Monday, January 11, 2010

Rattlesnake beans

We started our plants in class back in October.

Some never germinated. Many were never watered after the first couple of days. A couple drowned. Some were misplaced, a half dozen knocked over.

Every day the kids breathed, and every day the surviving plants grew, taking their breath, and making stuff. Water molecules were split, carbon dioxide molecules fixed.

And now, from a few handfuls of seed, we have a riot of colors under our fluorescent lights--Pruden's purple tomatoes, rattlesnake beans, screaming yellow squash flowers, pink pea flowers. 30 or 40 basil plants share the aquarium light with the fish.

Today, I showed the class a mature bean pod, itself holding a few beans ready to carry on to the next generation.

Ally, the plant's owner, opted not to eat the bean, and she would not let me eat it, either. She has grown attached to her plant.

I suppose this can be tossed off as one of those puff pieces, pseudo-education packaged in feel-good stories that plague our nation, damning our nation to economic misery, and I could be (yet) another science teacher who fell off the STEM wagon, spoiled by NEA propaganda and neo-liberal wonkiness.

Science starts with observing nature, whatever this universe thing is. If a child has never witnessed a plant grow, not a whole lot of sense talking about photosynthesis or NADPH or the Calvin cycle.

Long after nucleotides and polymerases fade from their memories, my students will remember their plants.

The photo was taken from Reimer Seeds.


John Spencer said...

I really enjoyed this post. Nothing deep to say about it, just that it made me smile.

KCL said...

You have a gift for effortlessly weaving science, language, and heart. Well done, sir, as usual!

Ben Wildeboer said...

There needs to be a class someday where the final "exam" consists of students being able to sit contentedly in a natural space for the entire exam period.

doyle said...

Dear John and KCL,

Thank you for the warm words.

Dear Ben,

If children can sit truly contentedly for two hours in a natural setting without the benefits of pharmaceuticals or electronics, then they have a real chance at becoming scientists (at the risk of becoming wrecked as technologists), useful citizens, and true learners.

Pearson stockholders, though, might have a problem with this.