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Mercurial biology text October 3, 2016

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, science, younger son.
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Younger son was reading through some biology homework when he suddenly pipes up, “Mom!  Did you know you need mercury in your blood?”

I was of course quite shocked at his proclamation because that just didn’t make any sense.  I asked him to read me the sentence.  It said something about how the blood’s pressure needs to remain at xx (where xx is some number I don’t remember) mmHg.  “And Hg is mercury!”

While I can see where he would get that impression, this instigated a long conversation about how we measure air pressure.  It also made me wonder why they don’t bother explaining units before they start using them. I suppose it may be because they don’t think like younger kids, who could easily read something into it that an adult would never have thought of.

I’m just glad he thought to mention it before he went and got a hold of some mercury.

World’s Worst Officemate November 23, 2015

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, family, gifted, homeschooling, research, science, younger son.
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I have been working at home, trying to finish up this PhD thing once and for all.  Earlier this year, the place I worked was shut down and so I figured that if I had any desire to stay in academia (which I do), the PhD thing is kind of a necessary evil.

Because of the job situation, however, I also ended up with a new officemate: my younger son.  It was actually a combination of factors: private school is expensive, middle school is a cesspool of derision and contempt (and therefore not the best place to develop social skills), and, finally, the younger son really wanted to take high school biology and no one would let him.  Except me, being the overindulgent parent I am.

I have to admit that he’s been a bit easier to deal with than his older sibling.  It’s amazing how much easier this education thing is when you’re not dealing with ADHD.  The younger son is amazingly self-sufficient and does a good job of keeping a schedule.

I have, however, discovered one major flaw in this plan.  I had no idea how much middle schoolers talked.  Mostly, he gets excited about the things he’s learning in his class, which really tickles me.  However, he wants to share everything with me.  Every. Thing.  I have learned more about genes and cell processes and reproduction in the past two months than I probably did during my own high school biology class.  I have learned about social and mental and physical health.  I am beginning to speak Spanish with a level of proficiency that has not been present since my teens.  And mostly, I see him being happy and excited about learning again.

Unfortunately, he’s not quite so receptive when I begin to talk about coding and arrays and debugging and compiler issues and, especially, writing.  I have begun, as of late, to tell him that while I’m glad he’s learning, I really need him to let me focus on my work, too.  Someday, if he has to share an office with someone, this will be good real life practice for not making them insane.  At least he’s not asking to go out every ten minutes, like the dogs.

How I hate thee, biologee March 26, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in education, homeschooling, math, older son, science.
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We’re coming to the close of older boy’s first year of high school, and this has caused me to look over what we’d been planning to do for his schooling in light of my completely unrealistic view of what he could accomplish in a year.

I discovered that this notion that he could do about 3-4 college level classes at a time may be realistic – if one is not also taking 2-3 classes in high school.  Oops.

Conclusion: 2 college classes max.

I also discovered that computer classes, while being really great, are too difficult to tackle because of all the shiny, pretty things on the internet.  Fortunately, we have no more classes like that as he will be completing his last math class this year.  I promised him that if he finished college algebra and trigonometry (aka precalc), that he would not be required to take any further math (much to my chagrin).  This means he gets to spend the next two years doing things he really loves: language and writing, history, and social science.  First advantage: I hopefully won’t have to keep harping on him to get his math done.

For the next two years, the boy will be doing video courses and classes through Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.  The second advantage to this is that I don’t have to oversee any of the JHU classes.

You may notice that science is absent from that list.  That’s because it’s a real quandry for me.  You see, the older boy is squeamish beyond belief.  He’s taking a health class this semester, and it’s been horrible for him.  One of the things I felt he should take was biology, but I know there is absolutely no way he can handle the labs.  We’ve therefore come up with another compromise: he’s going to try to do early entry at the college for his senior year.  I came up with an idea: the kid hates biology…but he loves geology.  Our compromise is that he’s going to take physical geology as well as history of Earth through time.  The latter class actually deals a lot with biology and the evolution of life on earth.  I figure this is the closest he’s going to get to a biology class without passing out or leaving the room wretching.

You can tell he’s definitely my kid.

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