Science Fair. What to do? What to do? WHAT TO DO? I outlawed volcanoes and pairs [Each student must do his or her OWN science fair project and no student shall do a volcano. Hislop Handbook, page 3, Statute IVa], consequently I had a significant number of students stymied. What to do for science fair? What to do? What to do?
Do something you are interested in, I told them. BLANK LOOKS. After making them list three of their interests, we choose a focus, I make suggestions, we outline an experiment and they get excited. It is so, so fun to watch them morph from reluctant (sometimes very resistant) science fair participants to excited (often very eager) young scientists.
Darling D, a simple, sincere student, came in after school for help. He listed video games, computer games, and reading as his interests. (Guess which one I focused on…..). “What if you investigated the effects of reading on your heart rate?” I asked. Blank look. “Have you ever felt your pulse?” I queried. No. I put his fingers first on my wrist, letting him fell my heart beat, and then instructed him to find his own. When his fingers found the thump, thump, thump of his own heart, his eyes flew open and he audibly gasped. The experience was breath taking for him…..and for me. It was an almost sacred experience to share his moment of enlightenment. He has already collected two weeks’ worth of data and we are still 4 weeks from the actual science fair.
Borderline B is a passive student; she does enough to get by—barely—but never engages. Her list of interests included texting. “What if you found out who texts better, boys or girls?” I asked. REALLY?!?! “Yes.” None of my students have ever investigated texting, a fact I shared with her, so I am quite excited to see how her experiment turns out, a fact I also shared with her. She is excited too. We spent a class day doing research on our science fair topics and she was fully engaged the entire class, hunting information about texting. The next morning that I was in the building she found me before school and asked “Is it okay if I include information about the thumb in my research? The thumb is important in texting, right?” RIGHT!!! You go girl!!!!
Active A is investigating the effects of being in a hot tub on blood pressure. He needs a large sample size and multiple trials. “Mom, I have to have a hot tub party with my friends for the next five nights….It’s part of my science fair experiment.” Party on!
Crafty C wants to know how playing video games affects his reading fluency. “Will you write a note to my mom telling her that I have to play video games for at least 30 minutes every day so that I can do my science fair experiment?” he petitioned me. I wrote the note.
Two of my hockey players are pursuing their passion. Gracious G (she seems too nice to be a hockey player) wants to know if her team takes more shots at home games or away games. Tentative T (rarely comes to school and every more rarely says anything) will compare microbial growth taken from swabs inside his hockey gloves, arm pads, and skates. Pretty P is also investigating microbes; she will plate swabs taken from her mascara rod and lip gloss applicator. Savy S is closely monitoring boxing to determine whether winners of matches more often use head shots or body shots. I’ve several young men investigating the performance difference between flat balls (soccer, football, basketball) and fully inflated balls and several young women testing the staying power of various types of hair coloring chemicals.
Science Fair. WHEW! Lots of work, lots of rewards. More work (LOTS MORE WORK) to come and, hopefully, more rewards as well.
I love my job. Really. I do.
One of my students does not do anything in class. Nothing. No amount of cajoling, encouraging, bribing, threatening, ignoring, spotlighting, rewarding or punishing seems to have any effect on him so far. He sits in his desk, occasionally pesting other students, answering questions, or arguing with me but never doing classwork; not labs, not notes, not experiments, nothing. He reads at a second grade level and struggles to write but consistently scores 85% on the tests. He is smart…..and stubborn.
Last week Mr. Field (teaching assistant) and I both tried to engage him, encouraging him to participate in the day’s lab activity. In response to my third attempt, the student told me, “Mr. Field was a jerk to me so I am done,” and he put his head down. NOT. With pointed words and a firm tone, I told him that it was not Mr. Field’s job to beg him to work, that learning was his task and it was time he took responsibility for it. He ignored me and I thought my words had no effect…. until he found me at lunch time and gave me a note. “I am sorry you are such a jerk to me,” it read. At least I know he heard me.
I was leaning over the table, helping a student when I felt the student next to me touch my head. Assuming she was removing some stray piece of matter that was locked in my locks, I asked her what she pulled out. “Nothing,” she said, “I just wanted to feel your hair.” Okay. Slightly disconcerting but okay. Science is all about investigation, right?
One day in class we investigated the bubble blowing capabilities of various brands of bubble gum. “Gum is strictly against the rules at OPA , so you cannot tell anyone that I gave you gum and you MUST promise to spit it out when you leave the classroom,” I solemnly told my students. Knowing that I was on safe ground but wanting to stress to them the importance of not abusing the gum chewing moment, I continued, “I could lose my job so you must obey.” Mr. Mitchell, the junior high principal, called me out in the hall near the end of class. My students went to their next class slightly traumatized. “We are worried about Mrs. Hislop,” they told Ms. Larsen. “We were chewing gum in class and Mr. Mitchell is talking to her. We were doing an experiment. Honest. It really was just an experiment. Do you think she will get fired?” Cute.
I love Primary. Last Sunday Sister Hyde asked the children to tell about someone who has been a good example to them. Dynamic D (male, 4 years old) went on and on and on about his mom. “She is a good example because she reads to me and fixes me food and……….and………and………….and……….and because she lets me go poop on the potty and because she wipes my bum and…”
At this point Adult-like A (female, age 3) interrupted him. “No,” she corrected, “I have a bum. You have a penis.”
End of lesson.
I hate shopping. Seriously.
Problem: There was no dog food in the house. Fact: I hate shopping. Solution: Make dog food. Cook a gallon of oatmeal mush, add 2 cans of sardines, the water from four cans of tuna, and pound of moldy pepper jack cheese and heat thoroughly. Zorro loved it and I avoided shopping for four more days.
I love my family. I REALLY, REALLY love my family. LOTS.
“Mom,” Miles said, “Can Cooper and I play at our house?” I turned down his request, citing the fact that no one else would be home at the time they wanted to play. “C’mon Mom,” he said in exasperation, “We are both in double digits now. We can watch ourselves!” He had a point—ten is a double digit number—but he did not get his party. Ten year old boys still need some supervision.
Grace has started the last three basketball games. She is becoming quite adept at setting screens. This week her screen set an opponent on her butt; the girl ran into Grace, bounced off, and landed on both cheeks. Grace said that she felt bad about the girl’s fall but the grin on her face told a different story.
Tanah asked a boy friend (notice the space between the two words) to a girl’s choice dance. It is her first date, her first dance, and Lance’s first (though far from last) chance to agonize over the fact that his girl is out with another man.
The family was relating stories about finding oneself some place and not being able to remember why one is there. Such stories are not uncommon. Chick added a new twist. “Yah,” he said, “I never make it to the laundry room on the first attempt.” This is SO Chick. We have lived in this house for 17 years yet none of us doubted the veracity of his statement.
“It’s Senior Night at the wresting meet this evening,” Chick reminded me over the phone. “They are honoring the seniors at the beginning so please be there on time.” But that was not the whole story. I did get there on time and there I learned that seniors were not the only ones being honored that night; they were also honoring the parents of seniors. Lance and I were called to the mat as well where I got two roses and Lance was given a handshake. I got the better end of the honor; give me roses over a handshake most any day!
We are going to Cancun! Tickets are booked and reservations made. We will stay at an all-inclusive resort where the kids will have all the benefits of the cruise they wanted to take plus we will be able to explore ancient ruins, walk in the waves, and run in the rainforest ….maybe even swim with dolphins. Bless Lance for making all of the arrangements and BLESS Parents Hislop for paying for it.