TTS23 in the Galapagos Islands

TTS23 in the Galapagos Islands
From left to right: Scout, Lindsey, Sophie, Feyza, Erin, Caroline, Lena, Susannah, Charlotte, Rebecca, Allie, Hannah, Alizah, Maisie, Anne, Kate, Courtney

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Academic Updates from Heather

Global Studies
During our stay in the chilly and damp cloud forest in Yunguilla, girls studied eco-tourism as they participated in community-supported projects by making cheese and marmalade, milking cows, weeding the community organic garden, and planting trees for reforestation efforts. Local community members talked to our group about the benefits and challenges of creating and maintaining their community-based initiative which currently employs about 90% of the Yunguilla population through guiding, providing food and lodging for tourists, and working in the projects previously mentioned. We learned about the plants of the area and the area's history as a pre-Incan trade route and later a smuggling route for illegal alcohol bound from Columbia to Quito. Girls gave back to the community by participating in a minga (community work day) to pave a new road gained perspective on the difficulties of our native tongue while teaching English in a local elementary school.
A long windy bus ride took us down from the Ecuadorian mountains into the rain forest of Tena. From their reading of the book Savages, girls had background knowledge of the issues and history of oil extraction in the Amazon and Lindsey pointed out the oil pipeline that followed the highway for part of our journey, carrying crude from the Amazon to the coast for exporting. On one of our first days in Tena, girls learned first-hand about the local customs of carnival on an adventure through downtown where we were splashed with water, ambushed with silly string, and decorated with face paint. We traveled by canoe deeper into the rain forest for a four-day trip where we visited local communities to learn about local indigenous customs for planting and trapping, and tasted the results of chocolate made by hand. We reconsidered the topic of ecotourism during a visit to a community tourism project started entirely by local indigenous women who sought economic independence. While in the jungle, our guides spoke to the group about their personal experiences working for oil companies and their views on the benefits and dangers of oil extraction in Ecuador. Upon returning to our hostel on the outskirts of Tena, girls were each assigned a personality with a different perspective on oil policy in Ecuador. They used these perspectives to guide their research in preparation to appear on the TTS23 production of Primer Impacto – our oil-focused version of a popular Latin American talk show. Personalities on the show included a representatives PetroEcuador (Scout), PetroChina (Lindsey), Amazon Watch (Lena), various indigenous groups (Kate, Susannah, Rebecca, and Sophie), members of the Ecuadorian government (Feyza, Alizah, and Allie), scientists (Maise and Hannah), a member of the colono mestizo population (Charlotte), lawyers in the case against Chevron (Anne and Caroline), a whistle-blower from inside the Chevron cooperation (Erin), and a local from the Tena community (Courtney). Through the talk show discussion, girls demonstrated their learning about the complex health, environmental, economic, and human rights issues surrounding oil extraction in Ecuador.

Algebra 2
In the past weeks, girls of Algebra 2 have revisited the concepts of inverse functions while studying exponential functions and their inverses, logarithms. We applied exponential functions to describe situations of exponential growth and decay, including interest, depreciation of price, and radioactive decay. Using graphs and tables, girls constructed the inverse of the general exponential function, the logarithm. We learned properties of logarithms and compared these properties with their analogies in the exponential world. Application of logarithm properties allowed us to evaluate logarithms and solve both exponential and logarithmic equations. We explored asympotes and domain and range of exponential and logarithmic functions through graphing exercises. Girls finished their work with exponents and logarithms and prepared for a cumulative midterm test covering all topics for the first part of the semester.

In the past weeks of Precalculus, Hannah and Sophie have teamed together to apply their knowledge of trigonometric functions to verify trigonometric identities and solve trigonometric functions. Solving these trigonometry puzzles requires creative application of trigonometric identities and properties as well as solid understanding of the periodic nature of trigonometric funcitons. The graph below shows the graph of y = cos(x) in blue and y = 1/2 in red. From graph, you can see that the equation cos(x) = 1/2 has solutions x = π/3, 5π/3, 7π/3, and so on.

Rebecca and Erin worked to apply their previous knowledge of functions and transformations to understand graphs of logarithmic and exponential functions. Their experience with inverse functions informed their understanding of the relationship between logarithmic and exponential functions and graphs including domain, range, intercepts, and asymptotes. We used properties of exponents and the definition of logarithms to derive logarithm properties, and then applied these properties to simplify logarithmic expressions and to solve exponential and logarithmic equations. While they are in the Galapagos Islands, all precalculus girls will apply the Law of Sines and Law of Cosines with known distances between islands to calculate the bearings that the ship must take to sail from one island to the next.

Beginning Spanish

With a much-awaited classroom study of verb conjugation, girls in beginning Spanish have formalized and practiced basic verb conjugation that they have picked up from conversation. Through written and oral exercises, they have practiced conjugations for all regular -ar, -ir, and -er verbs, as well as conjugations for tener, ser, and estar. Girls have crafted sentences to demonstrate the different uses of ser and estar and have used the verb tener in idiomatic expressions such as "I'm hungry" (Tengo hambre) or "I'm hot" (Tengo calor). On Oil Day, our interdisciplinary explosion of learning about oil extraction in Ecuador, beginning Spanish girls kicked off the day with a presentation of their oil-related vocabulary board. As we travel, girls continue to collect words that they learn through conversation in their journals. We have just begun to read our first novel, Pobre Anna, a short reader about a Californian girl who travels to Mexico. In the upcoming week, girls will learn new vocabulary and will have practice reading and writing with proper present tense verb conjugation as they read the novel and respond to discussion questions.  

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