Thursday, April 8, 2010

Teacher's Aide

Being an unpaid teacher’s aide at 67 is better than I’d expected.

Currently, I help a sometime NASA scientist (Ph.D, Berkeley) with her class of (15) 1st, 2nd, & 3rd graders in weekly after-school kiddie-experiments; we meet in a public-school art classroom in Sunnyvale CA. This 'enrichment' class is sponsored by the Parks & Rec. Dept of neighboring Cupertino (the seemingly unboundaried, entrepreneural public school system of choice here in Silicon Valley.)

Today’s class experiment was to build an unshakeable little house out of odd scraps (lengths of thick paper tube, foam rubber punch-outs, etc.) & test it on a home-made ‘shake-table’ that would reveal its vulnerability. Some kids did achieve a high degree of stability – two girls came up with identical solutions simultaneously, but at separate tables.

On a whiteboard, I drew a cartoon of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel, Tokyo (1923), to show how he set it afloat in a permanent pool of sand & running water. One drawing led to another: suddenly drawing a clockface, one girl decided to instruct another in how to tell time; watching her, a little boy was inspired to create a daliesque triangular clockface with 21 numerals.

So it goes in Silicon Valley, 2010.

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