“Orquídea, Roberta, I want you both to stop what you are doing and give me your full attention please.”

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Lab Mates

Roberta and Orquídea are at the lab and have been brainstorming for their science project. They are wearing white lab coats and sit across from each other at the end of a long rectangular shaped table. The lab period is about to end when from the main door of the laboratory, the professor, Dr. Levy, enters the room and approaches the tech station they are working on. The professor has a boy named Jerome by his side. Jerome’s previous lab mate has died in an auto accident. He has been reassigned to their group because their group was the only one with two members and now has three. Jerome is introduced to the team, they know each other from passing in the halls, but they don’t have any other classes together.

“Orquídea, Roberta, I want you both to stop what you are doing and give me your full attention, please.”

Orquídea put down her pen, and both Roberta and she looked attentively at the professor.

“This is Jerome,” the professor says, gesturing towards a boy their age standing next to him. “He will join your team. Please make him feel welcome. I know it’s almost the end of the period, do what you can, and what you can’t catch up with later from home, please.”

“Of course, professor,” said Orquídea. “We will catch him up. We are just now writing the draft for our proposal. We can fill him in with the details. There’s still a lot of issues to resolve, solutions to find, and presentations to schedule.” And looking at Jerome, she continues. “We welcome the new member.”

“Yes, thank you, Dr. Levy,” adds Roberta while looking at the professor.” We can use the help. We’ll get him up to speed.”

Jerome sits at the foot of the table with Ruby to his left and Orquídea to his right. The professor is pleased with what he sees and walks away and out of the room.

“Hi there, I’m Orquídea, and this is Ruby. How are you, Jerome?”

“I am fine.” He answers flatly, opens his notebook to a fresh page, and writes the date and name on the top line. “What are we doing?” He says, looking at one and then the other.

“I’ll jump right in,” says Orquídea sliding and turning her notepad to place it in Jerome’s view, so he can follow along. “The project, as you can see in the draft, is to create a roadmap. We are applying the scientific method to create a roadmap for starting a bake sale.”

“A bake sale? Isn’t that stereotypical?” says Jerome looking at Roberta and then Orquídea. “That’s the best you can do?”

“Well, it could be stereotypical, yes, but we chose it because it’s believable, it’s not unusual. We want it to be accepted on our first try, and we want to get an “A.” The product we will make, cupcakes, are sellable, and the project’s equipment and supplies are readily available. With Ruby’s management skills and my experience in cooking, we came up with this project. So, let’s not reinvent the wheel; let’s use it.

“OK, looking at the draft, I understand. I see why you chose it, and I like the plan,” says Jerome. “It satisfies the requirements. It sounds believable coming from us and doable. We can do video conferences and record the events. I have an idea; we don’t even have to cook the muffins at first. We can go through the motions once or twice in pantomime, while with a stopwatch timing the steps, we do it for real with the ingredients and actual baking. We can have a dry run, and then the wet one.”

“Exactly,” responds Ruby. “That is our goal, to create and test the roadmap, the run, that later can be applied to other activities or projects.”

“I’m feeling terrific about this,” says Orquídea with excitement. “I’m glad we are getting into it.”

“Me too,” says Ruby to Jerome. “I am so glad you are part of the team.” Feeling a burst of enthusiasm, she begins. “Jerome, that’s a nice name. I like it, and don’t get me wrong. Can we call you Jerry?” Ruby says sweetly. “Jerome seems so distant and formal.”

“OK,” he says carefully, and embarrassed by the show of friendship, he deflects by saying lightheartedly, “but just here, and not in public. People will think you like me, and I don’t want to get teased.” Not knowing why he said what he said, and further feeling awkward by the puzzlement showing on her face, Jerome turns it around and embraces it by saying, “let’s give Orquídea a nickname too,” and to Orquídea he suggests. “They can be our team names, like jerseys. How about Kitty? It’s close enough to Orquídea, Quidia, Kitty. Or you can pick your own nickname. In Asian countries, sometimes kids choose their own western name.

I don’t like Kitty; it reminds me of pink bows and children’s toys. How about Kate. I prefer Kate. Kate is quick and monosyllabic. How’s that, from three syllables to one. Can’t beat it on efficiency.

“Oh, it’s very you.” Affirms Ruby.

“I absolutely agree,” declares Jerry, “I can tell it fits you, and I don’t even know you that well.”

“Isn’t this funny, Kate, Jerry, and Ruby,” says Roberta smiling at the other two and loosely pointing at them and then herself. “We just met, and we are already calling each other names.”




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