Thursday, November 6, 2008

A few amateur "How to's..." in an age of experts

Just a few things folks ought to pass on to their kids.
If they don't do it, maybe I will.
Even if it's not in the core curriculum standards.

Find a meteor:

Get a blanket.
Wait for dark.
Look up--if you see starts, lie down on blanket and continue looking up.
Wait some more.

Catch a frog:

Get a small net (optional).
Find a pond.
Make sure pond is not frozen.
Look for jumping green objects as you approach the pond.
Crouch by the edge of the pond (or in it if you like).
Wait some more.
When you see a pair of eyes poke out of the scum, swing net in general direction.
Feel through net now full of duckweed, algae, mud.
If no frog felt, dump net.
Watch frog you didn't feel hop away from blob of pond drek you just dumped.

Catch a boxer turtle:

Find a woods.
Wait for rain.
Go crawling around woods during rain and look for splotches of bright yellow.
(I know this sounds odd, but when we were kids we could sniff them out.)
Pick up your turtle.

Taste nectar:

Find a blooming honeysuckle vine.
Pull off a flower.
Carefully pinch the very bottom of the flower.
Slowly pull the bottom of the flower, pulling the stamens with it.
If you're lucky, a drop of nectar will rest at the base of the flower.
Suck on the flower like a straw.

Find a (tiny) meteorite:

Put a bucket under a rain spout.
Collect rainwater, then let it sit somewhere dry and forget about it.
Rediscover bucket a few months later.
Put a magnet under a piece of paper, then scatter dried contents of bucket on the paper.
Shake the paper.
Look at the tiny bit left under a microscope.
Some will be pitted and look like meteorites under the microscope.
Why? Because they are!

The frog and flower are from the National Wildlife Service; the micrometeorite from NASA.


Tracy Rosen said...

Please can I come to your classroom? Please?

doyle said...

Hey, I was just reading your good news today, thinking how lucky your kids are.

Alas, not everything translates well in the classroom.

(I let a student take home a leech this week. He immediately fed it a guppy. The leech, which hadn't eaten in at least 2 months, promptly attacked the guppy, drained it, then left its carcass on the bottom of the aquarium.

No, I would not do this in the classroom, I don't think, though the kids had no problem with the frogs munching on the crickets in class.

Guppies get a pass for being cute.)

Tracy Rosen said...

Yes, it's great news!

That post was inspired by a tired student who is failing some of his subjects despite the hard work he puts in - he's just so far behind from years of bad habits.

Even though he knows he isn't passing yet, he STILL comes EVERYDAY after school, before going to work (he's turning 18 this year, it's his last chance at high school) to talk to me about History, English, and French and to his other teacher to talk about Math and Science.

He learns through conversation, so he makes time for conversation. He inspires me, really. ( )

ps - I promise not to feed leeches to the guppy.

Clay Burell said...

I did the meteorite assignment - self-assigned - when I was in high school (surely instead of other assignments). On the driveway of our suburban Chattanooga house. With my best friend Randy. From about 10 pm until sunrise.

I think we counted around 40 meteorites. What blew me away even more was discovering you can also see satellites bobbing around up there. They looked like planes flown by drunken pilots.

I caught a frog in a 3 a.m. rest area in probably Louisiana on my last cross-country drive before going into bootcamp. Homer and a magic fungus were involved. Anyway, it jetted a cold clammy squish of goo on my hand that succeeded at making me and my sort-of girl-friend/road-trip partner both scream as I let it go.

Did the turtle thing many times in the childhood woods of Chattanooga. And sucked many honeysuckles. Yum, indeed. (And the perfume.)

Have I told you I love your writing lately?

doyle said...

Thanks for the words. We have a mutual admiration society going on, one of the plusses/minuses of the ability to hone conversations from millions upon millions to the few dozen or so that follow each other's blogs. Call me Νάρκισσος.

A question for you--and this is one of the huge plusses of the internet, finding others who have chased similar tails. Did you hunt for turtles while the ground was still wet? We deliberately looked during misty rain, and I have how idea why we came up with that, though it did seem to work.

Barry Bachenheimer said...

I love the fact that none of these very cool and powerful activities has anything to do with technology. Only discovery.

doyle said...

I love playing with technology, as we all do in this virtual world. As addicting as it is, it cannot replace (for me, anyway) what happens under the sun.

Thanks for the kind words on your site--I look forward to meeting you in January!