The Math of Planting Garlic

October 10, 2013

Planting a bed of garlic at the Heifer Ranch CSA.

Planting a bed of garlic at the Heifer Ranch CSA.

One of the jobs my class helped with at the Heifer Ranch was planting garlic in the Heifer CSA garden. The gardeners had laid rows and rows of this black plastic mulch to keep down the weeds, protect the soil, and help keep the ground warm over the winter.

Laying down the plastic using a tractor. The mechanism simultaneously lays down a drip line beneath the plastic for watering.

Laying down the plastic using a tractor. The mechanism simultaneously lays down a drip line beneath the plastic for watering.

We then used an improvised puncher to put holes in the plastic through which we could plant cloves of garlic pointy side up. The puncher was a simple flat piece of plywood, about one foot by three feet in dimensions, with a set of bolts drilled through. The bolts extended a few inches below the board and would be pressed through the black plastic. Two handles on each side of the board made it easier for two people to maneuver and punch row after row of holes.

Punching holes in the plastic.

Punching holes in the plastic.

As I took my turn punching holes, we did the math to figure out just how much garlic we were planting. A quick count of the last imprint of the puncher showed about 15 holes per punch. Each row was about 200 feet long, which made for approximately 3,000 heads of garlic per row.

We managed to plant one and a half rows. That meant about 4,500 garlic cloves. With ten people planting, that meant each person planted about 450 cloves. Not bad for an afternoon’s work.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. The Math of Planting Garlic, Retrieved September 23rd, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Arkansan Spiders

October 9, 2013

The Heifer Ranch is home to quite the variety of large spiders, including the tarantulas we found a couple years ago. Most of them work hard at keeping the insect pests down. Here’s a collection of some of them we ran into this year.

A green spider from near the Heifer global village's refugee camp.

A green lynx spider from near the Heifer global village’s refugee camp.

A brown spider found in the brush on the dam.

A brown spider found in the brush on the dam.

A wolf spider with babies on its back. Found in the grass near the foot of the dam.

A wolf spider with babies on its back. Found in the grass near the foot of the dam.

Yellow garden spider found in the herb garden.

Yellow garden spider found in the herb garden.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Arkansan Spiders, Retrieved September 23rd, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Heifer 2013

September 29, 2013

The partially completed version of the artwork that our students gave to the Heifer facilitators.

The partially completed version of the artwork that our students gave to the Heifer facilitators. The border pattern comes from the DNA Writer.

This year’s trip to the Heifer International Ranch was as excellent as it has been in the past. Students worked in their CSA garden (planting garlic and picking peppers and tomatoes for example), helped with maintenance on the grounds, assisted with taking care of their livestock, and spent a night at their global village. We saw quite the variety of spiders.

Each night, students spent a half-hour doing some reflective writing in their journals, and we had a discussion or lesson that tied into what they’d done or seen during the day.

  • Sunday: The geologic and geographic importance of rivers. I’d pointed out the all the agriculture on the Arkansas river floodplain when we’d crossed it on the drive down, so we talked about how rivers erode mountains and deposit rich soils on their floodplains, and how important those floodplain and deltaic deposits have been in the emergence of civilizations and the location of cities.
  • Monday: Language Arts. We took a short passage out of one of the students’ journaling to use as an apprentice sentence.
  • Tuesday: Global village. Our group ended up in the Guatemalan house and the slums. The dire situation in the sums evoked some moral flexibility.
  • Wednesday: Art: Drawing vegetables with watercolor and color pencils. We took advantage of having our art teacher along as one of the chaperones. Life in the slums: We also talked about the difference between our experience in the simulated global village and real life in the slums.
  • Thursday: Social interaction. We were paired with the Girls’ School of Austin, who invited us over for smores after our debriefing of the week’s activities by the facilitators. Our boys, in particular, learned how to start and maintain a conversation with people of the opposite gender.

Students also had a bit of time between lunch and the afternoon activities, which they spent playing games and looking at insects under the microscope.

On the last day, we talked about giving something to the heifer facilitators. One student suggested a coded bead string, but since we did not have any beads, we went with a drawing (see above) that was bordered by a DNA sequence giving the names (and symbols) of all the water-balloon babies the group had on their visit to the global village.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Heifer 2013, Retrieved September 23rd, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Situational Morality

September 29, 2013

The stolen milk.

