Teacher Corps II

Thursday morning, day four of the workshop, opened with a focus on captivating students’ attention. No attention, no learning. Rather than say this up front, however, the concept was made concrete by putting a teacher, supported by two other teachers, on a RipStik caster board.

With a teacher standing on the board, the difference between dynamic and static stability was explained. Having a teacher being held up on the unstable, stationary board, focused the attention of at least the teacher on the board, if not the class.

With the definition illustrated, the concept was extended to climate change. If the global climate is essentially statically stable, then small perturbations in that system should engender nothing more than small, fairly stable changes in the global climate. If the global climate system is only dynamically stable, then small changes may have unexpected effects including potentially large changes as described in runaway climate change scenarios.

Following this presentation, the instructor used the RipStik to introduce waves. The RipStik leaves behind a distinctive wave on the paper. The wave form provides an opportunity to introduce terminology such as crest, trough, wavelength, and amplitude. The RipStik also makes concrete frequency as being the number of “wiggles” per second.

Dana on a RipStik laying down a waveform
Dana on a RipStik laying down a waveform

Rapid wiggling generates a high frequency (big), short wavelength (small). Slow wiggling generates a low freqency (small),  long wavelength (big). Thus the caster board well demonstrates the inverse relationship between wavelength and frequency that is seen in many systems.

Best of all, for the caster board the wave speed (frequency times wavelength) is exactly the linear board speed.

Images of the tracks with labeled features were illustrated in an article written by the workshop lead in October 2011. The activity is used in conjunction with a unit on waves in physical science.

The board ridden on paper on concrete provides a way to bring wave phenomenon down into earlier grades below the high school level. The boards do cost money, and one has to either ride the board or have a rider, yet there are a fair number of young riders even here on Pohnpei and thus it might be an option for a teacher. Simply have the student ride their board across the paper.

Inside the classroom transverse waves on a length of chain and longitudinal waves in a Slinky spring were demonstrated.

Following the Thursday morning break, the 10:00 session started with geometric math standard 2.31 recognize common shapes. But in a twist on standard 2.8.1, all shapes were constructed using only a length of string as a compass and a meter stick from the forest. The meter sticks had been built on Monday. Constructions based on these limitations are well covered by Zef Damen.

Constructions started with a circle and moved on to equilateral triangles, hexagons, squares, and finally a pentagon. The proof of the Pythagorean theorem was also presented, along with proof of the irrationality of the square root of two. This last fact was problematic for the Pythagoreans and their math system that effectively postulated all one needs to do mathematics are “marbles and pompoms“, along with ratios of marbles and pompoms.

Rustem analyzes acids and bases, Trevor on the right
Rustem analyzes acids and bases, Trevor on the right

In the background above the pentagon/pentagram construction can be glimpsed, on the far right is part of the Pythagorean proof.

The square root of two is not, however, expressable in the Al Mat marbular system, much to the consternation of the Pythagoreans. Thousands of years later Cantor would show that the infinity of irrational numbers is a higher order infinity than that of integers.

By the end of the session the class had moved up from 2.3.1 recognize common shapes and 2.4.1 identify and classify shapes up past 2.8.1 construcitons, 2.8.4 Pythagorean theorem,  1.8.3 square roots, and on into a presentation on the proof of the irrationality of the square root of two.

After the lunch break the class spent a half an hour in the computer laboratory were a fourier sound applet was demonstrated. The applet showed the connection between wavelength and frequency for sound waves, along with a graphical representation of a sound wave.

Then the teacher moved downstairs to engage in a laboratory using floral litmus solutions to detect acids and bases. This was based directly on physical science laboratory thirteen.

Yasko with acid, base, and neutral detection
Yasko with acid, base, and neutral detection

The session served science standards Sci 1.hs.1 and the Sc hs benchmark chemistry bullet item number eighteen, the study of acids, bases and salts.

Benskin with test tubes

The laboratory also demonstrated the use of minimal glassware and locally available materials including common household chemicals in a chemistry experiment.

