Yes, you heard right. After being gone from the blogosphere for over a month–egads!–I’m proudly standing in front of a banner that says,
Which means, I nailed it. I hit it out of the park. A slam dunk, thank you very much.
What am I talking about, you ask?
Well, if you know anything about me, then you know that when I take on something new, that’s as important as this was, I step up to the challenge. Even if that challenge means heading to Brazil to lead a workshop for preschool teachers on how to teach science to their students.
Let me say that again:
São Paulo, to be precise.
And now that I’m back, I can’t say it enough:
I missed you, I missed you–I MISSED YOU!!
Okay, so you’re probably wondering what a gal from Queens was doing teaching science in Brazil. The answer is simple:
Alright, so it wasn’t Sid, America’s favorite scientist, who asked me, but rather, the folks behind Sid. In other words, I went at the invitation of The Jim Henson Company! Yes, they asked me to journey 6,000 miles to São Paulo to lead a class on science for teachers at an under-served preschool.
And I arrived loaded down with four and-a-half suitcases jam-packed to the nines, with all the supplies needed to make science-learning fun for kids.
To prepare for the assignment, I profusely studied the curriculum, which is based on the award-winning, animated series, “Sid the Science Kid.” I watched 40 episodes of Sid, first in English, then in Portuguese (to familiarize myself with the language), and then I watched it all over again in English. I also did some research of my own, for good measure, to make sure I understood such topics as dirt, decay, and non-standard measurement. And in between viewings, I read “Preschool Pathways to Science,” an excellent educational guide which was used as the foundation of the “Sid the Science Kid” series and lesson plans.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I started out not speaking a stitch of Portuguese. But with a little help from Rosetta Stone, and a lot of help from two U.N.-style interpreters, it was smooth sailing all the way. Obrigada! (That means, thank you!)
And it was so MUCH fun! I studied and prepped so much I knew my stuff backwards and forwards. I even amazed myself, because let me tell you–between you and me and no one else–I was nervous. Crazy nervous. Not during the class, mind you. (By then I was absolutely comfortable with the material.)
No, I’m talking way before that. I was nervous in the weeks leading up to my trip to Brazil. You could say, I was, ahem, a basket case. Frankly, I was terrified of failing and not being able to connect with the teachers because of some silly old language barrier. But we did connect, and my Spanish fluency helped a bit.
And to think, I almost let my fear stop me from stepping up to the plate, and discovering that:
1. I’m a teacher at heart, having thoroughly enjoyed myself as I guided my pupils through the training.
2. It’s never too late to venture down a path toward brand-new and rewarding experiences.
3. It felt good to be able to bring much-needed school supplies to a school in a developing country, and to demonstrate to the teachers how to find the scientific learning in everyday things. For example, like taking a clump of dirt and examining it under a magnifying lens (which we provided for all the students), just to see what’s in it, and learning about temperature and the weather using thermometers (which we also brought along). And you thought The Jim Henson Company was all about entertainment!
4. I made new friends, too. Because the teachers were lovely and saying goodbye was difficult, even after several hugs and promises to stay in touch.
5. How heartwarming it was to know that, by taking this project on, I was able to make a difference.
As you can see, it was a terrific experience all around, and in the process, I made a lifetime of memories. Fingers crossed that I get to do it again!
Special thanks to The Jim Henson Company and to Boeing, the sponsor of the project, for their steadfast dedication to helping educate today’s youth, with the hope that one day they will become tomorrow’s scientific leaders.
So now that I’m back, please tell me, what did I miss? What have you been up to so far this year? Do tell!