Today I went to a math and science academy here in Chicago to do another science demonstration with the coolest teacher, Ms. B. I’ve been once before and really was impressed by the kids. They’re a little rough around the edges, from low income homes, some of them clearly pretty messed up, but they’re smart. The problem is, since they’re bright, they have been skating by in their ordinarily terrible schools and now are faced with challenging classmates. This means that ordinarily, they’re pretty lazy but now have to work hard. Either way, they’re great.

I did a demonstration of DNA digestion analysis and it went disastrously. The kids in the class are more than hyperactive (9th graders) and 1/4th of them were autistic (not exaggerating). I’ve never dealt with autistic kids before, much less done lab demonstrations with them, and it was pretty interesting. They’re bright but have trouble communicating. One kid needed written instructions instead of oral ones but did much better than other kids. There were two special ed teachers in the room assisting them and they both indicated the autistic kids were in all the honors class.

Other fun events:

– One kid hooked up the power supply to himself and gave himself a decent electrical shock, even despite my very loud warnings beforehand.

– Another kid was trying to sell stolen computers and electronics to me (“You need an iPod Mr. P?”)

– One kid put on rubber gloves, peed on his hand in the bathroom, and ran around trying to touch people in the face until I yelled at him.

– Another kid kept asking other guys if they wanted to be in gay porn for the whole period.

– One of the autistic kids told me about how he saw two teachers making out in the school somewhere and then repeated loudly shaking his finger at me “ITS NOBODYS BUSINESS BUT THEIRS!”

– One teacher fixing the computers told me at length about working in tougher schools where occasionally he had to clock a student in the face to get the respect of the rest. He also used a ton of profanity in front of students, for which my teacher and her assistant apologized profusely. I think he is in the wrong line of work.

– I explained how ponds and streams are basically full of microbes trying to kill and eat each other through various molecular trickery to which one kid said “like a gang war?”

– I walked into the middle of a masturbation technique discussion four guys were having, at which point they stopped, looked at me, and asked my perspective. I told them they should focus on the classwork.

– Finally, one kid, who was cursing people out in Spanish the whole time, said to me “Man, science is stupid but this shit is dope!” regarding my demonstration. I felt pretty good about that. That’s as close to praise as I got. This was the same kid who went around to everything in the lab and said “Can I eat this? How about this? Can I eat this?”

I had a great time. I hope I get to do this again.

Advertisements