Tag Archives: science

Rocket man…..


School has never really been the boy’s thing. Learning has. His mandatory 8 hours away from home to learn new skills, exercise his  body and brain really are just a means to an end for him.  Thus turning in homework–completed homework I might add, really isn’t that important to him.  Learning however is. I remember one time when he was five, while waiting for a doctor’s diagnosis of pink eye, we were sequestered. To fill in the boredom, I began telling him the story of “Star Wars” in a very condensed way.  He became enthralled, and thoroughly impressed that his mother was coming up with such a neat and diverse action adventure story. Afterward when we watched the movie, though disappointed his mother wasn’t as imaginative as he first thought, the “science” behind what he was watching enthralled him. Then we purchased Reader’s Digest science edition-4 books that covered various scientific topics-biology, astronomy, geology etc.  He not only devoured the books, but others like them from the library.  Science sparked his imagination.

May 2007: Yesterday the boy’s class went on a field trip to the Ritter Planetarium at the local university.  They were treated to an hour long presentation on the planets and stars. When the professor concluded his program he asked if anyone had questions. Well the boy of course had to raise his hand–he’s compulsive that way. The boy asked the professor about the mythology behind the planet names. The professor seemed pleased by the question and went on to explain what cultures were involved in picking the planetary names. The parents however seemed shocked that a second grade student would ask such a different question. When the professor ended his explanation, he asked the class if they could tell him something they learned from the presentations project on Jupiter. Once again the professor seemed amused when the boy raised his hand and began talking about the moons of Jupiter.  One parent leaned over and said, “Boy, he really knows his stuff!” Tilting my head back I replied, “Of course he does. He loves this stuff.” Another parent overhearing our conversation asked, “Am I looking at the next rocket scientist?   Smiling I said, “Well, we’ll see…”  

When the boy was finishing up his seventh grade year of school he told me, “I think I know what I’m going to major in in college”.  We were walking home from my dad’s and this topic came up out of the blue.  “Oh yeah?” I asked, intrigued.  “I’m going to have a dual major in biology.”  “What like microbiology and biology?” I asked.  Smirking he said, “No, like biology–human and animal biology with a minor in English.”  “What do you hope to accomplish with these majors?” I wondered.  “Well, I want to study animals-predatory animals in reality.  Man is a predatory animal.  I want to understand if its a basic instinct that can be found within all the species or if there is an actual chemical component that causes one to be a predator and one not.”  Impressed I asked “So what’s with the English minor?”  “Easy, I need to know how to write grants to fund my study”.  He smiled.  I could not believe that I was listening to a well thought out plan of action from a twelve year old.  “How do you plan on studying these components?” I wondered, clearly excited by all that he announced.  “By field study”. He said which ignited a sarcastic response from me “You do realize boy, that means you actually have to leave your house, dorm room and or apartment right?”

Choosing to ignore my last statement he simply smiled.  “I’m still going with Cryptozoologist bay…I still think that’s what you’ll grow up to be.”  “Well, I’m not, but if I were….” he began, but I finished it for him, “You would be studying the same things…”  “Um yeah” he replied and then dropped the subject.  Considering Finding Big Foot and Destination Truth are among his favorite television programs….

In reality, as long as he finds something he loves to do…then all is good. But first…he needs to learn the value in turning in his homework assignments.

For those of you who might wonder:  Cryptozoology (from Greek κρυπτόςkryptos, “hidden” + zoology; literally, “study of hidden animals”) is a pseudoscience involving the search for animals whose existence has not been proved.


looking for the future…


This past Sunday, we took the boy over to one of the area parochial high schools.  The tour was actually less about him; as his father and I have questions about finding the right fit for him, as well as address our financial concerns.  Yet he was the star as we wandered up and down the halls of my Alma Mater.  We were given two tour guides; a very talkative Freshman (Josh) and extremely quiet Junior (Jeremy); who did their best to take us every where they felt we needed to go.  Josh, kept imparting bits of wisdom…”If someone tries to sell you an elevator key, don’t believe them…”  or “If someone wants to show you the swimming pool on the fifth floor, don’t fall for it…there is no fifth floor”.  As he talked, I couldn’t help recall the same information imparted to me over thirty years ago.

I kept getting hit with waves of nostalgia, “Oh that was Sr. Damien, the omen 3’s geometry class room”  or “this is where I threw up on Teresa Haas my Junior year…” or “I remember the boys smoking pot in the back of this class…” Fortunately, as is the norm nowadays, no one was listening to me, save my husband who enjoyed shooting me dirty looks.  On occasion however, I did get into trouble…stopping to talk with former classmates and a few other acquaintances along the way.  “Mom do you have to know everyone every time we go somewhere?” the doll asked in disgust.  We were spending a beautiful warm  Sunday inside and old school building–much to her displeasure.

Josh and Jeremy figured out the boy’s love of science and directed us to the chemistry lab.  As we entered, the chemistry teacher was in the middle of an experiment with two other kids and the boy was invited over to participate.  Sitting on a Bunsen burner were two pop cans.  Next to them was a container of ice water.  When the cans were sufficiently heated, one of the visitors using tongs, picked up a can and placed it upside into the ice water.  As she did this, the can imploded.  “Can you tell me why the can did that?”  The two visitors shrugged their shoulders but the boy replied, “Because the steam inside the can rapidly cooled”. The chemistry teacher smiled and said, “Well you’re close…” but before she could finish, the boy added, “This causes the steam to condense back into the liquid phase, leaving the inside of the can nearly empty. The air pressure on the outside of the can is different causing the can to implode.”

Next the chemistry teacher pulled him over to do another experiment with a lighted taper and  hydrogen gas.  “Can you tell me what happens when the flame comes in contact with the gas?”  The boy replied, “It pops” and then demonstrated. “Why does it pop?” she asked again. “Because when in a flame the hydrogen gas “burns” which is what produces the “pop”. That is, in this reaction, hydrogen combines with oxygen to form a new molecule, water, which contains two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of water.”

As the kids exited the classroom, Josh looked at the boy, smiled and said “I didn’t even know that….” The boy smirked at his admission.  I thought to myself, “Josh you’re in good company here”.  Then we were introduced to one of the biology teachers.  The boy, clearly in his element, began peppering her with questions; causing her to say, “I’m not going to tell you…you’ll have to wait until I can teach it to you in your Junior year.”  The boy smirked and agreed.

When all was said and done, the boy, his dad and I enjoyed the tour.  His father and I came away with paperwork and more questions on how we can afford the school.  The doll however was clearly unimpressed by the school. She could not understand why we chose to walk around an old building instead of spending the warm beautiful day up in a tree.

Someday in three years she’ll figure it out….