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Paging Doctor Science

May 24, 2010

Oh, what a lovely morning! Am I right or am I right?

It's lovely because I'm not really here. Instead, I'm at my kids' school, talking with my daughter's class about what sort of shit I do on a daily basis. Instead of telling the truth, I put together a brief presentation on chemistry and then made a gentle segue into the discovery and development of medicines to treat neglected diseases.

See, my problem is, other parents have already been there, talking about what they do. Their jobs have to be infinitely more exciting than "I dump shit into a flask and watch it stir". And those other parents have handed out all sorts of sweet schwag, which I can't exactly hand out. What am I going to give? Here kids, free magnesium sulfate powder for everyone! Dry your organic solutions with it! Here's some officially-licensed filter paper to pour it through! Awesome!

So, I'm already starting out at a disadvantage. Normally, in order to level the playing field in something like this, I'd just do the talk without pants. However, the judge was pretty specific about my public speaking attire and third graders. Check that. Very specific.

And because this is me we're talking about, I didn't really start planning any of this shit until Friday afternoon, when I dug through the first aid kits that they were planning on throwing out at work and said, "Hey, expired cold packs! These will be awesome!" Only thing was, I couldn't find 24 of them, so I had to make due with what I had. Instead of sending them home with everyone, I'll just illustrate endothermicity with them.

Here, touch this. Warm, huh? Now--SMACK!--hold it. Pretty fucking cold, right? Right? What do you mean your flesh is turning black?

So, I sat down at my computer yesterday and spent the morning making kickass periodic tables. On one side, there's a very lovely periodic table, with the usual spread, and all the elements and what they can be used for. On the back side, I made a list of all the elements, their symbols, their atomic numbers, and their atomic weights. I even worked in Roentgenium, which is element 111 and the most recent addition to the table.

Suck that, parent who brought the red, seizure-inducing strobe light! And a pencil.

Anyone can bring a pencil. But can anyone bring glowing water[1]? Yeah, I thought not! That's the other part of my talk. I'll tell them about chemistry, how fucking awesome it is--Chemistry! Fuck yeah! And then I'll throw up some devil horns--and I'll tell them a little about my job and how I'm saving the world.

And then? We bust into some demonstrations.

Chemistry! Fuck yeah!

Fortunately, I'm not slated to talk on a Tuesday, because then I'd feel compelled to blow some shit up. Instead, I'm doing the glowing water, the cold packs, a little something called "hot ice" to illustrate exothermicity and reactions, and then, the piece de resistance of the entire show, a baking soda fountain.

I was going to show them how to light a dollar bill but keep it from burning...but then I realized that teachers and administrators and such probably frown on bringing a canister of flammable materials and a book of matches to an elementary school these days. Plus, the flames weren't really bright enough to be seen, so I scrapped the idea.

Plus, I can burn through dollar bills on amateur night at Club Gold a lot faster...if you know what I mean.

Hey, pretty lady, that's not a test tube in my pocket. I am, in fact, happy to see you.

Chemistry! Fuck yeah!

Who knows how to ensure that there will be 24 children signing up for business classes when they get to college? Right here, baby.

So, if there's some story on the news tonight about how some jackass suffocated a classroom full of 8- and 9-year olds with a baking soda and vinegar experiment gone horribly awry, you'll know who to blame. I'm personally just hoping that I don't get escorted from the premises after swearing violently when my "hot ice" experiment goes woefully wrong.

Chemistry! Fuck Yeah!

[1] Actually, anyone can bring in glowing water. They sell it in grocery stores. I bought mine for 59 cents.


BigSis said...

I think what you do is WAY cooler than most. I can't even go in to school on those days because I got nothin'. How do you tell the 4th graders what an HR director does? I hire and fire people and listen to a bunch of adults whine like Kindergarteners. That's nothing like glowing water!

Scope said...

You could teach them how to cook up a batch of meth, but then you'd get the kids saying, "That's not how Mommy does it," and it would throw you off your game, and tragedy would ensue for the class rabbit.

BeckEye said...

What's the thing where you dip something in liquid and then when you pull it out, you swing it around like a lasso and it turns solid? Am I describing this correctly at all? I think it had to do with dry ice. I slept through a lot of my science classes, sorry.

Chemgeek said...

"I even worked in Roentgenium, which is element 111 and the most recent addition to the table. "

What about Copernicium (Cn)? Element 112.

Adam L. said...

Oh man, now I'm dreading having to give that talk, even though I don't have kids yet.

Hopefully you'll manage (you've managed?) to get one or two of them to think that science is cool enough to pursue someday! Lord knows we need more science folk.

Steam Me Up, Kid said...

I'm pretty sure the only thing my third grade students remember from the entire year in my class was the day I brought the dry ice in. Fuckers. But seriously, dry ice is like their... krypton... ite. You can see that there was an attempt at a chemistry joke there, right? That's what matters.

Also, had you posted earlier, I could have told you to google the lyrics to "The Atoms Family" song. Now that's a party.

kate said...

I'd try to make some kind of witty comment, but I slept through most of chemistry in high school. I got nothin' :)

Pearl said...

One of your best posts yet.

Fuck, yeah.

And periodic tables?! Better have an exit strategy when you throw that one up. Those kids are gonna rush the stage -- uh, front of the room -- and it'll be like that Who concert all over again.

words...words...words... said...

I can't believe you didn't blow anything up. Explosions are chemistry!

SkylersDad said...

I bet most of those kids have seen Mythbusters. You should just go ahead and lead with an explosion!

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

You're still allowed in schools?!

Wynn said...

I'm waiting impatiently, how did it go?!

Cora said...

My kid never had career day at school -- and, thank God, because I'm a Nanny (and what kid wants to hear about THAT?) and her dad is a poker dealer (and, well, y'know....)