Sunday, March 24, 2013

Day 5 - Saturday March 23, 2013 - Dolphin Cove, Shark Valley Tram Tour and Departure

Day 5 - Saturday March 23, 2013 - Dolphin Cove, Shark Valley Tram Tour and Departure Our last day! No, where has the time gone. I guess it is true – Time flies when you are having fun. And fun we have had. Today was no exception. After breakfast in the Tiki Hut, our bags were packed up one last time and loaded on the bus. Our first activity for the day would take place at the Dolphin Cove where we all swam and interacted with dolphins. We had an instructional session before our large group of 46 was divided into two smaller groups. Group A headed for the classroom to learn “How to train animals” and group B suited up with flotation vests to go swim with the Dolphins. We were asked to divide into smaller groups of 2 or 3 before going into the water. Each small group got to interact with 2 dolphins. We rubbed their bellies, scratched their backs, did hand shakes, kissed them, held hoops and bars for them to jump through and over. We also were pushed on our backs and stomachs by the two dolphins and finally got a ride back to the dock by holding onto their dorsal fins. This was by far probably the most exciting activity we have had all week. Our tight schedule put us back on the bus at 11:30am and off we went to our last excursion of the trip – The Shark Valley Tram tour( Our drive was about 2 hrs long and we stopped to pick up our call in order for lunch at Wendy’s. The tram tour began at 2 pm and for the next two hours we learned about the history of the Everglades and Shark Valley as well as observed the wildlife. There were alligators all over – babies, juveniles, small, medium and large adults and even some that were dead. Lots of birds – Anhinga, Great Egret, Great and Little Blue Heron, Green Heron, White Ibis and Pink Spoonbills. We also saw several turtles. Mid way through the tour the tram stopped and we all walked up to the Shark Valley Observation tower. The view was absolutely spectacular. Kristin took a lovely group picture of all of us at the top of the ramp. On the bus again we reflected on the week and got ourselves ready for our departure of sunny warm Florida. Dinner was had at the airport right before we boarded our flight, which was slightly delayed. We landed At Dulles in DC around 9:30pm. Rumor has it that RG# might have been on our flight in 1st class and then on the shuttle to the main terminal. Who knows ? Luggage was collected and then everyone (except Mrs. Nicholas, Mrs. Rhodes, Mr. Lohr, Mr. Runion, Emma, Brandon and William) got on the bus and returned home to Broadway. The group of seven that stayed behind ended up waiting for the Super Shuttle for about an hour. It then took another hour before they arrived at Reagan National Airport to get their cars. The bus arrived sometime between 11:30 and midnight and those in cars got home around 2 -2:30pm. It’s been fun and exciting. We have had so many new experiences, learned a lot, strengthened friendships, made lots of new great friends and most of all created some awesome life long memories. Interesting facts of the day: 1. When parking in hourly parking for 5 days it costs a lot of money - $180/car. 2. The Everglades usually have 3 feet of water covering most of the land midsummer. FINALLY Thank you to all students that came on this trip. Thank you to our wonderful group of chaperons. We could not do it without you. Thank you to all the parents that have help through out the year and all the parents that have made this possible for this group of students to go on the trip. Mrs. Rhodes and Mrs. Nicholas greatly appreciate what you have done this past year. THANK YOU.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Day 4 - Friday March 22, 2013 - Kayaking in the Mangroves, Bird Sanctuary, Snorkeling at the coral reef and Everglades Night Sounds Hike

