Memories of Science Classes Past

When I was approached to participate in tonight’s #STEMchat on twitter with Bayer, who is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its Making Science Make Sense program, disjointed memories of science information from various teachers began to pop into my mind. I thought of Mr. Beccue in 5th grade helping us burn feathers and hair to teach us about the chemical make-up of proteins. The smell is sulfur from the the amino acid cysteine in keratin. In 4th grade, I recall grappling with how hot air rises and cold air sinks and that is why the shower curtain will blow toward the bathtub while you shower. The explanation was in a seldom-consulted textbook rather than through hands-on experimentation, but it was a real-life example I could understand. I also remember the push for the metric system in America when I was in elementary school (check out the book, Whatever Happened to the Metric System?: How America Kept Its Feet if you want to know more). Little did I know that the early training in the metric system would be invaluable in my future scientific career, even if America did not want to join the rest of the world in its use.  Oh, and Mrs. Thompson in 3rd grade, with her distinct shoe clopping as she came down the hall, indicating we should all get back in our seats, was the one who told us about this new space ship that will take off like a rocket but return like a plane. I talk about that briefly approximately 2 minutes into my Pecha Kucha talk about the last space shuttle launch:

In middle school, the Air Force brought my family to the tiny tropical island of Guam. I was able to experience the beach and the boonies daily. In middle school biology, we raised and then cooked snails to eat. EWW! No, thank you!!! By high school, I was certain I wanted to become a physician so I had high hopes for my science classes. I went to a small all-girls Catholic school where resources weren’t abundant, so we made due with what we had. For biology, we dissected frogs we caught outside because those were plentiful on Guam. We had to pith them ourselves, which made many of us unhappy.  I put on a brave face and reluctantly did it. Double EWW! Even though that part wasn’t fun, I have to admit that the inner workings of the frog were interesting albeit slimy! I only recall one hands-on chemistry lab during high school, but that was enough to whet my appetite for more of that when I got to college! Physics topics were not all that memorable, but the thick accent of the teacher from India was, as it had me deciphering new physics words. Oddly, the fact that he said “milliwolves”, creating waves of giggles from girls in the class, actually made it easier to learn the place of millivolts in physics!! I was famous in school for the “translation dictionary” I created of his pronunciation to real words.

Tonight on twitter, I’ll be joining a great group of panelists as we talk about what science education was like BEFORE computers in the classroom, ipads, smartphone and ready-made kits for experimentation. The science education my children have been receiving is much, much different than I had!

STEMchat will take place on Thursday, October 15, 2015 from 9-10 pm Eastern.

The panel of guests include:

@KimMoldofsky, also known as The Maker Mom and founder of #STEMchat. Occasionally tweeting from @TheMakerMom and @STEMchat.

@BayerUS – Life Science company dedicated to advancing science literacy.

@DavidJLockett – STEM educator and lifelong learner.

@ThePurplePage – Stephani Page, is a mom, former science fair winner, PhD candidate in biophysics and biochemistry,  and initiator of #BLACKandSTEM.

myself, @ScienceGoddess –  Joanne Manaster, Read Science host, STEM advocate and biology lecturer.

And, you!

As part of this chat, we will make a special effort to Say “Thank You!”, #SayTKU, to science mentors who inspired us! Every time you do, Bayer will provide free admission to a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) venue for a child (up to 25,000) through a new partnership with Tickets for Kids® Charities. I think it is a fabulous idea! Thank a teacher and inspire a child!

Please join us to talk about the brave new world of science education!