Oh my! It's been a year since I started Nerdy Baby/Science. What a difference a year makes. I'm so very thankful for all of your love and support. Even if you just happen upon my site by searching, I'm thankful that I could hopefully provide you with useful information and ideas.
When I started the blog last January, it looked like I was going to be jobless for a while, and I was going to use it as a way to connect and share information with other parents. I actually started it before I was scheduled to lose my job due to research funds ending. Within two weeks of starting the blog, a colleague decided to switch careers which freed up funding and allowed me to jump into a bigger role in my lab - which also meant bigger time commitment and work responsibilities from me. The blog, though personally important, took a back seat. I made it my goal to post at least one fun science thing to do a week.
Why did I start Nerdy Science?
Short answer: I wanted to share simple science with others who had really young kids.
The longer answer:
I hated science. H-A-T-E-D, with a passion. I thought it was a waste of time. I'd much rather crunch numbers. I grew up in Las Vegas, in a state with one of the lowest high school to college rates (really, being book smart is not a priority for that city). I remember downplaying much of my excitement for learning (aka - nerdiness) because I already had enough dings against me when it came to the bullying crowd (braces and short/shrimpy and late bloomer, mainly).
But, why did I hate science? Besides probably hiding some of my nerdiness, I think it came down to I never really had super awesome science teachers - except one chemistry teacher, but Dr. Mr. P. quit teaching to become an administrator into the first quarter of the class. Nobody really showed me how cool science really was.
How did I transform? Somewhere also in college, I began volunteering with outreach programs that would teach science and engineering to kids (mostly 3-12 grade). I loved seeing the "light bulb" moments when kids realized how cool science is! However, even at age 8, many kids have decided that science is not for them.
Fast forward to January 2011: Besides thinking of my next move professionally and personally, I saw an ad that would bring scientists to birthday parties. However, upon further investigating the company, I found that they wanted everyone to be age 5+ to participate in the fun. My son wasn't even 2! But, he was sure interested in science. Everything around him was one big experiment; he was a natural scientist. Besides, the company charged up the butt for a scientist. Science is and should be accessible for everyone, including 2 year olds, and it shouldn't make the parent go broke.
With encouragement of a few friends and family, I started documenting J's adventures with science on this blog and thinking of more ways to have science fun.
Here are some highlights of the last year:
January 2011: I started Nerdy Baby blog.
June 2011: I joined a small business entrepreneurs alumni club through Stanford to mainly network with people who have started businesses on their own. After thinking long and hard about a name, I purchased the domain: http://www.nerdyscience.com (still working on the website). I started looking for small grants that I could get to start making curriculum to bring to the kids.
July 2011: I applied for a Pepsi Refresh Grant out on a limb, not thinking I'd even get to the voting phase.
August 2011: I WON the Pepsi Refresh Grant thanks to all of your support! The goals of the grant were to create a website to better share information about doing science as a family and bringing science to really young kids through preschools and community centers, culminating in a science "fair" where the kids show the parents what they've been learning. I made the Nerdy Science Facebook page.
Oct-Dec 2011: After receiving the funding, I kicked curriculum designing into high gear. Researching via internet, books, and museums on what I think 2-7 yr olds would find interesting.
January 2012: I began teaching science in preschools.
Where would I like to be a year from now?
My funding from Pepsi will be over, and I hope to actually form the non-profit company that I dream about. I hope to have a board and volunteers and be applying for further funding. I love working with little kids. They are so honest and probably the toughest critics. My favorite part of teaching science is to see how excited I can get them about nerdy things (like gravity or buoyancy or friction forces). I love figuring out how to best present the materials for the giggly reactions that means they are having fun.
I really like being a research engineer (hey, it's science), but it is not where my passion lies. However, quitting a job with any benefits is a risky move (especially in this economy). My heart melts every time J tells me how much he loves doing science with me. I don't know how much longer I can keep going with doing something that I like full-time vs. something that I love part-time. I'm sure when it's time, I'll know for certain.
When all is said and done I hope that we (parents, teachers, friends, family) can be role models for young kids and show them that it's cool to love learning.
Thank you so much for such a wonderful year. It really has been better than I could have ever imagined.