Friday, February 8, 2013

Reach For The Stars

One of the things I love most about the kids' elementary school is the sense of family you get when you walk in the door.  I know that sounds all cliche and like propaganda from the school district website, touting the awesome opportunities available to our children, but the truth is, Forest Lake really is indeed a family.

Every nine weeks or so (I think it's that often - I can't remember without digging out a calendar) the school and PTO host a family NASA night.  It's a chance for the kids to bring their families to school to eat dinner, participate in a whole host of cool activities, skype with astronauts, and get general school updates.

The 'NASA night' comes from the school's heavy involvement with NASA - since it's a NASA explorer school and all.  The theme this past family night had to do with the science behind winter.  Think the symmetry of snowflakes, different types of ice and temperature, that sort of thing.


Seeing as I have two hands and three children to wrangle, I tapped into Emma who happily (I think) joined us in the family fun.  She helped get dinner to the table - no small feat when juggling pizza and drinks with excited children.

Following dinner, Emma took off with Anna and James (and their friends) to crawl through the mobile star lab and create some snowman art while Jack and I took the opportunity to sit in on the Skype session with the NASA folks in Pasadena who are working on the Mars Curiosity project.

Not only did we learn all about the latest happenings of the Mars rover, but we also got to see some cool footage of the drill getting ready to auger into the crust of Mars.  (The astronaut guy we were talking to said we were the first to see the images - I'm not sure if I believe him - but whatever - it sounds cool, right?)

Then question and answers - to which my three-year old asked 'how do you fly?' - and was given a great answer  (including unplanned short video) of how Curiosity got to Mars from Earth.  How cool is that?

We eventually caught up with the other kids - James in the second grade hall where they were experimenting with candy - and given the chance to prove (or disprove) the old wives tale 'does your stomach explode if you drink soda after eating pop rocks?'

James was a little skeptical at first - but he's not one to back down from a challenge - especially one that involves candy ...

... so he sipped his soda - then sprinkled in his pop rocks ...

... and waited to see the reaction ...

... which was priceless.

(Jack refused to even consider trying - and whenever we asked him if he was interested he clamped his hand over his mouth and ran the other direction.)

Moving on - we ended up in the fourth grade hall to learn about the different temperatures of different kinds of 'ice' - dry ice vs. ice from water.


Especially when they got to learn about the temperatures of ice - and how it is actually colder when salt is added - kind of like when you make old-school, old-fashioned ice cream.

Which they did - by shaking a bag of ice cream mix inside a bag of ice + rock salt.


Walking through the Second Grade hall again, I paused to take this picture of Anna's thoughts on technology:

Yeah.  I'm a proud mama.

But my heart really wanted to burst when I was stopped on multiple occasions, by multiple teachers (many of whom I do not know or recognize) to ask 'are you the Long children's mother?  We LOVE your children.  Just LOVE them.  They are so well behaved and so much fun to have in class!'

Guess some of that parenting is actually sinking in - despite having to do my Mommie Dearest impression.

All in all a fabulous night.  And certainly one of those things I'm really going to miss if we ever move to Virginia and have to leave this little school we call home.

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