Last Day of Classes at Andover

Physics Celebrates the Last Day of Classes with High-Flying Fun!

Carolyn Odden’s first and second period Physics classes spent some time after taking their AP tests to discover the aerodynamics of paper airplanes. Today, they had some healthy competition including: farthest flown forward (and backward), most aesthetically pleasing, and an accuracy test.

Winners of the day were Philip Lamkin ’17 for first period and Justin Williamson ’16 for second period.

Happy last day of classes, Andover, and good luck with your assessments!

Baby Geese!

Ornithology Returns to the Pond to Feed the Baby Geese

Guest Blog Post by Peyton McGovern ’16

Hello Readers!

Classes are winding down but the birds on campus certainly are not! Between the baby geese (one of these adorable babies can be seen in a photo courtesy of Angela Dolan ’16), baby Phoebe and the other bird nest at Stuart, campus is bustling with bird activity. It has been so exciting to watch my final term at Andover transition from the brisk end of winter to the sunshine and warmth of spring. Along with the changes in weather, so many birds have returned and filled campus with their lovely songs. It’s been so amazing to watch each week as new species return from their winter migration.

IMG_3657

As my class enters it’s final week together, we will most likely take one more field trip and study to prepare for our final exam. As an all senior Ornithology class, it feels especially bizarre to know we have such a short time left at the school. However, it’s great to spend one period per day studying birds, which is such an interesting and fun topic. Ornithology has been a great class for me this term specifically for three reasons: I have learned a lot about identifying local birds, gotten to engage a lot with my classmates on our field adventures and finally tried a unique course that I wouldn’t be able to take at many other high schools. So much bird watching to do with such little time left!

Inside Look: Aquaponics Independent Project

Biology Independent Project: Aquaponics

Guest Post by Terrence Xiao ’16

Hi folks!

My name is Terrence Xiao, I’m a four year senior from Beijing, China, and I have a weird obsession with fish. For the past school year (and a little more), I’ve been conducting an independent research project about aquaponics. Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics – in layman terms, that’s fish farming and gardening; the fish waste is used to fertilize the plants, and in the same process, the waste water is cleaned and can be recycled throughout the system.

For me, it all started with my when I was younger: I thought fish were basically the coolest things ever (I was a weird kid), and became obsessed with aquariums. I realized having more stuff in them (plants, shrimp, snail, clams, frogs, turtles, worms – you name it, I’ve tried it) not only made them more interesting, but more versatile ecological communities; I could let bottom feeders clean up uneaten food instead of having to do it myself, and I never had to worry about dissolved oxygen levels or ammonia build ups because I had plants to regulate all of those factors for me. All of this culminated in an academic interest in environmental science. When I learned about global crises such as the food challenge and global climate change, I began to explore ideas within the field that served as potential solutions. That’s when I stumbled across aquaponics.

This project started officially started during the Fall Term of the 2015-2016 school year. Fall term was all about research, winter term was all about building the system, and spring term has been focused on community engagement. I applied for an independent project through the Abbot Independent Scholars Program each term, to integrated the project within my academic curriculum, as well as an abbot grant through the Abbot Academy Association to fund the construction process, which I received in the winter.

The project had two broad goals – the first was to actually build an aquaponics system; to see if it actually worked, to deepen my own understanding, and most importantly, to reunite with my precious hobby of fishkeeping! The second goal was community engagement; often, issues such as environmental sustainability are construed as lofty and intangible, especially by us mere high school students. I wanted to show that these ideas, relevant on a global scale, could actually be substantiated and explored in a very physical, direct capacity, especially with the wealth of resources available to us as students here at PA.

Construction was complete by the end of winter term, and the system was left to cycle over spring break.

When I returned, the project switched focus to community outreach and utilizing the functioning system as a tool for engaging with others. I’ve given multiple presentations over the course of this last term – a NEST presentation in the makerspace, lectures for biology classes and science electives, and presentations to various student groups, just to name a few. Each of these presentations were learning opportunities for me because I switched my focus depending on individual venues and audiences. The subjects I’ve talked about range from the academic principles that aquaponics embodied, to a procedural focus on the project itself and how it helped shape my experience of hands on learning and engagement as a student.

13234979_621908544642193_1118091131_o

Aside from these presentations, I’ve been maintain a digital portfolio, in part as an organizational tool, but mostly as a platform for community engagement – the WordPress blog (linked below) I’m running contains a narrative documentation of the project since its beginning, as well as a synthesis of my research available for others to explore. Please feel free to check it out.

https://paaquaponics.wordpress.com/

The year may be almost over, but this project certainly isn’t! The system will be sticking around in Gelb 109 for the following years, where its maintenance will be taken over as a student work duty. I’m hoping that it can be used by others as a learning tool (A biology 580 group is already using it for their ecology project) and to maintain a conversation on campus about environmentalism and sustainability within our community.

