Tuesday, November 23, 2010

HAE Spelling Bee

On Friday, November 19, I held the first (ever?) HAE Spelling Bee as part of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  We chose to hold a Bee for each grade level, 1-5.  Only the 5th grade winner advances, because at that point the Bee is just for 5th-8th graders.

The origin of our Bee is that Grant is great with words, enjoyed Akeela and the Bee and Spellbound, and wanted to participate in a Bee.  So you know what happens when you mention something like that to the principal, suddenly you are in charge!

I recruited four VT students to  help and we planned it out.  About 80 students participated.  What amazed me was the buzz that the bee (pun intended) created in the school.  Many of the kids really studied from the supplied word list and the level of intensity across all grades was impressive.

I was the overseer for 3-5 grades, then I ran 1-2 grades. I made a point to stay out of Grant's room, which was good since he did end up winning the thing!

Grant with the final round folks
The following Monday, the winners enjoyed a trip on the Hooptie Ride to Books-A-Million to chose a book and to Maggie Moo's for ice cream! I hope this becomes a yearly tradition.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Spencer's Cool Shoes

Found these online and couldn't resist getting a pair for Spencer - custom Keds with a circuit board design!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

LEGO League

Saturday was the LEGO League tournament. It's been a wild 7 or so weeks getting ready for it, with about 4 hours of meeting time each week on average.  Don and Jeannine Leo were the coaches, and led the 10 4th and 5th grade boys through the process.  The tournament involves a best-of 3-round performance section, where the teams have 2-1/2 minutes to complete as many "missions" as they can to amass points. They had to build and program the robot to accomplish each mission. They also had to do a team research project and present it to a group of judges.  The theme this year was Biomedical Engineering so our team, the Harding Avenue Elementary Red Robo Docs, learned about robotic surgery and sensors. There's also a teamwork score too.

Overall I think we finished in 5th out of 10 teams.  The kids learned a ton,  had experience working under pressure and as a team, and they had great attitudes throughout.  Their coaches, Don and Jeannine, are to be commended, as are the kids and parents.

The judging area, two teams went at once

Spencer lining the robot up to do the mission he programmed.

Spencer and VT volunteer Lindsay

Fine-tuning things between rounds.

Still smiling!
With Coach Don

Spencer in the hotseat!

Using brainwaves to raise a pingpong ball in a cylinder

Awards ceremony

The judges in red!

Orange Crush U10 Soccer!

Saturday was the final game of the "Orange Crush" soccer team led by Coach C (Todd Crosson).They had a great season - won some, tied some, lost some.  But they were cohesive and showed great improvement and maturation. The players were alot warmer than the spectators on that 34 degree morning!!

Friday, November 5, 2010


Trixie and Hannah, pals!

Halloween 2010

Another Halloween, Luster's Mill style! Thanks to the Hobarts for the hay wagon and the Wilson's for the party locale. This is clearly our best neighborhood holiday! We hit the 15 or so houses here as a group, sparing folks the endless doorbell ringing, and finish up with the now annual Haunted House and homebrew drinking at the Wilson's.

This year, after the dads scared the pants off the kids, the kids took over and ran the adults through the haunted house.  The Wilson's do it up big and they must almost certainly have the biggest collection of Halloween paraphernalia that I've ever seen - light up skulls, framed pictures with blinking eyes, brains in jars, chains, theme towels...you get the idea!

Pumpkin carving

Spencer handing out candy at our stop

In our matched set of battery-powered "target detecting" tshirts that sense other tshirts in the vicinity

At an adult "beverage station" along the way

Grant the author/composer

Last week, Grant's 3rd grade teacher and summer drama camp leader, Alicia Lloyd, came to the house to hear Grant share the series of stories he had been writing about "Fluffy".   According to Grant, Fluffy is an oversized cotton ball-looking creature. He loves junk food and has a hamburger girlfriend. He has a lot of funny stories.

Grant, Ms. Lloyd, and Trixie

Grant has been a writing machine, churning out episodes and Fluffy-themed songs. Ms. Lloyd said one of the songs was so catchy, the whole 3rd grade class was singing it for a week.  She convinced him to work on the company song for the play next summer.  We downloaded some software and he has been composing away.