left brain, right brain, and the processing dance

One of the things that makes Bear, well, Bear is her combination of left brain/right brain qualities.

Girly-girl loves fashion, but she’s also down with getting dirty playing outside.  She enjoys goofing off but doesn’t mind hard work, especially if it means spending quality time with BrightSide.  Bear loves singing, drawing, and making jewelry, but she’s also great with number logic and thinks experiments are cool.

Altogether it makes for a pretty interesting youngster.

As for me, I’d always assumed I was more of a right brain kind of gal.  Writing, reading, music, the arts – all the things I love are right brain areas.  Feelings have often swayed me as much as facts, and left brain directions (go two blocks west, turn south on Maple St., drive three miles) make me absolutely nutty.  I know no one’s 100% left or right brained, but still…things seemed pretty clearcut to me.

Which made it all the more surprising to learn I’m basically using my left and right hemispheres equally.  Some of my personality traits should have tipped me off to this possibility, but the circumstantial evidence was just so overwhelmingly right-ish…at any rate, that was my discovery of the week.  I am – gasp – brain balanced.

It was Bear’s interest in this year’s STEM club that made me curious.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math – it meets on Friday afternoons, and they do all sorts of awesome experiments and interesting projects.  Bear loves it.  (And what does she do two other afternoons a week?  Percussion.  Yep.  Mix and match those talents, babe!)

Way back in the fall the STEM club’s teacher put out a call for parent volunteers when it came time to prep the kids for a countywide competition this spring.  Well, you know me, I never met a volunteer opportunity I didn’t like (except for cafeteria duty – ewwww!) so I spoke with the teacher that afternoon.

In all fairness, I was entirely forthcoming about my skill set when I offered my help.  I explained that while I consider myself intelligent I’m not what one would call a math or science person, so if they were looking for parents who could teach, I don’t know, math or science then I probably wasn’t a great choice.  You’d think that would have been the end of it considering this was for STEM club, but the teacher assured me he’d find an appropriate group for me.

Fast forward to December when the teacher passed me a packet detailing an event called Data Crunchers.  Our kids will need to complete each station in approximately 90 seconds in order to be competitive.  Okay then…no pressure there.

As we moved into February I began joining the STEM kids after school to work with my group. It quickly became obvious how insane the task ahead of me was.  The teacher may have chosen what seemed like the appropriate group; he may also have underestimated exactly what I meant when I said that I wasn’t a math or science person.

First I had to complete a set of sample stations so I’d have some idea of what the kids would be expected to do.  Lots of these were pretty straightforward – find the mass, find the radius, measure the line’s length – but then they started throwing wrenches in.

Measure line A in cm.  Measure line B in mm.  Give the total measurement of both lines in meters.  (Wait, what?  Meters…meters…that’s like the yardstick, that’s WAY too big for these lines. Did I ever learn about converting in the metric system?  Ah, hell…Google.)

Find the volume of the rectangle.  (Okay.)  Find the volume of the triangle.  (Huh?)  Find the volume of the circle.  (Screeeecchh…hold up.  Volume?  I mean, I know what volume is, squares and rectangles are a cinch, but the volume of a circle or a triangle?  I don’t think I’ve EVER known how to do that.  Crap…Google.)

Use the tool provided to measure the radius of part A and the circumference of part B. (Okay, I don’t even know WHAT the hell that thing is…Google.)

It is full on ridiculous how much I prep for this elementary-aged science and math group. Like, for real.  I’m researching online, taking notes, doing practice problems…and even with all that I still have to ask BrightSide about some of this stuff.

Science!  ERK!!

Those assessments can tell me I’m brain balanced all day long, but I sure feel right hemisphere inclined when it comes to working with these STEM brainiacs.

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