Learning in the real world


April 27, 2004, midnight | By Katherine Zhang | 16 years, 9 months ago

Teachers and children participate in Take Our Daughters And Sons to Work Day


Eight-year-old Olivia Maky, wearing goggles to protect her eyes and an apron to protect her clothes, fits right in with the twenty or so Blair freshmen in the room, similarly dressed and bent over pipette tubes and flasks of vinegar. The students carefully drip droplets of a clear liquid into their flasks, waiting for the solution to turn pink. After watching the lab being carried out for the third time, Olivia knows exactly what the students are doing: they're using sodium hydroxide and titration methods to determine the concentration of vinegar. For Olivia, becoming familiar about the lab is all in a day's work – on Take Our Daughters And Sons to Work Day, that is.

On April 22, Olivia, daughter of Chemistry teacher Christine Witte, was one of several Blair daughters and sons to accompany their parents to work as part of Take Our Daughters And Sons to Work Day.

The program, initially named Take Our Daughters to Work Day, was created by the Ms. Foundation for Women ten years ago, and in April 2003, it was expanded to include boys. The event takes place annually on the fourth Thursday in April, according to www.daughtersandsonstowork.org, so that "girls and boys can take what they learn in workplaces on Thursday and apply it to the classroom on Friday." The program is intended to help "young people make connections between what they learn in school and their future goals," the website says.

A day of fun and learning

For the Blair daughters and sons and the Blair teachers that participated in Take Our Daughters And Sons to Work Day, the event was an enjoyable and new learning experience.

Optics and Origins of Science teacher Robert Donaldson brought his seven-year-old granddaughter, Shelley Donaldson, to work with him on April 22. According to Donaldson, his granddaughter had a wonderful time and participated in many of the activities in his classes. "In the first Origins of Science class, the assignment was to read the first nine chapters of Genesis and write a short paper on what ways it agreed with science," Donaldson describes. Shelley completed the assignment and took part in the classroom discussion on the subject, he says.

In another class, students used the Archimedes buoyancy method to calculate the volume of the empty space inside a geode, and Shelley was partnered with senior Joanna Esch in the activity. Each partner was allowed to keep half of the geode. "Shelley was very excited about that," Donaldson says. "I took her back to school, and she showed it to the secretary."

Twelve-year-old Sarah Wray, who went to work with her aunt, World History teacher and SGA sponsor Rondai Ravilious, enjoyed the day as well. "It was fun ‘cause I got to be with my aunt," she says. Sarah watched the videos Ravilious showed in her classes and helped with the preparations for the SMOB elections. "She was my student aide," Ravilious says with a smile.

In addition, Sarah says, "I got to see how the teachers were like when they weren't teaching." She concludes that they "seemed more energetic."

Blazers enjoyed meeting their teachers' children as well. ESOL teacher Karen Shilling, who brought her ten-year-old daughter, Mariel Shilling, to work with her, says, "My students were just fascinated with her." Mariel speaks some Spanish and understood the questions that Shilling's students asked her in Spanish. "[My students] thought that was pretty fascinating, that a blond-haired, blue-eyed little girl could speak Spanish," Shilling recalls.

Meeting the high school world

Being at Blair also gave the Take Our Daughters And Sons to Work Day participants a chance to experience a day in the life of a high-school student. Sarah found that she likes the block scheduling at Blair because there are fewer classes each day and less homework. "It seems better to have block scheduling," she decides. Sarah, who is interested in applying to the Magnet Program next year, says, "I wouldn't mind going to Blair."

For Mariel, Blair contained many surprises. "She was surprised how much action there was," Shilling remembers, adding, "I think she's surprised how hard teachers work. I think she'll have more respect for her own teacher."

The fire drill introduced more surprises to her daughter, Shilling says. In elementary school, students are required to stay with their teachers during a fire drill, and Mariel was concerned when Shilling's students did not do the same on the way to the stadium. "She was confused. She was really concerned why they weren't staying with me," Shilling says. "She thought they were being bad." In the stadium, some of the language that students used surprised Mariel, and she was also shocked that teachers would allow some of the revealing clothes that students wore.

A great experience

All in all, both teachers and their children enjoyed the Take Our Daughters And Sons to Work Day experience. Shelley had a great time, Donaldson reports, adding, "Next year, she wants to come with her cousin, who is my other granddaughter." Donaldson also enjoyed the day greatly himself. "Of course, I was very proud of [Shelley]," he says. "It's nice to have everyone see how smart she is, how beautiful she is. It's also fun because she had a great time as well."

Ravilious similarly loved having Sarah with her during the day. "It's just very nice to have someone special with you all day," she says. "I think it's a wonderful idea to let young people see what the adults in their lives are doing. It gives [them] more of a sense of the real world."



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Katherine Zhang. Katherine Zhang likes French baguettes, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, bookmarks, fresh boxes of rosin, Brad Meltzer novels, and of course, "JAG." In her free time, Katherine enjoys knitting, playing the violin, and reading - especially legal thrillers and books about people in faraway places and long-ago times. … More »

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