Learning During a Pandemic: A Challenge-A-Day

By Carol Bier

Here are some challenges I have endeavored to write for my grandchildren (14, 16, 17), geared to middle school/high school. The questions may have relevance beyond, and I've shared them as well with neighbors, friends, and relatives, encouraging them to be distributed to those who may find them challenging, engaging, and beneficial during these perilous times. I know some of the questions have been adapted for a 4-year old in Chicago, for a fifth-grade class in Oakland CA, working online, and for a college class in New Haven, as well as for several children who are being home-schooled during this hiatus of normalcy. Several adults have enjoyed them as well!

Although numbered by week/day, the challenges may be used in no particular order (except those for which there is a sequential question). Each one is designed to take 1-2 hours; collectively, they are intended to be interdisciplinary. Some require Internet research, or use of iPhone/Android or iPad. Kids may work together or separately, and they may call an adult or other friend for clarification or to discuss search strategies. The hints might be offered as a second step.

Weeks 13-14, see https://www.leonardo.info/blog/2020/06/15/learning-during-a-pandemic-a-challenge-a-day-week-14

Weeks 10-12, see https://www.leonardo.info/blog/2020/06/03/learning-during-a-pandemic-challenge-a-day

Weeks 8-9, see https://www.leonardo.info/blog/2020/05/06/learning-during-a-pandemic-a-challenge-a-day

Weeks 1-5, see https://www.leonardo.info/blog/2020/04/24/learning-during-a-pandemic-a-challenge-a-day

Thoughts?    Comments?    Questions?           arsperspectiva@gmail.com

Berkeley, CA © Carol Bier, 2020  -  Please circulate to whoever might benefit. Stay healthy!


Week 7 (!)

Day 1. Muslims all over the world are celebrating Ramadan - the ninth month of the lunar calendar - as they always do, through reflection, contemplation, reading the Qur'an, fasting, and prayer. Normally, however, these activities are done in community, as is breaking of the fast each night, with shared joy and much discussion of reflections and readings together. How has COVID-19 affected Muslims celebrating Ramadan around the world? Read this illustrated New York Times article, and write a paragraph addressing the question.

Day 2. Define each of the following words: toxicology, immunology, epidemiology, and epistemology. With this pandemic, we are learning more every day. How do we know what we know? Write a paragraph explaining how the terms you have defined are interrelated with regard to COVID-19. You may want to refer to an article in Science and an opinion piece in the New York Times; there is also an interesting article from Vox (via Apple News):

Modeling Infectious Disease DynamicsScience, 24 April 2020

We Know Crowding Affects the Spread. It May Affect the Death RateNew York Times, 27 April 2020

What Immunity to Covid-19 Might Actually MeanVox, 23 April 2020

Day 3. RESILIENCE = CREATIVITY + ADAPTATION. We all need resilience to get through this! In what ways have you creatively adapted to the current situation? Can you think of other ways to adapt, too? What might you consider doing today? Tomorrow? This weekend?

Day 4. Go stand somewhere - anywhere, and be very quiet. Become aware of the sounds around you. Write a log of what you hear, and in what sequence. After you think you've heard all the sounds, can you make a sound? [Hint: stamping your foot, clapping, whistling, snapping a finger, etc.]. Decide on any sound you can generate, and make a rhythm (= pattern in time). Can you change the rhythm? Now add a second sound, and make another rhythm. Write "with granularity" about the experience.

Day 5. TGIF. Wait - did you realize it was Friday? Time seems to flow differently now, with weekends blending into the week. And neither coronavirus nor sheltering in place take weekend breaks! Today's challenge concerns close quarters - we know that proximity, duration of exposure, and density of population all significantly impact case/fatality rates of COVID-19 in Veterans’ Homes, nursing homes, prisons, cruise ships, and meat-packing plants. But how can we explain the high rate of incidence of COVID-19 in the Navajo Nation (nine times that of the state of Arizona? Can you suggest several hypotheses?

We Know Crowding Affects the Spread. It May Affect the Death RateNew York Times, 27 April 2020

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/4/20/1938886/-Communities-on-Najavo-Nation-test-for-COVID-19-at-a-rate-nine-times-higher-than-state-of-Arizona

https://navajotimes.com/reznews/one-percent-of-reservation-residents-test-positive-for-covid/

Weekend Challenge: What are your go-to sources of information about COVID-19? Check out the websites of your state department of public health, and that of your county and city. Do they all offer the same information? Can you identify their sources? Compare these with coronavirus.gov and cdc.gov, websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Weekend Challenge: Sunday, May 3 at 4pm Pacific - Join Samin Nosrat ("Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat") for#TheBigLasagnalive @NYTCooking on Instagram - yes, to eat lasagna together!

[Follow @NYTCooking on Instagram to watch her make it, step-by-step. Be sure you have the ingredients on hand in advance!]

Week 6 (!)

Day 1. Go outside and stand in one place. Make a list of every color you see, looking up, looking down, looking all around you. How many greens do you see? How many blues? What other colors do you see? Is there anything without color??

Day 2. Instagram @edibleschoolyard just posted an easy recipe for pickled red onions. It's quick and delicious! That's today's challenge. But you might also want to plant something edible in your garden or in a window box. Try, for example, a clove of garlic, or a bean - even the shoots can be used in salads or cooking eggs!

Day 3. Today is EARTH DAY! And its 50th Anniversary! See what The Northwest School in Seattle has put together for a day of celebration and reflection -- https://sites.google.com/northwestschool.org/earthday2020 Explore the website and its many links!

Day 4. What is an antibody? What benefits would there be if we have the capability of testing for antibodies? Can you speculate on the design for a research project testing for antibodies to COVID-19?

Day 5. If you were President...Write an essay on what you would or wouldn't do to address this pandemic.

Weekend challenge: Check out two recent New York Times articles that explain mathematical modeling in relation to COVID-19. They address questions raised in earlier challenges

What's Going On in This Graph?  

7 Ways to Explore the Math of the Coronavirus using the New York Times

Additional weekend challenge: What is the difference between a virus and bacteria? What is a germ? What is a contagion? What does the term "herd immunity" mean?

 

Weeks 13-14, see https://www.leonardo.info/blog/2020/06/15/learning-during-a-pandemic-a-challenge-a-day-week-14

Weeks 10-12, see https://www.leonardo.info/blog/2020/06/03/learning-during-a-pandemic-challenge-a-day

Weeks 8-9, see https://www.leonardo.info/blog/2020/05/06/learning-during-a-pandemic-a-challenge-a-day

FOR PREVIOUS WEEKS, see https://www.leonardo.info/blog/2020/04/24/learning-during-a-pandemic-a-challenge-a-day

Thoughts?    Comments?    Questions?           arsperspectiva@gmail.com

Berkeley, CA © Carol Bier, 2020  -  Please circulate to whoever might benefit. Stay healthy!