Saturday, April 3, 2010

An Apology To Manheim Central High School

      In my blog of March 29, There Is Life Outside Of Football, I wrote some disparaging things about the science curriculum at my old high school. Shortly thereafter I received a very polite email from Mr. Seth Kensinger, the AP Chemistry teacher at Manheim Central. Since then I have talked to him on the telephone, and received an education about how things are done outside the blog world.
      I was concerned that no students from Manheim Central entered the Annual North Museum Science and Engineering Fair in Lancaster. He was very familiar with the fair – he had entered it as a student, later served as a judge of the entries, and even had a few students who entered projects. It is his contention that there are some political shenanigans that are not always conducive to the welfare of the entrants.
      He told me, “Instead of the pushing the science fair at MC, we offer team-oriented opportunities such as the Envirothon teams and JETS teams to our science students.”
      According to the web page, “Envirothon is a fun, academic event. It challenges high school students to think critically about the natural world and their role in it. Envirothon combines in-class curriculum and outdoor training helping students to learn more about Aquatic Ecology, Forestry, Soil & Land Use, Wildlife, and Current Environmental Issues.”
      The (J)unior (E)ngineering (T)echnical (S)ociety competition challenges teams with science and math exams. The theme for the year 2010 is Water, Water Everywhere, and teams consisting of four to eight students will be challenged to answer technical questions related to the subject. During the past ten years, Manheim Central teams have twice been ranked number one in the state, and have also been ranked twice in the top twenty nationwide.
      I examined a couple of the sample questions, and take my word for it, solving them is nothing one does just to pass the time of day.
      I like the idea of the team approach. The individual scientist working alone in his laboratory is not the way science is done in today’s world.
      So why don’t we hear about these achievements? Apparently since the science fair is sponsored in part by the Lancaster Newspapers, other science competitions get short shift on publicity. That’s part of the politics I spoke of earlier. Too bad - the current culture could use more good science news.
      I owe the students and teachers of Manheim Central a big apology. I offer it with no reservations. Keep up the good work.
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      As I thought about it, I soon realized that an even more remarkable transition had occurred that didn’t show in the pictures, and that was the change that had taken place on the inside of the children. Although both boys had grown up in similar surroundings, they have completely different likes, dislikes, loves, hates, prejudices, interests, beliefs and worldviews in general.
      Foreword – The Spirit Runs Through It

To read more excerpts from the book, click here.

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