Plenty of Food for Thought

Lake Oahe (photo by Bob Bellingham)

Every morning of every day I think about my trip with great anticipation and longing to get on the water.  I look forward to the solitude and the simplicity, waking in the morning near the water, starting the stove for coffee, searching for whatever wildlife will come my way, taking photos, reading, or writing in a journal.  Perhaps I have set up my tent facing the river so when I wake up I can lay in my sleeping bag gazing at the river and dream about the day ahead, or the day behind.  I have backpacked alone before.  I am comfortable in the wilderness.

Camping alone (1983) in the Mokelumne River Canyon, Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Sheltered Bay on Lake Francis Case (photo by Bob Bellingham)

In three weeks I will have an education degree in social studies and science.  So, this morning I’m thinking about how I can make this trek and this degree work together.  I glance over at my NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) monthly newspaper I get in the mail.  I see a photo of a man on top of a snow-covered mountain.  The caption reads, “Minnesota high school science teacher…uses photographs taken during his world travels to stimulate inquiry in his classes.”  Sweet!  As I read the article, I learn that his photograph introduces a topic, prompts a story, generates student interest, provokes questions to which the students want answers, initiates a real life connection, brings the mountains into his Minnesota classroom, and creates a teachable moment.  BINGO!  I can do that!  My past experiences can provide lots of material.  My upcoming trip will create a file full of opportunities.

Windsurfing S.F. Bay. That’s me in the middle heading out towards the cruise ship from which my brother, Jim Sullens, took this picture. Certainly, a teachable moment somewhere in there.

As an example, on all of his experiences this teacher records basic weather data (temperature, precipitation, cloud coverage, wind speed and direction) which provides a transition into graphing and analyzing data.  Great idea!  Now I am thinking, hmmm, the ecology aspect of being on the river and the exposure to wildlife and, of course, environmental stewardship are teachable opportunities.  And the dams, the many dams, can provide ample high-powered subject matter.  How about the geology and geography between Montana and Missouri?  And, oooh, the moon phases and constellations?  Hey, what about bringing into the classroom the sights and scenery experienced by Lewis and Clark and their crew, and the Native Americans with whom they came in contact?  My head is spinning with possibilities!

Moonrise (photo by Dom Liboiron)
Gavin’s Point Dam (photo by Bob Bellingham)
This monument is on Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and is dedicated to two missionaries who worked with the Lakota. It features Christian and Native cultural and religious symbols. The stones also had many fossils imbedded in them. (photo/caption by Dominique Liboiron)

So much food for thought!  If I am not able to have an outdoor classroom, I will strive to bring the outdoor classroom inside.

178-mile long Lake Sakakawea, held back by Garrison Dam, home to extremely high winds. (photo by Dominique Liboiron)
No, it is not the ocean. These are waves produced by winds on Lake Sharpe. (photo by Dom Liboiron)

Yes, I look forward to the solitude, but the simplicity may be more multifaceted than I thought.

If you are reading this, and you have some teachable moment ideas for me to think about on my trip, I encourage you to comment.  Thanks!

Live fast ~ paddle slow

I better get back to my homework.  🙂

Wilderness Classroom…can you say, “Totally Awesome!”

Dave and Amy are on a three year kayak/canoe/dog-sledding expedition around North America, bringing the wilderness into the classrooms of 65,000 school children and 1900 teachers.

Currently delayed on their North American Odyssey, which they began on Earth Day in 2010, they were scheduled to present at the New Jersey Kayak shop right before Hurricane Sandy hit.  They presented to a small audience, and then got outta there.  The shop suffered damage, but their kayaks were waiting for them, tied up in front, when they returned from evacuation.  They are staying in New Jersey for awhile to assist with the hurricane relief before heading down the east coast to Key West.

Check out their introductory video here, their blog, and their Facebook page to see exactly what they are doing.

Very cool.  Enjoy!

Big Muddy Adventures: an alternative way of teaching, from the river.

Mike Clark
Big Muddy Adventures, Proprietor
Big Muddy Mike“Big Muddy” Mike Clark is one of the most accomplished canoeists and guides in America.  He has over 10,000 miles of big river experience and has led thousands of people in large and small groups on guided river trips since 2001.  He has completed entire navigations of the Mississippi River (2001), Missouri River (2002, 2005-2006), Yellowstone River (2006), and Sunflower River (2004, 2005, 2007, 2008).  He is the founder of Big Muddy Adventures.  Michael is also a veteran elementary and middle school teacher and currently teaches computers, science and history part time at St. Ann Catholic School in Normandy, MO.

Annually, Mike leads a live learning adventure expedition for school children across North America — connecting our youth with our rivers. Mike Clark is a youth leader and truly a Steward and Champion of America’s Rivers. He has won a number of awards, including the Pekatanoui Award for non-motorized River Cleanups and in March 2012 was recognized as a “Hero of the New South” by Southern Living Magazine for his work as a river steward and river guide.

I love what Big Muddy Adventures is all about.  You can learn more here.