Thursday, May 28, 2009

For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to, say, earning a rocketry certification. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Liza Warshaver, who is training to run the Vermont city marathon and raise money for the Heated Lions, a basketball team for special-needs students.

Today is the final day of the senior projects and the wrap up to my fundraising and presentation preparation. The findraising has been tallied up to over $4,000, just below my goal of raising a total of $5,000 (however, more donations may flow in in the next few days adding to our amount). It was awesome to see so many generous donations especially during such difficult economic times. 100 percent of the proceeds will be put towards The Special Olympics Heated Lions Organization and will be used to keep recreation thriving and growing and to fund for for extras like equipment and transportation. The growth and development of the organization will be hugely benefial for the athletes for the years to come. With all of the supporters's help the athletes's dream to play the sports they love to play can be reality!

I will be sending out the Thank You notes to all of those generous donors thanking them for all their help and support! It will read as follows:

"Dear _________ ,

On behalf of the Special Olympics Heated Lions, we would like to express our heartfelt appreciation for your thoughtful and generous gift in the amount of $ _____ .

I am proud that my participation in the Burlington Vermont City Marathon raised over $4,000 for the Heated Lions Organization!

With your generosity we are able to accomplish our goal of continuing with the year-round Special Olympic competition, but more importantly, we are one step closer to one day housing the athletes as adults, training them for the workforce and fulfilling their dream to live independently.

Thank you again for all your help!

Warm Regards,

Liza Warshaver"

Tomorrow's presentation will contain information on runners's diet and nutrition, half marathon training, fundraising efforts, a photo album of my Burlington Vermont City Marathon day, and other displays. I look forward to sharing my accomplishments and efforts over the past several weeks with the school!

-Liza Warshaver

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Finishing Touches

For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to, in one case, earning a rocketry certification. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Kate Voorhes, who is interning at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Everything came together today.
Over the past two weeks, I filled exactly 32 boxes with 28 volunteer directory binders.

I made and laminated volunteer badges (used to get into concerts, etc) and volunteer companion passes (special priveledge for members who donated enough money).


I used a "mail-merge" to transfer members' info (names and member id #) to a word template. I learned how to use the BSAV's computer database, Tessitura, which contains every bit of information about every single member. Literally EVERYTHING. I can look up one member, say my neighbor, and instantly know every date they attended a concert, how much money they gave the BSO on any date, any relatives they have, all addresses and phone numbers, every organization of which they are a member, their preferred name and other useful data. I feel like a telemarketer, or even worse than a facebook-stalker everytime I log onto Tessitura. Anyway, the other day I used Tessitura to compile a list of BSO members who had donated at least 75 dollars and deserved a companion pass (and also who didn't get one).

One of today's goals was to make envelopes. These rather large envelopes were going to contain sheets of info for BSO members, the binder directories, the volunteer badges and companion passes. So, I arrived at the BSO and stuffed away.


I ran into quite a few difficulties, most minor but difficult to catch, like the member ID on the volunteer badge didn't match with the number on the list, or someone was supposed to have a companion pass but one wasn't made. A creative task I had today was to figure out an efficient and neat way to organize the hundreds of envelopes. I made alphabetical dividers out of folders, cardboard, and tons of staples. They were super sturdy, and came out great! Here's what one of them looked like:


After staying a couple of hours late to finish stuffing envelopes, I snuck into Symphony Hall again to snap a few pictures. It was all set up for a Pops event tonight, as you can see from the pictures below. Notice the gorgeous white music stands/chairs on the symphony stage...I don't know why but I have always wanted to play from one. Oh, also notice the Pops chairs and tables (right) different from the normal pews during Symphony Season (fall/winter).

















As I have been doing a lot of Tanglewood prep work, I'm hoping I will go to Tanglewood for the day this summer (I think I have free lawn passes!). I've never been and am looking forward to it! Anyone who hasn't been should definitely go--it looks beautiful, and listening to the BSO while seated outside adds a peaceful twist to listening to classical music. Anyway, can't wait for my last day tomorrow!

