I have been organizing my document files–deleting duplicate material, etc. I keep finding stuff that I wrote and never used, like the following. This material was written in response to a request for MOMS WHO WENT BACK TO COLLEGE while their children were young to describe their career and educational journey.
I write science experiment books for kids, At present I have 52 published book for kids in Kinder through high school. My books are translated into 15 different languages and have more than 2 million have been sold.
I graduated from HS at age 16–started to college intending to be a medical lab tech. Married at 17 and dropped out of college to start my family–At 22 and with three young children, I returned to college going at night so that my husband could watch our children. I changed my major to education because I felt it was a career that would give me more quality time with my children.
Attending college with three children and the oldest being 3, was no easy task. While I attended classes at night, I had to prepare my lessons during the day and take care of the needs of my children. I read science books as I rocked then to sleep or spooned baby food into their mouths, there were a few misplaced spoons resulting in noses covered with green peas.I wish I had taken a picture of these photo-opt moments.
While I was adjusting to concentrating with a background noise of three active children, my children were learning ways to get my attention. The oldest would stand in front of me, staring into my eyes, moving her hands back and forth as she repeated in an ever increasing volume– mama, MaMa, MAMA!!
I had gotten so use to studying with the children around that when given the opportunity to go to the library to prepare for an exam, I fell asleep. I needed the noise.
I graduated and started teaching high school science. When my children were teens, I returned to college to earn a masters degree. I think it was more stressful attending night school with teens than it was with young children.
Other than increase my pay, my added degree didn’t change my job description. During my 27 years of teaching in public school, I had the opportunity to teach most of the science courses offered. Even taught science in the middle school, grades 6-8.
Teaching can definitely be considered as part of my education preparing me a future writing career. One important part of this training was teaching myself how to teach hands-on science with a shoe string budget. While we had text books and lab manuals, often the materials to perform the experiments were not available.
I taught high school physics with equipment that my husband helped me build as well as fun stuff I designed that later became part of my first published books. When I had several published books and the royalties matched my teaching salary–which was nothing to brag about—I retired from teaching and concentrated on my writing career. Guess you could say that my education includes a college degree plus 27 years of teaching science.
I published my first book in 1984, the second book in 1989 and my 52nd and latest book was published in 2009. I now have a new career–creating a science web site. This change has me studying again, but this time I am studying HTML, CSS etc….While I do not have young children at home, I do have young great grandchildren that love receiving “granny boxes.” These are boxes that I mail with all kinds of fun stuff in them.
At this time I am doing home study via books and tutorials online in preparation for a new blogging career. Since science is what I know more about than other topics, I am creating a science blog site. At present I have available a basket load of FREE fun and easy to use science ideas for science fair projects–fun stuff for kids, parents, teachers homeschoolers, librarians etc…
I invite kids, parents, teachers, and homeschoolers to take advantage of all the free information on my blog.
I started this web site in March of 2008. After writing 52 books one would think that I would be a computer whiz. Not so. In fact I started what planned to be “my blog” with very few computer skills. And I do mean VERY FEW. I knew how to write documents–email– and use a search engine.
A friend was sure that I’d love blogging. My idea was to answer general science questions from kids, parents, teachers and homeschoolers. I also expected lots of questions about science fair project–thus the name of the “blog.”
My friend got me started: She helped me select a domain name, a host, and WordPress. I did pick out the theme. I’ve recently changed the theme because I am not 100% sure what I did, but I messed up all the URLs –another friend pulled me out of this jam and set up the current theme and I love it.
But back to the story. When I had a blank page on the screen –first friend told me that she had a very busy schedule and would help me more later. In the mean time I was to Play and Find Out About Blogging. That was cute because one of my books for very young learners is called “Play and Find Out about Science.”
I had a flashback to being frustrated in kindergarten over the alphabet. Now I was frustrated over a new type of alphabet, one introduced by Bill Gates and others like him who obviously came from the planet of GEEK. To learn the Geek language or better known as HTML, CSS etc… I read books and tutorials found online.
Starting at a kindergarten level my initial progress was at a snail’s pace. Being an overachiever I quickly became frustrated, but was encouraged when I discovered that I didn’t have to be fluent in Geek, I just needed a few basics.
I discovered that Geeks cannot stop their brain from creating and they seem to have a compulsion to out do one another. They proudly display their new design in small bundles called plug-ins. They even give their plug-ins away. But, of course I had to learn how to install these plug-ins. Back to the books.
How excited I was when I successfully uploaded my first plug-in. Sharing this accomplishment with my friends brought concerned looks. Since I am known for making deals with store managers for sale items, my friends thought maybe I had purchased a truck load of plug-ins. l I explained that I was not talking about Glade scented plug-ins. Yikes! Was I turning into a Geek?
Learning about plug-ins and generators that crank out code for anything I wanted to do made blogging more fun. But the real fun began when I discovered that I could copy web pages with a format that I like and replace the text with my own.I then could study the HTML coding or NOT. Sometimes this plan doesn’t work, but when it does I have something new to play with.
