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Re: Unimaginative Kids... OFF TOPIC, kinda



OK, I guess it's time for me to wade in here, too.

Kelly's right, right, right!

I'm in the midst of writing a series of teachers' guides for local (central
Florida East Coast) planetarium programs and exhibits, with analyses based
upon the Florida Sunshine State Standards for K-12 schoolchildren. It's
turning into a book, and my grant's running out.

Meanwhile, I've learned that things are no longer "cool": they're now
"sweet."

In analyzing the various presentations offered for kids (myself included),
most of which I personally have performed dozens -- even tens of dozens --
of times, I've found that those richest in scientific content and
information, and which evoke the most questions and discussions, are those
that most appeal to youthful wonder and excitement through frankly
spectacular simulations of black holes, supernovae, bizzare conditions on
other planets/moons, space travel, and -- well -- food/potty/gross jokes
(please don't ask me to elaborate). Handing around an actual meteorite for
the kids to fondle while I suggest the possible consequences of a K/T
terminal strike generates active, far-ranging dialogues; and a Foucault
Pendulum knocking off golf balls can lead to all sorts of implications of
historical and modern-day relationships (Galileo's trial, Church doctrines,
Napoleon III, the Paris Pantheon and the French Revolution, measurement of
the speed of light, gyroscopes, rocket/missile/spacecraft/airplane/ship
navigation).

I've also discovered at least one, very staid and static, planetarium show
that puts me and the audience to sleep, despite its "scientifically correct"
content based upon NASA-approved Hubble Space Telescope data and images, and
which, in my analysis, is singularly lacking in Florida Sunshine State
Standards.

On another note: The Royal Ontario Museum, where I first met and chatted
with Dr. Dale S. Russell, has the advantage of time for rescue and
redemption. Not so the renowned Mt. Stromlo Observatory near Canberra,
Australia. One of the world's most important sites for astronomical
research, it, and its array of historic and signficant telescopes,
workshops, unfinished instruments being built for the Mauna Kea Gemini
telescope, buildings, student facilities, website, and original data were
destroyed in Australia's tragic, fatal wildfires this past weekend.
Thankfully, all staff members escaped, but the loss to science cannot easily
be calculated.

-= Tuck =-



----- Original Message -----
From: <KellyMilnerH@aol.com>
To: <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Monday, January 20, 2003 7:31 PM
Subject: Re: Unimaginative Kids... OFF TOPIC, kinda


> Okay, as a writer who loves and specializes in writing FOR kids, I have to
> step in here and defend the little monkeys.
>
> Kids are naturally excited about stuff that comes out of the ground --
dead
> stuff, creepy stuff, stuff with a story all its own. If they aren't
excited,
> it's usually because the grown ups around them aren't excited -- or refuse
to
> speak their language.
>
> Do you know why Bob Bakker is SO effective with kids?  It's because he
talks
> TO them, in their language, not AT them. He gets down in the dirt with
them
> and accesses their sense of humor, their sense of wonder, and as a result
he
> can feed them information they didn't know they would be interested in.
>
> I'm not hyping Bob, although I think he's great. I'm saying what I know to
be
> true of kids and learning after ten years of writing for them. When I
write a
> Halloween story about people who work with dead bodies, the kids read it.
> It's gross, at first. But when they dig into it, they see all the science
> that is necessary to do toxicology or autopsy or even burial.
>
> When I write an article about the history of marbles, geography takes on a
> kid friendly slant. Who had ANY idea kids were playing marbles in ancient
> Greece or that Egyptian pyramids were found with marbles hidden inside?
>
> If you can tease them into a subject with something kid friendly, you can
> offer more and more information along the way. I've done dozens of school
> visits and it's always the same. Given half a chance, kids are EAGER to
> learn. You just have to speak their language.
>
> Now, in fairness to teachers, what I write is OPTIONAL material. The kids
> come to me. I don't have to force myself on the kids. Teachers have it
much
> tougher. It's not easy to keep 30 different kids who learn 30 different
ways
> excited everyday about every topic, especially when you're teaching a
section
> you've taught 30 times before. But it's not that kids are empty shells,
> devoid of spirit or desire -- at least not in my experience.
>
> Kelly Milner Halls
> Freelance Writer
> <A HREF="http://www.kellymilnerhalls.com/";>www.kellymilnerhalls.com</A>
>