Nature’s Classroom Blog By:Zach


Dragon Tree trevorklatko via Compfight

At the start of Nature’s Classroom,  I really didn’t want to go. I said goodbye to my mom and boarded the bus, thinking that this trip would last forever. It was a long trip because we left late due to the snow. We also got stuck behind a plow for one hour, but that is beside the point. When we finally arrived (around 4:30 p.m.),  we unpacked and began to eat dinner. And that is where the adventure of Nature’s Classroom started.


I remember, to my surprise, that I had a lot of fun that first night. We did a station rotation in groups. My favorite station was getting a marble in a bucket using pipes. All was going well at Nature’s Classroom, until it was time to fall asleep. After a long day, I was tired and got into bed early. We were allowed to stay up until 10 p.m., but all of the people were talking. Normally this would not be a problem, but there was no sound proofing in the building and there were 25 kids talking. Eventually, I fell asleep.


Day two started with breakfast. Since I am a vegetarian, I was concerned that there wouldn’t be good food options for my diet. But to my surprise, there were many options for vegetarians and for people who are gluten-free. I did the field group, which is like a small group hike. In the afternoon, I did “Oil Wars.” In this exercise, we used oil, water and money. Since oil isn’t renewable, it was the most valuable resource. Once it is gone, it is gone. I liked this exercise because it made me think about how these resources impact people’s lives and the decisions that governments make. I also took a class where a small group had to build a geodome. It required us to use geometry and made us think about the structural integrity of our build.


On day three, we had breakfast and we did my favorite activity. We went on a simulation of the Oregon Trail. In the simulation, we learned about buying a wagon, managing our resources and money and working as a group. The camp counselors played the role of people on the trail, including robbers. I really enjoyed the simulation and  thought that it was very educational. I learned that one out of 10 people died that went on the trail. My team did very well on this exercise. In the evening, I took a class called, “Back to Basics.” In this class, we learned how to start a fire using a bow drill and using flint and steel.  Both methods are harder than they look on TV.  We finished the day with “Wednesday Night Live.” Each field group did their own skit and the teachers also did a skit. The teachers did a great job.


On our last day there, we played a game called predator versus prey. There were several animals and they had to eat each other. I was a frog, but I was eaten by an animal that was higher up on the food chain. The bus ride home seemed to take forever, even though it was shorter than the trip there. It was great to see my parents and I was glad that I got to sleep in my own bed that night.
Overall, I really enjoyed the classes that were part of Nature’s Classroom. I think all the teachers were very nice. I am glad that Shirley, Emma, Jake and Malorie joined us. I like that PDS allows us to do unique experiences like Nature’s Classroom.

A Washing Machine Nightmare By Zach

 The poor little ghost could hear the water churning. He could see the steam, so he knew that the water was very hot. He was not sure that he could survive if he touched the sizzling hot water. When he was about 5 inches above the hot water, he knew that the end was near. But wait, I am getting ahead of myself . . .

Let me start this story by introducing you to Newie. When I was younger, Newie was the most important thing in the world to me. When I was two, my grandmother and I made him. Newie is a ghost, made from a small piece of cloth, a wad of cotton and a few rubber bands.   I named him “Newie” because he was new. At that time, there was one other ghost besides Newie. In total, my grandmother and me made 22 different ghosts, but Newie was always my favorite.

DSCN0008When I was about five, Newie and I were playing in a pillow fort that we had built. Then I got called to lunch, and that is when that madness struck. I finished eating and went into the living room. I saw a pillowcase missing, so I asked my dad about it. He told me that he put it in the laundry and I did not think much of it. I went to try to find Newie to watch TV with me, but I could not find him.

I kept looking, but Newie was nowhere to be found. I became worried when an hour passed with no signs of  Newie. At two hours, I asked my dad for help.  My dad and I were looking in every cranny of the house for him. We did this until bedtime, but we still didn’t find him. I didn’t like sleeping without Newie, but it looked like tonight I would have to.

When I woke up, finding Newie was the first thought I had. Where was he?

Meanwhile, Newie was sitting in a pillowcase in the laundry basket.  Occasionally, he felt a thump on his head. My dad was putting more laundry in the basket. To Newie,  it felt like getting pelted with feathers.