-Kate Voorhes

For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to running a marathon. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Ian Brownstein, who is working on fulfilling his level I and II certification for rocketry.

Today I finally finished the goals I set for myself earlier this month. I have nearly completed two high-powered rockets: one rocket capable of sonic flight and one rocket carrying onboard electronics. I understand how the onboard electronics my rockets require work and is prepared to use them for my next launch. I have designed and constructed a liner rail launch pad that has been tested to show its ability to make my rockets fly straighter and to prevent the pad from falling over with larger rockets. I have read and learned new methods to build rockets and learned some of the laws and regulations surrounding model rocketry required to pass my level two certification in the future. I learned about these restrictions this week by reading the Handbook of Model Rocketry by G. Harry Stine. This is the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) handbook that all NAR members are recommended to read. This was a helpful experience for me since I learned rocketry on my own. It filled all of the gaps in my knowledge making some of the most frustrating parts of rocket construction much easier. I also completed the rocket capable of sonic flight today with the exception of its fiberglass coat, which is still in the mail. It was a relatively easy to build rocket with no surprises or unexpected components but I had to strengthen the rocket for its near breaking of the sound barrier less than a second after the start of its first flight. To do this I had to apply multiple coats of epoxy to not only the outside fins but also the insides of the body tube and all of the internal components of the rocket. Once the fiberglassing material arrives I will be able to paint the rocket and it will be launch with the BBX on July 18th.



Tuesday, May 26, 2009

For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to, say, earning a rocketry certification. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Kate Burns, who is working at the Boston Children’s Hospital.
Today I heard back from two of the physicians that I e-mailed! I was so thrilled that these world renowned doctors took the time out of their day to even read my e-mail and to respond.
The first doctor I heard back from was Dr. Edwin van der Voort, a Senior Staff member of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Sophia Children’s Hospital in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Dr. van der Voort is also a representative of Europe on the Board of Directors for the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies.
The second physician who responded to my e-mail was Prof. Dr Bettina von Dessauer. I was thrilled to hear back from Prof. Dr. von Dessauer because I have not had the best of luck finding information on Latin America’s policies yet. Dr. Bettina is the director of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in Santiago, Chile at Hospital Roberto del Río. She explained to me that Chile unfortunately does not have a national statement for decision-making in Critical Care Medicine. However, her hospital had published guidelines that are acknowledged as the leading protocol in Chile. Hearing from Dr. von Dessauer was also exciting because she is also the President of SLACIP — Sociedad Latino Americana Cuidados Intensivos Pediatricos. SLACIP members include Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, and almost every Latin American nation. So, her information was a significant contribution to my research because I had still not been able to find SLACIP’s official statement.
One of my favorite things about medicine is how it can really unite the international community. I mean, who doesn’t want to help cure illness? I thought it was crazy that I could e-mail people around the world, who I had never met before, and they would be willing to help me.
But, I haven’t just been waiting for responses to my e-mail. Since last Thursday, I’ve really tried to condense and organize the information that I already had. I want to give Dr. van der Velden significant research that will be easy for her to turn into a paper. So, I typed up and edited all of my findings until I had eleven pages of information, size ten font. My information is organized so that the relevant clinical studies are first, presented in chart form. I then include all of the official national statements. So far, I have guidelines from Chile, the Netherlands, the United States, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Britain, and Japan. Now, I just need Italy and France.
Once I had finished compiling all of my information, I started wondering about international medical communities. With the recent outbreak of Swine Flu, I had been hearing about the World Health Organization a lot and decided to see if it had a statement on palliative care. Once I found WHO’s statement, I went on to find guidelines from the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine (ESICM) and the 5th International Consensus Conference in Critical Care – the conference included basically ever major medical nation in the world. These were great finds and basically summed up my research.
Now, I’m looking at the differences in guidelines, trying to see if they might be because of different cultures, regions, or languages. That’ll be the final step to assisting Dr. van der Velden, and that’s my focus for this last week.
-Kate Burns

