY 1 – Oct 2

The first day was simple; we went to school for two classes, then home to get ready.  After that we all met at the airport and flew to Albuquerque with a three-hour layover in Seattle.  Getting back to the hotel, we split into our bedroom groups, and slept well but not long.

DAY 2 – Oct 3

At 5:00 AM we woke up to have breakfast and start the day.  This day was when we went to the Los Alamos Walking Tour, the Bradbury Science Museum, and the Bandelier National Monument.  The walking tour was extremely fascinating, teaching us the about the Pueblo people, the history of Los Alamos, and many more interesting subjects. Here, I conducted an interview with Aimee Slaughter, the tour guide.  I got some interesting insight from her but nothing useable for my project. Next we went to the Bradbury Science Museum where we watched two short movies, one on the history of the Manhattan Project, and one on how the bombs work.  I bought a hat here, which I really like.

Next was the most stunning part of the trip in my opinion even though we were very tired at this point, the Bandelier National Monument.  We hiked for hours through it seeing many (very old) man-made things, like “houses” which were small holes carved from the side of the soft rock, and circular pits with strategically places rocks and logs which were used for ceremonies. It was definitely not the place for someone with a fear of heights, but I loved it.

DAY 3 – Oct 4

This day we got to “sleep in” as we got to wake up at 8:00 AM.  This day we went to the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History where we did a workshop where we experimented with Geiger Counters, which I found very cool.  Our tour guide was called Terry, an awesome old man who was involved in the Manhattan Project back in the day.  He taught us all about the different kinds of bombs, and the history of some key figures in the project.  I conducted two interviews at the museum but both weren’t usable.

Next, we went to Meow Wolf. It’s hard to explain exactly what it was like, but it was an interactive, themed art exhibit based in a house that has portals and crazy colourful objects everywhere.  We had to try and find the hints about what happened in the house, but my friends and I forgot about that and just enjoyed the eccentric wonder.

DAY 4 – Oct 5

This day was when we went to the White Sands Missile Range.  It was a very interesting day, we got to see the real spot where it all happened, although we spent so much time there that I got tired and overheated. After we spent about five hours working on our stand-ups and interviews we went for lunch, then went to the National Radio Observatory VLA.  This was a very cool experience, as the VLA (very large array) is an extremely important device in astronomy, internationally speaking.

DAY 5 – Oct 6

This was the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta day.  We woke up at 3:00 AM, getting there before the sun rose to see the first balloons rise in the dark.  It was a really special day, like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  This day was probably the most fun, as it was unrelated to the project and planned just for our enjoyment.

So far, this year has been really informative and I feel that I’ve improved so much.  The teaching styles of the PLP teachers are different that what I’m used to, but getting used to it and catching up has been a good challenge for me.  The trip was so exciting; a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I’m so thankful that I got to go.  I can’t wait for the rest of the year!