Blue Whales at the Playground

Aaron and Miriam’s Family Circle has been learning about whales this year as part of the all-school theme of water. For their culminating activity they drew a 100-foot-long blue whale, with a 26-foot-long baby, in chalk at Markward Playground.

Row, Row, Row

“Row, Row, Row your boat,” said our rowing experts who came to talk with our preschoolers in the Rainbows and Bubbles groups about life on the crew team. TPS alumus Ethan Genyk ‘10, a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, visited our preschoolers and shared some artifacts from his tenure on his high school and college rowing teams.


We learned that a coxswain sits at the stern of the boat and that after a race you may get thrown into the water to celebrate a win. Ethan also shared a collection of shirts that symbolize the many victories he’s been lucky to experience. The losing team hands over the shirts off their back and the winners wear them!


Taylor the Sailor

On Friday the Bubbles and Rainbows in preschool were treated to the “maiden voyage” of masterful documentary filmmaker and TPS parent Glenn Holsten and his latest project, which is about a 36-foot sailboat. “Taylor the sailor,” a Navy rescue swimmer from Texas, charted a course and sailed around North and South America for nine months. Glenn had the pleasure of meeting up with Taylor and his crew to film and direct a heartfelt story about overcoming the infamous tumult of the waters of Cape Horn. The film features the majestic seascape, which concluded at Penguin Island for Taylor.


The children saw a map charting Taylor’s course, as well as a drawing of the sailboat complete with GoPro attachment locations to optimize the viewing pleasure of all audiences. A drone followed the boat aerially, a scuba diver with a GoPro from below, and several more GoPros in between affixed to the sides of the boat. The cameras captured breathtaking angles of life at sea and left us feeling as if we were on our very first virtual sailing expedition!

Glenn answered our questions about the ways in which the visual equipment was placed to tell a story, as well as some information about the anatomy of the boat and the important repairs it underwent before the voyage. Ask your child about the camera equipment and footage of Taylor at sea with his boat—we were WOWED!!

Glenn’s presentation inspired the children to build boats with recycled materials and test for buoyancy in our water table. We are looking forward to showing the boats at parent teacher conferences next week!

A River Runs Through It

On Wednesday our first and second graders had a special visitor, Mike Kerlin. Mike, an expert on water scarcity (and parent to a kindergartener at TPS), created an imaginary river in one of our classrooms and showed students how population growth can lead to water scarcity.


Students came up with ideas for ways for families, farmers, and factories to save water, all of which would help “protect the forest and fish, which need water!”  

Thank you, Mike, for sharing your expertise with the students!

Chopping Wood

On Wednesday the Primary Unit hosted Robb Grace, an arborist in Philadelphia.  Robb explained that arborists help keep trees healthy and safe by cutting them smaller or cutting them down.  He showed us his climbing harness, how to chop wood with an axe, and just how loud and smelly a chainsaw is! 

Our first and second graders were riveted throughout Robb’s visit and asked thoughtful questions about why cutting trees is a good thing, how heavy all those tools were, and how he climbed so high safely.  

Conflict Minerals and the DRC

The sixth grade welcomed Dr. Omekongo Dibinga – poet, musician, and professor. He spoke with us about the damage being done to people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the world’s quest for minerals to use in cell phones and other technology. Students were able to hear him perform, as well as to interview him about his work and the conflicts in the DRC. We will continue exploring ways that they, as sixth graders in Philadelphia, can help end these conflicts.