Monday, May 25, 2009





For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to, say, earning a rocketry certification. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Liza Warshaver, who is training to run the Vermont city marathon and raise money for the Heated Lions, a basketball team for special-needs students.
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What a day yesterday! The race was a success! The event began Saturday afternoon when my dad, mom, sister and I road tripped the 3.5 hour drive to Burlington, Vermont. Upon arrival we dinned at the local Italian restaurant for a large carbohydrate filled dinner of pasta to fuel our bodies for the race the following morning. After an early dinner, we headed back to our hotel rooms for a good night sleep. My alarm woke me bright and early at 6:15am and we were out the door by quarter of 7. After a simple breakfast of a bagel and a banana, we made our way to the starting line on Battery Street. Meeting us there were Anne, a Heated Lions athlete, Liz, Anne's mother, and Rebecca Lynch, co-founder of the organization. After pictures were taken and hugs were given, we dropped my dad off at the starting line and took our places to cheer on the runners as they took off.
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My dad ran the first 13.1 miles making great time, and I met him at the midway relay mark right at the time I was expecting him. He handed me the chip that went around each runner's ankle, and I was off! With my ipod playing music to pump me up, crowds of people lined up along the sides of the course, and my determination and dedication to the Special Olympics Heated Lions, my running adrenaline kicked in! As I passed the signs for each mile, I knew I was one step closer to the finish line. Once I saw the sign for mile 23 and knew that there were only 3 miles remaining I picked up speed and thought of crossing that finish line. When I finally reached the mile 25 mark, with 1 mile remaining and the crowd roaring, I ran the last of the course with a smile on my face and a huge sense of accomplishment as I reached the finish line to find my mom, dad, sister and Heated Lions fans cheering me on. It was such an amazing feeling to complete the half marathon, and for such a great cause. My dad and I recieved medals for our finish, and we captured some post-race pictures. A heartwarming moment after the race was when my dad took off his metal and placed it over Anne's head as she beamed with a smile on her face. She was so happy to be a champion, and she truly was for coming out and supporting my dad and me all the way up in Vermont!
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After the race I got plenty of water and food to re-fuel my body as we headed back to the car for our long drive back home. I continued to wear the metal around my neck, and I felt a sense of pride and joy for my accomplishment. I was always the one who was proud of the Heated Lions athletes, but this time I knew they would be the ones proud of me! What a rewarding day it was!
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-Liza Warshaver

Sunday, May 24, 2009




video

For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to running a marathon. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Ian Brownstein, who is working on fulfilling his level I and II certification for rocketry.

Since the completion of my Mini BBX rocket I have been preparing it for its inaugural launch. The rockets electronic parachute ejection system and its electronic upper stage motor ignition system have been the cause of the majority of my problems. The company that sells and produces the rocket, Public Missiles Ltd., no longer sells the igniters necessary to use these systems. I have gone through dozens of online rocketry suppliers and have only found one that sells the necessary component for both of these systems. Sadly the parts may not reach me until mid-June because they are HAZMAT materials but even this wait will not delay my launch date scheduled for mid-July.

I have also begun working on my second rocket, the Tiny Pterodactyl, which is a two-foot tall rocket that can achieve transonic speeds (almost the speed of sound). I am hoping to break the sound barrier by preparing the rocket to hold a recently released motor that is bigger than those previously tested on the rocket but will still fit into the motor mount. To prepare it for this type of flight I am going to fiberglass the entire rocket using a cloth that, when mixed with epoxy, dries into a fiberglass material. I am planning epoxying the rocket tonight and fiberglassing it tomorrow but the completed rocket should look like the image below (which is the rocket fully assembled without epoxy to test that the parts all fit together correctly).

In addition I traveled to Vermont last Thursday to test out my new launch pad with a rocket I built last summer. Although I lost the rocket in an unexpected wind, the pad worked beautifully shooting the rocket at an almost perfect trajectory while only sustaining minimal burn marks, which traditional pads suffer from after every launch. I once had a pad that sustained so may of these burns that the bottom of the pad had a 2-inch diameter hole by the time I retired it. A video of the launch is at the top of my post with a few comments from those who witnessed the flight from a different edge of the field.

