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Old 07-27-2010, 02:23 PM   #1
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Default How to get a teenager involved???

OK, so some of you may know I'm totally into plants, general ecology, the natural world, and have devoted my whole life to it. Now, I have an issue. How to convey that passion and interest to my 17 year old daughter.

You see this all came to a head last week when she told me she had a summer assignment for her upcoming AP Biology class to complete a survey of an ecosystem. She was told to take a field trip to any place, however altered by humans, and record her observations, list all plant and animal species both common and scientific names and list them according to their place in the ecosystem. Then record all abiotic systems at work and how a change in the abiotic systems would affect the biota. She must notate the carbon, water, nitrogen, and phosphorus systems on site as well as how humans have affected the environment. She is to record these findings anyway she chooses, by videotape, scrapbook, etc.

OK. So taking a deep breath, and noting that school starts on August 3rd, I told her I'd help her to the best of my abilities.

Parents, here me now. We've all helped our kids over the years with school projects from that 3rd grade science fair project to cutting out magazine photos for a collage to, well, we've all been there. Now I have a kid who's going to be a senior in high school who doesn't seem to give a **** about what she's doing, just how to get it done with minimal effort.

I tried to get her involved by taking her walking on my bluebird trail and examining the boxes. We took photos of non-native and native plants along the way. I thought our back field would be a great place to learn about how humans have changed the land and how nature rebounds after human intervention. And even how we now intervene with the nest boxes, mowing once a year, thinning trees, etc. I was hoping to run across a snake just to excite her a little bit. No luck.

So what's a parent to do? I feel like I've failed her, like the cobbler's children that have no shoes. Anyone out there with similar stories? Educators, can you help me out???
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Old 07-27-2010, 04:07 PM   #2
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Were your parents passionate about ecology? Mine weren't.

I'm not sure it's contagious... I do what I can to teach the basics and the underlying values, but my kids have their own interests (not ecology).

You reminded me of a conversation with a young adult I had last year.... said when he was growing up, his parents were always dragging him on &^*&*ing nature walks. So I guess it "didn't take" for him. The conversation made me cringe a little, thinking of my family and our frequent walks... but we try to give equal time to everyone's interests, mine included, so I think we're being fair. Besides, they like the hikes! (mostly) And they enjoy the other activities that go along with it: photography, taking videos, weather watching, geocaching, some birdwatching.

I wish I knew how to ignite a passion for ecology. I'll be reading this thread with interest.
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Old 07-27-2010, 06:36 PM   #3
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It seems.... YOUR interests may not also be HER interests. Everyone must decide for themselves what is important to them in their life.

If you've done your best including her on your outings, in your trials and errors, plantings and removals all through her growing years I don't think there's much more you can do. It's now up to her.

She, however has a little glowing ember inside planted by you!
It may take some time for her to realize just how important those things are or it may go out entirely...All you can do is keep on feeding it and hope it ignites.
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Old 07-27-2010, 06:48 PM   #4
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Great comments, Havalotta. I posted a lengthy post earlier here, but its not here! I don't know if my internet conked out as it was uploading. Drat!
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Old 07-27-2010, 07:14 PM   #5
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I HATE that when that happens.... I used to loose stuff regularly until FEERLESS explained it all to me. I was taking too much time writing that it gets timed out! Guess the computer thinks you've walked away and goes into some sort of a safe mode. All I needed to do was go into the go advanced setting and preview it every now and then to keep it active....May be that's what happened to yours?
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Old 07-27-2010, 07:43 PM   #6
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Ya know, this is probably what happened. Usually if I am going to type something long, I type it in Word, then copy/paste.
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Old 07-27-2010, 08:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by havalotta View Post
It seems.... YOUR interests may not also be HER interests. Everyone must decide for themselves what is important to them in their life.

If you've done your best including her on your outings, in your trials and errors, plantings and removals all through her growing years I don't think there's much more you can do. It's now up to her.

She, however has a little glowing ember inside planted by you!
It may take some time for her to realize just how important those things are or it may go out entirely...All you can do is keep on feeding it and hope it ignites.
havalotta,

I was thinking the same thing, but doubt I would have expressed it as well as you did. I agree with you about planting the ember inside.

Although I have no children of my own, it has occurred to me that, if I did, I wonder how difficult it would be for me if my child/children had no interest in or love of nature. I agree with havalotta; it could just take time for her to realize how attached she is to the natural world. Teen years are tough. (I meant for the teen...but I'm sure it is no picnic, at all, for the parents.)
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Old 07-27-2010, 09:26 PM   #8
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Tis all true!
Believe it or not..... I HATED GARDENING or anything to do with it...
Just look at me NOW! I'm a steaming hot inferno!
And.... The fire only flickers higher when we all join in unison.... Here's a TOAST to you all! May we never sizzle out!

Lay another log on her fire, before the flame gets too low....
Blow on her glowing embers, if she takes you'll surely know....
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Old 07-28-2010, 12:08 AM   #9
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The assignment is too general and not sufficiently focused. Insects are animals, as well as creatures with fur, scales, shells, and feathers. I would be hard pressed to name all of the insects that visit our backyard, & I have been living here for 20 years, and paying attention to the critters that make a home here. A true survey as outlined above would be a serious research project that might occupy a team of scientists a year or two. Since many animals come & go on a seasonal basis, at least 12 months would be required to be sure of counting everyone. If there is a stream, pond, or lake, a method of underwater observation would have to be used. To do good science, both scope and resources must be considered, upfront. Did the instructor mean to include microbes as well? I don't see how you can omit fungi, bacteria, single cell eukaryotes, and algae, since all of these play an ecological role. Perhaps she could visit a university, and speak with an actual ecologist, and find out what such a project entails.
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Old 07-28-2010, 12:43 AM   #10
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"How to get a teenager involved???".... slip her some happy pills then alternate motivational tapes with soothing tapes after she drifts off to la la land every night that repeat over and over and over again "I love the natural world and I thirst for more knowledge".... Seriously.... resist the urge to bail her out. She's 17 and knows when school starts. It's her AP Biology class not yours.... remember.... we're out of school how many decades ago>>> ? You reminded her. That's all I would have done just because they're young and dumb and the summer slips away like toilet paper on a roll.... it goes faster and faster the closer it gets to the end of the roll. If she doesn't get her rear in gear.... let her suffer a very "natural" consequence.... as in a sucky grade. In the bigger scheme of things..... a few bad grades aren't the end of the world and.... we can't go to college with them to bail them out when they shirk their responsibilities so they might as well figure it out now. She'll come around sooner or later. She's your daughter.... a part of you is in her.... under all that laziness. We came around. Ours kids all come around too with the help of a few reality checks as in.... those are their grades they're bringing home not ours. I know it's hard to believe a part of us is in those lanky bodies sprawled out on their beds with arms and legs hanging over the edge and their cell phones dropped on the floor with the last text message still showing sawing logs at 1 in the afternoon after we've been up and out of the house for hours.... but a part of us is in those teenagers. Have faith.
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