Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

A letter from home ...

I found treasure on that island, but it came from home.
Thank you Dan.

From: Vukelich Daniel

To: Voskuil Rick

Subject: The Earth Watch Experience


After taking some time to reflect upon your efforts to travel through the air to a remote tropical location for the purpose of engaging your students in an expedition of research, I’ve come to realize it’s something they will never forget.

From the start you faced many challenges making this happen from the application process, to getting sub coverage, to making sure we had the technology in place to make things happen. Most of the challenges were overcome as you are not one to accept defeat on any level which is part of the reason I’m writing this email today. I both know and realize you felt somewhat let down at the fact your students didn’t receive all that you worked so hard to provided them. However, I assure you they took a lifetime's worth of memories from their/your involvement in this expedition.

I was in the library to bear witness to the day of your transmission. At first, the scene was a bit hectic with seventy plus students entering the room carrying a certain level of electricity and excitement at the fact they were going to see and hear their teacher speaking to them from a place they read and hear about in books. Oh, then you add in the fact that the news crew was there providing students with even more of a reason to believe something “Big” was about to transpire – and they were right. Then, the first transmission….. yet there was no picture on the screen? We quickly dissolved the transmission in hopes of getting the “technology back up and running” so the students could see their teacher….in the mean time an eager energy of anticipation was engulfing the students, teachers, and news crew alike… it was around this time the news crew came over to speak with some of the teachers and stated something along the lines of the cameras most likely wouldn’t roll if the picture problem wasn’t resolved…that was the tragic mistake they made as they packed up their gear and walked out on the true magic that was about to take place.

In comes the second transmission – instantly the entire room gets so quite you could have heard an insect crawling across the carpet. The events that transpired included an interaction between a teacher and his students that neither of you will forget. Stories like those of the lion fish or the shoe stealing island dog. From your cave explorations to your species identifications all while the students hung on your every word. Several different emotions filled our library that day including: laughter, curiosity, fascination, sorrow, and amazement. All parts of the conversation and events leading up to it will forever be both remembered and recalled by your students as a response to the stimulus you have forever planted in their heads as you said “over” after every closing statement you made across the air that day. By the end of our interactions with you the students were saying in chorus “over” as their teacher filled their minds with memories from and island in the sea.

You see I’ve come to realize that even if the camera rolled that day and the events were captured on film and shared with all that turn on a T.V. – it wasn’t about the capture of the event on a surface level as people have short selective memories when it come to most “news”. I’m not saying the time and effort put into making it all happen wasn’t worth while…I’m just saying that long after the public would have forgotten about that news broadcast your students will remember the day Mr. V intrigued and taught them from some location behind the library speakers providing them even more opportunity to open their minds, listen, and visualize their version of the island Mr. V was on…

You truly are a real life “Mr. Wizard” of whom, I have both respect and admiration for. Your teaching practices are as unique as the energy you walk around this campus with…I’m honored I’ve had the opportunity to work with you as well as learn from you over the past few years as your drive is truly about educating the student to a point of understanding their role/impact on the world both today and tomorrow. You truly are one of those teachers the students will remember long from now as I know your class/style will be forever burned into their memories - and that is perhaps one of the things I respect most about you


Daniel Vukelich

7th Grade Science


Monday, February 23, 2009

Your Species , Your Story

A Challenge...

Can you identify this coral? This video was taken on our last day (Friday). You can see how identification can take a bit of practice in the species habitat.

Many of you are still working on identifying a coral reef species for your story. Remember that your story needs to represent a conflict in the coral reef ecosystem in the marine (neritic) biome. In addition to the previous sites you have been able to access on this blog I have another one for you. Try this one from EXPERT VILLAGE

When you are looking for story ideas go to MICRODOCS .. they have great videos and some really good ideas. One in particular is ... It Really Sucks Being a Tuna

Do you know what this is? It looks a bit like an octopus, but the wrong number of ___?___ .
This was found when we were exploring the tide pools in the dark very late at night. (that's a You Tube..may not work at school.)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hey Manatees …

BUMMER MAN! No video feed today (Thursday).

I’m sorry. Shelby, who works for Earthwatch, has been working all week to keep the internet open and make sure our conferences go off without a hitch. It is practically an impossible task to master. We tested the video feed early in the morning and “thought” it was working. Then when it didn’t pop up at 1:30 we tried everything. Shelby switched cameras, rebooted, etc etc. Alas, to no avail.

