Thursday, March 18, 2010

Playing With New Toys

As a science teacher, I have a pretty strange combination of things in my room. Marbles, salt, corn starch, spring scales, model cars, bowling balls, and vinegar are just a few things that come to mind. All of these things, in way way or another, can be used to teach and demonstrate a concept. Suffice it to say, that if someone in the building needs something out of the ordinary, they tend to ask the science teachers. Chances are if you need, say, a hot plate, we'll have one (I have two.)

This year, with our new standards, we have had a bit of a void when it came to cool fun things to use with some of our new units. We didn't have much for genetics (although we had a good lab on how to make a model of DNA with pasta) and we had nothing at all for forces and motion. (This was before the donation of the bowling balls last week). We had dreams, of course, especially after going to the NSTA conference a few years ago.

We wanted the Crazy Traits. And that was just the beginning of the wish list.

Unfortunately, The School didn't have the money, so we'd been scrapping together a few dollars here and there through fundraisers at the Fall Festival and the like.

And then we got our new Assistant Principal, and former science teacher, Mrs. Sparrow who has the uncanny ability to find funding for things. A few months ago she sent out an email stating she had some funds to use for teaching materials and if you wanted anything, to let her know. So, Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Hummingbird and I decided to shoot for the moon and ask for a class set of the Crazy Traits.

And we figured, as usual, we wouldn't get it.

Not only did we get a class set, we got three! So now each of us has a complete classroom set of these things and we can play with them and teach genetics and just have a great time.

Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

And then she found us the super slinky.

We had actually pulled her in to ask for her input on our waves unit. It was a 6th grade unit last year (which she taught) and since we'd never taught that subject, we wanted a little bit of help. She gave us some great ideas (and lots of goodies such as plastic slinkys and pipe cleaners to make waves with), and then she mentioned this really cool super slinky her old school had that they used to show properties of waves.

Well, of course, we wanted one of those.

And again, we ended up with three.

They arrived on Tuesday morning, the day we were finishing up the unit and reviewing for the test. I had just enough time in each class period to lay this monster out on the floor and with some student assistance, create some wonderful longitudinal waves.

The kids were entranced. They loved it. They want to get it out every day and play with it and make compressions and rarefactions and just watch the waves jiggle back and forth.

Amazing how something so simple can be so fun.


Theresa Milstein said...

Now the old Slinky song from the commercial is in my head.

Too many teachers' blog are about budget cuts and No Child Left Behind bemoanings these days. It's easy to be demoralized as an educator. This post about getting supplies that excite teachers and students is a refreshing change.

Darren said...

Administrators can be a huge hindrance or a huge help. You may have a good one!