We're taking a bunch of kids to Sandy Hook.
We will be looking for horseshoe crabs, pipefish, eels, and anything else we can legally catch and release. (Clams, alas, are out--even with a license, raking for clams is illegal in condemned areas.)
Many of my kids have never seen a horseshoe crab. Many of those that have, fear them.
Every day from now until the trip I will remind the children that if anyone asks, we are going to study Limulus polyphemus. I work under great conditions, under a wonderful supervisor, but why start trouble?
OK, what do you say if someone asks why we're going to Sandy Hook?Spew out a scientific word and folks go running.Limulus polyphemus!What do you say if someone asks you what we're studying?Limulus polyphemus!What do you say if someone asks you how nuclear fission works?Limulus polyphemus!
***Part of teaching is getting observed. I don't mind it so much, and prefer frequent, unannounced visits to formally planned lessons since it gives the administration a better idea of what happens in my class, which (ideally) gives me better feedback. I love gold stars as much as anyone, maybe more (I had a lot of concussions growing up), but I learn most from the occasional disasters. A second pair of eyes helps me dissect them better.
Folks without a scientific background, however, often preface their remarks by saying science is too hard, so they didn't really get the lesson. I don't hear anything else said--I am completely deflated. If I cannot teach an administrator a concept I'm expected to teach to children who still believed in the tooth fairy a few moons ago, what's the point?
(And yes, I get another gold star for my collection....)
So here's the point--we live in a wonderfully complex , ultimately inexplicable,universe. (OK, that was too much of a mouthful--go stare at an ant colony for a few minutes and get back to me). This fantastic universe appears to be governed by teasingly simple laws.
If I ever hope to get a child interested in grasping these laws, a child who just rubbed a amgazine advertisement for Stetson cologne on his chest while leering at another child who (it seems) forgot to put something on over her stockings, I need to get them outside themselves by getting them outside.
If the Park Ranger asks if we have a permit, I'll just mutter Limulus polyphemus....
The horseshoe crab photo is from NOAA, via Wikimedia (public domain, eh?)