Sunday, May 9, 2010

I didn't teach him that....

We were studying Athenian democracy in social studies the other day. The book made the following statement: "Only free men could vote in an Athenian democracy."

"What does that mean, 'Only free men could vote'?" I asked the class.

Michael raised his hand. "Does that mean that married men weren't allowed to vote?"

Science Instruction Fail

Missy chased me down one day as I was walking back from the copy room.

"Mrs. W! I have to talk to you!"

"What do you need, Missy?"

A look of frustration crosses Missy's face. "Well, I caught a snail the other day and it just won't do anything!"

Let me start this story by filling you in on a few things. We'd studied snails a few weeks back and the interest level in them was surprisingly high. I guess it makes sense in hindsight: they are kind of cute when you get to know their personalities better (yes, they do have personalities. Mojo, for example, refused to eat carrots, even if he hadn't been fed for a couple of days and that was all you gave him). After we'd studied snail preferences for a week, the students designed a terrarium for them and we filled it with all the things they seemed to prefer, such as dirt, rocks, sticks, and the vegetables they preferred most.

The kids forgot about the snails for a little while, but interest in them really exploded when they started breeding. We found little egg clutches buried in the dirt, which soon became droves of baby snails. The babies could unfortunately fit through the mesh of the cage top and pretty soon were cruising throughout the room and out the door. They found one on the underside of a chair in a room 50 feet away from mine. The students have been pretty good about catching the escapees when they find them and returning them to their home, but we finally had a baby snail adoption day last week to help with our baby snail overpopulation problem.

Back to Missy: she apparently had a snail issue she wanted me to help solve. I'm not exactly an expert (I know they're gastropods, they have a strong preference for cucumbers and they taste good in butter) and I'm not used to doing tech support on a snail, but I'd do what I could.

"What do you mean 'It won't do anything'?" I asked her.

"It won't go," she replied.

Great. That was vague. "Ooook. Well, they tend to be more active at night. Have you checked then?

"Yeah, it doesn't do anything then too."

"Are you misting it frequently so he doesn't go into estivation?" (The kids learned that snails go into a form of hibernation when they get too dry)

Now Missy looks really frustrated. "Yeah, I'm doing all that stuff! I'm misting it, I gave it some lettuce and cucumbers, I put dirt in the cage for the eggs, but it won't do anything!"

Eggs.....? "Wait, are you trying to breed your snail?"

I can tell from Missy's relieved expression that I've hit the jackpot. "Yes! My little brother wants a baby snail but I can't get the snail to lay any eggs!"

"You said you had A snail. You do realize it takes two snails to make a baby snail, right?"

Missy looks at me, dumbfounded, for several moments. "Oh. Never mind."