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Most moms and dads have heard the saying that parents are their child’s first teacher and indeed that was the case with my own mother. As a teacher who taught all elementary grades during her thirty plus years in the classroom, my mom not only taught hundreds of children throughout her career but taught me to love learning.
Looking back on my childhood there were so many ways my mom integrated learning into the activities we did each day. Weekly trips to the library to choose books helped me develop a life long love of reading. Harvesting marigold seeds at the end of the summer from the plants that grew from the previous year’s seeds were a lesson in plant life cycles. Our baking projects were a chance to practice addition, fractions, and reap the rewards of kitchen science.
I especially loved the time of the year when my mom taught geology. Lessons about earthquakes and plate tectonics (which seemed to be required curriculum growing up in California) were accompanied by studies of rocks. For some students, learning about rocks and the composition of the Earth’s interior is only mildly interesting through textbooks, physical samples, and a magnifying glass but learning about core sampling through cupcakes?!? That got students’ attention!
While I thought that my mom’s students were lucky to be able to take a core samples of their cupcakes with straws and then eat them at the end of their hands-on science experiment, I didn’t realize how lucky I was because nothing is as cool as a mom who has a passion for science. Helping to create core sample cupcakes gave us a time to talk through what her students were learning as we made the cake batter, divided it into bowls, and added a drop of different color of food coloring to each before filling cupcake liners with a bit of each color batter.
Besides the inside activities that got us thinking and acting like scientists, we also took family road trips that put us in the field that made us appreciate the beauty of our surroundings and made us want to take care of it. Tide pool walks around Monterey Bay, fishing at Foothills Park, visits to Hidden Villa, and the ability to develop a greater understanding of earthquakes beyond just feeling the ground shake were experiences that involved observing, experimenting, hypothesizing, analyzing, and testing all while having fun. And we all know that kids learn best when they’re having fun!
People say that it’s inevitable that we turn into our parents and if I’m turning into my mom, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For years my mom has served as my science mentor without me really acknowledging it or saying thank you for the lifetime of lessons that helped foster my scientific imagination. I look back on my childhood and know that my mom provided me with the confidence to be a parent who encourages my own two kids to learn science by doing hands-on, inquiry based experiences.
So in honor of the 20th anniversary of Making Science Make Sense (MSMS), a company-wide, award-winning initiative by Bayer that advances science literacy across the United States, I want to thank my Mom for her years of mentorship.
Do you have someone that you want to thank as your science mentor?
From September 9 until November 25, Bayer is asking people of all ages to share a “thank you” message at http://www.saytku.com/ or via social media using #SayTkU, acknowledging someone who has inspired scientific imagination and helped make science make sense in their life. For each “thank you” message shared, Bayer will provide up to 1 million free admissions to a STEM venues for kids by 2020. These experiences may include a day-long adventure at a local science museum or other place of scientific discovery to educate, inspire further science-focused exploration, and spread the message that science is truly all around us.
I realize that not everyone can have a teacher or mom like my Mom but thanks to Bayer, kids across the United States will have the opportunity to engage in meaningful, hands-on, inquiry based science lessons just like my Mom taught in her classroom and encouraged me to do at home.
This post was written in partnership with Bayer’s Making Science Make Sense. All opinions are my own.