Sunday, May 4, 2008

She Will Rock You!

Bragging mom alert. We had our county-wide science competition yesterday, and my daughter and her teammate took second place in the Second Grade Rocks category. There were 20 schools competing with 2nd-5th graders, over 1,300 kids overall. What a day!

Our school started weekly practices back in January. When my daughter signed up for Rocks, I had no idea what we were getting into. I was staggered by the sheer amount of details she needed to remember. She studied 14 minerals, and needed to know the color, luster, shape (such as mass, prism, etc), the cleavage (how many lines of weakness in the mineral), Mohs scale number, the color of the streak when the mineral is rubbed on sandpaper, weight, and any special characteristics of each mineral. She also studied 18 rocks, and needed to remember if they were metamorphic, igneous, or sedimentary, the color, the texture, where the rock forms (eg: land, sea, mountains), what mineral it mostly contains, what it is comprised of (eg: skeletons of tiny sea animals), and what it is used for by humans. She really enjoyed studying the details, and her ability to retain the information surprised and impressed me. I take my hat off to her coaches, two dedicated moms from our school who were highly organized and enthusiastic, and made the whole thing interesting and fun for the rocks team.

My son and his teammate placed 4th in the Maps competition. That was pretty exciting, too. My husband is our school's map coach, so my son has participated in that event every year for the past three years.

The frustrating thing about this science competition is that parents and coaches never get to see the actual test the kids take, not even after the event, so it's hard to know how the children need to apply what they've learned in practices when they are tested. Having the children explain the test afterwards is never very illuminating. My daughter declared the rock test "different than we practiced, and not what I expected", but she couldn't give further details. My son can explain his tests to us a little better, but we still feel a little bit in the dark!

We had a very long day yesterday, and the kids were punchy and silly last night. They got into one of those silly bickering wars which began when one of them taunted the other, and degenerated into my daughter saying "Oh yeah? If you're so smart, tell me the luster of Mica!" to which my son replied "What city in Brazil is 10 degrees south of the equator?" It's been fun, but it will be nice to have a break from focusing on maps and rocks for a while!

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