The Ashley Bryan School

The Ashley Bryan School
Serving Children in Grades K-8 from the Cranberry Isles

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Owls are Coming!

No, Chewonki is not a fictitious planet far, far away.  It is a sanctuary and treatment center for injured wild animals, also an education center where people can learn about wildlife and the environment.  Some of their educational programs travel, and that is how we were able to arrange for a visit from some very regal and wise looking live owls--all Maine residents.  These owls have been injured, and they can no longer survive in the wild.  So they live at Chewonki and travel to schools!

Screech owl (weighs less than a hershey bar!)
Barred Owl (has black eyes!)

You may ask:  Why is every person at the Ashley Bryan  School so fascinated with owls?   Every day, before lunch, we snuggle up with pillows and sketch pads and are immersed in the fictitious owl world of "The Guardians of Ga'Hoole", by Katherine Lasky.  We've been captivated by the story, and well, actually quite obsessed with owls since we've been reading it!  Hence, the excitement had been mounting for weeks, as Friday, November 15 approached when the owls are coming!

Our Friday visitors were accompanied by Emma Balazes, an amazing explainer of all things related to owls.  Before she came, the students brainstormed questions about owls, that they hoped would be answered for them during Emma's presentation.  Many questions came from owl behaviors they had learned about in the book.  For example, "What is the correct term for when an owl 'yarps' a pellet"?    (Answer:  In real life, owls "cough up" pellets, also called "casting a pellet".)

As soon as she arrived, Emma set up a complete museum display in our classroom with lots of photos, samples of real owl feathers, wings, skulls, talons and more.

The largest owl Emma brought to show us was a Great Horned owl.  Here are some facts we learned about this beautiful giant:
  • Its “horned” feathers are not ears
  • Its hooked beak acts as fork and knife to eat
  • It's facial disc (mask) helps the owl hear better by directing sound with the feathers
  • Its big eyes can see in the dark (nocturnal)
  • It uses its sharp talons to catch prey
  • It has barbed feathers (like a comb) that make its night flights absolutely silent
Great Horned Owl
After the presentation, we had a chance to dissect real owl pellets!  Emma told us that most owls will swallow prey whole, but if the prey is too big, they’ll rip it up into big chunks.  Owls can't digest bones and fur, so they cough up a pellet 8-18 hours after eating.  Our job, as scientists, was to separate all the bones from the fur and other stuff in the pellet, examine the bones, and figure out what small animal that owl had eaten for its meal.

Definitely a rodent skull
We were so sad to see the owls leave.  Thank you Emma, and thank you Chewonki for your amazing work saving and teaching about these beautiful animals!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Simple Circuits

The question was: What is needed to light a bulb?  Each team had a D-Cell, two wires and a small light bulb.  They had to figure out how to make the bulb light up. 

It was not long before the teams were making their bulbs light! 

Can we find more ways to light the bulb?

Finally, it was time to write about what we learned in our Science notebooks.  We love Science!

Ellen Bryan Obed

We had a very special guest visit the Ashley Bryan School: Maine Author, Ellen Bryan Obed!  She came to our school to share her books, especially one book--Partridgeberry, Redberry, Tyttebaer, Too!

"Partridgeberry, Redberry, Tyttebaer, Too gives a 'multicultural glimpse of family anecdotes' about a favorite northern berry. A compilation of letters, artwork, photos, and recipes from children around the world, the book celebrates the berry known as the highland cranberry of Maine, the lingon of Sweden, the tyttebaer of Norway, the partridgeberry of Newfoundland, the Preiselbeere of Switzerland, and the kokemomo of Japan."--Maine Authors Publishing

She wanted to share this book with us because next year she will be publishing a new edition of the book and she wants us to help with it!  She wants us to find out as much as we can about the highland cranberry found here on the Cranberry Isles, draw pictures of the berry and write about the berry.  Then she will take our drawings and writings and include them on a new page in the next edition of the book!  We are very excited to be published! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Learning Civics: Finale!

Since the beginning of the school year, the students have been learning about citizenship, rights, responsibilities and government by creating their own society.  They named their society Mucho Fabuloso and today they finished their official work. 

These two worked on the Bill of Rights for Mucho Fabuloso. 

This piece of art work captures the values of Mucho Fabuloso.

Most of this project was created by these four kiddos. 
These two worked on the laws of Mucho Fabuloso.  They wrote the laws based on the rights and responsibilities of the citizens of Mucho Fabuloso, which were developed by the group after determining the society's values.  The whole group voted on each law. 

What did the students learn about citizenship, government, rights and responsibilities?  Here's what they had to say:
  • I learned how to work better together, how to cooperate and be nice.
  • I learned about the Bill of Rights and the amendments that make the Bill of Rights like Freedom of Speech. 
  • I learned that being with others and making this project together is really more beautiful than it would be by yourself.  The projects were so much better because we did them together. 
  • I learned what cleanliness means. 
  • We worked as a team.
  • We practiced leadership.
  • I learned that government is important, but sometimes it has to wait until everyone cooperates and leads, and figures out how to lead without being a monarchy.  
  • Government is so awesome because it lets people do what they want sometimes.
  • Citizens are really important and not many rights can be taken away. 
We look forward to sharing this project with the whole community during our winter open house in January!

TLC Fall Field Trip!

Because we needed to use up a couple of hours between when the boat delivered us to Northeast Harbor and when the field trip began at Camp Jordan, our fall TLC field trip began with a morning trip to Homewood Farm!  We explored a corn maze!

And went on a hayride!

We saw pigs, chickens, ducks and cows.  We fed the animals our corn cobs.

When we arrived at Camp Jordan we met all of our TLC friends and began our first activity.  Energy for Maine Education worked with students in grades K-3 on a project about solar power. 

Then the older students learned about wind power by designing their own wind turbine blades. 

They tested their blades to see how much power they could generate.

That night we had a fabulous Halloween party!  All of the students and teachers got into costumes for a costume parade and dance party,  followed by snacks and cake (of course)!

The next day we all traveled on a school bus to Bangor.  There we went to the Maine Discovery Museum and had way too much fun!

After exploring the museum we learned about chemistry by making bubble gum!

The fun did not end there!  We also visited the Cole Transportation Museum, went on a ghostly tour of Bangor and played tons and tons of games together!  To read more about our fall field trip, check out the TLC blog!  We love TLC field trips!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Learning Civics, Part III

Work on Mucho Fabuloso continues.  Since developing the values for Mucho Fabuloso, the students began to work on a Bill of Rights, a book of laws and a mural depicting the values of the town.  Work is nearly complete! 

These students worked on building their buildings in Mucho Fabuloso.

These students developed and created the art work for Mucho Fabuloso.

These students worked on developing the Bill of Rights for Mucho Fabuloso. 

This was their first draft of their Bill of Rights.  Just wait until you see their final work!  The students studied the United States Bill of Rights to help them....  It's nearly complete now!
This student worked on writing the laws of Mucho Fabuloso.
We hope to unveil the final work of Mucho Fabuloso this week, so stay tuned!