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Bottle Rockets and Such

Friday was a day that reminded me again what school is all about. You see, we've had this School Social hanging over us. And to tell the truth, I was not too excited about it.

We were supposed to do a Small Program That Showed What We Were Learning and Involved the Crowd. Well, I decided we would project the continents of Africa and Europe and the crowd could guess the countries. Surprisingly enough, my little map pro girls did not seem to mind. But the whole class was rusty on the Europe countries, and I thought, "Oh the crowd won't know them anyway. This is pointless. And our whole system of reviewing them will seem slightly redneck in front of the whole congregation." Then we started trying to figure out how to make the whole thing work so the crowd could see and ya probably I just need to make a formal apology right here because my patience was gone... gone far away...

"My boys like science," I thought. So Monday I bought a big chunk of dry ice. I left it in my truck overnight because it WAS really cold that night, but sadly it had shrunk to less than half its size by morning. I came to school again thinking, "This is so lame." My kids, tho, were still stoked. We put it in hot water, in soapy water, watched it bubble and fog, held spoons against it and listened to it squeal. Crazy ideas started coming forth. We need a witch hat and someone could wear it and it would look like their brains are fogging out. That was fairly impractical because of the fact that dry ice is cold enough that it burns your skin. But they wanted to know if they could build rockets (dry ice with warm water builds up pressure and will shoot a bottle rocket to amazing heights, like well over the high line wires). I gave the OK. We did STEM that day, and they made catapults. The boys were so happy. Our whole day revolved around catapults. So we decided we'd put a bunch of popsicle sticks and rubber bands in the hall so the boys, big and little, could experiment.

By Friday, we had a whole line up of Dry Ice Powered Vehicles. The fifth and sixth grade boys were in too. We had rockets with K-nex launch pads, and one Coke bottle car with some off road looking tires. We had a massive catapult. Like made from paint sticks, a zillion popsicle sticks and rubber bands, and quite a bit of wire. Sixty one point five feet was the record for shooting a marble. The boys' day revolved around that catapult. The girls finished up the newspaper so we could have it out there for the grandparents to pick up. I got in a bunch of cool creative writing essays about Missouri winters and we read those. We practiced the map drill and got a volunteer to run the projector. Finally the school board got them all together and explained how to make cafe au laits for the coffee bar (the main attraction of the whole deal), and serve sandwiches. They rounded up the cutest striped aprons for my girls. The day ended. I had a pile of checking left, and there were a bunch of people getting ready in the kitchen. I was exhausted already, but starting to get enthused. Finally, at 5 o'clock, I just left it all and went home. I lay stock still on my bed in the dark in my pajamas for twenty minutes, hoping to recharge lol. I put on the new dress I got from my mom in the mail on Valentine's Day and headed back to school.

By the time I got all the dry ice displayed, it was crowded. The coffee shop decor was spectacular. The boys by the coffee bar were living it up. They were very happy to make me a drink, or two or three. I loved seeing them just comfortable with themselves, learning how much fun it is to help out. They weren't awkwardly silent, sullen, or anything else typical of young teenagers lol. I got a sandwich from the striped apron clad girls, then sat down to wait 7:40... I was started to have quite a lot of anxiety about the fact that I had promised to blow off dry ice powered rockets in front of the whole congregation. I switched off with the boys so they could eat... It was so much fun serving coffee with them. They loved showing me how to do it and were perfectly OK with having the teacher smashed between them while serving in public. How lucky I am!

7:40 arrived. I herded the boys out the door around the school while the congregation fogged out of the front door to watch. I feel like I shouted a lot of instructions to them in a very bossy teacher voice, but they got their ice in the rockets and I stood there with my pitcher of water ready to fill them up so they could punch the corks on the bottles and back up. We got some amazing blasts! Someone tried filling empty shotgun shells, but that sort of failed... not big enough to have much power.

Everyone gathered back in for the program. I went and sat by my girls before they had to get up and do the countries. My projector runner got everything just right, and the class helped out when the crowd didn't know the countries. Simple... but the kids were just good with that! For once it was the teacher thinking it would be lame, and being surprised when it wasn't, instead of the students.

At the last, we sang off the projector. We picked a half hour's worth of songs for the whole school... rounds, All God's Critters Got a Place in the Choir, The Name of my Frog, and some inspirational rollers like Jesus Gave Me Living Water. When we were done, we said it was free for all. Hardly anyone left... they just kept picking more and more songs! It was so fun... A couple of my girls stuck it out to the last, and about three dads, one a former teacher. He was really into the old school songs. Finally, I could hardly talk, and it was after 10:00. The hall was littered with smashed marshmallows (yuck) and I had help taking the remaining catapults apart from a very small boy who wanted to practice his rubber band shooting skills.

Back at home, we were too tired to go to bed. We sat in our living room, complaining of headaches and tight backs and necks, till 11:59. So we didn't stay up till midnight thank goodness. And don't ask when we got up this morning... I mean I think it was in the morning yet when we got up.

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