Cheryl tests a floral litmus solution against a known base
Cheryl tests a floral litmus solution against a known base

In the final session of the day which began at 3:00 in the afternoon, the teachers returned to the computer laboratory where science outcomes 3.4.2, 3.5.2, El Niño, La Niña, tropical storm formation, and climatic patterns were presented using presentations put together by Chip Guard of the National Weather Service on Guam. The instructor owes a deep debt of thanks to Chip Guard and the NWS for sharing those presentations.

Friday morning began with a discovery learning session using batteries and bulbs. This particular exercise derives from physical science laboratory 12 and served FSM science learning outcome 2.8.7. A Pohnpei Utility Corporation bill was also worked.

Lorleen measures Deffeny
Lorleen measures Deffeny

Following this session, the class determined their FiboBelly ratio, an exercise selected from a series of exercises centered on numeric patterns including the Fibonacci sequence.

Yasko measures Benskin
Yasko measures Benskin

This exercise is often done in conjunction with Fibonacci factors and Pigonacci. Pigonacci includes the connection between the Fibonacci numbers and Pascal’s triangle.

FiboBelly ratios on the white board
FiboBelly ratios on the white board

The final white board with the teachers’ Fibobelly ratios.

After the morning sessions the teachers prepared workshop evaluations and assessment. Some of the teachers chose to work in the computer laboratory.

A204 Computer laboratory
A204 Computer laboratory

The workshop wrapped up on Friday the 23rd of December with a pizza luncheon and certificates of completion for all participants.

As an addendum to the Thursday afternoon presentation, the following is an account of the damage done by typhoon Lola in November 1957 held in the Pacific Digital Library.

Typhoon Lola Pays A Call

A most unladylike intruder by the name of Lola paid a call upon the Trust Territory in mid-November 1957.

Lola was a typhoon of major proportions. Sweeping along like a bulldozing
broom, she smashed down valuable breadfruit and coconut trees, submerged crops, wrecked homes and generally produced havoc as she rolled on from the Marshalls through Ponape, Truk, Guam, and up to

The typhoon which caused more over-all damage than any previously recorded within the territory, brought no loss of life and no major bodily injuries as far as is known, although many times tragedy knocked hard and close. In the face of danger, numerous spontaneous acts of valor came to the fore.

Lola entered Ponape District on November 12, leaving havoc, destruction and debris as she whirled on her way. Not for fifty years had Ponape had a typhoon. It was generally considered to be out of the typhoon path. But reports from atolls and islands throughout the area repeated the story of coconut and breadfruit trees destroyed, and of food shortage imminent after the windfall of nuts on the ground would have been made into copra or consumed for food, and the breadfruit eaten.

Kolonia, the Ponape District center, was in the direct path of the storm, as were the islands immediately around it. Knowing that the typhoon was coming, the people of Kolonia took shelter in the hospital building and warehouse, District Administration office, Intermediate School, agriculture station, and in churches and other buildings of the religious missions. For
some 250 or more storm refugees in these shelters, C-rations (individual canned foods), rice and sugar were issued by the Administration, also small quantities of kerosene to provide fuel for the ranges on which people prepared hot food and beverages.

The damage to buildings and utilities at Kolonia was considerable. Destroyed were the temporary warehouses and carpenter shed on the site of the new Pacific Islands Central School, and ruined was all of the
bagged cement therein, a total loss representing some five thousand dollars.
Ponape’s power and telephone systems were heavily hit by falling trees; roads were eroded, and bridges and culverts damaged, with a loss of approximately thirty-three thousand dollars in government property alone.

In addition to buildings damaged and public works systems affected, four vessels went aground in the bay – all privately owned. These were the LUCKY, the CULVER, the MARU, and the ASCOY. All except the first were expected to be refloated. The LUCKY, which was directly hit and forced high onto the reef, was not thought to be salvable.

Cacao pod production in Ponape was reduced by at least fifty per cent by the typhoon, according to estimates, and copra production here also is diminishing as a result of the high winds which blew immature nuts to the ground, or weakened them so that they began falling off before


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