Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Whoville Realty

Tonight is a rush job. Tonight we had orientation for the freshmen. That means the current 8th graders had a little presentation about credits. I’ve had to sit in on them before. The presentations, not the 8th graders, because I’m pretty sure there are laws against that here in Missouri. The poor parents get a glaze over their eyes when they hear about counting credits, and the varieties, and how many are required. The kids look around and signal to meet up with their friends to roam the halls after the presentation.

The good thing is, all I had to do this time was be present in my room for visitors. The bad thing is, it took up 6:00 to 7:30 of my evening. Which means it took up my whole afternoon, because I was not going to drive home and back for $7.00 in gas. And then it took time to get home, so we’re talking about a 13-hour day. The neutral thing is, one whole wall of my room looks like Whoville, with colorful straw towers bending and swaying and towering up to nowhere, because, well, we are building straw towers in my science classes. I bought all the straws The Devil’s Playground had to offer, and the only variety to be had was the color-striped bendy straws.

The kids get 50 straws, and tape to connect them. That’s it. And they have to create the tallest structure that can balance a tennis ball for 5 seconds. Some of these contraptions are crazy. They zig and they zag until you don’t think a ball could possible balance on top. But if they zig right back after zagging, it’s possible. It’s all about having the load over the base of support. Some tried the old Sears Tower trick of adding a spike of straws onto the top. No dice. Only the part that holds the ball gets measured, not the fancy frills. Oh, and if they bounce or toss the tennis ball while testing the tower, an inch is subtracted from the height for each toss or bounce. The record is – 5 inches. Some people are slow learners. Or scofflaws.

I must report that the construction workers in Whoville are not the most dedicated craftsmen. Some take shortcuts. Some steal building supplies from other workers. Some laze about and make their fellow workers do the heavy lifting. Others are domineering foremen, seeing to the last detail themselves, not wanting any apprentices fiddling with the structures. The structures are like snowflakes—no two are alike. We are having a pleasant time with this constructive, time-wasting activity.

Thursday, I have to squeeze in the school board meeting to honor the science fair winners, and then rush my #1 son and a couple of students to Newmentia for a choir concert. Or a ‘chore’ concert, as The Pony read off the school calendar.

Thank the Gummi Mary, the school year is almost over.

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