Strange things happen in our elementary science room.
| Strange things happen in the science room.
Not every elementary school has a science room, but Ms. Storrs says they should. So, when she won the lottery, she had one built on our playground. She had a sink put in, and water piped out to it. In one corner, there's a cold-water aquarium with some of our local tide pool animals, like crabs and sea anemones and starfish. And of course, there are microscopes, one with a gadget that connects it to the projector so the class can see what's going on when someone looks into it.
In another corner there's a tall beehive, with the side facing the room made of glass so we can see the bees making honey, and a hole in the roof for them to fly out.
The back door leads into a small greenhouse, and its door opens out onto our little garden. We learn about seed growing into plants and then we plant them outside. Our bees collect nectar and move the pollen around.
There's also an incubator on the counter under the window. Sometimes in the spring, Ms. Storrs gets a batch of chicken eggs so that we can watch them hatch, and the incubator keeps them at just the right warmth. It's because of the incubator that we noticed the first Strange Thing.
We were working hard on our jellyfish reports (Ms. Storrs had a temporary loan of some jellies from the Pt. Defiance Aquarium), all of us quiet and focused, because this was a big part of our grade. Suddenly, there was a loud crack! We all jumped, and Susie, who's a little nervous, screamed.
"Jimmy," Ms. Storrs said calmly, "would you run over to Mrs. Nickel's class and let her know her class pet will be ready to pick up at lunch time? Tell her I have some raw hamburger meat in the refrigerator here."
"Of course, Ms. Storrs," I said. I was almost done with my report anyway. A few more loud cracks and a some shrill squawking noises came from the incubator as I made it to the door.
As I delivered my message to the 5th grade room, I noticed a small cage in one corner, all cozy with fresh hay and a water bottle turned upside down for something to drink from attached to the side. Mrs. Nickel was happy to see me.
"Class," she announced as I was leaving, "our new disciplinary system will be starting on Monday. I will need some volunteers to be in charge of feeding it for the first week." I could hear excited voices as I closed her door.
The next time we had science, I glanced into the greenhouse as I went to my seat. A greenish purplish stalk with new, curling leaves seemed to be falling over the table and along the floor. As I watched, it got longer and, well, it just grew in through the classroom door. I raised my hand.
"Uh, Ms. Storrs?"
She turned her head.
"Oh, drat!" she exclaimed. She pulled on some gloves and reached for a gardening fork, and then went over and grabbed the stalk. The end of it puffed up into a round, swollen ball and began making little puffing noises.
"Gracious, don't be such a baby!" Ms. Storrs told it, as she began to pull it back into its part of the greenhouse. Unfortunately, the puffing little ball grew bigger and suddenly burst, scattering glowing red seeds all over the floor.
"Quickly, everybody!" shouted Ms. Storrs. "Grab your gloves and gather up the seeds! All of them!"
As we scrambled about on the floor, I noticed Robert, the bully of our group, quietly slipping some of the seeds into his pocket. Not a smart idea, I thought to myself; little did I know how not smart.
Finally the teacher shut the greenhouse door tight, and we went on with our lesson about the temperate rainforest habitat.
So, it was about a week later, and we had moved from the rainforest to a bit of chemistry. We were heating some vinegar in a test tube over a Bunsen burner, working in teams. Robert and his cowering partner were next to me. As we added a small amount of baking soda to the heated vinegar, I saw Robert slip some of those red beans he'd taken into the tube. Everybody's test tube began foaming with bubbles (because you know what happens when you mix vinegar and baking soda), but Robert's overreacted.
In a whoosh of pink steam, his concoction exploded all over him, dripping off his head and onto his shoulders. All at once, tiny green vines began to grow all over his head; his hair was turning into that plant!
Ms. Storrs grabbed a blue health room pad, and began writing out a pass.
"Robert," she said in a resigned sort of voice, "do you know what natural consequences are?"
"Yes, Ms. Storrs," he mumbled, staring down at his tennis shoes, one of which was growing green bits on the laces.
"Good," she said, handing him the pass. "Mrs. Wood knows what to do to stop the growth. But I imagine you'll need a haircut soon."
Robert took the pass and went out, but we all watched the green tendrils snaking over his ears, and the tiny tuft of green that was growing out of one eyebrow.