My niece joined the family on July 12th, 2010. This special young lady's mother is my younger sister, which in classic Chinese culture makes me her Jiu Jiu (舅舅) -- thus the title of this blog. Here I intend to semi-regularly post reflections, thoughts, stories, and assorted whathaveyous pertaining to our trip to China, adoption in general, and (mostly) watching my niece grow up. Since the web is a very public place, I will attempt to maintain my family's privacy while telling the story... but I invite you to follow the blog and come along for the adventure!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Catching Up: Elementary School Science Share plus Bonus Wildlife (2017_03_15)

Every year, the Pipsqueak's school has a "Science Share" event (pretty much the same as the old Science Fair events from my school days, but with an added emphasis on the kids teaching each other & the visitors -- all good stuff). Last year, Miri teamed up with her BFF for a project near and dear to my heart: testing the melting rates of different types of chocolate. (You can read the post about last year's Science Share by clicking here.)

This year my niece was a solo act in which she ran a test to determine if color would affect the rate at which a sugar/water mix would crystallize and how much of the color would be absorbed by the sugar. The first test didn't work, partly because different containers were used for different colors and partly because... well, let's just say things didn't go quite as planned. The re-do worked out nicely. Grandma supplied four identical small transparent glass bowls and Mommy remembered to take all the required photographs, and the sugar did indeed crystallize very nicely over the course of a little over a week.

A few days before the Science Share began, I was asked to please lend a hand creating the display boards (partly because AJ's printer & laptop were having a tiff) so the three of us spread out over most of both the living & dining room areas with scissors, glue sticks, a bunch of photos AJ had emailed me that I'd printed at my house, foam board, et. al. There were a few last-minute downloads & printouts (once I'd finally gotten AJ's printer and laptop to cooperate) and a couple of minor disagreements over layout, but I was able to head back home secure in the knowledge that Miri's scientific research was ready to be presented to her admiring public.

Despite it already being mid-March, our crazy weather first dropped hail on our heads on the 10th and then added snow to its repertoire so when I looked out my back door the morning of the 15th all I saw was bare branches and snow. Hey, waitaminit... did that tree trunk just move by itself...?

What I had thought was just another fallen tree suddenly resolved itself into a young deer. And then a second moved just enough to be seen... and then a third... a fourth...  Despite their heavy winter coats blending almost invisibly into the white-brown-grey of the trees behind my house, I finally woke up enough to see a small herd of deer nonchalantly munching their way down the block. The mystery of where they came from was quickly solved when yet another furry eating machine bent its head a little and walked through a big hole in the fence between my neighborhood and the golf course next door. I grabbed my camera and fired off 20-odd shots through the dirty glass of the sliding door.

Yes, I know I said I took more than 20 photos... I just wanted to include the good ones. (I really had just woken up!)

I figured that having all that fuzzy cuteness in my backyard was a good omen, and remained in a good mood as I picked up Mom & Dad and we headed to Miri's school early that evening.  Event set-up was mostly complete, and we were glad to see the usual big turnout. (Side note: Unlike some other schools in the area, this one is blessed with a very high level of parent & family involvement. Also unlike some other schools in the area, said involvement is of a positive, supportive nature, with no calls to ban books, change history lessons, or stop teaching "erotic math" -- the last being something my mother's school was charged with by some parents a number of years ago. AJ spent a lot of time researching school districts long before starting the adoption process, and she done good.)

We found the Pipsqueak's display at one end of the gym and I began perusing the other displays while Mom & Dad spoke with other grandparents. (There were a number of duplicate experiments, but only one other like hers done by an older kid with the title reversed.) The kids were all supposed to remain at their displays to explain their experiments to passers-by and faculty, but after a few minutes of watching all the non-participating siblings & other kids run around having a good time Miri needed a little extra encouragement from Grandma to not wander more than a couple of feet away. (She wasn't the only one; about 1/3 of the displays I visited were unmanned when I passed by.) That little hurdle passed, Miri did herself proud; the comments sheet for her display had several very nice compliments concerning her presentation of the experiment, and one gentleman spent at least five minutes gushing about her ability to explain what she did and the self-confidence she displayed. (I think she unleashed her "little schoolmarm" persona on him.)

The event finally came to a close (not a moment too soon for the one display featuring Skittles -- I think the bowl was licked clean!) and Miri happily collected her certificate of achievement and a firm congratulatory handshake from the principal.

I lent a hand with some of the tear-down (folding tables, etc.) and then we went out for a celebratory ice cream before everyone headed for their respective houses. All in all, a good evening... despite Mom still wondering when she'll get her glass bowls back!

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