A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We visited Theatricum Botanicum, an outdoor theater in the hills above Topanga Canyon about 40 minutes from our home, west of Los Angeles. We saw a nice production of the Shakespeare play. This theater was built on land owned by Will Geer, best known as Grandpa on The Waltons.
Day 7 of the AP Chemistry Reading and we are finished! Figuring the number of tests with seven questions on each exam, as a group we scored 1,117,592 questions over the past seven days!!!
The exams are packed and probably on their way back to ETS in New Jersey already. Our fearless leader, Roger Kugel, has finished his four year stint as Chief Reader and will be able to relax a little more. He is holding a silver engraved beer stein as a token of our esteem. Roger is calm, a good listener, and a very hard worker. He made the job of Chief Reader look easy when we all know it is not.
As a Question Leader, I have been here in Salt Lake City for several days before the Reading began (12 days total), so it will be great to get back home with the feeling of a job well done on a task worth doing. Students will never know how hard we work to make sure that they are credited with every point they earned on the Advanced Placement chemistry exams.
At the end of Day 6 of the AP Chemistry Reading, a bunch of us boarded the Hop-On Hop-Off bus for a special after-hours tour of Salt Lake City. Usually the bus tours end around 3:00 p.m., but the company put together a special bus for us. We got to see many of the sites around the city and up into the hills that are not readily accessible for those of us who are on foot.
We started off at the Salt Palace, which also houses the SLC Visitors Center. It was an open-air, double-decker bus and, of course, we all rode up top. We saw the characteristic Salt Palace Towers, the urban art piece, “Point of View” and then went around the corner to the Mormon Temple with its tall spires and gold statue at the top. We proceeded around the local area for awhile looking at the interesting architecture and slowing down a little to see various churches, the capital building, and a couple of interesting houses. I must admit that I was not planning on remembering any of the names, so I just enjoyed the ride and the interesting sights.
We did drive way up into the hills above the city where the University of Utah is located. We passed the football stadium, the basketball stadium where Magic Johnson played Larry Bird (boy, was that along time ago). My favorite part was getting up to about an elevation of 5230 feet above sea level where we could see the Great Salt Lake off in the distance as a tiny horizontal streak of white. Apparently, the whole valley before us used to be covered in water, the Bonneville Lake. All of the trees in the Salt Lake Valley had to be brought in… all that was growing natively was sage brush and grasses. Our bus driver came up on top a few times to tell us about everything. He is a native of the area for several generations and is familiar with the area. Very interesting.
Some of my favorite sights were the deer family and tiny Pony Express station where a rider would switch horses and continue on his way through Utah. Above one of the streets in town is an eagle standing on a beehive. Utah is the “beehive state” because bees are so industrious. The manhole covers are also decorated with beehives. All in all, it was a fun tour.
After scoring AP chemistry papers all day, five of us hopped in a rental car and drove up into the mountain ski areas to the trailhead for Donut Falls. The spruce, birch, and aspen trees were beautiful, but the hike had some very steep climbs that I found pretty challenging. Of course, there were others on the trail like little kids and young moms carrying their babies that made me feel pretty old, but that is life. When we got high enough, there is a place where the rushing water disappears down a circular hole, thus the name Donut Falls. You can see the hole over my shoulder. The tall picture of the falls is from the front and the donut is at the very top of the picture. Armando, Peter, Beth, and Russ are the other four chemists on the hike. We saw a big moose as we were heading back to the main road. Cool!
I’m here in Salt Lake City to attend the AP Chemistry Reading. I will be in SLC for 12 days. These first days are getting prepped for the Readers who will come and help us score the thousands of exams that students have taken across the country. From my hotel room, I can see snow on the distant mountains. This looks like more snow than in the past, but my memory of details like the amount of snow is not that reliable. We will be working at The Salt Palace which is far enough away from the hotel that I am getting my steps in, hatching Pokémon eggs, and earning my Apple Watch green exercise ring several times over. The Salt Palace has several distinctive towers and there is a new urban art installation along one side. It has 150 road signs with related but sort of opposite terms. The idea is to sit on the bench, take a picture and become part of the art. When I got home tonight, there was a short thunderstorm. It was rather unexpected, but fine from my perspective, since I was already snug in my room.
Inside the Salt Palace (a huge convention center) the ballroom has been set up for the reading. Each question on the exam is scored by lots of teacher and college professors sitting at U-shaped tables. Behind the curtains, other questions are scored on the same exam. Posters in the hallway indicate that chemistry is not the only Advanced Placement exam being graded here. Everything is color-coded, so at meals, I am usually looking for a table with yellow name tagged people. We eat every few hours and even though the snacks are pretty healthy, there are a LOT of snack breaks and the choices include candy and ice cream as well as fruit and popcorn. I think my favorite snack so far is smoked salmon on mini bagels. The carpet in the Salt Palace reminds me of PokeStop rings.
I’ve been taking a short walk at the beginning of our lunch break to burn up some calories and make some progress on my Pokémon goals. I saw this guy with a great Star Wars t-shirt. He let me take a picture. I am also interested in studying the 150 road signs of that art installation. The installation is called “Point of View”.