Week 3: Week of the Virulent Culture

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Friday, June 21, 2013


Caleb Heath

Did I mention the sweet decor? We are on the move!

Our second outreach event of the season, at Tuckahoe Elementary, was scheduled for Tuesday. We had been planning ways to test a few of our activities. Three forty-five minute time blocks, about forty students in each block. Christine, Jamie, and Ro were coming out to help Nicole, Toni, and I; there would be a few teachers. Nice and manageable.

Toni came by on Monday afternoon and said there had been a change. We were going to have one session of more than a hundred and twenty students.

Theresa Coffman, our contact, wanted to know if we were still good for the event, or if we wanted to bow out.


It was a tremendous success, as you might imagine, because good narrative requires it. It also helps that we are, collectively, awesome. Perhaps even wicked.

Our measurement activity had students determining the length of a rope by using sticks. Each group has a stick of a different length, though they don’t know that. When they report to us a different length for each identical rope, they see our little trick. Everyone learns a lesson about standards.

When we gave them the go-ahead, it was an explosion of chaos, but in a well-ordered way. Children stretched out over the whole cafeteria (a few into the hallways), unwinding ropes and turning sticks end over end. We limboed and hurdled over obstacles to keep watch on the kids, who behaved as well as you can expect third-graders to in their last week of school.

Toni rewarded us for our hard work by taking us to a place called Busboys and Poets, which is now among my top favorite restaurants. It has burgers, an open mic night, and a lending library. Travelling always makes me feel an entrepreneur; I want to replicate the wonderful things I find and take them back home.

Noel, our server, informed us that they served “dope burgers.”

“Dope burgers?” I asked.

“Yeah, like, they’re great!”

My reaction (“Oh.”) was situationally hilarious. Our entire table was in stitches.

I’m square, and I’m okay with that.

The first few weeks on the SOCK have been slow going, but we are rapidly gaining ground. Good thing too. The NIST teacher institute is coming soon. We have instruments to make, activities to test, guides to write.

I don’t think it’s going to fit in a sock this year.

My first time at the Kennedy Center was last Friday. All the interns (except Fiona, who has finally arrived this week) attended a performance of the National Symphony. I enjoyed it, but fell prey to drowsiness. Dayton’s elbow saved me from adding my own accompaniment. Ro and I went back yesterday, to the Millennium Stage this time (free performances every day at 6PM, and a webcast), and listened to self-described indie orchestra Mother Falcon. Good stuff.

The Museum of American History has the famous Ruby Slippers, but I found a few things of greater interest to my readers.

Caleb Heath