Today is the second in our series from the New Jersey Academy for Aquatic Sciences, a nonprofit based in Camden which promotes the understanding, appreciation and protection of aquatic life and habitats through research, education and youth development programs. Their CAUSE program works with high school students and 8th graders who, in turn, teach a range of science concepts to younger kids during the summer.
In case you missed it last week, Janay wrote about connecting with the community through science. Today, we hear from Chris H., who is a 3rd year intern:
By Chris H.
I’ve been in the CAUSE for only three of its eighteen years, but I can honestly say that Mr. Doctor Professor Doc is in the CAUSE hall of fame as the greatest character of all time. He is the mad, insane, bigger-than-life scientist that has permanently been engraved in the minds of the kids he has taught in the CAUSE summer camp. And best of all, during the summer, I turn into him.
I’m like Dr. Jekyll, and he’s Mr. Hyde, only everybody loves him. He was created in my second year at the CAUSE program.
My first year teaching in the classroom wasn’t as memorable as my second year. To be honest I don’t remember anything I did my first year. Not because it wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t as fun as I could have made it. I was nervous, and it was my first time teaching. Not the kind of teaching you have to do when you’re explaining a report to your class, but the kind where the kids actually see you as their teacher and call you “Mr.” the way I was taught. The fun I had was when I wasn’t “teaching,” but playing with my kids. I never expected that I would be dressed in a lab coat with clown hair teaching little kids.
When my second year came, there was a big change. First, I became more acquainted with my fellow Interns. Instead of hanging out with the same person or group of people, I switched things up and learned new things from the different people I associated with in the program.
The character Mr. Doctor Professor Doc first popped in my mind after the program director, Cheronda (or Mom as we call her), did a demonstration of how she wanted the classroom experience to be. She played a mad scientist. I’m a very, VERY hyperactive and energetic person, so I thought that a mad scientist would be perfect character for me. I never expected my character was going to be such a hit.
When I was little, I would have loved my teacher to do crazy things. Running in the classroom, being animated, overreacting to everything—and of course having conversations with the chalkboard got the nine year olds’ attention. Mr. Doctor Professor Doc wasn’t just a teacher, or the craziest scientist you ever met, he was an entertainer. Even the counselors from the other classrooms came to see what Mr. Doctor Professor Doc was doing because he was so hilarious to watch.
To me, the best way to teach a kid is to think outside of the box, then tear the box apart and make a pair of wings out of it so you can teach about birds. A 3rd grader isn’t going to pay attention to someone just writing notes on a board; they’re going to pay attention to the guy jumping from table to table.
On top of that, I took things to the next level by taking counselors “hostage” and encouraging the kids to free their teacher by passing my test on their lesson. The best part was that they actually learned. My biggest fear was they would pay more attention to Mr. Doctor Professor Doc and his actions than the actual lesson, but at the end of each lesson, my campers were able to tell me every little detail. That’s because whenever Mr. Doctor Professor Doc was teaching, Mr. Chris would “disappear.”
The character traveled to every classroom. Everyone knew that whenever the lights went out and the police sirens went off, the Dr. had arrived. The kids knew that they were about to have their minds blown away. My favorite part was at the end of the day: the kids would be excited to learn the next day, because they knew that Mr. Doctor Professor Doc was still on the loose. •
This series continues next Wednesday