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Help Us Make the Sierra Our School

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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby Jimr » Thu May 26, 2016 8:58 am

I think I'm going to start referring to them as "them thar hills", Y'all
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby Jimr » Thu May 26, 2016 9:49 am

When you start introducing algebra to the boys, you can have them create linear formulas to convert between Fahrenheit and Celsius and vice versa starting with a graphing of two known points, working through the point/slope formula and ending with a linear equation in the form y=Mx+B, then isolate for x. Have them take temp measurements in the field and convert to C.

Convert meters to feet and vice versa, dimensional analysis converting from one unit of measure to another based on the idea that anything multiplied by 1 is unchanged. Example, 1 Liter = 0.264 Gallons, therefore L/.264 Gal = 1 and .264 Gal/L = 1 so 6 Liters/1 x .264 Gal / Liters = 6 x .264 Gal = 1.58 Gal and the unit "Liter" cancels out of both numerator and denominator. All kinds of conversion fun.

Have them calculate the height of a tree using a 1ft length of 1/4" tubing as a surveyor scope.

Yeah, I like math.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby zacjust32 » Thu May 26, 2016 3:48 pm

zwoij wrote:
ERIC wrote: Lesson No. 1. It's "Sierra", never "Sierras". :p


When I speak Spanish, which I do regularly, I would only say Sierra. In English, it doesn't matter, except to the purists, who I am happy to annoy. :)

How about helping me teach my boys about the Sierras Nevadas Mountainses?


Give it a couple years until all the fuddy-duddys aren't a problem anymore. There's bigger fish to fry than a name. I think it's more important and worthwhile to introduce your kids to a love and appreciation of nature than strict linguistic rules.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby ERIC » Thu May 26, 2016 4:35 pm

Just checking in to make sure we're all talking about the same thing, here.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=sierra

Mark? :-k
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby Troutdog 59 » Fri May 27, 2016 1:08 pm

Now that's funny Eric!!! Some of the latter definitions are downright disturbing.

As to the original post, I commend you for wanting to teach and instill such values in your children.

As for the grammatical debate, sigh :rolleyes: . I'm a geologist and the topic was driven into our brains by our field instructors so I always say Sierra, but why is everyone given such a brow beating over it on this site??? How about just pointing it out without busting someone's chops (as the first response did)? Just saying!
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As it flows up from the ground, taking all that hear the sound, close your eyes, it’s about to begin.

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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby rlown » Fri May 27, 2016 4:51 pm

still agree with Mark. If you're teaching or doing scientific research, you need to be more precise in your words. Should be Sierra, or the Sierra Nevada. But.. there are worse parents/teachers out there who don't really care about the details. Details are everything if you want a (meaningful) job.

If your children find a Sierra topic of interest, You should look to see if they can attend either reviews or even meetings on a current topic to see what really happens. There is a lot of effort behind the scenes, but the interaction would be enlightening. They might not comprehend it at the time, but.. Politics are good as well.

I liked them thar hills.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri May 27, 2016 7:26 pm

Food! What surprised me about teaching at NOLS, is when we go course evaluations from students, the thing they liked the most and said they learned much, was ration planning and cooking. Eating is very basic. Really motivates people.

Have the kids do all the food planning. Learn nutritional value of food. Go shopping. Have a budget. How many calories do you need? How do other nutrients make you a stronger backpacker? Hydration. Why do we need all that water. Lots of math here. Then practice cooking. Cooking is chemistry-science. Food comes in a box - but how did it get in that box? Where does your food come from?

Hands on skills. Safety in handling hot pots. How to build a fire. What is a fire anyway? How does it produce heat.

Fishing! Lots of biology here. Disect a fish. Back to food - how much nutritional value in a fish. And food from the fish's perspective. Tie flies. Why to fish like certain insects vs others? Fishing rod. What is the physics of a cast?

Exercise physiology- how does your body work when you exercise? Why does altitude matter? How does food fit into all this?
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby zwoij » Fri May 27, 2016 11:31 pm

Jimr wrote:When you start introducing algebra to the boys, you can have them create linear formulas to convert between Fahrenheit and Celsius and vice versa starting with a graphing of two known points, working through the point/slope formula and ending with a linear equation in the form y=Mx+B, then isolate for x. Have them take temp measurements in the field and convert to C.

