Last week, as I was cleaning up at the end of the day, something caught my eye in one of my student's desk. Bending down, I peeked in and saw that, stashed between her duotangs and her pencil box, there were two plastic baggies filled with nugget potatoes.
Teaching is full of absurdities, and this was certainly one of them. In bemusement, and to share the sheer entertainment value inherent in such moments, I polled my neighbouring teachers to see if any of them could think of a reason why my student would have bags of nugget potatoes in her desk. Plenty of double takes and requests to repeat myself, but no theories presented themselves. Friends to whom I told the story suggested a variety of implausible solutions such as "ammunition for a potato gun" and "snacks, for earthquake preparedness" and shared their concern that nugget potatoes were a gateway to russets... and that we all know where THAT leads...
Giggling, I filed it away as something to ask her about, and promptly forgot about it. Until yesterday morning, when as the students were leaving for recess I heard one of them say "get the potatoes!"
Oh right, the potatoes. So I asked what they were up to, and the answer made my heart swell.
They were up to science.
Clearly, the conversations we've been having about creating experiments have born fruit (or tubers, as the case may be). This group of girls had decided to test to see if proximity to running water affected how quickly potatoes sprouted. When they came back, they proudly told me about how they had dug holes at specific distances from the stream running by the school and buried the potatoes there. Not only that, they had sorted the potatoes by size, and had made sure to bury a larger and a smaller one at each distance to see if size made a difference too. They were controlling for variables.
Sometimes, it feels like what we have to say goes in one ear and out the other. And then our students go and show us otherwise.
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