April 30, 2010
I am writing in praise of the excellent learning opportunity provide to children through the Growing Scientist classes at Coyote Point Museum. My son, Tommy, was three-years-old when he began taking the Growing Scientist class. Tommy is the kind of child who needs extra time to become comfortable in new settings and with new people. He is particularly shy around other children. He is a bit hypersensitive to certain things (smells, touch, noise) and becomes very upset when his hands get dirty. I have been enrolling Tommy in different classes to help desensitize him and to help him learn to socialize, but the class that has made the most impact on him is the Growing Scientist class. On our very first day in the Growing Scientist class the kids examined dirt. That is to say, the other kids examined dirt. Tommy just glanced at the bin and asked if class was over. But Teacher Cat had made magnifiers available, and that, along with some half-eaten worm food, sparked an interest. Tommy stopped asking if we were going to go home. Over the last few months Tommy has had several opportunities during class to examine insects, reptiles and amphibians in their natural environment. Tommy still refused to touch dirt with his hands, but I could sense he was becoming more comfortable with the idea. Imagine my surprise this past weekend when he actually brought me 2 earthworms he had found, and he was carrying them in his bare hands! One of our first experiments in the Growing Scientist class involved dropping different objects into buckets of water. Tommy became almost frantic when some of the objects began to sink, because he is afraid of losing things. He has now observed and/or participated in enough experiments to become fairly comfortable with the idea of things sinking, changing form, etc, yet I still expected him to become upset when Teacher Cat brought out the Alka-Seltzer rockets. I thought he would panic when the “rockets” shot into the air, but he actually helped to make the rockets and really enjoyed watching them. One series of classes was devoted to animals such as mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. Teacher Cat brought out different animals for the children to touch and examine. By the end of this session Tommy was enthusiastically touching anything that was offered to him. I didn’t realize that this would carry over into another of his classes. I had enrolled Tommy in Spanish classes around the same time that he started the Growing Scientist classes. He liked his Spanish class except for one thing: the puppet show. Each week they would use different puppets to help teach new words. Tommy has always been afraid of puppets. Then one day we were watching the puppet show and a huge, hairy tarantula puppet came out. The kids all became very upset, with one little girl even breaking into sobs. Tommy just sat stoically on my lap, and I wondered what he was thinking while I reminded him that spiders are our friends. The teacher stopped the class and asked if anyone wanted to come up and touch the spider. The kids became even more upset. She asked again but the kids were visibly shaken. I asked Tommy if he wanted to touch the spider. He said yes and jumped up, walked up to the puppet and petted it several times. When the other kids saw this they calmed down and some of them became brave enough to pet the spider as well. As Tommy walked back to me, he had a huge smile on his face. He knew he had done something that none of the other kids could do. I know that some of the improvements that Tommy is making are due to the normal developmental process. However, I fully believe that many of the changes I am observing are a result of Tommy’s experiences in his Growing Scientist classes. Teacher Cat’s gentle encouragement and the enthusiasm of the other children have made Tommy feel safe to explore, to create and to experience new ideas and activities that he could not or would not do otherwise. I am so happy that we have found such a great learning opportunity, and you could not have a better teacher than Catherine Brett . She is outstanding. With her creativity, patience, flexibility and gentle nature she truly is an asset to the early education program at Coyote Point.
What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...
the learning opportunity it has provided my family.
How frequently have you been involved with the organization?
About every week
When was your last experience with this nonprofit?
MY ROLE:General Member of the Public & Participated with my son in the Growing Scientist classes at Coyote Point Museum.