Friday, July 20, 2007

I'll take a moment to bitch about chemistry camp

Apparently science is not any bigger in the big city. I signed Ella up for chemistry camp at the Science Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke this past week. It was only for three days, 6 hours, and let me tell you what they did. A whole lot of nothing.

So, I know that the camp was for four and five year olds. It was billed as "chemistry" and promised gooey hands on experiments, mixtures, potions, I don't know. The campers disappeared behind a door after being signed in. There was little to no communication with parents. The first day my friend took Ella because I was taking the baby in for X rays. They made some flubbery rubbery clay, the kind with borax. Then they painted a watercolor. Well, we have made play doh before. The borax kind, the salt kind, and the cream of tartar kind. It isn't really chemistry is it? She did talk a bit about chemical reactions, and they did wear lab coats.

On the second day they really got scientific by making bubbles. Bubbles, people. With glycerin. Lame. There was another art project, not chemistry related. Day three. I'm driving an hour for this. I could have done better than this with my dusty old english and art history degrees. On day three they made ice cream and painted with something foamy and plasticky. Well, ice cream does change from a liquid to a solid. They were going to make jello, but they ran out of time. They brought home some glow sticks as well. So here we are. We haven't learned much, we have eaten sugar and brought home plastic, two of my pet peeves. And I paid money for this. Oh, they were supposed to get a camp t-shirt, but then for some reason they didn't.

Ella was not at all unhappy. Two of her friends were in the class, and she met some new people. She liked her teacher and enjoyed the adventure of going to the science museum. We got to go out for sushi and fresh peach milkshakes.

Four and five year olds are preschoolers, but they are ready to actually learn something if presented with a challenge. Ella did say that she was disappointed that nothing had smoked. If we are wondering why our country falls behind in science and math, just look at our expectations for our young people. Science museum, you let her down, and I'll be telling you all about it in the evaluation.

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