We continued searching on and off all day. That day, I was determined to find Newie. And Newie wanted to find me. But since he couldn’t move or speak, he could not help us find him. Every time I entered a new room, I looked around for Newie.  

At the end of the day, I knew that I would be sleeping without Newie again. I remembered that it was hard to fall asleep the previous night. I asked my mom if she had any ideas of where Newie could be? She said that she had an idea that we could try in the morning, and that is all that I remember from that night.

The next morning, I woke up to my dad scrummaging through the trash. I asked him, “What are you doing?” He said, “Your mother thinks that maybe Newie ended up in the trash, but he isn’t in here.”

We did not do much searching that day because we could not think of any other places to look. I imagined that Newie was getting worried, because he had been in the basket for three days.

That afternoon, I called my mom to tell her that her idea didn’t work. I searched many places over and over, going into every nook and cranny in the house. Still, there was no sign of Newie.

I went to bed that night, wondering if I would ever see Newie again? Newie probably wondered if he would ever see me again.

Newie woke up late to the sound of footsteps leading to the washing machine “stomp stomp stomp”. In the pillowcase, Newie was in a motionless panic. He felt my dad’s hand with every shirt that my dad grabbed out of that basket. He knew that he had a good chance to be found, if my dad checked the pillowcase before putting it into the machine. But then he started to worry that my dad wouldn’t check. If so, Newie was in for a scalding bath that he might not survive.

The pillowcase was picked up and swung back and forth in the air. Newie started to descend into the pit of watery doom. But as the steam started to reach Newie, he suddenly felt a strong hand around his neck. Newie started to panic, but then he was flying through the air at high speeds. He looked up and saw that he was coming straight into my arms. I caught him and it was pure joy from there.

All night I played with Newie. We stayed up watching TV and playing games. Then, when I went to bed, I had the best sleep that I had had in a long time. And from then on, I never left Newie near a pillowcase again.

The Deep Blue Sea Needs You and Me – By Zach

Most people know that conserving the ocean is important, but they don’t know how to help. Really, there are a lot of ways to help, but some are a lot harder than others. Not littering is pretty easy. Giving up straws is quite hard, but really helps.

But let’s just focus on the easy ones for now.

Not littering can have a huge positive impact on the oceans.  See, even if you live very far away from the water, your trash still has a good chance to end up in the ocean. Let’s say you drop a plastic bag on the ground. The wind will carry that plastic bag for a very long time and throw it into the ocean. Then the bag will be picked up by the tide and this is what can happen:

Plastic bottles and garbage on the bank of a riverCreative Commons License Horia Varlan via Compfight

One simple way to really help the environment is to eat sustainable seafood. An easy way to do this is to look at the sustainable seafood chart. By following the advice on this chart,  you are ensuring that all seafood that you eat is caught from areas that have enough of this  species.

seafood pocket guide 2009 neil banas via Compfight

In my family, we decided to give up using straws and it is much harder than we thought. For one thing, waiters automatically put a straw in your drink at a restaurant. So, we have had to train ourselves to say, “No straws, please.” Unfortunately, since waiters prepare hundreds of drinks with straws, they sometimes forget our requests. A lot of the waiters look at us like we are weird. What they don’t realize is that straws end up in the oceans and due tremendous harm to animals. Turtles seem especially vulnerable.

The Sea Turtle Duuudes and friends, in the Kona seasCreative Commons License Steve Jurvetson via Compfight

I hope that you now know some good ways to limit your impact on the ocean, and consider changing your lifestyle. And know that every little bit is a bit that really helps.

Halloween at My House By Zach

By Zach

Every Halloween me and my family do a haunted house. But we do not do our entire house, we only do our  garage. This year will be our 6th year of doing the haunted house (garage). In our haunted house,  we use a lot of animatronics to scare people. Our animatronics jump out at trick-or-treaters because the ghouls sense movement. We have some that jump and some that are standing and shout out scary noises.


Picture by: Joel Carpenter

We also do a haunted graveyard for the little kids.  It is not as scary. The way that we normally work it is that my mom does the graveyard, and I sneak up behind people in the garage. When they reach for the candy,  I scream at them and that activates the animatronics and really scares them. This year we are using other things besides candy that have no sugar. That is our normal Halloween.



