Science is not for sissies

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If there is anything to be learned from the third grade it is that I have long suspected, but only recently proven, that teachers go into the educational profession not because they love children, but rather, because they hate parents.
Case in point. Witness the volcano project. What better idea could there be than to teach the same children who can’t yet use real scissors how to make their own explosives at home with baking goods?
Moreoever, I understand completely that the only thing standing between my child and an Ivy League education is a working knowledge of the awesome power of baking soda and vinegar. Really I do.
Nonetheless, I think there ought to be a law against teachers sending home “instructions on your homemade volcano” on Monday night with the project – in this case an entire working volcano created entirely from scratch — due on Friday morning.
Yes, I understand to the non-stressed that sounds entirely appropriate. Reasonable even. Yet, it is not. Monday night to Friday morning is not the five days it may seem.
Only three days. Oh no, that is three days, tops. Three days! Worse, that is not even three days with, say, a weekend sandwiched in to make it salvageable.
I mean, as sadists go, the teachers are missing a prime opportunity to truly destroy a whole weekend! Honestly, weeknights? Pikers!
Nonetheless, they do show promise in the torture department.
Obviously, by the time the instructions are dug from the book bag after dinner on Monday, the shock alone will take up most of the first night.
“Your teacher wants what by when?”
Supply run. Furthermore, by the time I calm down and regain control of myself I am not running out to the all-night science store for the sand, dirt, something or other, vinegar and whatever else it is that makes the magic happen in a homemade volcano.
Well played, sadistic science teacher, well played.
No, Tuesday and possibly Wednesday will be reserved for such things. Then, on Thursday – evening of course – we will attempt to assemble the volcano.
Searching in vain for an easy way out of this seventh circle of homework Hades, we went with an “oh-so-easy” flour and water paste. Thus, we have taken something like $15 worth of flour (more if you factor in the gas and mileage for no less than two trips for more flour) and fashioned a mound in the center of our kitchen.
Ever lift a volcano? This mound of flour and water paste (i.e.. dough) looks to take about five, maybe six, weeks to dry. It also weighs slightly less than a mid-sized sedan. I have no idea how a 9-year-old and I are going to hoist this thing into the school.
Could I leave it on the curb and consider it the school’s problem from that point on? After the science project, perhaps they could use it as a bike rack or something?
Worse, I don’t even want to think about how I will remove the fine film of flour and lumps of rock hard dough-paste from every single surface in our kitchen. Maybe Mr. Science has an answer for that?
Note to self: 9-year old boys and hand-mixers really don’t mix. They do, however, spray flour paste all over the kitchen and laugh uproariously when they inadvertently manage to wrap an entire hand towel around the beater blades.
Meanwhile, the volcanic bulk sits in the center of the kitchen, refusing to dry and remaining a moist flesh-colored lump that, frankly, is scaring the cat.
Careful. With the volcano as “done” as it will ever be, Friday morning will be reserved for carrying it ever-so-carefully to school. Accordingly, Friday afternoon will be reserved for vacuuming the baking soda and vinegar out of the mini-van when our oh-so-careful attempts to carry it fail miserably.
The only saving grace is that the volcano will actually be exploded (ignited?) in the classroom. I can only hope that I have purchased the most volatile vinegar known to man. It’s the least this teacher deserves.
Realistically, however, with the way our volcano is shaping up, I worry that it will not explode at all.
There she blows. Never fear, however, because what I do know is that the next time some misguided educational professional gives me three days to complete a science project, I can’t speak for the volcanic eruptions – but I can assure you that this mom is going to blow.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt says science is way overrated. She welcomes comments c/o lifeoutloud@comcast.net; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460 or http://dragnet.epohi.com/~kseabolt.)

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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