Day 4 - Friday March 22, 2013 - Kayaking in the Mangroves, Bird Sanctuary, Snorkeling at the coral reef and Everglades Night Sounds Hike. WHAT AN AMAZING DAY! First off we had the chance to sleep in this morning – the wake up call did not happen until 7:15am. Breakfast in the Tiki Hut (which was out side by the pool) consisted of eggs, sausage, toast, bagels and lots of other good things. Our first activity for the day took us out on the water kayaking among the mangroves. We found a kayaking partner, got our life jackets and paddles and line up with our guides to go though some kayaking etiquette and skill instruction. Our three groups headed off in different directions to learn and observe the wildlife among the red mangroves in Key Largo. We learned that there were 3 different species of mangroves in Key Largo – Red, black and White. There is also a close “cousin” - the Buttonwood. The Mangroves help protect the coast from storms and also serve as very important nurseries and habitats for the wildlife. Everyone did very well maneuvering around in the channels and no one ended up in the water. The splashing from the paddles and some sea grass throwing ended up making many of us quiet wet, some even soaked. We had 2 hours of enjoyment cruising around before it was time to head back to the shore. Everyone made it back and got the kayaks on land just before the rain started. Hungry, we headed to lunch at a local popular spot - DJ’s Diner. We got to sit down and enjoy a wonderful lunch of cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken salads. The atmosphere was cool and the service was great. After lunch we headed to a Wild Life Sanctuary where we meet two very funny parrots - Pickles and Francesca - along with lots of other birds. We also found crab spiders and tasted an edible plant. The area by the water was beautiful. We now had about 30 minutes to go back to the hotel and repack our bags for our afternoon activity – Snorkeling at the Grecian Rocks coral reef (a marine sanctuary) about 7 miles off of the coast in the Atlantic Ocean. Again we got fitted for wet suits – short sleeved. During the boat ride to the reef everyone was given their floating device, mask, flippers and snorkel gear along with instructions on how to snorkel, what to do and what marine life we could expect to see. Once we were in the very clear, very aqua blue and somewhat cool water, the short swim to the reef proved to be extremely rewarding. Since this was an Atlantic Ocean reef the colors were somewhat subdued with more gray, brown, green and some purple. What color the reef lacked was easily made up in all the many different species of tropical fish. We saw Rainbow fish, Angelfish, Parrotfish, Barracudas. We also saw invertebrates such as Brain coral, Sponges, Sea Cucumbers, Conch shell with and with out the actual mollusk in it, sea urchins and sea anemones. Among the rare animals some of us were lucky enough to spot a turtle, a stingray and a small reef shark. The 90 minutes in the water went by very fast and before we knew it the siren went off and it was time to return to the boat. What a spectacular time we had. All enjoyed a quick shower and a wonderful pizza, pasta and salad dinner, before we boarded the bus for our evening excursion – A Night Walk in the Everglades. This activity required us to use our senses of hearing and night vision sight (with some help from flashlights) to make observations of the wildlife in the park at night. It’s amazing what you can hear if you just stop talking and listen – frogs (which if you touch them and then rub your eye, your eye will really sting), crickets. You could also hear movement in the water, the distant sound of cars, airplanes and people. Other observations such as light pollution from Miami and from the bathrooms close by were made as well. Coolest of all were all the bright red dots we could see when we shone our flashlights over the water. There were lots and lots of them and as they came closer we realized they were Alligators. There were so many of them everywhere you looked. The Alligators came in all sizes and in the dark they looked especially impressive. We also checked out the constellations in the beautiful night sky. The park provides tarps and cords for their visitors to cover their cars with because the vultures at the park are really bored and love to pick off the rubber parts off of cars. That’s crazy. Our bus ride back to the hotel was great for napping. It appears we wore some chaperons out (Mr. Baker and Mr. Lohr). Key Lime pie was served once back at the hotel to celebrate Mrs. Hotchkiss’ birthday. It was the best pie ever. Interesting facts of the day: 1. There are Panther and Alligator crossing signs along the roads. 2. The urine from the Pig Frog really stings when rubbed into one’s eye.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Day 3 - Thursday March 21, 2013 - Manatees and Rainbow River Float