The reason it didn’t work is the same reason we can’t send LOTS of pictures or videos… limited band width. I had several things to show you, a point intercept grid, mature and immature conch, fossilized maze coral, stubby finger coral, and a very special buoy.

I had a shoe to show you as well. After our trip to the San Salvador lighthouse this morning, we picked our way downhill to a cavern (many inlets and exits) on a poorly maintained trail through a dense thicket of burrs, limestone scrabble and slippery sand. An overtly friendly black-on-brown dog of mixed island heritage had accompanied us on our sojourn down from the lighthouse, through the brush and scrub to the cavern. He seemed to be quite fond of sniffing at my heels in particular, but he was none too troublesome – or so I thought at the time. When we reached the hole in the ground that served as the cavern entrance, nervous chatter accompanied our wetsuit squeeze–in tug-on dance in swim trunk underwear in the underbrush perilously exposing parts of our anatomy to an even more dense thicket of cactus, prickle bush and plants I can’t begin to identify. The pooch sat patient and attentive between our eleven piles of clothes and gear, eying each of us in turn as we carefully descended an old and somewhat rusty ladder into the cavern for some wet spelunking.

One after another we slipped over some slick rock, slid derrieres over limestone ledges, and stepped into waist deep water, bumping and banging our heads until we became used to ducking at the appropriate time. We waded knee, then waist, then neck, then chin deep through a narrowing one hundred foot long tube. Entering a cave (an underground room with only one way in or out) we found ourselves squatting in sea water – surprisingly discovering that were submerged sea level. I found a single thin colorless spine of a sponge about 4cm in height below the salt water’s surface. The only other life was two frisky snub-nosed flower bats- we think. We flickered our flashlights over the limestone formations, marveled at the time-formed twists and turns of leeching and trickling, and simply mellowed in the moment. Then, in a quieter softly different mood we returned one at a time back to the surface.

Upon exiting, I immediately noticed that one of my shoes was missing. I didn’t even search, so apparent was the crime, so obvious the culprit. Shoes don’t just walk or in the case of a solitary victim - hop away on their own. I could account for all of my fellow spelunkers, their alibis were apparent. It was obvious just who – should I say “what” absconded with my foot apparel. While this seeming misdemeanor delighted the others and was a source of poor puns and amusement, I on the other hand found no adventure in the predicament and was unwilling to see the humor in the perpetration of such a blatantly premeditated caper. As all the rest of the aquatic spelunkers donned their dry clothes and shoes I had to choose between wetsuit and dive booties or a long up and down hill hop. As you may be aware, dive booties fill with water while immersed and only empty when you remove them. So I slipped and sloshed from the lowest depths of the island back to the lighthouse atop the highest hill in San Salvador along with my dry- footed friends, spicing my vernacular with each foot gouge all the while considering an extensive menu of potential repercussions should we apprehend the canine criminal.

When we stepped through the open gateway cut in the gray stone wall surrounding the lighthouse the culprit was spied prancing no less around the base of the lighthouse. I approached the suspect in question. His tail swished side to side in faux innocence. Other members of our party fanned out across the hilltop, some in search of the missing Merrels and some to cut-off any dash for escape. Not surprisingly evidence from other canine capers was discovered left and right scattered conveniently about the lighthouse lawn. It seems my case was simply another in a long life of crime - a serial foot felony. As I confronted the cunning canine culprit, I noticed that his posture portrayed remorse, his head turned contritely aside. Yet, a certain twinkle in his eye remained and a slight sly curve in his smile couldn’t be truly concealed. It was obvious he was not about to truly give up his felonious ways. He bowed his head for a scratch behind the ear, and politely rolled over for a belly rub. All the hikers lined up to pay him a petting homage and goodbye.

He sat stoic at the door to the white lighthouse as I took back my purloined property, placed it once again on my foot, bid him well with an ear-scratch and a pat, and headed back to the truck for my ride home. I turned one last time to bid farewell but he had slipped from sight. I took his smile with me as I left.

When you visit the San Salvador light house in the middle of the island in the middle of the ocean in the middle of practically nowhere…and then decide to visit the cave far below, watch your step. There resides a four-footed brown-eyed character just waiting to play you for some island soul.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Some things are meant to be...


Some things just visit ....


Some things DON'T belong.....