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Orchard Students Turn RAFT Materials into Safer Wind Turbines for Birds

Ten third graders and twelve fourth graders in Kathleen Gould’s class at Orchard School District know to turn to RAFT when making creative design solutions! They’ve been on a 17-day Design Challenge journey studying how wind turbines kill hundreds of thousands of birds each year in North America—making turbines the most menacing form of green energy! Using cardboard tubes, paper pinwheel blades, clay, tape, stickers, cotton balls, bubble wrap, and other RAFT materials, student teams were able to think about and design clever models of wind turbines that might be safer for birds to fly around or nest upon! It started when representatives from the WildLIFE Associates brought into the class rehabilitated falcons, owls, eagles, and other birds damaged by wind turbines. “We learned about Luna the owl, who is now blind in one eye, and Liberty, the bald eagle, who broke its wing from flying into a turbine,” says Gould. Seeing these beautiful wild creatures up close helped the students to emp…
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Celebrating Black History Month with RAFT’s Makerspace in a Box

In honor of Black History Month, each week RAFT would like to pay tribute to African-American inventors, scientists, and engineers.
The list of African Americans who have invented a multitude of items in the course of their lives is endless! These inventions range from practical everyday devices to applications in diverse fields, including physics, biology, and mathematics. Just a few of these inventors and inventions include:
INVENTOR INVENTION Leonard C. Bailey Folding bed Janet Bashen First African-American woman to receive a patent for software Earl Bell Chair with sliding skin and the quantitative display apparatus Miriam Benjamin Second African-American woman to obtain a patent for the “Gong and Signal Chair” for hotels Henry Blair Seed/cotton planter; second African-American inventor to receive a patent Sarah Boone

Use the Winter Olympics to engage your students

The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics are right around the corner!
This worldwide event offers excellent opportunities to use the Olympics to inspire your students to learn about many mathematical concepts such as slope. How can the Olympics help students understand slope? Think of ski slopes! Ask students to watch the Olympics this year on TV and to look for sports that use steep paths (e.g., snowboarding, downhill skiing, alpine skiing, bobsleighing, etc.)! Back in class, have students recreate replica “ski slopes” using sections of white foam board. Place one end of a foam board against a wall with the opposite end touching the floor at an angle so that it forms the hypotenuse of a right triangle (the right angle is between the wall and the floor). Refer to the vertical distance (“rise”) from the floor to where the top edge of the board touches the wall as the y-intercept. Refer to the horizontal distance (“run”) starting at the wall and to the bottom of the board farthest away from t…

Impacting Children Worldwide: RAFT's Trip to Kenya

RAFT employee, Sylvia lodge, recently made a trip to Kenya and was able to visit a school in a Maasai village.

The school employed one teacher who worked with about 59 students ranging form three to twelve years of age. They were having classes under a acacia tree every day while waiting for a one room classroom to be constructed. Through the generosity of RAFT, we were able to donate a few school supplies to each child.  
The smiles that emanated from their face truly shows how RAFT can touch the lives of children anywhere in the wold. This experience was on of the highlights of her African trip.

RAFT Impacting Children Worldwide - The Syria Story

This past year, RAFT members Consuelo Montoya and Carol Muhn took RAFT kits to Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon for the more than 280,000 school-age refugee children not able to attend school.
As Carol Muhn recounts, “We taught the teachers at Beyond Association’s Child Labor Protection Center in the Bekaa Valley how to put together the kits. The teachers then took the kits to their classes to share with the students. Beyond Association believes in teaching students in a hands-on format, so the RAFT kits were a perfect fit for their program.”
Children ravaged by war and displaced from their homes and schools were given an opportunity for a small measure of normalcy and the joy of learning through kits provided by RAFT—kits underwritten by the generous donations of RAFT’s many supporters.
While RAFT is primarily focused on students in the Bay Area, we now know our reach and impact is far more significant. Consuelo and Carol will be returning to Lebanon this year, and they plan to bring as …

Let’s Celebrate National Dice Day

Did you know that each year on December 4th in the United States people observe National Dice Day?  Many games use dice as a way to add random challenges by generating numbers from a toss of the dice. The value of the toss is determined by the uppermost face of the die after it has come to rest.   Dice are used as gambling devices for games like Craps and are also used in non-gambling tabletop games. Dice are often used in board games to decide the distance a playing piece will move on the board.  Backgammon and Monopoly are two such board games that use dice.           A traditional die is a cube, with each of its six faces showing a different number of dots (pips) from 1 to 6. When thrown or rolled, the die comes to rest showing on its upper surface a random integer from one to six, each value being equally likely. A variety of similar devices are also described as dice; such specialized dice may have polyhedral or irregular shapes and may have faces marked with symbols instead of num…

We're Thankful for You!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and this is an excellent time in the school year to take a moment and reflect on the teachers and students for whom you are grateful! Thanksgiving is a holiday that reminds us to stop and think about the people in our lives who have made a significant impression, who have inspired us to go further, and who have helped you embrace new challenges without fear of failure! In many ways, these people are the teachers and students we’ve met in our lives, which includes YOU, our devoted RAFT educators! Take time to think about this: who are the teachers and students you’re grateful for? To me, in a way, we are all teachers in some capacity when we care about another person and want to help them positively learn something. I remember my kinder teacher, Ms. Lamb, and my second-grade teacher, Mrs. Turturici, who encouraged a timid little girl to be whatever she wanted to be. And that little girl was me! I thank them for their patience and persistence. Late…