Science-in-Motion August 8, 2008Posted by Jennifer in : Uncategorized , 2 comments
My mom, a chemistry professor at Drexel University, founded a cool program called Science-in-Motion. SIM, for short, brings top of the line science equipment to Philadelphia public schools that can’t afford it. This video shows a demonstration she gave at a recent summer camp. The goal of SIM, the show and the video is to get kids excited about science. It works: While waiting for the presentation start, most of the kids were texting or zoning out, but by the end everyone was totally fixated on the show.
I was there to help film and to my surprise, I saw a Girls High student from my 9Queens’ Academies sitting in the second row. There are many cliches about what it means to sit in the first-row, but I think there’s something to be said about the second-row too: enthusiastic but self-conscious about it, and in this case, missing out on the thrill of getting your sneakers drenched in liquid nitrogen.
Fear and Fire in Belize August 4, 2008Posted by Jennifer in : travel , 6 comments
My excitement for a Belizean jungle adventure was tempered by an eerie feeling. The night before departing to volunteer at an all girls’ chess camp in Belize, I told my mother and boyfriend: "I don’t know, I just feel I may die on this trip." In the end we all dismissed it as melodrama, but I am not afraid of flying, so I had no idea where the fear came from.
On my way to Belize, I stopped over for an opening party at the Saint Louis Chess and Scholastic Center. The chess club is the most beautiful I’ve seen in America, and I also got a chance to see the Pullitzer Museum and the Saint Louis Museum of Art. The trip was off to a great start, and when I met my 9queens partner in Houston to travel on to Belize, my fear of dying had subsided. Upon arriving at the Caves Branch jungle lodge, we were greeted with tropical drinks, nachos and screaming monkeys: This was getting better and better! Then I started teaching at chess camp in the middle of the jungle for talented girls aged 9 to 12, from all over Belize. Read more on that at 9queens.org, uschess.org and the Belize National Youth Chess Foundation site.
After the fire, I sensed the danger had passed. The rest of the week I conquered other fears: I jumped off a 20 feet cave waterfall; rocks in front of and behind the deep landing spot scared me into good aim. I went tubing, urged along by a 12-year-old who I’d just taught King and pawn vs. King. My courage almost ran out when faced with rappelling gear and a 100 feet cliff. My fear of falling backwards is so extreme that I used to be unable to play "Trust" with anyone, even boyfriends. I mustered the courage not only because of two fit and attractive guides encouraging me but mostly because of the group of 9 and 10-year girls below me who had already jumped. If I hadn’t done it, and just walked back down 100 feet through the jungle, I’d have to change my moniker from Chess Bitch to Chess Chicken. Yes, the latter is worse.