A Look at Denny Middle School’s Dolphin University

City Year Seattle at Denny Middle School with their Boxes of Infinite Inquiry!

The City Year Seattle corps members serving at Denny International Middle School have revamped their after-school programing, called Dolphin University after Denny’s school mascot, to add to the academic potential of the students. Corps members worked hard for many weeks to create a program that focuses on both tutoring and incorporating lessons that will enrich and supplement the education of their students.

Because the school and district science fairs are coming up, corps members thought it would be the perfect time to run a three-week-long unit on Science. In the first week, corps members re-introduced the scientific concepts of observation and inference. One of the lessons of the week was “Cube Your Enthusiasm.”  Dolphin Universtiy Activity

During the lesson, students spent ten minutes relearning the definitions of inference and observation and shared some examples. One team’s example was:

“We observe that clock on the wall has two hands moving, and we infer that there is a motor inside making it tell the time.”

Once the examples from each group were shared, a corps member transitioned to the second part of the activity: “The Boxes of Infinite Inquiry!”

The corps members worked hard to make the boxes as enticing as possible. As soon as the students walked into Dolphin University that day, the first thing they noticed were two boxes covered with a cloth and signs all around it saying “Don’t open” or “STAY AWAY.” Every time a student went to sharpen a pencil a corps member walked with them to make sure they didn’t sneak a peek at the boxes.

Corps members then unveiled the cubes, which had sets of numbers or equations that were linked to each other by a sequence. Each part of the number sequence was written on a different side of each box. Corps members covered two sides of each box, which gave the students an opportunity to observe the boxes and try to infer what the covered sides displayed. The boxes and the task for finding the missing sides were explained to the teams. Then a corps member announced: “Let the great debate begin!” as the boxes were handed to each team. The teams immediately began trying to deduce what the missing sides were.

The inferences they came up with were very smart and detail oriented. One team wrote:

“We thought we were right because the numbers on the opposite sides of the box always added to eight.”

This team was the ultimate winner because of how broad their various ideas, plans, and inferences were and not just because they were able to get closest to the correct answer. The Corps Members and the students then took the time to applaud everyone’s efforts and participation during the activity.

Finally the groups settled into talk about what the lesson was meant to convey. Teams presented their different strategies for finding the missing sides. As a group, students talked a little bit about human logic and how sometimes people’s past experiences inform their present. One student talked about how she used what she knew about dice to try to infer what the missing sides were.

It was awesome to watch their brains clicking even after a long school day and over an hour of after-school tutoring. Their participation and willingness to engage in the lesson is always a gift. It was a great opportunity with a talented group of students learning to focus and then expand their education alongside their City Year corps members.

Text by Denise Taylor, City Year Seattle/King County corps member of the JPMorgan Chase/NELA Diplomas Now Team at Denny International Middle School

This team was the ultimate winner because of how broad their various ideas, plans, and inferences were and not just because they were able to get closest to the correct answer. The Corps Members and the students then took the time to applaud everyone’s efforts and participation during the activity.

Pigeon Point Park Service

West Duwamish Greenbelt Service

Pigeon Point Park is part of the West Duwamish Greenbelt, the largest greenbelt in the city and home to foxes, red-legged frogs, hawks, and bald eagles. The greenbelt encompasses the forest along the eastern slopes of West Seattle. This property is also the largest remaining continuous forest within Seattle city limits, consisting of 182 acres in park land and another 300 acres in privately owned land. However, due to industrial waste from the nearby harbor, it is also one of the most polluted areas in Seattle. Because of this, City Year Seattle/King County, in collaboration with Seattle Parks and Recreation dedicated a Friday to preserving our public parks.

West Duwamish Greenbelt Service

Mission of the day: building a new trail at Pigeon Point Park!

Corps Members loading wheelbarrows with gravel.

West Duwamish Greenbelt Service

The wheelbarrows were much heavier than they looked.

West Duwamish Greenbelt Service

Hauling gravel was not as easy and simple as it looks!

West Duwamish Greenbelt Service

Rushing back to get more gravel! "Watch out! Coming through!"

West Duwamish Greenbelt Service

Corps members putting the finishing touches on their freshly paved trail.

West Duwamish Greenbelt Service
Tree trunks were used as a barrier between the path and the forest around it.

After a few hours of service, the results were definitely noticeable. A path that once was not visible is now ready for walkers, bicyclists, and animals to enjoy. We have worked in Pigeon Point park multiple times in the past few years and it is nice to be able to come back year after year and build upon the progress we have made.

Text by Hoang Lam, City Year Seattle/King County senior corps member

Photos by Andy Hurwitz, City Year Seattle/King County corps member

Comcast Signature Service Day: Teamwork at the West Duwamish Greenbelt

Welcome to the Comcast Sponsored Service day!

Last Friday, City Year Seattle shoveled, wheelbarrowed, and shifted 28 tons of rocks at the West Duwamish Greenbelt. Sponsored by Comcast, our National Leadership Sponsor/Signature Service Sponsor, and organized by Seattle Parks and Recreation, the crew took off for West Seattle to continue building a trail that City Year Seattle has been working on since last year.

By the end of the day, corps members created 81 feet of base layer rock for the trail and completely finished 47 feet. Because this new trail is raised off the ground and has a built-in tunnel to facilitate water drainage, it is a significant improvement over the former trail, which had to be rebuilt each year because of storm damage.

Take a look at our day below to see City Year Seattle in action:

Heavy duty heavy lifting

Heavy duty heavy lifting

Distributing rocks to make the trail

Corps members were fired up with enthusiasm. Jacobo Jimenez of Seattle Parks and Recreation told us, "You guys moved more rock today than I've ever moved in a single project."

City Year and Wheelbarrows

City Year, wheeling through twisting paths.

Wobbly Wheelbarrow

Because of the bumpy rocks, the wheelbarrow began tipping over precariously . . .

Team work

until team members helped save it.

Corps Members Create Drainage

We set a tunnel under the trail to facilitate water drainage.

Large, Heavy Rocks

Corps members shifted incredibly heavy rocks in place.

Corps members starting the Trail

We were still hard at work mid-day, as it began to look like a real trail.

The finishing step.

Corps members put the finishing touches on the trail by smoothing gravel with precision.

The Finished Product

Great work, team!

At the end of the day, Jacobo Jimenez of Seattle Parks and Recreation told us,

What you guys did today has a greater-reaching impact than ‘we built a really cool looking trail.’ The trail that you saw here earlier today? We used to have to rebuild it on an annual basis. But the real problem wasn’t just the time and energy that we had to put into fixing this trail every single year. It was the sediment that would run off into the storm drains and Puget Sound. That sediment contained nutrients that could have helped enrich the forests but instead was causing algae bloom in our waters and killing off our fish. That in turn had a negative economic impact upon our region.

Now it sounds like I’m really stretching it here, but I’m not – what you did here today has a real impact on our community, and I want to thank you for it. You guys moved more rock today than I’ve ever moved in a single project. You keep raising the bar in your service and it’s really incredible.

Thank you, Seattle Parks and Recreation, for helping us facilitate this day. and working with us to accomplish so much. And thank you Comcast, for your support of the work we do and this region’s community. We couldn’t do it without you!

Text and photos by Sherry Tiao, City Year Seattle/King County External Relations Project Leader