Thursday, May 21, 2009



For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to, say, earning a rocketry certification. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Liza Warshaver, who is training to run the Vermont city marathon and raise money for the Heated Lions, a basketball team for special-needs students.
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I just got word in today that a group of the Heated Lions athletes (some shown above) will be making the trip up to Burlington, Vermont with their families to cheer me on sunday morning at the race! I know it will make the race that much more meaningful and exciting having the kids there with me! It is so heartwarming to see the support I am getting from so many friends and families as I support the Special Olympics Heated Lions. Donations have kept rolling in, and I am so thankful for everyones' generosity; I know the athletes are beyond greatful for all of the support for the organization.
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Three days left until the big day. What I am most focused on over the next few days is nutrition for the race. Carbohydrates are especially important the two days and the night before the race. Carbohydrates should consume about 70% of your daily diet intake. The best type of carbohydrate is one that is low in GI so that your blood glucose levels maintain a steady state. Carbohydrates are slower to break down so they will provide your body with energy during the race.
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Friday and Saturday are rest days for me, and I must be sure to get plenty of it in order to be fully rested and energized when Sunday morning rolls around. The race is almost here!
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-Liza Warshaver

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to, in one case, earning a rocketry certification. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Kate Voorhes, who is interning at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Yesterday, I finished filling 778 directory binders. Those took Carly and I about a whole week. If you think about it, nearly eight hundred binders is a LOT of binders. When I told Sabine that I had run out of directories to fill the binders with, she was shocked. She started looking for extras, thinking they had been misplaced somewhere in the basement. There were none left. We were done! We are a few months ahead of schedule right now, so Sabine is ecstatic. Today, I laminated exactly 800 ID namecard/badges for the Boston and Tanglewood volunteers and sliced a few hundred advertisements for the Pops tables. It's been a lot of work, but it feels so good at the end of the day to see how much I accomplished. Yesterday, I organized a closet, and got to keep a (slightly dented) cookbook I found with recipes by Keith Lockhart and BSO musicians. It was pretty awesome!
Leaving work today, I listened in to a practice session inside Symphony Hall. It was just one violinist, a pianist, and a conductor, but the music radiating from the stage was incredibly powerful. The violinist was attacking the strings of her instrument like they could never break, but the sound was still so beautiful. I need to figure out the location of the button in my office that turns on the loudspeaker connected to the hall so I can hear the BSO's practicing at my leisure.

This is a picture of the hallway next to symphony hall...with all the pictures of the BSO musicians hanging on the right side, and the conductors on the left. It's here where I recognize people I've been seeing in the hallways.

Where I work (in the BSAV) is a floor above the main hall. Right off the stairs connecting my floor to the floor below me is backstage Symphony Hall. (picture below). This is the practice room where all the BSO/Pops musicians warm up before performing on stage. In the wooden cabinets on the right side are the most percussion instruments I have ever seen. They are completely filled with different types and brands of drums and gongs and other miscellaneous instruments. If you look carefully on the left, there is a musician just chilling at a table.



And this is my desk!! I've been working in the mailroom mostly this week, but next week I will be using this more often. My training session for the computer database is tomorrow.

This is Sabine, my manager/boss. She's the nicest person on the face of the planet. Hanging outside her office is a signed photograph of Keith Lockhart.



Lastly, this is where I enter the Symphony every morning-the stage door (through the maroon awning). Notice the Christian Science Center and the Prudential Building right nearby. There are always cars (usually limos) pulling up to the stage door...usually driving the musicians to the Symphony. The security guard at the stage door is super nice, and we're slowly becoming friends.

