From October 2014

Trees that Please

Some call Wednesday “the hump day” but these folks obviously never went to an ALC. I want to quote @zelda’s reflective comment today: “Today I got to do everything I wanted to do and I am going to do it all again tomorrow!”

Other highlights: @sassygirl26 Isabella has been working hard to pull together the fall festival and today measured the runway, invited new people to participate, and made progress in the decorations. We now have standing tree decorations thanks to some wire hangers!

MadLibs made a comeback and together we wrote many silly and absurd stories.

Although we didn’t get to our intention to challenge ALC NYC in Geoguessr, it was because we all were in flow with what we were doing and that is awesome. I spent a fair amount of time at the park today doing Ecology Club. It was just myself and @jamesisland but I made many new observations and here they are!

Ecology Club

A beautiful Dragonfly (Anisoptera) flew across our path on the way to the park. I deducted it was a Dragonfly and not a Damselfly due to its size and wing shapes. Damselflies, like their name eludes, are more delicate looking, and their wings tend to all be the same size. Dragonflies on the other hand are sturdier and their lower wing pair tends to be larger. Check out this website for more facts: Dragonflies and Damselfies

James @jamesisland and I then played under a beautiful Mockernut Hickory Carya tomentosa


I noticed that many of the Willow Oak Quercus phellos trees in the park had big black bands around them. They look like this:

I’ve observed this throughout Charlotte and today researched the phenomenon when we returned to school. Turns out, Cankerworms, a pest native to North America, have become rampant over the past two decades and threaten many tree populations in the Northeast. The recent spike is attributed to the loss of natural predators and decline of other tree species… some of the many consequences of development.

Interesting Fact! Trees are affected year round by Cankerworms but by different species depending on the season. The fall species is called Alsophila pometratiaThe city has conducted 3 aerial sprays since 1993 to reduce populations, the most recent having been in 2008. Because chemical sprays are probably not great for human and other life, the more common treatment are these tree bands. Interestingly, this management technique supports neighborhood cooperation as communities must “band-together” to prevent the pest from spreading. If you would like to learn more here is the website from which I have been paraphrasing: Cankerworm Facts

For more about Cankerworm life cycle and how they affect trees this website has a lot of good info: I want to learn more about Cankerworms!

Using an Audobon app I was FINALLY able to identify this tree:

Cercis canadensis 'Forest Pansy'

It is an Eastern Redbud Cercis canadensis

As usual, Red-Shouldered Hawks Buteo lineatus called above us. I’ve heard them many times before during the days, my guess it was lunchtime.

Last Ecology Club we differentiated between Sugar Maple Acer saccharum and Red Maple Acer rubrum, and today James and I found a Sugar Maple. We collected its magnificent leaves and made this:


Inspired by the work of this amazing artist! (Andy Goldsworthy)

Can’t wait for more fall fun!

Tuesday is Today

After what felt to be a tenuous start to the week (issues with Monday clean up) today unfolded with surprising grace and ease and was a GREAT DAY!

First we had an EPIC Geoguessr event, the competitive edge got more folks into the game and we were roaring with excitement when we guessed a spot less than 1 mile from the origin! You can challenge our score here:

Shout out to @ryanshollenberger for the ALC NYC – ALC Mosaic change up to our weekly Tuesday hang out. Worked out great, can’t wait to challenge ALC NYC’s  score!

It was a beautiful fall day so right after we finished exploring the world, we decided to explore the neighborhood.

It has been a while since a large group outing to the park, thank you @tomis for holding coherence (HC) on the park trip.

We ate lunch and then invented a new game called “Sense Tag“. In sense tag, the “it” person closes their eyes and counts to 5. While they are counting, everyone else quietly takes a position and remains still. The “it” person then senses where the other players are without looking, and trying not to rely on hearing. This was an @ayan innovation



Also got this great snapshot of Jackson @john@sarahcoble



Other highlights from today: I learned that the rarest Pokemon is worth almost $100,000… and it’s a Pikachu. Not any Pikachu however, it must be the Japanese Illustrator Promo Pikachu circa 1998. It looks like this:



Clean up turned out to be swift and painless today, perhaps the live demonstration by myself and @nancy this morning had something to do with it 😉



Ecology Club

Today Emilia and I went on a walk outside. Our walk from school to the park was different this time. We payed more attention to our surroundings and observed the world moving around us. Two Cardinal pairs Cardinalis cardinalis flew across out path. I stood bewildered when Emilia drew my attention to the cat stalking underneath the Red Maple Acer rubrumMany plants and birds we didn’t know by name, but were able to figure out a cultivate Japanese Maple Acer palmatum

Down at the park we visited the garden, finding new plants and life that we have yet to know. One of the many highlights was the White-Throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis call in the distance. They must be coming down for the winter.

And then we journaled 🙂


Lessons from Pokemon

Over the past several days at ALC Mosaic, epic Pokemon battles and trading have been taking place. I remember the good ol’ days when Pokemon first hit the global market and almost two decades later, the hype has not subsided.

I was always skeptical and detached from the Pokemon movement. I never fully grasped the concept of the game and was personally more interested in other fads such as Furby, Tamagotchi and pogs.

After witnessing the focus and commitment to Pokemon at Mosaic, I have a newfound appreciation for the game. With the guidance of my peers at school, I have had the opportunity to form new insights to the skills and lessons Pokemon can teach.

Pokemon Lesson 1 Organization: Many of my fellows treat their cards with utmost respect. The cards are not mere toys but emblems of potential. Some enclose each card in a personal case or organize them in elaborate binders, categorizing the pokemon by type, strength, rarity and evolution. I am reminded of the star pupils in high school, praised for their color-coded binder tabs and individual plastic sleeves for handouts… I found myself thinking: “If only I took to Pokemon at a younger age, I perhaps would have found myself capable of organizing my work and possessions in ways that were useful and meaningful to me.” What’s more, the cards are then organized in play, where planning and strategy come into being.

Lesson 2 Strategic Planning: Everyone plays the game differently. Some trade with intentions of building extremely powerful individual cards and will trade a diverse range of other “valuable” cards to make an “undefetable” weapon. Others trade for a diverse range of less amped Pokemon. This dynamic became clear to me when Liam reflected: Something that he didn’t know before today was the he could beat Ayan’s most powerful card.

Pokemon Lesson 3 Equitable Trade: Half the fun of Pokemon is exchanging them in the Pokemon Trading Space. Trading occurs before battles, and the players schedule these events on the weekly and daily boards. External and internal factors influence the value and attributes each places on the cards. An equal trade is felt by each party and this process can occur with ease and/or challenge. By the end of each day this week so far, the ones trading Pokemon all day reflect that this is what they like doing because they enjoy doing so. I was given starter cards by Liam so that I could engage in the upward spiral of Pokemon trade.

Pokemon Lesson 4 Creation:  Many hours have been dedicated to drawing Pokemon. @nancy has also spent many hours inventing Pokemon, painting Pokemon, sewing mutant stuffed animal Pokemon…The request for Pokemon art has taken us through many different mediums. I am often approached by students ages 5-11 who are wanting to draw Pokemon. We can focus on this activity from anywhere between 15 minutes to 2 hours. The imagination of the creatures inspire us to create and practice with our hands.

Pokemon Lesson 5 Maths: I am not practiced in math. Calculations involving more than three digits terrify me. On Monday, Ayan demonstrated through simple math in his head how he defeated my Jigglypuff with his Victini. And they do this constantly, with each other.


I am blown away by the imagination of the people of this space. We are each discovering our own tools for growth alone/together.