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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Leo’s Science Kit

My neighbors like to leave gifts for the kids on the doorstep. About half of the neighbors on the street have lived here for thirty years or more, raising their own families on the same block where my little guys play today. When we first moved here I had many conversations about how the cul-de-sac used to be filled with kids and then for a while it was filled with tweens and teens. Now those kids are off finding their places in the world. And now my children (along with one or two other families) are filling up the neighborhood with little ones.
Inevitably, when my older neighbors begin to clean out closet and garages, childhood treasures start to emerge. And sometimes really amazing things land on our front step. One time we arrived home to find an entire Darth Vader outfit along with a box full of gently used cleats. (Can you guess which item I was thrilled about?) Another time I came upon an old cribbage game, a deck of cards, and a book called “Card Games for Kids.” We’ve received board games, magic tricks, boogie boards, and sleeping bags. For the most part, I know where these gifts come from (thanks Bob!) but there’s a charm in coming home and wondering who left the treasure for us to enjoy.
But one gift has taken center stage for Leo and stands out as a stellar acquisition. We came up to the steps on afternoon last month and found this:
Sold in the mid-80s, this science kit is AWESOME! Leo was immediately intrigued by the microscope, slides, tweezers, and magnified containers. He was thrilled to discover one of the containers still had a fascinating experiment inside: two dead bees. Leo studied at those bees for a long time and we speculated on how long they had been waiting for us to find them. For a few days Leo carried the little case around with him everywhere, ready for science experiments at any time. Miss Suzy would be proud to see Leo opening up the kit to examine flower petals, cat hair, and toenails. I just went along for the ride.
This week Leo hit the science jackpot. I was getting ready to vacuum, scanning the carpet for Legos, tiny Star Wars blasters, and lost marker caps when I came upon this:
I think it was a June bug and I knew it was dead, so I didn’t run into the street screaming. (There was an incident in Venezuela in 1997 with a large tarantula in my apartment that didn’t go as smoothly, but that’s a story for another time.) I called the boys to come look and Leo came running.
“Wait, Mom!” he exclaimed. “Don’t touch it. I am going to get my science kit.”
Leo rushed back with his kit, took out the tweezers and the second container and transferred the bug. He was so thrilled to have his own bug to add to the collection.
“Look, it’s dead just like the bees Mom! It can’t sting us at all,” he said very seriously.
I asked Leo if I could take a picture and he proudly posed with his treasure.
These gifts from our neighbors are the noblest form of recycling, I think. So many of these amazing toys are still in great shape and still provide fun learning experiences for my kids. I know that even if we had found the bug and didn’t have a kit, Leo and I would have had a great science conversation. But the tools provided in the kit allowed Leo to take ownership of the science and expand on it as he pleases. And maybe someday, when he goes off to college to become a bug scientist, I will leave the kit on a neighbor’s steps for her kids to enjoy. Or, I might just keep it because it remind me of the days when my boys were little.

Produced by: Funding is provided by:
Jim Hensen Corporation logo CPB ViNCi MetLife The Rosehills Foundation S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation logo The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations logo

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