I discovered that I could safely experiment with the HTML code on a single page and just by tinkering around I have learned lots of cool stuff.
I don’t think blogging describes my web site now. Instead, it is more of a dynamic science web site. I love this idea even more. Since science is my passion, I can surf the web and have fun just learning about science. With the different science categories on the front page, I add new material to them often.
I do hope that you enjoy this web site as much as I enjoy sharing science ideas with you.
Quirky might be a term used to describe our lifestyle only because styles and fashions have never restricted us. My daughter says that my house has no decor. I beg to disagree. I describe it as having an Early American/Natural motif or maybe Early Garage Sale–if you get to the sale early, you get a better pick of items 4-Sell.
Our Early American accent was added recently due to a need for storing onions that my hubby grew in his veggie garden. A sweet helpful neighbor and friend suggested that we store the onions in hay. She even supplied the hay. The problem was that the hay needed to be in a cool place.
Cool is not a term used much in Central Texas, but when the onions were harvested it was July. The only cool place is inside our house. But where could I put a bushel of onions and not have to smell them all the time. My hubby had a suggestion that was absolutely brilliant. The onions were kept cool and the hay was contained. It was a bit messy getting the hay in place, and even though we both cleaned up the mess we left a small trail that a visiting friend discovered. Curious about the trail of hay, she followed it and discovered our stash of onions. When she quit laughing she announced that people who store onions in layers of hay in their bathtub must be related to the Beverly Hillbillies.
I’d say that we bath in our cement pond, but at the present our swimming pool is filled with tadpoles–keeping that pool clean was too much work. Besides, I like tadpoles. FYI: The onion-filled bathtub is in a guest bathroom.
Being a writer of science experiments books for kids gives me great latitude for accepted eccentric behavior. No one is shocked to find hay in my bathtub. A visiting friend recently saw the hay and asked what kind of science experiment I had going on.
Its only my children and grandchildren that feel the need to explain our “quirky” life style. The one thing that seems to upset them the most is our lack of a dishwasher. They consider this close to living in the Stone Age. We wash our dishes in a plastic tub that sits in our kitchen sink. We carry the tub outdoors and pour the water on the grass. Doesn’t that earn us a Green Badge? It has built up my biceps. In fact it is better than lifting weights at a gym and it is free.
More from this quirky writer later.
I do remember sitting outdoors on blanket with the twins, Dennis and Dianne. By this time I was about 5 1/2 and the twins about 7 months. Mom was busy hanging the cloth diapers on the clothes line. Mom stopped to see what had made the twins giggle so. Being a bit creative, I had decided to take the babies for a magic carpet ride. Holding the end of the blanket, I was running and pulling the blanket across the yard. Of course the babies has fallen backward with the first snap of the blanket, but I guess they were also a bit hard-headed. Instead of crying, both of them cackled with glee. So, off I ran with babies bumping and laughing.
Mom was almost speechless when we whizzed past her. She did manage to exhale enough air to scream my name!
The fun halted and the Magic Carpet stopped in mid-flight. What had I done now?
After examining the giggling babies, mom was satisfied that there had been no damage done. She did explain that the babies had tender heads and could have been hurt. As the children grew, she later decided that they were as hard headed ad me. We all were curious and we all asked lots of questions. Being the BIG SISTER, I answered most of my siblings questions.
It was a time of discovery and a time of teaching the twins how to do fun stuff–like singing into a fan. I don’t mean ceiling fans. We had a small fan that could sit on a table. It was so much fun to stand in front of the twirling blades and sing. UUM! I had so many fun things and the twins were good students. While I didn’t want to eat the mud pies that I made, I did get my toddling baby sister to taste them. Mom wasn’t always happy with my experiments. I really wasn’t being mean. I just wondered how the mud tasted. I found out that feeding them to your sister got you a swat across the behind.
Told the mom that her son was very bright but that he just wasn’t taking Chemistry serious. It was a very serious meeting. No doubt she is still telling friends about our meeting. Stern–Iron will power??? As as child, my mother described me as being hard-headed? I describe myself as being a scientist–I just want to know WHY? Don’t like to waste time on busy work. But too often don’t read the instructions –just start putting the pieces together. My son and I put together a metal storage building–Every piece of metal and every nut and bold had very looooooog numbers. We skimmed the pictures in the instruction manual–decided it would take all day just laying out the pieces if we read every step. Trashed the book and starting putting stuff together. So a couple of the pieces didn’t fit just right–no problem–drill new holes in the metal. We were proud of our work and we were the only ones who knew about the errors. Or maybe I should say–our creative engineering. HA.. Only the Lord could have gotten a publisher to work with me. I basically designed books as I wrote them. I had a general skeleton for the overall design, but thankfully had the freedom to change that.I love working on my website–no proof that it makes me any $, but enjoy the freedom to start an article–stop–finish it later if I want to–etc…..I do have a couple writing projects that I have to meet a deadline on–one is a homeschool magazine. When you are ready to crank up your publicity–I will be happy to share ideas–I write for the homeschool mag in exchange for publicity in the publication. If the company doesn’t have to pay $, they are more likely to accept your article in exchange for ad space.Have a fun Halloween—No! We live in a rural area–no trick-or-treaters. We didn’t have any when we lived in the suburbs of Houston. Wade said the people considered me a wierd scientists–At the time, I wore costumes to work –During football season, seniors wore costumes on Friday during home games. The costume represented the ribbon slogan for that game–“Don’t Clown Around–Beat ???” I made my costumes—witch–clown–black rabbit–etc—I taught physics and chemistry- Kids laughed when they entered the room, then it was class as usual.
