NEWS FLASH: Week Four Typo!

Posted May 14, 2014 by explorationsacademy
Categories: The Great Mystery

“A poet can survive anything but a misprint.”

These famous Oscar Wilde words could also be said of Super Sleuths and Mystery Masters.  But alas, errors do occasionally occur in the affairs of humans, and this is one particularly egregious error:

Super Sleuth, Week Four, Clue 3 should have read “…closest to the NE corner of Section 25…”  But with one single letter incorrect, our intrepid Super Sleuth teams all went to the NW corner rather than the NE corner, and were understandably stymied as a result.

Please accept our most abundant and profuse apologies!  But:  WE WILL SURVIVE!

To our knowledge, this is the first typo in four years of Great Mysteries, totaling over 100 clue locations.  Nevertheless, we accept full blame and all the insults, criticisms, and pinpokes into voodoo dolls that are our due.  We’re VERY sorry.

And yet the Great Mystery goes on!

We hope to see you all tonight.  And in the meantime, here are some Week Four hints should you need them — we did not have time to use the US Mail to provide them to you, so you’re stuck with the electronic version.

Week Four Hints!

Week Four Winner… and SS HINTS!

Posted May 12, 2014 by explorationsacademy
Categories: The Great Mystery

Well, we’re swinging into the final days of The Great Mystery, and we’re glad to have you along with us on this rather odd and at times unpredictable adventure!  Here’s hoping you’re all having fun!

The Veg Heads claim the Week Four Family Edition Prize!

The Veg Heads claim the Week Four Family Edition Prize!

First, kudos, honors, and recognitions are due — to the Veg Heads, who claimed the Week Four Family Edition prize: a gift certificate at Good To Go Meat Pies.  And lets hoist a few further flags to Last Ditch, who came in with the correct Week Four Family Edition answer at or before the moment when the Veg Heads arrived, but were gracious enough — having won two weekly prizes already! — to concede the Week Four Prize to the other team.  That is the spirit of fun, enjoyment, and lighthearted generosity that makes The Great Mystery so special.  Many honors to these two fine teams!

And now, how about that Super Sleuth Week Four anagrammatic puzzle?  At least a couple teams of intrepid sleuths have gotten as far as a jumbled pile of letters… and then (metaphorically, of course) flung their alphabet up in the air, only to find that the 22 letters DID NOT miraculously land in a neat array describing a single location in our fine town of Bellingham!  And with Wednesday’s denouement (pardon our French) just around the corner, perhaps it would be de rigueur (pardon our other French) to offer a hint or two to help you on your way.

So here we go, two hints.  First, logophiles amongst us may be familiar with the game of Scrabble, in which letters are assigned different point values.  The less common letters, understandably, get higher point values.  (Basic supply-and-demand economics, herein at work in the world of word play.)  Thus this hint:  Look to the higher value letters (J, Q, Z, X, and perhaps K) and place them in words first, then see what else unfolds.

Second:  The anagram, once resolved, will convert those 22 letters into three complete words, which in this order contain five, five, and twelve letters.

Have at it, have fun, and we’ll see you on Wednesday!  We’ll meet at 6pm at the… well, you have the clue to where we’re meeting.  Expect lots of odd and interesting bits of activity, some extra prizes, and be sure to bring your bike photos to contest for the Bike Prize, some marketing photos to contest for the Shameless Marketing Prize (we need to receive them digitally, but bring a printout if you can), and your team members to help you solve the puzzles that may fly at you that evening.  You must be present to win the Culminating Mystery!

Finally, thanks so much for being part of The Great Mystery and supporting cutting edge education!

The Great Mystery Week Three Winners are In!

Posted May 6, 2014 by explorationsacademy
Categories: The Great Mystery

Lisa Spreyer of the Sherlock Holmies, who are off to the Upfront!

Lisa Spreyer of the Sherlock Holmies, who are off to celebrate their success at the Upfront Theatre!

Another dramatic finish brought successful teams streaming into our office this morning with their correct Week Three Answers!  We are pleased and proud to announce that the Sherlock Holmies claimed the Week Three Super Sleuth prize, which was four passes to the Upfront Theatre.  Congratulations, Sherlock Holmies!

Meanwhile, Team Milo Burgy prevailed in the Family Edition contest.  We celebrate them and their sleuthiness, which netted them two certificates for large pizzas at McKay’s Taphouse/Pizza Pipeline.

Please help us thank the businesses that make The Great Mystery  — and Explorations Academy’s unique brand of innovative education — possible for the benefit of our greater community!

And as we draw closer to the close of this colossal puzzle, please prepare yourself for our Culminating Mystery event.  This event is coming up next week, at the close of Week Four.  On Wednesday, May 14th from 6 to 8 pm at an undisclosed Bellingham location, we will welcome Great Mystery teams to come celebrate the overall event.  Culminating Mystery prizes will of course be awarded, along with the Bike Prize, and several other prizes that you might not even know about yet.  So adjust your schedule, cancel your Vegas plans, stay tuned, and don’t miss it!  More info will be trickling your way as the date for this awesome event draw near.  See you then!