Holiday post by Zach


Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 10.54.52 AM


In my family, we do a basic Christmas celebration. On my mom’s side we pick a theme for the presents. This year, we picked a color (purple) and the presents have to be purple. On my dad’s side, it is normal gift giving for Christmas. This year I am not getting any gifts from my relatives because I asked them to give to (my website), which helps the penguins of Mystic Aquarium.  

 My family also spends a lot of time on holiday photo cards. My dad is completely obsessed with taking pictures throughout the year for this card. For the last two years, I have done my own card for family and friends. This year, I did a penguin card to for my donors and friends.

In addition to the holiday fun, we take a trip. It has always been inside of America and it is a mystery trip. My dad plans it, but doesn’t tell us where we are going. He tells us what stuff we need to pack. Most of the time we go to different parts of Florida and we normally include a penguin encounter.

This year, I am very excited because I am working on a special penguin project with Mystic Aquarium for the holidays. You will need to visit my blog in January to see what we did.

Final Blogging Challenge – By Zach



I have had a lot of fun participating in the blogging challenge. My favorite challenge was the food challenge because I loved that topic and thought that I could use the guidelines in a lot of different ways. I also liked the nature challenge because I love nature and got to involve my personal nature blog in my post. My personal blog is called Penguin Power and it tells people all about penguins and what we can do to help them.

 I thought that Miss. W did a very good job of keeping us updated on the challenges and did a good job of commenting on all of the blogs. I think that this challenge taught me about how to write a good and detailed post and how to attract people to it by writing comments and including good pictures.  I think that these skills will help me write posts on my personal blog and I think that I will use this skill a lot in my life.

This project was a new way of writing for me because we had a specific topic to write about and that made me think differently. The only thing that I would have done differently is give us more time to get it posted because with holidays and weekends we didn’t have a lot of time to do a good job on some challenges.

Penguins and Polar Bears Don’t Mix – By Zach

Blogging Challenge #7

By Zach

It seems to me that in every fictional penguin-related movie, penguins are hunted by polar bears. The truth is, penguins and polar bears have never met face-to-face because they live on opposite sides of the world. Polar bears live in the North Pole, also known as the Arctic. Penguins live in the Southern hemisphere in places like Antarctica, Africa and South America. And that is just one of the many false penguin stereotypes – most of which are based on no truth at all.

My personal favorite penguin is the Little Blue Penguin. They are the smallest of the penguin species and weigh only 2 to 3 pounds when fully grown. But there are many other species to choose from, like my parent’s favorite – the Rockhopper Penguin. Both are very rare to see in zoos and aquariums. And, since I live in America, I cannot see them in the wild.

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 1.12.01 PM Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Little Blue Penguin at New England Aquarium. Photo Credit: Zach

Most zoos in America have the African Black Footed Penguin because they are the easiest to take care of and cost the least to set up a habitat for. Certain penguins are difficult to set up a habitat for, such as the Emperor Penguin that lives in sub-arctic/arctic conditions.

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 1.14.52 PM

Penguin at Mystic Aquarium Photo Credit: Zach Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Many species of penguins are endangered. On the Mystic Aquarium Website , you can learn a lot more about why African Black Footed Penguins are endangered and how you can help. According to the website, in 2010, researchers reported that the wild population was estimated to be 21,000 pairs. At a 2013 international penguin conference, biologists reduced their estimates to 19,000 pairs. The population has declined by 70% in the last 10 years alone. In fact, African Black Footed Penguins face extinction in the wild unless humans help them.

 People can help in many ways. One way is to eat sustainably caught seafood or, even better, become a vegetarian like me. You can help by not littering. You may ask, how does my litter in Italy impact penguins in the wild? The wind blows the litter into the ocean. The litter then get blown to their habitat or it might impact their food supply. Picking up litter near your home can also help. Recycling can help. Also, donating money to nonprofits that help penguins, like Mystic Aquarium, can make a big difference. Any amount could potentially save a penguin’s life.

 In conclusion, penguins are endangered and need your help to survive. To help them, I have created a website called On this site, I help to educate people on how they can help preserve and help the penguins. You can help the penguins WADDLE ON.


