Comments: 17
Murder by Death 5 months ago
I was just gushing about this book at dinner last night. Wouldn't it be nice if science education adopted her attitude, clarity and enthusiasm when creating curriculum? Doesn't it make more sense to start kids with the science they're surrounded with instead of esoteric concepts?

Did anyone in your class get that homework chemistry question right?
BrokenTune 5 months ago
Yes it does. Incidentally, I am toying with the idea of becoming a STEM ambassador. There is an initiative at work to provide an exhibition at the local science centre (in connection with a NASA project) that would require some volunteers. The volunteers will need to be official STEM ambassadors (which includes a training course and certification) to talk to kids about how science is part of everyday life and such.... No formal science background is required, which is great. Could be fun.

As for the homework. I don't think any of my friends solved it. Not sure if anyone in the class did. There was a bit of a fall out after, but the teacher in question was also the deputy headmaster...
Murder by Death 5 months ago
That sounds like it could be an amazing opportunity! I'm off to google STEM ambassadors... Is it a one-off thing for the exhibition, or would it continue on in some form through the science center?
BrokenTune 5 months ago
It would continue...
Hol 5 months ago
Great review. I loved that story concerning your chemistry homework! Very funny.
BrokenTune 5 months ago
Thanks. It is funny now, but it was a bit more dramatic back when it happened.
"So it goes." 5 months ago
Lordy - we really DO need teachers/parents/etc who can just explain things. I nearly failed out of grad school b/c of a brilliant man who couldn't teach basic statistics if his life had depended on it. When I was later teaching grad school in a science field, I kept him in mind as an anti-hero... My father, who is awesome at maths, used to tell me my teachers were "morons" or "eeedjots" [translation for the non-Irish: idiots] all the time. He'd then tell me a completely different way to do whatever math homework I had and I would fail b/c we got graded on "showing our work."
Murder by Death 5 months ago
OH god... don't get me started on how many math classes I failed because, in spite of getting the answer right, I couldn't show my work the "right" way. It's why I loathe math to this day.
BrokenTune 5 months ago
One of my maths teachers was even worse than my chemistry teacher - Mr. W was not only bad at teaching but also a bit of a jerk - who ended up being not only my maths but also my physics, astronomy AND form teacher for the two longest years of my school life. School trips with that guy were not something to look forward to - his lack of social skills was phenomenal.
One time, a trip ended up with the border police (guns&dogs) pursuing some local teens through the woods at the place we stayed in because Mr. W. felt it necessary to call the police. All that happened was that we stayed at a youth hostel that had a fire pit that was often used by the locals.
Mr. W. told the 4 youths to leave, they offered to discuss the use of the pit with him over a beer (which they had supplied), and he called the police.
Oh, and on the same trip he also complained about our train being delayed because some guy had decided to jump in front of it.

We actually ended up conspiring against him at every opportunity - class bonding action, parents got involved, too. Best day ever was when my mother told him bother someone else as she was not interested in his petty issues.

Luckily, I went to the US for a bit and saw that maths teaching could be done differently. When I returned to Germany, I had a different teacher, who was more tuned into explaining mathematical concepts in different ways. Not that it helped much, but it was enough to pass.
Murder by Death 5 months ago
Your mom and my mom could have been mom-twins! I remember once my school calling to talk to her about my 'attitude' (I can't remember the specific offence, but I was probably getting lippy about being told the right answer didn't matter if I couldn't show my work) and my mom - who ran her own business and worked 6 days a week, just snapped and told them not to waste her time with phone calls telling her things about her daughter she already knew. It was a very beautiful moment for me; mom had my back. :D

MT was dumbfounded just recently to hear I had to go to summer school for algebra and geometry - all because I couldn't show my work. I hate admitting to this, but as an illustration of just how insane the whole thing was, I tested out to be in the top 5% in the nation for maths - and couldn't pass a math class. My summer school classes were at a different school, and those teachers thought me being there a complete waste of time. I made string art one year that hung in that schools cafeteria for years afterwards. :P It wasn't until I went to university that anything got any better. I failed a few more algebra classes, and I begged to be sent down to remedial courses, but they refused because of my entrance exams (which put me even higher). But they did finally put me in a class where the professor was a newly immigrated maths teacher from Russia, and he met with me after each test, allowing me to explain how I got the correct answer. If I could make it make sense to him, he'd credit me for the work. That's how I finally got through a math class.

But here's the sobering thought: all three of us have had these hideous educational experiences with STEM, and all three of us ended up overcoming them enough to get careers related to STEM and we still have an interest in the subjects. HOW MANY kids with massive potential had similar experiences and didn't have anyone to balance them out? How many adults today are going around thinking they're stupid because of the teachers they had teaching them STEM subjects?
BrokenTune 5 months ago
That is a very sobering thought indeed.
I didn't plan on entering a career in a STEM industry, and I am sure that some hesitation was directly related to the disheartening experience with those teachers. I am also sure that hesitation would have been greater if I hadn't grown up surrounded by pretty cool people with an interest in STEM subjects.
That is also what attracts me to the STEM Ambassador project (well, that and the prospect of hanging out with an astronaut for a day...I won't deny that this is an incentive also).
Murder by Death 5 months ago
LOL... fair enough. :)
"So it goes." 5 months ago
That is depressing. Even more depressing is that I honestly thought I wasn't smart enough to do it until I was *in* grad school and still top of my class. I had a weird childhood experience that captured my imagination & stuck, so I went into neuro to try & figure it out. I never did, but it still fascinates me. Had that weird moment, and it was just a sentence said by an aunt w/ a brain tumor, not happened, I would've gone on to be a music teacher, I'm sure.
BrokenTune 5 months ago
What did your aunt say?
"So it goes." 5 months ago
I knew I wasn't going to get away with just that... OK, lots of little details are important here, so bear with me. I was 9, and my great-aunt had a brain tumor. Symptoms came on suddenly & within a few months, she didn't know anyone, including her husband. So we were all crowded in her hospital room right at the end; she wasn't seeing clearly or speaking much, and she made no sense when she did speak. Now, my older sister -- Kelly -- was about 17 at the time, and she always wore a literal cloud of Rive Gauche perfume. You could smell her a mile away. She drove to the hospital in PA in her car & arrived after we'd all been there for a bit. Back at the hospital, it was upsetting & sort of scary that my aunt didn't know anyone. I was just sitting in the corner & the grown-ups were whispering amongst themselves when my sister snuck in through the door of the hospital room wearing her heavy and smelly perfume. All of the sudden, my aunt Ev said, clear as a bell and loudly, "It smells like Kelly." -- and that stuck with me. I was fascinated that while nothing else in her brain worked, her nose was able to make her brain form a sentence that made sense & ID'd my sister and her stinky perfume. It was actually the last thing she ever said. And that's how I got interested in neuroscience.
Murder by Death 5 months ago
The brain is truly fascinating. I read something recently about a type of memory that goes beyond long-term and becomes more 'hard-wired' that's limited in scope, but might explain why so many people with dementia or alzheimers can remember swear words, or the words to songs from their childhood, or certain scents, even when they can't remember anything else. I wonder what's hard-wired into my brain, although I suspect it's the words to the song "This Land is Your Land" - because that would be just my luck. :P
"So it goes." 5 months ago
rofl--I bet the phrase, "You'd look a little better if you just put on some lipstick" is stuck in mine. So when my mind goes completely, I will be wearing lipstick and my mother will finally be happy.