Friday, June 16, 2017

My First Attempt At Making A Pump Drill For Making Fires

Next week on our our year end camping trip I one of the things I want students to try and do is to create a fire without using a match or lighter. To do this there are a few popular methods some more simple than others. The methods I am looking at use friction to create your fire. First we have the simplest method which is the fire plough, which is essentially just rubbing two sticks together until enough friction is created to make a small ember.

For the next method instead of sliding a sliding a stick back and forth on a groove to create friction you keep it in the same spot and spin the stick and apply downward force on your fireboard use the hand drill and bow drill method. You can do this method by hand, which requires a lot of stamina and can be tough on your hands or you can use a bow and socket to help spin the stick around and apply downward force to quickly create friction and create an ember.

Then the pump drill method makes things a lot easier for the individual creating the fire but creating the equipment can be time consuming if you do not know what you are doing are do not know what materials to make it out of. The drill consists of a crossbar with a hole, through which a shaft is run. A cord passes through the top of the shaft and to the two ends of the crossbar. When the crossbar is pushed down, the shaft rotates, helped along by the cords. If the rotating shaft doesn't spin fast enough to rewind the cords, a flywheel attached to the shaft served to rewind the cord and keep the shaft spinning continuously, first in one direction, then in the other. I decided I was going to try and first experiment with this method and try to make my own pump drill. Instead of a round flywheel I used a rectangular block of oak. I went to the wood shop after school the other day and tried to see what scrap pieces we had laying around and this is what I finally came up with. After looking at some designs online I liked one that could change the tips as they wear out and get smaller with continued use. This way I would only have to make small round wood bit for the end and not have to make a new drill. 

Here is a video of me in the wood shop on the metal workbench shows a few of my students how quickly smoke can form from friction between two pieces of wood.

Volunteering At Tuc-el-nuit's Splash and Dash

For a number of years now Tuc-el-nuit puts on an event towards the end of the year and it is called the Splash and Dash. The Splash and Dash is an introductory event to get kids exposed to the sport of triathlons. This event is no where near as rigorous as the actual thing but it's enough to show students what a triathlon is like as they might show interest int he sport and might want to participate in one later in life. Shendah Benoit has asked if my EPIC class would be interested in volunteering and the Splash and Dash this year and I was happy to bring my class down to do this. This will be the second year we have volunteered at this event as I did it last year with my EPIC class as well.

At 12:30pm we arrived at Rotary Beach at Tuc-el-nuit Lake, which is right beside the elementary school. When we arrived we were greeted by Shendah and for volunteering she gave us all pizza for lunch we was the one thing my class was really looking forward to (FREE FOOD).

After lunch Shendah explained to my students what she would like them to do and that would be to act as course marshals for the event to help show kids which way to go on the course. Students from kindergarten to grade 7 were participating and some of the younger grades would need help in knowing which way  to go. After lunch we had 15-20 mins to kills as we were going to wait for everyone to arrived at the beach before I sent off my students to their stations. Some of my students were dancing and grooving to the music that was playing, here's a few of them busting a move.

Some of my students started dancing to the YMCA once they heard it coming on the speaker, change some of their outfits and could have the Village People dancing for us.

All the kids participating in the Splash and Dash gathered around the starting line and Shendah grabbed a megaphone and explained how the event was going to take place and explained to the kids where course takes place and where they will have to run. Part way through she gave a shout out to my EPIC students (at minute 2:16 of the video) and thanked them for helping out and told the kids that they would be stationed all along the course tell everyone where to go during the race.

The race wasn't a true triathlon as the only had to run in the water along the beach and they only had to run and not bike. They would send them off in by grades and in groups of boys then girls so things would be a bit more organized and it wouldn't be a free for all with little kids running everywhere.

