How can you possibly put together the new suspension system for the Ford Focus if you are not listening to Michael Jackson?  It may just be impossible.

Last week in class, the juniors watched "This Is It."  It is about the practice and rehearsal of Michael Jackson's concert tour.  It is a great documentary that showed the artist in many tones and moods throughout his concert rehearsal.  It highlighted the exact three moods and literary genres that are so influential in today's writing.  We finished our unit on the difference between Romanticism, Dark Romanticism, and Gothic.  The students watched three different musical performances, "Billie Jean," "Smooth Criminal," and "Thriller."  Each one represented the different literary genres.  It applies. I promise.

Now while the students are working in the shop and building a new suspension system for the Focus, all you can hear over the ruckus is Diamond and Justin singing Billie Jean.  Amazing.

They are doing a great job.  These young gentlemen have such a great dynamic working with each other and Hauger.  Hauger's son, Micah, is also here today.  I think he thinks he is 16-years-old and has no problem singing along to Michael Jackson with his safety goggles falling off his ears.

The snowstorm really came at a bad time for the West Philly Hybrid X Team.  It is hard to imagine how much work is left to do with the cars.  Each car needs to record 500 miles before the team heads to Michigan Speedway in a month.  It can be done.  It just can't snow again.  Ever.

It does feel good to be working at school.  Towards the end of the week, I was feeling a little claustrophobic.  An unexpected week off was very nice, but now there is something ticking inside all of us that makes us restless at home.  We need to be back to our regular schedule.  My arms are still very sore from shoveling my car out of the snow for two hours, but I am glad to be back in the shop on Saturday.

Later today a bunch of the students are going to the Temple vs. Rhode Island game.  John Doughtery gave us a lot tickets to this game, in addition to the $20,000 check he brought on Tuesday.  I think he could've just showed up with the check and called it a day.  I hope they have a great time.  Daniel is only going, because there will be girls there.  My response is "no romance in high school."

Ride or Die.

Ms. R

Published in Blogs
Saturday, 13 February 2010 09:55

Friday School?

Yesterday, I was at West Philly Auto by seven o'clock, in the morning!  On Thursday, Ms. Ann called me and wanted me to call Simon about getting into the shop to work.  Simon came and picked me up at my house.  We worked on the GTM brakes and on the engine on the Ford.  On the brakes, we had to calibrate new brakes to see if it would weigh less.  It didn't work because the brakes weighed basically the same.  We tightened the pulleys on the engine, because that is what runs the belt around.  The belts were not rotating properly during our test runs.  We were able to do all of this before noon.  For lunch, we went to Fiesta Pizza Shop.  It is on 43th and Baltimore.  It was delicious.  I had pepperoni and cheese pizza.  Hauger paid.  Then he dropped us back home.

Today, we have to open up the suspension components in the Ford.  It makes the car handle better.  We put more weight on the car.  The batteries in the back will weigh 300 lbs.  The suspension has 300 lbs to maneuver.  In order for the Ford to have suspension and a proper frame, we are adding a sway bar in the back.

We still have so much to do.

Get Rich or Die trying.

Justin Clarke.

Published in Blogs
Monday, 11 January 2010 17:04

Looking In

When I first started my secondary education courses, nothing that was found in a textbook compared to the student-teaching observations.  You would read about the pros and cons of whole language, the various scenarios of ideal classroom management, and how to find all my boyfriends, Piaget, Maslow, Bloom, and Erikson, in the students' learning patterns.  But it wasn't until my first rounds of student-teaching observations and later in my first year teaching when I realized that I could know my textbooks cover and cover, and I still not know what to do with a pissed off teenager.  Maybe Maslow and Bloom would do a better job than I would the first time around, but no one can say for real.

Looking into Preiss' shop from his classroom, reminds me so much of how important it is to be in the moment of learning.  At 5:15 p.m. on a Monday, there are seven students working in the shop with Preiss, Dilossi, Simon, and Mark.  Mark is a self-employed specialist of the GTM.  He started working with the team a week ago. He fits right in.  He works well with the students in explaining the steps for the kit car.  Every now and then you hear, "shut up, shut up" from the students, which is a good thing.

These students are in the ideal situation.  They are learning something in theory and actually seeing how it works in practice.  Sometimes, I would find myself cringe reading the best practices of the classroom.  It just wouldn't work in reality.  Middle school and high school are the most difficult part of one's upbringing.  There is absolutely no textbook that contains all the right material.  You can't find the answers unless you are actually in the moment.

Within minutes, the students working in the shop confront problems and delays in putting together the GTM.  Poor Justin Clarke, he hurt his finger.  Justin Carter had to measure and remeasure the headlight and nose of the car.  Daniel is remodeling the harness for the Ford.

"I have completely assembled both headlights and started working on mounting them on the nose.  I had to think of different ways of tearing  the fiberglass on the frame of the car to fit the molds of the headlights.  I broke it.  I broke one screw on the corner when I was drilling.  Luckily, three screws would be enough to hold the frame in place. So I lucked up on that end." -from Justin Carter

Despite the setbacks, they are accomplishing a lot.  It is amazing to see what they did to the GTM just within the last week.  You know it is a good day when the shop smells like a campfire from the welding.  More parts are needed to order.  More wrenchs are needed for harnassing.  More hours are needed to prove theories wrong.

Ride or Die

Ms. R

Published in Blogs
Saturday, 02 January 2010 12:34

Cheese Whiz on Fries

Today is Saturday, January 2, 2010.  Happy New Year!  We hope you have a safe and wonderful New Year!  Simon, Daniel, Sekou, Justin Carter, and myself are at West.  Goals for today are to test the Ford Focus engine and catch up on paperwork.  The men arrived around 9, and I slowly trickled in around 11.

Sekou and Daniel were building a post for the engine for the Focus.  Justin and Haug were making a motor mount for the GT.  "Ms. R, we are trying to get this engine cranked up," said Daniel about Ford Focus engine.  Sekou hopes that it doesn't blow up.  If it does blow up, we may not have school on Monday.

Right now, the men are enjoying cheeseburgers and cheese whiz on their fries.  Amazing.  Teenage boys and their metabolism.  And Hauger is eating the same.

Seriously, what an amazing combination.  Cheese Whiz, salt, pepper, and ketchup on fries.  But nothing on the cheeseburger.  This lunch is sponsored by Penn Pizza on 48th and Spruce.  It is high quality and high in cholesterol.

These boys are just vacuum cleaners.  It is so funny to see them watch and just devour their food.  Their conversation must be the most disgusting conversation in the history of the world.  Sekou talks about all the horrible things his dog ate over the years.  Of course, everyone joins in with other stories.  I am very passive in this conversation.  I only had cats.

According to rule, you shouldn't feed teenagers until the very last possible minute or very little work will get done.  With only two more hours left in the shop, lunch was critical.

I hope you one day experience cheese whiz, salt, pepper, and ketchup on fries sitting in a shop on a Saturday with friends.

Ride or Die

Ms. R

Published in Blogs
Monday, 14 September 2009 18:59

EVX Focus

An everyday vehicle for young, urban drivers.

Published in Vehicles

The West Philly Hybrid X Team and Philadelphia Academies, Inc. are privileged to partner with the EPA to advance environmental education and to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need for the new Green Economy.

Published in News