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Chapter 6. Explora

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Christine Newville

Post Reflection Assignment

Educational autobiography


Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Being a nature child

Chapter 2. Placitas Elementary

Chapter 3. Permaculture and long division

Chapter 4.  A Blur of middle school

Chapter 5. Club Ed

Chapter 6.  Explora

Chapter 7. Mr. Curry and Physics disasters

Chapter 8. South America 

Chapter 9. Parents know best

Chapter 10.  BMC



Chapter 6.

            Imagine being forced to do community service. This community service can be anything you want it to be, you could volunteer in a homeless shelter, collect jackets for the winter, making trail-paths in the mountains, reading in hospitals, it could be anything. Imagine the gratification of being able to choose what you do, when you do it and organizing this project all by yourself.

            Now imagine telling your friends about your project and the details you worked out, the meetings and emails you sent out, being proud of yourself. Next, imagine your friend tell you she lied about hers and faked a signature, then your other friend next to her giving her a high fiving and saying he “just picked up some trash” in a park for 5 minutes.  That was the moment when I felt out of love with my education.

            We could elect to take a community service class in school (once a week to a soup kitchen) or we could spend two hours a week doing outside community service and have no class during that time. I did this for a semester, completed my requirement for hours and received all my credit. I choose to volunteer at a children’s science museum called Explora and spend two hours a week helping kids in the museum understand and enjoy the exhibits. 

            This all started on a very basic level, I would go to the museum spend my two hours doing whatever, no supervision, no rules, no person to tell me what to say or when to say something. The only thing I could NOT do was say ‘no’. Not saying no is very difficult when working in a children’s science museum, there is no “don’t run” only “please walk”, when explaining something you can’t say “that’s wrong” you have to say; “how else can we look at this”. It’s hard to get used to, but once you get it, it gets stuck. Over the course of the semester, I started spending more time there, working there more than one day a week, more than two hours at a time; eventually to the point where Explora was my refuge.

            I worked there the next semester, the next year, and almost every summer in between. Explora had given me an opportunity; it had given me the chance to love learning again.

            Dewey talks about the Impulse, the moment where a student takes a genuine interest in their education. For me, Explora gave me that chance. Like Dewey observed, often general education undermines the importance of impulse, therefore for my high-school, students didn’t care about what they were doing or why. My friends were fine faking something so important as community service, because they saw the ends as graduation or a good grade. Once I began caring for my education and investing my time in something that had no grade attached or direct end, I started to learn things that would stay with me and help me in the future. Granted, I did have letters of recommendation for Explora and a pretty feisty college essay about it too. However, in the long term, Explora gave me an end goal and a reason to love science in a more real, pure way than sitting in physics taking notes to pass the test. I found out that, by seeing kids fasinated by science; I was too. Science was no longer an obligatoin or a task, it became a wonder, something to marvel and learn about- it because an end of its own.