The Science of Recess

Recess duty at Steves Elementary starts with a classic “opening” question – and by that I mean “Can you open this?”. This time it’s a banana with a stubborn stem.  The quick fix for this is to open the banana from the other end, but being an optimist, I tried to wrestle the stem into behaving and open the banana the usual way.  The result was an open banana, all right, but between prior efforts and mine, the top was mush. I’m clearly out of practice. The diplomatic little girl who asked for help thanked me nicely and happily skipped off with the banana, as shopworn as it looked by then.

Science lesson 1 – Bananas are sometimes hard to open and easy to bruise, but if you can get past that, they still taste good.

Acorn Shelter

Next I noticed small groups of kids under two of the oak trees that are at the edge of the playground, so I went over to check it out.  As it turned out, each tree had a  group of budding scientists at its base. The kids were fascinated with the acorns under the trees, and were  building “houses” for them.  One group was using a “bury them in leaves” approach to create a layer of insulation.    The idea seemed to be that with a little luck they might stay warm and sprout into small trees. The second acorn “house”, pictured above, was more elaborate, and seemed straight out of a social studies project.  More intricate than the pile of leaves,it seemed designed  to honour the acorns rather than incubate them.

Science lesson 2 – Physics and geometry have outdoor uses.

The last project, pictured below, involved using materials at hand for shelter from the storm, and was inspired by a light rain during recess at Thompson Elementary later in the week.  This project may need some refining.  While the water resistance level is high, peripheral vision is low.

Science lesson 3 – Moisture barriers, while useful, can limit mobility

Extreme Rain Wear

What these particular recess road trips made clear is that children are constantly experimenting and using what they learn, even when we aren’t looking.  I’m liking having the chance to look more often.


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