Segway to New Experiences

 David and Bonnie pause on Annapolis SegZone tour. Photo by owner and tour leader, Debbie Wilson.
Bonnie practices before the tour. Photo by David. Ettlin
David feeling confident of his new Segway skills. Photo by Bonnie Schupp

Bonnie, feeling confident, picks up speed. Photo by David. Ettlin
I've been wanting to try riding a Segway for a while now but the expense slowed me down. Then a Groupon offer came through and David and I jumped on it for $25 instead of the normal $49 hour tour including a 30 minute training session. It was offered by SegZone in Annapolis.

The eight people in our group first had to sign waivers. Then we were given earphones which would be connected to transmissions from the leader's microphone. And we put on helmets. Steve Wilson gave initial demonstration and instruction while his sister, Debbie Wilson, would lead us around Annapolis.

When Steve asked for a volunteer to go first, I spoke up. Afterall, I was excited by this chance to try new technology...and I also thought it would give me extra practice time while the others were getting their initial instruction.

Steve steadied the Segway while I stepped on as instructed and just as he predicted, when he let go, I wobbled back and forth. I practiced getting on and off until I felt more steady and then Debbie supervised while I practiced going up and down the street outside their business at 131 Prince George Street. Wow! I could turn on a dime!

Soon David came outside astride his Segway and then the others one by one. Soon we were off for an hour to explore old Annapolis houses, including 5-part mansions, and to listen to interesting stories about people from the past who lived in them.

We rode over the bumpy brick Annapolis sidewalks and ducked low hanging branches. Afterall, we were about a foot taller than we would have been walking. There is no throttle. Nor is there a brake. The Segway becomes an extension of your body as you lean forward to go and backward to stop. Right and left movement is controlled by the handlebar.

Segways have the same rights as pedestrians. Anywhere a wheelchair is allowed, so is a Segway. Although its maximum speed at 12 mph doesn't sound fast, you feel like you're moving right along.

If you'd like to have a fun experience and also learn some interesting Annapolis history, I highly recommend this. Just call SegZone to arrange it. 410.280.1577 or 302.242.6615.

Read more about Segways here. See a video explaining how it works.

Rally to Restore Sanity

Squirrel at the rally advised, "Don't be nuts."

For more details of our rally experience, see David's blog here.

American Visionary Art Museum's Educational Goals

Funny mention of standardized testing or standardized learning.

  1. Expand the definition of a worthwhile life.
  2. Engender respect for and delight in the gifts of others.
  3. Increase awareness of the wide variety of choices available in life for all ... particularly students
  4. Encourage each individual to build upon his or her own special knowledge and inner strengths
  5. Promote the use of innate intelligence, intuition, self-exploration, and creative self-reliance.
  6. Confirm the great hunger for finding out just what each of us can do best, in our own voice, at any age.
  7. Empower the individual to choose to do that something really, really well.
Read more about the AVAM's education goals here.

And don't forget to visit one of my favorite places in Baltimore. The Visionary's new exhibit, "What Makes Us Smile," is bound to make you learn something while smiling.


Today is October 10, 2010, or in another format... 10/10/10.

What were you doing at 10 seconds after 10 a.m. this morning? What will you be doing at 10 seconds after 10 p.m. tonight?

Fear and Learning

Why can’t Johnny learn? Often in looking for the answer to this question, the focus is on teachers and their teaching skills. However, even the best teachers cannot help their students learn if they are fearful. It’s impossible for the brain to learn when it is afraid and stressed.

The March/April 2010 issues of Neurology Now has an interesting article that talks about the science behind fear and learning. Higher learning occurs in the prefrontal cortex but fear leads to the amygdala’s fight or flight responses. 

Goldie Hawn is working with neurologist Judy Willis in this area with an unusual but educationally valid approach to helping students learn.


Hawn’s MindUp! program teaches children how their brains work and why the right frame of mind is so important to their learning. Then students are trained to become more aware so their can identify their emotions and use the coping exercises they have learned.

It sounds like a reasonable approach for kids who are afraid  and stressed because of tests or being afraid to speak up in class but it may not work if a student is being abused at home or bullied in school.

Educators want to see their students learn and test scores rise. This article in Neurology Now points out that learning will not occur in a climate of fear. Schools must work hard to make sure students do not spend their time in a fearful climate. That means making sure that bullies do not highjack learning.

My doctoral work focused on schools, bullying and empathy. A summary presentation and accompanying notes can be found here. 

Bullying Presentation

Presentation Notes