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17 September, 2001

Back To School?

This evening I had the pleasure of being a teacher again. It is a job that I dearly miss and am anxious to return to. I held "7th Grade Science Class" on the mess deck and had a large group of "students" (crewmembers and scientists) attend class. The parcticipants were placed into groups of 4 and assigned rotating roles as supplier, recorder, reporter, and sanitizer.

We started with a lesson on pH. We used red cabbage juice as a pH indicator to test unknown solutions as acids or bases. The students were asked to form hypotheses on neutralization and test them. The second lesson involved building a tower. The objective was to build the tallest tower of all the groups and stay under a specified budget. The only materials supplied were marshmallows (at $2,000 each) and dry spaghetti (at $500 each). The winning group's tower stood approximately 5 feet tall-not bad for a 20-minute time limit. The third lesson used whole milk, food coloring, and dish soap. The groups did an exploration with these materials and came up with their own list of science concepts that could be taught by using this activity. My students back in Berkeley County, WV should recognize these activities.

I didn't personally make up the lessons that we did tonight-- they were taken over the years from fellow teachers. The science teachers that I know are amazing educators with a wealth of ideas that they readily share. I often borrow many lessons and adapt them for use in my classroom. It was an enjoyable evening for me as I played the role that I love so much-teacher. Although I have had a wonderful experience as a research scientist, I look forward to my return as an educator and being in my classroom in a few weeks!

The group with the tallest tower (at a height of over 5 feet)!

Some curious "students" explored the properties of milk, food coloring, and dish soap.

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