Monday, April 30, 2012

Hatfield & McCoy Feud TV Show

As you have probably heard, The History Channel will be airing a special on the Hatfields & McCoys beginning on May 31.  The series stars Kevin Costner (Devil Anse Hatfiled), Bill Paxton (Randolph McCoy) and many others.

While working in Mingo County over the past few weeks, I have spoken to several people who were interviewed for the series.  They report that the show portrays the events fairly accurately and does not show people from the region in an especially unflattering light.

As a resident of West Virginia, I would suggest that we watch the Hatfields & McCoys.  The previews look excellent.

An interesting article on the Hatfield-McCoy Feud can be found on the West Virginia Archives and History website.

As an early timber baron, Devil Anse Hatfield is of special interest to educators in the Forestry and Rail Transport project.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Stipends Increased for Summer 2012

As you are aware, one of our deliverables for the Forestry and Rail Transport project is the development and sharing of three lesson plans that use forestry, forest products, logging, railroads and/or water quality as focal points.  These lesson plans should be closely tied to content standards in your field and include at least two other content areas (total of three subjects). 

These lesson plans should be of the professional quality that will be of use to educators not only throughout Cabell County but across the state and beyond.  Although a lesson plan format is provided, you may feel free to use a format that you may be more comfortable using as long as the quality remains high. This template is also in our shared TimberRail Dropbox folder.  A link to the template is also in the Handouts area of our project blog.

Lesson plans should be in Microsoft Word format and sent to Steve via email.  They should also be provided on a link from your blog page and available to visitors to your blog.  You may find that it is convenient to upload your lesson plans to Dropbox, SugarSync, Amazon Cloud Storage,, or ShareSend.

In the 2010 and 2011 projects, participants were paid $100 per day for the 6 day summer culminating experience and $200 for the development and posting of three lesson plans.  Total stipend for the summer was $800.  This year, the stipend will be restructured slightly.  You will be paid $1000 for the completion of the summer project.  This includes participation in all aspects of the summer trip and the development and posting of three professional quality lesson plans based on the project.  All work must be completed by August 15 since the last stipends must be submitted for payment on that date.

You may prepare the required lesson plans at any time.  If you would like to write your lessons before the summer trip, that is not only acceptable but is highly desirable.  I can get payment for your $1000 stipend submitted as soon as the trip is complete and you have sent your three high quality lesson plans.  I cannot provide stipends to participants who do not complete the project.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Successful (cold and wet) Field Trip

Despite the uncooperative weather, the spring fieldwork at Ritter Park last Saturday was a huge success.  In the morning, we were able to identify over two dozen trees, learned how many paces are 66 feet for each of us, practiced determining the height of trees using our formula, determined the radius of a tree from a measure of circumference and calculated the board feet of lumber in the tree.  In the afternoon, we collected water from Four Pole Creek to assess, temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, turbidity and total dissolved solids to assess water quality.  We reviewed procedures to calibrate sensors and ways of cleaning and storing sensors at the conclusion of an outing.

From this field experience, we would like three additions to your blogs prior to the summer trip:

1.       Local tree guide (including photos and descriptions of at least 12 tree species) that your students can use.  This may be best done on a tab of your blog although you may have other ways as well.  Carla Snell’s blog has a good tree guide that is appropriate for her students.

2.       Narrative and photos on the determination of board feet from a standing tree

3.       Assessment of water quality on 4 Pole Creek including data tables

We were very impressed with the quality of your work and attitude on a miserable cold and wet day.  You worked efficiently and accurately on the water project although we had a number of distractions at the shelter were we were attempting to work.

Based on your work this weekend, I can’t wait to work with you again this summer on the culminating field experience around the state.  Plans continue to develop.  Links to many of the places that we hope to visit are provided on our blog.  An update to the itinerary will be posted to our shared TimberRail Dropbox folder soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Huntington Middle Field Trip

I had the pleasure of accompanying a group of sixth grade students from Huntington Middle School on a field experience this morning.  The project was arranged and coordinated by Mr. David Williams.

The students were in three groups that rotated to stations that included expressive writing, using mathematics to calculate the board feet in a standing tree and an assessment of water quality in 4 Pole Creek.  Mr. Williams modified the board feet and water quality protocols that we used in the project to be appropriate for sixth grade students.

The students worked diligently and solved the tasks of the day with enthusiasm.  They not only enjoyed the project but learned some real world math, science and writing skills.  A community member was walking in the park and asked one of the students what they were doing.  The student replied, “We are learning.”  What a great response!

If you are interested in using the activities that Mr. Williams developed, I am certain that he will be more than happy to share.  If you go to Mr. Williams’ blog, he plans to have links to download his documents soon.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Field Trip Plans – Saturday, April 21, 2012

We will meet at the Ritter Park Fountain at 8:30 AM on Saturday, April 21 and spend most of our day in and around Ritter Park.  Our field trip should last until 3 PM on Saturday.  Your lunch will be provided and you will receive a $100 stipend for the day.

