Look out any window…

Closed for business, but…

While this group has now graduated and our discussions have ended, you can check in on our current class at this link:


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Last Day

5th Period Gang 2009-2010


Courtesy of KellyD

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Mr. W signs off…

Ok, so here is my final post for the year. I wanted to share some of the results of questions on the 2nd semester class survey. Of 34 students in two classes, 31 of you responded. If you’d like to add another comment on what you see here email me or leave a comment below this post.


The bold numbers after each item are the average ratings given by the entire class.

1. The teacher was enthusiastic about teaching the course. 4.8

2. The teacher encouraged critical thinking. 4.4

3. Students were encouraged to ask questions and were given meaningful answers. 4.4

4. The teacher showed a genuine interest in students as individuals and tried to find ways to connect with or engage them during the year. 4.5

Besides these ratings, there was ample written feedback on how I teach the course. Thank you so much for that–I will use it to tweak the course for next year.

Thanks also for all your hard work on this class blog. I hope you are impressed with the global audience you have attracted. If you click on the ClustrMap, note that you’ve attracted over 1,500 unique visitors from all over the globe!  Check out all the visitors by country below.  And, congrats to EmilyO for her election to the Scribe Post Hall of Fame!


ClustrMap Countries APES5th


Finally, my wishes and advice for you all as you go on to bigger and better things:
1. I hope you make conservation a part of your life–most resources are not unlimited. Maybe give up those darned bottled waters at a minimum?
2. I hope you become mindful of your consumerism–businesses want you to buy their products whether you need them or not (that’s capitalism). They’ll throw in a little greenwashing and “ecoguilt” to get you to buy also…
3. I hope this course has not left you feeling depressed or guilty–we’ve studied some revolutionary solutions AND we can all make small changes that add up. Awareness is useless–change something. No one person can do everything, and there are always tradeoffs in the choices you make.
4. Be a giver, not just a taker (remember the mint jar). Too many takers will ruin the commons (the planet).
5. Finally, I hope you get outdoors more often than not, life happens outside books and classrooms. Enjoy it!

Davidson College Field Trip

Davidson College Field Trip

Enjoy your senior projects–see you all at graduation…

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Eyewitness to the Blowout

Here, in two 10-minute segments, is a recent 60-Minutes report on the accident in the Gulf of Mexico and a link to a report on progress (finally) capturing some of the escaping oil:

Part I:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Part II:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

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Oil Leak Video Released

Day 23 (May 12): Check out this 3 minute report from ABC’s World News:

and here is a great interactive history lesson on major oil spills from the NY Times.

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Oil Disaster Update

I doubt many of you are still checking this since the AP exam is over, but here are some Gulf oil disaster updates for those that might be…

After Setback, BP Scrambles to Find New Solution

Sopping Up an Oil Slick with Castaway Hair (“hair sausages?!”)


here is the slick viewed from space on April 30th:



Image Source: NASA Earth Observatory


here is another showing the progress of the slick over time:



Image Source: The Official Google Blog (using uploaded NASA imagery)

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Regrets? Maybe just reclamation?

Ok, so it is the night before. As a teacher, am I anxious? Naw, I think we’ve really done a great job with covering the AP syllabus. If I had to think of one topic we just did not get to spend much time on, it might be reclamation. This is a Chapter 12 topic, so we never had a test on it (I asked you to read that chapter-did you?). Anyone remember this term?

Definition: The process by which lands disturbed as a result of mining activity are reclaimed back to a beneficial land use. Reclamation activity includes the removal of buildings, equipment, machinery and other physical remnants of mining, closure of tailing impoundments, leach pads and other mine features, and contouring, covering and revegetation of waste rock piles and other disturbed areas. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 requires mining companies to restore most surface-mined land so it can be used for the same purpose before it was mined.

*Since your text (Chapter 12) has very little to say about reclamation, maybe investigate these resources and make notes on reclamation methods:

1. Bureau of Land Management-Cartoon Explanations of Reclamation


*read the entire page top to bottom–good source for notes

2. Mineral Information Institute–Mine Reclamation


*investigate at least three reclamation projects and the link for “Erosion and Sediment Control (read it all)”

3. United States Dept. of the Interior, Office of Surface Mining


*only if really bored and you want to know more…

Good luck!

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NAAQS and the AQI

So…did you laugh at my memory-trick email about the six compounds the EPA must track under the Clean Air Act?  If you missed, it here is is again:

Q:  How do you remember the 6 air pollutants covered under NAAQS (National Ambient Air Quality Standards)?



So, get it? You need a NOSeCLiP to protect yourself from the NOSCLP pollutants!  Now, click on this link to study using an neat interactive “The Nitty Gritty on the 6 Most Harmful Pollutants.”

You guys are most familiar with this monitoring system when you see the ozone alert days here in Charlotte.  This is part of the AQI (Air Quality Index) system used to notify the public when ozone and particulates reach levels that can cause harm-especially for those who already have compromised lungs.

Have you noticed this in the paper or on the news?

Have you noticed this in the paper or on the news?

Image Source: http://www.airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=aqibasics.aqi

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Soil Review

ScribeBadge2009-2010On Wednesday we reviewed some of the qualities of soil.  To do this, we looked at a soil profile, and we also made our own edible version.

A soil profile is a view of the different layers of soil from the side, so it’s easy to separate each one.  These layers are also called horizons, and there are four  main ones that our text mentions- O, A, B, and C. Page 49 of our text has a good description as well.      http://soils.usda.gov/education/resources/lessons/profile/profile.jpg

A soil profile that contains the basic horizons.

A soil profile that contains the basic horizons.

Each of the horizons have distinct qualities that separate them from the others:

  • O- This is made up of the seasoned, dead organic matter known as “leaf litter.” It contains detritivores, and other small insects. The material we collected during the Davidson field trip was the O layer.
  • A- This is the topsoil. Combined with the O and E, which isn’t necessary to know, layers it makes up the zone of leaching. Humus is also found in this horizon. Humus is the nutrient-rich soil that is dark brown in color.
  • B- This is the subsoil and the zone of accumulation.
  • C- This is the parent material, which is made up of weathered, larger rocks. The R horizon lies below the C and is known as bedrock, but it isn’t necessary to know this layer either.

We then went on to make our own ice cream version.  First we added cookies, which were the R layer, next was the ice cream, which was the C layer.  On top of that we put whipped cream as the B layer and pudding represented the A layer. The O layer was a combination of nuts, chocolate chips, and other toppings. This helped us to visualize what makes up each of the horizons.

We also reviewed a soil triangle; it might be nice to make sure you know how to read one- clay is read on the horizontal, and silt and sand are read on the diagonal.

A soil triangle, notice how each one is read on different angles.

A soil triangle, notice how each one is read on different angles.


A review over the qualities of sand, silt, and clay:

Sand- It is the largest of the three and is very permeable, so it doesn’t retain water well. This results in lots of leaching, which causes nutrients to be lost because they are “leached” downwards through the horizons. This causes sand to have poor nutrient retention. On the other hand, it has very good water infiltration (absorption), but poor aeration.

Silt- It is the second largest and retains water and nutrients fairly well. Its aeration and ability to absorb water are fair too.

Clay- It is the smallest of the three, and  retains water and nutrients well.  However, it has poor water absorption and aeration.

A combination of the three soils makes the “best” type of soil, which is known as loam. Loam exhibits the best qualities of all three particles, which is why it’s so good.

That was about it, so I hope this helps anyone who needed a review of soil!

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Cool Population Graphic

Dr. Crumley sent me this one….

Can you believe this?

Can you believe this?


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