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Wavelengths and Wetsuits

riding wavelengths

Science in motion!

Sometimes things in science can be hard to study for the simple fact that they can be hard to see. Take waves, for instance. Sound waves, radio waves, light waves. You can’t see them at all. You can’t just whip out a ruler and measure the wavelength of a light wave as it passes you by, after all. So how do you make that kind of science tangible for kids?

Well, the Pacific Ocean happens to be in our backyard, and you can see the waves there. Not only that, you can ride them!

This week the Middle School class at Five Acre partook in an oceanography field trip at Crescent Bay that went way beyond classroom science. Organized by teacher Tom and extremely qualified parent volunteers Mark, Scott, and Temple, these budding scientists were equipped with wetsuits and surfboards and actually rode their scientific subjects!

surf school

6th grader Cayden gets a push!

“You can study waves till you’re blue in the face,” said Tom, “but when you’re actually in the waves you have a real understanding of what frequency means and what amplitude means, and how the waves are pushed along by the wind, gather force and build.”

The exercise was also a great confidence builder, but try as they might, the kids didn’t manage to get any higher on the boards than their knees. “I tried to stand up, but the board went ‘ffweew’!” 7th grader Cole admitted. Ezra and Cayden, both 6th graders, chimed in, “Same here!” simultaneously.

There was a buzz throughout the school about this trip, and it was well justified. Even better, this is only the beginning! Science in the field has always been a part of Five Acre School’s curriculum, starting with primary class nature walks in the Wildlife Refuge next door, and the Middle School class will be out there on the waves again at the next best opportunity. And next time they’ll be coming back with data on water conditions and other ecological indicators, as well as a deeper knowledge of those hard to catch waves.

island hopping

An excursion around the small sea-stack by Tongue Point rounded off the trip with some excellent tide pooling.

In closing, we’d like to put out a huge thank you to the parents who have given their time and expertise to make this and other great field trips happen. You’re awesome, and we couldn’t do it without you!