Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Demolition

I decided to make the last day of this unit a study of other uses of explosives---they're not only for fireworks, after all. We read some fascinating books on demolition, and watched some videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sK50So-yYRU&feature=youtube_gdata_player (this was the best one we saw---a great montage of different demolitions---the kids wanted to watch this over and over)
The night before, I had the unexpectedly brilliant idea of having the kids carry out their own demolition with blocks. It sounds like kind of a terrible idea, doesn't it? But it wasn't. It was so fun! The kids looooooved it.
First we surrounded the area with blue CAUTION CAUTION CAUTION tape (very important), and added some animal bystanders. Just to make it interesting. :) We wanted our building to collapse within its own footprint, if possible.

Our first attempt
The suspense was significant! My heart was pounding as we did our first countdown. :)
This one was pretty much a failure. The building wasn't sufficiently weakened beforehand. It hardly collapsed at all, as you can see.

Oh, I suppose I should specify how we made our "explosions": I just tied dental floss (leaving the ends long enough to trail out away from the building) around the most important blocks. The boys decided which ones those were (usually some central pillars on the first and second floors, or foundational blocks around the edges). When the countdown began, everyone grabbed a few strands of floss and, at the appointed time, PULLED outward. It worked pretty well, considering. (Considering what? That it wasn't dynamite, I guess.)

After that first try we got smarter, and more complicated. We had sequential explosions going on (this is a very useful technique, but tricky for certain ones among us to master---the older boys inspired much awe and fear with their insistent warnings and instructions). Unfortunately, a few animal bystanders were taken out in this explosion---well, let's not mince words: killed---but the children showed an admirable ability to put it behind them and try again.

This attempt was even better. Only a few casualties.


The final attempt! Sober and concentrating faces.
video
Demolition in action!

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