In the morning, we will use the Samsung Galaxy Tab to take practice measures of selected trees to calculate board feet.  Please make certain that you have downloaded the Clinometer app and that your Tab’s battery is fully charged.  We will then take a walk around the park to study the trees in the area, their characteristics, uses and identification.  You will use the Tab to take notes on the trees and to photograph the leaves and/or bark of the trees.  You will be producing a sample field guide to trees for your students.

After lunch by the fountain from 11:30-12:00m we will review water quality assessment protocols with Pat.  You will need to follow the guidelines that Pat posted earlier this month on how to update your LabQuest’s firmware.  Using Pat’s explicit instructions, you should have no problems updating your LabQuest.  Please bring all probes and sensors to the park with you.  If you have the backpack from last year, you can load your LabQuest in that.  Otherwise, as Pat suggests, you can use a canvas tote. Assessing water quality will require several location changes so we will need to drive up and down stream to complete the stream water quality assessment. You will want to make certain that you have the water quality spreadsheet template on your Tab that Pat showed you how to make at our last class meeting. This will allow you to enter water quality data and produce graphs easily.  I would also suggest that you have the water quality protocol downloaded to your Tab so you will have easy access to instructions for using the Vernier sensors to determine water quality.

The field trip will take place rain or shine.  Inclement weather is forecast for Saturday so please dress accordingly.

You will need to bring the following items to the park with you on Saturday morning:

·         Fully charged Samsung Galaxy Tab with apps listed on the blog page
·         Fully charged and updated Vernier LabQuest and all sensors
·         Tape measure to determine tree circumference
·         Tree identification guides
·         Backpack or tote for gear
·         Sturdy shoes since we will be doing a lot of walking on uneven terrain
·         Rain jacket (if needed)

Following the field trip, you will be expected to make three blog postings:

1.       Trees of Ritter Park (including photos and descriptions) that your students can use
2.       Narrative and photos on the determination of board feet from a standing tree
3.       Assessment of water quality on 4 Pole Creek including data tables from each tested site

We will look forward to seeing everyone at Ritter Park from 8:30 – 3:00 on Saturday, April 21, 2012.  Get plenty of rest of Friday evening since we have a full day planned.  There will be a good deal of walking and a lot of creative juices flowing.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Find a Tote for Saturday!

It just occured to me that those little 'Totes' we get at conferences would be IDEAL to carry your LabQuest, sensors, notebooks, and even your tablet in on the trip this summer (as well as our Saturday workshop on April 21st). Go out in the garage, basement, closet, or wherever you toss those little totes whenever you get them, dust them off and load up all your gear to bring with you on Saturday. Don't forget to UPDATE your LabQuest. I've put a link on this site with instructions and information about the update 2-3 blogposts below.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Updated Summer Trip Itinerary

Karen has made lodging arrangements for the summer culminating experience.  All of the places that she found have complementary breakfast and have other amenities such as a pool, spa and exercise facilities.

We will be spending three nights (Sunday, Monday, Tuesday) at the Hampton Inn in Elkins since we will be touring many places within an hour drive of Elkins.  As was the case over 100 years ago, Elkins is the heart of the state’s forest products industries.

On Wednesday night, we will stay at the Inn at Snowshoe which is at the bottom of the mountain.  This is a beautiful location and is convenient to the locations of our visit stops.

Thursday, we will be at the Holiday Inn Express in Lewisburg.  We have stayed at this motel on the 2010 and 2011 trips.  This will have us located to do a water analysis in Caldwell on the Greenbrier River before heading to Clifton Forge to visit the C & O Museum on Friday morning.

Information on the trip including planned stops, restaurants and lodging information is located on the DRAFT ITINERARY.  This document has hyperlinks to many of the places that we will be visiting.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Updates for the LabQuest

While browsing the Vernier site, I find that there is both a LabQuest update and a LoggerPro update. I have posted a link in the HANDOUTS section to a pdf with instructions for updating your LabQuest. You will need your LabQuest, a computer, and a thumb drive before starting. I would like for you to have your LabQuest updated to version 1.6 before our Saturday class on April 21. If you have any questions or problems, email me at

Blog updates

Please remember to keep your Forestry and Rail Transport blog up-to-date by posting at least once each week.  Your blog can be an excellent resource for your students as well as educators and students in other locations.  Your blog entries can contain information on the forest products or rail industries that you have learned from the presentations, guest speakers or your reading.  You can summarize things that you learned from viewing the DVDs that you have been given or from the books and other print materials.

Another great way to use your blog is to post thought provoking questions for your students.  You can ask them to describe why Shay, Climax and Heisler locomotives could ascend steep slopes that rod locomotives could not.  What are the advantages and disadvantages of rod and geared locomotives for different situations?  What major changes have taken place in the climax forests of West Virginia since the late 1800s and what factors influenced these changes?

The blogs that were produced by the coal project participants are in wide use throughout the state and across the country.  Those blogs are excellent documentation of the coal project and are great resources for teachers and students as well as individuals who are interested in coal.

Let’s make the blogs for the current project on Forestry and Rail Transport even better than last year’s blogs.