Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Last Thing You Don't Want to See In Your Life, and Other Evidence That No One Likes Science...

If you were lying on the desert floor, lost, thirsty, gasping for air, this would not be high on the list of things that you would ever want to see. But if you are a science teacher in a community that is not generally known for a love and appreciation of science, this is one of the finest sights you'll ever see...if you were seeing what the turkey vulture was actually looking at: a lecture hall full of kids who spent their Saturday celebrating science and our wild planet.
A 15 foot Burmese Python...the question on the crowds mind: Which kid would it eat??
We have a small natural history museum in Modesto that is about to become a much bigger and more comprehensive museum that will be a must-see destination for visitors to the region (it will also be our new science department). The Great Valley Museum holds a number of fundraisers over the course of the year, but the most fun is Wild Planet Day, when we bring together science professors, wildlife experts, conservationists, and student volunteers to have a fair where children and their parents come to experience animals of all types, dissecting other animals and animal poop (i.e., squid and owl pellets), physics and chemistry experiments, and...geology!
We brought out our full-scale saber-tooth cat skeleton for the last time before it takes up residence in the entrance foyer of the new Great Valley Museum. Kids eyes grew wide when we explained how these felines used to live right here in the Central Valley of California. Heck, this is better than dinosaurs (though we also had a big chunk of dinosaur bone for them to check out)...
We also had a bunch of stream table experiments for the kids to work with...science that's best is the science that's messy!
But what really caught the attention of the kids were the three lab desks festooned with trays full of rock, mineral and fossil specimens...with paper bags for carrying away as much as they could hold. There were fossil clams and oysters, sulfur and quartz crystals, agate, granite, mariposite, sandstone, schist and gneiss, obsidian, pumice, and other volcanic rocks.
For us it was a clearing of the decks in preparation for the move to the new science center. For the kids, it was an instantaneous rock collection, and perhaps for some a start down the road towards a future as a geologist. You never know...
 The room was buzzing with activity for five straight hours. Science is boring, after all...
NOT!
Post a Comment