Building Kayaks: Our First Test Float

Our year-long endeavor to build kayaks from scratch passed a big milestone last Friday: our first test float! We headed up to Abiquiu Reservoir with our boats. Our partners at the US Army Corps of Engineers let us borrow some of their loaner life jackets (If you’re ever up at Abiquiu, check it out! You can borrow a life jacket for free!).

As soon as the students arrived, the wind picked up. With overcast skies and water temperatures in the 40s, we were all really motivated to stay dry.

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First things first: discussing safety in the water
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Trying on a life jacket

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“Who wants to go first?” “ME!!!”

Our students couldn’t believe that the day had arrived. We found out that none of them actually expected the kayaks to float! Fortunately, they were wrong.

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First kayak away

We were lucky to have a few sets of parents show up to watch this initial boat launch. They watched from shore as our students got comfortable paddling around in a sheltered cove.

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Big smiles on every face

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Many thanks to one of our fantastic moms for taking this photo of the entire group!

Our kayaks turned out beautifully, and they performed well on this test float. We’re really looking forward to our next class when (we hope) the weather will be better so that we can explore the lake ecosystem using human power!

Stay tuned for video from this outing!

 

Birding in Tierra Amarilla

Last Thursday we headed back north to Tierra Amarilla to meet with the 5th and 6th graders from Tierra Amarilla Elementary. We planned on heading to Heron Lake State Park to test water quality and compare lake and river ecosystems.

This plan ended up being modified a little because the ospreys are back! We pulled the bus over on the side of the road to check out a nest with two ospreys, and we discovered that these students are not only great (quiet) birders… they’re actually very interested in birds!

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Quietly checking out a nest with an osprey on it

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Learning to use a spotting scope

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The view through the spotting scope

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Looking up Osprey in the bird book

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After this quick detour, we headed to the boat ramp. Once again, we pulled out the spotting scope, and our students were all over it. They spotted many birds, including one in particular that we were very excited to see!

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Seeking birds on the lake

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Learning how to use the index to look up a bird
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A Common Loon!
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A Spotted Sandpiper
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Students trying to sneak up on the sandpiper

 

We did discuss water quality and the differences between lake and river ecosystems, but our students learned a great deal about the birds on Heron Lake in the spring, how to use binoculars and spotting scopes to observe these birds, and how to look up birds in a bird guide. This is a perfect example of our philosophy- science is all around us! There’s always an opportunity to learn if you keep your eyes open and ask questions!

 

Another Final Project Teaser

Once again I can’t ruin the surprise of our final projects for our 4th-6th grade River Classroom from Española, but here are some teaser photos showing how hard our students worked last week. We’re so impressed with these projects, and we can’t wait for our students to show them off at Open House!

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Researching, cutting, pasting, sculpting… we were all very busy. These projects show off the knowledge that our students have gained through the year and will teach our Open House guests a little of that material as well.

 

Building Kayaks: The Final Coat of Paint

Spring has officially arrived, and our kayak builders are right on schedule to finish their boats in time for good weather. This week our 7th-9th grade students from Española put the final coats of paint on their boats. Our launch date is quickly approaching!

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Shaking up a can of paint

Each student designed his or her own boat and selected colors.

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As the coats of paint were layered on and the end of our winter-long project drew near, smiles got wider and wider!

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Of course, with painting there was a little bit of time where all we could do was sit and watch the paint dry (and discuss buoyancy)…

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… and then we got back to painting!

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Mixing a custom color

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We’re really looking forward to getting these boats in the water! We’re also looking for paddles for these boats, so if you have an older one that you wouldn’t mind donating, please give us a call (or send us an email)!