Sunday, January 26, 2014

My science girl project

Tomorrow marks my last day as secretary of my neighborhood homeowners' association, a role in which I have served for 3 years.

As is my way, once I stop doing one thing I usually take on something else.

My "something else" this time is a stint as a GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math and Science) Club coordinator at N's school.

It is a brief stint---once a month from January-April--but I have been planning and testing experiments for me and 26 third and fourth grade girls to do.

This is what I do instead of watching tv.

It all started last fall, when a friend of mine and I were Facebook chatting about girls in math and science.  She asked if N's school had a GEMS or STEM club.  Soon after, I emailed the Learning Lab teacher, Ms. K, about whether the school had an after-school science club.  I may or may not have also suggested that I would be willing to coordinate one.

Months and many meetings later, we're set to roll this coming Wednesday for our first session.

It has been fun researching experiments for the girls to do without the headache and hassle of "testing" hanging over their heads. So much of current education sucks all the joy and excitement out of the sheer wonder of just LEARNING.  (Although I have to say that the Learning Lab at the kids' school is amazing, as is Ms. K.  G has a serious crush on her.)

Even though I'm not certified in science education, I have always loved science.  A big part of this  GEMS idea is just to help my daughter develop, if not a love of science, then a feeling of interest and accomplishment in getting her hands dirty with science.  A broadening of her horizon.  The benefit of coordinating is that N gets to attend no matter what.  I'd be lying if I said pure self-interest for my child wasn't my primary motivating factor in trying to get this ball rolling.  That darn Adam Smith and his invisible hand.

The other girls who were invited to attend were selected by their teachers.  I wish I could offer it to every student, but I was told that interest in this club, if open to everyone, would more or less knock me over where I stood and be a bigger beast than I'd want to or be able to handle.  

And as much as I want this to be fun for the girls, I also want it to FEEL fun for me so being overwhelmed by students sounds far more stressful than I'd like.

I expect the experiments on tap for this week to fail, which is why my handout to the girls says "Failure is a Part of Science" and I include a quote about Thomas Edison in which he says, "“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”

Who needs mass media entertainment when you've got wires, crocodile clips, batteries, voltage meters, lemons and inspiration from Mr. Edison?

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