Alexis Turrubiates and a pentane molecule
Caitlin Murphy and her robot
Science News at Exeter-Milligan Public Schools
By Matt Nicholas, E-M Science Instructor
Hindsight is always 2020! The shift to online learning that has been coming for years now just hit overdrive. Had we known that a global pandemic would gut the rest of our school year, we all might have done things differently. We might have put more lessons online. We might have scanned more worksheets to pdfs. We might have been nicer to classmates and teachers. We might have had more patience with our students and coworkers. Well, thanks to technology and our district's commitment to it, we are able to continue doing our best as educators and students.
Computers are great, cell phones are great, online simulations are great, but sometimes there is no replacement for having tools or toys in your hands. EM students had at least a backpack full of materials when they left the school weeks ago, but some of those students got to take some science toys home as well. Chemistry students were sent home with molecular models that we have been using to build organic chemicals. Just think of tinker toys, but for chemistry! Earth Science students took home Virtual Reality headsets and MERGE cubes which allow them to hold the solar system in the palm of their hands, ride a roller coaster, or explore a haunted house.
My favorite "toy" sent home would have to be with my lone physics student, Caitlin Murphy. She was the recipient of a hydraulic robot arm, unfortunately for her, it was in pieces! Along with her reading and discussion about the mysteries of the universe, she was tasked with building this robot arm and using it to accomplish some set of tasks. I am a bit saddened that I wasn't able to finish helping her build it. (Maybe jealous is the word...)
It is safe to say that the Exeter Milligan community stepped up over this last month. Teachers stepped up by completely revamping classes almost overnight. Students stepped up by being responsible and flexible with the changing times. The community has stepped up by coming together to help those who need it. There are too many people for me to thank by name who have helped me personally during these trying times, but very quickly: to my wife who keeps me sane, to my students that keep me smiling, to my coworkers that make the empty school seem full, and to the rest of my family and friends that are always available for a quick FaceTime or phone call.
If we are going to take anything from the last month and whatever may come, it should be that we need each other. We shouldn't take anything for granted. The cheerful librarian, friendly faces at the grocery counter, nurses, doctors, gas station attendants, first responders, your neighbors, family near and far, and yes, even the teacher that gives you an assignment, on a Friday.