Monday, September 9, 2013

Not a homeschool day, wink, wink

Last week I received a notice from the Pacific Science Center with information on a program with visiting scientists. Local scientists were coming to set up booths and talk about various subjects on Saturday. There were sessions all day long, and we went for the afternoon sessions.

The Pacific Science Center is in Seattle. We have been visiting for many years, even before I lived here. Whenever we vacationed here we would take the kids to the PSC.

It's packed with amazing and fun information. Everything is hands-on, and interactive, and it's as interesting for adults as it is for kids.

I told Sean that we would be going to have a day of fun on Saturday. But in my mind I knew it was going to be something to spark his interest for learning, and to give him a jumping off point to get deep into homeschool this week.

It was beyond what I ever could have imagined.

This boy just needs access to professionals who know a lot about the subjects he is passionate about so he can interview them, ask hard questions, and get real expert answers.

I wanted him to have a good relaxed day of fun, so first we played a little in the touch tank, then went through the dinosaur exhibit and looked at some of the informational plaques there. I finally found out where the science sessions were, and we made our way over to that room.

Tables were set up with displays like you would see at a science fair, and each one was so great. You could go to a table and spend as little or as much time as you wanted. We got lucky, because it wasn't crowded at all while we were there.

Under sea sounds was the first station we visited. The woman there talked about how their fishing boat uses echolocation to find fish. She did a great job of allowing the kids to work with the display and get to the answers on their own.
Observing the ripples made by a drop of water at the
table that illustrated echolocation.
She had a plastic bin (very small kitchen sized) with water in it, and some kind of thick, hard plastic type pieces. One was long, and another was short. Sean took a dropper and dropped one drop of water from it into the plastic bin of water, and she asked him to observe it and tell her what he saw.
He described what he saw, and then she placed the small piece of plastic into the water and asked him to do it again and tell her what he saw.
He loved talking to her and he asked a few questions and made some observations, and also used what he learned there to talk about how it can be used in other ways.

Sean talks to the scientist from Fred Hutchison
about viruses.
We moved over to the bacteria table, and he talked to a lady who is a UW scientist and studies bacteria. She illustrated how bacteria change in order to go undetected by the body, and the way the immune system tries to figure out how to find them. He spent a fair amount of time there.

His final session was his favorite. He spent a FULL HOUR at this table. I couldn't believe it. I was getting really tired, but I didn't want to rush him or interrupt.
This booth was about viruses. The lady (for some reason there were a lot of women scientists, which was AWESOME!!) who was working this booth studies viruses at Fred Hutchison, and she had a color display of the worst viruses as they would look under a microscope.

She also had a diorama that was divided into little rooms, and some different colored styrofoam balls with tiny wood picks sticking out of them. He got to choose what color virus he wanted to be, and then she walked him through how that virus gets into the cell (the little house with the rooms) and what happens when it is inside.

He asked so many questions~questions I would never have thought of, and I have a science degree. He asked what is a vulnerability that a virus might have. He asked a million other questions, and engaged in conversation with her about what happens when the body responds to try to get rid of it. He asked which virus she believed was the worst, and she said HIV, and proceeded to tell us why. HIV makes a copy of your cells' DNA, and then your body cannot ever get rid of that virus.
He said, "So I asked you what made a virus vulnerable, now I'd like to ask what you think is the biggest strength of a virus." She said sneakiness, because they can do so many things to go undetected, and they can essentially go to sleep and just stay in your body and wake up many years later.
She answered his questions, and encouraged him to keep going with the questions. She was patient, and kind, and seemed to enjoy his enthusiasm.

Several times there was a  pause in the conversation, and she would ask if he had any other questions, and he would stand there and think for a long time and come up with another one that was just as good as the last.

I was in awe.

This child has been so shut down for almost a full year. I have my child back. This is the child I lost last year.

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