We have been attending science classes for homeschoolers at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies for three years now. The first year, I left my daughter home with my husband and took my son to the class. He was in kindergarten. He got bored in the beginning. He told me he would like to leave once or twice. I sent him back to his seat and told him nicely that he will need to wait until craft time. Eventually, I brought her along and she sat next to me, taking in the atmosphere, the vocabulary, the experience.
The class has two parts: a Power Point presentation and a craft project. They have changed teachers once and both teachers have been top notch.
Because parents stay in the classroom, sometimes there are younger siblings who make noises. Once, it got really loud. There were a few too many toddlers around. That was the only time that I saw stress on the teacher. It was also the largest class I have ever seen – about 40 people were in the room.
The second year, my son was in first grade and my daughter in pre-Kindergarten. They offered a preschool class so we attended it for my daughter and then we stayed on for my son’s class. The preschool class fizzled out after a couple of sessions. They just did not have enough students to participate. I was glad they canceled it, because it made for a long day at the Aquarium. Too long. Also, because they used to give them a sugary snack, which made the class even more expensive ($5.5)than the K-2 class my son attended ($2.20). Those are the prices for people with annual passes, by the way.
After they cancelled the preschool class, I simply paid for my daughter to attend the K-2 class alongside my son. Why not? She is a rather mature child. Even though she got bored a couple of times, she made it through and understood the routine. She wanted me to sit next to her and I did. She learned to wait patiently for craft time.
The third year, which is this one, I finally have both of them situated properly. She is in Kindergarten and he is in second grade – perfect for the K-2 class. The lectures range from the history of marine biology to stream ecology to aquatic invertebrates and many others. The crafts are easy to make by young children and involve painting or gluing or stamping – the whole range.
I will have to figure out what to do for next year: advance my daughter to the class for Grades 3-5? Or keep my son in her class one more year, even though he will be in Grade 3? I will have to talk to the teacher about it. It’s just too long for us to be in the Aquarium for two classes and I understand it is pretty much the same presentation but maybe with a different craft or more details.