Chemistry Visits Addison Art Gallery

Chem 200 Visits the Addison Art Gallery to Learn About the Chemical History of Photography

Guest Post by Sofie Brown ’18

Our Chem 200 class was a little bit surprised when Mr. Robinson told us that we would be taking a class field trip to campus’ Addison Gallery of American Art. Chemistry is usually not something associated with art museums but Chem 200 was there to take the sometimes abstract and hard to understand equations and formulas and apply them to photography.

Before the trip, the class divided up into pairs to research the different types and chemical processes involved the history of the creation of photographs. We researched the Daguerreotype, Tin type, Ambrotype, Albumen Prints, and Gelatin Silver Prints. All of these photograph types uses a different chemical process to create the image and by looking at the chemical processes involved in the creation we could trace the history of photographs.

Unknown-1

By looking at rare old photographs and sharing our research we discussed how chemical advances have made photography more accessible which has significantly altered the country’s memory and way of looking at history. Photography made memory visual and became the most democratic way of capturing the stories of all people, not just those who could afford to have their portraits painted. Chemical advances took photography from using large equipment in many steps with many poisonous chemicals to print a fragile easily faded photo to a small two step process on paper that is durable and cheap. Photographers would take large wagons of equipment and glass around with them to Civil War battlefields in order to photograph soldiers and the fields of dead when photography first came to prominence. Soldiers also often had Daguerreotypes taken (the classic framed black and white head shot). Gradually, Daguerreotypes evolved to be printed on tin and cheaper and more durable and then eventually became a two step process and printed on paper.

Unknown.jpeg

The digital photographs we have today would not be possible without the chemical advances in photography over many, many years. Learning about the chemistry of photographs offered our class real world applications and implications of the molecules and elements we struggle to fit into formulas and categories in the classroom.

Ornithology Feeds Baby Geese at Andover Pond

Great Weather for the Ornithology Class Field Trip!

Guest Post by Peyton McGovern ’16

Hello Blog Readers,

This past week was an action packed adventure for those of us in Biology 421. During our double on Thursday, we took an off campus field trip to North Andover, where we searched for Herons. Unfortunately, we saw some nests but we did not see any Herons themselves. The landscape was a vast open swamp filled with many dead trees. The area looked seemingly eerie and desolate; however it was surprisingly filled with many red-winged Black birds and of course the Herons nests. After we spent some time on the dock overlooking the swamp, we drove to a nearby meadow, which was quite beautiful. We spotted some Bobolinks at the meadow, but it was a bit difficult for us because they were easily lost in the thick grass. Luckily, the weather was incredible which made this trip enjoyable for everyone. 

IMG_5474.JPG

Perhaps, my favorite part of the week came on Friday when our class fed the goslings at Rabbit pond. The baby geese were so adorable, tiny and fluffy. Mr. Cone brought us some bread to feed them, which they definitely enjoyed. We were surprised by the fact that the parents did not feed their young and often actually took the bread for themselves.

IMG_5484.JPG

Although the parent geese do not feed their babies at this stage, they are still extremely protective of their young. Whenever any of us or another adult geese got a bit too close, you could hear the parents hiss or see them change to a more aggressive position. Overall, it was a fantastic week in class and definitely our most interactive so far!

Spring is for the birds…

A Visit to the Bird Blinds to Prepare for Grandparent’s Weekend

A couple of times this term, Melanie Poulin and I were fortunate enough to accompany Mr. Tom Cone and Mr. Marc Koolen down to the Bird Blinds. For those of you who don’t know, a bird blind is an area where you can watch birds through slits in fence, so as not to frighten the birds away with your presence. This particular bird blind was made possible through the generous funding of the Abbot Academy Association in 2003.

The bird blinds are located off of Highland Road across the street from the 1929 House.You have to walk a bit down the beaten path, but it is well worth it. You come up to a large fence with benches on one side, but you cannot tell what is behind it until you get up close and look through the slots.

imageimageimage

When you look through the slots, you see that there is a pole system that holds lots of different bird feeders. There are lots of tree around and a little stream nearby that creates habitats for lots of different birds.

Every few days, someone will go down to fill the feeders so that the birds will keep coming back and give us something to view! Lots of birds will come to visit, just in time for Grandparent’s Weekend!

