Saturday, November 15, 2008

Building an Atom

While scientists in Europe are busy trying to break apart an atom, at our house we are trying to build an atom.

How exactly do you build an atom? And more importantly, why?

The why is easy enough. Julia's 6th grade science teacher told her students to create an atom by this past Friday. The assignment was given on Monday. Monday night I asked Julia what atom she was attempting to recreate and what was she going to recreate it with? The guidelines stated that the atom must be 3 dimensional and it must be edible. We discussed the fact that electrons are actually smaller than protons and neutrons and that this needed to be represented in the creation.

So now to the how:

We decided not to procrastinate did her project on Wednesday night because I was going to be gone on Thursday night and I wouldn't be able to help. And honestly, Mom likes to help with school projects as much as the kids like to do them. Okay, so maybe I'm a bit controlling with projects.

When Trace was in 7th grade and we lived in Tulsa,Oklahoma, he had to do a photo essay on a nearby city. We drove to the city and we stopped to take some photos all the while I was saying "Make sure you get this" and "be sure that you don't get that."

Finally Trace stopped, looked at me and started laughing. "Mom this isn't your project; its mine. I'm a big boy. I can do this."

Was I that obvious?

I won't even bring up Ross' Alamo diorama project which had Ross and I up until 11:00 the night before hot gluing moss to twigs to make trees that I insisted had to look real enough. Or the time Trace made the solar system for the science fair and I wanted to make the planets' sizes and distances proportional to real life. Did I mention he was in 2nd grade?

Yeah. All righty then. But I'm changing my ways.

The atom project was Julia's so I let her come up with the list of items we would use for the elements for the atom Fluorine. Of course if she thought of one I didn't think would work I made sure to let her know. The final list included Gummy Bears for the protons, marshmallows for the neutrons and partially crushed Reese cereal for electrons. The elements would be held together by toothpicks.
The Gummy bears were hard to get the toothpicks through so Julia needed help with that. That was the kiss of death right there. Once I get my hands on something the child can kiss it goodbye.

Oh, but look, she's actually touching a marshmallow, so I have proof that she did something. She We finished with the nucleus, which I made sure was stablized with plenty of toothpicks to make it sturdier since it still had to hold up the electrons.

As we were placing the 9 electons around the nucleus I lamented that it couldn't be truly 3 dimensional since we couldn't put an electron on the bottom.

"If only we had some type of stand to hang it from then we could put electons on all the sides."

Julia started laughing. "I told Mrs. Hodge today that you were an over achiever."


"Yeah, I told her that you wouldn't let me make all the elements the same size and that the electrons had to be smaller. You're totally an over achiever."

How was I to answer that?

"Well, I still wish we had a stand, we could hang it with fishing line..."

Julia with the finished project. I hope we get an A.


Teresa =) said...

See, Denise, that's why I love you. Because YOU make ME look just a bit closer to normal...

Teresa =)

Denise said...

Teresa, I was laughing so much at this comment my girls came over to see what was so funny! (I'm still laughing by the way.)

Its a sickness. I admit it. Just add to my long, long list...

The Gotch 5 said...

From one over achieving mom to another....LOOKS GREAT! If they would only realize our way is always better it would make life easier on all of us and the project would get done a lot quicker!!!! Here's to that A+!!!

Kristin said...

You are a much better mommy than me. I did that when the big kids were little. Now, they are on their own.

I take that back. Katie is on her own---because she has got it together. But when it comes to Alex?? Katie takes over and MAKES him do the project to her satisfaction.

Cracks me up!

~Issy said...

LOL...i'm afraid that i would have eaten the atom. I love gummy bears! :)

Denise said...

Issy, part of the requirement was that they ATE the atom after the teacher looked at it. Apparently one year a boy forgot about the assignment until the morning it was due. He took wadded up kleenx and colored with markers. The teacher MADE him eat it! Gross! Of course the mom in me was concerned for the boy's welfare-- what if the markers had been toxic?

Reminds me of sophomore Biology when we dissected fetal pigs. There was a boy in my class that ate his pig's pancreas on a dare! And it had been in formalin! Now I wonder if he really did, knowing after working with it for years how toxic it is. But we believed it then. Flash forward a year. Hey, wait, this would be a good blog post... hold that thought...

Kay Bratt said...

Too funny. I am just like you! But for some reason, only my eldest daughter got the brunt of my 'control' issues. With Amanda, I help and advise, but only when asked. Lucky her...


Sera said...

Mmm, what a yummy looking atom! Stopping by your blog from SITS! BTW, I love your blog design - it's beautiful!

Brandy said...

Too funny! I hope she gets an A too!

Why did it have to be edible? I can't imagine they will eat them after carrying them to school right?

Denise said...

I'm not sure WHY it had to be edible, maybe to make it a more fun project. But they had to eat them IN CLASS. So Julia had to make sure she liked whatever she used to make it.

Andrea said...

Hey, just dropping by from SITS! That atom looks delicious!