In Sixth Grade, Mrs. Yost put us into groups and gave us terrariums. We placed guppies, plants, tadpoles, and bugs into these terrariums, and ruled over our kingdoms like the Gods we were.
We learned about ecosystems and the food chain. One of our guppies died, and in a touching, ceremonial moment, we threw it in the dirt outside our portable classroom.
In this class, I decided that I wanted to be a scientist. I have since been disabused of this notion.
I discovered, after taking Honors Biology from a man with a penchant for wearing ties in the shape of trout, that I lack the meticulous nature required for scientific inquiry. I'm not detail-orientated. I lack patience. I get frustrated quickly. You can see why I wasn't on the team to find the genome. I'm so inattentive that I've gone to work wearing one navy blue shoe and one black shoe more times than I can count.
The final nail in the coffin for science was in college, when I took geology for my required science credit. I don't know where this "Rocks for Jocks" label originated, but I found that geology was not a lot of football players, but lots of dirty, dirty hippies. Hippies who felt totally comfortable discussing the Phish show, but not so comfortable helping me label and sort various rocks during the lab. They briefly perked up when the grad student (who always brought her surly, stinky, hemp-collared dog to our lab) mentioned acid, but were disappointed to discover the acid was for testing....something (acidity?) instead of tripping the light fantastic.
I realize I sound like a cranky pain in the ass in that previous paragraph, but at least I didn't pretend to have a near-sexual relationship with Mother Earth, unlike the majority of my classmates. If you love the Earth so much, get off your stinky butt and...study it.
Anyway, I realize now that I am no scientist, but I would probably be a decent early elementary science teacher. I love watching Owen discover the wonder of this world, being the little scientist that he is. His newest thing is water and pipes. He'll spend hours crafting PVC pipe creations, then adding water to see where the water will go. When something doesn't work, he'll talk out loud to himself:
"I wonder what would happen if I did this?"
Or, "Maybe, I need to move this pipe."
Or, occasionally, "HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP!" followed by the angry throwing of a pipe.
He is my son.
In addition to pipes, we freeze empty yogurt containers and put things in the water before freezing---Cheerios, grapes, toys. We've had a lot of fun making ice sculptures or setting the containers out in the sun to "free" the toys.
Our various plants have been another fun experiment. Each day, Owen goes out to the tomato plant and pats each tomato gently. "Still green," he murmurs.
After Family Day on the Farm, we came home with a pumpkin and pea seedling. Paul, again inspiring me with his wellspring of practical knowledge (it seems wrong that I can name every member of Jon and Kate's family while Paul knows how to plant things, repair cars, and fix computers), built a climbing vine contraption for Owen's pea seedlings. Owen believes, sincerely, thanks to a Richard Scarry book, that his pumpkin will grow to be the size of our house.
I sincerely hope that happens because that would be freakin' awesome.
Ironically, the one failed experiment we have is a...terrarium. A friend of mine, a former high school biology teacher, came over one day with tadpole eggs. We place them in Owen's terrarium and watched, eagerly, for their amazing metamorphosis.
Still waiting. I think if Owen is going to see a tadpole, it will come from Petco, alas.
Like I said, I love this kind of science because it doesn't deal with pesky things like numbers or details or right or wrong. Owen's science is more of the sort where we open our eyes, take a deep breath, and say, "Is this world ever cool!"