Friday, January 16, 2015

3D Lab

We visited U of M 's 3D Lab's open house. We learned about motion capture technology, 3D interactive technology and 3D printing. So cool, as long as you don't get motion sick.

Korean Money!

After we got a lovely email from Korea, Jun brought in some Korean Won. $1 = ₩1,000.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Alexander's first real letter!

Alexander got a letter from Russia today! Can't wait to read it! So excited! Had to blog about it right away!

A Few Updates

Hi Team,
Just wanted to keep you in the loop about a couple of items.

Pokemon Cards-  They are no longer allowed in my class.  The cards were being traded and fought over in the class on Wednesday and caused loads of problems for the class.  The students were not even playing the game.  Any cards found in my class will be put in my custody and parents will be contacted.  I spoke to the students about this and they all agreed that this was an acceptable course of action.  I guess they felt the same way I did.  Magic cards are still acceptable if the students are only playing the game.  There will be no sharing, selling or gifting cards to other students at all at Summers Knoll.

Blanket Fort- WEDNESDAY!!!!  We are going to be building our fort on Wednesday at the end of the day.  If you have any spare blankets or sheets to loan to the cause, please send them in by Wednesday.

Science Exposition-  Team Spencer is working on small group science exhibition projects for our Science Expo on Friday, February 6th, 2015.  It will be from 2-3pm.  Parents and family members are invited.  Students will be presenting their science knowledge and their experiments/ inventions.  We are pretty excited about it.

Let me know what questions you have,


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Jarod Teaches!

Jarod taught us all about the martial art he is studying. Christopher was his assistant.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Alexander Has Mail!

This morning we voice Skyped with Tin Nguyen from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  He is an avid traveler and wanted to tell us about his city.  He told us about a famous American Vietnam War Museum and encouraged us to try Vietnamese food.  We didn't get to talk long because of the internet connection, but he promises to keep in touch.  Ella and Juliana are writing him a letter to thank him and to tell him about what it is like to live in Ann Arbor.

After we got off the phone with Vietnam, we checked Alexander's email.  He had 2 emails from other countries.  One was from a father and his 10 year old daughter from Berlin, Germany.  They want the daughter's class to make a video to send to us.  If they can't get the class to do it, they will make one themselves. Awesome!

The other email contained a letter from a new friend, Mario in Barcelona, Spain.  This is what he wrote (Warning, it's long.)

Carta De Invitacion

Hi Alexander. I´m Mario from Barcelona! I saw that you are thinking to travel to some place but you are not sure about where. I highly recommend you to come and visit me, why? i will list you what you can do and some places and things you can google and see the images of these places…

First i will introduce myself. At this moment i´m a photographer but i try to keep it as a hobby, also i have been golf teacher for a few years. I was born in Barcelona, and have spent one school year in junior High School in the USA in a small town in WA state, called Centralia. I also have been in NY, Boston, and all the west coast, from Seattle to San Diego. I like to travel, because i think it is one of the nicest things where you can learn from others, and it is always nice to see new people and places. I have also been in Africa (Morocco and Senegal), Asia (India, Thailand and Myanmar) and various countries in Europe. I hope that in the future you will have time to travel around the world and will have fun doing it!

Barcelona is a medium/big city (less than 2 million people)  in the state of Catalonia and this is inside the country of Spain. Spain is in Europe and we talk spanish, like in Mexico. some words and the accent is different but we understand each other. We also have a local language that big part of the local populations knows, that is called Catalan. But all of the people will understand you in spanish. Some of the younger people will know english too as we learn it at the school.

We use the Euro currency like almost all the countries from the European Union. Right now is really good for american  traveling here to change from US dollar to Euros 1.20$= 1 € (usually has been like 1.35$= 1 €).

In Barcelona we have pretty good weather all the year. We have the Mediterranean sea, and the weather is close to the California one. Usually doesn't snow in winter, just once every 8 years we have snow, but usually is just for a day… and the rest of the year it is pretty good weather. I usually recommend you to visit us before or after summer, as in summer there are too many tourists and the places to visit get really full.. soo from April to June or from september to november it is a great moment to come.

If you like to eat, Spain is one of the best countries in the world to have all kind of food. I said food, not what you can find on a fast “food” restaurants that you probably love ;o) We also have Mcdonalds, Kentucky and those places, but guys seriously, thats not food…and you should try to change your habits if you love them...

A typical place to eat in Spain is a tapas Bar. It is a restaurant where you order small portions of food in a plate, so usually people share the dishes with friends.
Some of the typical ones you can google it are. “Patatas bravas”, “ensaladilla rusa”, “bombas” ( typical from Barcelona), “tortilla de patatas con cebolla”, “chocos” (like fried calamari), “jamon de jabugo”, some people will say it is like prosciutto, but NO, it is different and more tasty.
Also in this area is typical to spread tomatoes on the bread, we call it “pa amb tomaquet” that means bread with tomato. A lot of locals don’t  know why it is so typical or how this thing started in the past… but you are lucky because i will explain it to you guys…. In the past .. the farmers, just could do bread once a week, so at the end of the week, that bread was getting stale…. and the farmer was so smart that he always  had a tomato and a garlic in his bag with the bread, so when the bread was getting hard… he cut the tomato, and spread it on the bread, so this one got softer and tasty… also he spread first the garlic to give some flavour… so it started to be a local tradition, and in most of the restaurants you can order “pa amb tomaquet” that usually is made with toasted  bread “pa de pages” sometimes they spread a garlic on it, and then some tomato, from a fresh one.. and to finish salt and olive oil…. yummmy!!
It is very normal to have a meal with this kind of bread and some cold meat, like the ham i have talked about before, or “fuet”, “llonganisa” or the tipical sausage made form the porc that is called “butifarra” but this last one you have to cook, and on the BBQ it is a good way to do it!. Also you can have the bread with some cheese, or cooked veggies, like the “escalivada”

