Friday, February 9, 2018

Washington State Capitol

February 8th was Gifted Ed day at the Washington State Capitol. It was great to participate in the discussions about how and why to talk to the legislature to ask that all students get screened for giftedness. We had a good discussion about whether having all students screened in the public school would be a good thing or a bad thing for Seabury. The boys had good observations about how this would help our school, in that more people would be labeled and know to look for a school like us! We wore green scarves all day to show we were there for Gifted Ed day and saw some really great things.

There are 42 steps up to the capitol building. Why? Because Washington was the 42nd state in the US.

The presentation was in the Columbia room. This room has a domed ceiling, and we heard that if you whisper on one side, someone on the other will be able to hear you. Unfortunately, we didn't get the chance to try since the room was pretty full of people. 

Here we are in the gallery of the House of Representatives. We got to see them vote on a number of bills, including a few about education. There are 98 representatives in the Washington State government, two from each district. 

We also watched some votes in the Senate too. There, each person was called individually and answered yea or nay. In the House, however, they used a board seen in the background here. Each person submitted their vote on a machine at their desk and it came up automatically. The boys figured that it was easier to take an oral vote in the Senate since there are only 49 people. They also conjectured that since the Lieutenant Governor who presides over the Senate is blind, it is better to vote orally.

While waiting for our tour to start, we went outside to see a rally for early childhood education happening on the steps of the capitol. While he was hard to see, we did hear Governor Jay Inslee speak!

The metal doors on the capitol are very impressive and show many aspects of life in our state. 

This GIANT chandelier hanging from the rotunda can hold a Mini Cooper car!

Finally, the boys were able to relax on this furniture that is original (although has been recovered) to the capitol. This was in the ballroom where the Governor's Ball still takes place!

We had a great time seeing how bills are passed. Did you know that only bills that are guaranteed to pass are actually voted on? One of our representatives met with us lunch and told us that! 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Museum of Glass

We had a great visit to the Museum of Glass on Thursday. This is an important part of the Tacoma community. The boys enjoyed watching the guest artist blow Humpty Dumpty and attach his arms and legs to the egg shaped body. We also checked out the exhibits and made and submitted entries for the Kids Design Glass program.

Monday, December 4, 2017

County Council

We had a wonderful visit with County Councilmember Connie Ladenburg last week. She allowed the boys to sit on the dais that the council uses and to experiment with the microphone system.

The boys each got their own microphone and when they wanted to answer or ask a question or comment on something Councilmember Ladenburg said, they had to push a button for permission to speak. Once they were acknowledged by the chair, the microphone was turned on and they were able to share. They had to start their statements with "Thank you Councilmember Ladenburg."
The boys really enjoyed seeing how it worked.

They reviewed the branches of government and heard about the differences between the county and city governments. They were able to share their visions for Pierce County's future and hear what the county is doing to help make those visions a reality.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Pierce County Auditor and City Officials Meeting

We had a very busy week last week. We first went to the Pierce County Auditor's office to see how ballots are counted. The boys learned that there is a machine that cuts the envelopes open, but then people actually check the signatures and remove the ballots (then mix them up so that it is impossible to see who submitted the ballot) by hand before they are scanned by a recently purchased computer system. We got to see the secure location where the ballots are stored and how ballots are corrected if there is a mistake on them. The computer system that reads the ballots compiles the information on their server, which has only internal wiring and no wifi and cannot be hacked. On election day at 8 pm (and only then) will the ballots quickly get tallied from the server. The whole process is quite fascinating!

After lunch, we went to the Tacoma Municipal Building to meet with a variety of division heads with the city. City Manager Elizabeth Pauli (who the boys have been begging to meet for weeks!) started off the meeting by welcoming us to the conference. We also heard from fire and police, the heads of public works and waste management, representatives from neighborhood and community services, the city planner, and the economic development director. The boys especially enjoyed hearing about how the city decides where things can be located and how Tacoma attracts businesses to the city. It was a very formal presentation, with us sitting on one side of the conference tables and the officials sitting on the other!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Center for Urban Waters and City Maps

The boys have had a great time these last few weeks. They visited one of the mayoral candidates in his campaign office and got a tour of all that goes into running a campaign. They also went to the Center for Urban Waters to hear about sustainability and the things the city does to support clean up of the Puget Sound.

Probably in their view, however, the best part has been creating their own county. They spent time drawing and coloring a map of their country and will create a brochure for it during upcoming classes.

Transioca: The citizens of this country have the freedom to:
  • say their point
  • have voting rights
  • all sexes have the same rights
  • have opinion and freedom
  • do what they want
This country has peace and harmony, protects its people, makes sure it's fair, and has a bright future. 

Calvania: The Citizens of Calvania have the freedom to:
  • leave to come in
  • make good choices
  • choose jobs
  • freedom
  • not break the law
  • perfectionism
The government is preparing to defend the country against: kale and vegetables.

Justice League and Avengers States: The Citizens of JLAAS have the freedom to:
  • eat anything
  • drive
  • choose things
  • love superheros
  • read
The citizens are only wealthy and have a holiday called Bacon.

Monday, October 16, 2017

County Courthouse and Police Headquarters

The Bridges boys had a fun-filled day last week. They were able to learn about the judicial branch of government first hand. First, they went to the Pierce County Courthouse, a few blocks up the hill. One of the boys noted that the Seabury middle school is in the perfect location to be able to walk to all of these places, a great example of how the city really is our classroom! While there, we heard from one of the county prosecutors, John Neeb, as well as a judge, Kitty-Ann van Doornick. The boys got to sit on the jury,

take an oath to tell the truth, 

get questioned by the prosecuting attorney, 

learn how a stenographer's keyboard works, 

and sit in the judge's chair, wearing her robe and using her gavel. 

In the afternoon, we journeyed to the Tacoma Police Headquarters. There, the boys got a tour of the station, saw where incoming prisoners are held and evidence is cataloged, learned about how Tacoma can afford a bomb robots (since they cost about $300,000+!), and got to try on the armor suit for disabling bombs. 

"My favorite part in the county courthouse was being questioned about robbing a bank. I learned lawyer skills because I paid attention in the court room, taking everything the lawyer said seriously. It was cool that the judge was cool because she had a gavel. I was amazed at the police headquarters because they had cool robots that helped them find bombs." -K.D.

"My favorite part today was the bomb robot at the police headquarters because of how much it could do. I learned a lot about what the role of a judge was and how to do and work it. It was cool to know that some lawyers can be calm/nice as well. But I was amazed on how big the county courthouse was! It was cool too!" -R.L.

"My favorite part about the county courthouse was the weird type writer. I learned that the juries are in control of the case. It was cool to wear the judge's robe. I was amazed by the weight of a small bomb suit. It weighs about 70 pounds." -C.S.