Friday, July 27, 2007

Girl Scout Camp

So I just got back from Girl Scout camp. No, seriously.

It's been about 20 years since the last time I went to Girl Scout Camp, but it was pretty much how I remembered, with the campfires and the singing and hiking and swimming and what not. Except this camp specializes in incorporating NASA activities into their programs, which is too cool. One of the things they like to do is to have scientists come and hang out with the girls so they can see that scientists are people too, and this year, I was that scientist.

I hung out with the girls, went on their hikes, did arts and crafts. Turns out I'm pretty good at archery, or at least better than your average 9 year old girl. And we talked. They asked lots of great questions. I like using these opportunities to size up the world and see how NASA is doing with outreach and spreading its message. I use my family for this a lot too, but kids are much better because they aren't afraid of looking stupid and they will ask you literally anything that pops into their heads.

The most popular question I was asked is why Pluto is no longer a planet. They are still pretty upset about that, but they do seem to have accepted the fact, they just want to understand the reasons behind it.

Nobody asked me if we faked the Moon landing (something I get asked by adults all too frequently), which I take as a positive sign.

They seemed very concerned that the world was going to end, they wanted to know if the Earth was going to blow up, if the Moon was going to blow up, if the Moon was going to crash into the Earth, if the Sun was going to explode, and so on and so on. I hope I didn't give any of them nightmares when I explained about the Sun going red giant in another 5 billion or so years and swallowing the earth, perhaps I shouldn't have fed those flames.

They all wanted to know if I had been in space and how many times I had been to the Moon. I asked one group when was the last time people went to the Moon, they said last year (so cute!). They seem to think that we go to Mars pretty regularly too.

I was a little saddened to learn that most of them didn't know what a geologist was, and a lot of the brownies (6-8 yr olds) had never heard of NASA. Can you imagine? The older girls did better, probably in part because they've been coming to this camp for a while.

They asked a lot of questions about what it's like to be a scientist. What I liked about the job and what I didn't. I told them one of the things I liked was that I could wear whatever I wanted, and one girl asked if I could wear my pajamas - apparently that is the ideal job from a 10 yr old's perspective, one in which pjs are a fashion statement.

All in all, a good week. I had tons of fun and hopefully the girls learned something.

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