Or, a Weekend Field Trip to Siemens Science Day at Columbia University
I found out about Siemens Science Day on Wednesday night, whipped together a permission slip, gave it out Thursday, selected 10 students on Friday, and met them at a train station near our school this morning. It sounded fun, but part of me rebelled against the idea of spending another whole day with my students; I cherish balance. But oh man, am I glad I fought that instinct and took the kids. We had a fantastic day!
We started learning right at the trains station: how to use a Metrocard vending machine, what “cash” means (it’s not just dollar bills!), how to swipe correctly and what to do if you get the “please swipe again” message (for most people, keep trying; if you’re a kid on a field trip and all the other kids are on the train and your teacher is holding the doors open, you duck under the turnstile and run). Lots of questions about life at college: do they wear uniforms? where do they sleep? is the food good? you can eat as much as you want? how come the college students aren’t paying at the cafeteria? (they have debit cards). how many semesters do you go for? when you get your diploma, do you feel a little weird? (I’ve never met an 11 year old before who understood how young adults feel when catapulted out into the “real world”… until today). At least one student introduced herself to random people she met on campus and bombarded them with questions about their life at Columbia (they thought it was pretty cute and were happy to answer).
We registered for four workshops apiece and then dashed back and forth across campus, repeatedly counting off to make sure no one was lost. Kids padded eggs so they’d survive a fall, made them float in an exploration of density, learned about sharks and handled shark skin, cartilage, and jaws, learned a song and dance about the water cycle, and much more. They got free sketchbooks in a workshop on becoming a science artist, and they got free backpacks just for being there. And then one of my students won an mp3 player in the raffle!
Best day ever.