Every Wednesday, the Aveson Kinders are treated to a guest speaker, usually a student’s mom or dad, sometimes a grandparent. The talks vary widely — they’ve had a veterinarian, an actor, a high school teacher, a special effects guy, a doctor, a coin collector, a rock star, and many more. This week, much to Ezra’s delight, was Bruce’s turn.
First, here’s the audience (46 or so Kindergartners).
He started off by talking a bit about Mars and showing, with his helpers, the size difference between Earth (the blue balloon) and Mars (the red one). Finn’s holding a Mars globe on loan from JPL’s outreach office.
Ruby helped to demonstrate how far apart Earth and Mars are.
He brought some things to pass around, including a wheel just like the ones on the Mars Exploration Rovers.
Turns out, Kindergartners aren’t really able to pass cool things around AND pay attention, so after a short bout of chaos it was decided they could look at those things later.
After watching the video of the MER launch and landing on Mars, he started talking about how the JPL engineers communicate with the rovers and how the rovers send data back to Earth. He talked about using something like a megaphone to broadcast data and a “big ear” to hear the whisper from outer space. Here’s the big ear. (He was listening to Ezra’s whisper from across the room but I was too distracted by one child losing a tooth and another child having a bloody nose — within minutes of each other — to remember to take a picture of Ezra. I swear, I don’t know how his teachers keep their sanity.)
After the communication portion of the talk, he told them a little about the math he uses for his job. He told them that math is used to figure out how the world works, especially when you can’t do an experiment to figure something out. As an example, he showed them how to calculate how much water would fit into a glass. Then, to demonstrate his confidence in the math, he had one of Ezra’s teachers (Ms. Jessica — the math and projects teacher) pour 500 ml of water into a cup on his head.
But, of course, he’d switched the glass out for a smaller one and got drenched when it overflowed.
The kids were cracking up.
“So what went wrong?” he asked.
One little girl shouted out, “It was the wrong glass!”
And they all watched in anticipation as he poured 500 ml of water into the correct glass. Math prevails!
After a brief question and answer period, his time was up.
The kids split up into their blue or purple groups and went on about their day.