Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Answer To "Will I Really Ever Need to Know This?"





Ages ago, when I was a student, I remember struggling with a question of why.   Why on earth did I need to study obscure science and mathematical theories.  I certainly didn't anticipate using such concepts as the Pythagorean Theorem or Einstein's Theory of Relativity out in the real world.  I was a budding journalist or a future lawyer (or both).  I didn't need to waste precious brain space on such "nonsense." 

For a while, I was right.  During my years of employment, I never had to differentiate between an isosceles or a scalene triangle nor did I ever have to recite the elements in the periodical table.

But then I became a mother.  A mother with kids.  Kids with homework.  Homework and projects that needed supervision and direction.  Homework and projects that revolved around all those "silly" concepts I thought I'd never use.

 Today, Caleb needed help on his science fair project.  

Science fair projects...one of my least favorite childhood memories.  I detested them the first time around and I certainly haven't warmed to them in the last several decades.

He selected a "Nuclear Mentos" project (the classic mentos in the diet coke bottle one) guaranteed to fuse science with little boy fun.  Classic Wood style, we left the project until the 11th hour.  If the science fair project was going to be completed, it had to be done today.

The four boys and I dashed outside clutching armfuls of two-liter soda bottles and mentos' packs.  The weather was less than ideal for conducting an experiment: solid rain showers and cold temperatures.

Caleb lined up the first bottle and snagged a few mentos.  The boys all stepped back.  With the flick of Caleb's wrist, the candy fell into the bottle.  The boys watched in amazement as the soda instantly burst upward.  The boys treated the display with as much appreciation as a fancy Fourth of July show.  They "oohed" and "aahed" and skipped around with pure giddiness.

Then I noticed Cooper ducking into the house and then rushing back outside several minutes later.  During our second explosion, Cooper rushed forward clutching a cup.  He placed the cup directly under the shooting soda and watched in delight as the cup filled with soda suds.  Before I could stop him, he gulped down the bubbly beverage.  I realized the boys were treating the science experiment as snack time.  Mentos and soda pop seemed to be disappearing at a rapid pace.

I got frustrated.  I was out in the cold and the rain with four boys doing (or eating) a science experiment.  This wasn't meant to happen.  Once I earned my high school diploma, I wasn't supposed  to do science again.  Ever.

Today I realized exactly what I'll say when one of the boys asked, "Why do I have to learn this?  Do you honestly think I really need to know all the Canadian provinces?  Will I ever use this in the real world?"

I'll answer, "Yes, when you're a Dad."

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