Besides a few Kindergarten moments, the first four years of elementary school were a perfect fit. From hopscotch to math, I was a capable and participating member of society.
In fourth grade, two things changed everything.
One. Double Dutch was the game of choice for 4th graders. The slap-slap of the rope, the running in and out, the spectating nature of the sport was scary. By the time I had mastered running in and out most of my peers had developed combinations of turns, jumps, and hand slaps. Because of this, my playground friendships changed that year as did my place in the social strata.
Two. The Science Fair Project to be done at home and presented in class. This was my introduction to science in school. I read the directions, checked a book out on projects, and attempted the least intimidating one with plants. Much like Double Dutch, my effort resulted in a less than performance and a diminishing of my good student status.
My science fair grade school experience came to mind today in a PD provided through UCLA. In the introduction they shared this statistic:
Results from tests conducted by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) show that the gaps between girls and boys in science and math grow larger over time, with the largest shift in girls’ versus boys’ scores occurring between the ages of 9 and 10 years old.
According to this study and the following Version ad, the situation things hasn’t gotten much bette
Today I realized that the kid who planted a garden, built sandcastles, and burned leaves with a magnifying glass was doing science. Distinct moments that took place in vacant lots, at the beach, and in the backyard was the work of a scientist. Me. A science self that was unrecognized in school, A place that taught curriculum but did it in a way that disregarded what I wondered about and acted on.
Today, tomorrow, and the next day I have the opportunity to learn with colleagues and reconstruct my science self. I am thankful for the gift of teaching: learning to develop young people’s identities and in the process reclaim my own.