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Close Encounters with Reptiles, Spiders, and Feathered Stalkers

      On the Thoreau Outing, September 19, Rupa Patel trapped a daddy long-leg spider on a leaf and was gingerly showing it to her classmates. Mr. Gonnella impressed the students with his knowledge that the red spot on the creature identified it as a male.

      Robin Cleaver was sitting in the bow of his canoe as it silently glided toward a large turtle basking on a log. Despite the exhortations of his companions to grab the animal and bring it into the canoe, Robin made no move, fearing that it might be a snapper. Dr. Berry guessed that it was a red-eared slider.

      From the opposite shore, several juniors and Mr. Wilson watched a snow white bird with a long neck stalk slowly upstream and then suddenly shoot its head into the water and then lift its head high into the air so that it could swallow the catch of the day.

      Henry Rosoff, Sydney Briggs, and Elizabeth Levine measured the rate of flow in the Delaware and Raritan Canal at 17 feet every 53 seconds. Chandi Patel, Ashley Harris, Robin Cleaver, Lexi Correll, and Mr. Wilson used similar triangles to calculate the width of the canal. Then using a canoe and a long string, they actually measured the width as 74 and calculated their margin of error.

      Students sketched the lock, millstones, and trees. They heard a lecture about the history of the canal and how the lock functioned. Jordan Garner, Ray Yusufov, and Mrs. Douglas measured the clarity of the canal water and determined that visibility was a mere two feet, meaning that sunlight could only penetrate four feet. Students gathered leaves and rocks to identify and some brought back water samples from the Millstone River to test for acidity and phosphate. All students took notes for papers that they will write.

     The twelve canoes were divided into three heats for a canoe race resulting in three winners to compete in a final race. Evan Richert, Raheel Zubair, and Mr. Gonnella raced neck and neck with Will Kim, Wayne Lewis, and Dr. Berry for more than one hundred yards before capturing the laurels.

      Only one mishap caused concern: Julia Hong, Jaraad Pretty, and Mr. Wilson were jostling with  another canoe during a race and ended up rolling their own canoe to the amazement of all. Everyone was wearing a life preserver and the other canoeists helped the swimmers to the bank. Jaraad observed that the water felt very cold.

      Sunshine and blue skies, the scent of leaves, and the calls of birds made the day fun for all.