Week Two: The Great Mystery Rages On!

Posted April 29, 2014 by explorationsacademy
Categories: The Great Mystery, Uncategorized

As we roll into the second week of the 2014 Great Mystery, we have a lot of puzzlement permeating our lovely burg, particularly amongst our dedicated Super Sleuth contingent.  (Which is probably fitting!)  That said, all clue locations have been recently field-verified, and — breaking news! — we now have winners for both the Family Edition and Super Sleuth Week Two prizes!

Week 2 Family Winner

Deb from Last Ditch with the Family Edition Prize!

Congratulations to Last Ditch, the Family Edition team that popped into our office right at 7:30 am Monday with the Week Two answer.  They were the early birds… but instead of getting worms, they were awarded a $25 Mallard Ice Cream gift certificate.  You can bet that Last Ditch will be savoring their treat, especially since they were the first team in for Week One also!

Week 2 Super Sleuth Winner

Keith from Team Assessmo claims the Super Sleuth prize!

The Super Sleuth prize took some more hunting.  We had a couple of teams wondering if a clue was missing.  Well, right after a round of Tuesday field verification (nothing worse than looking for something that isn’t there, but our checking revealed that all was well in clue-land) Team Assessmo came into our office with the Week Two Super Sleuth answer, and proudly claimed their own $25 Mallard Ice Cream gift certificate!

A quote from Team Assessmo:  “You really have to clear your eyes to find some of these clues!  You can be looking straight at a wall and see only a wall… and then you can come back [their team required multiple visits to at least one clue location before succeeding] and have a shocking revelation to find it right in front of you.”

So with fun being had by all (we hope), we roll into Week Three with clues going out Thursday May 1.  Watch your mailbox, keep your wits and eyes sharp, and if you need them, there will be some additional Week Two hints arriving with your Week Three clue.  Keep the afternoon of May 14th open for our final celebration, tell all your friends about The Great Mystery, and be sure to patronize our generous Community Partners and prize donors.  And don’t forget to photodocument your amazing Great Mystery experiences for our Shameless Marketing Prize!

The Great Mystery Returns!

Posted April 21, 2014 by explorationsacademy
Categories: The Great Mystery, Uncategorized

2012 Mystery LogoThe Great Mystery, Explorations Academy’s unique team problem solving challenge, returns this week with a vengeance! Both Super Sleuth and Family Edition teams have kicked their analytic skills into high gear, and as of this fine Monday morning, BOTH Super Sleuth and Family Edition prizes have been claimed.

We celebrate all those who participate in this rollicking adventure.  Four clues (for the Family Edition) and four separate clues (for Super Sleuths) had teams spending their Easter Weekend racing around Bellingham, checking their maps, crossing bridges, scratching their heads, braving Easter traffic to cross busy streets, and — in many cases — successfully locating the Week One Answer.  This morning saw a record number of teams coming in to claim a prize, although (unfortunately) there was but one Week One prize per challenge level to be had.


The Family Edition prize went to the Last Ditch or Last Chance (they may be desperate, but they apparently still have identity issues too). This team received four free passes to enjoy an afternoon at the Spark Museum of Radio and Electricity.  The Super Sleuth prize, consisting of gift certificates for organic food at Terra Organica, was jointly claimed by two teams that arrived almost simultaneously in our office:  The Thing Finders and Ladies of the Eighties.  The Thing Finders, technically first, were kind enough to share the prize!

NEWS FLASH!!!  Speaking of prizes, we have added a new prize to this year’s Great Mystery!  Countless hordes of concerned local citizens have come forth to say that they have never heard of the Great Mystery and are unaware of how awesome an endeavor it really is.  (Feel free to tell your friends about The Great Mystery, by the way, since we still have room for a few more teams!)  So, the new prize is our Shameless Marketing Prize:  Submit your best photos or videos of your team in the thick of Great Mystery sleuthing, and we will collect them all and award a special prize to the best of them!  (While collecting them all for future promotional use, of course!)

Finally:  Please, as you go about your mysterious activities, honor the privacy and professional needs of the citizenry of our town.  We have had a few teams that thought they needed to ask a marine biologist where to find a “captive starfish” when the relevant clue was not under that person’s scientific purview…

Anyhow, thanks to you all for participating in this wonderful lark.  Stay tuned for more updates, and happy sleuthing!

Back in the USA

Posted February 27, 2014 by explorationsacademy
Categories: Kenya, Outreach

Spioce Tour 2Our Kenya Cluster has safely returned to American soil, and the group reports having had a series of powerful and vividly educative experiences.   You have read about some of those adventures here.  But don’t take our word for it:  Come hear the students’ stories and see the images of their trip firsthand, and ask questions directly of the travelers!

Two public events are scheduled for the public to learn about the Kenya Cluster’s amazing expedition.

On Monday, March 3, at 7pm, a Kenya presentation will kick off our Outreach Week activities.  This event will be held in the Explorations Academy Lower Level Theatre.  The event is free and open to the public — please help us spread the word and encourage anyone curious about Kenya or Explorations to join us.

