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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

The Great Tortoise Rescue!

I was still in my pjs one morning last week when my cell phone rang. I saw that is was my friend Joy from around the corner, and decided to call her later. I was busy washing the kitchen floors while the boys were quietly watching TV. I went back to work and the phone rang again. It was Joy calling for a second time. Strange, I thought. I realized I should answer, but needed to run out to the garage to put away the mop first. From the garage I could hear kids running around and calling out to each other excitedly from the street. On my way back in, the doorbell rang. What the heck was going on? This morning started to feel far from normal.
I opened the door to a tall blond woman with enormous white dog on a leash.
“Hi,” she said breathlessly. “Do you have Bob’s phone number? I am Kate. I used to live across the street. Sherman is loose and walking into the road. My kids are keeping and eye on him. And this is Scooby, my dog.”
Sherman loose and in the road? Then it all started to make sense. Joy calling from around the corner and the kids in the front yard. Sherman, the tortoise next door had somehow escaped from his yard and was roaming the neighborhood. This required immediate attention.
“Henry and Leo!” I yelled. “Put your shoes on! We need to rescue Sherman!” And we all sprinted out the door in our pjs.
The boys know exactly who Sherman is. Sherman is a celebrity in our neighborhood. Sherman is a teenage tortoise who lives next door with his owner Bob. When we first moved in, the boys were delighted. Bob often walks Sherman around the neighborhood and everyone comes out to watch. People stop their cars and take photos. On July 4th, Sherman paraded around the neighborhood with an American flag taped to his shell. Sherman is cool and the kids love him.
And today Sherman needed out help. We raced up the street where we found Joy, her son Brayden, Kathy, and her three kids trying to corral Sherman. And Sherman wasn’t having it. He wanted to walk into the street it was hard to keep him on the sidewalk. Size wise, Sherman is quite large and very heavy. We were all afraid of hurting him. And none of us could pick him up. What were we going to do? The kids had all sorts of ideas involving ropes, muscles, coaxing Sherman with food, and even calling a zoo.
While we pondered this dilemma, I called Bob and explained the situation. Needless to say, he was distressed about Sherman. He explained that his son had been by house earlier and must have left the gate open.
“Trina, go get the scooter in my side yard,” Bob implored. “You can use that to wheel Sherman home.”
Wheel Sherman home! Of course! A SIMPLE MACHINE was what we needed. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of that. Bob always had the scooter when he took Sherman out for a walk. I sent Henry and one of the other boys running back to the house to get the scooter. From then on it was pretty easy. Joy’s neighbor Steve came out to lift Sherman on to the scooter. Then the kids carefully rolled him home. Within 10 minutes Sherman was back home, safe and sound.
Tortoise1edited.jpg
The kids all knew that the scooter was the right tool for the job. Wheels made our impossible task a success. I, of course, took the opportunity to point that fact out and basically got the equivalent of “DUH” from the participants. I was just glad to get the tortoise back into the yard. It was quite an adventure and something the whole neighborhood will talk about for a while.
After the commotion died down and we were all just chatting in our pjs my cell phone rang again. It was Bob.
“Thanks for all of your help Trina. But one question: Is the dog still in the backyard too?”
Uh oh…this one might take more than a scooter! Off to the rescue gang!


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