Nature’s Classroom – Neha

A couple weeks ago the 6th and 7th grade went to Nature’s Classroom. Nature’s Classroom is a place in Becket, Massachusetts. There are teachers there who have different and funny nicknames like Bloodhound or Sassafrass. There was a lunch room and a manor where all the kids stayed. The boys were on the top floor, and the girls were on the bottom floor. At Nature’s Classroom we did different and fun activities and learned about nature (hence the name). Nature’s Classroom is a school trip so some of the teachers at our school went  with us.


The 6th and 7th graders went to Nature’s Classroom for 4 days. We went Monday and came back Thursday. I got homesick, so I came back early (Tuesday night). Anyway, on Monday we were supposed to leave at 8 am but because of the snow it got delayed to around 1pm. I think we left on the coach bus around 1:30. We got to Nature’s Classroom around 3:00 or 4:00 because it was a three hour drive. We did one activity and then we went to our bunks and got settled in. Then I think we went to the art room, which is a room where we do activities in. Later, we had dinner at 5:00. The food in Nature’s Classroom is pretty good. After we ate we went back to the bunks and had some free time. After that, we went to back to the art room and did some activities. At night we had a sing along, which was kind of fun. So, that was our first day at Nature’s Classroom.
My favorite thing we did in Nature’s Classroom was an activity called Feed your Face. This class was with Anna, or Blood Hound (her nickname). In this class we learned how to use natural things to cleanse our faces. For example, we made a face scrub using oats and honey. It felt really good on my skin. We put vanilla yogurt on our faces to open our pores and then we used steam and lavender essential oil to close our pores (we put hot water water and a drop of the oil and put the cups close to our faces). This  was my favorite activity I did there because it was really relaxing and we got to learn that most of these creams, lotions, or face cleansers are mostly chemicals, and not natural for our skin. So if we use natural things, we’ll know exactly what it is and it’ll help make our skin smoother. So that’s what my favorite thing at Nature’s Classroom was and what Nature’s Classroom is.






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.

My Passion~ Piano

Since this week the topic for  quadblogging is what is your passion , I chose mine as playing piano. I absolutely love piano. I take private lessons (outside of school) every Thursday at Paul Effman from 4:30 to 5:00. The reason why I chose to start taking piano lessons is because I didn’t play any instruments. Also because my mom had taken piano lessons when she was a kid , but now she has forgotent how to play. This is my second year playing piano.


I really love to play piano, my parents say it’s a natural talent that sort of just came to me and it was just really easy for me to play. I have recital at the end of February each year. This year, my piano teacher, Lauren said she thinks I’m ready to participate in NYSSMA which stands for New York state school music association. NYSSMA is basically held at a school and you go into one of the classrooms and perform a piece of music, 3  scales and you have to sight read (but they give you that), for a judge. There are 3 levels with 1 being  beginner and 3 being advanced. Since this is my first year doing NYSSMA, Lauren  thinks I should go as a level one. You can play any instrument you want. (The reason why I knew this was because my friend has done it for a while and she told me).

I have learned many different songs on the piano, I know how to play Ode to Joy , a Waltz and many other songs. My piano teacher is a really good teacher in my opinion and I really think she teaches me a lot. I have a keyboard right now at my house which I use to practice , but we are thinking about getting a piano! Which I’m very excited about. I don’t consider actually becoming a piano player, but to just have it as a hobby. Anyway, I think piano will be something that will always stick to me and be my passion and I hope to learn more and more and really become a skilled pianist.


Here is a link for the history behind piano:

Here is another link for more to know about NYSSMA:


A picture of a piano.

Mike Davis via Compfight

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.

Igloo By Neha

Have you ever known how it feels for your life to turn upside down in an instant? In 2013 I had major back surgery. It is called scoliosis and is a condition where your back isn’t straight. Anyway,  it started off on a cold January night, when me, my sister, mom, dad, grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousin all went to New York City at the Belair Hotel. This was where my mom, dad, grandparents and sister would stay while I was in the hospital. The hotel was very close to the hospital so it was very convenient. Anyway,  when we got there we went to the hotel. I was nervous and scared for the next day. I slept at  the hotel the first night, but I would have to go to the hospital the next day. The hospital was like any ordinary hospital, it had a place for kids to play with things. It had the big round desk where all the nurses sat. The name of the hospital was The Hospital for Special Surgery. I was really scared, I had never had surgery before. I didn’t want to have surgery, but I knew it had to be done.


