Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Jump For Joy

Yesterday, Josh was working on his homework. He usually gets a multi-page packet on Monday that is due on Friday. This week, a few of his pages dealt with the concept of estimating. For example, one page asks him to circle the activity that will take longer. The picture on the left is of a girl drawing a flower. The picture on the right is of a girl drawing a full mural. You get the idea. The other class of problem gives an activity and asks the student to circle the correct estimate. Here's one for you:

How long you would jump rope:

1 minute?
1 hour?
1 week?

What do you suppose Josh answered? Therein lies the story...
Josh circled "1 hour". She-who-was-checking-the-homework told him that his answer was wrong. "Think about it, Josh. Would the amount of time you jumped rope be closer to a minute or closer to an hour?" Josh was firm in his beliefs. "An hour!" They went back and forth a few times with Josh stubbornly refusing to admit he was wrong and Mom trying to get him to fix his work. (His Mom and I are such reasonable people. Whereby did he acquire this stubbornness?) Then, inspiration struck! "All right, Josh. If you want to keep that answer, prove it. Show me that you can jump rope for an hour." I think she expected him to back down. Things do not always go as planned. "You watch. I'll prove you, Mom!"

There were some minor modifications made to the challenge. He's not coordinated enough to jump rope for a minute, let alone an hour. So, we decided that just jumping up and down would be close enough for the scale of the experiment. He immediately proceeded to jump up and down. We figured he'd last five minutes. At five minutes, he asked how long he'd been going. Maya told him that it had been five minutes. "I only have five minutes left?" Ummmmm. No. You have fifty-five. "But I have to pee." Excellent. An opening. "Just admit you were wrong and then you can stop and go to the bathroom," said Mom. "I'm not wrong!" Seeing he'd not be allowed a break, he dropped his pants to his ankles while continuing to jump and proceeded to water the lawn. Picture a hose that has been turned on while nobody is holding the end. When he was done, he pulled them back up, still jumping all the while. He made it to fifteen minutes and announce, "I'm hungry." Another opening. "If you give up, you can stop and have a snack." Do you think Josh gave up? Of course not. He hopped into the house and grabbed the box of Rice Krispies. He tried to eat handfuls of cereal while continuing on his task. He did the same with a drink of water. Still he jumped on.

Finally, the hour ended and Josh was triumphant. He was red-faced, hungry, and tired, but he was successful. And we had to write a note on his homework. We didn't want the teacher to say, "The answer is a minute. Not an hour. You don't jump rope for an hour..." We all know where that would lead...