Saturday, December 11, 2004

Rat Fur & Condoms

If you had looked in my trash can on Wednesday afternoon, you would have found a heap of rat fur (and some bones) and six unwrapped (but unused, obviously) condoms. Yes, Wednesday was one of those days when I realize how much I love what I do, and how completely weird it can be at the same time. In Science, we began our owl pellet dissection. This activity is transcendent. The kids start out completly grossed-out by the whole idea of touching an owl pellet (even with the little wooden probes and other dissection tools). Five minutes after you hand out the pellets, they're digging in happily and all you can hear are squeals, "I found a skull!!!!" At that point, a few kids still want nothing to do with the owl pellets, and are just watching their partner dissect. That's when I get nervous about some of my girls who are at risk of allowing the pressures of middle school and being a girl keep them from engaging with science, math, and the world in general. Not to worry; these girls are usually happily involved a few minutes later, when they realize the other students are all digging in, so it must be okay. A few need a little nudge. After ten minutes, you know who the real primadonnas are, and they are usually boys, often the "tough" boys. One boy suddenly freaked out when a bone got too close to him, and upset the whole dissection tray. I just sighed and told him that his squeamishness had backfired; now he'd have to crawl around on the floor picking up the scattered bones! He was okay after that.

Note to teachers: The other awesome thing about the owl pellet dissection is that Carolina Biological Supply sells class sets, which come with a teacher's guide, enough pellets for all your kids to work in pairs, wooden probes for each pair of kids, and all the worksheets you need already photocopied! And the prices are completely reasonable.

So much for the rat fur.

In Health class, it was abstinence and birth control day, which meant that I brought in examples of some of the more common forms of birth control and passed them around. So much better to have touched a condom once in a non-sexual setting than to have your first condom encounter be at the crucial moment...


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