First I had to get a halo, which is a traction thing that got nailed into my head. It was also attached to a hook. You would add weights to it to stretch my back out before the surgery. The halo kind of felt like you were trapped because you couldn’t really do anything you could just sit and look straight ahead. Luckily since my parents were both doctors, my doctor let me go home in it. I was happy to go home. I think I was in the hospital for 3 or 4 weeks and knew I would be staying there longer for the surgery. So I was happy to return home for a while. A tutor came to my house because I couldn’t go to school. Her name was Laura. She was a nice lady, probably in her 50s. Basically what she did was,she went to my school, to my teacher (Mrs.Rifenburgh) and my teacher would give her work for me to do that she thought I would be able to do and Laura, my tutor brought it to me and helped/teached me it. Anyway, my back doctor was amazing, he was the best doctor I could ever have. He was so nice. He was a really good doctor. He goes to Ghana, Africa every year to do back surgery on kids who need it, and he does it for free. He does surgery on homeless people too. His name is Dr.  Boachie. He built this hospital in Ghana, Africa to help the  people of his country and his whole staff goes with him.


I was really happy when I came home, I still had to go to New York City for appointments and things. I had to get prepped for surgery before I even got the halo. I had to have x-rays, MRI’s, cat scans, blood tests and IVs. I had to have MRI’s of my heart and back because I had had heart surgery when I was 3 months. I also have to get MRI’s of my heart every 10 years. For me, I think that was the worst part because you have to go all the the way to New York City, wait for the time to go in and then get the thing  done.


Finally, it was time to get the surgery. It was on February 24 (I think) and was scheduled to be done at 5 A.M. I was so nervous, and scared. But mostly nervous. Anyway, the surgery went really well and we were all very happy. Most of the time I was half asleep and didn’t really notice anything but soon I was better. I have to say even though I had to lay down most of the time, having the actual surgery wasn’t even bad. I was asleep during it and after it I didn’t really feel any pain. I had to wear a brace and then after a while I went home. After I took the brace off I went for physical therapy to get back in shape, for example I had to stretch my back out a lot. I still do it to this day and will for the rest of my life.  Before I had my surgery and had the halo on, my mom brought this stuffed animal she got at a nearby drugstore. The stuffed animal was a white polar bear with turquoise eyes. On the tag it said the name was Igloo , so I just kept the name (I am not good at making up names.) I was so happy when my mom brought that for me because it was something I could hold onto and keep with me at the hospital.  

Now, I went to a back doctor appointment, except it was not with the same doctor, he has moved to Ghana , Africa and will be continuing his work  on patients there. I’m kind of upset because he changed my life and now all of a sudden I won’t be able to have him as my doctor. Now I have a new doctor, his name is Dr. Lenke and he is a very good surgeon. Anyway, I went for an appointment with him a couple weeks  ago and he said in about 2 or 3 years, I will have to have back surgery again. I will probably take  Igloo with me.  


here is a link if you want to learn more about scoliosis :

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


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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.

What I do for the Holidays By Neha

My family and I celebrate a holiday called Eid. We don’t celebrate it during this winter time of year. Eid depends on the phases of the moon. It has to be a full moon the night before to confirm that it will be Eid the next day. Eid happens 2 times a year, one in July or August and the other one in September, October or November. During the one in the summer we also celebrate Ramadan which is before Eid. During this religious time of year we don’t eat at all from sunrise to sunset (we fast), and we also pray. Then after Ramadan which is a month long (usually in June or July), we celebrate Eid in celebration after Ramadan is over. My family’s tradition for Eid is that we go at about 9 in the morning to a hall to do a special prayer and then we usually go with friends and family to Red Line Diner for brunch. Now you might be wondering,what do I do during this winter break. I usually go on vacation to a warm place to get away from the cold! This year I’m going to Costa Rica.  Well, that’s what I celebrate! What do you celebrate? Please comment on the blog! Here’s a link on more of this topic:

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque - Abu Dhabi UAECreative Commons License Black Zero via Compfight 

(This is a picture of a Masjid, and we go there to pray during Ramadan)

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.

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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.