April 27, 2006


I'm off in a bit to attend the eldest Llama-ette's first school science fair. We've been working pretty industriously on her presentation, which is all about static discharge. She's going to do a little demonstration involving a piece of plastic and a paper-clip, give a brief description of what's happening molecularly and then explain how this is the same basic formula for lightning.

At least, that's the theory. We've been having some trouble creating a reliable spark/crackle. I told her this afternoon that if it doesn't work, she should simply walk through the steps in dumb-show and explain what is supposed to happen.

Because she's such a classical mythology shark, the gel has put a big picture of Zeus up in one corner of her display. I'm a bit worried that if she goes off the rails scientifically, she may fall back on talking about him.

Although I've felt the terrible parental temptation to get involved to the point of practically doing the project for her, I believe we've been very good about avoiding this. We've made her write out all her own materials and demonstrate her knowledge by explaining everything back to us. I'm really not very gifted as a teacher (not having much patience), but I must say that watching her face the moment the penny dropped about what causes lightning was extremely gratifying.

I'll let you know how it goes.

UPDATE: All in all, I'd say it went pretty well. Looking around the room, the Llama-ette's display appeared to be on par with everybody else's. As I had feared, we couldn't get our spark to generate, so the gel had to fall back on explaining what ought to happen. While she was quite shy about this at first, several very kind and patient parents took the time to help her along with a series of extremely leading questions. And while she did sneak in a couple references to Zeus, she didn't go all Grecco-Fundamentalist about him.

As I said, this year's project was purely demonstrative. But she is only eight, after all, and this was her first time out. Next year, I think we'll try something a little more quantitative, with question posed, empirical data gathered and conclusions drawn. (A couple of the older kids did various plant-growing experiments this year that give me some ideas.)

Posted by Robert at April 27, 2006 04:47 PM | TrackBack


That's exciting to see.

Good luck to her!

; )

Posted by: Chrissy at April 27, 2006 07:00 PM

I'm a bit worried that if she goes off the rails scientifically, she may fall back on talking about him.

Well, that's what the Greeks did.

Posted by: Bill from INDC at April 28, 2006 07:23 AM

Sounds like Zeus wasn't very helpful to her when the chips were down. He can be that way.

Posted by: The Colossus at April 28, 2006 10:13 AM

An amber rod an a cat skin (fur) work everytime.

Amber rods can be had from teaching supply houses.

Not sure where in this politically correct day and age you could find a cat skin. You might be able to use a live cat.

Posted by: Zendo Deb at April 28, 2006 11:31 AM