Sometimes one forgets that you don’t always have to look to Colorado for illuminating excursions. There are, for example, a bunch of exciting events held at the Wyoming State Museum downtown on Central Ave. In addition to supremely exciting events (like this one — Folger Library’s First Folios on Tour!) and great geocache opportunities (with a gift shop reward for a clever find), the Museum hosts special presentations each month. With the end of the quarter/semester looming, you might be looking for Extra Credit opportunities, and here’s an interesting one for you.
It’s “Wyoming Dinosaur Discoveries: Where Did the Dinosaurs Go?”, this Thursday the 14th at 7pm. Per the Museum’s site:
Wyoming is home to some of the world’s most famous dinosaur fossils. Since the first discovery in 1872, dinosaurs have been excavated, placed on railcars or loaded into trucks, and shipped throughout the world. It was not until 1961 that a dinosaur from Wyoming was mounted and placed on display within the state. Join Jessica Lippincott, Director of the Big Horn Basin Foundation, to learn about the past 150 years of dinosaur discoveries in Wyoming and where those dinosaurs are now.
You could pair this lecture with Bone Sharps, Cowboys, and Thunder Lizards, a 2005 graphic novelby Jim Ottaviani and Big Time Attic (available in our school library) that details the Bone Wars that brought paleontologists to Wyoming. Or, while there, you can marvel at the now-legendary license plate boot out front, a painted boot featuring the fine brush strokes of a once-local student from way back when who likes to humblebrag in extra credit offers. See me for more info, and get digging! That saddle-bearing triceratops isn’t going to clone itself.
This incredible novel is available in the school library again, but I expect it will be checked out soon! How I managed to grab it for a quick reread is an unfathomable mystery, but a happy opportunity for me to revisit Jandy Nelson’s second book. Nelson is an incredible talent, and well-deserving of the praise she, and this imaginative, artistic novel, have received. This is a young adult book in terms of characters and setting, but the language and conviction are definitely skewed for older, retrospective readers.
Jude and Noah are twins, and each tells half of the story in this novel. Noah’s story describes age 13, when each sibling begins branching out and staking a claim – for art, for romance, for themselves. Jude’s story is set three years later, and by age 16 both twins have seen their worlds dramatically change. They’re barely speaking, but somewhere in the space between them are the answers and truths to bridge their fractured universes. A good novel convinces you to like the protagonists. In reading this novel – no exaggeration! – I fell in love with the characters. Nelson captures the voices and personalities of these people so well that it feels like the high school story you never had, but would have jumped for without another thought.
In addition to the characterization and powerful themes, this novel has electric language. The figurative voice – invisible museums and kaleidoscopic connections – is in the upper echelon of great writers. It’s John Green on hyperdrive, soaked in Neruda and Whitman. That said, Nelson is of her own, and you will undoubtedly fall hard for her, Noah, and Jude (especially Jude). Get ahead of the cultural momentum and read this book before it explodes onto the scene!
It certainly has been a busy month, and I think we are all looking forward to the well-deserved break. Before we go, however, I’ve got an opportunity to be not-so-secret Santa to one or two good boys or girls who check out the class website! It is the holidays after all, and one of the best presents was Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
In my possession are two different t-shirts (sized large) that I’m gonna give to the first two students who find the Golden Ticket. “The Golden Ticket?!” – you may well ask. It looks like this:
It is hidden in one of the previous posts (from Halloween on, let’s say). Using your mouse and some keen detective skills, you can find the magic stub! Follow the directions that show up with it, and you’re on your way to the best-styled Christmas this side of the galaxy.
I’m trying to keep this site focused on cool class content and notices, and I certainly don’t want to come across as a braggart here. Enough people, however, have asked me about my Golden Apple Award that I figured I would put it up for those interested. You should definitely check out all of the amazing educators who make a difference in our community at http://www.kgwn.tv/station/misc/Golden-Apple-Winners-248244001.html, but here is the video of one schmuck who snuck in. Special thanks and credit to all of 7th Hour seniors who provided such nice bribes thoughts, as well as the wonderful wife who helps me get tech-y with videos and nonesuch.
“The Game is Afoot!” – as you will be reminded every ten minutes or so in your exploration of the latest traveling exhibit to hit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I had the privilege to visit on Halloween this year, and will do my best to sell this experience briefly and with only the facts. It’s the sequel to Power of Poison, with an added, overt literary connection. What’s more, this exhibit also is quite hands-on, with enough diversity for any visitor. So read on, dear traveler, for the evidence of a great adventure and fabulous rewards with Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary detective!
