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High School Students Caring for Their Own “Babies”

Wherever you walked—the cafeteria, the gym, or just classrooms—you can see many students having their “babies” lying on the desk, covered by a warm quilt, or “sleeping” comfortably in their own baby carriages. They have completely different heights, appearance, and unique clothes.

Others may wonder, “What are they doing? Role-playing like they are still little kids?” This is actually the idea from Damon Six, the AP Psychology teacher at HFI. As students in class have learnt, an important branch of psychology is developmental psychology, including the study of childhood development from infants and puberty to adolescence and extending to the study of the whole lifespan of human beings. With the basic knowledge about developmental psychology focusing on childhood development, Mr. Six has assigned “My Sock Baby Project” to help students get more familiar with the theoretical knowledge that they have learnt in class.

The project begins with students in groups making a “baby” following a video and with the sock provided, aka making a “sock baby”. Using cotton to fully fill the sock and rubber bands to separate the arms and legs, the students claim that it is actually not so easy as it seems to be in the video to make a good-looking sock baby. Afterwards, students also have to create their babies’ face and clothing on their own, and the babies are completely different with one another, showing different types of facial expressions and “dressing up” in unique clothes. The idea is to take care of your sock baby for the next two weeks, carrying it with you wherever you go and taking pictures to record its growth. Thus, the final handed-in product of “My Sock Baby Project” is in a form of a Baby Book, where it includes answering questions related to parenting and stages of development.

Andi Xiao & Susan Su’s Intelligent Baby - Andi. S. Einstein

Angel Zhong & Daphne Zhang’s Olympics Baby – An Phe Phe

Like real parents, students need to note down their babies’ birth dates, their heights, and weights in the Baby Book. They have to treat their babies as if they are real: when parents themselves do not have time to take good care of the baby, they have to “hire” a babysitter. Unlike real-life situations, however, babies will not die if students accidentally leave them behind—but students get points off if such irresponsible behaviors are discovered.

Alex Sun & Keith Liu Celebrating Their Baby’s First Birthday

Mr. Six, the Babysitter!

Grace Deng & Shea Lin’s Baby in a Beautiful Baby Carriage

After these two weeks caring for their sock babies, students have something to say about the project. Some students have chosen to do the project with a partner, meaning that they prefer a married marriage status. However, parenting styles can be different within a “couple” (between partners), such as Alex Li believing himself as an authoritative parent while Paul believing himself to be permissive. Generally, most students agree that the project is not too difficult to finish, but, just as Alex Sun and Keith have mentioned, “bringing him [the sock baby] all the way in classes, dining hall, and dormitory is far more difficult than expected”. “Thus, both of us need to pay more attention and take more responsibility in taking care of baby,” Angel and Daphne indicate. Diana and Cleo both add to this point by saying that the situation will be more complicated when it comes to real babies. Other students actually do the whole project alone, and Ning is one of them, who claims that she would still like to be a single parent if given a second chance. She believes that being a single parent offers her quality time to accompany her sock baby, and there is no conflict over the division of labor.

Ning Lan Playing Tennis with Her Turble

Mr. Six also shows his point of view after the project, "This was the first year of the 'sock baby' project and I'm pleased that all of the students did so well with it and found it a meaningful and fun experience. Even though it tested their responsibility, all of the 'parents' did quite well and the 'sock babies' thrived under their care!" Students feel grateful for Mr. Six assigning such a project, the one that not only teaches them how to apply knowledge learnt in developmental psychology in real personal situations, but also, more importantly, shows them the beauty of a new born and the love and responsibility that help it thrive.

Writers:Angel Zhong & Daphne Zhang
Mr. Six – 《My Sock Baby Project Instructions》
Alex Li & Paul Wang
Alex Sun & Keith Liu
Angel Zhong & Daphne Zhang
Cleo Wang & Diana Zhang
Ning Lan – Reflections & Pictures