This week has been a ton of work, but exciting nonetheless!
For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to, say, earning a rocketry certification. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Kate Burns, who is working at the Boston Children’s Hospital.
I'm now in the middle of my second week of interning at Children's Hospital in Boston. I've been working at as a research assistant for Dr. Meredith Van der Velden, who is an attending in the Intensive Care Unit. Dr. Van der Velden is conducting research on the decision making for critically ill patients for different nations around the world. I was drawn to this internship because this past summer I interned in the Simulator Suite, which is run by the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) physicians. So all summer, I was able to shadow different health care professionals and see how they worked in the unit. While this was super interesting, taking care of the patients is only one part of being a doctor; another equally important aspect is research.
So, for my first day, I had to learn how to do this research. I took a tutorial on how to access the PubMed Database, an online website of a compilation of different medical articles. However, this site is huge. I practiced by simply searching for critical care medicine, and 44,072 articles came up. Clearly, that was not going to work. So, I spent the entire day watching different tutorial videos and was able to narrow my search down to only 20 reviews - way more manageable.
I've spent the rest of the week doing specific research. The interesting twist about Dr. Van der Velden's research is that she wants to compare different nations' decision making processes across the world. No one has ever really compared the guidelines suggested by the Japanese Pediatric Society to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Van der Velden will analyze the differences to try to understand what cultural or societal factors influence the decision making process.
Now because I'm not fluent in Japanese, Italian, and well anything except English, I have had some problems getting specific guidelines and statements from certain nations. Luckily, I've been able to e-mail the founders of these societies asking for information. It's been so interesting to see major the differences between nations. For example, America believes that the parents should be the main decision maker in palliative care, whereas Italy does not even feel its necessary to inform the parents what the team has decided for treatment of their child.
Now, all of this research has been really excited for me, but another great part of my internship is simply being at the hospital. I've been able to go on rounds Grey's Anatomy and Scrubs style, shadowing Dr. Van der Velden and her team as they assess their patients. Also, last week a visiting physician came from Austria to discuss his groundbreaking research on the importance of body temperature for critically ill patients. I went to Grand Rounds where he explained his findings to the all of the ICU physicians. Everyone at Children's Hospital has been so supportive of my project and really want me to learn as much as I can for the three weeks that I'm here.
So, right now, I'm waiting to hear back from my e-mail correspondents, and in the mean time, I think I'm going to focus on South American countries.
-Kate Burns

Tuesday, May 19, 2009



For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to running a marathon. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Ian Brownstein, who is working on fulfilling his level I and II certification for rocketry.

This weekend I focused on the Terrier Booster of my Mini BBX. The internal construction was much easier to assemble than the upper-stage because the booster was just like many of the kits I had built in the past (except there was no nosecone to put on top). This was unlike the upper stage of the BBX which had a complex holding mechanism for the electronic that I was unfamiliar with. But, similar to the upper-stage, the spray-paint job was a pain. The basic process is shown step-by-step above but for some reason my white spray paint easily dripped forcing me to do countless coats in attempt to smooth the bumps on the booster. The end result was quiet a sight. The just short of seven-foot titian stands on its launch pad like a king on his throne. For a small time rocketeer who has only imagined a high-powered rocket this is truly and amazing sight. The only problem is that I have to wait until July 18th to launch it with the booster stage and see its full power. Only 60 days until liftoff!





For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to, say, earning a rocketry certification. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Liza Warshaver, who is training to run the Vermont city marathon and raise money for the Heated Lions, a basketball team for special-needs students.
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This week is the final week before the race. After a long 10 mile run over the weekend, I am now in "tappering mode," which is the week before the race when you take it easy to conserve your strength and energy for the big day; the schedule calls for a 4 mile, 3 mile, 2 mile run tuesday, wednesday and thursday, and the final two rest days on friday and saturday. Sunday is the big 13 mile day so I need to make sure I am fully rested and energized for the race!
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The fundraising has been going extremely well. I have already raised over $4,000, just $1,000 shy of my set goal with still just under two weeks remaining in the projects. Above are pictures of the athletes and me, and each time I look at them I am reminded of how much they truly appreciate what I am doing and how greatly they will benefit from my help. Just like I am happiest when I am exercising or playing, so are the athletes, and with my help in raising money for the Special Olympic Heated Lions Organization they will be able to compete, play and do what they love most!
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-Liza Warshaver

