Jul 16

#CreekstoCoast feed

Here is a collection of tweets from the week of this adventure!


Jul 15

Backyard Fish #C2CwithGP

Pat Markey explains the trout life cycle

Pat Markey explains the trout life cycle

Do you enjoy fishing? How about a dinner of fresh mountain trout? Trout require a special environment: cold water and swiftly moving water. If the water is too warm (much about 55 degrees F), they will become stressed. Moving water is aerated increasing the oxygen which is also vital to trout. Because of this, trout are found in higher altitude streams and further north. However, we have a very unique situation in our area (Metro Atlanta, GA). As we saw in the last post, Buford Dam over the Chattahoochee River creates Lake Lanier. The water in Lake Lanier is about 170 feet deep at the deepest point, which is right near the dam. Because the water is so deep here, the sunlight does not penetrate past the surface zone. The intake penstocks through Buford Dam are deep in the lake, so the colder water is what passes through the dam.

So what does this mean for our backyard fish? The water in Chattahoochee River from Buford Dam south to downtown Atlanta is cold enough for trout. In fact, Atlanta is the furthest south you can catch trout. Before the installation of Buford Dam, the trout habitat only extended to Helen, GA. To meet the demand for trout fishing, the Buford Trout Hatchery raises and stocks trout right off of the Chattahoochee River. This used to be a true hatchery where trout were raised from spawn until release. However these days, the Buford Trout Hatchery acquires fingerlings (trout that are about 3-4 inches long). They then tend to the fish in a series of raceways until they reach a size of 9.5 inches. The trout are then released into the Chattahoochee River and other streams in North Georgia. The Buford Trout Hatchery raises both rainbow trout and brown trout. The hatchery has a 70% survival rate from egg to 3 inches. In nature, the survival rate is only 1-2%. Did you know that brown trout and rainbow trout are not native to Georgia? Georgia only has one native trout species: the brook trout. Brook trout are only found in mountain streams. They are much smaller than brown trout and rainbow trout.

Raceways at the Buford Trout Hatchery

Raceways at the Buford Trout Hatchery

The Buford Trout Hatchery is open to the public. It is a great place to learn about the life cycle of trout and the importance of our unique Chattahoochee River environment. Next time you are looking for something to do locally, why don’t you go check out your backyard fish? There are guided tours every Saturday at 1 pm, but you can visit any day from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm. There is even a family fishing pond on site.

Young trout in the raceway

Young trout in the raceway

Creeks to Coast Day 2, July 10, 2014, Buford Trout Hatchery

Jul 13

Ancient Journey

Imagine walking through a tunnel surrounded by granite bedrock. Water drips down the sides of the rock while calcium leeched from rocks slowly deposits as stalactites. You know there is history in the rock as a feeling of the ancient washes over you. As you reach the end of the tunnel, you walk into a room and board an elevator. Where do you find yourself? Extraordinarily, we’ve just walked through the solid granite of Buford Dam and find ourselves on the intake side of the dam. As you drive over the dam, did you realize that solid granite bedrock is below the tires of your car? The granite only accounts for a small section of the dam as the majority of the dam is earthen works. Did you ever wonder why Buford Dam was built here? Granite core samples were collected from many sites during the planning stages in the 1950s, and this area was deemed the best. A peek in the granitic tunnel reminds us of the solid granite and gneiss beneath our feet all over Gwinnett County. Next time you cross Buford Dam or one of the many other dams in Georgia, stop and consider for a moment the engineering marvel that is dam. I hope one day you have the chance to experience this amazing wonder as you walk through solid rock holding back billions of gallons of water behind a dam. If the name of our schools are indication (Lanier Middle and Lanier High), the dam is in our backyard. This unique look behind the scenes of Buford Dam will help me provide concrete information to my students so they too can marvel at the ingenuity of this amazing dam that created Lake Lanier.

Erosion around Lake Lanier

Where Lake Lanier meets Buford Dam

Creeks to Coast Day 2, July 10, 2014, Buford Dam

*Cross Posted on the Georgia Aquarium Blog.

