I'm not gonna lie to you. This time of year, with only eight days remaining, can be some of the toughest times of the whole year. It can also be some of the best. It's tough because the kids can't sit still. It's tough because the weather is beautiful. It's tough because the kids are staying up later and getting into "summer mode". It's tough because we teachers are completely and utterly exhausted. It is the best part of the year because I know the kids so well. It's the best part of the year because some of the pressure is off as we wind down the year, and we can stray from our tight schedules to relax a bit. It's the best time of the year because the students have grown and changed right before my eyes.
Today, the kids and I went outside as they tested their straw rockets. This is a part of our Force & Motion unit and the kids love it. They build, test, adjust, explain, and have fun creating rockets made from straws. They figure out items to add to their rocket for weight and learn some scientific concepts as they "play". Today was the day where we had the "Rocket Races" and each student had a chance to try to blow their rocket and hit a target at a 5 meter distance. The weather was perfect and the kids were excited.
I lined up a student to help record distances. I lined up a student to measure out and mark the test track. I lined up a student to monitor the box of supplies. I got to sit back, listen, and watch the students. One of my favorite things to do.
"Hey! Mrs. Jeppson!" yelled one little boy as he ran toward me, straw in hand.
"Hey! What?" I replied, as he skidded to a stop right up against my arm.
"We are doing rocket science!" He laughed and said it several other times in case students in the vicinity had not heard it the first time. It received numerous chuckles and giggles.
"There is no such thing as rocket science," countered another little student. "My Dad said so," he added for extra oomph.
And then they looked at me, since I'm the resident expert when Dads are no where to be found.
"My Dad said it's engineering. For space. And making space shuttles. But it's not called Rocket Science," he explained further.
The boy who had originally ran to me looked a bit deflated. He wanted to be a rocket scientist. He wore his safety glasses atop his head, so serious and intent on his rocket building. The fact that they were using plastic straws, clay, and paper had not deterred him one bit. I wanted to make sure he continued to feel very important.
"I think we can call it whatever we want. And we can be whatever we want," I told them. "I like the sound of "Rocket Scientist". It sounds more official. And way more fun," I smiled at them. "Now, be off, rocket scientists! Go build, test, and try!"
They gleefully returned back to the testing area with their straws.
As each student blew their rocket, the kids oohed and ahhed and encouraged one another. When one of the straw rockets traveled an amazing 6 meters, it earned a round of applause from the watching scientists. Soon, we headed inside, the races over.
Now, it's hard to top playing with straw rockets outside on a perfect, 72 degree sunny day, but I tried. We gathered at the back carpet and I began reading them an article about polar bears and global warming. They stretched out and wrote down questions and wonders. They talked with their reading partner and shared their thinking with the class. I even dare say, they were quite engaged as they learned about the polar bears losing their habitat due to global warming.
Near the end of the discussion, one of the little ones began talking in a funny voice and announcing that he was a polar bear. I believe he was talking about not finding enough seals for his dinner. It instantly reminded me of the A T & T commercials where the guy is talking to little kids. I started to laugh. The kids started to laugh but they had no idea why they were laughing. But if I was laughing, they figured it was time to laugh.
"Hey.. have you guys seen the A T & T commercials with the little kids and the man?" I asked them, still laughing. "Well [insert student name] reminds me of the little girl who talks like a werewolf...."
Watch ATT Commercial
Before I could finish, several kids were laughing and adding more specific details from the commercial. They began sharing the other commercials with each other and soon we were all laughing. I told them that sometimes the commercials remind me of when I talk to them and we have discussions. I told them I meant it as a compliment. That laughing is good for you and sometimes they say really funny things.
And although it might not have been rocket science, we ended the day, one of our last together, learning, discovering, and doing what we do every day.