Facebook Nerd Herd, you know that this week I spoke to my daughter's second grade class about nutrition. Frankly, It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. As it turns out, we had roughly the same maturity level, and therefore plenty of common ground.
I get the generally feeling that many of my fans are parents. (Specifically, I'm hoping to hit the super-hot, single or loose-moraled soccer mom demographic, but for today's post, that doesn't matter too much.) With that in mind, I'd like to share some of the high points of my lecture in hopes that it will inspire you to give a talk at your own kid's school.
1. Get visual. I painted this reference poster to use as I gave them a tour of the digestive system. They loved it. And as you can see, you don't need to be Rembrandt to make a strong visual impression.
2. Give away free junk. I went to the dollar store and bought a bunch of odd-shaped rubber balls. In class, I asked questions and rewarded kids with a ball, whether they got the answer right or wrong. At the end of the talk, I explained that exercise was as crucial to health as nutrition and that they could all get active by playing with their balls.
Well, I mean, I didn't use those exact words, but you catch my drift.
3. Talk dirty. My daughter advised me that the word "poop" was generally frowned upon in her class, so I made a point of using it as much as possible and encouraging the kids to do that same. Surprisingly, it didn't have that much of an impact. However, the word "guts" nearly brought the house down, especially when I asked them to say it in unison. Who knew?
4. Get them involved. In addition to answering/asking lots of questions, the kids got out of their desks for a couple activities. First, I explained that the adult digestive system is 30 feet long. I then pulled out a tape measure, had them all stand side-by-side in a 30-foot human chain, then claimed they had just measured out the exact length of my digestive system (aka "my guts"). One particularly precocious kid responded, "Your gut are 23 kids long! Amazing!"
Our second group project was to count out the teaspoons of sugar in a 20-ounce bottle of Coke. While seeing the 16 spoons being poured certainly made an impact, it really fired them up when I gave my pouring volunteer the option to either drink the soda or dump it down the sink. As she pondered her move, the kids cheered her on and when she chose to dump it, they exploded in a frenzy normally reserved for ancient Roman gladiators, WWE wrestlers, and Taylor Swift.
5. Look 'em in the eye. This is more of a personal philosophy than anything, but it seems to me that kids spend most of their time being talked down to. If you're giving a thirty minute talk about nutrition, it's not your job to impart manners, crack whips, or command respect. The respect will come, just as it does when you're talking to grown-ups, purely because you know your shit. So talk at their level, laugh with them, tease them, and let yourself be teased. Make sure they're being heard. When someone says something naive, embrace it and find the positive in it. It never ceases to amazing me how kids will raise to the occasion if you let them.
Hopefully, you'll find something useful here. If any of you Nerd Herders do have the chance to teach good eatin' to the tykes, please hit me back and let us all know how it went. While I may be omniscient regarding wellness, this teaching stuff is new to me, so I'd love to learn from y'all.