Monday, November 7, 2011

Class updates from Leah

Algebra 2

The six Algebra students have continued to apply themselves through a variety of classroom settings. Alongside the Orange River, near the Prohitibited Area of DeBeers Diamond Mining and amongst the sand dunes of the Namib Desert. We completed chapter 4 on Matrices. Students completed the chapter with a chapter quiz. We have moved through 2 sections of Chapter 5 on quadratic functions. We have specifically focused on graphing quadratic functions and analyzing transformations of quadratic functions through the vertex form of quadratic equations. We will have a midpoint chapter test soon.

Natural Science

Namibia is one of the best places in the world to study geology. Our Geology Unit has been designed around our travels through the vast, dramatic landscape of Namibia. Background information has been bolstered with our kayaking trip along the Orange River, a visit to Fish River Canyon, our travels by the Prohibited Area of Namdeb (Namibia-Debeers), a visit to the diamond mining ghost town of Kolmanskop and our travels through the Namib Desert. With real life examples to observe and analyze, we have discussed the geologic time line, plate tectonics, geologic history through reading the stratigraphy (layers) of rock formations, creation of the African continent, the rock cycle, rock and mineral identification and eolian processes (wind erosion and sand dune formation). Students completed detailed journal entries at several locations, as well as completed a mineral identification lab. We analyzed the uses of minerals in everyday products, as well as studied how diamonds are formed and how their properties tie into the role of gemstones in our society. Having traveled through a variety of land management areas, we will begin our next unit with a trip to the Cheetah Conservation Fund, looking at conservation biology and land management issues.

History and Government of Southern Africa

During our first week in Namibia, the students finished reading the memoir, My Traitor’s Heart by Rian Malan. For their final assignment students wrote a letter to the author, applying their thoughts and expressing connections between his book and their experiences in South Africa. We turned our lens to the history of Namibia through colonization and diamond history. Knowledge of South Africa’s history creates the perfect backdrop to understand Namibia’s struggles from being German colonized Southwest Africa into independence in 1990. The history students learned about the major transitions faced by this nation, as well as analyzed the diamond mining history of Namibia. Each student analyzed an aspect of diamond mining/ industry and presented to the Global Studies class. Topics included the formation of diamonds, the role of DeBeers marketing campaign, and the challenges facing certain African countries with conflict/blood diamonds. A final wrap up project for our travels through South Africa, students completed a map of South Africa that included our route, major cities, provinces and major historical landmarks. These projects will help students when they transition home, as they can show you where in South Africa they were and what they studied there.

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