Another fun places where you can eat are the “pinchos” restaurants. Pincho, means “spike” Because all the pieces of food have a toothpick in them. It usually is a small base of bread, then the food and to maintain all together- the toothpick.
The fun part is that all the pinchos are on the counter side, but you choose the ones you want and put them in your plate. At the end of the meal, as all the “pinchos” have a toothpick in them, you will know how much you have to pay depending on the toothpick you have in ur plate :o)

There are all kinds of pinchos, if you google a little you will see all kinds of them!
Another typical plate in Spain is the Paella, but it is more typical from Valencia, a city that is  2 hours driving south from here. It is a rice made in a big saucepan, and can have meat, seafood,  veggies.. or a mix of all… umMMM i love it.

Also here we do the same but with small straight noodles, and we call it “fideua” we also have a famous mayonnaise that is made with garlic and olive oil!! It is pretty strong the flavour, but it tastes great! And the name is “ alioli” or “ all i oli” that mean garlic and oil! I know in the US the olive oil is kind of expensive, but here in Spain we have a lot of it, and most of the olive oil you will see in your supermarkets is from Spain, but usually the Italians buy our oil and they put it in a nice bottle and export it to US, so you will think it is italian, but most of it is spanish :o)

That was just the food part… now about my city. It has a lot of history…in the downtown you can see where the romans lived, and how after the city expanded they grew and grew, until now when we don’t have any more space, as we have the sea on one side and the mountain on the other side. We had a big modernist architecture moment with nice buildings. One of the famous architects was “Antoni Gaudi”. There is a big Church that is under construction that he had designed called la “Sagrada Familia” and a nice park he did for a rich family, that now belongs to the city and is called “parc Guell”

Barcelona is a good city in Europe where you can find nice concerts, with all kinds of music. we also have really nice natural places very close and some small old fishing towns that maintain their old nice look with small houses near the sea. The area is called “Costa Brava”  and some towns to google are “cadaques” where a famous artist lived - Salvador DalĂ­. “Calella de palafrugell”, “Tossa de Mar”, and also some medieval old towns, that will make you think you are in a movie when the kings lived in castles… like “Peratallada” or “Besalu”

We have one of the most famous  world soccer teams Futbol Club Barcelona where we have one of the best players in the world, Leo Messi. Also we had the Olimpic games in 1992, where i helped as a volunteer and i was 18 years old.
After this email i m sure you will come to visit me hahha. If you want a place to sleep and  i´m in town you can come to surf my couch. I usually show the city to a couchsurfers and sometimes I host some of them… also there are hotels and hostels with pretty good prices. So tell me the dates you are coming and  i can do the planning for your visit!

If you have any more questions, i will be glad to answer you!

Un saludo,

Mario :)
Sophie and Kaz are writing a response to Mario.
(Couchsurfing refers to a website that links travelers to hosts around the world and lets them stay for free.  I used this website to get the word out around the world.  Mario knows that he is not writing to a real person, and is not actually inviting any of the real students to stay with him.)

Imaginary Student Seeks Travel Advice

A letter I sent around the world for our Journeys Project

Dear Friends,
HI! I am Andaiye Spencer from Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. That is near Detroit. I am a teacher at a primary school. My students are 8, 9, and 10 years old. We call ourselves Team Spencer. In our next term, our theme is Journeys. I have one student, Alexander, which is not real. He is our imaginary student. He is planning to take a trip around the United States and the world this summer, but can’t decide where to go. He needs help. I am looking for people to convince Alexander to come and visit where they live.
Here is what you can do:
Write him a letter, make him a video, or send a postcard telling him why he should come and visit where you live. Messages might include: What cool sights he would see? What food would he eat? Where might he sleep? Would he see any cool parties or festivals? What languages would he hear? How would he need to dress? Does he need different money? What do you think is different where you live than where he comes from?
Whatever you send, he and the class will send you back in kind. If you send us a letter, we will send you a letter. If you send us a video, we will send you a video. The messages can come from one person or a group of people.
You may send messages to:
Alexander Jackson
Summers Knoll School
2203 Platt Rd.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Email and videos can be sent to
We are available on SKYPE Wednesdays between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:00pm EST. (9:00-15:00 New York time) Username: andaiye.spencer
We will be taking all of this information and using it to plan a route, price travel tickets and budget Alexander’s money for the trip, as well as learn about different cultures around the world from the people that live there.
Thank you and I hope to hear from you soon!