Day 3 – Thursday March 21, 2013 – Swimming with Manatees and Snorkeling With suitcases, daypacks and breakfast bags in hand, we boarded our bus around 5:15am for a 1 hour and 45 min drive to the Pro Dive shop in Crystal River. We quickly got fitted with our wetsuits, flippers and snorkeling gear. Once back on the bus we only had a 10-minute drive to the marina where we divided up into groups on three boats. Our first stop – Jurassic Springs – turned out to be without manatees so we proceeded to Three Sisters Springs manatee sanctuary. There we had better luck. Even though we could not actually go inside the sanctuary, everyone got to see many manatees. We saw a pregnant manatee, a mom and her calf and many other females and males in a variety of sizes. Some of these gentle giants did venture outside the roped off area and a few lucky students got to touch them. Our guides and the manatee watch crew commented on how well our group did with respecting the rules – staying quiet, keeping out of the sanctuary, not touching the ropes, not splashing too much and not stirring up the bottom. What an amazing compliment! Well done - that made Mrs. Nicholas and Mrs. Rhodes very proud. Back at the Pro Dive shop we watched the DVD that was made of our experience. There was also an opportunity to do some souvenir shopping. We grabbed our lunch – Quizno Subs, chips, cookie and a well-needed bottle of water. The lunch was eaten on the bus on the way to Rainbow River and KP Hole Park. We suited up again. The wet, cold wetsuits were not too pleasant to put back on, but once on, the sun helped to warm us up. The boats took us up the river about a mile and a half. Flippers and masks were put on and in the water we went. Today’s water temperatures for both places was 72 degrees. It actually felt very warm, however the wind was very cool and made many of us extremely cold – especially early this morning. Floating down the Rainbow River including various stops at popcorn springs, warm springs, a cavern and free diving for fossils. Our river float took about 45 minutes-1 hr and most everyone seamed to enjoy themselves tremendously. Around 3 pm we were back on the bus and headed to Key Largo! This 5.5 hr trip was broken up half-way with a dinner and restroom stop. During the drive we watched “The Lorax” and part of “Pirates of the Caribbean”. We worked on our daily reflection journals and finished up our energy section in our World Strides Journal. We also talked about many interesting manatee facts. Interesting facts of the day: Manatees • live approximately for 50-60 years. • can remain submerged for up to 20 minutes. • have marching molars and can have up to 7 sets of teeth in their life. • can go without food for up to 30 days. • have fingernails. • scientists determine the age of manatees by counting the growth rings in their ear bones. • have a gestation period of 13 months. The Rainbow River is really not a river but the output of several springs. These springs put out between 300 and 400 million gallons of water per day.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Day 2 - Wednesday March 20, 2013 - Magic Kingdom/Hollywood Studios

Day 2 – Wednesday March 20, 2013 – Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios Time to get up already? That was not enough sleep but it’s time to get ready for another fun and exciting day. Despite the short night everyone made it down to breakfast on time, with all their gear, ready to go to Magic Kingdom. Upon arrival at transportation central, we were met by our Disney Imaginers – Kirstyn, Frank and Jackie. Our three groups of “scientists” did a quick review of Newton’s laws of motion and The Scientific Method before boarding the monorail to Magic Kingdom. Once in the park – which was completely empty with the exception of the cast members (SOOO COOL) - we headed straight for Space Mountain to learn about kinetic and potential energy. Everyone had the opportunity to first ride the roller coaster with the lights on and then we rode it with the lights off. WOW what a difference that made. It felt faster, steeper and much more exciting with the lights off. While we were inside Space Mountain it had began to rain. A little rain was not going to stop us from experimenting with the roller coaster models. Next on the agenda was the Buzz Lightyear ride where we observed the wonderful world of Disney audio animatronics. All of the Disney rides are full of examples of both hydraulic (smooth and many directions) and pneumonic (one direction and a little rougher) movement. The learning about the Properties of Motion concluded with Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This ride gave us a great chance to experience G-force, centripetal force and airtime. What a fun way to learn! With some extra time to spare before lunch, we gave everyone a choice to ride either Splash Mountain or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad again. Lunch cards were handed out before students left in groups of 3 or more to explore the rest of the park during their 4-hours of free time. More rides were enjoyed, souvenir shopping was done, magical memories were made and at 2:30pm when we met up to head over to Hollywood Studios there were MANY smiling faces. A looming threat of more rain kept “hanging” over us and fortunately we were able to enjoy the Tower of Terror, Rocking Roller Coaster, The Great Movie Ride and Star Tours. Some of us even caught some shows like Indiana Jones and the Lights Camera Action Stunt Show. The plan had been to stay for the Fantasmic Light Show BUT with the rain beginning and a very, very, very tired but happy group there were no objections when we decided to head back to the hotel. During the short 15-minute ride to the hotel, we had a chance to regroup and get ready for some reflection and journal time. Everyone had a chance to go to there rooms before we sat down to work on our reflections for Day 1 and 2 and to do a few pages in our Science in Motion Journals. Happy and willingly everyone headed back to their rooms to pack (day packs and suit cases), get ready for bed and for lights our by 10 pm. Tomorrow the dreaded wakeup call will happen at 4:30am. Interesting Fact of the day: The first roller coaster ever was actually a mining train and it did not have any restraints!

