Apr 052022

I mentioned several times in passing that Chooch has been attending some “Mentors in the Making” program at the Carnegie Science Center’s “Fab Lab” since October.  I had no idea really what it was but he came home with a sign-up thingie from school and expressed interest because all students who stuck around until the end of the program got to keep the laptop they were each assigned, which came loaded with various programs they were going to be using during the…thingie.

I will be honest – I only half-understood what was going on, but I know they made small projects using a vinyl and laser cutter and lots of shit using a 3D printer, which is how we came to be a 3D printing household. Mostly I had no idea what he was doing for two hours on these Tuesday evenings.

What I also didn’t know was that in addition to these small projects, each student also had to develop, research, and complete a capstone project, which they then worked on with their assigned mentor.

Anyway, two weeks ago, I got an email from someone at the someone at the Fab Lab informing me that I was invited to some such “we are done with the program” ceremony thing at the science center. When we dropped Chooch off for his last class, I reminded him to ask if there would be refreshments & he became very annoyed because I allegedly asked him this twice in two days & also the word “refreshments” is annoying in & of itself apparently. These are the things I learn, just from mom’ing a 15-year-old.

The EVENT was last Thursday evening and GUESS WHAT?


The cookies were very good. They also had pizza, and the lady in charge of the Mentor program thingie kept trying to push more and more slices on everyone and I was like, “I ALREADY ATE DINNER I JUST WANT SUGAR THANKS.”

So, the one thing I wasn’t aware of was that the refreshments were essentially a RUSE to get us to sit quietly and endure nearly two hours of the kids presenting their capstone projects. YES, CHOOCH WAS GOING TO BE DOING A PRESENTATION.

“Did you know this?” I whispered to him, and he just casually shrugged because literally nothing fazes this child.

Because he’s Chooch and has my great fortune, he was the first one called up to present. Of course, my heart was racing because WHAT WILL HE SAY?? He is so unpredictable!

First, he introduced himself, his mentor (I already forget his name but he was slated to get his Doctorate the very next day, that I do remember) and his project – A SQUIRREL FEEDER. He explained to everyone in the room that he came up with the concept because, and this is a loose quote though pretty damn accurate because this moment is seared in my mind: “when the pandemic started, my mom had nothing else to do so she became obsessed with the neighborhood squirrels.”

So everyone in the room started to laugh and look over at me which you all know I hate being under the spotlight, so I was sitting there with my face in my hands and a wad of half-chewed cooki in my mouth. Henry loved every second of it, of course. Chooch maybe could have mentioned at least that I was also working from home, instead of painting me as a shut-in, sitting by the window with squirrels climbing all over me.  Meanwhile, the other kids made projects like a distance sensor for the visually-impaired and an anxiety puzzle for people with ADHD & depression.

My kid: SQUIRREL FEEDER for his crazy mom. But…I fucking love it.

And another mentor (the guy in the picture up there) helped Chooch make a very dramatic commercial for the product on Blender:


And he got an award thing!

There was one extremely obnoxious teen girl there but I am trying to turn over a new leaf (for the billionth time) by not publicly dragging children and parents on the Internet but OOOF, it’s hard. I might have to take to my old trusty paper journal to get this one off my chest. I will say that while she was presenting, I lost my cool and texted Chooch a puking emoji because I am just that mature.

I haven’t tried this bad boy out yet because Chooch made the opening too small and peanuts won’t fit in there so now I have to get sunflowers or something.

But yeah, what a cool thing that the Carnegie is doing! The fact that such a fascinating array of brilliant minds took time out of their busy science-y lives to help a bunch of high school kids learn and become more interested in basically engineering is just really heart-warming for normal people who have hearts and I guess I must because I’m getting all SOFT-LIKE just thinking about the impact they made. Ugh. But on the other hand, I can’t imagine being  that kind of person who would choose to work with kids unless it was like, court-appointed or a work requirement. So I guess I still got some charred sections of the ol’ pumper.

And because he completed this program, he is now eligible for internships and other mentor programs (like, he can be the mentor for a younger kid) that they have. Of course, the first thing that was offered to him he had to decline because he will be studying in Merida during that time. I love that he has these options now though! And that this isn’t something we had to force him to do.

Choose Your Words Carefully

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