A couple of good friends publish a newsletter full of everything literary, and this week they really struck a chord with me when they featured an array of appealing science books for kids. As a sixth grade science teacher, I know my students could easily get engrossed in Sylvia Branzei‘s book Grossology. I mean, who wouldn’t want to know that the Latin word for a zit actually means “fat maggot” because early doctors thought zits were really homes for maggots under the skin? And I can’t think of a single student who wouldn’t eat up (maybe that’s not the right phraseology) gobs of scientific trivia about everyday secretions, scabs, smells, barfs, burps, and well, there’s more……
If you are a parent or teacher looking for ways to spark scientific interest, check out Carol Baldwin’s and Joyce Hostetter’s web site, Talking Story.
Along the way, I’ve done my part to write some pretty bad poetry (I’ll try anything once) to liven things up in my science classes. One year I gave the following poem to the students at the beginning of the year without the science terms underlined, and if they could underline and define them all by the end of the year (and catch the play on words), they would have completed “the circuit” to everybody’s satisfaction!
Welcome to Ms. Quiggly’s class
Where “pun” ishment is for you,
Only if you fail to see
The scientific point of view.
Now here’s the year, at a glance
A “sci” nopsis if you will.
Pull in your chair, take in some air,
Science IS a thrill.
First of all, don’t cell yourself short,
(There’s not a fungus among us).
Careful now, don’t protist too much
Lest all the monerans run for the bus.
We deal in classified information here
But the rules of the kingdom are free.
Always line up in single phylum and
In this class, keep your eyes on me.
In order to make this year go well
And be part of the family,
You don’t have to be a gen(i)us
Just a species, like you and me.
During the year, without a doubt
You’ll find out what the matter is.
Clearly, these will be lessons of substance
Worth atomic weight on the quiz.
We’ll get reactions both physical and “com”ical;
Test the law of “conversation”of mass.
I’ll learn your properties, as you will mine,
You’ll know the state of your fate, fast.
You’ll find an element of surprise (or 111 of them)
Laid out on the table for free.
Periodically, the atmosphere will be positively charged
With nary an electron cloud to see.
Ionically, you’ll win some and lose some
But I’ll not compound your troubles.
Instead, we’ll find a formula for success
A solution, saturated with results, (or maybe bubbles).
Within the space of a few weeks
Your knowledge will increase astronomically.
You’ll meet red giants and white dwarfs
An expert of the universe you’ll be.
You’ll get a big bang out of this class
Your pulsar just might get too quick.
No falling into black holes, if you please
Avoid becoming a lunar-tic.
Develop good study habitats.
You’ll stay off my endangered species list.
I prey that you will find your niche
Of course, in this community, I insist.
I promise to conduct an electrifying class
Well insulated from all static distractions.
You must, however, do watt-ever you can
To complete the circuit to my satisfaction.