Today isn’t even half over and my second graders have made me laugh more than usual. In our science class we’ve reached the unit on the body and its systems and how to keep it healthy. We’ve been talking a lot about cells, and also about the digestive system. Both of these discussions led to hilarious conversations, which I can’t help but want to share with you.
So, due to the cells conversation, I procured two microscopes from the science department, and did a quick Google Search to see what might be educational to look at under the scope – and still be interesting to a second grader. In the progress of this search I came across an article with large blown up photos of things under the microscope, ranging from lice to dust to eyelashes to toilet paper. Man you had to be there, it was so funny! As I showed them the images, at each and every picture, the class erupted into a chorus of EWWWWW! Gross! Nasty! Yuck! And then I got to the eyelashes. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen human eyelashes under a microscope, but if you haven’t here’s what they look like:
I don’t know about you, but I think that looks incredible! I mean, it’s not pretty per se, but it’s fascinating! The little girls in my class literally started pulling at their eyelashes in distress. Half of them were almost crying. Then one says to the rest ewwww, we’re touching that! Ahhh! and they all stop touching their faces at all and vow to one another never to touch their faces again!
I tried to make it better by explaining that the purpose of having hair around your eyes is so dirt and dust and the little floaty things in the air that we can’t necessarily see don’t go into our eyes, but that didn’t seem to help the situation anyway. It was priceless, mostly in its unexpectedness, but I suppose it could be a “had to be there” moment. Such is life.
I also had a rather frustrating moment when one of the less socially acclimated boys (who can frequently be found with his finger so far up his nose it’s making his eyes roll) decided it would be a great idea to pull a sopping wet booger out of his nose and spread it across the glass under the microscope. Fortunately I caught him just in time before his finger made contact with the glass. He immediately burst into tears while I calmly explained that you can’t just throw boogers around willy-nilly – I didn’t even yell, and he just starts crying. (That’s what tells me he knew exactly what he was doing!)
Don’t get me wrong. We’re all wondering, don’t deny it. I totally understand why he wanted to see his boogers under a microscope (they’re a big part of his life after all). I don’t know who wouldn’t be interested to see that, but I had to explain to him that that was not the way of going about it.
The other humorous occurrence of our science class had to do with learning about the digestive system. One of the girls in the class brought in a clear plastic model of the human body with little removable rubber organs – it’s a teaching tool for remembering the name and location of the various organs. You can also see the skeleton and parts of the muscular structure of the body. It looks like this:
Not too scary, right? Wrong! Though I guess the part that made it scary to the students is that there was a disconnect in the way I explained what it was, versus what they understood about it. See, the way I explained it was something along the lines of yeah, that’s what a person looks like if you were to take all the skin off of him, and, well, shrink him down obviously. I wasn’t at all implying that this figure before us used to be a person, that was then shrunken down and the skin removed, but for the longest time (unbeknownst to me), that’s what they thought.
I suppose I should have explained it in more concise language, that this is a toy made of plastic and rubber modeled after a shrunken, skinless human… Somehow that doesn’t sound all that much better if you ask me. Oh well. The confusion was corrected when I heard one of the boys whispering to one of the girls about how the skin got ripped off of the poor man after he was shrunk to Barbie Doll size. Aghast, I told them that that certainly wasn’t true (while wiping the poor girls eyes as she wondered if all her Barbies had once been living people), to which the boy looked outraged and informed me that that’s what I’d told them. Once I understood the misunderstanding I was able to rectify the situation, but that’s not to say they won’t all be scarred for life anyway.