Sunday, December 04, 2005

I've really got to start working, but...

I wanted to share something that happened on Friday. It is one of those, only in a (NYC?) school... kind of stories.

I was doing a lab with my seventh graders, who were, as usual, showing no common sense or demonstrating any ability to listen, but that might be in part because their Science teacher last year had such low expectations of them that he did hardly any labs and allowed them to goof off during the few labs he did try. But I digress.

I have a bunch of those transparent plastic boxes that come in various colors. I had the kids measure the dimensions of each box in centimeters, then multiply to find the volume in cubic centimeters. Then we filled each box with water and found its capacity in milliliters. The idea is to show that a cubic centimeter and a milliliter are equivalent. Of course, what they really discover is that the volume in cubic centimeters comes out higher because we measured the outside of the box, while the volume in milliliters is smaller because we measured the inside capacity. But overall, they do see the relationship between the two units.

Anyway, I had brought a pitcher of water into the room with me, but I am a terrible estimator and it was not nearly enough water. So I sent a very responsible boy to the water fountain to get more water. He came back with a second full pitcher. That was still not enough, so I sent him a third time. This time, he was out of the room for a longer time and came back with an empty pitcher.

Student: The water fountain's not throwing water any more.

Me: What do you mean?

Student: I went to the water fountain and the boy's bathroom and the art room, and they're not throwing water any more.

Me: puzzled look "Throwing water?"

Student: There's no water, I checked everywhere.

Me: really puzzled look What do you mean, it's coming out really slowly...?

Student: No, there's no water at all.

Me: to universe In the last five minutes, the school's plumbing stopped working? What? to student Okay, thanks, you can sit down, I guess we can try again in fifteen minutes and see if it's working again.

Me: addressing class Okay, I need everyone's full attention. Put down what's in your hands, and look up here. Thanks. I need you to start with the smallest container and work up to the largest, because we're a little short on water and apparently we used our quota for this period. sarcasm lost on students Hopefully in a few minutes the water will be working again. Okay, you can go back to work.

Another Student: Do you want me to go check in the girls' room?

Me: No, thank you anyway, but I don't think there will be water in the girls' room if there's no water in the boys' room, the art room, or the water fountain. It's okay, we can try again in a few minutes. Do the best you can until then.


I'm not making this up. Water just stopped flowing through the pipes on our floor for a random ten minute interval at the exact moment that I most needed water. Later in the period, I sent the student again, and he came back with half a pitcher of water, reporting that it was trickling again, but not enough to fill the pitcher entirely. We finished the lab. Still later, when I went to use the teachers' bathroom, everything was fine.

I have not found a logical explanation for this.

Sometimes, life is so ridiculous you just have to laugh.


Blogger Carol said...

That's funny -- but stuff like that seems to happen a lot.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When the city was kind enough to fund a Science Resource center in most boroughs, I used to love to attend. The center in Queens was fabulous. (STAC then MERC). When Klein came into power, he closed those centers.

One thing they advised us to do if we didn't have a sink in our room was to keep those large Poland Spring containers of water in our classrooms.
Poland Springs has one with a built-in faucet. I think it's the 2-gallon size. Hope this helps.

Did your student really think you would let him go into the girls' bathroom?

3:51 PM  
Blogger graycie said...

It's Elmer.

Elmer is quite small and lives in my computer most of the time. He's the one who puts typos and other mistakes into my handouts. Sometimes he lives in the highlighters I use to grade quizzes and tests. He has been known to direct obstructive traffic directly into my way when I am late for work. He hides my overheads when I need them.

My students have gotten used to him and often tell me where he hid things that I had in my hand just a moment ago.

I didn't realize that he travelled so far away. Maybe you have one of his cousins.

9:06 AM  

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