Sunday, June 27, 2010

Science, art & human perception

Finished week 1 at the Exploratorium Teacher Institute, and I am loving it so far! Some highlights from class...we dissected a cow's eye, which was huge!

Cow's eye
Googly eye

I vaguely recall a cow's eye dissection in elementary school, but do not remember the details. (Let's not think about what this says about the effectiveness of my chosen profession.) Did you know there is a beautiful iridescent blue surface that looks almost like an abalone shell at the back of a cow's eye? It's the tapetum, a reflective surface at the back of the eyes of crepuscular and noctural animals. So amazing! There were other cool projects during the week...including making a record player with just a pencil, straight pin, and a piece of paper wrapped into a cone...I'm still in awe that it works!

Each day the teachers have a few hours of project time for exploring, and a few hours of class time. On the first couple of days, I wandered around the museum during my project time, trying out exhibits, as well as observing children and adults interact with the exhibits. Drawing Board, the exhibit I remember most from a childhood field trip, is still one of the most popular. And it was still fascinating for me to watch beautiful spirograph-like patterns created by the swinging motion of the weighted wood table. I also started a project in the machine shop and did a bit of exploring in the much good stuff!

One afternoon I encountered this sign...

Pie workshop
They're eating pie in there!

I need to find out how to get invited to the pie workshop. Hmmm....

A big challenge for the summer was getting over my fear of biking in San Francisco traffic. My plan was to commute by bike, since riding Muni would take forever, especially with recent changes in service (i.e. less service), and not having a car. On the recommendation of my friend Jessica, I took a (free!) two-part urban cycling workshop earlier in the month, and it helped me so much. I highly recommend the workshop to fact, I think all motorists should take the first part of the workshop! I also used SF BikeMapper to plan my route, which is 6.7 miles each way! I biked three times during week 1 (slowly) and had lots of sore muscles, but hopefully strength is building. Wish me luck for week 2!

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