On Saturday seven of Mackinac's finest, also known as the Lake-n-ators, participated in the UP's only First Lego League Qualifying Tournament. This year's theme was Animal Allies.
Everything the kids did revolved round interactions between human and animals.
Mrs.B, the kid's coach (and also our high school math teacher,) has been coaching the island's 5th & 6th grade team for many years now. She's amazing by the way!
The group's first task was to work together as a team to build something to improve an interaction between humans and animals. They had a total of four minutes to organize, plan and build. It was really challenging.
Task two was to put on a skit for the judges. But not just any skit- it had to relate the groups research. Oh yes, did I mention that each team had to choose a problem that is occurring because of a human - animal interaction? Teams also had to come up with a solution to that problem and convey all their information in a five minute play; a play they wrote.
(The Lake-n-ators choose to research Michigan's little brown bat. Thousands of them use to flit around Mackinac at night devouring virtually all of our mosquitoes, but due to white nose syndrome the bat population on the Island has plummeted.)
After the kids finished preforming, each team member had to answer questions about the team's research. The island kids really shined here; they knew more about Michigan's little brown bat than most adults - including how to pronounce pseudogymnoascus destructans, the scientific name for white nose syndrome.
After their presentation, the Lake-n-ators had three practice runs with their Lego robot before the competition missions began.
They had a great time - especially beating the college team from Lake State, who did manage to bring their score up from negative infinity to negative Pi. The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) team got together the night before to work on their missions and skit to provide a little "friendly competition." The kids really got a hoot about watching the score keepers get creative with the IEEE's scores. In addition to the IEEE team, the island kids competed against teams from Petoskey, Charlevoix, Sault Ste. Marie, Cedarville, Menominee, and West Branch, Michigan. (Petoskey and Charlevoix each brought two teams.)
While their mission scores weren't high enough to go on to the next level of competition, the team did win a trophy because they did such an outstanding job on their presentation. All those practices and hours of research paid off!
As the mom of two team members and the teacher of the entire team, I can't put into words just how incredibly proud I am of all of them. The seven of them came together as a team, put in long hours after school, and worked tirelessly on their missions and research. I hope that every time each one of them walks by the the trophy case at school, he or she stands up a little straighter and feels a sense of pride seeing that Lego trophy sitting on the shelf.
Every fall, when the Island's hotels close, many donate leftover food to the school. Our cook is very good at menu planning with the random food items that appear, but sometimes she gets things she just can't use. Often it's the it items that have already been opened, or that will expire before she can get to them; those things she passes on to the staff and parents.
This fall she got tons of sour cream - in five pound tubs. One of which, came home with me. Luckily, I knew about this little gem of a recipe: Edna Mae's Sour Cream Pancakes - from the Pioneer Woman.
The recipe seems off, but trust it - the measurements work. The pancakes are light and fluffy, and they're delicious. According to my daughter, they're the best pancakes in the whole world. If you make them for more than two people, you'll want to double the recipe. A double batch made the perfect amount for my family of four.
Teaching at the Mackinac Island Public School is pretty amazing. Not only because it's Mackinac Island and our kids are fantastic, but because we have so many groups supporting our school...
Last week my co-teacher and I (with the help of some super parents) took our 21 fourth, fifth and sixth graders to Lansing - Michigan's Capital city. Most of our trip was generously funded by the Mackinac Island Community Foundation. You may remember this trip they funded for us a couple of years ago.
Our first stop was dinner at Shaw Hall - a residence hall at Michigan State University. For many of the kids it was their first visit to a college campus. I went to MSU and regularly ate lunch at Shaw, so it was fun for me to see just how far dorm food had come.
A few of the kids had seen it before, but for most of us, it was our first time and we were not disappointed. It was AMAZING! If you live in Michigan and you can get to Lansing in the next week or so - go! I know the play was spell-binding because several fourth grade boys insisted it was the best part of the whole trip!
After a good night's sleep we were off to Impression 5 Science Center for a morning of exploration.
There were so many interesting things to play with, the kids were in constant motion -
until it was time to come together to build electric circuits.
Next, we had a private tour of the Capitol Building.
Did you know one of the floors in the Capitol is made of glass? The kids were surprised to learn it was only about an inch thick.
They laid on that floor and marveled at the dome 160 feet above them.
One of my fourth grade girls loved the incredible light fixtures in the Capitol. "Look Mrs. B, even the lights match Michigan's flag." I love it when kids notice things like that.
And, as if that wasn't enough to cram into the trip, when we left the Capitol we drove over to Potter Park Zoo for their overnight program. Yep, we got to spend the night at the zoo!
We had time for a campfire complete with s'mores before it was time to settle down for an animal movie (Andre - a true story about a family that rehabilitates an injured seal.) Finally, it was time for bed. Which was a good thing because we were all ready for a little rest.
We had intended to visit Abrams Planetarium in the morning before we headed for home, but Mother Nature had other plans for us. The National Weather Service issued a gale warning for the Straits area (50 mph winds) for Friday afternoon through Saturday, so we decided to leave Lansing early. Hopefully we would miss the worst of the storm and get back to the Island before they possibly closed the Mackinac Bridge or shut down the ferry.
We arrived in Mackinaw City to find the bridge open, the ferries running, and happy parents eager to hear all about our adventure...
When you live on Mackinac Island you've got to be organized. For instance, a few Fridays ago I left the island after work to spend the weekend with some friends. I wanted to leave on a 3:00 boat, so going back "up the hill*" to get my stuff wasn't an option. I needed to be packed and ready to go before I left the house for work at 6:00 am Friday morning, so Thursday night was all about getting ready.
I packed up four bags of returnable soda cans ($31.10 for the vacation fund,) two big duffels of donations for Goodwill and my bag of clothes for the weekend. I also got out the tubs we use for bringing groceries home.
Friday morning I set everything out in the front yard. That way the dray could pick it up while I was at school and deliver it to the dock. When I got off the ferry Friday afternoon, everything was safe and sound, waiting for me. You might notice the bags are labeled "Star Mac City" - to make sure they got onto the right cart after they were dropped off at the dock
* I live "up the hill" which means to get to my house from town it's a pretty significant up hill bike ride or walk. I'm not sure what the incline is on the hill, but it's fairly steep. The hill definitely makes you think about organizing your day so your day so you don't have to go up more than necessary.
Change often comes hard to those of us who live on Mackinac. There is a certain predictability to our lives, and many of us like it that way. Not all mind you, there are those who thrive on drama, but I'm not one of them.
There is something comforting about routine - I like it. This week a 138 year Mackinac Island routine came to an end when the Arnold Transit Company closed its doors.
Star Line bought Arnold - they bought the boats, the docks, everything but the freight end of the business. Sure I know the boats will keep running, but lots of things are up in the air. I can't even imagine how the Arnold employees are feeling right now. My rational brain realizes these things happen every day, but my heart feels just a little bit sad at the thought of such a long-running business closing its doors.
I know I often griped about the slow boat, but you always got me home safely. Thank you, Arnold Line, for 32 years of safe travels.
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