A Rant and Some Raves About the Science Conference

I have to say that all in all, we LOVED the science conference yesterday.  It was fabulous.

But there were a couple of times when I felt the need to go off on a rant.

One was when I picked Anna up from her “sugar high” class and overheard one of the teachers tell a father that all sugars were equal (“high fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial or natural,” she said) as far as our bodies are concerned.  I happen to have a very different opinion, but oh well.

The big thing that set me off occurred in Victoria’s geology class.  It set me off so much that I told the organizers off on their online evaluation form.  When it asked for me to explain any “areas of concern,”  I wrote this…

In Geology Rocks, my daughter proudly told the class that she and our family have found fossilized sharks’ teeth at a lake near us.  One of the teachers explained to her that she must have found “fish teeth” because it would be impossible for them to have been preserved without limestone.  My daughter is incredibly proud of the sharks’ teeth she has found and my husband has helped her fully research exactly what species they are from, along with their general ages, and she told me “I had to bite down hard on my tongue to keep from arguing with her.”

Please direct the teachers (I’m not sure which one) to http://magicandmayhem.homeschooljournal.net/shark-teeth/ to see some of the specimens that our family has collected and find out how my husband and daughter did their research.  Please also let them know that they have washed out of the matrix of limestone and are now loose, which is how it is possible to find them now.

One of the most important themes of this conference, something that the “Science Dude” himself pointed out today, is that ANYBODY CAN BE A SCIENTIST.  My daughter may be twelve years old and may not have a geology degree, but she DID find fossilized sharks’ teeth and she loves geology.  It is never a good idea to assume that a child must not know what she’s talking about simply because it’s new information to the “expert.”

That said, she enjoyed the class otherwise!

To read more about the conference, click here (the program) and here (how it turned out).  Despite my grumblings about a few small things, it really was utterly fantastic.  The Science Dude especially!

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6 thoughts on “A Rant and Some Raves About the Science Conference

  1. Hi, I’m a lurker, love your website.

    I’d be more disturbed by the first incident than the second. I’m a university professor, and I field questions all the time where I have to shoot from the hip based on my general knowledge. I’m not always right. Learning to push back, when they have additional reason to think that they’re right and I’m wrong, is an important skill that people need to learn in college (or hopefully, younger!).

    On the other hand, somebody who isn’t aware of (or dismisses) the growing scientific debate on whether fructose is metabolized differently just shouldn’t be teaching class on the science of sugars.

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    • Hi Margaret, nice to meet you! Good point about kids needing to learn to push back. I think Victoria is very concerned about being respectful and she felt it wasn’t the right place to argue with an “elder.” What bothered me most was the condescending tone and the automatic dismissal of what she was saying because she was “just a child.”

      And yes, I agree on the sugar point! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one bothered by it.

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  2. Agreed, being condescending is never okay. I have tell students all the time that I think they’re probably wrong, but I try to do it in a respectful, that-was-an-interesting-idea kind of way.

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