Launching Science Lessons

| June 17, 2014

Today Sequoia and her friend Noah came out of school giddy from the last class period. “We didn’t have religion today,” Noah gushed. “We walked to the playground!”

At my child’s elementary school, where she has two recess periods in her 3 ½ – 4 ½ hour school day (that’s the normal schedule, folks), not to mention a two-period-long phys ed class on Mondays, the natural substitution for religion class in the absence of the teacher was to walk the kids to the playground. If you’re not in the “Kids don’t play enough” camp, you might be wondering, “When the hell are the kids learning?” As most people know, kids learn from play.  Moreover, if you’ve seen Neil deGrasse Tyson’s video about how to get your kid into science, then you know that they learn when you leave them the hell alone (I’m paraphrasing). I could not help think of this video when listening to Sequoia excitedly talk about her playground experience today.

“Noah and I made machines that launched rocks at the other kids!”

OMG. Say nothing.  Where is she going with this?

“At first we didn’t launch rocks. We were just ducking, but once we got used to the rocks that were coming at us from the boys, we started using rocks.”

If you’ve read my post about Sequoia’s Kindergarten experience last year, then you have no trouble picturing this Lord of the Flies scenario.

“We were also using snail shells. We turned things into nets so we could catch things they were launching at us.”

That’s pretty smart.

She went on and on, for the whole walk home, about these “machines” that she and Noah made and how they tried launching different things and had accidentally launched a live snail but Sequoia noted that it was unnecessary to use live snails since they’d counted “55” snail shells…

They were experimenting.  They were engaged in: Science.  And not because the substitute teacher had encouraged this. After all, it was not her idea to use stagnant brown and green pond water to slime up the “machine”.  In fact, the teacher was sitting on a bench keeping an eye on everyone (presumably to ensure that they remained in Germany).  Most of the girls were on the swings; Sequoia had joined the boys in their rock launching war because her friend Noah was playing.

Kids need to play. Kids need to launch rocks. They need to launch anything they can find in order to figure out the direction it goes, how far it travels, and how hard it hits someone in the eye. That, my friends, is science.

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Category: Ex-pat Parenting, FAMILY, In Germany A Broad blog, Shits & Giggles

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

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