Friday, May 30, 2014

Tomatoes In Space

photo credit:

This year is my second time participating in the Tomatosphere Project. The idea is to help astronauts find ways to grow food in space during their space travel mission.

This year's project is especially exciting because one of the packets of seeds went to space for 22 months on board the International Space Station! Commander Chris Hadfield brought them back to earth on May 15, 2013. So the seeds have traveled more than 450 million kilometres!

For the experiment, I have to first put the teensy little seeds in peat pellets. There are 2 packets of seeds: one has gone to space and one hasn't (the control group), and we don't know which one is which. I have to water the pellets and track the seed germination everyday. A seed is considered to be germinated when 2 distinct leaves can be seen.

So far, group T seems to be doing very well in terms of germination even though it started later than group V. Group V shows steady growth but it has less germinated seeds.

I have 26 seeds in total that have germinated so far. That's a lot of tomatoes to eat this summer!

Sunday, May 25, 2014


In preparation for the upcoming intensive Shakespeare Workshop with Mike Stack, we're reading through Macbeth. For years we've enjoyed many performances at Bard on the Beach; this will be our first time studying a Shakespeare play. We love the intensity of Shakespearean English and the dramatic plot of murder and betrayal!

Here's Serena attempt at performing Macbeth's "Tomorrow" soliloquy in Act 5 Scene 5:

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Giorgio Morandi

I painted this still life with artists' pastel at Mr. Tony's Art Class. It was inspired by an Italian artist, Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964). Morandi is famous for painting vases, but empty vases without flowers. He saw the vases as a symbol of the human body, filling them with water as we drink water.

Notice in my painting that light is coming from the top right corner. You can see the orange reflection from the table cloth onto the vase, and the yellow on top of the green leaves. The light spot on the vase highlights the glass texture of the vase.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Klondike Gold Rush

The "Gold Rush Fever - A Story of the Klondike, 1898" by Barbara Greenwood is a fictional story about a boy named Tim and his brother Roy trying to strike it rich in the Klondike.

These are the interesting things I learned about the Gold Rush:

- Only a very small percentage of the prospectors actually made it to Dawson, because the journey to Yukon was very dangerous. You had to go through the Chilkoot Pass where the "Golden Stairs" were. (See photo above.) They had to carry one-year's supplies on their backs up sheer ice stairs!

- Bonanza Creek in the Yukon was actually called Rabbit Creek. It was renamed "Bonanza!" after a large amount of gold was found there, first discovered by George Carmack, his wife Kate, and her brothers, Skookum Jim Keish and Tagish Charley.

- Dawson was a quiet town that was transformed into a buzzling city because of the gold rush. But the town was very rundown. A smart businesswoman named Belinda Mulrooney became famous for opening up the Fairview Hotel where she provided prospectors with food and comfortable beds, in return for their gold dust.

Did you know:
  • storekeepers could make a fortune by sweeping the floor covered by stray gold dust that careless prospectors scattered?
  • crafty storekeepers wanting to cheat their customers would grow their fingernails out or wet their fingers before dipping their hand into a prospector's "poke" (small leather bag for keeping gold dust) so extra gold dust would stick to their fingers?
This is a very cool and educational website with historical photos of the Klondike Gold Rush. Check it out and have fun!

I also read "The Cremation of Sam McGee" and "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" by Robert W. Service. They're two famous dramatic ballads that give you an idea of the crazy conditions during the gold rush.

Flute Vibrato

Serena, tell us about this song by Louis Drouet you just played for us.
It is a difficult song because you need to use lots of vibrato and you need LOTS of air, big big breaths!

What is vibrato?
Vibrato is when you vibrate your throat to make the notes sound wavy.  It is a new technique I'm learning.

Do you like this song?
Yes, I like this song because it's so dramatic and emotional.

What was that "ding" in the middle of your performance??
That was your phone!