While I was typing away at a paper for one of my graduate courses before getting ready for church one Sunday morning, she stayed near my chair, chatting, looking, and wanting to touch my laptop keyboard and screen. This scenario usually ends with me closing my laptop, a little frustrated that it is almost impossible for me to be working on my laptop with this little Miss lingering close-by. Over the past several months, I’ve had to translate my 5-year old daughter’s actions to mean “Focus on me, Mama”.
For those that know me, it’s clear that my family is very important to me. From Facebook posts to conversations with friends and colleagues, my kids are the highlights of my life and bring me more joy than I could have imagined. Because of this reason, I am learning to pay better attention to them when I happen to be working with them playing and circling around me.
This morning, I decided to finish up a couple of paragraphs for my paper at the breakfast table. As I ate the last bit of my oatmeal, my daughter Elyse was exploring my laptop. Most of the time she tries to close the screen getting my full attention, of course. This time was different. She said something like, “I want a laptop”. I said, “How about you go and make one with your toys.”
“Okay, Mommy!” She bopped away from the table, and I was anticipating what she’d bring out to represent a laptop. She came back with a handful of Legos and two squared shaped magna-tiles. She placed one flat magna-tile piece on the table and the other perpendicular to it, making the top and bottom of her blue and green laptop. She says, pleased at her accomplishment, “The Legos actually sound like typing.”
I could explain the parts of her Lego Laptop myself, but she is more than capable of explaining it herself. Here’s her explanation of her laptop:
A few things that I thought were significant that were not in the video was her explanation of how it is powered: “My pluggers isn’t there, because it doesn’t need to charge…so it doesn’t need any pluggers.” I don’t know about you, but I’d love to have a laptop that doesn’t need any “pluggers”. She needs to hurry up and mass produce these Lego Laptops so I can buy one!
In another shorter video clip, she places her “mouse” on her “screen”, as both are magnetic. She solved the problem of needing to carry her laptop and mouse with both hands. Pretty clever, if I must say so myself.
*As a science teacher, an educational specialist, and a doctoral student in science education, this spontaneous moment is littered with elements of science and engineering practices and disciplinary core ideas, and cross-cutting concepts described in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): making models, developing and communicating explanations, and analyzing and interpreteing data from observations, recognition of structure and function, to name a few. This little moment demonstrates that students of all ages engage in these types of STEM-based and exploratory activities naturally, and often without much prompting. Children are keen observers and professionals of mimicry. They enter into the classroom having these amazing innate traits inside of them. In a sense, our role as teachers is simply to discover how to shine a light on these traits, provide a healthy environemnt for children to use them unashamedly, and guide children in understanding how these traits help them to learn deeply, innovatively, and collaboratively. (Easy, right?)
But even more than this, these spontaneous moments remind me that I cannot take off my “teacher/researcher” hat when I am home. My children push me everday to converse about teaching and learning in ways I would never be able to plan or prepare for, especially in the fields of science and engineering. The reminder that my research, studies, writing, teaching, and leading mean nothing if these aren’t infused into who I am and what I represent all day, everyday. Kids are like side-view mirrors, informing their parents or guardians, objects in mirror are closer than they appear. This little impromptu pre-church modeling moment with my baby girl on a Sunday morning, was a sermon I will not soon forget. (Amen!)
Learning doesn’t just happen at school. To parents, guardians, grandparents, aunties, and uncles: kids are always learning. Be open for opportunities children give us to help them make meaningful connections to the world around them in all subject areas, but especially in science and the other STEM fields of technology, engineering, and mathematics…(A not-so shameful plug for science teaching and learning 😉 ). My two kiddos are always teaching me about parenting and teaching, for which I am thankful. I’m very glad that this persistent little cutie slowed Mommy down long enough to for me to recognize a connection to STEM can happen right at our kitchen table.
*I started writing this blog March of 2018, while completing my Ed. S. degree. Today, May 11, 2019, I decided to revisit this blog draft and finish writing it. This also explains my reference to being a doctoral student, which started Summer 2018.