Friday, September 19, 2014

"Water Volcano!"

Yesterday, I wrote about a group of boys who managed to find a couple of different ways to "push water uphill" and wanted to share this as a follow up.

I had pulled a plastic tube from our storage room. It was designed to make a sort of haunting, whistling sound when it was swung in a circle. The thing used to work, but when I demonstrated it yesterday, it only made the faintest of sounds, probably due to a couple small cracks that have appeared on the business end. Still, the kids wanted "turns" so I left it to them, confident that it would wind up as part of the water play, which is the natural home for all tube-like things that no longer do what they were designed to do.

Sure enough, when it returned to my attention later in the day, it was as a bone of contention between a couple of guys playing up near the cast iron water pump. It was a sort of a heatless tug-of-war conflict when I arrived, so I stood back to give them space to work it out on their own. When they started taking swings at one another, I stepped in, doing that thing where you put your hand on the object under consideration, then saying, "I see you guys hitting each other."

Normally, I would say something like, "We all agreed no hitting," but the kids haven't yet found a need for rules this new school year, so we're operating as an anarchy right now. With no formal agreements to fall back on, I was left with statements of fact.

"He's had a long turn and I haven't had a turn."

"I had it first."

These are some of our older kids, so it shouldn't have surprised me, but it's still early in the school year, so I was gratified that they so quickly switched from talking through me to talking to one another.

"But you had a long turn."

"I'm not finished."

When they resumed their tugging, my hand still controlling the tube, I said, "Both of you want to play with it."

Isaac, who was nearby said, "I think they should share it."

I echoed, "Isaac thinks you should share it."

One of the boys, his hand still firmly on the tube replied, "I think nobody should play with it." He smiled at his rival in an effort to show his goodwill.

I'm not sure his rival noticed the gesture. "I didn't get a long turn."

Then Loic, who was also nearby, said, "I think they should share it."

I echoed, "Loic thinks you should share it."

There was a little more back and forth between the two boys, a conversation that found them at one point having entirely switched positions, with the second boy now recommending that "no body" play with it. I could feel through my hand that held the tube that the tension had drained out of the conflict, although they both held their respective ends of the tube. Now they were genuinely looking for a solution, albeit by talking in circles.

One of the boys bent down and picked up a small traffic cone. He put it over the end he held, which was the slightly expanded end, the part with the small cracks that was originally designed to make the haunting, whistling sound when swung, saying, "We just want to make the water explode like a volcano."

To which his friend replied, "Yeah, we just want to make the water explode like a volcano . . . but we have to put this end in there." Common ground. And with that he handed his end, the narrower end, to his friend, who in turn, traded for his end. Naturally, this is when I let go as well, the conflict now turned to cooperation. They then held the wider end under the pump while Isaac pumped, filling the tube with water. When it was full, the boy holding the wider end took a deep breath and blew forcefully into the tube, which cased an eruption of water to spout from the cone at the other end which was being held by his friend.

"Water volcano!"

Wild laughter ensued. They had clearly discovered this phenomenon previously and were now recreating the experiment, informally "proving" their science. They did it again and again, occasionally trading places, sharing as their friends had suggested, dousing themselves and everyone around them with the water that they had once more managed to make go "uphill."

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

I really liked your post about "Water Volcano!"