I have decided that one just never knows what will happen when spending time at my children's school. I went in today to take some pictures and help out in DS' class. His teacher had divided the class into groups of 4-5 students and each group formed a business. Each business decided on a product to make to sell. On Sunday several kids met at the store with Mrs. B. to purchase the raw materials needed, and today was the beginning of product production. One group is making notepads. Another is making slime. DS' group is making play dough. A fourth group is providing a service instead of a product----they are offering tutoring. The last group is the one that tried to create a school-wide crisis this afternoon.
The last group is making plastic spoons dipped in chocolate. To do this they needed to melt the chocolate for dipping the spoons into. They first dumped an entire bag of chocolate chips into a plastic bowl, then they placed the bowl in the microwave, and lastly they turned on the microwave. Here is where they made their mistake! I am not sure how long they put the chocolate in the microwave for, but it was definitely too long! I was walking around taking some pictures of the kids working diligently on their projects when I hear DS' voice call out, "Mom! The microwave is smoking!" Sure enough, when I look over at the microwave in the corner of the room, there was a ton of smoke pouring out of it. I called out to Mrs. B. She ran to the microwave and pulled out the bowl of chocolate, opened the nearby window, and held the smoking bowl out the window. DS ran to the other window and threw it open. I grabbed the nearest stack of papers and started waving the smoke away from the smoke detector (oh-so-conveniently located close to the microwave of course!) hoping to keep it from setting off the fire alarm. (Most of the kids meanwhile had the looks on their faces reminiscent of deer in the headlights.)
Luckily we were able to keep the fire alarm from going off, so the entire school did not have to empty out (which would have sent over 700 students out into 12 degree weather!) and the fire department did not have to come to the elementary today. So while it was intended for the kids to learn about supply & demand as well as things like profit margins, they also had another lesson today. When melting chocolate in the microwave, only heat it for short (we're talking like 30-second intervals here!) amounts of time and stir it before putting it back in the microwave for longer. Whatever you do, do not try to do all of the melting in one long segment of time. Instead of melted chocolate you will end up with burnt chocolate and melted plastic.
Cost of worksheets for classroom learning: $0.05 each
Cost of pencils for doing worksheets: $0.10 each
Cost of hands-on learning instead of worksheets: Priceless!