Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Tuesday SOL Water exploration - let's build bridges!

This is a Tuesday "Slice of Life" for Two Writing Teachers. Check out their website for lots more reflections on teaching.

We have been doing lots of science and engineering about water...this past week, we engineered bridges using our recyclables and tape.

This engineering problem is based on the book Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing by April Jones Prince, which shares the true story of how Phineas Barnum marched his circus elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge to test its soundness. The children test their bridges by seeing how many toy elephants their bridge supports (our goal was five toy elephants). It's been a couple years since I've done this particular engineering problem with children (see my  blogpost from that time)...and it was no less thrilling for these preschoolers than for previous students.

I, however, noticed one big difference between this week's bridge-building and previous attempts -

I led this engineering effort in a fish bowl,

with two large groups of adults visiting my classroom during the course of the morning. We are a demonstration school, and, at least once a week, there is a tour of classrooms. On bridge-building day, we were having the last tours of the school year, and, I'm not exaggerating, some 20-30 adults visited my room.

When the adults entered my classroom, I did my very best just to tune them out, to focus on my preschoolers.

After three years at my school, knowing this is a part of what we do - opening doors and letting people observe us in action - I am practiced at teaching "in the fish bowl."

But, wow, what a weird sensation!
I found myself both
"on autopilot" and,
yet, sweating up a storm,
relaxed about the children's exploration and,
yet, terrified that they would say or do something outrageous.
All the while, I felt as if time was standing still and,
yet, the morning flew by.

The children were mesmerized by the task at hand and
oblivious to the visitors.
I may have been exhausted by our engineering fun
(well, the pressure of these visitors), but
the children were energized.

Let me share just a few photos of our fun together....

Let's get building!

To build is to focus.

Testing the bridge for its soundness.

One bridge gets tested, while others investigate the water.

These two worked together to create one enormous, awesome bridge.

I promise - more details about our other water investigations work very soon!!

1 comment:

  1. Maureen, amazing that 30 adults can even fit! We don't have that many at a time, but tours occur nearly every day, so they are just ignored as you said. You know I love these kinds of experiences, even with my oldest students, they were such great learning challenges. That last one is indeed awesome!