A new COSI volunteer

Everyone that knows me or has read my blog knows I’m a big fan of COSI, our local science museum. Not necessarily just for visiting but definitely for their volunteer opportunities along with all the classes, camps and special programs they offer. COSI has played a huge roll in Daniel’s life, starting when when he was 10 as a volunteer which turned into an internship then finally his current job. he learned public speaking at COSI where he has to give demonstrations in front of huge crowds of people. He’s come a long way from the shy little 10 year old who’s fist job at COSI was a greeter at the front doors, since he never talked to people I wasn’t sure how that was going to work but it did and he moved up the ranks.

Now its Thomas’ turn, he has been counting down the years until he would be old enough to volunteer. He technically was old enough last year but Daniel suggested waiting an additional year since sometimes the young volunteers don’t last. COSI has gotten a little more strict with their volunteers, they are treated like employees, so any goofing around or not following the rules can get you written up or even fired (yes, you can get fired from volunteer positions, we also have some experience with that in our house.) In an effort to make this as positive for Thomas as it was for Daniel I decided to wait an additional year before I let him apply.

He filled out his application over the summer, mailed it in then waited and waited. Finally we got the call asking him to come in for his interview. For the interview they want the child to demonstrate an activity to a group of COSI employees while teaching them how to do something. Daniel showed them how to do something with a ring thrower and Beth taught them to tie a bowler knot. This is a big decision, what to teach, it has to be something you’re good at and something that’s easy to demonstrate without too many steps.

Thomas threw around a few ideas before finally deciding on teaching them how to hula hoop. It has been the summer of hula hooping after all. Thomas lucked out in that COSI was actually closed for a deep cleaning when he came in so instead of having a panel of employees at his interview he only had 1 person. They did have to change rooms for the hula hooping instruction but all went well.

After his demonstration he made a quick stop in the hallway, where I was waiting, to let me know that he made the cut, he is now officially a COSI volunteer. I went in with him for the final paperwork and to chat with his interviewer, Terri. Thomas had put on the application that he was interested in working in Little Kidspace but after they talked about his goals (to learn public speaking) and what ages he likes to work with (kindergarten and up so he can teach them how to do things) they decided that working with the science carts out on the floor would be a better match.

Now he just has to go in for his orientation, do some paperwork at home and explore COSI while thinking about how he would be able to help visitors with simple questions that he may be asked (like where’s the closest bathroom, elevator or the cafeteria.) Since Thomas has been going to COSI regularly since he was born I think he’ll be able to answer those questions and more without to much prep.

Good Job Thomas, I am so proud of you. I’m sure you’ll have just as many great experiences at COSI as your brother has!

a less than exciting trip to COSI

Yesterday I blogged about our dismal trip to COSI which led to the discovery of an awesome new park. Even though all of the kids favorite spots were closed (Adventure was their #1 favorite spot but it was permanently closed due to budget restrictions) they did find a few fun things to do.

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And wouldn’t you know they actually found hula hoops in the Progress area to play with.

Thomas is actually using a wooden ring that was meant to be rolled around with a stick. But it was round and he can now hula with just about anything.

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The kids have really gotten into learning all the tricks you can do with a hoop. Spinning it around on your wrist and switching it from arm to arm is trickier than you would think.

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Hula Hooping

I don’t know what it is about having a bunch of hula hoops lying around but it inspires everyone who sees them to start hooping. This has been one of the easiest and most used projects that we have done in a long time. Beth has even started watching videos and working on tricks, she figures if the modeling doesn’t pan out she can join cirque du soleil.

Daniel was home from college and couldn’t figure out why we had so many hula hoops lying around, he also couldn’t stop himself from picking one up.

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BJ finally gave it a  try and is now hooping along with everyone else.

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Thomas is still being fancy and try to hoop with as many as possible but with so many people using them he only snatched 2.

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Even Daniel’s girlfriend, Alicia got in on it.

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Go BJ, now he’s doing 2 hoops!

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You have to go low to bring the hoops back up when they start falling.

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Daniel and Beth think its like double Dutch and you can just jump in. Thomas is not happy about the distraction.

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Nope it didn’t work.