Everything went well and all the kids made it back to the finish line. I found out from some of the kids participating that one group of my students was sending some kids the wrong way and some of them had to run up a hill when they didn't have to. Shendah that was fine as there was no prizes for coming 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, it was just a way of getting the kids outside, being active, and introducing them to the sport of Triathlon. Once the race ended I went in the bus and picked up my students and brought them back to the beach so that they could give back the fluorescent vests and signs back to Shendah. Shendah was very happy and thankful for having us come out and volunteer as she said she didn't have much of a turn out for parent volunteers. If the event keeps running year after year she would be very thrilled to see my future EPIC classes come out and help and as long as we don't have other plans I am sure we will come out and volunteer again.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Ab. Ed. Program's Year End Wind Up With High Schools in SD53

Every year the high school Ab. Ed. programs in the district bring a group of aboriginal students to Nk'Mip Campground and have a year end wind up with games and activities and a BBQ lunch. Ms. Baptiste asked if EPIC would like to join this year and I thought it would be a great idea to bring my students along to participate in this year end wind up.

We had a lot of students come from all of the schools. I don't know the exact numbers but it was around 60 students. When we arrived at the campground and got off the bus the first with our big numbers the first thing we did was break up the students into two groups. The first group would form two teams and play Double Ball and the Second group would go help make sand bags that the campground needed to help prevent flooding along the beach where the water was really high. I stayed with the first group that was going to play Double Ball first. We gather the students around and Les, one of the Ab. Ed. workers from SESS, explained that history of Double Ball and rules of the game.

At first I stood back and watched the students play so I took a video of them playing. Then I decided to get in there and play with them, except this time around I put my GoPro on my head and got some footage of me tearing it up.

After an hour or so we switched with other group that was making sand bags so now we would be doing that and the other group would now play Double Ball. We were luck enough to not have to pay to use Nk'Mip Campgrounds facilities but instead for payment we did some volunteer work for them and help fill and tie up sandbags that they needed to help prevent flooding around the beach in certain areas.

Afterwards we got all the students together and we did a big introduction activity where we had them get in a big circle and have them introduce themselves, say what school they are from, and tell everybody what their favourite pastime is.

While the students were doing this Jeremy and Sherry maned the BBQ's and started cooking up the hamburgers and hotdogs that we were going to have for lunch. We also had another table set up with other snacks like fruits, vegetables, and chips.

Just Before 2:00pm we did a clean up of the entire area making sure that we didn't leave any garbage or any of our stuff behind and then got back in our buses and went back to school.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

EPIC Journey Presentation

In the EPIC program one of the projects I get the students to make towards the end of the year for Media Arts is to create a digital presentation of their journey as a student through EPIC. Using any form of digital media (Prezi, Power Point, Google Slides, Video editing, Animation, etc) students have to create a presentation almost like making their own personalized year book of the fun and exciting things that stood out for them in EPIC program. If students want to use a type of software I am not familiar with they are welcome to use it and long as they show me what it is and how it works first, so I can approve of it. The first thing I had my students do was create a collage using pictures of themselves or find pictures of things they really enjoyed throughout the semester. They could make the collage themselves or use free online collage software to help them put it together. I decided to create my own collage to show the students an example of what it could look like and I used the online software program called befunky.

I went back through all the pictures I have taken over the semester and I decided to make my collage using group pictures most of which highlighted the outdoor activities we did as a class. I am very pleased with how it turned out.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Girls Making a Bigger Fish Net

Cyrah, Emily and Jordan decided that they wanted to do another project after finishing their canoes paddles so I suggested that they try and make a bigger fish net now that they have learned how to weave one. This time around instead of using flimsy twine that would break we used some stronger jute twine. First the girls needed to measure out and cut the jute twine to the desired length they wanted and they needed to make sure all of the piece were the same size. After cutting a few pieces they came up with a quicker method of measuring out the jute twine so that they could cut more pieces a lot faster.

Now that they have mastered how to weave a fish net here is a quick video of Cyrah and Emily showing off their weaving skills.

Hopefully we will get to try this fish net on our next camping trip or this net could also be repurposed as a trap to catch birds or smaller animals in a survival situation.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

2nd Camping Trip At Mud Lake

After our visit at the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre we came back to the high school to load up the bus and my truck with all of our camping gear and supplies that we were going to need for our second camping trip of the semester. The area that I chose for our campsite is not that far away, maybe a kilometre, from where we did the outdoor BRIDGES workshop here in Oliver earlier in the month.

