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Writing Workshop: Authors, Diplomats, Dancers, Statues, and Naturalists

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Authors, Diplomats, Dancers, Statues, and Naturalists

My original intention was to write a final post for writing workshop and one for the naturalist workshop, a listing of what we have been doing for the past few weeks in each, but some projects have blended together across the older group’s programming, so I will just recount highlights of the naturalists, the writers, and the participants in Model UN and Odyssey of the Mind.

After listening to recordings of Dylan Thomas, Robert Frost, and Gertrude Stein reading their work, the writing workshop selected a Stein-inspired title for their anthology:  An Anthology is an Anthology is a Rose: The Amazing Collection from People Who Did Some Stuff with Words.

Each member of the workshop read from our anthology on the evening of May 7. The selections were rich and varied, including poems and short story excerpts. Odyssey of the Mind participants also shared their long-term projects that evening.  The Odyssey performances brimmed with creativity and a wonderful spirit of teamwork.

The following week, the writing workshop visited our new home, Awbury Arboretum, to hear stories from Dick Kimber, a member of the family that created the arboretum, who shared what it was like growing up there, surrounded by cousins and trees.  We really got a feel for how the neighborhood used to be, and then we walked around the grounds with Dick to compare his recollections with how the space looks today.

We were well represented a week later at the Junior Model UN Conference at Temple University, with three groups representing the Philippines in the areas of cyber security, food security, and universal access to education.  The conference selected our food security team’s resolution for discussion.  In their committee, they took questions about the details of their resolution, and all three teams spent the day drafting amendments and voting on resolutions.

The group changed gears the following Tuesday to complete our Angel Project for Odyssey of the Mind, a project that gives back to our local community.  Writing workshop and Odyssey participants worked together to bring smiles to people through words and dance.  Some members wrote inspiring words on rocks that we placed around Miles Park.  Some members left behind smile-provoking messages in sidewalk chalk at Miles Park.  At Plymouth Meeting Mall, members of the group performed a flash mob near the food court and again for a group of children in a play area in the center of the mall.  The whole group tried being statues, first individually and later, as a crowd that froze as a person approached.  This brought many smiles, especially when the group entered the AT&T store and even inspired an employee to become a statue.

All through the month of May, the naturalists enjoyed Fort Washington State Park and the grounds of Talking Stick (when the threat of thunderstorms kept us at St. Thomas).  At Fort Washington, some members observed a baby fox, and we all had the chance to watch a hawk eating its prey.

Naturalists played bird song bingo and a game about seed dispersal and favorable /unfavorable conditions for germination.  They learned how to read dichotomous keys, made barometers, and observed a demonstration about the low pressure at the center of tornadoes.

On the last day, we played in the creek and looked for macroinvertebrates.  We also took the water’s temperature and checked the turbidity.  We found a leech, two types of snails, tubifex worms, mussel shells, and a large crayfish.  We consulted a diagram of macroinvertebrates that are pollution-tolerant and pollution-sensitive as we searched and did not find any that will not tolerate polluted water.  We are hopeful that they are out there and we just did not come across them that day.

What an eventful conclusion to a memorable year! The older youth at Talking Stick have grown together into a strong and supportive community.  They have encouraged each other as writers, problem solvers, diplomats, and flash mob dancers.  It has been a joy to work with them, to think about their thinking and learning, and to celebrate their successes.

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