Time’s up! Homeward bound.

Had breakfast with Kate and a lovely friend of hers this morning. The weather is as glorious as when I arrived two weeks ago.

 

I fly home this afternoon and arrive in the UK tomorrow morning. No doubt I'll feel a little sleep deprived as a result!

The last thing left is for me to thank all of the people and organisations who have made my trip possible. It's that Oscars moment, so here goes.

Thank you to my teaching union NASUWT and the English Speaking Union for awarding me the Walter Hines Page Scholarship, which funded my two week trip.

Thank you to my school, New College Worcester, for giving me the time and their support for my visit.

Thank you to Kate Fraser for hosting my visit, sharing her wealth of expertise in teaching Science to students with visual impairments and for generally being a fabulous person.

Thank you to Perkins Accessible Science Webcasts for introducing me to Kate several years ago. Without putting a face to a name, I may never have emailed her in the first place.

Thank you to Perkins School staff and students for being so open and accommodating. It is a great place!

Thank you to May Cottage for having me stay with you. You are all amazing, even through a hurricane!

Thank you to Amy Bower and her husband David for giving me such a great experience at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

 

I have had a great time thanks to you all and I have so much to think about when I get home.

So many great memories too!

Woods Hole and Meeting Alvin

Today Amy Bower from WHOI lined up a tour of the WHOI led by her husband David. We were so privileged to have this opportunity and I am incredibly grateful to Amy and David for making this happen. Certainly not something that happens every day and the science was fascinating! Kate and I both loved this tour.
Kate and me next to the part of Alvin which will house 3 people for 8 hours to a depth of 6,500 metres. No toilet on board either! I'd certainly never volunteer for that job, but will be keen to hear all about their discoveries.

 

David showing us one of the claws that will be attached to the front of Alvin.

 

The research vessel, Atlantis. Alvin will be positioned at this nearest point, beneath this crane-like structure.

Alvin will sit here to be transported to and from the ocean.

An amazing sunset this evening!

Here is the view from the restaurant as we had supper. Woods Hole is truly beautiful.

 

Mainstream VI support and a Typical New England town

Visit to a main stream school today to meet an itinerant teacher of visually impaired who supports a blind student. On the way there we filled up with gas and the last thing I expected to see was a TV screen on the top of the pump! Seriously?!

The school was near Worcester Massachusetts! A very familiar name!

Barbara, the itinerant teacher and her colleague Shavaun do an excellent job of modifying materials and teaching the skills required by their students with a visual impairment. It struck me that we are all doing the same job, sometimes in the same way, but often differently and I really appreciate the fact that I have had the opportunity to share ideas and learn from others.

 
 
 
 
 
This pen was very similar to the Pen Friend from RNIB. When you placed the tip on an item it spoke the recorded information for that square to you.
 
 
I was fascinated by the school buses. There must have been at least 20 around the car park at the end of the day. Obviously I could only get a few in my shot, but there were loads more.

After visiting the school we visited Grafton, a very typical New England town. I loved the buildings.

 

Halloween over, now time for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

 

Last day in school and last night in May Cottage

Coming to the final part of my trip now with today being my last day in Perkins classrooms and tonight being my last night in May Cottage. The students were so sweet today, thanking me for visiting them! It was so nice to get to know them and I must admit to having a few favourites. Some amazing kids! The students and staff in May Cottage are truly fabulous and I do feel that I was certainly privileged to be in this 'awesome' cottage. Great people! With a special mention for the kitchen staff, whom I loved chatting with in the mornings. Thank you all for making me so welcome.

They even made me a card. Sweet!

Today I had an opportunity to see some of the great work done by PJ, a lower school teacher. Her classroom was so calm and ordered. She creates the perfect environment for students who may not cope well with change. It was a pleasure to watch her at work. She showed me a very useful Maths tool called the Math Window. However, we did go on to discuss the problems that would come with the imminent introduction of the new Unified English Braille (UEB) code and the way that resources such as these would need to be re-created, along with all of the other resources that we have built up or created over the years. Soul destroying and time consuming!

Visiting PJ also gave me an opportunity to see another part of this beautiful school.

The weather was so good again today. Glad to see the back of Sandy!

Halloween, Horticulture and Handcrafts

Still find it amazing that people here are mad for Halloween. Students and some staff in some great costumes today and selling Halloween cakes.

There was even evidence of Halloween in the horticulture centre, with a list of plants with Halloweenish names!

The horticulture centre was amazing and plays a big part in education, developing vocational skills and for some students it simply gives them a calming environment to be in.

 

Perkins has a number of tactile interpretations of works of art. Sadly I don’t know the name of the artist, but I was told that she always uses a certain texture/fabric for each colour. This way a blind person would associate the texture with a colour and could learn to consider the various colours in a painting. A fabulous tactile experience. I have seen swell paper representations of famous works of art, but never pictures created with fabrics. These are amazing!

 
 
 
 

A quick look around the Perkins museum was a must. This place has so much history and is enjoying its worldwide reputation.

 

Final part of the day was spent with a class who were making and testing paper planes. They were given 3 toothpicks to add, to improve their designs (yes I did say improve!)

Blue skies and branches

Hurricane Sandy gave us stormy weather for a day, but we got off lightly compared to neighbouring states it seems.

Today I was so pleased to meet Amy Bower, a visually impaired physical oceanographer. Amy works as a researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. It was great to talk to her about her job, during her visit here at Perkins today. Amy had brought with her various pieces of equipment that she uses for sampling ocean currents. She is such an inspiration and I shall certainly be talking to my students about her and her work, when I return home.

These polystyrene cups have been taken to various depths and you can see that with the air forced out the pressure seems to have shrunk the cups. Great demo.

Very interested in these talking data loggers that Kate has.
I spent some time in the resource centre today too, looking at some of the various models.
 
 

On my way out of the resource centre I also noticed this tactile picture. It is called 'African Adventure' by James Mallet. The animals in the picture are made from many different kinds of wood. Mr Mallet cut and carved the animals from wood and then put them together. Such skill!

 

What a difference a day makes!

The build up to hurricane Sandy coming this way meant that the school ran with core staff only today. As I’m on campus and Kate came in, we carried on with making good use of my time here. She showed me her cool cell modelling kit and I made some chloroplasts for a plant cell.

 

The Perkins staff are so amazing that even with a reduced staff they carried on and made it look easy. So nice to see the Perkins President, Steven Rothstein, visiting the cottages to check on students and staff this evening too.

Jam night went ahead as usual too for all residential students. A great hour. Some real talent here for sure, amongst the staff and the students. This place has such an amazing sense of community.

 

Apparently we are getting the worst of the weather overnight. Let’s hope that by tomorrow evening the weather will be improving. Such a change from last week!