. Regurgitated Alpha Bits: June 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Swinging Balls

[Note to self: always preview a movie before showing it to your class, even if it's a movie supplied on the Discovery Education web site designed for children.]

So we all know that the last few weeks of school are filled with, well, time-killers. I really made an effort though to use that time to finish up some last minute science lessons.
You know… actual teaching.
Our district subscribes to Discovery Education's web site that has streaming videos on about every topic imaginable. I use it all the time because most of the videos are very well done and you can use whole videos or simply show applicable video segments.
So I was teaching about magnetism and energy during those last weeks of school and at the last minute I found a video on Discovery that looked very topical for our learning that day…
And it WAS all about energy…
And magnetism…
And, as a bonus I suppose, it had a more than a few opportunities to teach students about such things in ways that, when viewed through the overtly dirty minds of some of my fourth graders, appeared a bit racy.
Take the "swinging balls" experiment for example.

I believe the actual name for this thing is Newton's Cradle or Newton's Swing.

All I know is that all through this section of the video, the narrator kept saying things like:
"What do you think will happen if I lift one of my balls and then let it go?"
"Will all of my BALLS swing wildly?"
"Will none of my BALLS swing at all?"
"What if I lift up two of my BALLS?"
"How can I make all of my BALLS swing?"
I watched as the eyes of my boys darted around the room at each other, and little smirks grew on their faces. Then the soft giggles began and I admonished them for not behaving like scientists.
The giggles then became stifled snorts and hidden snickers….
from me.
Gimme a break! The dude kept saying "swinging balls!"

After the "Swinging Balls" experiment, the video went on describe how energy can be created using a bar magnet and a coil of wire.
Let me show you how to do it.

  1. Take the fingers on your left hand and curl them into an "o" shape. That's your coil of wire.
  2. Then stick out your pointer finger on your right hand. That's your bar magnet.
  3. Now, insert your "bar magnet" into the center of your "coil of wire" and repeatedly move it in and out.
SEE the problem?
So, I actually ended the year covering more science topics than I anticipated…
Energy, magnetism...
and reproduction.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just an Update

Hello Old Friends! How I have missed you all!

I just thought I'd post a bit of an update and share a few stories just for conversation's sake.


My dearest is doing much better. He has damage to his kidneys from TTP. He receives dialysis three times a week and we hold out hope that he can eventually regain enough kidney function to sustain himself without the aid of a machine. Keep your fingers crossed!

On a happier note, after a mere 14 years together we've decided to make me a Mrs. Lee rather than a Ms. Lee. Wedding plans are time-consuming though so my plans to return to The Bits this summer may have to wait until after our August nuptials.

And now for some stories!

When did fourth graders stop thinking that the opposite sex has cooties? At the end of the year, we had a rash of "couples" who were meeting for make-out sessions. Not the innocent pecks on the cheek that might seem endearing to some, but instead the go-for-it, tongue-blasting, hands-groping make-out encounters seen on many high school campuses. First of all, I've worked in close contact with these students and their oral hygiene habits are questionable at best. So, eewwww is all I can say there. Secondly, they are nine and ten year olds who are not recreating a Norman Rockwell scene but instead are recreating a Jay-Z video. Not appropriate. When we discussed it with the parents though, they found the whole thing amusing.


Could part of the problem be our children's exposure to so much sexualized content on tv and in music? Have we all become numb to it? We had a talent show at school and a few students did a dance routine to the unedited version of the song "Get Low" which features such lines as:

Sweat drop down my b@lls

All these b*%ches crawl

All skeet skeet m*therf*&kers

And no one batted an eye or even seemed to notice except for the few teachers familiar with the song who watched in horror as ALL the students sang along.

Or how about the kids who danced to "Yeah" by Usher, with Ludacris' opinions on meeting women in clubs:

I won't stop till I get 'em in they birthday suits.
So gimmie the rhythm and it'll be off with their clothes,

then bend over to the front and touch your toes.

Really!?!? At an elementary school talent show?!?! The talent show acts were supposed to be pre-approved by the PTA, but I don't think they even understood the lyrics to the songs.

Somehow, those acts don't fit in with the other students who tap danced, sang a duet (in a make-believe language) with a puppet, or pulled a quarter from another kid's ear.

Here's hoping that things are less gross in your neck of the woods and everyone is enjoying their summers!