Thursday, March 3, 2016 –Day 6
Answer to yesterday’s question:
Kristy Berington – blue headband on left
Anna Berington – red headband on right
My day began at 6:30 am (10:30 Eastern Standard Time) with a Skype session with Dexter Classes Four and Five. Thanks to the support of Mr. Williams and Mr. Levasseur at school, the boys were able to ask me questions about my experiences, and I was able to let them know about many of the interesting events that I have attended and teachers that I have met from both the US and from around the world. Yesterday I was in a car with teachers from Alaska, Illinois, South Korea, and Virginia. I had a long conversation with a man named Gary from the remote Alaskan village of Shaktoolik. I was fascinated to learn about his culture and thought about how different it was from my experiences. I learned, like many of the villages in remote Alaska, this town is not connected to a road system. Transportation to and from the town is by airplane, snow machine, dog sled, and by boat when the port is free of ice.
During the conference I learned from Jen Reiter, a previous Teacher on the Trail™, that dogs that live in areas of really cold weather have five important adaptations that allow them the survive. 1) These dogs have two coats of fur, an inner coat and an outer coat. Jen described this as wearing a warm fleece under an outer raincoat shell. 2) These dogs have paws which are extra tough. Booties are worn not to protect the pads, but rather to prevent balls of snow and ice from forming between the pads. 3) When the dogs sleep they keep their nose warm with their large, bushy tail. 4) These dogs have extra-long tongues which allows them to cool down when running. 5) The blood circulation system is also a little different. The blood in the dog remains warm during the entire circulation process, instead of moving from warm to cool as it does in humans.
An interesting handwriting exercise that Jen conducts with her class involves a bucket of ice water. She has her students place their hands in a bucket of ice water, and then she has them write a paragraph. The idea is to demonstrate how the very cold temperatures affects the mushers’ ability to perform a task. DXSF 4 students are able to add a new challenge to Monday’s spelling/ cursive handwriting homework assignment!
Today I was able to meet Trent Herbst, who is one of the mushers competing in the 2016 Iditarod. Trent is a fourth grade teacher from Ketchum, Idaho. He attended the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse and majored in Education. He has taught in Argentina, Dominican Republic, Germany, and Switzerland before settling in Idaho. To learn more about Trent and his dog team, visit his webpage http://www.trentherbst.com
Trent was teaching his class yesterday and had his handler drive his dogs from Idaho to Alaska. He received permission from his school to take a few days off to race in the Iditarod. Most of the race will occur during his spring break. Wow!
I have been looking forward to speaking with Trent about his 4th grade class, the curriculum he follows, his world travels, and his unique experience participating in the Iditarod. Trent does conduct a lot of STEM activities in the classroom. As a learning activity in school, he has his students build their own dogsleds and actually use them. Students research a design, gather the necessary material, build the sleds by hand and then actually attach them to sled dogs and go for a ride. How much fun is that! See the video of this project on his webpage.
In the evening we attended the Musher Drawing Banquet at the Dena’ina Convention Center in Anchorage. At this dinner event, each musher participating in the race was called up on stage in the order he or she signed up for the race. The mushers are then given an opportunity to speak and thank their sponsors, friends and family members who have supported them as they prepare for the race. Additionally, each person puts his or her hand into a large boot and randomly draws a number that will be the person’s starting order. The Iditarod race has a staggered start. This means that starting at 10:00 am on Sunday morning, the mushers start at 2 minute intervals. Does this mean that the first musher to leave has a huge advantage? No! During the mandatory 24 hour rest the second to last musher to leave has to wait 24 hours and two minutes. The third to last musher to leave has to wait 24 hours and four minutes. The fourth to last musher to leave has to wait 24 hours and 6 minutes. This pattern continues all the way to the first musher. Thus, the first musher to cross the finish line in Nome is the winner of the race.