GreatScienceForKids.com, and it’s in-person demonstration counterpart Science Express, and how it came to be…
Allow me to introduce myself. I’m a self confessed sort of science geek. I’m married, have two wonderful adult children and am retired from a rewarding 30 year career in public education working with students, mostly in student services (guidance counselor).
My earliest memories were probably age 2 or 3 lying on the grass on a sunny day and looking closely at the amazing sights at 3-4 inches. Today, with antique eyeballs, the privilege of un-aided sharp close vision was an un-appreciated gift. The detail and colors amazed me. My first frightening nature experience was coming upon a grass snake with a small frog in its mouth. Non-the-less my curiosity about nature always grew. I loved to lie on my back and watch cumulus clouds drift by closely watching a small spot to determine if the cloud was forming or dissipating.
Toy magnets and building model airplanes was an outlet to work with my hands. A Christmas train set awakened creative fantasies and introduced the idea of electricity. By middle school an older brother’s interests left books about building radios lying around. It wasn’t long before a ham radio license was obtained and the idea of controlling model airplanes by radio seemed like the coolest toy a kid could build. High School introduced me to a nun who taught me to seek out a more informed approach to science. Several Science Fairs netted some blue ribbons.
Along came college with ideas about a career helping people, maybe teaching something. During summer vacation the lure of a local flying club could not be resisted. Moving through the FAA ratings forced serious study about meteorology and the physics of flight. A flight instructor rating was a ticket to paying for this expensive new habit. College left me with some science classes but not marketable skills. The people-helping gene overcame the science gene and a Master’s degree in counseling was a meal ticket.
Marriage and a family came next. With young children to share my science interests, there were always dinner table talks about why and how things worked. Summer family camping trips to the four corners of the U.S. gave many opportunities for visits to zoos, nature centers and museums. My wonderful wife’s dairy farm background was a great resource in awakening our childrens’ understanding of and respect for the family farm. Moving to a country home was a virtual living laboratory for our children.
Although my professional career was dedicated to student services there were always outlets for the science interests. Building a solar water heater for the first Earth Day, coaching an Olympics of the Mind team, starting a radio club, creating a Aerospace Technology course, and keeping abreast of the U.S. space program were some of the fulfilling sidelights of a professional career.
Retirement brought the luxury of time to pursue long delayed interests. The formation of a local EAA chapter with a large building was an opportunity not to be wasted. Gathering up the remains of my high school Aerospace class a summer Air Camp was created with the assistance of many members. Aerospace education is an excellent vehicle to capture the attention and enthusiasm of youth. From the physics of flight itself to the importance of meteorology to the study of human biology in the realm of flight and space, topics abound that are supported by dozens of hands on experiments. Those dozens of experiments triggered the idea of using them with schools in the off season. With the cooperation of teachers and nature centers, a variety of programs have been spawned from the understanding of the atmosphere and its importance to all forms of life to investigating how birds fly.
Sooo Science Express is the giving back to the community for years of enjoying the thrill of being a part of a national S.T.E.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program. Your interest and participation continues the tradition of shining a light on the mysteries and marvels of Nature for the curious minds of the best hope for the future: our children.
Paul Lupton PhD
“Our Amazing Atmosphere” program
held at Peninsula State Park, 2013.