Friday, June 9, 2017

Donation Deliveries!

The last month was a busy one as the students made their videos about the non-profit of their choice and solicited donations from at least 2 different communities. Some students set up GoFundMe sites to help them raise money, while others formed partnerships with stores to aid in their collections. Here are the results, by the numbers...

4 baby bottles, 136 diapers, 3 body lotions, 1 bath salts, 2 cleaning towels, 4 deodorants, 6 shaving creams, 8 shampoo and conditioners, 4 mouthwashes, 10 razors, 8 toothpastes, 12 toothbrushes, 20 soaps, 3 horse fly sprays, 2 detanglers, 2 horse brushes, 1 hoof polish, 2 worming pastes, 1 bucket of SandRid, 10 jars of peanut butter, 2 bags of food, countless pens, lots of binders, 10 cans of dog food, 9 bags of towels and blankets, 15+ bags of dog food and accessories, 4 boxes of books, 2 bags of toiletries, 1 flip phone, 1 box of baby products, more than $3100, and MORE!


Thursday was a busy day as we drove 146 miles to deliver the $3100+ and 35 bags and boxes of items. While it was a lot of time spent in the bus, seeing the faces of those from the 9 non-profits receiving these things was priceless.

The students did some reflecting about their projects and here are the things they learned most.

Travis : Emergency Food Network
 "The most important thing I learned was to help people."

Armaan: Tacoma Rescue Mission
"The most important thing I learned was that things aren't as easy as they seem."

Sam and Zakaria: Tacoma Community House
"The most important thing I learned was how to collect."
"The most important thing I learned was how to talk to people and how to help a cause."

Bayden: Sunrise Equine Rescue
"The most important thing I learned was how to try to get a lot of money."

Sulli and Karl: Tacoma Humane Society
"The most important thing I learned was how to solicit."
"The most important thing I learned was how hard it is."

Luke: Citizens for a Healthy Bay
"I think the most important thing I learned was that Tacoma has more things that need to be fixed than it seems."

Kiefer: Oasis Youth Center
Aidan: Rainbow Center
"The most important thing I learned was what LGBTQ means."
 "The most important thing I learned is that supporting charities is fun."

Sofia: YWCA
"The most important thing was learning how easy and important it is to help non-profit organizations."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

End of the Year Fun!

Finishing up their finish of cell structure, the Alchemists made edible cell models loaded with sugar. Yum!

For our second to last Thursday in downtown Tacoma, we took a walking tour of Dale Chihuly's public works then stopped in for a visit at the Museum of Glass. The hot shop was awesome and the student's are all preparing entries for the Kids Design Glass program.

Friday, May 19, 2017


The Alchemists had a great opportunity to meet with Richard Dinicola from the US Geologic Survey and Karen Dinicola from the Washington State Department of Ecology to learn more about the Puget Sound watershed. First they visited the USGS water lab and learned about microplastics, how they are being studied and the affect they have on marine life. They looked at water samples under a microscope and got to see the microplastics.

The Alchemists then heard a presentation about the watershed and the many chemicals and pollutants that go into the storm drains and eventually into the sound. They also heard about ways they can help and innovative ways cities are installing rain gardens. Finally they took a walking tour of downtown Tacoma to see the existing problems and how the city is trying to address them.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

EPA Super Fund Site

In their continuing study of Tacoma, the Alchemists went to Point Ruston to learn about the ASARCO plant that was once there and how it became the EPA's first Super Fund site. The plant began in the 1880's smelting ore to make copper but after the refining process the plant created serious arsenic and lead contamination on both the land at Point Ruston but also Puget Sound. The students saw a cool display of the history of the plant, meet with a former employee of the plant who told them the history and got to hear from the Chemical Engineer that is managing the Super Fund for the EPA.

Thursday, May 4, 2017


The temperature reached 70 for the first time since November so the Alchemists felt the need to get out and catch some rays. They did a little community service, filling three trash bags with weeds from around the school. Dirty work but popsicles seemed to be an adequate payment!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Chew Shellfish Research Center

The Alchemists went on an awesome field study to learn more about Marine Biology at the Kenneth Chew Center for Shellfish Research and Restoration. The center is working to restore native marine animals to Puget Sound through the use of aquaculture. The first thing we saw were huge tanks where they grow algae to feed the many animals they are working with. Holding huge amounts of water the tanks are lit by the sun and artificial lights and fill with algae within days.

The algae feeds the larvae of oysters, clams, sea cucumbers and other animals to promote research on the animals as well as restoration. The students saw the tanks holding thousands of tiny animals and looked at them under a microscope.

Once the oysters are big enough they are moved outside to larger tanks and eventually returned to Puget Sound.

The center is also doing research on sea cucumbers and the best way to help them reproduce. The Alchemists saw tanks full of sea cucumbers and got to touch one.
Finally, we saw tanks growing sea weed that is used for cosmetics. Off the coast of the center was also a salmon farm.

Thanks so much to Marine Biologist Ryan from the Chew Center and Mr. Winfrey, our class biologist, for a great, educational tour.


The Alchemists have spent the entire year learning about political systems. It began with our November elections, learning about political parties and the issues, and from there they have discussed the pros and cons of different kinds of governments. During this study the class has looked at historical examples of different governments from communism in China, to monarchies in Russia as well as current events in North Korea and Syria.
The culmination of this study is a five paragraph essay that discusses what would be the best government for the United States if we weren't a democracy as well as a simulation called Seaburia.
Initially the students were put in teams of two and given a country which they named. They were then allocated supplies, money and information on their countries economy. Every "turn" in Seaburia students must trade for food and oil to support their country and then produce a product designated by the Power Broker to earn money.

Then countries have to negotiate to solve problems in Seaburia ranging from crop failures and refugees to nuclear disarmament and natural disasters. Using skills they have learned about such as sanctions and treaties, the countries work together to solve each scenario and must come to some kind of solution.

This year we invited back the first class to participate in Seaburia and three of our now HS students came and taught the Alchemists a lot of about the art of negotiation!