I teach the second and third graders in our after school program once a week. On sunny days they tend their own garden plots, but on rainy days we have to get creative.
A few weeks ago, it was raining buckets and we’d just received a shipment of new balance scales for our school programs, so Tiffany and I declared it “Balance Day.” The kids would have to complete 5 balance challenges at 5 stations around the room, and if everyone completed them all, we promised them a big balance prize.
The stations were as follows:
* Balance on one foot blindfolded for 60 seconds.
* Walk a “balance beam” (a line of masking tape on the floor) forwards, backwards, then balancing a small dried bean on the tip of one finger.
* Weigh a wooden ball against dried beans on a balance scale; figure out how many beans a wooden ball weighs.
* Using a balance scale, put 4 balls in order from lightest to heaviest, and come up with a theory about why some of the bigger balls were lighter than the smaller balls.
* Carefully draw one of three antique scales from the Museum’s collection; come up with a hypothesis about how the scale might have worked.
These were a little hit or miss. Hit:
At the end of the day they had all completed their challenges, so they won their prize: a chance to walk a slack line in the garden.
A slack line is like a tightrope strung between two trees, but it’s made of slightly stretchy webbing straps like the kind you use to tie things down to your car. Walking slack lines has been pretty popular among the hippie and mountain climber crowds on college campuses for the past 10 years or so. It’s bouncy, it’s wobbly, it’s pretty fun.
The kids were understandably nervous, but they puffed themselves up with all the bravery they had and gave it a try.
As the third graders get close to the end of the year, they’re all starting to get a little more concerned with looking cool, less into in pleasing their teachers and more into in pleasing their friends, a little more jaded. This was a fun way to shake things up a little and remind them that there’s cool new stuff out there to learn about if you trust your teachers not to drop you.