The formal end of my mentorship project -- watching over a pair of (local word for high school) students learning how to do experiments and research -- finally arrived. In this case it was several hours at a Research Congress, a gathering of school officials, mentors, program overseers, mentored students, and bored non-mentor students in an auditorium for inspirational words on the need to excel, and brief presentations of several research results. In concurrent sessions not described explicitly in my invitation (or in the program), my students -- who got a Distinction for their project -- gave a talk that I didn't hear. I've never heard their ten-minute talk on the project.
But, obviously, my students did nicely, and I chatted with my Dean at the reception. (Dishes included ramen-like noodles, curry puffs, various kuehs, cubes of pudding -- if you imagine Singaporean food to be a race between sugar and chili you've about got it.) Nobody involved specifically contradicted my hopes that I'll be involved next year, which would require a renewed contract, but I didn't make the point about my contract either. Still, it built on my odd reputation for being a good conversationalist.
The talks were the kind one might expect, such as a population study of two species of ... I forget the name. Little shelled creatures that attach to pier posts at Labrador Park, and whose numbers varied over the year. Limpets, that's it. Another project thinks it can improve the teaching of immunology by developing a Magic: The Gathering-like card game with relative viruses, bacteria, antibiotics, health measures, and so on. It looks like fun, so far as I can tell for collectible card games, which I understand in kind of the way I understand cricket, which is that the people involved in the game seem to enjoy it. I just doubt the ability of games to replace the lecture-homework-exam model of teaching.
But, also happily, I (and all the mentors) got called up on stage, and I received my first post-doctoral Plaque of Appreciation. It's no block of lucite -- a small wood frame, metal surface and plastic backing -- but it's a welcome desk decoration.
Trivia: NASA's manned spacecraft network was developed and built by Philco. Source: Suddenly Tomorrow Came... A History of the Johnson Space Center, Henry C Dethloff. NASA SP-4307.
Currently Reading: 1831: Year of Eclipse, Louis P Masur.