Then, on Thursday March 20th at 7pm, another Kenya Presentation will take place at the Whatcom Museum, 121 Prospect Street in downtown Bellingham.  This is part of the Parks and Recreation Department’s Travelogue series.  Again the event is free and open to the public.

Also in our Outreach Week lineup next week:

•  TED Talk Tuesday Tuesday is March 4th:  We will show a TED talk on the theme of Happiness, followed by open discussion.

Forum on Parenting Teenagers is Wednesday March 5th:  We invite parents of teenagers to come share ideas and strategies for effective parenting.

Visitor Night is Thursday March 6th:  We will present Explorations Academy and how our school prepares young people to be global citizens.

Each of these events will be held at 7pm in our Lower Level Theatre, 1701 Ellis St. in central Bellingham.

We hope you can join us for one of our Kenya presentations or possibly one of our other Outreach Week events.  Thanks for your interest in and support for the incredible learning community that is Explorations Academy!

Kenya Update #8: The Tanzanian Coast

Posted February 5, 2014 by explorationsacademy
Categories: Kenya

Peponi Beach

Peponi Beach

Our group made it to the Tanzanian coastal village of Peponi, south of the town of Tanga, for some moist sea air and a big transition from the Amboseli Valley.  The temperatures, however, were no relief.  When even the locals in Equatorial Africa say that it is unseasonably hot, you have to believe them!  Fortunately, with the Indian Ocean lapping at the shore, a certain refreshment is at hand.

Snorkeling Boat

Snorkeling Boat

As mentioned in our last post, the travel from the Masai village to Peponi was long but painless, and the border crossing was mercifully simple.  As the teachers and students settled into Peponi, they found  a level of comfort that made it easy to cover substantial academic material.  And to introduce Logela to the experience of swimming, and do some snorkeling, and eat tropical fruits in abundance.



After a few days of transition in Peponi, it was time to pack up again and head for Zanzibar for the final part of our expedition.  The original plan had been to travel down the coast to Dar Es Salaam by bus and take a ferry to the main island of the Zanzibar Archipelago.  However, the wisdom from the locals was that the bus ride on the gravel coast “highway” was less safe than hiring a boat to go direct from Peponi to Stone Town, Zanzibar’s largest city.  Thus, our intrepid travelers packed into two dhows — local flat-bottomed freight boats, not beautiful but surprisingly stable — and cruised across the western edge of the Indian Ocean to Stone Town.

Islamic Icon on the Bow of the Dhow

Islamic Icon on the Bow of the Dhow

This city, once a fishing village, gained stature in the 19th Century as a center of spice and slave trading and became the Sultinate of Zanzibar.  Now, it is a noisy city where our students visited markets, museums, and took a spice tour to learn about this aspect of the local economy.  They also got to see lots of historical architecture.  But the city, especially in the incredible heat, was an exhausting place to be after several weeks in remote areas.  So nobody complained when the time came to pack up and head out to the western side of the island for the group’s final stay of the trip, in Paje.

Arriving in Zanzibar

Arriving in Zanzibar

Jonathan Cooper, known as “Coop,” and one of our trip leaders, sent this narrative:

Habari ya asabuhi?  I hope this message finds everyone at the Bellingham location of Explorations Academy doing well.  Currently, the East Africa location is engaged in a class session here in Zanzibar with Aaron and the students discussing the article, “How Africa became Black.”  Next I will gather the group for a final discussion on the novel  “The Red Moon.”  Each student will help lead the discussion based on a question that he or she has generated. At the end they will begin their final project for the literature class.  This morning was a very productive one, as the group laid out a framework for the term end presentation.  There was a lot of writing, editing, collaborating, and feelings of accomplishment.  Moments like this have contributed to making this journey successful and enjoyable.

Spice Tour

Spice Tour

Before I go on, I apologize for the limited communication.  Internet has been scarce, so access to any communication other than texts has been minimal.  That said, let it be known that all of our voices have been behind the messages you’ve received.  Our leadership team has been an example of a well functioning, well supported, compassionate, and humor-loving team.  Suzy and Aaron have been a pleasure to teach, work, and travel with.  I look forward to sharing more stories and testaments in person!

Guess the Spice!

Guess the Spice!

Last night my Mom joined us in Zanzibar, having come all the way from Mwanza.  The students greeted her with excitement, respect, and interest in what she is doing, which she promptly returned by listening to stories their last 4 weeks of travel.  Hearing the students reflect on their experiences in Africa has been a refreshing and enjoyable reminder that the work we are doing is highly valuable and important.

Stone Town Market -- imagine the smells!

Stone Town Market — Imagine the smells!

Thank you all for your support!  I look forward to being involved with more of these academically, culturally, and personally challenging expeditions with Explorations Academy students in the future.  Asante sana.  Safari Njema!!

Stone Town Door

Stone Town Door

Stone Town Locals at Sunset

Stone Town Locals at Sunset


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