Friday, February 27, 2015

A Box of Rocks

A little background:
Our school is a project-based learning lab school. Along with serving students from around 20 districts in our county, we also serve educators. One of the ways we do that is a now yearly collaboration with an 6th grade elementary class. They bring about 50 little upper elementary kids to our space and we do a day long science project with them. It's a blast. I'm sure the pictures are already up on the Facebook page. Here is our project folder.

Apparently 6th grade science deals a lot with geology. Last year we were asked to do a project about erosion, and this year it was the rock cycle.


I'm fairly well know for curiosity. Maybe even childish curiosity. That's how I ended up working in a science classroom, and where a lot of energy comes from to lead it. But this whole rock thing...

I had a bit of a edu-philo-emotional breakdown a few days ago. Putting together project plans and Google Docs for the big day with the 6th graders, I realized that rocks are just, boring. I wanted to be interested. Michigan has a host of unique geology things going on– Petoskey Stones, Lake Superior Agate, Septarian Lighting Rocks (go ahead and Google away on these). Co-workers Mike and Gerry were absolutely nerding out about it all. Mike told tales of of "rock-hounding" with his son. They both stood around admiring the samples Gerry had brought in, then Mike ran to his room to get his display vase for us to use. On and on. About rocks.

Mike said something along the lines of "Langel, what's wrong with you? This is science and you aren't excited about it?" It was a strange feeling. I was disinterested. I just wanted to get the project planned. I was bored. It felt weird.

I don't know what the moral of this story is. I shared the whole ordeal with my ever sympathetic first hour class; in the ensuing discussion one student argued that it's perfectly logical to find lots of things boring because you need to focus your interest on what actually interests you. On the other hand, after the ridiculously tiring but ridiculously gratifying day of working with those 6th grade kids, that Leland Blue Slag kind of catches my eye. A few pages about old Grand Rapids gypsum mines show up in my browser history after hours. How the world did those Septarian Lightning Stones form those crazy lines?

It's not a stretch to be sure that their are plenty of boring situations (school unfortunately is a usual culprit). But as far as content goes- topics, concepts, subjects- is anything actually boring?

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