The stolen milk.

“Stealing is always wrong,” versus, “If I were starving, I’d steal from A. no problem.” That was the gist of our discussion the evening after spending a night in the Heifer’s global village.

The “slum dwellers” had started off with very little in the way of resources, and two of them decided, on their own initiative, to steal some “milk” for their “baby” from the “Guatemalans” who were significantly better off. However, the rest of the slum group found out there was quite a bit of dissension in the ranks.

The thieves also stole most of the rest of the milk while they were at it to trade with the other groups. Their logic — I think — was that since all the groups needed milk, and they would be distributing it, then everyone could ultimately get what they needed, while if they had not stolen the milk then the slums might not have gotten any.

The reverberations throughout the all the houses in the global village were profound, however, lots of distrust and animosity developed that had not been there before. It made it more difficult for the slums to get the other resources that they needed, because the other groups could not trust their motivations.

In fact, the other groups ended up having a harder time trading and communicating with each other because of the breakdown in trust. One other group started to lie about what they had and did not have. At first this was to deter theft, but they quickly realized that they could use this to their advantage.

Interestingly, it all worked out in the end. The slum dwellers felt guilty enough to exhibit real concern when they thought their plan had gone wrong and one of the other groups did not have any milk. The Guatemalans ended up with enough resources of their own to have a decent dinner, and even passed on some of their left-over vegetables to the slums. The slums invited everyone over to the “christening” of their water-balloon baby and everyone came. And we got to have a richer discussion than if everyone had just been nice to everyone else.

A generous donation to the slums.

A generous donation to the slums.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Situational Morality, Retrieved September 23rd, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

You Can See the Stars From the Slums, Sometimes

September 26, 2013

Writing with light.

Writing with light.

I spent another night in the slums. With a different group the dynamics were a bit different. Since I was not to intervene, I spent some of my time taking pictures of the stars.

The stars at night.

The stars at night.

And pictures with light.

An attempt at a figure eight.

An attempt at a figure eight.

Trees and stars.

Trees and stars.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. You Can See the Stars From the Slums, Sometimes, Retrieved September 23rd, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Grasshopper

September 24, 2013

Grasshopper under the microscope. (10x magnification).

Grasshopper under the microscope. (10x magnification).

I caught a grasshopper in the bushes this morning. They’re a bit of a pest at Heifer so I didn’t feel too badly about bringing it in to inspect under the microscope.

The students found it to be curious as well. So much so, that one decided — of her own volition — to diagram it as well; including one of the small fecal pellets our grasshopper had graciously deposited into its petri dish.

Exploratory diagram of a grasshopper (by E.H.).

Exploratory diagram of a grasshopper (by E.H.).

When we get back, I’ll point out Cmassingale’s nice grasshopper dissection page. It’s a pretty decent reference for gross anatomy.

Students studying a grasshopper under the microscope.

Studying a grasshopper under the microscope.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Grasshopper, Retrieved September 23rd, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Abby Stood

September 23, 2013

Abby stood, contemplating.

Abby stood, contemplating.

“On a particularly humid day, Abby stood, seemingly staring at the goat that was munching and crunching on oak leaves right in front of her. But really, she was contemplating the rather large fire-ant hill at her feet.” — by A.R.

So begins a rather curious short story, based on real-life events, in which a student faces a crucial, life-changing decision. Somewhat life changing for her, but rather more life changing for a bunch of ants.

This journal entry precipitated an impromptu language lesson that ended with a semi-official apprentice-sentence assignment.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Abby Stood, Retrieved September 23rd, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

Taking Down the Wall

September 23, 2013

Using a ratchet to remove a hexagonal screw.

Using a ratchet to remove a hexagonal screw.

Since we’re studying forces and mechanics in science I’ve asked students to keep an eye out for any simple machines we encounter at Heifer.

Citing this post: Urbano, L., 2013. Taking Down the Wall, Retrieved September 23rd, 2017, from Montessori Muddle: http://MontessoriMuddle.org/ .
Attribution (Curator's Code ): Via: Montessori Muddle; Hat tip: Montessori Muddle.

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