As a child termite, Roberto's parents were frustrated with him because he was always playing with his food (and, of course, a termite's food is wood). But this output of creativity and trial and error led Roberto to reach his dreams in the end.
After enjoying the story, I had the students guess about what we would be using to make structures. I finally told them that we, too, would be playing with our food - in this case, pretzels, two different shapes of pasta, and marshmallows. In Tribes, they would try to complete the following challenge:
Everyone immediately got to work. It was fascinating to see how cohesive the Tribal "families" have gotten - work was divided, roles assigned, and positive comments were given. A couple groups decided to draw up some plans before tackling the assignment. I overheard one group decide to build two structures - one with pasta, one with pretzels - to see which one best fit the requirements. Here are the teams at work:
The groups all worked together. Yes, there were was joy - but also a few tears of frustration. Minor squabbles, quickly resolved. Moments of triumph - "Look, it is almost a foot tall already!" and moments of disaster - "This spaghetti is way too weak - it breaks all the time!"
And, guess what? None of the structures worked. We failed. IT WAS GREAT. Why was it great?
Because one of the these children's biggest challenges is that of resilience. Bright and gifted children (because of uneven development and general intense nature) need much practice in becoming more resilient. They need to learn to fail, and to see failure as just a step towards success. So that's why I say that today's lesson was science - but so much more. It wasn't easy, but it was necessary. This afternoon, I plan on talking with each child individually to ask what they took away from our morning of science, and to have them self-reflect and possibly gain some insight on the importance of being resilient.
I've come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.