Count me in for Monday’s post, I tweeted back.
And then a couple days later I got Monday’s topic.
How to Interest Youth in Science & Math
Science and math?! Gulp. What could I say about helping kids learn science and math?
After all, I never mastered algebra. And I still have trouble figuring out how much to tip. (It’s those dang percentages!) So, yeah, numbers and calculations aren’t my strong suit.
Now culture – I can talk a blue streak about culture. But culture + math + science = what?
It took a trip to a local fall festival to help me solve that equation.
Enter the Ox
Last week my family went to the Riverton Fair, a hundred-year-old autumnal tradition. It was quintessential New England with all the cultural trappings — hot mulled cider, John Deere tractors, maple syrup and an ox pulling competition…
What? You’ve never watched an ox pulling competition. Allow me to explain. It goes something like this:
A couple of burly guys, with the help of a tractor, load 500 pound bars of cement onto a wooden pallet which is sitting on a slight grade in the middle of a corral.
Teams of oxen (one team at a time) are hooked by their yoke to a chain that’s attached to the pallet.
- The ox handler, (called a teamster) cajoles, prods and barks orders (“giddup”, “haw” and other ox-speak) to get the ox team moving.
- Ox team pulls pallet.
With each successive round more weight is added to the pallet until all but one ox team is eliminated. The team that pulls the heaviest load wins.
Well, that’s how it looked to us. But you have to remember two things:
My family’s not from around here. And my kids are super inquisitive.
We had A LOT of questions.
How come the cement doesn’t fall off? How much does that block weigh?
How come the chain is slack first and then it gets stiff when the ox pull?
Why is the ground slanted? Do you think they could pull it faster on the grass?
Those oxen are smaller but they were able to pull more cement. Why?
It was exhausting! And not just for the ox.
Good thing my husband, the mechanical engineer, was there to answer all those math and science-y questions because I was a little preoccupied thinking about this blog post.
And that’s when it hit me:
Math and science are all around us! Just like culture is.
Problem solved. Or maybe not.
If you’re science or math-challenged (like me), you may be thinking, “Okay, Justine, but I don’t really ‘get’ math. Or science. Or culture.”
Well, here’s the thing – You don’t have to.
You just have to get your kids excited about math and science and culture.
How? By paying attention and looking for teachable moments in your everyday life.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go download this “tipping” app I heard about.
Read more about the “Educate yourself – The Moment is Now” campaign.
What ideas do you have for connecting science, math and culture?