Monday, March 15, 2010

"It's A Robot With A Ghost Inside It."

One morning we arrived at school to find this strange object:

We had never seen anything like it. Some of us were very interested in it and gathered around. Others had better things to do.

Some people thought it was some sort of egg, but most guessed that it was a kind of machine. It has a handle on top, so we carried it around a bit. There are words on it, but the ones we could make out meant nothing to us. Finally, Max suggested that it could be a robot. The others liked that idea and there was general agreement. Since then we've referred to the strange object as a "robot." Feeling good about how well his first idea had been received, Max added, "It's a robot with a ghost inside it." Most of the kids indicated agreement, but Ariya said, "There's not a ghost in it," and some agreed with him.

Someone then had the idea that we needed to open it up. After some investigating, Thomas found what looked like a latch. We wrestled around with the latch for a few minutes, until finally the robot opened. It unfolded to look like this:

For many of the kids, this confirmed that it was indeed a robot. We noticed that it had a cord and decided to plug it in. When Teacher Tom removed the safety cover from the electrical outlet, we had a discussion about how it would feel to be electrocuted. Some of us thought we would die. Others thought it would just hurt. Either way, no one took Teacher Tom up on his suggestion that we stick our fingers into it. No one wanted to die or get hurt. We know that part of our job is to question authority especially when it is suggesting we do something that is against our better judgement.

We plugged it in and nothing happened. Maybe there is an "on" button. We tried pressing all the parts that stick out, discovering that there was a type of button on the "neck" that when slid down caused the  head to flop forward like some sort of "trap." Moments later we found a switch. After flicking it several times we decided that the robot must be broken.

Could we fix it?

We had to look very closely, but we saw that the robot was held together by a number of tiny screws. Thomas informed us that they were "Phillips head" screws. We found a number of Phillips head screw drivers in our tool box. We also thought we needed a pair of plyers and an adjustable wrench.

It took a little experimenting to figure out which size screwdriver worked best for the tiny screws (the tiny ones, of course), but the screws were in very tightly, so Teacher Tom was asked to help. He agreed to loosen a few of the screws, but they were still very challenging to turn and many of us inadvertently re-tightened them. Some of us found it frustrating. At this point most of us decided we had other things we'd rather be doing, but a few of us stayed at it. Even Teacher Tom went on to do other things.

The people who stuck with it have managed to remove a handful of screws, and we used a pair of needle-nosed plyers to bend some metal parts, but we haven't repaired it yet. Maybe this will be the week.

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Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

Whenever I read your preschool posts, part of me is so thankful that there are people like you willing to teach the little ones. There is no way that I could handle it...they are just too little for me.
On the other hand, another part of me thinks how fun it would be to let them explore, often. There is so much learning that goes on in your school just because the kids get to explore. Once they get to elementary school, that pretty much stops in order to "cover everything". Keep it up!

Domestic CEO said...

Well....don't leave me hanging - what is it!!!

Play for Life said...

Oh how exciting new discoveries can be! ... Children, tools and machines ... a match made in heaven. We haven't pulled out the screw drivers yet this year ... thank's for the reminder!

Unknown said...

How sad that I recognized this right away! Boy, I'm getting old! (At least we had electricity and motor cars when I was a child--although they have changed quite a bit through the years!)

I love how curious the kids were. Can't wait to hear their replies when you tell them what is used for!

Deborah Stewart said...

Ayn - LOL!

I had no idea what it was at first! I must say that I have never brought in a gadget just to let the kids tinker with it and take it apart or put it together. I love this idea.

Play for Life said...

Okay Tom! We're glad your children were curious to know what this contraption is, but there are a couple of adults here from Melbourne, Australia just as curious to know exactly what this 'thing' is used for... for all we know it really is a robot with a ghost inside it!

So ... please ...what is it?

Launa Hall said...

Love, love, love this. Love the ruse that you are discovering it right along with them. Did any of your older ones catch onto you? Did anyone turn to you and say, you know what it is, don't you, Teacher Tom? Or do they not want to spoil the game any more than you do?