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Friday, March 29, 2013

15. The science fair

With autumn, rains came and spent every evening after class reading or discussing about education and science at home of my mentor, I learned to use photographs as an excuse to teach things, also I learned to use more efficiently Google to search for information and started to participate in forums about education and science on twitter and Facebook, and I were with Gaby on two occasions to conferences in which it seemed natural to address the issue of the Science in education.

At the same time the authorities of the County began to close schools and this raised a movement of teachers. Schools were added gradually, it threatens a strike if the Government does not find the way to distribute resources efficiently among schools, but if this is not possible, little by little they will be choosing and closing those schools which do not achieve certain goals. I was a little worried about the issue, but for the moment I had to focus on children and their projects.

Each team showed considerable progress, their seeds began to change and most were springing up at an accelerated pace and those we couldn’t see yet, we gave them more time. We had enough data, photographic records, measurements, stories. The writers began to prepare reports and we learned to prepare a poster of scientific communication. 

I taught them to use applications to which they had access and began to do interviews experts in Botany. Every morning we discussed any news on Agriculture and began to follow the climate reports, because our plants could not survive the low temperatures. Some of them would have to survive inside and with a little luck, would be ready for the spring.

We discussed options on presentations and after discussion decided that everyone would participate in the science fair, but that they would take turns to explain to visitors the plants. Each one knew not only the type of plant and its botanical classification; they knew the biological processes occurring within them, from photosynthesis to genetic processes. They were learning!.

A day before we discuss all and imagined the possible questions that someone could make, we were having fun!, there was tension, it  was not as a exam which we should respond to all and the end only would obtain a number; We were willing to share what they knew.

It was not strange that is granted the space farthest from school to present our posters, I assumed that children would be designated but seemed not to import them, Gaby and our mentor helped us to accommodate everything and both hugged children. We were a team of work and full of ideas!

The first visitors were Stephen´s parents, both Swedish immigrants and were amazed of the explanations, I think that children shared them a little of their passion for plants, because they could not leave to read and ask, then Mita’s parents, and Jose’s and Tisha’s mom and grandmother, gradually began to attract attention.

Some children asked if it was right to go to look at the other projects, and our mentor told them that Yes, that it was a time to learn from all, which they watched, they ask and they would learn after a while they came back and talked to us that they had seen. 

I didn't feel sure about going to see, but when I told this to Gaby she told me:
-At the same way that you must be very proud of your children, other teachers know that they did their best, Let’s go, I also want to see!, we can also invite some public  to come and see us, otherwise, no one will know that we are here. If they had given us the restroom to present the work, we would have had more public.

We began to walk and we saw mainly physics experiments, I remembered my student years, I was always nervous that my model would be well, volcano vomit enough lava at the right time, or rat run fast enough so it could turn on a 10 watt bulb. This was no different, the same faces of boredom, the same nerves if anyone asked.

We began to invite to visit us. We had set that children begin their Conference at 9:30, when Gaby and I returned to hear them because there was public, reason why children were presented, explained that his project was called "making plants" and said that they had prepared 5 Conference: Botany as a study of the plants, the climatic regions of the United States, food chain and environment, Pollination of plants and their importance in the environment, major diseases of plants. All of them were related to explain what they had done.

They explained with detailed and photographs was that its plants were growing, which all were different, explained because they grew up while they began in different media. They were not repeating explanations of book, they were using their own  words that they understood and audience could follow all your explanations perfect, such was the passion with which spoke that it was impossible to stop listening to them, always with examples, a photograph, a number, a fact.

When children concluded, almost leap when I saw that almost all of the school was present, only to listen to my children, but the best came when attendees began asking questions:
If all your plants have grown, so can you grow any plant?

Mita took the word and with enviable simplicity responded: No, we can’t, because how we see in our country's climate map, plants grow depending on the weather because it is a variable that allows them to adapt better. In addition Professor in Botany Steve Kolskov explained to us that we must not invade the space of plants with new species because they can kill native species.

Can you grow a bean up to heaven? 

Asked a teenager with tone of mockery, but Jose replied in such a way that it could not continue the joke: No, we can’t! Because the height of the plants depends on geographical conditions, for example if you look at the height of the trees on the West Coast it is different from the height of the same species in Hawaii.
A distant voice asked what will they do with your plants?, are you going to put them in the trash  now that the science fair is concluded?

Kathleen said almost cheerful voice: Of course not!, we’ll keep in a protected environment until they are sufficiently strong to withstand outdoor weather, then we number them outside and cross your fingers that rabbits do not eat them. 

Thousands of questions from other children, adults and at the end various people, including several experts that the children had been interviewed came to congratulate them, we were the most popular at the moment. The children came to hug me and relatives thanked me, but I could not take all the credit, so I asked the children to submit to all those who had helped us, including our mentor, finally she had given us not only time, but the seeds that made us to shine.

It was Trisha who did the honors: first grade group has much to thank, first of all to our teacher, then all those who agreed to talk with us, of course our mentor who taught us how to make plants.

Director and other teachers were there and I thought that they would judge me severely, but instead, the Director offered to create a space in the school for children planted all their plants when they could be ready to grow during spring and that the Group initiated a project in which teach other children to planting and care for them, when she finished her speech all children jumping and laughing so much that I thought that they would have a collapse. Everything was much better I could have imagined.

At the time of the award for the best project, children took all hands and hugged around me. I reached down and I told them that if we gained something, it was just the beginning of something better, but if we lost, we would try it again and next time would do it much better.

Award granted by direct vote of the public and they favored us!, we won the blue ribbon which we named as the group with the best science of the school project. I asked Gaby to take a picture of our precious Blue Ribbon, which I posted on Facebook and Twitter with a note that said: my children achieved what I never got: not only to understand science, but make it funny!, education, everything is possible in education , when we believe in  the talent of our students.

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