Sunday, June 15, 2008

Just when I was beginning to doubt BSS

Reflections on Father's Day ...

Most of the time, the boys love Big Science Saturday (BSS), particularly when we do stuff like rockets or bugs. Sometimes, though, they're not really that into it, and I wonder if I'm really wasting my time.

In my past post about Ryan's rocket birthday party, I mentioned that I didn't really care if Ryan loves rockets as much as I did when I was a kid, but I just wanted him to be exposed to them.

With regard to BSS, I also don't care if the boys go into any kind of scientific pursuit like I did, or have any interest in science whatsoever. When I talk with them about why we do BSS, I tell them that all I'm trying to do is get them to ask questions about their world and to have some structure around how they seek answers to those questions. To me, it's all about curiousity and critical thought.

A couple of months ago, I went to Ryan's science fair. At his elementary school, science fair is only required for fourth and fifth graders, but for our family, science fair is required in all grades. Ryan is not a big fan of this and gets a little grumpy about it, but we came up with an experiment that was kind of fun. We measured how fast Maddox, Ryan, and I went down a waterslide at a local rec center.

Ryan hypothesized that I would go fastest because I was the tallest. That's how the data turned out. However, Ryan was slower than Maddox, although Ryan is taller. As we discussed the results, he could not see the inconsistency in his data. Although I found that a little frustrating, he was quite content with his conclusion and that's what he went with.

So, recently I have been asking myself if it's worth all the trouble and if I'm getting through to these guys. Well, Ryan brought home his report card at the end of the year. It had threes ("proficient") in about 20 categories, had a couple of twos ("partial achievement"), and two categories in which he received fours ("advanced"). One four was in a reading category, something about recognizing words, and what do you suppose the other four was for? "Scientific Process and Inquiry -- Draws logical conclusions and writes about scientific investigations."

I guess his teachers saw something that I hadn't, and I really love that.
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