Friday, February 1, 2013

"School Days"

Way back, a millennia or so ago, when I was in high school I did everything I could to avoid advanced math and advanced science classes.  As I may have mentioned a few hundred times, I'm not any good at math and I wasn't any good at it back then either!  I hated trying to understand anything to do with numbers.  Because I hated it, I did not even try very hard either.  (Shhhh, don't tell my mother!)  Somehow I managed to figure out that a lot of advanced science classes used a lot of advanced math. So why would I torture myself by taking calculus, or trig or chemistry, or physics?   All that was required for graduation in my high school was to take either a life science or a physical science, so I stuck with numbers!  In the math area I never had to take anything higher level than Solid Geometry (which was no snap, let me tell you!)  

Well anyway, I'm not sure if it was just the times, or that it was such a small town, or if I just blocked it out, but I don't recall ever hearing anything about a Science Fair or the like.  I certainly never did an individual major science project for any kind of competition or even NOT for any kind of competition.  That was just fine with me!  In fact, having to do something like that would have been my worst nightmare come true!

That was in high school, before that in Junior High (before Middle School was invented) and elementary school, math and science were much more basic and there were no Science Fairs there either.

But, oh my dears, times have changed!

I told you some months ago that M-t-G is in 6th grade this year and attending a Magnet Middle School with an advanced academic program for bright kids.  She is doing very well (for the most part "A"s).  She is even in an honors math class.  She loves math and does very well in it.  (She does not take after her Grammy in this regard!  Thank goodness!)  Each of her classes is challenging and for the first time she finds she has to work harder than she had to in grammar school.  This is a good thing, because she is finally being required to think and put some real effort into her classes.  Still she loves it (most of the time anyway.)

Last semester for her science class all the kids were required to undertake an individual project that they worked on all semester.  The assignment was to make a time-keeping device that would ring a bell consistently every 1-2 seconds (I think.)  They had to do everything themselves and could use only things from around the house.  They could spend no more than $10.  They had to keep a journal of their daily progress, then give an oral presentation of the plan, another presentation of the working device, and finally a written report outlining the whole project, the steps taken, the processes used, and give a demonstration of the working device.  Yikes!  

M-t-G elected to make a water clock!  (I didn't even know what a water clock was!)  It was made using a wooden wheel which turned on a spindle with little medicine cups attached all around the wheel to collect the water which was funneled from a 2 liter soda bottle through a tube, the water landed in the little cups which made the wheel turn.  It had 2 nails hammered into the wheel.  As the wheel turned the nails would, in theory, strike a small bell within the time constraints given.  

M-t-G had to research the project, choose the elements she would use, figure out how and where to place things, build it, make adjustments until it worked the way it was supposed to and document everything.  It was an enormous project for an 11 year old.  Even a bright one!  Parents were only to provide guidance and that is was T.A. and Ratchlet did.  M-t-G did everything herself.  It took every bit of time that was allowed and she encountered many challenges and problems along the way.  In fact, the first time she was to give a working demonstration, it did not meet the time interval requirement.  She then had 2 more days to try to fix it and to present it again.  She made some adjustments and when she went to present it for the worked!!  Because it didn't work the first time, she did not get an "A", but she got a B+ (I believe.)  And she learned a lot about perseverance and commitment, and water clocks!

She was close to despair a time or two along the way, but she kept at it until she got it right!  We were all very proud of her.  She had participated in Science Fairs when she was in grammar school but nothing of the same scope, originality, ingenuity, and creativity.  She worked hard and she made it come out right.  She made a working water clock at the age of 11 in the 6th grade.  May I just say WOW!  What a project and what an accomplishment!!  And most of all....what a kid!

I don't know about you, but I sure don't think "School Days" are what they used to be!

This semester they have to make a working musical instrument capable of making 8 tones that are tunable!   M-t-G has chosen to make a hammered dulcimer....

Oh my Lord!!


  1. So I assume she did not ask for help from her Grandmother.

    What a wonderful project that was. She learned many lessons in completing it. Congratulations to her, that was quite an accomplishment.

    I loved math (and still do), but hated science (except biology). I still have nightmares about chemistry and physics. I remember taking those classes and trying to figure out how to bluff my way through. I think I passed with the lowest grade needed and I am sure my teacher was being kind.

  2. Mel, again with the evidence that you and I were separated as children. I hated (still do) anything to do with math and science. Our school had very basic science and math courses, and I barely made it through the required stuff, so I poo pooed anything that might have been misconstrued as advanced!
    Hats off to M-t-G for her accomplishments. I can only imagine the work she had to put into a project of this magnitude. Kuddos!!!


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