Duke Ellington Orchestra

All Hail the Engineer

engineer pocket 3

PROTOTYPE – Prototype, prototype, prototype (vocab).

aerospace – biomedical – chemical – mechanical – electrical – civil
geomatics (that was a new one for us) – computer – environmental – industrial

No matter what type of engineering we are learning about, we keep coming across the word PROTOTYPE.  We’ve talked about how a prototype for an engineer is like a rough draft for a writer and we’ve read about MANY successful engineering projects that needed prototype after prototype after prototype to test theories and refine specifics.

erie canal map

You had us at “America’s First Great Public Works Project” (we LOVE knowing stuff like this) – So what was America’s first public works project?  My son knows, and now I know: THE ERIE CANAL. (Previous to our study, I thought the Erie Canal was in Pennsylvania. PITIFUL.)  We learned that this engineering triumph was first imagined in 1807, completed in 1825, and stretched 363 miles from Albany NY to Buffalo NY.  Our A+ resource:  Martha E. Kendall’s “The Erie Canal”, which delivers organized and surprisingly interesting facts regarding –
*canal politics (ugh)
*engineering –  the trench,  the 83 locks
*the labor force (primarily Irish immigrants)
*financing
*the resulting commerce
*canal maintenance

We wrapped up our Erie Canal study by listening to Thomas S. Allen’s all-the-rage-of-the-early-1900’sLow Bridge, Everybody Down”.  And what was the deal with the low bridges?  My son and I learned that bridges were built for farmers whose land was crossed by the canal.  Due to budget (vocab) constraints, the almost-300 bridges were built small and low – which was not a problem for the farmers, but was a huge deal for people sitting atop the canal boats.  Plop.

More engineering?  We are reading “Mr. Ferris and His Wheel” by Kathryn Gibbs Davis.  It’s about the super skilled and fabulously imaginative engineer, George Ferris, creator of the dazzling showpiece of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.  His inspirations – the water wheel and the bicycle wheel.

ferris wheel

And even more engineering?  We can’t escape it.  For our fiction selection, we are revisiting for the third time, “Cheaper By the Dozen”, Frank B. Gilbreth, Jr’s and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey’s adorably hysterical remembrance of their over-the-top father (we had forgotten that father AND mother were internationally recognized industrial engineers).

french friesfrench friesfrench fries

Prototypes at Le Fictitious Local Diner (story problem) – The diner is trying out some new ways with french fries and presented 3 prototypes to Ms. Martinovich’s first grade class (a rambunctious group of 20, known for their pickiness).  Here are the results (the students could vote more than once):
– 4 liked “fries with fried pickles”
– 15 liked “fries with maple-BBQ sauce”
– 10 liked “fries with onion dip”
What percentage of Ms. Martinovich’s class liked each of the prototypes? (answers at bottom of post)

Music for engineers (this time, locomotive engineers) –

train engineer

  • Take the “A” Train” – signature tune of the Duke Ellington Orchestra, composed by Billy Strayhorn in 1931.  Would you just look at the toe tapping in this vid clip:

  • The Little Train of the Caipira” – composed in 1934 by Heitor Villa-Lobos. My son has chosen to listen to this piece at least twice a month for the past 6 years (it is THAT interesting). A simply superb performance by the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain’s Main Orchestra.  Wow:

  • Orange Blossom Special” – this piece of Americana is considered to be the fiddle players’ national anthem. Composed in 1938 by Ervin and Gordon Rouse:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(Story Problem answers: fried pickles – 20%, maple-BBQ sauce – 75%, onion dip – 50%)

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Salient?

state-map

Salients and Peninsulas – We are a fifth of the way through our “Where is That?” states-in-the-USA activity, and my son is learning more than just the location of the states.  Two nights ago we learned about salients – and SURPRISE, we have lived in three of nine salient states:  Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, West Virginia, Connecticut, Idaho, Nebraska, Maryland, and Alaska.  We learned that SALIENT is the correct geographical term for a PANHANDLE (side learning excursion – I had to show my son a real pan handle).  We learned that a panhandle is surrounded by land, and a peninsula (where Big Peaches – star grandmother – lives) is surrounded by water.  We also considered the customary definition of salient (meaning “most important”, “most noticeable”) (vocab).  And my son also learned that panhandling (vocab) has nothing to do with pans or geography.

pans

Story Problem from Le Fictitious Local Diner – speaking of panhandles, the diner management team decided it is time to replace all frying pans.  The chefs are delighted!  8 small-sized skillets are to be ordered at a cost of $25 each, and 8 larger fry pans are to be ordered at a cost of $75 each.  How much will the diner spend for shipping (if shipping is 15% of the total order)?
A. $25      B. $80      C. $120      D. $200 (answer at bottom of post)

History is coming alive – Yay! Candace Fleming’s “Presenting Buffalo Bill – The Man who Invented the Wild West” has us on the edge of our seats.  We are currently reading about Will Cody’s pre-teen years in the Kansas territory, where his family was caught in the territory’s “slavery/no slavery” struggle (a shameful blot on the pages of American history – teams of pro-slavery thugs from Missouri terrorized homesteaders who did not want Kansas to be a slavery state).  As Will’s father was an object of death threats from the pro-slavery faction, and was often out of state, in hiding, a very young Will Cody had to provide the primary financial support for his large family.   Working for a shipping company that delivered goods to military posts in Colorado and Utah, Will had his full share of wild west adventures (stampedes, shoot-outs, starvation).  What’s going to happen next???