Sunday, May 17, 2009

For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to, in one case, earning a rocketry certification. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Kate Voorhes, who is interning at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

I've been working at the Symphony for a week now, and I finally know my way around. I've practically memorized the subway map so taking the T in every morning is a breeze. I've learned the location of every Starbucks and Whole Foods near me. I love working in Boston because the number of resources are unlimited, and every time I walk down the street I get excited because I'll be going to college here next year (Tufts Engineering).
Every morning at the BSAV I have mostly been doing office work like filling binders, making and laminating name cards, and making phone calls, etc. Most of the time, it's pretty mindless
, and after a few hours of performing the same exact motion again and again, I can start to feel my brain melting a bit. But I know that all the work I'm doing is essential to keep the BSO running smoothly and to bring in profits. Just on Friday, the other intern Carly and I were filling red velvet pouches with fancy gold pins that said "50 years BSO" for all the 50+ year patrons of the BSO. We made about a thousand bags, and were rather tired of it halfway through, but we knew how much they would be appreciated by the elderly people. We thought about how most of them would probably wear the gold pins every day and treasure them, which kept us filling the pouches. The other day, Carly and I learned how to do a "mail-merge," which is apparently the new and efficient method using Excel and Word for doing mailings and other useful office things. I'm not that fast at it, but the idea behind what you can accomplish in just a few minutes was amazing. Instead of copying and pasting names and info to name cards, we took a list of a few thousand people from Excel and transferred all their info onto a Word template to make a badge/namecard for each one. It was cool, and saved a lot of time.
The best thing I've found is that I can hear the Pops practicing from my desk. The music is so upbeat and when it blasts through the loudspeakers, it allows me to listen to live concerts without paying. The other day I got to sit in for a while at a Pops Closed Rehearsal
because Sabine was "on duty" for the event. Before going inside Symphony Hall, I was backstage and watched the entire Pops orchestra and chorus file on stage before me. It was crazy. The other day, I rode the elevator up to the BSAV floor, and one of the principal violinists started making conversation with me and joked about how hilarious it was that I didn't know where anything was. I didn't even realize he was one of the musicians until I recognized his photo in the hallway.
I'll be sure to bring in my camera this week to take pictures of the Symphony and what I've been working on so I can post them here!

-Kate Voorhes

Friday, May 15, 2009





















For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to running a marathon. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Ian Brownstein, who is working on fulfilling his level I and II certification for rocketry.


One of the most frustrating parts of rocketry is dealing with the postal service. Rocket kits and parts ship smoothly through the system but if you buy one pack of igniters or a single rocket motor your delivery time exponentially increases with your distance from the packages origin because you have added a "hazardous material" (or HAZMAT) to your purchase. Because of this I have not been able to progress in the main rocket of my project until just an hour ago when my package, which took a week and a half compared to the usual two days from Michigan, arrived at my doorstep. Instead I took on the path I rarely follow, following the kits artistic directions. My Mini BBX came with decal sheets and spray-painting instructions (which I thought I had completed before my last post) but I misread 1-13/16" as 1-3/16" when cutting the decal sheet so I went all spray paint for this kit. Spray-painting anything more than a stripe on a rocket is another one of the most frustrating parts of rocketry. It took me four separate attempts to make the four red blocks on the base of my rocket but in the end I conquered the artistic aspect of rocketry (which can be seen in the before and after pictures on the bottom half of my rocket above).

In addition to waiting for the delivery of the booster stage of the BBX I made the first steps for the second half of my project, designing a rail launch pad. Most launch pads use rods instead of rails but rods easily bend in the wind or with large rockets attached so for HPR most rocketeers prefer rail pads. When I mentioned the idea to my father and showed him a picture of approximately what I planned on designing and constructing he came home less than a week later with fully constructed pad he and his co-workers built at his shop (the second to last picture above). Instead of just taking the gift and scrapping part of my project proposal I decided to learn how to use Solidworks, and engineering design software. I have contacted a friend of my father who teaches the software and am attending one of his classes next week in addition to studying a book on the program, which he has given to me.

