Preparing Society’s Future Conscience

It's a really big job.
It’s a really big job.

If I said to you that this person’s work ensured that 10 years in the future your community would continue to be a safe place to live and work—that crime rates would continue to be low. You would probably say that person’s job was important.

If I said to you that this person’s work meant that we could continue to enjoy litter-free sidewalks, the beauty of fresh streams to fish in, woodlands in which to camp, hike and hunt, the majestic flight of the bald eagle, clean water to drink and fresh air to breathe, you would probably applaud that person’s work.

If I said to you that this person’s work meant that technological advances to improve the lives of the vulnerable, injured and sick would be possible, that your community could be the birthplace of inventors, scientists, engineers and lawmakers, you would be excited to meet that person and call her “neighbor”.

If I said to you that this person has the job of preparing the conscience of the human race to meet the challenges of the future, you would probably say “Wow, that person has a big job. We better get the best person we can in the position, and support her as much as possible.”

That person is the teacher in your child’s classroom Continue reading “Preparing Society’s Future Conscience”

She Blinded Me with Science

The other night I was playing with my four-year-old daughter in her bedroom. She was the “Little Mommy,” and I was the “big sister”. She sat at her desk with her colored pencils and Kai Lan notebook “working”.

“First,” she said as she donned her special, purple hat, “you have to put on a hat.”

(Wow, I missed the hat part. Maybe I’m doing that wrong; I rarely put on a hat at work.)

“Are you finished yet?” I whined. “Can we play?”

“No, don’t bother me.”

“Are you finished yet?”

“I told you not to talk to me.” She got up with a huff. “I’m hot.” She turned on the ceiling fan. Then she noticed her bulletin board, which had a fourth-of-July art project hanging on it, a paper windsock with crepe paper streamers.

“The paper is moving.”

“Yes it is. Do you know why?”

“The fan?”

She turned off the ceiling fan, and after it stopped and the streamers were still, she turned it on again, this time at low speed. The streamers didn’t move. She turned the fan off again, and after the blades quit moving, turned it back on, this time at high speed. The streamers moved.

“It’s the fan, but it has to go fast.” She announced.

“Wow.” I thought. “She just made an observation about her world (the streamers started moving); came up with a testable hypothesis to explain it (the fan made them move); designed an experiment to test her hypothesis (turning the fan on and off); and then modified her hypothesis based on the what the data were (the fan does it, but only when it’s going full speed). That’s science.”

That’s the scientific method. And, if you consider that she was always careful to turn the fan completely off and make sure that the streamers were still before trying each time, she was even working in some controls for her experiment. All without coaching from me. All during the course of PLAY. Continue reading “She Blinded Me with Science”

Lessons from the Field

Field trip to a pumpkin field on a beautiful fall day.
My pulse quickened. The excitement in the air was palpable. I fidgeted in my chair as we read our story and awaited the arrival of the big, yellow school bus. I was going on my first field trip in, well, a lot of years.

Really though, not that many years. When I was a college professor, I took students on many field trips. As a matter of fact, my first trip ever to a pumpkin farm was with the international students at the college where I taught. We took them to a pumpkin farm in Southwest Iowa one beautiful fall day. EG’s pumpkin farm. I still have the pictures from that adventure. We went on hay rides, wandered aimlessly through corn mazes and stayed all day and into the evening for the bonfire and marshmallow roasting.

It was a new experience for me. It was certainly a new experience for these students, and seeing this world through their many-cultured eyes was an incredible learning opportunity for me, the professor. One of the things I love most about teaching is that you get to learn so much. Continue reading “Lessons from the Field”