Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Three Weathermen and a VC

June is a hectic month. But it is also a winding down month. As I tie together the loose ends i also want to blog about some of the vc's I didn't get a chance to write about. One of these videoconferences took place on May 26th. The Friday before the Memorial Day weekend. I wrote in a previous blog about a videoconference with two meterorologists from the Eastern Region National Weather Service. I spoke about that being the first vc of hopefully a continuing collaboration. So, when our Region was planning a Math, Science and Technology Fair for 5th graders with an emphasis on careers I contacted my friends at the NWS. To my total delight the program they put together was three sessions each hosted by a different meteorologist. Each talked about what got them initially interested in meteorology as a child. What kind of courses they took and educational route they pursued. They also talked about different job opportunities they had along the way to their present work with the NWS. Richard Watling an Operations Improvement Hydrometeorologist and leader of weather verification gave the first vc. A hydrometeorologist is branch of meteorology that deals with problems involving the hydrologic cycle, the water budget, and the rainfall statistics of storms. In short, a RAIN MAN. Mr. Watling talked about his childhood and his interest in clouds and space. How that early interest led him to a long and fulfilling career in meteorology. Then he fielded questions from a very fascinated audience. He answered everyone except the one about Planet X. That was a stumper The second meteorologist was Jason Franklin a Mesoscale Meteorologist and leader of aviation weather. In short a PLANE MAN. He talked about the important work of keeping our planes safe in bad weather. Our last meteorologist was Joshua Watson a Techniques Development Meteorologist and leader of science training and forecasting techniques. In short a WEATHER MAN. He talked about the different ways weather is forcasted and the satellites that are out in space. Three groups of students met three different meteorologists. Maybe one day some of these students will become a meteorologists themselves. They won't have to worry about one thing. A meteorologist is never fired for a wrong forecast.

NOAA’s National Weather Service

Monday, June 19, 2006

Poetry Slam Slammed

We had our spring poetry slam at the beginning of June. This is the second poetry slam this year. The first one was in February. This year there are eight schools involved in Poetry Slam. The poetry slam is a culmination of a ten week poetry writing residency that takes place once a week in the classroom. The students poetry really matured and developed between the winter term and the spring term. Their poetry is amazing. The topics are much deeper. The poems this term are more meaningful with real messages. I was totally overwhelmed by their poetry. The slam, which takes place entirely by videoconferencing, went fine on day one. The 5th/6th grade semi-finals were judged by a team of two adults and three students Olympic style.The 5 member poetry slam teams take turns performing their poems. The judges score them from 7.0 to 10. Then the team scores are added and the two top scorers go on the finals. The next day were the 5th/6th grade finals and the 7th grade finals. It started out fine but the connection began to deteriorate. By the end of the first slam we were experiencing significant freezing and muffled audio. A few attempts were made to hang up and redial. I spoke to the technician at the bridge but the problem was not with the bridge or our equipment. The problem was somewhere in between. The problem was in cyberspace. Finally, during our second poetry slam the decision was made to end the slam after the fourth round. The technology (which should be seamless) had brought our Poetry Slam to a halt. A few days later we had our inter-region slam with the Bronx and everything was back to normal. What caused the problem we will never know but on Friday, July 9th we had an Open Mic. Open Mic is a live event. Here all our students who want to perform their poems are invited to come up to the Open Mic. I started things off with a poem I was inspired to write after our videoconferencing fiasco.

Poetry Slam Slammed

Our poets were ready,
Their poems were supreme
But the technology
Had problems
And trampled our teams

Somewhere in the network
A glitch had appeared
It froze all our pictures
Our audio
You could hardly hear

Our poetry slam
Was stopped in its place
Our verses were lost in

But not to worry
Our poems will be heard
Open Mic
Has arrived
We’ll hear every word

In fairness to videoconferencing, this is the exception rather than the rule. But go tell that to the 5th round of poets.