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Homeschooling Science Fair

We’ve been homeschooling for a very long time, long enough that my oldest is now in college. As the years have gone by we have become more and more relaxed with what we do and expect from the kids. We were pretty relaxed to start with so you can maybe imagine how loose things have gotten. Some would call it unschooling but we’re not quite there yet, I’m not able to completely set aside my worries and embrace the unschooling philosophy 100%. I still have that nagging voice in the back of my head that they need to do math everyday (even that has been dropped as this year has progressed, but the voice is still there.)

Benign neglect is a phrase I read in Homeschooling Magazine years ago that has always stuck with me. The kids don’t need me interfering in everything they do. Jokingly I described our type of homeschooling as negligent homeschooling when talking to a friend recently. I did say it in jest and I don’t say it negatively, a lot of good things can happen when kids are given the freedom to explore life and create on their own. Or a lot of time can be wasted, which is a rut we often get stuck in.

All that to say we have been participating in an interest/ science fair for as long as I can remember. My kids have put together a variety of displays in the past;

Last year we had just returned from a trip to St. Louis so Thomas did a display board about the St. Louis Arch.

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A few years ago, after Dan had his back surgery and Beth had a couple surgeries and lots of x-rays, Beth & Thomas worked together on a board about x-rays.

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This is the actual X-ray from Dan’s back with the bolts & rods that are holding it all together. ewww!

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While Daniel put together a hands on experiment and board about magnets. He had been working on a hands on cart for COSI on magnets so he used the supplies he had been putting together for that.

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Then there was this year; we had a 2 week trip to Seattle (Thomas had planned on doing a board about the Space Needle) and my nephew came home with us so the kids still think they’re on vacation. Which means the only research getting done around here was how to get to the next level of whatever video game the boys may be playing.

And while Beth started out the year with intentions of creating and sewing a line of clothes then presenting a fashion show, only later to give up on that idea. She then thought she would present a book making booth with skills she learned from a book making class we had been taking, which was scrapped due to ambivalence. Then finally deciding to bring her sewing machine and work on some sewing projects during the fair, ultimately forgetting to even do that.

So what did my 2 kids plus their nephew do at the science fair? Thomas & BJ taught kids how to play Texas Hold’em while Beth hula hooped.

It was very sad for me to lose this piece of our previous homeschooling life. In my mind I say next year will be different, we will find something they are excited about and we will work together to research it. I hope that is what happens, I hope this year was a fluke and not a new precedent.

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BJ was videotaping Beth running in circles while hula-hooping. This was after Beth briefly attempted to break the world record for hula hooping, while hooping she was looking up the record on my phone. Unfortunately, the record was 72 hours, so unless we left her at the church for 4 days that was just not going to happen. She did make it 11 minutes before someone came and grabbed her hoop.

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Bethany has a flock of little girls following her where ever she goes.

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Then all the kids went outside for a game of kickball to celebrate the end of another school year.

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Kick ball is a great way to end the year and welcome summer. Hopefully, we will be rejuvenated over the summer and next year will be a bit more productive.

Making Hula Hoops

My friend Kristen over at Pepper Paints has been talking a lot about hula hoops; making them, learning to use them, doing tricks with them and it all has inspired me to make and learn how to Hula. So I went and picked up the recommended supplies at Lowes, invited a bunch of friends over and had at it:

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Making the hoops was really easy, only takes a few minutes and ends up costing about $2.00 per hoop. You just need irrigation tubing, connectors and some pretty tape for decoration (all can be found at Lowes.) You can also put rice inside to make a nice noise or water to make it much easier to spin.

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While Thomas had no problem picking up a hoop and spinning away, I just couldn’t get the hang of it.

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I did a little bit better with some help from Beth, but I’m still pretty pitiful. The water hoop really does make it much easier! The bigger and heavier the hoop the easier it is.

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Now Thomas is just showing off, 6 hoops, really?

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Beth also had no problem with it. She hardly moves her little body and it just keeps going forever. She likes to challenge people to see who can keep it going the longest.

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Thomas, being a typical boy, has to battle even while he’s using  a hula hoop. Hula Hooping is not a contact sport!

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Fun was had by all!