Jul 10

What is the value of a river to you? #C2CwithGP

Horse Trough Falls

Horse Trough Falls

Imagine driving a few miles out of town to a wildlife management area. You pull up to the parking area near a trailhead and head out. In a matter of moments, you hear the sound of falling water, and you feel the stress of the day melt away. What is the value of a river to you? As you sit in a pristine wilderness with trees, a rushing creek, and a cascading waterfall surrounding you, what is the value of a river to you?

Rivers are a unique environment. Based on your relationship with the river or where you are on the river, your perspective of that river and its impact on you will change. Have you ever though about that? The Chattahoochee River is prominent and important river throughout Georgia, but wherever you are your view of the river may change.

Imagine instead wading out into a creek to monitor the quality of the river. How would you do that? Did you know sampling for macroinvertabrates is a great way  to gauge the health of the river. Some of these critters can only live in clean, clear water. Others thrive in polluted waters. Depending on what you find and the diversity of life, you can determine the health of the stream. Why is a clean stream important? What is the value of a river to you?

As we continue this journey down the Chattahoochee River, different perspectives on the river will be uncovered. I challenge you to think about what the river means to you.

Creeks to Coast Day 1, July 9, 2014, Horse Trough Falls and Duke’s Creek

Jul 03

#ISTE2014 Days 4 and 5: Sharing then wrapping it up

Day 4:

I started my day at the keynote with Kevin Carroll. I had not heard of him before or his message about the Red Rubber Ball. He was very inspirational and focused on the importance of play. When was the last time you took time to play?

I then stopped by the Mobile Makerspace Learning Playground and played for a little while. Next step was the posters. I like the idea of poster sessions, but I find them a little overwhelming to take it because of all of the other people there. I then met up with part of my Iron Chef team to work on our presentation.

Then, its as time for our own poster session! We quickly set up, and then people started arriving. We shared about our project based learning programs in our elementary, middle, and high school. We brought a few students with us to share about their experiences, and they were definitely the stars of the booth.

photo 1-4 photo 2-4 photo 3-3

After our poster session, I needed some quiet time to regroup, so I headed to the welcome lounge. I recharged and then was ready to meet with my Iron Chef group to but the finishing touches on our presentation.

I decided to finish the day out at the If You Build It documentary viewing. This was such an inspirational documentary about trying to change the culture of a school and community in a small, rural district. It reminded me how difficult it can be for change to happen but how important it is for students. If you ever have a chance to watch this documentary, I highly recommend it.

IF YOU BUILD IT (Official Trailer) from OCP Media on Vimeo.

Day 5

First off today was the Iron Chef competition where we shared our Tweet Fondue presentation. You can also check out our twitter feed. You can learn more about the Iron Chef challenge here. It was a great experience. If you want to be a part of ISTE next year, I highly recommend it.

Next up I went to Sylvia Martinez’s presentation about the Top 10 Tools for the Maker Movement. It was another great perspective on the maker movement. I then headed to the Maker’s Playground for some more time to play around. It was cool to see a Makey Makey in use as I just picked up one of these.

I then spent some time making sure I had covered the entire exhibit hall. Overall, I was disappointed by the exhibit hall. The sessions were so inspirational, but in the exhibit hall it was all about grading quickly, making assessments, control devices, etc. It was a completely different atmosphere. The one highlight of the exhibit hall was the Ron Clark Academy students at the Classflow booth.

I then headed to another session about making and technology. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like the presenters were prepared or sharing anything that I hadn’t heard before, so I left. The final keynote was already seating, so I headed to the hall and grabbed a seat. I was front and center for the final keynote, and it was my favorite keynote of the conference. Jeff Charbonneau, the 2013 Teacher of the Year shared What if? It was an amazingly inspirational message. Plus, Jeff is a science and engineering teacher, so I felt like I found a kindred spirit. Jeff teaches in a small rural district in Washington State. If you ever have a chance to hear him speak, do!

