Grandpa Dick passed away a few weeks ago. He wasn't a scientist—although he certainly was a big fan of science. For over 30 years, he was a 4th, 5th and 6th grade teacher. Listening to him talk about his time in the classroom, you could tell it was a lively and happy place. A place where kids could explore their own ideas and be encouraged to figure out how they all fit together.
Once he retired from the classroom, he was a busy Grandpa! He worked to conserve the habitats of ducks and other water birds. He volunteered at the county fair, demonstrating how to make old wood tools and shingles. He taught us how to use tools—even super-scary ones, like the bandsaw:
He tended a bird-feeder that was full of birds that he was always able to identify, and a garden that was well-loved by all sorts of butterflies:
He could make Windsor chairs and replace roofs and put hinges on doors, and he could build the most amazing dollhouse, with windows made of thin slivers of shaved mica:
He arranged trips to make prints of dinosaur footsteps:
And to excavate Herkimer diamonds (here he is, about to bang a bunch of the crystals out of a piece of rock with his sledgehammer):
And just to walk and see what was what:
Sometimes the best visits were to his woodshop—like this one, where he passed on his lifetime's collection of rocks and fossils to us:
Grandpa Dick was a fan of City Science Kids—even though he always had trouble navigating the internet and needed help to watch the videos. And starting sometime last year, he had big plans for it. We joked that he was plotting a takeover! He was eager to introduce us to a friend in the Adirondacks who made some sort of traditional Native American basket. Over the summer, after a birdwatching expedition to the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, he took us on a detour to meet the man who runs the American Littoral Society. He wanted us to interview him about the upcoming fall migration of raptors (that is, birds of prey like owls and hawks).
We never did manage to pull off Grandpa Dick's suggested episodes. But City Science Kids is still not the same without him. We'll plod along the best we can, and hope to get an episode out to you soon that would have made him proud and pleased.