I arrived early and helped put notebooks and pencils beside the compound light microscopes. Mr. Yonkers from Farmington High School walked over and warmly shook my hand. He was on a three-year special assignment in the district, called away from teaching science to high school kids, to travel around to all the elementary schools and teach those students. He was obviously enthralled by the idea of sciencey things.
His enthusiasm was infectious to both the adults in the room, as well as the students. The third graders articulated their questions and curiosity quite well, surprising me with their intelligence.
Each microscope had a group of two students by it and a slide of hair or fibers to look at in low (100X), medium (400X), and high (600X) power. Human hair was flat and had black spots on it. Deer hair was rounded and looked like a bee hive made of leather. Yarn was fat and brightly colored twisted fibers. I wondered aloud what would happen if we looked at it after it became wet. The students wrote down observations, asked questions, drew pictures, and hoped for tomorrow, where we will look at their cheek cells and other plant cells.
I couldn’t be more excited.
One caveat, though. Mr. Yonkers disallowed me from telling the kids they had cancer, should I clearly see those cells from their cheeks, tomorrow. I don’t really understand why. That seems to me, something a kid would want to know right away.
No matter. We all had fun – which Mr. Yonkers said was the point.