better-tokyo-sculpture           better-blue-brushtstroke

Roy Lichtenstein – two take-aways from Susan Goldman Rubin’s excellent book, “Whaam! The Art and Life of Roy Lichtenstein”:

1)  What is a win-win situation?  How about when a corporation commissions (vocab) artwork that will be accessible to the general public?  We love Lichtenstein’s sculpture, “Tokyo Brushstroke II” commissioned by an architectural firm in Japan, and the crazy-gigantic-five-stories high mural, “Blue Brushstroke” commissioned by The Equitable Life Assurance Society in Manhattan.  The win-win?
– thousands and thousands and thousands of people get to enjoy the artwork
– excellent PR (vocab) for the corporation
– the artist gets paid!
2)  We are never too old to try something new:  Roy Lichtenstein learned to play the saxophone in his mid 60’s! OF COURSE, we were enthusiastic about devoting an evening to a sampling of saxophone sounds:

  • Harlem Nocturne, composed by Earle Hagen and Dick Rogers in 1939, played to perfection by the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The saxophone brings the sultry:

  • The Pink Panther Theme, composed by Henri Mancini in 1963.  This is OLD footage, with Henry Mancini conducting.  The saxophone brings the relentlessly sneaky:

  • The Prologue to West Side Story, composed by Leonard Bernstein for the 1957 Broadway production. The saxophone doesn’t take center stage in this piece, but does set the tone for a collage of NYC sounds and rhythms:

Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
(story problem answer:  C. $120)

Zootique

Animals all over the place – this week, all of our current reading seems to be focused upon les animaux.

animal books

First – the stunning “Animalium” by Katie Scott and Jenny Broom. The idea here is that the reader is walking through a natural history museum learning bits and pieces about biodiversity (vocab). Information is clearly presented, illustrations are sensational, and my son and I look forward to opening this book every night.  BTW, our favorite animal phylum so far?  Cephalopods (vocab).  Each member of this group is so very weird.

Then“This Side of Wild”, a new book by Gary Paulson, a favorite author of ours.  We have read his “Hatchet” many times, and the follow-up stories, “The River” and “Brian’s Winter”.  This book is autobiographical (vocab), with Mr. Paulson writing about his relationships with several animals.  Side note: due to something Mr. Paulson had written, we were provoked to view a youtube video demonstrating how to use “anti-bear” spray. Yikes. (More zigzag learning. LOVE it!) (and this video is surprisingly excellent).

Finally – we are are working our way through Ogden Nash’s book of poems, “Zoo”.  Each of his funny, astute (vocab) poems seems to need an explanation, so each becomes a conversation starter.  This book is delicious.

alphabet in chalk

Language Arts Class is now in session

– A few nights ago, my son and I used “Mad Libs” to work on parts of speech.  I don’t think my son saw this as a tremendously hilarious activity, but it was a passable diversion.

– As for even more new vocabulary – so many concept pairings from our animal unit: Matriarch/Patriarch, Predator/Prey, Carnivore/Herbivore, Bones/Cartilage

laminating machine

New menus at Le Fictitious Local Diner!  We worked our way through a really involved story problem last night: the diner is printing up new menus and they can’t decide whether to pay to have the menus laminated or to purchase a laminator and do the job themselves.  A laminator can be purchased for $200, and a package of 100 plastic “pouches” costs $55.  It takes 30 seconds to run one menu through the machine. So:

1) if the diner wants to laminate 200 menus, how long will it take?

2) if a junior employee is paid $10 an hour, how much will be spent on the labor of running the menus through the laminator?

3) how much will the diner spend at the office supply store with the purchase of the laminating machine and the pouches?

4) how much will the diner spend on supplies and labor to laminate 200 menus?

5) if the local print shop will laminate the menus for 85 cents each, is it more cost effective for the diner to pay the print shop to do the laminating?

batowlraccoon

Music!  Inspired by the nocturnal (vocab) animals we’ve been reading about, we decided to find out what musical “Nocturnes” were all about. After listening to a few, we decided that a nocturne might be described as a mature version of a lullaby.  Then, I gave my son a list of events that might or might not be enhanced by a nocturne as background music…on the “NOT” list: a birthday party, on the “YES” list: many Robert Frost poems, like one of our favorites, “Good Hours” (which we reread).

  • “Nocturne No. 2” by Frederic Chopin, composed in 1832.  We learned that Chopin is considered the go-to composer for nocturnes, having completed 21 polished works.  No. 2 might be the most famous of all nocturnes and is used in SO many movies.

  • “Nocturne No. 3”, (also known as “Liebestraum”) (Love Dream) was composed by Franz Liszt in 1850.  This nocturne is neck and neck with Chopin’s No. 2 for nocturne popularity.

Yes, yes, yes, both quite reflective and beautiful, but then we played “Harlem Nocturne” and WELL, we were overwhelmed!  WOW.  Had to listen to it two more times in a row.

  • “Harlem Nocturne”, composed by Earle Hagen in 1939. Lush and SULTRY (vocab).  This is the music used for Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer (hard-boiled detective) TV series.  (I deemed it unnecessarily confusing to explain “hard-boiled detective”).  We listened to this recording by the Duke Ellington Orchestra and it is PERFECTION.  My, oh my.

Welcome to the best part of my day!

– Jane BH