Sixth-graders rapt by mummies

Bright and early this morning our sixth-grade students visited the Penn Museum without leaving the Liggett campus. Students participated in a virtual field trip to the museum where they learned about the ancient practice of mummification through discussion with museum staff and an actual demonstration of the mummification process on a life-sized model.

Continue reading only if you are not faint of heart, and if an appropriate amount of time has passed since lunch!

The demonstration started with a very life-like looking model called, “Mr. Penn.” Students helped walk the museum leaders through the mummification process of Mr. Penn by answering questions like, “how do you remove the brain from a mummy?” The answer of course was a resounding, “through his nose!” Facts were shared throughout each piece of the process such as the history of mummification, a process devised to create a preserved vessel for one’s departed spirit, information on Egyptian culture and information about the human body’s organs.

Penn Museum put on quite a show! They had a camera set-up to demonstrate the mummification process and a separate close-up camera to demonstrate different principles of the process, such as a little experiment done with a raisin and a grape that showed how mummies shrink when the water is removed from their bodies. It was very interactive. Students were asked questions about what they were observing on the screen throughout the process, and slides were interspersed throughout the presentation to read and discuss.

Enjoy photos from the presentation below!

Everything is just ducky in science class

liggett duck hatchingIt spread in the Lower School quicker than the flu bug, aided by a 24-hour webcam and some very excited kids: The ducks hatched.

It is the final science unit for the third graders this year — they study the life cycle of three different things. Usually it’s chickens, butterflies and plants, but this year, in keeping with the Every Drop Counts water theme, Lower School Science teacher Kristie Jones chose water animals — ducks and tadpoles, in addition to the plants.

The students kept journals about the stages they observed in the three different life forms. These journals include scientific observations, but also pictures and feelings. And, in the case of the tadpoles a bit of extrapolation, as they died before they made much change.

So all hopes were on the eggs. Students didn’t get to handle them much — though they weighed a couple times and came up with theories as to why the eggs were lighter at the second weighing than they were at the first. Then they went into the incubator and logged on from home to see the progress, but for weeks all they saw were eggs, doing nothing. Still, their journals say “the eggs can hear now” after a certain number of days under the lights and at the proper humidity.

Liggett students watch the incubator closely.

Liggett students watch the incubator closely.

That’s why students were abuzz Thursday with the news that the eggs were shaking, meaning something inside was trying to get out. The excitement of the first to hatch abated quickly when it was obvious something was wrong. The duckling had not absorbed all its yolk — the embryo’s food source, the students explain — and was weak. It died shortly after its birth. The students named it Miracle.

But news got around that another duckling had hatched¬†(click there to watch the video, it’s pretty cool) just after school got out yesterday and everything looked good. In fact, it was very lively and students ran to the science lab to see the new life.

That was nothing compared to this morning before school when a line of students snaked through the room and down the hall. Parents came, too, to see the four more baby ducks that hatched overnight.

Because it was a third-grade project, they got to name them. There’s Hope, named because it survived after the sadness of Miracle. There’s Nip Nip and Pip and Mario (but oddly no Luigi). The class tied on the name of the last one, but there is still one wiggling egg so one may be named Flappy and the last one Buddy.

The ducklings are expected to be removed from the incubator today and put into a brooder. That’s a fancy name for a cardboard box, lined with a blanket, with a light for warmth and food and water. Next week, on the last day of school, some lucky volunteers will take the ducklings home.

By Ron Bernas