I've never enjoyed or gravitated towards public speaking, but being an adult with a job means you lean into it now and again. I don't need to speak to a full room at a Holiday Inn, but I need to be comfortable in a room full of coworkers and clients. You get over things when you need to.
Henry's class has show and tell each Friday, dictated by the letter of the week. Twenty-six weeks have passed and the letter Z has drifted into the sunset, so it's time for parents to volunteer to become the item that will be shown. I signed up to show and tell about Software Engineering.
I didn't know exactly what to say, or rather which aspects of my field would translate with any interest to a group of kindergartners. But, it should be noted that this is a highly gifted classroom, so maybe there is more wiggle room for math and science chatter. Henry's teacher assured me the topic was a good one and that there would be a pile of engaged faces and probably some questions. She was correct.
Just after being introduced I stood at the whiteboard looking for a marker.
"Correct. I am." I grabbed a marker turned to start writing on the board.
A handful of hands shot up, but thankfully their teacher asked them to save their questions for when Mr. Turek asks for them.
I defined some broad terms about what Software Engineering means, gave a few examples about large projects I have completed, and then quickly brought up the ideas of the Alaska Pipeline and earthquakes. I figured the students would certainly have a sense of those two things, which would make my talk a bit more interesting. I described how I am involved with software that gathers real time data about earthquakes and generates alerts as needed; it keeps the folks on the pipeline equipped with real time information to best keep all things humming along safely. The questions began almost immediately.
"What if there were two earthquakes, one on each side of the pipeline?"
"Where would the oil go if the pipeline fell apart?"
"What if two super storms collided together right over the pipeline?"
"What if the ice got into the pipeline? I know that water expands when it freezes."
"I can do division."
"What if the computers broke?"
"There are back up computers to keep it all safe."
"What if all the computers broke?"
"I forgot my question."
I wrapped up with some thoughts about what steered me to this field as a young student -- math, science, puzzles, mystery books, Encyclopedia Brown books, etc.
The questions were pretty overwhelming at moments, but it speaks to the fact that the thirty minutes were not dull and cooked along. That's a victory for sure.