Monday, August 29, 2016

Outsourcing Education

Ella got to spend all day, every day of last week in one of her favorite buildings in the world: the American Museum of Natural History.


She participated in the museum's Middle School Institute.  This week's topic was conservationism, one of her very favorite topics.  She got to do field work in Central Park, meet scientists studying biodiversity and endangered habitats and visit a functioning genomics lab.  While learning about the importance of good field notes, they were able to visit the museum's library (not open to the general public) and look at a variety of field notebooks, one dating back to 1575!  She got to go to several areas of the museum that are off limits to ordinary folk like you and me.  Basically, she was in her happy place.


At one point during the week she said, "This is the first time I feel like I'm with other kids who are as serious about science as I am."  The programs are really top notch - taught by museum professionals with two PhD students as assistants who are studying the topic of the week for their dissertation.  It really doesn't get a whole lot better than that.

Meanwhile, Holden and I enjoyed a bunch of mom-son time.  We browsed used book stores (where he used his own money to buy a 50 year-old copy of an Audubon book), hung out in coffee shops working on his math, and made a trip to the Central Park Zoo.

We even had a fun day in the suburbs visiting his buddy Tighe.  Slip-n-slide is alive and well.

We took a short trip up to Woodstock this weekend.  It's starting to get a little quiet up there - tourist season is slowing down.  But the weather is still hot and the river is still cold, so we enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon at the swimming hole.

Barbecue Apprenticeship Program

We packed up early on Sunday morning so that we could make it back to the city in time for the monthly book club meeting at the New York Historical Society.  Thanks to the hit Broadway musical, the Hamilton craze is alive and well here in NYC.  The museum is currently doing an extensive exhibit on our first Secretary of the Treasury, although they've always had lots of artifacts of Alexander Hamilton on display.

This month's book selection was Alexander Hamilton: the Outsider by Jean Fritz.  Kevin and the kids read it aloud together over the last week.

After a fun discussion with the moderator, who showed up to talk to us but Alexander himself.  The professional impersonator answered questions from the kids and their parents and stayed in character the entire time.  He was fantastic and really helped bring that time period to life the kids.

We were then taken to a secret room in the museum (at least secret to us - not open to the general public) that had a large metal door like the kind you would see in a vault.  We got to look up close (very close!) at original documents written by Hamilton himself as well as other founding fathers!  Not under glass - right up out in the open!  AND we even got to look at two of the very first coins of U.S. currency ever minted...again, not under glass but right there in our faces...not even kidding.

Hamilton's handwriting
Two of the first pennies ever made
 The kids think this is what all book clubs are like...

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