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Monday, April 4, 2011

Civil Engineers Rock!

My Dad,  told us when D-man was very young, that he had an "engineering" mind.  Apparently he was right, because D-man entered a contest called "What Do Civil Engineers Do?".  It was a contest for 6, 7, and 8th graders throughout the entire state of Georgia.  He wrote an 800 word essay.  And guess what?  He won Honorable Mention...aka 3rd place in the 7th grade division.  He was invited to attend a banquet to receive his award.

Here he is being presented with his award by the president of the American of Society of Civil Engineers of Georgia (the lady) and the Civil Engineer in charge of the contest.

My wonderful friend, Debbie offered to babysit the 5 other kids so Rainman (who had the day off) and I could attend the banquet with D-man.  It was great.  They even behaved well enough for her to offer to do it again so Rainman and I can have an occasional date!  Woot...woot!!!

Here is the picture of our salad and dessert (really yummy carrot cake)...

I neglected to take a picture of the main course for a few reasons - one is that Rainman and D-man were making fun of me for taking pictures of the food and the next is that by the time the main course arrived we had been joined at our table by other engineers and the program had started - so I was equal parts embarrassed to take a picture of my meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans and I was just use your imagination here - picture a huge portion of meatloaf with mushroom gravy, a cafeteria style scoop of mashed potatoes (they were real though) and green beans.  It was good - just too much of it.

Here are my 2 handsome nerds!

And here I am with my (all of a sudden) almost a man!

The program was actually quite interesting - as is Civil Engineering - itself.  D-man and I learned quite a bit about it through his writing the paper and my proofing it for him.  The presentation was from Engineers Without Borders - similar to the more famous Doctors Without Borders.  They go in and help countries with roads that wash away from monsoon type rains. When the roads wash away, people no longer have access to food or physicians because they can't get there.  They also help with coming up with ways to supply clean, non-parasite infected water for villages.  They are also working on coming up with designs and sanitary "helps" for refugee camps around the world.  It was really interesting.  Really. 

The engineers themselves could not have been nicer.  They seemed geniunely interested in D-man and his paper. They were encouraging him to continue with his interest in Civil Engineering and a few offered to be a type of mentor for him and encouraged him to contact them after the banquet.  The word "nerd" was thrown around numerous a good way.  We even met a retired engineer that worked in the 1960's exclusive with NASA on the moon launch when there was nothing but fruit trees all around.

I sat next to a former president of the ASCE, who was fun, but a little distracting as he had a lot of side comments to share with me - sometimes relating to the subject and sometimes not.  He seemed to have the stereotypical attitude about homeschooling and in some sly and some not so sly ways - encouraged us to stop having our children live in a bubble and let them experience the "real" world.  I think he and I would have had an interesting conversation, if there hadn't been a program to pay attention to. 

I could have told him all the "real" places in the world, including international spots, where our family has been and lived.  I could have told him how we have been able to give our kids an individualized education that speaks to their strengths...but also gives them a safe place to figure out the stuff that doesn't always come easily (I could have used this approach for learning Algebra myself).  I could have told him, for instance, that our approach to education allowed my son to write a paper about Civil Engineering, AND actually win a prize, AND meet actual engineers that will offer to mentor him should he decide to pursue this line of work.  I could have told him that the kids are on sports teams and are very good.  I could have told him that my kids are also learning lifeskills, like laundry, how to prepare meals, how to entertain and take care of little people, in addition to their reading, writing and arithmetic.  

Okay, I will get off my high-horse about homeschooling misconceptions!  Sorry.

D-man was the only winner who wore a shirt and tie.  Something I was proud of because he looked very handsome and grown up.  One of the engineers came up to him and told him he was impressed too.  He said that, even though the culture is getting more casual and laid back, and it is perfectly acceptable to NOT wear a suit and tie, that if you see someone in a shirt and tie next to someone who is not wearing a shirt and tie - the shirt and tie guy still wins.  

One thing I realized that I need to add to our lifeskills homeschooling lists - is what to do with all the silverware at one of these things and table etiquette - just in case there are more awards banquets in our future.  D-man kept leaning over and asking me what fork was for what dish and where to put them when he was done.  I think I gave him the right answers most of the time, but I am a little rusty myself on fancy stuff - so I will have to research it before I teach that class!

So, thank you ASCE for a wonderful lunch and for the award for my boy.  We had a great time.

And really, Civil Engineering is Everywhere!  Check it out!