Convert meters to feet and vice versa, dimensional analysis converting from one unit of measure to another based on the idea that anything multiplied by 1 is unchanged. Example, 1 Liter = 0.264 Gallons, therefore L/.264 Gal = 1 and .264 Gal/L = 1 so 6 Liters/1 x .264 Gal / Liters = 6 x .264 Gal = 1.58 Gal and the unit "Liter" cancels out of both numerator and denominator. All kinds of conversion fun.

Have them calculate the height of a tree using a 1ft length of 1/4" tubing as a surveyor scope.

Yeah, I like math.



Excellent ideas. Just the kind of feedback I was hoping for.

I will have to brush up on my math quite a bit to be a good teacher! I went through calculus and enjoyed it but haven't used anything beyond the very basics of math in almost 20 years. Do you have an example of the orthographic profile you mentioned in your other response?

The trick is going to be finding topics that they will be truly interested in.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierras Our School

Postby zwoij » Fri May 27, 2016 11:42 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:Food! What surprised me about teaching at NOLS, is when we go course evaluations from students, the thing they liked the most and said they learned much, was ration planning and cooking. Eating is very basic. Really motivates people.

Have the kids do all the food planning. Learn nutritional value of food. Go shopping. Have a budget. How many calories do you need? How do other nutrients make you a stronger backpacker? Hydration. Why do we need all that water. Lots of math here. Then practice cooking. Cooking is chemistry-science. Food comes in a box - but how did it get in that box? Where does your food come from?

Hands on skills. Safety in handling hot pots. How to build a fire. What is a fire anyway? How does it produce heat.

Fishing! Lots of biology here. Disect a fish. Back to food - how much nutritional value in a fish. And food from the fish's perspective. Tie flies. Why to fish like certain insects vs others? Fishing rod. What is the physics of a cast?

Exercise physiology- how does your body work when you exercise? Why does altitude matter? How does food fit into all this?



Great ideas. They will definitely help with planning and shopping. One of the important ways to get them to enjoy backpacking is to eat great food, so the whole thing feels like treat. Roughing it will come when with the weather.

I like the physics of casting idea. I already have more than we can do in three days. I'll start simple and add from there. I'm planning to make a pot cozy and we can do some experiments to perhaps figure by some experiments and measurements whether it's worth its weight. But they would have to have an interest in this, which is more likely to come after enjoying the trip. Goal #1 is still to get them to love backpacking.

Now I'm wondering what courses any of you may know of (or teach) in the Sierra? (See I didn't use the plural. So I must be referring to a woman, right ERIC?).
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierra Our School

Postby Hobbes » Sat May 28, 2016 8:15 am

I was wondering why this thread was so active. Finally, out of curiosity I take a peek; and there it is, fireworks.

I think one of the major components of a well rounded education is not only learning about, but gaining an insight & appreciation for different cultures. And there are many, too numerous to list: geographic regions, political organizations, social groups, sporting activities, et al. You name it, and a group exists that abides by certain codes of conduct, behavior standards, language cues, manner of dress, etc.

The challenge for the outsider - whomever that may be - is whether or not they want to adapt, adopt & blend in in order to enhance their personal experience, or loudly & adamantly announce their "other" status. To compound the issue, while any decision is ultimately fine (there are plenty of non-conformists who insist on going against the grain), you are also committing your wards to the same category.

Try this thought exercise: think of the Sierra as visiting France. Do you want to be the brazen American tourist rudely demanding to be served in English? Or, would you rather spend some time researching & studying important native phrases? Because - at least in my experience - it doesn't matter if you completely hack it up, as long as some effort is made.

Regardless of culture, people universally tend to be friendly, open & willing to help, and don't mind as long you try. Once you've gained a measure of approval - by their standards - you've taken the first steps toward inclusion. In the case of the French, they love to practice their English, and are dying to test it out with a native speaker. But they will never let their guard down until you make the initial effort with some pitiable, tortured French.

Insisting that something/anything doesn't matter, when it obviously does (otherwise it wouldn't have been brought up), or criticizing people who initially raised the issue, is a sure fire way to have a poor experience.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierra Our School

