About a month ago, I showed up a few minutes early to collect Thing One from a school soccer practice and met the school's 7th and 8th grade science teacher, who also has a child on the team. I mentioned that I thought his curriculum was great (I reviewed it last fall in my school board capacity) and we got to chatting about the subject material he covers. When he found out that my professional background is in cancer research his eyes lit up, since his eighth graders do a cancer unit: before I knew it I had agreed to come in and teach a class for all three sections of his eighth graders.
Their cancer unit is pretty basic: what is the disease, what causes it, how the standard treatments (surgery, chemo, radiation) work. I borrowed a textbook so I could get a sense of what they will know by the time I get in there and at what level of detail. The really awesome thing is that I get to take the next step from their book, and explain how all the newer targeted anticancer therapies work: the vaccines, the biologicals, the gene therapy, etc. I only have a 43-minute class period for each section and I have NO idea how to condense even a superficial view of the massive coolness that is this subject area into that limited amount of time at an 8th grade level, but my goal is to figure it out this weekend.
Love this stuff. Science is just so damned fascinating...I was lucky enough to have biology teachers in my freshman and junior years of high school who lit a fire under me, and I'll be ridiculously happy if I can do that for even one kid myself. Call it karmic payback!