Then, just an hour before I was about to post my blog for the day my package arrived. In the last picture above are all the parts to the booster stage of my kit which you will be able to see as it is assembled via my future posts.

-Ian Brownstein

Thursday, May 14, 2009

For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to, say, earning a rocketry certification. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Liza Warshaver, who is training to run the Vermont city marathon and raise money for the Heated Lions, a basketball team for special-needs students.

It's just 10 days until the big day. On Sunday, May 24th, I will be running the marathon in a relay with my Dad in order to raise money for the Special Olympics Program, The Heated Lions.

I have been following Hal Hignon's Novice Half Marathon Training Schedule, and this week consisted of a 9 mile weekend long run followed by a 3 mile, 5 mile, 3 mile run three of the days this week. The short runs have been pretty easy and relaxing for me; however, its the weekend long runs that have been tough. Because the runs are much longer, I have had to fuel my body with plenty of liquids and food during the run. I have been taking the fuel belt with me filled with several tiny water containers, powerbars, and bananas. Making sure I stay hydrated and fueled is one of the most important aspects for me when training for the big race.

The fundraising aspect has begun as I have created and sent out a letter explaining the race and the Special Olympics Organization that I am raising money on behalf of. So far we already have raised over $2,000, and it's only the first week! My goal is to raise at least $5,000 for the organization! Below is a copy of the fundraising letter that I have created and sent out to many supporters.

"Dear Friends and Family,

On Sunday, May 24th, my Dad and I will be running a relay in the Burlington Vermont City Marathon. My Dad will run the first 13 miles, and I will close out the last 13 miles to cross the finish line.

Four years ago, my Dad and I, along with the Bacon family, founded the first youth Special Olympics basketball team in Boston’s Metro-west area. Half the team wanted to be named the Miami Heat, and the other half the Detroit Lions. The athletes compromised on the Heated Lions, a program that provides young athletes with year round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic type sports. I’ve had the opportunity to give these many children with intellectual and/or physical disabilities the chance to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families and other Special Olympic athletes and the community. It has been my most rewarding experience throughout my time in high school, and I have grown to know and love each of the Heated Lion athletes.

In just four short years, we have gone from a team of only seven athletes participating in a rundown gym to two full teams of over 30 athletes in total, complete with uniforms, cheerleaders, practices at my high school’s new athletic center and our own website (www.heatedlions.org). In addition, we have added a soccer and track team for the fall and spring.

Our long term goal for the Heated Lions program is to continue with the year round Special Olympic competition, but more importantly, to one day house athletes as adults, train them for the workforce and fulfill their dream to live independently. With your help we can make this goal a reality!

On behalf of the Heated Lions athletes and families, we thank you for your generous support.

Warm regards,
Liza Warshaver"

-Liza Warshaver

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

First Few Days

For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to, in one case, earning a rocketry certification. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Kate Voorhes, who is interning at the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Yesterday, walking toward the stage door of the Symphony from the Green Line, Starbucks iced coffee in hand, feeling independent and like I had finally had a glimpse of the so-called "real world," I started my senior project as an intern at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Music has been a crucial part of my life since I began playing the piano at five years old. Now, I play flute in the Rivers school orchestra among other groups. I actually just got home from giving a concert (Mozart Concerto in G for Flute). When the seniors first heard about the senior project requirement a few months ago, I thought about how I could spend the three weeks I was given to do something that truly interested me, instead of wasting the month away doing something insignificant simply trying to fulfill the graduation requirement. Over the winter, I had attended the Boston Pops Christmas Concert, which was upbeat and beautiful. Having performed in Jordan Hall several times, seeing Symphony Hall was simply breathtaking, and I knew that spending my time working at the Symphony would definitely be worth it.

