Monday, April 7, 2008

"The Amount You Do"

Ah, the Science Fair. I'm so glad I didn't have to do those when I was an elementary school student. Every year it looms for Connor. It would have loomed for Scott too, had we not changed schools. If one science fair project is overwhelming to me, how do parents with 5 children in grades 1 thru 6, say, possibly stay sane?

And no matter how many times it's explained to me, no matter how carefully the supporting written instructions lay out the expectations and objectives, I get confused as to how to guide my son thru The Scientific Method. Like me, his thinking doesn't seem to track naturally through the process of inquiry: question, hypothesis, referencing available data, design method of collecting data, run the method (experiment) itself, record results, draw conclusions. It sounds so simple. How can I get so muddled.

I'm letting Gary take the lead in helping Connor.

So, the question Connor came up with: "Does the type and brand of soda make a difference in the intensity of reaction when a Mento mint is dropped in?"

They bought seven different brands and types of sodas and colas--some clear like 7-up, some green like Mountain Dew, and the conventional dark colored ones like root beer and Coke. And a diet 7 up, and diet Coke. All in 2 liter bottles. They covered the side of our house and deck with a tarp, placed a measuring tape on the wall. They were obviously anticipating a mighty blast from each. To our surprise we had to scale way back on our expectations--the most intense reaction rose about 8" above the neck of the bottle. Still, we were able to see clear differences in the brands. Mountain Dew may have had the most ho-hum results--about an inch.

Connor clearly enjoyed this very much. He is actively asking questions, wondering what accounts for the differences. He also enjoyed the full participation of his family. The miniaturization of the blasts didn't disappoint him at all. Perhaps it's because next week they plan to try the same sample size, same volumes, and more mentos.

This morning, Monday marks a return to full school-time routine. Scott was off all last week on his extended spring break. I'm a little rusty at the motivator and coordinator role. I'd forgotten about making lunches and snacks and so was running the circuit--turning burners on to preheat, pulling ingredients from fridge, running in to get dressed and reminding Scott it was time to get up, back into kitchen to prep ingredients for cheese-melted tortilla, reminding Scott it's time to get up, helping Connor round up some work to take in to school, turning off the burner because Scott wants p-nut butter, not quesadillas, reminding Scott it's time to get up.

In the midst of my activity I think I hear Connor say, "I'm amazed at the amount you do." What? I permitted myself to feel an inkling of pleasure--can it be, that a 10 year old might actually be noticing what it takes to launch a morning? This was something I anticipated would never happen--especially in my daughterless state. Unless he grew up to be an at-home dad, chances are he'd just assume his morning base as the zero point for everyone and have no clue that much has been going on behind the scenes to get to zero. Maybe I'd somehow managed to raise a kid with an extraordinary sense of observation and empathy, and dare I say it, appreciation? Hadn't he given me a hopeful sign just yesterday when he volunteered that he noticed that many of his emotions express through his throat? That he notices that particularly anger makes its presence known by a physical sensation there?

"What did you say, Connor?"

"I said, I m amazed at the Mountain Dew. That it had such a wimpy reaction."

Bwahahahahahaha!!!!!!! I need to get my hearing checked.

At least I clearly understood Scott's asking me to just drop him off, not stay. I had to say this one back to him, to make sure I didn't misunderstand. But, he said he would be fine if I left, he would "behave", and he would "learn". And when we went in to the classroom this morning (late because I'm rusty at morning routines) one of the first things he said to his teacher was to ask if it was ok if I left. So I did.

Today I'm home before 9:30 a.m. What kind of wonder is this?

The news I get when I come to pick him up at 3 will determine whether it looks good for the wonder to continue.


Lori said...

Bwahahahahah, indeed. I had my hopes right up there with yours.

Only to crash down. But with a snicker ;-).

Hope 3 pm brings good news.

excavator said...

One can only dream.

In parenting pride tends to self-correct, doesn't it? Usually publicly, but always emphatically.