I did have a parent conference the day I had on a clown suit. YEP! Painted face.
Told the mom that her son was very bright but that he just wasn’t taking Chemistry serious. It was a very serious meeting. No doubt she is still telling friends about our meeting.
One of the most difficult research trips I made was to the Geographic South Pole.
The combination of cold and altitude sickness made it difficult to think, and my muscles really ached.
I taught science for 27 years. During my teaching career, I taught in 11 different schools, mostly in Texas but also taught in Arkansas as well as on an army base in Germany. Of all the different science curricula that I’ve taught, my preference is physics, followed by chemistry, then biology, then geology.
My teaching style was a bit unorthodox–if I saw beautiful mushrooms growing on the side of the road, I’d stop and collect them so my classes could observe them. Mushrooms and physics are not the best fit, but if I had to I could find physics objective for using them—if nothing else came to mind the kids could determine their circumference.
Living in a rural area, my husband grows a garden each year. On year I encouraged him to grow pumpkins, which I took to school for a physics pumpkin carving project. Teams of kids worked together designing how they would carve their pumpkin. Each team had to prepare a scale diagram for the design. It was fun and they learned lots of math.
Another fun physics project was musical bottles. The objective was for a team to fill bottles with water so that when the bottles were tapped a musical note was produced. Using the bottles, the team had to play a song of their choice for the class. Some were simple but one team played, “Lean On Me.” Along with the bottles the team included a drum made with a box. It was beautiful!!
Yes, the school had science equipment and yes we used it. But I don’t remember the science equipment yet the musical bottles project is still a clear memory. Most likely the same is true for my students.
TIP: Math and science are less intimidating to learn when there are ongoing, practical and less stressful goals.
I taught an afterschool enrichment class for kids in grades 4 through 6. It was offered by a local community college. The advertis
ement for this class was seen by an editor for Prentice Hall Publishing. She contacted me asking if I’d be interested in writing a science experiment book for kids. I was estatic–but was equally scared. I asked the editor so many questions that she finally sent me a book titled, “How to Write a Book.” It is one thing to create experiments for my class but putting them in a book is very different. This was in 1984 and there were few children’s experiment books in print. It was definitely an open market. Remember that this was before PCs and the internet. I prepared my manuscript using a typewritter. No spell check–yikes!! No sentence structure check–YIKES!!! I am sure that copy editors had nightmares over my manuscripts.
I had spent too much time studying science and math and didn’t consider all that English stuff important. I was VERY WRONG!!!! I felt very dumb when I first started doing publicity tours. My world of science didn’t help me fit in with the rest of the world. I was almost afraid to open my mouth for fear I’d sound as dumb as I felt. I truly was the country bumpkin in the big city. Yes, I had lived in Germany and traveled a great deal but it was always with a tour group. Now I was on my own.
My first trip was to New York City. I assumed I’d be picked up at the gate, but it was during Desert Storm and the area was restricted. It was Sunday so I couldn’t call the publisher. I was so scared, but I had a credit card and I knew that I could purchase a ticket for home. About the time that my panic level was high enough for me to get on a flight for home, I heard my name on the loud speaker. I was to come to the luggage area. I had never met my editor. No doubt he could pick me out of the crowd–I was the lady that looked like a startled deer in headlights.
I was so relieved to see him that I gave him a big Texas hug. I had no professional facade–I was too frightened for all of that. Yes I could have taken a Taxi from the airport to my hotel, but I’d never traveled alone and had never hailed a taxi in my life. When invited to come to New York I said I would only if someone picked me up at the airport. How was I to know that many people in New York do not have cars. Dave had to borrow his sister’s car. Guess I was worth the trouble.
Once during this New York visit I stayed at the publishing house later than expected. It was suggested that I walk the four blocks back to my hotel where I’d be picked up later for dinner. I panicked when I saw it was dark. “Were they really suggesting that I walk by myself in New York City AFTER DARK??? I refused to express this thought out loud. Instead, without comment, I left the building–praying of course. To my surprise, the streets were busy with people. Even so, I was nervous. Upon arriving at the hotel, I had the urge to hug the doorman, but didn’t. After entering the hotel I felt so proud of myself. I mentally gave myself a trophy for accomplishing this gigantic feat. YEA! for Me. I walked by myself on the streets of New York AT NIGHT!!!