I would like very much to go to the Siemen's STEM Institute this summer, though after today, I'm not sure they'd welcome me in their midst. I've spent hours wrestling with a Flip camera, MS Movie Maker, and and apparent conflict between the chip set in my laptop and the rest of the world (a chip with a chip on its shoulder), and may be disqualified for my inability to produce a simple two minute video broadcasting my Luddite qualities.
I have a fine 1956 Futura typewriter sitting in my room, ready to type up a cogent argument for my presence. Which may just highlight the problem.
Still, this has not been a pointless exercise.
The thrust for STEM education focuses on things human--help the economy, cure cancer, and screw the Commies and anyone else who is a little less Western-Eurocentric than the fine folk who rule our land.
And that's fine and good, I suppose, but not all my lambs have both the desire and the chops to become STEM All Stars. Each and every one of them, though, lives in this universe. Very few of them realize the same universe belongs to them.
Last week was midterms. I got restless, as I tend to do during things like midterms and shopping for underwear, so I grabbed a microscope and tossed a drop of our windowsill pond water on a slide.
A stentor spun a whirlpool in its own universe, a magnificent critter with a reason all its own, pulling in other critters with its vortex, so that it may continue its stentor ways.
I put a camera on the scope, and projected the stentor's world on the screen. Most of the students stopped, stared. I shouldn't have distracted them from their task at hand, but I am glad that I did.
This universe cannot be subdued. The horseshoe crabs will creep out of the bay millions of years after we're gone.
I teach what matters, and a lot of what doesn't.
I teach to young folks whose bodies share the same carbon atoms that will, sooner or later, end up in the carapaces of the horseshoe crabs that will outlive us.
I teach science because a child who know her universe is more likely to know joy than a child who does not.
If she happens to cure cancer in the meantime, well, bonus points.
On a good day, nothing, nothing, beats teaching science to young humans.