playing in the dirt

As I was walking through the scene at the park today, I overheard a mom telling her kids, “You could go play in the dirt over there.” I made an internal note of that. When and where else do you hear a mom telling her kids to go play in the dirt? In this case, where we have a sand and water table so that kids (and the program director) can make dams and streams and islands with cows and palm trees and dinosaurs, it’s perfectly obvious. We should play in the dirt, and while we’re at it we should mix in some water and see what happens as it all erodes. I can’t think of a better way to get a first exposure to earth science.

This is our 12th year of Science in the Parks, so by now there are some really familiar patterns and truths. We know that we’re all going to look forward to bubbles and dirt and goo. Some things, like recognizing how hot it’s going to be in July for our volunteers or knowing who to call when we need a new battery for the truck that’s pulling our trailer are the nuts and bolts of the program but aren’t the really important pieces. Instead, there are these hands in all of these images that seem so familiar and so important. They are all reaching out to grab onto things, feeling them between fingers and making objects whirl, vibrate, and ooze:

This is the spirit of science that we’re glad we can promote, and it’s fun to see how natural this is to kids.

Two more weeks to go on our summer schedule! Thanks for joining us and getting your hands dirty with science.

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