Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Flying by the seat of our pants

We're into day two of single parenting in this household while my husband enjoys a conference in Banff, Alberta.  I must say that while I am looking forward to going to bed early tonight to recover from the last two days and brace myself for the next four, my children are probably looking forward to it more!

Why the late night you ask?  Our community was dealt a devastating blow last night, as our school board decided to demolish the century old school that has served as the gateway into our beloved neighbourhood.  In fact, it is the oldest school in our entire city.  While I'm pretty sure that if I asked my children if they would like to return to school next year they would say "no", both they and I are upset by this decision.  Somehow, both child and parent who have grown up in an increasingly materialistic society have learned to love and appreciate the beauty of the old days.  I think we feel the soul that such a heritage building exudes and we know such a soul can never be replaced.  I think we are hurt by the profanity of a society not making the time, effort or resources available to keep this "ornately simple" (as described by the architect) building in shape for the next 100 years.  I think we are angered by an administration that does not listen to the concerns of its citizens and is not willing to explore the alternatives available to it (for, like most decisions, there are several options available if one only opens their eyes and looks).  If any of you have witnessed or been part of a movement to save a heritage building, please let me know what has worked and not worked for you.

As timing would have it, it was my turn to facilitate at our homeschool co-op gathering today.  We skimmed the surface of flight.  I started off the session by reading an excerpt from Wings by Jane Yolen, which tells the story of Daedalus and Icarus.  (As an aside, I really love the telling of the Daedalus story in Daedalus and the Minotaur by Priscilla Galloway.  It's a much longer read, but gives deeper insight to the heart and mind of a genius).  Then, we compared a bird in flight to a plane in flight.  We talked about the aerofoil shape of both and how this shape gives both lift.  We attempted to make paper helicopters to demonstrate lift.  Finally, we set about making paper airplanes.  We compared the planes that went far to those that traveled a shorter distance.  Often, planes with sharp folds done symmetrically and with a sharp nose went further because there was less drag, or friction, as the airflow went over the planes.  Several of us experimented on design alterations that would cause the plane to turn. 

I'm still fascinated with how a room can quiet when a story is being told.  I'm amazed at how much Greek mythology our family has read this year, with all of it being tied directly to some science project or concept we're exploring.  I'm thankful that Nicholas is often willing to help some of the other children in the projects we do.

I also learned a bit about facilitating these sessions:

  ~ I observed that experiments done at home sometimes don't replicate when shared with a larger audience. Sadly, this topic (or any physics-related topic) isn't one that I'm well-versed in, so trouble-shooting was tricky.  Lesson learned:  go with what you know. Other lesson learned:  it's time to start diving into these topics here at home!  Our first tour will be guided by The Wright Brothers for Kids.  And I'm sure we will build every plane featured in Origami Paper Airplanes.

  ~ I discovered that children have just as much difficulty as some adults in interpreting the drawings for how to make origami anything.  While I resist the notion of telling a person how to do something in order to make something specific and prefer open-ended choice, it can be frustrating to those not comfortable with such an approach.  Lesson learned:  very slowly and deliberately walk the children through one simple airplane design before encouraging the children to tweak their designs or come up with innovative new designs.

Finally, I am so thankful for the fabulous moms that come together every week for our co-op.  They bring inspiration, practical ideas, vision, and support.  Thanks, ladies, for the light you bring to my weeks.

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