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Science Kids on the Loose

Science Kids on the Loose

Engineers on the Loose!

Sometimes life with little scientists offers up treasures I don’t expect. Some of my favorite treasures are learning opportunities. I get giddy when presented with a real-life situation that illustrates a concept they are learning about in school or on Sid the Science Kid! Last Friday night I was handed such an opportunity by a group of budding engineers.
After school on Friday we went to the park with a group of friends. It was a fun time; so fun in fact that we decided to move the party over to a pizza parlor for dinner. I love spontaneous Friday night pizza parties. We were four moms and eight kids. The restaurant is loud, kid friendly, and lined with arcade games and toy dispensers. We settled in and let the kids explore and play. I was prepared to give up a lot of quarters.
After we ate pizza, I noticed that the kids were congregated around a certain candy machine. They were deep in conversation and obviously up to something. I went over to investigate. Apparently there was a piece of candy stuck between the front window and the machine, way in the back. The two leaders, Sammy and Sierra, were animated as they showed me the problem and the possible solution they had engineered. The girls had rigged straws in an effort to make a pole long enough to reach the candy. Although the pole was long enough, the girls were frustrated because the pole wasn’t stable enough to pull the candy out.
Engineers1.jpg
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! Sid the Science Kid in action! And I didn’t even set it up. By now the boys had joined in too. I had an impromptu science class assembled! I tried to hide my growing excitement and asked the girls some simple questions.
“So, do you know what you are doing right now? You are solving a problem by making a tool! Do you know what you are?” I asked.
Henry jumped right up, bless his little science heart, and said, “Engineers!”
“Right,” I said. “Let’s not get frustrated girls. What do you need to do with the pole to help make it work?”
The girls started to brainstorm solutions. They asked for tape. I went to register and got some. They also wanted something to use as a grabber. Sierra asked for a fork. Smart girl! We went over to the counter and decided a spoon would be better. Then they got to work.
Engineers2.jpg
And the Candy Grabber was born!
They were all so engaged and excited about the project. And it was mostly girl-powered! My boys were particularly interested in how the candy would be distributed. As the girls tried again to reach the candy with their tool, the level of cooperation struck me. All the kids spoke to each other respectfully and listened to all ideas. They were all business as the grabber was extended into the crevice and each of them tried to make the Candy Grabber work.
Engineers3.jpg
Unfortunately, the Candy Grabber was not the right tool for the job. The pesky straws were not stable enough to give the spoon any leverage and they were unable to pull it out. We talked about what kind of tool would do the job.
“A hook!” said Sammy.
“Well, let’s go find one!” I replied.
So our small band of engineers trooped back to the pizza counter. The very kind and tolerant restaurant owner listened to the children’s plight.
He nodded as they spoke and said, “Wait for me!”
The kids ran back to the candy machine with the owner following. In his hand he had a long hook, used for taking pizzas out of the oven. The kids cheered as he reached in with the hook and pulled out the candy prize. And in the final twist of fate, the candy box was filled with enough treats for all the children. It was magical.
Engineers4.jpg
It shouldn’t have surprised me that the kids were so creative and ingenious. I was swept up in the adventure of the project and the creative spirit that emerged. The kids had a blast and were rewarded for their hard work. I felt like I got to take part in a childhood adventure. It was fun and it was science.
On a Sid the Science Kid note, you will find an activity HERE that mirrors the real life activity from the pizza parlor. I had planned to do the activity with the boys and write about it here. But the kids got to it first. Brilliant!


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