I always begin my interactive presentation by getting children to think about what they might have in common with Galileo. Who likes to do experiments? Who plays a musical Instrument? Who plants a garden? Likes to go hiking? Who has brothers and/or sisters? Who likes mathematics? Does anyone here have a pen pal?
So this Larger than Life scientist becomes a little more human as children realize, "well, yes he discovered mountains and craters on the moon and tutored a prince, but Galileo also liked to take long hikes and spend time with his friends, and maybe even played catch with his dog. He studied hard and learned how to play the organ and the lute, but he was a regular guy.
With my show board and props, I meet with private and public school children and homeschoolers. I go to their book fairs and science fairs and writing clubs and their local author celebrations. There have been some memorable moments. Last February 15th, I sang happy birthday to Galileo with a group of homeschoolers in Stafford
The children in Isabella Clemente's third-grade class at St. William of
In a first grade class at Woodacres school in Bethesda, I noticed one little girl sitting criss cross applesauce, eyes closed and arms outstretched In a meditative posture, as I introduced myself. The whole class stayed quiet until she opened her eyes and was ready to begin. Then we got down to business and in a very calm and relaxed manner, proceeded to talk about the stars. After this particular presentation, I got a tour of the school's planetarium. Yes, this elementary school has a planetarium! The parents there do a great job of staffing it and teaching the kids about our solar system and beyond.
Not all schools have planetariums. In fact, I have been to a
Sometimes the children sing to me. At the
And they all want to tell me about their pets. Dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, hamsters, fish, lizards.... "And what pets do you have?" they want to know. Luckily, I can share in their pet enthusiasm, We have a rabbit named Lady, a guinea pig named Fudge, and a fish named? Well, sometimes I forget his name even though I am the one who cleans his bowl, I say. He is the longest surviving fish in the long succession of fishes we have owned.
While I was waiting for the book to be printed, my family and I traveled to
Earlier this month my daughter and I had the good fortune to return to
Our trip was also to include an overnight in
Galileo's parents wanted him to become a doctor. He tried very hard to please them and began taking courses in medicine when he started college. But he soon realized that mathematics was his passion. So he had to chart his own course and, the rest, as they say, is history. I always tell children that Galileo was a good son but what he wanted from his life and what his parents wanted were two different things. Galileo followed his dream. This is a lesson we can all take to heart.
Posted by Jeanne Pettenati
October 23, 2008