Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Just Let Me Enjoy Science for a Bit.....

My friend Kim spoke last night at the homeschool Mother's Night Out about teaching science.  I have a confession to make: I hate teaching science.  Another confession:  I hated learning science . . . which may relate to why I hate teaching science.  My girls don't enjoy science either . . . which may relate to my distaste for teaching science.  But probably not; they're both like me -- they're more History and English gals.  History and English deal with stuff in my brain; Science deals with stuff in my hands.  I'm not as good with stuff in my hands as with stuff in my brain.

But a couple weeks ago, my youngest and I finished a unit on Astronomy, and it was probably my favorite science unit we've done.  My one guilt trip about it is that we only did one experiment.  But then, it's astronomy -- not a lot of experimenting a middle schooler can do on outer space.  The experiments were always my least favorite part of science, which I know sounds crazy because that's usually what people enjoy the most.  But my experiments inevitably fail.

Case in point: in high school Chemistry, the teacher told us if we wanted an A or B for the second semester, we had to stay after class one day and do an extra experiment.  He gave us a test tube with a mystery substance in it.  We had to figure out what the substance was and how much of it there was.  The amount of the substance we figured out by weighing the test tube, dumping the stuff out, weighing the empty test tube, and then subtracting.  Easy as pie, yes?  Every time I did this experiment (and I stayed and did it six or seven times, mind you), the empty test tube weighed more than the full test tube.  I even had Mr. Judd walk through it with me step by step, and he couldn't figure out what I did wrong.  At least he acted like he couldn't.  He joked about my having discovered a negative weight, and I couldn't tell if he was mocking me or not.  In any case, I took my C -- my only C in high school -- C for Chemistry, which I hate.

But back to this Astronomy unit.  I found a wonderful free website:  You can create a "bubble web" to organize information.  So we checked out piles of kids' astronomy books, read them, and created a big bubble web organizing all the information about the life stage of a star, the definition of a planet, the zodiac signs, the NASA space programs, the astronomers from the middle ages . . . honestly, we loved it!  I think this fit the way Kiddo's and my brains work -- the left-brained stuff. 

We also read a science fiction book, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, to pull it all together.  And we looked up video of the space shuttle explosion and audio of Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" broadcast.  And we watched Apollo 13.  And when the play is over, we're going to the science museum in Des Moines where they have a Mars exhibit going on right now.  Loved.  This.  Unit.

But only one experiment.  Somebody tell me that's okay -- because I'm enjoying science right now, and I don't want to let go of that yet.

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