Friday, October 17, 2014

Prancing, Sewing, and Cake

October 17, 2014


               It was a pretty slow week this week, being the school just came off a break.  My escapades were the talk of the school for about a day though.  It didn't really bother me that much, since I tend to be a good sport about those things.  There was also the fact that my sickness made for a great introduction and review for my sixth graders who just finished learning about bacteria before the break.  Bacteria in action kids, isn't biology grand.  Now whether it was the interesting lesson or the fact that their teacher was acting like an idiot for fifteen minutes, I’ll never know.  Me personally, I’m going with they thought it was interesting.  Monday wasn't the only day that I ran around the room acting like a fool for my lovely little midgets.  Their plan for the week included protozoans so they got a double feature of teacher demonstrations.  The big homeroom activity for the week was quilt making so each homeroom had to bring in fabric, needles, and thread (more on that later), which I put to good use.  One of my students brought in what I think was an ironing board cover, so I turned it into a life sized flagella waving it around, while prancing around the room.  Don’t laugh, if you have a better way to demonstrate how a flagella works then I want to see it.  Of course you can’t cover protozoans without covering amoebas, so I donned the bed sheet one of my homeroom kids brought in to demonstrate how an amoeba moves and eats.  It would have been a lot easier, but these kids haven’t seen the Steve McQueen, horror movie classic, The Blob, which incidentally acts like a giant amoeba.

               No prancing around the room for my ninth graders sadly, hey I do have some dignity.  Instead they had 4 different labs in 3 days.  Real simple things, use density to determine the metal composition of a coin, identify substances using physical and chemical properties, and examine physical and chemical changes.  You couldn't tell by looking at them though, it was like we were doing serious chemistry or cooking something.  They went nuts when adding sodium hydroxide to a solution of water and phenolphthalein turned pink, and then again when adding hydrochloric acid changed it back.  Another kudos to my students was their bulletin boards, which were nicely done.  After posting them this morning I caught at least half a dozen students stopping to read some of them.

               The seniors didn't get any prancing either, but they did have a bit of a laugh.  I just started covering the nervous system with them, and I found a good lab that mimics the resting membrane potential of a nerve cell.  The lab would have the students measure the resting membrane potential and then observe how it changes over time.  The setup went well and everything was running and ready to go.  Only there was one problem, nothing was happening, so we waited, and waited, and waited.  It was at this point after taking a closer look at the Chinese voltmeters, that I discover, the meter only goes down to -20 millivolts.  The resting membrane potential of a nerve cell is -70 millivolts.

               Needless to say we had a good laugh, and I think there was some Mongolian cursing.


               The homeroom activity for this week was casual quilting.  Casual quilting is an activity that has my students cutting and sewing pieces of fabric together to eventually create a large quilt, when combined with the segments from the other homerooms.  Now this is a bit of a problem as I don’t know how to sew.  On top of that the last time I had any exposure to stitching was in medical school, and let’s just say they weren't teaching us how to make a quilt.

It’s all Mongolian to me

               I was saved by the fact that more than half of my students actually knew how to sew, so I only had to give minimal help.  One thing I can do is thread a needle, what to do after that not so much.  They may not have been using the back hand stitch, but it’s not like I would be able to tell.


               Who likes cake……? I do, yum!  One of the school clubs (don’t ask me which one) was selling baked goods in the lobby during lunch and they had homemade Mongolian sponge cake, and homemade Mongolian pound cake.  The students didn't skimp on the slices either and for three thousand tugriks I got two slices big enough to hide one of those big vitamin bottles in.  If this becomes a regular Friday thing, then I am putting in a regular order.  Oh so good.

Sponge cake

Pound cake

               In case you’re wondering I did have more than cake for lunch.  It was some kind of beef stew with potatoes, a nice counterpoint to the cake.

               Well that’s about everything for this week, but I will be venturing out into the city in a search for Portabello mushrooms, a new laptop charger, interesting pictures.