ISTE2014 was an amazing conference, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to attend. I will be processing everything and sharing a reflective post soon.

Jun 29

#ISTE2014 Day 3: Diving In

Today was a whirlwind of amazing experiences! Here’s a quick overview:

  1. Poster sessions – I especially enjoyed the one on creating a personal brand for students and starting a tech entrepreneurial club.
  2. Science and math playground.
  3. I popped into the ISTE Iron Chef and decided to join a group. We’re putting together our solution to the challenge and will be sharing on Tuesday!
  4. A vist to the exhibit hall which was an exercise in total overstimulation!
  5. I visited the ISTE Board Office Hours and shared my opinions on the topics they presented. I also tweeted by responses. Thanks to tweeting, I won a Starbucks gift card!
  6. Invent to Learn session with Gary Stager. I was really lucky to get a seat to this event as a half an hour before start time, the room was nearly full! It’s too bad there was not a larger space. If you wanted to attend but couldn’t, here are my notes (it’s not been proofread yet). I also picked up the Invent to Learn book and both Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez signed my copy. Exciting!
  7. Disruptive Collaboration with Angela Maiers. I have been aware of the #youmatter movement, but to hear it first hand was amazing. We hash tagged wit the sessions with #collabruption and learned how to find our own genius and the genius in our students. It was incredibly empowering.
  8. Finally, the science share-a-thon. I had a chance to have conversations in two small groups. One was about PBL, which is what I am all about. The other was about finding leadership roles in the ISTE Science and Technology Network. I am looking forward to diving in and finding a place to make a difference.

It was an amazing and overwhelming day. I started the day tired and dragging a little. I ended the day energized and inspired! I also met new friends and was able to network. This is something that is usually so far out of my comfort zone but so much easier to accomplish at ISTE. Tomorrow is the big day of our poster presentation on PBL, so tomorrow is sure to be filled with memories as well!

Jun 28

#ISTE2014 Day 2: Kicking it off!

photo 1-3I arrived to the Georgia World Congress Center around 1:45 pm today. My goal was to go the opening Ignite Session. I had NO IDEA how popular an event this would be! When I walked in, there were people everywhere. It was a much different atmosphere from yesterday’s #HackEd14. I saw a very long line and wondered what it was for. I realized pretty quickly it was for the Ignite session. I realized pretty quickly I would not get a seat, so I spent the time networking instead. There is a great networking game in the ISTE app, and you’ll find small groups of people huddled around their phones swapping codes. It’s actually a great way to meet people!

I ran into my colleague, and we walked around to get our bearings and to figure out where the opening keynote address with Ashley Judd would be held. We found our way, and then we headed to the ISTE networking session and our Gwinnett meet up. It was a great time learning about the ISTE communities, meeting up with other teachers from my county, and best of all, finding my TK teammate, Krissy!

Mnii TK reunion with Krissy

Mnii TK reunion with Krissy

Around 4:30, we decided to make our way to the forming line for the opening keynote address. Once we found the line, we joined in and wondered if we would ever make it to the hall. Well, once the line finally started moving, our fears were alleviated. We got into the hall, and it was massive! It really helped me to see what a large conference ISTE truly is. Early this year, I went to the NSTA National Conference in Boston, but the size of that event could not compare! We learned that there are over 14,000 attendees this year representing all 50 US states and 73 countries. Wow! There was also an awesome jazz band from New Orleans kicking off the keynote: Young Fellaz Brass Band. Ashley Judd was the keynote, and it was very interesting. I even had an Instagram photograph featured on the big screen!

Massive space for the keynotes

Massive space for the keynotes

Awesome jazz band

Awesome jazz band

Massive Crowd!

Massive Crowd!

I'm on the big screen!

I’m on the big screen!

After the keynote was the welcome party. There were some great poster sessions to walk around and see. There was food for everyone to enjoy, and Eric Hutchinson was playing.  Overall, it was a great day kicking off the official conference. Tomorrow, the real fun starts with playground, sessions, and the exhibit hall opens.

Welcome Party refreshments

Welcome Party refreshments

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