Along the way, we also saw a few nests with either baby birds in them or mother birds sitting on their eggs! We saw a little baby Phoebe bird sticking it’s head out of this nest:

A baby House Finch’s tail sticking out of this nest:

And a mother Robin sitting on her eggs in this nest:

IMG_4649-2

A Collection of Nests

Ornithology Begins to Wind Down With Oral Presentations and Bird Nest Viewing

Guest Post by Peyton McGovern ’16

Hi Blog Readers,

Our Bio 421 class is now in our oral presentation phase. This past Tuesday we had two sets of partners present their topics. The first group, Richie Ciufo ’16 and Ben Anthony ’16, showed the class their PowerPoint on Bird Vision. Their slides compared human vision to bird vision. It was quite remarkable to see how much better the birds eyesight was. Not only can birds follow things faster with their eyes, they also have the ability to see ultra violet light. Next came Livy Golini ’16 and Morgan Gramlich ’16, who presented on bird’s magnetism. The extent to which bird use magnetic fields is still widely debated and currently being researched. Tomorrow, my partner Olivia Lamarche ’16 and I will present on bird emotions. Similar to Richie and Ben, we will also compare bird and human emotions to see any similarities or differences.

On Friday, we took a break from oral presentations to observe the best collection that Mr. Cone set up for our class. We looked at over 20 nests and were tasked with identifying which material were used to create each nest. Certain nests were made out of pine needles and mud, whereas others may have contained feathers, leaves and sticks.

It was really unique to see such a variety of nests all in one place. I always assumed all nests were circular, which was not the case at all. Some were square and others did not have an explicit shape.

This week we will have presentations on Monday and Tuesday and most likely an outdoor adventure Thursday! I’m hoping to see the sun more this week than we encountered last week.

Mercury Transit – TODAY!

View Today’s Rare Celestial Sight from Outside Commons!

Students are gathered with Carolyn Odden, Physics Instructor, outside commons today to view the Mercury Transit today through a telescope with a special solar filter. Come view the rare event where Mercury crosses the sun from the Earth’s perspective. You can see Mercury as a tiny dot on the sun’s surface as it orbits. To view, you need special equipment with solar filters – please do not look directly into the sun.

IMG_2417

According to CBSNews.com:

“The transit of Mercury got underway just after 7 a.m. on the east coast with the smallest planet appearing as a tiny black dot on the face of the sun. The transit will last for a total of about 7.5 hours. The last time solar-planetary ballet happened was 2006. It will happen again three years from now, but then not until 2032.

Mercury transits occur just 13 times per century, on average. They’re so rare because the innermost planet’s orbit is inclined by about 7 degrees compared to that of Earth, so Mercury, the sun and our home planet just don’t line up all that often.”

Read the full CBSNews.com article HERE.

You can also watch live video with Astronomer commentary at SPACE.COM.

Bird Cams

Observe live birds with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Keeping with our Bird Posts this week, you can observe some of the birds Peyton spoke about in her posts live on camera!

A Pair of Red-Tailed Hawks live in Ithaca, NY with their three babies:

http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/16/Red-tailed_Hawks/

Indiana’s Barred Owls and Owlets can be observed here:

http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/43/Barred_Owls/

And a Great Horned Owl’s nest (currently empty – but maybe they will be back!):

http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/46/Great_Horned_Owls/

Birds of Prey Visit Andover

The Ornithology Classes Get a Visit from Wingmasters, a Bird Education and Rescue Program

Guest Post by Peyton McGovern ’16

Hello Blog Readers,

This week was super exciting for Bio 421! After 4 weeks of studying local and national birds, we had visitors from Wingmasters, a program that works to rehabilitate injured birds. It was so fascinating to see the birds we have been learning about in class so close.

IMG_4482

For me personally, I was most captivated by the owls. Both the barred owl and horned owl were incredible but my favorite was the saw-whet owl. I never knew that owls could be of that miniature size.

Another incredible bird we observed was the Peregrine Falcon, the fastest animal in the world. This bird can fly up to 200 miles per hour and spots its prey from the top of skyscrapers.

Aside from the fascination of this program, it was also quite educational. The woman who worked for Wingmasters, Julie, talked a lot about the environmental effects of pesticides and other chemicals on the health of birds. Throughout their time, Wingmasters has seen a decline in some species of birds because the birds prey, rodents and insects, often eat food that is sprayed by pesticides. The pesticides kill the insects and rodents and often has deadly effects for the birds as well. However, Julie and her partner, Jim, also mentioned many projects that attempt to revive dwindling bird populations. Overall, this was a super exciting and educational opportunity for our class.

Ms. Andersen put together the video below of some clips from the presentation: