Monday, June 20, 2011

Licking Batteries!

Last week, I posted about having received Gever Tulley's book Fifty Dangerous Things (You Should Let Your Children Do) as a gift from Max, and mentioned the plan to spend our summer session giving as many of those things a go as feasible in preschool.

We started out by throwing spears. This time we tried licking 9-volt batteries.

While the ostensible "danger" part of this activity is the mild electrical shock one's tongue receives, I would say the greatest threat in a group setting like a preschool is that we don't have enough batteries to go around, necessitating the sharing of said batteries, leading to a risk to transmitting viruses lurking about in our saliva. We set this up on the workbench as one of the 3-4 group activity choices we have during the "activities" period of our summer session day. Audrey's mom Jaimee was prepared with a half-dozen 9-volts, along with a washcloth and soapy water with which to wash off the batteries between licks.

To start off, however, most of the kids opted for either making lemonade, building with Duplos, or staying up the hill with me playing a rousing game of "red light, green light." In fact, Jaimee had no customers at all, which really shouldn't have surprised me, I guess. Who voluntarily shocks their tongue, even if they're not at all yet sure what "shock" means?

To correct this situation, I stopped our game of running up and down the hill by announcing, "It's time for some battery power. Come on, everyone, let's power up!" And with that we ran to the workbench and got to licking.

"What does it taste like?"

"Sparkling water!"

"Apple juice!"


"It hurts!"

"It pricks!"

"It tickles!"

Young children will notoriously tend to copy one another's responses, but Jaimee and I heard few imitators in the verbalized responses to licking those batteries, leading us to speculate that we each have a unique experience when it comes to new "flavors." Some of the kids licked over and over, while many opted for the one-and-done choice. Some found pleasure, some found pain. Some returned over and over for a quick hit of "battery power" before returning to our game.

And as for the internet rumor that X number of people die each year from licking 9-volt batteries, this is a total myth. Electrical shock, to kill a person, must pass through the heart, causing arrhythmia. Even if the current were powerful enough to injure a person (which it's not) it never actually enters the body. When licking a 9-volt battery, the sensation is from the current passing between the two terminals across your wet tongue.

So lick away!

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Annicles said...

On your suggestion I bought your book for my three children. They have had so much fun planning what they want to do! As they are a little older than your charges I have no problem with sending them off on a bus or building a fire. They are looking forward to the summer holiday so much!!

LeeanneA said...

Well I am glad you washed off the batteries between licks! LOL
I really should buy this book! :)
The childrens faces are priceless.

mumusok said...

As nature interpreters when we spent the summer encouraging kids to lick banana slugs - they produce an anesthetizing agent that makes your tongue feel numb. Unfortunately a parent expressed concern about the kids getting sick - we didn't wash the slug between licks - and we had to stop. You've sold me on the book too, by the way. I'll be looking for a copy.

ellen said...

My husbands lick batteries all the time to see if they are empty or not. I remember the first time I saw him do that, I had never heard of it and I looked at him in shock. Fun to read that you guys are doing it :)

Anonymous said...

"it never actually enters the body. When licking a 9-volt battery, the sensation is from the current passing between the two terminals across your wet tongue."

I'm going to say this in the nicest possible way, that isn't entirely true. Put one finger on one terminal, and your tongue on the other - it still works! I'm one of the weird ones who does this to check if batteries are dead or not.