Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Leaning Tower of Markers

The last day of school is tomorrow. Today they are on a block schedule for finals. The seniors took their finals last week. The math analysis class had a large percentage of seniors (none of them at school today), so they all took their final last week. That meant two-plus hours of nothing-to-do.

The teacher left me a movie selection, and I let the students pick which movie they wanted to see (again). But, of course, many of them weren't pleased by the selection, and they had to find other things to entertain themselves.

Suddenly I heard a commotion. Each student was throwing something towards the boys in the back corner of the room. Then I saw it, and everything made sense.

Each desk had a small dry-erase board, a dry-erase marker, and an eraser under it. The items being tossed--dry-erase markers.

The boys had taken several markers and attached them end to end. At this point they had enough markers to reach about three feet. And with the new markers that had been tossed their way, they were making a go of reaching from the floor to the ceiling.

These were the thicker markers, but at three-foot tall that makes for a very thin "tower". So, the inevitable happened--the thing swayed and broke. The boys would not be deterred, however, and they picked up the markers and continued.

One boy held the bottom steady so it wouldn't break, and a second boy continued to add markers to the top. The "tower" got so tall that the boy had to stand on a chair, and then a desk to reach the top. More markers were tossed their way. I suggested that they might need a third to hold on to the empty section so that it wouldn't break and fall. Eventually someone did.

The "tower" failed several times before the boy got up to the ceiling. He didn't reach the ceiling, but he was within inches. Another marker wouldn't have fit in the space between the last marker and the drop ceiling. One of the girls in class snapped a photo, and the boys let their handiwork fall.

Why didn't I put a stop to this? They didn't have an assignment. They weren't doing any harm. And it was entertaining.

Besides, it made for a great story to put in the note to the teacher. And now the markers have been collected and put in one place (which I'm told is on the agenda for tomorrow).

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