Monday, October 29, 2012

Magnetic Fish - Science with Seniors 5

I truly make an effort to create activities that resonate the social/cultural history of Alaska. Fishing is a big part of that history. An earlier science activity I called "Ice Fishing." The name alone drew smiles as memories surfaced in the minds of the seniors participating.

Last week, I made fishing the core theme of our Science for Seniors Activity. Most of the seniors at The Bridge have done some magnet work with me during one activity or another. Too, they may have taken the magnet tray from the shelf and used it independently, themselves. So I wanted to play off that possible, prior experience.

As I have stated before, most of the seniors at The Bridge have dementia, but they are at varying stages. Most do not remember previous activities. Some, however, do. As these individuals are already seeped in a culture of memory loss, I try, in subtle ways, to recognize and support their memories. I do so in ways, too, that do not highlight the memory loss of others. It is a fine balance, that, I confess, is still challenging to me.

Back to magnets. I also wanted to create an activity that celebrated what most Alaskans have at one time or another enjoyed. Here I am referring to fishing. Many of our non-Alaskan seniors have also enjoyed fishing in various other locations across the globe. Fishing and magnets...o.k. I knew what I had to do.

I made a fishing pole from materials we had on hand. A the end of the fishing rope-line, I pinned a small, cloth pouch that had within it a magnet. It was a simple enough construction. Then I cut "fish" out of paper, lunch bags and illustrated them. I also drew a number value on each of the fish. At the tip of the fish's head, I slid a single, paper clip. Yes, this would be drawn to the magnet pinned to the fishing pole.

Lastly, I cut a "pond" from a piece of recycled, blue fabric. I then went fishing, myself, to see if all worked well and it did!

The seniors were sitting in the chairs used during exercises and games. I told them that I had a science activity that I thought they would all enjoy. Before I revealed the homemade fishing pole, I displayed the magnet tray and spoke briefly about how magnets work. I then made the grand announcement, "Today, we are going to go fishing!" Laughter and cheers broke out amongst the seniors.

The first person who got up to go fishing was encouraged by another senior to pull in a "King Salmon!"  Instead, in her first try she "hooked" not one fish, but two. She had a smile like an upside down rainbow.

She threw out her "line" two more times and pulled in two more fish. I added together her score and wrote it on the board. I then invited the next senior and then the next.

Everyone expressed enthusiasm for the magnetic fishing activity. We encourage all of the seniors at The Bridge to participate in exercises and activities. You can see from the picture below, that includes individuals using walkers. This senior pulled in three fish totaling 130 points. It was one of the highest scores!


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