This is a ticketed exhibit, meaning there is an extra fee besides admission as well as a certain time-slot you are to attend within. Taking up a sprawling space within this incredible building, the Sherlock Holmes exhibit is cross-curricular, diabolical delight. Literary history and influence, forensics and the influential experiments of Victorian science, pop culture studies, and hands-on experimentation are all wrapped up in good, old-fashioned mystery. Each guest gets a notebook to record their observations, learning more about the culture and social strata of Victorian London along the way. The notebook itself is packed with clues and winking allusions to the great detective.
The first section is literary, filled with interesting artifacts and media covering inspiration and influence – including Poe, serial publication, high profile murder, and the emblematic energies of the British Empire at its height. Following this area, searchers find themselves in a reproduction of 221 B Baker Street. Here, details and easter eggs from the many cases of Holmes and Watson are hidden throughout. The next room holds the highlight for many visitors – the case study. Investigators are asked, by Holmes, to help solve a mystery involving five deductive/inductive exercises – hands-on stations pertaining to the bullet, the seed, the footprints, the newspaper, and the suspicion of murder. You may occasionally be harassed helped by overzealous museum guides – some dressed in Victorian personas – trying to move the investigation along. To avoid some of the crowds, arriving early is a must, and you might have more space to your own sleuthing without considerate peeping by that most troublesome occurrence – other people.
Following your (hopefully) accurate conclusions, the mystery is solved and visitors get one last peek at their favorite incarnations of Holmes, from Basil Rathbone and The Great Mouse Detective to Downey Jr., Cumberbatch, and Lucy Liu’s Watson. The gift shop is also quite inviting, but you might check with me to see what I already purchased so you won’t have to (basically the whole store). There are, of course, great sales-pitches here for any of your teachers’ field trip needs, but if unable to go as a class you have until the end of January to make your own visit. There is also a teens-only event on November 21st: Sherlockian Clue: Museum Edition. Extra credit will rain down upon you after any visit (and maybe a project grade for the BritLit seniors), but especially for anyone who can attend this special event. In summary, this is definitely one of the coolest exhibits to ever reach our area, and you can revisit Power of Poison while you’re there! Investigate Sherlock before it vanishes into the fog of the gaslamps. Elementary, indeed.
It’s the season of suspenseful storytelling, with an emphasis on imaginative yarns and wanderings through folklore. Here are some of the videos from class, by your request, that captured through digital wizardry (a most mysterious magic) the senses, tales, and spine-tingling thrills of the school year in October.
Intro to Literature: “The Bottom of the River” by Delta Rae
The song you can’t escape from, no matter how far the river takes you. Perhaps one of the greatest music videos out there, not least of which in the terrible joy of ambiguity.
Brit. Lit – The Middle Ages: “The Canterbury Tales: Part I”, from Christmas Films, Pizzazz Pictures, and Right Angle.
These episodes aired on the BBC in 1998-2000, excerpting highlights from Chaucer with inventive animation swings. Not for the faint-hearted or tidy-minded, but then, a lot of the fun stuff from different historical eras isn’t.
One of the best-reviewed books of 2014 is now one of the best movies out this year. It isn’t hard to see why: astronaut Mark Watney, botanist on the third manned-mission to Mars, is presumed dead after a fierce storm forces the emergency departure of the rest of his crew. Watney’s not dead, however, but he soon will be if he doesn’t figure out how to solve his food crisis, find a way to contact NASA, plan a way to leave the planet’s surface, and basically survive in an environment incompatible to human life. It’s a suspenseful read, made more invigorating by Watney’s gallows humor and MacGyver-like acumen.
Author Andy Weir is a former software engineer and NASA junkie, and it cannot be emphasized enough how authentic the depictions in the novel are. Except for the whole “we-haven’t-gotten-to-Mars-yet” thing, this book is one of the most realistic science-fiction books available now. It’s so realistic that it’s only sci-fi by technicality – I would file it next to the survival skills handbooks in your library. Truly, one of the best aspects about this novel (and the movie adaptation) is the free PR it provides for a mind of scientific inquiry. Not to knock my beloved field of English, but if I was on Mars I wouldn’t stand a chance with only HG Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs as my “experts” . This book is good enough to make you pursue a career in STEM, if only to increase your livability as a Martian.
The movie is also impeccable, directed by Ridley Scott with Matt Damon starring as Watney. Both the film and the book earn a PG-13 rating, for scenes of peril and the use of mature language (being trapped in life-threatening situations can do that to you). You can pick this one up at any bookstore, the county library, and my now-treasured class copy. Earthlings might be setting foot on the Red Planet sometime this century, so read this book: it may save your life.