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educational passages

The Rye Riptide washed up on the shores of Norway.

This story brings a whole new meaning to the word friendship.

In October 2020, the middle schoolers of Rye Junior High, in Rye, New Hampshire, bid a bon voyage to their handmade mini-boat, which set sail off the coast of New Hampshire to who-knows-where.

Measuring only 5.5 feet, the “Rye Riptides” was indeed a small ship. It ran crewless, but carried a bountiful cargo of colorful artwork made by students, along with a GPS tracking device that reported the boat’s location … sometimes.

Cut to 462 days and 8,300 miles later, and what started out as a simple science project became a surprise discovery for some Norwegian sixth graders, and a fun new connection across the Atlantic.


Rye Junior High had partnered with Educational Passages, a nonprofit organization that aims to connect students around the world to the ocean and each other. Once the kit arrived, the kids started building while learning about ocean currents, science and math. However, science teacher Sheila Adams shares that the more artistic, right-brained activities equally found their way into the curriculum. “The students needed to use their writing skills to inform others about their mini-boat project, describe our school and town to people of other languages, just in case, and write requests to get the boat deployed,” she said in a release.

…not me feeling jealous of some middle schoolers right now…

COVID-19 nearly threatened to knock the Rye Riptides off its course. The boat had been constructed, but not yet decorated, when students were moved to taking class online. Then, there was the matter of launching the boat. Which Cassie Stymiest, director of Educational Passages, noted was “challenging with all the restrictions in place.” Luckily, creativity, resourcefulness and a little technology saved the day. Working remotely, each piece of art was done at home, then scanned, printed and made into a collage. Then, Ms. Stymiest connected with the Sea Education Association (SEA), which set the Rye Riptides on its journey.

Seriously, my inner child is geeking out with this stuff.

Would the boat make it to Europe? Rye student Solstice Reed wasn’t so sure. “Honestly, I thought it would sink,” she admitted to the Portsmouth Herald. Considering the boat was cruising the ocean waters during hurricane season, the skepticism was well-founded. During the more tumultuous periods, the GPS signal only came in intermittently. And for a long while, there was nothing but radio silence.

But then, at long last, on the small Norwegian island of Smøla, the Rye Riptides successfully made it to dry land. Sure, it was a bit dismantled and covered in barnacles, but inside, all the adorable trinkets remained intact. The Smøla students peered with wonder into their bounty of photos, signed facemasks, fall leaves, acorns and state quarters, gifts sent out almost two years ago.

The voyage of the small boat has gone viral in a big way, sailing across social media, and making headlines. And now, Educational Passages plans on facilitating video meet-ups between Rye Junior High and the school in Norway, “to continue building this new relationship to learn from each other and about the shared Atlantic Ocean between them.” Plus, NPR reports, the students of Smøla would be writing a letter to their new American friends.

Human connection found its way across the sea in the most wholesome and magical way. It’s really cool to see that educational programs like this exist, impacting both the hearts and minds of young students. Mission, successful.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

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Marlon Brando on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973.

Marlon Brando made one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in 1972 after playing the iconic role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” The venerable actor's career had been on a decline for years after a series of flops and increasingly unruly behavior on set.

Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist, dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

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