Day 1 - Tuesday March 19, 2013 - Animal Kingdom and EPCOT

Day 1 – Tuesday March 19, 2013 – Animal Kingdom and EPCOT Here we go again. A month later than what is has been the past three years, Weather-wise that has not made a difference here at home, as we had another snow day Monday before we left. It promises to be 85-90 degrees in Florida. We are so looking forward to great times, nice weather and lots of fun spectacular learning. Everyone met at JFH at 2:45am, put tags on their bags, loaded the bags, said their good buys and then loaded the bus so we could pull out on time at 3:15am sharp. The bus ride was full of instruction for students and chaperons and everyone was sooo excited. We got to the airport sooner than we thought. WAIT A MINUTE that’s not what happened. Let’s back up a little. We did indeed meet at JFH at 2:45am. Looked like everyone was on time except the bus. Hmmm. Mrs. Nicholas and Mrs. Rhodes got on the phone and low and behold the driver was still in bed. We were told to hang tight and go to Plan B. Plan B involved recruiting willing parents to drive us to Regan National for our flight. This took no time at all and 12 carloads of students and luggage along with chaperons and parents left around 4:05 am. The question on everyone’s mind was, “Were we going to make it in time or not?” We DID make it, but barely. Air Tran and their employees were great. Eric – our World Strides representative – had called and our boarding passes were ready as we arrived. We got expedited through security and ran in our sock with shoes in hand to the gate with only minutes to spare. Relief came as we were all seated on the plane and took off. Yes we are going to Florida for an exciting week of great times, nice weather and lots of spectacular learning. This year our trip began at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. With all the early morning excitement we were all starving and headed straight for lunch. With full bellies, we had time to enjoy “A Bug’s Life” in the Tree of Life. How much fun! Our educational program –Sustainable practices and wildlife conservation - began at 1 pm and for the next 3 hrs we learned about how as humans we can build s sustainable community and still conserve our wildlife. Students participated in discussions, eco-challenges and worked as teams to create a community. We learned about eco-systems, fossil fuels, biomass, recycling, renewable energy, and encroachment. We time traveled to the time of the dinosaurs on the “Dinosaur". There was also time for a ride up and down "Mt. Everest" and a “2-week” Safari trip onto the Serengeti. We saw Elephants, Rhinos, Hippos, Giraffes, Lions, Cheetas and lots more animals. By now everyone was ready for some free time at EPCOT. We took a Disney bus from Animal Kingdom and arrived at EPCOT right around 6 pm. After a quick stop to take a group picture the need to refuel took over and we all headed to "The Land" and Seasons for dinner. Yum. With about 2 hrs before the Lumination’s fire works show you could find us creating new exciting cars and enjoying fast speeds at “Test Track”. Other’s traveled to outer space at "Mission Space". The fire works were amazing (as usual). Once over it was time to head out of the park, board the bus and head to the hotel. Check-in went very well and everyone got situated and ready for bed in a hurry. Wonder why? It’s not like we have been up and going for over 20 hrs. INTERESTING FACTs FOR THE DAY: It takes 100 years for a wooden #2 pencil to break down. A commodo dragon has 50 different kinds of bacteria in his/her mouth. They bite their pray, wait for the bacteria to start an infection, then follow the dying animal around, which sometimes takes up to 2 weeks. href="" imageanchor="1" >

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Our Second Chicken BBQ - Saturday 9/15/12

On Saturday 9/15/12 it was time yet again for another early morning of Chicken BBQ"ing". Since this was the second time around most everyone knew what to do and things went very, very well. The weather cooperated too and it was a beautiful day to sell. As most times we sold out about 11:30am. And as always the chicken was super delicious.

Taco Salad Sale at Bridgewater Labor Day Celebration September 3 , 2012

Once again it looked like the Taco Salad Sale during the Bridgewater Labor day celebration would get rained out. But a few rain drops and showers did not cancel the party and our fund raiser. Many students and parents came out to sell Taco Salads and enjoy the fun festivities at Oakdale Park in Bridgewater. Our Taco Salads were very popular and we ended up serving over 135 salads. Not quite the number of slads we sold 2 years ago but considering the low turn out for the Labor day event we did not do bad at all.