Ms. Sabine Chouljian, the manager of volunteers at the BSAV (Boston Symphony Association of Volunteers), is basically my boss, and assigns me projects and jobs to do. There is one other intern (older than me) working with me, and we do similar tasks, but usually at alternate times. This month is not only the "Pops Season," which as you know is extremely busy, but also the transition time for Tanglewood (in the summer). I never really thought about how much goes on behind the scenes in order for the BSO to thrive like it does today.
The Symphony is hosting tons of events this month and one of my jobs is to help keep all of these functions running smoothly and efficiently. Sabine started me yesterday making hundreds of binders full of BSAV directories for an upcoming event. Today, I made phone calls to confirm patrons' attendance at the Audience Celebration Event this Saturday, which is a concert to honor the 50 year-plus members of the BSO. I think I called about five hundred elders, and only two declined. I found myself grinning when an elderly lady thanked me so much for reminding her because she had totally forgotten. She was so adorable. Reaching out to these grateful people was tedious but put a permanent smile on my face for the remainder of the day.

After dialing countless numbers, an older volunteer gave me and a few visitors a tour of the Symphony. I learned about the entire history of the BSO, went backstage, down to the basement, into the practicing rooms, and even stood on the stage briefly (you actually aren't supposed to..). I learned about all the different way in which Symphony Hall was designed to make it one of the most acoustically distinguished buildings in the world. There is a layer of thick felt under the first layer of wood on the stage to prevent creaking; the side balconies are as narrow as possible to prevent interfering with the sound; the ceiling slopes upward and the floor slopes down to make the hall shaped like a horn; the hall was the first to be designed with a specific formula in mind so that the reverberation time is exactly 1.9 seconds (one of the best in the world!); and even the greek statues embedded high up in the walls serve a purpose in making the hall's acoustics better. I learned about every conductor, heard stories about a short harpist getting locked into her harp's case (it was so spacious that she used it as her changing room), and even saw where they store all the chairs/pews after they remove them as they transition from BSO season to Pops season. I still can't believe that it only takes one day to take out all the pews (which are over 100 years old) and replace them with the round tables and chairs for the Pops. The principal violinist was hanging out down at one of the lounges...and that's when I realized that I was interning at a place where I would be surrounded by famous people all day long.
The security guard whom I pass every day on my way into the Symphony is even "tight" with Keith Lockhart. The countless number of limos pulling up to the side door when I first arrived wasn't my wakeup call, but rather seeing musicians lounging around their workplace like normal people when their photos and plaques are hanging along the famous hallways of the Symphony was the shocker. These famous musicians are just people like me that happen to be really good at playing instruments. All I can say is that I feel so lucky to be working in this beautiful and world-renownded building, and I can't wait for what's next!

-Kate Voorhes

Tuesday, May 12, 2009










































For several weeks in May, Rivers seniors embark on self-directed independent study projects that can involve anything from volunteering at a soup kitchen to running a marathon. Over the next few weeks, we will be periodically checking in with a handful of students to learn more about their experiences. Today, we hear from Ian Brownstein, who is working on fulfilling his level I and II certifications for rocketry.

Since January of this year I have periodically begun working on my first high-powered rocketry kit, the mini BBX (shown in the pictures above). It is a Public Missiles kit that uses an onboard electronic system to release one drogue parachute at the rockets apogee and a 36" parachute at a height of my choosing. While I have never dealt with this advanced an electronic system onboard a rocket, what really makes this rocket a new experience for me is the fact that it is a high-powered rocket. High-powered rocketry (HPR) includes rockets using more than 160 Newton-seconds of total impulse, exceeding 3.3 pounds, or using metal parts. In order to launch high-powered rockets you have to be certified by the National Association of Rocketry (NAR). For my senior project I am building rockets (such as the mini BBX above) in order to receive level one certification and preparing for my level two certification (which includes a written examination in addition to the successful launch of a level two rocket). I will continue blogging about my progress and post pictures of my new rockets as my project develops.

-Ian Brownstein