When we arrived at mud lake things were looking good the weather was nice and cool and we quickly unloaded the bus and started our day there by making lunch. By the time lunch had finished you could see some ominous clouds coming from the distance and the wind started to pick up a little bit so I got everyone to set up their tents to try and beat the wind/rain if the weather was to turn for the worse. We also got to try out the tents went go from PAC for the first time on this camping trip.

Most of the students were able to set up their tents fairly quickly but then it came THE WIND. The wind started to blow harder and harder making it very difficult for some groups to set up their tents and some tents were almost collapsing from the force of the wind. I had to go around and help them all and make sure that had them properly staked into the ground and made sure their rain flies were properly staked so that they wouldn't blow away in the wind. Finally the wind stopped so I gave the students some free time to they could wander around check out the campsite, the lake and the nearby area. Some of the students played some games and one group of girls grabbed the volleyball and made a circle and passed it back and forth to each other.

Now I had sometime to relax so I set up my slacker hammock, which was a gift that I got from my sister Ms. Baptiste for my birthday that was only a week and a half ago. The day before I came here and dug out a few holes and put in some posts that I cut from trees so that I could set up my hammock. It felt really nice laying inside that hammock swinging back and forth. If the weather didn't have rain in the forecast for later tonight I was possibly going to sleep in the hammock. I wouldn't have to worry about mosquitos either because the weekend before I went up to Wholesale Sports in Westbank and bought and mosquito net that is specifically made for this slacker hammock.

Just when we thought that the weather was going to get better you could see it raining in the South towards Osoyoos and it looked like it was coming straight for us. Then it started to drizzle and then in no time the rain came pouring down and everyone took shelter in their tents to wait out the storm until it passed. Checking the weather network on my phone it looked like the rain could last 1-2 hours and so we just relaxed and waited it out. Finally 2 hours later the rain stopped and we could get out of our tents. Just as the rain started to let off I went out and quickly got a campfire going so that students could dry off if they had got went from the rain, since some of them didn't take shelter right away and their clothes got a bit wet.

Now that we got the campfire going it was about dinner time so everyone made dinner. We also got to try out the small portable camp stoves that were also donated by PAC and they worked very well, except for when there was a strong wind, which would make bowling water and heating up food take a little bit longer. A popular meal that a lot of students brought with them was a cup of soup, which meant they only needed to boil some water and mix it with their soup to get it ready.

Some students used the campfire to cook their food. You can see Hannah in the picture below doing this by poking 2 holes one on each side of the can. Then running a piece of wire through the holes from which she could hang her can on a stick and put it over the fire.

After our crazy afternoon and all this ridiculous weather we had things calmed down and before you knew it the sun went down and it started to get dark out. Most students hung out by the fire and some either went by the lake and went into their tents.

A couple of girls were listening to the song Fishing in the Dark and thought it would be really cool to record a video of them fishing at the lake singing the song while it was dark out.

Then around 11:00pm-11:30pm it was time to go to bed so I sent everyone off to their tents so they could go to bed and get a good nights sleep. Until now it had been GO GO GO for me and this was the first time I could just sit back in my chair relax and stare into the fire and listen to the sounds of the night. I stayed up for another hour or so making sure everybody stayed in their tents and making sure that they try and stay quiet to let everyone that was tired sleep.

The next morning I made sure that everyone was awake by 8:30pm and I want to make sure that everyone could eat breakfast and pack up their things because we were expecting another rain storm to hit sometime before or around noon.

Everyone seemed kinda sluggish/tired after waking up, as many of them were awake for a long time in their tents after I sent them to bed. So it took them awhile to pack everything up and get it back into the bus. I wanted this to get done before the rain came so we could do some activities or play some games before we went back to the school. The rain had other plans and you could seem a wall of rain approaching so we ended up leaving Mud Lake around 12:30pm and we left just in time, as the rain came crashing down no more than 5 minutes after we got on the bus.

This might not have been the best camping trip with the crazy wind and rain we had but the kids managed to survive the night and still had fun. My track record for picking days to go camping hasn't been the best as it has rained a lot both times, so I am 0/2. I would like to do one more camping trip at the end of the year maybe a 2 day camping trip where it's more of a survival situation and have them make shelters and sleep in them while we are there. We would only set up our tents if it looked like we are going to have rain in the forecast for the 2 days we are out camping.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Tour At The Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre In Osoyoos

Today I am taking the class camping at Mud Lake just outside of town but before we do this we will be going to Osoyoos to take a tour at the Nk'mip Desert Cultural Centre. Ms. Baptiste came along with us for this trip and with her we didn't need a guide to show us around and give us the tour because she used to work their last Summer, so she was our official/unofficial guide. Like always we took a group picture outside before we went in for our tour.