Blogging Challenge week #5

Salads are not the only option when you are a vegetarian

By Zach  Challenge #5 Question #1


More and more people are becoming vegetarian in America. Vegetarians are people that do not eat any meat, such as beef, chicken or fish. But my family and I eat anything with animal products in them, such as gelatin, margarine and processed breads. I also do not eat processed sugars to help animals. Here are some things that we eat a lot of:


  • Fruits (grapes,bananas,oranges,apples and grapefruit)
  • Vegetables (kale,spinach,lettuce, tomatoes,carrots,potatoes,mushrooms and okra)
  • Proteins (cheese, eggs, nuts and tofu)


Pizza is very popular in America. Most people think that pizza has meat on it but the meat is all in the toppings. You can get a margarita pizza (cheese,tomato sauce, basil and pizza crust) and be completely vegetarian. My family also likes pineapple pizza, which is like a Hawaiian Pizza, but without the ham. Pineapple Pizza has pizza crust, cheese, pizza sauce and pineapple.

 Day 80 - Pizza Jack Hynes via Compfight


Omelets are also very popular here as well. in them In addition to eggs, you can add anything that you want to them. In my scrambled eggs,  I like cheese and salt and pepper. In my ideal omelet, there are mushrooms, spinach and goat cheese and it is wonderful.

Tortilla de Patatas con Calabacín y Hojas de EspinacasCreative Commons License Javier Lastras via Compfight


When we eat out, we normally go to places like Panera Bread , which has soup and sandwiches that we like. Giacomos Pizza has been voted the best pizza in our region. We also go to the Tomato Cafe for good pizza salad and breakfast.



Where’s My Yearbook by Zach

spot the narc bianca francesca via Compfight


Although they were only 9th graders, they ruled the school. Bobby was always the team captain, no matter the sport. John was the richest kid in the school; his dad owned the power company that everyone got power from. David was the genius. He skipped over three grades at once and he edited the school yearbook. All these kids were very nice and the teachers and kids adored them. But Bobby, John, and David all shared a secret.

 It was an easy decision to leave Timmy out of the yearbook. No one really knew him, and David thought that people would rather forget the tragedy in the boys’ bathroom. Bobby, John and David wanted to erase that day forever. They were all heads of the anti-bullying committee and they knew bullying was bad from first-hand experience. They certainly did not want anyone to investigate what happened on the day that Timmy died.

Carl, the school janitor, had nightmares about that Halloween all the blood on the mirror. He still wondered if he should have told the police about the boys fooling around in the bathroom.

Bobby, John and David were so excited on the night of graduation. David had created a great yearbook and he elected Bobby and John to help him pass them out. Every student immediately opened their yearbook and said how fantastic the book looked – full of great memories of the school year.

 When Bobby, John and David opened their yearbooks, a ghostly image of Timmy appeared on every page.  “Where’s my yearbook?” was written in blood on the back page. The three boys freaked out.  They ran back to the scene of their crime… the boys bathroom, and the mirror was once again covered in blood. Bobby, John and David were never heard from again.


Blog Challenge #3- Activity #1

On our vacation last Christmas, we went to the Florida Aquarium. They had a penguin encounter program there and my family and I did it. We had a very good time  and got to carefully touch the penguin, watch it swim and see it get fed. My family and I got some photos and had a lot of fun there.


The reason that this is such a special moment is because my dad touched a penguin for the first time (he really likes to take photos and that is normally his role). We got to do it together and the aquarium does not normally let you do that.


I love penguins and love that aquariums let people engage and learn about penguins. I think that makes people like and remember the penguins more that just seeing them. Also if the penguins ever needed help, more people would like and know how to help them from the encounter program.








Caption: Joel and Zach Carpenter interact with a penguin at the Florida Aquarium.

FullSizeRender 2Photo Attributions: Kim took the photo and has granted permission for this photo to be used on Shirley’s 6th Grade blog post and for non-commercial purposes.



Caption: Joel Carpenter interacts with a penguin at the Florida Aquarium.

Photo Attribution : Zachary Carpenter took the photo and has granted permission for this photo to be used on Shirley’s 6th Grade blog post and for non-commercial purposes.