Today we’d like to introduce you to Cathy Crosby.
Cathy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
A few years ago, I offered a few science experiments at Hidden Gems pre-school, run by my daughter, and at 74th Street Community School, which is attended by my granddaughters, believing that young students could and should have the opportunity to learn about scientific concepts early. That means not just blowing things up or liking bubbles but understanding the scientific concepts that cause these reactions and how they affect our earth. A few experiments turned into a program for the whole school where students learned how cars produce carbon dioxide and how too much of it traps heat and causes global warming. Children made beautiful coral reefs and blew up balloons with carbon dioxide to better understand its chemical nature. They learned about the inside of the earth and magnetism, the periodic table and reactions, what’s on the earth like life itself, and what’s over the earth, including the sun, moon, day, night, time, and gravity. Another treat was a lesson in forensics, learning to identify patterns in shoe prints, and measuring their sizes in inches and centimeters.
On one occasion, I set up a village from beneath my Christmas tree, and students learned about fighting in France, and how Marie Curie drove around bringing x-rays to wounded soldiers. They discovered polonium and radium just like Madam Curie; they made density jars and learned about atoms and molecules, and they had a lot of fun as well. Many other scientists and adventurers were introduced to them of all ethnicities and genders like the wonderful aviator, Bessie Colman.
We were about to enter the world of sugar molecules, good sugar, and not so good sugar for our bodies, when the Covid-19 pandemic provided yet another lesson: We need excellent students who enjoy learning to make a better world for everyone.
My scientific background is in forensics at the LA Crime Lab and in teaching college chemistry. I also earned a Master’s degree in philosophy. While on my Coronavirus shelter-at-home, I’ve been planning more lessons on epidemics, pandemics, bacteria, antibodies, herd immunity, population graphs, and I look forward to seeing all the children again soon.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road I have taken has been like climbing a mountain, falling into ditches, getting up and starting over and over again. My struggles began by being a smart girl in school, excelling in science, math, English, and becoming an athlete when girls were supposed to be cheerleaders. Meanwhile, I could whack a softball straight out of the Bronx. After my education and a marriage with a lot of fighting, I was a single parent, which was difficult because I could never quite be a mom and a dad and afford everything. I also love classical music, oldies, and while in the car, I take turns with my granddaughters,… one song classical, and one of their popular songs.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I did not intend to start a business but just wanted to help students learn and feel confident in understanding science. When the group got bigger and bigger, I bought supplies, planned experiments, gave the lessons, and, afterwards, I was the chief cleaner-upper. I now realize that in all aspects of life, you can’t do it all alone, not if you want it to be great. So, my current focus is on continuing this work and acquiring the resources needed. I have heard about a “charitable incubator” for non-profits, and I am researching something along those lines. My granddaughter suggested stars like Beyonce but I don’t know how to reach them.
What sets me apart from others is my creativity in connecting science with life (global warming, pollution, nutrition) and in making the learning interesting and fun. I am proud of walking into school and having students run up and hug me, asking, “When is our next science lesson?” I am grateful for the love that I feel from them and for them.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My plans include expanding the “science academy” by securing funding to utilize help. I also want to have parent nights so that they can know about what their children are learning and have the issues alive in their homes. Finally, I’d like to connect children globally on these issues, and I have already begun to do this with student groups in Ireland, and getting some ideas when visiting Guadalajara.
I might teach again as an adjunct professor in chemistry and/or philosophy. I have also completed a book about women and freedom, and while at home in my Coronavirus shelter, I am finishing another about our country and the melting pot.
- Address: 502 Bay Street B
Santa Monica, California 90405
- Phone: (310) 664-3747 landline; (424) 387-7798 (cell)
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