Monday, May 24, 2010

The Demo Room

For the first part of my daughter's life, I worked as a University Professor. I regularly taught introductory physics lecture courses for freshmen and sophomores. One of the fun parts of preparing a lecture was working out what demonstrations I would integrate into my teaching. Next to the lecture hall, we had several rooms filled with various and assorted "demos" to pick and choose from. On weekends, I regularly used to take my little one with me to the Demo Room and let her explore. When something caught her attention, I would take it off the shelf and set it up for her to see up close. Usually she loved the show, but she didn't care so much to hear my "boring" explanations of the hows and whys. That was O.K., our time together still gave us opportunity for exploration and adventure. The many hours we spent in the Demo Room stirred my little one's imagination. The fact that we had the whole place to ourselves made her feel like we were in a secret place that nobody else knew about or had access to. She still brings up these visits from time to time when something sparks her memory.

Recently at work, we held an Open House for the public to come and visit the laboratory where I work. Thousands of folks take the opportunity to wander about the grounds looking, listening, touching, and trying to understand what we do and why it is important. One of the fun aspects of talking with folks at these sorts of events is to see the look in their eyes when I perform a demonstration of some of the equipment that we use. Every once in a while, I catch a twinkle in their eyes and an expression of wonder that brings me back to those times in the Demo Room with my little one.