About two weeks ago, I was talking to one of my favorite teachers of all time: my beautiful stepmother. She gets me, because amidst our conversations about life, she pulled out this AMAZING resource that she was planning on using as a holiday gift for her second graders and it was an engineering task. A “marshmallow shooter” from Teach Outside the Box. (*Link to kit at bottom of post*). Well, besides my jaw dropping to the floor in pure awe, I noted what it was because I also wanted to do it. I simply had to sign up for emails from Brooke Brown’s teacher blog (you don’t have to ask me twice) and I got the marshmallow shooter freebie to my inbox. So, CHECK ON THAT AWESOME PRIZE.
Now, I’m a sharer of projects. I love to do tasks with others and I like to butterfly around and socialize. So, I had to ask a few of my amazing teacher friends who I thought would love this project to join me! Three of them very willingly did because who doesn’t want to send home an amazing STEM project for a holiday gift?
So, our night starts with…copying. Of course, we’re teachers. We copied all the copies we would need for our project. It was 71. That number will be important later.
THEN, we drive in our cute little cars to Lowe’s because that’s where you buy PVC pipe. I only knew what PVC pipe was because sometimes when I was in high school I would aimlessly wander around Home Depot looking at all the cool things…yeah, that’s embarrassing.
Here is where the fun starts. We find what we need in terms of PVC pipe and we start to do MAD calculations in the aisle. Our math was fire. Seriously. We were like “How many kits do we need?” “How much PVC pipe is that?” “How many inches are in 10 feet?” “How many poles do we need?” “How can we reduce waste?” And while my smart teacher friends figured this insane math out (because I lied when I said “Our math was fire.” THEIR math was fire…), I was like “I’m so happy my teacher friends are calculating masters!” and “If only our kiddos could see us now!”
So, we end up buying 8 poles of PVC pipe that we’re going to make 71 of these holiday kits out of. Then, we’re hit with a catastrophic reality: Lowe’s won’t cut the PVC pipe because OSHA said they couldn’t because of the dust that comes off the pipes. WELL, HOW ARE FOUR BEAUTIFUL (wink) TEACHER GIRLS SUPPOSED TO CUT 80 FEET OF PVC PIPE WITH THEIR DELICATE BICEPS? Long story short, Doug at Lowe’s was our SAVIOR and walked all around the store with us to help us find PVC pipe that would be easier to cut and he helped us find a cool little saw with a cool little box to keep our cuts straight and our fingers safeR. We wished Doug could join our party because he was seriously so wonderfully helpful and he honestly helped 71 second and third graders get an AWESOME holiday gift. Here’s a photo of my teacher friends with Doug after he helped us put 10′ PVC pipes in our carriage:
And here is another picture of us with Doug while he read about the project materials and helped us with this serious undertaking. I honestly CANNOT believe how helpful he was.
So, we left Lowe’s after making a new best friend (Doug) and we stopped at Wal-Mart for some ‘mallows and baggies. THEN, off to home we went to saw, pack, fold, and eat Thai food.
When we got home, we ordered take-out and laid all of our materials on the floor. Where else would you put 10’ PVC pipes? We began marking where the pipes needed to be cut and we bought the perfect amount of PVC pipe. However, the reality of having to make 213 cuts through PVC pipe (for 71 kits) with a handsaw and no clamps (lol) made our Thai food even more tasty because…procrastination.
After dinner, we began our hard and tedious work (which, in the end, was totally worth it). Us four, strong, independent, cool ladies took turns cutting the pipes and stuffing the bags with the supplies we had from the freebie download. We laughed, and laughed, and laughed some more. Ate delicious cheese. Laughed again and worked our biceps SO HARD. Besides the fact that we were sawing on the porch in 30 degree weather the day after a snowstorm, we were so happy!
We had to scrub the pipes down with steel wool, wipe them clean, and get rid of any sharp edges after we sawed the pipes (Clyde the cat helped). That took a little while, but again, so worth it. We (softly) blared some Christmas music in the background and then obsessed over Pandora’s Lucius (Pop) radio. Life is good.
This project was honestly so fun, so rewarding, and our students are going to be STOKED. I cannot wait to give them these gifts. They’ve been prying a little bit to find out what we made them but NAH, I AIN’T TELLIN’. I can’t wait to see their faces light up when they realize that they will have to engineer their gift to make a marshmallow shooter out of the tools they are given!
A TRUE (6 HOUR) LABOR OF LOVE!
Here is a link to the kit we used from Teach Outside the Box: Marshmallow Shooter