Dragons

Just a minute ago, I read an amazing article on yahoo about dragons. I am that kind of person who loves science fiction. Sometimes I watch stuff about ghosts, the Loch Ness Monster, and other mystical creatures. I want to believe in them, so I do. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You can still believe in that stuff.

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2nd Grade Celebrates Spanish Music

Cleaning up my laptop hard drive tonight I found this video my wife told me about last year but I’d never seen… I’m so glad it wasn’t deleted!

This video shows my 2nd grade daughter’s class celebrating Spanish music listening to Juan Luis Guerra (from the Dominican Republic) while donning sombreros and dancing the conga. A very memorable party… yes, that is Rachel leading the conga line!

Inspired by the First All-Female USAF Boeing E-3 Sentry Air Crew

Rachel and Sarah had a wonderful opportunity yesterday to visit Tinker Air Force Base by Oklahoma City and tour a Boeing E-3 Sentry (AWACS) aircraft with the first all-female crew in the history of the US Air Force.

USAF Women in the E3 AWACS

The girls spent about ten minutes in the cockpit checking out the controls and asking questions of both female pilots and the female flight engineer.

Sarah & Rachel in the E3 AWACS

Then they learned all about the mission and roles of the air crew in the AWACS, which serves as the “eyes and ears” of the US national command authority worldwide. I’ve wanted my girls to get a better understanding of what officers and NCOs in the US Air Force do and what careers they could potentially have in the military, and yesterday was absolutely the PERFECT opportunity to help them do that! MANY thanks to my friend and classmate Vern Conaway, who let us know about this opportunity.

Oklahoma City’s Fox 25 News interviewed Rachel and Sarah during their tour and featured some of their comments in a video news segment which aired on March 15th.

Rachel recorded a 2.5 minute narrated slideshow, “Inspired by Women in the US Air Force,” using the app SonicPics on my iPhone, sharing some additional thoughts and reflections about the impact of this experience on her.

Thinking and planning for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers starts early! Many thanks to all the officers, NCOs, and civilian employees at Tinker AFB who made these experiences possible!

Inspired by USAF Women

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Are Aliens Out There? Of Course!

This afternoon I watched the TEDx talk, “Seth Shostak: ET is (probably) out there — get ready.” I totally agree with what Seth says about the statistical probability / near certainly of extra-terrestrial life and intelligence being “out there” in space. I also agree with his point that we need to focus on getting kids between age 8 and 11 both excited and interested in science, because ideas they encounter at that age can have a MAJOR impact on their life studies, interests, hobbies, profession, and “trajectory.” Check out the talk, it’s excellent. I told my 9 year old about this, and she watched it on my iPhone. Woo hoo for videos which encourage STEM interests!

Marie Curie

This is a book report Rachel wrote for Ms Moore’s 3rd grade class this year.

Marie Curie changed the world through science. Marie and her husband discovered two new elements, polonium and radium. Marie and two other scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics. In 1910, she isolated radium in the form of a metal. Marie won a second Nobel Prize, this time in chemistry.

Some of her main struggles were that her husband was killed in an accident right after they won the prize. Marie’s main struggle was that people treated her differently because she was a woman.

Her accomplishments inspire me to work harder in science. She proves that women can be as good as men in science. One of my favorite quotes of hers is:

“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think can be most useful.” -Marie Curie

Her research into radiation helped others discover the structure of the atom. Even though radiation is very dangerous, it helps save lives even today through X rays, cancer treatments, and creating electricity.

A Tour of Club Penguin (February 2013)

In this screencast, 10 year old Rachel takes us on a guided tour of Club Penguin. I asked Rachel to do this because this morning, she shared how she had created an igloo to be like a funeral scene for a puffin in the game. The father of one of Rachel’s older sister’s friends died suddenly from a heart attack two weeks ago, and 3 of us attended the funeral last Saturday. Rachel didn’t attend, so I wasn’t sure if this “virtual encounter with death” was a way she was dealing with those feelings. It’s not clear to me that she is or was… She describes how she saw someone else doing this with their igloo, and she thought it was a clever way to get people to come to your igloo in Club Penguin where they can click “like” to show their approval.

This is an interesting dive into the the virtual world my youngest daughter plays in every week.

I Want to Be a Scientist

Rachel recorded this last night, following several discussions we’ve been having over the past few weeks about science and becoming a scientist. Last spring I took Rachel to Chris Simon’s classroom at Independence Elementary School in Yukon Public Schools, and she was VERY impressed with the STEM lessons Mr. Simon does with his students. She specifically mentioned that in this short audio podcast.

Rachel has expressed interest in doing more “Talking Science” podcasts, so we’ll likely do that in the weeks ahead. This past August in Montana, Lucy Gray told me about the Maker’s Faire she attended in San Francisco with her kids and how WONDERFUL it was to experience that DIY culture filled with science and engineering projects. I’d love to bring Rachel and my other kids to a Maker’s Faire at some point. A couple of years ago Nathan Parrow (who I interviewed for a podcast on electric car conversions) was working on bringing a Maker’s Faire to Oklahoma City, which would be hosted by our Oklahoma Science Museum. It would be GREAT to have a local Maker’s Faire. Nathan also told me he was part of a group that was putting together a space in Norman for DIY / STEM projects. I’m not sure what the status of that initiative is either, but I’d love an update if you have info or a related link to share.

Young people start forming their identities about who they are and what they want to do EARLY in life! We can’t underestimate the importance of providing kids with MULTIPLE opportunities to experience how fun, engaging, and challenging science, technology, engineering and math work can be. This can’t wait till middle school, high school or college!

Last night William Chamberlain saw my Tweet about Rachel’s AudioBoo and initiated a conversation with Krissy Venosdale about Space Camp for Rachel. I’m going to look into those options. About five years ago our son, Alexander, attended a week-long day camp at the Cosmosophere in Hutchinson, Kansas. I’m going to look into camp opportunities there as well as at the Houston Space Center, which we visited in July 2011. I am SO thrilled Rachel is excited about science and STEM, and want to do whatever I can as a parent to further nurture these interests… whether or not her Oklahoma City Public Schools‘ elementary school provides these kind of learning experiences “formally” or not. Hopefully we’ll be able to host some kind of “Scratch Camp” for parents and kids at her school later this fall or next spring.

Touching a moon rock!

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