Today is my 28th birthday! Hooray! Actually I think birthdays stop being quite so exciting once you pass 18 or 21, but that’s okay.
I went to work like usual, and after work I went to tutor my friend Amelia. We have been riding together for the last 3 or more years, and now she is 16 and a junior in high school. I have been tutoring her in pre-calculus mainly with some occasional biology thrown in. She found out that it was my birthday (I’m guessing from Facebook), and she got her Mom to get me a cake, so I had a birthday cake after all. Amelia put some of her horse figurines on the cake (she assured me that she had washed them first). It was a pretty nice birthday.
Aside: The other fabulous thing about tutoring Amelia is that her dad is a really great cook, and as I often come over after work, I get to eat dinner with her family, and then we do some math after dinner. I need to cultivate more students with excellent cooks for parents. Amelia’s older sister is a freshman in college, so I think they enjoy someone being around occasionally now that her sister is off at school.
Last week, I helped Amelia study for her AP Biology test on genetics. We reviewed almost all of the aspects of genetics (Punnett squares, pedigrees, simple dominance, incomplete dominance, multiple trait crosses, etc.) using the genetics of horse coat colors, which I have recently become an expert in. We drew pedigrees of different horses in the barn, worked out their genotypes based on certain color traits and drew the Punnett squares for hypothetical matings of different horses. I think my favorite was Bjorn the big, black Friesian and Snickerdoodle the little palomino pony. It turns out that their offspring have a one-fourth chance each of being smoky black, black, palomino, or chestnut. Of course that assumes that there are not any agouti genes lurking undetected in Snickerdoodle, because then we could get other colors as well. In order to cover some of the other material, we also talked about my little brothers’ impending baldness (sex-linked traits) and the blood types of my family members (co-dominance).
This week when I first got to her house, she told me all about how well she did on her biology test. She got her first A on a test in the class all year, and her overall grade is now the highest it has ever been! I was really happy that I helped her that much in one session for a biology class of all things, and that I found a way to make it interesting and fun for her as well. I think that the best gift that I got this year was that reminder of how much I love teaching, and that I am actually really good at it. Thanks Amelia!