The first thing we did when we went in was go into their theatre and in here we watched a video showing the legend of Sen’klip (Coyote) and how a young girl meets Sen'klip and reconnects with her family and First Nations Heritage. In the video the students to see a few familiar faces as Helen Gallagher and some of the older students and past graduates were in the movie and some people recognized who they were.

After the movie Ms. Baptiste took us the the exhibits just outside the theatre and gave us a brief description/history of each one. Two of the exhibits that Ms. Baptiste and myself relate to are the ones about the Inkameep Day School and the one showing the art work that my grandfather created. The Inkameep Day School was created  because Chief George Baptiste applied for a grant from the government and want a band school created so that the children of his community wouldn't have to go to residential school. With this school students were able to practice their own cultures and traditions such as speaking their own language which was something that was previously never allowed in these types of schools or residential schools. Also the teacher Anthony Walsh encouraged his students to create art depicting the daily activities of the Okanagan People. One of these students was Francis Baptiste, my grandfather, and he was one of the more well known artists that went to this school. He is most known for his artwork that he creates by painting on buckskin hides like you can see in the buckskin vest in the picture below.

 After we looked at the exhibits Ms. Baptiste took us outside and was going to give us a tour of the grounds outside and give us some history about the land, the Okanagan People, and how the land was important to them and how it provided everything they needed. First Ms. Baptiste showed us a map of the Okanagan Nation explained to my class how big their territory was show them what towns today are inside this region.

As we walked along the trail Ms. Baptiste would stop us every now and then to tell us about the local plants and vegetation and explain their importance. For our first stop Ms. Baptiste showed us a man made pond that is being used as a home for the spade foot toad.

We made some more stops and Ms. Baptiste told us about the various grasses and plants you could see growing and what they were used for or to tell us if they were native or invasive species.

In this area there is a plant that most students are familiar with, and that is cheat grass or spear grass depending on what you call it. It is an invasive species that was brought in and is grows throughout this area. Most people are familiar with this plant because its seeds are small and pointy and they get easily caught in your socks and shoes. I have friends that have ruined shoes because they because so full of cheat grass and they could not get them all out and would always feel them poke their feet while they wore their shoes.

Ms. Baptiste showed us the cotton wood tree and how the Okanagan People used them to make their canoes and use the cotton fibres to insulate and paddle things.

Ms. Baptiste showed us one of the bigger pine trees and said to some people it is know as the vanilla tree because the sap on the bark can smell like vanilla. She also explained that the pines needles could be woven together to make pine needle baskets and bowls. Some of the students were quite amazed when they went up to the tree and smelled it and didn't believe that it would smell nice.

One of the outdoor exhibits showed what a couple of teepees and pit house which depicted how home were constructed for the local First Nations people. The pit house was a more permanent dwelling and the teepee was one that could be set and and taken down and placed in many locations, as the Okanagan People were nomads and moved to different areas depending on the time of year.

Ms. Baptiste then took us inside the pit house to show us how it was constructed and to also show us some of the tools and crafts that the Okanagan People from this area created. There are a couple of pit houses one that was made the same way it would have traditionally been done and another one made by a group of UBC engineers. One thing Ms. Baptiste mentioned that was funny was that the pit house created by the UBC engineers is falling apart and beginning to collapse and that one that was built traditionally is still standing strong.

We continue back along the trail and went back inside the theatre where we were going to get to see a snake show where they would educate us on snakes and the misconceptions people have about them. The first snake we got to see was "Titan" a Sonoran Gopher Snake and 

Next they showed us "Loki" the Rattlesnake, which is the most dangerous snake in this region as its venom can be fatal to humans. 

It was a fun morning coming here and getting a tour and the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre and for the students who and never been here I am sure they learned a lot about the local plants, animals, and cultural of the Okanagan People.