Category Archives: Perils and Pleasures of Time Travel

Out of Time to be showcased on TV talk show “Think About It”

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Taping for “Think About It” to air Dec. 9 at 10 pm, Ch. 16 Montgomery Cable TV and online http://mmctv.org/video.html

Had a blast doing a half-hour interview with Sylvia Henderson, host of “Talk About It’, a biweekly community affairs program on MMCTV, here in Montgomery County, Maryland. We talked about the STEM to STEAM to MASTERY link that is becoming fundamental to student learning in K-12 education. MASTERY, here, includes learning across multiple disciplines, but with purpose: math, arts, science, technology, engineering, reflection (think social and emotional learning!)–for me, this happens through the “yarns of storytelling.”

In the interview, Sylvia asked me how to make that accessible to young people who might not otherwise be drawn to science, technology, engineering or math–the four pillars of STEM learning. The theory behind “Out of Time” in its many incarnations–novel, screenplay, Tweet storytelling adventure and flipped learning platform–is that young people can explore through whatever their own personal passions are and be drawn into the world of the Renaissance learner to explore further.Davinci_formula

In an “Aha!” moment, Sylvia revealed that, while she is not necessarily a “math person” (not sure there is such a thing, by the way!), she loves building dollhouses–scale models of life-sized homes. To create them, she uses architectural design principles based on mathematics: fractions, geometry, perspective and more.

Artists, musicians and craftspeople all employ STEM skills in their play–thus STEM becomes STEAM as arts integrates nicely into the equation.

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Sylvia is now an experienced time traveler. Shown here wearing Out of Time cap.

What’s your passion? Share with us in comments below how you get from STEM to STEAM to MASTERY and beyond.

And watch “Out of Time” interview here, or on Channel 16 on Montgomery Cable TV on Monday, December 8 at 10 p.m.: http://mmctv.org/video.html – scroll down to “Talk About It” and click on the link with my name, Robin Stevens Payes.

Leo

OOT_music_icon[1]In the time travel adventure story Out of Time, our heroine Charley plays violin–taught and encouraged by her professional violinist mom, Gwen. Charley and Gwen even compose what Charley calls a “sound poem” together–the song “Out of Time” that ends up connecting mother and daughter across centuries.  Practicing the violin is not Charley’s favorite thing to do: Gwen has to nag alot. What Charley really wants to concentrate on building Leonardo da Vinci’s plans for a time machine to win the school science fair.

But the music proves key to time travel–an energy that knows no bounds–in ways neither mother nor daughter would ever have guessed. The song gives the story an energy all its own. But Out of Time needed a real melody, not just ClonesofClones-31the tune in my imagination! I had long begged my musician son Ben (a rocker and lead singer for Clones of Clones) to compose the theme song. Now, after much doing, Ben’s obliged, with “Leo, ” a sweet ballad that gives air to Charley’s longing to find her own time and place, no matter what her parents or anyone else thinks is right for her.

Give a listen! Let us know in comments what you think.

Time Travel: Not for the Faint of Heart

Florence. Just like I pictured it.

Ponte Vecchio Florence

Florence, Italy

It’s a timeless scene. Or so we imagine. What if you were traveling there from Washington, D.C. in 2014 — but your vacation destination was 1492?

Anyone serious about travel knows there’s preparation involved. Google Maps, Trip Advisor recommendations, knowing where there are ATMs compatible with your bank’s….maybe even a finding a good Groupon.

But what if the travel you were about to embark on had none of the conveniences of modern life. In fact, what if it was not modern at all?

time travelers guide to survival

Credit: Topatoco

For the time traveler, this poses added challenges. After all, one can hardly Google Leonardo da Vinci’s atelier in Florence–when no one in this century knows where it was. It’s difficult to plan how much money to carry with you when you couldn’t even find that currency anymore — florins? ducats? Try getting that out of the ATM before you go! And then the question: what not to wear? Think of the scandal of showing up in the court of the Duke of Florence wearing short-shorts, flip-flops, and a tube top!

Charley Morton, the protagonist in Out of Time and time-traveler to-be, has been doing her homework. After exhaustive research on the life and the times of Leonardo da Vinci, pouring over his notebooks, and studying everything she can get her hands  on about Renaissance Italy, she feels prepared.

Still, reading about 15th century Florence and the early Renaissance is not quite the same as experiencing it. Charley’s ideas about society are rooted in modern society’s notions of equal opportunity, gender equality, formal education, and careers. In our world, literacy is a given. For the people of the late 1400s–not so much.

Ideas about the world can change radically in 500 years. So the smart time traveler — if she is able to choose the exact time and destination — needs to be resilient and conscious of her surroundings. And grapple with some serious questions to determine how — or whether — to try to fit into the norms of the society she aims to experience. Or suffer the consequences.

