Sunday, June 7, 2009

Speaking of graveyards

Remembering Beaufort yesterday I looked and discovered they are NOT on our NHA list. ????

So, I am researching as I write. First, there is the Old Burying Ground that is the whole history of the United States in one visit. It is one of the oldest graveyards in North Carolina.

Importantly, for the Revolution, the highest ranking officer of the Revolution from Beaufort, Col. William Thomson, is buried there and his tombstone is a message for all. Click on the link above and after you see the Colonel's, you can take a virtual tour of the graveyard if you can't plan a summer visit.

I planned a wonderful trip to Beaufort year before last. As a child, we used to visit Atlantic Beach every summer to stay at my Mom's friend's fine beach house. This was about 30 years ago. (Since then, we now take off to my Aunt's property, Floyd's in North Myrtle Beach. I see only the address and phone number can be found on the web, but it is a charming place in SC with a front porch and rocking chairs across the street from the beach. Surrounded by high rise condo's, it has all you need-kitchenette's, TV and air condition of course, but it is most importantly a family place very reasonably priced and in a great location with flowers and a grassy front yard.) But, I have wonderful memories about the Crystal Coast. I remember the feeling I got coming into town. The beach is just a real vacation for me. Beaufort and Atlantic Beach are only two of several towns you need to see.

I also can teach high school science. I did it only two years between designing positions. I must say I have to agree with William Lenoir about teacher pay. It is HARD work. Anyway, in a fit of rebellion, I took my freshmen earth science class , who were NOT facing an end-of-course test, to UNC in Chapel Hill to see the Morehead planetarium and the famous Zeiss Star Projector.

The next semester my reputation exploded. I had freshmen running in thrilled to be in my class. My eyebrows raised, but how important it was to those kids to be able to get out and see the real world. This explains why history, science, and experiments are SO important to education. My plug for the heritage area is to primarily create paths for kids to experience our great state.

These next kids wanted to go the beach to see earth science in action. I told them the trip to UNC only cost $20 and this would cost $250 at least and was so far, we'd have to spend the night and they only had 70 days to raise that cash! I didn't see how we could do it. We can do it!! they exclaimed. I didn't want to discourage them. So, I designed a program and I picked Beaufort as the target because of the science, history and opportunities to explore.

We were going to the State Farmer's Market in Raleigh for breakfast after leaving Elkin at 4 am on a tour bus. I had in mind to invite the Governor and our representatives to meet us and talk about the drought. We were to stay at Duke University Marine Lab, with its dorm facitilies and great cook, its common areas and museum of specimens. Dominick Brugnolotti was in charge there. He went to high school with me!! I didn't know that when I called, so it was like a sign that this was to be. We were of course going to go out to sea on a boat. We were going to work at the Rachel Carson Estuary , see the Cape Lookout Lighthouse, look for wild ponies, go to the Pine Knoll Shores Aquarium and the NC Maritime Museum.

We had an opportunity to see the nuclear plant at Southport ( Ft. Johnson?) or come back to Shearon-Harris Nuclear plant at New Hill. And ALL of this was free to students!!!! We had only to pay for the two nights bed and board at Duke. I was SO amazed. I was so excited!

But.... my parent meeting only brought out 2 parents out of 30 families all from Yadkin county. One flat could not afford $250 in 70 days to make the trip. The other was able to do it and had time to chaporone. Everyone else could not spare the money or the time and we were going to go on the weekend in addition to our regular school day. I think the idea of such a big adventure was too fabulous to get them to be part of the brainstorming. I don't know. But, I missed the energetic minority.

So, I see a need. We sold Domino's pizza cards and most kids made about $20 dollars. I bought about 19 cards (x 16 free pizzas) and donated them to church. Anyway, we had about enough to make a trip to Winston and we did go. More about that in a minute. But, we need a creative and generous thought to connect the museums and science centers to school age kids, especially the high school students, with capital and chaporone resources. Can the National Heritage Area be that conduit? All the sciences, humanities, and arts are connected to the American Revolution. The United States itself is one big experiment. It still is. We have to reach out to our immediate families somehow because we need leaders and we need engineers.

I took these kids to see Vulcan Materials in Winston-Salem where the chief geologist, Mr. Gutierrez himself, showed us the Joseph Andres Gutierrez Earth Science Museum and Education Center and talked about all the products coming from the earth. Mr. Gutierrez was so wonderful!! After the quarry, we saw a warehouse of rock types. He dropped a bucket of gravel into a stack of sieves. The aggregate for asphalt stayed at the top and a powdery dust sank into the bottom, though a sieve too small to allow water through and it was softer than baby bunnies and you know what it was? Minerals for your face. Make-up. Who knew?

We went to Sciworks. The students old enough rode a segway. We had talks about the extinction of species and saw some important animals. I didn't hold the snake, but otherwise it was very cool. It was the next very best thing to the beach.

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