I drove six hundred miles yesterday, to San Antonio and back. Steffi and I started at 4:00 a.m. and came back at 4:00 p.m.–just in time to bring Brendan to swim lessons and do my workout–six miles on the bicycle and weights. Some days I think I’m crazy.
The reason for the trip was to see the awards ceremony for the state science fair and to give Maggie a ride home. The ceremony was very long and Maggie didn’t win anything. That was disappointing and a bit of a let-down since she had won so many awards at the regional science fair that I did not attend (who would have thought she’d win anything with a “growing seeds in salt water” experiment?). Anyway, I felt a little guilty about missing that, so I wanted to be sure to see this ceremony. This very, very long ceremony. With lots of speakers. All saying mostly the same thing–“You are all very good at science. We hope you will keep on taking classes and become a scientist or an engineer.” Some of them added, “And go to our University too.”
I do actually agree with that message since I’m married to a scientist. To tell the truth, I was very good at math and science when I was in Junior High School and the beginning of High School. I thought I wanted to be a scientist. Then I encountered two dreadful things. 1. a very nice but totally incompetent math teacher, and 2. a high school councilor who told me that because I was a girl, I should not try to take chemistry along with advanced Biology and math. Can you believe someone actually told that to me? That was 1976. They’d be sued now, I suppose.
I never got a chance to even do a science project, much less enter in a science fair. So,I turned to the arts, where I was able to be on the speech and debate team, the literary journal, and the newspaper. We didn’t exactly have a formal “gifted” program, but they’d gotten some grant money somewhere and asked us what we wanted to do. We told them we wanted to learn how to develop pictures and make a movie. So we did that. The movie was a take-off on the radio show “The Shadow” and was called, “The Shadow’s Lost Revenge.” We shot it in black and white on 8mm tape. It had a terribly complicated and incomprehensible plot which was filmed in very slow scenes with organ music in the background. It took months to make. It was boring to watch. We had a wonderful time.
I had wonderful English teachers who taught creatively and gave us a lot of freedom to work on independent projects and papers. I thrived at being told that the limits to a project were my own to make.
Maggie is a better artist than I was at that age and she can probably write better than I could too. However, she also has a breadth of science learning from her father. He would like all of the kids to go into science or engineering because we need more Americans in both of those fields. I have to agree, although I guess I would love to have some of my kids become writers like me. Probably, they will all be teachers of some sort because we are a hopelessly pedantic family.
I’m not sure driving 600 miles for a science fair will be worth it every year, but I’m glad I did it this year, with this kid.
(layout: I had terrible pictures. They were either taken with my cell phone or from a long distance inside a dark room. I’ve seen people use a picture as background and wanted to try that, so I took the picture of Maggie and Steffi and enlarged it to page size. It was very pixilated since it was also cropped, but I reduced the opacity to about 50% and then put a blue background behind it. I like the way it turned out. I think I’ll experiment with using that effect again)