Imagine then, a young woman who shows up with the entire history of the future digitally recorded in a tablet. And who can read, write, and produce her own video games. Who sees photographic evidence in the news about undiscovered oceans in the moons of Saturn. Where drones wage war, not people.

In a world where the printing press has barely been invented and Columbus hasn’t set foot in the New World, what kind of reception might she expect? And what does she need to know to survive?

These are questions I’ve been grappling with as Charley begins to navigate a time and place far distant from her own. Manners, mores, even what and how (and when!) to eat become challenges.

To explore them, we’re launching two new sections of the Web site: What’s Cookin’  for the Renaissance foodie, where it’s not a question of which fork to use at a Florentine banquet, but why aren’t there forks?  Morton’s Manners offers timeless teen-to-teen advice about the trials and tribulations of growing up sane, smart, and successful in this world.

As always, we want to hear from you. What’s on the “must-know/must-have” list for your time travel adventure? Tell us in comments below.

Off to the Past

For those of you who have been brave enough to watch videos Out of Time, thank you. I realize it’s been some time since we first chatted about this young adult time travel adventure, and perhaps you have been wondering what Charley and her friends have been doing since that autumn introduction.

Or maybe not.

But if you’ve tuned in at all, you may have noticed that our modern-day Renaissance genius is a very ambitious teenager. Where some teens dream of becoming tech-geek gazillionaires before the age of 25 (back in the day, when I was growing up, we used to think 40 and a cool million was aggressive!), Charley’s goal is to learn a good chunk of something about, well, everything, by the time she applies to college.

Davinci_formulaBecoming a Renaissance genius back in Leonardo da Vinci’s day would seem to have been a lot simpler. It’s simply a matter of degree.

Anyway, though I’d catch you up on what’s been going on.

LegolandIntroducing Charley: self-proclaimed teen genius. Finds Leonardo’s plans for a time machine in one of his notebooks and decides to build it for the school science fair with her smartest-geek-in-the-class pal Billy Vincenzo. Teacher says, sure, why not. BFF Beth Jacobs says, ha-ha-ha, Charley. You do too much. Besides, I’ve got my heart set on being a normal, fashionista teen with a huge crush on school hot-jock Lex Campbell. So go build your stupid time machine.

Build up: Charley convinces Billy the time machine is doable. Billy knows the science: Higgs-Boson may make faster-than-light travel possible in the quantum field, but in the physical world…fugheddaboutit.

But Charley goes to Take Your Child to Work Day at her dad’s Homeland Security-agency contracting company and learns that, amid the spook agencies of government, there’s something quantum afoot in the physical world. Logging on to Dad’s Top Secret-secured computer while he’s in a meeting, she gets the download for a mysterious formula that seems to tap into a reality-as-hologram science with the Qualia Rosetta. Part of mysterious Operation Firenze.

The messenger is the equally mysterious Kairos, a teen just a bit older than Charley who gives her two keys to time travel, the formula that unravels the Qualia Rosetta with coordinates set to 1492 Florence, and a mini-sculpture—the model for Leonardo’s Man-and-Horse. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth (LOL), Charley takes the key and runs with it!

Billy’s done more research, now he meets with Charley in her garage to assemble Leo’s version of the time machine. Still skeptical, even after Charley shows him the evidence, Billy knows their science grade—and winning the Da Vinci Middle School Science Fair depends on creating a model that would work if it could.

Meanwhile, aforementioned Lex, clueless to Beth’s crush on him, decides Charley’s time machine is key to his finding out when he’ll be drafted into the Major Leagues…and by what team. He’s holding out for the Nats, when he’ll beat out Bryce Harper for youngest player to join the pros.

Billy goes home and Lex corners Charley thinking she can send him into the future. An awkward embrace and an accidental triggering of the time machine and—poof! Fire, smoke, an inside tornado breaks out. Coughing and teary-eyed, Lex lets the smoke settle before he gets brave enough to set out and warn the kids: Charley’s disappeared!

And the rest is history! Charley whirls through the eye of time into a wild and weird alternate universe, or so she hypothesizes, until she crashes into a rocky outcropping on a field in the black of midnight amid a hail of cannon fire. The first-person shooter: none other than Leonardo da Vinci himself.

When the smoke clears, Charley is astonished to find herself in a close encounter with her Renaissance idol, and a badly banged up foot.

Charley’s been busy getting herself into some interesting new adventures with Bethy II and now involving a pig named—of course—Wilbur, and Billy’s beginning to get into the act. And Gwen may be ill!

No spoiler here… Not wanting to give up the ghost but there is a specter that hangs overCharley in this time and her own.

Pen and ink

Working now on what’s next: suffice it to say that there are Machiavellian manipulations that have Charley worried about her mother and keep her own future—and that of history—in doubt.

Keep your compass turned in this direction for more adventures through time and all around the globe. And join in tweet storytelling @OutofTimeMovie!