Wednesday, December 7, 2011

New worlds

As various factions wrestle with various standards for various (and occasionally dubious) reasons, I find myself in a classroom with a couple dozen young humans at various stages of cognitive development, learning about the world.

A drop of pond water sits on a slide now projected on the screen. A creature, too small to see naked eye, wraps itself around an even smaller one. Other critters scoot, slither, slide, and wiggle by.

My charges can "draw" mitochondria--the NJCCCS expect the children to "know' the major cell organelles by 6th grade, to "model and explain ways in which organelles work together to meet the cell’s needs." A few can tell an amoeba from a paramecium without my help. This impresses some people.

It shouldn't.

A child looks at the slide on the microscope, back up at the screen, then back at the slide again.

A single drop of water holds a world of life. The slide warms up from the lamp below. The critters under the cover glass start to fade as the oxygen level drops.

I could, of course, pontificate about aerobic respiration and diffusion and concentration gradients; I could give the children boxes to fill and diagrams to label; I could drag out one of our myriad models telling the kids what they can't quite see.  And on many days I do just that.

But not when a child see the world open a bit wider than it was just moments ago. There will be time, maybe enough, maybe not, to learn the human language that describes this new world to the satisfaction of the state of New Jersey.

The class remains mostly silent as the children take in what they cannot yet grasp.This impresses me.

As it should.

The video is from YouTube--our critter was not an amoeba, and truth be told, I did not know what it was.

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