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat May 28, 2016 11:51 am

Along with the line of cultural awareness, is interpersonal actions and social skills. At NOLS we called this "expedition behavior". In fact this factor is one big reason that NASA has sent its astronauts to NOLS courses, because they teach techniques on getting along with people in isolated situations and tight quarters, as well as maintaining the group cohesivness. I have taught their "Junior" courses, specifically designed for 13-15 year olds. The courses were 30 days long so you HAD to get along! Resolving disputes, not being a bore (limiting chatter about self, religion and politics goes a long ways in hanging out with a small group of people for 30 days!). Doing your fair share of the work. Sharing. We would re-distribute food when running low, which really made them mad, until we convinced them that as a group, nobody was going anywhere fast, if one or two were weak from running out of food, even if it was their own fault that they ran out of food; for example spilling their dinner with horseplay. Same with pack weight. Everyone has a bad day. The strong were given some weight from the ones who had a bad day so we could all maintain an good pace. Impulse control- think a minute before criticizing another; is it important enough and will it have a negative impact on the group? There usually was reciprocity later when the strong also had a bad day. Personal hygiene- who wants to eat breakfast across someone with bad breath and an unwashed face? Well, with boys, maybe not. Maybe they are past the age of "lets be gross" :D . Having 6 and 8 year old grandsons, I can see that with brothers, social skills may be more difficult than with a group of unrelated kids, if sibling squabbling is rampant.

As for "school" lessons from expedition behavior, this could then be an opening to discuss how nations solve differences, help each other, and historically, does this make a more robust society?

One tends to think of school as academic. But, as my school teacher daughter reminds me, a lot of it is teaching the social skills that allow kids to learn in a group. In fact, in the early grades, that is a major part of school.
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Re: Help Us Make the Sierra Our School

Postby Tom_H » Sat May 28, 2016 3:43 pm

Science and Math:

-Biology: biomes, ecosystems

-Meteorology and climatology

-Geology: At Devil's Post Pile you can see how basalt forms from high density lava, cooling into vertical hexagonal columns. You can compare some basalt and granite which form from the same minerals; both are Igneous, but basalt is extrusive-cooling quickly with not enough time for minerals to crystalize, while granite is intrusive-cooling slowly with enough time for differing minerals to migrate to each other and form macroscopic crystals. You can examine granite plutons and learn about magma chambers. Examine the hard plutonic granite in comparison to the softer crumbly granite around it. Go to Nevada Point Trail and examine the radical diversity in geological strata from the top to the bottom where the Rubicon has cut into the deep granite. Examine the veins of quartz there that are several feet thick. Learn how the formation of the Sierra induced a quasi-metamorphosis in the granite, allowing these large veins of quarts to consolidate themselves as well as for gold to consolidate within the quartz veins. Go to Malakoff Diggins and learn how ancient stream beds left placer gold in ribbons along ridges after erosion cut rivers to new depths. Examine the damage done by hydraulic mining. Go to Summit Creek in Emigrant Wilderness and examine how the hard plutonic granite on the south side of the stream contrasts with volcanic pumice and ash on the north side of the stream. Examine the soil in flat meadows in Sierra valleys; these are actually ancient lakes which eutrophicated through sedimentation and became those flat meadows. Examine Shadow Lake on Meeks Creek in Desolation which is in the last stages of eutrophication, no longer a lake, but a small marsh, on its way to becoming a meadow. There are similar ponds that are almost meadows just below Susie Lake in Desolation. In Sierra riverbeds, compare stones that are pure basalt with metamorphic stones where liquid quartz forced its way up through re-submerged basalt, leaving perfectly planar fins in some rock and bizarrely twisted veins in others.

Medicine and physiology-buy the manual from NOLS on wilderness medicine. You will learn a lot about human physiology and how strenuous exercise at altitude in the Sierra affects it.

Astronomy-there is nothing like an open view of the sky with no light pollution while at 10-14k' MSL. Go during a meteor shower season; The Perseid Meteor Showers will be August 12 and 13. Also do a little physics-basic orbital mechanics in particular. Discuss how the satellites you see can stay in orbit. Notice that most satellites in LEO (low earth orbit) fly west to east to take advantage of the initial velocity of Earth's rotation. Contrast that with the fewer spy satellites you see (launched from Vanderberg AFB-if they are ours) which pass over every location on Earth every 12 hours due to their orbital direction combined with planetary rotation.

Psychology-Wandering Daisy touched on team building. In our outfit me used to say The masks come off during the strenuous demands and close proximity of wilderness hiking. We used to have rap session every night and discuss interpersonal topics.

Orienteering-throw away technology. Learn to navigate using map, compass, the sun, the stars, and instinct.

Hydrology-learn how to read a long section of a dry stream bed and determine where water can be found as the bed cascades downslope.

Trigonometry-keep a log of sunrise, sunset, and high point of the sun each day. Take measurements of the compass heading of each. Create a graph that demonstrates the sinusoidal wave of the change in day length. Examine the logarithmic rates of increase and decrease.
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